Sunday, 20 December 2009

Christmas lights

I find it hard to believe that it is a whole week since I last posted, I don't know where the time has gone.

If you click on this photo it should enlarge. We had the Carols in the Gardens last night, with a crowd of over 2,000. The evening was a huge success with the weather doing all the right things for us, not too hot and a lovely gentle breeze blowing. The Friends sold safe-flame candles, a great invention - they have a built-in battery and a coloured flame light. One of the performers asked the children to hold their candles up high, then swoop to one side, then the other, wriggle, twist etc. The kids loved it and the sight was beautiful with all these coloured streaks of light in the dark. My daughter in law Nikki took this photo - Maggie Grey would approve all the swoopy bits! I came home absolutely exhausted and stiff and sore, but thrilled with a job well done. The Friends conducted a raffle as well as selling candles and glo-bracelets and we sold out of absolutely everything - makaing a good profit for the night.

Jock has this large soft toy 'Rabbit' which he tosses and pulls and bites at its ears and generally has a wonderful game with. He races through the house carrying the toy - and outside if he gets out without being spotted!

I washed all his bedding today and threw Rabbit in the washing machine as well. Jock was totally disgusted when the toy came out clean and sanitised - no interesting smells so he was not interested in playing with it!! No coubt that will change when we return from holidays. He goes off to the dog kennels for his holiday tomorrow morning early.
We leave tomorrow afternoon, hopefull by 3 pm, but I haven't started gathering much together yet - we have been inundated with visitors, but I love seeing them. We have two cases of mangoes to take south with us, also some bags of lychees. This has been a fantastic season for both fruits, but both crops have ripened very early. Our Walkerston family has a superb mango tree, a very old fashioned variety, but there is hardly any fruit left on it to take south - the fruit bats and the possums have had a field day.
Time to go and collect a few things before bed. Christmas wishes to all my readers, I hope all your wishes are granted. I will be able to read blogs while we are away, but doubt I will be able to post. Cheers

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Look what I have!

Here is a photo of my Christmas present - a new second-hand Bernina 1630 sewing machine. I had my 1130 in being serviced and was idly looking at new machines - with no intention of buying one, when the dealer told me he had a 1630 which had been traded in and was as good as new - had only been used for one project. I couldn't believe it, the client was trading it on a new machine because it was 11 years old!!! My 1130 is much much older than that and has had a lot of very hard work, but it still sews beautifully and I wouldn't trade it for anything. My machine was the first in this range and the 1630 was the last but the tray table will swap over, and my 1130 feet will fit the 1630. There are masses more stitches on the 1630, so a very steep learning curve will need to occur after Christmas before I use it very much. Meanwhile I occasionally pick up the manual and try to make sense from it - I am not turning the machine on till we return from Buderim...........then it will be play time.

Here are another couple of photos from the Royal Tasmania Botanic Gardens, both from the Japanese garden, which was truly beautiful.

Jock has a new name - garbage guts! We spent quite some time at the Vet's this morning as Jock has been throwing up his food forthe last few days - except that it has not been happening during the day - more like midnight in our bedroom! He has mild gastro, caused by eating all sorts of things he is not supposed to, including licking all over a cake of soap he pinched, digging out my plants to chew, sucking old mango seeds after the flying foxes have dropped them - and generally acting like a naughty teenager! Thank goodness he will really be okay, he had some blood in one of the thrown up offerings and as we go away in just over a week, he will be in kennels, so we needed to make sure. He is definitely by far the most inquisitive of the five dogs we have owned since we have been married.
My list is getting shorter, but so is the time till we leave. We are going half a day earlier now, staying at Rockhampton (three and a half hours drive south of here), then we will only have a seven hour drive the next day - much easier to cope with.
Cheers for tonight.

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Mt. Lyell copper mine

Oops, this photo should be much further down, I managed to delete it while I was writing the blog and the only way I could get it back was in the wrong place - of course!!

I thought I would share with you some of the photos I took at Mt. Lyell copper mine in the southwest of Tasmania. The mine was started in the 1860s, when mining methods were very definitely not eco-friendly. The resulting landscape resembled a moonscape by the 1960s. I know the mining caused terrible damage, but I feel a little sorry for the poor maligned miners who lived an appallingly hard, isolated life and had no idea they were causing so much harm in those days.

We had a fascinating 4 hour guided tour of the area, I think it was the highlight of Bill's trip as he and the guide discussed the geology and mine workings.

The original company which owned the mine sold out in the mid 1960s. The mining methods have since been altered (with modern technology) to a much safer method and the present owners are reclaiming much of the blasted areas. The original company left a very large amount of money for reclamation with the Government, much of which is apparently still waiting to be spent.
The photo at the top of the blog is of an experimental tailings dam which is working very successfully - so successfully in fact that there were two different sorts of frogs croaking when we visited as well as a family of ducks on the water!
These flowers were all growing and flowering around the edge of the dam as well as some lovely mosses. I don't know the name of the sedge above, but the flowers were such a lovely bright colour.

This unobtrusive but pretty flower is Patersonia, and the photo below is of a sun orchid. They were just starting to pop up all round the place.

This lovely bright one is called Blandfordia. it looks like Christmas bells to me and was making a great show.
The wildflowers all round the west coast were really pretty, we were obviously there at the right time.
I am nearly catching up with all the things on my list - the cakes are made and one is iced, the Christmas cards have all been sent, I have finished my present shopping - but I still have to wrap! I have even defrosted and cleaned freezers etc - I hate that job and find excuse after excuse till crunch time hits.
Tomorrow I take a couple of housebound library patrons to a Christmas party put on every year by the Library staff. This is so much fun - there are usually about 80 patrons there, many from local nursing homes, and in various stages of incapacitation. There is always a luscious morning tea, then the Library staff and local councillors come along and sing Christmas Carols with everyone. As many library staff from all the other branches try to come along as well, the other libraries must have the barest skeleton staff for the morning.
I need to pay some bills before bedtime. Cheers.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

More Tassie photos

I haven't quite fallen off the edge of the earth though sometimes you must all wonder if I am continuing to blog! I came home from Tasmania with a rotten sinus infection which took a lot longer to cure than I wished, then I have had a sick computer as well. Our office is chaotic at present - Bill has 7 computers all hooked up while he is trying to set up two new ones which arrived on Friday!!! He is transferring files from one to another and looking for manuals with registration numbers in to put up programmes - and telling me that of course I have lost them, he has looked in all the bookshelves and they are NOT there! Funnily enough they always turn up later in the same bookshelves. I will just be glad when everything is sorted, but then the steep learning curve will start again as I need to learn Windows 7 as well as the latest version of Quicken. Every new version of Quicken always has something in it that I hate, but I just have to get used to the system.

Anyway, while the internet is working, I thought I would load a few more photos from our trip. I had to take the photo above to send to my sister. Years ago she came to England with Bill and me and we drove around for several weeks. When we were in Yorkshire we kept getting stuck behind tractors in narrow lanes - over and over and over. When we came home (this was before digital cameras) we couldn't believe that we had not taken one photo of a tractor on the roadway in front of us!
This was taken at Woodbank, one of the beautiful gardens we were taken to see during the conference. It should enlarge if you click on it. I was fascinated by the numbers of dead trees standing in the forests. Our guide said that Tasmania has no termites so sometimes the dead trees will remain standing for up to sixty or seventy years. In Queensland they would be eaten out and have fallen over in only a couple of years.

These two photos were taken in the Royal Tasmanian Botanic Gardens - the roses were just glorious and the colour in the irises was stunning.
Here is our adolescent boy who has definitely reached the naughty stage! He is still gorgeous, but is into everything and has discovered he can jump onto beds and chairs - till I see him, then he is off in a flash. He loves pinching small toys belonging to our grand daughter which she leaves on a bed here - I have to make absolutely sure everything is zipped up tightly inside bags, if there is even a little crack he manages to get into them again.

He is so curious about everything that happens and is into every cupboard I open, just to look and see what is there. He also loves the car, heading straight in if the door is opened. Jack used to get car sick so he hated going anywhere in the car, quite a nuisance when we needed to take him to the kennels or the vet etc.
I had better stop while the going is good and see if this will post. Cheers.

Sunday, 29 November 2009

Help, help

I have just woken up to the fact that I have three weeks left to do everything before we go away for Christmas! Going away so many times this year has been so much fun........but the consequences seem not nearly so good. I have resorted to THE LIST on the front of my fridge so I check it every time I go there. I will soon end up with another list upstairs too and probably a third one somewhere else. Provided I really take notice of them I guess everything will happen somehow. Textile play will have to be on the far back burner till after New Year I fear.

Here are some more photos from our Tasmania trip. The top one is a view of the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens. they have the most glorious setting on slopes on the bank of the Derwent river.
We were taken up to the top of Mt. Wellington overlooking the city. I never thought I would be standing up there in a short sleeved shirt with no other layers and feel quite comfortable. We were almost hot. One of our Garden Friends had driven up there a few weeks earlier - they had started in bright sunlight, then had rain, hail, sleet, snow and a whiteout!! Needless to say it was also freezing.

I was fascinated by the large bumblebees we saw all over the place. The other honeybees were around in huge numbers also, but no butterflies. I asked someone about that, he said it was still too cold, but they don't get the large colourful butterflies we have on the mainland at all, theirs are mostly small and quite dull colours - I wonder why?

I just loved the cold climate gardens we saw, will probably keep posting photos of the lovely flowers over the next couple of weeks. These two aquilegas were gorgeous. If you click on any of the photos they should enlarge.

I had better start to gather some photos together for our annual Christmas card/letter. I have just looked at a copy of last year's where I was bemoaning the fact that the year seemed to have vanished before it began, I think this year has vanished even faster.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Home again

I am back home again after a fabulous trip to Tasmania, but unfortunately returned with a rotten sinus infection which slowed me down more than somewhat. Hopefully the antibiotics will cure me in a couple more days - too many interesting things to do and I want some time to play. These photos are uploaded in the wrong order of course - I keep forgetting.

This is looking across Victoria Dock late in the afternoon. I took it from the Lower Deck at Mures where we seemed to end up for a meal most nights - very good seafood, also close to where we were staying and always lots of action to watch.
While in Hobart I met up with Sandra Champion who does not have a blog but is doing the online courses with Maggie and Lynda and Carol. You can just see a bit of one of Sandra's artworks in the background - sliced up newspaper (I can't remember which one, possibly The Guardian) then very effectively woven and slightly distorted in places.
This is one of the gorgeous roses in the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens. The roses were just so wonderful and had so much perfume. The rhododendrons were in full flower also, as were the fuchsias, echiums, foxgloves, peonies.......and the list goes on and on. I do love cold climate gardens, but I couldn't fo back to live in a climate like that again.

This picture is of a lovely hanging embroidered by the Friends of the Gardens. If you click on the photo it should enlarge so you can see the details - the pictures are of different areas of the gardens.

I loved these gates at the entrance to the Gardens. They have been there a very long time and are very ornate.
Not too much of a post tonight, I am still not feeling like doing too much, but I have started to catch up on all the blogs, I miss them when I am away.
Should have edited some more photos by tomorrow night, but I will be babysitting so may not get them posted till the next day.
Forgot to say that the weather in Tasmania was very cold till the day before we arrived, then there was a heatwave for the first week!!!! I had to keep washing out my two short sleeved tops to keep wearing them, you can't win. We were able to light a log fire one night in the second week though, before the weather turned hot again.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

More flowers and Cranes and travelling

I have managed to load these images back to front, but no matter. The lovely yellow flower below turns into this gorgeous calyx? fruit? after it dies off. I can't rememberthe name of the shrub, which is in the Shade Garden at our Botanic Gardens, and it is one of the few without a label telling me! I know it is native to this area, but I have never seen it in the wild.
These lovely ground orchids are also native, but again I have not seen them in the wild. They are readily available in the nursery industry now, and I am not surprised. They are easy to propagate and make a very pretty show.

This was the picture which I meant to have at the top of the page - they are magnificent fibreglass Sarus cranes, donated to our Gardens by our Japanese sister city Matsuura. For a long time, they have had to be kept inside as they would be very easily vandalised, but the curator has decided to take a risk and leave them on permanent display in an area which is locked when there are not staff nearby. It is sad that you have to think continually about vandalism, but that is an unfortunate truth these days. Click on any of the photos to enlarge them.

I wish I could think up inspiring titles like some of my blogging friends do - mine are always very mundane.
Only two sleeps to go and we are off to Tasmania, leaving here at 6.30 am and arriving in Hobart at 5 pm - a long day, but will be so good to get there. I expect to come back with wonderful photos - the first week will be at a Walking guides of Botanic Gardens conference and they have some excellent trips lined up for us. Then Bill and I will collect a hire car and spend 3 nights based in Richmond from where we will visit Port Arthur, a notorious penal colony when Australia was first settled. that description is for the benefit of our overseas bloggers who may not have heard of it - though that is probably unlikely after the terrible massacre there a decade or so ago. From Richmond we will move over to the south west of the Island to Queenstown. We are not really making any plans of what we will do till we see what the weather is like.
I have been given the names of some interesting places to stock up on 'stash' while I am in Hobart, will just have to watch the weight, always a constraint when you are flying - perhaps that is just as well, though small things can be more expensive than large ones sometimes.
Jock is going off to boarding kennels tomorrow - his first experience of that, but I am sure he will love it, there will be lots of other dogs there - and more people - just what he loves.
One of the other Garden Friends has her bag packed ready and waiting already, so I had better start thinking about mine - I am not too worried, I will basically be repacking what I took away last month, though with a bit of luck we may get some warmer weather for some of the time.
I am taking a small bag of hand stuff to see if I can do a bit in the second week and come back with some god's eyes (part of the online course with Maggie Grey) and maybe some covered paper clips. the pictures of what others have done look good so I want to have a go.
Back in two and a half weeks. Cheers

Saturday, 31 October 2009

Learning new tricks

I have been looking at the free online courses offered by Maggie and Lynda and Carol for people who bought the books Stitches, Straps and Layers and Stitching the Textured Surface. I don't have anything much to show from the exercises, but these baby wipes were used to colour some pages and I have now put them to another use to make a new mobile phone cover for me. I am continually amazed at the altenate uses textile artists find for products. I ran these through the embellisher with some other silk fibres laid out on top, all covered by a chiffon scarf, then some free machine embroidery added. I lined it with some hand dyed silk. I am not sure how practical the case will be after being shoved in and out of the pocket of my jeans, but I can always make another one.
I would love to keep playing, but my life seems to be governed by appointments at present - the doctor, the dentist, the chiropractor, the podiatrist, even the hairdresser. Then I had to wait for the plumbers to arrive..............aaargh!!! Only a week till we go away again, some clothes still need to be altered, etc etc so I think playtime will happen when we return.
Of course one small dog needs a lot of attention as well - my workroom floor is the tidiest it has ever been when I am working in there. Anything left on the floor is trundled off to places unknown, or shredded into many pieces, or just thoroughly chewed! All the waste paper baskets in the house live up high, as does the potato basket. For some reason, he loves pinching a potato and just sits there mouthing it. Bill's boots are still the most favourite though - I am quite happy about that, Bill now puts them away instead of leaving them where they were taken off!
These next photos are loaded in the wrong order but no matter. I take Jock walking (on a lead) through the Botanic Gardens most days and these are some of the things we have seen. Jock was fascinated by the moorhens scrabbling around. They flick their tails as they walk, showing a very irridscent blue patch under their tail - which of course has not shown up here.
This is a bunch of flowers on the Illawarra Flame tree (brachichyton acerifolius). This tree is making a brilliant show of flowers while still covered in green leaves. Usually they have dropped all their leaves before the flowers come, but I like this as the contrast shows much better. These trees are native to the East coast of Australia as far south as Sydney and I love them.

If you click on the picture it should enlarge to give you a clearer view.

These grass trees (Xanthorrhoea johnsonii) make a spectacular show at the boundary of the Gardens. We used to call them black boys, but that is not allowed any more. The honey eaters and parrots love the nectar in the tall spikes. The trees are extremely slow growing and are protected in the wild. Some of these specimens would be around 200 years old.
Till next time, Cheers.

Monday, 26 October 2009

Walking again

Jock and I have been walking in the Botanic Gardens and the Bauhinia Scandens is in full flower in the heritage Garden. Brides love walking down this pathway to a shelter behind where I stood to take the wedding photo for their wedding ceremonies. It is a lovely setting for weddings, except when stupid vandals come in and pull off all the heads of flowering plants! I suppose the damage is not costly but it is so disappointing and unnecessary. Somebody (probably schoolkids) caused quite a bit of chaos last Saturday night, moving identification signs and destroying flowers. The gardeners came in early on Sunday morning and by the time I was walking in the afternoon they had evrything looking quite good again - minus the sunflowers!

Jock is growing so fast, he loves going for a walk and he leads remarkable well. He is a bundle of energy and goes quite manic when the grandchildren arrive - then he falls in a heap wherever he is at the time.
I am starting to get together samples for the three online courses I am enrolled in but I have nothing interesting to show at present. They all look like fun, I will get hopelessly behind again when we go away in a couple of weeks, but the books will all still be here.
Time for bed, hopefully more tomorrow.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Do you remember this?

Sometimes I can move images and sometimes I can't and tonight I can't. This should be further down after the new foliage, as this is the bud forming. I love the spiky bits which turn into leaves later on!
Do you remember this image I posted about a month ago? Turns out to be a distorted flower form of the Banksia Robur, but still fascinating.

Here is what it looks like today. The change happened in the last week as I had been taking photos every few days to see what would happen, then we went away and bingo!

This is the new foliage just starting, with its lovely orange red colour. If you click to enlarge the image you may be able to see the bud just starting to form in the centre.

Jock decided to investigate the shopping bags when I was unpacking after grocery shopping. he couldn'tfind anything interesting inside so decided they made a good cushion instead! His head still hasn't grown to fit his ears, but one day they won't look so huge!

The lady who minded him for us while we were away sent him home with this rabbit which must be sewn together very very well. he attacks it, chews it, carts it around and flings it into the air with no apparent harm to the toy. He keeps us amused - and frustrated - trying to get a photo of him, he does not stay still for nearly long enough.

I have nearly caught up on all the paperwork for the office so tomorrow I am going to start on one of the three workshops I have downloaded today - I bought both Maggie Grey's latest book Stitches, Straps and Layers and Stitching the Textured Surface by Lynda Monk and Carole McFee. Free workshops are being offered in conjunction and they look fabulous. Click here to follow the link. As well Lynda and Carole through their Fibre-in-Form site are offering (for a small fee) a workshop Simply Salt using salt and paints and other effects on Lutradur. Look forward to seeing some samples later (I hope).

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Back on air

I have been off the air since just after I posted about the wedding as once again we were hit by a devastating virus - despite all the firewalls Bill has installed! This 'root kick' somehow got in then killed off the virus protection and froze the screen - just wonderful when Bill has so much work to catch up on! Thankfully he was able to use his laptop to search Google and download (at a cost) programmes to repair everything - he was more than somewhat frustrated at wasting most of the weekend doing repairs!

I have managed to load some of these photos in the wrong order but that doesn't matter. While we were driving to Canberra I was playing with my camera trying different settings and took this photo through the windscreen - of a very green approach to Canberra - and one about to get much wetter! I have never seen Canberra green before, everything has always been a brown/yellow droughtstricken scene. I know we did not appreciate the weather for our sightseeing, but the green countryside is wonderful.
The photo below is taken from the top of Mt. Ainslie and should show the wonderful sweeping view from the War Memorial (at the foot of the mountain), down the avenue, across Lake Burley Griffin to both old Parliament House, then new Parliament House and on to the hills beyond. If you click to enlarge the image you may see to the hills, but the rain was approaching fast! I have seen it in sunlight and the sight was truly magnificent!

We went sightseeing from Batemans Bay down to Narooma on the day before the wedding stopping a lovely little village called Mogo. Foolishly I did not take any photos, but I found a gorgeous bead and button shop where I purchased this handful of buttons for $3 - I would like to have weeded out some of the larger ordinary round buttons and just taken the tiny little flower buttons - they all kept sticking to my fingers and hand as I was rummaging!

While in Narooma I was lucky enough to meet up with a Playways pal Shirley Wager - we both joined Playways back in early 2002, but this is the first time we have met in person - great fun.
Then in Canberra I met up once more with Doreen Grey whom many of you will know through her blog. Doreen is such a generous lady and brought along these goodies for me to take home. The picture is now hanging on the wall of my workroom where I can look at it every day. I love all the papers she has given me as well, now I have to think how I am going to use them - soon.

I think Doreen will agree that both of us have had better photos taken, but we were having lunch and at least we have a record of it. I forgot about photos when I met Shirley!

Time to take Jock for a walk, he is growing by the minute I think. We had been saying how very good he has been when he blotted his copybook absolutely last night. Bill had been trying to dig a trench for some pipng for a gas hot water system due to be installed this week. The ground was very hard and dry so he filled the trench with water to soak in overnight. You guessed it, Jock found the trench and had a ball in the mud - he then came in the back door at a million miles an hour and raced into every room in the house tracking mud all the way!!! He did not appreciate being dumped into the tub for a bath at 6.30 pm - and I did not appreciate having to clean up the mess - but I wish I had seen him in the trench - deeper than he is tall - with my camera in my hand!