Monday, 31 August 2009

The vistas have returned

For much of the year as you drive around Mackay district the picture above is all the outlook you have on either side of the road.

Then along comes this behemoth of a cane harvester and accompanying tractor pulled trailer to load the chopped up billets of cane.

and this is the result! Mackay is situated on alluvial flood plains and consequently is very very flat! the cane grows to a height of about three metres before it is harvested - a one year crop from Mackay north, but up to two years growing in the cooler climate down south. After the cane is harvested, the farmer lets it grow back (called ratooning) up to three or four times before ploughing out and replanting.

I have spent part of the day making these fridge magnets, I saw the magnetic sheets at the craft store when I was looking for bits and pieces for the book, and we often have inquiries for fridge magnets in the souvenir shop at the Gardens. They are fun and so quick to make - I can use up all sorts of bits and pieces left over from other projects - my stash does not seem to have reduced at all though!

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Work in progress

This is as far as I have got with the book cover so far. I have some more doodads to stitch onto the cover by hand tonight, then I need to think about the signatures. I have a friend doing some calligraphy for the front page, hopefully that should be finished tomorrow. I have been backwards and forwards a few times, but I am happy about how the cover is looking now. I found some pale silver satin which I fused to a felt backing. Then I added a layer of gossamer fuse (like misty fuse) to the front and cut up some silver threads to sprinkle over, before fusing a black chiffon scarf on top of that. I was too clever by half the first time I tried it, thought I would have the flet just covering the front of the cover and have a thinner layer to turn in. After I had done the embroidery on the back cover, I discovered that the felt had shrunk so I had to start again - more practice! I will find something else to do with that piece in time no doubt.

I'm feeling decidedly cheesed off with everything just now. I visited the optometrist today and discovered there is no point in getting new glasses as the central vision in my left eye is virtually gone! At least having the cataract removed has let in a lot more light and thus the peripheral vision has improved so I can still see quite well enough to continue driving etc. Just harded to see for close work. Thank goodness my right eye is not deteriorating at all at present. The moral of this story is go and do all the things you think you want to do while you still can!
I am of to do some work in our garden for a while, that is always relaxing.

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Who came to visit the Gardens?

Australians will recognise this man immediately as one of the presenters of the ABC TV gardening show - he came to visit our Gardens as part of a large LandCare celebration. He is lots of fun and very easy to get along with. We were a bit concerned to begin with that there were not a lot of people around, but they came by the time Jerry was to start talking, lots clutching their bits of plants for identification of the pests on them. Jerry talked for ages and was very patient with everyone trying to nail him for a talk on their special concerns.
He also planted a tree in an experimental part of the Gardens. We are hoping to encourage the planting of local trees in streetscaping, rather than importing all the same plants from down south so that every town and city you visit have the same streetscape - how boring is that! This tree, whose name escapes me, grows in local scrub in pretty tough conditions so the question is what will it do in the rich alluvial soil in the Botanic Gardens - hopefully it will only grow to about 14 metres and thus be suitable for planting in the streets. Then the next challenge will be persuading the nurseries to grow them so they are available to the landscape architects.
There were many other activities going on as you can see here. The local Society for Growiing Australian Plants sold out all the seedling trees they had brought with them.

There was a good crowd listening to a workshop on producing compost and the different types

needed for different soils - I should have sat and listened to that too I think, I don't know nearly enough.

My grandkids were there enjoying all the children's activities on offer - Hamish is having fun with hula hoops. There was bocce (we have a court at the Gardens for the large Maltese population here), weaving a cubby house - lots of fun, but hot out in the open!
I am tired, but we had a very successful day, lots of people who may not have been to the Gardens before came, hopefully they went home inspired to try some of the local species in their gardens.

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Walking in the Gardens again

Bill and I finaally had time to go for a walk in the Regional Forests area of the Gardens today. A new path has been laid made from recycled plastic material, very pleasant to walk on and is not supposed to be affected by roots growing under it, or get washed away in the heavy downpours (which is what happened to the decomposed granite pathways previously there). We will watch with interest to see if this stuff really lives up to its reputation - a more natural colour would have been nicer, but this is the only colour available.

The regional forest area of the Gardens was one of the first to be planted and represents the flora from the dry hinterland behind Mackay. There is no irrigation in the area, just the little creek and pond, so the plants have really suffered in the drought years - but that is what would happen in real life I guess. They looked fantastic earlier in the year, but are drying out fast now.

Many of the pathways around the Gardens have had added interest built into them with palm fronds, ferns, seed pods and various other things pressed into the concrete as it was drying. Small children have lots of fun trying to identify what is there.
This is a very peaceful area of the Gardens - there should be water in the ponds - no doubt it will be back in the next wet season.

Lastly here is a photo of the old fashioned eranthemum flowering in my front garden now. The flowers are really a deeper blue than that, but I can't get the colour right. Like many of the plants in my garden, this came from a cutting from a friend and I waited many years before I could identify it properly.
I should have some photos of 'The Book' to show soon. The pages are cut out and are clamped together for the night before I measure across the back of them tomorrow to determine the width of the spine, then I can cut out the cover and start creating. I am looking forward to doing a bit more than testing little pieces - and my halo will fall off soon. I am normally a boots and all person, going straight in and somehow making it work, but I was too nervous to do that this time. Time will tell.

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Experimenting and gardening

I am still procrastinating, having more or less finished the practice book - now I have too many ideas floating around and am not sure of being able to put any of them into practice! I would prefer not to be working in black and silver and white - I think that is the main bother.

I have been experimenting with a few paper casts and different paints and sprays to see what I like, also sewing some fascinating spirals I learnt with Carole Wilkes at the Textile Convention in Brisbane earlier this year. They don't show up too well here, but can look very good.
Then, just because the day was so gorgeous, I decamped into the garden for some overdue pruning and potting up seedlings.

This is our Congea vine which has been a cloud of dusky pink flowers for about a month now. Our boys loved pulling off the petals and dropping them from a height when they were children - they really twist and twirl all the way to the ground. I think the vine is related to the lovely blue Petrea, but Congeas will only grow in the tropics.

This is the last of the zygocactus flowers - should have been over weeks ago, but still a lovely splash of colour.

I alsays love the flowers on the crotons - often think they lend themselves to textiles.

We had such a wonderful wet season I shouldn't complain, but I would LOVE some rain for our garden - we haven't had a drop since the beginning of June and all my plants are looking very thirsty. I try not to water too much, but in this weather it has become a necessity.
Now it is bedtime, so I can sleep on the thoughts of the book and try again tomorrow!

Sunday, 9 August 2009

What Bill unwrapped

Well, I have managed to load these in completely the wrong order, but never mind.

this is a work in progress and is a practice run for THE book which I foolishly said I would make for the kids' wedding - never having made a book in my life before. I have pored over Beryl Taylor's brillian book 'Mixed Media explorations', also 'Cover to Cover' by Shereen La Plantz, a book about making beautiful books.

I had some silk fusion (paper) in my stash so used that as the colour scheme for the practice doesn't matter, and made some paper casts - I love those. I have some wonderful Indian printing blocks which I was lucky enough to pick up dirt cheap from a shop which was closing down.

the colours on the signatures are deeper than in reality, but I couldn't make them look any lighter. I want to do a very pale wash over the signatures in the real book so was experimenting with paints. I have sewn the signatures to the end paper and have learnt some things NOT to do next time, but I think I am game enought to try the proper book anyway. I have cut out my boards for the covers and will have to paste the cover to those tomorrow..............more of that later.

It was Bill's birthday yesterday and the bottom photo should have been first - the family gathered some photos of jack and had this frame made up! Hamish was fascinated, but Hannah and Alexander were having their own conversation. I had almost forgotten about Jack's crazy habit of climbing up the spiral staircase - that photo was taken through my kitchen window. He would sit there and occasionally yip till somebody heard him and came to the rescue - going backwards down a spiral staircase is a bit difficult!! We would open the gate at the top of the stairs to let him in upstairs - took him several years to learn not to do it.

A very happy day for us all, having all the grandkids and the parents of four of them for dinner capped it off.

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Vale Jack

We said goodbye to Jack today - he is gone but will not be forgotten. His pawprints have been immortalised in concrete at the Botanic Gardens in the geology/archeology walk, done a couple of years ago.

Waiting for one last throw of the ball before we took him to the vet. He was alert and cheerful to the end, but could not breathe or eat properly and a large number of tumours were growing all over his body. Not fair to make him keep going like that.

Sunday, 2 August 2009

the products of procrastination

Here is a collection of souvenirs which I made a few days ago to replace some which I retrieved from the Gardens shop to take away with me as gifts when I went to Sydney. I should have been photocopying documents, but I was still procrastinating - this was much more interesting. I had also read Weaver's blog where she used up lots of scraps - I can't work out how to link to a particular blog day, but if you follow the link to her home you will be able to scroll and find it!
I used strips of Sari silk and plenty of stitching, then cut up an old Playways sample using a teabag to make the highlight on the front! I have used a painted and ironed tyvek sample from years ago on the front of the other notebook, and I apologise for my photo, I didn't realise I had managed to leave a stray scrap of fibre on it while I was taking the photo.

You will be pleased (maybe) to know that I have at last started on the tedious photocopying!

I was babysitting Hamish yesterday and today and we went for a walk in the Botanic Gardens this morning. I managed to take a photo of this drongo sitting in a tree there. They are fascinating birds, wonderfully acrobatic and with a huge array of different calls.

This small area of the coal garden looked so peaceful.
Now I am off to cook dinner before I sit down to watch a repeat of Foyle's War while I start knitting a shawl to wear over my dress for Stuart's wedding in early October. I have just realised how little time I have left to make the book for them as well as do all these other things.