Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Swamp Orchid

Having said there would be no photos in future on this blog, I am now posting a photo my daughter-in-law took last Saturday.

The photo does not do the orchid justice, the spikes are nearly 2 metres tall and are simply gorgeous. I have had the plants for about four years but could not persuade them to grow and flower till this year.  There is another plant outside which is still sending up its spikes.  The orchids were once common in swamp areas from Southern Queensland coast to Central NSW coast, but are very hard to find in the wild now.
I feel like I am getting back into harness, but the frustrating part is that I now have to catch up with all the book work for our self managed superannuation fund which I have let slip since the end of May!  At least the accountant understands it may take me a while and is not hounding us for our tax information.
All my sewing stuff and paints and textile books have gone off to new homes.  Thank goodness I was able to find people in the community who are really happy to have my stuff - much better than sending it to the op shop.  I still have a collection of containers to dispose of, but they can wait. I still have quite a few pieces of my work on display in our home so I can always look at them with many happy memories. 

Friday, 19 September 2014

Returning to blogging - I hope

There will be no photos in this blog unfortunately, but at least should able to write about wehat is happening in my part of the world.
I have unfortunately had further disasters with my eye, ending with an evisceration aher the lens starting coming through the front of the eye.
However I have just returned from Brisbane with a wonderful artificial eye  which looks just like the other eye and moves with it as well.  The ocularist (a name I had never heard of) has a very interesting website showing the process he uses. Do watch the video, he painted my eye in about 25 minutes while I sat in a very bright natural light.
We  have acquired some wonderful electronic vision aids, a very high tech scanner reader which sits on my kitchen table.  We spent about two hours with the agent in Brisbane trying to learn how to use all the features and of course I can hardly remember anything now.  I will gradually learn , but it is a steep learning curve.  There are about a dozen colour combinations to use and then I can adjust for glare and contrast as well as magnification.  It will also read documents to me and many other features besides.
I also have a new computer with a 27 inch wide screen and a special piece of software called Magic which has just as many features as the scanner downstairs - and I am still trying to get my head
around them too!

After all the high tech stuff, I am wearing very low tech ugly night vision yellow glasses to cut down the glare and allow me to see what I am typing!
I spent ages getting Google to let me back in, I had to reset my password and then go through the hoops several times.  Hopefully this will publish .
Back soon.

Sunday, 8 June 2014


My sister is typing this for me as after 6 days of magical clear vision following the cataract surgery, I ended up in Hospital with a terrible eye infection and can no longer see out of my right eye. I may possibly regain some sight over a period of 5 to 6 months, but in the meantime I am depending on minimal sight out of my left eye because of the macular degeneration.
I have loved being part of the blog world and making friends with you all so hopefully I may be back by the end of the year.
Bye for now

Monday, 19 May 2014

Very, very bright!

 Here are the photos of the orchids I promised the other day, though the wind and the rain have almost spoilt them.  I don't know the name, they came from Bill's mother's home in Brisbane and I just ignore them other than watering them occasionally!
 I love the red centres these bromeliads get at this time of the year
The really exciting news is that I can see very brightly and could read to the second bottom line on the chart with NO glasses!  In fact I am now not wearing any glasses for the first time since I was seventeen!  I keep feeling for them, it is very strange.  I had to buy a cheap pair of magnifying glasses from the pharmacy to tide me over for close reading till I can get my eyes tested in a month's time, but I am typing this unaided - yeaaay!!!!

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Social Media workshop

Well, I have just completed a two day workshop on the use of social media to promote organisations, run by representatives of the State Library of Queensland!  I would never have believed I could find that fascinating, but I did.  Most of the participants were representing heritage collections and museums - I was there to represent our botanic gardens as a living museum.
Did you know there are over 750 million people using facebook?  There are even more people blogging using a whole lot of hosts I have never heard about before!

I really went along to learn a bit more about posting photos and events to facebook as I often struggle to get that right when I am posting for the Gardens, I mostly just read and click 'like' on my personal page!

We also heard about a site called historypin which is really interesting.  You can pin a historical photo to the map (google maps or google street view) and then ovelay it with a modern photo of the same location.  We saw several examples around Mackay - fascinating!

I will eventually set up a wordpress blog for the Gardens, but the internet access unfortunately dropped out before the workshop finished and now at home I am too tired to think properly as to how to set it up.
That can wait for a few days as I am due at the hospital at 6.45am tomorrow to have cataract surgery on my right (good) eye.  Hopefully I will be able to see contrasting colours much better by Friday!
I was going to post a photo of my lovely flowering orchid, but the rain started before I could go out to take a photo so that will need to wait a few days also.
Back soon with much better vision - I hope.

Friday, 9 May 2014

Almost caught up - and Margaret Olley

Yeeaaah, I have caught up with the ironing.  That is the worst thing about going away to a conference - there is always a mountain of washing followed by lots and lots of ironing!
I have had a week of doctors' appointments, meetings with subsequent minutes to write up, and now an unexpected but pleasant brief visit from our younger son.  So there has not been much spare time to edit photos.
I really do want to show you some of the photos I took at the Tweed Art Gallery, which now houses two rooms of iconic Australian painter Margaret Olley's house in Paddington in Sydney.
 Everything except the flowers is original.  They had to reproduce the flower arrangements as the originals disintegrated when touched, they had been there so long - Margaret never threw away any of her arrangements for painting!

 She was a wonderful painter of still life, but a very eccentric lady, who lived and painted in the most amazing clutter.  After she died, curators photographed and catalogued everything in these rooms, then packed everything up and transported them to their present home in the Tweed Gallery.  Margaret had her palettes set up in front of every window in the house and worked on whichever one had the best light at the time.
Apparently she was also a very good cook, but in later years if her friends were offered lunch they said they had already eaten.  This is the kitchen, so no wonder.

 I am amazed she could manage to cook anything in the middle of this!
These rooms have only been open for a few weeks and we were lucky enough to see an exhibition of about ten of her paintings, which will hang there for the next couple of months. 
To see some of Margaret Olley's paintings here is a link:

The gallery itself is magnificent and in a wonderful location.  This is the view from the balcony

 I didn't notice the sign till we were leaving - it says OLLEYWOOD.
This visit was the highlight of the week I think.

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Home from the conference

We are back home again and almost back to normal - the washing is all done, but there is still loads of ironing.  That is the worst about going to a conference - all the clothes you need!

The weather was very kind.  There was some rain, but only when we were inside so it did not hamper us at all.
The first night we were at the Gold Coast, we attended a performance of Shen Yun, a classical Chinese dance company, which was incredible.  No photos were allowed, but you can find out about the company here:

Our son Stuart drove us around the Gold Coast, which we had not visited for about 35 years, so we could not recognise anything much!
 We visited the Purlingbrook Falls at Springbrook in the hills behind the Gold Coast - not much water spilling down at present, but a very long drop.
 This is Point Danger, at the mouth of the Tweed river, named by Captain Cook for the dangerous shoals nearby.  Click to enlarge the photo and you will see the dangerous bar at the opening to the river. The concrete structure you can see in the background when you enlarge the photo is for pumping sand back onto the beach.  many of the Gold coast beaches have been badly eroded over the last couple of years during the storms, and of course that is not good for the tourist industry.  
 Blogger has put some these photos in the wrong order and I can't seem to move them!  The ladies were taken on a tour to Mt. Tambourine, again in the hills behind the Gold Coast.  We had lunch at Cedar Creek winery, which also has a man made glow worm cave.  This was the scene outside the cave.  The tour through the cave was interesting, but I could only listen to the commentary as I could not see the glow worms.  Possibly if I had been in the dark cave for another 30 minutes, my eyes may have adjusted, but never mind, everyone else said they were wonderful.
 This was the scene we looked at while having a very delectable lunch.
 I had to take this photo of one of the desserts - tiramisau, yummy.
 For the conference dinner the theme was Elvis in Vegas - I was not looking forward to it, never having been an Elvis fan.  How wrong I was, the night was fantastic.  Three of the committee had dressed up in Elvis lookalike costumes.  The one on the right of the photo is a complete extravert, and a ton of fun.
 Elvis was assisted by two dancing girls as well as a very good band.
 Elvis had everyone - well most, but not me - up rocking and rolling - and Genevieve was even up on the stage adding to the chorus!
 Out of order photo, but no matter.  We walked along the gallery walk of shops at Mt. Tambourine, these cloth figures were sitting there to entice people into the nearby shop - full of lovely antiques.  Fortunately I knew nothing more would fit into my suitcase to fly home so I was not tempted!
Lots more photos still to come, we visited the Tweed Gallery with the new Margaret Olley display - and we were allowed to take photos of her rooms, quite incredible.
I need to do some watering now.  There was no rain at all here while we were away and it has turned quite cold.  I love this time of the year, but it is still a shock to the system when I haven't got our warm clothes out yet.
Back soon

Monday, 21 April 2014

A very relaxing Easter break

I hope you have all enjoyed the Easter break as much as we have here.  The weather could not have been better, cooler nights and lovely sunny days.  I had planned to spend most of the time gardening, but somehow that did not happen.
Bill is making a miraculous recovery from the Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, or whatever it is that he has had for the last six months.  He is actually able to go out into the garden and do some pruning and a little bit of building again.  Yippee!
We are going away to the Gold Coast on Anzac Day, heading off to a conference down there.  There will be a lot of walking and standing around so I am very relieved Bill should be okay.

 I did a Gardens roster yesterday, then went for a wander with my camera.  The Gymnosperm garden has grown so much.  I should look for a photo from a couple of years ago to show how bare it was then.
 I never tire of this view
 Thankfully for a short while the lagoon is almost clear of all the water lettuce weed and is looking much nicer.
This skewiff photo shows the latest piece of felt I have made.  It is only small and will go into my section of the souvenirs stand at the Gardens.  Hopefully someone will like it.

i don't seem to have much of interest to say these days, but I should have some lovely photos after we have been away.

Now I really am going out into the garden to throw some fertiliser around.

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Where has the time gone?

I seem to be having longer and longer gaps between blogs; I haven't even had time to read many blogs lately and I am missing you!

However I have had time at night to do some hand stitching.

 I didn't realise how similar these two pieces are till I put them together. 
The second one is quite a bit smaller however.  I have had so much fun with this course of Jackie's.  I have another couple of pieces waiting for stitch.
 The Oticanthus in my garden bed decided it liked the sunny side much better and has managed to creep through to the other side of the trellis.  It is really bluer than the photo shows, and is such a happy flower.
 It is really good for picking too as it lasts for well over a week - and in our tropical climate, that is very good going.
 I haven't shown a photo of Jock for ages.  We had just come back from a walk in  the Gardens, which he loves.
 I really do know where most of the time has gone - visiting doctors!  Bill is very slowly improving, but still needs to have a long rest (or sleep) after any physical exertion.  We are pretty certain it is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, so the road to recovery is likely to be long.  At least we know he can't possibly have a fatal illness.  He has had so many tests and scans there is nothing left to look at - and everything comes up showing nothing abnormal.  Frustrating from the point of view of diagnosing, but good to know all the same.

I had better get some dinner - and I will try to be back sooner next time.

Friday, 21 March 2014

Gardens update

I don't have anything more to show from my felting yet, but I am steadily hand stitching away on one piece.  I am itching to find time to make some more, but our days seem to be filled with medical matters lately.  Bill's health is still an ongoing saga and he developed shingles last week on top of everything else.  They developed mainly on his forehead and around his eye and nose.  Thankfully there was a checkup scheduled with the opthalmologist, who took one look then immediately wrote a script for ointment to prevent the shingles from getting into his eye - which it didn't.  The GP wrote a script for the antiviral tablets which make such a difference if you get on to them quickly. Ten days later he no longer looks as if he has been in a massive punchup, but is left with neuralgia which can apparently last for ages.
I had time to take a few photos at the Botanic Gardens a few days ago

 Don't you just love this bat wing plant?  The flowering is fading now, but they have been looking spectacular.  I think the plant is native to one of the Central American countries
 The backscratcher gingers are flowering again

 I didn't think to take a photo (from quite a distance) of the very tall foxtail palms, native to Cape York in North Queensland and only rediscovered about 15 years ago.  Now they are in cultivation all round the place, but I think really grow far too tall for small private gardens.  The photo above is the flowering and below is the fruit - a very showy red.

This photo is looking across the lagoon to the areas which we planted last year.  Thankfully they are growing well and will hopefully soon hide the monstrosity which the Council foisted on us.  It is an amphi-theatre which opened last July and has only been used twice so far!  The Garden staff and Friends were very unhappy as most of the money had to come from the Gardens budget and that meant we had nothing left to build the education centre which we really wanted.  However, what is done is done, and next year there may be a very exciting event there - Opera Queensland is trying to bring an Opera in the Park event to Mackay.  It would be a free event and hopefully would awaken more interest in fine music so that people would perhaps be prepared to pay to see the Queensland Symphony Orchestra and suchlike playing in the Theatre.
I had better get off my hobby horse and get dinner - to the sound of very welcome rain.  Everything was getting quite dry again.

Friday, 7 March 2014

At last - something to show

At last I have had a chance to play a bit with the felting.

 These bits were fun to lay out using prefelts and then felt.  Now I need to stitch to bring out the relief.
 This is the stitching on the first piece I did - without using prefelts.
 My eyesight has really deteriorated and I found I had enormous difficulty seeing what I was machining, so there is nothing very elaborate there.  I cut the piece up and made it into specs cases and bookmarks - much more in my comfort zone!
Look what we have flowering in our back garden!  The Golden Penda (Xanthosteman) which we planted three years ago has finally put on this magnificent display.

 The close up shows the wonderful golden orbs
 and this one shows how they are a pale greeny yellow when the buds are coming out.
This tree is a native of the North Queensland tropics, but has been hybradised to grow as street trees.  They are planted all round Mackay and are making a really wonderful display.  The honeyeaters, large and small, love them.
I am not sure how much longer the flowers will last as we are forecast to have heavy rain for the next three days, as well as strong winds.  I just wish the rain would reach some of the droughted areas of Queensland - 80 % of the state is now officially drought declared, the highest percentage ever recorded.  We are dry here, but keep getting enough to keep us going.  Some of the areas in western Queensland have had virtually no rain for the last two years, which is really heartbreaking for them.  Life on the land can be pretty tough sometimes.

Friday, 21 February 2014

The best laid plans...........

I was all set to post nearly a week ago, but it was not to be.There were lots of distractions on Sunday, so I thought I would wait till Monday morning, when all would be well.....BUT.....we had an early morning doctor's visit, partly to assess Bill, who has been very poorly lately, lots of aches and pains, lethargy and general lack of the ability to do anything physical.  He ended up in hospital for three days - the quickest way to see the specialist!  Lots of tests later, he is at home again, actually feeling a bit better.  Of course, he had an enforced rest for that time, definitely not something which would happen at home.  There are still more tests to happen in the next week or so, but at least I am back to a normal (?) routine again.

 We had a Friends' function at the Gardens last weekend and I took this photo of a yellow eyed whip snake eating a lizard on the deck.  You will need to click to enlarge to see it properly.  Of course I didn't have my camera in my hand so I only got the last bit by the time I had fetched it.  The snake is supposedly poisonous, but they are very docile - we had quite a job to persuade it to remove itself to the nearly Cloud Garden.  I think it was enjoying digesting its food in the sun!
 Then later on I took this photo, just with my little Nikon and no special filters - it has turned out quite well.  The smokestack at the local sugar refinery was smoking well and I was looking directly at the sun.

 We have had quite a bit of rain since then, but Jock and I went walking yesterday afternoon in the very light mist - the lagoon is looking very peaceful

 My abelia shrub is flowering profusely at present.  The bees and the honeyeater birds love it, but I am never fast enough to catch them.  This was one of the first shrubs we planted in the garden after our marriage.  The bromeliads are climbing all through it now, I probably should remove them, but they look attractive.
 Of course, my felting has come to a temporary halt - maybe more tomorrow.  I hated this piece when I finished it last Sunday, but I am beginning to see possibilities for embroidery on it now, so maybe the halt was meant!

Also during the week I received these beautiful wool and silk fibres, also a couple of packets of nepps.  I had never heard of them till I saw Jackie demonstrating them.  They add wonderful texture to the pieces.  Maybe I will have something to show you early next week.  Have a lovely weekend.

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Anniversary time

 Well, 46 years ago today, this was us - now a very crazed photo - but the best I could scan.  I remember it was a very hot, thundery day, but thankfully no rain during the wedding time.  I was very cross with the limousine driver who kept going round the block and would not go to the church as he said there were still too many guests outside!  I ended up being late, which I had determined not to happen!  Nobody minded though.

I am loving Jackie's videos, but I am very frustrated as I want to be able to spend a day felting and following up on all the ideas she has given us - and life keeps getting in the way.  The 'silly season' has ended, school has gone back and all the community groups have woken up.  Together with the seemingly constant round of medical appointments there has been very little time to do much felting.

 These were two pieces from the first couple of lessons, just laying fibres on the base fibres and felting.
Now we have been shown how to make pre-felts and place them on a base to felt - much more interesting.  Hopefully tomorrow I might get to try them out.
I am off to make a case for Bill's new reading glasses.  He carries them in the pocket of his shirt and they get badly scratched - and they are too costly to let that happen with the new ones!
We are actually having a wet morning here, thunderstorms around, but not too close - close enough for Jock to think he needs to attack though.  He is not in the least frightened by thunder, lightning or fireworks - just wants to attack whatever it is.

Saturday, 1 February 2014

Cyclone damage again

We have had a weak category two cyclone cross the coast just north of us early yesterday morning.  The rain (about 160 ml) was very welcome, but the wind we had for the previous three days was definitely not!

 The botanic Gardens lost several trees and had lots of branches broken off, but the damage could have been a whole lot worse.
 The big panic had been that the predicted time for the cyclone to cross the coast would have clashed with the top of the biggest tide of the year - 6.56 metres.  The storm surge was predicted to be another 2 metres above that.  Thankfully Dylan decided to move in a hurry and crossed the coast nearly eight yours ahead of schedule.
This photo is of the Eulamere lagoon at the Gardens, taken at the peak of the King tide.  The water did not even cover the boardwalk in the distance.  Hopefully a lot more of the noxious lettuce weed will have been washed out to sea though.  There were some low lying areas of Mackay which were flooded, but that always happens with the King tides.
We had a couple of days of lovely cool weather, but it has turned with a vengeance today - very, very humid and quite hot.
I need to go and rake up some of the leaves all round the garden, they will have dried out by now.  At least everything looks beautifully green round here, and the mowing contractors came to mow the lawn on Wednesday, so that is a joy to look at also.
I still have nothing crafty to show, but I have started doing a felting course with Jackie Cardy, so I should have something soon.