Tuesday, September 30, 2014

an unkillable plant for black thumbed gardeners: clivias


The garden is coming into full spring glory at the moment.
 I pore over the progress of the foxgloves, roses,bulbs and so on.

There are also plants I take for granted which are really the toughest things in the whole garden apart from the agapanthus: CLIVIAS and if you are scared of gardening and never planted anything else in your life you could plant a clivia ( in the right position) pretty much ignore it and you would have really nice strappy dark green leaves all year round and beautiful flowers ( I have orange and pale creamy yellow) this time of year.

All clivias need is soil ( in a pot is also fine) and to be planted in the shade. They hate full sun which burns their leaves. They also hate frost and snow. I never water them. Snails love them so before they flower I do throw down some snail bait. They look best planted en masse under trees. The best ones I ever saw were in a open garden in Brighton: huge shady garden room of deciduous 50 year old trees under planted with clivias, hellebore and purple ajuga.

I love them as cut flowers in the house and they last for ages. The yellows are very rare and I think were expensive ( were a gift one year); the oranges only eight dollars or so you can divide them after a few years and make more and more by just slicing them up. Otherwise they can just be ignored and they're still gorgeous. Everyone should plant one and no, no-one is giving me money or a free clivia to write this.

days old and still going

under the maples, with mini agapanthus

planted with violets here

in a pot, covered in cockatoo poo

artistically clipped leaves, burned last summer, also snails nibbled....




Friday, September 26, 2014

a three book problem


Some girlfriends and I have started meeting every six weeks or so for "dinner on knees" at home, a good talky catch-up and a book discussion.  Last time we talked about  The silkworm, and I just realised today that I think we meet again in a week and I have not opened the next book yet, but have instead started two others instead because I mixed up dates and we are a week further along in the year than I thought.

So what I need to do is put down the "just starteds" for a week and read 38 pages per day for the next week to get the bookclub book finished. I learned to do this divvying up of books when I had to read things like David Copperfield and Bleak House at university and it's never failed me when I have to read something in a hurry.

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The first book I started was Sonya Hartnett's Golden boys, her new adult fiction novel about a glamorous-seeming family who move to a working class neighborhood. The story is told through the eyes of 12 year old Freya, a neighbourhood girl, and newcomer Colt, who is the same age, and is the older son of too-friendly dentist, Rex.  Hartnett write perfectly and accurately about life in the suburbs in the 1970s and her portraits of the preteens are quite dark and just ring impeccably true and real to this recent mother of teenagers. I've only read 80 pages and can see this book is moving into dark and uncomfortable subject matter but Hartnett's prose is so mesmerising that I'm looking forward to watching how the secret lives of some of the characters are revealed.

I knew Hartnett's book would need a fluffy antidote so the other book I started is Adventures with the wife in space by Neil Perryman, a Doctor Who fan who has written a book ( and blog) about the two and a half years he spent tracking down and watching every episode of the show from the beginning, with his wife, who was not initially a fan. It is really funny and touching: he was a big fan as a child, and watched all the episodes since the show's reboot in 2005 but wanted to go back and re-visit all the doctors pre-Ecclestone and all the old villains, companions and so on. I am loving this, if you are a Doctor Who fan, you will too. I didn't really watch it when I was a kid ( too scared) and just vaguely recall Tom Baker in the part so it's all new to me.

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I finished The King's Curse. It was tremendously interesting: for the first time I saw Henry VIII as a pretty deranged nasty paranoid murderer rather than a spoiled King desperate for an heir. The number of people he had killed for no real reason apart from the fact that he just could, is very chilling.

Even though Margaret Pole, heir to the other Royal family, the Plantagenets, was possibly plotting against him, she and her family were treated vilely and largely massacred. It is awful stuff.

Truth is indeed stranger than fiction: Margaret's descendant, who some consider the true king of England lives in WANGARATTA. Who'd have thought it?

*
Tonight I'll start reading The dinner by  Herman Koch, my "book club"  book. I don't know anything about it.  38 pages before bed. No excuses.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

I am not busy

I'm not at work this week and I made concrete plans to do only two things.

These were:

1. Go to the (Royal Melbourne) Show
2. Get my eyes tested and organise new glasses.

I did  these on Sunday and Monday which means the rest of the week I've woken up with no idea how the day is going to pan out and have done a lot of staring out of the window admiring the plants coming into flower.





Then I do something like weed the garden for half an hour or read, or decide what to have for dinner.

I went one day to look for t-shirts for summer (unsuccessful) so came home with nothing. (Where are the good t-shirts hiding?) Looked at summer/spring clothes in the shops: universally hideous, so I'm not missing anything by trying to make do with what I have this year. I actually went through my warm weather clothes ( which are packed in a big suit case off season) and realised I do have quite a lot and they'll be fine, lacking only in a couple of good quality t-shirts, but these seem to be non-existent out here in the 'burbs and I'm not buying made in third world by slaves rags.

 Another day,  I went to Officeworks for some stationery: spent ages wandering about marvelling at the whole aisle of pens and pencils, and the seemingly thousands of folders, boxes, clips and whatever. It's all pretty mindless and slow and I don't feel the need to ring anyone up and make plans for lunch or dinner or the movies or anything at all.

Today's vague plan is cooking: make some granola because I have all the ingredients in the cupboard and I'm a bit tired of porridge. Also making an egg and bacon pie for a friend who had surgery and can't do much, and might do some little orange and poppy seed cakes to drop over with the pie. The weather has been glorious until today: spent lots of time sitting in the sun and plotting garden things. I've also washed every thing that needs to be washed because of the " good drying weather."

I finished one book and started two more and I'll write about these tomorrow.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

masterchef and the Show today








We've been to the Royal Melbourne Show many times over the years and the decorated cakes never fail to entertain. I certainly couldn't see myself eating one but they are great to look at and admire.

This year there seemed to be an obsession with yarn bombing all the animal figures which looked pretty cute but was EVERYWHERE.






I was very excited to be able to walk through the Masterchef kitchen, where the show is filmed.
B was less keen but humoured me: the queue really wasn't very long......

The photos aren't great but I loved seeing all the different bits of the set. The pantry! The judge's table! The clock! The benches! The couches! Yes I know this is pretty sad of me.
Some of this year's contestants were there and Alice from a couple of years ago.





Other random Show photos below: we walked our legs off, had our CWA scones, saw some WOMEN wood chopping for a change and had a great time.










Friday, September 19, 2014

note to self: no more Tudors


As I noted on Instagram this morning, I feel like I've read about 387 books about the Tudor royals, especially Henry VIII and his six wives. I managed to read 180 pages of The King's curse while I was away last weekend and have read about 130 since then but I still have a way to go.
 Unfortunately at about the halfway mark I felt like I was re-reading EARLIER Philippa Gregory Tudor court novels ( like The constant princess) but I do want to finish this, even though there's no suspense - I already know who's getting their head chopped off, who doesn't, and how many more pregnancies end badly ( all of them). Despite all this, I love the history so much it's not a chore to read. Gregory's novels have been described as romance thinly masked by history but they are enjoyable. If like me you never studied this period at school you certainly learn a lot. The last Tudor novel I will read is The mirror and the light, Hilary Mantel's third book in her Wolf Hall series.
It's not finished yet: good. I have too many brand new books from my favourite authors sitting ready to go.

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Small trip to the local op-shop this morning while I waited for a prescription to be filled and I found a $2 tin for my long spaghetti (above) and a glass bowl for the sea glass.


I'm giving away more than I buy at the moment which is very freeing.
Using up bottles of things in the kitchen and bathroom and have given away armloads of books and clothes. I've bought exactly EIGHT new items of clothing this year. I am a bit low on summer clothes but am going to try to keep it to four things only between now and December 31, to take it up to a total of a dozen. It hasn't been hard because I don't go clothes shopping for entertainment, except in op-shops. I must count how many op-shop things I've added this year - actually not that many, but I'm not entirely sure. All the new things I've bought except one fast fashion item I should get some years out of. I do wear things to death/rags/holes.

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Apart from tomorrow, I have a week off work.
My work partner is going on six months leave from October 30 and is then just coming back in March to retire! I thought I'd better have a little break before she goes.
I'm not going anywhere except into my garden, hopefully every day. I've already made medical appointments for Monday and B and I went out for breakfast today. We are going to the Show on Sunday with J and his girlfriend: S is giving it a miss this year.
Other things to do: get the machine out and finish the doily tablecloth; cut out a skirt and some pyjama pants; pay bills, get my tax papers together and make an appointment to do it: I have to pay this year so I'm putting it off.

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This week the spring garden has sprung into life: Mr Lincoln has eight rose buds, the willow and maples are leafing up and everything is green, green, green. Last job for the day apart from making a pilaff for dinner is to throw some dynamic lifter around the fruit trees. I pruned the lemon tree really REALLY hard: it was covered in citrus gall wasp and looked terrible and has not produce a lemon this year so I figure the prune will mean kill or cure. We shall see.







Tuesday, September 16, 2014

sewjourn is not just about the sewing


I'm not really much of a sewer but I get invited to go to Sewjourn anyway: I feel very lucky, but for me the long weekends are about much more than the actual sewing.

Last weekend was so calming that I'm still in relaxation mode. Today, two days after coming back someone remarked how well I looked. Trying to hang on to the slowed-down feeling as long as possible.

Trying to analyse it, I realised that on these weekends  I get to do all my favourite things, with no expectations by anyone to be anywhere at a certain time or be responsible for anyone else except myself.

 I pinned up and tacked all the doilies for my tablecloth and I took some clothes to mend: took up some shorts, mended a shirt and sewed some snap fasteners on a shirt. I spent a long time in the beautiful town book shop. The next town was having an "all town garage sale" with 35 households selling off their stuff. Five of us went over. ( I only bought a ceramic for S, a funny little cookbook and a big empty glass jar. Sue, who runs a vintage shop called Bruthen Bizarre bought up big: her car was filled to the top with things). I made lunch for everyone on Saturday. I got into my bed in the middle of the afternoon, read and slept. I had a BATH: I haven't had a bath in years. I read 180 pages of my book. There is no wi-fi and I don't take a phone so there was no internet. No radio and we don't turn on the television. It is so....peaceful. It was sunny and the town was filled with daffodils and trees full of blossom. We took turns making meals, emptying the dishwasher and making cups of tea. Janet made a huge tin of melting moments and we scoffed them. We sat down for "family dinners" at night, and Saturday lunch. There is talking, talking, talking, but there are friendly silences too.


Here are some photos from the weekend. Thank you for having me fellow craft campers.

creepy doll bought for Sue's shop

Linda and Suse studying the garage sale map

blue skies


tacking the tablecloth

Sewjourn garden view

quiet Sunday morning reading

bought this junior version of P&P for S

Linda bought two chairs, $5 each


blossom time
Suse's studio photo I stole from instagram. I am pinning in the background.
the house


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