Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Dipping my toe

I've taken the shutters off this blog and  am having a little look around......

Four and a half weeks left of my current contract then I'm back to regular shorter hours. Still undecided about resuming writing here.

We've had big changes at home and I'm adjusting to different life patterns and days. I've barely thought about blogging but I'm thinking now how I could do it but do it a bit differently. I think it's time for a change if I come back. 

Still pondering. I'll check back in another day.

Monday, October 6, 2014

goodbye for now

I finally had THE meeting about my job and my hours will be increasing at the end of the month. I'm happy about this because I'll have some more time to develop programs which have been only ideas for too long, but there will also be major changes happening as we work out how to best use my work partner's hours. I'm quite excited for all this, rather than overwhelmed by the changes but I also need to spend the next few weeks streamlining things here at home as I'll have less free time overall. If you've been reading here for a while you'll know I have an auto-immune disease of the kidneys. My challenge is to work more while I can and feel well and want to, without stressing myself unduly, because there will be a time in the not too distant future when my health will be more compromised and I will be undergoing dialysis and waiting for a transplant.

So for the moment I'm "resting" this blog while I work through the changes of the next few months.
I hope to be back writing here in 2015. Otherwise I do put up a few photos every week on Instagram
which I'm loving as a little micro-blogging platform. Lots of pictures of the house and garden and Shady and the family over there. My handle over there is gillsan63 if you would like to follow me.
I'll add what I've read/am reading on the sidebar here for my own little record and will still be reading blogs and commenting.

Thank you for reading, I've loved blogging here for not quite five years!


Friday, October 3, 2014

2 great books for bookclubs

I finished my book club book: it was compelling so I was reading more than my prescribed 38 pages per day to read it in a week.

All I can tell you of the plot is this: two married couples - the men are brothers -  meet at an expensive restaurant for dinner. The item for discussion during the evening is how to deal with a crime that their two sons have committed. It is extremely dark, amoral and the most intriguing aspect of the book for me is how the reader is only very slowly given different information about the two couples and the crime, and the perpetrators, so you think you feel one way about a character but then your ideas are turned on their head. The joy of the the unreliable narrator! I also liked the setting in the Netherlands: very different and interesting to read the work of a fabulous author translated from the Dutch.
If you like Gone girl or The slap you will enjoy? (is not the word for this book) it. Looking forward to tonight's discussion about it with my friends.


It was a heavy reading week: I also finished Sonya Hartnett's Golden boys.

This story of troubled families and especially fathers, set in Melbourne suburbia in the late 70s, was as compelling as The dinner, and on many levels very familiar territory. Hartnett is only five years younger than me and had a very similar upbringing so reading her novels set in the 70s (Butterfly is another that I loved) is somehow like visiting a strange dream-like version of my past. The characters could have been my neighbours, my school friends. The events of the story are seen through the eyes of the young pre-teens Freya and Colt, who sit uncomfortably between childhood and the adult world. Their loss of trust and innocence is pretty heart-breaking. The writing is beautiful and brilliant.
You must read this one, despite the difficult subject matter.

Now I'll finish the Neil Perryman Doctor Who book which has been light relief between the sombre books, and I can start the new Tana French Dublin murder squad number 5 sitting on my bedside table: The secret place.

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.


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.


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.


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