and then there’s the black dog…

23 05 2012

Black dog
Photo credit YouWall

it gets worse before it gets better

6 05 2012

With James’ & David’s help we’re making some progress on the front garden. The first thing we did was pull out all the Alyssum, reset the blue stones into the curves we want and dug some trenches. We also cut back the Ficifolia (Flowering Red Gum) that’s spread itself out over the front yard. We’ve also set out the iron rings which will act like planters and contain the bigger tress. I’ve treated the insides & bottom edge a little with anti rust, but they should rust up nicely on the outside. 

Iron rings

The other thing we’ve done is treat the ends of the timber that will make a wall between the iron rings and divide the garden from the driveway. Used something not quite creosote, but still black & sticky which should help make the timber last when buried in the ground. 

Treated timber

Next steps will be to cut and set the timber in the ground, and bolt a steel strap across the tops to hold them together and tie in with the rusty iron planters. Then maybe we’ll be able to start some planting. 

a cultural day out – art and literature

6 05 2012

We’re avid readers and like books. While we enjoy reading digital versions on the Kindle of iPad, we’re also fond of the analogue version. So, when there’s an opportunity to rummage around looking for secondhand books, we’ll take it. So, on the weekend we paid a visit to the Central Goldfields town of Clunes for the annual Booktown Festival.

Clunes fountain
Fountain in Clune’s park.

I managed to find the third book in a trilogy I’ve just begun (had the first two) and also a few other books I’ll be keen to read. The prices vary and I guess might average $5 but there’s also some lovely collectors items that will cost a lot more. Some vendors have .50c and $1 books, one had all their books for $5 another all were $10 and then some have them marked at different prices. Lot’s of fun.

On the way to Clunes we stopped in at the Ballarat Art gallery and saw a couple of exhibitions. Firstly Marion Manifold: Through the Notebook – Marie Antoinette and some amazing linocuts. Then Kerrie Leishman: The New Beauty with some interesting painting inspired by wind turbines in the landscape. So, a bit of a cultural day out getting a fix of art, ideas and literature (well, not all literature in the strict sense). 

the cycle of the seasons

21 04 2012

As Autumn approaches things are changing in the garden. The flowers on the Haemanthus Red have faded and died, but left seeds to create the next generation… James came by this morning and repotted the leafy bulbs into the old wheelbarrow which should mean we’ll have a great display next season when they bloom again.

Haemanthus bulbs

We’re getting ready to do some work in the front garden which is long over due. I’ll document the progress of the transformation from a field of Alyssum that it’s become, to a designed low maintenance garden. It will feature a timber wall, some iron rings, and a bunch of interesting plants…

Alyssum field 

So, hopefully by the time there’s another change in the seasons we’ll be all set for Spring to encourage some growth in the new garden.

the beach as terminator line

15 04 2012

Wow, it’s mid April, Easter has come and gone and the Indian summer we’ve been experiencing will, no doubt, soon make way for cooler weather and remind us that winter is on it’s way. Over Easter we did a block trip and had a bunch of family and friends staying with us. Lots of tents, fire, food and chocolate egg hunts. And this weekend we headed down to the coast for a stroll in the sun at Torquay on a beautiful day…

Torquay boardwalk

We parked at the boardwalk behind the main beach and were quite surprised to see some of the development around Torquay – particularly the thing next to the golf club. It’s becoming quite the  coastal resort.

We walked around and up to the headland before climbing down the stairs to the beach. A few people out diving and others walking on the rocks and checking out the pools. Further to the west down towards the surf beach a pack of surfers vying in the meagre swell for a wave to catch. Having a 180 degree view from the headland highlighted the terminator that the beach is – that beige coloured line between the land and ocean. It’s a wonderful transition between the two.

Torquay ocean

We rock-hopped back around towards the estuary at sea level and enjoyed watching children playing amongst the rocks. Brought back wonderful memories of our boys enjoying the beach when they were little and learning all those things about the beach – sand, surf, & salt water. Hmmm, good times.

Colour brightens up a dull day

3 03 2012

It’s the first weekend in March and cold, wet & dreary. A very stark contracts to last weekend’s hot (high thirties) and dry weather. Not to worry though, I’m inside, rugged up and enjoying coffee & donuts. I’m also trying to write up (and finish) a research report that’s been due for a few months. With the summer break and the transition to a new job this project has been on hold and I really need to get it done and out of the way.

So, what am I doing writing this short post? Task avoidance I reckon – but really trying out the Wrodpress for iPad app for the first time. We’ll see how it goes as I try to add a photo.


We’ve been surprised by the appearance of the flowers on the Haemanthus Red that’s been lying dormant in a pot in the old wheelbarrow. Over the last 10 days it’s bloomed and is adding some nice colour to the front verandah to brighten up the grey weekend. We think the warm weather last week may have encouraged it to get going, and I continue to marvel at how nature works.

the blur between the end & the begining

9 02 2012

Thought I’d write some words about the transition from 2011 to 2012 as it’s already February and I haven’t written anything for over six months. While time will not slow down for anyone (& I wouldn’t want it to) I’m wondering if there are any techniques that will help me sort of slow it down so it doesn’t all seem like so much of a rush. Maybe take more time out to be still? Anyway I’m disappointed that I haven’t been disciplined enough to set aside some time for writing and hope that things will settle down soon so that I can get back to some regular reflection.

Since July 2011 things have been busy and it’s been difficult to maintain routines. There’s been lots of work to do, travel and visiting, and changes in work circumstance. Late last year we were in Perth and presented at a conference & attended another later in that week & visited friends as well as family on both sides. I’ve been to the Gold Coast to attend a conference that I was part of the organising committee. I’ve attended some professional development seminars and participated in some workshops. I’ve been studying and completing a research project and also begun a new job early this year which meant finishing the old one and handing over before the end of last year. And that’s just the work side of things. There’s also been some holidays, family responsibilities, all that stuff that comes with having a home & garden, visits to the bush, as well as a few weekends getting wonderful doses of culture in Melbourne.

Under blackwood

Well, the upshot of all this is that a break was necessary and we managed to have three weeks off over Christmas & New Year. Down on Cape Otway we were able to relax, read, reflect, and also do a fair bit of work (clearing mowing, sawing & stacking) in preparation for a bushfire assessment that will influence our building plans. The weather was wonderful with a couple of days rain and only a few hot days that required the minimum of movement and sitting in the shade under the Blackwood (pictured above – taken with  15mm wide angle lens). We had family and friends visit and also discovered a number of new animals & insects. It surprised us that we hadn’t seen some of these critter before even though we’ve been regular visitors for over 10 year. We saw Black Slugs, a Bush Tick (that had finished feeding on a Koala, Possum or Wallaby), a couple of new bird varieties and a frog that we hadn’t seen before. The Magpies, Kookaburras, Koalas and Wallabies were busy and all had young ones and we even came across an Echidna digging around for some ants. I’m thinking we should start our own fauna & flora catalogue that records what lives and grows in our corner/patch of the world. It’s wonderful that we can be part of the environment that supports all these animals and look forward to spending more time there this year. Anyway – the break was perfect, and we came away refreshed, happy and ready for another year…

We also came across a (free) DVD called The Art of Walking that promotes the Great Ocean Walk that its wonderfully shot. Three interesting people reflect on their experiences of the walk and it includes some of our favourite places. You should check it out online and see if you can pick up a disk from a tourist office.




airports – a special type of micro/systo/eco/cosm

20 07 2011

On the road again…

Yep, heading home after a long week in Denver attending a conference and sitting in a bar at Denver airport killing time. I mean, what else can you do at an airport other than drink coffee or beer and eat. I suppose you could wander aimlessly wondering how you can spend that last $18 of local currency that’s not worth hanging onto. And it’s not worth worrying about the price because what else are you going to do?

Anyway, fairly easy trip in a shuttle out to the airport and then got changed into more comfortable travel clothes and packed the bag before checking in. Managed to get a window seat to LA and then and aisle on the jumbo for the 14 hour flight to Melbourne. I bought myself one of those travel pillows to wrap around my neck and will be very interested in how it goes. A few hours sleep between the movies will be very welcome.

Denver airport

Denver is a large airport and a significant domestic transfer hub and quite busy. Architecturally it’s special with a marquee type vinyl roof intended to reflect the Rocky Mountains. Actually looks a little like a Bedouin tent from the outside and provides a nice diffused light inside. So, people are busy eating fast food, hanging around, sleeping on the floor, browsing the stores, sponging free wifi (like me) and generally making the most of being captive in this closed system environment. Yep, there are rules and lots of security (particularly getting out to your departure gate), and I was impressed by the ‘ambassadors’ stationed around the concourses who seem to be retired people that answer questions and provide help if you need it.

I suppose the one thing everybody has in common at an airport is that they are all going somewhere – unless they are seeing someone off, or work there. There’s a mixed mood of excitement about heading off somewhere as well as one of frustration as the sense of movement is stymied by the processes and systems of security checks. I reckon fair enough, because I for one would like to be safe as I travel and recommend giving yourself some time between connections so you don’t get stressed.

Now time has been killed, and blog post written – might mosey off to my gate and then sit around to read my magazine and/or book as I’ve another hour till boarding. Oh, and hoping the new pillow will perform as advertised.

away for the weekend – heading North rather than South

11 04 2011

During the first weekend in April we enjoyed some time in Castlemaine in rural Victoria (rather than the usual trip down to Cape Otway). It happened to be the opening weekend of the (10 day) Castlemaine State Festival and we thought it would be fun to check out some of the local arts & crafts and get away for a few days. Very thankful for the perfect weather and it was fairly easy to walk around the town checking out what was on display. Amongst other things, found a large sculpture of a sitting Buddha made up of recycled computer motherboards.

Motherboard buddha

There seems to be lots of local painters, sculptors, writers etc. living in around Castlemaine and we managed to get around to see quit a few things on display in public venues as well as in their home-galleries. This meant a little bit of driving as some people live out of town. We didn’t get to see any performances (other than street buskers etc.) but great to see plenty of public activities and the farmers market on the Sunday. We also dropped into the local library and were amazed by a display of some of things that have been found in returned books.

Ex Libris Detritum

On the Saturday afternoon we caught the VLine train into Melbourne, and went to see play Café Scheherazade. This was a very special and enjoyable experience. We know the book by Arnold Zable, and have been to the cafe itself for a meal, so to watch this story performed (from the front row) was wonderful indeed. This was a lovely treatment of an emotional story(s), and managed to portray the complexities of the lives of those who have lived through the Holocaust and eventually migrated to Australia.

Fantastic that we could have some time out and be inspired by the beautiful countryside and the diverse creativity of people.




the dangers of living in the suburbs

10 04 2011

We’re very happy to live in an established neighbourhood with lots of trees. This ensures plenty of bird life, possums and recently a few fruit bats (or flying fox) enjoying the environment along with the residents. I came home in the evening mid week and spotted a Tawny Frogmouth on the wires above the driveway, raced in & got the camera and managed to take a snap before it flew off.

This weekend though, we’ve been distressed to see two magpies and a fruit bat hanging lifelessly from the power lines (there was also another dead fruit bat straddling the wires further up the street). Somehow they’ve managed to electrocute themselves across the wires. The electricity company has been called to get them down (if they down’t blow off before then) and we’ve asked them to check if the wires are too close together…

Magpies fruitbat

Seems such a shame that our suburban infrastructure can be so dangerous for the wildlife. I’m sure there must be ways to prevent things like this from happening.