Sunday, March 30, 2008

Winter Gardening

We recently had a heatwave in Melbourne with the temps souring to an unseasonable autumn temp of 40 degrees C (that's really really hot for those stuck in F, or 104 if you must) but being Melbourne everything changes and we are now down to a low of 8 degrees. Not nice in contrast.

With the smell of woodsmoke from next door, Bev started to sort out some of the windowboxes that had been awaiting work. Toby helped. This ended up needing help from me to nail them (the boxes, not Bev & Toby) to the wall and about the same time (between losing the trowel and finding the pliers) we spotted this little fellow on one of the lemons. He's probably cackling in Moth: "Mine, all mine! Bwahhhh!" or something. Anyway, we reckon we got his best side.

It'll get colder before it gets warmer, but it's been kind of nice to have a couple of wrap-up-warm days as a contrast.


Saturday, March 29, 2008

Dogs and Darkness

It's been a quiet evening tonight. -And extra cosy for it, too!

Feeling like I'm coming down with a cold, today's damp and gloominess was just making it worse. I spent most of the afternoon on the sofa, under an old quilt, feeling mildly morose and sorry for myself.

But tonight we lit all the candles, sat in their warm light, and enjoyed the quiet without the hum of the computers, music or the TV. Along with many thousands of others in Melbourne, I found the prospect of an Earth Hour something small and within reach to show my concern over climate change. And it's such a beautiful place to live - we need to stop, slow down, and look around.

It's cold this evening, so we talked, and read things out loud to each other, and the dog snuggled in and warmed up my lap. I say, bring it on: we should turn everything off more often.

Earlier on today, I went thrift shopping - exchanging some old things and picking up some second hand goodies, including a cuddly cosy new winter jacket. I even found a piece of hand-embroidered linen, with someone's very tidy stitches making a flower and stem. I'll snap a photo of it tomorrow when we have some sunlight (or, if it's still raining, daylight will do!)
[The post about my thrifting delights can be found on my craft blog, Taccolina - Bev.]

For now, I'm going to cuddle up under cosy quilts, hope that the cold on my head is only an illusion, and post some photos of this week's crafty delights in the morning.

Toby's Orange Tree

Toby's photo in the blog here was picked up by our friend Choleena of Happy Happy Dog, and Toby was recently dog of the day. Wooo! Happy Happy Dog's a great site (well, OK, we are biassed, but it is, really) and do check it out.

Just to keep Toby's good times up to date, here's Toby when he decided that the sunlit orange tree pot was the spot. He now knows it's not a place to stay, but I suppose he did keep the birds from pecking the mulch off for a while. (The oranges were nice too.)

He's a cheeky pup, isn't he?

A Shrine, Demons, Harts, Houdini & a Library

I've been busy with a number of projects recently (and what's news about that?) so missed the updates. However, sometimes these projects coincide.

One project is editing my colleague Alex Crawford's book on the Hawker Hart family of aircraft. It's nearly there, and it's going to be an excellent book, packed with lots of great nuggets of information. (Yes, you can buy it, and if you buy enough (that is several billion) you'll make Alex and me very rich. In the meantime, it's an interesting read, that you might like. See the MMP website, and it'll be 'out soon'.)

One shot I got was from the RAAF Museum archive (top, click to enlarge) and shows a RAAF Demon over Melbourne in the late 1930s. Interestingly, the main building that is still recognisable from the air today is the State Library, which is the rotunda on the middle left edge of the pic. You'll have to look hard to see it. On the top right, is the Melbourne Cricket Ground, MCG or just 'the G' which is where Australia thrash England in the Ashes whenever they dare turn up. The last series was a five nil 'whitewash', and restored honour from a (very deserved) England victory in the series before, held in the UK.

But back to the State library. Like Bev (click the link to see her story) I've been working hard on an application for a Fellowship at the library (I just want people to say "Hello, fellow"!) and we got both our applications in this week after the usual mad rush these things take. Bev was better prepared and planned, and mine was done the night before the deadline, so fitting our normal styles then.

Mine is on the coming centenary of successful flight in Australia in 2010. The first flight was by a chap who just wanted to practice away from the world's prying eyes, and as he was probably the most famous man in the world then, he chose a remote spot in rural Victoria called Digger's Rest.

His name was Harry Houdini - you may have heard of him, and if you haven't I understand there's a film out now about him. I doubt his (successful) flying exploits will feature heavily! In typical Aussie fashion, having been beaten to the post by an Austrian American, flying a French aircraft, John Duigan got the finger out and flew his Australian designed and built aircraft from a place called Mia Mia, ironically not far from Houdini's spot. Thankfully these were both in Victoria, and one in the eye for the backward New South Welsh.

A replica of Duigan's aircraft is suspended in the entrance to the Melbourne museum, and they have the real thing in store. I hope to see it someday. This photo (right) shows the skeletal frameworth of the aircraft against the skelital framework of the museum, looking out to the Royal Exhibition Building, which will be a blog topic in due course, I'm sure.

Whether or not my application is successful, I've gathered lots of good material for an article (which is usually the way) so the work won't be wasted.

Another RAAF Museum photo I have of a Demon over Melbourne has the aircraft obscuring the city completely. But below it is the Shrine, built as a memorial to the dead of the Great War, and a major Melbourne landmark. This photo is taken looking north.
The Domain gardens (where Government House is) can be seen to the top right, and it hasn't change a huge amount, although there's loads of tower blocks on St Kilda Road now. Here's a photo I took looking east of the same area, thanks to flying over in my friend and magazine editor Rob's Birddog. You can see the observatory near the top left, which backs onto the Botanical gardens. Can you see all the changes to the Shrine since the 1930s picture?

I do hope you've enjoyed this odd ramble as much as I did putting it together, and I certainly hope the title was completely misleading. Like Houdini, there was quite a bit of misdirection, a couple of tricks and not what was expected, I'm sure. Magic's where you look for it.


Sunday, March 23, 2008

Walkin' and lookin' and snappin'

Went for the usual ramble this morning - half-awake stumble round to the park.

There are some interesting views in Melbourne if you look up.

Spotted the furry dot?

A very young possum, eyes closed - "Go Away" - within arm's reach above my head.

Luckily the dog didn't notice. (Too busy watching out for the Scary Cat that beats him up!)

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Colour splash

There are exciting things afoot in the sewing room (aka the front room/guest room/unholy mess) - and there's bright colour everywhere!

I mean fabric on the futon, fabric on the floor, scraps on the table and the sewing machine whirring. Not quite quilting, it's been a weekend of applique delights.

With a holiday Monday and a bit of extra time, I've been working on several projects simultaneously (after all, why finish just one when you can start and not finish a dozen?) The excitement is barely contained over here at my crafting blog. Yes, I've now got a creativity blog, and it's called Taccolina (the little crow - read the story about the name on the blog).

On Friday the little beauties in the photo above arrived. These are actually business cards - slim little Moo cards from, an amazing UK print service. I quickly point out that the designs are not mine! They have a bank of illustrators' work that you can choose to print on one side of your card, and your details on the other. I am ridiculously pleased with these cards, and with the card holder I bought from Etsy to put them in. Colour galore!

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Uplifting Saturdays

These beauties have been out nearly every morning. With the cool autumn mornings, and the lack of wind, they must have a wonderful time, drifting over the early-morning city.

I've been looking at them as I wait for the 7:34 city train and thinking how much more fun it would be to be up in the blue sky in a balloon.

Beautiful sky and the texture of the house/shed and sky. Click for a bigger picture.

And a mysterious alleyway leading to.... The cafe! (Too bad we were so early that it was STILL SHUT!)


Friday, March 7, 2008

Aussie Aussie Aussie... Um.

This is a selection from an e-mail was sent to me by my old friend Rowena. What's scary is since returning to Australia, most of the make sense to me.

7. When you hear that an American "roots for his team" you wonder how often and with whom.

8. You understand that the phrase "a group of women wearing black thongs" refers to footwear and may be less alluring than it sounds.

13. You believe it makes perfect sense for a nation to decorate its highways with large fibreglass bananas, prawns and sheep.
[But surely this is Canada?]

14. You call your best friend "a total bastard" but someone you really, truly despise is just "a bit of a bastard".

17. You believe it makes sense for a country to have a $1 coin that's twice as big as its $2 coin.

18. You understand that "Wagga Wagga" can be abbreviated to "Wagga" but "Woy Woy" can't be called "Woy".

19. You believe that cooked-down axlegrease makes a good breakfast spread.

20. You believe all famous Kiwis are actually Australian, until they stuff up, at which point they again become Kiwis.

24. You still don't get why the "Labor" in "Australian Labor Party" is not spelt with a "u".

30. You know what it's like to swallow a fly, on occasion via your nose.

32. You know it's not summer until the steering wheel is too hot to handle.

41. You find yourself ignorant of nearly all the facts deemed essential in the government's new test for migrants.

42. You know, whatever the tourist books say, that no one says "cobber".

43. And you will immediately forward this list to other Australians, here and overseas, realising that only they will understand.

So, for our non Australians, how much needs translation?

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Racing in the shallows

Recently(ish) I was left behind with Toby at a place called Duck Point, while Bev and Tam went onto Wilsons Prom. (National Park - no dogs.) Toby and I had some quality time, and walked out to the point where there were ducks, and black swans and cormorants.

Toby, having got used to the concept of water recently decided that racing in the shallows was the best thing, and had a great time.

Sometimes a picture just seems to capture the moment. This is, I think, one of them. Ears, legs, tail, splashes - a living arrow saying this way!


Hot and cool all at the same time...

The other day, I cut Toby a slice of the watermelon fruit near the rind – a big treat for a greedy little dog who loves fruit.

What I’d forgotten, however, was that the knife I used to cut the watermelon had also been used to chop hot green chillies earlier in the meal. I turned around to find the poor dog sitting very still in the middle of the kitchen floor, hanging his head and looking the picture of silent misery, his ears flattened out in an expression of dismay. And he looked at me reproachfully, as if to say; “Big Dog Mama, have you poisoned me?”

All was restored soon after a cuddle and especially when I gave him the empty yoghurt container – his favourite - and naturally the best thing to combat chilli heat. So all was forgotten.

Actually, our watermelon slices were also slightly tingly with chilli, and I can’t say it was all bad! Sort of cool and hot and juicy all at the same time.


Saturday, March 1, 2008


One of the things I like in photography is taking reflections.  Sometimes we look right through them, other times they are more 'there' than reality.

Some favourites:  In the Yarra Valley; the product and the produce...

Another thought is this one - Sunshine and blue skies in the office, what an improvement.