Friday, June 16, 2006

First up this Friday - an early Sunday confession: I knit.

Furthermore, I thought it would be such a good incentive to knit something for myself this year that I joined the Pearl Buck Swing Jacket Knitalong.

After lots of delays, include a few days of stage fright when I finally had all the goodies together, I finally got started this week and have been perfecting the art of bus knitting.

For anyone else keen to look like a dork on public transport, the trick is to make sure there is no one sitting on your right side, that way you can keep your left needle almost motionless and not worry about gouging someone's eye out with the right.

I started, for no particular reason, on the left front piece:

My Float's reaction was something like this:

"My God woman! Are you just the world's worst over-achiever ever?"

Closely followed by "You have three kids, and you work in an office, and you're doing up a house and you still have time to knit! Do you ever sleep?" (My Float is prone to italicising when excited).

Then she wound up with my favourite line ever, "I don't know how you do it!"

And my response, as ever, is: "I don't."

Because you see, and here is the real confession: I have totally wimped it on the pattern's zig zag edging. It would mean carrying around a cable needle (small, pointy both ends) and then I'd be losing it and dropping it on the bus and losing count and having to pay attention to the pattern and, quite frankly, I can't be bothered.

So, you see, I'm not an over-achiever at all.


Further to yesterday, this morning the Gorgeous Boy's cough woke him just before 7am so I had no qualms about the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle viewing. Except...

...surely it can't be good for you to fight the swamp monster before breakfast?

Mind you, we've got some pretty tough dudes on our side...

I think I remember why I had previously banned morning television.


Thursday, June 15, 2006
The road to longevity is paved with... freshly swept floors.
Men should be dying to do housework

Had to laugh - I hope Surfing Free can use this article about men and housework/childcare to back up her domestic campaign!


A Thursday morning dilemma: my 3 year old Gorgeous Boy is, in the way of 3yo boys, besotted with superheroes in general and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in particular; the TMNT are on at 7am weekday mornings on Cartoon Network; the GB has a slightly chesty cough and it is a freezing cold morning; do I keep my promise and wake him for the TMNT and risk his cough worsening, or leave him in bed and risk the broken heart that will almost certainly ensue?


I've been up about an hour, doing my morning media monitoring stuff. It is freezing here, partly because the dog got frightened during a thunderstorm a couple of weeks ago while we were out and attempted to force her Border Collie sized frame through our cat-sized cat flap. We returned home to find the outer border of the cat flap still dangling around her neck and a cat-sized hole in our back door. It's still there because we are replacing the door prior to the tenants moving in next month and there's not much point putting a new cat flap in the old door.

The upshot of this story is that I'd covered most of my body up but there was a patch on my ankles that was particularly copping the icy breeze. The new kitten, she who broke the camel's back and forced us into many hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of debt for a bigger house, she has just snuggled into the cold spot and is all cosy and purring.

I think she can stay a bit longer.


Wednesday, June 14, 2006
Lemony snippets...

Found on the web: I wouldn't have thought of combining lemons with bougainvillea but it's a beautiful contrast, isn't it?

I am looking for different possible lemon and orange layouts in the garden, something like a small grove but without taking up too much space. I'm toying with the idea of putting citrus trees around the clothesline area - maybe counterproductive for fast drying but Oh! the smell of the clothes with the trees in bloom!!

Of course, bees could become a nuisance...

Single trees still look lovely - I like the simplicity here:


Monday, June 12, 2006
Blackbird's House Plant Show and Tell
A bit late, as usual, for Blackbird's show and tell.

This is our main house plant at the current house, a Valencia orange tree that's probably close to 40 years old. We built our deck around it so it's really a part of our house - that makes it a houseplant, yes?

The fruit is quite bitter to eat, but not when juiced - how does that work? It's so prolific that we have more than enough for juice in winter. I will miss it enormously when we move out and the Pea Princess has several times suggested that it can't be that hard to dig it up and bring it with us.

We're making it a condition of the lease that our tenants let the agent know if the tree appears to be sick!

And here, just for fun, some other house plants - many will be coming with us when we move.

You might be able to see the thick brown stem of the columnar rosemary these cuttings were grown from. Sadly the mother plant didn't make it when we had to transplant her out of the main garden bed, but the babies are doing very well.

Speaking of babies, this is the kitten who broke the camel's back - she's the reason we really have to move.

Nasturtiums, so cheap, so cheerful, so 1980s garden salad! I love knowing that I can pull this up, stick it in a plastic bag and poke it in the ground at the new house and - with no more effort than that - get a lovely cascade of yellow and orange flowers this spring.



Hedging My Bets: Camellia vs Lillypilly vs David Austin Roses
As Vickee says, the major plantings must go in first. The order will be hedges, trees, borders, fillers.

As to the hedge, we have two areas needing screening plants - the front fence and the long southern side fence between us and the two storey place next door.

The side fence will be planted with lillypillies, probably this highly recommended acmenia smithii.

Apparently it is a fast grower, has white flowers followed by pink berries, and goes through an autumn red leaf change. Plus it is a native and doesn't need much water.

I may break up the side hedge effect with fruit trees, but more on that later. (note to self, remember the Edna Walling designs and persimmon trees).

The BIG question is what to plant for the front hedge? My first instinct was camellias, because they are so linked to the 1920s and 1930s in my mind, hence suitable for a house of that era.

I was a bit dazzled by the range when I first started researching camellia hedges, which set my mind wandering to other options. But if we do go with camellias, a good choice appears to be the sasanqua 'Early Pearly'

According to the Burke's Backyard bible

'Early Pearly' has pink buds opening to large, ivory white flowers
resembling waterlilies. It has a medium to strong, upright growth habit and dark
green, shiny leaves. A taller grower than 'Silver Dollar', it will reach about
3-4m (10-15'). 'Early Pearly' can be used for hedging, as a privacy or specimen
plant, or as an espalier. As well as having long lasting, exquisite flowers, it
is also sun hardy, and very long flowering (mid-March to end of July).

Then there is the David Austin rose option, thanks to David Austin rose junkie Suse passing on her addiction to me (there's a mental image, yes? a room full of spaced David Austin addicts sprawled across each other sucking in the perfume and marvelling at the intricacies of each petal).

I keep going back to this website to bask in the glory of these roses, but my current pick would be (subject to Suse's approval!) Mayor of Casterbridge for a front facing rose hedge.

(rotten bloger is refusing to load the pic, so click on the link to see how lovely he is!)


Sunday, June 11, 2006
Reasons for this blog part 2 - the new front yard
I'm not so fretful about the front yard because I know almost exactly what I am going to do.

Here is what it looks like now from the house ...

... and from the street..

... and here is the first part of my plan - a small Secret Garden...

It won't be so rocky, and the fountain and pond won't be so big, but this is something like what you will see when you walk down our driveway - a path through a hedge to a secret view. From one direction - the driveway looking north - you will see a magnolia tree with a seat around the base. From the other direction - th ehouse porch looking west to the street - you will see the fountain backed by the (camellia or lillypilly, jury is still out) hedge. There will be a small criss-cross path through the lawn to draw you across either the drive to the tree or the porch to the fountain. In my mind's eye, this is the special place where we will take the major family photos - the graduations, the engagements, the dances, the weddings. I think it will be worth the wait.


Why we are here... Part 1, the backyard
This is what we've just purchased. Hideous, isn't it?

It looks a little better from this angle, with the one and only tree on the entire property.

what I want it to look like is a bit of this ...

... and a bit of this...

... and a bit of this...

... not too ambitious, surely?


Welcome to the Ladies Lounge
Welcome to the Ladies Lounge.

Once, every Australian hotel, railway station and golf club had a separate ladies lounge, ostensibly to protect the ladies from the rough and ready behaviour of the blokes in the public bars.

Then along came equal rights and equal access and - while that was all important and wonderful - a part of the deal was giving up the "ladies" in ladies lounge. Most Australian pubs still have an area you can easily identify as the former ladies lounge. It's often the nicest room in the pub and, because it was so separate from the main bar, it is often the room the publicans initially chose to make smoke-free.

I'm calling this the Ladies Lounge because there was something rather nice about being given the best room in the house for girl talk and pleasant refreshments.

While gents were usually not allowed into the original ladies lounges (there were separate lounge bars for mixed company), they will be welcome here. Especially if they obsess about food and gardening and paint colours.

I hope you'll join me from time to time.