Monday, 31 March 2014

In the Mind Garden - Testa, Spalle, Ginocchi, Pedi

One day, in the middle of a morning reading sessions, Alannah burst into song:

Testa, spalle, ginocchi piedi, ginocchi piedi.
Testa, spalle, ginocchi piedi, ginocchi piedi.
Ho due occhi, un naso, la bocca, e due orecchi.
Testa, spalle, ginocchi piedi, ginocchi piedi.

With the actions for heads, shoulders, knees and toes.

"Anna from preschool taught me," she told us.  


Sunday, 30 March 2014

Laboured gestation

This poor little Okitsu Wabe - a variety of Satsuma - Mandarin was planted (engrounded to use a "Paltrowism") in the middle of June 2013. So that makes 9 months, to further labour the analogy! And, these are all that is left of the myriad fruit that it tried to set during the Spring. I had no idea it could take 5/6 months to mature fruit. However, the Eureka Lemon is following suit. These Mandarin, however, are not attractive to the eye. I find that fruit and vegies in a home garden are not a patch on the PERFECTION found in the large supermarkets. I will gradually convert some of the beds to flowers, where I am less critical, requiring that all they do is look pretty, not be formed perfectly!
The Kumquat, also pictured here, has two distince fruitings still on the tree, There are quite a few new fruit that look ready to progress to maturity. It is a pretty bush, what with the emerald and the bright orange. The fruit is a bit tart to eat, and I mainly bought the bush for its splash of colour in the walkways.

Sisters | Week 13 2014

A photograph a week of Alannah and Juliet and, if I can, the two together.  Joining in with Jodi over at Practising Simplicity.

 Alannah feeds the doll in her kitchen | Play room, Saturday 29 March 2014

Juliet sits and pounds the keyboard | Play room, Saturday 29 March 2014

Saturday, 29 March 2014


I have been collecting succulents for a few years now. I have quite a few that I have scavenged, but nothing particularly you-beaut or expensive. My tastes do not stretch that far.

Now that I am endeavouring to display my succulents, and in the process show-off their geometry, I suspect my bludging days are near their end.

I have managed over the last few weeks to swap many of my plastic pots for terracotta pots, which will add a modicum of style and grace to my collection.

Friday, 28 March 2014

In the Mind Garden - Reading allowed

Books and reading is a very big "thing" in our house. Each of us reads to the girls daily. Grandad reads to Alannah when she visits each Thursday or goes for a sleep-over. We are constantly looking for quality books, and complicated books. We have our fair share of film spin-offs, of Little Golden Books, and Dr Seuss books. Each Tuesday, Kirsten takes the girls to the library next to the pre-school. We are going to work our way through some award books. Here is a list of the Early Childhood Book of the Year since its inception in 2001, the first name being the author, the second name being the illustrator.

2013 - The Terrible Suitcase (Allen/Blackwood)
2012 - The Runaway Hug (Bland/Blackwood)
2011 - Maudie and Bear (Omerod/Blackwood)
2010 - Bear and Chook by the Sea Shanahan/Quay)
2009 - How to Heal a Broken Wing (Graham)
2008 - Pearl Barley and Charlie Parsley (Blabey)
2007 - Amy & Louis (Gleeson/Blackwood)
2006 - Annie's Chair (Niland)
2005 - Where is the Green Sheep? (Fox/Horacek)
2004 - Grandpa and Thomas (Allen)
2003 - A Year on our Farm (Matthews/McLean)
2002 - Let's Get a Pup! (Graham)
2001 - You'll Wake the Baby! Jinks/McLean)
My feeling is that the Honour books, and the Short-listed books should not be overlooked. To this end, I will obtain a list of all winners, in all categories, since these awards by the Children's Book Council of Australia originated in 1946.

Before the Early Childhood category was included, books were assessed under the category of Picture Book of the Year. This could be aimed at any child from the age of 0 to 18 years. So I will flip through this list, too, as I would not want to overlook any classics!

I have illustrated this post with snippets from
"The Runaway Hug"
Written by Nick Bland
Illustrated by Freya Blackwood
Scholastic Press, 2011

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Keep the home-fires burning

Keep the home fires burning,
While your hearts are yearning.
Though your lads are far away
They dream of home.
There's a silver lining
Through the dark clouds shining,
Turn the dark cloud inside out
'Til the boys come home.
Songs from the 1914 conflagration pop into my consciousness on a regular basis. The justification can be scant. I had also thoughts of Wilfred Owen and his drawing-down of blinds in sad shires, as I looked at these images, and the story they are about to tell. I guess I border on the maudlin, the saccharine. However, I am not alone. I was reading in The Guardian the other day about a book of poetry ready to hit the book-stalls where men have been asked to nominate a poem that brought them to tears. The comments to the article, for me, have equal value to the content of the book. But, you are wondering, "the price of fish"?
In two weeks, we will turn back the clocks; not to 1914, or even to the medieval world of knights and dames. Reverting to standard times will plunge our evenings into earlier gloom, where our suburban street becomes less safe, and less secure. Where a light cast from our home gives fillip to the heart of the weary worker. But, alas and alack, we have no such light that can be seen from the curve at the beginning of our cul-de-sac. So, out intent is to create one. When we widened the driveway last year, Darren had ensured that conduit with electrical wiring was embeded within. We (HE) now has two tasks: first, connect the wires to the existing electricals of the house (I have it on good authority that he wishes to include a light-sensitive timer in this); second, create a stone pedestal with a light fitting atop.
So, here be nine light-fittings selected from google images, to get us started. I have suggested that perhaps the light should be grey rather than black, but this was not well-received. Hmmm ... I thought to match with the awnings, but obviously not. I think of the pedestal to the height of the final fence post with the light as high above that as to enable it to be seen from the afore mentioned curve, remembering the jungle next door (which just may need to be trimmed occasionally).

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Winter vegetables

Broccoli and cauliflower are very similar in their early growth stages. Some of these are one, and some the other. I guess I will know when the flowers/heads start to form.

In amongst the small seedlings, which I thinned out last weekend, there are tomatoes and rockmelon seedlings, too. I weed them out as I go around doing my "whispering". That is when I dealt a headache to the juicy, green caterpillar, too.

I like both these veggies, and even Juliet is eating them. My guess is that I have too many seedlings for the surface area, and more thinning may be required.

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Cooking up a storm

These two often cook together. Here they are cooking pancakes for breakfast. They also make cup-cakes, and biscuits together.

How on earth is Kirsten going to manage this when Juliet drags her steps up on the other side. She already watches like a hawke if Alannah so much as breathes!

Monday, 24 March 2014

Shattered - a job for Epoxy Man!

This is a "Brown Turkey" fig which I purchased this year as root-stock. I think I could say it grew like the clappers. But then the top leaves started to curl inwards, and they (and other leaves) started to wither at the edges. I suspected the plant was root-bound. But, this was one of my larger pots. In desperation, I snipped the new growth at the top out. But, root-bound is root bound. Then, Hamish held his "Moving Out" sale. And he wanted to off-load this massive pot for $60. Goodo thunk I; I'll have that. I bought the pot, a 2-wheel trolley, and a couple of other things for $80.
But, the fig was SO root-bound, that I had no chance of getting it out of the original pot. Swallowing my pride, I asked my son-in-law for help.

*Hangs head in shame.*

He twisted, and eased, twisted and dusted, but the pot burst its gunnels rather than let the fig-tree free. I had the soil all prepared in the massive pot, and it was a wriggle-of-worms, as I scooped soil to the edges to prepare a shallow resting place for the massive bundle of roots. The rain today has settled it some more, Tomorrow I will give it a good hose, and top up the pot with some friable compost I have brewed 'specially for the task.

But, what to do with the shards? Mr Google tells me that terracotta pots are repaired all the time. All the time. All that is required is a two-part epoxy glue. From what I have read, "Milliput" appears to be a good product for this task, but I am having trouble getting online suppliers to ship to Australia. Must all have Mercator-maps. Blimey! Not even Mr Bunnings can help me. Drats!

Sisters | Week 12 2014

A photograph a week of Alannah and Juliet and, if I can, the two together.  Joining in with Jodi over at Practising Simplicity.

 Juliet has morning tea with Grandad and Pam | The Incinerator, Willoughby, Tuesday 18 March 2014

Alannah sit on stage after the Wiggles Concert | Cammeray, Wednesday 19 March 2014

 The sisters eat breakfast | Home, Sunday 23 March 2014

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Kids in the Garden | The Bush

My childhood home stood in a street that ended where the bush began. We could enter Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park there or by descending steps from the other end of the street.

Today we introduced Alannah to the "secret track" at the end of our street. She was delighted. 

She scouted for monsters up ahead and trolls under bridges. Sometimes she led and sometimes Darren did.

It was a good 20 minute descent to the water of Crag Cove and she walked the entire distance. When she wasn't skipping or running. 

The bay was beautiful. At least half a dozen boats were anchored there. We could also see a number of houses and wondered if you could drive down to the other side or if the houses are only accessible by water. 

On the way back, an ascent of about 35 minutes, she was carried twice. To keep her going, we played 'hide and seek' or 'I spy'. When she filled her cheeks with water, it reminded me of Tidalijk the Frog and I started to tell her the story. It distracted her until I realised I had forgotten which animal made him laugh and why - a crucial oversight! 

Lilly Pilly "Cascade"

Don't quote me on this, but I think our front hedge is a Lilly Pilly Cascade. There are so many of the bloomin' things! I gather - because Mr Google told me - that Lilly Pilly is of the genus Syzygium which belongs to the myrtle family, Myrtaceae. They have flowers, they have berries, and they have delicate, droopy colourful leaves. I want them to provide a privacy barrier, but not to totally block out the sun. The result is a bit like a bikini top, I am afraid.
I cannot say I am enamoured. As a hedge, they are a bit like a hippie in the Cold-Stream Guards. Just thought how much that comparison dates me! As a hedge they are very woody. I guess that just means I should clip them more frequently. I got Darren to show me how the hedge-trimmer works today, but I do not have enough strength to keep the safety bar pushed down to let the blade whirr. So, it is back to the clippers. I did them on Friday, but the result is a smidge undulating as you can see.

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Water Feature

So Hamish, the guy across the road with the chooks has moved. He has divested of sundry "stuff". I have bought a couple of things, but mostly I have waited for him to give them to me. One of the things he shoved my way was this fishpond.

A fishpond is all well and good, but not, perhaps, if one has three cats. and the fishpond is as low-slung as this one. So, water plants it is then.

Not big enough for water-lilies, methinks. Even the plants the breeders classify as "small" require that the growth tip be immersed 20cms below the water surface. I will keep looking.