Tuesday, October 31, 2006

"The roses that bloom in the Spring, tra-la"

Tuesday Oct 31st

Halloween tonight. Fortunately we don't celebrate it in Australia, so there is no fear of witches knocking on my front door asking for treats. It helps to be living some kilometres away from the nearest kids as well.

Had a very pleasant weekend - lovely weather and plenty of gardening done. The roses are coming out and the garden is taking on a soft, ethereal look. One of my passions is growing heritage roses, so the garden is full of pinks, ranging from the softest, almost white to lovely deep burgundy shades, interspersed with soft creams, apricots and yellows. None of the bright moderns for me. I love the muted shades, the delicious fragrances and the old forms in all their variety.

Don hasn't cut the lawns for a while, so it looks a bit scruffy, but you can get an idea of some of the roses. The rose below is one of my real favourites. it is called "Cornelia" and is quite delightful.

This 'blog' stuff is still a mystery to me. I think I have all the photos perfectly arranged on my page while I am creating the post, but when I come to publish it, everything seems to move around somehow. There are still many things I need to teach myself about 'blogging'.


Thursday, October 26, 2006

Cute is for Kids

Thursday October 16th

Had to laugh today. My kids are currently writing the articles for the school year book. This particular activity is the major part of their English program this term. They write most of the articles, take photos, help with class pages from the younger classes, print, collate and bind the books, collect orders, handle sales and distribution - the lot. And all with me just checking that they are on the right track and providing proofreading and quality assurance. Its great fun, the kids love doing it and take great pride in their achievement at the end of the project.

Two of the kids had to research all the changes that had occurred in the school this year, write an article and take photos. This was the most important change/innovation they could think of.

The new soap dispensers in the toilets have been welcomed with great joy!! And there is only a small pool of liquid soap on the floor each day!!

SRC have been campaigning for these for some time now. They rated even higher as important changes than the new basketball court!

No accounting for kids, is there?

The garden continues to welcome Spring as the roses and late spring bulbs and perennials start bursting into bloom. The watsonias are looking their best at the moment.

Funny, because I am really not a pink oerson and never have been, but I love pink in the garden.

We have just planted a lime and a fig. We didn't think limes would grow up here, but the nursery man told us that with this rootstock they would do well. He has always given us sound advice, so we will give it a try.
We also discovered from him that the reason why our olive tree gets no fruit (well, only one olive last year) is that we need another for cross pollination. Now why weren't we told that when we bought it. maybe because there are so many feral olive trees in the Adelaide Hills that he thought we would have no hassles. So we have bought a mate for our Kalamata and they are currently snuggled up together, hopefully 'doing it'.

And it looks like the pistachio trees have 'done it' because there are tiny pistachios on the tree. Funny because we couldn't find any flowers on the male tree. Very discreet. Fingers crossed. I love pistachios!

Thursday, October 19, 2006


Thursday Oct 19th

Remember my good intentions of a while ago and my horribly messy sewing room. Don was convinced that I would never get it tidied - and for quite a while I was having similar thoughts. Well, have a look at it now! Just lovely. Now I'll be able to get in there and do some sewing - when I can find a spare minute. This photo actually only shows one of 3 walls that have stuff stored, stacked and packed.

In the process of cleaning and tidying, I found so many UFOs (unfinished objects) that I had forgotten about from quilt tops, to blocks, cushions, doll and teddy kits, cross stitch, smocking, scrapbooking and so on and on and on............................. I have enough to last me well into my dotage just from things that need finishing off.

And as for the fabric I have forgotten about. I had better not say too much about that as it represents a lot of dollars. Lucky I have such an easy going husband!

Spring, true to it's traditions has also brought a new member to our extended family. We are great aunt and uncle to another cute little girl - Matilda. Congratulations to Matilda and her proud parents, big brother and grandparents. Isn't she the cutest chubby bub?

She brings the total so far for this generation to 2 grandchildren (both girls), 9 great nieces and 4 great nephews. The girl tradition continues. Don's father was the only surviving male in his family, so he did the right thing and had 6 boys to keep the family name going. Those 6 boys produced 9 girls and 5 boys and now this new lot is predominently girls as well. Weird !


Wednesday, October 18, 2006

School is In!!

Wednesday October 18th

Cheerful faces greeted me Monday morning, though none of them would admit being happy to be back at school - including me. There weren't even any moans when I mentioned maths and fractions. In fact today some of them even said that they were enjoying fractions!! I can't remember feeling that way when I was at school!

Term 4 is always an eventful one. The Year 7s are beginning to feel that they are ready for high school and learning tends to take a back seat. This is not helped by the fact that there is so much happening this term. We have a school concert to prepare for, an Aquatics Camp to organise, a school year book to write and publish, Jump Rope for Heart to fundraise for and of course the Year 7 Graduation to look forward to. Heady stuff for 13 year olds! But we will get through it all and even get some schoolwork done. There may be a few hiccups, arguments, dramas, tantrums, but also a lot of fun, laughter and a few tears at the end.

And Spring is really here. The garden is beginning to look lovely. Baby birds are hatching out and we laugh at the fledgelings trying to fly. The warm dry winter has been wonderful for the irises which are looking stunning and the roses should also make a wonderful show in a week or two.

My favourite iris

We still have a fair bit of weeding, tidying, mulching and fertilising to do, but it is coming together and there are some really pretty spots around the garden. I really love this rhododendron behind the birdbath.

Just behind this rhododendron is a lovely pink Dogwood that is just finishing. It has taken years because the soil here is clay, but it has finally taken off and this year it was a picture.

We often sit on the veranda in the evenings and watch the small birds playing in the birdbath. The tiny brown female wrens flirt outrageously with the little blue males and use the birdbath as their courting place. The boys are very splendid, but I love the little girls, so cheeky and pert in their soft brown attire.
Liz Needle

Friday, October 13, 2006

Good intentions

October 14th

I had really good intentions this holiday of spring cleaning the whole house - top to bottom. When Don retired in April, I let the house cleaner go as he said he would take over. Of course he tries, but it's a male sort of try and so the house really does need a good scrub and polish.
I started off well and gave our bedroom a thorough going over from top to bottom. Even went through wardrobes and drawers and threw out a load of old stuff - no, I kept Don. Its amazing how much one accumulates - I am sure I did the same thing in January . Then I did the bathroom - well I do that thoroughly once a week anyway.
Next room - the sewing room. I decided that it not only needed cleaning, but it needed a total reorganisation. Off to Cheap as Chips I trotted, coming home laden with plastic conatiners of all sizes. I really did throw out some stuff, but it seems that I really need everything in that room. Now that I've started putting it tidily in plastic tubs, I seem to have even less room to use. Crammed into spaces untidily seems to take up far less room. So 4 days later the room is even messier than when I started and I just don't know where to put those conatiners I have filled. I think what I really need are shelves all around the room to hold the tubs, but then where will I put my cedar chest of drawers and the old pigeon holes that came from the old Islington Railway station, and my bookshelves and the sewing cabinet.
Have a look and see what I mean.

Where do I go to next? Will the room stay like this forever? How am I ever going to get in there to sew? Will it be done by Christmas so my brother can sleep here? And what you see is only a small part of the whole!!!

Watch this space for the next exciting episode of Good Intentions!!



Friday October 13th

Wow! I didn't realise until I added the date that today is Friday 13th. It's always been lucky for me because I was born on the 13th, although not of October.
It seems that writing blogs is becoming the in thing - at least among my friends. I read other blogs and wish that I could sound as funny, interesting, original as they are, but I'm not, so you'll just have to put up with my ordinary accounts of a quite ordinary life.

This week I have spent a lot of time in the garden and slowly it is beginning to look its pretty spring self. The roses are about to burst into flower and the spring perennials are already adding colour to the greenery. I have arum lilies growing wild all along the creek. I always get a giggle out of this because I see them for sale in flash florist shops and they cost an arm and a leg. A bit like the Waratahs. They sell for $7 each - our bush must have been worth a small fortune this year!

Irises in the garden

Looking towards the dam with arum lilies in the background

Today we had lunch with Jo and helped her mulch up rose prunings with Don's new whizz-bang muncher. Her garden is looking lovely although the few days of hot weather have knocked it around far more than they did our garden. She's in a warmer and drier area than we are. Still, she has some pretty spots as evidenced by the little ground cover here.

Reading through my blog, one might get the impression that I am a very one-sided person who only gardens. Not so. It's just that I started this in the holidays and that is when I do most of my gardening. I had every intention of quilting these holidays, but it just didn't work out. Maybe next time I get to this blog , I'll just write about quilts. Now, unless you are a quilter that may well put you to sleep, dear readers.

Back to school on Monday - before then I have a mountain of marking I have bee putting off and a term program to write. There truly is no rest for the wicked.


Sunday, October 08, 2006

Weekend in Clare

October 8th

It's over a week since I have written anything - so much for the enthusiastic start. My only excuse is that I am on holidays and have been very busy gardening and spring cleaning.

Don and I have just come back from a wonderful weekend away. We spent it at a town in the mid-north of our state - Clare - a town which is the centre of a thriving wine area. Old friends of ours have a property there and we stayed with them. There were eight of us in all - all old friends from Teachers' College days and although we haven't seen much of each other for years, it was a relaxed and comfortable time - almost like we had been seeing each other regularly for the last 40 years. We laughed, reminisced, ate great food, drank good wine and generally had a wonderful time.

The house we stayed in is amazing. It is about 100 years old and the property has been in the same family for well over 100 years. There are about 300 acres of it now, but originally it was somewhat larger. It was a farm property and the family consisted of 8 children - 2 boys and 6 girls and their parents. Five of the girls were unmarried and stayed on the property helping to run the farm. They spent the mornings working on the farm and the afternoons doing ladylike things like painting, embroidery, crocheting, tatting and reading. Never an idle minute.

One of my friends is the great grand daughter of the founder of the family and she and her brother and sister and their partners now own the property and run a small vineyard in their spare time.

The amazing thing about all this is that the family have kept every thing they ever owned, from farm receipts, to invoices, to letters, postcards, photos, books, handwork, tools, utensils, furniture, cushions, paintings, knickknacks - everything! Nothing was ever disposed of - not even receipts for furniture that was purchased when the house was built.. Now the current generation have carefully and lovingly restored and catalogued every item, have researched the family history, compiled photo albums, letter collections etc. The whole house looks as if the 5 daughters have simply stepped out for a moment. It is a time warp of farm life for the last 100 years. It isn't museum, do not touch stuff. The family visits every weekend and lives there in the holidays. It is all very functional and comfortable and the most fascinating place I have ever stayed in.

I would just love the chance to get my hands on the garden and create a setting for the house - but then I guess that would be unrealistic as farmers in those times did not usually have much time for the garden. But there are wonderful old outbuildings and fruit trees and shrubs that are part of the history of the property.

Unfortunately this time I did not take photos - I was too busy exploring and examining everything, but next time I will take some snaps of this amazing old property.

Liz Needle