11 December 2017

My book of the month: December

"Full disclosure: I am a weather tragic."
As soon as I read this first line, I knew this book was written for me.

My fascination with weather started when we lived in my childhood home. It was in an elevated position so we could see great Sydney southerly busters approaching and anticipate the coolness that was to come. I spent many hours drawing clouds with my precious pastels and consulting my father's barometer, tapping it gently and watching for the air pressure to drop.

Lawrie Zion's obsession started when he was five and he has written a fascinating and accessible book about his observations of how weather information has pervaded all our sources of news. It is thoroughly researched and documented, as befitting a Professor of Journalism (La Trobe University).

Sigh, I have found a kindred spirit who loves the Bureau of Meteorology as much as I do! 

27 November 2017

In praise of brunfelsia

I'm in favour of shrubs that simply go about their business with minimal attention from me, apart from the occasional watering if there hasn't been rain for a month or so. I'm even more fond of shrubs that live quietly in my garden for most of the year until the day they cover themselves with glorious blooms. That's why I love my brunfelsia.

You can see why this is also called 'yesterday, today and tomorrow'; the flowers bloom in a strong purple colour, then fade through lilac to white. Simply gorgeous.

My shrub is covered in flowers that contrast beautifully against the deep green foliage. Low maintenance and beautiful - what more can you want from a shrub?

(Note, all parts of brunfelsia are poisonous to dogs so take care if you have pets.)

13 November 2017

Of the seasons

I have many notebooks, tucked away in drawers and on shelves. They mostly contain my writing ideas and snippets of overheard conversations but occasionally I will jot down quotes from my reading.

I came across this quote I'd noted from Margaret Simons' book, Six square metres: reflections on a small garden this morning and immediately wanted to share it with you.

"Call it a cliche, or call it an archetype. The rounds of the seasons give us one of the reliable metaphors of human storytelling. We know the deal: hope comes in spring, ripeness in summer, sadness in autumn, and stoicism or death in winter. Yet these days, only gardeners and farmers are in touch with this pattern. The supermarket robs us of the rhythm of story."

It's easy to lose touch with the natural cycle of life when we live in densely built cities and most fruits and vegetables are available year-round in the shops. We get used to buying what we want, when we want it, regardless of how long the fruit has been in cold store or how far the vegetable has travelled around the world.

Working with nature's cycles rather than fighting them - that's a simple way to be grateful for all that our planet provides.  

16 October 2017

Songlines: tracking the seven sisters

Canberra is a comfortable drive from my home, so it's easy to visit there for a couple of days. We specifically went there this week to enjoy three places in our national capital: Floriade, Parliament House, and the National Museum of Australia. All enriched us.

At the Museum, we experienced the Songlines: tracking the Seven Sisters exhibition. It was powerful and dream-like in some places and outside any of my existing knowledge.

The belief system of Indigenous Australians encompasses the faith that objects, places, and creatures possess spiritual essences. As part of that belief, songlines are the paths across the land (or sometimes the sky) that show the tracks of creator-beings during the Dreaming. 

Recorded in stories, dances, songs, and paintings and passed down from generation to generation, these paths include knowledge about landmarks, waterholes, and local animals. The Seven Sisters songlines are among the most significant of the extensive creation tracks that crisscross Australia. 

This special exhibition at the Museum runs until 25 February and it is fabulous. Make sure you download the app before you go so you can listen to the Seven Sisters guide you through the exhibit. (If you can't get there, listen to the app anyway. It's terrific.) 

Be uninhibited and lie down in the digital dome to immerse yourself in the only known Seven Sisters rock art site and see stunning vision of the sisters flying across the night sky. It's the best part of the exhibition, in my opinion.  

I don't know what to make of our Songlines experience. I'm not sure how to process what I learned but I do know that it's an exhibition that has broadened my thinking about a different belief system. 

Have you seen it? What is your reaction? 

09 October 2017

My book of the month: October

Reading is an intensely personal relationship between me and the book I hold in my hand. I immerse myself in the world an author has created as if the story was written solely for me. 

I've read all of Louise Penny's Inspector Gamache series and, after finishing each latest book in the series, I declare that it's her best book yet. You must be tired of me saying that!

In Glass Houses, though, Louise Penny has taken her storytelling to a higher level. 

I was about 80 pages from the end of the book and I knew I had to remove myself from all the domestic noises that were surrounding me. The suspense was intense and I needed to completely focus on where Louise Penny's words were taking me.

So I took myself upstairs and, after making a nest of pillows on my bed, curled up and fell again into the world of Three Pines. All external stimuli disappeared as I absorbed the action.  I was drained and awed after finishing the last word.

I'm not going to explain what happened in Glass Houses - you can read about that on Goodreads - but I will say how satisfying it was to read a story written by an author at her prime. Powerful.

02 October 2017

On being patient

Finding your own pace can take a lifetime or, if you are lucky, you can discover at a young age the speed at which you want to live your life. I now realise that I always knew, deep inside, that I wanted a slow life. The common culture around me thought differently. 

It's difficult to resist the pressures, real or perceived, that surround us. Aim for the sky, you can do anything, climb that career ladder, it's time you were settled down - this is not one-size-fits-all advice. All that rushing around simply makes me anxious. 

Slow down, be patient, and reap the rewards.

I prefer to nurture the nourishing activities and valued relationships in my life. It's satisfying to plant a seed and watch its whole life cycle take place. It's gratifying to share a secret smile and touch with the person I love. These are the moments that enrich my life and they are the rewards of patience.

25 September 2017

Three things I like this week

Hello everyone! It's lovely to share my week with you. Isn't it great that we can learn and experience new things every day? Some open new ways of thinking, while others simply make me gaze in awe.

1. Unfurling blooms

Last year, we bought a couple of pitcher plants (Nepenthes) home from the garden centre. We were attracted by the gorgeous markings on their leaves - veins and spots - and were happy to admire them each day. Imagine how thrilled we were to see a flower shoot up on each plant! 

I've been taking photos of the flowers every day as the petals open. They are so subtle and certainly an added bonus for us.

2. Guided meditation

Sure, I've read about this and heard many positive stories about the impact it can have but I'd never tried it. Several weeks ago, the Headspace app was recommended to me so I gave it a go.

I started with three-minute meditations (you can choose three, five or ten minutes) and completed ten consecutive days. They were a great introduction to the process and, after the first five days, I found I was keen for the next day's session. Now I'm doing the ten-minute ones and they are helping keep me calm and focused. 

Will I pay a subscription to access more of the meditations? I'm not sure about that yet; I may continue with the free basics for a while.

Have you tried guided meditation with an app? Let us know what app you use.

3. My Vegepod

Last year I purchased a small Vegepod raised garden bed, set it up, and planted a crop of summer vegetables. Soon after, I realised that I had put it in the wrong spot in my garden. It was too heavy to lift (it is filled with five bags of manure and potting mix) so I couldn't move it until the crops had finished and it could be temporarily emptied.

In August I finally got around to doing just that. It took two of us to position it correctly on the relocated stand and, once that was done, I refilled it and planted.

As I gather lettuce, spinach, spring onions, or chives from it now, I am grateful that the unit works so well in my garden. Our ground is parched because we haven't had rain for over a month but my Vegepod is easy to water and the veggies are thriving. They are protected from possums and insects by the cover and we are the only creatures munching on them now!

What's making you happy this week?