Monday, October 28, 2013

The garden grows

The garden is continuing the grow at an an alarming rate.  The sunflowers are beginning to get a little dwarfed by one of the courgettes which is a pity, but hopefully they will grow above him before too long.  As you can see, there are five sunflowers... but the one almost under the courgette is a lot smaller than the two in the main sunlight!

In front of the sunflowers is the carrot line - which I weeded yesterday - which I don't know if will survive...

Courgette flower!

Cucumber plant and capsicum plant complete with pretty little white flower.

Sydney water playground

On walking back to our hotel yesterday, we spied a boy desperately pumping on an old-fashioned water pump.  Interested by this, we went to investigate.  Here are the series of water pumps with troughs that funnel the water downhill:

Below the troughs, there were a series of channels, with little gates that opened and closed to change the direction of the water flow, and also drawbridges that you could lower to fill a lake and lift to release the dam.

Kurt letting some water out:

The little gates:

In between some of the gates, the ground would be sloped up so that to get water from one side of the playground to the other, you had to fix the gates just so to raise the water level enough to flood across.

There was a wheel that would bring water up from the main stream to flow into the raised channels, every half turn sent water either left or right.

Also a corkscrew - twist the handle and the water would climb the corkscrew into the pool at the top.

Half of the water playground hill.

We could have stayed and played awhile but, we didn't stay too long... I suppose Dad will find this disappointing ! 

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Thursday, October 24, 2013


For the record, and simply so that I don't forget the date, I must add that today I bought three more seedlings: a red capsicum, a cherry tomato, and a cucumber.

This afternoon, I am going up the coast with Kurt to have lunch with his cousin and her boyfriend.  The first stage of meet the family... will I survive this encounter intact?  Should I panic now and run a thousand miles?  Am I dressed suitably?  Are flip flops appropriate?

Also, the lawn needs mowing.

Also, I dug up most of the new carrot seeds to plant the cherry tomato plant.  This means that there may be one or two carrots that grow beside it, that could be interesting.

Did I mention that tomorrow morning we're going to Sydney and are going to spend the day with some hot lifeguards on Bondi Beach?  Unfortunately, it being Sydney, it's going to be considerably cooler than Brisbane, but I shall take a hoody and hope for the best...

Garden Update (again)

As the mother wished for a garden update, here it is:

1.  This is it first thing this morning pre my working on it.  Tomatoes in foreground then courgettes.

2.  After I dug a new patch, planted French beans, a few more carrots, and staked up the somewhat-sagging tomato plants (I also widened the garden by about 6-8 inches to make it even with C's bed.)

3. Close up of said staked tomatoes and the courgettes.

4. The sunflowers - I have no idea why two are doing so much better than the other three!  Carrots (unweeded) are in the foreground, there are actually very few that look like carrots, unfortunately I think most of the green is just weed!

It's almost summer.

On cue, the storm clouds are moving in and the air is feeling heavy, hot and muggy.  Today we flew to Emerald, which is northwest of Brisbane, and not my favourite place in all the world.  At thirty-five degrees Celsius and variable wind, it is always bumpy from all of the convection, which makes controlling the airplane a little more interesting.

Oh yeah and I saw my first dust devil there today, swirling around near the  runway threshold.

Coming back into Brisbane, the clouds outclimbed us so we had to deviate east of track, and ended up routing into Brisbane from the northeast... then south to land on the northerly runway.  Almost a full circle!

The city from the east, tracking south to join a left circuit on to Runway 01.

And the sunset was rather nice at the house tonight so here is a picture of that, also.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Garden Update

Well, five out of the eight sunflower seeds I planted came up, in three locations.  I had planted two seeds at each location as the packet instructed, so I ended up transplanting two of the doubles to make a row of five.  Length of this row circa one metre.

The un-turned part of the soil (slightly more red) in the foreground of the picture is where the carrot seeds were planted.  As yet, I have no idea as to whether they are germinating or not - there are lots of little sprouts but they all look different and may be weeds...

The courgette plants are coming along nicely, although the bigger of the two is afflicted by what my sister tells me is sun spot, due to being watered while in direct sunlight.  Tsk tsk. Bad me.

And here are the tomato plants, also coming along nicely and way bigger than they were when I bought them!  Hurrah for my amazing gardening skills (ie watering them and hoping for the best).

This random insect is apparently a stink bug, which you don't want to touch, because then you will stink as well.  So I just took a photograph of it instead.

Friday, October 11, 2013


This afternoon was spent in Mooloolaba (pronounced m'LOO-la-ba, not MOO-LOO-LAH-BAH as Si likes to call it).  Kurt didn't finish work until 1230 so we got a quick lunch and managed to make it up the coast by 1400, setting up the sun tent due to it being around 30 degrees today.

The sea was cold at first, I guess due to the temperature difference, but soon felt pleasantly warm, although the current was really strong and it was impossible for me to stay in the same place relative to the beach!  (Kurt didn't have this problem)

Then we dried off under the tent and then I decided it was getting chilly in the shade, so plonked myself down in the sun and Kurt semi buried me.

Sand butterfly.

The beach in the shade after our second swim.

Then we broke the Diet to have chips with chicken salt because they are amaaaaziiing up here, and sat on the beach wall and drank diet coke and ate chips and watched it get dark.

And then we went home and I frantically prepared food and filled a suitcase (not with food) for Singapore.

The End

Thursday, October 10, 2013


I love my home.

Today it really hit me that this is home.  I've lived here for three months now, and it really feels like home.  My house, my garden, my room, my place.

A sense of belonging, I guess, which I definitely didn't have at the crazy last place.  I get on really well with my current housemate (and his girlfriend), and I actually live here.  It's great.

And I really don't want to leave.

Sometimes I second guess myself, wondering if I made the right choice by not applying for a Canberra command, and then I have days like this where it's all peaceful and I know this is where I can just be.  And being is so elusive, so hit and miss, that when it happens, I don't want it to end.  I got to that stage when I was sharing with J & S, and unfortunately it did end, and that was hard.  Maybe that would have been a good time to move to Canberra.  But not now, I can't just now.

I find myself living with a this-is-temporary attitude, and that's tough.  Such as 'well I can't plant perennials in the garden, because I don't know where I'll be after this season.'  A feeling of not wanting to commit to anything, and it's such a waste of life!  I've got to be, now, but when I look ahead and all I see is change, it's incredibly hard.  

I don't actually know why I'm writing all this, but it seemed applicable today.  The sunflower seeds are germinating and four out of eight tiny seedlings have pushed themselves above the soil (in six days, opposed to ten to fourteen written on the packet) and it made me feel happy to be.

Tomorrow I'm off on the road again, but soon I'll be back, and I'll pull into the driveway and feel relieved, and home, and that will be good.  A sense of homecoming that is so much more important than I often realise.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Small pie dishes are impossible to locate.  I must have gone into about six different kitchen stores yesterday looking for a pie dish, and they were all at least nine inches diameter - which is a lot of apple pie for two people.  It's fine if you want a lot of pie, and want to spend the next couple of days eating left over pie (I'm sure Dad can't see the problem here) but when you're trying to only eat carbs/sugar once a week, it's too much pie.  In the last store, however, they had individual pie dishes in packs of two - perfect!

They still managed to make a lot of pie, as they ended up being big pies vertically... even though only about five or six inches across, so the second pie is frozen for next time.

Oh, and by the way, it was delicious.

Ingredients:  Short-crust pastry (190g flour, 90g butter, 2 tbsp sugar, 50ml water), 5 Granny Smith apples (can't find cooking apples here), 1tsp brown sugar per pie filling, shake of cinnamon.

Also, thanks to Sarah for her awesome stuffed chicken breast recipe - 2 large chicken breasts, butterflied... then fry a finely diced slice of bacon with a finely diced 1/4 onion and then mix it with 125g cream cheese... stuff the chicken breasts, close together with cocktail sticks, and bake for 30 minutes.  MMMMMM

<---The garden continues to grow.... I'm going to take photos every few days, because I'm obsessive.  I'm pretty sure the plants are bigger than in the last photo... right????

And yes, the lawn needs mowing, I know.

Penelope's decapitated stem is now surrounded by three mini flowers, isn't that awesome?

Dad, do you like the special microlite foam & insulated tape ties that are holding the sunflowers up?

And here is my new baby!  See it?  No, not the toaster, or the kettle.  The only problem being that I got home and found that the graduated pusher was missing!  Fortunately, this was a complete accident, and the lady (who was really nice) has found it and says I can pick it up any time.  Phew!  

She also managed to sell me a slow cooker and a hydraulic swivel chair for my computer desk, which I need to clean, but for twenty and fifteen bucks respectively... sweet deal !

Oh, I also managed to spend an awful lot of money just shopping for me, because I was in a spendy mood, and that's always a good time to spend a morning in a shopping centre...

Did I mention that my garden is AMAAAZIIIIING??????????

Saturday, October 5, 2013

The Garden Bug

Hopefully today's hard labour has sweated the bug out of me.

It's all C's fault.  He asked me to look after his herb garden while he was in Europe for five weeks, and I got rather involved.  I even named the sunflowers.  (Jo and Penelope, since you asked.)

I even weeded the garden for him while he was gone.  Twice.

<--- In this picture you can see Jo in the background, looking very mournful next to half of Penelope.  See, when C got home from Europe, he massacred Penelope, something which I find very hard to understand.

I don't like flowers very much, and I especially don't like picking them and bringing them into the house - but Jo and Penelope were beautiful, and tall, and I liked to sit on the couch (inside, in the AC) and watch them - through the screen door - waving around in the breeze.

Unfortunately, C likes flowers to be in the AC with him.  As does his girlfriend.  So he slaughtered poor Penelope and sent her head as some sort of trophy down south to his girlfriend's parents' house.

And I became enraged.

I knew it was going to happen, though.  I knew that their days were numbered - to the extent to dreading the end of the Europe trip.  I took photos of Jo and Penelope, and I posted them on Facebook for all the world to see.  And I was relieved to return from Singapore to find that Jo still stood, although deeply saddened by Penelope's demise.

Penelope (right)

And I became enraged.  Enraged to the extent that I considered having a garden of my own.  A garden that nobody would dare touch the sunflowers, and I would have a whole row of them from one end of the house to the other, and they would put C's garden to shame.  We're talking about me having a garden.  Me, the I-hate-all-flowers-with-a-great-and-terrible-hatred person.

Sunflowers are different.

<--- So this is how I spent yesterday.  Me, and initially a trowel, and then C came home and commented that he had a spade, and it went much more quickly after that.

Unfortunately, there is a lot of clay in the soil, about four to eight inches below the surface.  This made digging a little more challenging.  I decided that my goal of sunflowers from one end of the garden to the other was probably slightly overenthusiastic, and stopped after about two and a half metres.

Today, I went to Bunnings and got two sacks of compost and...

a packet of sunflower seeds
a packet of carrot seeds
six tomato plants
four courgette plants

In my defence, I only wanted two tomato plants but they came in trays of six, and yes okay I didn't want courgettes at all but they looked so sweet I couldn't resist them...

I then decided that my garden was too narrow, and dug it out another eight inches or so, until almost as wide as C's patch.  Kurt wanted me to make it equal so that it looked better, but I wanted to be different...  I then started planting.

<--- In the foreground three tomato plants - supposed to be fifty centimetres apart (the two at the back are, and the one at the front is slightly closer).  Then two courgette plants - the instructions said seventy-five centimetres apart, so I gave them lots of space either end, and then planted them about twenty centimetres apart, to grow into one massive plant - hopefully.

The far end has four sunflowers in a row at the back, twenty centimetres apart, and a row of carrots at the front, one metre wide.

And then I ran out of space, so the last three tomato plants and one courgette (one died) are in a clay pot waiting to be put somewhere.

Kurt might take a tomato and a courgette plant for his new apartment, and I have offered the final two tomato plants to C's girlfriend... but they may just end up dying, poor things.

So after all my thoughts of sunflowers from end to end of the garden, I have ended up planting four, because of the tastiness of tomatoes and courgette, but hopefully those four will grow big and strong and put Jo and Penelope to shame !