Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Happy New Year...

My dear friends, I do wish you all a very happy New Year, full of love and laughter, good health and good fellowship, with lots of wonderful opportunities to make art or do whatever makes you happy, and there's that ever present wish for peace in our troubled times.
Well, I almost missed Christmas, although I managed to send out some newsy emails. But no Christmas tree up, no Christmas cards, no letters to those not on emails - I will get to the letters soon I hope and I'm very aware of the empty place where the tree usually stands. Plenty of excuses, most to do with getting older, but they all sound pretty lame now so I won't inflict them on you. In spite of that, we had a wonderful Christmas Day with family and friends, the children were delightful, and the food excellent. There was plenty to appease the meat eaters but I was pleased to find that they also loved the Festive Roast from Suzy Spoon's Vegetarian Butcher. Just as last year, it was delicious, and this year Suzy made over 400 of them! With vegan gravy, baked potatoes and several salads, it was a real winner.
On Boxing Day Suzy took me down to her house in Bundeena in the Royal National Park and I had some quality time with Basil, my Grandpup, and the chooks, Marilyn and Bob. Here is Basil Beagle recovering from Christmas!
There is a constant stream of birds coming to be fed, and though the cockatoos are discouraged by the humans, because of the damage they do to the timber work on the house, pairs of doves and lorrikeets are allowed to share with the chooks. This actually means the chooks tolerate them, just, but they won't allow the cockies near their food. This is Marilyn wearing her cross face.
I'm having a great time with the three kidlets during the 6 week summer holidays. Lots of painting, lots of mess, cutting, pasting, writing stories and poems, baking biscuits (cookies), growing crystals, swimming, playing, shopping and just lying around when the temperature gets too high. Oh, and I've unearthed the card games I had as a child and we are playing Old Maid, Comic Families, Schwartzer Peter, Go Fish and Uno - instead of watching TV. And Monopoly. I need to find Scrabble and we'll be set. My mother played all these games with me and then my children, so my son is very pleased to see his children playing with the same sets of cards that he remembers so well.

When I have a moment, and when it's not too hot, I do what I can in the parched garden. Last autumn I bought a Western Australian Eucalypt, hoping to get really red blossom, and to my delight it has flowered this summer, just as red as I had imagined. Only about a metre tall at the moment, it produced several branches of flowers and with any luck there will be some nice big gumnuts for crafting.
There was quite a garden disaster in November when a major branch fell straight off the huge eucalypt in my Secret Garden. A metre or so to the left and it would have whacked in the side of the house and luckily no one was in the garden because gum trees are not called 'widow makers' for nothing. Never, ever, set up your bush camp under a eucalypt. It did a bit of damage to the part of the garden it landed on, smashing and smothering a few things but a friend came in with his chain saw to cut it up, and my gardener used the bigger logs as borders for garden beds. I was in Queensland at the time so was surprised to receive a wordless text with a photo of the enormous branch across my beloved garden.
In spite of my neglect my garden thrives. Also thriving is a family of bandicoots, nocturnal diggers of grubs, and excavators of ankle breaking holes. Small native marsupials, they are very welcome in my garden but I do wish they'd keep their holes to the actual beds and not throughout the lawn. A hole as wide as a tea cup and up to 10" deep is quite a trap to the unwary. They don't eat mushrooms it seems, as these come up quite prolifically. Possibly edible but I haven't put it to the test.
I've recently bought some strawberries with very pretty pink flowers. I thought they may be purely ornamental but they are putting out quite large berries and they look pretty much like an ordinary strawberry. I'll be interested to try them when ripe, that's if the possums or flying foxes don't get there first.
Our undercover outdoor living area has become the place to be this summer and the pizza oven is just fabulous. The pool is right there, the snooker table set up, and if it wasn't for the mosquitoes I think we'd all sleep out there.
Peggy thinks life is just one long party and loves the visitors but she also needs her rest after helping with the cooking.
Hmmm... No art, no craft, no books. I think I'll have to get back to work. Until then, walk positively into this beautiful new year!