12 August 2020

My book of the month: August

 Okay, I'll blurt this out straight away - this is the best book I've read this year. 

You know how a story can transport you to another place or time? This does that so easily. And it's all about WORDS! (My favourite things. 😀)

As the blurb says, in part, "...The Dictionary of Lost Words reveals a lost narrative, hidden between the lines of a history written by men." Based on the history of the development of the first Oxford English Dictionary, we see the value of women's stories even though the society lauded men.

This is one of those stories I simultaneously wanted to devour quickly and also read as slowly as I could to make it last.

08 August 2020

"Alchemy for glum times"

It's a gloomy and rainy Saturday here and it would be easy to slip into a funk. If you feel a bit down, too, here's an article that's reminded me that it's the small moments that we have to cherish.

Illustration: Simon Letch.

The article, by Julia Baird, is from today's Sydney Morning Herald and I suggest you take a few minutes to read it. Life-affirming. Thank you, Julia.

07 August 2020

Stumbling along

How are you? Are you okay, are you well, and are you getting through the days? I know it's pretty grim in some places and I confess I struggle for motivation some days. As long as we can all stumble along, navigating the strange times in which we live, I think we're doing all right.
Let's just do the best we can. If that involves coddling ourselves or having a good cry, so be it. No judgement here!
I hope the photos of flowers in my garden make you smile. 
Having just seen a cockatoo rip up a viola from the garden bed outside my window, I wonder why I bother planting some of them! I really don't like cockies - they are so destructive - but I guess they are just going about their lives. I just wish they'd do it somewhere else. 😀
We'll get through this - eventually. 

26 July 2020

My book of the month: July

This book's been on my to-read list for a while and I'm so glad I finally read it.

Weaving together current happenings in Australia (no, not COVID-19!) Heather Rose has created a totally plausible plot. That's scary to me because it presented one of those sliding-doors scenarios that could happen.

13 July 2020

On winter

I'm sitting here at my desk, gazing past my computer monitor at the view into my back garden. There's a hot water bottle on my lap and occasionally I rest my hands on it so they can warm. 

It's cloudy outside, with very light showers starting. My weather app tells me it's 9.3 degrees but 'feels like' 5.6 degrees. It's 2 o'clock in the afternoon.

But I'm cosy here. How lucky I am to have a safe place to live and surroundings that nourish me.

Over the past few days, I've done a lot of clearing in my garden; heaping up the piles of leaves that have fallen from the deciduous trees and weeding those optimistic plants that have taken root in the soil without my permission. They don't care about permission. Seeds are spread by birds and go through their life cycle wherever they are dropped.

It's been therapeutic, clearing away the mess. It's also been life-affirming since, under most piles of leaves, I've discovered bulbs emerging from the earth. Little surprise packages, shooting towards the light.

Winter is lovely here. We wanted to live in a place where there are distinct seasons and that's come true. With all the anxiety I feel about the state of the world, our home and garden have become places of solace. Winter is about garnering strength for renewal and my garden affirms, yet again, that life will go on.

30 June 2020

My book of the month: June

With all the gloom and fear in the world, I needed to read a novel that was light, pure escapism. My One True North satisfied that need beautifully. 

It's a warm and optimistic romantic story - simply lovely - with a happy ending. What more could we want during these days of uncertainty?

To read more about My One True North, visit Goodreads

05 June 2020

What's in my garden?

I know a lot about plants and gardening. I've been learning, as well as practising, since I was a child. It's amazing what you can absorb from reading and observing. I'm not an expert, though, and there is plenty I don't know.

When we moved to a home with an established garden, I wasn't certain what I would discover here. Conventional wisdom advises to wait and observe closely for twelve months so you can see what shoots up, flowers, fruits, and provides pleasure.

It is tempting, though, to want to rip out plants I don't like for their colours or temperaments and to plant my favourites straight away.

This is one of the challenges that faced me after we moved. That, and the fact that there are many plants here that I don't recognise. So I decided to not rush into making major changes until I could see how the garden developed.

I needed help to identify some of the plants so I searched for an app that would assist. I settled on Picture This, an app that's available for iOS and Android devices (I use the free version). It's been so useful!

Initially I tested it on plants I knew, so that I could check its accuracy. It had 100% success rate for all my indoor plants. Then I started to snap photos of trees and shrubs that were unknown to me. It was so helpful to get me started with identification, although I suspect some of the matches were close but not quite right. I guess I'll find out after winter, when flowering starts and new leaves emerge.

Here's an example of one of my matches - the hellebore. I'm fortunate to have a large patch full of these blooming beauties. I can't wait to see the colour of the flowers.

You can see the app also provides information about caring for the plant. It's very handy and, because it's on my phone, I can easily snap photos of plants in my neighbourhood while I am on morning walks.

Do you use an app to identify plants? Which one? What do you like about it?