Easter Sketching

It’s Easter Monday here in Australia, and after a lovely day yesterday driving along Victoria’s beautiful Great Ocean Road, we’re having a quiet day at home. I spent some time this morning enjoying a coffee (long black, made in a plunger – whenever my friends visit and try my coffee they politely refuse any refills and never manage to finish a whole cup, which suggests to me that my preference for dark and slightly bitter drinks isn’t universal – but it but it works for me!), and reading more of Thomas Merton’s New Seeds of Contemplation (1961). I’m reading a 2007 edition by New Directions Books, New York, with an introduction by Sue Monk Kidd.


27 March 2016. iPhone 5C snapshot taken out of the car window (from the passenger side, of course!) on the Great Ocean Road near Separation Creek and Wye River. The trees bear the marks of a bushfire that tore through the Otway Ranges in late December 2015 and early January 2016. The eucalyptus trees are terribly burnt and yet sprouting green leaves on their trunks (a survival mechanism they have in response to the fact they do tend to catch on fire). Behind the twisted and tortured looking trees here is the vast greenish-blue expanse of Bass Strait, and if you drew a line directly southwards from here you’d cross one island then end up in Antarctica.

Merton is one of those writers I simply cannot read in one sitting. A single paragraph from him can be so laden with rich meaning and depth that more often than not, I might make it through about three pages before I have to set it down and journal my thoughts as I read. I have a notebook set aside for taking notes and quotes from books – that’s a useful habit that I picked up in my university days. I know everyone learns differently, but for me I find that handwriting quotes and my own personal responses to a text enables me to delve more deeply and memorise pithy sayings. By writing it down I tend to remember it and be able to plug it into the neural networking system… I vaguely expect that at some point in my life I will have amassed enough information to categorise everything, ever. I can’t even talk to people these days without running a mental sub-routine that is trying to analyse the content of their speech and apply to them an ontological category: “Hmmm, this person is talking about coffee, but I suspect that they are a member of the … subculture, their religious self-label is … but I think they’re also heavily influenced by … philosophy…” Yeah, I don’t know. The things that amuse different people, I guess. (more…)

Around the Garden – September, 2015

11 September 2015 – Tesselaar tulips

11 September 2015 – Bunnings tulips

12 September 2015 – The kids helping with a neglected section of the garden.

12 September 2015 – Getting the kids to help really improved the appearance of the garden.

12 September 2015 – the view from the front window

12 September 2015 – late afternoon sunshine through the apricot trees.

12 September 2015 – Flowers on the Tuscan kale.

14 September 2015 – Apricot blossoms.

14 September 2015 – The weeds have overtaken the veggie garden and it’s going to take a lot of hard work, digging and planting to tidy it up. The kids cleared the patch of soil that our cat Riker decided was for him.

16 September 2015 – Sweet corn and tomato seedlings in the mini-greenhouse waiting to be planted.

17 September 2015 – Writing labels to remember where I’ve planted out the seeds. In September I planted 1,500 alyssum seeds. I may have gone overboard, but I just love those little flowers. They remind me of my grandparents’ garden.

18 September 2015 – We had a salad made from homegrown veggies. All of the ingredients shown here were picked out of the garden half an hour earlier.

19 September 2015 – We live at a rental house. Our landlords clearly loved their garden while they lived here (we’re the first tenants they’ve ever had) – but it seems that they never thought to plant a single native plant (they’re migrants from Europe and I think the plants they liked must’ve been the ones that reminded them of home!). Here is a small callistemon (bottle brush) that I planted. They produce lovely big red flowers that attract native birds.

19 September 2015 – after clearing away some weeds in the veggie garden I uncovered some lettuces, parsley and tiny strawberry plants.

19 September 2015 – I planted out the sweetcorn and tomatoes. I also scattered tomato seeds around the weeded sections of the garden.

19 September 2015 – having tidied up a lot more of the veggie garden, I scattered around some onion, nasturtium and chive seeds.

23 September 2015 – I hammered in some stakes and sectioned off the veggie garden. Now The Husband knows where to mow and he hopefully won’t run over the veggie seedlings! I also find that the line makes the garden look a lot more deliberate. Rather than being a haphazard collection of weeds and veggies, it makes it clear that it’s a garden bed in progress.

23 September 2015 – A much tidier-looking veggie garden. The cat run is to the right. The cats get most of their outdoor time inside the run. This is partly to keep them safe, as well as to protect the wildlife. Domestic cats wreak havoc on Australian native animals and birds. In the foreground of the veggie garden are some massive cauliflowers I grew from Aldi-brand seeds that my grandmother gave me.

Around the Garden – September 2015

A while back I planted an heirloom kale seedling and now it’s turned into a monster of a plant, complete with flowers. If I recall correctly it was a Diggers Club branded plant, though I’m not entirely certain what variety of kale it is. The label is hidden under the sea of stinging nettle that surrounds the veggie patch and I’m not sticking my hand in there anytime soon.

12 September, 2015 - Kale, Melbourne, Australia - Photo taken on an iPhone 5C

12 September, 2015 – Kale, Melbourne, Australia – Photo taken on an iPhone 5C