Things to do with a hole in the sky

Imagine, if you will, a 35m gum tree standing near the fence, near all those woodchips.

It does leave quite a hole in the sky as the tree lopper said. It wasn’t our decision by the way; we’re in one of the councils who have relaxed vegetation clearing permits for a time so people can choose how to fireproof their property. This means that lovely as our landlords are, they decided to take advantage of this and take down three trees prior to subdividing the block. This tree hurt the most. It was a magnificent 25 year old gum tree and posed no block to subdivision as far as we could see.

Rather than let it all go to waste I had the Bloke ask the loppers to set aside a few branches for me – I haven’t read India Flint’s book for nothing. They willingly obliged and last night, as the sun set, I set about trimming leaves and branches. The leaves are grouped by new season growth (deep juicy green), older growth (longer leaves, drier and lighter green with a silvery film underneath) and the dead and dried (deep red to brown). Those last ones are in the box with bits of bark. The lass came and helped by going up to one of her cubby trees – a wattle – and bringing back some leaves and flowers. I did a tea test last night and the wattle flowers produce a lovely yellow that’s bright but delicate.

What amazed me as I was trimming was the colour of the new gumnuts. It took me heaps of shots before I got one with steady enough hands:

Australian fauna and flora is quite amazing. Except for the ‘stupid possum’ that keeps waking the Lad in the middle of the night.


A little bit of everything

I was flicking back through last summer’s photographs for something to brighten the place up. I think a bit of pink grevillea will do the trick.

It certainly makes me feel happier than listening to the Mad Monk, aka Tony Rabbit, aka the Leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition. But since he and his party seem to be doing a rather nice job of slowly screwing up their chances with the independents, I’m not feeling as ranty as I could’ve been. Indeed, I’ve been rather pleased by the sudden appearance of European-style minimum winning coalitions and the shocking idea that federal politics and government may require cooperation. I suspect a Labor government supported by the independents since that would be the only way to ensure stable government when the Greens hold the balance of power in the Senate. At any rate, it’s going to be very interesting for a while to come.

My crafty projects continue at a pleasing rate: reworking the lad’s beanie so it fits – I’ll do a separate post on that because I’ve used some interesting construction techniques to fit his design; my plum jacket is reading for sewing up this weekend; I’ve cast on for Acorns in a lovely heathery foresty green; crocheting away on the flower rug with crescent mesh; and about to pounce on a couple of wristwarmers and berets for myself. The lass’ car rug fails to inspire me so I’m going to see if I can persuade her to change patterns. Stripy treble is not my favourite form of crochet. And sometime next week I will cast on for Red Oak in a chunky burnt orange. There’s another trip to the Netherlands lined up, this time for late October/early November, so I get the fun of more winter knitting.

The lad is having some occupational therapy assessment as part of our Asperger’s management plan. It means another two questionnaires for us and I decided to photocopy one so I could fill it in for myself. It’s all about sensory integration – how we receive and respond to information about our environment through our senses. Typically, aspies have a profile of sensory integration ‘deficits’, particular stimuli that trigger an exaggerated response. The professionals are beginning to understand that if you actually take this sensory profile as a means of understanding the person rather than just a guide to behaviour management (for example, moving away from ‘let’s avoid loud noises so he doesn’t have an aspie meltdown’ to ‘tactile experiences are a really positive way he can learn’) then maybe quite a few difficulties can be resolved.

The lad and I have a few things in common here. Auditory processing difficulties (loud noises, trouble understanding speech in some circumstances etc); high sensitivity to touch – which explains a tendency to wear the same clothes because they feel ‘just right’; strong preferences for certain smells or tastes, that sort of thing. The lad is quite happy to play with icky gel kind of stuff, playdough and what have you. I avoid it like the plague. I refused point blank to ever make playdough for the kids – I hated the smell and feel of it. It’s a good thing my mother stepped into the breach.

But there are other tactile experiences I love – yarn and fabric, clearly. I love the feel of different types of yarn running through my fingers, manipulating fabric for fold and drape. It’s heavenly. When I’m drawing I prefer to use charcoal or pastels, materials I can feel in my fingers, rather than pencils. Embroidery seems to me a fabulous way to draw, getting colour and texture and swirling them around.

Maybe I’ve figured out my sensory profile after all.

Goat in a tree!

So, it’s not just pea soup’s carpooling kids who have the goat spotting fun.

Bringing the kids home last night we were startled by a sudden yelp from the backseat. “There’s a goat up that tree!”

And now I know precisely which goat it is because this being a greeny urban fringe type area, there’s two goaty possibilities. I think I may push for a change of school route just to spot a tree-climbing goat.

Rainy Day

I can’t tell you how much I loved this on Sunday:

Fabulous, no?

So much so, that the kids wanted to play outside in the rain and puddles. Excellent!

BUT – all the winter gear is packed away, ready for moving. What to do?

Send them outside in their pyjamas and gumboots and run the hot bath. Worked a treat.

Looking out


There’s something so serene about eucalyptus buds. I love that these appear just outside our front door.

Adelaide photos

I particularly enjoyed the jacaranda up and down the streets of Adelaide.

Glenelg was such a relief with its cooling breeze and jetty.

But I did wonder where all the people were….until I looked underneath.

Zero gravity

It’s not often I travel alone. Last night, I tried to count how many times I’ve done that in the last ten years (since the first kid) and I struggled up to three.  There hasn’t been a great deal of business travel in my life.

This trip’s a bit of a doozy: three days in Perth, three hour time difference and a four hour flight. In the middle of the flight I was aware of that standing still while moving forward feeling. Travelling without external encumbrance. Travelling without weight of others, shared itineraries, shared responsibilities.

I find that tremendously freeing. I didn’t previously: I suffered terribly from homesickness and I remember more than one wailing phone call from a hostel to home. But now I can write freely on the plane, making notes for an upcoming conference. I started sketching too and that was a complete surprise.

So the next three days are completely my own. I am planning a little exploration of Perth, finding a little cafe or two or a retro or indie shop.

That will be the toughest assignment of the trip. At the moment, Perth strikes me as Canberra trying to do a little of the Gold Coast.

And twelve hours in I am bloody desperate for a decent cup of coffee.


A flock of yellow-tailed black cockatoos visited us yesterday, in the late afternoon. We presume they’re refugees from the Kinglake fire.