Thursday, December 30, 2010

Will Ya Look At The Size Of These!

Apologies for banging on about my garden, but how about these sunflowers! As a point of comparison I have lined up the usual suspects, my very tall son, brother and nephew.
We also have our first flower of the season on show, right next to the shoulder of the gangly youth.
Ok I might post some more pics when they are all in flower. The sunnies that is, not the boys.

Monday, December 27, 2010

What are you reading?

England's Mistress. The Infamous Life of Emma Hamilton, by Kate Williams. Set in a time when few women of any social standing had any power at all. One woman rose from grinding poverty to incredible wealth and fame, and became the mistress of Lord Nelson.
Born Amy Lyon in 1765, in Ness, a coal mining district about twelve miles from Liverpool. Life was grim, especially for girls. In fact, when food was short, the youngest girl in the family wasn't fed, as she was considered least important. As food was short most of the time, many didn't survive their childhood.
Most in her situation suffered severely from malnutrition. If they survived, were left with bone deformities, rotting teeth and other dreadful health problems. Amy was tall, strikingly beautiful with good teeth. She enjoyed robust health for most of her life.
At the age of twelve, as a domestic servant in London, her high spirits and cheekiness soon had her thrown out onto the street. Her only option from there was prostitution. Still in her early teens and beautiful, she rose in a few years to being one of London's highest paid courtisans.
Along the way she also worked for James Graham, entrepreneur, sex therapist, showman and London's most celebrated quack doctor, in his Temple of Health. Graham put on extravagant shows with fireworks, smoke, lush and exotic surroundings and scantily clad beautiful girls. He managed to fleece the fashionable wealthy of a lot of money. She learned many useful skills from this job.
From Madame Kelly's famous brothel, at the age of fifteen she was then taken as a mistress by the spoiled young squire, Sir Harry Fetherstonhaugh. When she became pregnant he disowned her and she was taken in by the less glamorous Charles Grenville.
A mother at seventeen, she was never able to live with her daughter, Emma.
As an artists model, she soon became the darling of many painters, particularly George Romney. Her style was loose fitting, Grecan style dresses, flat comfortable shoes and her hair loosely tied. The tightly corsetted women of the time soon followed her lead, and she became a fashion icon.
When Grenville tired of her, he gave her as a gift to his uncle, Sir William Hamilton. Hamilton fell in love and eventually married her, despite protests from family and associates. Marrying outside his class put him at serious risk of losing his position and his inheritance.
They lived in Naples for many years, where Sir William was ambassador to the royal family. Here Emma first performed her dance 'the Attitudes'. She was a regular at the palace and a close friend of Maria Carolina, Queen of Naples.
This worked well for a number of years until she met and fell in love with Lord Horatio Nelson. And thats where it starts to get interesting.

Reviews of this book range, and Kate Williams has been criticised widely for creating a soap opera, exaggerating and making a starlet out of her subject. Whether or not this is true, it is still a great read.
It is also an insight into what life was like in the eighteenth and early nineteenth century, particularly for women. From the grinding poverty of the people, to the gluttinous wealth and extravagance of the aristocrats and royals.
-The social climbing and the fickleness of position, women born into wealth could loose everything if a male benefactor died, or she fell out of favour. The same was true of second sons etc. Securing a good marraige was about all you could do.
-The bizarre James Graham, I'm going to Google him.
-The politics of the time, no, better not start.
This book was written as a documentary. It was researched by such means as town records, newspapers and the many surviving letters that were written by and to her. Also the author seems to be a bit of an eighteenth century-phile. I enjoyed the journey of discovering all of this almost as much as the actual story.

Its Been a Good Year For Beans.

Harvest Time! The garden is paying out big time!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Some Of Our Other Pics.

Here are some of the shots we took on our photographic rampage. From the top; Mother/Daughter portrait, Cat Girl, Cat Girl Crouching, and Paparazzi.

Ageing Disgracefully.

A well meaning friend sent an email using the term, (wince, wince) Gracefully Grey. Well I almost broke out and dyed my hair florescent screaming pink there and then. Ouch!
After a couple of days worth of sulking I decided to take another look at the profile shot. Ok, maybe it is a bit Mumsy. So I've changed it.
The kids and I have been having some fun with the camera. Hopefully you will see how much fun I have been having with my new hair. Here are some of our shots.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Quote of the Week.

Quote of the week goes to my lanky teenage son. That's him dancing on the roof with the knee out of his jeans.
This morning he had me filling out forms for a hike he wants to go on. I was running late for work, and suggested that his sister could help him post it. He snorted most indignantly, "Why do I need her to help me post a letter............... Oh wait, will I need stamps and shit?"
Lucky he's got looks.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

School Holidays.

It is really nice, now that the kids are big. They are more independent, need less care and can pursue their own interests.
Sounds great, doesn't it? Well what that means is that they take up more space, make more noise and they smell. Sorry kids, you know I love you.
It is lovely to not have to wake up semi-comatose bods at the crack of dawn, make lunch and send them on their way. But the price is that they sleep until midday and wont go to bed the following night, and on it goes.
And the mess.........................
It is only a small house, and they seem to take it all up. One is in the kitchen, radio blaring, cooking bacon and eggs. You don't want to go in there. One is in the lounge room, telly screaming so loud that the walls are thumping. One is on the computer, which is in my bedroom, playing scream-o 'music'. So that leaves me with the bathroom, the laundry and the loo. Lucky I like gardening.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Fruits of My Labour.

Slowly, a few each day, my tomatos are ripening. The cherry toms are first, small, sweet and full of flavour. The larger varieties are on their way, can't wait!
Home grown cherry tomatoes, on home made bread, lightly toasted, real butter, sea salt and cracked pepper. Yuuuummmmmmmmm.....................

One More Sleep To Go!

Its countdown time. All the work we have put in for the last six weeks is coming together. Newport Folk Club, Newport Community Choir, Willin Wimmin and a selection of local musicians and singers have banded together to bring you Carols at the Substation.

For the last two weeks we have all spent Friday evenings crammed into the Scout Hall. We've tweaked and rehearsed to within an inch of our lives, going home to dream of crotchets, demi-semi-quavers and large, looming conductors batons.
We've learned songs in 15th Century Latin and South African. We've also re-learned some traditional Chrissy Carols. We're all feeling a bit clever, and just itching to perform.

The show starts at 7.30 sharp, and ends at 9pm. No mush, no fuss, no long, indulgent speeches. Just good, wholesome entertainment. Cost is just a gold coin donation. Hope to see you there, at our own fabulous Substation, 1 Market St. Newport.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

R.I.P. Carlo

Its been a bit of a sad time for us. Last night our old cat passed away.
He moved himself in with us twelve years ago. We're not sure if he was and adolescent or just really malnourished, but he soon bulked up into a big, handsome boy.
He aged gracefully into a tough, grumpy old thing. It was just a few weeks ago we noticed that something was wrong. An infection on his toungue was causing him problems and he couldn't eat or groom himself properly. He was wasting away and putting goo all over himself.
It turns out that he had a tumour on his tongue. It was pretty nasty, and so we decided to be strong and let him go.
I like to think that he is up on a big, comfy couch in the sky somewhere now. Anyway, we will definitely miss him.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Dye No More.

Well I've finally done it! I've gone grey. No more dyes, nasty chemicals, dermatitis of the scalp, no more racing to cover re-growth.

My good friend Michel, (artist, photographer, life model and hairdresser extraordinaire) has been walking me through the process, and today he lopped of the last of the dyed bits.

And I like it! It is surprisingly kind to my middle aged face. People keep saying that it makes me look younger. Go figure.
Grey is the New Black.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

What are you reading?

Here's a fabulous blog that you may not know about. Jackie Kerin's Stories: the long and the short. Do yourself a favour and follow the link.

No matter if you're an absolute literary junkie, or you just like something to read on the train, there is something for you.

Jackie is a published author. Her stories are all beautifully crafted and set at a snappy pace. They range in theme from the gritty and twisted to the insightful and heart warming.

This talented lady also writes children's books.

Carols at the Substation.

We're almost ready for the big event! The second annual Carols at the Substation. Sunday, 19 December, 7.30-9.30pm. A brain-child of Michael Stuart, president of the Newport Folk Club, it is a showcase of all the amazing local talent. It is also a celebration of our wonderful local community.
We've all been slaving over hot music sheets. Newport Community Choir (Nchoir) has teamed with the fabulous women's choir, Willin Women.
Under the expert direction of WW's Jennifer Lund, and Nchoir's Alan Davies, we have put together a great show.
But it doesn't stop there. Michael has put together an orchestra. We all got together for a rehearsal on Friday in the Scout Hall. I took some pictures, quite a crew eh?
There are some solo performances, from some of our local talent, including Georgina Stuart and the fabulous Melissa.
Hosted by the dashing Simon Kerr, it is an evening not to be missed. It starts at 7.30 on the dot, no fuss, no speaches. It also finishes on the dot at 9.30. Cost is just a gold coin donation.
Hope to see you there.


When a local creperie and music venue in Williamstown closed down recently, it was a sad day indeed. A beautiful old building, including the old Seaman's Mission Chapel as a function room. The Newport Folk Club hosts a monthly gig there, with a range of fabulous acts.
Well, never fear, all is not lost. The new owners are keen to keep it running. They even let us in for last month's gig a day before they were officially opened.
So the venue is now a Croatian resaurant called Ragusa. It has a whole new look, but they have maintained the charm of the old chapel. The staff are lovely, and the food is amazing, and well priced. They are at 139 Nelson Place, Williamstown. I would highly recommend that you pay them a visit.
Our final gig for the year, last Thursday, was an open mic night. Always fun, and you never know what to expect. I even got up onstage myself. You can see me in the first photo backing up the Sultan of String himself, Bruce Williams. Well I was just bashing out the chords, but it was fun. (But I did make the shirt he was wearing, we're all good at something, aren't we?)

It was a fabulous evening. Other acts included, in order of photos;
Ted Smith and his fancy fingerpicking. He treated us to the Phone Song and I 'Aint Got the Blues.
Rob Richmond, Bruce Williams and myself with I Guess it Doesn't Matter Any More, Just Because and Cluck Ol' Hen.
Dave Isom with a some bush ballads and a sea ballad.
Greg Hammond with some original and inspiring songs.
Mira on the piano accordian played us, The Shadow of Your Smile.
Simon Kerr also played us some of his original songs.
Chrisitine McDonald sang Cry Me a River, in her amazing tenor voice, backed by Mira on accordian.
Simon Leverton had us all spellbound with Nine Pound Hammer, Farewell to the Gold and Canadeeio.
Bill Field sang us Mark Knopfler's Why Worry, and Luka Bloom's City of Chicago. He was warm and entertaining, and drew us in like flies to honey. I later found out that it was his first solo, on stage performance. Great job, Bill!
Also Bruce Williams gobsmacked us all with Police Dog Blues and some instrumentals on guitar.
We'll be back in 2011 from February, with some more fantastic music, stay tuned.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Bitey things from the nursery.

Acacia Paradoxa-Common names, Hedge Wattle, Kangaroo Thorn, Prickley Wattle.
Most members of the Acacia family leave me feeling warm and fuzzy. These ones bite!
As you can see from the baby photos, there is something very 'Little Shop of Horrors' about them.
A large shrub, grows from 2 to 4 metres high.
Once declared a noxious weed by farmers, they are now being replanted. Their dense foliage and prickles make it an inpenetrable hedge. (If you want to prune it use very thick gloves). It is an excellent wind break, and a safe haven for small birds, lizards etc.
Also great for keeping the kids of the garden. They'll only tackle it once, but you might want to keep some tweezers on hand. Could also deter prowlers if planted along the fence line.
When in flower, it is covered in pretty yellow balls, and butter wouldn't melt in its mouth.
Another example of our fabulous local indigenous flora.

Monday, December 6, 2010

What are you reading?

The Name of the Rose. Umberto eco
This little gem has been sitting in the book shelf for about fifteen years. It has followed me in a few house moves. Now that I've finally started it........well its a rippin' good read, don't know why it took me so long.
An historical murder mystery, set in an Italian Benedictine Monastry in the year 1327.
Franciscan Friar, William of Baskerville and his young Benedictine novice Adso of Melk are sent to investigate a mysterious death. After his arrival more strange deaths occur.
There are other mysteries to solve. The monastry's well stocked library, renowned throughout Europe, is closely guarded. To borrow a book, a monk must choose from a list. He then applies to the librarian, along with an explaination of why he wants the book. The librarian makes a decision, often consulting his senior, before the monk can read his book.
The library is an inpenetrable labrynth, and the filing system is legible only to the librarian. (Sounds a bit like my house). The entrance is closely guarded, but there must be a secret door somewhere...............but where?
Although he is a man of religion, Brother William uses logic and deduction. He loves science, and even owns a pair of spectacles, a fairly recent invention. He must be careful who sees him wearing these, as he may be accused of witchcraft. It is a time of Inquisitors, fear of the antichrist and black magic. Brother William is constantly debating such themes as, 'is laughter evil?' with Jorge of Burgos, and elderly, blind monk.
I have a sneaking suspicion that we will meet the Inquisition later in the book, but I'm not up to that bit yet. If you've already read it, don't spoil it for me.
Narrator is Adso of Melk, in retrospect, as an old man. A Medieval whodunnit, full of intrigue, and of the horrors, the hypocracies and the mysteries of the time.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

My Latest Obsession

Although I used to enjoy cooking, years of catering for a fussy family has killed the joy in it for me. Many food allergies, a vegetarian daughter and two highly carnivorous sons, are just a few of my ongoing problems.
A while ago my sister lent me a book about Artisan Bread Making. And now I'm hooked! I make up a huge bowl of dough (about five minutes work), and keep it in the fridge. You cut off what you need for the day and pop it in a very hot oven for half an hour. The result is amazing. Its looks and tastes like something you would buy from a boutique bakery, without the cost. The dough will keep for up to two weeks in the fridge, but at my place it is lucky to last two days.

Its a hit at any social gathering, and a fabulous after school/work snack. Last nights guests gobbled up their loaf faster than anticipated. No problem, I just cooked another one before their eyes. I felt like a goddess, feeding the multitutes.

Of course that means that I'm using a lot of flour. The organic shop in Yarraville, Plump, has been keeping me supplied with a fantastic biodynamic flour from Queensland. They have been ordering me a 12.5kg bag every few weeks. Sometimes I wonder if I'm not a bit compulsive obsessive.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Oh the Birds and the Bees and the Broccoli Trees

Melaleuca are in full flower around our place at the moment. My six-foot-fourteen-year-old thinks they look like giant broccoli. I love how kids make you see things through new eyes.

She's a Chip of the Old Block

Well we're pretty busy at our place, getting ready for visitors. I left the party girl to do the dishes, while I vacuumed.

She does the housework the same way I do.

Visitors! Visitors!

We're having company tomorrow, so everybody in the house has to wash, no exceptions.
We don't normally bath the cat, but he seems to have an infection in his mouth and can't clean himself properly. He's quite frail and infirm, so he didn't put up too much of a fight. Well, he did get a few good ones in. Not so long ago he would have clawed us to ribbons.
We're going to the vet on Friday. Hopefully he can be fixed with antibiotics.