"an elegant tapestry of quotations, musings, aphorisms, and autobiographical reflections" (James Atlas)

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Spa Country musings

How does someone get up in the morning and think - "I'm going to make a fish today, with colorbond metal sheeting and rivets!" That seems to be what happened to one of the artists at the Pantechnicon Gallery in Daylesford, and he's just about to finish the fish, hoping to sell it to a restaurant in Melbourne. Creativity is alive and well in the mineral springs country! We''ve always loved Daylesford, even before it became touristy and fashionable, and it is still a favourite destination for a country drive. Now, in autumn, the cooler weather brings out the warm yellows and reds of deciduous trees, and Daylesford's surrounds are well worth exploring with the camera. The town, settled in the mid-1800s with the gold rush, has two pretty lakes, Lake Daylesford and Lake Jubilee. Both are havens for birds, frogs, dragonflies and sundry wildlife. Wombat Hill Gardens are well worth a visit in any season and offer great views over the township and surrounding countryside. It is situated just above the Convent Gallery, a former nunnery turned into a centre for art which also doubles as a wedding venue, and has ongoing exhibitions of local artists' works. Daylesford is a hub for art and artists, food and foodies, and quirky shops and galleries add to the slightly bohemian ambiance. Day spas abound, and just down the road is Hepburn Springs, heart of the mineral spa country, with its many B&Bs and spa dating back to the late 1800's. While not as lively as Daylesford, it is not (yet) spoiled by tourism, and on weekdays it is a surprisingly quiet place. Some shops and galleries have started up, notably the "Wolf at the Door" Gallery, but just enough to explore for an hour after lunch. Peppers is a nice place to have lunch, a 1930's style resort next door to an Italianate villa complete with Mediterranean garden. A few kilometers out of town is Lavandula, a rambling property turned into a lavender farm. While the townships are interesting, it is the surrounding countryside which is surely an inspiration for many of the resident artists. Forests and waterfalls, enormous old trees, deep rich soil, bubbling springs, and teeming wildlife add to the attraction of this area. And I'm sure there's still gold in them hills!!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


No storm, no rain, just clouds.

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Fledgling

Went shopping in Gisborne today, and when I returned to the car, I saw a young crow sitting on the nature strip in front of my car. It just sat there quietly, and wasn't bothered when I approached to about 1m. I was worried about the little fellow, in case he was sick or had had a run-in with a car. He was in the middle of very busy traffic! I parked the car and watched him for a bit. He stood up after a while, stretched his wings, and walked a few steps, only to sit down again. There seemed to be nothing wrong with his legs or wings. I stayed there watching him for a while, and called the wildlife line. They told me the bird was probably a fledgling who just landed in a bad spot to practice his flying! I couldn't agree more. They felt it was best just to leave it there, in case the parents were around. After watching a while longer, the little crow made it's way across the side road and onto a table on the sidewalk. There, he proceeded to eat whatever had been left on a plate, and took off with an enormous piece of bacon - what a prize! Again, he just perched himself on the nature strip and wrestled with the bacon piece. By then I figured he could look after himself, and I couldn't spend my afternoon mothering crows! I did go back later and saw him again, in the same place, narrowly missing a car. On another driveby, he was gone, I hope to a safer place!

Image: Matt Banks / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Friday, April 16, 2010


Tonight I watched "Collectors", a short, weekly TV program about people who collect things and the things they collect. I'm rather addicted to this show, and I amazes me to see what people do collect. I don't think I'll ever forget the guy who collected tins of tomatoes...for the pretty pictures! The other thing that astounds me occasionally is that some of these people are actually still married! I figure they promised "...in sickness and in health", and OCD is a sickness, after all...

Tonight's program had a segment about things children collect. Apparently, researchers found that, in the age of Xbox and Wii, kids don't collect things any more. However, as "Collectors" demonstrated, Aussie kids are avid collectors of all sorts of things. There are the ubiquitous footy cards and marbles, but some kids' collections were more quirky, such as a young lad's collection of red sports shirts (?!), or a young lady's rather pretty collection of snow globes - and she knew exactly what she wanted next for her collection!

Listening to this, I asked DH what he collected as a kid. "Matchbox labels" was one answer, which intrigued me, as this was not something we had as kids (I grew up in Germany). Apparently matchboxes were adorned with pictures, and children collected whole series of them. He also collected coins and stamps. It made me think of what, if anything, I had collected when I was growing up. My memory is hazy - my sister would be able to tell me - but I do remember collecting some childrens' book series - definitely Enid Blyton - translated into German! I remember a large collection of movie star photos - my uncle worked in a cinema and often gave me those. Glamorous ladies and handsome leading men - Sophia Loren, Elizabeth Taylor, Fred Astaire, Clark Gable....sigh! How I wish I'd kept them! I also collected postcards - and am doing so again! For some reason, I've always had a collection of soft toys trailing around with me. I'm a mature, professional woman but people still give me toy animals.... Go figure.

I've never seriously collected anything; I tend to develop a passion for something, and start collecting it, then see something else I like.... I'm afraid I'm a serial collector. So corners of my house are devoted to my small collections of bears, light houses, owls, shells, Chinese painted bottles, elephants, masks, tarot decks, pottery... The only thing I've been accumulating steadily over the past 10 years or so is quilt fabric....that's pretty serious!

Friday, April 9, 2010

The old fashioned scrap quilt

"I have found nothing so desirable for summer covers as the old-fashioned scrap quilt of which our mothers were so proud. Every girl should piece one at least to carry away to her husband's home. And if her lot happens to be cast among strangers, the quilt when she unfolds it will seem like the face of a familiar friend, bringing up a host of memories .... too sacred to intrude upon."
Annie Curd, Good Housekeeping, 1888 (from Voices of the Past, Kaye England)

Well my lot has cast me among strangers, but without a quilt! The closest thing to a 'comfort' quilt I brought to Australia those many years ago was my mum's last dressing gown - and I still have it and use it! No quilts in my heritage I'm afraid - I failed needlework in school (along with maths & physics), mum could just about sew on a button, and I ran screaming from a dress-making class after the first session! And my grandfather a tailor! Still, genes will out - after standing gobsmacked in front of a quilted masterpiece at my first art & craft show, I just had to try it. And never looked back....My name is Donna and I've been addicted to quilting since 1999....

Wednesday, April 7, 2010


Autumn is my favourite season. I love the cooler weather, the crisp mornings, and especially the change of colour on the trees. March and April especially are just divine here in our little corner of Oz! In Victoria, we get four distinct seasons every year, and living at approx. 700m above sea level means we have a rather cold winter, too! I've lived in the dry country of California, in Germany, and now in Australia, and have spent time in a variety of climates. After all that, I must say I do like a change in season! There's something reassuring about the rhythm of the seasons, and I look forward every year to the changes they bring to the garden and wildlife, and to our own activities. This morning I scared a few crimson rosellas from the shrubs, so I went to see what they were doing there. Of course, the cotoneaster is bearing fruit, and the parrots love the little red berries. Even the insects have a time and a season - currently we're being overrun by little black centipedes! The climbing Angel Face rose is having a last hurrah! and producing some huge purple blooms and a heady perfume. Scores of little red riding hoods (rosehips) bring colour to the other rose bushes. The native trees and shrubs don't change colour all that much, except when they're flowering, of course. But the imported trees are magnificent in their autumn splendor! After planting a little maple in spring, I love seeing its ruby red leaves now, so much that I went to the nursery and got another one! They need more watering than the natives, but reward it with a dazzling display. The liquidambar is just about to start turning red and orange, and the ash, birches, and robinias add their golden colours to the garden. This year has seen some good rainfall, and the grass is quite green. Claude the Retriever loves a good roll around, and even Mitzi ventures forth in the afternoon sunshine to inspect her domain. Not that she ventures very far...

Sunday, April 4, 2010


Just saw the blue wrens again, busy little birds! We're so lucky to live in a place where so many bird species come to visit. Considering this was a bare paddock 10 years ago, with no trees except a few conifers along the fence line, it's nice to see our feathered friends making their homes here and coming to visit every year. I did a species count one year and counted over 35 species without even trying! This time of the year, we have large flocks of corellas visiting, these are large parrots, white with a little pink around the eyes. Some cockatoos join the flocks, and they all fly north when it gets cold. Magpies live here year round, warbling away, and sometimes we see the black yellow-tailed cockatoos that live in the tall pines. And we hear them - do they screech! Jewel-coloured crimson rosellas and little green finches are regular visitors, as are topknot pigeons (they rattle when they fly!), willy wagtails (little black & white dancers), honey eaters, mallard ducks, ibises, herons, galahs (pink and grey parrots), crows, wattlebirds, kookaburras (laughing jack), green eastern rosellas, choughs, egrets....and occasionally, rarely, we even see wedgetailed eagles. We try to find shrubs and trees to plant that birds, bees, and butterflies like. A lot of our native trees and shrubs flower almost year round, so food and nectar is abundant. The cat's too slow to catch any, and Claude the Golden Retriever isn't retrieving birds, so we all live happily together....

Saturday, April 3, 2010

The Sunshine Quilters

Today my quilt group is coming for a sit-and-sew. We've quilted together for more than 10 years now. Originally, all the members worked at Sunshine Hospital/Western Health at one time or another, but now, some local ladies have also joined the group. We meet every first Saturday in the month, and have fun stitching, chatting, and drinking champagne. Champagne makes the stitches look straight! We've had fun times and sad times, gained and lost members, and learned from each other over the years. By now, we have some group traditions, such as annual challenges and the great unveilings at the end of the year, road trips to discover new quilt shops, and watching the new Harry Potter movies in Gold Class. Every member likes to make very different quilts, some like brights, others more traditional colours and patterns, and some like to experiment more. Our "show-and-tells" are always interesting and we always find more than enough to talk about, even after 10 years!

Friday, April 2, 2010


I live in a small town. I love living in a small town. But is there ONE cafe open on Good Friday that sells decent coffee?? Oooh no! Because of course EVERYBODY is of christian faith who lives here, so you must do penance on the last days of lent! Crap.
I'm not a coffee addict. Usually, I have one cup every day, and then I like a nice cuppa, maybe a skinny cappuchino or mocha...oh, mocha, yes!! Oh, for a franchise of Brunetti's in our town! I think Brunetti's is open 24/7, at least it's always open when I go there. I'd be quite content with 18/7. In our town, decent coffee after 4pm is only found by insiders...
end of rant

Thursday, April 1, 2010


Chuffed! I belong to a photography contest group on Facebook. Had quite a few winners - firsts, seconds, thirds & judges' choice, which surprised me, given the quality of the other entries. With everything else going on (life!), I had a break for a while, only to return and get a second and a first place right away! It's nice to know some of my shots are appreciated by people who know something about it. Still surprises me though!
I've made a bit of a journey from happy snapper to - hopefully - someone who thinks before she snaps! Painting has helped with things such as composition, colour and light, but I've also learned a lot from a few great photographers who are generous enough to share their art online - you know who you are!