Saturday, May 8, 2021


 On the 1st of May, the five crepe myrtles were beautifully autumnal:

A week later those lovely red leaves are gone:

 In May six years ago I lost my two old dogs, and wrote a blog post for each of them to mark the losses.


On the 1st of May this year, my father died. It is much harder to write a blog post about this loss.


My father was born in July, 1929. His family celebrated his birthday on the 12th, although his birth certificate said he was born on the 13th. He was the youngest of eight children. One sister, who turned 96 last month, survives him.

Mum and Dad married in March 1956:

I posted about their 65th anniversary in March, when it seemed Mum might not be with us for long. Dad dying first was completely unexpected.

Here's a photo I found of them from 11 years ago, on 9th May 2010:

They were in their early 80s, and in good health. It is nice to remember them like this.

My relationship with my father was complicated. We had opposite opinions on just about everything. We were not really able to sit and have a conversation. 
For his 80th birthday, I made him this quilt:
Photo taken before the binding was quite sewn down. I must have finished it in the car on the way to visit him, as this photo was taken on the morning of 12th July, 2009. Each block is about things that were important to Dad. 
Top left: Snooker layout. The "balls" are appliqued circles. Dad enjoyed snooker, although in recent years in the retirement village he swapped to pool. He played pool every afternoon, and it is what he was doing when he collapsed unconscious on 24th April, as a result of a hemorrhagic stroke.
Top middle: Hard to see here, but it is the badge on a Peugeot 203, Dad's first car.
Top right: A cross, to represent Dad's religious faith.
Middle left: Crosswords. Dad did The Age cryptic crossword daily. In recent years he stopped buying that paper, but someone scanned the puzzle and emailed it to him every day.
Centre block: Royal Australian Air Force. Dad was a member for 22 years. I paper-pieced the kangaroo, then pieced the circular surrounds.
Middle right: Dad was a radio technician, and this is a circuit diagram that I found online and traced onto the fabric with a permanent marker. It is quilted with the letters "QSL", (Wikipedia explanation.)
Bottom left: Essendon football club colours.
Bottom middle: Represents Dad's time in Japan while in the Air Force. The fabric features cherry blossoms, and it is quilted with an outline of the Kintai Bridge in Iwakuni, which opened after reconstruction during his time stationed there.
Bottom right: Dad was a prolific writer of letters to the editor. I have been asked many times, "Are you related to that guy who writes to the paper all the time?"
Of course, these were my ideas of what was important to my father; he had no input into it. However I think Dad was happy with it, because he used the lap quilt all the time, all year round. It has only occurred to me now, after all this time, that I never considered dedicating a block to his family. 

Friday, April 30, 2021


 I quilted my Trail Mix quilt this month:

Can you see the join in the back?

This piece was a long skinny bit of fabric I had left over after using it for the backing of two other quilts. I found instructions on piecing a quilt back with a diagonal seam here and here, which gave me a piece just big enough for this one.

Trail Mix was my selected project to Work On Or Finish (WOOF) for April.

As you might be able to see, I have machined on the binding, which I assembled from various bits of left-overs of binding from other quilts:

But I haven't begun to hand-stitch it down on the back. The events I mentioned in my last post have meant that for the last six days family issues have consumed all my time. Finishing it won't take me long once I get some stitching time.

Linked to Cheryll's WOOFA link-up.

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

View From Another Room

 The photos are not in the order I tried to put them in

but this is the view from my father's hospital room
It is much nicer that the view my mother had last year, because it is on the opposite side of the hospital.
Unfortunately my father cannot enjoy the view. He has been unconscious since he collapsed on Saturday, and he is not going to recover.

Monday, April 19, 2021

Above it All

 To travel between Lal Lal and Ballarat, there are two possible roads:

The yellow road to the west is the Midland Highway (A300). The white road via Yendon is more direct and generally quicker.

Right at the moment though, both roads are undergoing roadworks. The highway works have been going since about October, and are expected to be completed in the middle of this year. Not a problem, as I usually take the back road. However, now the back road is all dug up, too. On either route you can find yourself stationary for extended periods, while traffic is reduced to one direction to allow work to proceed. To get anywhere on time it is best to leave home about 20 minutes earlier than normal.

Today while stopped at a roadblock on the highway with the car turned off (no point burning petrol to sit still for 10 minutes) I saw a pair of eagles soaring above me. I scrabbled for my camera, and couldn't open the window because the car was off, but managed to get one recognisable photo:

Wedge-tailed eagle, as seen through a tinted and not very clean car windscreen!

It was wonderful to see the pair of them gradually make their way to who knows where, floating apparently effortlessly far above us.


Saturday, April 17, 2021

The Shepherd's Daughter

This morning the desire to go for a walk somewhere "different" struck us, and I thought of a place near Lal Lal I had heard of but never visited. 

Getting there was an adventure, as we had to drive down rough unnamed roads, (tracks, really) through forest it would be easy to get lost in. We saw a mob of kangaroos at one point, but they disappeared into the bush before we could get photographic evidence.

I parked near this patch of grasstrees:

And wildflowers:

Epacris impressa, the common heath

We set off on foot, not knowing quite how far we needed to go. Along the way we found this fungus:

Ghost fungus, Omphalotus nidiformis

Ghost fungus glows green at night, which would be amazing to see. But I'm not driving down those tracks at night! Plus this fungus was right beside an old, unmarked, unfenced, mine shaft, which could be just a little dangerous in the dark.

Eventually we found our destination:

The grave of a young girl who died in the 1860s. This article from the ABC in 2018: Shepherd's daughter's grave includes some information about who she probably was, and when she probably died.

The wooden fence was put up 80-odd years after the girl's death, and these carved details were added some time since 1951. The photo from 1951 shows bush including grasstrees right beside the grave, but now the surrounding area is bare. Too many visitors, perhaps. 

Some of those visitors leave things behind:

I wonder what a 6-year-old in the 1860s would have made of plastic flowers, or a stuffed toy dog.

Friday, April 16, 2021

Another Step

Last week I showed you the four steps built out of the bluestones a friend gave me. Today there are five, and each step is now a little wider. We found someone in Ballarat with some bluestones for sale, and added to the collection. Here's Jack checking out the edges (more work to be done there), while Dot chases a ball up the steps:

Each step is not many dog-steps when taken at full speed:
She flies over them!

Thursday, April 15, 2021

The Garden in April

A few parts of the garden are undergoing a renovation process at the moment. Things have been dug up, relocated, trimmed, pruned, and generally disrupted. Hopefully it all means that next year the garden will be flourishing!

Fortunately there are still flowers to be found.

Variegated ajuga 




Graffiti geranium (really a pelargonium)

Treasure flowers (gazanias)

Baby sage

Echeveria "Topsy turvy"

Pink gaura

A pink salvia that I don't remember from previous years?


Viburnum tinus





Red hot pokers



Hakea "Burrendong beauty"

Lion's ear, Leonotis leonurus

Melaleuca nesophila


White Japanese windflowers

And pink ones.

I've skipped a few because this post is too long already. But I had to include this one:

The first spring flowers, long before autumn is finished. In the background, the leaves of my redbud are turning yellow, but haven't started falling yet. I've had jonquils open in May before, when living in the city,  but here they usually start in June or July.