Monday, November 30, 2020

Pretty Flowers

Above and below, "peony" poppies grown from seeds given to me by a fellow quilter.
Many of the blooms are single ones though. I don't know if they are just variable, or if something went wrong in the growing process.

Reliable beauty:

 First dahlia flower of the summer.

Saturday, November 28, 2020

Mystery Season

Bonnie Hunter has started her annual mystery quilt, this time called "Grassy Creek". The first clue was released some time between when I went to bed last night and when I got up this morning. However, I am not spending today working on the first clue. In fact, I have no immediate plans to participate this year. 

In my sewing room I have the following unfinished Bonnie Hunter mystery quilts:

(Links are to my most recent post of progress on each quilt)

Easy Street from 2012 (a top, and I have made a backing and have the batting)

Celtic Solstice from 2013 (quilting in progress)

Allietare from 2015 (it's a top)

Frolic from 2019 (basted, ready to be quilted)

That's why I decided to spend today doing this, rather than starting another mystery:

Beginning the quilting on Frolic.

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Trip to Melbourne

It was my son's birthday on Tuesday. The last time I saw him was in the middle of February, when my mother was in hospital and thought unlikely to recover. Since then, of course, there have been lockdowns and travel bans and the desire to avoid places with lots of people. But now Victoria has gone 27 days with no new covid cases, there are no active cases anywhere in the state, restrictions have lifted, and the prospect of sitting in a train with strangers for over an hour isn't as worrying as it was earlier. 

I drove to Ballan station, and got quite a surprise when I drove into the carpark:

Normally all those spots are taken! One of these three cars is mine. There are some other cars behind where I am standing, but there are about 100 empty spaces, where normally I would expect less than 10.

While I have been not travelling, upgrade works at the station have been in progress. There are now two platforms, although the new one isn't operating yet. They are expecting it to be in service by the end of January.

This sign is new. I thought it might be warning of swooping magpies, but the subtitle, "About the artwork" had me looking everywhere for the art.

It turned out I had already walked over a part of the artwork. It is in the concrete pathway:

The train to the city was not crowded at all. There were about 6 people in my carriage, so it was easy to maintain social distancing. The city was also not crowded:

I took that photo at about 1:00pm. A normal lunchtime would see hundreds of people just on the tramstop. I was sitting waiting for my son, who had said he would meet me at 1:00. I had finished my city shopping early, then found this shaded spot to wait. It was good to see that more than half of the people walking around were wearing masks, even though masks are not compulsory outside any more.

This was the shopping I did:

A few mainly Japanese items that are not easy to come by out in the sticks! The matcha-flavoured KitKats were an impulse buy after Pamela recently posted about Japanese KitKats.

Eventually I met up with my son, and we found somewhere with outside tables to eat lunch. It was good to see him again, and under far less stressful circumstances than our last meeting. We had a good talk, then headed our separate ways. 

The train home was much more crowded unfortunately. Until we got to Melton every pair of seats had one person in it, but at Melton many school children boarded the train. I ended up with a tiny little girl sitting next to me. She looked like she could only have been in Prep or grade 1. I took comfort in the idea that very young children seem less likely to spread covid. I was happier sitting beside her than some of the blokes I saw on the train who were "wearing" their masks under their chins!

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Rajah Borders Six and Seven

I finished attaching the sixth border a couple of days ago, and the whole thing looked very wonky:

Actually when I took that photo one side of the seventh border had been attached, but you can see how the pieced border does not want to lie flat.

I now have all four sides of border seven on, and there is still a little bit of wonkiness:

It is upside down, but you can see that the top border (at the bottom of the photo) has a few wiggles. I know that the borders are the right length. (Ignore the apparent mis-matching at the seams. The pattern has you cut these borders a bit wider than necessary, to be trimmed back later. But that means they look wrong until they are trimmed. It probably should have told you to cut the top and bottom borders longer as well as wider.) I'm hoping that the waviness is due to the bias effect of all those square-in-a-square units, and that once the final border is added and the quilting is done it will all be flat!

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Baby Magpie

 This year our magpies have only managed to produce one fledgling.

There are still three adults looking after it, so it it is well fed and nowhere near as demanding as last year's batch of three were.

Sunday, November 15, 2020

The Garden in November

November has less flowers this year than October did. The spring-flowering things are finished, and the summer things are still getting started. 

Here's my tour of the garden, although compared with November last year, the spring flowers have finished much earlier.

One of the hebe varieties is covered in flowers:

Parrot's Beak (Lotus berthelotii) in a hanging basket:

Orange blossom:

Lots of sweet peas:

This mesembryanthemum is covered in flowers:

Pink tritonia, just about finished:


This echium is huge:

The flower towers are between 3 and 4m tall.


Surrounded by lamb's ears which are just starting to flower:

 The roses are looking pretty good:

I left it until fairly late in the day to take these photos. My eyes said there was plenty of light, but my camera didn't agree. Flash photo of a kangaroo paw:


Rather dark picture of the wirilda, Acacia provincialis:




Confession. I got bored writing this post. It is now 29th November. This post has been sitting around for 2 weeks unfinished.  I just didn't feel like taking the time to edit the photos, and finish it. And I wondered if I even wanted to continue the blog.


Here are some of the rest of the photos I took on the 15th. Many were not usable because it really was too dark so they weren't clearly in focus. But let's get this over and done with so I can stop feeling guilty about the unfinished post.

These echevaria flowers always look plastic:

I think these are common everlastings, Chrysocephalum apiculatum:

Salvia by flash, showing just how late in the day it was (sun setting behind it):

The Buddleja globosa, orange ball bush, looks good even in quite low light:

Euonymus, just because I'm not sure if I have ever posted a photo of it before:

And last of all, this flower which unless you already know you might never guess the identity of:

Would you believe that is an avocado flower?

And a few flowers I didn't get decent pictures of:

Grevillea, eremophila, foxgloves, some other salvias, geraniums, nepeta, lavender, kniphofia, ceanothus... Actually there are probably better photos of all of them in last November's post.

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Rajah Progress

I've now made all the units for the next round of Rajah Revisited. 

Laid out on the cutting board ready to assemble:

They are still attached to their paper foundations, if you are wondering what the white behind them is.

One side assembled:

Still with their papers, so not pressed yet. But I think it is going to be OK.

The poor peonies are already starting to lose their petals, but here are a couple on the plant that still look good:

And here are a couple inside, which will look good for longer:

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

A Walk in the Rain

Another little field trip this afternoon, this time to Sparrow Ground Reserve in Ballarat. It is a small reserve, tucked between houses. Again, it is somewhere I was unaware of until very recently, but it is within easy walking distance of where I lived in Ballarat while our house was being built.

 A small group of flower hunters braved the heavy rain. You had to be careful where you put your feet:

Or you might stand on something like this:

This is a common onion orchid, Microtis unifolia, which can be very hard to spot among the grass.

We didn't find any other types of orchids open, but there were lots of other things to see.

Tiny wildflowers everywhere.

This is a chocolate lily, Arthropodium strictum:

It's called that because it smells like chocolate, not because of any connection with the plant chocolate comes from.

After about an hour it was time to head home to a hot cuppa. But we will visit Sparrow Ground again in better weather, now we know it exists.

Sunday, November 8, 2020

Mount Beckworth

 A second field trip! This time to somewhere I've never been before.

Mount Beckworth is only 60kms from here, but it is somewhere I had never even heard of before joining the field naturalist club. 

We didn't climb the mountain, fortunately, as it was another quite warm day when wearing a mask was not comfortable.

If you would like to see some photos of the actual climb up the mountain, and the views from the top, I found this very entertaining blog post someone wrote 7 years ago: Mount Beckworth

We were mainly there to look at wildflowers. 

Field naturalists surrounded by Sticky Everlastings, Xerochrysum viscosum:


Here's a flower I've never seen before:

It is the appropriately named "Woolly-Heads", Myriocephalus rhizocephalus.

We found another, different orchid:

Which we think is Diuris behrii Golden Cowslips. Although I'm waiting for an expert to confirm that on iNaturalist.

Being on this outing we missed watching Daniel Andrews deliver the exciting announcements about the changes to Victoria's covid restrictions. The "ring of steel" between Melbourne and regional Victoria is coming down. This is fantastic, as it means I will be able to see my son again, and my friends who live in Melbourne. Our run of donut days (zero new cases, zero deaths) continues. Well done everyone!

That was the icing on top of a good day out, to a new place, with lots of fascinating things to look at. It might be worth going back sometime in the cooler months to actually climb to the top.

Friday, November 6, 2020

More Orchids

I found this tiger orchid (Diuris sulphurea) today while looking around our block for any new wildflowers:

However it isn't actually on our block. It is a couple of metres over the boundary line, on our next-door neighbours' property. 

This one is on our block though:

It is a Chinese ground orchid (Bletilla striata), growing in my garden.

Thursday, November 5, 2020

Popping Peony

The warm weather over the last couple of days has the buds on my Coral Charm peony popping open:

And then a rain shower this morning has weighed them down and will shorten their life.
I've cut off about a dozen of the buds that haven't popped open, and put them in the fridge. Hopefully they will allow me to enjoy the flowers for longer than those still on the bush.