Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas

We started with an early ride out to the beach at Pallarenda. Really lovely morning and there were at least as many cyclists on the road as cars. I just love a Christmas morning ride.

My hearts desire, Ritchey titanium pedals. I have had a few pairs of Ritchey Pro V4 mountain bike pedals (and worn them out) so going to the top of the range is a bit special. I also got my favorite perfume, new white wall tires, which is a surprise because I didn't think they still made them, and lots of tubes and zinc and a t-shirt. Missing from photo is a delightful looking bottle of NZ Pinot Noir

for Mae, the car from the side. It is hard to photograph while it is tucked under the house, but you will meet it in person soon. The office got him fuzzy dice as part of the going away gifts. Nice touch.
Thanks to all my family for the great Skype session this morning. I have spent the day cooking and eating and blissfully pottering around the garden pulling weeds out of rain softened soil. The house is full of the smell of turkey roasting, champagne is on ice. I hope that from the lobster pots of Nova Scotia to the BBQs of Florida, from the bakeries of Germany to the wineries of Tasmania, and all the other places my friends are scattered, that you have a very merry Christmas.

Monday, December 24, 2012

last minute flowers

They made it! I am glad I am not the only last minute shopper this year, thanks Gwen, Greg, Shaun and Jill. They are absolutely stunning! Hope yours arrive on time too.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

what's in bloom

I was talking with my sister on skype earlier today, and as gardeners will she asked what was in bloom in my garden. So here are a few things in bloom...
some heliconia are just starting, after being cut back to nothing at the start of winter

this is the sorry remains of a portulaca which nearly perished in the heat and humidity. It will get crowded out by a volunteer periwinkle anyway.

purple velvet in the garden, my favorite! Tibouchina is just coming on. Tibouchina 'Alstonville' (Tibouchina lepidota) is a NSW native, but seems pretty happy in the tropics too

Periwinkle grows wherever you let it, the dear thing.

OK, less impressive and hard to photograph when you are being savaged by mosquitoes is my bromeliad Pitcarnia. I am not sure which specific cultivar this is, but they are fairly rare and mine is a satisfying mound of leaves just setting bloom.

another big bromeliad sets bloom. I forget what it is called but Mae will tell us...

self seeded cosmos just coming on

these heliconia rostrata are always impressive

the big crab claw heliconia are a great cut flower, but very scrappy in the garden right now. They should have been pruned to the ground but I never got around to it, so I will just cut them down as I harvest the blooms.
I believe this is a Cassia var queenslandica, which is a local native. It makes a wall of elegant yellow cascading outside my bedroom window and is one of my favorite trees.

So there you go Carol, now Mom will be able to see what we were talking about on skype! I just love technology.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Christmas lights ride 2012

It is time to get Christmas happening around here! Matthias supplies the decorations as well as the baking, and he hasn't even been here in over a decade. Love this bike, it has been ridden to bits by successive trainees after Matthias left it with me, and has now been gently and artfully retired from service.
There is slow cooked stew from a friend

fishcakes and curried bits & bites. The smell of simmering salt fish about had me in tears of delight. We had marinated chicken drummies, and Cajun red beans and rice, and a curry and salads and breads and cheese and Scott's famous smoked salmon cheesecake and crackers and bread and pickles loads of champagne like substances and sparkling Shiraz, Australia's gift to Christmas. 
Then a chance to sit down for a bit while I drove my son somewhere for probably the very last time. That car is seriously awesome for a twelve year old. That kid is seriously awesome too.

And so it begins with drinks and food and the setting sun.

Time to roll out in style

There was a dead snake, a live tree frog to be rescued from the road, and the Griswolds seem to have migrated to Australia.

Monday, December 17, 2012

turkey worries

We usually have a few baby turkeys scratching around the courtyard at work by now, but this year they appear and the disappear and I am worried.
One wee fellow with Dad. We have hatched 4 or 5 and it is hard not to worry about the siblings, but then we have an abundance of the critters around the place, they are hardly rare. I adore them though.
meanwhile there are more lovely pods to pick up for friends along the bikeway. 
here are the pods in situ before they fall. I may actually head out with serious intent and harvest enough to sell to the local florist market. I love them. getting geared up to do a Christmas arrangement using these. It seems odd here to use dried things for arrangements when there is so much over the top tropical abundance, but these say "Christmas" to me.
Speaking of Christmas here is my baking all done. A lovely generous gift from my very first German trainee, he was here way back in 1999 when we bought our current house. I adore him and he obviously thinks I am OK too. I have had some correspondence with a trainee who wants to come in March and after a long drought of German students I am excited! I learn so much from these young people, and the friendships go on and on. 
note to self, if you go away for a month in September your pineapple crop is seriously compromised. We have fruit but it is pretty little! Still, nothing tastes like a pineapple ripened to yellow on the plant.
Meanwhile it is very hot, the rains seem so far away to the west, and no sign of the monsoon trough that I can see. Going to be a hot summer I expect, but if you ride early and drink a lot of water it isn't all bad.
P.S for family - Patrick got head hunted into a new job, finishes at Main Roads this Friday, and is buying a CAR!!! OMG.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

small gifts

People who drive cars swoosh at high speed on busy roads while us weirdos who walk and run and cycle noodle along bike paths feeling happy and serene. Poor sheeps. Us weirdos also have time to notice interesting things, like these beautiful woody seed pods dropped by a tree along the path. We also have time to stop and gather some, and we don't mind carrying them home in our sweaty hands, because they are special. Lovely.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

a gardener cuts flowers

It was quite hot today, but around 3 I thought it was time to go into the garden and cut some flowers. I sluffed on my crocs and went downstairs, where I noticed some pot plants looking a bit hot, so I got out the hose and watered. As I watered one of my favorite ground covers started snapping and throwing seeds, so I turned off the water, weeded the bed where they grow and top dressed with compost I bought at the hardware store today. Then I continued watering and the seeds snapped an flew but the garden was ready to receive them.

I grabbed my secateurs and headed out to the flowers, and cut some, but it has been hot and dry and last years growth is all brown so I waded in and cut back all the old growth. I am feeling a bit nervous, because I wasn't planning to 'garden' in this heat, and I am not dressed for the chore. I have on bare feet in crocs, running shorts, a singlet and no hat. This means that I am vulnerable to green ant attacks, geckos and very large spiders who may decide to run up a leg, sunburn and dirt and stuff accumulating in my hair. Luckily nobody attacks, but stuff does fall on my head.

I pick up the cut Heliconia and walk towards the house, and notice that the parsley is looking very sad and yellow, so I grab another bag of compost, top dress the garden bed where the parsley grows, add some dynamic lifter (chicken poo pellets) plant coriander seeds and set up the water.

I finally go into the house and put the flowers in vases. An hour and a half + has passed.

I think I am a cyclist because I am at that stage of life where you can just lose yourself in the chore of the moment. An couple of hours on the bike, an hour in the garden. It is not a chore at all, it is just what you are doing. Deep contentment.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Award winner

I won some serious accolades this evening, and I hardly know what to say. Usually award winners thank the little people, but I am a little person who won an award, so I would like to thank all the people who motivate and inspire me, and the institution that supports me.
Cycling ticks all the boxes, it enhances campus life, community engagements and sustainable practice. 
A hot summer awards evening at JCU. That woman next to me is the financial controller for the University, and when she was new to her job she summoned me to her office and grilled me about infrastructure and amenity for cyclists at the university. I was brutally frank, and it has been a beautiful relationship. I am privileged to work with people like this, honoured really. I never had access to such spheres of influence in the past, and now I am on committees that support upper management. There has been a huge cultural change in the last few years. I am really lucky to be here.

OMG the award itself is just stunning. Way too nice for the office, sorry, this is at home in my art space.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Castle Hill

We sometimes hike up the stairs on the side of the hill, then walk down the road. Everybody walks and rides up the hill, it is just what you do in Townsville. Here is a nice film from the ABC about Castle Hill I thought you might enjoy.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

summer daze

It is a dazzling hot day, but it was enjoyable to ride this morning, the breeze seemed coolish. Just don't stop moving, because when you do the breeze stops too. And when I got home after work (it is a lot warmer at the end of the day) This was waiting for me:

Thanks Scott! I needed that! It is amazing how cool our tepid tap water feels when it is turned into mist. What a thoughtful guy!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

don't give up

It is getting hot, so whenever I kit up at the end of the day there is surprise from my dear co-workers that I am still riding. Well it is not that hot, and anyway, I never quit. Ordinary people quit, not me. There was an ad for a bike for sale on Gumtree (which is gone because it was a giveaway) this morning for a really nice entry level Giant roadbike that the owner had bought with good intentions and had about 5kms on it and now they were selling it for a pittance. I was so sad, I should have emailed that guy and offered to ride with him. Seriously, he never gave it a chance. He gave up after he spent the money and before he started cycling. That is crazy stuff. What a crying shame.

Meanwhile I am enjoying life and the garden:
Summer crocus

Poinciana blooms. Scott had to prune back some branches because we are getting solar power installed soon, and these were too good to waste!! 

How exciting! Construction has started on a new end of ride facility in the medical precinct on campus! If it looks hot in this photo, it is because it was. I had black shoes on and I think I fried my toes.

summer means growth, even if the grounds crew has just pruned. What a lovely colour.

I have been pretty slack lately, what with the stresses of life and work, the start of summer and that feeling of release that comes with the end of semester. I still ride every day, but some days are a short ride, some days are a soft ride. I suppose this is the prize, to go out and ride soft and easy for 35 kms, and then regret that you didn't ride hard. But at least you didn't give up.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

sweet ride

Today I forgot to take all my raffle tickets for the Townsville BUG 'win a commuter bike' raffle to work. Doh. So instead of delivering them a single km at lunch time I had to ride home at the end of the day, get the tickets and deliver them west to Kirwan, a suburb about 6 kms away. Well I want you to know.

Every day. Every single working day of my life I cycle home into the teeth of a reliable afternoon onshore wind, because I work to the west of my home. Some days it is just a wee hauling of the log. Some days it howls to make you laugh and gasp as the tears stream from your eyes. But today, today was special because I grabbed my tickets at home (and some lemons and limes for Bec!) and I turned my back on that wind and fairly flew that journey west. Magic, and best of all the wind dies down around 6pm, so I had a cruisey ride home too. Sweet

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

all too much

Blogging is like housework, if you leave it go it all gets to be too much and you are tempted to bring in outside labour to put it all right. However, I am way to cheap to outsource, and who on earth would do this for free so bear with me while I catch up.
There have been dogs.
Harmony at dinner time, ructions at other times,  lots of cuddles and sitting on knee.
last weekend I was doing housework and was just moving the plug of the vacuum to another socket when there was the most extraordinary sound, and I looked out to see my neighbours Umbrella tree Schefflera actinophylla had split and half had just fallen down on a still morning. Crazy!
and then orchids bloomed because we had a shower of rain a week ago...

There was a farewell for a valued colleague and I couldn't be there but sent a photo. Hope we spelled out 'Love you!'

and turkeys were born. there is a wee blob above the adult which is a baby. 
a nest of Pacific Bazza chicks at the Uni, 

cut flowers from the garden. Hotel foyer quality arrangements for free, love my garden.

the smell of gardenia fills the house

Oh boy! An interesting and fun meeting and workshop in Brisbane. Well worth the trip. I am in as a member.

WTF does this mean - from the mapping bingo exercise

Fun! Mapping! Wine! I am in heaven.
Alpaca hats from Peru for loving two dogs for two weeks! What a deal! OK, that is it, time for dinner.