Sunday, March 27, 2011

Bulbing About in the Garden...

[Geranium: The hardiest plant in the world?]

 [Daffodil bulbs ready to plant]

[SJ mows the lawn in the evening for the second time in a week: With all the rain we've been getting, the lawn that we planted last November has been doing wonderfully. It never ceases to amaze me just how a garden can come back to life (and all the weeds hiding beneath the surface) after a decent shower of rain. At the moment SJ is having to mow the lawn every five days, and spray/pull out weeds at least once a week.]


Unlike the previous few weekends where it was somewhat soggy, the weather this weekend has been perfect for spending some time in the garden.

I was finally able to transfer some agapanthus that has been growing wild in the front yard to the back: We have not been able to fully enjoy the pretty agapanthus in bloom these past two summers, since we spend so little time out the front. From two clumps I ended up with fifteen individual plants, which I have planted as border rows in the back garden beds.

They haven't seemed bothered by the move at all so far!

This is my first time attempting to grow bulbs. I checked that it was the right time to move the agapanthus, and in our temperate climate it is also the time for planting daffodils. Tulip bulbs are currently being chilled for planting in about six weeks' time.

If anyone has any recommendations for pretty bulbs that are easy to grow in a temperate climate, I'd appreciate the suggestions.


[Agapanthus: This garden bed is a work in progress and will be our focus for the coming year. We plan to plant daffodils and tulips in the coming weeks, and when the season arrives for it, roses and evergreen perennials to give it a cottage garden feel.]

[The flowerbed in the centre of our yard, so full of colour, and which will be extended next spring.]

[A new home for some agapanthus in the flowerbed.]

[Alyssum: The happy perennial!]

[My new favourite perennial: Lamb's ear - so much fun to touch!]

Friday, March 25, 2011

On My Mind: A Change in the Seasons...

Today I spent some time wandering Blogland, visiting and experiencing new blogs. Many blogs from the Northern Hemisphere are currenlty bursting with pictures and stories of spring, whilst here in the Flinders Ranges the first month of autumn is drawing to a close. Already summer feels like the distant past, even though our last warm day was felt barely a week ago. So quick have the seasons changed! This past week has seen cool days sprinkled with rain showers, followed by chilly, damp nights.
It was on my mind all day: Having spent last night in an uncomfortable chill, I was loathed to repeat it, so when we arrived home this evening SJ stoked the fire in the dining room for the first time in over six months. The result: A cold night spent inside a cozy warm home, with each of us taking our turn to stand in front of the fireplace to soak up its comforting warmth.
This is a Friday photo feature from Down to Earth that anyone with a blog can join. It opens the door to us sharing our lives through these photos and gives us all a new way to discover each other, and maybe form new friendships. Your photo should show something at home that you're thinking about TODAY.
To take part, all you have to do is post a photo, write a short caption explaining it, and link it back to Down to Earth. Please write a new post, don't link to an older one. When your photo is published, go to Down to Earth and add a comment , with a link to your blog photo.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Dance Lessons by Aine Greaney

Dance Lessons: A NovelDance Lessons: A Novel by Áine Greaney

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

After the death of her husband, Fintan, Ellen Boisvert sets about planning the rest of her life. She is a successful, 39-year-old teacher living in Boston, set free from a difficult marriage by fate. However, a year after Fintan's death, Ellen discovers that her immigrant husband was not an orphan as he had claimed, but that his mother is still living on the family farm on the west coast of Ireland.

Confronted with this sudden revelation, Ellen makes the decision to travel to Ireland in an attempt to find her mother-in-law, Jo, and to discover the truth behind her husband's decision to pretend both parents dead.

Ellen's trip to Ireland to meet Jo takes her on an unexpected journey of sacrifice, selflessness and truth. What Ellen learns about her husband, his mother and the little community in which they grew up would have been enough to scare most people away for good - but not Ellen! Ellen makes the difficult decision to stay with Jo through the final stages of her illness, and then after her death make the changes necessary to right the wrongs Jo made during her life.

Dance Lessons is a novel on the complexities of family; how the decisions made by parents may lead their children to wander through a life of misery and regret. It's not difficult to pity Jo for the life she was forced into taking, and it's even easier to feel sorry for Fintan for the childhood he had to endure as a result. As for Ellen, she is admirable for her determination to do the right thing.

Thanks to Aine Greaney for inviting me to read this novel: It was a great way for me to pass the slow days at work, and although quite different to what I would normally read, I really enjoyed the story. I especially recommend it for anyone taking part in the Ireland Reading Challenge.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Sunday Tea Cup...

Tea and letters:
Is there any better way to spend a thundery Sunday afternoon?

Friday, March 11, 2011

Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

Eat, Pray, LoveEat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

"But why must everything always have a practical application? I'd been such a diligent soldier for years - working, producing, never missing a deadline, taking care of my loved ones, my gums and my credit record, voting etc. Is this lifetime supposed to be only about duty?" - Elizabeth Gilbert

Eat, Pray, Love is a memoir of the adventure and experience undertaken by the author after a failed marriage and a failed rebound relationship.

Suffering severe depression, Gilbert makes the decision to take twelve months off from life and all the responsibilities that come with it, and embark on a spiritual journey across Italy, India and Indonesia (Bali).

In Italy she eats; in India she prays; and in Bali she discovers what it truly means to love.

This memoir starts out brilliantly: It was so easy to empathise and sympathise with Gilbert as she faces the reality that her seemingly perfect life is not making her happy; in fact, the weight of expectation placed on her by her husband and her family has made her uncontrollably miserable.

But Italy was so much fun! There was so much adventure, and so much discovery: It made me want to go to Italy - Just jump on a plane and go, right now! I was totally engrossed, and in retrospect I feel that it was Italy where Gilbert's true spiritual transformation took place.

Unfortunately for me, Gilbert left Italy and travelled onto India where she spent months in an Ashram trying to reach spiritual enlightenment, before moving onto Bali where she intends to learn wisdom from a medicine man, but instead ends up spending a lot of her time...with her new boyfriend. Neither India nor Bali had the excitement and intrigue of Italy. Her experiences in Italy were more honest, I felt. Her emotions there were raw, and it was in Italy that she was able to break through the cacoon of depression that had kept her trapped for such a long time. It was Italy where she truly let go of all responsibility and just let herself enjoy the adventure she was on. Italy was all about being lost in language, food and fun, which is exactly how everyone should spend their existence.

In other reviews Gilbert has been criticised for having her publisher fund her "spiritual journey" by agreeing to write a memoir on it before she had even caught the first flight. I believe this highlights how unrealistic taking this type of journey would be for many people, and raises some doubts (in my mind, at least) as to the accuracy of what has been written. Had she funded the journey herself and only wrote the memoir as an after-thought, I personally feel I would have enjoyed it more.

Despite its flaws, Eat, Pray, Love acts as a starting point for reassessing the responsibilities in our lives, to think about what truly makes us happy, and then to find the courage to take the plunge and make it happen. Too often we find ourselves so caught up in "duty" that we forget to take the time to just enjoy life, and for that reason this book gets 3 stars from me.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Growing Young.

"It takes a long time to become young." - Pablo Picasso

Yesterday it was my birthday, and not just any birthday.

Yesterday I ended life as a Twenty-Something and welcomed in (albiet somewhat reluctantly) a new chapter as a Thirty-Something.

All day everyone I know was kind enough to remind me of it, and I must admit that I wasn't much impressed at the thought of it: I have always considered turning 30 as officially becoming old, and I have dreaded its arrival. But then again I didn't much enjoy turning 10 and 20 either. What is it about starting a new decade that is just so...scary?

Moving from 29 into 30 is a little step that feels like a giant leap, and I am sure that everyone who has or will ever turn 30 must feel the same way about it. However, as a consolation, in the light of the day-after I have noticed that being 30 doesn't feel so bad as turning 30.

So, now that I appear to be getting past the initial fear of becoming that little bit older, I suppose I can start thinking about all the exciting discoveries and grand adventures I can make as a Thirty-Something, and put the fear of getting older aside for at least another 9 years.