Tag Archives: gardening

Who Was the Diggingest Dog?

This is what we woke up to this morning… a monumental crater in our backyard. A crater so big, you could almost park a Mini inside it, and we weren’t happy!

Well, you might think we’d been struck by a meteorite. Indeed, given the smattering of holes around the backyard, a meteorite shower.  However, this particular hole is much larger and deeper than the rest and might even be considered impressive. Meanwhile, thanks to all these holes and the grey, sandy soil, our backyard resembles a moonscape and there’s barely a blade of grass in sight.  It looks pretty desolate to be honest and I don’t really go out there unless I have to.

As soon as you step foot in our backyard, the cause of these holes is obvious. It’s our three dogs… Lady and the “pups” Rosie and Zac. However, this hole was most likely the work of one dog, and the other two are innocent. However, how do we find out who done it when we don’t have the forensic resources of the FBI, Scotland Yard or NSW Police at our disposal? We obviously won’t get far by interrogating the dogs. Moreover, each dog is very good at feigning innocence. So, I guess this all means the guilty dog has got away with it. Committed the perfect crime.

Above: Lady is adamant it wasn’t her…”I’m an absolute angel.”

Pity that, because I really would like to have a backyard, which hasn’t literally gone to the dogs. Last night, this question raised it’s ugly head again when I had the chance to nip over to London via the blog and was able to check out  Geoff Le Pard’s backyard. His garden not only has flowers. It also has that lush green expanse otherwise known as “a lawn”. A lawn is a luxury. Yet, Geoff also has has a dog.

“Get close to grass and you’ll see a star.”

― Dejan Stojanovic, The Sun Watches the Sun

How does this man manage to have a perfect backyard and an incredible almost glowing green lawn when he also has a dog? How is it so? Does Geoff have direct access to Flora, the Roman goddess associated with flowers and Spring? Or, is it just a case that God has blessed the gardens of England and cursed the gardens of Australia, or even the backyard of this Australian in particular? It’s not that I feel like I have a target painted on my back. However, sometimes I do feel the man upstairs has made my journey that bit more difficult than most, and I could well throw “gratitude” to the wind. Indeed,  I could walk straight up to God and ask him straight out: “Please explain”.

Many of you won’t understand what I mean by “please explain”. It’s a phrase made famous here in Australia by our controversial Federal politician Pauline Hanson. While I might not like Pauline Hanson or her politics, the phrase has stuck moving into common usage, often with comic effect.

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Our Family

Mind you, I can’t really blame God for the state of our backyard and in many ways, the dogs aren’t to blame either. Having the perfect backyard, the perfect house aren’t achievable at the moment with two kids, three dogs, sailing and dance activities, work and chronic health. It’s relationships which matter, although I will confess that’s not as easy as it sounds and fueling relationships over the longer term isn’t easy. There’s a big difference I guess between where we aspire to be and where we’re at. That’s what it means to be human.

How is your garden going? Do you manage to have dogs and a decent garden? What’s your magic secret?

Best wishes,

Rowena

PS I found this beautiful quotes which related so well to our battles to grow grass in our backyard of beach sand:

“The children had had an argument once about whether there was more grass in the world or more sand, and Roger said that of course there must be more sand because of under the sea; in every ocean all over the world there would be sand, if you looked deep down. But there could be grass too, argued Deborah, a waving grass, a grass that nobody had ever seen, and the colour of that ocean grass would be darker than any grass on the surface of the world, in fields or prairies or people’s gardens in America. It would be taller than tress and it would move like corn in the wind. (“The Pool”
― Daphne du Maurier, Echoes from the Macabre: Selected Stories

The Odd Couple: Friday Fictioneers – 4th September, 2019.

They called themselves the odd couple. Yet, ignoring all the warning signs, Katherine fell madly in love with Pete, a self-confessed slob, while she was Queensland’s Lacquer Queen not a hair out of place.

It wasn’t just that his tie was crooked. None of his books were straight either. Some were tipsy and leaning over ever so slightly, while others were drop dead drunk.

In a jiffy, she’d automatically straightened the books while he was cooking dinner, but didn’t know what to do with his feral pot plant. So, she threw it out. Unbothered, Pete just thought he’d got lucky.

……

100 words

PHOTO PROMPT © Penny Gadd This has been another contribution to Friday Fictioneers hosted by Rochelle Wishoff-Fields. Every week we write 100 words to a photo prompt.

Best wishes,

Rowena

Weekend Coffee Share 18th March, 2019.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share! Please make yourself at home. What would you like to drink? I’ve become quite a tea drinker lately as coffee doesn’t agree with me. That said, I do risk it occasionally at a cafe. I still love a good coffee!

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My apologies once again for going off the grid. However, last Sunday was Mothers’ Day here in Australia and after the kids made me pancakes with Nutella and raspberries for breakfast here, we drove down to Sydney to see my Mum, Dad and brother for lunch and a rambling afternoon. Understandably, the weekend was swallowed up and I can’t remember what else happened. I’ve been a bit under the weather with a cold so I could well have been asleep.

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It’s not quite Winter here in Sydney but we’re getting a few cold mornings and a few chilly nights just to remind us that Winter isn’t far away. Yet, it’s a beautiful sunny day outside, which certainly begs the question what am I doing locked away inside? Why aren’t I out there soaking up all those precious rays before they disappear?

Well, I have the best of both worlds sitting here as the sun is streaming through the window and it’s really very pleasant. I’m still in my PJs at almost 3.00 pm and had a big sleep in after dropping my daughter at the dance studio at the crack of dawn (any time before 9.00 am on a Saturday morning but 7.30 was particularly cruel!!) Fortunately, we live just around the corner and if she didn’t have such a big day ahead, I’d be telling her to walk. However, please excuse the pun, but that could be just around the corner.

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My book project is coming along very well. It’s now shifted from biographical short fiction into short non-fiction with a series of biographical sketches of our ancestors and relatives put within their historical context and shaken up a bit. Both my husband and I come from huge families who arrived early on in terms of Australia’s European history and we’re just lucky that many of them were in the right or (actually from their perspective the wrong place) at the right time. Although most of the characters I’ve researched most are more recent, I’ve decided to start off with our first arrivals who I knew relatively little about. Moreover, they’ve taken me on a course I hadn’t researched much before as well. This means that while I set off on this book project thinking I was already well underway and it would take a lot to get a book out, the reality is very different. I guess it always is. The job takes longer and costs blow out. Just ask a builder.

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Yet, I’m exciting and researching and working on these stories is quite exhilarating. I’ve also had to think about why I’m doing this, other than needing to write and finish a book for my own sense of being able to see it through to the end and published. What attracted me to these characters? Why invest so much of my time, energy and my very self in telling their stories?

The answer is that these people are all great battlers. Many endured incredible hardships yet persevered and soldiered on. They didn’t give up. I find them so encouraging and they lift me up. A bad day doesn’t have to be the end of the world.

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These people are also incredibly human and I think it makes a huge difference that they’re real and that I haven’t transposed their stories into quasi-fictional stories. The reader knows this is true and has something real to hold onto. That said, truth always is a matter of perspective and how you source their particulars.

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I am having a pretty quiet day today. I’m about to head off to vote in the Australian Federal Election. I almost forgot to mention this and I’ve been doing my best to avoid just about anything to do with it. I am completely disenchanted with both major parties and don’t trust either of the main contenders for Prime Minister. However, our local member has done a great job and I question whether she should lose her seat based on her boss. We live in a marginal seat where our votes count and so I actually do need to take my vote seriously. I think I’ve fallen into the camp of voters going independent to send the major parties “a message”. Voting independent is a more civilized way of cracking an egg on the leaders’ heads, which has been quite a feature during this election campaign. You might’ve heard about Egg Boy who cracked an egg on a senator’s head after his dreadful remarks re the Christchurch Massacre. A woman also egged the Prime Minister.  The egg didn’t crack which also aroused some interest. Just to keep the campaign interesting, we’ve also had the appearance of chickenman, although he obviously isn’t responsible for laying any eggs. He’s apparently a young Liberal supporting former PM Tony Abbott. I’m not even going to touch on the intense fighting for the seat of Warringah held by Tony Abbott, except to say that I wish I could vote for his rival former Olympic skier, Zali Steggal. Tony Abbott is long past his expiry date.

Tomorrow, on the other hand, is going to be huge. Our daughter received a call back for an audition for a local ballet company which is putting on Swan Lake. This is such a huge opportunity, but I also need to dot the i’s and cross the t’s. While I’m not auditioning on stage, I too will be under the microscope and most of my day will be going up in smoke waiting. I know I’m written about the benefits of waiting before but… I know. I know. I can get through another one of the unfinished books teetering on my bedside table. It would be incredible if she got in.

Before I head off, I just wanted to share with you that I went to the Sydney Writers’ Festival two weeks ago. If you’d like to dip your toe into what was a fabulous day, please click Here.

Thank you for joining me and I look forward to hearing what you’ve been up to. By the way, the photos throughout this week’s post were taken at the local wetlands this afternoon during our daughter’s audition.

Best wishes,

Rowena

PS Our daughter was successful in her audition and will be appearing in Swan Lake locally later in the year.

PPS Australian Federal Election done and dusted. Biggest surprise of all. We still have the same Prime Minister.

 

 

Exhausting A Working Dog.

A working dog needs a job, a challenge and when none is provided, it will soon create a job of its own. Although Rosie and Zac, our year old Border Collie x Kelpie pups, love chasing balls and sticks right down to retrieving minute splinters and fragments, fetch becomes difficult when there’s no one home to throw. With no one to throw, somehow  being home alone translates into: “Let’s dig a hole.” Or even: “Let’s play wombats and dig a network of underground tunnels”. For all I know, they could even be digging an underground spy network, or even working on the great escape. No. They wouldn’t do that. They love us much too much. On the other hand, Lady, our Border Collie x Cavalier would be off in a flash. We’ve even had to install chicken wire along the fence line. Yes. She could well be called: “The Wanderer” :

“They call me the wanderer
Yeah, the wanderer
I roam around, around, around”

– Dion.

Humph…when you consider escape artists and the diggingest dogs, even I’m wondering why we’ve further complicated our already complex lives with three “unnecessary” dogs. However, love knows no bounds, no logic, no sense. We have four humans and only three dogs, not that we have room for anymore except on a temporary basis. After all, we’re not on a farm. Of course, this also means that when the dogs decide to dig large, wombat like burrows, our backyard becomes a safety hazard and it wouldn’t take much to break an ankle, let alone your neck.

This is when their excavating activities met their match. Deciding to distract them, Geoff built them the stick toy to end all stick toys…the Giant Stick Swing. He screwed a chain into a very big stick, which he suspended like a swing so the dogs could grip hold of the stick and wrestle with it for hours and hours while they keep trying to work out how to extricate the stick from its cage. Our daughter was given the task of getting them interested and then their new job began. Both of them were working flat out pulling at the stick trying to get it out, running round and round and back and forth. It was the perfect device for exhausting two very energetic working dogs. Happy Days.

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The Dog Proof Lawn Protector in situ.

By the way, the Giant Stick Swing is only Geoff’s latest invention. You might recall that I recently introduced you to the  Dog Proof Lawn Protector where Geoff attached a layer of protective chicken wire to a large wooden frame which he is moving around the backyard on the equivalent of a crop rotation system, where he’s sowing grass seed and installing new sprinkler heads as he goes. It’s a lot of hard work just to have a patch of green, especially when there are no guarantees. Growing grass seems to be as precarious as farming crops. There are no guarantees.

Yet, there are those green thumbed-freaks of humanity out there who somehow have a perfect lawn. Indeed, they have a manicured lawn, which looks like it’s been trimmed with a pair of nail scissors and is meticulously maintained. Lawn which is a show piece, a status symbol. However, the perfect green lawn is quite an indulgence when we’re in the midst of a severe drought. Yet, at the same time, we’re doing what we can to salvage our patch of green from three working dogs, the drought and sandy beach soil and we’re succeeding without too great a cost.

Do you have any dog posts to share? Or, perhaps you’re also struggling to nurture your own patch of green? I’d love to hear from you.

Best wishes,

Rowena

 

 

Making the Grass Greener.

“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”

Eleanor Roosevelt

A few short weeks ago, we looked out over our backyard the same way Moses saw the Promised Land. However, all we saw was a dust bowl with three dogs standing somewhere in it and a few holes dug in for good measure. Indeed, if I hadn’t seen the three dogs, I might’ve wondered whether a wombat had taken up residence in our backyard. Some of these holes were huge.

Needless to say, the grass wasn’t happy.

“I believe a leaf of grass is no less than the journey-work of the stars.”

Walt Whitman

Moreover, just to add to it’s struggles, we’re in the throws of a serious drought and just because we’re not farming out on the land, doesn’t mean we haven’t been affected by the lack of rain. It might not be affecting our livelihood but our backyard was a dust bowl.

“The moment one gives close attention to anything,
even a blade of grass, it becomes a mysterious, awesome,
indescribably magnificent world in itself.”

–   Henry Miller

So we have digging dogs, dry drought and then there’s the sandy soil. We live metres away from the beach and while this very same sandy beach might be a thing of beauty, our sandy soil is largely infertile could go a few rounds of IVF. Indeed, even the weeds had given up trying to grow in our backyard. There was just bare sand.

To be perfectly honest, I didn’t hold out much hope of ever seeing green grass out the back, let alone anything approaching a lawn. I’d more or less assumed that my husband had also given up. After all, it had been awhile and there wasn’t exactly a lot of activity out there.

However, I don’t know what happened, but my husband sent up the backyard sprinkler system again. That was step one. Then, he built a very clever lawn growing contraption of the likes I’ve never seen before. Just like Australia has the rabbit proof fence, my husband built the dog proof lawn protector by simply nailing four planks of wood together and covering it with chicken wire. Just like the Parable of the Sower, my husband sowed out the lawn seed, covered it with the protector and then it was on with the sprinklers every night.

Then, miracle of miracles, we now have lawn. Indeed, the dog proof lawn protector has been moved onto its second location and much of the grass in the first plot is still alive.

Sometimes, I think we can settle where we are believing that things can’t get any better. That this is as good as it gets and we can forget to prepare the soil, sow the seed and water our dreams or just even our basic needs. It’s too easy then to fall into an engulfing sense of despair where there is not point lifting a finger or even trying to get up off the ground and pick up our mats.

I also want to say that I’m proud of my husband for coming up with our dog proof lawn protector. He commutes to Sydney puts in a long day’s work and is my carer 24/7 as well as being a father to our kids and the three crazy mutts. In so many ways, that’s life. We’re all busy. We each have our lot. Our hardships and our blessings. Last weekend, he started a sailing course. So, now he’s not only enjoying some green grass, he’s also experiencing some smooth sailing. Well, perhaps in time.

Is there something that’s changed recently in your life that’s made a difference? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

Best wishes,

Rowena

Weekend Coffee Share – September 10, 2018.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

Ooops! Starting to look like one cupcake was an elegant sufficiency, and two was let’s just say a bit of a mistake. Perhaps, you’d like to indulge. I was reading about cupcakes on a blog last week, which gave me uncontrolled cravings and I whipped up a batch of plain ones with butter icing a few days ago. Tonight, I experimented a bit and swirled strawberry jam through one half, and crunchy peanut butter and chocolate chips through the rest. Butter icing on top…yum! Great with your choice of tea, coffee or whatever else tickles your fancy.

How had your week been?

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Yesterday, was our 17th Wedding Anniversary. We went out for lunch at Eat Street on the Gosford Waterfront where I had fish tacos and Geoff has nachos. These were followed by coffee and a brownie each. We also went to the nursery and bought a yellow rose bush for our anniversary. Yellow roses are more my Dad’s colour and he usually gives mum yellow roses for their wedding anniversary. Yellow roses traditionally symbolise jealousy. However, in our case, we already have a beautiful and very resilient red climbing rose so we wanted something different.

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Our rose bush is as pretty as a picture. Please rose bush do not die!

Well, being Spring over here, we couldn’t stop at buying just the rose bush. We would two very small azalias to go with the larger azalia that I’d bought Geoff for Father’s Day. We also bought a pink cineraria and a rosemary bush. We we brought them home, our son called out: “Plant killer”. So, in an effort to show that I’ve at least somewhat reformed, we got stuck into the garden ripping out overgrown grass and weeds and digging holes. Geoff has also done his bit and reinstalled our watering system a few months ago. There is hope.

By the way, I’m waiting patiently for our daffodils to flower. One flowered a few weeks ago and I fully meant to take a photo, but it looked a bit unfortunate locked up in the greenhouse when it should’ve been free. I blame three dogs for its unfortunate imprisonment. They dug up our blueberry bush and crewed it up…grr!

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Posing after our violin performance 2012. Lizotte’s is a rock n’ roll venue where the likes of Diesel have performed…and me! The music school hired the venue for our concert.

While we’re chatting here, I’ve been reminded about my violin. I’ve been working on a short story called “The Violinist” based on my experiences of learning the violin as an adult. I had a bit of a light bulb moment this week, where I actually realized that if I practiced my violin for 30 minutes a day like I was supposed to. Indeed, that’s the very least amount of practice you can do and really expect to make any headway. I should really be doing an hour, which could explain why I can’t even manage to get any practice done at all. If I just settled for doing 5 minutes practice, it would extend out to 15 minutes, maybe even half an hour. Anyway, getting back to my light bulb moment, I realized that if I just did my practice, I probably wouldn’t be wrestling with my violin at all. That my bow wouldn’t be so tempted to wander off diagnonally across the strings and my fingers wouldn’t be so stiff. They’d be well-oiled and they’d actually know their way around the strings instead of feeling lost. No doubt, you’re probably wondering how something that obvious could count as a light bulb moment. Indeed, you’re probably thinking I might need to start looking for a new light bulb, if that’s the best I can come up with. However, there are so many competing distractions, and my violin isn’t at the top of the list. It’s something I love, but I see it more in terms of creative cross-training rather than something I’m ever going to master.

I was quite pleased with the flash fiction I wrote this week for Friday Fictioneers: Dancing With Apollo. I also wrote a post for Thursday Doors and this week I featured some of the miniature embassy buildings at Tazmazia. They’re quite amazing and I highly recommend you check them out in person, but in the meantime, you can enjoy the photographs. I’m really busting to get back to Tassie now. It’s our home away from home.

Well, I hope you’ve had a great week and I’m looking forward to hearing from you and catching up on your news as well.

This has been another contribution to the Weekend Coffee Share hosted by Ecclectic Ali. We’d love you to come and join us.

Best wishes,

Rowena

PS I thought I’d give you a laugh and post this photo of me taking photos at our wedding. You can’t hold a passionate photographer down. One of my friends said she was surprised I didn’t have a camera hidden in my bouquet.

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The Photographer Bride: taking photos at my own wedding. Totally incorrigible.

 

Secret Shed Business…Friday Fictioneers.

“What’s Dad doing? He’s always out there in the shed! You sure, he hasn’t got another woman stashed out there?”

Pam had no idea. It was his space. A no go zone. She left him to it.

However, the deeper he tunneled into retirement, the less he came out, and Pam was starting to wonder whether she should be concerned. Surely, it couldn’t hurt to peak? Not that Pam was complaining. She hadn’t burned her bra in the 70’s, to end up cooking hot lunches for hubby now.

Indeed, with or without Brian, she was setting sail on a cruise….

……

This has been another contribution to Friday Fictioneers hosted by Rochelle Wishoff Fields. PHOTO PROMPT © Sandra Crook

Best wishes,

Rowena