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First post for 2014

Happy New Year to all my loyal readers – I do appreciate those that follow this blog which seems to have often fallen by the wayside in the past year.  I am  amazed that my stats show constant visitors even during times posts have been scarce or non existent!  WordPress provides a useful breakdown of one’s blog each year and I thought it might be interesting to share some of their info here.

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 11,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.
In 2013, there were 27 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 711 posts. There were 234 pictures uploaded, so that’s about 5 pictures per week. Visitors came from a total of 87 countries and the busiest day of the year was August 25th with 118 views. The most popular post that day was Cumquat Marmalade.

I had no idea Cumquat Marmalade could be a hit topic!

Most folk seem to publish a list of events, achievements or items made during the past year – with an average of only one post per fortnight, you can see that my stitching output did not amount to much – goodness knows where the year went with so little to show for it.  I took thousands of photographs, and I did a little travel – to Singapore for a couple of weeks, and to Alice Springs for a 10 days photograph tour.  I received the Intermediate Certificate from the Embroiderer’s Guild for completing certificates in Surface Stitchery, Crewel, and Canvas Work over the last three years. (Then swore I would never do another!)  I lost my beloved Maggie in October, and I made some major life decisions – bought a block of land and engaged an architect to design me a new home, and began to prepare this place for sale.

2014 will be a busy one with many challenges – a new knee in March, the sale of my current home, and the construction of my new one, plus a possible move into a rented place until the new one is completed.  I can’t wait for it all to happen, and am already able to visualize what it might be like living here.

South Facing and main entrance

South Facing and main entrance

North facing living areas and patio

North facing living areas and patio

Christmas Eve Kindness

I have become a bit “Bah Humbug” about Christmas – hate the commercialism of it all, am bored by carols that I have been hearing for the last three months, don’t have any strong religious beliefs to give it meaning, and generally feel the “good will to all” aspect has long gone in this troubled world.  However, even this grumpy old woman can still be surprised and reassured that some good will remains in our community.

I have just returned from a last minute shopping trip to a bigger town than this one, where I purchased a 10 kg box of nectarines, destined to be made into my annual batch of chutney based on a recipe from Stephanie Alexander’s big orange cookbook.  Now, I am waiting for another knee replacement which will happen in March, and until then my left leg is quite misshapen, my knee is very painful and I walk slowly with a very obvious limp – a bit like the rolling walk of a drunken sailor.  Having purchased my box of nectarines I was making my way to my car, when a woman with a young child asked if I needed a hand………usually very independent I acknowledged I was struggling and gratefully accepted her offer.  She left her daughter outside the fruit shop with instructions not to move, took my box and carried it to my car on the other side of the road.  As I thanked her and wished her all the best for the festive season and 2014, she said she had had an awful year – she had crashed her car, there was serious illness in her family and mentioned another disaster as well, so she hoped the New Year would indeed be a better one.  Amazing how someone with their own difficulties could still reach out to a perfect stranger – it was unexpected and much appreciated.   At that point I gave her a big hug, wished her well, and we both went on our way.  I hope her action made her feel good – I certainly did.

Merry Christmas everyone.  May 2014 be a good one for you and yours, I wish you health and happiness.

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A Mid-Summer Sunrise

Mags – Thanks

Thank you to all those who have left comments about Maggie, they are all very much appreciated.  Bella and I are doing OK.

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This one was taken when she had lived here for about six months.

Maggie

My daughter spotted her first of all, on the website of Save-a Dog in Melbourne in October 2006, and suggested I might like to consider her for the position of Big Dog, which had been vacant for some time, and had been much in my mind when I moved to this large country property. Then my son saw her in person, and encouraged me to go and meet her myself. A couple of days later I drove to Melbourne and met her……..then, not wanting to do anything impulsive, that I might regret, I drove the two hours home again. A decision was made by the time I got back, and immediately rang the shelter to say I would collect her the next day. Thus the beautiful and beloved Maggie entered my life.

There was little known about her story, she was surrendered in the North of the state, with a male collie, and thought to be about 5 years old. Mags was in a bad way, she had been infested with fleas, and was still filthy with her coat matted and dreadlocked, very underweight, nervous, and frightened of men. Later a vet told me she had probably suffered a broken leg at some time, and this contributed to significant arthritic problems as she got older. Given that I was told both dogs were often picked up by the local ranger, a car accident was a possibility, but we shall never know.

Initially she was ravenously hungry, stealing food from kitchen benches, and fiercely defending her meals or bones from others, but once she settled in and gained weight, this stopped and her very gentle nature surfaced. She was my shadow, a loyal friend and companion, happy to follow me around the garden, come in the car, or sit beside me wherever I was. She was always waiting at the front door for me if I had gone out without her.

Maggie was a most affectionate dog, she loved to lean against you,  sit on you if you were on the floor, or cuddle up on the couch and she would touch you with her right paw if she wanted something and would lift your hand or arm with her long nose if she needed to be stroked. If clothing was left on the floor, she would sleep on it like a smaller dog might do. She hunted and ate flies that came into the house, and would bark wildly at flocks of sparrows chirping in the bushes. She hated cats, particularly my neighbour’s ones and would fly off the veranda, barking fiercely if she spotted one in her garden, but would always greet visitors who came to the house in a friendly way. Maggie loved to go for walks, usually off the lead, and would become so excited when I put on my walking boots, changed my clothes or collected Bella’s lead, that she would yodel or sing. She never wandered away from home, which was such a joy in comparison to Bella’s desire to bolt at every opportunity, and which has not diminished over the years. Even as her arthritis became more serious, Maggie would valiantly follow, at her own pace when I walked each morning with several friends and their dogs too.

Less than two weeks ago a visit to the vet to investigate a change in her behaviour and breathing revealed that she had Lymphoma, a form of Leukaemia, and a very limited prognosis. Some medication was tried, to make her more comfortable but it did not have much effect, and with much sadness and love, she was put to sleep at home, on Sunday last. She has been buried on a friend’s property as this place will be sold in the next few months, and I could not bear to leave her with strangers.

I could write much more about this wonderful dog, but will not. Suffice to say the loss is enormous, my home feels empty without her……….as does my heart.

Building a Home

Down by the lake this afternoon, I discovered yet another pair of wrens who seem to be building a nest in my bonfire pile, which is still too wet to light (and obviously now will not be).  At least, she was busy collecting tiny bits of interesting stuff, while he mostly posed around the place in the setting sun, singing his heart out.  As usual, a woman’s work is never done………

Talking of building homes, that is what I shall be doing in the next year or so.  Much as I love this gorgeous place, three acres of garden, carting wood for fires in winter,  the steps into the house, and a few other things have made me decide it is all too much for this old bird, so it is to be sold at a date yet to be determined.  I had a birthday a week or so ago, and on the day committed to the purchase of a smaller block of land in this town, and will build a custom designed sustainable home on it.  I imagine the process will provide lots of fodder for this blog!

Little Blue Man

This little fellow is a mature male, with full gaudy plumage – just gorgeous really!  For those who may not know he is a Superb Fairy Wren - quite tiny, but very handsome, while his mate is dull light brown and a bit boring!

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The Daffodil

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
Written by William Wordsworth in 1804, this is a poem that most of us learned at school, I certainly did and can also remember my Father often quoted it, but usually in some mangled humourous form as well as the real thing.  This area of Central Victoria is awash with them – gardens (mine included) and fields are sprinkled with patches of gold, bunches are being sold cheaply at roadsides, and as mentioned in the last post, a nearby town is having a festival in their honour, which included a daffodil themed Scarecrow competition. To me they signify that Spring is really here and their gorgeous colours are a welcome sight after the wet and dull winter in this very cold climate.
These are some more shots from the Daffodil Festival in Kyneton, and around the area.

 

 

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