Thursday, November 21, 2019


Christmas trees divide the masses - some say 'too soon', and then there are Christmas tragics like the Red Cardinals, who love to have the tree in full display for, Oh, around six weeks.  At least.

This is the beauty of a faux tree.

After consultation with Little Aussie, the tree once again includes a display of woodland and other animals around the base, and on the lower branches.
He also wanted 'snow', so we are going with a white garland.
As ever, there are quite a few little red Cardinals on there too...

Adjacent to the tree I placed some snowy white orchids, a thank you from my friend M, who had a rather special birthday party recently..

And speaking of snow, there was a dump of about ten inches at my daugher's house in Ottawa, only four weeks after we were there enjoying the Fall...

Little Aussie wants to go visit.....

Our youngest grandson, formerly known as the Little Bebe, is now seven, and has original ideas on ergonomics...

The youthful Jacaranda has increased its percentage of blooms this year, the third year of flowering.  We long for it to get to the stage of spreading its wings in one big purple embrace.  Might be a while yet..

Now for some serious news.
This is the view from our deck, the one which is usually verdant and green.  That is smoke, and it surrounds us from every direction.
Trees and plants are dying, as we face the earliest bush-fire season ever.
It is not officially the beginning of Summer until December 1st.  
The Winter was mostly mild, just a few cold snaps, and very little rain all year.
Australia has been suffering dozens of fires, with some loss of life and homes, for several weeks, with no end in sight.

This is the map today:

We get the odd day of lower temps and cooling winds, then whoosh, up go the temperatures and the hot winds fan the flames.  There is no prospect of rain any time soon.
I have watched smoke on the next hill again today.  We are not in immediate danger but there are acreage housing areas surrounding us, all tinder dry.  We all pray for rain, and that no idle spark sets off fires in our valley.

Google image

Our thoughts go out to the brave firefighters, facing incredible walls of flame.
The loss of wildlife including our beloved koalas is catastrophic.

Google image

On what must have been a difficult day for them,
Happy Anniversary to Her Majesty the Queen and Prince Philip.

Seventy-two years together!  Well done, Ma'am and Sir..

Also a special salute to Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, here with husband Prince Charles in New Zealand.
That is a very smart navy jumpsuit - and I for one, am very impressed.
Why not follow the fashion?  
Well played, Camilla.


Tuesday, November 12, 2019


After our artistic adventures in France, we returned to London and boarded our first ever flight across the Atlantic Ocean..

Our destination, of course, was Ottawa, Canada, to visit our daughter and her family....

It had been almost two years since we visited them, at Christmas, 2017.

Our daughter later provided me with this amusing checklist.
Did we do all of this?  I think we did...

In sub-tropical Australia, Autumn/Fall is quite undefined, simply a matter of slightly cooler and very welcome weather, and bright blue skies.

Our grandsons were keen to share the season in all its golden glories...

Falling apples..

The trees begin to turn...

A rare (for us) Grandparent treat, watching our grandson play football for his school..

Our daughter embraces Seasonal decor..

We went apple picking, the first time I have done this.  In fact, I have rarely seen apples growing on a tree.  That belongs to much colder climates than we have here.

I made apple crumble for the family several times that week...

While the boys were at school, we enjoyed driving in the countryside around Ottawa, visiting charming little villages with swift flowing streams..

I love the Ontario barns

My favourite.  I last photographed this one in the snow of 2017:

The pumpkin picking excursion - first choose your pumpkin...

Walk through the corn maze

Then play hockey in the big barn

We even bought a bale of hay for the porch..

Did we have a Great Fall?

Like Humpty Dumpty, we sure did...


Monday, October 28, 2019


Greetings from the Red Cardinal Garden of Neglect...
which has performed admirably during our long absence and a torrid heatwave, with the help of kind neighbours and Mr Mower Man...

When I studied Art History, an artist who really appealed to me was Paul Cezanne [1836-1906], Post-Impressionist and forerunner of Cubism.  
One of my lecturers was particularly fond of the breakthrough painting 'Still Life with Plaster Cast' 1895.  You can read about it here    

Image result for paul cezanne still life with plaster cast"
Google Image 'Still Life with Plaster Cast', Paul Cezanne

Just north of the Old Town in Aix-en-Provence is his former home with upstairs studio, which remain much as Cezanne left them.   His coat hangs on the wall, along with his easel, an unfinished picture still in position, and simple objects that featured in his portraits: the ginger jar, fruit bowl, and of course the cupid.

Cezanne frequently walked a short distance up the hill to his vantage point for the spectacular views of Montagne Saint-Victoire, one of his favourite painting subjects.   

To keep us well-informed there were copies of the most famous of these paintings, which are held in Art Museums in many parts of the world.

Image result for paul cezanne Montagne Sainte-Victoire"
Paul Cezanne 'Mont Sainte-Victoire'
Dear Reader, I was unbelievably thrilled by this particular Art Pilgrimage...

By way of an intermission, our agapanthus have begun to bloom...

In the countryside surrounding Aix-en-Provence we enjoyed a day at the Chateau La Coste winery.  This estate combines fine food and wine, contemporary art and architecture, and beautiful vineyards.

Image result for la coste winery france

In addition to the vineyards, a central pavilion designed by architect Tadao Ando contains an Art Centre, restaurant, and bookshop, with adjacent vast infinity pool of water..

Alexander Calder: 'Small Crinkly' 1976

Louise Bourgeois 'Crouching Spider' 2003

Larry Neufeld 'Donegal' 2013

Tom Shannon 'Drop' 2009

Sean Scully 'Wall of Light Cubed' 2007

Lunch was a delicious and elegant affair..

The many sculptures were displayed among the vineyards, making a beautiful walking tour before lunch and wine tasting a must...
It was another of the major highlights of our tour in Provence..

In other news, Jacaranda season arrived while we were away, and our tree has finally gotten the message and begun to bloom...

Our Sunday treat this week was the Ron Howard documentary movie 'Pavarotti' about the legendary Italian tenor.
If you love opera, you will probably love it... as we did.  

One of the greatest tenor voices of the 20th century, he appears to have been a lovely, generous, hard-working and charismatic man.
Sadly, he passed away at the early age of 71.

It was wonderful to see and hear those magical arias once again...