Tuesday, December 24, 2019


'Nativity' Lorenzo Monaco, Florence, 1414
Wishing all my dear readers of the Red Cardinal blothe Blessings of Christmas, peace joy and happiness...

With love from Patricia the Red Cardinal


Saturday, December 21, 2019


The gifts are wrapped, Christmas carols are playing, we have had lots of lovely visitors and festive fare, and our house guests arrive tomorrow.

As ever, the house is well and truly decorated, and I like to sit in the cool (air-conditioning) and admire The Tree:

We have been to the theatre to see Charles Dickens' 'A Christmas Carol'.
The book was the first Dickens I ever read, at age 14.
Later I read many of his popular novels when I studied English Lit at University. I still have a fondness for Mr Dickens..

It was fun to see Marley's Ghost materialise, with excellent use of modern theatrical trickery...
And here is why:

We have our own Marley's Ghost, our front door knocker, purchased at the Dickens House Museum in London in 2004..

Google Image Dickens House museum

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On the day of our visit I had a special treat:
I was invited to wind the grandfather clock which had belonged to the great author himself...

The little choristers I bought in Vancouver are standing under the glass lantern, sourced in Quebec, 2010...

On the piano stand the calico choristers I made about 20 years ago with a craft group, complete with the tiny books of Carols..

Watched over by a leadlight red cardinal found in an antique barn in Canada..

Some of my collected snowmen, the big one I made years ago, the others found in my travels..

A cluster of churches:  rustic wooden ones from Pennsylvania, other found locally.

Sometimes I decorate a pink tree in the dining room.
This collection began with a trip to Selfridges, London.  I bought the one in the centre with pink roses, plus several others including one above and to the left of it, with a little pink flower partly obscuring a tiny bird in a nest.  Other pieces include pink sparkling maple leaves from Ottawa.

As always, the Nativity scene.  This one belonged to my parents and I love to use it with my own additions.  My father made the wooden donkey and little sheep.

I would love to be able to tell you the fires in Australia are finished, but sadly that is not the case.  Looking Westwards yesterday, the setting sun had a weird red glow from all the dust and smoke which fills the atmosphere over much of our wide land.
This morning at sunrise I observed the same strange red glow.

There are emergency level fires west of Sydney, and two in South Australia.
With 40C and above temperatures over much of the country, it is both shocking and frightening to wonder what will happen next.

At the moment it is not quite so hot here, although maximums of around 35+ deg.C.  The bush is dry and parched, and we are ever alert.

For many people, this Christmas will not be Merry and Bright...

We are praying for rain, good soaking rain, to bring this fire season to an end.



Wednesday, December 11, 2019


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Last night we had a storm.
It was a firecracker of lightning and ear-shattering thunder.
And it brought more rain in an hour than we have seen in six month.

It was late, it kept us awake...
But we were so happy to see some rain to relieve our parched land, and our own grass and gardens.

It was also our Wedding Anniversary - 48 years together!
What a great gift we received.

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Sadly, the bush fires have continued to ravage Eastern Australia.
This picture shows one of the Scenic Rim mountains we loved to take my late father to see.  He had a painting of it, and loved the beautiful temperate rain forests in the area.

Will there be more rain?

Perhaps a few more storms....

School holidays have begun, and Little Aussie came to spend a day with us.
We took him to GoMA to see the new exhibition "Water" - a look at the importance of water in our lives.

We explored "Riverbed" by Danish artist Olafur Eliasson.
This installation fills an enormous gallery space, a landscape with a sense of both repose and catastrophe.  It slopes gently downhill, with a narrow stream winding its way downwards.  The logistics of placing this in an indoor space are intriguing.

I took along a picture of an inukshuk to inspire our grandson, only to find many of them already there!  Everyone had the same idea (the exhibition had only been open three days).

Aussie noticed the makings of a face on this rock, and inserted tiny pebbles into 'eye' sockets.  Clever Little Aussie....

In fact, this face looks a lot like that of another installation:

Peter Fischli and David Weiss, Switzerland,  'Snowman' 1987-2017-19

Yes, there is a snowman in hot, hot Brisbane this Summer.
Created by Peter Fischli and David Weiss, 'Snowman', is in an encased water system, constructed from three copper spheres in a large freezer.
He must be maintained each day, his smile and eyes carefully reconstructed as the frost covers them.

I think Aussie was a bit disappointed to be separated from the snowman by a glass panel....

We all enjoyed these works, made from ghost nets (abandoned fishing nets)

A lovely recreation of a reef, 'Below the Tide Line', in the Children's Art Centre, developed in collaboration with Erub Arts, Marion Gaemers and Lynnette Griffiths.  The artists create sculptures made of ghost nets which cause great harm to marine life, to raise awareness about ocean pollution.

I can't miss this one: by Cai Guo-Qiang, 'Heritage' 2013, a group of animals around a serene lake, disturbed only by an occasional single drop of water from the ceiling.  The animals, some known, some imaginary, and often in different scale to reality.  This meditation raises more questions than answers: are they in harmony, or will they resume their predatory instincts as soon as their thirst is slaked?  What happened to cause all these animals to come together from around the world?

Water, essential to all life, has brought them here in a moment of stillness...

As it happens, while we are discussing water, I have discovered the new Pantone colour of the year for 2020.
Classic Blue, the colour of the sky and sea, and all clear bodies of water..

Watch out for Classic Blue, in decor and fashion, coming soon.....

Duchess Catherine went one shade darker in navy velvet at last night's Annual Diplomatic Reception at Buckingham Palace.
She is looking very regal these days.

Her Majesty the Queen surprised royal watchers by wearing a previously unseen and very spectacular emerald and diamond necklace of fabulous proportions.
It is thought it may be from the Greville bequest (a collection of jewellery left to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother by Mrs Ronald Greville in 1942), and was matched beautifully with the emerald option of her Vladimir Tiara.

When you are 93, you can wear absolutely whatever you like!

Happy Christmas prep everybody..


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.

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

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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...