Wednesday, May 20, 2020


Hello from the Red Cardinal Nest...
Suddenly it is three weeks since I posted.
We have been busy in lock-down....

This morning we were greeted by a flock of about a dozen beautiful King Parrots.
They are a shy bird, very unlike the lorikeets which usually come.
Previous to this, we have only ever seen one pair at our bird feeders..

As so often happens with birds, the bright red one is the male, and the females are a dull green with a bit of pink.

They seemed hungry, but were suddenly frightened off by the arrival of a single cockatoo..

Since my last post we have been busy with the garden, and the lettuce and tomatoes are looking hopeful...

The snow peas, shallots and capsicum plants are also growing, and we hope for a little harvest one of these days.

Violas are easily grown once we have Autumn weather..

It was an unusual Mother's Day for us this year.
For the first time, there was no sighting of one of our children.
However, we had a fun Zoom meeting with them all, and a beautiful lunch from our local restaurant, the Wild Canary, arranged by our son.
We just had to drive by and pick it up, all boxed up with a red ribbon:

It was a beautiful feast, and enough to save for a meal on Monday..

Our daughter arranged delivery of a sweet African violet, with a Liberty handkerchief and luxe soap...

We were thoroughly spoiled...

Like most people, we have been doing a little more baking during this quiet time.

The result is we need to do a Lot of Walking.
We have tried several new places as restrictions ease and we can travel a little further.
A couple of long walks by the Brisbane River were nice..

Best of all was a drive to the sea, at Shorncliffe on Moreton Bay.
We walked along the cliff tops, and the fresh air was absolutely wonderful.

Looking down to the Shorncliffe Pier..

the beach at Sandgate..

There were quite a few families walking and having picnics, but there was plenty of space to maintain social distance.

Nobody goes near the picnic tables and bins supplied in the parks..

Now we all find a clear spot, and bring our own folding chairs and picnic basket. 
I felt very safe as we sat having our lunch in splendid 'isolation' looking over the bay...

A little late this year, our Snowbush has bloomed, heralding Winter just around the corner on 1st June.

It is nice to begin snuggling down in winter jumpers, boots and leggings, and wearing jeans again.

Time passes, and I have been busy doing some online staff training with the Art Gallery.  They are hoping to reopen some time soon, although no doubt it will be in a very different context.
We do not know when guided tours will be resumed and I will go back to work.

Be safe, keep baking and walking, and maintain the distance.


Tuesday, April 28, 2020


Little Aussie: Portrait of Grannie 

Week 5 of isolation, and I am looking increasingly like my portrait, as painted by Little Aussie in a capricious mood a year or two ago....

My hair is getting longer, and the silver tone has some resemblance to the blue hair in my portrait.

Don't think I have grown horns yet, but you never know....

Red eyes, green lippy - anything goes in these strange times.

With most unfortunate timing, our stove top (at least 20 years old) decided to die dramatically a day before our daughter arrived in March.
Just as Covid 19 hit Australia.

In haste we purchased this funny little number from K Mart, a single burner Induction cooker of  very limited sensitivity.  Its temperature goes up or down in leaps of 20 deg, which makes fine-tuning your delicate egg cooking close to impossible.  There have been a few burnt offerings.

We got by during our family visit with the funny pot, an electric frypan, and the oven.

We are certainly longing for the day we can choose a new stove, and probably new benchtops and splash back at the same time.    At the moment, we cannot go out for non-essential business, and we do not let anyone into the house, on Government recommendations.

So no tradesman to have a look and give a quote.

But it is something to look forward to when the day comes....

Thea Proctor, Australia 1879-1966: Summer 1930, hand coloured on Oriental paper. QAGOMA

I am slow-sewing my way through isolation, with a target of one garment per week, reducing my fabric stash in the process.  As we are self-isolating, the rule was to find everything needed in the sewing room.  No new purchases online.

Week 1:

Simple rayon tunic top with dragonflies.  Very comfortable home-wear...

Week 2:

'Canada Geese' rayon shirt.  This was intended to be made for our last trip to Canada and time overtook me.  I love it for the coming cool weather...

Week 3:

Vintage 50s fabric bath robe...

Week 4:

Vintage 50s cotton voile shirt, with puff sleeves.
White buttons, non-matching, from my button stash.

Week 5 is still a work in progress.
I will update in a few more weeks.

Cute little Prince Louis of Cambridge celebrated his second birthday with a bit of finger painting.  Did anyone else wonder how he kept his shirt so clean?

What a sweet little boy.

I made some blueberry muffins today, just in case we starve..

Have also been to the dentist, following lifting of some restrictions on dentistry.

Unfortunately, I have to have crowns on two errant teeth.

Fortunately, I can delay it for quite some time as dentists are not permitted to do crowns at the moment.

There is always a silver lining, even in our current difficulties.

The dentist says he has been enjoying his time off, getting things done at home.
I feel the same, am quite enjoying the down time, and will be happy for it to last a few weeks more.

This weekend, we are permitted to drive for pleasure up to 50km from home.
We can have a picnic and walk in a different park.

Along with probably hundreds of others, but we have a little plan.

Take care


Friday, April 24, 2020


Today is Anzac Day.

At dawn, we joined Australians across the country in a unique ceremony -
we stood outside our homes, holding candles or torches, for a commemorative service broadcast across the land.

Unable to participate in the usual marches, ceremonies and church services, Australians devised their own way of remembering the Fallen, as they have done every year since 1916.

The silence was broken only by the sound of the Last Post echoing down our hill.
It was haunting and beautiful...

The original Anzacs (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) served in the Middle East and Europe in World War I.  From a population of under five million, Australia sent almost 500,000 men.  62,000 were killed and 156,000 wounded or taken prisoner.

We will remember them.

George W Lambert, Australia/England 1873-1930: 'Walk (An incident at Romani) 1919-22, Oil on canvas. QAGOMA
This painting from the collection of the Queensland Art Gallery depicts an incident from 1916 during the Battle of Romani.  An Australian 2nd Light Horse Field Ambulance, sent to retrieve the seriously wounded, came under Turkish fire.  The horses started to bolt, but the corporal signalled 'Walk', riding to front to steady the teams.  The horses were calmed, the enemy recognised the Ambulance's mission and averted fire.  For their bravery and composure, the corporal and drivers were awarded Military medals.

The artist, George W. Lambert served as an Official War Artist attached to the ANZAC Mounted Division, and served in Palestine, Gallipoli and Egypt.

The Australian Light Horse units were mounted infantry who brought their own horses from Australia.  The Field Ambulance used 'sand carts' : they had two wheels with tyres wide enough to stop the cart digging into soft sand.  In heavy sand four horses were necessary.

After the War, in 1919, Lambert was commissioned to paint this incident, three years after the event.  A re-enactment was staged in Egypt, and photographs were taken of Lambert sketching the cart for his painting.

My paternal grandfather served in the Light Horse with two of his brothers.  They trained in Egypt after sailing from Australia.  My grandfather was then sent on to France and served in Flanders with a medical unit, driving a mule cart into the battle fields to retrieve the wounded.  Here are his medals:

Grandfather survived the war,  went on to London and married an English girl before returning to Australia.  Their first child was my father.

Naturally, I have made Anzac biscuits to enjoy today.  This oat and syrup treat was sent by loving wives and girlfriends across the world to the soldiers, and their spirit lives on in Australian kitchens to this day.



Tuesday, April 21, 2020


Hello from the Red Cardinal nest..

Happy Birthday to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II,
94 years young.

Look at the birthday girl, pictured in happier times, wearing her Australian Wattle brooch, a gift from our nation on the occasion of her Coronation, all those years ago.

Gratuitous shot of my copy of the Wattle Brooch, happily bought at Buckingham Palace gift shoppe, 2016

It was a treat to see the actual Coronation robes at the Exhibition of the Queen's clothes, Buckingham Palace, 2016

All that fine beading and embroidery made my heart sing...

The Queen has always been a woman of great style, and she really knows how to wear a grand evening gown..

So elegant..

Love her in pink..

Majestic and inspirational in her recent message about the global pandemic..

Long may she Reign!

In our Isolation Nest, the tiny violas have started to bloom..

I have planted a few in the decorative cage, along with some nasturtium seeds which sprouted very quickly.
Let's see if this can turn into a cage of colour...

Also started a succulent baby nursery in a shallow dish.
So far, so good...

The lavender has expanded its footprint, and is covered in tiny buds...

and the little owl continues to stand guard over the herbs and vegetable seedlings.
We are amazed that in a whole year, the cockatoos continue to be frightened by those staring eyes, and no longer get in and destroy the plants.

Talk about guilty consciences....

I had good news today - full blood count and testing of my immune system.
All is good :)

Apart from playing gardener, I have a goal of sewing one garment a week.
Preparing for next Summer.
Winter never seems to happen here anymore.

I will photograph and show a few - maybe next time.

Cheers, and be safe and good