Thursday, August 19, 2021



Hello dear Readers.

Greetings from the Iris, who are doing a very nice line in heralding Spring at the Red Cardinal garden.

We have been in and out of lockdown and restrictions until my head is spinning.

Or is that the seasonal allergies which come around this time of year?

The world has gone a bit mad - poor Afghanistan, shocking scenes as the frightened population try to get away, while rescue missions struggle to bring out our citizens and those who helped them, who were there lending aid and support.

And Haiti, so sad to have this shocking earthquake and loss of life.  Only recently we watch a repeat of the Joanna Lumley 'Hidden Caribbean' doco where she went to Haiti, a poor and very fascinating country.  Do you enjoy Joanna's travels too?

Travelling has become a distant dream.  I painted a watercolour copy of a Cezanne painting on show in the Met Masterpieces exhibition (see previous post).   I know, very presumptuous of me to paint my own Cezanne!  It is Gardanne, a village in Provence where we had such an enjoyable tour in 2019... Happy memories...

More sad news today, there are wildfires in the forests of this beautiful region in the South of France.

While we were restricted to a 5km radius (last week), we could still visit the local Garden Centre.  These birds were fabulous!  (as was the price...)

They reminded me of a garden sculpture seen in our Blue Mountains Garden Tour back in April this year:

We were so fortunate to have had this holiday and to visit our twin grandsons in Sydney.  Alas we have been unable to see them since, as the Delta Covid has overrun poor Sydney.  Despite best efforts, the daily total climbs (681 today).

It is a big worry to us, as to so many families concerned about and unable to see and visit loved ones.

We bought an olive tree, to fill a sunny, well drained spot in the back garden.

It is near the lemon we planted last year, which is showing enthusiasm again:

I am dreaming of a little produce garden out there...

(We had the regular zoom meeting with the Finance Guru this week - he mentioned the dreaded 'downsizing'..... I think not!)

One of the hanging baskets we are babysitting for our Brisbane son and his wife (they are moving house).  I do not know its name, but it is having the sweetest little white fruits, about the size of a pea.

Thus far, we have kept everything alive.  Their mint and Rosemary are thriving.  All the cactus are still alive and propagating.  Fingers crossed.

Loved this pair of swans at the garden centre.  They are 'spensive too...

Just as well I grabbed my white swan a couple of years back - $12, K Mart.

Should have bought a second one - they usually travel in pairs...

In other Covid news, Brisbane has apparently overturned the recent outbreak, with zero new cases for two days.  Our Premier is urging people to vaccinate immediately, to be ready for the next surge.  With more than half of the remainder of Australia now in lockdown, it is almost inevitable.  However, our borders are now strictly guarded - very few can enter.  My first Pfizer jab is scheduled for next Tuesday.

Over in Canada, children born in 2009 can now have Pfizer.  Our older Canadian grandson has already had his first jab, before commencing High School in September.  I hope Australia is watching this development.  It seems the Delta variant spreads virulently among children as seen in the local area outbreak.

Wherever you are in the world, take care and be safe.  
With love from the Red Cardinal


Wednesday, August 4, 2021


The Reading List on the Red Cardinal dashboard has returned!!
Did Blogger hear our cries for help?
I do hope all the other Bloggers experiencing this problem have also found their list restored.

Thank you to all those who left comments on my previous post, it was such a relief to know the blog system was still working, and to receive your handy hints on maintenance of a system to ensure access to other blogs.

I have been making new lists, and generally tidying up my system.

Meanwhile, the Garden of Neglect threw up a single daffodil to herald the arrival of August.  Spring is in the air, and hopefully, a few more daffodils.

Alas, Brisbane is still in strict lockdown, and I have not been able to go to the Art Gallery for many weeks.  Guided tours are indefinitely cancelled.

However, the Exhibition of Masterpieces from the Met in New York is still there, waiting for better times and the lifting of restrictions.

Here are a few more of these wonderful paintings - Enjoy...

Fra Angelico(Guido di Pietro), Italian, 'The Crucifixion' 1420-23.
Tempera on wood, with gold ground.

The oldest painting in the Exhibition, by Dominican monk Fra Angelico, a trained illuminator working in Florence.  The figure of Christ is surrounded by six small angels, two of them holding cups which reach for the blood which drops from Christ's wounds.  The circle of soldiers gives depth, and echoes the gold arch above.  The receding line of horses is beautifully rendered.  There is drama in the foreground where the Virgin Mary collapses into the arms of the other Marys.  St John stands to the right.  The gold halos around the holy people have a lace-like effect achieved by pressing a decorative punch into the wet gold paint. 


Edgar Degas, French, 'Dancers, Pink and Green' c. 1890.

Degas was part of the first Impressionist exhibition in 1874, which featured modern paintings in an 'unfinished' technique, very new and daring at the time.
Degas like to capture fleeting glimpses of Parisian life at the theatres and cafes, and here we are back stage with the dancers at the Opera Garnier Ballet.  They are fixing their hair and costumes, or stretching to warm up.  From the wings, we can see onto the stage and see the scenery of trees and a suggestion of people on stage.  Notice the shape of a figure observing them: half hidden by a post, the Patron in his top hat, could purchase a ticket for the ballet but also to mingle with dancers and arrange assignations.  Often from poor families, many of the dancers acquired a wealthy patron.  Degas attempted to capture the reality of the ballet life that lurked behind the artifice of the beautiful choreography.
While Degas is known for his many pastel ballet compositions, this one is oil, and he mixes the colours with white to make them opaque, applies them thickly, to approximate the pastel technique.

Titian (Tiziano Vecellio), Italian, 'Venus and Adonis' 1550s.

Venus tries to stop her lover Adonis hunting, fearing he will be killed.
Pricked by Cupid's arrow, the beautiful goddess Venus is in love with the mortal Adonis.  Titian shows her beautiful back in this near-life size painting.  Her hair is braided and dressed with pearls, and she is framed luxuriously by drapery.  Adonis is famed for his looks, and loves the hunt.  See his spear, bow and arrows, and the wolf-hounds ready to go.  Alas, Adonis is gored by a wild boar and dies in the arms of Venus.  Anemones grow from the blood he sheds.  The tale comes from Ovid's 'Metamorphoses'.

Peter Paul Rubens, Flemish, 'The Holy Family with Saints Francis and Anne and the Infant John the Baptist.'  c.1630.  176.5 cm x 209.6 cm

An enormous work by the indefatigable Rubens, a Baroque painting full of movement and drama, rich deep colour and detail.  The exquisite little landscape under the arm of St. Francis points to the Northern Renaissance.  Rubens lived most of his life in Antwerp, then a great centre for painting and commerce.  The Virgin Mary is dressed in contemporary dress of the era, a technique used during the Counter Reformation to encourage the viewer to identify and engage with the Holy Family.  Art was to instruct, inspire, delight and have moral and religious purpose.  Mary's arm is draped casually towards Saint Joseph.  The chubby infant Christ playfully kicks his leg, and little St John attempts to play with him.  St Anne looks kindly to Saint Francis, whose dramatic diagonal movement and eyes take our attention directly to the Christ child.  On the right, another diagonal formed by Mary's arm up to Saint Anne takes our eye back to the child.  A lamb in front of St Francis also forms a diagonal taking us back up to Christ.
I have been reading a biography of Rubens, and my goodness, he could work long and hard, with as astonishing artistic output, in demand in the Courts of Europe and England, and a part-time Diplomat to the Spanish and English Courts.  He was knighted by both Philip IV of Spain and Charles 1 of England.

Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

The Exhibition is here in Brisbane until mid-October, and hopefully our lockdown will be short so the GOMA can re-open to visitors.  

We visited the Met in 2002, and it was a wonderful day for this art lover.  I particularly loved their collection of French Impressionist art.

Interior, The Met, New York.

Be safe, take care....
and Stay Home, Brisbane.


Sunday, August 1, 2021



Hello, is anybody out there?

I have been unable to access my Reading List on Blogger for several days.

Something has happened, I cannot find and check in on your blogs.

Looking under 'Help' I find a few others with the same problem, but no answers provided.  

So this is a little test blog, just to see if it still works.

Is this the end of the Red Cardinal blog?

It feels weird operating in a vacuum....

We are in lockdown again, and this time the dreaded Delta variant is in our local area.  A list of sites visited by unknowing victims reveals many of my usual haunts:  Supermarket, Petrol Station, K Mart, Country Road....

I will have to shop online for food for a while.

So let's just have a look around the garden:

Can you see the little blue birdie?

He is a Superb Fairy Wren, also called the Blue Wren.

I spotted him frolicking in the garden early one morning with his two little brown hen wives fluttering about.  These tiny birds like to hide and nest in low shrubs or bushes where they are safe from predators.  It has been a few years since they visited, and they are a delight to watch.  And quite difficult to photograph: they are very quick and easily startled.  I stood very still for quite some time, turned off the sound on my phone to prevent a 'click' then slowly followed them until I got a few shots.

Superb Fairy Wren - Google image

While we are locked down and avoiding company for a while, after a very long and difficult year, our daughter and her family in Canada have been able to take a little Summer holiday.  Things really have improved over there - as more and more people are immunized.

Guess where they went?  Niagara Falls - like all children, the boys loved their visit.

How interesting to see the Falls at night.

I am keeping busy catching up with my photo albums of and for our Twin grandsons.  Lord knows when we will see them again, but Facetime meetings are a real treat.  The little ones are standing up and trying to walk.  Their first birthday is still over a month away.  Such talent...

I hope this post reaches someone!

There is a cryptic message from Blogger about changes in Readers' access to email alerts about blog posts.  It is as clear as mud to me.  Help!

Keep well and stay safe.