Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Feathered Visitors This Week

here's our little Thrush friend
visits every year

so pretty

Crested Pigeon
having a rest between showers

Blue Wren
there's a family 
living in the 
Grevillea rosmarinifolia hedge

eastern slender-billed Corella
Cacatua tenuirostris

and look what blew in,
an old, scruffy, rain-drenched cocky
he was as funny as a circus,
a spooky bird

with a lump of bread in his left claw
they all eat with their left claw,
never the right
with every mouthful
he'd jerk his head around
making sure his little morsel
wouldn't be stolen

magpies having a ball
in a pond
it rained all day on Sunday
it is the wettest September
we've had in nine years

and look what waddled over the block
last Thursday
a black swan walking her chicks
to another stretch of water

there is a beautiful 40 acre property
next door to us
16 acres of it ponds
thus, it's called "The Ponds"
she would have nested there

and was on her way 2km
up the road to The Pondage
where we saw her this morning
on our walk
she had found her mate

she only had three chicks left,
two probably taken by eagles

luckily I'd taken along the little Olympus
but couldn't see in the viewer
so just took a punt that
I'd captured them

and, thankfully, I had!!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Endearing Habit

habit; flung to the night,
endearing to me still -
one day won't be there.

Alaine '09

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Second Dust Storm - Pics from Ayers Rock, Central Australia

A second dust storm and how it started. These pics, just in, taken at Ayers Rock Central Australia this morning. Not as bad as Wednesday's storm but it has already swept through Sydney and is heading north to Queensland.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Cassone - Italian Renaissance Marriage Chest

Ebony Cassone - Hercules Room
Sala di Ercole, Palazzo Vecchio, Florence

The cassone (or cassoni), an Italian Marriage Chest, or a Glory Box, as I've always known it. They were highly decorated with fine metals, rich velvets and an artist, or artists, would be commissioned to paint arabesques, love stories, Roman poetry, Tuscan verse and tell fascinating tales of ancient Greece, Rome and Palestine. It would have contained the bride's dowry and was carried from her Father's house to that of her groom. Later they were used to store fine linens, clothes and textiles. A marriage in 15th century Florence was more about dynastic alliance between powerful families, rather than for love or religion.

Florentine Cassone in gilded pastiglia (layers of gesso, embossed)

Cassone degli Adimari (detail)
Galleria dell'Accademia, Florence
Probably painted by 'Lo Scheggia, meaning 'splinter' (Giovanni Cassai),
brother of 'Masaccio', meaning 'fat' Tommaso Cassai

Nerli Chest

The above chest (Nerli Chest) and spalliera (a wall panel that hangs on the wall above) was one of a pair made to commemorate the marriage of Lorenzo di Matteo de Morelli and Vagia di Tania de Francesco de Nerli and was painted in 1472 by Jacopo del Sellaio and Biagio d'antonio. It is on display at the Courtauld Gallery, London.

The other Nerli Chest

Walnut, domed lid

The above 16th century cassoni (found on an auction site) is of solid, carved walnut with dome top and intarsia-inlaid, string banding. The centre panel is inlaid with family crest (the panel usually has the crest of both families). It was for sale with the original iron key! Intarsia is a form of wood inlaying similar to marquetry.

Scenes from Boccaccio's Decameron

Cassone were generally displayed in a man's camera (chamber) one of the most important rooms in a house.

My Mother's Glory Box,
dating back to The Great Depression era of the 1930s (I should
have added a touch of folk-art to the front panels).

The top lifts up to reveal a cavity about 6 inches deep and behind the doors are about four drawers. Many of the chests, as this one, were made of cedar, a fragrant timber which has a natural repellent to moths. It still has that unique, fresh perfume I remember as a girl.

It is now housed in my daughter Nicole's home. Hopefully, there will be a great-grand-daughter to pass it on to.

Monday, September 21, 2009


Deep in spring, the rain's passed - West Lake is good.
A hundred grasses vie in beauty,
Confusion of butterflies, clamour of bees,
The clear day hurries the blossom to burst forth in the warmth.

Oars in lilies, a painted barge moving without haste.
I think I see a band of sprites -
Light reflected in the ripples,
The high wind carries music over the broad water.

Saturday, September 19, 2009


I've been doing a bit of searching around for our forthcoming trip and found a great site with stories of some of the oldest buildings in New York. The above building is the narrowest in New York city at only 9ft 6inches wide. Built in 1873 on what was a former carriage entrance way between two buildings. Read below a snippet of Bonnie Rosenstock's descriptive history of the house and the many luminaries who once lived there or visited.

'According to the plaque on the front of the building, Edna St. Vincent Millay lived there from 1923-1924 and wrote "The Ballad of the Harp-Weaver", for which she won the Pulitzer Prize. No so, says Elizabeth Barnett, literary executor of the Millay Society. Via e-mail, Barnett stated that Millay did not write this poem there. "Millay worked on that poem while living in Europe and finished it before returning to the USA. Millay and her husband lived at Steepletop, Austerlitz, NY, beginning in 1925. She lived there until her death in 1950, her husband until his death in 1949." However, writer Ann McGovern (who lived at the building sometime in the late 1980s) asserted in a newspaper interview that Millay wrote part of "The King's Henchmen" there.'

Further reading can be found here.

Thursday, September 17, 2009


I don't know about you but I forget to drink water! It's not until the afternoon comes, along with what I call, 'brain fog', that I realise that I need my first big glass of H20 and it's not long before my head is clear again. After that I might drink another two glasses. But that's not enough! We all should drink 6-8 glasses a day to remain hydrated and have our system function as it should.

Some of you may have seen the following study result before but I think it's worth printing again. I'm going to put that lovely waterfall pic on my fridge, along with the MIND, EXERCISE, NUTRITION, DO IT!! motivational sign, in the hope that it will work in the reverse of the cake post I put up recently!

1. 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated (likely applies to half the world population).

2. In 37% of Americans, the thirst mechanism is so weak that it is mistaken for hunger.

3. Even MILD dehydration will slow down one's metabolism as much as 3%.

4. One glass of water will shut down midnight hunger pangs for almost 100% of the dieters studied in a University of Washington study.

5. Lack of water, the #1 trigger of daytime fatigue.

6. Preliminary research indicates that 8-10 glasses of water a day could significantly ease back and joint pain for up to 80% of sufferers.

7. A mere 2% drop in body water can trigger fuzzy short-term memory, trouble with basic math and difficulty focusing on the computer screen or on a printed page.

8. Drinking 5 glasses of water daily decreases the risk of colon cancer by 45%, plus it can slash the risk of breast cancer by 79% and one is 50% less likely to develop bladder cancer.

Are you drinking the amount of water
you should drink every day?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


Alexei Harlamoff, 1840-1922

All Stories Come True

The Algerian flower-seller beaten,
petals strewn on the French street -
always there is beauty to mark the blood in Paris.

She arrives at Gare du Nord on her way
somewhere else.
Before her next train, she sits
among the people in the Luxembourg gardens
in the shadow of the trees and Flaubert's bust,
eating a peach on a bench, slowly making
the afternoon hers.

She washes her hands and mouth, the hollow
of her throat and, on impulse, pours
the rest of the water over her feet.
A man comes running toward her
to make all the stories come true
and, looming, bends down.

With cool hands, he takes
the bottom of her foot and kisses
her ankle, the whole city pausing
for an instant. Then he runs away again
between the people, the gates, the trees.

Saturday, September 12, 2009


Mayfly Spinner
My husband's photography in 2004
with his old Fuji digital

These insects are only about 1cm long
and as graceful as a ballerina

DMJ ties flies to imitate them
for his flyfishing hobby.
We have more than 8,000 photos on file
and he is constantly adding to the log.

Female Black Spinner in her coat of armour

Male Brown-eyed Black Spinner
They're all filed with their species names.

Another little spinner from the Baetid family;
this one is only half the size of the others.

Have a happy weekend!
More mowing and gardening for me...

Thursday, September 10, 2009


Penelope Boothby 1785-1791
The above monument, by Thomas Banks was shown at the Royal Academy in 1793 before being installed in St. Oswald's Parish Church, Ashbourne, Derbyshire (the link to Ashbourne is extremely interesting with snippets from the parish records dating back to 1539).

The white Carrara marble effigy commemorates the short life of Penelope Susanah Boothby, daughter of Sir Brooke Boothby, who died on 20th March 1791, a month short of her sixth birthday. The inscription reads, 'She was in form and intellect most exquisite. The unfortunate parents ventured their all on this frail bark and the wreck was total.' She is said to have been able to speak a little of the four languages inscribed on her tomb.

She used to play in the studio of Sir Joshua Reynolds and at age 4, was the subject of his painting "The Little Girl in the Mob-cap". Henry Fuseli, an acquaintance of Sir Joshua, also painted "The Apotheosis of Penelope Boothby" in 1792.

Her distraught parents parted after her funeral, each blaming the other for her death. Sir Brooke Boothby never got over his only child's death and wrote several Sonnets about his loss; an excerpt from Sonnet X111 follows:

Her faded form now glides before my view;
her plaintiff voice now floats upon the gale.
The hope how vain, that time should bring relief!
Time does but deeper root a real grief.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


Thinking that I need to get outside,
kill the weeds, mulch, mow the grass,
get some fresh air and Vitamin D!

Sunday, September 6, 2009


'Rosebud' modelling a Mink Stole
The doll was a gift from my Auntie Olive on my 3rd Birthday

I prepared this post in early July (when I had a case of 'blog block') and have been reluctant to put it up as it is rather silly when I look at it now but it took a while to put together, so why not? Take it as what it is, just a bit of fun.

My mother-in-law, Kitty, passed away last September, two weeks short of her 93rd Birthday and I'm still coping with boxes of "stuff", including a large collection of furs. MIL loved to dress up, donning hats, scarves, furs and jewellery and in her eighties was given the name, "Queen Mother", which she loved, as she was an English lady.

My dilemma now is, what to do with the furs?
There are about six stoles, two jackets,
a neck warmer and also my Mother's long rabbit coat.
A theatre company might appreciate them.

MIL, DMJ and Me at a family wedding in 1989
Cousin Sally sitting behind in her mink coat

My Mother, Myrtle Mary, in the rabbit coat, January 1941
two weeks short of 32 and expecting my Brother

For those of you who love fabrics, the lining of the rabbit coat is in beautiful condition for over 70 years old; only a few little rust marks on the shoulders from wire coat hangers. I'm hanging on to the coat only because it was my Mother's.

Kitty and Myrtle would be chuckling!