And the beat goes on…

There’s been plenty going on in the last couple of weeks.

Last Saturday we went to see Sting with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra in his Symphonicity tour. The concert was held at Sandalford Winery in the Swan Valley and was fantastic. It was perfect weather and it’s a lovely venue for a concert. There was lots of music, there was even an intermission half way through the show. Sting sang everything you’d want him to sing and  his rapport with the audience quickly got us involved. We had reserved seats and could have done with a small cushion to sit on, but that minor discomfort was well and truly made up for by the entertainment. The worst part of the night was the 45 minutes in the log-jam waiting to get out of the car park. We’ve been to a concert at the winery before but parked in a different area and got away very quickly. This time we ended up stuck in the traffic in the furthest corner. We won’t do that again. Santana is playing at Sandalford in March and we have been trying to decide whether or not to go, but Stephen’s work travel plans are still not confirmed so we don’t want to book anything else just yet.

I’ve been plodding along getting my tutorials made up. At this stage I’m focusing on what clients are asking for and will gradually build up. I’m concentrating on the tutoring for older adults at the moment and will probably follow up on training groups when I have my resources ready. I’m not totally happy with the computer room that’s available to me. It would be perfect except that the computers are running Windows XP with Office 2003.  The price comparison that I’ve done so far makes the alternative less than palatable. The one alternative computer lab that I’ve investigated so far is at least five times the cost to rent.

The drawback to the type of tutoring I’m doing  is that it’s almost impossible to prepare materials and session plan because the learners often don’t really know what it is that they want or need to know. I’ve found that I also need to allow time for a cuppa and a chat. That will restrict the number of clients I can see in a day (particularly as there’s also travel to allow for) but I think it’s an important part of what I’m doing if I want multiple booking with the one client and if I want my business to spread by word-of-mouth. It’s also a good way to find out exactly what they want to learn.

I’ve made good progress with my Cert IV TAA upgrade. I still have to do a presentation and deliver some training to a class. I should get it out of the way before the end of Feb, I don’t have too much to organise. Then it’s apparently quite easy to get RPL for the upgrade to the newest qualification, Cert IV TAE.

The weather hasn’t been too hot in Perth for the past week or so, but is heating up again now. We’re back into the high 30’s again (up around 100F). We’ve been seeing a bit of the resident blue-tongue lizards. I think the live between us and next door. Stephen was tidying up down the side of the house to prepare for the new fence and he found a shed blue-tongue skin. Speaking of the fence, we finally have our new fence down one side of the house. It looks great, so much better than the old fences. If only they’d fall down too and we could get them replaced! Though it has been quite a drama and I don’t want to deal with it again too soon. There were really no disputes and real issues getting it done, it just took quite a few phone calls to the contractor asking when it would be done. I was starting to think we should have selected a different contractor, but it’s all finished now and they did a good job, so we’re happy. Now when the wind is blowing we don’t  listen to the sound of the fence moving and creaking and wondering if it will still be standing when next we go outside.

The garden is looking great, but we’re a bit worried about some of the holes the dogs have dug under them. On the hot days they like to dig a hole in the cool shaded dirt to lay in. The trouble with that is that we’re worried that some of the shrubs are being undermined. There’s some distinct damage caused by trampling when they chase each other through, but it’s their yard too and it really is a good garden for dogs. This weekend we’ll probably try to get some soil and top up some of the holes. I’ve also ordered some mulch from MulchNet so that should be here by the weekend. I got an email to say a contractor has picked up the job so I’m just waiting for a phone call.

Yesterday was Australia Day and a public holiday. We spent it quietly at home. Stephen did quite a bit around the yard, putting things back in place after the removal and installation of the fence. Kaz just laid around and dozed for most of the day, as she does, after an initial bout of vigourous play with Anzac. With Anzac you only need to add water and you’ve got fun!

Dog-paddling on Australia Day

Notice how he gets out to watch the water running along the grooves between the pavers!

Oh…and I almost forgot to mention the bread.

The sliced bread we like to buy was on sale so we bought a couple of loaves last week. We don’t eat much bread so when we get it home it usually goes straight into the freezer. This time we put one loaf in the freezer and left the other out so we’d have fresh bread for lunch. Then we decided to duck out to buy something at another shop. When we got home there was just a little piece of plastic bag on the floor – and no sign of the bread. The rest of the shredded bag was in the back yard. No sign of the bread. You’d think that after ten years of living with Kaz we’d know better than to leave food anywhere within her reach when we go out. She has a particular fondness for bread. She never takes anything when we’re home, but you have no idea how many loaves of bread we’ve lost in the last ten years!

Garden, lizards and business…

I’m a bit behind on my daily posts. I’m thinking that perhaps I shouldn’t have committed myself to daily.

Over the last couple of days I’ve started to feel a bit overwhelmed by the enormity of my venture into the world of training. While it’s not very big in the grand scheme of business ventures, it’s a huge thing for me. Thoughts of getting my manuals printed, my inability to find some office supplies and furniture that I want and a call from the insurance advisor conspired to get to me. But no, all is well and it’s not so difficult at all; I was just having ‘one of those days’. Of course if I want to develop my own training materials, I’m going to have to get them printed. That’s no bigger job than ordering pre-printed manuals. Why is it that it seemed bigger than the actual development of the resources? The office supplies are a small thing, and the insurance issue should easily be solved by wording things a little differently. Thanks to a long chat with a good friend everything looks clearer again.

Speaking of insurance, we received a cheque in the mail from AAMI for our share of the fence, made out to us as a cash payment so we can pay the fencer whenever the job is complete. AAMI have been so easy for us to work with. We’ve been with them for a little over a year now and we’ve made two claims. Both have been easy to settle with no questions asked and only the slight hicough when they thought we hadn’t renewed with them. That question was solved by them before I could even look up the payment details myself. Now, hopefully I’ll hear from the contractor in the next couple of days with a start date.

I’ve now sent off my application for registration of a business name and I’ve paid for the first semester of  my Graduate Diploma of Information Design. I’m committed to both I now have to stop procrastinating with my TAA upgrade and get that out of the way. I don’t think the projects that I’ve been set are all quite as necessary as I’ve been led to believe. I’ll look back through the materials that I have on hand from when I used to do computer training in Jabiru and see what I can come up with to cover as many of the requirements as possible and next week I’ll put my head down and get as much of the rest out of the way as I can.

Now on to more interesting things.

I’ve been looking for a new pair of sandals, something comfortable, casual but a bit nicer looking than my old Birkenstocks. I found a very comfortable pair of El Naturalista sandals on sale and snapped them up.

El naturalista Ikebana Cuero

El Naturalista Ikebana Cuero

The garden has shown it’s pleasure at the cooler weather and the little bit of rain we had through the week. There are lots of buds on the roses.

Pruning roses

Pruning roses

The pink flowering gum has been covered in buds and they’ve started to open.

Corymbia ficifolia (summer beauty)

Corymbia ficifolia (summer beauty)

The white plume grevillea (smelly socks) has also made a last show with a few small flowers. It’s looking quite fabulous with it’s tall canes and popped seed pods.

White Plume Grevillea (smelly socks)

White Plume Grevillea (smelly socks)

The birds are loving the height and the other grevilleas that are currently in flower. We’re currently seeing a lot of New Holland Honeyeaters and a variety of other honeyeaters. There are lots of parrots around at the moment but we rarely get any of those in our garden. So far we haven’t seen any Black Cockatoos in the garden, we did have a couple come in for a drink at one of the birdbaths last year.

We did have a visitor to the yard today. Anzac made it obvious that there was something attracting his attention. He barked a couple of times but was mainly focussed on something in the bushes. It turned out to be another blue-tongued (shingleback or stumpy-tailed) lizard. This one wasn’t as pretty as the Christmas Day visitor, but looked just as healthy.

Blue tongued lizard

Blue tongued lizard

We finished the day with a very windy walk along the Burns Beach pathway.  The water was pretty rough with lots of lines and white caps. Our walk would have been nicer without the wind, but was enjoyable anyway.

Out walking

Out walking

Kaz

Kaz

Anzac in the sandpit

Anzac in the sandpit

2009 in review

My intentions to blog regularly started off well, but died a slow death. Ah well, they were good intentions.

Front Yard Nov09

Front Yard Nov09

We started the year with mum here. We thoroughly enjoyed her visit but it was inevitable that she’d go home – as she did in mid-January. Then in February we got the not-unexpected news that Stephen’s job would move to Brisbane. Most people in the technical department have been given a ‘move to Brisbane’ ultimatum. At first we were told we’d have to be gone by the end of financial year, then it was by the end of the year. We decided we’d better take a look at BrisVegas to see where we’d like to live. We spent a nice 2 weeks in Redcliffe and decided that we’d like to live in Sandgate. You can read all about the trip here. Of course, the type of house we’d like in Sandgate would be ridiculously expensive so after we came home we settled more on the area between Caboolture and Burpengary. We could get a nice house on and acre (or more) in that area for what we could sell our house here for. As it turns out we won’t be moving – at this stage anyway. Stephen will probably have to work fly-in/fly-out of Telfer as a result. It’s a price we’re not very happy to pay, but our choices are limited, so we’ll give it a try. We wouldn’t mind living in Brisso, but we’ve only been in Perth for just over 2 years now, so it’s a bit soon for a move – tho’ I would prefer to live on the east coast.

In April I started going to Tai Chi.  I used to do Tai Chi many years ago and I’m really enjoying it again. It’s far more challenging than most people think, especially as you advance though the levels and the moved become more complicated and take more coordination and balance. Bev, the instructor, is great. She’s very patient and very encouraging to everyone.

Back Yard Nov09

Back Yard Nov09

Our garden has grown like crazy. It’s been a great success. The native plants have flowered and grown and given us a great deal of joy. Oh sure, there’ve been a few failures, but not many when you consider that we’ve planted over a hundred different varietes on our small suburban block. We think that both front yard and back yard are looking pretty spectacular. Our attraction of birds into the yard progresses slowly, but it does progress. Hopefully over the next year we’ll see more differing varieties as the plants get larger and offer more shelter. Of course we overplanted so the spaces would fill in faster so we have to keep on top of the pruning if we want things to keep looking nice and not get too tangled and woody.

Veggie Garden Nov 09

Veggie Garden Nov 09

The veggie garden has been both abundantly productive and challenging. There’s always something ready to harvest. We grow organically with no chemicals. The only things we spray are Bt for caterpillars, soapy water also to combat caterpillars, occasional horticultural oil on the citrus and pyrethrum for aphids on the roses. Ok, that’s roses, not veggies, but we keep it all organic. oh, and there are the mousetraps we’ve had to use recently to catch the rats who’ve been competing with us for our veggies. We are not growing veggies to support a rodent population. We’ve caught a few small ones, but not as big as the large rat I found dead in an empty water bucket! We’re not using greywater at this stage. I have doubts about the true safety of ‘greywater safe’ detegents and have heard many stories of deaths of trees, roses and shrubs thanks to the mid-long term use of untreated greywater that has supposedly only had ‘safe’ detergents added. Installing a greywater treatment and dispersal system isn’t an option for us in this yard. It would mean digging up the yard to install and is a very expensive option. And of course you can’t use untreated greywater on food crops, so it would be no use on the veggie garden, which is where we really need the watering help. Perhaps by next winter we’ll have some rainwater tanks put in. We just have to figure where we’d put them. We really have very little room for a realistic size of tank capacity. There’s not much point in putting in a piddling little tank that’s going to fill in a shower or two.

Rose Garden Nov09

Rose Garden Nov09

The Brisbane trip was our only holiday this year. It has been almost 3 years now since we had a ‘real’ holiday. I wasn’t working for much of the year, thanks to the economic downturn, but now have a quite good, if somewhat frustrating, job as a technical writer, writing training manuals for a company that does training for the mining industry. The people are nice and I’m close enough to walk from home if I really want to, though riding my bike is the planned option.

Honeyeater in Grevillea Georgiana

Honeyeater in Grevillea Georgiana

We have explored the Perth surrounds a little. The day trips haven’t been frequent, but have been enjoyable.
We visited Yanchep National Park, which is a small park close to home.

Yanchep National Park

Yanchep National Park

We drove up to Toodyay and then home via Gingin. A lovely day wiith WA’s famous wildflowers starting to come into bloom.

Toodyay

Toodyay

We spent another long weekend at Margaret River where Molly and Kaz had a ball chasing rabbits.

Chasing Rabbits

Chasing Rabbits

We spent a pleasant day in New Norcia, the Benedictine monastery town. We’d been planning to visit for a while, but it’s definitely not a place to go in the summer – it’d be way too hot and there’s very little shade.

New Norcia Monastery Gate

New Norcia Monastery Gate

The biodynamic festival at High Vale Orchard was very enjoyable. It’s easy to see that in another couple of years that will be huge.

High Vale Biodynamic Orchard

High Vale Biodynamic Orchard

Our girls are still healthy and happy at 9 years old – loving the beach and digging holes in the back yard. They are dogs after all!

Quinns Rocks Beach

Quinns Rocks Beach

They do have their own digging patch but prefer to dig the lawn just outside their sandpit. Molly has developed a particular passion for hunting bees – she does love flowers in the garden. Kaz still has to be as close as possible to a scratching hand or a rubbing foot – she does love attention.

Kaz

Kaz

Molly

Molly

We’ll be spending a quiet Christmas at home and then we’re off to visit mum for 2 weeks in the New year. – the only holiday we currently have planned. What 2010 has planned for us is anyone’s guess, but we do know that it will be interesting!

Deb and Stephen - RMS Christmas Party

Deb and Stephen - RMS Christmas Party

Merry Christmas to all!

How do you plant your cabbages?…Do you plant them with your elbow?…

I might, if I could buy the cabbages I wanted!
We spent a few hours in the garden today. I wanted to plant some Wong Bok (Chinese cabbage) to replace the ones that were totally decimated by slaters a few weeks ago, but I wasn’t able to find any seedlings. I ended up planting capsicum, leeks and spring onions. We had some success with leeks and spring onions last year and should have even more success this year as I’ve taken more care to thin out the seedlings. Last year our ‘mixed capsicums’ turned out to be chillis so I bought a different type this year.
I took care to dig in any old pea staw and didn’t put new straw on top. I left the surface clear so there was nowhere for the slaters to hide. Thanks to Josh Byrne from Gardening Australia for his advice on dealing with slaters.
Our broad beans are coming along really well. We’re really looking forward to a good crop this year – even better than last year’s. We’ve planted more seeds than last year, they were so yummy.
Last year’s bok choy is still thriving, as is the silverbeet. We just pick leaves when we need them and they keep producing. We can’t keep up with them, and the neighbours continue to get free greens from us.
Today we also did some pruning. The lavenders across the back of the rose garden were getting out of control so we’ve cut them well back. I also cut back a couple of the groundcover grevilleas in the front yard. They were covering the ‘path’ through the garden so I took the shears to them. I’ll need to get stuck into the rose bed in the next few days and prune the roses. They continue to flower, but the flowers are on weak stems and for the most part look very sad. It’s time to get serious give them a hard prune so we’ll have lots of good, healthy flowers in summer.
It’s so nice to get out into the garden after the wet, windy days. The days are crisp at the moment but the sunshine is lovely, as long as it lasts. Once you’re in the shade, tho’, it really is very chilly.

That was then and this is now…

As promised, before and current shots of the changes we have made to our yards.

Front yard:

Our front yard in August 2007

Our front yard in August 2007

Our front yard at the end of February 2009

Our front yard at the end of February 2009

Back yard:

Our back yard in August 2007

Our back yard in August 2007

Our back yard at the beginning of March 2009

Our back yard at the beginning of March 2009

It looks like we’ll be here until at least the end of the year so it will be interesting to see what growth another 9 months and the winter rains will produce.

A bird in the hand…

3 New Holland Honeyeaters on Corymbia ficifolia

3 New Holland Honeyeaters on Corymbia ficifolia

When we moved into our house, 18 months ago, both the back and front yard were lawn with a few unappealing shrubs. Almost everything (which wasn’t much to start with) in the backyard had been cut right back to almost nothing.

We’re real flora/fauna/nature lovers, but there was almost none to be seen.  We’d get a couple of feral turtledoves and a couple of brown-headed honeyeaters in the yard and that was all. So we started a planting program. We planned out both yards and started planting native plants that would attract birds into the yard.

Our hard work is starting to pay off. The plants are growing and filling in space and the birds have started to appear.

New Holland Honeyeaters on the temporary fence around our rose garden

New Holland Honeyeater on the temporary fence around our rose garden

2 New Holland Honeyeaters in the Eremophila calorhabdos in our front yard

2 New Holland Honeyeaters in the Eremophila calorhabdos in our front yard

2 Brown Honeyeaters in the red-flowering gum

2 Brown Honeyeaters in the red-flowering gum

This morning there was a family of 3 beautiful magpies poking around in the front yard. They were warbling away merrily with their beautiful voices. It’s a joy to hear them after so many years of living where no Australian magpies could be found. Hopefully I’ll get some photos of the maggies soon.

I’ll post before and current photos of the yards soon.