Tuesday, February 28, 2006

The Hardest Thing To Get Used To....

.....When coming to a New Country

Val has tagged me with this interesting subject, after chronicling on her blog the woes of supermarket shopping in Australia (versus the US) during the early 70,s.
Alice was inspired by Val’s post to write about shopping during her early years on the farm in Australia. I’m sure you’ll enjoy both posts.

Overlooking Whale Beach, NSW

The hardest adjustment for me, however, was not shopping…which was a pleasure here in this country. I’d have to say it was the Climate and the total lack of beaches in my new location.
I had come from the veritable paradise of Palm Beach (we actually lived above Whale Beach, but the postal address was Palm Beach), NSW, and the long, hot summers of Oz, to the countryside of NY State.
Here the summers are very short and usually quite mild, and the winters are long and cold! Initially, I was so excited to think I’d be living in an area where it snowed! I hadn’t even set eyes on snow until my 18th year, when I went on a skiing vacation to the beautiful Perisher Valley, near Mt. Kosciusko, Australia’s highest mountain.

Our back door in December 2002

Spending a week or two ‘playing’ in the snow is vastly different, I learned, than enduring an entire winter of it. After my first l o n g and seemingly never-ending NY winter, my enthusiasm had paled considerably. I’d seen all the snow I ever wanted to see! Not only did I have to get used to driving on the ‘wrong’ side of the road, I had to learn to drive in snow! Now that can be a scary experience, especially if one has to brake suddenly for a deer with very little road sense, that decides to run across the road in front of your car….not an uncommon experience here in the country. I assure you, it’s not fun!

Living close to the beach growing up, I had of course, spent lots of time there, swimming in the surf or the enclosed pool, sunbaking and reading a good book on the warm sand, exploring the rocky areas at either end of the beach. Walking on warm, damp sand at the ocean’s edge is an experience no one should miss. On hot days the dry sand burns your feet and squeaks when you walk on it :) There are a myriad things to see and do. The sights, sounds and smells of the ocean are a feast for the senses…..except perhaps rotting seaweed and dead sea creatures….although I think I could enjoy even those right now, as I gaze outside at yet another cold and windy, snowy day.

One does eventually get used to the climate though, and once our bodies are acclimatized to this weather the hot summers of Oz can feel too hot. When we moved back and lived over there for three and half years between 1979 and 1983 (before returning to this country), I found the summers too hot. I know most of my Aussie friends and family wouldn’t mind mixing a little bit of our cold weather with the extreme temperatures they were experiencing during December and January.
There are some positive things about winters in NY though. They give us some necessary downtime from working like a crazy person all summer in the garden, as well as all the other activities we try to cram into our too-short warm season. It’s a time for reflection and reading, and getting some of those jobs done that we don’t find time for in the summer.
And this winter, for me, it’s been a time to discover and get to know something about all those great new blogging friends out there!
I doubt I’ll get much time for blogging once the warmer weather comes :)

I sure would enjoy a stroll along Whale Beach right now on a lovely Aussie summer day……

I'd like to tag Chest of Drawers.....

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Purple Would Be Nice

I’m looking outside at a white landscape again. We’ve been back and forth between green (well, we’ve had some brownish times too….i.e. MUD…) and white this winter, so often that it’s making me downright dizzy.
This afternoon the snow is being blown straight across the landscape by a very stiff wind, and sometimes it wraps the snow around the trees in swirls. We’ve had frequent snowfalls throughout the day. It’s a good day to be indoors. Between snowfalls the sun peaks through the clouds occasionally and brightens things up, but the wind chill is vicious.

I’m thinking we need some COLOR, which brings me to my subject heading. Purples and pinks are at the top of my list when choosing plants….I have to force myself to branch out and take home other colored plants as well. I like them all, of course, but my eye is always drawn first to the pinks and purples. Someone else said the same thing on a blog I was reading recently, but I can’t remember who it was.

Our showiest perennial is most definitely the deep purple Jackmanii Clematis vine that grows in a fairly sheltered nook on a trellis attached to our side (enclosed) porch. When in full bloom, it inspires gasps of pleasure and many an admiring comment, as most varieties of Clematis are inclined to do. It grows with so much vigor and abandon that I have to zig zag string between the top of the trellis and the porch roof to give it something more to cling to. I love this plant with a passion!

Susan with my nephew, Christopher....back in the early 70's

Because of the color, it often brings to mind a very dear Australian friend whose name is Susan. We met when I was still in my teens and she was renting a room from my mother after my brother moved out. Susie and I became like sisters. She has a zany sense of humor and a vibrant personality. She, Mum and I had some wonderful, fun times together. One favorite memory is of a Saturday morning ritual we had. She and I would each take a cup of tea into Mum’s bedroom, and one for Mum, of course. We’d sit on opposite sides of the bed and the three of us would discuss the week’s happenings. It was such a cozy time and we’d laugh a lot.

How does the color purple fit into this story? Susie and I had this silly saying, "Purple’d be nice!" I can’t remember exactly how it came to be. Perhaps it was because we both had purple pantsuits…..bold colors being the fashion during the ‘flower child’ late 60’s and early 70’s. We might be going out to a party and one of us would say, "What’re you wearing tonight?" Susie (or I) would inevitably say, "Purple’d be nice" :) And, of course, we found numerous other opportunities to use the phrase. It never failed to make us laugh.

So purple usually brings Susie to mind, and since I’ve been blogging, it also brings Tanya (Alice’s daughter) to mind. Hi Tanya….I hope you enjoy reading this post about PURPLE :)

Susie and her dear husband, Barry, became the proud grandparents of another grandchild on Friday, February 24th....a baby boy! Congratulations to them, and to his mum, Erika and the rest of her family. There’s nothing Susan enjoys more than being a grandma.
Have fun with that new little one Susie!

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Things I Miss About Oz (AKA DownUnder)

Eating Fish & Chips. This is circa 1971
What great table manners...reading the paper at the table!
We're getting our fill of salt and grease...two of the main food groups.
That's half of my mum on the left!

Starting with foods ……..

Fish and Chips
Wrapped in butchers paper and preferably eaten with a view of the ocean, and fresh lemon, of course. This is the best meal ever. Really! For those of you who haven’t yet tasted Australian fish and chips, put this on your list of "things I want to do before I die". Way back then they used newspaper for the final wrapping, as you’ll see in the pic. It was probably great insulation and no one seemed concerned about the germs :)

Vegemite on toast. I tried to make it look appealing, but....Maybe it will to the Aussies :)

On toast, Jatz crackers, Vita Wheats (remember squeezing the little vegemite worms through the wholes?) etc. Even Wheat Bix with butter and vegemite as a snack after school….that was my favorite. Americans just don’t get it. You have to start out eating it on toast fingers as a baby, and then grow up with it. A few years ago I found it here in our area in a specialty gift shop…..a very small jar, and expensive, of course, but some things are worth paying a bit more for.

Fresh Seafood
I haven’t had good seafood since I left Australia, I’m sorry to say. Most of what I’ve eaten here is fairly tasteless, especially the prawns (shrimp). I’m sure it must taste better near some of the coastal regions, but here in the country it’s a sad situation (this is strictly my personal opinion). People around here seem to love the shrimp but I doubt they’ve ever tasted Myall River prawns (Port Stephens, NSW)!! My brother tells me they’ve been fished out. What a terrible loss!

Weekly lamb chops or a roast leg of lamb just doesn’t happen here. Occasionally I find it in the local grocery store but it’s very expensive. Until recently we could buy it from a local couple who raised lambs for meat, but they’ve retired now and given it up. We’ll have to find a new supplier. The meat is not generally a favorite in this country but our kids consider it a real treat to come home and have roast lamb. I guess that’s because they grew up with it.

Aussie sausages
These were one of Ross’ favorite meals when we lived in Oz. He cooked them once for Kylie and Andrew when I was in the hospital after giving birth to Kathy. I must interject that he is generally not the chief cook and bottle washer around here (in fact this is a rarity). He neglected to prick the skins before placing them under the broiler and they blew up….splattered all over the place, even the ceiling. The kids thought this was hysterical. It was the highlight of their time home alone with Dad and they still tell the story with glee :)

Golden Syrup
I love ginger snaps made with it. Molasses is NOT the same! When I was little I used to occasionally sneak a tablespoonful from the can when nobody was looking.

Aussie fruit
Passionfruit and mangos mostly. We can buy mangos in our local stores but they’re usually quite green, and when they finally ripen they’re not nearly as tasty as the Oz mangos. Passionfruit are just not found around here (well, they probably are somewhere....just not here in our area). Oh for a ripe passionfruit, spread over sliced bananas and topped with whipped cream. Mmmmm! I’d love a nice fresh pineapple too. They’re available here but they’re not as good and sweet.

A local Pie Shop!!
A trip to the local bakery….oh, what bliss! Meat pies, sausage rolls, lamingtons, vanilla slices, creamhorns and matchsticks are all things I loved as a child (and as an adult!).

Queensland Blue Pumpkins
We’ve found the squash that tastes the most similar is buttercup squash. We grow an abundant supply of it in our vegetable garden and freeze some for winter. But I really miss those delicious 'blues' baked with a leg of lamb, potatoes, peas and gravy. This was my mum's specialty. Mmmm, good!

I guess that’s enough for one post, lest I bore you all, if I haven’t already.
The other things I miss will be a subject for another post.

Now I'm hungry....I'd better go and cook dinner.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

What's A Garden Hopper?

No, it’s not some cute little insect. And it doesn’t really hop.

Give up?

It’s one of the Christmas presents my dear husband gave me. He thought it might save my back when gardening.

I want to avoid as much pain and as many pinched nerve episodes as possible!

As you can see, you sit on it and move along the garden edge or row, doing whatever chore you wish to do. I think it’ll be great for picking beans…….a job that always makes my back ache.

There’s space for tools and whatnot and even a holder for a drink, although I’d probably spill it. I can’t wait to try it out in the spring.

I’m sure our grandsons will also enjoy scooting around on it too :)

Monday, February 20, 2006

Happy Birthday Andrew!

Dad and I want to wish you
a very
Having you for a son is a real blessing.
We hope you have a wonderful day.
Alice has done such a wonderful job
with her recent photo collages that I wanted to try one.
Thanks for the great idea Alice.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

21st Birthday Presents

Whenever I wear this pendant it makes me think of my 21st birthday. It was one of my favorite presents. I love the design and the color of the stone. It’s a locket, which opens to reveal a tiny picture of our family when the kids were quite young. Kathy, our youngest was about 3, Andrew 9, and Kylie 11.
When I wear the pendant to school, the kids, especially the kindergartners, always notice it, and ask me to open it and show them the picture inside.

Ms. Robyn, does this qualify as vintage?

Another favorite present, which has endured through the years is this Oroton wallet.

I’ve carried it with me in handbags for all these years and it still looks good. Most people in this country who notice it have never seen Oroton before. I’m sure they must have it over here, but maybe it was never as popular as it was in Australia back in the 60’s. I wonder if it still is popular in The Land Down Under. Oroton is made in Germany

In this country 21st birthdays are generally not such a big deal as they are in Australia, although I’m not sure whether they still have big celebrations for them in Oz these days. That’s a question I’ll have to ask my Aussie blog friends.

Graduation from high school is the big event celebrated here.

Does anyone else have a favorite 21st birthday present to show?

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Playing Tag

I've been tagged by both Connie and Alice with the same meme, so I must comply.....

What were three things you wanted to be when you grew up?

1. An interior decorator
Ross was highly amused at this revelation. I think my style would be Country Clutter.

2. A Teacher
My mother said I didn’t have the patience. After raising 3 children (and a husband) I have learned patience!

3. A Nurse…..hey, there are some cute doctors out there!

You can relive one day from your childhood. Which one will it be?
The first day of a family vacation at Sussex Inlet, NSW, Australia.......As soon as we arrived, my father, brother and I went fishing in the small outboard motor boat that came with the rented cottage. I caught two decent sized fish and they caught none :) That night Mum cooked the best fish dinner I’ve ever tasted! I was about 10 years old.
You have two minutes (and a mover with you if you need heavy lifting help!) to grab 5 things from your home before it morphs into a polka dotted hobgoblin and hops away. What will you take? (Food/drink/family/friends excluded).
1. All 14 of the barn cats
2. Photographs
3. A toothbrush
4. My new camera
5. My Steinway piano……… a gift from my dear hubby. It was a steal and we’ll never find another deal like that again. And no, I can’t play it very well. Wish I could!

Can’t I just add one more so I can take my computer???

You have to paint one quote on your kitchen wall. What is it going to be?

"Housework makes you ugly"
I don’t really believe this….I just think it’s funny
What is the one thing you want to have accomplished by the end of the year?
To sort out and throw some unnecessary things away, and have a nice tidy house. Maybe I could have a garage sale! Tanya, you could come!

You are moving to the moon for one year and can only bring one flower with you. What kind will you bring?
An ivy geranium in a hanging basket. They just keep on blooming!
You just received word that aside from one flower you can also bring five books with you. Which ones will you bring?
1. The Bible
2. The Color Dictionary of Flowers and Plants for Home and Garden
(just in case they have plants up there that I need to identify)
3. Perfect Digital Photos in a Snap (have to learn how to use that camera properly).
4. Like Alice and ShellyC I’ll just have to take a large journal and a pen to record all those outerspace events.
5. And for pure entertainment value, the latest in the alphabet mystery series by Sue Grafton (she’d better have a new one out in time).

This is a totally unfair number because I’ll finally have time to read all those unread books on our shelves, and in the local library, and all those kids’ books in the library at school, and all those magazines, and………
Tagging 3 lucky people:

Kylie…..of course.
She got me started blogging and now it’s payback time! I really used to clean my house. Honest!

Monday, February 13, 2006

Valentine Wish

Love is to the heart
what the summer is
to the farmer's year.
It brings to harvest
all the loveliest
flowers of the soul
I hope you all have a wonderful
Valentine's Day

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Birthday Boy!

Kyle and Corey with birthday candles

February weather can be precarious so we were very lucky to have great traveling conditions. We totally missed out on that whopper of a snowstorm they’re currently suffering through
in New York City. It was reported on the news as being the worst storm since they began recording statistics way back when. Not even a flurry here. Amazing!

Practising blowing out candles

Kyle is such a dear little birthday boy. He copies almost everything his 4 year old brother, Corey does....which can be good OR bad :) He's at that very cute stage, toddling around and talking in abbreviated words and sentences……..i.e. for 'yes' he says 'es', and 'I go' when he's off somewhere, and 'wadder' or 'juice' or 'milk'!!', holding up his sippy cup close to your face when he's thirsty, and so on. He uses his manners very well when reminded :) He knows ALL the animal sounds and loves to play farm and Noah’s ark. But his very favorite thing is DUCKS! Consequently, on his birthday cake, napkins and plates was a yellow ducky.

Eating ducky cake...mmm, good!

On Thursday night he came down with a stomach bug and it looked like the party might have to be postponed, but he was doing better by Saturday. He still looked a little pale and wasn’t quite back to his normal sweet natured and curious self, but he did well in spite of that. He loves having company and seemed to enjoy his party immensely. So did Corey, who enthusiastically helped open presents. Actually, he was a little too much help and had to be reminded that it was Kyle's birthday :) It’s a bit hard to differentiate when you’re only 4!

Opening presents with Corey...ah, I think that's mine.

Terri’s family and our 2 girls, Kylie and Kathy, came in the afternoon for the party.

Ross, Kylie, Corey & Kathy being silly

After the presents were opened, we ALL had fun playing with the new toys :)

Opening fork lift with Dad..oh boy!

I took loads of pictures with our new camera and thoroughly annoyed everyone :) My kids and my husband love to pick on me about my overzealous picture taking (among other things). Terri is a little kinder. I told them they should appreciate my enthusiasm :)

My dear children rewarded me by pulling faces and spoiling several ‘could’ve been perfect’ shots. I vowed to get them back for that, so they should beware of future posts!! (insert evil laugh) On second thought, why wait? I'm going to get Andrew right now by posting this picture of him crossing his eyes!! (Andrew, the reason there's not a GOOD photo of you, Terri and the boys on this post is because you ruined that perfectly great shot that I took of all 4 of you!!! You WILL be sorry my boy!)

Gotcha Andrew!

Grandma & Grandpa (us) with the boys
Look Mommy, playdo!
It's not often enough we have all the family together at one time these days and we just love it when we do.

Happy 2nd birthday little Kyle!

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

The Lovely Lilies

Cleo...This is a Persian lily. It's my favorite

In an earlier post (Close-ups, Jan. 25th, 06) I mentioned that I had a nice story to tell about lilies.
A couple of years ago, near my birthday, my husband, Ross found an ad in the Pennysaver (free local paper) about a day lily farm that was having an open house weekend. He proposed a Sunday afternoon outing (as my birthday present) to visit the farm, and then dinner at a very popular restaurant, which we rarely seem to get to even though it’s our favorite. It’s called Brook’s BBQ, and the chicken is out of this world.
Ruffled Apricot
Now you have to understand that this is a very unusual thing for my workaholic husband to propose……so unusual that it produced thoughts of awe and amazement!! He’s not much for socializing, and if we’re going out he’ll usually ask things like, "When are we coming home?" or, "How long do we have to stay?"
He’s always happy to stay home and work on the farm. But in his later years he seems to be changing a bit (for the better). I think he’s becoming quite a romantic :)
Janice Brown

We found the farm without difficulty and oh, what a glorious place! There were day lilies everywhere….big and small, short and tall, and such a wonderful array of colors. I’d originally thought about maybe buying a couple but when faced with all those beauties how does one choose just two? They were surprisingly inexpensive, beginning at $5, and there were a lot of beauties for that price. We ended up with five (a couple were a bit more expensive…$7 I think) and a freeby as well, a bonus for coming on open house weekend.

By Myself

There aren't usually a large number of hot days during our NY summers, but this day was quite hot. They had home made cookies and lemonade on a table under a canopy, with cozy chairs to plunk down in out of the sun. And books to look through with pictures of all the lilies they grew...just in case some weren’t blooming. The couple who owned the farm were very friendly and helpful.

Chicago Star

I love some of the names of the lilies…and there are so many! People are developing new hybrids by the thousands it seems. I think I have photos from this past summer of all 5 that we bought (I've already posted a pic of ‘Janice Brown’ in the 'Close-ups' post, but I've added another). We had 3 lilies growing already…a pinkish burgundy, a soft apricot and a pale pink (I don’t know their names). These were planted about 15 years ago.

Freeby...I don't know the name. This was our bonus lily

Needless to say, we spent about 3 or 4 hours wandering through the lovely gardens (there were other flowers and veges too), trying to choose which to buy, and never made it to the restaurant for dinner. We had to be at a church function at 6PM, so had to take a raincheck on the dinner.
We came home content and happy with our purchases, filled with the peace that descends when you’ve spent some precious time doing something you love with someone you love.

We'll certainly be going back for another visit when I've made room in the gardens for more lovely lilies!

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

How Old IS That Camera?

This is a sort of 'Self Portrait Tuesday' post, with a little added....
In a previous post (http://colorsofthegarden.blogspot.com/2006/01/green-and-growing.html) I mentioned that we’d had our first Canon camera for a long time. I wasn’t kidding when I said it was old.

That’s the camera in my hands. I was the ripe old age of 22. Ross was 21. Yes, I'm 10 months older. He thinks he's very funny when he calls me his 'old lady' :)
These pics were taken in September of 1970, before we were married, when Ross was in Australia on 30 days leave from Vietnam. He was a US Marine and we had met the previous June when he was visiting the land of Oz for the first time on 6 days R&R. (rest & recreation). On this day we were touring the beautiful beaches south of Sydney.
We were first introduced at the wedding of a couple (Pat & Alan) who were close friends of mine (and now ours), but that’s another story :)
Our courtship (such a quaint oldfashioned word) consisted mainly of about a million letters! Our wedding was in April, 1971.
I should add, for those of you who haven’t read my profile, that I was born in Australia and left that wonderful country shortly after our marriage, to come to the US at the tender age of 23. You can probably guess that I miss the land of my birth very much, even though I love this country with a passion too. America is a wonderful place to live! I feel I’ve had the best of both worlds. In Oz I lived at the beach and here I live in the country. Who could ask for anything more?
But oh, how I miss those magnificent Aussie beaches! They’re the best in the world. Well, the Aussies think so anyway (and they’re right mate!).
I am now an American citizen (so I can vote!!) but my heart will always be at least partly, in ‘the land of droughts and flooding rains’. I always cry when I hear that song....."I Still Call Australia Home". Getting a bit sentimental here!
Ross and I have used that faithful old Canon camera through all our years of marriage…..for weddings, and all kinds of memorable occasions.
It began acting a little unreliable a few years ago, (although it still works fine…a good cleaning and servicing did wonders) so Ross surprised me one Thanksgiving with a neat little Vivitar camera. It too has been great, and very reliable. I hope I’ll still take the time to use both of these cameras even though we now have the digital Canon Power Shot.
I had some fun with it today taking pics of the birds and the farm in the snow.

There's our barn for you again Alice!
Those chickadees don't keep still for very long!
I'm still learning...with a long way to go!

Sunday, February 05, 2006

My Corner

Alice has inspired me to show you my blogging corner! So here we have it…..

I love to use the Webshots program as wallpaper and screensaver. They have so many beautiful pictures, and it’s free! Or you can pay them a little something and choose from even more pics.

This hydrangea pic is one of my absolute favorites. I don’t grow hydrangeas, only dream about them. They don’t grow well here, although some people have success with them. My son and his wife have better luck with them out near Rochester. They’ve got a little microclimate going on there because of Lake Ontario. They can grow several things that we don’t have much luck with…like azaleas and rose of Sharon (hibiscus family).
Lest you think I’m normally neat. I’m not! I had to tidy up my desk considerably for these pics. Mind you, I want to be neat, and I do tidy up sometimes, but after an extraordinarily short time the clutter is back! Argh! I need a magic wand. It's nice to have the family pics in the corner to keep me company.

If I look over my right shoulder I can see out through the sliding glass doors to the front porch and yard. I’d like to be facing this view so that I could watch the birds using the feeders while I’m at the computer. But alas, I can’t, so I just scoot my chair back every so often and check out what they’re up to out there.
There’s also a fern hanging inside the glass doors which blocks some of my view, but it’s pretty, and doesn’t ask for much, so I let it stay there.
I like the old desk that my computer and paraphernalia sits on. Its character doesn’t show very well in these pics. The boards on the side are what make it interesting. There are 3 spaced between the legs on either side.
I’d certainly like to have as much space as Alice has on her new desk. Lucky girl, she is. My hubby is going to add some shelves underneath for me. He built a new drawer to replace the original, which was lost…broken and thrown away probably. I have yet to stain it.
Oh guess what I used to take these photos? Yes, our brand new Canon Power Shot digital camera! I’ve been learning to use it and experimenting with it this weekend. I love it!
I hope to post something more exciting and fun soon, but this will have to do for now. I have lots of thoughts about what I THINK are interesting subjects (you may beg to differ), but not enough time to write them down lately. Maybe you should be grateful for that :)

Tanya, you want to read a dry and boring post? Read this! Where's the humor???

Wait! Here's something funny: I just did a spellcheck and it wanted to replace 'blogger' with 'flogger'. Spellcheck just cracks me up :) Thank heavens for a little levity! Now I can happily get some sleep.