Tree Patterns

I’ve spent the last week doing building stuff, but I’m not going to write about it today. I’m going to think of far more pleasant,  relaxing things.

Like trees.

I was just reading my ‘Introduction to Permaculture’ book, and I came across this beautiful sentence:

“It is becoming clear that the patterns in a single tree form represent all the patterns found in nature.”

When I was a child, I would sometimes look at trees through the moving window of a car or bus or train, and have the realisation that each tree, every single one, possessed its own unique character. Some were broad and expansive. Some were skinny and scrawny. Some had beautiful coloured bark. Some had wonderful twisty branches. Some had had a hard time of it, and looked a bit worse the wear from lopped off branches or growing around barbed wire fences. Some grew precariously out of cliff faces.

A long time ago now, I was involved in a protest to protect old growth forest from logging in my home state. As part of that experience I spent a week ‘tree-sitting’, camped on a platform in the canopy of a giant Marri tree (tree-sitters are a kind of human shield for forests as the loggers cannot log where people are present). Here’s what I learned from my time in that tree: trees are wise. They really are. They’ve been there, literally. Stood their ground through drought and storm. Inhaled and exhaled. Played host to insects and birds. Used every bit of sun and air and water to grow bigger and stronger.

I love trees. In centuries past I probably would have been some kind of druid priestess. In the less magical and romantic 21st century I find myself just taking photos of them constantly. So here, to celebrate my love of trees, are some photos I took in the Sydney Botanic gardens. Enjoy!

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How I Really Feel About Sydney

There’s something I need to admit. Despite my lovely pics of the place here and here, the city of Sydney and I don’t really get along. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but I suspect it has a lot to do with the fact that I’m not really interested in shopping here:

And I don’t look like this:

and I don’t have the $50 million spare cash to live here:

So I don’t feel as though I really….fit.

Sydney’s been described as the LA of Australia, and it’s the place to be if you want to be a supermodel, celebrity, or a master-of-the-universe investment banker or lawyer. But I’m not any of those things, and more importantly, I don’t aspire to be any of those things. I want to be a writer, surrounded by nature and animals, and help the human race understand that destroying the only home you’ve got is possibly not the smartest idea ever.

If my dad didn’t live here, and if it wasn’t so important to me to spend time with him as he gets older and more frail, I wouldn’t give this city a second glance. But he does, and it is, so I’ll be coming here to the land of vapid for some time longer. And I’ll try to like it, but I’m not sure I’ll ever succeed. Cos I’m just not the Gucci-shopping, bikini-wearing, investment banker type, you know?

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Vivid Festival Sydney

I’m in Sydney again visiting my dad, and as luck would have it, there is an arts festival on at Circular Quay, where I’m staying, based around the theme of light and sound. I wandered around tonight and took some photos with my new camera – I learned a lot by trial and error about what works and doesn’t work with night photography!

The Quay was awash with light and colour…

Bold patterns played on buildings…

Even the Opera House was included in the festivities…

These girls put on some cool moves just as I pressed the shutter…

And this image turned out so much better than I could have imagined…

This sculpture had interactive chimes – I love the way the girl is looking up at them…

And this little girl on her father’s shoulders…

And then, just to cap off the night of light and serendipity, there was an eclipse of the moon! I only knew about it because the man next to me was talking about the sun being behind the earth. I looked up and there it was!

My camera definitely got a workout tonight. A reminder that sometimes the nicest surprises happen when you’re not looking for them.

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I’m Back!

Well really, I never went away – I’ve been here on the block, doing lots of building, but no blogging. Not because I haven’t wanted to, but a few things got in the way. The main one being, I lost the cable for charging my camera and transferring photos for a few months. Luckily, a surprise cleanout of my car (not sure who was more surprised, the car at being cleaned or me for cleaning it) turned up the miscreant cable. So here’s a whirlwind tour of the last three months, in pictures:

Firstly, mum and bub wallaby dropped by for a graze outside the cottage.

We had a bushfire in the Derwent Valley. It started up the other end from where I am, but by the time I took this picture we were ready to jump in the car and go. Luckily the rains came that night and we were spared.

We spent a night tramping around the bush with a laser to work out where to put the water tank (it needed to be 12m higher than the house). In the process, we discovered the laser makes a really cool pattern when you shine it on grass stalks!

We poured the slab, a mammoth undertaking. That guy at the front there is 79 years old. He and his twin brother were called in by our concretor to help. They were a crack team!

And after the slab, the deck.

We harvested some goodies from the veggie garden…

Mr Boots had some much needed naps…

And the valley veiled itself beautifully in mist…

And now you’re all up to date! I’ll try not to leave it so long next time. Hope all is well in your part of the world, wherever you may be.

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The Molesworth Diaries Turn One!

Logging on to this blog today I couldn’t help but notice that it was a year ago today that I wrote my first ever post!

Happy 1st birthday Molesworth Diaries!

A lot’s changed since then, thank god. A year ago I was stuck in a damp chilly caravan with no electricity as it steadfastly rained every darned day of summer. Did I mention I was trying to build the road to the house at the time? As I was to find out, constant rain does not sit happily with major roadwork projects.

But finally, the road was laid, I no longer had to walk 3/4km to my front gate in gumboots just to drive to work, and finally, we finished the cottage to live in until the main house is built.

Cottage, how I love thee...

Ah, the cottage. A better antidote to six months of dark, damp living amongst leaking tents and cold, mouldy caravans could not be imagined. It is a gorgeous little thing, and I plan to turn it into my art and writing studio when I have a proper house at last.  It’s true, 24 square metres is a teeeeensy bit squeezy for two people plus cat and budgie. But it’s warm and solidly built and now even boasts electricity🙂 What more could a girl want?

A house, that’s what! A house! And it’s coming. It’s really happening. My updated plans are being drawn up and soon they will be winging their way to council for approval. I just need to sort the plumbing out, but that is a story for another day. By the end of this month we are planning to lay the slab, which is both the end of an incredibly convoluted journey of dreaming and planning, and the beginning of building a real actual house!

Okay, so my house isn't quiiiiite like this one...

So while I’ve spent most of the week obsessing over tapware, and figuring out the intricacies of a gravity fed solar/wetback hot water system (as I said, story for another day), it’s really great to have this anniversary to pause, take stock, and give myself a little pat on the back (actually make that a big walloping hearty backslap, please) for how far I’ve come in this last year. And thankyou to you, Dear Reader, for coming along on this journey with me. Let’s raise a glass and make a toast to the year to come – may it bring many successful projects and exciting adventures for us all! *ching ching*

*ching ching!*

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The Baby Wallaby

Yesterday at dusk I glanced out my kitchen windowand saw that I had a very special guest…

It was a little baby wallaby. He was only a couple of metres away from the cottage. He came up to the cat enclosure to investigate and there was a bit of a Mexican standoff.  Despite Boots’ best intentions, the wallaby was completely unintimidated.

Did I mention he was very cute?

I hope he comes back to visit soon…

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December Projects

December is nearly over and I haven’t written many blog posts this month. However when you see how many projects have been going on here I think you will understand why:

First, we built an enclosure for the cat. He spent the first year of his life roaming wherever he wanted, and getting very good at hunting in the process. While I think this was restricted mostly to baby rabbits and the occasional lizard and bird, when the wallaby joeys started appearing in spring we knew it was time to curb Mr Boots’ enthusiasm.

The enclosure is linked to the house via this runway:

Needless to say, Mr Boots was thrilled with his new enclosure.

Thrilled.

Next on the list was the trenching for the electricity cable. I didn’t want poles, which are the usual option, on my block as I would have had to clear a 12m wide swathe of trees through the bush where the power line went. So I chose the more expensive option of laying the cable underground. All 500m of it. First the earthmover came in to dig the trench…

Then we hand-carried 4m lengths of heavy plastic conduit down over the cable and glued them all together. This was unbelievably exhausting, even with five people helping.

We finally got all the conduit-covered cable in the trench, and a couple of days later we had a massive rainstorm with about 300mm of rain in an hour. The water raced down the trench, and gushed under the house (which is where the trench ended) coating everything we had stored under there in a muddy slurry. Yay. You can see the silt covering the conduit at the bottom still.

Moving right along, we then started on the veggie garden. We have been hanging out to grow our own veggies for ages,  but as we are smack bang in the middle of the bush, everything has to be protected from marauding possums and wallabies. The safest and most sure-fire way to do this is with a fully enclosed cage. This has now been planted up with tomatoes, beans, and asian and salad greens. Can’t wait for the first harvest!

And, prompted by how expensive herbs are in the supermarket, I decided to grow my own. Baby basils and corianders are on the left, and Vietnamese mint on the right. They seem pretty happy in their north-facing windowsill position.

So that’s December – the pushka has been secured, edibles are being grown, and we are on the way to having power. I hope January is as productive!

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