And it happened a few weeks ago in a Melbourne shop called The Junk Company.
It was a teaching globe. It was about 55 centimetres across, huge. It stood about 70 cm tall due to the base. It was made from slate allowing you to draw on it with chalk. The countries were engraved into the slate. The timber base was beautiful but not fussy, the metal axis had a dull patina to it. Of course the photo does not do it justice, the beauty is in its scale and texture.
When I saw it my heart literally stopped. It was just so incredibly beautiful and clever and useful and impressive. I asked how much it was and was terrified at the answer as I just did not know what I would be prepared to pay for it. Much more than I could afford, or justify.
Luckily, horribly, devastatingly, it was not for sale. It is only available for hire. I still think about it. I still want it.
Coronation Gold Achillea is almost two foot tall with creamy, fluffy flower heads rising about the smooth grey foliage, they are brewing their gorgeous yellow petals within the frothy buds. Stipa Gigantia has "flowered" (is that what grasses do? or do they "seed"?) and has a stunning show off-y wands standing straight up and waving at everyone who stops to look, mouth agape, at their beauty. Oriental Poppies are flowering and each time they shed their petals leave us with a spectacular seed head to admire for the rest of the year. Verbascum are enormous velvety rosettes 30cm across which draw comments from everyone (mostly a confused "What the hell is that plant?" or "do you have vegetables in here as well", but I still adore their cabbage like form). Salvia, Penesetum, Sedum, Allium, Sanguisorbia, Scabiosa - they are all doing their thing. I will keep you updated as my lovely little patch busts out all over.
and yes, I moved the pile of weeds from the far corner (but only just, today, yikes!)
Which seems a whole lot more honest than "Thank You", doesn't it?
The things I still must do are listed on the left side of this post. I have blithely added DONE to the first - Keep the blog up to date, yet my wonderful project has fallen apart since Amber's camera and phone broke and her contributions stopped. So that can be my first priority. I keep taking photos and seeing wonderful in my days but posting has slowed to a halt.
As for the other things, what scares me the most is living without television for a week. Is it valid to watch dvds? Do I inflict this on the whole family? Does it count if I record the shows I regularly watch, don't watch anything for the designated week and then catch up on it all the week after? I seriously doubt it.
The good thing is that without television for a week I am sure to get the quilt finished, paint Milly's room and read some decent books. All that leaves is a bushwalk, general fitness and the grey pants. I am trying not to feel completely depleted.
On the morning of his last day as a 4 year old he dressed himself in bright red hibiscus patterned board shorts and his beloved Crows jumper - no undies. He grew impatient of waiting for his grandparents to arrive and mustered his sister to make a cannonball nest in her bed.
At lunch he ate his bread roll, but not his meat, nor his soup.
He spent the afternoon building lego, kneeling at the coffee table in the centre of the lounge, concentrating on the instruction booklets, seeking advice when he got stuck and raising his models - helicopter, motorbike and truck - triumphantly as he completed each one. He went to on an outing with his grandparents and earnestly and unprompted, thanked them for his gift.
In the early evening he sat on my knee to quiz me about his birthday presents, not wanting to hear the answers, desperate to hear the answers. He asked if we had a tradition for the night before a birthday. I replied we did not but maybe we should make one, he agreed and suggested that opening one present would be the way to go. I disagreed, he nodded as he did not really think he would get away with that one.
At night time he climbed into his loft bed and snuggled his two teddies. Now he is lying on his back, still clutching teddy and snoring.
Happy Birthday Sam. Tomorrow you are 5. When I was pregnant with you I knew I would love you. I did not know you would have a wit and sense of humour that would better suit an old man than a child; that I would make you laugh until you begged for mercy and that you would make me laugh in return. I had no idea I would be able to teach you to sleep, love books, make Lego, express your feelings, bake, kick a football and love learning yet have no ability to teach you to eat vegetables or convince you to wear underwear everyday. I could not predict your habit of walking quietly to me and landing sneaky little kisses on my leg or arm or hand. I was blissfully ignorant that you would be able to reduce me to tears of frustration and tears of joy, sometimes on the same day. I did not realise that, if not every day, then most definitely every month (and possibly every week), would be better because I would be your Mum and you would be Sam.
Michael is wrapping the presents and I am sitting here thinking. In awe that we have had him for five years... five years... we are truly blessed. And I think we done good.
This evening Michael declared in a most un-Michael like fashion that he was going to "Have a piss with the goddamn door open", he sounded like an old hillbilly. But it pretty well sums up the feeling.
Tomorrow I plan to get out of bed and go to the kitchen naked, put the kids' eggs on to boil, then have my 3 minute shower, run back out with the towel wrapped around me to take the pan off the stove and put bread in the toaster before I return to the bedroom to get dressed. Emerging, obviously, as the toast pops out and the eggs are cooled enough for hungry children to eat. Aah routine, how I love thee.
I blogged about a visit to Frogmore but there is also Lambley. A nursery with an amazing dry garden (which I did not photograph), specialising in perennials. It is no longer my favourite nursery as my heart is now firmly with Jack and Frogmore; but for the first time ever I visited Lambley in spring ... and saw the cutting garden in bloom ... and my breath was quite taken away.
Then David, the owner and horticulturalist was quite taken with the girls so he cut them rununculi to bring home; which we did; then I photographed them so badly that they can not be shown on the blog, which is a shame, as they were beautiful.
One day the concrete slab which is our front driveway will be demolished to make way for my cutting garden. Held within a bent willow stick boundary I will plant row after row of flowers and bulbs with military precision so I can inspect my floral troops from my seat on the front verandah; occasionally snipping them off for vases inside. It too much to ask for when at the back of our block we have a four car garage and only two cars to park? I think not.
On a side note, how could anyone not be taken with Kate's daughter Elizabeth in this skort? (Shorts with a ruffled bustle) The clothing equivalent of the mullet, business in front, party at the back.
I will have to ask Mum to explain to me why I shouldn't feel like a spoiled brat working her parents to the bone, exploiting their kindness and generosity. YIKES!
We don't see Adele often as she lives in Adelaide but she and Sam play really nicely when they are together. They have a very cute habit of calling each other "Cousin Adele" and "Cousin Sam" when talking to each other. It is like something from an Enid Blyton storybook - "Cousin Adele, do you want to play hide and seek with me?" "Yes Cousin Sam, you count and I'll hide" etc...
I made a Dolly Varden birthday cake for her which she liked although was understandably disappointed when the Barbie had no legs. We had lunch and played Pass the parcel (which Sam calls Pass the Pasta). I often feel like the loudest and largest person in the room when I am with Michael's family as they are all quite contained personalities (the opposite of me) - so it was nice to have the kids running around screeching. By the time we headed home the kids were exhausted by it all but sublimely happy. The next day Sam asked me why there had been no other games and no party bag to take home (my answer "Because none of the adults thought about it" was a little lacking in his opinion). The whole affair has definitely got him thinking about his birthday next month.
The party started with cocktails -caprioskas made with limes and mint from the garden. This may be the reason I do not have the donna hay-esque styled photographs I had hoped for. Virtually all my photos are out of focus and poorly composed. By the end of the evening I fear I was well and truly plastered.
I had imagined a beautiful lunch outdoors with a stunningly decorated table, paper garlands swaying in a gentle spring breeze and the children playing in the back garden as we enjoyed our Mediterranean feast. It did not quite work out this way - we had the most inhospitable spring weather imaginable. At one point I was searing the meat on the bbq outside chatting to James with condensation pouring from our mouths as we talked. We had to raise our voices against the noise of the rain pelting onto the verandah's tin roof and it was freezing.
The added element of the AFL grand final (Aussie equivalent of US Superbowl and UK FA Cup)being played that afternoon with Geelong (our town's team) playing really shattered my illusions of an elegant affair. The television went on early in the game but only a few people were interested. However, by the end of the final quarter everyone was watching it, white-knuckled but joyous as Geelong's tenuous lead was cemented with two late goals.
We have not had everyone over for a meal since January's regatta weekend and it was great to see our friends in one place again. It was also lovely to show off the work we have done on the house which (thank God as we have done HEAPS) did not go unnoticed. And Michael and I ridiculously spoiled with flowers and wine, despite declaring that the birthday element of the occasion was merely an excuse to have a gathering.
We met the owner Jack who was incredibly generous with his time and expertise. He was magnificent, if you were to make a smart, bitchy comedy about a nurseryman you would cast him. He was fantastically passionate and eloquent and enthusiastic about our love of Piet Oudolf and stunning rambling dry climate prairie gardens. Add this to his hilariously scathing opinions of the uptight and proper ladies' gardens STILL so popular in Australia and we had a magnificent morning. So many plants (Kate bought 84, I bought 3), so much information (why had I never made the connection that it is the upright habits and tall canes reaching for the sky that ties it all together?). What a morning - so much beauty in the display gardens, the buildings, the rows and rows of plants.
We may have convinced him to let us come back (without the kids of course) to do an internship for a week in the autumn, cutting back, sowing, planting and generally working like dogs in return for just a tiny fraction of his knowledge. He said we could but I have told him I would email him so he can refuse us without feeling too much pressure. Kate and I have a double act that can be hard to say no to- but Jack, I will email you and implore you to take us seriously. Childcare can be found, husbands can fend for themselves, houses can go to pot in our absence; we will be there to do your bidding and our gardens will never be the same as a result of your teachings.
I took so many photos and these are only a fraction - it is just so lovely.
Bad Mothers side note - in order to get the most out of our two hours there we ended up giving the kids bbq chips and plugging them into the car's dvd player. They played and romped for a while but I am afraid a wholesale nursery just does not hold the appeal for them that it does for us.
On their return they were tasked with cooking the meat on the BBQ for dinner while I made the vegetables. At one point I walked out to ask for an ETA on the meat and they were sitting yakking away happily. The meat was cooking but not under any level of chef like supervision.
In my last post I wrote that it is nice to see our kids playing together, but it really is just as nice to see Paul and Michael play together.
There is something glorious about seeing our kids play together and develop their own relationships. Paul and Kate are our oldest friends. Michael and Paul went to kindergarten together, I met Paul when I was 20 and he and Kate got together about 14 years ago.
This morning Sam asked if Jo and Bee were his cousins and when I explained that they weren't as cousins are the children of Mum and Dad's siblings he was adamant that they should be, saying "but they are a bit like our family Mum". Warm fuzzy feelings all round.