everydaysparks

Stuff I see, which you might not.

The Possum and the Parsley

Yes, it’s the name of book for children that I am currently writing – just need to find out how it ends…

When we last left our story, the possum(s) had breached my clever Parsley Defence System (TM) and helped themselves to many bunches of bright green goodness.

Last night, after consultation with my parents – fellow parsley farmers in the Hills – I decided to mess with the possum’s tiny head and bring the parsley inside for the night. (I was also going to leave a note saying GIVE UP NOW, OR ELSE…, alongside a single possum fur glove, but decided to keep that as an option if tensions escalate.)

Anyways, I had left the base/tray from under the pot (not sure of the technical farming name for this equipment) outside and when I looked out this morning, it appears that the possums had a little tantrum and kicked the base away.

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Now I am worried that this is their way of warning me. As in, PUT OUR PARSLEY BACK OR NEXT TIME, WE’LL THROW THE BASE OVER THE EDGE. Can possums pick locks? Will they learn to like spinach or lettuce instead? I’ll keep you posted…

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Battles with Nature

Please don’t get me wrong – I really do love Nature. Flora and fauna and all that good stuff. However, lately a couple of things have happened that make me question whether Nature really loves me. To be honest, I probably started wondering about that back on the Camino last year, during the festival of insect bites.

This week has seen two main conflicts between Nature and me. The battleground is my own home. And the local fauna has been the winner.

Let’s start with birds. We have a lot of very pretty, colourful and interesting birds around here. Delightful creatures. Except when it’s, say, 3.55am on a Tuesday and a gang of kookaburras are preparing for a talent show with repeated (very loud, very long-lasting) laughing sessions.

NOT SO FUNNY, FELLAS.

Don't be fooled by their cute looks. These guys are merciless torturers of happily sleeping humans.  NB, this image is from Pixabay, so I can't be sure that these two in particular are quite as evil. But I wouldn't be surprised.

Don’t be fooled by their cute looks. These guys are merciless torturers of happily sleeping humans.
NB, this image is from Pixabay, so I can’t be sure that these two in particular are quite as evil. But I wouldn’t be surprised.

Then there’s my small veggie and herb garden (where ‘garden’ means a few small pots on my balcony). I find it pretty exciting to plant things and watch them grow, and this farmer’s crop has been thriving with all of the rain that we’ve been having in Sydney lately. Lettuce, chives, spinach and parsley are on the grow.

I can't pick any lettuce because I don't want to disturb the pretty arrangement of leaves.

I can’t actually pick any lettuce because I don’t want to disturb the pretty arrangement of leaves.

Looking good, spinach.

Looking good, spinach.

Parsley. The scene of the crime.

Parsley. The scene of the crime.

The problem is with the parsley. Apparently, possums love parsley. The naked stalks in this pot seem to suggest that they’ve been helping themselves to quite the feast. It’s hard to see in the picture, but these possums meant business. Clearly not interested in any of the other crops, the bandits snuck in during the night and chomped away.

Problem is, I like parsley too. And I was actually growing it for me, not for the local possums. So I came up with a Macgyver-style solution: a strainer thingy from the kitchen fit perfectly over the pot.

Parsley prison.

Parsley prison.

HAHAHAHAHAHA, POSSUMS. That’s what I thought as I laughed (like a kookaburra) at my cleverness. Until I looked out this morning and saw that the strainer has been moved and more parsley has been stripped away. They’ve also found the other secret parsley stash next to the lettuce.

Back to the drawing board, Macgyver.

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Friday Foto – At the zoo

This week, with some Irish friends visiting for the rugby and a burst of some incredible springtime weather, we spent a lovely day at Taronga Zoo. Definitely one of my favourite spots in town and quite appropriate for the Lions fans.

Anyways, no pics of the animals today – but the tree trunk that I saw in the reptile exhibit. I was so taken with it, I almost didn’t notice the giant boa constrictor that I was meant to be checking out.

So here it is – the Taronga Zoo Tree Shark…

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Oh and some large toy animals in the Zoo shop wearing booties. Just because.

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Have a great weekend!

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Newcastle, you beauty

This week, I am up in beautiful Newcastle (on the coast, about two hours north of Sydney) doing some work. And although my focus is on work, I wasn’t going to miss the chance to go for a walk this morning – and I happened to catch an amazing sunrise on my way out, then a kinda creepy thick fog rolled in and shrouded my walk back to the hotel. Throw in a gorgeous beach, break wall, busy shipping port, fisherman and lots of hungry pelicans and it was a pretty awesome walk all round. Here are some pics…

Oh, I almost forgot. My day really started at 3.30am, with a crazy loud alarm, followed by two bright fire trucks and evacuated people in their PJs (from the apartment block across the street from the hotel - all ended up ok.)

Oh, I almost forgot. My day really started at 3.30am, with a crazy loud alarm, followed by two bright fire trucks and evacuated people in their PJs (from the apartment block across the street from the hotel – all ended up ok.)

Nice start to the day for walkers and runners.

Nice start to the day for walkers and runners.

So pretty.

Nice view, seagull.

Nice view, fisherman.

Nice view, fisherman.

Nice view, giant ship.

Nice view, giant ship.

Awwwww.

Awwwww.

And the fog starts rolling in...

And the fog starts rolling in…

Hello? Anyone out there?

Creepy…

The break wall near Nobby's Beach.

The break wall near Nobby’s Beach.

Road to nowhere. (Not really, it leads back to the carpark, but felt very spooky this morning.)

Road to nowhere. (Not really, it leads back to the carpark, but felt very spooky this morning.)

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Stormy Sydney

So, Sydney was hit with a whopper of a storm on Saturday. It rained pretty much all day, usually heavily, and was super windy. I’m no weather guru, but on the scale of bring-an-umbrella to just-stay-home, I would officially classify this storm as start-building-that-ark. As the rain pelted down through the night, the wind was howling and things were banging and crashing and flying around outside. Not exactly Wizard of Oz-style, but it was definitely pretty wild in my neck of the woods.

The beginning...

The beginning…

I’m lucky to live in a very tree-y part of Sydney and I’m used to seeing some leaves and small branches on the grass after a windy night. When I looked out the window this morning and saw a fairly large branch on the ground outside, it seemed like a pretty big deal. And then as I went on my morning walk, a friendly lady (a) made eye contact, (b) smiled and (c) spoke. Imagine that! Anyways, she said “look out, there are huge trees down along the path – it’s pretty incredible”. I thanked her and smiled – thinking that she looked like the kind of fancy lady who would be bothered by stepping over a twig and getting her Prada sneakers dirty. Huge trees, I thought, uh huh.

Like a well-organised collection for the Council Cleanup, all along the path.

Like a well-organised collection for the Council Cleanup, all along the path.

And then I got to the corner of the path and it was like a war zone. Except, instead of people, tanks and guns, there were huge trees (yep, that lady was right) split away from their trunks and fallen over the path. Lying heavily over the power lines, which were then sagging way too close to the ground. It was both incredible and a little sad to see these poor, grand old trees who had lost their battle with the ferocious winds. And then there was the water – the little creek, normally dry, was gushing and water was tumbling over rocks.

So, yeah, after this morning, I guess you could say I’m a jungle trekker.

Yikes

It’s hard to get the scale in my phone photos, but that lady in red just past the tree was not a tiny pixie.

 

Yes, that makes things a bit trickier...

Yes, well, that makes this walk a bit trickier…

Like intrepid explorers, the morning walkers will find a way...

Like intrepid explorers, the morning walkers will find a way…

And lean to the right...

Today was a good day to be short.

Ok, fine, I'll go around then.

Ok, fine, I’ll go around then.

So that's how it's meant to look here...

Aha, so that’s how it’s meant to look here…

And this is normally dry. So I think it's safe to say we had a fair bit of rain.

And this is normally dry. So I think it’s safe to say we had a fair bit of rain.

Just like match sticks.

Just snapped like a twig.

This was not damaged in the storm. It's been like this for months. It used to be a normal bench, but now I'm not sure if they're still waiting to fix it, or if it's a modern art installation? You know, poking fun at the urban experience, or something incomprehensible like that...

This was not damaged in the storm. It’s been like this for months. It used to be a normal bench, but now I’m not sure if they’re still waiting to fix it, or if it’s a modern art installation? You know, poking fun at the urban experience, man’s inhumanity to man, or something incomprehensible like that…

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A unique urban forest in Melbourne

I’m in Melbourne for a few days and yesterday as I walked past the little City Square part of town, I noticed some brightly coloured trees. I was on my way to meet a friend though, so couldn’t stop to check them out. This morning, I went back to have a look at these amazing beauties that are brightening up the CBD – a yarn bombing initiative to draw attention to Melbourne’s urban forest plans, as far as I can work out. Whatever about the plans to preserve the city’s trees over the next 20 years (see, I did actually have a look at the website that was advertised on the trees, so their clever plan is working), these colourful tree cardigans and quilts have won me.

And it does get quite cold here in the winter, so I hope that they leave them on for a while – am sure the trees will feel quite naked without them. Good job, city of Melbourne – your razzle dazzle urban forest attention-grabber is fabulous!

A yarn-bombed City Square, Melbourne.

A yarn-bombed City Square, Melbourne.

A bizarre rainbow of woolly trees...

A bizarre rainbow of woolly trees…

A blue granny blanket at the tram and bus stop.

A blue granny tree blanket at the tram and bus stop.

Keeping it green.

Keeping it green.

Sure brightens up this part of the CBD, with lots of trees wrapped down the street.

Sure brightens up this part of the CBD, with lots of trees wrapped down the street.

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Sydney. So hot right now.

Today is a very hot day in Sydney. Really hot. When I was going into the city this morning, it was 27 degrees at 9am. It’s the kind of weather that makes me say yikes – and I don’t say yikes very often, let me tell you. They’re predicting that it’ll be the third hottest Sydney day ever recorded – the hottest back in 1939, then New Year’s Day in 2006, then today. 43 degrees or something crazy like that.

I don’t think the pretty weather people on commercial channels are true scientists though, so I was happy to hear a prediction from my dentist when I visited his torture chamber this morning. Apparently, his wife told him that it won’t be getting really hot ’til around 6pm today. But now I am a little more worried, because when I went outside after lunch, the incredibly hot wind nearly burnt my face and knocked me over. So if the dentist’s wife is right (and of course I presume that she is), it should be around 75 degrees later this evening. I have already eaten some fruity gelato, drunk some icy cold Coke Zero Cherry and finished half a lamington in preparation.

Oh, you look so innocent and pretty today, Sydney. But you are too hot for your own good, I tell you.

Oh, you look so innocent and pretty today, Sydney. But you are too hot for your own good, I tell you.

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Beautiful Boston

This is my first visit to Boston. And I love it. The weather has been perfect – beautiful blue skies, sunny days and really cold. It’s great weather for walking around all day, but the chilliness gets a bit biting at night. Actually, it starts getting a bit too cold to be fun in the afternoon – it’s now starting to get dark around 3pm. Here are some pics from Boston’s Public Garden & the famous Boston Common – two stunning parks that live side-by-side here in the middle of the city. A lot of the trees have already lost their autumn colours, but there are still lots of reds and yellows brightening up the parks.

Afternoon in the Public Garden.

Lagoon in the Public Garden.

Giant trees in the Public Garden.

Love your work, Boston.

Boston Common

Boston Common again. I took about a thousand pictures, but tried to limit them for this post.

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Fashion buzz

The Ecouterre website is all about ‘eco fashion’ and ‘sustainable style’ – I think it’s always an interesting virtual place to visit as some of the ideas are very clever. Of course, some of the ideas are very wacky, which is ok with me too. Like these Pollinator Frocks designed by British artist Karen Ingham. Apparently the population of bees and other pollinating insects is shrinking, which causes all sorts of problems for the global food system.

So why not create a dress that features “electron-microscopy images of pollen”, treat them with “a nectar-like sugar solution that attracts and nourishes bees”? Sure. Now I know exactly what you’re thinking – what about all those other insects that come out at night? Well, Karen has thought of that too – the day-wear frocks are designed to attract bees and butterflies, while the evening-wear frocks are for “nocturnal critters such as moths”. So it seems that moths aren’t just attracted to nice woolly jumpers, or the wallets of stingy people who keep a tight reign on their spending.

Karen worked with a range of scientists and engineers to develop her so-called “wearable gardens”, which closely mimic the aromas and materials of the flowers that attract insects.

I have visions of people wearing their garden frocks to work and being swarmed by bees as they wait at the bus stop. And on the way home in the evenings, moths gather around the fashionista like flies at a picnic. But then I read that Karen encourages people to hang the frocks on their washing line to attract bees, and I am confused. Are they meant to be worn as moving feasts for our insect friends, or are they so powerful that it’s safest to just hang them on the line and leave it at that?

I guess the choice is yours – but I wish you all the best if you decide to buy one and prance around like Mother Nature. Please let me know how it works out. In the meantime, you can read more about the Pollinator Frocks on the Ecouterre website here.

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Happy Shark Week!

I like to think that I’m a woman of the world and I know what’s going on…which is why I can’t believe that until yesterday I hadn’t heard of Shark Week. You probably already know all about it, but just in case you’re like me and have missed this festival in previous years, here’s a brief update. Shark Week started back in 1988 – it’s a creation of the Discovery Channel and is essentially a week-long series of TV shows about sharks. Apparently, it was developed to help the average person have a greater respect for sharks. And it’s now broadcast in over 72 countries. Uh huh.

This year marks the 25th anniversary of Shark Week and the peeps at the Discovery Channel marketing machine have gone all out. In addition to the usual souvenir DVDs, books and t-shirts, you can also buy a heap of other wacky gear to show that you’re a friend of the sharks. Like this hat, for example.

Foam Fin Hat from the Shark Week Store

Or these cupcakes, custom-made in a Georgetown bakery. The toppers show a logo or a shark or A LONE HAND STICKING UP FROM THE OCEAN OF ICING. Not sure that image is helping the sharks’ cause, to be honest.

DC Cupcakes from the Shark Week Store

And then there’s this hoodie t-shirt (for adults and for kids) – if you hold your arms like you’re giving yourself a hug, you can scare the life out of people around you. Nothing says Happy Shark Week like a giant set of chompers headed your way.

Shark Week Hoodie from the Shark Week Store

Finally, here’s the ultimate Shark Week accessory for your canine companion – a Hammerhead Shark Pet Costume. It doesn’t seem quite right to me, but hey, anything goes in Shark Week!

Pet Costume from the Shark Week Store

So, I wish you and yours a very happy Shark Week. If you’d like to learn more about this Week, you can check out the Discovery Channel website here or head straight to the Shark Week Store to stock up on goodies here. A word of warning – when I checked, the website went straight to an auto-play video with a very scary voice over very scary music, “Deep beneath, a pre-dat-or is lurking…” Eeeeek – Happy Shark Week!

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