Wednesday, 20 June 2007

Winter Solstice

And it's brutally cold here in the mountains. Daytime temperatures are no more than a degree above the night-time ones of 3° or 4°C. We haven't yet got our house in order - no curtains on the windows, for instance, so it's hard to keep the interior warm. The Australian defiance of the fact that they have a winter at all doesn't help either. Windows are single-glazed, construction design and materials don't include insulation, and heating systems are not as advanced as they are in Canada with its longer winter. My favourite accessories right now are a pair of Peruvian-patterned woolly socks, knitted by Kathy Wilson, late of Langley, in a combination of wool from our sheep and fleece from her llamas.

Sunday, 17 June 2007

Winter blooms


It's less than a week to the solstice and I'm amazed at the number of plants that are bursting into bloom already. I expected the sasanqua camellias, which I've already mentioned, but I didn't expect them to keep flowering for so long. Now they are being joined by other plants, some of which seem logical at this time of year, like heath and mimosa (or wattle as the Aussies call it), and others quite unexpected like the kniphofia (red hot poker) in the photo and bergenia (pigsqueak). Japonica camellias are also beginning to bloom, though I did hear someone say that they are early this year. Lavender, particularly Lavandula stoechas, doesn't seem to have stopped flowering at all, even though the weather has been cold and stormy for the last week with temperatures comparable to a Vancouver winter, ie. not reaching double digits in daytime and close to zero at night. I've also noticed occasional salvia, penstemon and osteospermum blooms in my neighbourhood.

Monday, 4 June 2007

Educational options

In yesterday's mail came a brochure for the local TAFE (Technical and Further Education) institute. Oh goody, she thinks, maybe I'll take a course in Australian politics or pick up another language.
Well.....no.
They are all courses for industry, inviting me to sign up for Driving a Mobile Crane over 20 tonnes (cost: $1885) or perhaps Bushfire Protection Sprinkler Systems ($850). I'm not really tempted by Coffee Preparation ($199) or Safe Working at Heights ($215) or Brazilian Waxing ($135). And Gel Nail Enhancement ($168) is a post trade course so I'm not eligible.


But wait! There's a listing for Horticulture. Maybe this will be for me?


Two courses are offered:

One is Chainsaw Operations (Level 1).

The other is Chainsaw Operations (Level 2).


Uh-huh!

I think I'll settle for Vegetable Carving ($440).