Tuesday, October 21, 2008

New Neighbours

A piece of prime real estate has been vacant around here for a while now. It's located on top of the framework for the clothesline under the verandah. Over the past few weeks a number of couples have inspected it but so far, in spite of the lack of suitable nesting sites since our human back fence neighbours cleared their yard, none had thought it suitable. Things changed yesterday with a pair of turtle doves checking it out and returning for a second and then a third viewing.

They investigated the amenities, tried out a variety of landing approaches and finally, after much roo-coo-cooing, decided it would do. First thing this morning they arrived to start construction. This involved a lot of discussion and investigation before they worked out the ideal plan. She settled in arranging and rearranging the assortment of twigs her mate brought her. He had some trouble in meeting her exacting standards and a considerable number of unsuitable offerings ended up discarded to litter the floor under the building site.

By the time they stopped work for the day an untidy - and apparently unfinished - structure of twigs and small sticks rested precariously on the flat top of the clothesline frame. I can't remember how long it took the previous residents to complete their nest but at this rate I suspect it will be several more days. Still, anyone who has ever seen a dove's nest close up will have wondered at how they even manage to hold an egg let alone a chick so perhaps my assessment is way out.

I'll try for a photo tomorrow before they arrive.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Don't They Know It's Spring?

We're in the middle of an unusually warm spell. In the space of a week maximum temperatures have ranged from 22 degrees Celsius to today's 34.1 and still rising around midday. Thirty plus is not unusual for Perth in summer but not during Spring. This is early and sudden and we've been left struggling - and sweating.

I began regular summer watering of the garden for the first time just over a week ago when I weeded the sweet potato patch and discovered it was bone dry. We're restricted to watering on only two days a week these days and we get to water on Saturday and Wednesday. My garden had its drink on Saturday morning but it wasn't enough. When I got home yesterday the rose blossoms were all literally burned to a crisp. I went out to dead head them and the blooms shattered between my fingers. The other flowers haven't fared much better. By noon there wasn't a single petal left on the poppies which were so spectacular when I got up this morning, the cactus blossoms had faded and collapsed and even tough flowers like the dianthus were dropping petals like confetti.

The forecast for tomorrow is 28 degrees with a possible thunderstorm. Let's hope it's right.

Wastelands II, Age of Iron - reviewed

I've spent the last two days at Wastelands II convention and what an enjoyable weekend it was. Interesting panels and a chance to catch up with local writers, editors and publishers with a common interests. The theme was Steampunk - not an area I've had much to do with until recently but it's growing on me. The idea of a fantastical world where steam powers everything and glamorous vaguely Victorian dress reigns supreme is appealing. If you watched the Sally Lockhart series on television recently you would have seen a similar version - high heeled buttoned boots and corseted ankle length dresses with low cut bodices for the women and rakish stovepipe hats and waistcoats lifting the original less than exciting Victorian style men's clothing to something eye-catching. Con-goers were encouraged to dress to the theme and there were a number of stunning costumes much to the bewilderment of other guests at the hotel.

It's hard to pick a best panel. They were all good value but the stand outs for me were guest of honour Nick Stathopoulos's presentations. Such a talented artist and an entertaining speaker who had us enthralled whether he was explaining just why and how the Titanic went down or how he went about creating artwork ranging from portraits for a socialite or the Archibald Prize to book cover art.

Another highlight was the Coffee Klatch with Alisa Krasnostein. It's not often you get the chance to sit down and chat informally with an editor - and the coffee and cakes were yummy too.

And now - after all that fun - it's back to work. What a pity.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Wastelands II, Age of Iron

Hey, I'm on a panel (How to run a small Con) at Wastelands II, Age of Iron, along with Sarah Parker, John Parker and Satima Flavell. Come along and hear what we have to say about the actual running of a con.

Wastelands II, Age of Iron is on 18-19 October at the Good Earth Hotel, Adelaide Terrace, Perth. The programme is up here .

Sunday, October 05, 2008

KSP Mini Con 2008

I've been meaning to blog about this ever since it finished but life got in the way - not to mention exhaustion. This co-convening of conventions is hard work. Still better late than never.

It was a great day despite the cruelty of the weather makers who turned on cold, heavy rain and fierce winds. Despite this we had a good turn up to listen to - and participate in - a range of panels on writerly subjects. Well you'd expect that since it was at a writers' centre - Katharine Susannah Prichard Writers Centre to be precise.

This was the home of Katharine Susannah Prichard. It's perched near the top of Greenmount on the Darling Scarp which overlooks the coastal plain surrounding most of Perth. Greenmount is as pretty as its name sounds. We used to go up to Old York Road (where KSP is situated) as children to visit relatives who had a huge block where they grew flowers to sell. I remember a field of daffodils and a shaded patch of violets. This was only a couple of houses along from where Katharine herself lived and wrote.

A small Con like this gives a chance for writers (as opposed to mostly fans) to get together. We had a large number of local writers turn up, as panellists, to read or to simply meet up with people with similar interests and that many were only leaving as we were locking up indicates they were having a good time. I certainly did. I was asked a number of times if we intend to run another convention - also an indication that people enjoyed themselves. The answer? Well the Mini Con certainly seems to fill a niche so ... Sorry, you'll have to wait and see. We'll let you know when we've all recovered.

By the way if anyone came across this before it was finished you can blame my kitten. He jumped on my hand last night just as I was clicking on Save As Draft and I didn't realise that he had pushed the cursor to Publish Post until I opened the blog this morning.

Of Spring and Other Things.

As usual Spring is working its usual magic - make that pain. As anyone who knows me can tell you I suffer badly from hay fever. The trouble is it looks so lovely outside - and it's warm and sunny. Unfortunately about half an hour outside is as much as I can take. So the garden is suffering from the explosion of weed growth that always comes at this time of year while I race out pull, out the the most obvious offenders and race back in again.

Still at least I can look at my garden from inside the house - and it is really pretty. Rampaging nasturtiums everywhere, some glorious clusters of Dutch irises - a mix of white through soft mauves and blues to royal blue and purple, a bed of crimson and scarlet poppies and the first roses. One sad thing is the decline in bird numbers. Usually by now there are flocks of New Holland honeyeaters, singing honeyeaters and others sharing the space with the resident wattle birds but not this year. Our new back fence neighbours have stripped their yard of everything except one tree and while I know they had to take drastic action (the previous owners had let it become over-grown to the point of being impenetrable) it means the birds which have taken advantage of the food sources and nesting sites for years have nowhere to go and the bird bath which is usually in great demand is hardly used.

To more pleasant subjects and they are the ever increasing number of publications my fellow Clarionites are achieving. There are so many now that I can't list every one every time. How's that for a bunch of high achievers? As we discussed at the KSP Mini Con a couple of weeks ago Clarions can have unpredictable effects and some attendees, I'm told, never write again. Obviously not what's happening to this group. I've linked to all those of us who have blogs so please drop in on them sometimes and find out what they are doing.