Christmas Bells

Christmas Bells
Christmas Bells - Blandfordia nobilis

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Martine Rolff donates her golden tresses for Cancer Connect

Martine Rolff, a local woman, a great singer, and the friendly assistant (the one with the previously famously long hair) at the Robertson Village Pharmacy has taken the plunge and donated her hair to be used for wigs for people being treated for Cancer.

"I am cutting off my famous locks
and donating it all
to make wigs for those suffering from cancer.

The money raised will go to the
Southern Highlands branch of CAN ASSIST."

Martine is a renowned jazz singer, and she bravely entertained us with a few songs from Hoagey Carmichael, and other jazz legends. 

And I suspect, in the process, she was preparing herself
to have the necessary courage,
to agree to Carole, from Cafe Pirouette
to be the person to cut her hair for her.

Carole making the cut,
with Martine's hand ensuring it is not too short.
The fateful cut
As it happened>
What looks like a Pom-Pom
appeared on Martine's head.
But we ought not have worried.

Here is Martine carrying the cut hair
She will donate it to be prepared as a Wig
for someone being treated for Cancer.
Her husband Gerry is looking on.
Congratulations to Martine.
I am sure she will still accept donations in any of the tins around Robertson which bear her name, for passing on to the Cancer Connections people. Or you can make an on line donation at her "MY CAUSE" page.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Just Joey - one of my favourite roses

This rose "Just Joey" is one of my favourites, yet, it breaks all the rules I like to set for roses I choose to grow.
Soft colour? No.
Sweet perfume? Not particularly fragrant.
Certainly not an "old rose" perfume which is my preference. It is classed as a "Hybrid Tea Rose", after all.

So why do I like it? I find that hard to explain, but I do like it and I have two plants growing beside my front entrance-way,

Just Joey as a tight bud

Just Joey opening

Just Joey fully mature flower
starting to fade slightly.
Less of the bright apricot,
and more pink coming through.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Blue-banded Bee loves Penstemon "Sour Grapes"

Yesterday, a Blue-banded Bee was noisily buzzing around the Penstemon "Sour Grapes" near my front verandah. These Bees are native to Australia, and Asian countries.
The blue colour of the bee is not obvious.
It varies between males and females, apparently.

There is a faint blue colour on the"white bands"
But it is not obvious in these photos.
It is more obvious in this photo courtesy of Peter Chew's
Brisbane Insects and Spiders website

It is well reported that these Bees have an affinity for blue or purple flowers. 
That certainly holds true for this individual Bee.

The other thing of interest to me was that Bee's flight.

It is described as a "dart-and-hover flight pattern",

This Bee would land on the floral tube of the Penstemon,
and then climb inside the flower.
Then it would back out, and quickly fly to another flower.

This Bee is a noisy flier
and the tone changes as it varies its flight pattern.
It is reported to be a non-aggressive Bee.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Callicoma - Black Wattle in flower in Southern Highlands

This plant is not native to Robertson, but it is native to the creek-lines close by.
It lives on the creeks of the sandstone plateaux immediately below Robertson. Think Belmore Falls, and Carrington Falls. However, it is easily grown on our rich red basalt soil.
Ball-shaped flowers heavy with pollen grains
I have several trees of this species which I grew from seedlings collected along the local creek lines, where, after floods, seedlings can be collected (with a clear conscience) from mats of moss and root matters which have been lifted from the rock bed of the creeks. With no contact with soil, these seedlings are destined to die. From such predicaments, I can easily justify collecting seedlings to transplant into my garden.

This I confess to having done, in an experiment. And it has worked.
The flowers come from tightly bunched inflorescences.
I have two such trees, probably about 10 years old now. Both are doing really well, but strangely, one flowers earlier than the other and one is more open in structure than the other.

the specific name comes from the serrated edges of the leaf.
This plant is known by the name of Black Wattle, but it is not a Wattle in any sense.
It gave its name to Black Wattle Bay, in Sydney, because of the early settlers finding it convenient as a building material "Wattle and daub". That is because it forms many thing narrow stems which can easily be bound together, and coated with mud, to form a reasonably secure form of housing.

The flower bear a superficial resemblance to "Wattles" (Acacias), but it is not at all closely related to those plants. It is in a genus of its own, within the Cunoniaceae (the same family as Coachwoods and NSW Christmas Bush).

Sunday, November 17, 2013

#climateaction rally in Bowral 17 November 2013

Michael - from Robertson
was one of the GetUp people behind the rally in Bowral
See the full set of photos at

The Bowral participation in the national series of rallies in support of #climateaction

Me with my friend Angela
Tony and Anna - also from Robertson

GetUp rally #climateaction in Bowral streets

In Corbett Gardens, Bowral

Michael with his Buddhist-themed umbrella

Anthony Ackroyd speaking at the rally

Gordon rode all the way from Robertson
to spread these two messages for #climatection rally

Just in case you missed Gordon's point.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

A week of strange weather in Robbo

This week started with the promise of rain, but little of nothing arrived.

Then we got a lot of drizzle, and on Monday night it arrived.
Heavy rain, then lashing rain, then hail, and thunder.
Poor little Lulu was very distressed and asked for "protection" so I picked her up on the bed. Strange how that works for kids and dogs. Maybe they are really just the same creatures, in different body shapes.

Then on Tuesday I saw that there was still a "drift" of the fine hail we had had about midnight.
A pleasant surprise to find this hail
still hanging on, in the early afternoon
on Tuesday,
Given that I got 60mm of heavy rain overnight, I was surprised that the hail had not melted in the rain.

My driveway coating washed down the hill, towards the peonies.

Peony "Sarah Bernhardt"
Peony "Bowl of Beauty"
Road base washed down the hill, towards my house.
It makes walking along my path to the front door a little less secure.

I went out to Carrington Falls to check the flow in the Upper Kangaroo River. It was flowing reasonably, but anything but in flood. But it had been nearly dry the weekend before.

Compare how it looked after heavy rain
in late June 2013

Stick Daisy Bush
Olearia elliptica subsp elliptica

Petrophile pedunculata"Conesticks"

Lambertia formosaMountain Devil looking very bright in the sun

Leptospermum morrisonii

Locals might note this proposed road closure
up to 45 minutes at a time.
The pedestrian access is surely a joke.
 I managed to collect a Leech out at Carrington Falls (I was hardly off the pathway - except perhaps to take  a couple of plant photos beside the path). Anyway, I found this leech crawling across my floor later in the afternoon.
Leech pretending to be a beached whale.
It had certainly had a good feed on my leg.
For grammatical pedants among you, is there a proper word for how Leeches progress across the ground - other then "leeching"?

Tonight, there was a lovely gentle sunset.
Sunset 13 November 2013
A nice way to conclude the cycle of weather we have experience this week.

Friday, November 08, 2013

Life and Death on my front verandah

I toyed with using the title: "War of the Worlds" but thought H. G. Wells and Orson Welles might object.

This is a photo essay about a battle between a small Spider (a pale, small Daddy Long Legs type) and a large "Common Assassin Bug - Pristhesancus plagipennis . This was clearly going to be a battle between weight and strength against technology of the Web.
Frame 1
Live Assassin Bug, and Spider keeping a safe distance.

Frame 2
Spider attempting to secure the leg of the Assassin Bug.
It was only this leg which was securely holding the Bug.

The Assassin Bug was caught by one leg (primarily), and it was clearly not happy. Whenever the Spider approached the Assassin Bug, it would struggle, and it tried to strike at the Spider. Naturally, the Spider would retreat out of striking range.

Frame 3
Spider making another approach.
I kept hoping the Spider would wrap the Bug up, with its web, but that was not part of its plan. It certainly had some such idea, but its main weapon seemed to be to tighten the main string of web which was holding the leg of the Assassin Bug. The little spider is surprising strong, and able to lift the Bug several inches, but then seemed to not be able to circle around and under the Bug's wings, which was what I was anticipating.

Eventually the bug must have lost strength, and presumably the Spider then went in for a death bite.I did not have enough patience to wait around to witness the Spider making the "kill".

Spider making another close approach to the
Assassin Bug

And then the Spider retreats away (yet again).

 Certainly, in the morning, there was the bug all neatly wrapped up.

Win:  Spider.
Lose: Assassin Bug

Spider has retreated to safety under a ledge of the
HardiPlank "Weatherboard cladding".
In fact there were 3 identical battles taking place on my verandah at the same time - so it must be a seasonal thing. I have seen these Assassin Bugs previously, but never so many on one night.

Thursday, November 07, 2013

The Racing industry kills about 18000 race-horses a year.

Is this animal cruelty?

Varema. (Image from Andrew Day on Twitter.)
(Republished from Mamamia)
 From Mamamia

"Today, a horse running in the Melbourne Cup – who you would’ve watched barreling down the track, its coat slick with sweat – was euthanised after the race. The horse’s name was Verema.
Verema dropped out of the race at about the halfway mark, and it said to have snapped a large bone in the lower leg. Victoria Racing Club stewards confirmed that the horse had been put down, shortly after the race.
And Verema is not the only one to have had a less than noble retirement after competing in the Melbourne Cup. The 33 knackeries across Australia will slaughter between 22-32,000 horses every year. 40 per cent of those horses, are racehorses. The Coalition for the Protection of Racehorses estimates that 18,000 ex-racers are killed every year."

And lets not forget that Gai Waterhouse, and another trainer were charged "under Australian racing rule 178E (1), which states:

"Notwithstanding the provisions of AR 178C(2), no persons without the permission of the stewards may administer or cause to be administered any medication to a horse on race day prior to such horse running in a race."

and this:

"Waterhouse has already had a dramatic 2013, after being fined for failing to report conditions that could affect the running of star mare More Joyous in the lead-up to the All Aged Stakes and Queen Of The Turf Stakes in Sydney.
She is appealing the decision to the Racing Appeals Tribunal."

Monday, November 04, 2013

Blue-tongue Lizard in Kangaloon

This Blue-tongue Lizard was in good health,but really didn't wish to be moved off the road.
It was destined to be crushed if it had not budged. They have a habit of "basking in the sun" to warm themselves up -  somewhat dangerous habit, resulting in many of them being squashed by cars.
Blue-tongue Lizard
enjoying the warmth of the bitumen road.
It is in lovely "condition"
So I got right in front of it, hoping it would open flick out its blue tongue, but it would not co-operate with me.
Add caption
Close up of head.
 Eventually it decided to run for cover, and ran to the grass, beside the road.

Is this a pregnant Lizard?
It started flicking its blue tongue about once every step, but I did not manage to capture the tongue sticking out.

For a fat lizard, it can actually move reasonably fast (nothing like a Sand Goanna) but the timing of its tongue-flicking defeated me. I could not capture that image.

                                                              Here is a shot I took in 2007.

Blue-tongue Lizard - showing its famous blue tongue