All posts filed under: Gardening

Handsome Little Devils: The Water Dragons Revisited

Hey, all. I’ve bitched about Summer on here more than once: the energy-sucking heat, of course; the harsh, high-contrast, drama-killing, colour-draining light (photographically speaking); the insanely early start required to reach the waterfront or creek bank in time for sunrise (just made it this morning by heading out the door at 4:10am); cricket; bad TV (I mean badder than usual, and not in a good way); Christmas… So why bludgeon you with more of the same? Let’s focus on the good side of the Sweltering South-East Queensland Summer: the basking. Not mine — I don’t bask well, except in my own glory. I’m talking about the lizards: I’m still slogging through the pictures from Japan and have completed the editing of half a dozen days’ worth from that 47-day epic, plus several shots, at least, from each of the others. When Day 28, for example, starts to drive me crazy, I jump over to Day 13 for some variety. At least six hours a day goes by like that. When my eyes start to hurt, …

The Backwards 88, Day 8: Sandal Power in North-Eastern Shikoku

Greetings, folks, from rainy Kan’onji City on the western fringes of Kagawa Prefecture, Shikoku. If you’re the kind of weirdo who prefers kanji (Chinese characters), I’m here to help: 観音寺市. It’s the name of both the city and one of its two principle temples (the suffix -ji means temple). Kan’on or Kannon is a Buddhist goddess of mercy (and pets, apparently), much venerated along the Shikoku pilgrimage route: 29 of the 88 temples are dedicated to her. One unusual thing about this temple, #69, though, is that it adjoins #68, Jinnein, which meant a delightfully easy double whammy with which to start Day 8 today. I’m presently squandering that advantage by sitting here on my Z-Rest outside a 7-11, typing this long-overdue post and stealth-charging laptop, wifi hotspot and one of my arsenal of camera batteries. I haven’t tapped into a convenience store’s power outlet since I last wandered through Shikoku in 2008… (I don’t like supporting the evil 7-11 Corporation, currently in the news in Australia for ripping off their student workforce, but their stores are …

A Korean Flashback #3: At Peace Among the Korean War Dead

The Korean War of 1950-1953 is probably more obscure for most non-Koreans — especially younger ones — than the older but far crazier, bigger, badder war of 1939-1945, and definitely than the more recent and oft-Hollywoodised Vietnam conflict. And what many westerners do “know” about Korea, they probably gleaned from eternal repeats of the M.A.S.H. sitcom. I never liked M.A.S.H. and anyway, it always seemed to me to be more about the Vietnam War than the Korean — I would even guess that many viewers thought they were watching yet another Vietnam show. The only time during my stint in Korea (as a teacher, not a soldier, although there were similarities) I was reminded of the sitcom war was one hot afternoon midway through my 13-day “Goat Killer Trail” death march up the roads of the Korean east coast. Passing this beautiful little ridge beyond some paddies as the sun-baked road hooked mercifully back towards the sea… ..I was reminded of those scrubby, arid hills stretching away beneath the dusty bubbles of those M.A.S.H. helicopters. In other words, it looked like a …

A Korean Flashback #2: I Was a Rice-Paddy Spider Man

The spiders were everywhere over there. When westerners talk about Korea as a destination or somewhere they lived and taught for a year or two, they often lose me pretty fast as they rave about the food or K-pop or the high-tech wonderlands to be found in the big cities. Well, I disliked the food, and Busan, the second-biggest city, just an hour or so from where I lived, will stay with me more for its decaying maze of hillside alleys and the really rather squalid seafood markets on its waterfront than any technological buzz it might have had. (Don’t get me started on the music.) Flashy, cutting-edge, Korea undoubtedly exists, but it was the half-made Korea, the good-enough Korea of the countryside, coast and city fringes that I spent most of my time in. Sometimes I wonder if I would have loved the country more if I’d been stationed in bustling Seoul with its mix of the gleaming-new and the mothball-antiquated, its countless options for diversion on weekends, holidays and before and after work. Certainly I would have been …

Topiary Reptiles: A Water Dragon Trilogy #3

Hey, folks. Some Goat that Wrote trivia for you: This is my 11th post to contain the word “dragon” in its title. You read it here first. You’re probably tiring of water dragons at this point, and that would be very sad, but with this short final episode we’re leaving our reptilian friends behind to bask and swim and otherwise squander their Summer in standard Queensland fashion. I’ll be back before long to catch up and share festive season stories with them — no doubt theirs will leave mine for dead. This was an interesting little visit to Roma Street… ..when for the first time I had a good look at the topiary garden. You don’t see much topiary in Australian gardens, although there’s no shortage of poorly pruned hedges. It seems very “eccentric English” and olde-worlde, and kinda ridiculous when it’s done badly — well, even when it’s done well (Stanley Kubrick omitted the topiary-animals-come-to-life bit from his version of Stephen King’s The Shining, probably a wise move), although there’s a quirky Australian take on …

Spiders in the Sky: A Water Dragon Trilogy #2

Hey, folks, so my Korean kitty-kat post a little while back has broken — vaporised, really — all my personal records on TGTW. As this post goes to the presses, the tally of “likes” from other WordPressers stands at 330, way more than 10 times my average number. Unbelievably, comments have reached about 75 and it’s been re-blogged a dozen or so times. Evidently there are a lot of cat people out there in the blog-reading world. If I’d known that, I would have carried a bag of dried fish with me on my Korean rambles. But without a zoom lens it was only due to good old dogged (catt-ed?) persistence (and having nothing better to do with my time) that I got the shots I did. Anyway, as a thank-you for all the nice feedback, here’s yet another picture of a certain devilishly handsome feline: Cheers, 山羊 *          *          *          *          * “I might grow old in Brisbane, but I would never grow up.” ~ …

Stalking Dragons: A Water Dragon Trilogy #1

Hey, so, it’s my blog and one of the biggest kicks it gives me is coming up with the post titles. I’m aware that “dragon” and “trilogy” are encroaching on fantasy novel territory, but there’s more than a touch of fantasy in this post (and the two follow-ups). (Plus I’m kinda hoping the post titles will turn up in occasional Google searches by fans of fantasy literature: folks feeding their love of all things Dragonslayer, Dragonlord, Dragon Hunter, Dragonpanties et al…) But the post itself: I’ve been so overwhelmed lately with a) general living and all its uncertainties and b) keeping my head above the constantly rising floodwaters of photos and post ideas (I have a dozen or more in mind at any point) that sometimes un- or partially edited pictures and post material get left behind and one day I come across stuff that’s relatively old, swamped by weeks of other stuff, forgotten. The other day I discovered photos from three excursions to Brisbane’s Roma Street Parkland: January 10, August 8 and August 28 this year. …

Seasonally Flamboyant Sandgate

flam·boy·ant1  adjective (of a person or their behaviour) tending to attract attention because of their exuberance, confidence, and stylishness. (especially of clothing) noticeable because brightly coloured, highly patterned, or unusual in style. flam·boy·ant2 noun another term for royal poinciana I’m closing in on my second documented multi-month thousand-mile ramble to take place largely in the Sandgate area. It’s cool, and I’m grateful I get to do it in such pleasant environs, but I do get tired at times of stomping the same footpaths (“sidewalks” in American), walking paths and tidal sand flats, month in, month out. But one thing about walking your own patch of turf for years is that you are keenly aware of how it changes throughout the year. You watch out for and relish the seasonal changes, the subtle tweaks and the stark transformations. Here’s a sample of the refreshing colour that’s enlivened my urban trails over late Spring and early Summer. If you happened to peer through the curtains to see the weirdo with the backpack leaning over your fence with …

A Glimpse of Old China — in Downtown Tokyo

Spider, are you crying, or the Autumn wind? ~ Basho I’ve been in a mental Nowheresville lately. Lou Reed’s passing hit me harder than I can explain or even understand, and of late my day-to-day routine here in south-eastern Korea seems even less meaningful than before. Haven’t felt like blogging or doing anything much at all except listening to old songs, skyping my girlfriend and sighing a lot while I shuffle around. 

Yaddo: Retreat to the Rose Garden!

Hours fly, Flowers die, New days, New ways pass by, Love stays ~ Inscription on the Yaddo sundial by poet Henry Van Dyke, a friend of the Trasks I love gardens, and if I had a won for every hour I’ve spent crawling around in the verges and weedy embankments of Korea trying to shoot flowers (and the critters that choose to hunt, feed or fornicate upon them), I’d be — well, not too well off, ’cause a won is pretty much worthless. In fact I sometimes throw handfuls of them in the trash ’cause what’s the point of ’em? Useless wallet ballast is all. But that’s another blog post.

A Blue House & Beyond

Okay, here’s where most days started and ended on my little eight-or-nine-day adventure in Upstate New York: Kate’s place in an outer suburb of Saratoga Springs. A nice modest little place with a big sprawling backyard, a few oaks and maples and other trees I couldn’t recognise. A couple of clumps of echinacea still holding their own, lots of cool, damp grass, various perennials giving up and keeling over before the advancing Summer.

Jangyu by the Numbers

#701 I went to Japan for the first time in January 2000. The cheapest flight came with a stopover in Seoul. My one memory of Korea from that trip, apart from thinking it had a pretty nice airport, is the sight, from thousands of metres above, of hundreds of white apartment blocks jammed between the endless mountains.

The Plum Blossom Paparazzi

I’ve been doing private lessons with three nice people — they use the names Sally, Rachael and Victor — on weekends for a few weeks now. Their English is excellent and though we start with an article from the Economist (their choice!) we inevitably veer off into a chat before too long. Last weekend I mentioned my recent frolics among the spring blooms and Sally said that a high school in downtown Gimhae was famed for its meihua — the Chinese plum/Japanese apricot trees I described in the last post — display, and that a festival of sorts was held there each Spring. And thus my Saturday afternoon plans were set.