Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Song of Innocence; Vera;

It was summer. My mother and father were very busy at work. I was to spend a part of my summer holidays with a family I did not know, but my mother knew them well. My mother said I had to be on my best behaviour every day and that I could learn manners which she thought were badly missing in my education.
She packed my small suitcase and without much fuss I was send away. It was not far to travel only to the next big town.
The house was in a very quiet road with gardens and lots of trees. It was a tall villa in a soft vanilla wash, mellowed by its age. The garden was small, ornamental with bushes cut to lollipops. The play area was small. I did not see any flowers like in my mothers garden. I do not remember the kitchen. There was a smiling woman in a flowery frock who did the cooking and a pretty girl who helped with all the chores around the house.
I remember the dining room. All meals were served in the dining room. It was friendly and sunny. Vera and I sat together on a sofa. Vera sat on a few cushions as she was smaller than I. The food was good. Lettuce was served with a bit of sugar on top. We did not drink tap water. Henniez was served, a bubbly mineral water, which I liked very much.
I learned quickly to watch my manners, not to lick my fingers and use a napkin to clean my mouth not with the back of my hand. I soon knew which fork to use for certain dishes. In the village, manners were very basic, most of the time disregarded. There was no time for it. We were to busy playing, ate our apples with big bites the juice running over our chins. Handkerchiefs were most of the time lost items or used for anything else.Here the apple was cut into neat slices and served on a plate.
From the dining room led a door into a glassed in Veranda, like a winter garden. It was furnished with wicker chairs. I spend a lot of time there curled up in one of the chairs with a book in my lap, reading and daydreaming. Most of the time I was left alone.
I slept in the same room as Vera. It was the most darling bedroom one could imagine. All the furniture was painted a soft blue and decorated with gold and flowers. The whole room smelled nice and fresh. I liked to look into her wardrobe filled with pretty frocks on hangers. They were all in light colours which would not have been practical in the village. Vera was a quiet girl, dainty, with blond straight hair and rather cool blue eyes.
As I was at this time reading the “Heidi” books I thought she was a smaller version of Clara Sesemann. When we went to bed, her mother always came to kiss her good night and she gave me her hand to say good night. Vera was afraid of the dark, a tiny nightlight was left burning. I told her stories about the man in the moon and the stars and their names. She loved it and wanted every evening the same story which was rather annoying as I would have liked to tell something different. She could not be persuaded and made a tantrum. I said I did not want to tell stories anymore, but she cried, so I relented.
With time I ventured outside to see if their were other children in the neighbourhood.
The house on the other side of the road looked similar yet the windows had no curtains and I could see the people moving around. It was the only house without curtains. It was a French family with one girl called Jacqueline. We played sometimes together. I asked Jacqueline's mother why she had no curtains on her windows like all the other houses. She looked at me puzzled and said she had not thought about it. She just liked her windows without curtains that was all.
Most of my time I spend with Liselotte. Her parents were German. She was as free as a bird. Her father was the manager of the only department store in this town. Sometimes we visited him in his office and we received sugared almonds. Her mother was always ill. Liselotte said that her mother did not know her most of the time.
I thought it was strange, that she did not know her own child. I questioned her why but Liselotte said she had to accept that her mother was ill. Her elder sister went already to university and did not take much notice of her either. Liselotte had enough money to go to the tearooms to eat ice creams. She always invited me and we used to have a lot of fun.
On one of my strolls around the neighbourhood I saw a girl on a swing. She waved to me and gestured to come into the garden. I opened the gate and walked towards her. I saw that she was taller and older than I. Her clothes were beautiful and her hair was cut with a long fringe like a Japanese doll I had seen. She had lovely eyes with long lashes.
I saw in her face that something was different. I was standing near the swing and she did not take any more notice of me. She made shrill sounds of laughter like a little child and spittle was running down her chin.
Her nanny came out of the house and asked me questions where I was from and my name. When I explained who I was she said it was alright to visit Ariane, which was the girls name. I said I must go home but that I will return tomorrow. Which I did.
When I arrived at the house Ariane was standing behind the fence. She wore a white frock and looked beautiful. She waved her arms around, her face was eager, her mouth twitching, she was trying to say, come. She took my hand and hold on to it like a clamp. I told her not to hold on so tightly as she was hurting me. I showed her how to hold hands. She was very exited and talked in a funny way, tried to tell me something.
We sat on a bench and just looked at each other. I asked her if she wanted to hear a story. She nodded yes. While I was elaborating my tale, she sat there, limp, her hands in her lap only her eyes followed the flow of my words. She looked happy and relaxed and made little gurgling noises to show she followed my story. When I finished the story I said I had to go and stood up to leave. Her face crumpled, it was wet from tears and saliva. She made moaning noises and was holding on to me.
It was awful to watch and I did not know how to handle such intensity and left her as quickly as possible. I decided not to go back.
When I met up again with Liselotte I decided to take her to Ariane. When we arrived, Ariane was in the garden and cried out when she saw me. I explained that Liselotte was my friend and we came to visit her.
I saw Liselotte was dismayed. She said she did not want to come here. She did not like this girl. Ariane was the idiot girl and nobody played with her. She can not talk properly and she slobbers.
Liselotte said to me come away now or I will never play with you again. I tried to persuade her but Liselottes mind was made up. Ariane was following our dispute but she did not cry this time. We left her standing behind the gate. I turned around and waved she was standing there watching us.
I never went back, as shortly after I went back home.
The first of August was approaching it is the Swiss national day. I was hoping to be home as it was rather a nice celebration in the village with a bonfire, lampions and fireworks.I used to receive small boxes of matches to do my own fireworks. I always received a few boxes in different colours and patterns. I was looking forward to it as I was expecting a new lampion, as mine had burned out the year before. It was not to be.
Living in the top apartment of the villa was Vera’s Grandma. I had never seen her before and I did not know that she was living up there. We were to celebrate up there with the grandma. I was told we will have an Icebombe to eat. I was looking forward to it. I had heard of ice bombs, but had never tasted them and did not know how they looked like.
I was warned not to look directly at the grandma because she was always in tears. We were sitting around the table when the Icebombe was brought in.
The bombe was raspberry pink with a Swiss flag on top. It looked rather small, I had expected something much more elaborate and big, which I mentioned and asked why is it called a bombe. The explanation was that the vessel in which the ice-cream is frozen is called a bombe. I was rather disappointed. It was cold and sweet with a raspberry taste .
I was supposed not to look at the grandma. But my eyes strayed towards the old lady with tears streaming down her face. Vera’s dad said to me do not stare at grandma. I tried to keep my eyes on my melting blotch of ice-cream.
After we sang the National Hymn we left. I was glad when the celebration was finished. I missed the first of August in the village with the other children.
Vera’s dad was very angry and blaming me. When we were playing in the garden, Vera disappeared into an other garden and everybody was looking for her. I was supposed to look out for her but I forgot as I was only a small child. I did not comprehend the responsibility they heaped on me. I was very upset and wanted to go home to my parents which I did. Thus my holidays ended abruptly and I did not say goodbye to Liselotte nor Ariane.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Today's Flowers; A Rose;

Apricot Nectar;

This is in every way a rewarding rose, from its healthy foliage and nuanced color, to its abundant, very fragrant bloom. Excellent for cutting.

Name: Apricot Nectar
Class: Floribunda Height: 4 feet
Growth: UprightColor: Apricot and Apricot Blend
Bloom size: 4"
Zone: Zone 6Bloom type:
Fully DoubleRebloom:
Hybridizer: Boerner
Year introduced: 1965

I grow this rose since many years in my subtropical zone 11, garden.
Here it grows very tall. It is practically disease free. It has a wonderful scent and grows easily from cuttings.
Go and pick many more beautiful flowers by clicking here

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Today's Flowers; picked this morning;

I have this Hibiscus since twenty years in my garden. Unfortunately it must compete with two massive Palms and a Lukasi Cypress. Before summer I had cut it back and it has not been as floriferous as usual. So it seems it is making a comeback into autumn. It is a very beautiful, subtle colour, a tiny red eye and flouncy petals. Please click

The emerging flower of the Fishtail Palm; Caryota.

Caryota is a genus of palm trees. They are often known as fishtail palms because of the shape of their leaves. There are about 13 species native to Asia and the South Pacific. One of the more widely known species is Caryota urens, which yields sap used to make an unrefined sugar called jaggery, and also to make palm wine.

Autumn brings the seasonal Chrysanthemums. These are hardy and reappear like clockwork as soon as the temperatures drop. I love these simple, pretty flowers.

Please do not click the picture you do not want to see the many weeds!

Flowers for you to

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Hungry? Simple, tasty food;

Lemons from the garden. Not sprayed nor waxed. Full of goodness inside and out.

Orange sweet potatoes;

Peeled, diced and ready to cook.

Sweet potato mash; a knob of butter; 1 tablespoon milk, a little grated nutmeg and salt.

Emperor, Red throat fillets. I pick out the few fish bones with tweezers.

Homemade breadcrumbs, eggs from the chooks; dip fish fillets into beaten egg and coat with breadcrumbs. Add a tablespoon of Ghee into a non stick frying pan and fry until golden brown and fish is done.

Serve with lemon slices and homemade Mayonnaise.
I make the Mayonnaise with one egg yolk, 1 dessertspoon lemon juice, 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
a little salt and peanut- or grape seed oil. Make sure the ingredients have the same temperature.
Measure all the ingredients into a jug, whisk then add oil drop by drop at the beginning, as soon as the Mayonnaise starts to amalgamate you can pour the oil slowly. Add oil until you have a smooth, thick Mayonnaise. With a handheld, elctric stick beater it is quickly done and the Mayonnaise turns out well.

For dessert a homemade Lemon Sorbet.
3oo ml lemon juice and 450ml Syrup. Make syrup by cooking 275ml water with 275 g of sugar to make approx. 450 ml syrup. Cook for 1 minute until sugar has dissolved. Let syrup cool before use. Mix with lemon juice. Beat one eggwhite until almost stiff and add to mixture.
Pour into icecream machine and churn.
Bon Appetit!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Today's Flowers; Grevillia;

In the wild garden the Australian native Grevillias are flowering. This is Misty Pink.

A profusion of flowers on the shrub.

Grevillea is a member of the Protea family (Proteaceae). Grevillea is named after Charles Francis Greville who was one of the founders of the Royal Horticultural Society in 1804. There are over 300 species in the genus, most of which are endemic to Australia but a few species occur in Papua New Guinea and islands to Australia's north.
One of the great features of grevilleas in gardens (apart from the colourful flowers) is that many attract honey-eating birds which act as pollinators for the plants. A number of species rely on other methods of pollination, eg, beetles, moths, bees, ants, and even small marsupials
Source Australian Native Plants Society (Australia) click - ANPSA to read more about Grevillias.
Photos TS.
Click Today's Flowers to see more.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Today's Flowers; Mussaenda;

The showy, pink mop heads of the tropical Mussaenda are flowering in my garden all summer into winter.

The tiny, yellow star flower are quite attractive too.
click pictures.


Family: Rubiaceae

This shrub is sometimes referred to as "Bangkok Rose".

It produces a showy display in shades of white, pink, salmon to red over an extended period. Unfortunately, the bushes are not so attractive in winter when they can loose their leaves, at least here in Brisbane. Therefore, they might be best in a mixed garden where other plants can provide interest when the Mussaenda is not in flower.

Bracts or sepals?The showy part of the Mussaenda flower is composed of enlarged sepals, either white or variously coloured. In a "typical" flower, the petals are the showy component while the sepals (which form the calyx) are usually green and relatively inconspicuous in the open flower.

Today's Flowers around the world click here

Photos TS.