Last night I sat up with the quivering dog, for the second night this week, and watched the lightning storm around the house. Gallons of rain fell.
When we woke up this morning, a bit late after the drama in the sky, all seemed damp, steamy and well, although a massive branch from the ash tree had fallen and bent my baby apple tree into an interesting arch. I've propped the tree up with part of the fallen branch and it may become a permanent arrangement.
Despite the storm all the tiny apples are still on the tree. I counted them.
I spent an hour or two reading on the ruby recliner surrounded by brilliant roses and bottlebrush, and a fully recovered dog sat about with me.
When we took the dog to the park I saw that the local SES was pretty busy.
I was astonished to hear on the evening news that only five minutes drive away from us, in Sebastopol and Mt Helen, other people had been woken last night by monster hail shattering their windows and huge gum trees breaking through their houses. Winds over 190km per hour ripped off roofs.
December is a thundery season but this weather is weird indeed. Temperatures touching 40 degrees in one day, hailstones and lightning the next.
These are the cakes you would find in the agricultural shows of the 1950s and early 60s
This was the cake that all the girls in my primary school class wanted for their birthday,
and those marvellous mothers of the 1950s baked and iced them in every Melbourne suburb.
Although not my mother, bless her, she preferred to read rather than ice cakes.
I didn't get the Dolly cake, but she allowed me to read as much as I liked, took me on the long tram trip to the library every week and bought me many books.
While most of Australia (according to the TV) drank bubbly wine and watched the Melbourne Cup, I read a good book, planted out the coriander and drank green tea.
I found this unusual leaf-shaped tea bowl at the Ballarat artisan market last Saturday. I have a couple of more tradtionally shaped tea bowls, but this one is surprisingly pleasant to hold and easy to drink from.
I was impressed by Blackseed Ceramics which was one of the few stallholders at the market to offer well made and individual work.
The other pieces I saw on the Blackseed stall were of less traditional colouring than the bowl I chose. There were some beautiful turquiose-glazed bowls and some fine, white porcelain painted in delicate paisley patterns and gently textured on the outside to suggest traditional paisley textiles.
Some beautiful gardens around Ballarat are opened to visitors on Melbourne Cup weekend. Some years the gardens are mostly town gardens, but this year they were all in the country.
I went out past Warrenheip, through Dunnstown, to see this one.
The garden wrapped dense shrubs and trees around an old bluestone house, with small clearings full of sunlight and brilliant flowers appearing and disappearing as I walked around.
Careful planting allowed magical views into the hilly paddocks around the house.
I live in Ballarat, an old goldfields town, in the central west of Victoria, but southerly in relation to the world. I love Chinese architecture, the post-goldfields towns and countryside of central Victoria, and I love the practice and the art of history. This year I'm beginning a research project on Ballarat in the 1870s.