Dirk Blackpool Day

“I’m sorry I couldn’t get here earlier but I was held up at a beheading. Dull blade.”

For no particular reason (and why should there be one?), today is Dirk Blackpool Day on this blog. If anyone remembers the brief but glorious Wizards and Warriors, enjoy the nostalgia.



WIP: The Great EscApe

Just getting started on this. I poked wire inside nylon cord to make the rope, but decided the rope was too thick, so I’ve bought some thinner cord and started the wire shoving again. The ape will eventually, I hope, be recognisable as an orangutan.

I painted a bit of the cord with shellac and made a test silicone mould. Unexpectedly it worked fine. So this piece is go, and I can start monkeying around properly with the ape.

(ETA: I just cast some of the cord without shellac and it’s fine too. I thought the silicone would get in between all the strands in the cord, but it doesn’t. While I had the silicone out I also cast a leaf. Fun!)

Great EscApe01

Great EscApe02

Great EscApe03


The Leaf Sheep Nudibranch

Apparently the adorableometer goes up to 11.

Via The Featured Creature:


The little wonder of nature above is the sea slug Costasiella kuroshimae, appropriately dubbed the “leaf sheep” by Featured Creature’s owner Carly Brooke. A few millimetres long, it grazes on algae. It was first discovered at Kuro Island in the Yaeyama islands in the Ryukyu Archipelago between Japan and Taiwan. The photo above was taken by Lynn Wu in Puri Jati, Bali, Indonesia. It was a finalist entry in the 2014 Scuba Diving Magazine Photo Contest.

Photo copyright Lynn Wu.
(Available as wallpaper here.)



Spaghetti aglio e olio

1. Cook pasta.

2. Try to open olive oil. Fail.

3. Try all bottle-opening tools on olive oil. Fail.

4. Ponder.

5. Cut into bottle cap with power tool, prise open with screwdriver.

6. Pour oil in pan, cook garlic, etc.


Worldbuilding in the garden

When I started writing, I basically wanted to escape. Writing was a way out of my head and my surroundings; use words the right way and you can be gone — and it can be your privilege to help others get gone too.

I’ve discovered┬á that in a garden you can really bend the world to your will (weather permitting) and make a personal paradise. A garden isn’t a daydream, a descriptive passage or a representational image; it’s actually there. True, it lacks the pleasures attached to not being real; the pleasures of representation, the extra meaning that words can decorate an image with, the poignancy of distance from reality. Still, if conceptual pleasures are sought the visitor to a garden can find plenty to think about.

Gardens certainly work on the psyche. They soothe, entertain, surprise, and provide a full-surround sensual experience. And they easily lend themselves to decadent and eldritch aesthetics, which I mean to write about, and might even get around to…


It lives

I declare the bougainvillea to have survived. It’s only the sappy shoots that wilt, and they perk up again when the sun passes. Lots of other things get wilty in the midday sun too, then recover. It’s shooting along its branches and gradually flowering. I’ve put it back in the middle of the yard, and feel confident about going on a little spree for things to surround it.

I don’t think I’ve mentioned the orange jasmine yet, probably because it gives me no trouble. I can’t speak highly enough of this plant. There’s a big one that came with the house, and I bought another. Mine’s in strong sun and the resident one is in half-shade. Both seem happy, though mine has lighter leaves. It produces clusters of white flowers with a delicious and potent almond fragrance; both plants bloom profusely and seem to do so every few weeks to couple of months. When not in bloom the foliage is dense and attractive. It’s a plant that always seems to look good.

orange jasmine

The red candelabra-ish plant below it is another reliable and very popular one here — it’s an ornamental ginger (Costus woodsonii I think).

This is the miniature orange tree I cut back to a stick and a leaf last year. It looks pretty pleased with itself!

orange tree

I’ve been playing musical chairs again to try and keep everyone happy, including myself. The solandra is growing huge but hardly flowering; it was growing rather achingly towards the light, so I’ve moved it to the sunnier side of the porch. I’ve moved the palm to the sunniest corner of the yard, where it does a very nice job of filling space with dense, draping leaves. I’ll be adding more palms. I’ve moved the brunfelsia to the shady corner where the palm was, as they’re supposed to like shade.

The roses have been living for a while in a shadier spot — they still get light, but are by no means blasted by the sun — and are doing very well. Despite the temptation to move them to a place with possibilities for climbing, they seem as happy as clams where they are, so they can stay there with supporting stakes.

I bought another strophanthus from the flowerpot men who were passing by. I really love this plant. It’s pretty, the flowers smell great and they last a while (the one that was out when I bought the first plant about a week ago has only wilted now). They do, however, look rather bleached and wan in strong sun, so I’ve put both in bright shade with some direct light, and again I’ll see what happens.

The gardenias are thus far alive and well.

The maple-leafed hibiscus was struggling so much after its scale bug attack that I cut it back hard and bought another. Same deal with the scales. They love it to bits. I have to check it every couple of days and blast them off with water. I think I might have overwatered the first one, too; its pot doesn’t have great drainage, so I ought to transplant it.


Blindfold guy

I’ve been making his blindfold, and it’s ok, but I’d like it to be better than ok. I really love this piece, so I want to be satisfied with it, even if it takes a while. I covered him in cling film underneath the blindfold, so removing it was easy. He now has a fabric blindfold which I’ll try stiffening with shellac.

For another piece, I had a cunning plan that actually worked — there must have been some kind of anomalous abatement of Murphy’s Law. Photos next week, I hope.


The Plague Ducktor Cometh

While shepherds washed their socks by night
All seated round the tub
The Angel of the Lord came down
And gave them all a scrub

Cleanliness is next to godliness, and the Plague Ducktor brings tidings of great hygiene for the festive season. Her mask is filled with potpourri and balsam to keep out the miasmas of the Black Death and bathtime farts, while she distributes aromatic bath products, scented oils and lotions, incense, flowers, and, if you’re lucky, your favourite perfume. She likes to roost in banana trees.

PLague Ducktor