So if 42 is the meaning of life, what does that mean?

My good friend The Flat-Footed Adventurer recently wrote a very thought-provoking post that asked some very big questions.  I’m in no position to answer any of them but thought I’d add my voice to the questioning, too.

Adventurer was talking about faith, free will (or lack thereof) and, basically, whether anything means anything.  I hear you, buddy.  Human existence and our understanding of it seems – ultimately – to be reduced to a belief in some variety of godly oversight and/or a handful of time-worn statements such as ‘it never rains everyday’ or ‘when one door closes another one opens’ and lets not forget that old faithful ‘God works in mysterious ways’.  Dress it up in as many philosophies as you want but basically it boils down to the thought of, “boy, today sucked – hopefully that means tomorrow won’t”.  I guess that makes us, as a species, perennial optimists (who knew?!).

Recently, humans have been infected by the idea that only a lack of enough positive thinking (self-actualisation? focussed goal realisation? whatever the new buzzwords are?) stops us from having Everything That We Want.  It’s a seductive philosophy – power, free will, choice, having it all.  In fact, I loosely subscribe to this kind of thinking.  However, it also presents two problems:

  1. we actually have to figure out what it is that we want (not as easy as it sounds), and;
  2. how to manage the confusion when we don’t get it.  Were we not wishing hard enough?  Not focussed enough?  Not choosing the right goal in the first place?

I spend a lot of time thinking about these things and why life is the way that it is.  Mostly because I’m just arrogant enough to think I’m only an insight away from Getting It (and then global domination will be mine! Mwah-hah!).  Of course, if you ask me, I’ll  protest that I have no idea how life, the universe and everything works.  But, deep down, I suspect my psyche is working under the assumption that if I just think about something hard enough, get enough information on it, mull over it long enough, the mystery will be revealed and I’ll succeed.  I use this approach in all aspects of my life (resulting in chronic worrying), so why should existence itself be any different?

It’s only as I get older that I’m starting to relax with it all.  Not relaxing as much as I’d like – maybe even as much as I should – but certainly letting go of the reins a little, as bitter-tasting as that is for control freaks like me.  The reasons are threefold (and this gives me an excellent opportunity to use more bullet points, which I do so enjoy):

  1. It’s exhausting.  Trying to figure everything out?  Not possible, babe.  Trying to anticipate everything?  Plan for it?  Pre-emptively work out how you might react to something?  Please.  Unless I work out the secrets of time travel (which I presumably do not because I know Future Me would have visited Present Me by now if she had), then it’s a big waste of time.  Not to mention, you can’t prepare for what you don’t know that you don’t know.  You know?
  2. It’s self-defeating.  By trying to work everything out, I’m expecting – hoping – that it prepares me for every opportunity and, therefore, makes me more likely to have opportunities (and succeed).  I’m growing to realise that it doesn’t seem to work like that.  For some people it might but, for me, what tends to happen is that I think about an opportunity/goal I might like.  I then think of what I need to do to get there.  I then get bogged down in small details and anticipated problems like how I would be able to pay for this course or that hobby or where I would get the time.  I then get disillusioned and despondently think that it probably wouldn’t have worked anyway and then I put the idea away.  So, not only does this stop me from achieving my stated goals but, while I’m all-consumed with the process, I’m actually closed off to anything else that might come along.  Less likely to take a chance on something left field.
  3. It’s actually ok not to be perfect at everything, including life.  For perfectionists like me, that statement is anathema.  Even today, I read Adventurer’s post and rather than sympathising (although I did), I wanted to answer his questions.  To solve the problem.  To give that winning piece of advice that would get everything to make sense.  But, actually, I have no idea what the answers are.  There are so many contradictions in life.

So what’s the point of this all then?  No point, just another person trying to figure it all out.  Who’s trying not to compare herself to others, who tries to make the best decisions with the best information and resources available at the time, who tries not to regret past decisions (because she did the best she could with the information and resources available at the time) and who strives to be positive about the future.  Because the only alternative is to be sceptical about the future and I least know that path doesn’t lead to happiness 🙂

Update: I have stumbled on a very worthy and relevant post by Eclectic Camel, which has some great advice/insights.

Secondary update: You could also take Melbourne Metro’s approach to risk management, which is completely hilarious (PS this is a genuine, officially-sanctioned safety video from Melbourne Metro on how dangerous trains are.  Lesson I learned?  I may suck at life sometimes but even I ain’t that dumb!):

Noguiltever

I’ve been watching the Facebook feed of one of my friends who declared November to be ‘Noguiltvember’ – an international month of amnesty to admit to all those truly tragic songs that you secretly love.

These are the songs that you sing in the shower when you think no one can hear you.  They’re also the songs that have a high hit rate for karaoke-goers because everyone knows that karaoke works best when you’re belting out daggy 80s power ballads.  The more akin you sound to a wailing cat, the better, since karaoke has nothing to do with good singing and everything to do with childhood sentiment and lots and lots of alcohol.

There’s been some cracking nominations for shameful, secret song-crushes this month:

– Songs by the Glee cast

– Songs by Gwyneth Paltrow

– Songs by New Kids on the Block (I have to admit, that one was me)

– Songs by Miami Sound Machine

And, my personal favourite nomination, Everlasting Love by Rex Smith and Rachel Sweet:

But why should we limit this to only one month?  Why not Noguiltever, instead of Noguiltvember!  And why only music?  I’m breaking the shackles of convention and declaring:

  • I know all the words to ‘Part Of Your World’ from The Little Mermaid.  And you can tell if I’ve had a few too many drinks because that’s my go-to song as I unsteadily make my way home.
  • I think the Lord of the Rings movies were better than the books.  There I said it.  They basically cut out all of Tolkein’s self-indulgent, waffly descriptive paragraphs that went on for ever and ever (and ever) and got straight to the good bits.
  • Duets was a good movie.
  • I liked Grease 2.  I cannot believe I’m admitting this publicly but ‘Cool Rider’ is a brilliant song.  [resisting urge to delete…]
  • I’m a creature of habit, mostly because I get nervous doing something new – even if it’s something as basic as walking a different way to work.  This is patently ridiculous and part of the reason why I moved to the UK – to really do something different!  But, even after the big bad city, I was still nervous today when I walked into a street market I’ve never been before (and being pleasantly surprised).
  • Clubbing: it’s overrated.
  • I know Captain Kirk is supposed to be the ultimate Star Trek captain but, frankly, I think Janeway nailed it.
  • Men are sometimes right.  The Guy is more often right than wrong, damnit.  So annoying.
  • I read the Daily Mail (a UK conservative tabloid newspaper – I know I should read something appropriately left(ier) like The Guardian but they’re so pompous).
  • I actually like trashy romance novels, especially the sci-fi/romance ones.  I have no intention of ever reading Dostoyevsky.
  • If no one was looking and I weren’t feeling like I was having a fat day, I could and would eat a whole jumbo bag of corn chips.  In the same vein, I have eaten an entire family block size of chocolate to myself.

Oh man, it feels good to get all that off my chest!

Tropical thunder

Can you miss weather?  Oddly, the weather I missed the most in England wasn’t sunshine (although I did miss it a lot).  It was the thunderstorms I missed the most.

Traditionally, most Queensland homes had corrugated iron rooves and to this day I love the sound of rain on a ‘tin’ roof (in fact, having a tiled roof like at my mother’s is disappointingly soundproofed and singlehandedly put me off it).

Nature, obviously hearing my cry, has endeavoured to fix my thunder cravings by unleashing a number of super storms on south-east Queensland – and I was caught very much in the middle of it yesterday afternoon.

It started on Saturday with superstorm 1 – it came through our suburb in the morning and ended up causing uprooted trees, fairly major flash flooding and widespread havoc in inner-Brisbane.  Apparently the Bureau of Meteorology logged 1000 lightning strikes in the first 30 minutes.

Saturday evening saw more rain, more thunder and more lightning.  What’s great about a tropical thunderstorm is you don’t need to see it to know it’s coming – you can hear it and feel it.  You’re sitting in the lounge with all windows and doors thrown open – the air is slow and sticky (“muggy”) and the Christmas beetles are buzzing aggressively against the flyscreens, trying to immolate themselves on your lamps.

The cicadas sound like mini lawnmowers as they hum outside and you can hear the occasional squawk of a bird and ribbit of a green tree frog.

Suddenly, you feel a breath of fresh air – it’s pungent with earth and green, growing things; like a hothouse, only cool and crisp.  You hear the wind pick up – it’s gusty and ruffling the palm trees.  Things start jangling outside: windchimes and various hanging ephemera.  They sound urgently unhappy, which belies the very relaxed, distant roll of thunder.  This is my favourite part – when the wind picks up, it’s like adventure is around the corner.

At this point, we’ll normally know if it’s a big storm or not due to warnings, so this is our cue to get out the torches, candles and matches.

I love watching a storm coming in (even in the dark), so I’ll often head outside – watch the sheet lightning and the occasional bolts, and count the seconds until the thunder bellows through.

The rain picks up and goes from softly pattering to violent splattering – pounding against the glass while huge rivers gush from the drain pipes.  I wait until it’s almost on top of us – lightning strike, count 1, 2 – CLAP!  Heavy thunder.  Then a sense of self-preservation asserts itself and I watch from behind the windows.

They rarely last long – the entire process can start and finish within 30 minutes.

Sometimes, they can move even faster and yesterday was such a one, only I was out in the car in the middle of the highway.  Mum and I could see the storm front moving in – it looked really nasty, with a green tinge that means hail:

We estimated we had about 10-15 minutes to get home before it hit.  About 45 seconds after this photo was taken, it unleashed itself upon us.  The driving rain reduced the visibility to virtually zero and then the huge gusts of wind and pelting hail made us pull over to the side of the highway:

We ended up ‘bunny-hopping’ home – driving 50m or so, then realising the visibility got worse every time we tried, stopping, then trying again a few minutes later.  Soon, the highway shoulder was crowded with other cars deciding it was too dangerous to drive:

We did get home eventually and the storm was a lot more fun after we were safely indoors!

We’re back to sunny and mid 30s today – the garden is absolutely loving it and I’m hanging out for my next storm 🙂

Stealth office shots for the insatiably curious

So, started the new temp job on Friday.  A huge improvement on the last first day.  These people were normal for a start and actually had a reception desk at the front door!

The job is all straightforward PA-type stuff so I won’t bore you with the details but I couldn’t resist taking some stealth shots of the office.  I’ve been in London office blocks for so long, I forgot what some Queensland offices can offer.

In my old London office, we had floor-to-ceiling glass windows, open-plan desks in rows (sort of like a cafeteria I guess) and, if I craned my neck, I could just see the London Eye.

Behold, my temporary Brisbane office:

The outside, open-air deck, framed with lovely leafiness.  Perfect for sandwich lunching.  

The massive staff kitchen, complete with tropical fish tank (which is dangerously distracting)

The office ‘bridge’, complete with bistro tables (the office is straddled across two buildings with an open-air – but under cover – bridge linking the two)

Street view from the bridge

In London, the closest thing I got to fresh air was the 5 minute walk between the Tube and the office.  By contrast, sitting on a Friday afternoon, eating your lunch while a soft tropical breeze floats past you and the birds twitter is… a very nice change.

Also, while we’re drawing comparisons, I’m curious as to how London and Australia compare with each and with the world.  For instance:

London:

  • 35,000 pounds is a good, average wage for someone in office admin.
  • Rent varies but you wouldn’t see much change out of 1200 pounds a month for a 1 bedroom flat that’s within a couple of zones of the City (unless you’re living in a dodgy area).
  • I could do a weekly shop for two people for 50 pounds but this didn’t include meat as my Guy is pescetarian and I figured I could definitely cut down on the red meat so I followed a similar diet.
  • Your wage is paid directly into your nominated bank account once a month.
  • 5 weeks holiday is standard with all permanent jobs.
  •  The hours for all my jobs has been 9am-5pm with a 1 hour lunch break – some people work 9-5.30, or 8.30-5.
  • All current pension plans are an 8% (roughly) contribution of your annual wage made by your employer (over and above your wage) into an investment account with a pension provider.  The pension provider invests these funds – there is no guaranteed income/amount of money at your retirement (you’re at the mercy of the markets, like with any stockmarket share).  In addition to the funds you’ll receive at your retirement from your work “pension”, the state also pays a pension to all people of retirement age.
  • All healthcare is free (all citizens pay a tax throughout their working life – deducted from their monthly wage – that contributes to the National Health Service).
  • All medicines issued by your doctor are paid at a flat rate – no matter what the real cost of the medicine you only pay the set rate (which is about 10 pounds I think?).  Unless the medicine you need is not on the pharmaceutical benefits scheme (PBS), in which case you pay the market rate (this would be fairly rare though).
  • Maternity-leave must be provided by all businesses (unless they’re a small business owner, I think).  Most businesses offer 3 months paid maternity leave full-pay and then an additional 3-6 months maternity leave at reduced pay.  Businesses are obliged to give your old job to you once you return (however, depending on the length of your maternity leave, your employers can give you an equivalent job at the same rate of pay rather than the exact same job).  Women have the right to demand flexible working hours upon their return.
  • Base income tax rate is 20% for wages up to 34,000 pounds, 40% from 34,000-150,000 pounds and 50% for income above 150,000

Brisbane:

  • 65,000 dollars is a good, average wage for someone in office admin.
  • Rent varies but I’m currently looking at flats in inner-city Brisbane that are 400 dollars per week (1 and 2 bedroom flats with very large balconies that are intended to be outdoor living space. If you go out into the suburbs, you can get a 3 bedroom house for the same amount).
  • 4 years ago, I used to be able to do a weekly shop for one person for 100 dollars – with meat.  I suspect this will have increased somewhat.
  • Your wage is paid directly into your nominated bank account once a fortnight (2 weeks).
  • 4 weeks holiday is standard with all permanent jobs.
  • Standard hours for office admin are 9am-5.30pm, with a 1 hour lunch break.  However, some people start at 8/8.30am and finish 4.30/5/5.30pm.
  • All current pension plans (called superannuation in Australia) are a 9% contribution of your annual wage made by your employer (over and above your wage) into an investment account with a superannuation provider.  The pension provider invests these funds – there is no guaranteed income/amount of money at your retirement (you’re at the mercy of the markets, like with any stockmarket share).  In addition to the funds you’ll receive at your retirement from your work “pension”, the state also pays a pension to all people of retirement age.
  • Healthcare is mostly free, however you have to pay a hefty penalty when you do your taxes if you do not have private health insurance.  Not all GPs ‘bulk bill’ (where they charge the government 100% of your bill and you pay nothing) – some make you pay up front and you get a portion of it back later when you claim it from the government (via Medicare).  If you need emergency care and go to hospital, it will be ALWAYS be free to you, even if you don’t have private health insurance.
  • Medicines vary in price – they are subsidised but not to the same degree in the UK.  You will pay different prices for your antibiotics, etc, depending on what you’re buying.
  • Maternity-leave was only recently introduced (in the last year or so) and businesses are not obliged to offer it.    If they don’t, the government offers paid maternity-leave in their stead.  Government paid maternity-leave is at the national minimum wage of 570 dollars per week.  Businesses tend not to offer paid maternity leave much beyond 6 weeks (I believe), however women can be on unpaid maternity leave for some months and have the right to demand flexible working hours upon their return (as well as their old job) so long as they’re back within 1 year.
  • Base income tax rate is 15% up to 37,000 dollars, 30% between 37,000 and 80,000 dollars, 37% between 80,000 and 180,000 dollars and 45% for income over 180,000 dollars.

How does this compare to where you are?

Job dating

When I met my guy, I thought the whole dating thing would be over.  Never again the doubt, the fear or the soul-sucking feeling that you’re the only sad, lonely loser person around.

Alas, I forgot how similar job hunting was.

Meeting someone

First, you trawl the posh places, looking for the guy job of your dreams.  This only lasts for as long as your confidence holds out.  Soon, you start listening to your inner fear: you won’t ever find it and you’re not getting any younger you know.  Then the internal negotiating starts.  Perhaps your expectations are too high.  Are you thinking overmuch of yourself?  Maybe a ‘job for now’ will do – you kid yourself that you’re still looking for the job of your dreams but, lets face it, you’ve already resigned to settling.  Without a support group, you’re only a bottle and two chocolate bars away from considering just how bad those call centre marketing jobs could be… 

Waiting for that call

You meet.  You like what you see.  You give them your number.   They might even promise to call.  Hope flares.   Maybe it will work out ok after all.  You wait.  And wait.  And wait.  You don’t stray more than jumping distance away from the phone.  You start taking your mobile with you everywhere – everywhere.   You check your emails every 20 minutes.  You start to panic about whether you gave the right number.  You start harbouring suspicions that your internet provider has done something drastically, drastically wrong with your connection.  

The date

They contact you.  You’ve gotten through the first cull that are deemed worthy of a call back.  They’ve been overwhelmed with responses, they’re trying to pull together a shortlist.  They want to discuss your resume.  Just a casual chat – but you’re being judged on every word you say.  So you do this interview that’s not an interview.  You pull out all your best experience.  You’re witty, charming and professional.  You’re doing the verbal equivalents of a LBD and killer heels.  They cannot resist.  He They seem to be buying it impressed.  They’ll get back to you.  

The second date?

You hang up feeling completely confident.  The next day, you’re a nervous wreck.  You’ve replayed every sentence, every nuance of reaction.  You’re a fool – fool! – for thinking that they might actually like you.  You resist the urge to call.  To ‘follow up’.  Doesn’t everyone say you should play hard to get?  You’re a strong, confident woman.  They would be lucky to have you.  You reach for a bag to stop from hyperventilating.  You consider getting a cream for the stress rash.

Honestly, if job dating doesn’t make you feel exactly like a love junkie then I’ll eat my hat (it’s a fabulous new hat, too, that I got as a little present for myself).  

Right now, I’m waiting to see whether I’ve made the shortlist for three jobs after some promising signals.  In the meantime, I have a temp job starting Friday, which is great news.  It will only be a week and a half but it’s better than nothing!

Glam metal Mondays: Every Rose Has Its Thorn

Wow, I forgot Bret Michaels ever looked this young.

So, it’s Monday and time for your (mostly) weekly dose of 80s rock: big hair, big guitars and a whole lotta smoke machines.

Today’s offering comes to us from Poison.  Lets consult our glam metal checklist:

– Mane of hair?  Check.

– Tight pants? Check.

– Elaborate guitar solos? Check.

– Overuse of hydrogen peroxide?  Big check.

Extra points given for footage of guitar destruction.  Points deducted for lack of smoke machines and power stancing.

Enjoy.  

P.S. if you haven’t ever heard it, it actually is a lovely song.  Sort of rock-country, with some very nice sentiment behind it.  Even Bret Michaels has his reflective moments.

P.P.S. if your only experience with this song has been via (grimace) Miley Cyrus, then consider this a public service and my attempt to redress a great, great wrong done to you.

Time for some plant robbing

When you move countries, your first consideration is where can you live for free (or cheaply as possible) until you land on your feet.  When you’re moving back home, this usually means moving back in the with the olds.  As someone who is (just) the wrong side of 30, this has taken some getting used to.

To set the scene, they still live in the town I grew up in although, over the years, suburban encroachment now means it’s basically an outer suburb of Brisbane.  However, although suburbia has grown around them (all the fields and horse paddocks I remember from a kid are now a distant memory), facilities have not.  Bus service?  One an hour.  Train service?  One every half an hour and it’s a 10-minute drive away.  No money?  Then no car, baby.  Which takes me back to the bus service (hah! sorry.  Bus “service”).

For the most part, I get on ok.  Through an elaborate set of pick-ups, drop-offs and car/ute swaps, I can have a car at my disposal if I really need it.  The treks into Brisbane for job interviews get me out and about and I’ve caught up with a few friends in the painstaking dance of ‘re-establishment’.

Having said that, there’s still a lot of hours to fill – small town people will know that, if you’re looking for entertainment, the local corner shop doesn’t usually have it all going on.  My other half, always a font of wisdom, has said that I should just enjoy my spare time rather than worrying too much about when I’ll get a job so, in that spirit, I’ve been indulging in catching up on all the things I haven’t had time to.

All those books I’ve been meaning to read?  Ploughing my way through them.   All those old TV shows I’ve been meaning to watch in episode order?  Totally all over that.  I’ve also taken on my Mum’s garden as a new hobby.

My Mum likes the idea of a lush, verdant garden with a bounty of fresh fruit and vegetables that she can pluck and harvest as she skips through the backyard, butterflies and bellbirds following her progress.  The reality, sadly, is a garden wasteland of dead and dying plants, over-baking in extremely hot and bright Queensland sun.

Although I appreciate Mum’s scientific approach to gardening (she’s obviously taken Darwin’s ‘survival of the fittest’ theory to heart), she’s been a little hardcore.  A few years ago, Mum went all Brutalist and commenced a tree-cutting rampage in an effort to reduce the number of leaves falling into the pool.  The result is a total lack of shade in the backyard.  At the same time, she ripped up the well-established plantings around the garden as they were too high-maintenance for her but didn’t replace them with anything (or anything that grew), so she ended up with a massive weed problem (nature, as always, abhors a vacuum).

There are a few delights left that managed to avoid the Purge.  A few very brave palm trees at the periphery of the garden, a lovely agave plant that has thrived (thus proving it’s un-killability) and lantana – normally considered a noxious weed but which I’m at least appreciating for providing some much-needed lushness (so long as I keep a very close eye on it).

The first step has been trying to revive Mum’s vegetable gardens.  She spent a fortune on raised garden beds, premium potting mix and overpriced and overfed seedlings.  Of course, the poor little things never survived the transplant shock or the baking sun.  Except the silverbeet (chard).  The immense nitrogen content in the potting mix meant they went beserk, in spite of everything.  The tomatoes have been doing well also, although I don’t know how.  The stems and leaves are withered and brown on many of them, but they’re still pumping out cherry tomatoes. Nature really is miraculous.

Tomato harvest

First thing, explaining to Mum some basics:

1) Premium potting mix doesn’t absolve your responsibility to mulch, water and care for your plants.  Especially as most bought potting mix is total crap anyway.  You’re better off working with your own soil and composting it.

2) You can’t grow nightshade plants (potatoes, tomatoes, eggplants) in the same bed year after year, or you’ll breed disease.  For that same reason, you shouldn’t spread out your tomato plants across the ENTIRE garden bed system, otherwise you’ll have no where to plant them the next year!

3) Grow beans.  They’re fast, they’re delicious (and so many varieties!) and they replenish the soil (due to the nitrogen-fixing nodules on their roots).

3) Admit your fallibilities as a gardener.  If you don’t have time to garden, then vegetables probably aren’t for you, as they’re usually grown intensively.  If you do want to grow some veg, then pick stuff you’ll eat, that’s easy/quick to grow and suits your environment.

In that vein, I convinced her to grow some capsicum and eggplant and they’ve thrived in the hot conditions she has.  I also convinced her to grow some beans in a vacant garden bed.  Given the season and our conditions, I’ve planted a bush snake bean plant (they love hot weather) and I’m trying some run-of-the-mill climbing beans.  They are currently shooting up the side of the fence and it’s a contest between them and the passionfruit vines for fence dominance.  My money is on the passionfruit vine, once it gets established, but those beans aren’t gonna go down without a fight (either way, the delicious rewards shall be mine!).

She eats a lot of cucumber (at $3 a pop!!!) and zucchini, so we’re also growing those to help her cut down the food bill.  We’ve only planted one zucchini plant as I’ve heard horror stories about how prolific they are.  A couple of weeks later, it’s already produced two babies that seem to be growing into full-sized zucchini so I think I was right to be wary.

Baby zucchini

On the non-vegetable front, I’ve taken a look at the rockery that surrounds Mum’s pool and what’s surviving there at the moment.  The big clue as to how dry and hot it is in those beds is the fact that the only things doing well were the agave plant and silvery-leaved plants (sage, lavender and some other species I can’t identify).

Being a little frugal, I figured the best thing to do was plant more of the same and do it by taking cuttings.  The agave had three babies at the bottom, so I’ve transplanted one and I’m going to pot the other two while I figure out where to put them (oh, who am I kidding, I’m hoping to take them with me when I move back out again!).

I’ve taken a cutting of lavender and stuck it in the ground to see if it will strike – I have no idea if you can grow lavender from cuttings but it was free to try.  It’s looking sickly but might pull through.

Mum also had some aloe vera, so I’ve taken cuttings and popped them in – they’re doing very well.  As are the cuttings of the jade plant, another succulent.

The indestructible jade plant

Given these small successes, I’ve become a little cutting crazy.  Eyeing off other plants that I might be able to take cuttings of and transplant.  Only now Mum’s garden is not enough.  I’m peeking over the fence to see what the neighbours might have.  I’m taking furtive glances down the street to see what I might be able to take a sneaky cut from.  Is this really bad manners?  No one in our street is really on speaking terms – not unfriendly, just no one knows anyone and there’s never anyone out in the garden that I could strike up a conversation with.  However, there’s this really delightful frangipani tree round the corner that I know does well from cuttings.  They wouldn’t notice just a little snip, would they?

It may just be time for some plant robbing – ninja style.