Sunday, 17 December 2017

a rude awakening

I woke this morning at 6:30 and sat up in bed swinging my legs around to touch the floor. As I lowered my feet to the floor, there was an almighty bang, pretty well simultaneous with a tiny flash I saw out of the corner of my eye.  I thought there had been an explosion or perhaps a gunshot.  Even without hearing aids in, the noise hurt my ears.  I had been thinking of going back to bed to sleep some more but after the noise, I knew that wouldn't happen. My feet were on the floor and I could feel the vibrations through the building from the noise.

It was thunder, but I really did think of gunshot or explosion at first.  I got up and stumbled down the hall to the bathroom.  Flicked the light and to my relief it came on.  In the kitchen I turned  coffee machine on and was relieved to see it too was still working. I make two cups of coffee in the morning and for the rest of the day I drink mainly water.   so I really appreciate them.  I don't know what the lightning hit but it was close, very close.  I thought perhaps one of the lightning conductors on the roof, then thought of the Vodafone tower nearby which is higher again.  Whatever, the vibrations through the floor were something I have not felt here before. Some rain came after the thunder but not much really, enough to say it was raining.

It has been hot here but reasonable today.  The next three days are forecast to be well into 30s.  Not happy.  I have made leftovers so I do not need to cook in the heat. I have been enjoying the superb quality of fruit and vegetables from my new supplier.  The service is very good and helpful and the produce is also excellent.  The family has been in the business for years and has a reputation for quality.

There were extras in the order.  Twenty beautiful passion fruit, some home cooked choc chip biscuits and  a couple of other things.  The picture shows my take on an old recipe of Mum's.  An innovative cook, especially at the time, her food was lovely.  This dish was made with sultana grapes.  I had very firm and fresh black seedless grapes.  I had thawed a large pack of nine chicken thighs and decided I would do her dish.  I checked recipe with my sister and made it.  The thighs were well browned on both sides in oils.  Some onion and some garlic went in too and a slight sprinkle of salt.  I sprinkled some arrowroot powder over and stirred it into dish.  I use that as it is gluten free for three family members.  It is easier to stick t the arrowroot then I can't use the wrong thing.  What look like olives are Midnight Beauty seedless black grapes.   White wine is added and my sister told me too late that there should be chicken stock powder too.  I have no idea what wine mum would have used, but I used pinot noir.  Almost covered the chicken, turned the gas down and covered dish.  Cook till thighs were ready.  I was really happy how they turned out.  Sometimes memories can be deceptive.  I served one meal with salad and have kept the rest for other meals.  There are two or perhaps three meals left, again with salad.

This cowl is a Christmas present.  The colour is Delphinium and the yarn is sock weight from Three Irish Girls bought at the Convent and Chapel woolshop in Rylstone.  Another example of extra good service which is important to me. This is for a family member and the colour is just right for her.  I also knitted in a strand of creamy alpaca of a similar weight so that I could knit it more quickly.

I finished it this morning but it needs blocking, something to do tomorrow.

I was at a loss as to what to do now.  I have more Irish Girls yarn to use  but that is for me.  I pulled out a partly done sock from some yarn from Craftsy.  I bought yarn and patterns together but hated the pattern meant for this yarn.  It was slow  to do and not really very noticeable , so I had frogged it and knitted to just after the heel.  It is quite different knitting and I am coming down the foot. The needles feel tiny after the cowl.

Saturday, 9 December 2017

durrow shawl

It was at the beginning of the year, possibly February, that I decided I wanted to do the Durrow Shawl by Lucy Hague as a winter project.  Lots of concentration needed and winter would be a good time to do it.  On the same day, a yarn shop with whom I had dealt before announced that they were putting in an order for Malabrigo sock yarn the very yarn suggested in the pattern.  So I put in an order and waited.  And waited.  I sent several emails which were not answered and finally I was told that Malabrigo takes orders and fills them as they have the yarn.

Nothing happened, no yarn , no news. Winter came and went and still no yarn. I had told the shop that this was a firm order so thought all would finally be well.

Then after a couple of orders, I had a look at  Convent and Chapel Wool in an old building in Rylstone, with wonderful yarns.  I had dealt with them before and been impressed by their range and pleasant service. We had a lot of email and phone discussions and they sent me some ideas and suggestions.  I made a choice and they sent it off.  My son who now collects parcels for me at his work brought it down last night.  I am thrilled with it.  The colours are different to what I had ordered of the Malabrigo, but they are lovely.  I think the third and fourth skeins should be swapped around.  I did make a record of what I was ordering and how it corresponded with the original pattern but I did not look at it when I placed these on table.

Here is a link to this variety of yarn from the shop, Hand Maiden Merino Slim.  An enormous range of colours can be seen from the dropdown box.

My original order? I had been hopeful for months and even after buying this new lot of yarn from Margot and Gemma, I would still have bought the other if it had arrived.  I had said it was a firm order and I would have kept my word.  That shop closed today.

Saturday, 2 December 2017

Mess. With yarn

 One thing I have learnt over years of knitting is that I should trust my intuition. Sometimes it is described as listening to the yarn.  Did I do that?  No and I wasted some time.

The blue yarn is some more of the Three Irish Girls sock yarn.  A pretty colourway called Delphinium.  I was making a cowl as a Christmas present. I paired the yarn with some Garn Studios alpaca which I had picked up some time ago at a sale.  About the same weight as the blue and it would knit much more quickly to be finished before Christmas for a present. Nothing very fancy but the yarn was stubborn and not behaving well.  I struggled on, determined to knit what I had envisaged.

In the end I gave up and ripped it out.  You can see the mess to the right.  Metres and metres of it.  I did try to be careful with it as I pulled it all out.  Too much trouble to separate the two yarns, so I left them piled together in this heap.  I should have listened to the yarn and to my intuition saying this was never going to have a happy ending.

So I started again.  I planned a long scarf.  The yarn looks much better now and will be better after blocking.  I have changed my mind slightly.  I will make it long enough to go over head two or three times and then cheat by joining it.  I think this will work just fine.  I was up early this morning so after breakfast I sat outside and have done several more inches than this photo shows.  I now feel confident in what I am doing and barring a major disaster, this should be finished well before Christmas, even though it is December already.

My son continues to make progress.  It is so encouraging to hear the improvement as he speaks on the phone to me.  He is returning to the confident person he has always been, and it shows in his voice.  The dreadful painkiller drugs, multiple horrible things,
are being reduced although there is still a way to go. He and DIL are house sitting for a friend who is overseas.  There is a pool and he can practise walking in it whenever he feels like it.  He can't swim yet, kicking while swimming twists the body, but walking in water strengthens the muscles.

Summer time and the living is easy.  It seems like a good year for summer fruit.  Often it is not at its best till after Christmas, but part of breakfast today was a very good yellow fleshed peach.  Lots of juice and full of flavour. just look at the deep golden flesh.  Sunshine in a peach.

Breakfast too has been easy.  I have always liked Greek yoghurt and for a long time I bought Jalna.  I have now found a brand which is even nicer, Tamar Valley from near Launceston.  I love both the flavour and the texture.  I bought blackberries from my new source of fruit and vegetables.  A perfect marriage, the tartness of the yoghurt with the black berries.These were a special two punnets for $8 I think, certainly a good deal cheaper than supermarkets and they were very good quality, not a mushy one in the whole punnet.

I have been buying from  a market supplier, Chris Antico.  Antico is a well established name in green groceries here.  I am paying a bit more but the quality is amazingly good and the service is great.  Actually the money evens out.  The quality is high so I can use it all.  I often end up having to throw out supermarket vegetables as they often go bad quickly.  I am about to make lunch with some Kangaroo Island eggs, also in the delivery.  I used to buy them locally but then they disappeared. Pancakes or patties depending on the consistency.  Some fresh marjoram and basil and made with almond meal mixed with flax before sale.  No, I am not going gluten free, I just like the flavour.  Served with salad they will be good and breakfast was at just after 6:00 am, so I am well and truly ready for lunch six hours later.

Friday, 24 November 2017

naked lady and cowl

 A better week this week than previously. Son is improving, dressings have been removed, medical staff happy, son is happy, hydrotherapy to start soon. Mum happy too.

The theory is now that they knew impulse generator worked as he wore it strapped on externally for several week as a trial before implant.  However neurologist and pain specialist suggest that after the implant the body reacted and things tightened up while ever it was inside him.  It was suggeted that the technology was fine but that son's physique did not suit.  He is built like a bean pole and there was no cushioning fatter layers.  Every time he moved, it rubbed on parts of his internal physique.  Apparently someone his height in USA would very likely be 20+ kilos heavier and gadget would be cushioned.  The more it hurt, the more the muscles tightened, a vicious circle.  It will be a slow job as they relax the grip they have had on him for months and his body can straighten up.  Even now I can see not only an improvement in walking but also I can see he has gained back some of his height.  This will also happen over time.  I can hear how much better he must be feeling when I listen to him talk.  Voice is clearer and best of all, the dreadful medications have been decreased.  Just a bit, but decreased.  More decreases will follow and he will hopefully be weaned off the nasty stuff.

Once I heard him speak and saw how much better he was, I relaxed, even where i did not realise how tense I was.

I have finished the plain cowl for a Christmas present made from Three Irish Girls sock yarn.  Pleasant yarn to knit with, soft and easy on the fingers.  I bought mine from The Convent and Chapel yarn shop at Rylstone in NSW Central West, between  Mudgee, Lithgow and Bathurst.   Lovely ladies, Gemma and Margot, who have gone out of their way to help me finding some yarn and suggesting colours for another project.

The photo shows the plain cowl with moss stitch border for a Christmas present.  I doubt family reads here but I will say no more on details.  My naked lady , once an embarrassment to my grandchildren, has a warm neck.  It is looped twice here and I have also tried it twice around my neck.  That worked quite well.

After lunch I will wind some more of the yarn and start on the second.

Only a few more days and it will be December.  An eventful year for most of the family in one way or another.

Friday, 10 November 2017

what a week

I missed last week and then had a hectic week so am posting now for this week and last.

Some years ago one of my sons fell down concrete fire escape steps at work.  Two broken ankles and when he started to move we found there was a lot of damage to his back.  One operation to free a nerve was botched and he has had trouble ever since and more operations.  It was suggested that an impulse generator be used to kill the pain.  This was the very latest technology and he wore it strapped to his back for some weeks as a test.  It was then fitted into his lower back and the leads went through tissue to nerve spots.

Almost immediately he developed severe cramping.  It has gone from bad to worse.  He takes a cocktail like mix of several very potent painkillers and absolutely hates them.  Many pain management clinics helped a bit but he was obviously getting worse and the muscle spasms and cramps stopped movement, stopped sleep, contorted his body and more.  He tried to hide how much pain he was in, but we could all see it.

The neurologist decided to remove the implant as it seemed it was somehow connected with all this.  That was a long operation a week ago today.  He was in agony and could lie down only on hospital room floor.  Things got worse and the hospital did an emergency MRI when it was found the discs further up his back had been damaged by the spasms.

Another long operation to fix that problem. Two of them in four days has been very hard on him.

However, it seems that this has been a turning point.  He is home, on bed rest for two weeks before checkups.  He sounds better, has post-op pain but that is healing.  For the first time in a long time,he sounds optimistic.  It may well be the beginning of a much better season in his life.  He is bone weary, he has had little sleep for months.  However he can now lie down and when he does he falls asleep straightaway.

No one has been able to work out a reason for the spasms and cramps till now.  It is only a hypothesis but it is possible.  We know the gadget, big as two matchboxes, works.  Externally it showed that.  The problem started after it was fitted. Top state of the art from the USA.  The neurologist now believes that while the technology works, it was the physical side which was wrong. Son is very tall and as skinny as a beanpole.  Many Americans would be 20+ kilos heavier than he is for the height and there would be a cushion of fat for the implant.  As he is skinny, no cushion and the implant box has rubbed his body whenever he moved.  Eventually the body set up its own defences and the cramps started to stop his movement.  Sounds odd, but it does fit the circumstances.

It has taken many months for the muscles to be almost frozen in twisted, tortured positions.  It will not be a quick recovery, but the signs are very hopeful.

The week has been hard.  I have done little knitting, not enough to mention.  I do not cry much, but when he rang me to say recovery was not only probable but had already started in a small way, I cried. Both he and his wife say he walks almost normally now without dragging left leg and they described this as almost miraculous.

Hopefully more good news next week and some knitting too.  Am working on that.

Monday, 30 October 2017

so just what was the question?

I rarely fuss with coffee art but this question mark formed itself on top of my second cup of coffee this morning.  I am not at all sure of just what the actual question is.  There are several I could think of and and I have no ideas of the answer.

Will this be the last back operation my son needs?  I am sure he would like to hear that this has fixed the problem.   He has had several over the last few years and eventually had an electronic impulse generator inserted in his lower back for nerve pain.  It worked well,  but his body was very unhappy with the implant which was about the size of two matchboxes.  His muscles would spasm uncontrollably and the pain was intense.  It was removed three days ago and he can feel the muscles slowly unraveling from the contortions the spasms had forced.  A couple of other procedures were done at the same time.

All of us would love to see an end to the torment and pain he has had .

On the other hand is another question.  How much longer on the light weight fingering cowl I am making.  The yarn is beautiful to knit, but with several hundred stitches on my circular needle, it takes a long time to see much progress.  Today is forecast to be 35° so I may not do much till the southerly arrives in the late afternoon.

I dug out these socks one day last week.  They were one of the first pair I had made.  I am not hard on socks, rarely get wear holes in the usual places like heel or toe.  These have a couple of darns where I snagged them on something and a hole developed.

They are very cosy and I love them still.  While  have socks from several brands of very expensive yarn, I can't level that charge on these.  They are some of the first sock yarn I ever bought.  Lionbrand, bought from a distributor in Melbourne.  The name of the retailer has completely slipped my mind.

I am a bit of a yarn snob, never use acrylic as it hurts my hands and fingers.  They can hurt by themselves without any extra incentive.  Some yarn I won't use.  Opal and Noro both inflame sore fingers, although I love Noro colours.  Opal feels like binder twine as it passes over my fingers, although the socks wear well.

As Cindy at 2paws says, I have not just lost  a lot of weight but have also gained health.  25 kilos and if I applied myself a bit more, more would go. I have been eating low carb, high protein.  It suits me.  Lots of green vegetables, quite a bit of fish, salad etc.  With protein and fat , I almost never feel deprived or sorry for myself and am not hungry. Occasionally I will have some bread or a wrap, but not often.  I haven't bough biscuits or similar in ages.

This was breakfast a few days ago.  Spinach and egg.  I have been buying frozen spinach as it comes in a neat pack, not a huge bunch.  This brand is from Coles and is called Natures Nutrient.  $1 a pack of 250 gm.  I like it much better than the pellets of the much dearer brand which I would put in casseroles etc.  This tastes like fresh, without the fuss.  I heat it slowly in butter, add herbs like dill, add some chilli, often quite a bit, and then gradually stir in a couple of eggs.  It may not look appetising but with the chilli and fresh spinach, it tastes good and is easy and quick for breakfast.  I surprise myself sometimes.  For many years, breakfast was coffee.  Then I graduated to toast or cereal, now eggs often.  Leftovers are used at breakfast or deliberately cooked to have with an enormous salad at lunch.

Depending on clothing brand, I have gone down five or six sizes and some cheap, make-do things I bought last summer are now falling off my shoulders. I deliberately bought cheap and they have done what I wanted them for.

Sunday, 22 October 2017

rain at last

 In two months Sydney had only 2 mm of rain.  Shrubs and plants here were showing signs of stress.  The we had rain two days ago on Friday.  Forecast had promised it many times but nothing happened.  Further west towards Broken Hil and in other pastoral areas there were good falls, but nothing here.

I was going towards lift to collect mail downstairs when I looked over the edge of the rail.  The plants downstairs were shiny in the rain, and the angles of stairs, rails and tiles made an interesting composition.

Today is Sunday.  The morning was pleasant and sunny but rain was forecast in the afternoon.  Twice in a row, the forecast has been correct.  It has been raining here now for about an hour.  Days more needed but anything is better than nothing.

I should have fiddled with this a bit, I see.  This is Three Irish Girls, fingering sock yarn.  Colour is called Purple Rain.  It is really quite a bit darker than shown here, almost black. I was sitting at black glass table outside and had to change positions as the deep purple against the black glass made the stitches next to impossible to see.  This will be a plain cowl as a Christmas present.  I found some simple but effective patterns on Ravelry for cowls but when I started, I thought that I would let the wool speak for itself in its gorgeous colours . Moss stitch border and stocking stitch, knit in the round on circulars.

So what has happened to my ten stitch blanket?  On having a good look at it I found a nasty mistake I had made.  The corners are mitred with two sets of short rows.  Somehow on one corner, I had omitted doing the second set.  Instead of a sharp right angle. I had a floppy piece of fabric and no real corner.  I thought for a while that I could fudge a fix, knowing full well I would never be satisfied with the fix.  I ripped it back and have possibly a month's work to get back on track.  The rug is currently stuffed into a Coles shopping bag in time out. The change from lightly spun thick roving to light gingering weight yarn has taken some time to adjust to.

This too far away to be  really
clear.  I was not sure how long the fire engine and the larger Rescue Unit would be here.  I could here them screaming up the main road outside for several minutes.  All sorts of emergency vehicles go past here.  To my surprise they pulled in here and seven firemen emerged.  There have been a couple of emergencies in the years I had been here with LP gas filling, but nothing seemed to be wrong.  No smoke or panic.  They pulled in almost completely blocking the way in and the entry to McDs drive through lane.

A folded ladder which would access about twelve feet was taken from the smaller appliance.  I wondered if a cat was stuck in the huge Moreton Bay fig tree but that seemed fine.  McD's roof blocked my sight.  I think that some one or some animal was caught in the stormwater canal next to the big tree. A police car pulled up and the two policemen from it joined the group.  After about 30 minutes they all returned, packed things away and left.  I have no idea what was wrong.  The canal is very wide and was deepened some years ago after it flooded further back.  It always has water in it, just a tiny stream in the middle. Just after engines and police car left, another police car arrived with sirens screaming.  Just a tad late.  I'm glad they were not needed.

This one is a mystery.  A year ago I was plagued by pigeons nesting on my balcony floor.  DIL and I removed seven makeshift nests before eggs were laid.  A couple of years ago I did have eggs hatch and nestlings died.  Urk.

I had been determined I was not having that occur.  DIL installed plastic bird spikes under the balcony rail as that was how they approached here.  Planter boxes outside had metal spikes around the edges and lengths of what looked like enormous Slinkies were also installed.  I was not popular with strata manager who said people might downgrade the place because of this. I insisted I was going ahead and how could it not be downgraded with green, slimy, disease carrying droppings all over the floor.  She gave way and further bigger activities are being carried out against the pigeons which are here for easy food from McDs here and KFC and Burger King down the road.

This morning I found half an egg shell under my outside table.  There have been no signs of nesting, no sounds of baby birds and no parents flying in with food for babies.  Just a mystery.

Saturday, 14 October 2017

Padraig and friends

 Perhaps a more hopeful and pleasant post than last week where I was rather down, to say the least.  Lots of family problems all pressed in at once.  I have done some more exercise, walking as much as I can, eaten well and early to bed.

I have also indulged in a little retail therapy.  This lovely yarn is fingering weight and has 10% nylon in it so used for socks.  I am planning on finishing the never ending ten stitch blanket in the next few days and these beauties are to be Christmas presents, possibly cowls.

I bought them online from the Convent and Chapel Wool Shop in Rylstone in the Central west near Mudgee.  Much of my family came from the area and it feels like home to me.  Margot and Gemma have beautiful yarns in the shop which is housed in an old hotel in Rylstone.  Their service is good and prompt.  I now get any purchases sent to my son's work because of the problems associated with this area and he brought my purchases down last night.

This is Three Irish Girls yarn and it feels as if it will be beautiful to use.  The light in my lounge was not really bright enough to show  the vivid colours well.  From the left are two skeins of Hydrangea, and intense blue/purple.  The green is lighter and very intense.  It is called Padraig.  What else for green and Irish girls?  Next is delphinium and last is purple rain.

I have been digging around in Ravelry and pulled out a few cowl patterns to consider.  The first is the Irish Mesh Cowl, an appropriate choice for the provenance of the yarn.  The second is a textured Project Peace cowl pattern.

I have also bought some clothes.  I keep mine for a long time but have had the combination of some that have worn out to the point of being truly threadbare and also are now far too big since losing 25+ kilos.

This is an interesting top.  I like it but am still unsure of it.  The sleeves are batwing but from elbow to wrist, they are snug.

The neck is fairly wide and I am wearing it in the house as a test before going out in public.  I did not want to find that movement caused it to fall off my shoulders or to have the V-neck gaping so I felt uncomfortable out in public.  So far today it seems fine.

I bought a skirt of an unusual design  long but with two side panels which wrap around and are tied at the waist.  That one would be better with some more weight gone.  Then a fairly prosaic shirtwaist dress in a denim blue which fits well.

Spring has sprung here this week, although we could use a week of rain.  2 mm in six weeks is all Sydney has had. These two photos are from my dwarf kaffir lime tree. This is used by shredding the leaves very finely and adding to Thai green curries, along with Thai holy mint which I have in a planter box. I like the curry without these ingredients , but adding them produces an entirely different flavour and the lime leaf gives a wonderful aroma as well.  The leaves all grow as the photo shows , with a tiny join between each pair.  The tree was growing  reasonably but has suddenly made use of the fertiliser I gave it, coupled with the spring weather.  It has taken off with a bang and the leaves which spent much of winter fairly yellowed are now glossy deep green.

It comes with good protection against raiders.  There are many thorns along each branch.  Thorns are exceedingly sharp and are about 2 cm long. The red flowers on the right are diplodena/mandevilla given to me some fifteen to twenty years ago by my mother.  It has been repotted several times and almost always has some flowers on it. The small purple flowers are nodding violets, no perfume, in fact a different plant to violets altogether.  This was grown from a cutting purloined from a holiday home about twenty years ago.

My granddaughters gave me some herbs for my birthday in August.  I had a few, including some basil which amazingly survived over winter.  I now have another half dozen herbs and they are all thriving too.

Lunch beckons after an early breakfast.  Breakfast is usually eggs in some shape or form, sometimes with bacon or tomatoes and mushrooms.  Lunch will be protein of some sort and a huge salad which takes ages to eat. Dinner is again some protein and vegetables, usually a big pile of assorted green vegetables. I eat quite a lot of fish.   I now bake not just asparagus which I have done for years, but also a wedge of cabbage or some flowerets of cauliflower or broccoli. I am rarely hungry and hardly ever have bread in any form.    I have not bought biscuits for at least a year, no longer cook them.  Some vegetables  with carbs are eaten, new potatoes which are low GI, carrots, sweet potato and pumpkin are also on my menu.

I use lots of butter, make sauces with cream and use sour cream on curries etc.  Cholesterol is not a problem.

Cold meat for lunches is expensive.  I now plan ahead.  Yesterday I cooked a piece of corned silverside.  I let it cool in the water and when it was cold, I sliced it so it is ready to just take from the fridge for lunch.  When I went to cook it I had the brown sugar but could not find any ordinary vinegar in the pantry at all.  That situation has now been remedied.  I used some good red wine vinegar in the meat and wondered how it would go. It was that or raspberry vinegar from a winery in the Southern Highlands.  The raspberry is beautiful but I did not fancy it with corned beef.  I can tell you red wine vinegar was really good.  I will do it again . The corned beef went well with the red wine vinegar.

Sunday, 8 October 2017

some people

Such an enormous car!  It needs two spaces.  Just look.  It is parked across the disabled space in front of McDs.   I saw this from my balcony so took a photo.  Bad enough to be across two spots but to park over the disabled spot which gets a lot of use from rightful users is just unacceptable.McDs often has buses from homes around the place as they bring people for icecreams and just a breath of fresh air.  Somewhere different to be without four walls surrounding them.

As you can see, I am in a snarky mood.  Several family problems all impacting my moods and I am not sure what will happen with some of them.  Children are still my children, even when they are adults with their own families..

I am still knitting my ten stitch rug.  I will finish the current ball I started yesterday and then reconsider my next move.  I had considered blocking the rug and then perhaps doing an edge in  crochet .  Today I sat outside in the sun knitting.  When I stood up, my black dress was covered in hairs and fluff from the rug.  I must remember not to wear it when knitting that.
The Convent and Chapel Wool shop in Rylstone in the Mudgee district in the Central West  of the state has some beautiful yarns.  Absolutely beautiful.  It is in an old shop at Rylstone and Margot and  Gemma are very pleasant and helpful  I have bought from them before.  Yesterday when I was fed up with plodding along on the rug, I had a look. Look at this beautiful sock yarn.  I have been checking it out for several days since they put it up.  I bought five  skeins.  Socks for me and probably some cowls as Christmas presents.  I am told it is beautiful to work with and that the colours shown in the drop down menus are as beautiful in real life as they appear on my scree.  I bought Padraig, a lovely, vibrant green, two skeins of hydrangea and two others.  Nothing like new yarn to cheer a person up.   Bought late yesterday and they are on their way.

Rylstone and surrounding districts up into the Hunter Valley have much family history for me.  I feel at home in the area and read my family history compilation and can see those places in my mind.  My grandmother was the eldest of seven or eight children and her husband the middle of fifteen.  Lots of history.  Margot from the shop bought the old Spanish Mission in Kandos a nearby township.  the mission was neglected for years but she is doing the garden and the building as well as running the shop.

If you check out my link, you will find a link to her blog and also links to other beautiful yarns. All drool worthy.

Lunch time, so will sign out.

Sunday, 1 October 2017

Millie, Molly, Mandy

I distinctly remember the book called Milly, Molly,Mandy, being used as a supplementary reader when I was in second class.  I finished it in under the time allotted on one Friday afternoon for such activity when several weeks were set aside for it. I read it all in one afternoon and was bored stiff by it.   I did not like it as it was very "soppy" and totally unsuited to Australian conditions and customs.

My second class teacher was at a loss as to what to give me.  Problem solved.  She would bring in the Anne series and bring a new one to replace the finished book.  I worked my way quickly through the series, so so she went on to the Billabong series by Mary Grant Bruce.  More books from her childhood collection followed.

All this is to introduce Millie.  My son and two of the five children drove to Cessnock in the Hunter Valley at the weekend to collect her from her first home, a sheep farm.  They use Border Collies there and sell the ones they do not need.  Pedigreed but no papers, which is fine.  Isn't she cute.  A twelve week old Border Collie, already able to follow a few commands like sit, stay and she loves playing with a ball.  She is settling in well and is happy there, away from her brothers and sisters.  The same can't be said for Jenkins, the cat from the rescue society which they have had for some months now.  He is not a kitten, possibly a couple of years old.  He has been insulted by the newcomer.  I guess they will settle down soon, once his dignity forgets it has been affronted by such a young puppy.

Milly still needs the series of vaccinations to be completed so she cannot yet go on walks outside.  However, their back yard is enormous , so she is practising walking on the lead out there.

It has been an up and down sort of week.  Not much knitting done as my right hand has had several painful fingers and a very sore thumb from arthritis.  I woke one morning to find hip and knee were just fine, but fingers were puffy, distorted and very painful.  I have balcony doors on one end of my kitchen/living area.  At the other end is the kitchen. Over the sink there is a hopper window opening onto the walkway outside.  It has been closed for months as quite a lot of cold air comes in.  However, spring has sprung up here and I wanted the window open.  My sore thumb just would not co-operate in winding out the handle to open it.  It is hard enough as I am short and have to lean over the sink and reach up at the same time.  When my grocery order came from Colesworths, I asked the driver to open it for me.  twenty seconds and the deed was done.  Their drivers are very helpful, always polite and cheery and pleasant to deal with.  Unlike the drivers from the second part of than combined name who are not punctual and are often surly.  The open window is now pleasant and keeps the place well ventilated.

I have been eating a low carb diet for a year now and have lost a lot of weight and several dress sizes too.  I am not fussed if occasionally I have carbs, but generally don't at home.  Cream and butter and eggs and proteins and lots of vegetables.  I am rarely hungry.  This week I have bought some more clothes.  Summer things as much of what I had was old and really well on the way out, apart from being miles too big and falling off  my shoulders.

This was dinner last night with more vegetables as well.  Chicken tenderloins baked.  Then I spread them with a paste of ginger, garlic, lemon grass and chilli.  The green is spring onions and chopped green beans.  I really enjoyed my meal.  Eating low carb is fairly easy and I enjoy lots of yummy things.  Tonight is the last of the tenderloins, with a mushroom sauce and I will add some cream to the sauce before serving with a salad. Soups featured fairly heavily in winter and I enjoyed them.

Breakfast is occasionally Greek Yoghurt.  I buy a kilo tub of it from Tamar Valley in Tasmania.  Thick and creamy and I enjoy it.  Otherwise eggs feature heavily often with good streaky bacon or perhaps scrambled with smoked salmon and cream .  Despite cream and eggs and butter, my cholesterol level is well down on the scale.

I make an enormous salad for lunch, more than a day's allowance of vegetables in just one meal.  And some protein, cheese, perhaps cold meats or sausages, or a tiny tin of tuna in oil.

I must say it is pleasant to have people barely recognise me if I have not seen them for a while.

Monday, 25 September 2017

purple surprise

I missed my planned weekend entry, but here is something around a week since last post!  Amazing!

This petunia was a happy surprise.  I planted the parsley next to it five weeks ago, no petunia at all then.  When watering on Saturday morning ahead of the heat, I saw a plant.  Today it is blooming.  I think it must have been from seeds dropped last year or possibly the year before.  Never mind, it is a bright spot among the green herbs.

Miss M and her older sister gave me six pots of herbs for my birthday five weeks ago and they are all doing well.

Spring has sprung here although the weekend seemed to have shifted gear straight to summer with two very hot days and a dry wind.  Off came the winter clothes.  Today I have sandals on, a long but light skirt and a short sleeved cotton shirt.

I have been knitting in the sun most mornings for an hour or so.  The everlasting ten stitch blanket is slowly growing.  However even that changed over the weekend.  I went outside in late afternoon to sit in the shade with the sea breeze blowing.  Last week I was spreading the blanket over my lap and tucking the edges in to enjoy its warmth.  Now I have the bulk of the blanket resting on the balcony table as I knit.

I have had lots of aches and arthritis pains.  I don't know if the heat has helped but there is not a twinge now in my right kneecap or my shoulders.  However, today my right thumb cannot be bent and the middle finger on the same hand is painful.  Still, better that than the knees or shoulders.  Just strange how the pain went, but I will take it.

Miss M turns 13 in two days time, still  healthy and a sassy young teenager.

This poor photo is of lemon thyme, also a gift from the two granddaughters.  I should have replaced battery in my Fuji and used the macro lens.  iPhone photos are great for skies and food, not so good for close ups of tiny flowers.  This also was planted five weeks ago and is blooming.  I want leaves not flowers so I snipped these off and gave the plant a good dring.  The breeze here is very drying up afew floors.

So dry has it been that my spare room door is opening and closing as it should with no force needed.  When we have rain, it expands and is very difficult to open.

Must go.  I spilt some coffee on the kitchen floor and the spill reinforced the fact that it needs a wash.  As knee is fine just now, I will take the opportunity to do it.

Monday, 18 September 2017

It's been a while...

I could get into blog after over a year, but my goodness, it looked strange.I have been thinking about resuming for a while and had decided a couple of days ago that I would try to post just once a week, at least for a while. More than that may be a bit too much to ask.  Life just has been in the way.

Now to see if I can still load photos.  The little petunia with the bright pink flowers is a survivor.  Most annuals bloom one season then die.  This has already flowered last year and died right back.  I noticed last week that there were fresh leaves and on bud.  There are now four flowers and more buds, so definitely a survivor.  Perhaps my blog is too.

The small basil in the same blue pot is also a survivor. In many years of growing basil, I have never had it survive over winter.  Two plants saw winter out but this particular one was eaten back to the stem, not a leaf left.  It too has recovered.

My famliy is well.  Miss M still has regular checkups but is till officially in remission fro the acute leukaemia.  The children's hospital doctors hit it hard with chemo, then deal with the side affects if any.  She developed diabetes, pancreatitis, arthritis, all from chemo, but now these also also in remission. She is in her first year of high school and has been almost two terms without days off for illness. Do you know the best part of high school?  No question about it.  Lockers!

My arthritis comes and goes.  Very bad yesterday, OK today. My hip is recovered from the torn ligaments which left hip  joint floating without support, but I still have trouble walking without support.  A lot of it is in my head, so I am working on that too as well as on physical progress.

My son remarried some time ago so I now have seven grandchildren, not five.  They were a bit bewildered particularly the one the same age and school as Miss M. A blended family has ups and downs and the downs were not helped by diagnosis of epilepsy and a sensory processing disorder.

I have been fairly monogamous in my knitting.  There have been a few hats and scarves, one set being sent to France where the elderly owner of a B&B, where son and his bride stayed a few nights on their honeymoon, had a hat nearly falling apart.  More holes than knitting.  This was up in the mountains.  Son and bride hired a Renault from factory in Paris and spent a month driving, across to Mont St Michel, down to the Mediterranean and across, then up almost to Strasbourg and thence back to Paris.  They loved it and have some amazing photos from the trip.

Last summer I made this rug.  It is sixteen squares.  I loved the variety but it took me two days to sew together and I had a sore back from hunching over it.  It is made with Cascade 220 and has been great thrown over me for an after lunch nap in the winter.  It is large enough to tuck around me and is very cosy.  The squares are different.

I had plans for a fancy shawl from Malabrigo, a new order from a yarn shop.  That was to be my winter project.  I have heard nothing of the Malabrigo.  So I started another rug, a present for new daughter in law.  It is made from Cleckheaton Californias, Bastille name of colour.  I am using the ten stitch blanket pattern, easy but ever so boring.  Ten stitches in a strip which every two rows is joined to the  blanket body.  At the corners I have the excitement of a mitred corner, then back to the strip.  I have used about half the yarn, knitted on 6 mm needles.

Did you know Bendigo Mills have bought out Australian Country Spinners?  That means brands like cleckheaton, Patons and others have been taken over.  Bendigo says it will continue them.

This California was probably not a good choice for the rug.  It is basically thin roving, so little stitch definition.  It is very cosy, now big enough to spread over my lap and tuck cosily around me as I knit outside in the sun on the balcony.  Being up high has been chilly over winter as there is quite a breeze, more like a gale at times.

This was the first time I had seen the the rug flat, well sort of flat.  I have added about three more strips around it.  Obviously some blocking is required.  However, it was bigger than I expected.

Till next week (I hope.)