Wednesday, 30 November 2011

c'est fini!

November 30 and tout est fini for NaBloPoMo.  Two days missed only and no guilt felt.

So to celebrate, here's a peaceful picture taken from the rail bridge over the Hawkesbury.  The road bridge is out of site further down the river.  Despite all the rain of last week, the river was relatively clear.  Rain usually turns the river to a muddy brown.  Mid-field are the pylons originally put in place  for another bridge.  Small boats often anchor in the lee of these while the owner fishes out of the breeze.

And not only is NaBloPoMo finished but my vest with hood from Jussi's pattern is almost finished.  I've joined the shoulders in a three needle bind off and have picked up around the neck for the hood.  I'm about a third of the way up it.  Then there are ends to finish off, a couple of buttons to find from my stash to hold back and front together at the sides and then to wash and block and post.  This is for a much longed for little boy who was born a few days ago after many years of heartbreak for his parents and many miscarriages.  They live in England and I doubt this will be delivered before Christmas, but I wasn't planning that.  I also bought, in Coles of all places, Jackie French's Diary of a Wombat to send and I'll keep my eyes open for her tale of the wombat baby.   The hardcover edition of Diary of a Wombat was $15 which I seem to remember was cheap after the last one I bought a while ago.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

a conversation with my grandson

Setting the scene.

My son and his family live next  door to a large open area with playing fields.  Grandson, kindergarten age, and I were stand-in near their fence.  A large open drainage ditch runs along fence and crosses under the road in a pipe.  Not a large pipe but small, about half a metre in diameter.  The soil here is very sandy and water sinks through it very quickly and the ditch is very wide, so I think the volume of rain needed to put water in that pipe would be tremendous.


"Grandma.  Can you see that pipe?  I could go through  it and come out on the other side.  Then the cars couldn't run me over."

"I don't think that's a very good idea.  Pipes like that can be dangerous."


"Well, one little boy went into  a pipe and a lot of water came down it and he drowned."

"Oh.  Was he deaded?"

"Yes, unfortunately."

"Well, perhaps I won't go there.   Anyway, it's dark and there might be spiders."

He has an abnormal  fear of spiders as does his mother.  I didn't want to encourage the fear, but also didn't want him  near  that pipe.

Non-committally I said, "There could be spiders, I suppose."

"Really big, big spiders, I think," he said, spreading his fingers to show the size.  "Spiders with nine legs."

"Now you know, spiders have eight legs."

"Oh, but grandma, the really big spiders have nine legs.  They have an extra leg to hold up their head."

I could see this conversation was going nowhere fast so we went to play on the swings.

Answer for Cindy.  Yes, Woy Woy was  where Spike Milligan's mother lived and he went there fairly often.  He called it "the largest above ground cemetery on earth," although apparently this term has been used of other places too according to Google.  Woy Woy has changed.  It's now Taree and Forster further north known as death's waiting room, and Woy Woy has many young families there now.  it's within commuting distance from Sydney, has beaches close by, and houses are much cheaper than Sydney.

Monday, 28 November 2011

November 28

Two more days after this entry and it will be December!  I've missed writing on two days so far and hope to make the last two without missing any more.

I went to Central Coast today for DIL to give me a haircut.  It was much needed and I feel better for it.  I took my knitting but did none as I have had a very sore shoulder for a day or so.

On the return trip there were only about eight of us in the top of the carriage.  This is most unusual at that time of day.  There are often few seats spare.

Suddenly, the man over the aisle from me sneezed very loudly and unexpectedly.  All of us, including him, got a surprise.  From down the carriage another man said loudly, "Bless you."  The sneezer replied, "Thank you."  To which the unidentified man said, "You're welcome."  I could feel everyone of us smiling.

One of life's little civilities.

The picture is taken after emerging from the tunnel near Woy  Woy at the end of the inlet of the Hawkesbury River.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

more knitting

I've finished the front of Jussi's vest pattern and am well up the back.  So I should be, it's only a baby size.  I think the trouble with the shawl was that it went on and on and still has more to go.  Because I wasn't knitting anything else, there were no finished objects and I had forgotten the good feeling that they give and the encouragement to continue which comes with finishing something.

Today's gratuitous photo is the storm water canal down here which drains into Parramatta Rive about two kilometres downstream.  It's usually nothing more than a trickle where the local birds drink.  I took this photo about 8:30 this morning after 24 hours without rain although it had been wild before  then.

It's about 5 metres across and quite deep.

Saturday, 26 November 2011

rondo vest

A quick entry today to be  place holder. I started Jussi's vest pattern last night and have done 12 cm.  My fingers started aching then so I stopped for a rest while watching Midsomer Murders.

The colour shown here is Seaspray and the yarn is some of the Rondo I bought a a couple of months ago.  I bought several of the big balls but can't remember at all what I had in mind for them.  This is reasonably accurate, although it's possibly a bit more aqua in colour. It is rolling a bit, hence the phone and ball of yarn holding it down.  I found it pleasant to knit.

And speaking of "aqua," we've had more than enough aqua here for a while.  It's been very cold for November, enough  to have had two lightish but long sleeved layers  on and I was just nicely warm.  It's been wet for days and I seem to have misplaced my good, new umbrella.  I can distinctly remember putting it in the bathroom to dry and now I can't find it at all.  I have another one which I used this morning when I went to get the paper downstairs but it's one of those very small folding umbrellas.  It also has several tiny holes in the fabric, probably from age.  I've had it a long time.

The rain last night was incredible.  It became heavier as the evening went on.  I was speaking to my son on Central Coast a bit before 10:00 pm and he said the wind was bad up there too.  When I went to be an hour later the wind had started here.  The rain was blowing almost three metres across my balcony, under the floor of balcony on floor above me.  It was hitting my lounge room door from top to bottom.  Hundreds of drops all over it.  Picture shows drops making a pattern on bottom of door frame which must have had a lot of dust on it!

In the time I've been here, we've had several very heavy storms but  no water has ever touched the door.  This morning my balcony was sodden.  The large deep saucers under the pot plants were overflowing.  There was water all over the small table and on the top of the air conditioner,  Fortunately it's a sealed  unit and installer said storms were no worry and I could hose it if it was dirty.  I have a couple of canvas folding chairs near the door and they had puddles on the seats.  I stepped out onto balcony with bare feet, to discover the door mat squelched under my feet.  Enough is enough.

There was a bit of blue sky an hour ago, but the cloud now looks as if it's gearing up for a thunderstorm.  They were part of the forecast.

Friday, 25 November 2011

knitting news!

I've decided that i really am not monogamous in my knitting.  It's been days since  did any work on the Transatlantic shawl although I like it and it's easy.  I answered a comment somewhere lately that I seem to work best where I can swap around with different projects.

Suddenly light dawned.  I needed to start something else.  I've been thinking about doing some of Jussi's baby designs for my friend's baby in Canada.  All made easier by winning an e-copy of Jussi's  Baby Basics book.  Thanks again, Jussi.

I'm going to make the hooded vest which is one of seven designs in the book. (Ravelry link)

I have some yarn for it and should have needles.

I threw out some clothes today.  Yes, threw out.  I've bought several new  tops this year for  summer and decided that I needed to get rid of some old things.  Not getting rid of them because of new ones.  They were old, very old, in some cases and most were no longer suitable even for slumming around at home or doing the housework.  So I summoned up my courage and threw them out, stuffing them down into the rubbish.  They were past using for anything except rags and I already have more than I need of them.

It's been cold here this week and I've had two layers on my top for the last three days.  Back in 1995 and I'm sure of that year, I bought a jumper made from recycled milk bottles.  Not fleece, it looked like a heavy cotton and felt good.

It has been worn and worn and worn.  I even knitted some sample patches of patterns a few years ago and used them as fun elbow patches.  I put it on this morning, it was warm and comforting and comfortable.  Then I caught sight of myself in the mirror and realised it really was no longer wearable.  I had some regrets about pitching this, but it's just as well none of the DILs have seen it recently or they would have been saying something at the very least to me. If not sneaking it from my drawer.

I can't do three posts in a row without a picture so here's a gratuitous picture.  It's the reflection of Parramatta Road in a shop window at the bus stop.  The gloomy day made a perfect reflection.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

one week to go

Counting today, there's one week of NaBloPoMo to go.   That's good but the scary thing is that will then be December.  I've missed two days so far, but as far as I can see, the sky hasn't fallen or anything else catastrophic  like that and I'm not guilt ridden about the omission..

Blogging daily like this is a discipline.  Another discipline I have so far been successful in following is Project 365.  Link will take you to my pictures but there are thousands there from others too. I first heard of this just after I bought the Nikon DSLR and decided to try to do this as a good way of learning.  I have now posted a photo every day for 211 days!  I find this hard to believe.  Not all have been taken on the Nikon, some are phone photos, but I have done this.  That leaves 154 more days to complete the year.  It's been good for me to do this.  I've learnt heaps about using the camera, I've taken some really great shots and had others fail spectacularly.

It's made me aware of different angles to take photos from and also to see things in a different light.  Each week there is a theme, this week is "patterns."  Themes are like prompts, not compulsory, but it's amazing just where I have found patterns this week.  Seeing shots by really good photographers is inspiring and forums are a help with problems.

I heard today from my friend in Canada.  Her parcel of baby things and other bits and pieces arrived yesterday.  Pretty slow going.   She loved everything in it so that was good.   I've been thinking I might do a couple of things for her boys from Jussi's baby patterns which are both cute and practical.

It's about the temperatures here to dig out the knitted garments.  Wet, windy and cold.  It was 11 &dg;C at 6:00 pm at my brother's place on the North Shore the other night.  This is November.  Yesterday it poured all day.  Today has been 50/50 wet/dry.  Still, I think I would rather have this than a heatwave.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011


A question was asked about focaccia after my picture at the end of the previous post. It's not a difficult bread to make at all and can be done by hand or bread machine or mixer.

If you are using a bread machine, please put ingredients into bowl in order your machine likes.  Very important, I've seen some spectacular failures through not being careful.

This recipe is easy to follow but there are plenty of others around and a quick search on Google will find  them easily.

Last important thing to know.  Like most cooking, success in bread depends on proportions.  The basic ingredients are flour, liquid, usually water, and yeast.  As a general rule, a starting point for flour/water proportions is 100/60.  Bear in mind however, that Australian flours, even just the usual purchase from the supermarket, are stronger or harder than flours from the northern hemisphere.  More liquid may be needed to get the dough right.  Be careful, start smaller and add more water slowly.  If dough is too sticky and you need to add more flour, too much will make a tough dough.  I find even the weather can make a difference too, especially if the humidity is extreme one way or the other.

Heat oven to around 200°  My oven runs quite hot since the fan element was replaced and the fan is fairly savage and can't be turned off, so I use 180°

So, into machine bowl in order for your machine, or into bowl if using a mixer or doing it by hand:

  • 500 gm plain flour or bread flour
  • 320 ml warm water
  • slosh good oil, 1-2 tablespoons
  • 1.5 teaspoons salt
  • 5 grams dried yeast
If using bread machine  set machine to dough setting and let it do the work.

If using mixer or by hand, blend all ingredients till dough forms a ball and leaves sides of bowl.

Knead for about 10 minutes.

Cover bowl with some oiled plastic wrap and leave to rise, around an hour.

All methods.  After dough is risen, turn it out and knead gently a few minutes on lightly floured bench or pastry board.  Place on baking paper on baking tray in shape desired and cover again with oiled plastic wrap. Leave to rise 20-30 minutes.

Remove wrap and poke fingers into dough to make indents all over. Brush dough with more oil letting some sit in the indents and sprinkle with sea salt and whatever else you like.  I've used olives this time and some could have gone into dough as  well if I had remembered.  Rosemary is particularly nice too. Bake 20-30 minutes checking after 20 minutes.  Crust should sound hollow but not be hard.

When ready, turn onto wire rack to cool.  I've cut the bread I mad yesterday into meal sized pieces and  frozen them in individual sandwich ziplock bags ready for lunches.


Tuesday, 22 November 2011

my name is Nigella...

... and I'm a domestic goddess!  Probably not, in fact, definitely not, but just sometimes I can pretend.

I had a delivery of my fruit and vegetable box today and it's all unpacked, put away and dealt with.

No pictures, but I've cooked a bunch of rhubarb, paying careful attention this time to avoid the disastrous burn when I turned my head for thirty seconds last time.  It took me days to clean the saucepan of the burnt, crusty mess.  I also have apples to cook because there are more than I'll get round to eating.  I could have put them with the rhubarb, but I like my rhubarb neat, not diluted with another  flavour.

This was a large bunch of English spinach, but I have a lot of green vegetables already and decided to freeze this.  So I chopped and washed the bunch, then blanched it with boiling water and refreshed with cold.  Here it's sitting in a colander in the half sized sink draining, before I package it in sandwich size ziplock bags.  I'd rather eat it fresh, but this will go into something and be fine.  Possibly lasagne, possibly something with eggs, perhaps a frittata.

At least it's not wasted and allowed to wilt.

Yesterday  I found a recipe for a vegetable tart.  It had fennel in it baked, along with other vegetables.  While I like fennel, I wasn't going to buy it specifically and the recipe suggested substituting.  So here are the raw ingredients before baking.  Aubergine, onion, small potatoes and zucchini.

I baked them at about 180° C for about 20 minutes.  I need to watch the oven closely as since the fan element was replaced some months  ago, it can be a bit savage.

I baked a case from puff pastry, which was pricked very well all over.  It still puffed where it wasn't supposed to.  Filled it up with  the baked vegetables, added shallots, the last of the parsley and some rather ripe Roma tomatoes sliced,  and tipped over the topping.  The recipe said eggs and crème fraiche.  Again, I wasn't going out just for that, so have used a bit of Greek yoghurt.  I have another dish with a similar topping and it always works no matter what the dairy product is.  Bake again till topping is set.  Here's the finished product.

It looks good, it will do three possibly four meals.  I even washed things as I went along, so my bubble of domesticity didn't deflate when I looked at the dishes in the sink.  I realise Nigella probably doesn't have to do her own dishes.  I imagine they are whisked away by some lackey, the minute she puts something down when an episode of her program is being recorded.  I speak too soon, the kitchen floor needs some attention.

In between chopping and peeling and baking and the rest, I made some focaccia.  This has sea salt and sliced olives on it.  I was looking for my rosemary too but must have used it all.  I had some for lunch and when it's fully cooled, I'll cut into pieces and freeze individually.  All ready for lunch.  I even have some smoked salmon in the fridge to go on it.

Spring is well and truly here and summer is on the way, although it's pleasantly cool today.  My fruit delivery had good bananas in it and nectarines, rhubarb, and peaches too as well a s more prosaic fruit.

Monday, 21 November 2011


So I've missed another day.  I'm actually quite relaxed about this and not worried.  When I did Blogtoberfest a couple of times, I really felt pressure, applied by me to me, to make sure I posted every day.  This time I decided no pressure.  All effort made but too bad if I miss a day.  I'm competitive but compete against myself.  When doing assignments and exams there was a minimum mark below which I would not let myself go.  Mind you, that mark was always in the High Distinction range!  I didn't worry about others' marks, but mine had to be in the realms acceptable to me.  But this time round, no pressure and here we are November 21, not many days till December.

This mandevilla  flower was given to me by my mother, possibly about ten years ago.  It's moved three times recently as I have.  It had been at DIL's but her thumbs are brown and when the weather began to get hot, she was horrified it might die, so she brought it over.  It's  a climber but as it's in a pot it has not grown much at all, perhaps some stems are about 1.5 metres.  It was  healthy looking but not really happy.  It's been here about three weeks and has already decided this is home and it's produced about a dozen flowers.  It probably gets more regular water than it did at DIL's.

This nodding violet or whatever its real name is came from a  cutting I took from a holiday house at Pearl Beach many years ago.  Lots of cuttings have come from that piece and this is growing around the base of the mandevilla.  It doesn't take much to keep this plant happy.  A bit of sunshine and some water.

My Transatlantic shawl grows, but slowly.  I'm very happy with it but will do some more as I have plenty of wool.

Saturday, 19 November 2011

church fete

Just a very short entry tonight.  I've been out most of the day in the heat with several conflicting engagements.  As I was still awake early this morning, I'm tired and am going to bed early.

The Anglican  church I attend had a fete today.  There weren't many there when I arrived fairly early so I hope the number picked up later.  I bought a couple of second hand books, a Ruth Rendell pack for a son and a Jackie French story for one of my grandchildren.

The inner-west parish originally had two churches in two suburbs but in the 1970s one was sold and there are now units on the site.  A small chapel with the same name was built in the main church and given the name of the smaller church and that is what is shown here.  I think the windows were from the original church.  We have much larger, very beautiful windows in the main church. The church itself, 1880s construction, is through the wooden door to the left.  The group here was playing for those having morning  tea in the hall next door.

We have a very old organ which has just been restored at great cost, it's unique in Australia.  Until recently we ran a programme for many in the area.  Lots of people with mental illness live around here.  The programme gave them an address for mail, very cheap food, access to doctors, free legal  advice from pro bono solicitors, and a safe place to meet.   An op shop is in the main street of Newtown and helps support such things.  There are many artists the largest population of those classing themselves as such in Australia apparently, lots of  Goths and a large number of Greens and environmentalists, not mention those who call themselves Anarchists. (Interesting to note that their book shop was well fortified with bars and chains on the windows and doors.  Apparently anarchy is ok, so long as it doesn't touch them.)

Friday, 18 November 2011

photoblog today

I've been doing a bit of knitting each day and the transatlantic shawl is progressing.  Slowly.  Better I suppose than regressing.

Some photos.  The first is of local shopping centre when I sat  down and ordered a coffee the ceiling lights in section I was in went out.  The stores were all lit and a few downlights hadn't gone out.  I was concerned my coffee might be delayed with power gone, but all was well.

I liked the way these big lights stood out in the semi-gloom.

The man in blue shirt was one of a group of elderly men seated around an enormous square table.  Most had glasses of Turkish coffee  which they sipped slowly.  A couple let strings of amber worry beads feed through their fingers as they listened to the conversation and nodded their head in agreement.  The tables are newish and so are such groups.  Marrickville shops, not the Metro, have many spaces where  such groups gather and pass the time of day, but I haven't seen them here before.

Here's one of the smoke from the big controlled burn by the RFS at West Head the other day.  We did not get much smoke where I was but this was interesting.  It was very windy and I thought that the smoke would be more widely dispersed.  However, here it's in layers and fairly compact.  To my left, further west , there was more a pall of smoke.  All caused I guess by the local geography and its effects on the wind.

I don't think I've shown this before.  My membership, unsigned I note, in the Argonauts' Club.  I was an avid listener to this and tried to never miss an evening.  I did not even realise that Mum had kept this till I found it a few weeks ago.  DIL bought me a tape of excerpts from the show  some years ago and I enjoyed it.  I imagine my son probably still has means  to play a cassette and I could upload it to computer and make a CD ROM from it.  Humour, stories, serials, songs, and contributions from listeners  who worked their way to gain the Golden Fleece and Bar for sterling service to the club.

And this is really showing my age!  I remember as a young child listening in the mornings to the Kindergarten of the Air with Ida Elizabeth Jenkins and other presenters.  This was the forerunner to Playschool, still the best of such programs in my opinion.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

going bananas

Cindy challenged me to come up with the goods with the bananas after I left a comment about whizzing them up on her post about yoghurt icypoles.  So when I was fruitlessly searching local shops for icypole moulds, I remembered to buy bananas.  I wasn't at all sure how the experiment  would go because I like bananas barely off green in colour, just a tinge of gold on them and certainly no brown flecks at all. I'm told it works with riper bananas as well, but they are not for me at all.

I came home and sliced up two large bananas to freeze before I had even considered getting lunch.  Picture here shows them on baking paper after several hours in the freezer.  It's not a good picture, I need to do some research on avoiding the lens shape in close-ups.  I've had it happen before and I've cropped the photo here to avoid most of it. Still almost all the bits can be seen.

Into the food processor.  I used the bigger metal cutting blade.  The smaller plastic mixing blade seemed too small to mix properly.  I might give that a go another time.  I'd also try a stick mixer as I reckon doing it in a narrow diameter, deeper container would work well.

I was surprised when I stopped it first.  It almost resembled rubbing in crumbs for pastry.  I had been using the pulse control on the food processor.

I switched to a constant low speed and stopped several times to scrape everything down.  Then I upped the speed just a bit and added about a tablespoon of neat Buderim Ginger Refresher Cordial.  I saw where someone used  lemonade.  I don't drink such things so made do with the ginger as I thought those flavours would go well together. Having done this once, I think perhaps  any liquid would work. Cream might be really nice or rum if you are so inclined.  I'm not.  Even water would probably work.

Then another few pulses and this is what I got.  Actually, this is less than I got.  There were several more spoonfuls which I ate straight from the food processor  bowl.

My lunch had been quite light, so this was afternoon tea.  I would have like a stronger ginger flavour so might try a bit of grated fresh ginger in it next time.  Some cinnamon on top would be nice and a dash of vanilla would be a pleasant change.

The texture was very pleasant, like a soft serve icecream but a bit thicker and heavier.  I wonder if the type of liquid, if any, which is added would change the texture.

So there you are.  It works well and tastes good.  Icecream for anyone and especially  for those needing dairy or gluten free products.  Extra  fruit  too in day's rations.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

I can see clearly now... the rain has gone. Or since I bought new specs.

I've had my old glasses since before I left my husband.  I think they were probably six or seven years old. I've been contemplating a new pair for a while as I could tell they were not doing as good as job as I needed. Last week, I was at local shopping centre and on an impulse went into a store to try on frames.  In about five minutes, I had chosen two pairs, one a back-up in case multifocals with different zones did not fit in the preferred style.

When I went to counter I was told they had a vacancy in twenty minutes for an examination, so I grabbed it. I had been looking for the store I knew and couldn't find it.  Apparently it was taken over and while this was SpecSavers, they still had on record my details from that time.  All I needed to do was update phone and address.

I was back in the same place this morning when a message came through on my phone that glasses had just been unpacked.  I was actually almost outside the shop.

I'm really happy with these new glasses.  The new script is brilliant and I can see how much I must have been missing for at least a year.  They are comfortable, although right now I'm getting used to the wider ear piece which I can sense outside my normal line of vision.  The other pair had a much narrower earpiece.  They have multifocal lenses which I have used for years.  Transition lenses, similarly used for many years.  Anti-glare coating which my last pair had.  Last pair, six r seven years ago cost over $900.These were around $550 with all the same features.

They totally update my image, particularly when new hair colour is taken into account.  I'm not fashion conscious very much at all but am pleased with the new frames.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

missed a day

I missed a day at NaBloPoMo. I've been trotting along quite reasonably and not letting any pressure get to me.  That was one reason I didn't do Blogtoberfest.  However, this morning, I realised I missed a day.

I put that down to heat affected brain.  Well, that's my excuse.  It was 38° C here yesterday which is very hot for this area.  I expect that further west, not so much here.

I had some things to deliver to my brother so went into the city  by bus. I'm glad I allow time for the vagaries of the buses here.  This one was nine minutes early!  Late often, but early and by that much?  It would have been quite possible that the next was late by the same amount.  Found his office and sat in foyer in air conditioned comfort.

We had lunch together and I walked back to Town Hall where fortunately there was only a minute to wait for the bus.  It was an old bus and quite hot.  Two blocks down the road from my stop the bus broke down.  As I said it was an old bus, very rattly and generally run  down.  The folding front doors refused to close.  The driver lifted and banged and opened and shut the back door, but front door remained open.  The bus would not go with the door open, so we all piled out, fortunately into the shade of a shop awning.

I wondered what to do.  I really could have walked home.  However, there's no shade at all in those couple of blocks and it was very hot.  I felt guilty about it, but when an empty cab came up the side street, I got in.  It  took about two minutes to get home and cost me $6.50.  I guess most of that was flag fall charge.  Extravagant really, but I just could not face the walk home in the sun and the heat.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

cursted and yogut

One group of grandchildren was camping with their parents and friends this weekend.

This is the shopping list of one of the children who's in third class.  I note her spelling is well behind her abilities in maths where she understands and practises concepts and ideas well beyond what is expected of her age.  She's always been that way.

I also find the foods listed puzzling.  They do not eat many lollies at all.  Sweetness comes from fruit, usually.  She's one of the two girls who are coeliac.  Well she definitely is, and her younger sister's gluten intolerant but not yet coeliac diagnosed.

She hates GF bread, although eats a little of the bread her mum and dad make and leave before baking in the fridge for up to a week.  That alters the dough structure so it's more acceptable.  The "cursted" may be OK, depending on what it's made from.  "Yogut" should be OK, but some brands have additives she can't have.

What I really find strange is that she's very particular about what she eats and has been for a while.  She knows the difference something with gluten makes to the way she feels, possibly even landing her in the hospital with severe stomach cramps.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

It seemed fitting to be  writing this entry today, even though I'll schedule it for tomorrow to be published.  Today is Remembrance Day, 11/11/11.

I found five tapestries in amongst Mum's stuff which my sister sent down.  These were all done by my Dad who incidentally was in Army Intelligence in WW II, so another remembrance of him.

Dad was in a nursing home for eleven years before his death some thirteen years ago  He had Alzheimers for 12-15 years before going into the nursing home.  That would make the tapestries probably 25-30 years old.

Dad did all the sewing when I was a child.  His mother had been a seamstress and worked many years for the original Children's  Hospital at Camperdown, mending tears in sheets and nurses uniforms and things like that. He learnt to sew.  He used an early knitting machine although I don't remember much of its output.  He made all my clothes, leaving mum to sew on buttons and turn up hems.  She hated even that much sewing.  He even sewed a bit of my wedding dress for me.

He had a standing frame for tapestries and spent evenings doing them.

I have had these two framed as Christmas presents for my brother and sister who know nothing of this blog so I think I'm safe publishing the pictures.  Lynne took me to a place at Penrith where she has had such things and cross stitch framed for years with good results.  They were very helpful there in choosing mounts and frames and Lynne says she has always had good service there.  I'm very happy with the way they have turned out.  Apologies for the quality.  They are wrapped in cellophane which has wrinkled and I am leaving it on as they are a gift.

Friday, 11 November 2011

106 years and still knitting!

I saw news of a man who was 106 years old and still knitting.  He lives at home and mostly looks after himself.  "He knits," said the newsreader, " and credits knitting with keeping his brain active."  Evidence of his knitting could be seen in the many rugs he had made which covered the lounge and other chairs.  He said he knitted every day.

Yesterday I went to my grandchildren's school for Grandparents' Day.  Lots of people there, more each year, so the principal said.  Each group of classes performed an item and we looked in the class rooms.

My son is still off work after the mugging, although he's improving, so he picked me up from the station.  School is in the western suburbs and I don't know my way around there well.

After morning tea, I made my way out to Penrith where Lynnehad taken me a couple of weeks ago to have tapestries framed.  They were ready to be picked up.  I'm really happy with the results and may try a couple of photos later.  Not sure how they'll turn out as each is wrapped in cellophane.

Right now, installers for my airconditioner are due.  They were  supposed to be here two days ago, but had a job to finish which had been interrupted by rain last week.  I'm having it in the bedroom only so I can use it on those nights when sleep is hard because of the heat.  I can cope during the day and we almost always have a breeze here.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

it was a dark and stormy night

It was indeed a dark and stormy night.  Hang on, this is November and it wasn't  yet 5:00 pm.

After a very hot day on Tuesday, the storm moved in again.  We missed the worst here on Monday night but it was a cracker of a storm on Tuesday afternoon. It arrived almost without warning and lights came on everywhere.  Huge claps of thunder and I wondered if my computer was OK.  For very many years I've been used to the computers in the house being on a  separate circuit to anything else and equipped with heavy duty surge protector.  However, all seems well.

I set my camera to the multiple photos setting and snapped half a dozen in a few seconds as I moved across the screen.  The last shows how heavy the rain was, particularly when the time is taken into account.

Things cleared up for a while but we had it return twice but not with such severity.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

what a surprise

I was not long home this afternoon from taking refuge in the shopping centre away from drills outside and ill-temperd  smoke alarms outside my front door.  When the buzzer rang.

It was my ever so not friendly Australia Post courier.  When I went downstairs I found a large heavy package to sign for.  I'm very glad I was home to take delivery.  I wouldn't want to deal with this by collecting at the Post Office.

I am not due any orders so wondered what it was.  A gift from the company which deals with Kitchenaid appliances, not the retailer but the wholesaler.  I'd seen some mail in my Spam folder lst week.  Gmail is fairly good with diverting spam and I knew I hadn't ordered anything, so ignored it.

It was this cutlery set which feels really good in the hand.  Eight pieces of everything plus salad servers and teaspoon which aren't shown in the picture.  Separate soup spoons and both dessert forks and spoons and bread and butter knives.  I left behind a very classy and comfortable set when I walked out, thinking I could get something.  Well, I did buy something, but the knives are hard to use.

A lovely surprise.

ear plugs

Do you think woollen earplugs might have a niche market?  Which would be better, knitted or crocheted?

I may be only joking, but I could have used something all day yesterday.  The road is noisy to a degree but no worse than what I've lived with on North Shore of Sydney next to the Pacific Highway.

However yesterday was bad.  Down in the parking area outside were several trucks all day.  One looked like a small tanker and had a long hose and noisy motor.  It worked alongside a huge drill drilling chunks out of the pavement and tarred area. The small tanker was  actually a vacuum cleaner.  When one hole had been drilled workers moved in with another noisy truck to do something in the hole while the first two appliances moved  elsewhere and started over again.

This went on all day apart from a break for lunch.  They were forced to stop after 5:00pm when a heavy thunderstorm moved in.

However, the storm brought its own problems.  In the courtyard area on each floor are smoke alarms in addition to what is in  each apartment.  Probably spaced at one outside alarm for every two front doors. Either the storm or a creepy crawly set off not mine but the next one down.  Definitely no smoke, no fire.  A high pitched scream which lasted over an hour.  It then eased slightly and occasionally stopped.  But only for about ten seconds before it was off again.

If I had had a stronger broom, I would have given it a good whack.  However there are stickers near every alarm warning of electrocution  as they are wired in.  I did have a substantial pole which would probably have disabled it.  The pole was metal and I didn't fancy finding out about the electrocution warning the hard way.

It gradually subsided .  I don't know if someone was able to disconnect it or just what action was taken and then there was blissful silence.  I had been contemplating sleeping at son's and DIL's which is easily accessible.  Then I remembered it's fruit and veg delivery today and I would need to be up very early to get back here just in case delivery came early.  I'd just decided I could sleep on sofa bed in spare room with the  door shut as an extra layer against the sound when there was quiet.

So 8 ply do you think and multiple sizes?  Must get paper and pencil out for a design.  LOL.

I actually am still keeping to one post a day for November.  This was scheduled for November 8th, but somehow didn't post.

Monday, 7 November 2011

SES week

I have just seen that from November 7-13 is designated as SES week.

One of my daughters-in-law has been a member for over five years now and I have seen some of what they do.  She trains every week for some hours at night and has special compulsory training weekends.  There are specific courses for various emergencies and members are examined for their proficiency in handling the emergency.

As safety is important to both the volunteers and those actually involved in the emergency, SES volunteers must operate with what each has been trained to do.  So no roof or chainsaw work etc if untrained in those areas.  There is even training in driving particular vehicles, although the volunteer may already hold an ordinary license.

When the call goes out for help. out come the volunteers and they usually stay till no longer needed. If emergency is on a large scale, then help from other divisions is called in.  DIL spent a long time on house roofs after a huge storm some years ago.  They fixed an extraordinary number of tarpaulins and plastic sheeting over leaking roofs.  She's been out for days in floods, operating boats, carrying people and supplies etc.

So a huge thank you to all those involved here.  Dirty, dangerous work often, performed for others.  Thank you too to all involved in similar work, ambulance people and paramedics, fire engine crews, RFS volunteers, St John Ambulance volunteers, police, electricity workers restoring power after storms.  I'm sure there are some I haven't covered.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

the pen is mightier than the computer

There is a list of prompts at Nablopomo, (link in  sidebar) to use if needed.  As I'm knitting on only one project at the moment, I thought I would see what was there.  Must beat pictures of endless repetitions of stripes and increases on a shawl.

The prompt which shows for today, actually yesterday, since we are ahead in dates here, was a question about preferences.  Do you prefer to write with a pen or the computer?

Now truly, just what sort of a prompt is that?  Both have their uses but for speed and convenience, then surely a computer is in front.  When I came back to academic assignments, I found they needed to be typed.  I can remember sitting in front of the computer and not being able to get started.  I think that may have been because I used to start at the very beginning, like Sound of Music and work through to the end.  Writing with a pen meant I needed to be quite organised in my thoughts and arguments.  Computer word processing made the nitty-gritty of corrections easy.  Supposedly.

I learnt to be able to jump around a bit and then found that I could write with a computer after all.  However my writing also depended on handwritten ideas and thoughts.  I kept several pages for assignments in the back of my folder and when I thought of something, saw a reference, whatever, I made a note.  I started this page or these pages as soon as assignments were known.  I think that much would then tick over in my  mind.  Come the actual writing and I would go through them.  Crossing out bits that really were irrelevant, organising ideas, pushing an argument fell neatly into place for me.  With the skeleton done, I could work on fleshing things out.

I hated doing bibliographies for assignments.  Here a computer made life easy.  If I followed my ideas of course.  At the time there was not a lot of help around on the net for such things.  I made myself a template in Word and every time I read something, I would enter it that day in the bibliography template.  With all the details needed and the right punctuation and spaces etc..  It was easy to update and, come the final full stop on my essay, the bibliography was easily checked and added.  This saved hours and hours.

I said that corrections are easy using a word processor and then added "supposedly". I'm sure we've all seen errors not picked up by the spell checker, there/their and similar.  We've probably all seen the substitution of an inappropriate word  too.

I spent most of the night once typing up notes from a  visiting lecturer for the many students whose native language was not English.  In a three hour lecture, they had been unable to keep up.  I had about 5000-6000 words typed and I was tired.  Ran everything through the spellcheck and made some corrections.  I printed out a copy and took it for photocopying the next day to hand out.  A lecturer friend of mine who had been giving a class during the visiting lecture's class asked for a copy.  As I left the office I could hear much laughter.  She pointed out my late night mistake.  All through those many double spaced pages, the checker had substituted "juiciness" for "Jewishness."

If anyone is interested in doing some writing and runs a Mac, then I'd recommend Scrivener which is very good.  Not free but well supported and updates usually are free.  It runs storyboards for organisation, folders, research areas and photography too.   It has the ability to draw on any of these and and incorporate stuff into a whole.  Much more.  There is a free trial.  It's not a word processor like Word or similar.  It's a writing programme.  There may be stuff as good for  a PC but I haven't heard of anything.

I learnt to write in an old fashioned class room with inkwells which were filled every day before school.  We used  government issues pens with replaceable nibs.  If the nib was damaged it easily caused a blot on the page.  My hand writing was not good.  I recently found my primary school reports which had been kept by Mum.  All high marks except for writing where I usually had 60%.  Comments were always made about my book work needing to be neater.  One said that I needed to slow down my brain so my hand could catch up!

High school saw a graduation to a fountain pen and my hand writing writing  improved a bit.   I well remember sitting for the leaving certificate, now the HSC, and coming out of an exam with an aching elbow and cramped hand.  Physical writing is certainly harder than using a  typewriter.

Recently I have become nostalgic about fountain pens.  I had a Platignum and a beautiful Sheaffer, a gift from my much loved grandmother.  Lost, I suppose.  I found a Conway Stewart of my Mum's but it's too far gone to be easily fixed.  I shouted myself a Lamy and am enjoying using it.  Once again notes and ideas, although I've written some cards and a couple of old fashioned snail mail letters.  It felt good to use.

So horses for courses, I suppose, but the feel of the fountain pen is lovely.  Then again, a computer has its uses too.

Saturday, 5 November 2011

transatlantic progress

A couple of photos today.  I was up quite early today and had washing out before 7:00.  This picture of the sky was taken not long after 6:00 am.  It's sunrise about 5:45 now, but there was still quite a bit of cloud around, so the clouds are just beginning to colour from the sun.  I hope the sun comes out properly so the washing dries quickly.  I've changed my bed too as I must have scratched my leg somehow and there was a bit of blood I noticed as I was making it.  So off came the bedding and all was changed.

I once saw someone ask what would they do if they had loads of money.  One sign of luxury for me would be to to have someone make the bed everyday with fresh sheets.  Of course, I wouldn't have to deal with the laundry side of that either.  So a lovely fresh bed to look forward to tonight.

The other picture is progress on the transatlantic shawl.  It is suggested that the ends of the shawl could be woven through  the enormous buttonholes.  I have the last buttonhole to make, the smallest of the three, in another four rows.  I wasn't planning on making the buttonholes, I was quite happy with the centre detail of the shawl, but decided to be different.  Why not do them?  Why not indeed. No good reason, so there they are.  The buttonhole edge will have a crochet chain to stabilise it and to add a bit of contrast.  I'll do that at the end.

Friday, 4 November 2011


Blogger decided  for me to give me a new look to the blog.  I carefully saved my template and settings.  I've been caught out before in this sort of thing.  Then I started exploring.  I didn't find anything I really, really was happy with, so decided to restore things while I looked some more.

Alas and alack!  My carefully restored template was no longer acceptable.  According to the comment made, it had errors in it.  I'm surprised it worked for so long !

I'll leave this for a while, it may grow on me and then I'll have another look and experiment a bit with  colours etc.  I know a bit of HTML and did design a few basic sites, but that was years ago.

So, to my title, Mastercrafts .  I've been watching this series with Monty Don at 6:00 pm on Channel 2.  Last one is next week, November 10th.  The craft featured in that will be stone masonry.
Each week three apprentices are shown the basics of a different craft by a master in that craft.  Tonight's was weaving.  In a few weeks of intensive tuition they learn the basics and then produce a piece judged by other experts.  I've been amazed at what can be produced.  Tonight's was on weaving.  Beautiful cloth, although I could easily identify with the one apprentice who had major problems getting around the working of the loom.
The crafts are centuries old ones, thatching, woodwork, stained glass.  The show gives glimpses of old examples.  The tapestries woven and shown tonight were breathtaking in their skill and beauty and also in the time and effort expended now to restore colours and damage.
I've always liked the feeling of knitting as being connected with the past.  Socks and shawls especially nurture that feeling for me.  Old patterns are being restored and followed and re-interpreted for today.
The craft  continues and we hand it on.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

glorious madness?

The logo for Nablopomo talks of glorious madness.

Well I don't know if this is glorious madness, or just plain madness.  I miss gardening and I miss picking and eating stuff from the plants.  I've always managed something.  I saw these small pots in Kmart so bought these.  I've had both great success and dismal failures with similar pots in the past, but for $12  for the three, I thought I'd give them a go.

The tomato plants supposedly are 8" high.  Not very tall. The chillies I can use.  For just one person I use quite a bit of chilli.  My fruit and vege box always has one about the size of my middle finger and I always use it.

I do have a balcony. It faces north and I also have two wide, northfacing window sills to use as well.  The balcony does not get as much full on sun as it did  in the winter when the sun was lower.  However it gets sun for almost all the day.  So I'm optimistic about this little venture.  I'll have to get a soluble fertiliser for them, probably a sea weed type.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011


I've been enjoying looking around at the blogtoberfest entries.  Not all of them by any means.  I took part in this several times but missed last year and this deliberately.  Last year I was in the throes of selling a house. Sale was scheduled for late in October and this year, well, this year has been a bit of a write-off in many areas.  In one sense I missed the discipline but was sensible enough to realise I could do without the pressure of a daily post.

However, for quite a while, I've been thinking about nablopomo which is running through Blogher.  Many people have mentioned it and some have done the month in a different month.  So I've been over, signed up and made a promise to myself that I will try.  Nothing more than try.  I will try to post each day, but if I don't, I will try to not allow pressure to get to me.  As I use my camera everyday, some will be photo posts.  I may even try to revamp this blog a bit.  I've had the same  layout for years now.

I set out this morning for the mid-week meeting at church.  The bus was very late and when I reached Broadway where I change buses, I still had a wait for the other bus and at least ten minutes in the bus.  It was two minutes before meeting was due to start.

So I went to Kmart to look for presents for grandchildren.  This year I have plenty of ideas for adults and almost nothing for the young ones.  My youngest grandchild is a boy who turned 6 mid-year.  He just loves Lego.  When I saw this, I grabbed it.  There weren't many there and I know that things like this disappear quickly.  Even though he can't read all the instructions well, he's always been able to follow the diagrams.  Just the opposite to me, actually.  This just looked like him.  One down,  more to go.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011


I finally frogged my Catkin shawl.  It was getting to me and I just couldn't see what I was doing that was  wrong.  I had had Stephen West's book of patterns for a while and had almost decided on the Transatlantic Shawl when I saw a couple finished or being knitted.

I pulled the Catkin out and rewound the wool and started. They use similar techniques of slipping a stitch for a couple of rows.  This one however is very easy  to follow.  It is written so that the principles of the pattern are given, rather than actual umbers for each row.  That means it can be as big or as small as wished.  I have a reasonable amount of wool so will try to use it all.  It's written for sport wool but I had nowhere near the amount needed and I did have plenty  of this thinnish Cleckheaton 8 ply.  As I have just been through my stash and found how much wool I really have (eek!), I decided to go with the 8 ply.

Thank you for the good wishes about my son.  He's getting better.  Doctor gave him another  two weeks off work from last Thursday.  The scan confirmed the x-ray, that there was no fracture to the skull.  However, I stopped for a coffee last Sunday as I was very early for church.  Man at next table to me had a skateboard and I was horrified when he picked it up and I saw just what was underneath.  It's been so  long since my sons had boards I had forgotten just what they were like underneath.  I felt sick as I visualised the axle assembly being wielded on head and am very thankful he's alive.

I've mentioned before that I bought a DSLR a few months ago.  A friend gave me the standard lens used on such cameras as he had two.  I've been enjoying it and use it almost every day.  I've been posting on Project 365 and have now managed  to post for over half a year.  However, the lack of much of a zoom was frustrating me.  I did some research and asked advice and looked on the net.  Then I went down to Digital  Camera  warehouse at Canterbury near me.  They are also in Melbourne and Brisbane.  They also sell on the net and have a comprehensive web site.  Canterbury has good prices and great, helpful staff who don't laugh at a novice's questions.  Friend did not come with me so I was out on my own to make a decision.  He's  a photographer from long back and has a range of equipment.

I bought a big zoom lens 18-270 mm, and have had a good time experimenting.  I was on roof this morning trying to take a photo of Bunnings clocktower down the road from me in the old Peek Freans factory.  The other day the wind blew branches as a frame around the clock, but it was not co-operating this time.  I moved the camera slightly and saw I was being watched attentively by a currawong.  It opened its mouth and sang to me.  I was immediately taken back as I am every time I hear that sound to Pearl Beach on the central coast.  Early in the morning, sunrise, currawongs, shiny light and the soft sound of the water on the sand.  It has always had a calming effect on me and today was no different.  I know currawongs kill and eat small birds, but their song brings serenity to me with its memories.