Saturday, 28 April 2012

slow progress

It's been a week of very slow progress.  Several things to deal with and a wrong stitch count on the first row of the second repeat  on my shawl.  I counted back, looked carefully and eventually unpicked several rows till I found my mistake.  Since then, I've knitted back up to where I was and about 30 rows beyond that.  No problem with slowness but I was becoming exasperated with not finding my mistake.  I'm no perfectionist but in this case the patterns stacked up in a line from  what had gone before and I was determined to  fix it .

I had decided to put this photo up on Anzac day but somehow the day slipped past and I hadn't done it.  This is my grandfather who died in his early 50s in the 1950s.  He served in World War I, although he was not an ANZAC.  I had sprigs of rosemary but they were dried not fresh and were quite hard to arrange on the photo.  Photo has been packed away for some years and I could not remove the mark on the frame.  No idea what it is, possibly mould at some time.

Yesterday my printer finally exhausted its toner.  It's a small Samsung but is quite old, possibly ten or twelve years.  I asked son whether I should get a new printer but he suggested a generic new laser cartridge.  The printer still works well, it was just printing invisibly.  Son thinks that it should last the length of a new cartridge and then perhaps a new printer.  The next suburb over has a shop which sells such stuff.  This was in stock, so over I went.  What a scary ride.

When I paid my fare I  could smell beer and assumed it came from  a passenger.  After I sat down in bus, I  realised I could no longer smell it.  The drive was terrible.  The driver drove far too fast, threw the bus round corners rather than steering gently around.  He drove over the top of roundabouts, pulled out into traffic without looking, once almost collecting a delivery van.  He braked roughly and did  not manage to pull up at the stops but well beyond.

What was worse was there was no identifying info around.  I took down the number of the bus, but the slot for the compulsory driver ID was empty,  I don't know if he had deliberately not inserted it or had lost it, but it legally should be there.  He wasn't in uniform and did not wear the compulsory yellow safety jacket. as I alighted from the front door, I could again smell beer, suggesting to me that it was indeed from the driver.

The minute I arrived home I was on the computer sending an online complaint from Sydney buses site.  Late in the afternoon I was sent an incident number and told someone should contact me in five days.

I hope something can be traced because the ride was quite unpleasant and scary.  All of the passengers were grabbing seats and rails for support.

Finally the celebration of an achievement.  I glanced outside tonight in the late afternoon and saw this.  Very threatening looking clouds  There is rain forecast for tomorrow afternoon but it could be earlier by the look of these clouds.

I have been doing Project 365 for a year.  I have posted 365 photos there, one a day for a a year.  This was the last.  I had thought I would have to go  another one for a leap year and hadn't planned on this as my last.  I was thinking of something grand I could photograph tomorrow.  Never mind, I have amazed myself and stuck to it.

Actually this won't be the last but it is the 365th.  I have bought an extra year, the first is free.  I have learnt a lot and want to continue with some themes and experiments in processing.  However, I won't necessarily do one a day, that's a lot of pressure.  I'll work at my own pace.

Monday, 23 April 2012


I woke yesterday morning about 4:30 and recognised that something was different.  Then I realised it was the light coming in my window which had changed.  There was no sound and a heavy silence hung over the place.  I got up and looked out.  There was an extremely heavy fog.  Extremely heavy indeed. I went back to bed but couldn't go back to sleep.  So I got up, found my big camera and took a few experimental shots.  I wasn't sure how they would turn out and I felt extremely silly standing on my balcony at that hour of the morning taking photographs.  I could just make out people in McDonalds below me which is open 24 hours.  I couldn't see them well so told myself they probably couldn't see me either as I was in the dark and they were in McDonalds with the lights on.

The picture on the left is looking towards the city over the top of McDonalds.  The light high up is from the beginning of the drive through section.  Not one city light could be seen. Not even the lights in the taller buildings.  The right hand picture is looking west and the light is perhaps five car lengths away from me on the road around the back of the service station back to the main  road.  Nothing else could be seen, not even the roof of the service station.  When I looked straight ahead, I could see lights moving on the main road but I couldn't see any part of the car they were attached to.  It was very eery and quiet.

I still couldn't sleep so stayed up till about 6:30 then went back to bed and slept till 9:00.  This meant no church as I catch 8:30 bus.

As to knitting.  I've made a mistake and my lace stitch count is out.  I'm busy working back and trying to trace just where I went wrong.

My sister left today on an extended trip.  Grey nomad style, but she's by herself.  It's something she has wanted to do for many years but did not have money or health to do.  She now feels recovered enough after the operation to remove cancerous spot on her lung 15 months ago to try.  This was exactly the same type of cancer as every other occurrence of the original breast cancer but the operation was exceedingly painful and her ribs still hurt.   She bought herself a Subaru Forester  and a small A-shaped van with money from Mum's estate.  She's rented out her place on the Mid North Coast.

The van is A-shaped when seen from the side and has an annex and other bits which are put up when on site.  It's fine for one person and has a tiny stove and fridge.  She'll be by herself in the Forester so will have extra space there.  I asked itinerary and here are  her plans for the next few months.

I am headed north to Toowoomba to see friends first - then all round Qld-  Longreach etc etc and then into NT and up through Katherine to Darwin, thence Kununurra and further down to Newman in the Pilbara where I am housesitting for some weeks. And then? Wherever my Forester and Avan turn their head.
She's looking forward to it and is determined to go.

Saturday, 21 April 2012

the cat in the hat

Yesterday DIL and I had an early start to the day and drove to the Central Coast.  She was being the world's best auntie again and taking my two grandchildren to see The Lorax at a local cinema.  I had already planned to go for a rather overdue haircut so was glad to be driven.

They enjoyed the movie and I enjoyed seeing masses of hair being cut and a new colour given me.  It was so pleasant to see some sun after the downpours of earlier in the week and we sat outside under the shelter there.  Other DIL took advantage of the sun and did a pile of washing.

A simple lunch of bread rolls and salad was enjoyed and then Master Six decided to show off his reading ability.  He and reading have just clicked and they are visiting the local library regularly for more books to satisfy his appetite for reading.  You can see from the picture how happy he is to show off to world's best auntie.  He's reading a Seuss book, The Cat in the Hat and enjoying the silly concepts.  I know Seuss appeals to children but I really don't like them.  The only ones my sons had were presents as I would not buy them.  I was also shown Merit Certificates from school for both of them and an adult crossword from the paper which Miss 10 had done all by herself with help from my son for just one clue.  I doubt that "ossify" is a word known by many ten year olds.

We had a great day and returned in the early evening.  I was glad I had leftovers I could have for dinner with a bit of re-heating.

The middle son did get water in the garage from the door shown in photo below.  About a foot and they are cleaning it out today.  The whole area was saturated, the Cumberland Highway was blocked and many streets were flooded.

This is Brangian, somewhat overcrowded on the short cable.  I need to go up a size. I think there are about 220 stitches there and the patter is the first repeat of the first  char.  Another two to go before I change charts.  The yarn is lovely and I like the colours with subtle changes in colour like ocean depths.  The colour is called Cousteau which is a good name for it.

Son saw the surgeon  this week for the first visit since operation five weeks ago. The surgeon was surprised at the progress he has made and said he was six weeks ahead of expectations.  That's what son is like.  He does his research and works his plans and is very determined.

He's been give the OK to expand activities but has been warned he'll always need to be careful.  He's never to lift heavy stuff or do heavy gardening or labouring.  These are not his strong points  but he would help friends out.  Now he will be able to refuse knowing that they are forbidden.  Ask for computer help and he'll go out of his way to oblige.  He won't be able to sit or stand for long periods ever, either.  He's looking forward to being able to swim again, so he's hoping for a few more warm days to go to the beach.  Much better than an indoor pool.   We are all thankful for the success of this but there are other discs which are also damaged.  Nowhere near the damage which caused the operation but more reason for him  to be careful.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

rain, rain, go away...

Come again another day.  Preferably well down the track.  Two more days of rain here yesterday and more forecast today, although easing.  I'm sure there will be dry times and droughts in the future, that's what happens here, but really, we've had enough rain for a  while here.

My balcony floor had a couple of inches on it yesterday as rain was coming in faster than the drain could cope with.  I keep the grate clean, so this morning I investigated with an old knife.  There was a matted wad of gunky stuff under the grate.  I've broken it up as much as possible and hope it's in small enough pieces to wash down the drain.
Son and DIL had a flash flood at their place yesterday.  DIL had time to move the car down the street to a higher spot.  She also did  some emergency SES type work on the rear garage door.  She could see what would happen and used a tarpaulin held against the door with a wall of logs from firewood pile.  Water was almost half a metre deep there.

This top picture shows their front lawn and driveway.  Garbage bins are floating near front garage door and the water is well on its way to porch level.  It covers a couple of steps behind the lower plant pots.  Fortunately, it didn't get quite that far.

This is the street outside.  Their place is behind the second set of trees  and the light pole.

It drained away in the evening but son will ask council to check the drains.  They've been in the area for 12  years now and never had anything at all like this before.  Then again, the rain yesterday was torrential, most of the day and the western suburbs collected a lot of it.

DIL had just finished her own emergency work when the SES division she belongs to called her out on more emergency work.

I have been knitting with my beautiful Madeline Tosh Pashmina yarn.  I had problems with the first pattern I chose, I just couldn't seem to get it right.  Must have been missing something but I just couldn't see what I was doing wrong.  So I went back to Brangian shawl.  I think this is the fourth I've done.  I've now done the plain triangle and am part of the way, just a bit, down the beginning of the lace.  There are three charts of lace and the edging.

Friday, 13 April 2012

conversation from the balcony

"Why!  Hullo!  How good of you to come and visit during our dinner.  We're really glad to see you.  It's a bit boring when there's just us to speak to each other while we eat.

No, no need to come out, we can see you through the glass.  Yes, we'd wave back to you, but can't you see we're busy eating?  Still waving?  Never  mind.  We'll just carry on here.

Tasty stuff you have up here although this one's odd.  The leaves are nicer than the flowers. It's usually the other way round.  Now that one over there with the leaves of two colours, is really good.  Green salad one side and purple dessert the other.  You used to have it up where we could  reach it easily.  Why did you move it?  Not one of us will come down there for it now.

What was that?  You don't like the mess we leave when we eat?  Stuff ends up on the floor?  Well, really!  I like that!  You don't expect us to eat off the floor, do you?  Would you do that?  Hmm, thought that would be your answer.  So don't expect us to do that either.

Oh, that one we really like was given to you by your mother.  You say it's her birthday tomorrow?  Tell her she has good taste, we congratulate her.  What's that?  She died three years ago?  Well, we've not seen our mother for a long time either, since we were kicked out of the nest.  So that about makes us equal, I think.  Can't understand why you make such a fuss.

Oh, so you're coming out here to see us better.  We're really quite handsome, don't you think?

I don't think we want to make a closer acquaintance.  Stop right there, you're close enough already.  Put down that broom.  Don't wave it near us!  We're going right now.  Won't be back for quite a while.  Hooroo!"

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

been busy

I've been busy here today.  First off I went shopping early and scored several trays of meat at reduced prices after the long, long weekend.  They still had some days before the use by date.

It's quite chilly here today with a strong southerly wind, so it's really been a good day to be inside.  I know many who live in places where they would call 9° C warm, but it's a bit of a shock to the system here.  I used to live about 20 minutes walk away from here and have seen the thermometer down  to a whisker above zero, but that was very unusual.

First cab off the rank was  this dish.  Pork meatballs cooked in diced  tomatoes.  Lots of garlic and chilli in them and other flavourings a well.  When they are cool, I'll put them into containers and serve meal sized portions.

I covered them with foil and cooked them slowly as my oven is fierce these days.  They have some leftover rice from last night.  I used to make these when sons were small but used uncooked rice.  They need lots of liquid for that and need to be covered.  When done, the rice pops out of the meatball .  Known as hedgehogs, but  I suppose  we should call them echidnas down here.  They were a family favourite.

I have been eyeing off a recipe for crumpets from the River Cottage Bread Book.  This is quite the best book I have ever seen on bread and I've seen lots.  I started cooking with yeast when I was nine or ten, making hot cross buns one afternoon when my mother was out.  They are really not like  crumpets down here which are always toasted.  They are filling!  They start out with a mix of warm water and milk, some flour and yeast.

It doesn't look like  much but cover and leave it till it's all bubbly.  The book suggests an hour but says up to three hours is fine.

It will then look like this with the surface covered with bubbles.  Some salt and baking powder are  whisked in and that's it for the mixing.  I was sure I had baking powder but couldn't find it, even after moving things on the baking shelf of my cupboard.  The service station underneath here is a min supermarket (at maxi prices usually), but as I needed more milk I thought I'd have a look.  No luck.  I think they may have been a bit lighter if I had used it but they were fine.  I tested them thoroughly!

This cast iron griddle is very old.  I don't know quite how old it is but my grandmother used to cook us pikelets for Sunday evening when I was young.  She always said it was quite old, even then.  So my guess is that it's probably well over a hundred years. It's cast iron, handmade fairly roughly along the edges.  A corner is cut off so I think it may have been made from scrap metal.  It's quite thick and retains the heat for a long time.  I cleaned it up, I haven't used it for years and set off to make crumpets.

The recipe suggest using rings.  I looked and looked for weeks for crumpet sized rings but could find only these egg rings.  They certainly made a neat job of the crumpet but were difficult to use.  They need to be wider and shallower.

Here are the first two.  They were thick and took a long time to  cook.  The writer of the book says to make them just before a winter afternoon tea.  They can be split or left whole and eaten dripping with butter.  Any leftovers, unlikely he says, can be toasted which is how we usually eat them down here.  I gave up on the rings.  They were awkward to use.  I also gave up on oiling the griddle and used what I have always used for pikelets.  A slice of raw potato.  It does a fantastic job, producing a clean shiny brown surface on the pikelet, or in this case, crumpet.  Cut a slice from the potato, rub griddle or electric frypan with the big bit of potato, cut side down.  Repeat when needed.  Cut off another bit when first surface dries  too  much.

BTW, a potato used like this is good if you are caught in the rain and trying to drive home from camping when the windscreen wipers fail.  If outside of windscreen is rubbed with the potato, the rain runs straight down and the driver can see through the glass.  Don't ask me how I can tell you this works.

I can tell you they were nice and hot but filling.  I made half a batch as there's only one of me, and even after being greedy, there are quite few left.  They made me nostalgic  for nana's pikelets.  She also made johnny cakes which are really nothing more than fried scone.  We put lemon juice and sugar on both of these, although my sister always put vegemite on hers..  Stodge really but filling and cheap.  She was the eldest of nine and her husband was the middle of fifteen children so I suppose cheap and filling were necessary qualities for food when she grew up.

Now I have the washing up to do, and you should see my kitchen floor!

So here's the recipe:*

  • 450 gm plain white flour
  • 350 ml warm milk
  • 350ml warm water
  • 5 gm dried yeast
  • 10 gm salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

Mix, flour, milk, water and yeast  till mixed but runny.  Cover and leave 1-3 hours till surface is covered  with bubbles.  Stir in the salt and baking powder.  Hat griddle, frypan or whatever you use,  and oil it or use potato. Fill crumpet rings and cook till bubbles rise to surface. Turn and cook other side.  Serve with butter and honey or jam,

Don't use egg rings as I did, even the larger than usual rings.   Crumpet sized rings would be much better.  If you don't use rings, it may help to make batter a bit thicker with some more flour.  Leftovers can be toasted.

*River Cottage Handbook Number 3, Bread, Stevens D, Bloomsbury, London, 2009, p165

Monday, 9 April 2012

unheard of!

It's only the early part of April but here is something which is actually finished.  Really, truly finished.  It's the Wingspan scarf which is a free pattern on Ravelry.  Yarn is 50/50 merino/silk, dyed by Ailsa from Knitabulous and is called Honeysuckle Gold.  The yarn is now unobtainable but I was fortunate enough to grab quite a few skeins when she said she could get no more.  It's truly lovely to work with and the finished fabric is great too.  The skein was 116 gm and 416 metres.  I have a small amount left but probably not enough to do another triangle.

It's hanging here, held up by my will power and a few sharp bits from the plant behind it.  An easy knit on 3.5 mm needles, it took me eight days.  Each triangle is shaped with short rows and the scarf could easily be adapted to thicker wool.

Grab them early, start them young is good practice.  This otherwise fairly ordinary photo was taken by Miss Nine.  To my knowledge she has had no experience  with an SLR camera.  I forgot to change the lens for the smaller, lighter one, so she was using mine which is quite heavy with the zoom lens.

When I saw her using it for some shots I thought that I would be deleting most of them.  Most of them are fine.  Focus is quite reasonable too.  She tok one of a friend and the zoom was a fair way out, but even there the focus is OK.  I'll have to watch her, or my camera won't be where I left it!

Saturday, 7 April 2012

that was the week that was

Summer seems to have suddenly decided  to put in an appearance in Sydney.  The last few days have been very sunny and dry and quite warm.  Much warmer than most of March.  Cooler nights too for the most part which I enjoy for sleeping.

I've always found red a difficult colour to capture well in a photo, no matter what camera I've been using.  This is, I think, a variety of pigface but with small flowers.  While I was waiting to be picked up yesterday I saw this next to where I was standing.  This is taken with my phone.  When I downloaded it, I was surprised at the accuracy this time round of the flowers.  Quite  a rich, dark red.  I was surprised.  I wonder if I can do it again.  LOL.

My eldest grandson was baptised yesterday at his pastor's house in the western suburbs here.  I had little warning this was coming.  They attend a fairly small, quite friendly community type church.  He's thirteen and growing up fast.  Even his voice is changing, not breaking yet but deepening quite noticeably.

His grandfather came too, dressed as if for a  wedding.  Long  sleeve shirt and jacket and a tie, although it was quite hot in the sun. Everyone else was fairly informally dressed.  I had a sunhat on and was glad of its shade.   He spoke to a couple of his grandchildren, gave A. what looked like a lecture.  Then he spoke to a couple of the family and disappeared.

After it was over, we went back to my son's house. Quite a crowd eventually with some people I haven't seen for possibly fifteen years arriving unexpectedly.  Sixteen adults and more than sixteen children who all played well.  Son did a BBQ and we sat out under the jacarandas in light shade with a pleasant breeze.  Lots of salad and chicken and good sausages.  I could feel my grandmother turning in her grave with a big meaty BBQ on Good Friday instead of fish.  Some traditions I keep up and some I can compromise with.  That was one.  It was a very pleasant afternoon and I could hardly keep my eyes open when I arrived home.  Apparently even the thirteen year old took himself to bed at 7:30.

I had another trip to the city through the week and had lunch in the Queen Victoria Building.  These are some of the windows which are above  each shop.

I think that when it's a bit cooler, I'll take the camera and have a prowl around in the building.  There are lots of beautiful features which are easily missed when just walking through.

I've been working on the Wingspan shawl/scarf which i showed in the post below.  I wish I had known about the baptism earlier as I could have had it finished for A's mum's birthady present.  As it is. I have two more triangles and then the edging over the top to do.  I did take it out and showed it to her.  She liked it, so that was all good.