Friday, 24 August 2012

progress on several fronts

When I said in my last entry that I was about halfway through the mystery shawl, I made a mistake.  I'm now more than halfway through but have another forty rows to do of the last clue to the pattern and then a few rows of edging.

It's difficult to see here as the stitches are crowded on the cable of the needle, but there are sprays, almost like wattle fanning out, first one way then the other.  It also would show more when blocked.  The TV remote is serving as an anchor for the fabric.

It's taking longer to do the rows as the increases are regular, two per pattern repeat, so twelve in each increase row.

I think I've also mentioned how sore my hip has been with a flare of arthritis and that I've had ongoing unpleasantness from a cold of a few weeks ago.  I hate the arthritis medications but realised I could not go on as I was last Saturday.  I made an appointment  for Wednesday.  He was not impressed with my tale of woes and spent some time taking my history of sinus problems which I've had almost all my life.  I've had many treatments and several operations for it since I was three.  He sent me for an x-ray of the sinuses to see what the current state of affairs was.  I was given a corticosteroid nose spray sample which has been amazing from the first use.  It started to relieve swelling almost as I used it.  However, my son who is also currently using this sort of thing warned me to have soemthing to eat before use as the fumes made his stomach upset.  Antibiotics as well.  On an empty stomach.

Then we took on the hip.  As I thought, the big guns were called into action.  Two doses per day of Voltaren at the heaviest dose I have ever been on.   Three doses daily of two Panadol Osteo, two tablets each time.  These have  to be spaced around the Voltaren which is basically morning and evening.  Both these are renowned for causing upset stomach unless taken with food.  I seem to be doing nothing but eat and take tablets.  Milk is not enough and I have to eat and then take the tablet.  This morning I took tablet and then immediately had breakfast.  I won't do that again.  I've been queasy with a sore stomach all day.  Food first then tablet.

The x-ray was interesting.  I rang to make an appointment but for ordinary x-rays, one  just turns up.  I was in and out in 20 minutes which I thought was pretty good.  I had to twist into odd some positions.  The worst had my head tilted up while I leant against the plate of the machine.  However head was also twised violently so I was almost looking backward.  Very uncomfortable and I was glad when it was over.  I'll see him on Monday about the results.

Good service from the radiography department and good service from the NSW Electoral Commission.

We have municipal council elections here on September 8th.  Few seem to know about these and there is very little publicity or advertising around here.  I looked up polling booths and found I would have to go the the one I've used ever since I first moved into this district many years ago.  Now that would be at least 30 minutes walk, probably more with a bad hip and I doubt I could do both ways.  No public transport.  I found an application for a postal vote from a candidate in my letter box, so decided to go that way.  Filled it out, then discovered I had used the last stamp in my book of stamps so I could not return it from a local post box.  Service station does not sell them (or bus tickets) either.

Then I found it could be faxed to them provided details were clear.  I have no fax and there's no one local.  I took a photo of it and attached it in an email.  Within half an hour I had an email back saying it was received and accepted and a postal ballot sheet was on its way to me.  Who's ever heard of a government department replying as quickly as that and telling me what they were doing.  It wasn't just an acknowledgement of the original email from me.  I was pleased and surprised.

Monday, 20 August 2012

happy birthday to me

Happy Birthday to me!  Another year has rolled over.  This time last year I was still adjusting to living by myself here.  I've done lots of thinking over the past year, but am not about to share my inmost thoughts out in public.  I enjoy it here, there are places I would rather live, like the country or the mountains, but they are not practical and here is fine.

If I lived further away, I would not have surprises like yesterday.  We had planned on an outing to the zoo as a birthday outing.  It's twelve years since I was there.  However, various family members were away, so we cancelled the zoo.  I felt miserable yesterday, my hip had been really painful the day before and while it was better yesterday, I still felt down.

Then just before noon, in walked youngest son and his two children.  Their mum was working.  He had brought food, stuff to BBQ and some drinks.  A heavy load to carry in train from Central Coast.  Not long after, his eldest brother arrived with gifts, more food, good bread and some cheeses.  His wife is on a trip to Sri Lanka for a children's charity.

Miss 12 set to straight away and made me a birthday cake which you can see.  I had to show her how to use my Kitchenaid, but after that she did everything herself.  Her brother who turned seven last month got out my vacuum cleaner, assembled it himself and went through the place.  He likes cleaning but is not allowed to  touch their very expensive Kirby machine, so he does mine when down here.  He even lay on his stomach and vacuumed under the lounge.  It was only a few days since I had done it, but who wants to squash a willing worker?

Miss 12 cleaned off the messages from her cousins which had been on my magnetic board for weeks and spent some time drawing.  When her brother saw it, he added his name and a "from" in front of her name too.  He's just worked out how to do this outline double lettering.  His name rather dwarfs his sister's and she was a bit put out.

We had a lovely meal and it was altogether a very pleasant afternoon.  Eldest son ran his brother to the station and they nicely caught a train home, just before the football crowds descended on the station to make getting a seat difficult.  I felt ever so much better, this was a real lift.

Now this is a knitting blog.... A few months ago, I bought two mystery shawl patterns.  I completed the Fellowship shawl but wasn't happy with it and undid it all.  This was due to a couple of things.  I don't think the wool I chose was really suitable, although it's lovely and I like it very much.  The shawl was based on Elizabeth Zimmermann's pi shawl and did the doubling of the stitches as she suggested.  It was to be a semi-circular shawl but the doubling every few  rows mad the edge line bumpy.

The second shawl is also a semi-circular, but more thought has been put into the actual design.  It will be  the right shape but the increases are staggered and the whole thing looks much better than the first. I'm halfway through the third clue out of five.  This is the Garn Studio baby alpaca.  Its's laceweight and light as a feather.  Very soft indeed.  The patter, at least so  far , is logical and easy to follow and I'm happy with it.  The shawl will be soft and squishy and warm, particularly if used as as scarf with triangle main part at the front of the throat.

Just as I was about to finish, middle son has  rung to wish me happy birthday.  He's down at Perisher Valley with my eldest grandchild.  He loves the snow and hasn't been for some years.  This was all paid for months ago before he lost his job, so he was still able to go this year.  He starts new job next week, I think.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

the good and the bad

The saying says there is a bad apple in every barrel.  I haven't had that bad apple with yarn since I threw  away in disgust a skein of Araucania sock yarn which was a mass of knots and tangles.  That was about four years ago.

The background here is some Madeline Tosh 5 ply, colour Cousteau.  It wound perfectly with no problems. The first ball of Madeline Tosh Vintage, colour Briar turned into a hat.  Again no problems.  A few days ago I thought I would wind the second ball for fingerless gloves or perhaps a cowl.  It's shown here , finally wound.  It took at least six hours over three nights to wind this and when I had finished, the ball itself was so sloppily wound that I had to rewind it.  There were multiple knots  all of which I unpicked.  The flow of the yarn was just about non-existent.  It went  for several metres in one direction, then turned back on itself.  Sometimes it crossed diagonally to the other side and twisted itself under other parts of the yarn and then back again with more twists.  I was very glad when I finally reached the end.

It looked as if a cat had found it when the wool was hanging up to dry and had a good play with it.  There were no knots in the 200 metres, but there were two hard splices which felt almost like a small pebble.  The dye had not penetrated the splice  so there's a small area of white on the yarn.  Not happy, Jan, literally.

The other white yarn was an entirely different story.  It's baby alpaca from Garn Studios.  I don't quite know how to describe it.  It's luxuriously soft, a little bit creamier than actual photo.  It's two ply.  It's not even a fingering weight but is heavier than lace weight.  This ball is 500 metres long.  Not one snarl or tangle, it wound quickly.  I'm planning on making the second mystery shawl I bought a while back.  I'll have to work on this as I think its recipient is supposed be in Sydney from Adelaide in a couple of weeks time.

This bread of a somewhat startling colour, has beetroot in it.  I had one large beetroot and three small delivered.  I like beetroot in many different ways but have been out for a few meals and the beet were still in the fridge.  I could find bread recipes with cooked beetroot, but this was one large beetroot grated raw.

It's quite nice as bread and apart from the colour, the beetroot is not particularly noticeable.  I sliced down the length of the second loaf today, the first has gone, and toasted one side under the griller.  I put some chutney and cheese on the untoasted side and grilled it.  Along with a couple of small mandarines and a glass of water it became my lunch.  The chutney added a different dimension and I enjoyed it all as I sat in the sun.

The ginger cake for which I gave the recipe in the previous post was amazingly good.  It smelt wonderful and was  lovely and moist with a deep, rich flavour.  I took it down to Mittagong last Saturday and opened the container at morning tea time.  People could smell it all through the house and hurried so they didn't miss any.  It all went.

Friday, 10 August 2012

scratch and sniff

A mix of knitting and cooking, today.

Good news to start is that  my son seems to have landed a job.  Another not-for -profit area which is where he has been employed for some years now.  He has to have a medical on Monday but there's no reason  that he won't pass that.

The dish to the left is a fennel and blood orange salad I made the other day to go with some Tasmanian salmon I had bought.  I never used to like fennel, but have definitely changed my mind.  This was a a very small bulb, finely sliced.  I peeled and segmented a blood orange.   No real reason for that particular orange except that  I had them.  Ordinary orange would also have worked.  I juiced another to make a dressing and then found I was out of oil.  How could I be out of oil!  I mixed a bit of dijon mustard, a bit of good egg mayonnaise and the orange juice.  Cooked the salmon and combined the lot.  It was very good indeed.  It all worked well together.

I've spent the last few days making a hat for grandson to take to the snow.  I finished it last night and sewed in the ends on the hat and also on the scarf I had made.  It's made from some Bendigo 8 ply I  had in the stash.  It fits me quite comfortably, although it looks like something his 7 year old cousin may wear.  The double rib both pulls it in when not being worn and expands dramatically on my head.  It's not blocked here and I think blocking would make it look better.

It's an old watch cap pattern and I made it long so that the turn back part will cover his ears cosily.  He says he doesn't want one and that he's been in the area before and wasn't cold then.  There was a small patch of snow.  It was summer.  What did he think it would be?  I think he may find that winter with fresh snowfalls will make him need a hat. The decreases at the top make the hat pointed like an elf's hat when not on a head.  However,  once on, it fits quite well with no sign of pointiness.

The weather here is atrocious today.  Strong gale force winds have beached boats on the harbour, blown trees over, taken down power lines, caused blackouts and damaged roofs.  I went shopping earlier and it was very unpleasant with dust and leaves swirling around.  There were lots of small bits of casuarinas, sheoaks, on the footpath and a  two metre piece of gum tree landed near the bust stop on my way home.  It didn't hurt anyone but wasn't pleasant anyhow.  Long, but the branch was young and skinny.

It's not very warm and much colder when the windchill factor is  taken account of too.

My daughter in law sent me the recipe for this cake several weeks ago.  we both enjoy ginger.  I was going to friends' house tomorrow and made this to take.  Unfortunately, just as I shut oven door on cake to cook, I received a message from my friend.  His car was suddenly seriously ill and he was waiting for a tow truck.  It seems either the clutch or the gear box has died.  Either says dollars and dollars.  As the car is old he may buy another. It's never given him trouble before and has been looked after very well by Subaru garage.  We've been discussing a new car now for about three months.  Perhaps this will force his hand.  I doubt we will be going south tomorrow.

So here's the cake and recipe.  I don't know where it comes from.  I had sen something in Delicious but this is different.

  •  125 grams butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • half cup molasses ( I had this but golden syrup could substitute)
  • 2 eggs
  • 6 teaspoons ground ginger (yes, 6)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves.  (omitted this as I really don't like cloves)
  • 3 tablespoons finely grated fresh ginger
  • 4 tablespoons finely grated crystallised ginger
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 1.5 teaspoons good vanilla essence
  • half teaspoon carb soda
  • half cup buttermilk
1.5 cups flour.  (recipe said plain but I accidentally used SR and it still seems to have worked.

Cream butter and brown sugar.  Add all the gingers and the spices and zest and mix in. Mix in molasses.  Add eggs one at a time and mix.

Sift flour and carb soda and fold in to creamed mix alternately with buttermilk and vanilla.  Put in greased  loaf tin which has baking paper in bottom and  bake for 40 minutes at 160°

My oven is fan forced, you may need 170° if not fanforced.  Cool in tin for about 20 minutes then on rack till completely cold.  It smells amazingly good as it cooks and tastes even better.

Good news.  Friend just rang.  We can go south tomorrow.  A minor adjustment needed to car.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Busy week

It's been a busy week, slowed down by doing something to my hip which has made arthritis flare there.  I've finally given in and bought some Voltaren Rapid which I can take for about three days.  It usually does the trick and it's probably six or eight years since I used it.  Nasty stuff on the stomach and I always make sure I take it with food..  For the last two nights I've slept, well rugged up, on a comfortable chair which gave me the right posture for pain to ease.  Being flat in bed made the pain worse.

This photo was taken yesterday.  I live on one of the major arteries in and out of Sydney.  The truck broke down as it tried to enter the service station.  That was about 10:30 am.  It was there for hours.  Part of the second  truck in the B-double jutted into the road.  Small cars could get past it, as a small car could get past it into the parking area here.  It stayed put for hours and then in the afternoon a couple of men started work on it.  They got it moving about 5:00pm.  Any later would have caused a really major peak hour snarl.

I finished the scarf for eldest grandchild to take to the snow in ten days.  The stripe is not centred but the second ball of the Garn Semilla organic wool was not as long as the first.  It's very soft and should be comfortable to wear.  There's more hanging over the far end of the table and there are ends to be sewn in.

I've also started a hat for him.  He is not keen on such things and usually goes fairly lightly dressed to school even on cold days.  He's not worried by it.  His dad  tells him being out in the snow all day is not the same as a quick trip to school in the cold.  I suggested he gets a couple of the older boys whom Andrew admires to casually remind him to pack hat and scarf.  It might work.

His dad is still looking for a job.  He was offered one with another not for profit organisation but has decided against taking it.  He could certainly do it but is really well over qualified for it.  I think that in a few months he would be bored stiff.  It may seem strange they are going for five days to the snow as he doesn't have a job.  However this was all completely paid for several months ago.

It was Education Week in NSW last year.  I never enjoyed this as either a student or teacher.  I have  been to two schools in the last week.

I've been to several such days at granddaughters' school.  It runs to same ideas  each time.  Classroom inspections, then a concert in the hall and then morning tea.  The school's in Sydney's west and with my erratic buses here, I have to leave very early to be there by 9:45.  I have several times suggested a later start to the day.  Not every one lives locally and not everyone has a car.  This time round, I missed the classroom bit as my bus to station just didn't come.  This had repercussions down the rest of the transport line.

I don't know whether the person who used to organise these things has left the school, or whether they forgot and threw things together at the last minute.  It was poorly done this time round.  Presentations were very sloppy and under rehearsed.  Movements on and off the stage were cumbersome.  They are usually done very efficiently.  Second class did a Mary Poppins medley which I suggested to  son should have been the Mary Poppins muddle-y.  Children quite plainly did not know just what they should have been doing and turned in all directions, some bobbed down, some up, while others put either hand in air.  I was not impressed as I had left home in cold and rain at 7:00 am.  The dance groups elder granddaughter was in were efficient and pleasing.  The whole assembly lasted at least twice as long as it should have.  The girls are changing schools next year, so hopefully things may be different then.

The other grandchildren go to school on central Coast.  Another early start but the day was beautiful and sunny and  the 90 minute train trip was pleasant.  Their Grandparents' Day started at 10:15.

I went into 1st class to begin.  Master 7 insisted on showing me every page in everyone one of his books.  I was really surprised how well he writes.  Both execution and ideas.  Very neat writing for what had been a six year old boy for most of the year.  Perhaps his complicated lego constructions have helped with fine motor control and concentration.  He gave me a  certificate, done by the teacher where he  had filled in my name and his as a thank you note for coming.

Each of his class had a question to ask the grandparents who had come and then the visitors were asked to say something short about how their school days differed from today.

A long recess and then I went to visit Miss just turned 12.  She's in 6th class, high school next year.  They are learning about Japan and we saw cherry blossom, did sudokus etc.  A pleasant class room with windows high up so we looked onto trees as if we were in a  treehouse.

There was  short assembly with some well chosen items including a drumming group who were very good indeed.  No rambles from the principal and we were quickly out for lunch.  A much better day than  from their cousins.  Lunch in a local club and a haircut from DIL finished the day.

A few months ago, I bought an iPad.  I bought a bag from Strandbags which could be used to hold it and as a general bag as well.  This has not been really successful and  was glad I had not paid much for the bag.  The catch works well but is awkward to latch.  When the bag is open, it gapes, and a bottle I had fell out and broke.  Definitely don't want the iPad doing that.

I was in the local shops today and remembered that Strandbags had sent me a voucher for an additional 10%of any sale or discount price.  This was  a birthday voucher as it is my birthday in a couple of weeks.

I went into their shop and saw that there was a sale on Colorado bags with 25% off the marked price which was stamped on the Colorado tag.  Birthday vouchers are an extra to deduct.  I found this bag with a  shoulder strap, as I wanted, and bought it as a birthday present for myself.  iPad fits into bag in either landscape or portrait  orientation and there is room for wallet, keys, phone etc.  Their bags are well made and the leather is good quality.  I bought it, paying $55 less than the marked price.  Now to transfer things over.  Now all I have to do is to remember that I have already bought my present!  LOL.