Saturday, 30 March 2013


I was thinking about traditions, good and bad.  Old and new.  I tried to lay down some traditions in my family, things like the birthday boy choosing dinner and a special guest.  At Wollombi, we had traditions about lighting fires and life in the bush.  Lots more.

I remembered the opening music from Fiddler on the Roof and found this very non-traditional rendition.  Stop motion Lego.  It's a bit of fun and the music is good with a heavy bass line and great singing.  It's about seven minutes long and I wasn't planning on watching it all,  but  I enjoyed it so much I did watch.

So I have been turning to traditional food lately.  A few months ago, I made my grandmother's banana chutney which is good with cold meats.  Then I made beetroot and eggplant chutney, making up the recipe as I went along.  I had a huge eggplant and more beetroot than I could eat by myself.

I've been hankering after some old fashioned tomato sauce.  I hardly ever touch the commercial stuff around these days but love the homemade variety. Cindy posted  a recipe she had tested so I bought some powdered mustard and made some.  It's good  but I will make a few changes.  I'll use malt vinegar, I can't ever remember grandma having anything else, and I think the flavour's better.  I'll also make sure the cooking apples are tart, mine were a bit sweet.  However, overall it was a success.

I bought the jars in my online order from Coles.  I'd been thinking about protecting the lid from erosion corrosion, drat autocorrect at times,  and then found these lids were two part.  The flat bit is coated on the inside to protect from the vinegar and the outside part screws down and makes a seal.  $3 from Coles.  I'm giving Coles another go.  I used to use them a lot years ago when they were the only online supplier.  I don't think their website is as easy to use as their counterpart's is, but could just be usage.  I've found standards from the other mob have slipped dramatically and getting that acknowledged is long and tedious.  They offered me a credit of $5.76 after an order full of mistakes.  After several phone calls and a couple of very strong emails, they decided I was right, or at least that they didn't want to argue any more and gave me a credit of almost $70.  Worth persisting in my complaint.  So I've changed suppliers, at least for now.  Supermarkets in my area have dropped the home delivery service they used to have and there is no way I can carry heavy stuff home.

Another of Grandma's traditions was fish on Good Friday.  When I was growing up, Grandma always came for lunch on Good Friday.  My mother pushed the boundaries once and served a BBQ.  She heard about that for a very long time.  I'm not sure why she was so insistent about this particular tradition.  I can trace it in  another ecclesiastical group, but she was Anglican and it wasn't something she ever followed on any other day.

I've been wanting a good fish meal for ages, so decided on fish for lunch yesterday.  I often buy fresh Tasmanian salmon and enjoy it but I was after white fish.  I refuse to buy frozen thawed fish or fish other than Australian, or at a pinch from New Zealand.  I found flathead fillets and bought some.  Fresh, very fresh.  The sales guy said I would enjoy it and he was right.  Flathead is sweet but hard to fillet well.  It was expensive but I had enough for two meals.  Superb.  I had planned on crumbing it and had flour on a plate, an egg whisked in a bowl.  No Panko crumbs and not enough bread to be bothered making my own.  So these were just floured and quickly fried in some good oil.  I'd been planning on asparagus but totally forgot and made the very basic greens with fresh tomato salad.

I'll be on the lookout for some more of this.  I enjoyed it immensely.

Son and two grandchildren are coming for lunch tomorrow.  Baked leg of lamb - another tradition.  I'll put this on early with lemon juice, herbs and garlic and cook it very slowly.  Turned down very low, it can look after itself for a while.  Lots of baked vegetable and all should be well.

He took his children to the Easter Show yesterday, breaking another of Grandma's traditions.  She took me every year but definitely, never on Good  Friday.  Master 7 had not been before and Mis 12 hadn't been for eight or nine years and remembered little.  They had a great time.

We used to buy all the licquorice (grandma again!) show bags and sit in the grandstand.  The licorice was more mellow than it is today and the flavour was different.  We would watch the mounted police displays, munching licorice.  We paid for it the next day, but that was our show tradition.

Thursday, 28 March 2013

soft autumn light

No knitting here at the moment.  It's very hot still although hopefully there'll be a change  tonight.  I can't remember when I had even the sheet over me at night in bed.  I really prefer to feel some covering, but it's been too hot.  It looks as if a storm is  coming up, rain would be good.  However, I can smell smoke from a bushfire and it's quite strong.  I checked the RFS site and there's hazard reduction burning off in the Blue Mountains and a warning of thick smoke is given.  Now that's over 80 kms from here, so I hope nothing has got out of hand in the heat.

I went to wind what I thought was a skein of MadTosh Vintage which is Aran weight for another hat.  I had two skeins in the cupboard, both lovely colours and both sock wool.  So nothing on the knitting  front.

The evening light has been beautifully soft here lately.  I've noticed other bloggers' beautiful photos using the light.  Two days ago, I glanced outside and  raced for the camera.  Light can change very quickly and there was a soft golden glow  to every thing.

I really liked  the dreamlike outline of the city skyline in the top photo.   Depth of field has turned out well, probably more by good luck than good management.  The leaves really were that colour in the trees and everything was soft and shiny.

When we had our property at Wollombi in the bush, I was always happy to look at one hillside in the afternoon.  The tree trunks had a glow about them.  If there had been rain, there might be water oozing over rocks on the hill.  Shiny leaves, golden trunks and wet rocks went well together.  This tree is not far from me, although I did use the zoom in this picture.  At night it has large white lumps scattered  through it.  Or so it seems.  Actually the scavenging ibis roost there at night and I know they are really anything but white.  Most of them are filthy but at night the tree looks as if feathery pillows are scattered through it.

Over the years, I have tried to overcome my pedantry about correct spelling and the right use of words. To a degree, I have been successful in this, although I  can quite easily miss typos of my own.

One word has come to my notice lately, wrongly used.  I even saw it in a newspaper the other day.  A word which many may not have even heard of not so long ago. An underline is continuous.  It is not discreet at all, nor is it discrete.  A discrete line would look like this - - - - - -.  A discreet person is whole with admirable character traits, not chopped into pieces.  I have seen this error probably at least every day for several weeks.  I'm having  trouble overlooking it.

Off to make basil, mushroom and fresh bean risotto for dinner.

Saturday, 23 March 2013

rosebuds and hail

One rosebud which would not have been affected by the massive storm we had late yesterday afternoon.  The rain was torrential for quite a  while here and we had lots of tiny pieces of hail.  This is  my balcony doormat, possibly three metres from front of balcony roof and almost two metres from the side of the roof.  My open lounge room door is behind this and I had more hail blown in even that far.  This is very little,  but it's well under cover.  There was a good deal more outside in the open.  The day was very hot, a ridiculous 32° C.  Not March weather at all and it was still 27° when I went to bed.  Today is hot but cooler than yesterday.  The next week is forecast to be 28° or more all week.

One Rosebud  hat undamaged by hail.  It  is unblocked, I've just sewn in the ends.  I hope blocking will give the cable a bit more definition.  I like the pattern and will make it again.  The small ball is all I had left.  I really wanted to do an extra thirteen rows to make it slouchy, but could tell I would not have enough to finish if i did that.

I would never buy the yarn again.  It's Shelter and was sold as a kit with the hat pattern.  I'm really disappointed with it.  The hat is very warm and possibly moisture repellent.  It's thick  and cosy.  However, I have a sore thumb from it, I found it hard to feed through my fingers in knitting as it's coarse and hard.  The coarseness burnt my fingers if I tried to knit fast.  I hated the large bits of organic matter in it.  Seeds, cobblers pegs and more.  I pulled out as much as I could.

The colour is darker than shows in photo.  It's Cast Iron and it really is a cast iron shade, quite dark.  It's hot and sunny here so I'll block it today and hope the cable pops more than now.  The pattern was not difficult but I made a couple of mistakes through inattention.  There's a small cable on either side of the large and at least twice I did the wrong combination at the end.  I dropped stitches  down and fixed it.

Thursday, 21 March 2013

just what the doctor ordered

As I've said before, it's very slow doing the skirt part of the low tide jacket.  endless stitching which takes time to show any result.  I've been plugging away on it  most days.  Sometimes I  have done only one or two rows, sometimes up to eight in a day.  But it's slow work making an impression on those 15" needed.

Despite the prettiness of Ailsa's yarn and the fact that I really do like the look of the finished article, it's been sapping my enthusiasm. Very much so.

When I saw that Renae at Suzy hausfrau had Addi needles in stock now, I was tempted.  In fact I was tempted for over a week.  Then I thought of her good service and I found that I needed yet another set of Harmony 4 mm.  I succumbed.  I ordered a set on Sunday afternoon a  few days ago and the postman put them into my eager hands at lunchtime on Tuesday from Canberra.  A little bit of retail therapy.

The needles are well packaged in a fairly flat pack and there is a joiner section which can be used if knitting is on a cable.  They clip together easily and I have been enjoying using them.  I've never had problems with either the wood or metal Knitpicks.  My metal set are the original Knitpicks and the Harmony are Knitpro.  I always use the little pin as a lever to tighten the join and I've never had a problem.  However, I do like the Addis.

Just by coincidence, cough, cough, I had wound the Brooklyn Tweed Rosebud hat yarn at the weekend. I'll wait till it's finished for a photo as it's very dark, called Cast Iron,  and it's hard to see the detail of the hat on the needles.  I'm not quite halfway through the pattern.

This is done in Shelter.  I would not buy this yarn again but yarn and pattern were a kit.  It is supposedly promoting American wool.  Noro Silk Garden hurts my fingers to knit as it's harsh.  This is almost as bad.  It's very solid and I am surprised it's used as a hat as I wonder about the ribbing being prickly.  This is not something I have problems with as even as a child I liked the feel of a woollen garment on my bare skin.  I'm not sure about this yarn.  When I put the yarn on the swift to wind, I could see broken ends in the skein.  There were three breaks.  In only 140 yards!  I was able to spit splice them but it slowed the winding down as I had to wait for the splice to dry before winding more.  I consider this unacceptable.

Have a look at the photo.  This amount of foreign matter, plant seeds, bits of jute or hessian cam from about five rows of knitting.  I've been pulling out the burs and seeds and bits of hay etc.  This is a hat and I don't want bits of it actually in my ears.  I bought 8 ply from Nundle Mills about ten years ago which was like this but the yarn was softer.  It was also much cheaper even allowing for increases over the years.  I'll be putting this stuff in my rubbish bag.  I wouldn't want to be germinating weeds from the USA over here.  we have enough of our own.

I find this a shame as I like the patterns from there.  I've made others and envied some too.  They are decidedly different to many around, are well written and easy to follow and the finished project looks great.  I'm really disappointed in the yarn. I like this hat and will make the pattern again but probably in some MadTosh Vintage worsted in my stash.

I haven't taken many pictures of the sky lately but this was so beautiful I grabbed my phone and took a couple.  The iPhone does skies well bcause of its colour saturation according to my sons.  An antidote to my grumpiness above.

Also an antidote to sadness.  Snuggles the cat my DIL found as an abandoned kitten in a cemetery in winter 1996, went on her last trip to the vet  today.  Quite old, but many cats are older.  She hadn't been well for a few weeks and the vet wasn't sure of the problem, but she worsened rapidly overnight and my son decided it was another trip he had to make today.  She lived at my place for quite a while with her two sons.  She would sit on the stairs and ambush me through the railing as I walked down the hall.  I found she'd been winding my wool once.  A small ball was  wound around chair legs and from  side to side under the dining table.  My husband used to put his business suit coat across the back of one of the dining chairs.  She often hid under it and would dash out and bite the bum of one of her sons as he ambled past.  She'd be back in hiding before he had even realised what had happened.

My husband used to feed her little treats from his plate, despit my entreaties.  I had friends  over for dinner once when he was away and she stood on her hind legs and clawed the thigh of the person sitting where he usually sat.  He had not given her anything.

One more thing.  Google reader is being shut by Google in a few weeks.  Son recommended Feedly.  It will actually sync with my entries in Google reader so it will save entering things again.  I'm currently using it but will keep looking.  It's OK and I am probably just not accustomed to it as I've used the other for years.

Sunday, 17 March 2013

be prepared

I was never a Guide or a Brownie.  Mum and Dad weren't people who did that sort of thing at all.  I remember in possibly fifth class, a new girl came to school.  I even remember her name, Sheila Moon.  She was the only child of English immigrants and she came to school one day with a Brownie uniform on.  Brown dress with yellow tab at neck and a brown beret.  It had badges sewn to it, although I don't think many of us were impressed with some of them.  I seem to remember one for washing up. To most of us, she was exotic, although not in the sense often used today.

Of course, what we were seeing was really cultural differences.  She was shy, understandably so, she had no game skills, she was pasty.  However, she was a Brownie.  I think her parents found a group nearby and she continued there.

At High School there was one girl who was a Guide.  Blue uniform this time and again badges.  I think she continued guiding after High School.  I knew one woman heavily involved in guiding.  Till not long before her death in her 80s, she camped at Orange in the snow every winter with the guides.  In 1973, she was made a Member of the British Empire for her services to guiding.

When my sons were small, the eldest pestered me to allow him to join Cubs. His best friend was a cub. This was awkward for us.  We had little money for uniform and their father was teaching accountancy at TAFE at night, so I had the three of them at home with me.  The group met about 20 minutes walk away, but at some stupid time like 6:00 or  6:30.  The others needed a meal and bath but we had to all walk down.  Then I had to return home, only to repeat the walk to collect him.

This craze for him died a natural death, thank goodness.  This was the boy who read encyclopaedias at night in bed.  It took only a couple of weeks for him to be bored stiff.  I persevered another couple of weeks and then he dropped out.

All this leads to  the motto, Be Prepared.  I think it must have been the day today which has been cooler and crisper than most lately.  The feel of autumn has returned, at least for  a few days.  I am preparing for winter.  I have had my little swift spinning merrily  since lunchtime.  I've wound another skein of ailsa's 50/50 merino and silk which I am using for the Lowtide jacket.  I'll need that yarn soon.  I have one skein left to wind if needed.  Ailsa's yarns were always beautiful to wind.  I don't remember any breaks in the yarn and certainly no tangles in the skein.

I wound the one and a bit skeins of the Brooklyn Tweed Shelter for a hat and the three  skeins of his Loft for a shawl.  My table top accumulated the start of a mini compost heap.  Lots of vegetable matter fell out of  the yarn and lots stayed in and passed through my fingers.  I was reminded of some wool I bought from Nundle Mills about ten years ago which even had burs in it.   Another couple of small skeins and I am done with the swift for today.

It feels good to be prepared like this.  I really do think it's part of the subconscious preparations for winter.  Elizabeth Zimmermann speaks of fingers with knitting memory.  Preparations for winter are related.

Last night we had an evening at the favourite family pizzeria which used to be only a couple of hundred yards from my former home.  Youngest son, whose new position was confirmed a week ago wanted to thank his brothers for all the work and support they gave him in his application and to thank a friend of mine for the general moral support he has been to him.  A backstop really.  We had a lovely time but the grandchildren were all tired.  Two of them had  been at the Powerhouse Museum most of the day and their cousins had played soccer.  However, we all had a great time.

The seven year old above had six pieces of pizza and quite a large serve of a Nutella and strawberry dessert pizza.  Miss Eight on the right, sat next to me and scarcely spoke all night.  She's a year older than Master Seven, but a good 2" shorter, although she doesn't look short when he's not around.

The World's best Auntie took three napkins to clean this up.  It's Nutella.

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

I can sing a rainbow too

Lots of colours today and even some knitting!

This looks as if it's quite early but it was just before sunrise, around 6:45 am, looking toward the city skyline.  As the clouds suggest, there has been a bit of rain since, but it's very sunny and humid here now.  We had rain last night around 11:00 pm, but it didn't last long and the night was sticky too.

Fruit and vegetable delivery day and I was out of fruit except a lime and a lemon.  Variety of food colour daily is stressed by some nutritionists.  I should be fine.  There's an avocado hiding in there, small red birds eye chillies, bananas, apples, two colours of grapes, red capsicum, purple carrots. two types of tomatoes.  Also more lemons and limes.  I use a lot of them.  Not shown are brown potatoes, sage, sugar peas, fresh beans, bok choy, broccoli, kale, zucchini and rocket and purple onions.

Add in some good olive oil which tastes  wonderful, and the box was fairly full.  I'm going out for lunch down south on Saturday and think I'll make an old fashioned zucchini slice.  I'll buy some bacon and jazz it up with some feta and ricotta.  Here's Donna Hay's adult version of it.  It packs well and is yummy.  There are plenty of other less indulgent recipes on the web too.

Another rainbow. Now my fingers are feeling better and most of the swelling has gone, I've returned to knitting.  Carefully and in a measured way.  I can hardly do much less.  Fine wool on 3.5 mm needles with several hundred stitches does not make for quick progress.  The neckline is at the top, sleeve stitches and armholes are on waste thread.  The stocking stitch at the bottom s supposed to be 15" long.  I will try it on later and see where that comes to on me.  I'm fairly short, the shortest in the family bar one DIL, and if shorter is OK, then I'm not arguing.  It's bunched up on the cable of the circular.  It's still easy to knit but not to spread out for a photo.  The pattern does not say to, but I think I might have to do a hem or some moss stitch n the bottom or the stocking stitch will roll.

After a long period of turmoil and uncertainty, Central Coast son has finally been told he has been made permanent.  It's basically what he has been doing for ages but is a promotion by several grades and work load has changed.  Lots of others were made redundant or just plain sacked.  He's happy but not for them.  He now has six months probation which his brother in the recruitment field warned him of.  He has heard however, that others who had contract positions made permanent have 12 month's probation.  He's been there 8 years and still has this last hurdle.  I think the place is very carefully doing everything by the book and this was the least they could give him.  However, he didn't want to move.  He has a very particular set of IT skills, shared by not many in Australia and he could easily get a  job.  However, he has experienced the joys (not) of over an hour's commute to Sydney.  Newcastle would be the same. Trains are unreliable and often late or missed altogether.  He is door to door in under 30 minutes if al works well together.

Friday, 8 March 2013

made in Tasmania

I am not backward about speaking about poor service or products.  To counter this, I try to give credit where credit is due.  I've had great service this week from Tasmania.  I've bought goods several times over a few years from Beauty and the Bees.

I gave some of their products to two DILs and to my sister at Christmas.  They were very well received.  One DIL said she loved their goods but usually could not afford them.  It was her birthday last Wednesday.

On Monday, very late in the afternoon, more like early evening, I placed an order for some apple cider soap and some moisturising serum for her.  Note: late Monday.  Late on Tuesday evening, about  11 pm, I checked the Star Track parcel tracking page.  All it said was "in transit."  ON Wednesday morning, I was just typing in their URL to see when it would be delivered and my intercom buzzer went.  My order was in my hands at 9:00 am.  Well done.  I was amazed.

It was very well packed in a neat little box marked as fragile.  Lots of bubble wrap and soft packing to fill the box.  As I opened the box, there was a sharp but delicious smell from the soap and I found a sample shampoo bar and a sample soap as well as my order.

Can you guess what this is?  Hint, hint.  It's not butter.  It tastes wonderful.  I ordered some honey from Beauty and the Bee.  Leatherwood honey.  I really like it but the last lot I bought was very strong, almost too strong for me.  Tasmania is the only place which produces leatherwood honey.  This is a bar of naturally candied leatherwood honey.  It was packed like a big piece of butter, very well wrapped in wax paper and with other wrappings on the top.  It's amazing.  Super nice.  Very smooth and creamy in texture.  I love it.  It wasn't cheap but as a smaller size jar than this from the supermarket has lasted me two years, then this as a treat will be a cheap treat. I do have a lid for this container.

Postage used to be by weight and moisturisers etc are heavy.  Their products are now sent by Star Track courier which so far has been much cheaper than  mail.  I can't fault their service either.

I'm very happy overall.

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

today I show you a mystery...

It's still fairly wet up here in Sydney, although better than it has been.  One advantage is the plants just love real water from the sky as opposed to from a tap.  A couple of the pots on the balcony received rain as it swirled around in the strong winds.  In one corner I have a diplodena or mandevilla.  It goes by both names and is the pink flower at the top of the picture.  The nodding violet came years  ago in a cutting from a holiday house I stayed in.  It's just thriving and I rather liked  this picture.  There is more plant above it with diplodena flowers.

My fingers feel better but I still haven't tested them with knitting.  It got to the point where I took some low dose Voltaren, a last resort indeed for me but  they were very painful, more than an ache, a real pain. I've had arthritis for years and manage it fairly well most times. I live with it.  But occasionally, like the bad hips last September and the hands recently, I have to call in the big guns.  Provided I take the Voltaren after food I can manage three or four days of it.  Taken even just before food, like minutes before, and I have an upset stomach all day.

I'll stop them today and see what happens.  As the humidity lessens,  the pain should ease too.

So to the mystery.  I spent one of the wet days going through drawers and cupboards sorting out winter clothes.  I threw out a bagful of old T-shirts and tops which were paint stained, torn, very well worn etc.  I then sorted what was left and put them back in the drawers.  Along the way I found my grandmother's carving set which I always knew I had.  Youngest son, the one now living by himself would love this.  He loves old knives and did not have a carving fork. He is looking forward to this but he'll need to do some cleaning up before use.  Grandma had only bone handled knives with steel blades.  Every knife used at a meal was rubbed on blade with special cleaning powder and then washed.  Woe betide the washer if the blade was ever allowed to touch the water!  The silver was done first in the wash in boiling hot water and had to be dried immediately by the person doing the washing up.

I opened a few other boxes which had silver teaspoon, egg spoons or dessert spoons.  I knew all about those.  The came the surprise.  I opened a similar box but it was embossed on the outside with RRC and 2nd.  It came from Garrards in London which is apparently the oldest jeweller in the world, opening in 1735 although it had traded before that.  Their website is beautiful with a heritage section which looks like a historian's delight.

What a surprise.  Inside was a red Maltese Cross.  I do not remember ever having seen such a cross in my life, although it was with things from my grandparents.  I had no idea what the award was so started searching.  I was having a lovely time looking at Maltese Cross pictures and sites but getting nowhere fast.  So I emailed my brother, youngest son and a friend all of whom  had interest in things ceremonial.  In addition son is a superb searcher online.

It was my son who came up with the answer.  It is known as the Royal Red Cross.  It was instituted by Queen Victoria in 1883 to be awarded to women only (!!) who had shown exceptional bravery or devotion to duty in nursing in an area of war.  That in itself made it remarkable to me.  To women only!  Men were allowed the award but not till well into twentieth century.

The words Red Cross refer to the colour of the award and not to the organisation of the same name, although  some members have been awarded this.  Here's  picture of the obverse of the cross.  Moving past the slipshod stitching of the award to the ribbon, the words Faith, Hope and Charity can be seen.  Clicking on picture will enlarge it.  Also there is the head of George V and it was this which threw me when I was originally searching.  He was crowned in 1911 but the date shows as 1883 and I could not reconcile this.

All nestling into the Garrard's box.  I was astounded.  To my knowledge, I had never seen this in my life before.  It is not something to be forgotten.

More to the point...whose was it?  Not only had I not seen it at all before but I can not remember hearing anything about it or any recipient.  I still think it's from my side of the family as it was with other boxes from there, but who was given this?

I did not have the faintest idea where to start.  I could find information about the award, but not recipients.  In the end I asked on a Ravelry forum whose members have shown exceptional skills in sleuthing in another area.  I was given several links and found myself searching the British National Archive at Kew online.  This took ages as the sort function did not work well and I worked my way through forty pages of awards of this cross.  I made a note of all Australian recipients. This was going to be a long search, a needle in a haystack.

However, a couple of days ago I saw another forum was discussing Guiding history and winter camping.   I was not a Guide but knew an elderly woman who had been assoicated with guiding all her life.  In her 80s, she still camped eevry winter at Mt Canobolas at Orange, NSW where it often snowed.  She was made a member of the Order of the British Empire for her service to Guiding.  While I was searching for her, I found a link to a site which details all women Australian recipients of all Imperial Honours.  Pure gold to me.  If you are interested in this type of thing, there are lists of recipients of all  honours, not just this one.

I now have the problem of the name.  As I said, I had heard nothing of this ever.  Back in the Great War 1914-18,  I doubt married women would have been serving.  I've looked up some history of regimental sites and this confirms that.  So I  need to look  for a maiden name.  I realise now that I hadn't heard anything of this from husband's side of the family either.  So I'm at an impasse.  I'm waiting  for my sister to hunt through the family history published  for mum's family.  I will retrieve that for dad's side from my son.  I've emailed two people with a thorough knowledge of my ex-husband's family  going well back into nineteenth century although I think it's from my family.    No names in the list stand out to me.  If it does turn out to belong to their father's side, I'll give it to my sons.

A mystery indeed.

Friday, 1 March 2013

the times, they are a'changin

The times are a'changin indeed.  Perhaps not quite as Bob Dylan sang, but it's autumn now.  The first day.While December was very dry we have also had a lot of rain.  And heat.  Too much heat and too hot. It was widespread too, even Tasmania was very hot many times.

For a couple of weeks now there has been a hint of autumn in the air, especially at night when the temperature has been down a little.  I am glad to see the end of summer, even if there may still be some hot days ahead. Today is very soggy and dark.  These pictures were taken about 10:00 am.  The lower picture should have the city skyline visible.

I was at son's place on Central Coast on Tuesday evening and all day Wednesday.  Housesitting.  Waiting in vain for a tradesman to call.  He is quite close to the station, his long legs do the distance in under ten minutes.  However I take longer, especially with poor hips.  The trip up was terrible.  The train was packed and the interurban train's air conditioning was not working, at least in the carriage I was in.  I was on the sunny side of the carriage, the only place I could get a seat.  Because it's normally air conditioned, the windows can't be opened and we sat in a hotbox fanning ourselves with paper, books, whatever came to hand.  There was some trackwork and the train moved at what seemed a walking place from Strathfield to Hornsby, almost half the journey in distance and we arrived fifteen minutes late. It was very hot and very stuffy and when I alighted after an hour of this, I was not sure how much longer I  could have lasted.  I wasn't the only one to feel like that.  I walked to son's rather slowly and sat down in the shopping centre for some minutes to enjoy the cool there.

Son works at a government department which was moved some years ago to the Central Coast.  It's handy for him and easy to get to.  However the new government has done its usual cost cutting and this department has had savage cuts made to it.  He's worked there for almost ten years and should have been made permanent some years ago but has continued on contract.  Many people lost their jobs in the purge and most others had to reapply.  He reapplied as an internal applicant before it was made public and seemed fairly sure of getting the job.  However HR dragged its feet and he came to the last hour of his contract yesterday before it was temporarily extended.  Another three are in similar position.  Checks are still being run because they left the whole process too late.  It seems the job is his, but he won't count it till he has letter of offer in his hand.  His job and the other three are essential to the smooth running of the place behind the scenes.

Unfortunately Fatty O'Barrel's Barry O' Farrell's cuts are wide ranging.  In son's region, an ambulance has been diverted elsewhere which means there is only one available for a widespread area known for nasty accidents on the freeway.

I haven't done much knitting, my fingers have been sore from the humidity.  I haven't even wound more of Ailsa's wool for my Lowtide vest and have only looked longingly at my parcels from Brooklyn Tweed,