Monday, 30 October 2017

so just what was the question?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, 22 October 2017

rain at last

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, 14 October 2017

Padraig and friends

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, 8 October 2017

some people

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

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

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

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

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

Lunch time, so will sign out.

Sunday, 1 October 2017

Millie, Molly, Mandy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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