Tuesday, 26 December 2017

On the second day of Christmas

On the second day of Christmas, we continue feasting. And shopping. And writing those thank you letters.
Today is Boxing Day. Huge sales events in every city. Yes, I'll be looking for something special too. Online research today in preparation for the attack tomorrow.

We certainly feasted yesterday. Turkey, stuffing, roasted vegetables, mince pies, pastries, stone fruit, Christmas cake, wonderful coffee, and a sparkling wine. And more! It was a bit tricky preparing the food with so much tinsel on the kitchen bench, but we coped. That was not a Weight Watchers day at all.

Today our daughter and son-in-law will come for a cold lunch. This will be the sort of Christmas dinner I knew as a child. I was an adult before I learned that some people in Australia had hot food for Christmas dinner. I had thought that was just a fairy story.

Last June Camilla and Kevin got married and now a baby is expected. Yes, I am the enthusiastic mother-in-law from that other place. Interfering rather than supportive, probably. I searched through the suitcases of old baby clothes. I found the baby cutlery from thirty years ago. I found the crocheted baby blankets.

And  ...  I made a quilt. Camilla loves horses and rode for years. This quilt has horses. No matter if Baby is a boy or a girl, able-bodied or otherwise, active or indoorsy, this quilt will be just right I think. I was extra careful with my free-motion quilting this time. Actually, it was not free-motion because I drew lines. I was a bit disappointed because I bought wadding that was supposed to have adhesive on both sides. That didn't work at all. Then when I rinsed the quilt to remove my marking lines, the wadding shrank. I'll steer clear of that stuff in the future. However, Baby has a quilt that I made and it will be serviceable.

One of my students is a coptic Christian from Egypt and her family will not celebrate Christmas until 7th January. I think the other orthodox Christians around town celebrate two Christmases. That's a good idea - one social and one religious. I like Christmas for its social and political focus, although I love Christmas music. Customs from around the world make this time of year really special. Peace and harmony, giving and receiving, feasting and shopping. What could be better?

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

It's in the mail

At last the baby quilt is in the mail and off to Perth.

I was annoyed with myself because the free-motion quilting was very untidy. In the end, I decided that no matter what happened I could not do any better just now, so if the new owner does not like it they can just turn it over. The quilting does not look so obvious on the reverse side. Nobody wins all the time.

The quilt top was partially made some years ago (maybe 15 years) when I took some lessons. It was all completely overwhelming at the time and more lessons did not help in the slightest.

So now both twin boys get a small quilt for playing or snuggling or camping or something.

My message to myself? Learn how to do that quilting with rulers. I know they are sold at the local quilt shop and somewhere on YouTube will be some examples of use. And, And, And ... I found out that there are some proper lessons scheduled for February with a club that I simply must join. A New Year resolution well before the new year arrives. Or should I be trendy and call it a personal goal?

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Three Wise Carollers

The crowd was fiddling with phones of course.
Three of my friends sang Christmas carols to entertain the shoppers and workers at our biggest shopping centre last weekend.
They worked all day and moved from shop to shop.
At first, I thought the centre was playing recorded music, but no, it was Nora, Ambrose and Erin. No accompaniment was necessary.

Thursday, 16 November 2017

Dance to the music

Last weekend I went to a free concert by the Arafura Wind Ensemble. Some of my friends play with them and my choir has had the pleasure of performing under the same conductor. There were eleven clarinets! The concert was called War is Over and commemorated Armistice Day. I wore my red poppy and so did others.

The music was a selection from the time of the two world wars and the venue was the foyer of the Supreme Court Building, where the acoustics are wonderful.

No, this woman does not have an arm growing out of her back.
That arm belongs to the conductor who is obscured.
I will never win prizes for photography.
Military marches, songs, dances, and some more classical pieces. Of course, it included Colonel Bogey and On the Quarterdeck. I loved the way they did American Patrol. There was a great medley from La La Land too which did not exactly match the theme but made for more fun.

Some dancers from Northern Tango put on quite a show while the orchestra played tango music from the forties. Marvellous. Out came lots of phones to take photos, but it was tricky to get decent shots because of all the movement.

The concert was quite well attended and extra seats had to be found from other parts of the building. Even the children were spellbound.

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Sewing again

I have been sewing again.

My husband is part of a large and loving Catholic family. Twin boys, the grandsons of one of his cousins, live in Perth. The boys are my husband's first cousins twice removed. Or our children's second cousins once removed. How's that for degrees of separation and family connections?

So back to the machine for two little quilts. One is finished. The top of the other quilt is waiting for me. Ha! Emphasise waiting.

I tried to be a bit more creative with the quilting this time, but it is still all in straight lines. The quilt has remained flat with no wobbly ends, thankfully. I learned that too much parallel quilting causes that problem.

I accidentally discovered that more than a few of the family members are quite competitive in quilting. And some of them are extremely smart! With the help of YouTube and various blogs, I hope to keep up. I am not naturally competitive about the usual things, so I'll be supportive. It's about effort and love. My husband counted that I have sewn 22 baby quilts now. He is competitive, I suspect.

Monday, 23 October 2017

Walking and looking

I walked again this morning, but only 6km. Many people were doing the same, although I guess the ones I saw were not going to work as I didn't even start until after breakfast. It was lovely this morning - only 26 degrees C, but the humidity was high at 96%. I was happy to finish before the day warmed up.

I stopped for a drink and saw these lovely flowers peeping through the fence of the Deckchair Cinema. Made me smile.

Locally, these flowers are called Parrots' Beaks, but the correct name is Heliconia Rostrata. I looked on the internet and was amazed at the prices nurseries expect customers to pay for them. Homeowners here chop them out and throw them in the bin. It's a bit tricky to display the flowers in a vase. Leave them in the garden. These plants grow quickly and thickly. Partial shade, plenty of food and drink.

How big are the flowers? These today would have been about 30 - 40 cm long but I have seen them much longer if the gardener takes a lot of care.

Sunday, 22 October 2017

Native gingers in bloom

Lately, I have been walking in the mornings in a desperate effort to become a little healthier. I was using the treadmill but it is difficult to sustain the activity for the length of time required to make a significant difference. So, outside I go.

A little rain and magic happens. I saw these pretty native gingers one morning this week. When the sun is very bright, they are sparkly pink. When the weather is overcast, the colour becomes more purplish.

I know these have been planted by the local council, but I have seen the same plant growing wild in Litchfield National Park.

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Violets

We are home again after a trip to the Blue Mountains. It was a bitter-sweet occasion. One sweet moment was seeing these lovely violets in a Lithgow garden.

A much-loved brother-in-law died and the family gathered for the funeral. Don had done a lot of voluntary work for the St Vincent de Paul Society. So many people had memories to share of his good deeds - his family had no knowledge of most of that. Such a good and private man.

It was marvellous to see once again so many family members. The children had grown. The adults had such a lot to say. We had a wonderful time talking, talking, remembering, and getting to know one another again. Don had lived in the same house for more than fifty years. There are so many photos, books, letters, and so forth. Happiness mingled with grief.

Peter, the oldest son, returned a few years ago to live with his parents, a loving choice to make. After his mother died Peter took on the extra responsibilities involved. Now Peter has lost his father, his housemate, his sounding board, and will lose his home. Bittersweet.

We had the new-for-us experience of staying in an AirBnB house in the mountains. That was a shock! The house itself was architecturally very nice indeed, but the management left a lot to be desired. At least the beds were comfy. but The bins were overflowing and had obviously not been emptied for at least three months. The cutlery and plates had been put away dirty in spite of there being a dishwasher. Lights were broken. One bathroom was a rust party. There was no exhaust fan over the stove. The oven was filthy. And the wooden walkway through the garden was rotten and broken. What a disaster! I do not know how AirBnB regulates the places it advertises, but this one was a shocker.

Now we are home again. I admit that these recent events have changed my outlook on life. Housework and home maintenance have a higher priority thanks to AirBnB. I am changed by the knowledge of Don's voluntary efforts in his community. Isn't it strange that we can be lifted by a sad event? Love is so complicated.

Monday, 2 October 2017

Mary Poppins cooks

I saw this post on Pineapple Princess and really wanted to share it.
Mary Poppins fascinates me, probably because of my long association with little children - too long probably for my personality.

Lyndon Goff, who wrote as P.L. Travers, grew up near where I lived as a child. She lived at Allora for quite a while. She went on to write many books for a wide cross-section of the community.

I wonder if you ever ate pineapple fritters. I assure you I did, and I made them too. They were an essential part of a dish called Chicken Maryland. If someone wanted to impress others, they cooked Chicken Maryland - a nice big piece of chicken a banana fritter, and a pineapple fritter. Ah, youth.

Pineapple Princesses: Mary Poppins and the children cook pineapple fritt...: Mary Poppins in the Kitchen: A Cookery Book with a Story, P. L. Travers and Maurice Moore-Betty (culinary consultant), illustrated by Mary...