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...

Friday, 29 September 2017

Surprising find!

I was driving along the street, glanced towards the op shop, and was surprised, most surprised.

On the verandah were a wooden desk and a wooden stool. Hmm. Better stop for a look.
Quick as a flash, I pulled into a handy parking spot.
Yes, there they stood. Dusty. Unwanted. Lovely. Solid teak.

Of course, I bought them both.
 I paid a low but fair price. New, they would have been double what the op shop wanted. And the money goes to a good cause. Win, win.

A little cleaning and attention with teak oil and now I have these charming additions to our already overcrowded flat.

Both pieces of furniture are made of recycled timber from fishing boats. How do I know this? I have a cupboard that bears similar signs of re-use. They are great. Solid timber, no chipboard or plywood. Handmade, with occasional rough bits. Well made. The stool has been repaired but it is still functional.
Perhaps they came from a divorce settlement. Perhaps someone was moving to a new house and changing their lifestyle. Now they have a new life with us.
And my husband has a special spot for doing his Indonesian studies.

I am so lucky. It was a most surprising find.

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Quilt Exhibition

I went to the Territory Quilts 2017 exhibition. Many quilts were entered in the competitions but some were for display only. Some quilts were suitable for use and some were artworks.
I had never before been to one of these exhibitions and this was more accessible for me than those of previous years.

I was very impressed by the quality of some of the quilting. That was definitely inspiring. With perseverance, I can get closer to that level of skill. Perseverance. Lots of perseverance.

Some of the patchwork was excellent too. I always enjoy Bargello in all its forms and there were some patchwork examples of that too.My photo of a bargello quilt does not show that quilt at its best.

Quite a few of the quilts were the end products of a workshop that the local club had run. Hmm. Eight quilts almost the same is not inspiring. Some were not exhibition ready either. While that does show the public how quilts are made, the quilts in question were very large and that display did not appeal to me.

Some quilts were straight from a book. Several were made from a block-of-the-month scheme. I think that is fine for domestic use, but not really for public exhibition and competition. Perhaps if the people had used some different colours it may have given a different impression; but paint-by-numbers is not creative, only a display of a few technical skills.
Maybe I am just too old-fashioned in this regard, but I would have thought that originality and art should play a huge role in selecting entries for a competition with some generous and high profile sponsors. I wonder what other people think.

Some quilts were made of recycled fabrics. I like that idea and have plans for a quilt like that myself. Maybe one day I could enter that section. Maybe, no promises.

One quilt really grabbed my attention because of its colours. It was made completely from indigenous prints. Possibly it was a group project, but I do not really know. Unfortunately, the layout was a little crooked and that detracted slightly from its points, but the artist has obvious artistic talents. Just a technical glitch.

Most of the applique was that type that is glued to the top and then machine stitched in place. I admit I can rarely do that well. Some quilts had felt appliques and hand stitching.

I thought it was odd that some quilts were made by two people. One had done the patchwork and the other had done the quilting. I wonder if this is a common practice for competitions.

Would I go again? Yes.

Would I suggest other people go to a quilt exhibition? That depends on how much you know about the techniques. A quilt is a big project, even a small quilt. I go to galleries and look at paintings and sculptures but I definitely have specific likes and dislikes. I like fabrics and fibre art in general. An enthusiast would get more than their money's worth from such a show, but a newbie might find it dull. My suggestion is to be prepared to work up to a good appreciation of the works and be prepared to grow intellectually from seeing the exhibits.

Sunday, 3 September 2017

Dad

Today is Fathers Day. I am remembering my father.

He was born in 1905 in Brisbane. Dad did not have the opportunities many of us take for granted today in Australia. He had only four years of school, but that did not ever stop him. He had a wide knowledge of Australian Colonial poetry and one of my best memories is of him reciting works by Paterson and Gordon. Dad had a gift for languages and when he was a POW  he taught French to the other Australians in Changi. He also spoke Arabic, Indonesian and some dialects of Chinese.

I am also thinking about all the fathers whose children have died. Broken hearts never mend completely and such a scar is horrible to live with.

I know I was not a very good daughter, but I am trying to make up for it now. Age helps us understand other people.

This evening we will go to our daughter's home for a meal to celebrate this special day. Luckily, she inherited the cooking gene from my father.

Thursday, 31 August 2017

Noble Tom Prosser

My photo is not very clear.
You can see the water being pumped out so the ship will sink lower.
The white pillars are at the back of the ship.
If I stand on my verandah and look at the harbour, I see an oil rig. It's called the Noble Tom Prosser and belongs to the Noble Drilling Corporation. It was built in 2014 in Singapore and is described as a jack-up rig.

The rig is working with PTTEP and hiring it costs $US130 000 per day. PTTEP is a Thai company involved in the oil and gas industry. I think at those prices I would not like it standing idle, but then again I do not work in big business.

This rig is designed to drill in water 120 metres deep and go down 10 000 metres into the seabed.

When the oil rig arrived in the harbour, it was piggy-backed on a semi-submersible ship. That was interesting enough. Those are the ships that sink down until the deck is under the water to load and unload, and then come up again. They manage this by pumping water in and out of the ballast tanks. I have seen this done a few times, but it is always amazing.

The big red ship, the semi-submersible heavy lift ship, is the Zhen Hua 33 from China. It is also staying in the harbour so it can be used for the next part of the journey.

Now everyone waits while the rig is commissioned for the job ahead. The oil rig is not drilling in the harbour but will be taken out to the Timor Sea. You may have heard about the oil and gas field between Timor and Australia. The costs and profits cause a bit of political tension.

This photo from the NT News website shows the oil rig sitting on the semi-submersible heavy lift ship.
Justin Kennedy is the photographer.

Here it is starting to move off the Zhen Hua 33.
This photo is from the Darwin Port Authority website.

My blurry photo.
The red ship in front of the oil rig is big.
The towers on the rig would easily be as tall as a 20-storey building.
You might be able to make out the scaffold-like structures that the rig is standing on.

I know my photography skills are not good. On top of that, I have cropped my photos, which does not help at all.

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Do you want a job outdoors?

Not the best photo. 
Last year we had an earthquake that damaged our building.
Rain came in the cracks, railings came loose, and a few other little details.

The engineers visited. The insurers visited.

Finally, repairs are well underway.

It's a tricky job but luckily it has not been windy.

I looked out the window and snapped a photo.

Do you want a job in the great outdoors? Fresh air and sunshine. This could be just right!

Here you can see the roof of a hotel across the street. The brown roof is more than 20 floors below us, and again across the street. The man is not sitting on that slatted window shade; he is hanging a few metres above it.

A crew of three, two men and a woman, have been abseiling up and down, this wall and then that. Ropes galore. It's a big building, 28 floors and about the footprint of a city block. No mistakes. Do not drop anything. Drilling. Cutting. Filling. Patching. Risking their necks. Very careful.

Not so long ago some politicians who have lovely inside jobs remarked that workers should not retire until the age of 70 or 75. Somehow I doubt these workers will last that long in such a high-risk occupation. I don't expect they will fall, but I do expect that other factors will encourage them to change jobs after a while.

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Another baby quilt

Another baby girl is due in the family so I made a quilt. My husband's cousin John will soon be a grandfather. Carly and Ryan have wanted a child for years.

I mixed a little blue into the top so that it could be used for a boy later, and then backed it with pink just in case. This quilt might be used for another child, but then again maybe not. The mix is mainly turquoise, purple, and yellow.

It is definitely time to use a different patchwork design.

I was quite happy with the quilt top but not so happy with my quilting. It definitely became frilly at the ends of the rows when I did the quilting. This should not have happened, and previous quilts have been more successful. I also had trouble with the tension as I stitched.

Perhaps it is time to get serious and start going regularly to some stitch-and-sew sessions at the fabric shop.

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Coca Cola Cake

Have you ever tasted a Coca Cola Cake?
I had noticed internet chitchat about this cake intermittently over the years.
Finally, I made one.
What was actually in it? Diabetics beware! Not a lot of soft drink, but a smattering of ingredients that are generally not really recommended as healthy. There was only one cup of coca cola, but an entire packet of small marshmallows and two cups of sugar. Let's be truthful - nobody eats cake to be healthy, ever.

The recipe said to make it as a slab, but following such advice was not on my agenda. Used a cake tin that looks a bit fancy; it filled a large tin. When making this cake, the batter is quite runny as it goes into the cake tin - surprisingly runny.
A dollop of icing and a few choc bits added finishing touches after my masterpiece had cooled.

What is the verdict?
This cake tastes fine, freezes well, and has enough preservatives to extend my life for an extra ten years. It is a firm cake; more like a mud cake than a sponge. One slice is definitely enough with a coffee.
Yes, I will make it again one day.