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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Around the garden...

It's been a bit drier here in SE Queensland this year, but some good rain has fallen this month...it also actually rained in some of the rural areas that have been in drought. Winter hasn't really visited us this year and I'm sure the plants thought that we went straight from Autumn to Spring! I took a few photos a week or so ago...

Nasturtiums always remind me of my childhood...one of the few flowers growing in the garden that my mother would allow me to pick.
 I brought home these as self sown seedlings from my friend's garden and they have finally flowered...
 Since using the sprinkler once a week with tank water, the passionfruit vine has rewarded me by producing fruit that ripened and didn't just wither on the vine ;-(
 My mother's aloe vera plants have grow tall flower spikes in the last month or so...(I 'inherited' my mum's potted garden that she had in her later years)

 Some bromeliads that I 'cadged' from a friend...

 Some self sown Dietes...

A geranium grown from  a cutting...

 The NZ Christmas bush has been flowering all winter...

But I've kept the best thing I found in the garden till last...
Last year I wanted to trim the top of one of my bottle brush trees...but there was a little nest in it, right near the top. So no trimming and eventually a couple of chicks hatched out...squawking for their parents to feed them. In no time at all it seemed, the hatchlings flew and the nest lay empty. And I never did get around to trimming the top of the tree! Well a few weeks ago I noticed that there was a bird sitting in the nest...
Despite taking lots of photos...you can't really see much...



Then, 2 days ago I stood beneath the tree and looked up and I saw 3 open mouths!
DH took some photos with its special lens attached...


It looks like 'Daddy' bird is helping ...

I feel so proud that this little bird family have chosen my tree in which to bring up their chicks...

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

'Big Brother' was watching me last week!

I'm not referring to that reality TV show, just using the term that people use when trying to describe how 'someone in Authority knows what the ordinary person is up to' as he/she goes about everyday life. The inference has sometimes been associated with an almost sinister overtone, but my experience was much more benign. 
Since 2007, I have been part of a joint research project of Queensland University of Technology and the University of Queensland, called 'Habitat'. Over those years,  I had filled out 3 booklets of questions about my suburb and its facilities, my health and well being and also questions about my work and exercise.


 Then a month ago I got a letter from the team saying that because of more funding being made available, the team was going to collect data on how people's faculties/physical abilities change as they age, and the team were looking for volunteers. I agreed to be part of this stage.
So that's how a charming young research officer called Genevieve came to my home to 'put me through some paces' :-)
After a short interview, I was given a survey booklet to fill out while Genevieve set up little 'activity stations' on our large side veranda...hmmm what had I let myself in for...? 
Most of the activities were balance focussed...it started with simple things and gradually built up to the rather difficult 'stand on one leg for 30 seconds...with both eyes closed'...sounds easy? Try it! Lol. I managed the 30 secs on my left leg but could only manage 15 secs on my right leg. ( I hate failing at 'stuff', so afterwards Googled the scenario of standing on one leg with eyes closed and found that the brain uses a number of sources to maintain balance...vision is one source) 

Your sense of balance relies on a dynamic process in which your brain and body take in and respond to physical information through your eyes, muscles and nervous system as you physically navigate the world. Without this feedback, your body's ability to respond to it and balance itself suffers.

Other activities tested flexibility, ability to change direction quickly and another one was stepping with knees high for 2 minutes...like the 'marking time' we used to do in marching drills at school. 

This all took an hour, and then it was time to brief me about what I would have to do for this project for the next 7 days...these items and I would have a very close relationship during that week...
The item on the left is an activity monitor...I wore it on my left wrist each day, from when I first got up, until bedtime that evening. It had no screen so I couldn't see what it recorded. The other gadget was fastened around my waist and was a GPS...everywhere I went, it recorded. And I had the yellow  record sheet to fill out with the details of when I took the monitors on and off. 
The week went quickly and in no time at all it seemed, I was putting everything into the replied paid envelope and sending it back to the team at the university. In 2 years I will have to do it all again...in the meantime I 'm planning to keep practising those balance activities! Lol

A bit more about the origin of that term, 'Big Brother'...

Big Brother is a fictional character in George Orwell's novel Nineteen Eighty-Four. He is the enigmatic dictator of Oceania, a totalitarian state wherein the ruling Party wields total power "for its own sake" over the inhabitants.

In the society that Orwell describes, every citizen is under constantsurveillance by the authorities, mainly by telescreens. The people are constantly reminded of this by the phrase "Big Brother is watching you", the maxim ubiquitous on display. However, in the nature of doublethink, this phrase is also meant to mean that Big Brother is a benevolent protector of all citizens.

Since the publication of Nineteen Eighty-Four, the term "Big Brother" has entered the lexicon as a synonym for abuse of government power, particularly in respect to civil liberties, often specifically related to mass surveillance.

Friday, August 22, 2014

More nuns?? Then and now...

In my previous post I wrote about my dressing up as a nun for Book Week in 1999...well I came across some old photos a little while back which I put aside thinking they could be used in a future post...so that time is now :-) 
The story starts in December 1971 when, for some reason or other, I bought a cookie jar for my soon to be Sister in Law...the jar was in the shaped of a monk! I have no idea why I felt that it was a perfect Christmas gift for her...but it had quite taken my fancy. I had found it in Myer's city store here in Brisbane, where I had purchased most of the gifts on my list. At the last minute I kept the cookie jar for my self and bought another gift for Marlene...Now from here the story become quite bizarre and you might 'wonder about me'? lol

Then a few years later my mother found more cookie jars in the same range in a local gift shop...and she bought both another monk and a nun! Then my MiL bought me a nun cookie jar in her home city of Melbourne...before I knew it, I had a bit of a collection going without any real effort from me! Lol. And here are some photos from circa 1973-4...it's alright to snigger/laugh uproariously at these photos because The 2014 me certainly is! Lol



Eventually after extensive renovations at our home in 1979-80, my 'monastery/convent collection' as friends called it, eventually found a home on the ledge beside the new internal staircase... 
Here is DD2, aged about 2 and the lineup of the collection can be seen in the background...


In 2000, I moved out of the family home taking very little with me...and certainly not the collection! In 2003, after settlement, I took over the house again to prepare it for sale, and the collection had gone with my former husband to Victoria. He claimed that he had bought and paid for all of the cookie jars???? So they were gone and that was that...realistically I didn't really have room in the house I now lived in. ( One beautiful German-made jug in the shape of a monk remained in the house for me to recover, as it had been in a cupboard and had not been found)  
But unknown to me DD1 was searching for replacements and one Christmas, she presented me with a box, and in that box was a monk cookie jar which she had found on Ebay. Dear DD1 was to go on to find another one a year of so later.

I then found out that she was trying to find a nun jar...I was a bit concerned as these cookie jars were quite expensive and I didn't want her spending so much...so I pre-empted her and bought one myself on Ebay from the US...the jar wasn't expensive but the postage was! lol. So once again I had a Monastery/Convent collection! They 'live' on top of the buffet hutch but during a recent dust and clean session, I took a photo of them 'posing' on the dining table! lol

The little nun was bought on a visit to Rome in 2008 and that jug previously mentioned is on the left. 

(I have seen these jars in Antique shops and prices were around the $75 mark...a big difference from the $5.99 I paid for that first one in 1971)


Monday, August 18, 2014

Book Week!

In the last few weeks I've been hearing friends discussing Book Week which is an annual initiative of the Children's Book Council ofAustralia and the aim of this organisation is to promote  the enjoyment and engagement of children with Literature. At various levels in the Community, it is a week of activities promoting children's literature...most families become involved at the school, daycare, kindergarten  levels and it was this involvement that my friends were discussing...and in particular the costumes that have become part of the week's celebration. Apparently it can be a stressful time for mums, aunts, grandmas etc who have been put to work making a costume...one friend informed me that the standards and expectations of these costumes have grown exponentially from her  early memories of Book Week. 
Well in my occasional series of posts that look back at my time/career in the classroom, I am going back to Book Week 1999. 
I was team teaching with Nola on Year 1. We decided that we would visit a local Costume Hire store in our lunch break one day (yes a free lunch break; it did happen once upon a time!) and check out outfits. Hmmm, most of the costumes were in tiny sizes and we were starting to get a bit concerned about whether we would find anything suitable to wear as a character from a children's book....then Nola found the very loose witch costume. Our Year 1 class loved a book called 'Witch, Witch, Come to my Party?', so one costume had been found.

Then I found a loose nun's outfit, but the problem was, what children's book had a nun as a character?  Nola knew one! Miss Clavell in the Madeline books! So we both had costumes which we booked to collect the day before the dress up day at school. 
The photo was taken in the staffroom at morning tea...

And aren't I very pious there with my fruit for morning tea, ignoring the plates of cakes! Lol

Some background...one of the Year 1 girls would not come near Nola for the whole 2 sessions that we stayed in costume...she wouldn't believe that it was Nola under that makeup. That little girl is still in touch with me and there don't seem to be any long term ill  effects of being scared that day! Lol. 

At lunch time Nola and I walked out of the school grounds to the local shops just so Nola could buy some lunch...needless to say we did get tooted at a bit by cars on busy Kelvin Grove Rd. 

The wonders of the Internet...here is a reading of the Witch Witch book...I'd forgotten how much I liked this book as it really entranced the children!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Hexies

Last month I missed out linking up with Sarah's Help for Hexaholics monthly post and link up. I was running late this month too, on account of the sore wrists/forearms that have bugged me a lot of this past week. But a little late nonetheless, I have made progress with those Hexies from the kit I bought at the Liberty shop.
I didn't manage to use all 30 hexagons but Lin gave me an idea that may assist in using all 30 rather than just 19 :-). I plan to make a cushion eventually but I have only made this motif so far. I ended up using an idea I had seen on Pinterest ages ago and pinned it.
It involves arranging the 2 colours in a swirl pattern rather than the traditional Grandma's Garden motif.


My brain was in a bit of a fog the other night when I was trying to layout the hexies like the pinned diagram from Pinterest...when I finally got it right, I labelled each hexie...made it so much easier!


Now a little bit of Trivia. I worked on this project yesterday at Sunday Stitchers and one of my fellow Stitchers commented that the design look like a swastika...I remarked that that was a bit unfortunate but I couldn't really see it myself....I could see swirls. :-) I was a bit appalled actually....:-:
 But then I remembered something I had read years ago...the swastika was actually based on an Ancient Greek Symbol. A little research today showed that the same symbol is featured in many cultures including being a symbol of auspiciousness in Hindu culture.     http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swastika
 So that explains the crocheted insert on a vintage table centre that came in a bundle of old linens that I bought on EBay many years ago...when I saw this design, I thought hmmm...maybe I won't bother to clean this up and reuse the lace...it obviously was a design that was around long before the Second World War...


Visit Sarah's blog here...http://sarahdidit.blogspot.com.au

Saturday, August 16, 2014

That secret project...

A little while ago I wrote about a secret knitting project that I was working on and I showed a rather blurry photo of the back of the work...
Doesn't show much at all does it?

Last weekend I handed over the finished throw to Nanette, the new owner, so now I can show the front of it here on the blog :-)
Like most of my throws, I folded this one up and tied it with a bow...thus...but still only showing the wrong side...lol

But before I did that I got DH to take a photo of the rug with me holding it out to show all the colours. Nanette chose pinks, mauves and purples with a soft mid grey main colour as the background. It turned out to be a lovely soft throw with that beautiful lightness typical of mohair yarns.


Thank you for all those messages wishing me a speedy recovery from the RSI...the good news is that since having a 4 day break from crafting, knitting does not produce the soreness and aching that crocheting does...so more throws to come! (I do use the ergonomic crochet hooks too) But also, in the garden, I will  avoid pulling up tough clumps of grass and weeds and use the long handled secateurs for pruning and trimming. A life without crafting would be horrible so 'an ounce of prevention, is worth a pound of cure'...as they say! 

Friday, August 15, 2014

FNSI with RSI...

Looks like I'm 'talking in initials' doesn't? Apparently the weakness in my right hand when I was pulling out weeds a couple of weeks ago is linked to the ache I developed in both my wrists early this week...somehow I've managed to develop a Repetitive Strain Injury and have had to take a bit of a backward step from sewing, knitting and especially crocheting. The last time I did any crocheting was last Monday and it hurt, which is rather sad as I was on such a roll joining squares into blankets and making granny squares. The good news is that there is a definite improvement and I have relented and purchased a pair of wrist and hand support gloves from Judy Hall (Punch with Judy) and hopefully they will arrive next week. 
So this month's Friday Night Sew In has been a little different...but I kept myself busy nonetheless :-)
Firstly, I took photos of the lovely items my sister in law and her friend made for K4BN....I can now send these photos to the group's Facebook page...
Firstly some baby blankets made by Ada my SiL's friend...5 beautifully made blankies....

A gorgeous crocheted rug from Mary, my SiL....

And Mary has sewn lots of children's quilts for the group as well...


And Mary made some drawstring bags too...


I sandwiched the layers of the 'dog quilt'...I cheated and used some iron on batting and I used polar fleece for the backing. My friend Pamela often backs quilts with polar fleece, even ones that go to the professional quilter, so I thought I'd give it a go. Missy the dog might get her quilt this winter! But I think the quilting will just be 'stitch in the ditch'. 



I had 6 Liberty hexagons to attach (I still stitch them) to the papers, so this evening I did that and then played with layouts. I want to make a cushion with them and was hoping to get a symmetrical layout that used all 30 of the hexagons that were in the kit that I bought from the Liberty shop. 
But there were either 1-3 left over or not enough to complete a proposed layout...


Time to put them away and await inspiration! Lol