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Sunday, January 30, 2011

Busy times...

I've been a bit slack writing posts lately. The weekend was certainly full! On Saturday, we went grocery shopping early and also popped into Myer to inquire as to the whereabouts of the small laptop I bought on Boxing Day. After waiting ages while the young man frantically keyed in information from my 'slip' into the register, it became apparent that although I'd paid, the laptop had not been ordered. To cut a long story short, there were none available, but I was offered the display one with a discount. And I decided to take their offer. Then I had to wait while the laptop had its factory settings restored...half an hour.
So all of this was a tiny bit frustrating as I wanted to be home to make a batch of patty/cup/fairy cakes for our little afternoon tea soiree. One of our great nieces had turned 1 and instead of us visiting her, Alex's parents said that they would visit us. So we invited some other great aunts and uncles and our nephew also brought his mum, Sonja who as well as being Alex's far-mor (Danish for paternal grandma), is our SIL. So as well as cooking there was still some vacuuming to do and putting breakables and pet bowls out of reach. Eventually we headed home and got on with our preparations. Just on lunchtime, I checked my FaceBook page and our nephew had posted that his grandmother mor mor (Sonja's 90 y/o mum had had a stroke last week and had been given 6 months to live max) had just died . So we got to work on 2 phones ringing people to let them know. However, Sonja assured us that they were still coming over for afternoon tea.

Alex, our guest of honour arrives! The feet and legs belong to daddy (Dean) and mummy (Jane).

Alex isn't quite sure about this 'blowing out the candle' business!

Some of the lovely people in our family; I have been so fortunate to be accepted so willingly into this family in the last 9 years.
So by just after 2.30 all our guests had arrived and we had an enjoyable afternoon being entertained by little Alex!  And of course sharing lots of memories of Sonja's mother. We also discovered that it was actually Sonja's birthday that day. DH had always thought her birthday was Australia Day and I had sent her a Jacqui Lawson ecard on Wednesday! So we sang happy birthday to the 2 birthday girls.
Our little guest of honour got quite tired by all the excitement so we bid them goodbye as they headed back home to the Southside.
Note:- Here in Brisbane we have 2 areas...north of the river and south of the river. It is a strange phenomen here that people identify with being either a northsider or a southsider. Our nephew and his family are southsiders, DH and the other aunts and uncles are northsiders. So it's a big thing to visit each other as we leave our 'territories'.. ridiculous really in a medium sized city!!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

On my mind...exercise!

The exercise bike with the iPod draped over the handlebars.

On my mind today is the issue of exercising. When people have asked me what I plan to do now that I've started pre-retirement leave, as well as the obvious hobbies, I've also mentioned that I wanted to work on my fitness. Years ago I used to walk for about 40 minutes each day to keep fit. In recent years I haven't been doing that due to a few things...laziness, tiredness caused by severe anaemia as well as hip and knee pain the legacy of a fall in 2002. (I decided to relive my childhood and started to scramble over rocks on the beach at Caloundra...they were slimey weren't they? and I fell heavily didn't I?)

We replaced my old exercise bike a few years ago when the tension went. The bike is a good alternative to walking for me as it does not aggravate the hip and knee. A few times things got so painful when I tried to walk on the paths near the creek etc, that I would have to ring DH on my mobile to come and rescue me. I have iron infusions for my anaemia but there is always that amount of time between infusions where I get very fatigued but I have to wait until all the new tests are done and a hospital booking made to get some iron. Over the last 2 years, I was extremely tired after work each day so after making dinner, I had no energy for anything else so very little exercise was done...well actually , none!

So since Christmas, I have been building up my time on the exercise bike and can now do 25 minutes straight, with the tension turned up for at least 15 minutes . You see I HAVE to do something as a blood test in November showed my glucose levels had gone from 5 to 7.5! Actually I was quite indignant, because for 3 months before the test, I had stopped drinking wine with my meals. So even though, my waist measurement trimmed down, my sugar levels went up...the lack of exercise...and maybe too many choccies????

I do plan to try walking on the bike paths as well though to see how I go. I have a Bowen therapy treatment once a month and it's amazing how the pain levels have gone right down. You might say...why don't you get on a 'real bike' and ride on the bike paths??? I have a confession...I can't ride a bike...didn't have a bike as a kid, tried to learn to ride a friend's bike when I was about 11 but crashed into fences etc and gave up!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Happy Australia Day...

Today is Australia Day and most cities and communities have various activities which people can attend. Other people have BBQs (barbeques) with friends and family to celebrate. Other people just enjoy having a day off work! January 26 is often referred to as 'Invasion Day' by the aboriginal people as it commemorates the day the British settlement at Sydney Cove started, led by Captain (later Governor) Arthur Phillip thus usurping the indigenous people's ownership of the land. For some aboriginal people the day is not one for celebration!

Some of our 'Australiana' that comes out each Australia day!
Australia day has gradually become a 'big deal'! By that I mean that the shops are stocked with merchandise depicting the Aussie flag for months! Community groups, Clubs, hotels and shopping centres host 'family events' with toad races, free sausage sizzles, face painting, jumping castles, rides, concerts etc. People can be dressed like an aussie flag, in flag shorts, shirts, thongs and hats. They can drink from flag waterbottles, flag stubby coolers, put their bbq supplies in a flag esky. They can dry off after a swim with a flag towel...and so the list of items goes on. I don't remember the fervour when I was growing up or for the next 2 decades. The best thing about these celebrations is the fact that those participating reflect the many faces of what an Australian is...many, many cultural backgrounds, but all proud to be Aussies! Today DH and I celebrated at a friend's house by having a lunchtime BBQ. And didn't we have lots of fun!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Day 2 of the 'rest of my life'...

Yesterday was a very satisfying day as when all my colleagues headed off to work with their new classes, I did not! My Sunday night wasn't filled with preparations such as ironing, organising lessons and resources, packing lunch and morning tea etc either. Instead of arising at 5.30 am, I chose a time close to 7 am, and firstly did 25 minutes on my exercise bike. Then a leisurely 'egg on toast' and cup of tea breakfast while I read the newspaper. Then a few quick chores, a shower, clean clothes and DH and I went to Bunnings to buy some more pavers to make paths to the front gate, down the western side of the house and another path to the clothesline. After we had bought the pavers I suddenly thought that we perhaps should have checked out the demolition yards first. Oh well, maybe next time!

A hibiscus flower grown by my friends.

Later in the day I watched some shows that we had recorded, 'Lewis' and 'Ashes to Ashes' while I did some was bliss! DH had a long conversation with a real estate agent who 'cold-called' us and the upshot of that conversation is that an agent is coming out to talk to us next week about selling our house. I'm of 2 minds about this as we did put our house on the market last year after being talked into testing the market. We're very happy here but I will acknowledge that our 1950s house needs work done again and will continue to do so. The developers are gradually changing the streetscape of our suburb and a developer has bought the property next door. But the developers hope that people will sell to them at low prices...we won't, so that's why we didn't sell last year. And I was happy that it didn't sell then. Because we're travelling in March/April it doesn't seem to make sense to try to sell the house now but DH sees things differently. I guess time will tell...stayed tuned.

A beautiful bouquet given to Yas and Stu (nephew and his wife) following the birth of Harper. There are singlets, socks, bibs etc manipulated to look like flowers, oh and some chocolates too. Very clever and very useful!!!

Today I had lunch with a former colleague who has gone back to university to study for a new career. Yes we did talk school for a while but that should get less and less the longer I am away!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Some links...

Today I'm including 2 links in my post. The first one is a link to the Etsy shop, but more specifically to those craftspeople who are selling items as a fund-raising effort for the Floods Appeal. There are some lovely items that would make great gifts.

The second link is to a newspaper obit in the Santa Monica Mirror, which pays homage to my husband's cousin who died recently. We were due to finally meet 'Thellie' in March when we travelled to the US. We had hoped to help her celebrate her 98th birthday, but it wasn't to be. Thelma was actually Bruce's mother's cousin and family legends are many and varied about this US war bride. She was a real character right up to the end. DH's brother and his wife travelled to the US in 2009 and met and stayed with her. She always enjoyed relatives and friends from Australia visiting but sadly meeting up with us was not meant to be.
 We still plan to visit Santa Monica and we will definitely visit Huntington Beach where Thelma's daughter lives. In the meantime the Aussie relatives are having our own Celebration of Thellie's Life, complete with Fosters, on January 30. Oh how those memories and tears will flow...

The first of the 60th Birthday celebrations for 2011...

This year quite a few people I know are turning 60...including yours truly!  In the last couple of years a number of my old school friends have got back in touch so straight away that makes for a lot of people in my circle having this milestone birthday. Today was the first for the year. My friend Carmel organised a ladies luncheon to celebrate her birthday. Carmel and I were teaching colleagues from about 1975 until 1981 when she took a promotion and moved away. We stayed friends and both of us had our children at around about the same time. Then in about 1989, Carmel decided to send her son to the school where we had both met up all those years before. I was the Co-ordinator of the After school care centre there and Carmel's son stayed in our centre each day. My older daughter also attended this school and eventually both Carmel's and my younger children attended as well. Now we started being involved with the P& C and fete committees and we did this until our children left primary school. Well and truly by that time, I was back teaching but Carmel had always stayed with the department, only taking maternity leave.

The birthday girl standing up and giving the guests some cheek!

I attended her 40th, her retirement dinner and now today her 60th. It was a lovely venue, 'Room with Roses' Cafe right in the centre of the city in the Old Brisbane arcade. DH drove me in but I came home on the bus, using my new GoCard! It was so long since I've been to the city, but I declined to go after lunch with some of my friends to 'look around' David Jones. I frankly have no interest any more in looking around department stores unless there is something that I especially need to buy. And that is getting less and less...I make gifts or buy gifts from the craft markets, I shop at DFO for gifts or buy gift cards...

My post yesterday mentioned iPods and how I planned to get out the manual and see if I could put some more mp3 music files on the iPod. I loved Linni at Home's suggestion of getting a teenager to do it for me. Problem is, when I got the iPod nearly 2 years ago, DD1 put a number of albums on by copying CD files and transferring them and then supervised my buying a 'Skyhooks' album from iTunes. I promised her faithfully that I would then buy more with the credit I had been given by my brother as well as copying some of my favourite CDs....trouble is I haven't done it and I'm too ashamed to tell DD1 or DD2 and my sweet DS-D reckons she's hopeless at that sort of! But all is not lost! I now have lots of time to learn these things as I did my last day as a teacher yesterday.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Love you Queensland...On my mind...

Today I want to share a link to a song which has been recorded by people from one of Brisbane's Theatre groups, Harvest Rain Theatre. The clip also features Simon Gallaher, a local boy, who achieved fame with his musical talents as well as being well-known for his role in the 'Pirates Of Penzance' with Jon English. The song started life many years ago as a TV station jingle and was called 'Love you Brisbane'. Now the song has re-emerged as 'Love You Queenland' and features photos of the flooding. The song is also available from iTunes and is being marketed to raise money for the Flood appeal.
 I guess I will have to sit down with the iPod manual and work out how to get the song on to my iPod. lol

DH and retirement...

DH retired in 2009 when he turned 60. He really took to the new lifestyle, no early morning treks to the railway station, no long long days at the office and up to 5 days per week playing golf. Less than a year after he retired his former boss started offering contracts. At least one he wasn't able to take as we had a Norfolk Is holiday planned. But it wasn't long before he had an offer he didn't think he could refuse. So for a number of months he ran a government office in Ipswich, commuting from Brisbane each day on the train.  As the organisation wanted him to run the federal election for the seat of Blair, DH negotiated that when the election was called he would have accommodation in Ipswich for the duration of the election. Remember all the drama last year when 'Kevie' was deposed by Julia? Despite the denials of an impending election, the election was suddenly announced and DH worked 'flat out'!  Eventually, a month after the election his contract finished and he was back home with us again. Then...

Last November the former boss rings him to congratulate him on a job well done and to offer another contract...this time to organise an 'Out of country' referendum for southern Sudanese to secede from the rest of Sudan. So a rushed trip to Canberra almost straight away and then training Sudanese staff, organising a venue for both training and voting and getting ready for the 3 stages of the voting process; registration, verification and voting. Everything done at each of the centres in Australia had to mirror what was happening in the Sudan. My husband was looking forward to the completion of the tasks when flooding hit Brisbane and the Southbank venue was flooded. Eventually some alternatives were sorted out and the polls closed on Tuesday and the papers were sent to Canberra on Wednesday morning. DH's contract was finished and another job well done. Of course he was then ready for lots of golf...unfortunately the rains and flooding means that conditions on city golf courses are not very pleasant at the moment. Never mind...there's always next week!
DH on the left. Photo was in one of the local papers to illustrate a news item about the shed at the course which caught fire destroying a number of golf-buggies stored inside. Obviously the sub editor thought these 2 fellows were a better photo than the burnt out shed!!!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

I love my opthalmologist!

In April 2009 on the spur of the moment I asked my GP for a referral to the eye specialist whom I had not visited for nearly 10 years. I don't know what made me do that because I had just been getting my eyes tested at a big Optometry chain and the specs organised by them. A friend's daughter worked at this chain and was always so helpful in finding frames etc that were flattering (well sort of flattering) and knew lots of 'tricks' to help disguise how thick the lenses had become over the years. Maybe I should digress here and give some history of my eyesight! ... I first had trouble seeing the blackboard in Grade 8 but not much notice was really taken until in my Grade 9 year I went into our next door neighbour's yard where her son and some other local boys were shooting with their air rifles. I asked them what they were shooting at and they said 'the toy cowboys and indians' on the retaining wall. Well for the life of me I couldn't see them. Then one boy lent me his glasses and when I put them on I could see all these little plastic figures on the wall...magic!

So from 14 years old I wore glasses and hated them! Then before I married, I got contact lenses in 1971. Even though it was great not having glasses I was to have various problems with infections etc over the next 25 years. Then in the mid 1990s I suffered a detached retina and after the painful treatment I vowed it would be a long time before I put a lens in my eye. (there was no medical reason to stop wearing the was all in my head...) Unfortunately my specs now had very thick lenses...horrible!!!

I think this photo shows how thick the lenses were; especially the right one

Any way back to 2009...I was not able to get an appointment until July. By then I had been pondering how I would still be able to afford the high price that my specs had become when I had retired. Even with private health insurance, I still had to pay $450+ and often every year or 18 months. I knew that my eyesight was 'too bad' to completely cure with laser surgery but I thought it could improve my sight so that the specs would be thinner and possibly because of that I wouldn't need all these 'extras' that used to camouflage the thickness. I decided I was going to ask the doctor about laser surgery. When I did, he deflated me by saying it wouldn't work for me. But then he said that I had cataracts developing on both eyes. That explained the 2 instances that year when I awoke with blurred vision that lasted till morning tea break. Because I had cataracts my health fund would pay all the expenses for inter-ocular implants. These implants are often done on people with poor vision but they are charged nearly $3000 per eye and the health funds don't pay out. The doctor promised me that 'I would be a new woman'... and he was right. I had one eye done at a time with 5 days between. Within hours of the op I could see out of that eye. I had to lie in a darkened room for a few days and had to use drops constantly. A few days after the second op I woke up in the morning and realised that I could see a neighbour's garden down the road a bit! I had become so shortsighted over the years that I saw nothing clearly beyond 6 inches from my face...

One thing though, I couldn't things close up. The doctor said to buy reading glasses of 2.5 magnification from the chemists, which I did and they were great! Then a friend said that the 'cheap shops' have reading glasses for as little as $4! So I checked them out and bought some of those. Now I have a pair beside the computer, beside the bed, on the kitchen bench, on my sewing table, on the coffee table in the lounge and a few pairs in handbags. My former hairdresser used to call me 'Elton' because every time I had my hair done I had a different pair of lairy glasses to put on to read the mags!

My 2.5 reading glasses bought over the counter. This collection ranges in price from $4 to $20. A lot different from the full priced $700 ones I used to have!

One of the best things though is the fact that I can wear ordinary sunglasses! And people can see my eyes not the thick, thick lenses !! I do love Dr Waldie!!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Nourishing Traditions cont....

Yesterday I wrote about the book 'Nourishing Traditions' and I received some very useful comments from fellow bloggers. I've now got some suggestions of different milks which make good substitutes for raw milk so that make some of the recipes in the book attainable! I've ended up buying the book and I was able to buy it from an Australian company online for less than what it would have cost from the Book Depository. I got it from and at the moment they are offering free postage! I always check Amazons, Abebooks and Booktopia too and Amazons was cheaper but the book is very heavy and postage/shipping would have been quite a bit...probably about $27USD.
Now I also appear to have found a supplier of rapadura a form of sugar recommended by the book. But I must admit I haven't checked out any health shops yet as buying online will mean shipping costs. This is the company I've found. Now the product is expensive but considering that DH and I take over 12 months to consume a 1kg bag of sugar it would not be so prohibitive. A friend in the US commented last year that she had changed to  (coconut) palm sugar and had lost that could be worth some investigation too.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

On my mind...

On my mind today is the book 'Nourishing Traditions'. I found out about this book on Rhonda Jean's blog, and put a hold on it from the council library. I have found the book really interesting albeit frustrating as many of the recommended foods are not available here easily such as, for example, unpasteurised milk, although I haven't checked out health stores locally. But I think it's against the law to sell such products to the public. But many other ideas in the book are achieveable and I've taken little steps to implement some changes.
Now this book was due back at the library yesterday and obviously someone else has put a hold on it as I cannot extend my loan. For the past month at various times I've surfed the net looking at sites which sell this book. So far the best price I've found is the 'Book Depository' in the UK which has priced the book at $AUD29.34. Postage is also free at the Book Depository. So do I buy this book or just put another 'hold' on it at the library??? Time will tell I guess!

Naturally also on my mind today is the Queensland flood crisis. We were relieved to hear that our elderly relatives at Goondiwindi  are safe and don't expect to be affected by the flooding. Yesterday I was able to 'cash in' my Velocity points and consequently Virgin Airlines have donated $50 to the Flood Appeal on my behalf. Every little bit helps! Thanks Virgin Airlines for organising this scheme.

Another day dawns...

Today I started the day turning on the TV straight away which is something I just don't normally do. I wanted to see how the city fared with the high tide affected the flooding river at 3 am. The good news was that the peak level was lower than expected; the bad news was that many homes and businesses  flooded over the roofs. I found myself overcome with emotion for the plight of those poor people; some of whom had gone through all of this before with the infamous 1974 flood. I sat there sobbing...
Yesterday we found out that one of our girls had been wading through floodwaters at her work the day before. She then went to stay at a friend's place and within 24 hours she was again wading through chest deep flood waters to get to safety. We believe she and her car are now safe with a friend who lives away from the river.

N standing on the footpath near Suncorp Evacuation area, Milton. The day after this her work building was under water to the second level.

I know this tragedy has been on news reports in many parts of the world as well as the rest of Australia. Interstate family members who I haven't seen or spoken to for years (well I send Christmas and birthday cards to some but never hear back!) have contacted us to see if we are ok...that's pretty special that they are thinking of us and are concerned for our safety.
Showing the flooding (r.h.); compared with the same scene without the river flooding

Mid morning a teaching friend came over and we exchanged Christmas gifts. The gift giving is much later than we intended but in the first week of the holidays her elderly mother was hit by a car and taken to hospital. Her mum is still in hospital but is on the mend from her injuries which include 2 broken bones in one leg and an ugly sore on the foot of the other leg. Naturally Tricia has been preoccupied with visiting her mum and also tidying up her mum's townhouse a bit as the OT was concerned it was a bit cluttered  for someone with both legs injured. Later we went out and had a coffee at a local coffee shop to continue our catch-up.

This afternoon we went to my husband's cousin's place where another cousin was also visiting to work on the common family tree. We took all DH's mother's boxes and bags of papers etc `and filled in a few blanks. There are possibly a few 'skeletons' and some 'cover ups' in the family history and DH was able to give the others some anecdotal info that he had heard from his late mother. DH's branch of the family had maintained contact with a cousin of his mother who was unknown to the other cousins until this elderly cousin turned up to a family funeral. This cousin is now 89 so it's important that some of DH's generation gets her information. We also need to organise to get some birth and death certificates to fill in some gaps. The Historical Index online doesn't give enough details and as well people are often called by one name but have actually been registered with another first name, or a different spelling. Then of course the stigma of illegitimate births of those times means that often elaborate cover ups were devised...DH says he's not enamoured with the idea of working on family history as he feels looking back is a waste of's the future that counts...Myself and his cousins think otherwise...

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Sad times here in Qld

Following my post yesterday, Ipswich and inner parts of Brisbane continue to flood, with the situation expected to become progressively worse tomorrow. DH has just gone out with my BIL to the suburb of New Farm to help my SIL's godmother (Patrozza) move things out of her house before the river rises higher. Mary's Patrozza is already staying at their house at Bridgeman Downs which is close to being an outer suburb. Yesterday's estimates of homes and businesses expected to be affected have risen dramatically and the death toll is now 12 and 67 are still missing. The good news is that the missing list was 90. Sadly children are among the death toll and our Prime Minister warns that we should be prepared for more fatalities.

DH has been working on a contract in the city and the building is closed for at least another day or so. The Performing Arts centre is also beside the river and performances (including the opening last night) of 'Wicked' have been postponed naturally. A number of us had a block booking for today's matinee and when things 'calm down' a bit in the Central Business District, we'll organise replacement tickets.
It is a gloriously sunny day here today and I washed towels, teatowels, handtowels, tablecloths and washers and they got nice and dry within a short time.
I'm adding a link to a blog which is organising assistance for helping fellow sewers/quilters in the flood affected areas, to replace items they may have lost in the flood. It's always a horrible thought to lose items like that but in such a disaster it's people rather than 'things' that are important. So especially readers here in Australia, please take a look.
Not a very good photo as there was lightning around so I stayed in the car and took the photos through the windows. The creek is normally narrow and runs in a horizontal fashion across the middle of the photo. The flooding has covered up a footbridge which would be about the middle of the photo and the little bit of fence that is visible borders a bike path which is flooded over. If you click on the photo it will enlarge

I've taken to wearing my gumboots to the shops now so that my shoes and sandals don't get wrecked!
We must continually keep those affected by these floods in our thoughts and prayers.

Monday, January 10, 2011

A disaster continues to unfold...

Here in Queensland the flooding continues. Yesterday all Queenslanders were shocked by the sudden severe flooding in Toowoomba. Toowoomba is on the 'range' west of Brisbane. It does not have a large river flowing through it; it has some small creeks. Yesterday without warning, West Creek became a torrent and flooded the central business district. The flooding continued and Murphy's creek also flooded. News footage shows people clinging on to poles, trees etc to stop being washed away; cars being washed away (sometimes with people inside); people standing on the roofs of buildings that are almost submerged...horrible!!! Eight people have been confirmed dead but there are several people still missing.
Today, thunderstorms are predicted and I can hear very distant thunder...A lot of water is being released from one of the dams today so flooding is expected in my city of Brisbane. It is expected to be confined to about 400 properties and will mainly affect properties in a number of low-lying suburbs and those close to the river. I've always envied those people who can afford riverside homes ...not at the moment however! We live on a hill and about 12 kms from the city centre.

Lina who is staying under the house and only coming out for food . This photo was taken a while ago as there is washing on the line drying! lol
All of that happening makes my little drama here seem inconsequential. On Sunday it became obvious that my cat Lina was missing and hadn't eaten her dried food for breakfast and did not come home for dinner. When the rain eased DH took a torch and went looking around the yard and under the house. He found her under the house (at the point where it's closest to the ground) and she miaowed but refused to come out. Next morning she emerged briefly when DH put out the dry food but she ate so little and then went back under the house. I spent yesterday morning trying to work out how I could get her out as I was convinced that she was dying or at the very least very ill. Late afternoon yesterday she emerged again and had a drink of water and more dry food. I was able to check her out and she seemed fine. The rain had stopped though when she came out.Then when I fed my other cat about 6.30 she came out again and wolfed down some food and then went back under the house. I think she is upset with 2 or more weeks of quite heavy rain and that's why she's staying under the house; it's like a refuge for her, she won't come into the house! I'm so relieved she's ok as I really thought she was dying...

PS DH rang me just before asking me to keep the TV on so I can hear latest updates. The job that he is doing is at the Convention Centre which is beside the Brisbane River. The car park is below ground and because of the water being released from Wivenhoe Dam, he is concerned he may have to get the car out. That extra water is expected at 2ish this afternoon. I'm going to wear my new gum boots to the shops this morning as I'm going to Bunnings to buy some pavers to make stepping stones through the mud and fill some prescriptions we're going to run out of in the next few days. What happened in Toowoomba yesterday has frightened the daylights out of me and so a little prep doesn't hurt..

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Rainy days...

While much of my state is already flooded, it continues to rain. On my way home from having coffee with a friend I checked out the creek just down the hill from our place...the water was over the footbridge and much of the concrete bike path was submerged in the lower lying parts. I think that some parts of the city will flood as the rain continues to fall heavily. We have a telethon on Channel 9 this evening to raise funds for flood victims.
I'm fortunate as I'm in a position to enjoy this rainy weather. Sure, there is water running through under the house but it's not a living area, I've got washing drying very slowly on a 'clothes horse', it is a quagmire walking down the side of the house to the car and there are some leaks in the roof of the side veranda. However on the upside...the daily temperatures have stayed much lower than normal for January (it can be stinking hot usually!!!), my home is water tight in the living areas (the veranda doesn't count in this sort of weather), I'm not having to go to work and deal with 28 students with 'cabin fever'! it's perfect weather for knitting, cooking and sewing or sorting through stashes, my shrubs and trees seem to be thriving on the extra water, my water tanks will definitely be filled, it's perfect weather for reading and watching some TV or recorded shows and  I don't need to go out if I don't want to as our food stocks are pretty good at the moment. But I do spare a thought for my 'postie' and other workers who will be out in this rainy weather yet again tomorrow, the unfortunate homeless people in our city and of course the people affected by the severe flooding.

Following up from post on knitting last night, I started using some lovely hand dyed yarn that I bought possibly over 10 years ago at a craft show. I agonised about buying it as it was quite expensive and in my previous marriage I was the breadwinner and money was often tight. But I succumbed and bought these skeins of Littlewoods Wool Yarns from Euroa. But I did buy it and I then agonised about what was the perfect project to use it for...You guessed it! It stayed stored away...'just in case'!!!! Yesterday I wound 2 balls of wool from 1 skein and started knitting 'one of my shapes' last night with it. It is the most beautiful yarn...the feel of it, the colours, the texture etc are gorgeous to knit with. It makes the Cleckheaton and Ashford 8 plys seem like hessian!!! I think I will use a few skeins of Littlewood (not just the one I originally planned on) in this throw rug and enjoy every minute!

Yummy yarn!


I have been knitting since the end of the year that I was in Grade 2, which was a long time ago! I've sorta resolved that I will do knitting projects this year that take a bit of concentration and more effort. Well that was the gist of my entry into a competition being run by Tangled Yarns the reality is that I'm working on a simple project at the moment. Knitting motifs and eventually making enough to sew into a throw/rug/blankie. This will do while I ponder a little longer about a more complicated project.
I've made this pattern before; it was called in the original pattern, 'Autumn leaves' and the shape is a quadrilateral (that's the teacher in me!!!), the pattern descibes it as a leaf shape and I would describe it as a 'kite-shape'.
It is an Australian Women's Weekly pattern and an 'ancient' one at that! (It is a lift-out dated Aug 2, 1972!!!!)

This is the first rug I made. I changed the number of cast-on stitches to make the shapes larger, and crocheted around each in black to make it easier to sew together. It took ages to make this as I did many other projects at the same time. I finished it when a friend's daughter had to have a finger amputated and I wanted to give her something special.

The original pattern; the motifs were only about 5 cm/2"

To the left of the photo are some motifs left over from the first rug. The ones on the right hand side are from the latest project and I have experimented yet again with changing the size...less motifs needed! lol

I guess I will again work on this project intermittently so it might be a while before I complete it! But it's sure good to be knitting again.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

On my mind...

It has been raining here for a number of weeks now. On my mind now is  concern for those people in the communities in various parts of the state that have been flooded. Apparently 3 river systems are involved and that's a lot of area. As a comparison, the area flooded is likened to the area of Germany and France put together. The scary thing is that some towns downstream of the present flooding face flooding in the weeks to come as the wall of flood waters continues to flow.
Some communities were also flooded last year. Many people cannot access flood insurance and face a dismal future. Farms and businesses will not survive; banks will foreclose. Our Brisbane newspaper has told stories of bravery, mateship and support and utter destruction but the Aussie tradition of 'she'll be right mate; take it as it comes' shines through. The damages bill is estimated at several billion which includes clean-up, rebuilding as well as lost income from export earnings. Those of you reading this blog who live elsewhere might like to look at the Courier Mail website for photos.

Many people want to help. Today in the media it was stated that help in the way of goods is not really viable at the moment; issues of transporting things on impassable roads, people whose homes haven't been cleaned of mud yet so can't put furniture in the houses yet so finding suitable storage for goods could be a problem. So the message is CASH is needed. Today I will organise to do just that. My heart goes out to those people who have been affected by the floods...I cannot truly know what they must be going through but it must be heart-breaking.
I guess the 'quilting and knitting communities' will be starting to organise the making of quilts and throws to give to people who have lost everything. This happened when Victoria suffered the devastation of those dreadful fires in 2009. So I can see I may be busy with either the knitting needles or the sewing machine!

This photo says it all! A young girl sits amidst the wreckage of what was once the furnishings in her home at Emerald. What a wonderful way to spend the long, summer school holidays! NOT!

Last of the Christmas presents distributed...

One of our girls wasn't with us at Christmas as she and her partner were spending Christmas in New Zealand. They arrived back home today and what an adventure they've had. There was another earthquake in Christchurch while they were attending a baptism and the building had to be evacuated. Then when they headed off camping in the Marlborough Sound area they were isolated by waters from flash flooding. They spent days helping clean-up after the flooding as well. Despite these dramas, they both did some usual touristy things in Wellington and Christchurch. All in all  they both had a lovely break catching up with Karl's family and friends.

So tonight DH and I caught up with this young couple for a roast lamb dinner with all the trimmings. Dessert was some of those choc/brandy truffles, mini puddings and  Christmas cake.
And of course, we exchanged presents. I had filled a 'gift tub' for them with a variety of items for their home including a plastic storage container filled with some freshly baked choc-coconut slice. Karl loved his 6 stubbies of international beers and they both loved the icing set and the cake tin/storage/carrier combo. And then there was the pair of pillow cases in white pure cotton and the teatowel from Tasmania...and the added bonus, the tub and a big  gold Christmas decoration!
I got a beautiful set of salad servers with touches of pau shell, and DH got a bottle of port and the Stephen Fry book of his TV series when he travels around the US in a London black cab...really great!! So Christmas 2010 is now well and truly finished!!!

Christmas 2010 started in early December and has finally finished January 6, 2011!!!
This is my little Christmas workshop area.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

A short break...

Late yesterday afternoon I arrived back home after a short break in Canberra with DH. He flies home late this evening as he has had 1 1/2 days training for this contract job which he has been doing. That was basically the reason why we went to Canberra on Saturday morning; free airfares for him and accomodation which we expected to pay for some but the organisation he is working for are paying for Sunday and Monday nights as well! On Saturday we drove up from Canberra to Cooma (about an hour) which is in what is called the 'High Country' . Canberra is in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) and is not a state of Australia. However it occupies an area that used to be New South Wales. Cooma is not in the ACT, it is in NSW. (You see we had colonies originally which became states at federation in 1901 and the 2 powerful states 'fought' over which state would 'house' the new Federal government. Apparently the site chosen is about halfway between Melbourne and Sydney and Canberra was a purpose built city; originally farm paddocks)

This row of flagpoles (and flags too of course!) in Cooma represents the different nationalities of the workers on the Snowy River Scheme. The mosaic wall was fascinating and very colourful

In 1988, a mosaic wall was completed in Cooma depicting scenes in the area's history. This mosaic shows the moving of the town of Adaminaby to higher ground as the dam filled with water and flooded the area.

Cooma's heritage listed railway station. As in a lot of Australian towns, the trains don't run any more except for 2 vintage railmotors which take tourists on a short ride. We were too late, just missing the second and last ride of the day by 1/2 an hour!

At Cooma we went into a centre which has displays etc relating to the 'Snowy River Scheme which was a project started in 1949 and completed 25 years later. Many workers from overseas were employed on the project which built a number of dams, then diverted water from the Snowy River via huge tunnels through the mountains. This water provide energy for Hydro electric power stations as well as some water diverted to drier inland areas for irrigation. I couldn't help but think as we watched a DVD in the centre's theatrette that such a project possibly wouldn't happen today because of environmental issues. In fact the Snowy River had become so degraded by the less flow that authorities have recently started releasing water back into the river.
Next morning we drove up into the Australian Alps area to Perisher (ski resort) and Charlotte's Pass. We could see patches of ice/snow on the mountains in the distance but the landscape which is covered in snow in winter was absolutely covered in wildflowers! very beautiful. It was my first time in this high country area although I've had a number of trips to Canberra before.

The road into Perisher

The closer white 'spotches' are not snow; they are daisy-like wildflowers

An early explorer of this region

I was fascinated by these huts/ticket booths?  at the bottom of the ski-lifts. DH explained that in winter the level of the snow would be up to the bottom of the doorway so you wouldn't need the ladder then.

Our timing for the trip wasn't that good though. Many businesses were closed for the holiday break so some craft shops weren't open even my beloved 'Woolshed' at Manuka was closed. We still had a lovely time enjoying each other's company, the beautiful scenery, some beautifully cooked meals, and a recent model hire Camry which we upgraded to. More about Canberra, our nation's capital in another post!