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Monday, January 30, 2012

Make- Grow- Thrift

It's Monday so once again I'm joining in with the feature on Jodie's blog.
My contribution to Make-Grow-Thrift  this week is a combination of make and thrift. The knitting group that I belong to, Knitting for Brisbane's Needy, had a Summer Challenge which ends tomorrow. We were making beanies for children in a remote community where the husband of one of the members works. I've had ages to make heaps of beanies (one member made 150!) but I just started the other day as I've been working on other projects. I think the count overall so far is around about 400 beanies!

The navy yarn is some 'frogged' yarn which was in a bag of yarn given to me by a friend, and the colours are scraps from my stash. The navy yarn had been rolled into a big ball and there was more than enough for the 2 beanies. It is satisfying re-using something!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Some dentists I've known...

The decor at my dentist's

I went to the dentist today to have my first appointment of 2 to get a crown. Hmmm...dentists...hasn’t always been a favourite subject of mine!  My first experience with going to the dentist wasn’t until I was about 7, but that wasn’t unusual for those times. My parents were concerned with my ‘over-bite’ so I was taken to my dad’s dentist. Dr Rappaport was his name and my parents said that he had been in an internment camp during the war because he was a Czechoslovakian Jew. (None of that meant much to a 7 year old)

I developed an overbite with protruding top teeth (genetic, from my mum's family)
I’m sure he was a nice man but I hated my visits to him. He took impressions for a brace for my teeth and I can remember that the ‘plate’ was a bit big for my mouth and the dentist also said that the white stuff on the plate was icecream. Well it wasn’t; it was peppermint flavoured plaster! And guess who hated peppermint flavour then??? Over the years I went to regular appointments with fear and trepidation. He didn’t use local anaesthetic for fillings, even deeper ones. Dr Rappaport was indeed a kind man because when my dad died when I was 15, the doctor never charged my mother for any of my treatments. When I left home to get married at not quite 21, I refused to go to him any more, much to my mother’s disgust with me!
That meant that I had to find my own dentist. Someone recommended a dentist in the next suburb, ‘who didn’t hurt’! That was enough for me so Dr Gil Shearer became my dentist. (and he didn’t hurt!) After a few years, he moved suburbs, but I followed. Then he decided to go into ‘specialist dentistry’ so Gil recommended a new dentist to the practice, Harvey Carter. Harvey was a blond blue-eyed ‘dreamboat’! Going to the dentist was a real pleasure. When my children came along, I took them to Harvey too. We had Harvey for years and then the inevitable happened. Harvey retired from dentistry (in his 40s mind you!) to devote more time to his extensive cattle properties in northern Queensland.
The suburb where that practice was, (Toowong) was getting busier and the trip there was getting longer due to heavier traffic so I just didn’t go for a while L. Then one year I was teaching Year 1 at the suburb next to where I lived. The local dentist would park his car in the staff carpark so that left an extra space for patients, outside his surgery across the road from the school. As a trade off for this carpark, he would talk to the Year 1s about dental care each year.

So that’s how I met Tony. After he talked to my class I chatted to him and told him of my dentist phobia and how the dentist I liked and trusted had flounced off to a new life without a backward glance. Tony was very sympathetic and claimed that his dental work didn’t hurt so I made an appointment. He has been my dentist since 1999 and touch wood...there is no talk of his retiring yet!! A few years ago he moved a few streets into a group practice and the good thing about that is that he is easier to get an appointment with now. Urban Dental also has a TV above the dentist chair which is probably quite swish...most of the time the sound is off or it is set to the news channel! lol

The photos of the staff  on Urban Dental's webpage shows them as children; this is Tony my dentist.
The other day when I went to the dentist because last Sunday night a piece of tooth broke off a molar, I discovered something that made me like my dentist even more. Kellie, the receptionist said, 'I don't want to offend you, but are you a senior?' And of course I am (business seniors card only). Now apparently that means I get a 10% discount. So that appointment left me very little out of pocket. (My health insurance doesn't pay full 100%, so I'm always out of pocket) The quote for my crown work also had the discount applied and I was happy to go ahead with the work. Then yesterday I got a letter from the Tax office. At first my heart sank....then when I opened the letter, I found that there was some money owing to me, to do with superannuation. A phone call revealed that I will get that money directly and guess what? It's just a little bit less than my out of pocket expenses for the crown!! How good is that?
Just another little bit about dentists I've known:-
A few years ago one of my nephews married a dentist; a beautiful girl. My BIL goes to Yas and says she is the most gentle dentist he has ever been to. Unfortunately the practice where she works is in the middle of Melbourne, a bit too far away!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Happy Australia Day...

It's a public holiday throughout Australia today and I wish all Aussies a great day celebrating with family and friends. The day celebrates when Captain Arthur Phillip landed in Sydney Cove to start a British penal colony which eventually became this nation. In more recent times there has been acknowledgement that there were inhabitants here before Phillip and his First Fleet arrived...the aborigines. Many of the indigenous people refer to today as 'Invasion Day'.

My forebears were not convicts (it is considered very trendy to be descended from a convict these days :-/)but most came from the UK, especially Ireland, and of course my dad came from Sicily. My father loved his adopted homeland and I'm pretty proud to be an Aussie too! For a few years now, DH and I have celebrated with friends at one friend's house. That was called off this year.

Photo; Courtesy of my friend Jane Kleeman Marsh

Due to the heavy rain over the last week many A.D. activities have been cancelled. DH and I had planned to join some friends in a big open-air concert in the Moreton Bay District Council area of Strathpine...too muddy etc so it's been cancelled. We talked about going to festivities at some of the local sporting and RSL club but have decided to do our 'own thing'....watching the cricket and the tennis on telly! lol Then small lamb roast with baked vegetables for dinner tonight...then maybe a dessert made with slices of fresh mango!

We'll leave the more boisterous type of celebrating to the young ones.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Make- Grow- Thrift

Today I am joining in with Jodie The Haberdashery Goddess's blog, for her Monday feature 'Make-Grow-Thrift. This is how Jodie describes it...

'Each Monday you can link to a post on your blog sharing with us something that is handmade, homegrown, homemade (such as a recipe) or recycled/thrifted.
This does not need to be craft or sewing based. This is all about making our lives a little greener week by week.'
Well my contribution this week concerns 'grow'. We've had some very hot days here in Brisbane in the last month which have not been good for the garden, especially the veggie patch. But we have been lucky enough in the last week to get a few showers and even a tropical downpour or two!

The grasshoppers have been busy and many of my vegetables have very 'holey' leaves but that's no real drama. With the rain, my eggplant bush has suddenly started producing fruit again; I have 2 lovely, purple baby eggplants and one flower on one bush and another bush is covered with flowers. The silverbeet have a new lease of life and there are rocket seedlings just about everywhere in the veggie patch. The sweet potato vines are starting to create their own jungle as they spread through the almost empty veggie garden #1.

In one of the big tubs that I grew potatoes in last spring and early summer, there are green shoots on what must have been an unharvested potato...what a lovely surprise!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

An addiction...

When I retired last year one of my 'plans' was to do something about the large collection of photos. I needed to sort them and I needed to organise them in various ways, especially using digital storage technology. I wanted to find old photos and share them with my children, my brother and his children as well as the few other relatives (cousins that I know of). For about 3 weeks now I've been working on and off on this project. I made an album on Facebook that most of those family members can access and they can also copy and save from this album. It's a WIP, (Work in Progress); as I find photos, I add them to this folder with captions. And then I started wondering about the generation back from my mother...didn't have many photos of these people.

One thing led to another...I started putting some family tree information that a friend did for me about 3 years ago, on to a family tree in . She had used the 'Digger CD sets'. My mother had spoken very little about her family so I didn't know who my great grandparents names were until my friend gave them to me. I didn't know Pa's siblings but did know of 2 of Nanna's sisters. I wanted to know more...I tried the free use of Ancestry...hmmm not very good. Then I paid for 10 views of documents...$10.95. Still not couldn't access people who shared the same forebears. I agonised...I asked for advice from my friends on Facebook...should I pay for a 'proper' subscription to There was a 25% discount if a sub was bought before midnight January 16...I 'bit the bullet' and paid up!!

Within 24 hours I had found a cousin I didn't know I had. She was so happy to share family information from her side of the family. She remembered her father talking about my mother but didn't know that I even existed. Then T started going through family photos and steadily emailed them to me over 2 days...absolutely amazing these photos were! In this post I'll feature my nanna and  a selection of the photos I have of her:-

My mother had this photo of my nan when she was a young lady; this is the original photo. As a gift to my mother I had this restored years after I started working. The restoration cost nearly $200 !

My aunt gave me this photo of nanna in 1973 when I visited her.

My nanna was in her 50s I think in this one

I didn't meet my nanna until 1973. this is a photo I took of her then. She died the next year.
So that was a cross section of photos that my family had of my grandmother. Not many really...Then I got some more from cousin T.

My nanna as a girl with her 4 sisters. (second on the right)

We wondered whether this was a wedding photo?

Nanna standing in the middle, Pa seated in front of her. We think that's her father on the left and the women are sisters.
So while everyone has  been going about their daily lives, I have been feverishly looking up census and electoral rolls, birth, deaths and marriage indexes and finding big families who are my ancestors...and this is just the Australian/UK side of the family. T has sent me lots more photos but these are just of my grandma. But I'm going to add one more photo to this long-lost cousin T and her siblings...just like nanna's family, 5 girls!

Cousin T is second from the left :-)

Saturday, January 21, 2012

FNSI or Friday Night Sew In...

Last night was the first FNSI for the year and I had planned to sew up some knitted teddy bears. 'Best laid plans' and all that! Instead I finished sewing up some donated squares into a blanket. Knitted and crocheted squares are often donated to K4BN and Karen, the organiser is always looking for volunteers to sew them up.
I'm slowly working my way through a large box of squares that I took home a number of months ago. At first I just sewed the squares together but I thought that it didn't look as good as it could. So then I started working a round of double crochet (I think it is called single crochet in the US) in black yarn around each square, and then sewing them together. I found it so much easier to sew them up then as the edge of each square was easier to sew and stitches didn't show.  The black formed a border too. So for weeks I would take a bag of squares and black yarn to K&Ns, waiting rooms, or in front of the TV at night, and crochet around these squares. Last night I finished sewing up another blanket...but there are still lots of squares left in the box!

This week the Knit and Natters started again. When I collected some donations from a lady a few suburbs away last week, I invited her to come to some of the K&Ns and she said she couldn't as she didn't drive. Naturally I offered to give her a lift which she accepted. So last Wednesday Pam and I headed out to the Albany Creek K&N. Despite the notice being on the forum page no one else turned up so we had the meeting room to ourselves, the librarian organised coffee and we enjoyed the lovely chocolate brownies that Pam had made and brought along! We thoroughly enjoyed chatting, getting to know each other, and, of course,...knitting! Bliss lol
Pam, her knitting...and the brownies

Monday, January 16, 2012

Some bits and pieces...

Haven't blogged for a while; no particular reason...just been busy.
Firstly the Giveaway from a week or two ago for the Peter Walsh book ,'It's All Too Much'; The lucky winner is Linn, so if you'll email me Linn with your postal details, I'll get that in the mail for you.

One of the buttons on my blog is for Friday Night Sew In (FNSI) which is organised usually by Heidi but this month her cousin Crafty Vegas Mom (link for sign up) is organising things. The idea that all over the world, women are organising to just be able to sit down after dinner on Friday night and work on a project which doesn't actually have to be sewing. Read all about it over at Crafty Vegas Mom's blog and maybe sign up
 :-) ? At the moment my plan is to sew up some of those teddies that I picked up from Sharon the other week.

Now earlier this week I wrote about getting out my old school uniform and hat and I said how I was planning to take it to a gathering (just 5 of us) of old school mates last Saturday. So I put the uniform in a shopping bag and waited till we were all sitting on Ali's deck and then I pulled out the dress. Should have heard the squeals of delight and disbelief! They couldn't believe that I still had such things stored away...I think it is a fluke that I still have them. None of us could  probably  fit into the uniform (well Maybe Chris could) so we took photos of each of us holding the dress against ourselves...Talk about laugh...we did plenty of that!





Friday, January 13, 2012

A picture's worth a 1000 words so they say....

A picture's worth a 1000 about 400 words, so let's see what I can come up with :-)

This photo was taken last Monday night when a group of old schoolfriends gathered to celebrate a friend's 60th. we gathered at Valerie's home who is standing next to me in the photo. So what are some things that come to mind when I look at the photo?
  • We all went to Newmarket High in the 1960s
  • I'm the odd one out in a kind of way; I was in the 10A2D class, the others were in 10C1 which was a commercial studies class.
  • Valerie's son James, took the photo with the instructions,'don't make us look fat!' lol
  • It was an unbelieveably hot evening with temperatures in the 30s celcius.
  • Most of the group left in Year 10 to start working.
  • Two of us trained as teachers but only Christine (middle of back row) is still teaching.
  • All of us have children.
  • One of us, Valerie, is a widow.
  • Two of the group are still married to their first husbands
  • Three of us have been through a divorce
  • Alison, in the white, is now in the process of her second divorce.
  • The three of us in the front row are not grandparents yet
  • All of us have travelled overseas and two of us have lived overseas for a time.
  • Six of us live in Brisbane; the birthday girl lives in Sydney.
  • A couple of the 'girls' have at least one parent alive.
  • Some of us admit to joints stiffening and the dependence on reading glasses.
  • Three of us don't work but one of those is looking for work as investment returns are disappointing.
  • We enjoy recounting anecdotes of our school days.
  • We tease Jane, front left, for forgetting that we used to do sewing at primary school. She's blocked out ant memories of those samplers we stitched! lol 
  • Sue (white hair in back row) hated high school :-(
  •  All of us have a Facebook page and we are big fans of the social networking site as that's how we've found lots of other classmates.
  • On Sunday we are all meeting at Alison's new place for a deck party to celebrate her moving into a new home. Alison has downsized and says that the deck is the largest part of the house!
Now during the vening we talked about lots of things, and one topic for discussion was our school uniform. As a group we rather liked our old uniforms and the outfit was certainly different to other school uniforms of that time. Most other high schools had a pleated skirt and a button up blouse with a hip yoke; we had a dress. Jane commented that it was a shame that we didn't keep our old uniforms...heh heh. I have a surprise for them all on Sunday.
Ta dah....!!!! From out of a storage crate in the crawl space under our house...please ignore the creases as it's been in storage a looong time! lol

The uniform that I wore in Years 11 and 12

The hat that was introduced when I was in year 11 to replace the old panama white hats

A bit hot lately...

For the early part of this week, my part of the state experienced heatwave conditions. Stifling hot days followed by very hot uncomfortable nights were the norm for 4 days. When I worked, and high temperatures were predicted, the school had a number of procedures such as showing movies in the aircond library at lunchtime, more breaks for drinks, extra rostered time at the school pool, art lessons and quiet, free reading activities on the concreted areas under the buildings etc.
And it's a bit like that at home too with routines adapted. Extra hot days means more showers taken, ceiling fans on, doors and windows open to get cross breezes, salad meals and cooking meat on the BBQ, fresh bedding and night wear after a hot humid night, lots of chilled filtered water, I wear sarongs around the house and the minimum of house work gets done! DH and I don't have a pool and we don't have airconditioning and the number of days when it is 'super' hot is a very small precentage of the whole year so we do 'survive' quite nicely.

DH and I walked on the Redcliffe Pier

The view from the cafe

Seagulls lined up 'waiting to catch a wave' perhaps?
We do sometimes go to the movies or the council library to use the aircon there! lol Where we live is also fairly close to beaches and going the other way, we are half hour from the mountain range areas behind the city with their cool rainforest parks and picnic areas with cold creeks flowing; so we're pretty lucky! So on Thursday, just gone, DH and I took a 30 minute drive north to Redcliffe, one of my favourite places. We went  for a walk enjoying all the lovely cool seabreezes and then had a coffee at Banjos, a cafe chain which we first discovered in Tasmania in 2010.

A cool change has come to this part of the state so I'm now working on the myriad of jobs that need doing around the house...and in the garden.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

The answer to a household full of 'stuff' perhaps?

Yesterday I wrote about the on going process of de-cluttering. Today is a little light hearted post; a bit of whimsy. On the K4BN (Knitting for Brisbane's Needy) forum page there has been a lot of bantering about the fact that a TARDIS type storage container would solve all the problems of storing yarn stashes. (the TARDIS is Dr Who's travel/time machine and is much bigger inside than it appears on the outside)
One of our new members, Sharon, using a bit of 'trickery and illusion' posted the following photo on the forum page; much to everyone's delight! Sharon very kindly allowed me to use her photo on the blog :-)
I've just had a thought...some readers may not know who or what Dr Who is. It was originally a BBC production featuring a number of actors who played the lead role over many years of production. In more recent years it has be revived and is now popular with a whole new generation of watchers. There should be plenty of info on the net if you google it. The TARDIS resembles an old English Police Phone Box.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Decluttering: the 'series'!...and a giveaway :-)

How many times have I mentioned 'de-cluttering' in posts? Lots! that's for sure. I've de-cluttered my wardrobe and the cupboard in my sewing room over 2011.And I've been working enthusiastically on  this task over the last few weeks. I think that it's a 'throw-back' behaviour to when I was working. The long Christmas school holidays were always my 'spring-cleaning' time. I'm not alone in this almost passion for de-cluttering. Tasmanian Minimalist is a dedicated de-clutterer with a number of posts with suggestions/ideas and challenges on this topic. 'Tas' also has a list of items that she has removed from her home day by day over the last year. When you read through it, you wonder just what has she got left lol!

A bag being filled with items for the Lifeline Bin

DH and I would have probably 15 of these large containers; gradually emptying them.

The book which has made a lot of sense to me

On my knitting forum page that I belong to, there is even talk of de-cluttering there. This de-cluttering calendar  link was included on the forum page today and looks quite useful. Through the reading of blogs I became aware of this book, 'It's all too much' by Peter Walsh and on the spur of the moment, I bought it earlier this year through an online bookshop based here in Australia. When it arrived I thought, 'Why did I waste my money on this?' I even commented that it would be the 'same old, same old' self help type of book. But I did read a bit of it before we went overseas and I had time to mull over Walsh's basic message. This is a blurb on the book from Amazon:-

When Peter Walsh, organizational guru of TLC's hit show Clean Sweep and a regular contributor to The Oprah Winfrey Show, appeared on national television shows and told people how they could reclaim their lives from the suffocating burden of their clutter, the response was overwhelming. People flooded Peter's website ( with success stories about how his book had changed their lives. Peter's unique approach helped people everywhere learn to let go of the emotional and psychological clutter that was literally and figuratively choking the life out of their homes.
With his good humor and reassuring advice, Peter shows you how to face the really big question: What is the vision for the life you want to live? He then offers simple techniques and a step-by-step plan to assess the state of your home, prioritize your possessions, and let go of the clutter you have been holding on to that has kept you from living the life you imagine. The result is freed-up space, less stress, and more energy for living a happier, richer life every day.

I especially like that last bit!
The main things that his book got me thinking about was the 'Why' of what makes people keep stuff and continue to add to this stuff and his advice of how to stop being sentimental about some belongings. My mother was a hoarder...she had a wooden tea chest (a cube shaped box about 3ft by 3 ft by 3 ft) full of recipes clipped from the old Telegraph newspaper over a number of years starting in the late 40s. She never made anything from those recipes. She had every copy of the English Women's Weekly for over 30 years; later she was to also buy the Readers Digest, New Idea and Woman's Day and keep every copy of those. When I was in my early teens, she discovered Mills and Boon're probably getting the picture here? Then there was her 'fetish' for handbags and

For a few years our children have been saying that they are not looking forward to when DH and I die, for all the usual reasons...but they also add that they are not looking forward to emptying the house....even adult children can be quite 'guileless' and straight to the point, saying it like it is, eh? DH and I in 2002, compacted 2 1/2 households into one medium sized home. Since then we've found homes for lots of excess furniture and appliances. But we still feel cluttered and behind cupboard doors lies lots of clutter and excess belongings. Peter Walsh is very helpful in helping change my 'mindset'...just because I've had something for years doesn't mean that my children want to inherit it.

DH and I were storing crocheted throws made by his mother; we weren't using them. DH's girls were happy to have one each plus another grandchild  in Canberra loved the idea of having one of grandma's throws.

Just because I love a piece of fabric (dress weight) and have kept it for 25 years without sewing it, why would there be any chance that I may sew it any time soon? Why am I keeping wedding and engagement cards from my first marriage? Peter Walsh suggests taking photos of items if you love them but move them out and on if they have no use...I don't agree with doing that with everything but believe me, there are a ton of things that I do see the sense of what he says and I'm moving them out. When my best friend sabotages my efforts by insisting I take her boxes of fabric, I now point blank refuse as the book has helped strengthen my resolve.

I need to go through my boxes of photocopied quilt and knitting patterns...some have been in the box for years...what are the chances I've forgotten what's in the box and what are the chances I still want to make those items?...move 'em out. Same with my recipe drawer and recipe books. I have several years of 'Australian Stitches' magazine...some useful articles but most techniques are online these days, so they are moving out to either the SOS 'table' or in a charity bin. DH and I need to go though our CD, video (soon outmoded) and DVD collection and if we don't want to re-watch a DVD, we'll move them on.

Peter's book also has a chapter where each room of the house is discussed and suggestions made. I've already got some ideas for de cluttering the kitchen as well as the hutches in the dining room which are overloaded with dishes and bowls that we never use. For many years I've continually bought 'new, bigger and improved' storage boxes/crates and read up on clever innovative places to put these overfilled storage boxes in the home. Walsh points out that that does not solve the problem of clutter, it actually exacerbates the problem...he urges that people get rid of items so they don't actually need extra, new  storage containers. So far I've moved a lot of stuff out of our home but very little has gone into land-fill (in other words thrown in the bin), most has gone to charity shops and some has found new homes in the family.

From being quite dubious at first about the quality of Walsh's book, I ended up being a fan. As I previously said I ordered the book online last year. When I returned from OS, I found that had sent me yet another copy from their UK shop...go figure??? So if anyone would like a copy, I'm giving this second one away; after all if you're serious about de-cluttering you certainly don't have 2 copies of the same book!!! Just leave a comment saying you'd like it and non bloggers are included as well of course.

Teddy 'skins' and other things...K4BN (Knitting for Brisbane's Needy)

It's ok, this is not a post about the fur trade :-)
Years ago I used to make rag dolls and at one stage had like an assembly line when I made them as I'd do the sewing up of a number of dolls at one time. That would give me a supply of sewn up dolls which just needed stuffing and dressing. One day, one of my girls saw one of these 'shells' of a rag doll and commented that it was a doll's skin! Probably a pretty accurate description of the unfinished doll.

Anyway, the other day I volunteered to do some donation pick-ups for the Knitting Charity I belong to as the 2 locations were a short distance away from where I live. I'm just a very small cog in a rather large wheel but it's great to be involved. The needy in 'Knitting for Brisbane's Needy', refers to a diverse group of people. Some lost everything in the floods, some are in nursing homes, we knit items for premature babies, homeless people which can include whole families, people living on low incomes, children in care, grandparents who are raising grandchildren, chronically ill people, people with disabilities, we've sent items to NZ, bushfire victims in other parts of Australia, cyclone victims in FNQ, Hope community which helps those who have been in jail as well as those with mental illnesses, dog and cat refuges (blankets and dog coats) as well as dog coats for the dogs of homeless people. As well as knit, some ladies sew clothes for children in Aboriginal communities and we also make and fill toiletry bags. The latter we can't keep up the is very great need. People when they hear about the work we do can be very generous. So talking about generosity I'll come  back to talking about my 'pick ups'...

At the first one, Sharon gave me 15 knitted teddies that were 'skins'...they need sewing up, stuffing and faces embroidered on them. Sharon had found these unfinished bears in an op (thrift) shop. Her neighbour also donated 46 crocheted squares. So a bit of work to do there...such a wonderful donation!

Teddy 'skins' lol!

Crocheted squares from Sharon's neighbour

The next pick up was 3 bags of donations. One bag was full of pretty pastel coloured beanies in small sizes. The other 2 BIG bags contained a large number of knee/lap rugs. I discovered that I knew the husband of the second donor, a lovely lady called Pam. He is a retired principal and a real gentleman. Pam was delighted to 'off load' all these beautiful items as she said now she had room to start making another lot! So at the next Knit and Natter I'll hand all these items over with possibly some finished teddies instead of 'teddy skins'! lol

A dear friend of my late parents rang me the other day and during our chat, Mary again asked me if I knew any organisations or individuals who might be able to use her rather large stash of fabrics. For many years, Mary was a dressmaker and she made many frocks for me through my early years including my first ball gown (I  took over sewing my own clothes from Grade 9 but wasn't ready to tackle a ballgown at 17). Mary is 87 now and it's really starting to bug her that she has so much fabric, so I promised I would see what I could do. The lady who runs 'Sisters of Stitch' has lots of contacts so I sent her an email describing the situation and explaining that the fabrics are mostly dress weight rather than patchwork type cottons etc. Bingo!! Judie answered my email straight away and knew exactly who would take the fabrics and what could be done with them. So now I just have to organise to pick up the donations and deliver them to Judie's place...unused, unwanted items finding a new home! Good feeling...

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

January 4...

Today I went to the funeral of a former colleague, George. He was the teaching deputy at the school that was my first posting and seemed quite old! lol Of course he was younger then, than I am now and I'm certainly not! He was 91 when he died on the last day of 2011 and had obviously enjoyed his retirement years. I have many memories of George but one particular one I shared with his widow today. Dot used to pack the most magnificent lunches for him...all of us in the staff room were quite envious of those lunches!

January 4 has particular meaning for me; it is the anniversary of my father's death. He died in 1967 which is a while ago now. I always felt that I didn't really know my father that well because up to the age of 15 (when he died) I had never really talked to him at great length about his early life. Those missed opportunities over those 15 years to talk about him, have occasionally plagued me over the years. I wrote about my dad's final illness in this post.  (Sorry I always seem to be linking back to that same post, but I guess so much happened in that decade )   Let's fast forward to January 2008...

DH had had to go to Canberra (the national capital) for work and because I was working .8 again that year, I joined him on the Thursday night. DH suggested that on the Friday, while he worked, that I should go to the National Archives and see if I could find some records of my dad's migration to Australia. I was a bit hesitant as I felt that I had little detail to give them to start the search. However on Friday morning I fronted up to the enquiry desk at the NAA building. The lady behind the desk was so helpful and encouraging...she said I would probably be surprised at how much I did know. I said that I think he was 16 when he arrived so I thought he may have arrived in 1925 but I had no idea of the ship or which port.

Her fingers seemed to fly over the keyboard and within a matter of minutes she had found my dad and told me he had disembarked in Brisbane in March 1925 and the ship was the Regina D'Italia. I just stared at her in amazement...and then burst into tears because of the emotion of the moment! The archivist then took me to the microfiche 'room' and hepled me load the machine and then find my dad's name on the ship's manifest. She then said that the details on the other file showed there was another document available which I could order as it wasn't scanned and put into the public domain at that time. I organised for that document to be sent to me, not having a clue what it would be.

My dad and his brother

The cane has been cut! Dad is third from the left

The boys have got the knives ready to cut; dad is third from the right
It arrived 3 weeks later and boy! wasn't it worth the wait! It was a scanned copy of my dad's temporary passport. I'd had some lessons in Italian but I needed my SIL Mary, to help me read some of it. She was able to decipher that dad, as a minor, was travelling with a married couple. He boarded the ship in Genoa, so he would have had to get to that northern city from his home in Catania province in Sicily...and then travelled to the other end of the world. What an adventure for one so young and without any English!

My dad came to join his older brother who was already in Australia cutting cane in the Innisfail district of Queensland. My dad used to tell the story that when he arrived he was too young to join the canecutting gangs so my uncle and his mates 'hid' him in their barracks' accomodation and he did the cleaning etc to earn his keep. Then when he was 17 he started cutting cane. His stories used to make it sound such fun...but as I got older and read about those days, I realised that it was a hard life and immigrants also ran the gauntlet of racial intolerance as well. But I guess my dad wasn't afraid of hard work and he did seem to enjoy his years in the cane districts.

Dad on the right; note the swimsuits! The building in the background is the 'castle' in Paronella park in Nth Qld circa 1930s

Dad and his first wife Vera

Dad in his early 40s when I was born