Friday, July 10, 2020

All a bit dull

Nothing exciting going on in here in the Canberra winter at all. How many boring facts can I fit into a post? Let's see.

  • My arm is much better and I didn't need a second round of antibiotics (just a slight lecture from the doctor about always putting on antiseptic cream). 
  • We ran out of firebricks and the only place that makes them has a waiting list until October so we had to get actual bits of cut up tree delivered to the front verge, which we then had to carry down to the garage and stack. It took a while but it burns well.
  • The doctor reminded me of all the things I should have been checked for and haven't, so I had a skin cancer check. My skin is "perfectly normal".
  • I finished an excellent biography of Evelyn Waugh that had been sitting in the pile for a while - 700 pages and it flew by. I have read some but not all of the author's other biographies so I will dig them out.
  • My husband is back in the office so I reclaimed my weaving table and put a warp on. It's fun! I am trying to do very light scarves, not the chunky ones.
  • The upstairs toilet is backing up, we are on first name terms with Helen at the plumber's office.
  • I went for my  normal injection at the chemo ward and they used it as a learning opportunity for a student nurse. It took a long time. Did you know that hypodermic needles have a bevel? I always assumed they were round, like sewing needles, but no. So you have to put the leading edge in a certain way, to reduce the circumference entering the skin. They demonstrated .... slooooooowlyyyyyyyy......
  • The organisation I did a live webinar for last week sent me a link to the recording. An HOUR of myself talking. I watched about eight seconds. 
  • The stretch of road I drive down to work and back is the "kangaroo collision" hotspot of the ACT. No surprises there, although I have always managed to slam on my brakes in time.
  • The weather has been lovely and I've been on three 10km walks; more this weekend unless we get lots of rain.
Goodness, that was dull. Australia has had a coronavirus spike - biggest yet - that has put the state of Victoria back into lockdown, and closed borders in and out of the state. There were even three cases in Canberra! All in one household, and back from a trip to Melbourne, but that's a bit close to home after weeks of nothing. A reminder that we are still a long way from normal.

Friday, July 3, 2020

The good ... and the bad

The good is a beautiful weekend down the beach. I wasn't in the mood to do much of anything (after the recent sewing disasters I have lost my mojo a little bit) except read, eat and go for long walks. So that is what I did! The sea sparkled and sparkled in the sun.

I went for a drive-by of a house which I really shouldn't do. We are planning to retire to acreage down the coast; I have a real estate weekly search that emails me properties within my parameters, and there is always something wrong with them. Except for this one, that looks just perfect, so of course I had to drive by and check it out to see what the flaw was. Except there isn't one, at least not from the road, so now we have to decide whether to call the agent and have a proper look or just accept that we can't quite afford it at the moment, and we should Stop Looking. Retirement is still a few years off yet.

But the drive meant I stopped and strolled along other beaches, which was lovely on a crisp and largely deserted winter weekend. I can just sit and watch the sea with no other entertainment. I think I might have been a whale in a previous life (no blubber comments thank you very much).

Unfortunately there was also a bad - Sunday morning I noticed a couple of red dots on my arm, like insect bites, but ignored it and went for a five-mile walk, pottered about, packed up the house and drove back to Canberra ... and when I got home my whole arm was covered in a red rash, and swollen and hot. By the time I got to a doctor at 8 pm that night I was sick and shivery and in pain - I thought it was cellulitis and I was right, and it was horrible! I have no lymph nodes on that side, and I'd had a mild graze on my elbow (putting on a t-shirt in the corridor, oops) which was enough to let the bacteria in and result in a runaway infection.

This is the arm two days later when the antibiotics had finally started to kick in. I had three days at home, and am fully recovered now but it was very scary how quickly it took hold and how rotten I felt. I am SO grateful for antibiotics, I would be completely dead without them. And I will pay more attention to disinfecting even the tiniest cut in future!

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

A couple of walks

It rained and rained on the weekend - which was much needed - so I got in the first walk early on Saturday before it came in.

I did it in a t-shirt! It was clear and just a little bit of humidity that let you know a change in the weather was on its way.

And then the rain came down, the fire was lit and friends came over for drinks and cheeeeeeese. It was lovely, but meant I felt like I needed another walk on Sunday. I did the East Basin walk, which I hadn't done in its entirety before. It's 9 km loop around the eastern edge of Lake Burley Griffin.

It was cold and bleak and windy but the real downpours scuttled around to the south and I only got a light sprinkling.

The walk goes through part of the Jerrabomberra wetlands where we went with friends in April - it is looking much more wintry now.

In the distance you can see people playing kayak basketball (I just googled and it's actually called canoe polo, the horses must be invisible under the water! Boom boom). When I think about the water temperature and the air temperature and the rain all I can say is that it is NOT a sport for June. Not at all.

Friday, June 19, 2020

Toast for every meal

Here is another solids quilt; after the bright circles one (which I am just finishing the binding on) I wanted something a bit more restrained with limited colours. Unfortunately I think it went a bit boring - the colours were quite pretty together before cutting but I think they are a bit muted in the finished product.

It is a copy of a Gwen Marston quilt from her wonderful Abstract Quilts in Solids book. She doesn't give instructions or anything, just pictures and finished sizes, but it is not complex. I sized it up considerably so it would be bed size but kept the proportions and the use of three different colour families. Hers is more interesting than mine - perhaps my lights weren't light enough, or my darks not dark enough? Or my colour families were too different? Here is a photo of the book quilt.

It was enjoyable to make anyway, and I quilted it all over with big fat feathers. It probably would have suited hand quilting like Gwen's one, but that was never going to happen, I didn't love it enough for hand quilting! The quilting shows better from the back. It is called Toast for every meal because the pandemic seemed to result in a lot of toast, and I am definitely not complaining. I could eat toast for every meal quite happily .... sometimes butter, sometimes hummus, sometimes even vegemite.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Yee haw

I really enjoyed the Ken Burns documentary "Country Music" that SBS ran a few weeks ago. Although I don't think anyone else did, the first episodes played at 8.30 for a couple of weeks then got banished to 10.30. Luckily you can watch through their app, and I did.

It was a bit of an eye-opener. If asked, I would say that I'm not really a country music fan. Folk, sure, bluegrass, absolutely ... but proper country music? Nope, I'm way too cool for that. Except, apparently, I'm not. The series was a wonderful romp through all the music that I really really like and listen to all the time. Johnny Cash! Bill Munro! Patsy Cline! Willie Nelson! Dolly Parton!

It was familiar, and I have opinions on it. I greatly prefer Loretta Lynn to Tammy Wynette - "You're the reason our kids are ugly" has always struck me as a much better love song than "Stand by your man". I've downloaded the five volumes of soundtrack from the series (they are each three hours long, could it get any better!) and listened to them on my walks, and followed up with more from the artists that are unfamiliar to me, including the more modern ones. I have to admit that I actually love country music, which is not at all in line with my self-view, but what can you do?

Friday, June 12, 2020

More solids

I was a bit inspired by Bonnie Hunter's unity quilt-a-long ... not precisely that quilt because it looks way more complicated than my capabilities but the general idea. A medallion with a lot of pieced borders, fairly neat and tidy, in a limited colour range. I have started with pink purple and yellow and it's shaping up nicely so far.

Clearly there are many more borders to come, but the nice thing about medallion quilts is you can stop when you get sick of it and then just pretend that was the size you wanted it to be all along. I am going to do coping strips to ensure that the borders are a finished block size, and try to keep it square as I go. We will see!

Pam asked why we celebrate the Queen's birthday, which is an excellent question I have never thought about (other than holiday! yay!). There is a wikipedia entry on Australian public holidays and one on the official birthday itself; it varies from state to state of course (like so much else in Australia, get rid of the states I always say, the country is way too small for that nonsense) and has apparently been celebrated mid-year since 1788, which was the first year of convict settlement. The UK does it on a Saturday and troops the colour, so no holiday ... seems a bit mean, as Pam points out they do pay for her (although we support a regal representative in each state and a general one, which is probably quite expensive, although my guess is cheaper than a president, yay for constitutional monarchy).

The wikipedia reminded me that when I first arrived in Canberra it had unrestrained fireworks sales on the Queen's birthday weekend and we would have a little fireworks and red wine fiesta in the freezing evening with mates. It was awesome but then "safety, runaway dogs, face exploding blah blah blah" stopped it all. Shame.

Tuesday, June 9, 2020


Regional travel restrictions were lifted on 1 June - after breakfast that day my  husband drove down for a day or two by the sea. Although he said it was a lot of gardening; tidying up bamboo leaves and mowing the tiny lawn ... but I think he spent most of it going for long beach walks and reading books. And last weekend it was my turn.

It was the Queen's Birthday long weekend so the entirety of Canberra came with me - I took the day off on Friday in the end to avoid the traffic and get a quiet day before the hordes arrived. Normally I get annoyed (this is My Beach! go home!) but it was lovely to see everyone out and about, and spending lots of money in the local shops, and generally coming out of hibernation.

The weather on Friday and Saturday was exquisite; clear and sunny and warm until the sun went down, when it was freezing, but that's OK. Lots of people were swimming but not me, not even with a wetsuit. I did a long walk in a t-shirt and long pants and was too hot by the end of it ... and found a few cold pear ciders in the back of the fridge! Perfect.

I spent the non-walking time making a dress that was a disaster. It's a t-shirt dress that I've made before with success but the fabric was a slightly heavier knit, and the neckband was shocking, so I cut it off and tried again with a different method, which was even worse.... so I got despondent and gave up. That's the trouble with sewing, too many misses and not enough hits. Especially when you're a very basic sewer with limited patience and unattractive blubber rolls that must be hidden. The options for disastrous results are inexhaustible.

I caught up with friends down the beach and other friends back here on Monday, which has been wonderfully social, and now we are back with busy weeks at work. My husband's work is allegedly going back physically soon but we will wait and see. Most everything is opening back up now community transmission is so low, although it is unlikely to make much difference to my life. Theatre? Nightclubs? Bars? Concerts? Not so much.