Thursday, May 31, 2012

Another lovely view

This hotel room is in the middle of a nine-hole golf course! I did a walk around the perimeter yesterday after we'd finished the meeting for the day and it was very pleasant. I could have gone for a walk on the roads but there was traffic, and dogs ....

This is just out of Nadi, Fiji. Only a short trip - only two days here and a day's travel either side - but Fiji is very central, so if you want to have a meeting with lots of Pacific island representatives then this is the best place to hold it. And very well set up for conferences! We have a golf course because it was a well-priced alternative to lagoons and beaches - and as a good public servant I try not to pick a conference venue that advertises itself as having the world's biggest swim-up bar. We're here to work...

Sunday, May 27, 2012


I called this wee scrap quilt Tracks. It's not a very imaginative name, but really, it's not a very imaginative quilt! Fun to make though - a slightly rough combination of yellow and purple solids and then completely random scraps.

I took it to Quilters on Friday - the first time I had been to the Friday quilting group (I usually go to the Wednesday, not that I have been at all this year). It's a smaller group, and very friendly, so I just sat and stitched and chatted a little bit. I did big-stitch hand quilting on this, which I really like the look of, but I always feel as if I should be apologetic for the lack of technique whenever I do it. Actually I feel apologetic whenever I do anything quilt-related around people who might know what they're talking about .... but I did fill in my entries for the exhibition in August, so I'll put my little offerings out in the world again this year. Gulp.

I photographed this quilt outside and it is so lovely and autumnal - crisp still air, golden light, orangey colours. Canberra is very pleasant at this time of year (although it was basically sleeting on Thursday brrrr).

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

It's all about the HAIR

Let me say first, that I am very pleased to have hair. It is much much better than being bald, in every way. But why on earth has my hair grown back into a great curly unmanageable frizzball??? This isn't my hair, this is someone else's hair that has somehow come sprouting out of my head. How does that happen? Here is a close up of my hair as at this very second.

Here is what it looked like early last year. Any wave, any apparent bounce - it's carefully blowdried in. My hair is straight, straight straight.

My hair has always been straight. This is me in 1979 (looking off to the side, wearing the Centre bib). My hair was an awesome colour - which of course I hated, I wanted to be blonde like my Barbie - and dead straight.

And straight was fine in the 1970s (see the excellent selection of 70s cars in the background?) but in the 1980s I just wanted curls desperately. In 1987 - my last year of school - I got a spiral perm that was going to make me look like Rachel Hunter in the Trumpet commercial. It didn't make me a supermodel, but I finally had proper 80s big hair!! I thought I was the duck's nuts. I don't look particularly thrilled in the photo - this was my first ever job in a menswear shop for $4 an hour and, like many 17 year olds, I was not so struck on the concept of work.

But then I went off to university, and wore a lot more black, and tried to forget my pastel past, and get some smooth 90s hair. Long hair, worn with an alice band under a mistaken conviction that alice bands could be alternative if worn with tartan miniskirts and doc martens. Wrong, wrong again. This is the only photo I could find of 1990 where I don't look drunk or demented.

At the end of 1991, for no apparent reason, I got my short sleek bob spiral permed again. Why? Who knows? It looked awful. I went to a chinese hairdresser who couldn't understand what I wanted until light finally dawned and she said "linglets!! you want linglets!!!" It should have been a warning that no-one else was getting them done, and it was possibly not so fashionable. But it happened anyway. Here I am with my then boyfriend - his hair was naturally curly (which of course, he hated. I loved it, I thought it made him look vaguely disreputable and louche. Thank god I grew out of louche).

So, despite these forays into chemical curliness, I really do not know what to do with hair that comes out of your head frizzy. And it's driving me a bit mental. On the plus side, this trawl through the photo albums has been a giggle ... but it's hard finding a halfway decent headshot!!! Most of the photos look like the following ... hello 1992, you were a fun year, the bits I remember...

Saturday, May 19, 2012

A quiet week

I've been slightly out of action this week with some kind of virus - since all the treatment finished I've only been used to feeling well! It was a bit of a shock to get a bug, I kept wondering what on earth was wrong with me ... turns out it's exactly the same as another woman in my team and two solid nights of eleven-hours sleeps has fixed it. But the week did vanish a bit.

Look at what I got for mother's day. This is a truly shocking reminder of early nineties crafting. My husband thought I would find it hilarious - but I think it's a bit sad. Having said that, I think there will be salt dough christmas tree ornaments in my future. It's just the kind of activity the boys would like - mess, squashing squishy stuff, and a small but real chance of an explosion.

The rest of the presents were chocolate and fabric, which is completely acceptable. I don't really like mother's day, there tends to be a deluge of women in the press and the internet saying how their lives are so much richer for their children, and they're constantly amazed by the incredibleness of being a mother, and how rewarding it is. I like my kids well enough, but I would never use any of those words to describe the experience ... so mother's day is like the feeling where you seemed to have gone to a completely different movie than all the other reviewers. Undermining and disorienting.

I did manage another rescue puppy though - this is the before picture - it's been a great big pile of cream red and green disaster for several years now. So I sewed them together and remembered why I'd abandoned it - somewhere in the middle there is a wrongly turned block, so the red and cream doesn't flow properly across the quilt. I ignored it, added the border, a bit of machine quilting and a nice stripey binding. So satisfying to have an orphaned project finished!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Another rescue puppy

No, not a real puppy. Although we have been looking at those - but seeing that we don't want a surrendered pit bull, the options are a bit limited. We can't actually get a dog until the back fence is fixed, and that seems to be taking perhaps a bit longer to get quotes and actually do that perhaps it might have, if the person who was organising it (i.e. not me) was in anyway focussed. But, no  hurry, it will just cost money and then we will have NO excuse not to get the dog the boys so desperately want.

So that's why I called this quilt "Rescue Puppy", in honour of the visits to the RSPCA we have been making. I started it (the quilt, not the visits) back in October 2010 when I was getting excited about bias strips. And then I got bored, and needed to add more, but didn't want to, and up it went on the shelf of shame and that was that until a couple of weeks ago. I added one more wavy strip then batted it up and hand quilted in big stitch. That was fun! I did some crosses and different things, just for an experiment, and I like the way they turned out. 

So there's one puppy rescued from extermination ... and folded up and put in the cupboard. If only the real puppy could be dealt with as easily.

Friday, May 11, 2012

I cocked this one up

Here is another little baby quilt, suitable for either gender. I did like the piecing - black and white prints with a hint of yellow, in circles. This photo is my fabulous basting technique where I sticky tape it to the outside of my house, by the front door. Yay for me!

So far so good. Then I decided to quilt it by machine in concentric circles to reflect the pieced circles. And somewhere along the way, without my noticing, it went horribly wrong. I don't know how - it was flat when I basted it and flat when I started sewing it - but by the end there were folds and puckers and crap all over it. This is the finished product - see up the top middle? It is not good.

The problem is I still really like the colours and the pattern, and if it's just going to be used by a baby, does it matter that it's a bit poorly executed? How low are my thresholds?

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

busy busy busy

Gosh it has just been busy busy around here - not with anything useful or worthwhile, but it seems my bum has hardly touched a chair since I got home. Which is nonsense of course, I've done nothing but watch TV every evening and sit glued to my (work) emails all day, but I will not get reality get in the way of a good whine. Number one son had his birthday party on Sunday - not really a party, more a playdate with cake - but even with just three guests it was surprisingly loud and boisterous. Why do I find it surprising that ten year old boys are noisy? I should know better by now.

He wanted a Wind Turbine cake. I said really? a what? and asked for more details ... and then it got a little hazy so I made him draw me up some specs. Then I got to look at the plans and say "Maate, I can do it, but it'll cost... are you sure you don't want a normal one because I've got one in the ute" ... he looked at me blankly and I ended up making the damn cake.

It doesn't look a lot like a wind turbine, but he liked it. And the other boys thought it was cool. Apparently there is a fascination with wind turbines! Who knew.

In craft-related events, I tried these cheap wooden block letters I fossicked off the clearance table at Typo a couple of weeks ago. They were 50 cents each, and you get what you pay for, but it's an interesting effect. Maybe for quilt backs? I used fabric paint for this and heat set it, so it should be wash proof. They didn't have the full range of letters so I just got a few bits and bobs, so other than my own name (yay!) I may not be able to spell much. It might be like one of those novels where they don't use the letter e ... I can think of uplifting aphorisms or life mottos that only use L, E, Y, N, O and a $ symbol. "$O LONELY" is all I've got so far.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Cold and foggy

It's nice to be home again - even though we have stepped into winter and it is cold this morning and foggy! It's hard to imagine anything more different than the tropics of last week and the view out my window this morning ... although the garden is beautiful with autumn colours, and the very last of the roses - the sky is grey with low fog and it is COLD.

Our lovely black and white cat died while I was away - she was 16 and getting increasingly frail - my husband took her to the vet to get her stitches out from an abscess and they noticed she had a terribly enlarged heart. In the end she never recovered from the anaesthetic for the stitches, and went quite quickly. We're all sad. The boys have known her all their lives, and she was a very sweet and gentle cat. Our other cat is a bit put out - not exactly distraught but unsettled - although it is hard to tell what a cat is thinking sometimes.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Hello from Honiara

Another view from another hotel room! Not quite as spectacular as the last one, and to be honest, it is FAR too close to the bar. Those umbrellas usually have loud beer-drinking blokes underneath them until past 11 at night, which is too late for me...

This is Honiara, which I'd never been to before, and which is very interesting. Unfortunately there's no chance to get out of town - I'm back home tomorrow - as apparently the islands are absolutely stunning. Town itself is no oil painting. I am trying not to stuff my suitcase with wooden carvings and woven baskets but it's hard because they are all so beautiful.

We had a work lunch today at a local Chinese which was incredibly delicious - as you would imagine the local seafood is amazing. Squid and prawns and fish and this awesome crab! I made a big fat pig of myself ... I think it's only good manners when you're visiting someone's country to make sure you enjoy the food.