Monday, September 30, 2013

Saturday's walk

Saturday was the first day of the holidays, and the boys were feeling a bit tired after a full term of school ... and I was feeling a bit tired after a full bottle of bubbly .... so we had a short urban walk. It was a beautiful day except for very strong spring wind; so along the streets and between the buildings was a better bet than the hilltops.

We started off at Old Parliament House and walked up Federation Mall to current Parliament House. A nice big green lawn with a building at the end.

Hold on to your hats boys, for god's sake, said my husband as we walked over the overpass. Can't hear you! What? Hold on to what? they said as their hats flew off the bridge. They were retrieved without incident.

I let number one son take the photos for the rest of the walk and he is a bit more arty with his shots than I am! Or maybe he's just at a (slightly) lower angle than me. We walked around the outside of the Parliament House building and through the surrounding gardens.

This is the boys' view of most of the walks we have. Our rear ends disappearing into the distance (with the occasional shouted "hurry UP" over the shoulder).

The Senate gardens are native bush with the occasional soccer field and tennis court thrown in, but there are beautiful formal gardens on the Reps side that were at their peak spring gorgeousness. These are just blossoms and azaleas but the pinkness was amazing! So pink and so fluffy. And so pink. Did I say pink?

And some more artiness - through a sculpture of some sort. There were lots of sculptures and memorials and things. We read most of the plaques but I can't remember what this was all about.

And there were about fifty photos like this. Mmmmm.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Wednesday did not go according to plan

Well, it's a good thing I was productive in the morning, because the afternoon didn't work out so well. I was in the car waiting at the lights and there was a huge noise - and the passenger window behind me completely shattered!!! My first thought was someone had thrown a rock through it ... but there was absolutely no-one around, and when I pulled over and looked there was no rock. Then I got all dramatic and thought it must be a bullet - but it was a great big gaping hole, and no bullet to be found. And gunshots are not very common on the quiet streets of Canberra.

I googled "spontaneous car window explosion" and what do you know, it's a thing. Something to do with tempered glass and weaknesses you can't see. Anyway it scared the crap out of me, and I slowly drove home, shedding bits of glass on every corner, before knocking the rest of it out and doing some major clean up. Including of my hair! I'm just so glad the boys weren't in the back as they would have been showered with tiny bits of glass.

At least a window is easy enough to fix - although it's going to cost $580 dollars and guess what! The excess on our car insurance is $600 ... I think it's all a conspiracy. And we might look into getting glass cover too. My husband took it into the glass place yesterday morning as organised, and they'd ordered the wrong one. Left, not right. And they didn't have another one, so we have to wait until Tuesday to get it fixed. At least they put plastic in the window... so we can drive in slightly more comfort, although looking even more disreputable than normal.

On the happy side, it is footy finals time, and I do like a good game of footy; either rugby league or aussie rules, I'm not fussed. So the weekends are packed with sitting on the sofa. Last night I thought I would combine all my favourite things ... footy final, glass of bubbly and same hand stitching. Didn't work out so well though ... giant furry cat would not stay off me. I had to give up in the end, she is such a weight that I about gave myself a rupture trying to push her off.

Actually our cat is getting increasingly demanding as she gets older - she wants to be around us and she wants feeding and she wants HER spot on the sofa and she's not taking no for an answer. This is number one son trying to do some homework, as cat butt gets waved backwards and forwards under his face.

But I LOVE you and I want to KISS you and rub my little scent glands up against your CHEEKS mwha mwha mwha smooch smooch smooch.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

And another little one...

I decided to turn this medallion mania to good use and made a baby quilt - yes, there are still babies in the offing, apparently I still have friends who are that young. And by the time they finish then the next generation will be having babies and I'll have even more to make!! Yay!!! It does worry me to think that there are babies out there without quilts. Simply not right.

It's for a girl, but I don't think this is too girly ... just a hint of pink. Only a top at this stage but I will quilt it with something random before too long.

Today is my last Wednesday off before the school holidays when I have to SHARE my free time with the tiny horrors. I'm doing errands and chores which sounds hideous but actually going to the bank and the photo shop and the post office on my own is really quite fun. I've already been to the gym and am on the third load of washing  ... so productive! So different from my usual feet up on the sofa with a book and some craisins.  Do you know that craisins have about the same calories as potato chips? I'm going back to chips.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

A diversion

Well, you know how I said that you couldn't pick up the Liberated Medallions book without wanting to make something from it? It's true. After I finished Snowy River I had a look back in the book … just to see … not going to make anything … and I got trapped. Quilt-trapped! It's not the first time. And it was browns this time - I made a colours-of-the-woodland medallion.

Excuse the terrible photo - it's taken on my bed, the clothesline was full and far too sunny for photos outside anyway. Yes, sunshine! After a week of rain and cold it was finally back to a pleasant spring. I went for a nice long walk this morning, and the grass was green, the skies were blue, the birds were singing (although Australian birds don't really sing, they tend to screech). It was all very pretty.

And there was a lot of water in the dirty ditch - it doesn't look very spectacular but it's good to see and even better to listen to because it's full of frogs! We do get some very cute frogs but they are a bit of a fragile population with recent long droughts. So I stopped for a while in the sunshine and listened to the croaking and ribbiting.

My laptop is still in the shop so I'm having to share the main computer with the boys and it's a bit of a pain to sit and read blogs … so I feel very cut off from the world. Even though I did a massive cull a few weeks back and deleted half my list leaving just the ones I really enjoy (what a sensible decision! my god the internet can suck up your time) I still feel as though I am missing out when I can't read them … silly really.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013


I took advantage of the fake warm last week to do some dyeing - Canberra always has this week towards the end of winter where it is beautiful and spring-like and fools everyone into taking the wool duvet off the bed and putting the coats away … but it's fake and never lasts. We are back to cold and rainy this week, but in a window of opportunity I made some yellows.

Must have been warm enough because they took nicely. I have given up dyeing in winter - too many failures. And over the years I've tried everything; putting them in the hotwater cupboard, and next to the heater, and in the sun so that the fabric would get to the right temperature to batch, but it was too unpredictable. So dyeing is only when the temperature is consistently above 20 degrees, which is about eight months of the year, so it's not a real hardship. On these ones I also used some green dye that I found in the fridge from February and it looks like it had lost much of its potency … but that's OK I can handle six metres of yellow all much the same! I do like yellow.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Leftovers again

I am feeling MUCH better today - it must have been just some virus. I did manage to infect my husband and number two son though, so we all stayed at home together yesterday and sat around miserably. Number two son is still at the age where you give him some panadol and he goes straight to sleep - my drug-resistant frame takes a bit more to knock over, dammit. But we all seem to be on the up today.

I did sit in front of the tv and finished some binding on this quilt, originally from leftovers. When I made my clamshells it was from big circles - where you cut out a circle, then cut out a frame an inch smaller, then sew them together. Nice and easy, but it means that you are left with unused frames and unused circles - and you can't just sew them together because the circle is an inch smaller than the frame, and it's meant to be the other way around. Of course, you could cut more frames of a smaller size, but that would leave even smaller leftover circles, and you'd have to cut more frames for them of a smaller size until you ended up sewing circles together the size of your thumb nail…. That didn't sound very practical so I put the frames in the scrap bin and sewed the circles onto big blue squares and made another quilt.

This is rough as guts - raw edge applique which is already unravelling - I quilted the bejesus out of it so they won't actually fall off, but the fraying is fairly spectacular. And this is the quilt where my machine decided to spit the dummy on the quilting, so there are threads and breaks and dodgy quilting all over it! And it's in a hundred different threads because I tried everyone I owned to see if I could make a difference. So not a display quilt, but still useable.

It's called "A Dyson Sphere" which is this, according to wikipedia. I knew what it was through reading far too much science fiction … but on a walk a couple of weeks ago number one son was chit chatting about blowing up Jupiter or something and I was only half listening until he said "of course I would need a dyson sphere to capture the sun's energy to make the explosions because Jupiter's a gas giant which is hard for mining…" At which point I focussed my attention and realised three things:

  • when I was eleven I was just being introduced to the concept of the molecule, and was struggling with it
  • very soon his understanding of physics will be greater than mine, if it's not already
  • even if I start studying now (which I have no intention of doing) in 20 years he will know more than me about probably everything. 
Does this happen to all parents? When you realise - when it properly sinks in - that they will understand things that you never have quite grasped? So, that's why I chose this name for this quilt … and also because, you know, spheres are round.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

I gotta cooooold

My nose hurts, my ears hurts, my throat hurts and I feel like craaaaaap.... it's a cold and I'm sitting here at home morosely watching daytime tv and keeping my fluids up. I've had my first shower for a couple of days (ewwwww) and now I need a nap. Pathetic. And I specially bound a quilt on the weekend so I would have something to sew on at quilters tonight, and now I can't go, no-one wants a snuffling germbag at their meeting, even if I could keep awake that long. Oh well, it's just a cold, will be better soon. Cough sniff grumble.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Snowy River

Here is another finish - after many months of hand quilting - my liberated medallion. It's not liberated in the sense of wonky, just in the sense of unplanned, sewed border by border, using whatever fabrics I had available, and happy with the use of coping strips and chopped off triangles. I made it straight after I got Gwen Marston's Liberated Medallions, which is such an awesome book. It's almost impossible to open it up and not want to go and make something!

Hand-quilted in my usual fashion. I don't think my stitches are getting any smaller or more even. A lady at quilters asked me, very politely, if I was basting it for quilting ... I said no, believe it or not these are my actual quilting stitches. And so the conversation ended - hard to know what to say next really. I am pleased with the hand quilting though - despite the dodgy quality - because it has a lovely drape and softness now, that suits it. A bit old-fashioned.

As usual, number two son asked me what the name was and I said "I don't know, what do you think it should be called?" expecting the usual completely horrific response ... and he looked at it and said "Snowy River". And I thought - heavens! That is quite a good name. Well done small boy.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Election Day!

Yesterday was the federal election in Australia - I loathe election campaigns but I do like election day itself. There is a sense of shared purpose, and a hope that all the bollocks of the campaign is finally behind us and we can get back to some reality. As far as government is ever linked to reality that is. Voting is compulsory in Australia - you get a fine if you don't do it - which means that basically every primary school is a voting place because if you are going to make people do something, then you better not keep them waiting too long.

And what primary school is going to let a captive audience go buy without trying to fund raise off them? No primary school ever, so here are two dozen chocolate chip cookies for the Year 5/6 bake sale.

So yesterday morning number one son and I walked down to the school - it was an absolutely beautiful spring day - and he ran the bake stall with his classmates while I voted! That's the nice thing about Year 5/6, they can handle their own money. You wouldn't try this with the kinders. This is a slightly strange photo because I've chopped out all the other kids .... seems a bit excessive but probably better to be safe than have some irate mother run me down outside the school on the next pick-up.

And in the afternoon I had book club, which was very enjoyable with some lovely ladies, and then we had a dozen people over to watch the election results unfold! My friends have a broad range of political views, but in Canberra the political differences tend to take second place to the personalities.  We've all had dealings with politicians of all stripes that have left us either delighted or scarred .... so there were whoops and hollers when certain people lost their seats, regardless of which side you voted for :) We will see what the change of government brings; it is likely that some of us will lose our jobs but hopefully not me...

Wednesday, September 4, 2013


The good news is my sewing machine has decided to be happy again!!! Moody bugger, I've named it after a previous boss who had psycho mood swings and whose name I won't share on this blog because, you know, don't want to get sacked. After another completely unsuccessful couple of hours on Monday I went on-line and made a long long list of fixes (it turns out this is a very common problem with this machine) and tried them all, even the ones I had already tried .... and finally something worked. It won't be the same thing that will work next time, but I still have the list!!!

The bad news is I made this little top, which I thought I would like, but which I do not like at all. Too bland. I am trying to think of ways to spice it up a bit with borders but everything I auditioned looked off, so this is going on the shelf of shame for a while. There must be something that can turn it from boring to interesting, but I have no idea what it could be right now.

After disrespecting my husband for going into work on the weekend I am now heading in on my day off - we both provide secretariats to committees (very, VERY different committees, in fact he would probably deny any comparison between our work) and when those committees decide to meet, then you're in there with them...

Monday, September 2, 2013

Not such a fun weekend

This weekend was quiet and boring - we had a walk on Saturday morning and that was nice. The weather has been really unseasonably warm and clear ... I know we're due for another cold snap but at the moment it feels like winter is forgotten and spring is here. Deceptive.

We walked past this big male kangaroo. Normally kangaroos are quite shy and bound away as you get close but this one just stopped and stared. Not going anywhere. The big ones can go you if they're feeling threatened, so we just quietly tiptoed past and continued on our way. You would not want to get scratched by a kangaroo, or kicked. 

For some reason in our house kangaroo testicles are known as "disco balls" ... and the boys have decided there is a kangaroo secret "attack" signal when the biggest kangaroo scratches his disco balls. Which they do all the time (fleas, I'm guessing) so we could only tiptoe quietly for a few paces before "Run!!! RUN!!! THEY'RE GOING TO ATTACK!!!". Oh the serenity of the nature walk.

Saturday afternoon we decided to get stuck into the vegie beds - we'd been going ten minutes and reached the point of no return with open cow poo bags when my husband's phone rang ... it was work and that was him until about 9 that night. So I dug bags of cow manure into the vegie beds for the afternoon ... actually quite enjoyable but I felt it in my back the next day. Not muscles I am accustomed to using.

And then on Sunday I spent the whole day cursing my sewing machine which, for some completely unknown reason, decided not to free motion quilt any more. It just kept skipping stitches, refusing to catch at all and then breaking the thread. Over the course of about ten hours I changed the top tension, the bobbin tension, the presser foot pressure, the needle (four times) and tried eleven different threads in the top and four in the bobbin. And every combination of all of those. 

I took the darning foot off and put it back on, I took the darning plate off and took it back on. I even tried every single stitch length, although it can't possibly make a difference. I brushed out all the lint and even went down the shop to buy five more different types of thread to see if they would work. Nothing did. I was full-on sobbing in frustration by the end, because it worked yesterday perfectly and NOTHING HAS CHANGED. I did test pieces in different fabric and batting and it made no difference. I'm going to try again now but not for long because I nearly smashed it with a hammer yesterday. It might be I'll have to take it down the shop but I'm trying to avoid it because the staff there are a bit dim. Wish me luck.