Sunday, November 30, 2014

On the way home

I'm in Guam airport at the moment, for a flight back to Cairns this evening, then overnight and a quick six or so hours down to Canberra on Monday. It will be nice to be back in Australia tonight - and home tomorrow! Guam is interesting - it's definitely the US but near the airport on the main hotel strip where we were is mostly Japanese and Korean tourists. We went to Kmart this morning (why not!) and there were heaps of tourists enjoying the typical US experience :) It was great actually, everything was on sale! How is this for a tropical view?

Monday, November 24, 2014


On the weekend we went from Pohnpei to Palau - twelve hours on the island hopper to Chuuk, Guam, Yap and then here! The flying's not too bad - although there were some whopper tropical storms - but I have never heard the words "TSA clearance" before I did this trip and I hope never to hear them again! What a pain.

Palau has a lot more tourists than FSM (mostly from Japan, Taiwan and China) and is apparently very beautiful and has fantastic diving. We have only seen the main town and the government offices and so far it's hard to get too excited because it has rained and rained. Every hour or two, real waterfall showers, so loud you have to stop talking because no-one can hear you. We didn't realise but there is a public holiday on Thursday so we will have a day off then and try and get someone to take us out for snorkelling and to look at some pretty fishes. Love floating about looking at pretty fishes...

Thursday, November 20, 2014


I am on the island of Pohnpei this week, in the Federated States of Micronesia - a wee dot somewhere between the Philippines and Hawaii. I've never been here before and it took three days from Australia (overnight in Manila, then overnight in Guam, then here via a brief stop in Chuuk). It is really beautiful - lots and lots of rain so everything is wonderfully green, with high hills and jungle and the ocean out to a reef that surrounds the whole island. It is very laid back but different to many of the Pacific Island countries we go to because of the strong American influence. We have hired a car and are very carefully tootling around on the right hand side of the road - fortunately everybody drives very slowly.

Excuse the small photos - the hotel internet isn't up to anything much bigger. The women almost all wear these embroidered skirts, which I've never seen anywhere else, so I had to get myself one. They are elastic waisted on black cotton and machine embroidered in all sorts of wonderful patterns; mostly flowers. 

It's all done in zig zag stitch - I'm not sure how. The colour is not quite right in this photo, it is actually a bright neon green. Just the thing for Canberra!!! I might wear it to the office christmas party.

Monday, November 17, 2014

A gift

I made this quick quilt as a gift - for someone who likes purple!!! Aaaargh!!! It is probably the one colour I really struggle with; I don't mind burgundy or maroon and I can probably be enticed into a lavender if I'm doing something dainty ... but real purple leaves me cold. And I never buy it either, so I really had to do some deep digging through the piles to get together everything that was even remotely purple.

Not a great photo - I took it quickly inside - but you get the idea. The central floral fabric is lovely, and the recipient likes it, which is all that matters! I thought it was more of a sofa quilt but she reckons it's big enough for her bed.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Best in Show

In the last few months I've got a bit grumpy with a lot of the quilting world. It started around the time of our local show, and then all the shows and markets and things ... it just seems like a constant rush for better, shinier, more elaborate, more difficult, smaller pieces, bigger statements, trendier colours, new seasons, new fabric lines. It's not really what I like about quilting - I like that it's practical, useful, technically very forgiving, and, if you want to, you can make exactly what someone did 200 years ago and end up with a functional and lovely thing you can use every day. There aren't many aspects of human endeavour where you can do that.

And while I'm interested in new techniques and learning things - I don't care if I never get any "better" in terms of prizes and judging. I love looking at other people's quilts but I really don't like the idea that there is a quilting benchmark or a goal that we should all constantly be striving towards. It makes me cross. And when I get cross ... I make a quilt about it.

Very basic squares in yellow and blue, with a triangle border. Scrappy and a bit wonky in the execution and randomly quilted in a wiggly way. And another repurposed dust ruffle! Yay!

But with a message in it for us all.

Interestingly, my husband walked out just after I took this photo and said "ooo! Nice colours, I like that one" - I said, well, yes, except for the you know and he said "the what?" I said it had words on it, and he could not for the life of him see it. Then I showed him the photo in the camera viewfinder ... and he laughed and laughed ... but my point is it's actually quite difficult to make out the words in real life. So maybe I can put it on the bed after all!

I called it "Best in Show" ... hahaha. I'm not going back to Canberra Quilters either, it's no fun when it's about impressing the judges and seeing who is doing what in the world. I need to find a group with lower standards.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014


We had our school fete on Sunday - it's only once every two years so they tend to pull out all the stops. It was an absolutely beautiful day - too hot if anything - and the cold drinks stall was doing wonderfully, as was the sponge throw. No lack of kids wanting to have wet sponges chucked at them! There may also have been water balloons. My husband and I wandered around for half an hour then left the kids to it ... they walked home when they had spent all their money and met up with all their friends.

Number two son had a moment at the trash and treasure stall ... jewellery. All for $3!!! Bargain. He has been wearing an assortment to school all week - not all at once, just a bit at a time - it makes him look like a very staunch little surfer boy.

I made a few extra things for the craft stall - fabric covered notebooks. I used a combination of various methods from the internet - there are quite a few tutorials out there although I simplified it considerably. Two sizes; raspberries, monkeys and owls. Just a stiffened fabric cover, then put in a spiral bound notebook from the dollar shop. I'm not sure how well they sold - I must find out for next time. And see how the bunting went...

Friday, November 7, 2014

The road less travelled ... for a reason

When I went down to the beach last week I took a back road - I had had my eye on it for a while and it seemed like a good opportunity when I wasn't in any rush. There is only one road down to our bit of the coast from Canberra and it's quite busy. You go flat over the tableland for an hour, then over the escarpment and wind your way slowly down the cliffs to the coastal plain. The road is pretty good but it's not the sort of countryside you would put any additional roads on if you didn't need to.

Anyway, the problem is at the bottom, when it meets the main coastal highway in a roundabout. And if you have a busy day on the highway - like Boxing Day - then you can get about one car a minute off the Canberra road and onto the main coastal road. And when they're arriving from Canberra at the rate of one car every ten seconds ... by mid-afternoon there's a massive queue that can go for miles and take over an hour to get through.

So I thought I would investigate something marked on Google maps (and our road atlas) and take the Runnyford Road. It was a bit of an adventure - it took 40 minutes to go 22 km. All unsealed (very slippery gravel) and narrow with quite steep embankments through the state forest and no safety rails or anything. This photo is pretty much the only bit I felt safe to pull over and take a picture. It was very pretty. In the photo below you can see the road through the trees - typically winding down to a stream, then a concrete ford, and back up again. It would have been better in a 4WD and not my tiny little Polo :).

So I don't think it's going to work as traffic avoidance, especially not if we were in a hurry or had fractious children or it was 40 degrees ... or if there had been rain in the last five days which I think would make it impassable! I didn't see another car the whole road, and maybe two houses, so perhaps not great if you did have an accident.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Diplomatic Canberra

No, not cocktail parties and espionage - diplomatic Canberra is the name of the walk we intended to do back in July and it started sleeting on us and we all gave up and ran back to the car. Sunday was much better weather so we tried it again. Here we have the Indian High Commission - grandly done in the mughal style and left to get a bit rundown. Much like India, from what I remember of our honeymoon back in 1998.

Over the road from India was the USA - a bit of a contrast. Enormous, spick and span, fences, wires, lights and guards up the wazoo. We didn't get too close in case a Marine came out and shot us. My husband has been there for a meeting but I cannot imagine that I would ever darken its doors! It's allegedly in the Georgian style that was "typical of Virginian architecture during the time of Washington and Jefferson" but it is so well maintained and freshly painted it's hard to see it as anything other than modern. Never mind, the US gets extra points for having a male ambassador who is married to a bloke. Diplomatic circles can be very conservative, and it's good to see a bit of difference.

If I had to pick one of the residences to live in I think this is my favourite - Belgium. You can't really see from this photo but it has beautiful floor to ceiling windows and is set in a lovely garden. This is the residence - the chancery next door is a funny little 1960s building. I can't imagine there would be many Belgian diplomats in Australia? Well what do you know, I just googled and there are five of them; one ambassador, three officers and an executive assistant. Seems like an awfully big house for the boss of four people.

The Spanish Embassy has a little tableau of Don Quixote tilting at windmills on its front lawn. The windmills are about two feet high. The boys and I thought the proportions were a bit off - if Don Q got off his horse he probably wouldn't fit through the front door. 

All in all the walk was about six km and took an hour and a bit - it was interesting and there was absolutely no-one about on the leafy streets of Yarralumla on a sunny Sunday morning so we could wander and stare to our heart's content.

Saturday, November 1, 2014


I saw out October in fine style - Thursday and Friday by myself down at the beach! Have you ever heard of such luxury? On Monday I published a report at work (well, my office did, but I know who wrote the damn thing and it took a YEAR from start to finish) so I gave myself a little reward of two days of salt water and solitude.

The weather was absolutely glorious - hot and summery but not baking like February. I swam and walked and spread my stuff all over the dining table and ate processed cheese slices and turned the fans on high (no-one else likes that) and watched Escape to the Country. It was an awesome couple of days and very soothing just to not have to think about anything for a bit. Weekdays during term time has a very different vibe - just me and the oldies and the surfies and the hippies and a couple of mums with toddlers. I felt happy to be hanging with my peeps.

I made it back to get the boys on Friday afternoon and buy some sweets for the trick and treaters. There were a few groups - I refuse to get involved but if the boys are happy to answer the door and compliment people's costumes then it would be churlish not to allow them to participate. It can be something for them to rebel against - they can tell their kids how their mum never let them do halloween because she thought it was stupid so that's why daddy goes a bit crazy every year with spiderwebs and chocolate bars. (And then their kids will say "Grandma! She's awesome! You were so lucky to have her as a mum" ... maybe. Maybe not.) 

Then back to reality today with two hours behind the canteen / bbq at baseball. That's number one son trying to make the jelly snakes into a more appealing display, while my husband (in the green shirt) has a deep and meaningful conversation with one of the other dads over the sausages and bacon. Now they play home and away games there's usually only a couple of teams instead of the massed hordes at Narrabundah - it's much more relaxed, even though they are taking it more seriously than in the lower grades. Not quite as seriously as my son's newly arrived American coach believes baseball should be taken... but he'll loosen up. They all do.