Monday, August 29, 2016

Routines again

I'm getting back into the swing of working, even though I don't really want to. Not that there is anything wrong with my job, it's just having to be focussed and organised and concentrate for the whole day. And having to use your time wisely ... instead of going down the mall and pottering about and having a coffee I went on-line for my mattress protector, black tights and boy's socks. Which will boringly turn up at the house with no opportunity for meandering, or checking out Lincraft, or running into someone I know and having a chat. My life is poorer, although my wallet is probably richer.

I walked home today for the first time since autumn - the sun set at 5.42 so I can make it home in daylight if I leave work before 5. The wattle is Canberra's first sign of spring, with the daffodils and the blossom close behind, and it is very lovely at the moment. So yellow, so very very yellow.

We had a nice social weekend with book club at my place, and out for afternoon tea for a friend's birthday. I went for my first run in three weeks which was just as slow and painful as I thought it was going to be. My fitness was so hard won, and that plague sucked it almost all away. I will try and recoup but it's going to be difficult now I have less time. But I will give it a go.

I didn't take this photo, the boys did. Number two son made chocolate lava biscuits for his school lunches (he shared some with book club, which was very kind of him) and was outraged that the 200 gram chocolate bar from Aldi was, in fact, only 142g. This photo might be evidence when he writes in and complains (this is something they learned from me. I am an excellent writer of complaint-letters, as my mother was before me). Luckily I had bought two bars...

And there was some sewing on the weekend too - now that the baby quilts have finished I can think about other things. I had an urge for scraps! a big scraps! So this is the start. It did feel good.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

The yellow one

And here is the yellow baby quilt - and the last one, thank heavens. I have enjoyed making these small projects, but now I'm back at work I only have a tiny amount of creative brain space, and this is sucking it all up. Whenever I see something on a blog or in a book that looks interesting I have to put it to one side until the baby quilts are done ... and that's not how I operate at all. I like to leap on every passing fad, run down every momentarily available rabbit hole, and not be oppressed. Yet another reason why I could never turn quilting into any kind of business. Imagine that burden of having to make money from it! At least with these I knew I could stop whenever I wanted and no-one would really notice. And I'd still be able to buy groceries.

Once all the bindings are sewn down I'll take photos of all of them for the blog. I quilted them all differently so I can use them as samples for the future, when I forget what I've done. Yay for blog! Sadly our weaving course has been put on hold as the tutor's mother is very ill, and she has had to go back to Europe. We will make up the lessons at some point, but I was absolutely getting a taste for it - you know what it's like when you get something new and you just want to do that! I am restraining myself from just buying a loom and going weaving-crazy ... must finish the course first THEN go nuts.

Monday, August 22, 2016

The pink one

I quilted the blue log cabin baby quilt in something allover and loopy, and pinned up the pink one. Here it is - barn raising arrangement - not that there are many arrangements you can do with only sixteen blocks.

We had a quiet weekend; the weather was cold and bleak and windy. Number two son organised a bake sale down at the local shops on Saturday to raise money to buy books for the school library. He and his friends were annoyed that the library didn't have books on the topics they were interested in (Beginner's Japanese and How to Draw Manga); so they researched whether bake sales were legal, checked with the grocery store they could put a table out the front, made a list of everything they needed, then baked, set up, and sold everything within an hour! I was very impressed. The mums had a few double checks around hygiene and a cash float, but other than that the kids did it almost entirely themselves, and raised $110. I took them to the mall Saturday afternoon and they bought exactly the books they wanted and are handing them over today. Wow.

This isn't bake sale related - these are the birthday biscuits I made for my husband. It is better than a cake because he can take the leftovers into work and we're not faced with a large cake to try and eat. Neither us nor the kids need any extra sugar in our lives. I used this recipe, which involved making a chocolatey dough, then wrapping it around a caramel with some sea salt.

As with most American recipes you have to do a bit of guessing because we don't have the exact ingriedients ... the jersey caramels worked well, and didn't leak out the bottom at all.  I put birthday candles in them, and we had one each which was more than enough, and with any luck they are now giving my husband's work diabetes and not us. Speaking of health, I did have a sinus infection, so caved in and took some antibiotics, and I'm now feeling much better. Finally goodbye to the plague.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Back into it

OK, plague week is over and we're just going to pretend it never happened. The painters are done, and it looks amazing, and I'm back at work catching up on whatever is happening here. I'm still coughing and blowing my nose and looking like a bag of shit, but feeling much better. At least no-one doubts it was a genuine illness, even if they are not very keen to sit next to me.

I finished up some more baby quilts on the weekend too. I lost a bit of enthusiasm for being imaginative and decided to do three log cabins; one pink, one yellow and one blue, and all with the same neutrals / whites as the other colour. So I did a marathon cutting sesssion then pieced them all at the same time. Here is the blue one pinned up ready for quilting. Not very exciting but I always like log cabins. Traditional but not too boring.

I went to the quilt fair on Saturday too - it's the annual Canberra Quilters' exhibition as well as a craft fair with lots of stalls. The show seemed a bit smaller than other years, but maybe they just spread it out a bit more. It's not juried and open to all members, so as usual it was a mix of the good the bad and the truly ugly ... but I like that, and I like that it's not all intimidatingly good quilting; but some of it was amazing! The overall winner was exquisite - beautifully made and a well-balanced and appealing composition. I liked everything about it. Other than that though I didn't agree with any of the judges' picks, as usual :) The modern quilts in particular were a bit of a yawn - I am either getting old and grumpy or the modern quilts are starting to re-use a lot of the ideas ... either way it doesn't look as exciting as it used to. I will wait for the Next Big Thing (and ignore it to continue to make log cabin quilts to my own dubious standards). All the winners are here.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Plague week

My first week back at work did not go at all to plan - I got about six hours in to Monday before starting to feel very sick indeed ... so went home and stayed there for the entire week. With my husband and number one son. I cannot remember a bug that has knocked us over so badly for so long - shivers and shakes and coughs and exhaustion. We made a very sad triple appointment at the doctor on Wednesday morning who checked us out but said there was nothing to be done. Rest and fluids! We thought it was hospitalisations all round, but not even antibiotics in the end. She did give us certificates for the week off because she said it would take that long to feel normal again, and she was right. It's Saturday morning and we are feeling a bit wan but not quite so deathly!

And just to make sure the week was extra special it was the week we had booked the house painters. Our house is mostly brick but the eaves, frames, balconies and railings hadn't been done since the house was built (i.e 40 years) and I was getting concerned it was starting to crumble away, so a team of four very efficient painters came round and sorted us out.

I took this photo of my bedroom when I thought about having a lie down, but changed my mind. As you can see, the outside door and door frame had been removed (it was about seven degrees outside) and were being replaced. You can't see but there is a guy with a circular saw outside as well as the painter, and much hammering. So not very restful, but actually we were too sick to really care, and just lay about in various parts of the house while they did their thing. And the house looks much better now, and we are feeling much better, so we might just put this week behind us and pretend next week is my first week back at work!

And of course we arduously completed our census form online on Tuesday evening which took ages because we were all very woolly-headed - and clicked "submit" just as the whole thing crashed apart. What a disaster, and completely preventable if they'd done some basic planning. And their social media management once the crash had happened was unbelievably appalling. I get very cross when public service things fall over in an avoidable way. We will probably do it again, when the website is back up. Maybe.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Something to look forward to

I did pick up the kids' cold - a nasty bug that knocked us all over for the weekend. I am back at work today (I didn't feel that after six weeks off I could call in sick - and I am a bit better than yesterday) but my husband and number one son are at home sadly coughing and watching movies. It is still reasonably quiet in at work so I can catch up with everything I missed and have a day or two to adjust to the outrageous expectation that I stay here all day. And focus. Very hard.

One thing I did book in advance (so that I would have something to look forward to in the dark days of return-to-work) is enrolling myself in a beginner's weaving course at the ANU. It's at the School of Art, and they have an awesome textiles workshop where people are obviously doing very creative things ... and a small group of middle-aged ladies doing beginner's weaving. We have had two sessions so far and I'm enjoying it very much. It takes ages to learn how to set up your loom, which is quite complex, but towards the end of the second session I actully got to doing some weaving!

Isn't it exciting? The edges are wobbly (and the start is a bit worrying) but it is very cool that I can do something that is recognisably weaving after just a couple of lessons. We are using eight-shaft table looms; not the most complex equipment available but plenty difficult enough for us. There are massive floor looms, and computerised looms, and all sorts of exciting things in the workshop. This course goes through until October and there are further ones I can do if I want to take it further! Or print-making! Or photography! I might turn into crazy night-class lady.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Memory quilt

I am in a better frame of mind today, which is probably just as well for me and everyone around me.  So no more whining, despite the fact that today is the last day of my six weeks leave!!! NOOOOOOO how did that go so quickly? I am a bit worried about going back to work next week, and how I will adjust. I got very used to doing whatever I wanted, and having lots of nice time to myself.

I am also a bit worried that I have picked up the kids' cold - my nose is runny and my throat is a bit sore. I was meant to do the full 10km run today but I piked out and just did the usual 5km around the lake. It was a beautiful sparkling day, so no hardship, but it did feel like the whole way was uphill, which may mean the start of a cold. Or it might just be me.

I think I mentioned I was making a memory quilt for a friend from her mother's dresses. I have finally finished it and she picked it up today. After some hesitation I went with a simple medallion and not very complex piecing. Old clothes are lovely and soft, but have a lot of give in them and I find it hard to use very small pieces. There was one knit dress, and one lace, so I backed and stabilised them with fusible, but it does get quite bulky even with the lightest weight stabiliser. And I quilted it a bit more heavily than I normally would to make sure that everything stays in its proper place! But my friend liked it, which is the main thing, and she will use it, and think of her mother, and her cats will love it too, because they are cats ...

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Keeping on with the list

I'm still pottering about through my last week of leave; trying to do useful things and enjoy myself at the same time. With limited success ... I went to the doctor on Monday for a regular checkup, which always makes me sad and cranky. Not because my GP is horrible - she is perfectly lovely - and not because there is anything wrong with me - I am perfectly healthy, if a little overweight - but because she checks me over for everything to do with "older women". A phrase used about four times, along with "women in their 50s and 60s" and even once "we have to watch out for this in the over-60s". I am FORTY FIVE YEARS OLD. But the cancer drugs block the hormones, and I have suddenly been propelled into early old age.

And it shouldn't matter, but it does, because now every time there's a news item about hip fractures, or joint pain, I prick my ears up, because that's me, and if that is me, then I must be that white-haired lady in the pastel track suit they're using to illustrate their news item, and when that happens about a dozen times a day, your picture of yourself starts to change. (You will be pleased to know that my bone density is well within normal range, although according to the technician it is "perhaps 2% lower than last years, so something to keep an eye on". I don't like perky 20 somethings telling me to keep an eye on things, so I asked her what the margin of error in the scan was. It's 3%, so I suggested I would not worry about it right now, and she thought that was probably OK.)

So most of the time I am able to think of myself as in the prime of life, one way or another, but every so often I get smacked with the reality, and it takes a while to re-adjust my self-image back to the comfortable lie of 45 (nearly 46. Unsurprisingly, I am not bothered about turning 46. It is at least ten years younger than my body actually is). I knew the doctor would make me sad, so I planned happy things to do afterwards, which I had to cancel because number two son threw a most unconvincing sickie. Which turned out to be quite genuine and the poor little tigger slept almost the whole day while I moped about. It was raining.

But, on a much better note, I made another baby quilt. I am not sure what this block is called but I have made it before because the drawing was in my notebook. I have pieced seven now, so well on the way to my target.