Friday, 31 August 2007

In praise of Spring

One day my small woodland area will be carpeted with these - Galanthus atkinsii one of a species of real snowdrops. Last year I purchased half a dozen bulbs from a rare plant nursery on Mount Macedon and this is the first one to flower. It is only about five centimetres tall, and absolutely perfect.

Saturday, 25 August 2007

Birds in the Air

There was a major event in the chook yard yesterday when each of my five hens laid an egg - so for the very first time, I collected three big fat brown eggs from the white chooks and two white eggs from the classy Gold Campines. This burst of egg laying is a welcome reward for months of diligent feeding over winter when only two of them provided the occasional egg and the rest were total freeloaders. I now have too many eggs to use so family and friends share the bounty and I love being able to give them away or make endless sponge cakes - a skill I have now mastered and which I believe probably qualifies me for membership of the Countrywomen's Association - should I wish to join!

These birds live in the Hilton of hen houses that was here when I arrived, but required a fox proof run before occupation. Chooks being chooks who love to scratch, they have now reduced what was a grassy enclosure to a bare patch of moonscaped earth that becomes muddy when it rains and dusty when it doesn't. Despite this now boring enclosure they appear to be thriving, including Gladys a geriatric refugee from inner city Melbourne with the reputation of being an inveterate excape artist. This is Gladys.

I have watched with interest the activities and politics of the chook yard, the individual characteristics of the different breeds and individual hens, their behaviours and their preferences. I noticed that a couple of chooks liked to stand on the edge of their water bowl as it is about a foot off the ground - this was fine but the water did not stay clean for long. I added a taller wire box nearby to prevent this happening, and the chooks loved sitting tall in the sun at the end of the day. Yesterday I had the bright idea of placing a plank of wood across the whole run supported on the existing frame, about a metre from the ground to give them all room to sit there if they wanted. It was hilarious watching them inspect this new installation from the ground, with soft inquisitive clucks and mutterings before one launched herself airborne to try it out. Then all followed suit and for the rest of the afternoon they strutted their stuff along it's length cleaning off the bugs that had been living under it when on the ground, or leaping off and flying the length of their pen like kids enjoying some new playground equipment. A joy to behold - chooks make me smile.

Friday, 24 August 2007

Woolly stuff

I am the lucky owner of a dog who came from the Malvern Save a Dog almost a year ago. Why someone would mistreat such a wonderful girl is beyond my comprehension, but I am grateful that they had the good sense to surrender her so she had a second chance. Maggie is a blue merle Collie and a very beautiful girl who causes heads to turn when she is out.
With Spring now approaching she has been shedding her undercoat in addition to her constant moult of very long fur and she needs regular brushing in a vain attempt to keep it under control. In spite of daily vacuuming and frequent brushings, my home and person are usually covered in a fine misting of silver grey dog hair. I collected bags of the stuff from her grooming, and a kind friend spun it into knitting yarn - yet to be made into a scarf or hat. I collected more of it and decided to try to make some felt - it worked, but this piece perhaps needs to be felted again to make it a little thinner but the potential is there to make something quite different. Seeing this flat piece of felted fluff has an unfortunate resemblance to a I shall have to transform it into something else quickly as it gives me the creeps.

Tuesday, 21 August 2007

Recent creations

I'm a member of several online quilting groups both here in Australia and one based in the US that focus on traditional quilting and more contemporary art quilts and other textile works. I have been a traditional quilter for many years and am only beginning to try making art quilts. Making post cards and ATCs to swap with others are a great way of experimenting with ideas or new techniques and moving out of the traditional mould. This is my most recent post card - no theme such but an opportunity to play with colours and threads.

My Quilt Guild is holding a Quilt-In in October, and we have been asked to make small items to be used as gifts for those who attend. The pincushions started with just one made for myself from instructions found online - then I made one for my daughter and gave two to friends. Now I have eight more for the Guild - they seem to be multiplying as I watch!

Monday, 20 August 2007

Monday, Monday,

I should have been enjoying a riding lesson as I write, but instead am dealing with the miserable symptoms of a developing cold. I'm full of pills, drinking lots of fluids, doing nothing strenuous and hoping that it will disappear by next weekend when I'm due to fly interstate for my brother's wedding. He will not be impressed if I manage to infect the other guests with the virulent Melbourne bug I fear this may be. I'm reminded of a time some years ago when the whole family visited our parents for Christmas. My children were getting over chicken pox and I thought they were no longer contagious. I was very wrong and by the time everyone left to come home, the cousins were coming out in spots! He was not a happy fellow.

Last week's riding lesson was a milestone for this novice - my friend and I spent an hour or more riding on tracks through the forest that surrounds her property and although it rained a little and then began to snow as we came home, it was great. To date my lessons had taken place on her arena and at the end of a lunging rein so to be on my own, following her and dealing with mud, puddles, slopes and uneven tracks was both a thrill and a challenge. I was hoping that today might be the same, but Monday has not been good to me like the words of the classic Mamas and Papas song. I may yet resort to my Ma's home remedy for colds that we had as children before we went to bed. Lemon juice, honey and a teaspoon of scotch in hot water........sounds good and a snooze this afternoon might be just what I need.

Saturday, 11 August 2007

A Belfast girl

Paddy was an Irishwoman and for those who might wonder, this is she. A kind, generous and gracious lady with twinkly blue eyes and curly hair. Wife, mother of three, super grandmother of seven and thoughtful friend to many. She was a great cook, skilled sewer, knitter of socks and jumpers, gardener, maker of rustic pottery and funky lopsided baskets. She was my Ma, my friend and not a day goes by that I do not still think of her.

Blank Slate

Earlier this year I took a class with a very well known Australian quilter who showed us one of sixteen sketch books she has used in her textile life to note ideas, stick photos, doodle, rough out designs and plan future works. She was encouraging us to do the same. This textile artist acknowledged that making the first marks in a pristine black bound art journal was intimidating and difficult - so she always wrote a shopping list or phone numbers or something to get it started. Once that was done and the book no longer virginal she was OK to do as she wanted with no further hesitation.

I feel the same way about this Blog. It's structure has been here now for a week while I deliberated how to begin - but now I have - so there is no longer a need to write lists or numbers and risk your potential boredom before I start.

I hope this Blog will be entertaining for those who read it - I plan to write about quilts and other creative activities, my gardening adventures, and things of interest from the very satisfying life I now have in this beautiful country area where I moved a couple of years ago. I hope you will enjoy it.