Tuesday, 30 October 2007

Free Rice

Try this if you have a few minutes to spare. It looks like a worthwhile thing to do, and it is fun to test one's vocab - you might even learn the meaning of a few new ones.


They donate ten grains of rice to the poor people of the world thoughUnited Nations for every word that you correctly match to itsmeaning. The better you are the harder the words though.

Monday, 29 October 2007

Chubby and Bess

Today I rode again for the first time in about six weeks - the owner of the horse I ride has been away, and in her absence her safe, sound and elderly horse called Chubby, had definitely become chubbier. A month of idleness in fields with new Spring grass and extra feed from a temporary and generous carer means that Chubbs is now on a strict regime of no extra feed and lots of exercise. She is a very patient but sometimes determined horse who puts up with her current novice riders with a definite look of resignation - however it was a joy to spend time on her wide back today, meandering quietly through the forest to the sounds of the local birds, scaring the occasional wallaby off into the bush as we went along. I confess that it felt more like Chubby was taking me for a ride, rather than me riding her as she picked her own path along tracks she knows so well, but none the less it was a great way to pass the morning.

I am about to begin this week's Joggles project - a quilt featuring a bird. I'm still not sure what I shall do, but have some ideas in my head and rough drawings in my work book. This is the finished painted one from last week - I did a second picture of my collie Bess in an attempt to make her colouring less realistic. After all it is supposed to be an Art Quilt! This one is just in shades of blue and silver - but to my mind she still looks almost real.

Friday, 26 October 2007


When driving home today along a main country road I saw the saddest sight. A Crimson Rosella had been hit by a car and was lying dead on the white line in the middle. It's mate was sitting beside it, oblivious to the cars speeding past on either side still devoted to the fluffy corpse. Much as I consider these birds a dreadful pest as they can strip a fruit tree in a couple of hours or do other untold damage in my garden, I felt sad for the remaining bird, as these gorgeous things mate for life.

Thursday, 25 October 2007

The Longest Day

No - not the classic 1962 movie about D-Day, but my adventures of yesterday when I went on a bus trip organised by the local Horticultural Society to the Dandenongs to visit unbelievably beautiful gardens in their spring glory. I left home at 7.30 am to meet the bus, which then went to Mount Macedon to collect another group and set off for the hills. The first garden was Beechmont at Olinda, ten acres of garden framed by towering Mountain Ash, Blackwood Wattles and mature native Myrtle Beeches. The garden exhibits an impressive collection of very colourful Rhododendrons (vireyas being a special feature), Camellias, Magnolias, Cornus, Daphnes and many unusual species providing year round interest. There were several examples of my all time favourite Virburnum plicatum 'Mariesii' which made me more determined to track one down for home. The garden was gorgeous, well cared for by the owners and protected by three friendly hounds.
Then we went to the National Rhododendron Gardens - again most spectacular and colourful,
the visit made easy by being able to cover the whole quite hilly area by mini bus so one did not miss much of the 100 acres. They also had a small nursery, so of course I now have a new addition to plant in my own small Rhododendron garden. The last shot is of the Azalea Bowl and these are Kurume Azaleas which are each about 5 feet tall. The colours were extraordinary.
Lunch was at Cloudehill, another specialist nursery and spectacular garden designed with long perennial borders and garden rooms. Lots of long vistas and arched gates inviting you to go further and explore the extensive gardens with old trees, wildflower meadows and walled areas. Well worth a visit.
A friend and I were planning to return home, change and go out again to a Zonta Dinner to which we had been invited, however it was too late to do this so we went directly there.
It certainly solved the problem of deciding what to wear, and we were the only ones there in virtual gardening clothes while all the other women were decidedly glitzy!! After a pleasant dinner and a fashion parade of what my daughter would call "Granny gear" I eventually made it home to fall into bed near midnight. I think today will be a little more restful.

Monday, 22 October 2007

Super Presents

Two of my lovely friends with whom I had such an enjoyable breakfast yesterday have just returned from an exotic holiday in Europe and Africa. They brought me these gorgeous buttons and nifty spotted spoon made from bone by the Maasai. The buttons are a bit more than an inch in diameter and not exactly round. Lucky me!

Sunday, 21 October 2007

Catching up.....

I have had a busy but splendid last few days - it started on Friday when I went to Melbourne with a friend who needed to do a variety of chores. I was really just along for the ride, with no intention of doing any shopping but of course, managed to return with goodies - new threads and bits of fabric, essential cartridges for my computer printer and a couple of other small things one cannot get easily where I live. We had lunch with another friend in Port Melbourne, and painlessly browsed the shops in an area to which I rarely go.

Yesterday I attended a Quilt In run by Goldfields Quilters in Castlemaine, caught up with some quilters I have not seen since I moved to the country, saw some beautiful quilts, enjoyed the chat and laughter, ate too many delicious home made slices, and won a raffle. The prize? Five fat quarters of a new range of fabric, a printed panel and a pattern to use it all to make a child's cloth book. Don't think I shall be doing that, but the fabrics are lovely spotty ones, in good colours and will be put to good use in time.

Today I went out to breakfast and came home at 3.pm! There was terrific company, in a wonderful setting overlooking a huge lake, delicious foods including muesli, berries, Moroccan stewed pears, apricots and figs, Greek yogurt, poached eggs with salmon and hollandaise sauce, fresh sourdough bread from our local specialist bakery, grilled bacon, cold meats, and fresh fruit - all washed down with champagne and orange juice! No dinner needed by this little piggy.

Finally, to complete the weekend, I have finished this week's Joggles project. This was to paint a picture of your family pet, or some other animal so it could be used as the basis for a small quilt. I baulked at this idea, I consider that I do not possess any of what I call a real artistic talent - My drawings look like the work of a self conscious child and I do not know how one uses various types of paint, though I have fiddled in an amateurish way with things over the years. This picture was based on a photo of a dog I used to have, not the collie I now have, but her predecessor Bess who in my family's legends was known as "the world's best dog." I would have to say though that now my children have their own dogs, they probably think otherwise ! Anyway - I was quite pleased with how she looks. I wonder if the kids will recognise her?

Wednesday, 17 October 2007

Joggles piece # 2

This is my completed piece of work for this week's Joggles class - an applique piece done in felt and appliqued using blanket stitch and a few french knots. Not too big, the usual journal size but quite a lot of work to complete. Not sure what I shall do with it yet so it is not in fact a quilt as it only has one layer - no batting or additional quilting. I'm glad to have it finished so that when I receive tomorrow's lesson and project, I shall not feel I have left another UFO behind.

Tuesday, 16 October 2007

Vale the Local Pub

When one of my stitching friends heard that my Joggles class was going to result in one journal sized (8.5 x 11 inches) a week for six weeks, her comment was "that will keep you out of your car and off the streets!" She was right, I'm still going on the felt applique quilt, and I don't think I have done so much blanket stitch in such a short time for many years! My admiration for those who applique bed sized quilts in this way is huge! Hopefully I may be able to post a photo tomorrow....

On the local scene, not a pub with no beer, but I now live in a town with no pub! Sadly one of them closed following a fire some months back, another is in the process of being restored and will open again next year under it's original name, but now the last remaining legal place to get a drink in this town went into recievership this week. Perhaps it will reopen with new management, but in the meantime it means loss of jobs for all the staff, and no where for the local lads to quench their thirst, or local committees to hold their meetings over dinner. How bad is that??

Sunday, 14 October 2007


Stitching, stitching, stitching, just you wait and see..........

Saturday, 13 October 2007

The locals tell me we had snow here yesterday while my daughter and I were out having adventures, and it is still bitterly cold today. I have spent it in my sewing room making postcards featuring keys for an online swap. I scanned these keys and then printed the image onto fabric - it took several attempts and a lot of printer ink before I had something that might work. It was most frustrating as the new printer was having hissy fits at being asked to print on fabric and several attempts came out with half the image missing. Anyway, at last I have four cards to post on Monday to Turkey, France and the USA and Canada.
Now I shall turn my attention to this week's creation for my Joggles class - a geometric quilt of my own design, in made in felt with embroidered embellishments, similar to the Molas from Panama. Right now the mind is a blank!

Friday, 12 October 2007

Ain't life grand?

I have had the most enjoyable few days - no sewing or gardening but special times spent with very special people.

Firstly an old friend brought two of her sisters to stay and use my place as a base for exploring and shopping around the local area, they returned in the afternoon to show and tell what they had purchased or where they had been, and to share a meal together. My visitors are Irish, two have been here for some years and one is just visiting for a few weeks but the three of them had not been together other for several years. They come from a large and boisterous family of four boys and five girls, my friend was the eldest and the two others are at the younger end of the nine. It was truly great. They were funny and witty, the Irish lilt was a joy to my ears, we enjoyed good food and wine and all the Irish music I possess, there was much laughter, chat, reminiscing, teasing and tears as they caught up with each one's lives and compared notes about other family members. It was a privilege to be included and I have to admit to a little envy of their close sisterly relationship as I have only brothers.

No sooner had they left yesterday, I went to collect my gorgeous and clever daughter from the train from Melbourne. I waited on the platform as the train came in and left again, but oddly there was no daughter visible. Somewhat puzzled I returned to the car planning to ring her and find out why she had apparently missed the train, when she whizzed into the car park on a wonderful vintage Raleigh fold up bike. She had taken this new treasure on the train and vanished quickly on the other side of the track before I could see her, then ridden down the road to the car park with the biggest smile on her face possible. A gift from a generous friend, this bike was something she had hankered after for a while, for it means she can ride with her dog beside her more easily, and transport the bike in cars and trains with much less difficulty.

It also meant that this morning, bright and early and in the drizzle, the bike was unfolded and my ancient bike retrieved from the garage so we could both go for a ride down to the village for coffee and then a gentle trundle round the streets. For a senior citizen who has not been on her bike for a while, I think I did quite well! After this excursion we had a great day, visiting a specialist nursery, fossicking in Op shops, checking book shops, searching for appropriate work clothing for a new job, having coffee and lunch and then finally dropping her at the station to return to the big smoke.

It has not finished yet - friends have just rung to invite me for a celebratory drink as they have sold a property that has been on the market for several months. Ain't life grand??

Wednesday, 10 October 2007

Little Landscape

I mentioned a couple of entries ago that I have started an online class with Joggles called Art Quilt Explorations with Jane La Fazio, a course that will be taking us through a variety of exercises, themes and techniques over six weeks, so we end up with six small quilts. It has been excellent as all the participants share a forum where photos of works in progress are posted so Jane can give suggestions and comment, and for others to see. The fact that we are from all over the US and a few from Australia makes no difference at all.
This is my first piece - a landscape, 8.5x 11 inches, fabrics layered and stitched, then embellished with lots of embroidery and hand quilting.

Monday, 8 October 2007


I do not expect to look out my kitchen window and see cows in the back yard - kangaroos, wallabies, foxes, the occasional bunny, but not cows. Today, when half awake and making my early morning mug of tea, I glanced through the window only to see two large brown Jersey cows munching grass outside my back gate. This pair belong to a woman who lives further down my road, and they are usually safely in their own paddock - but somehow they had escaped and wandered down my way.

I rang Robbie their owner immediately and offered to help her round them up and get them home. My offer was refused as she said it was easier to do it on a bike, and that she would get her neighbour Al to help. Now Al is legally blind, with tunnel vision - he does ride a bike around town, in straight lines on roads - but chasing cows through gardens? This I had to watch! By the time they arrived, the cows had moved next door to my neighbour's immaculate garden and I watched as Robbie and Al shepherded them over the grass and out the gate, then rode gently behind them as they ambled home - it was all quite simple and without further ado.

About an hour later, I recieved a phone call from my immediate neighbour with the immaculate garden, who had been out when all this was going on. His garden was immaculate no more - hoof prints through garden beds, bike tracks and cow pats on his grass, plus it seems the cows had unfortunately been loose for a while before I noticed them, and had trampled his vegetables and eaten his cabbages. He was not a happy fellow.

Saturday, 6 October 2007

Big noise above small town!

The three churches in this small town behaved in a very ecumenical manner today when they held a combined fete on the local football oval and most of the residents attended. For a gold coin donation one could visit stalls selling various old or crafty stuff, excellent cakes, jams and marmalade, home grown pot plants and old books. There were snacks and a sausage sizzle, and one could chat to Police horses or listen to the Police Pipe Band - who by the way, were wearing kilts on this chilly morning. There was a wood chop competition for the lads and their dads, and the blessing of pets by the Priests in attendance. For some more dollars the brave could be strapped into a safety harness and then go for a ride in a basket to the top of an enormous crane and admire the view. I spotted some sheep on the back of a trailer, not sure what they were going to do, but was assured that they were not waiting for the barbecue. I bought a good looking jar of lemon marmalade, and as they were not with me, my dogs remain unblessed.

The best bit happened after I returned home - there was a loud noise on the horizon and then the RAAF Roulettes appeared overhead. As I'm only a kilometre or so from the oval, it was almost as if they were performing above my house. They flew back and forth in formation, and performed a few other special manouvers that I can't name, but it was most impressive. I imediately thought of my Father who was a pilot and flying instructor in the Royal Air Force and how much he might have enjoyed it.

Friday, 5 October 2007

Dirty knees

Today was a hands and knees day - that is how I spent most of it, on my hands and knees, bum in the air like my self portrait at the top of this Blog, weeding, weeding, weeding. I need to clear the garden beds of weeds in preparation for covering them all with a layer of mulch to retain moisture during the coming summer when water will again be scarce, if I want my garden to survive.

I cannot believe that our local water authority has lifted all water restrictions with the exception of those permanent ones which operate statewide for everyone, just because our local catchments are full. I do not understand how this can be, as several large reservoirs within a 10 km radius remain empty or very low. Someone clever needs to work out a way of water sharing/storage/transportation so that it is more equitable for all concerned.
Anyway, I was weeding under the flowering Cherry that graces my front lawn, above me a cloud of pale pink fluff and the loud and relentless hum of bees - it gave me time to think. I was thinking about being inside, working on some postcards that are due to be sent away, and itching to get started on the first task set in a class I am doing online with Joggles. I've never done anything like this before, but it is looking very promising and hopefully I shall learn a lot. As if I haven't enough to do already - but then, there is nothing like increasing the number of things I must do, and deadlines I must meet to prevent ever being bored!!

Wednesday, 3 October 2007

Gateway to the Garden

Today I received my copy of Quilting Arts in the mail - I love this magazine - the presentation, ideas, information, colours, and projects are fascinating for someone who has been a traditional quilter for 25 years or more, but who is trying to do things a little differently at times. The magazine issued a challenge to readers in its April/May issue to use one of four possible doorway images to illustrate their "Doorway to Imagination" This issue shows some of the 200 pieces of work received.

I planned to submit a piece for this challenge, but sadly did not get it finished by the deadline required to send it to the United States because I became hooked doing more and more embroidery of the garden outside and inside the door. It was completed though and I shall probably enter it in my Quilt Guild's exhibition next year. I called it "Gateway to the Garden", and although these photos make the edges look a bit wonky, it is due to my poor photographic skills rather than uneven sides to the piece! It is A4 sized , made with painted fabric, applique, hand and machine embroidery, and is both hand and machine quilted.

Tuesday, 2 October 2007

Another day in Paradise

Today was a gorgeous one where I live - temperature about 16 degrees, blue skies and sunshine. We have had about 90 mls of rain in the last month so everything is growing - particularly the grass. I spent a couple of hours today mowing with both my big orange ride-on (for the first time this season) and my new push mower, so now the place looks very groomed and polished. The daffodils are finishing their golden display but are being replaced by other new growth - the silver birch are getting leaves, viburnums, camellias and japonica are in flower, I spotted the first cherry blossoms today, and my tulips are blooming in wonderful colours of dark red, scarlet, pink, white and soon to open mysterious 'Lady of the night', a very dark maroon.

A great time was spent with quilting friends this weekend in Castlemaine, and we even got some sewing done. I actually misjudged the amount of time we would be working, and ran out of things to do by Saturday night. There were eleven of us and we took over a small hotel that was built in the 1870's - a little bit shabby by today's standards but full of character and the occasional echo of Fawlty Towers. Mine host and his wife could not do enough for us so we were very comfortable. The breakfasts were extraordinary, one hardly needed to have anything else during the day - but of course, we did! We ate out a couple of times, did some shopping in the town and at the wonderful quilt shop there, nattered, sewed, laughted, exchanged ideas, admired each others work, ate cupcakes made by one of our number and generally had a splendid time. We plan to do it all again, next year if not before - in my opinion the best possible way of spending the AFL Grand Final day.