Saturday, 24 November 2007

Of to mow a meadow....

Today I spent more several hours using my big, powerful, bright orange Husqvarna………ride on mower! An almost weekly task at this time of the year, when the grass grows while you watch and the local area hums with the sound of mowers in the evenings. It is an almost meditative experience, as one sits, hat and ear muffs on, enjoying the warmth and slight breeze, oblivious of most other things, concentrating on following the line where you have previously cut, circling round trees before heading off again in straight and curvy lines until the whole two and a half acres are done – leaving the delicious fragance of cut grass, a smooth sward of green, marked by low rows of grass clippings, soft tyre tracks, and a great sense of satisfaction at a job well done.

Having now mown this block many times, and knowing the most efficientway to do it, as well as the areas where I need to take more care, I was also able to think of other things as I chugged along. My thoughts turned to how similar it was to echo quilting, carefully following the lines of previous stitching, and going round particular bits on a quilt, or doing a clever swirly bit, just because you can, or want to do something a bit different to break the monotony. Then I started designing a quilt in my head, to be a map of this lovely place, the long drive way, curving up through trees to the house, using the many natural shades of blue, green and brown, the wonderful reds of the fertile soil, the mixed colours showing in newly restored garden and vegetable beds, the lawns, and the muddy silver of the lake edged in reeds, with the dense darkness of the state forest behind. The ideas just kept coming, and I hoped for the opportunityto try to do it.... If only the garden did not call me so loudly these days....maybe when it is finished....and when will that be I think, as I know a garden is a constantly changing thing, and that grass just keeps growing!!

This piece was actually written two years ago, during my first Spring in this country abode - I am still to do a quilt to represent it all, though I have done a couple of postcards!! The grass still grows inches overnight, like magic, and it took 4 1/2 hours of mowing today, but golly it looks good for now.

Thursday, 22 November 2007

Human or just plain stupid?

For a very long time my sewing consisted of making clothes – for myself, for my children when they were young, for their rather tall father, for friends and other family members. I made dresses, skirts, trousers, shirts, tailored jackets, knitwear and anything else anyone needed – I can boast that there was great attention to detail, the finish was excellent, so the garments fitted well and looked great. I ceased this useful sewing when my children wanted to wear jeans or trendy named gear, and I had an income that made it easier to purchase what was needed. Since then sewing has focussed on all forms of needlework and quilting – for fun and enjoyment.

Recently I have had the urge to sew for myself again, so yesterday cut out a shirt, thinking it would be quick and simple, a good place to practice my rusty skills before trying something a bit more complicated. After all, it must be like riding a bicycle, one never really forgets and all is fine after a little practice. Today, as it is cold and wet, and I ache from too much gardening earlier in the week, I began to sew. Intending to do it properly, I even unearthed and re-threaded the 25 year old overlocker which is tedious and fiddly because as usual, it had black spools on it, when I needed white.

I proceeded to sew, confident that it was going well, overlocked the internal seams before doing collar and sleeves and then happened to notice the shoulder pleats were going in the wrong direction and were in different places! No idea how that happened as I had carefully tailor tacked, marked and pinned before I began. Easy to fix I thought – just undo the seam and flip them over. Wrong! Not enough fabric because of the shape it had been in the first place, and then because it had been trimmed by the overlocker, there was even less. I could not see a way out of this mess, and feeling very cross with myself consigned the whole thing to the rubbish bin in time for tomorrow's collection. I'm just glad that the fabric was not the lovely Liberty my daughter found for me some time back.

Monday, 19 November 2007

Technology ****

Yesterday this computer was having increasingly determined hissy fits - not doing what it was told, internet connection dropping out when moving to another site, freezing when asked to shut down, key board not seeming to work, failure to register passwords, and finally the mouse seemed to have died as well. Having run a full check on the system and having been told all was well - I decided that it would mean a trip to the nearby computer shop to sort it all out, as it still did not work when I tried again this morning. So, after lunch when I was all set for the 44 km round trip to the computer doctor, I decided to check once more before I dismantled guessed it......everything was working! I guess the winds were blowing from the wrong direction yesterday.

Then later this afternoon, having decided it was just too hot to do anything outside and I would do something in the sewing room - there was a power failure and no electicity for a few of hours. So - today I have achieved very little except a successful riding lesson early this morning and the finishing of my current mystery novel. Perhaps tomorrow the technology gods will be in harmony and all will be well in my world again.

Friday, 16 November 2007

Working Girls

Photos taken this morning - a glorious day here with the Malus ioensis plena covered with lusciously fragrant pale pink double blossoms and bees - probably from my new hive.

The purple Lavandula stoechas is also full of honey bees - blue flowers seem to be particularly attractive.

Tuesday, 13 November 2007

Smoke gets in your eyes.....

There is the acrid smell of smoke in the air this evening, and the whole area has that familiar haze caused by distant blazes. It is past the deadline for burning off and I fear it may be the first bush fire of the season, early and somewhere to the West of here. Perhaps it is only the DSE doing a controlled (??) burn about 20 kms away, but I don't know. This will be my second full summer in residence in an area surrounded by forest that has not burned for many years. The timber industry once was active here, and the old loggers claim their regular clearing made it safer to live in this beautiful place - they may be right, the bush is dense and the understory overgrown and full of fallen trees as the result of storms and the drought. I have fire hoses, a full water tank with petrol driven pump, my property is as prepared as possible in that it is clear of any potential fuel, the grass is kept short and I have a fire plan - to stay and fight. I hope it never happens.

Monday, 12 November 2007

Joggles #5

Our task last week was to create a small quilt in the form of a shrine to something that had special meaning or something of which we wanted I really have two passions - my garden and my textile work and am forever torn between the two, so that which ever one I am doing, I tend to hanker after the other. So....I planned to make mine to do with all things connected to sewing. This is it. It ended up looking a bit 'country' or naive and I'm not sure what I really think of it.....

The good news is that there is a now flickr site with photos of pieces by the others in this online course with Jane LaFazio, so you can see how clever they are. Not everyone has posted all their work yet, but the last time I checked there were 22 quilts to admire. Click here.

Saturday, 10 November 2007


My bees arrived last night at about 10.45 pm after a two hour trip from Melbourne in the boot of my friend's car. Even then the tightly sealed hive was humming, felt warm to the touch and the car had a heavy smell of honey. The hive was taken to its place at the bottom of the garden by torchlight, then left until morning before being opened and the bees were able to explore their new surroundings . This morning I was given a basic lesson in Beekeeping and learnt about the boxes and bits that make up the actual hive, what is happening inside, the essential equipment I shall need, and generally how to care for fact at this time of year, one just lets them do their business. Harvesting the honey will happen in February and there may be as much as 40 lbs of honey to enjoy and share around. These bees are from my friend's hive that swarmed a couple of weeks ago and so have only been in this hive for that short time, but have become well established and already productive. When the lid was opened to check all was well and to add another box of flats, we could see that the Queen had been doing her job as there were eggs and pupae visible in the new cells, there were cells sealed and full of honey, and there was burr comb stuck to the inside of the lid that needed removal, plus thousands of bees! When the hive is in full production during the summer it is likely that there will be a population of about ten thousand of these fascinating insects.
When all was complete, we stood and watched for a while - bees congregating around the entrance, bees flying up an off in search of pollen, and later I saw bees returning to the hive with pollen baskets on their hind legs full of yellow pollen. My friend suggests that it may not be long before there is a seat nearby so I can sit with a cup of tea and watch their comings and goings!
There is a whole new language to learn as well as all the technical stuff - so my bedtime reading for the next little while is "Beekeeping for Dummies"

Thursday, 8 November 2007


About a week ago there were storms in this area - rain enough to float the ark and winds that brought down huge Eucalyptus trees across roads and powerlines. On Sunday night there was no electricity for eight hours, and I spent an evening in the gentle glow of candles and an antique Miller oil lamp. When inspecting the property the next morning, I was saddened to find my little greenhouse which had been a gift from my son and d-in-law, badly damaged. The winds had ripped the seams of its heavy duty plastic plastic cover apart and the whole things was hanging from a couple of remaining ties - I feared it had met its demise. For the last week this pile of metres of pathetic green plastic has been sitting on the floor of my living room until I had the time and courage to deal with it. This afternoon I moved my machine to a bigger table and spent a couple of hours wrestling with it all, with many expletives because it was so heavy and cumbersome. After resewing seams, reinforcing areas that were badly torn with cotton tape, replacing all the ties plus adding a few extra, sticking gaffer tape on places that had been damaged by friction it was fixed! I even managed to get it back on the frame by myself - so now I am having a celebratory glass of wine, and looking forward to an evening sewing the binding on my most recent piece for Joggles.

Wednesday, 7 November 2007

Not much new to report ........I spent today in a regional city doing some much needed clothes shopping. What with warmer weather and the silly season approaching there is a need to be less feral now that jeans and polar fleecy things are no longer an accepted necessity. A successful day was had, some damage to the credit card was incurred, but now I can appear at the forthcoming Christmas neighbourhood gatherings in garments a tad more stylish!

Now - my site meter tells me that my Blog has received more than 680 hits and visits - they can't all be my children, in fact my daughter tells me she reads the blog via another site, so she no longer counts, and I don't think my son checks all that often. I know a few of you who are reading it, but would love to know a few more or where you are from. I'm delighted that what I write might be of interest to others, so please, feel free to leave a comment when you visit.

Monday, 5 November 2007

White Things

This handsome white chook giving me the eye is Bodil. She is a pure bred Light Sussex, an old English breed - hence the dignified medieval name. Actually all the chooks have been very distressed by the storms and rain over the last two days, so we have had no eggs. I expect all will be well again tomorrow and I shall once more have more than I can manage - unless they are beginning to be broody??

Secondly - this gorgeous white Violet is popping up around the garden. I think it is Viola cornuta 'Alba' but I am not sure. It is different from ordinary violets in that it is deciduous and loses its leaves in wintertime, however drops numerous seeds before it shuts down in the cold. It arrived as a hitch-hiker in some Heleborus I purchased a year or so ago, and caused a little concern until it was identified by the nurseryman. I love it, so it has been carefully nurtured and encouraged in all sorts of damp and dull spots.
Talking of damp......there has been a lot of rain in this district over the last two days and it is great to get it, but I felt kind of silly in the pouring rain, in raincoat with brolly hosing water onto trees instead of watching the overflowing tank empty onto the gravel drive. I even had a sprinkler running at one time! Now I'm thinking of getting another tank - there is about a 6 month wait for them so I can try and fit it into the budget.

Saturday, 3 November 2007

Birds and Bees

This is my Joggles #4 quilt. The theme was to incorporate a bird and so this is based on the Australian Eastern Spine Bill who is in fact black, orange/tan and white....but as I liked his shape he had a colour change. It is machine appliqued, machine and hand quilted and measures 8 x 11.5 inches - not the wonky shape in the photo. I must learn a way of taking shots without distortion!

Great excitement - I am being given a hive of bees. A friend keeps bees and when they swarmed recently the swarm was captured and dropped into a new hive. Next weekend, in the dark, this hive is being brought to my property and will be placed in my orchard at night time. The next morning these cosmopolitan bees will find they have had a tree change and are country dwellers surrounded by forest, fruit trees and other pollen laden plants. What yummy honey they will produce.

Another promised gift from a member of my walking group. Her husband has poultry and is currently has at least 60 eggs in the incubator. Some of them are from Araucanas, originally from Chile they lay blue/green eggs, and my friend has promised me a couple of hens when they are big enough. My chooks are already keeping friends and neighbours supplied with big brown and white eggs, so now I shall have green ones too!

Friday, 2 November 2007

Wet and Soggy

Last night we had the most wonderful rain - steady, heavy, refreshing, tank filling, soaking wet rain! About an inch or more. I fell asleep to the sound of rain falling on my tin roof and drips dropping through a leaky gutter outside my window. What a blissful soothing sound. My garden looks green and sparkly this morning and when I walked my dogs to the Post Office, my usually dusty road had puddles instead of potholes, and the local stream was flowing into the town lake. Fingers crossed we may even get some more over the weekend and I can see big grey clouds from my window as I type.

The mail today contained 12 ATCs received through an online swap with people in Australia and NZ - all different, all clever and all individual. A great addition to my collection, and with some techniques I did not recognise and shall have to learn. This shot also includes a couple from my friend Kate as well, just in case you think I can't count!