Monday, 31 December 2007

The Last Post....for 2007

Some considerable time ago I cut a small piece from one of the magazines that come with the weekend papers. It caught my fancy at the time and has been pinned to a variety of notice boards ever since. As the end of the year approaches, and one makes resolutions for the next, it seems a good time to share it. Steve Jobs, the co-founder, Chairman and CEO of Apple Inc. said this to a group of Stanford University graduates, but I'm not sure when as there is no date on this scrap of paper.

" Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma, which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your own heart and intuition."

Wishing you all the best for the coming year - health, happiness, and inspiration for unique work, what ever it is you like to create.

Sunday, 30 December 2007

January Journal Quilt - Seasons

I completed this last night, the first of the Journal Quilts for the Aust NZ Art Quilters 12 month challenge - the theme was "Seasons" and could be interpreted in anyway one liked. It has a hand painted background, machine and hand applique, machine quilting with plain and variegated thread and some embroidery. The silk flowers are attached only in the centres, so stand proud of the rest of the quilt.

Saturday, 29 December 2007

Too darn hot!!

What a contrast to Christmas Day when it was cold enough to light the fire and wear a jumper. I hate the heat - I think the temperature here reached about 34 degrees, and I know there will have been much hotter places in the state, but it was way beyond my comfort zone. At least now there is a cool breeze, my doors are open, the ceiling fan going and hopefully the house will cool down by the time I go to bed.

I worked in the garden for a few hours from about 6.30 this morning, pulling weeds and cutting back the exuberant summer perennials that had been flattened by more than four inches of rain that fell in the storms of last week. We still need more rain as the garden is dry in patches and my trees look stressed. This was a shot of my 22,500 litre water tank overflowing in the rain - it was a shame to see it being wasted, but there is enough now to sparingly water the garden and save some in case of bush fires.

Benefits of the warmer weather? My raspberries continue to ripen and I have just picked a big bowl, frozen some and taken the rest to friends for their dinner. The big dog kept me company and ate any I dropped as well as gently picking those she could reach herself. So much for her being a raspberry guard dog!

The other good thing is that I have been working on the January Journal Quilt for the Aust - NZ Art Quilt group and am very happy with the way it is progressing. No photos yet, but it might be finished tonight and I shall photograph it tomorrow.

Delores the little baby chook is doing well. Her adopted Mother is now taking her out into the main hen run to show her how to scratch and find yummy stuff to eat, while protecting her with much clucking and ruffling of feathers, from the mean Gladys. It is very sweet to watch the chick stay so close, and the way in which the art of mothering has come so naturally to Dorothea and transformed her behaviour.

Thursday, 27 December 2007

Christmas 2007

After weeks of hectic activity in the garden and house preparing for an influx of house guests and visitors, Christmas has come and gone, and things can get back to normal. It was a wonderful day with fourteen family members and friends sitting down to a lunch that ended after 6 pm. We all ate and drank our fill, shared great company and simple gifts, laughed at the contents of huge red crackers made by my daughter, and had a thoroughly splendid time. The cooking was shared between three of us, and two others were responsible for the special decorations which made my big room look like a dining room at the Windsor!

One of my gifts was this gorgeous little chicken, a Rhode Island Red cross, who came from Vic Market on Christmas Eve in a shoe box - constantly chirping its little heart out. Already named Delores by friends of my daughter, she was gently tucked under her new mother Dorothea, the broody chicken on the page below, at night, and seemed to know exactly what to do despite having been hatched in an incubator. The plaster egg and golf balls were removed from the nest, and by the next morning Dorothea was behaving like a proud and protective mother, clucking at her new baby and anyone else that comes near. They have had a couple of days in the nest box, but today ventured out into the main run. Most of the chickens are not interested, but one is a bit aggressive and might harm the little one. I have installed an upended wire crate a few inches off the ground as a haven for the chick, and have seen her rush under it if she is frightened, so fingers crossed that she will survive this new big and scary world. Mother chook is staying very close, shepherding her around the pen, showing her what to eat and ruffling her feathers if she feels the baby is threatened. I shall keep you posted on her progress...

Tuesday, 18 December 2007

Pesky Birds

Imagine a scene from' The Bill' or 'CSI', where a squad of police are walking across a field in a line searching for clues at a murder scene. Now imagine the same scene with ducks instead of people – common Australian Wood Ducks - more than thirty of them waddling along, mumbling to each other as they raise insects ahead of them in their search for food and leaving copious quantities of dark green slimy poo where they have been. This is the time of year when families seem to gather together with their new offspring in large flocks and this morning they again visited me. Charming you think? Definitely not! Early this morning they traversed my vegetable patch, stripping young Broccoli plants to their stalks, removing the centres from the Sweet Corn and eating the lettuces. Secondly the Pink Dog loves to roll in their evil smelling green poo when I'm not looking, she did and she then needed a bath.

I have a 4 metre long row of Raspberry canes along a fence, and this year promises the best crop ever. Two days ago, noticing that a very few were beginning to colour, I immediately rushed to find the bird netting and quickly covered them thinking I had beaten the birds at last. Earlier today, my attention was drawn by the loud squawking of a young Currawong sitting on the fence, demanding attention. Its Mother was somehow getting Raspberries through the netting and had been feeding it for breakfast! I have since picked all the ripe ones and readjusted the netting. I'm thinking of tethering the big dog, who hates birds nearby to protect the rest of the crop.

Pathetic rather than pesky – Dorothea the Light Sussex chook has been broody for about three weeks, and is sitting with great determination on a plaster egg! She is looking poorly, missing feathers and very pale, leaving the nest box only to feed late in the day. Oddly the other chickens squeeze in beside her to lay their eggs and today I retrieved three from under her warm fluff. I know they were not all hers as some were white and she lays brown ones.

Pesky bird story #4. When my fruit trees were covered with blossom there was a series of heavy frosts and no fruit developed on the pears, plums, cherries, quince and most of the apples as a result. One old Granny Smith tree seemed lucky enough to escape the damage and was covered with small apples a few days ago. I mean hard, green bitter apples less than 2 cms in diameter. I thought it would soon be time to net it, but I am too late. They are all now lying on the ground beneath the tree, many untouched but most with a small bite out of one side. I blame the beautiful but very destructive Scarlet Rosellas that abound in the area.

The first one thousand....

One thousand hits on my Blog since I started in August - small numbers in comparison with some but very pleasing for this Blogger to know that people are reading my posts and coming back for more. It is a challenge to regularly write words that others might enjoy, or to post a photo of interest, and to try to make the Blog a bit more than just a chronicle of day to day life in the country. There are even a few subscribers who want to be notified when there is a new entry, so it must be working a little? The site meter tells me that many of the visitors are from Australia and NZ, but there have been others from places such as Hungary, Lithuania, Spain, France, Germany, Canada, the US and UK, who spend time reading pages and I wonder how they found the Blog in the first place!

Sunday, 16 December 2007

Basket of goodies

Today has been cool and cloudy, we have had some good rain yesterday, the garden is looking refreshed and the grass is no doubt shooting up again. It would perhaps be a good day for working outside, but I felt the need to make something instead. This is the result.

These are birthday gifts for my Daughter-in-law who is just beginning to sew again. Some time back I gave her a treasured 20 year old Swiss made sewing machine as it had been superceeded by a newer version. When I last visited I saw zipped cushions she made with it and my son told me she is keen to do more for their home and perhaps herself now she has a reliable machine. Those that quilt or sew usually have all sorts of gadgets, numerous pairs of scissors for specific purposes, needle keepers, acres of fabric and haberdashery, work baskets and various storage systems - this lovely girl has none of that - so far.
I bought a simple 12 inch square cane shopping basket, lined it with cotton sateen curtain lining trimmed with a gorgeous black and floral Japanese quilting fabric that matches a pincushion and needle case. I hope she likes it and is encouraged to continue creating all sorts of splendid things in fabric. I also hope she does not read this blog before I can give it all to her!!

Saturday, 15 December 2007

Once upon a time, a long time ago.....

Thirty-two years ago today, without telling family or friends, I married a man I had known for three years in a civil ceremony at the Registry Office, wearing a blue dress bought at the now defunct Georges and wonderful shoes with T-bar straps and three inch heels. He was so different from all those other blokes I had known, of European background, highly trained in a skilled profession, very tall, good looking, funny, clever, unconventional and a little eccentric. The good times lasted a few years and brought two children who became my life as the marriage failed and the man played away from home. It lasted a few more years and then we went our separate ways after each paying vast sums of money to the legal profession to sort out the nitty gritty of our times together. A sad, painful and difficult time which has left some marks, and from which it took another long time for all of us to mend and go forward. I hope I no longer bear any grudges - but no matter what, I know that without him I would not be the mother of two fine young people who are successfully making their own way in the world in their chosen professions and who give me great joy. One of them has a birthday tomorrow....... may it be a happy day.

Wednesday, 12 December 2007

No idle hands for me....

As I browse my favourite textile and quilting Blogs it seems many creative people are reviewing the past year's achievements and planning, with great resolve, for the next - I'm finding interesting lists of things yet to be completed, projects planned and various tempting challenges issued for the coming year. I don't have much in the way of UFOs, except for the fussy cut and hand pieced hexagon quilt that has been underway for more years than I can remember, however that has never prevented me from starting exciting new or different stuff!

I have joined the Aust-NZ Art Quilters Journal Project as well as the Unique Stitching Art Quilt Challenge that will raise money for the NSW Cancer Council. I was too late discovering Sharon B's wonderful Take a Stitch Tuesday to participate, but will be doing her Take it Further Challenge and hopefully might be able to combine it with the Journal quilts. In addition, my niece has been promised a quilt for her January wedding and no doubt, other projects will pop up along the way, and then there is the garden .......2008 promises to be as busy and over committed as 2007, but would you want it any other way?

Today's photo is of Oriental Poppy seed heads - the poppies were self sown in my vegetable patch where I had planted peas. I did not get round to weeding them out so you can guess which plants won!

Sunday, 9 December 2007

The little frog is a tree frog called Litoria ewingii, quite common in NSW, Victoria and certainly around here. I often find them in the garden, under plants or sitting in the cool shady dampness of a pot plant. In the evening and particularly when is it wet the sounds of their calls from around the big dam are almost deafening.

More activity in the garden today - I harvested my brown onions and tried the emulate the plaited ropes of onions I can recall from my childhood - not sure they look quite the same, but these will now be stored in the garage where they will dry out a bit more, and last for many months. In their place are planted dwarf green beans, sweet corn and a couple more tomato plants. The tomatoes are varieties from seeds (legally) brought back from the US and Ireland some years ago. I did not think that they would still be viable, but was delighted when they germinated. I hope the growing season will be long enough in this cool area for them to fruit.

I also spent a couple of hours watering my trees - rain is likely and my water tank is already full, as I cannot bear to see it overflowing, I water before, or even during rain, to make more room in the tank! My nine new fruit trees are thriving as a result.
Finally, just because she is gorgeous for a such very short time, and only flowers once, a photo of the old rose "Albertine' that climbs through a flowering cherry tree and over the back gate.
The fragrance is strong and it is humming with bees.

Thursday, 6 December 2007

Froggy and the Gov

This evening when I went to pick some rhubarb I found this tiny frog curled up tight in the centre of a giant rhubarb leaf - it looked very cosy and snug fitting into the concave space where the stem becomes the leaf and was not the slightest bit distressed by having my camera so up close and personal. I'm sure the scientist in the family will identify it for us.

I have not been doing much sewing or quilting recently, but spending every spare minute in the garden, trying to make it look less feral so that the Christmas guests will enjoy the view as well as their lunch on my large front veranda. The new pergola is part of this beautification, but I'm sorry to say the builder has not built it according to plan, so it will have to be dismantled and redone. Now we who sew know the importance of measuring, squaring up and getting angles correct or things do not fit...the builder may be able to build houses, and perhaps he felt a garden structure was less important, but he failed to align the posts correctly and so the cross beams were in the wrong place too. Tomorrow it comes down and will need to be done again - I hope it is correct second time around or else the timber will look like Swiss cheese!
I have made a couple of post cards for an online swap, and after the above comment perhaps I should not show them as they too are not totally correct. The central design is printed and not quite on the straight of the fabric, but I still like the effect and perhaps one could imagine viewing these with a bit too much Christmas cheer??

I had the pleasure of meeting the Governor of Victoria today, Professor Dr David Kretser, who was in our area at the invitation of the local Shire, and the guests at the afternoon tea were "those who had contributed" to the local community. He was a delightful man, friendly and unpretentious, there was little formality as he chatted with us all. We were talking about the water situation, and I asked if Government house had any rain water tanks. Apparently there are two ancient ones, not sure if they are in use, but this is one aspect of the property that has been recently reviewed and is to be addressed in the future. He did say that the majority of their rainfall goes into storm water and down to the lakes in the Botanical Gardens, so all is not lost.

Why was I in such esteemed company? I'm on a committee that looks after a very beautiful park in this small country town.

Monday, 3 December 2007

Oops! Sorry but.....

Recently I pulled down a series of tatty metal arches over which some equally tatty roses grew, in preparation for the construction of a much more solid timber pergola that will be more in keeping with the scale of this large block and garden. The sturdy upright posts need to be placed in concrete more than half a metre deep in the ground, so a mechanical digger was brought in to dig a series of neatly circular holes. This was to happen one day last week when I needed to be in Melbourne all day and I left the builders to get on with it, expecting on my return to see a sort of timber Stonehenge happening, and was somewhat puzzled that there was nothing to see except the holes, and a moonscaped area that looked as if wombats had been burrowing.

I needed to make a phone call on my return, but when there was no dial tone, I just thought it was due to was another power failure, water in the lines or any of a number of things that commonly happen in rural areas, and it was not until I had reported the problem to Telstra that the penny dropped. Sure enough when I inspected the holes in more closely this is what I found. The guys had severed both the water main and the telephone line with their very efficient digging machine. The water main had been fixed, but the telephone lines were flapping in the breeze.

Two and a half acres of garden, so what are the chances of hitting both water and telephone lines in the same hole? Should buy a lottery ticket?

Anyway - I have been without a telephone or Internet connection for five days, until half an hour ago when a lovely bloke from Telstra fixed it so I am once again in touch with the world!