Wednesday, January 31, 2007
Tuesday, January 30, 2007
See, I could burble on like that, or just say, I like the perspective in this photo, the way the white metal fence has a geometry, the trees add texture and the path travels through dappled sunlight. (I'm not so able to take photos of the desks and faces and paperwork of my workplace).
Monday, January 29, 2007
No more sitting on verandahs in the sunshine, back at work today.
This verandah is at Vaucluse House museum in Sydney. What a contrast, this spacious beautiful space for just sitting, and Susannah Place where everything was tucked into tiny modest spaces. Guess which place housed them as had serious money...
And yet it was really good on Australia Day to visit both, to see the different places people inhabited and different ways they lived. Love social history like this.
Sunday, January 28, 2007
This is an early 20th century outdoor laundry at Susannah Place museum in Sydney. To the left, two concrete sinks, to the right a copper.
Saturday, January 27, 2007
That's such great thinking. Despite being broken, despite being incomplete, their authenticity links you back to the house's many inhabitants. These can be a time machine as reproductions cannot.
Thank you, whoever thought of this.
Friday, January 26, 2007
Australia Day today, and lots on in the city. But what drew me there first and foremost was the opportunity to ride in this 1936 Leyland Titan TD4 no. 1579 double-decker bus. I've been fortunate enough to see some of the immensely hard work involved in restoring it to its present glory, and today was the first time it's carried the public in over 48 years.
Here's what happens when you're riding the streets of Sydney in a vintage double-decker bus on Australia Day - you watch the faces on the street. And you see people notice, and stop, and really pay attention, and they smile like you wouldn't believe. Seeing the bus just makes them happy - not just little kids, but people of all ages.
Men of all ages with unguarded faces, just delighting in this wonder, this evidence of someone's commitment to restoring the past, this snapshot of mid-twentieth century transport. Until the bus is out of sight, you know they're smiling, and that somehow this bus has given them that joy, just by driving by.
We did nearly two circuits of the city route, one downstairs, one upstairs. Upstairs, you of course notice the stuff you can't see at street level, high as you are - but you also get an even better view of those entranced and happy faces, not sure if what they're seeing can be true, realising it is, full of wonder and joy.
What a gift, to have created that response in thousands of strangers, after all the hours of solitary and co-operative work on the myriad of intimidating details that go into such a restoration. I blogged about the seats back in August - yes, that's the bus in the background, before it was painted.
That was just the beginning of a busy, happy Australia Day, but it was the highlight.
Thursday, January 25, 2007
Cathy Zielske's clean and simple style shows how much can be done with great simplicity. Although I think I'm too much of a pattern and colour girl to stick to cardstock as much as she does, there are still lots of layouts with inspiration.
Elsie Flannigan's style is entirely up the other end of the spectrum, mad amounts of stuff, hand-drawn headings and journalling rather than computer-printed, a joyful cacophony and a joie de vivre. And challenges in quilting or scrapbooking are a good way to expand your thinking.
Ali Edwards' designer's eye falls in the middle - certainly busier than Cathy, definitely calmer than Elsie. She has a real gift for catching the moment, and there's a wise and useful sanity about her approach - perfection isn't the be all and end all.
I think the next thing you're supposed to do is actually USE the papers and chipboard and punches you (er, I) have, and make some pages! I have a few mini-albums in mind, and I'm SURE I have enough stuff with which to make them...
Wednesday, January 24, 2007
Yup, it's cooled down a bit so I'm more amiably inclined towards the season. Last night we had a thunderstorm, and a reasonable amount of rain to accompany it, and today is distinctly cooler.
Tuesday, January 23, 2007
I'm on a long road towards a room becoming a quilting studio, and as part of this am thinking about sorting stuff out, sending into the universe stuff I don't need anymore or am not going to use any more, what to keep, what not...
I'm as much of a fabric addict as the next quilter - it's lovely stuff. It makes my heart sing.
But as I think about how I use fabric now, it's not the same way I used fabric even five years ago. Over the last three years or so I've probably made close to 100 quilts: but they've barely made a dent in the stash. Probably because they mostly haven't called on it...
I find now that what I'm tending to do is buy in a more project-focused way. I'm not sure if it's entirely do with so many of those 100 or so quilts having been magazine projects. But I'll see a fabric I like that sets off an idea, and buy it and around it to fill out the idea. Or will buy some of a range with the idea of working them together into a quilt - or maybe just buy a charm square pack of a range I like, so I have a skerrick of each. Or occasionally a fat quarter collection of an entire range that hugely appeals to me. I don't tend to buy one thing, and then dive back into the stash. I have in the past, but if I'm truthful about what I do now, I don't use the stash so much now. My buying is much more project-focused. The bought set goes into a plastic project box with a sketch or notes or some sort of detail of the design plan, and then it's there as a waiting project, all there.
And here's the thing: you actually don't need metres and metres of fabric to make a quilt. I've just done a quick skid through a recent patchwork magazine, and for pretty much any project in there, 8m of fabric was plenty for the top. That's 8 metres, or 16 half metres, or 32 fat quarters. And that's for a larger quilt, around 90in square. If you're making a smaller one, say 45in square, you only need a quarter of the fabric - 3m if you're being generous (3m, 6 half metres, 12 fat quarters...). Partly because of having a blog, I've sometimes taken photos of the fabric cut out for a quilt. It's never a huge pile... There's one collection of brights I have, a whole lot of different fqs, and I've now made three quilts from that lot, and still have enough for at least a couple more.
I've also been thinking about how many quilts one actually makes in a year. My mental number for this year is about 20 at most (I'm letting life be a little less hectic). So, realistically, how much more do I need than the fabric for those 20 quilts? I know perfectly well that it's gorgeous to have a choice of 20 different blues, and I do enjoy using a wide variety of fabrics in a quilt - much rather do scrappy than a quilt with only a few fabrics in it. But how much do you need beyond what you need? A friend who's a much stronger chucker-outer than I will probably ever be, remarked that maybe even the fabric, now, for twenty quilts is too much - you're bound to buy a bit of fabric here and there during the year, why not leave room for that rather than having the twenty and anything you buy being extra?
It interests me how many crafts have an element of accumulation - I think, and I don't mean this rudely, that scrapbooking towers above almost any craft I can think of for feeding the hunter-gatherer instinct with the most astounding array of Stuff - even more than quilting. I'm sure it's equally true for more male-oriented crafts, another woodwork tool, another train set accessory, another widgeyfidget for the car, whatever.
And I guess for me I'm reaching a point of wanting to think over that accumulation, consider my stash, and consider a way forward. I could say, I'll not buy any more fabric this year - but then again, I might want a charm pack of something or other, a little of a lot, because I like a particular range or I want something modern in my quilts. According to a recent survey, dedicated quilters in the US buy 100 yards of fabric a year. Or maybe, enough for a dozen quilts. But do they make a dozen quilts?
The whole 'one-day' thing is quicksand. I'll buy this fabric for one day (done that). I'll buy these bargain fqs at the show because they're beautiful and I know I'll use them one day (done that too). How much of a quilter's stash is 'one-day' and yet it never truly sees the light of day?
Holy fabric's another one. The fabric to die for, too good to cut into. You know what? I'm not near so seduced by Robyn Pandolph's Folk Art Wedding fabrics as I was back in 1998. The bits of it I like best now are the ones I CUT INTO and USED (gosh, how scandalous! how blasphemous!) not the fqs I have no doubt are still in the stash, somewhere. I had bits of the whole Amy Butler Charm range, and was brave enough to cut into them, and the quilt's on the bed right now, making me happy. Much happier than a bunch of stored fabric.
I've seen a few other quilters - not many - downsize their stashes (and have sometimes been the beneficiary of this) and have admired their strength. It's hard to let go of something in which you've not only invested money, but time and thought and your taste and hope for how you would use it and what it would become, how it made you feel, what you would design, what you would sew, what it would finally become.
Last year I went through a whole lot of other stuff in the house, and gave what was worth giving (eg. books, homewares, clothes) to Vinnies/Salvos/the local op shop/Goodwill/Oxfam, call it what you will, while the rubbish went into the bin. Have I missed any of it? No. I really haven't.
So I wonder, if (and I'm still at IF, this is a process!)I went through my quilter's fabric stash, and pared it down to something more resembling the reality of how I quilt now, in 2007, I wonder how much of it I would miss. I know good places to send it to - the local community quilts group, the Quilters' Guild of NSW community quilts group, the Crowle Foundation (http://www.crowlefoundation.org.au/how_you_can_help.html). Places that would deal with it as quilt fabric (not potential rags!) and be able to make it into quilts that would make a difference in the world. More of a difference than keeping fabric, year after year, for one day that will probably never come.
So as I'm thinking all this out, I'm curious - do you really truly use your stash in the majority of your quilting? How much would be over 5 years old, say, and not really touched? What is your 'holy fabric'? Do you find yourself entranced by the new, and without meaning to, forgetting the old? I remember seeing pictures of a "Biggest Stash" competition a while back. I know mine would not have qualified (thank God) but I really don't see the humour in, "She who dies with the most fabric wins". Wins what? How sad would that be, to not use that in which you invested your money and hopes and imagination? Do you spring clean your stash? Would you? Could you?
(I originally wrote this to an online quilting group to which I belong, and then thought hmm, that's a blogworthy rant, that is. Put it on the blog too!)
Just love that well-lit greengrocer shop! The little Turkish eggplants (bottom row, centre) sent me off to see just how many purple fruits and vegetables I could find in their midsummer offerings. As you can see, quite an array.
If you have a Flickr photo stream, then you should try playing with the Mosaic Maker, it's free and huge fun.
Monday, January 22, 2007
The red came from an op shop shirt - but like me, this project must dislike being photographed, as all it's showing you is the back... (well, except for one peeker). The issue in which this project is to be published won't be out for another couple of months, but it's a Recycled Threads project that's fun and easy....and red, a glorious happy colour and one of my favourites. It's going off to the magazine to be photographed, and I'm sure they'll show the front...!
I also rather like that the back isn't perfect, and nor does it have to be. Yah boo sucks to the Stitchery Perfection Police! Front's good, back's fine, project made me happy to play and devise. What more could you ask?
Sunday, January 21, 2007
Hot again today. The withered fern expresses it - another 40degree day, hard to get anything done or think straight or do much but wish it was even ten degrees cooler.
It's not cooling down much at night, either. You find yourself in a strange reversal, drawing the curtains closed during the day in the hope of keeping some of the heat out, then drawing them back at night in the hope that the heat that still got in and made the house feel like an oven will make its way out through the glass.... See, it's all about hope (I hope April comes soon, past the heat and humidity of January and February and often enough, March). Is that wishing your life away?
Saturday, January 20, 2007
Another small change: if this household wound back its consumption of drinks purchased in bottles (mostly diet cola, truth be known, or 'the black death' as some pals refer to it) and reverted (as has been done before) to cold water (healthier, easy to get from the tap, no transport involved) that would have several effects.
No transporting of the weight of bottled drinks from supermarket to home - some sort of minor saving on petrol/carbon impact? Tap water goes into glass bottles and then the fridge, instead of plastic bottles flowing into the house (and out again into the recycling bin, but even so). I'm sure it must take more manufacturing energy to make bottled drinks as opposed to the flow of tap water to the home - factory vs water treatment plant, and the energy involved in bottle production and ingredient production and transport of bottled drinks to the supermarket.
Tap water is also a cheaper drink, of course. Although sometimes the black death is just exactly what refreshingly hits the spot.
And the carbon involved in people breathing out their opinion of 'the black death' would also be reduced....
Hmmmmm. It's food (well, drink) for thought.
Friday, January 19, 2007
Even the gum leaves are frizzling.
I know that hot must be hard to believe if you're looking at ice storms or delighting in snow or whatever winter is throwing your way (and I'm reading about and seeing pictures of on North American blogs).
But the last couple of days have been tediously hot, perspiringly hot, humid, hot and enervating. Still have lots to get done these summer holidays, but the weather is taking the energy away. For me, this is when summer becomes harder to endure, as the humidity ramps up and you long for autumn.
Didn't go to the flicks today, but it was tempting. What with this great cinema not too far away and all (hope they do get a second screen!).
Thursday, January 18, 2007
Now I'm OK with liver (liver and bacon has great gravy) and steak and kidney pies. But even if Clarissa Dixon-Wright is correct, and haggis developed as a quick method of converting entrails and offal into food on the hunting field...and even if lots of countries have versions of this (try the Wikipedia entry on haggis) - even so....tripe? sweetbreads? Not being eaten by this little black duck. They even had a 'slicing haggis' - tubular and easier to cut into even slices. No.
My choice of ethnic foodstuff aligned to my cultural heritage is, and will always remain, Irish soda bread. Now that's great and wonderful and an everlasting joy!
(Who's got a birthday coming up and needs a fun, refrigerated present? Hmmmm....)
Wednesday, January 17, 2007
You can learn more of the documentary and its canvassing of issues at the ClimateCrisis website. If you're in the US, you can get a more accurate reading on the carbon calculator than if you're in Oz - but you can get some idea (according to it, this household is currently below average in carbon impact - that's a start).
Here are a couple of Australian tools for calculating energy efficiency and constructing an energy plan (I apologise to those in Japan, Spain, Croatia, the UK, the US, Korea and everywhere else that isn't Australia, but most of my specific links to follow will be local/Oz ones - I'm sure you can try some of them, too, just like I tried the US carbon calculator).
As the credits rolled, interspersed were a bunch of actionable ideas, and there is a .pdf of ten ideas on the website - here's a summary:
- Change a light bulb
- Drive less
- Recycle more
- Check your tires
- Use less hot water
- Avoid products with a lot of packaging
- Adjust your thermostat
- Plant a tree
- Switch off electronic devices
- Spread the word about An Inconvenient Truth.
OK, so I've made progress on #10...
As the credits rolled, I thought about the electricity supply to this home. It just comes, as per the original connection on moving in years ago, the usual inertia of humanity, it's easier not to change than to change. So maybe one thing to do is to look into changing to green power. (There is no gas/oil/propane, this home's power is all-electric). Investing in solar panels would be a bigger change, so for now, I figured I'd see what I could find out about changing the supply coming in, rather than going solar).
There are several choices, I find, most influenced by the fact that: At present renewable energy costs more to produce than coal or gas fired power. However the more that customers specify Green Power the larger and more viable the industry will become making renewable energy cheaper (quote from Greenswitch):
- stay with the current electricity supplier, who offers 10% green energy @ no extra cost or 100% green energy at just under 5c/kWh - which for this household would be around $100 per year or under $25 per bill.
- move to another electricity supplier, Jackgreen, which only does green energy and whose material says you'd pay no more than your current bill (with a couple of asterisks next to that claim, so it needs more investigation). This then gets you into the morass of supplier change, contract change - more stuff to understand and work through. It's not the easiest minefield...(just so you know, the standard customer supply contract is a 23 page .pdf. Ye gods!)
- make this home climate neutral by buying carbon credits. For these, Climatefriendly wants $1/day or $365/year for Emerald/100% green, without enquiring what sort of house this is, or anything about usage (or $160 per year for 10% green, which the current supplier would do for nix). Greenswitch lets you buy back your carbon emissions - see info below. So you can stay with your current electricity supplier, but salve your conscience by acting through the purchase of carbon credits.
On the Greenswitch site, you choose residential, and enter address details and kWh usage per year (pause for a moment with a calculator and the last electricity bill, which shows nearly two years of usage, to average out usage per day and multiply it for the year) and it gives you a purty picture of a nice little weatherboard house with a nasty grey cloud of evil carbon overhead.
According to them, this household is contributing 3.67 tonnes of CO2 per year. Ooops. So then you can translate the 100% fossil fuel power creating this cloud by choosing percentages of available green power. The principle is that: Your money is used to buy clean renewable energy from sources such as sun, wind, water and waste. This energy is fed into the electricity grid to replace the power you take out. Normally this would be replaced with energy from fossil fuels.
It's interesting that it's quite specific - you can choose the greenpower mix from various suppliers, and/or particular types of power - wind, hydro, solar - in percentages you choose. The hydro option available to this address comes from Koombooloomba dam, for instance, and the wind option from Challicum Hills. The cost per MWh is around $33 - $34. Translated for this house, $123 will buy enough offsets to make that nasty grey cloud completely vanish.
Still with me? So here are this household's electricity choices for 100% green or 100% offset, in $/per year:
- Current supplier: $550 (approx current annual bill) plus 4.4c/kWh which works out at around + $160, total $710 per year
- Jackgreen: $550 per year (if it does cost no more)
- Climatefriendly: $550 plus $365 (that's being VERY friendly!), total $915 per year
- Greenswitch: $550 plus$123, total $673 per year.
Or if you'd rather read daily figures:
- Current supplier: $1.95/day
- Jackgreen: $1.50/day
- Climatefriendly: $2.50/day
- Greenswitch: $1.85/day
Or quarterly, which reflects the billing cycle:
- Current supplier: $180/quarter
- Jackgreen: $140/quarter
- Climatefriendly: $230/quarter
- Greenswitch: $170/quarter
Mr Gore (can I call you Al?) (could that work as a line for a song??) (or is it taken already by P. Simon?), it does take commitment! Calculator and time commitment, even before you sign or sign up for anything! And there is a significant range, up to $90 per quarter, between the options. Hmmmm.
(The irony has not escaped me that to work all this out and consult the internet, electronic devices have been on and running, including the computer, the fan (it's summer here and it's been hot today) and the lights, all adding to that nasty grey cloud. Ah well, you can't make an omelette without breaking a few eggs.)
Might be worth a couple of phone calls this week, to check details. I'd be fairly sure, at this point, that Climatefriendly and I are at the end of a beautiful acquaintance - apart from anything else, I prefer how the others work from what your household is actually using, not some inflexible plucked from the air figure which may reflect some monster power-sucking air-conditioned McMansion rather than this small home.
More another time. But I hope this has given you some ideas and thoughts about what you're doing now. If you're in Oz (Australia) here are a few more links to local information sites:
- Smart Energy, Smart Home (NSW)
- Get an energy audit for $150 with a personalised energy plan for your home
- Greenpower - Aust federal govt site
- Greenpower - NSW state govt site (including the natty ability, courtesy of Google Earth, to put a green tick on your house to show your environmental commitment)
- Cool It - Aust federal govt information booklet on climate change and householder action
- Energy Labelling - Aust govt resource site on choosing energy efficient appliances
- Kyoto Protocol: why Australia (embarrassingly, as the US is the only other country to refuse as well) is refusing to ratify this (when every other country in the world is doing so).
- Greenhouse emission reduction tips and resources: Aust govt Greenhouse Office
- Renewable energy: NSW govt site (interestingly, the link from their main page is broken/with a typo, I only found this from an educated guess...).
If you've got any more brilliant links, please feel free to leave them in a comment.
More another time. (The blog description, top right, does allude to 'the odd rant'. I think this qualifies...)
Tuesday, January 16, 2007
Monday, January 15, 2007
I like to read? True of me, my whole life. I love to read. I still believe the book is a magnificent piece of accessible technology for mind and heart and imagination.
Sunday, January 14, 2007
Saturday, January 13, 2007
Friday, January 12, 2007
Thursday, January 11, 2007
Wednesday, January 10, 2007
The owners of the field have an application in to subdivide it for about 7 or 8 house lots.
I'm glad to have seen it this way.
Tuesday, January 09, 2007
My favourite steak sandwich: comes on good bread with bacon, salad, beetrot chutney and lime aioli. Yum!
Don't have it often (its cafe lives too far away) but it's always a pleasure. Enjoyed one last week (thus, this photo!).
(Aioli is a garlicky mayo, if you haven't met it before).
Monday, January 08, 2007
Well, it's January again, and the universe has taken a hand. We only went to this demolition yard to just see what might be available, what possibilities for maybe? French doors to install where the garage door (a brown roll-a-dor) is now.
There before us, this wonderful set of French doors from a house in Kirribilli. Vintage 1930s-1940s, cedar and an excellent size (they'll need some fitting in, but that's fine - what you don't want to find is perfect doors the exact same size as the 'hole' - or larger). The horizontal lines will 'play happy' with the existing windows on the house.
They're now in storage with 'SOLD' on them. They're magic. It's impossible to let it go for another year, with these waiting for their time. There are a few things to do/get done first by tradespeople, but the time will come for the chippie (carpenter) to set to and these to be put in place. Once they're in, they'll need sanding and repainting, but one step at a time.
Ali Edwards (brilliant scrapbooker and life artist - I love her attention to the ordinary and everyday) has a challenge for this week, to think of a word for your year. I could think of several, (calm, organise, consider, breathe, create, imagine...) but they can be summed up in one as PEACE.
Reorganising things so the creative stuff is in a studio not through the house is about peace. Peace to create. Peace also to be in spaces not given over to the (good) mess of creating. Peace bringing calm. Peace therefore opening other possibilities. Already I know of several important things at work and home that will require time and energy and planning so they happen well and not with undue stress. It's a small-scale peace - I have no instant answers on the wars of the world. But peace here can travel outwards in unguessable ways. Change can begin here.
So while the picture is of vintage French doors, they stand for peace and represent hope and good change in 2007.
Sunday, January 07, 2007
Saturday, January 06, 2007
Friday, January 05, 2007
Was it, I wondered, 'as-from-the-factory'? Or a Frankestein piece? The headrest is definitely a home-made covering job, but as to the rest - I dunno. But it gave us a good chuckle.
Thursday, January 04, 2007
This photograph isn't going to change the world. But it was a good game to play, a challenge like having to make a quilt from one set of fabrics and nothing else. Setting boundaries can, paradoxically, be so good for opening your eyes to new possibilities.
I didn't buy any of these tangerine things, but I wonder if I should have invested in the vase...
Wednesday, January 03, 2007
Tuesday, January 02, 2007
The bride is perched on the edge of the Archibald fountain - there were three photographers in attendance, and one other person. I'd like to think that somewhere else a party of celebrating family and friends was waiting...but wondered if this was one of the tourist white weddings. The church behind is St Mary's Cathedral.
In the city with some of Them Who May Not Be Photographed, Thanks, it was fortunate that this couple gave me a photo op for the day!