Monday, December 31, 2007
To burgle a line from Philip Larkin's poem, "The Trees":
Last year is dead, they seem to say,
Begin afresh, afresh, afresh.
Happy New Year. I wonder what it will hold, this fresh start?
(This photo was taken at the wonderful Cowra Rose Garden. It was such a windy day I was surprised how many photos were in focus. Bed after bed of colour and blooms. Just beautiful. Thanks be for how a digital camera and memory card allows you to be profligate with your photos.)
If you want a holiday film recommendation for tomorrow's public holiday, Enchanted was great fun as a meringue movie - kids would enjoy it, and adults would chuckle too.
Sunday, December 30, 2007
- Sorted by Lisanne Oliver
- It's All too Much by Peter Walsh
- The Not-So-Big Life: making room for what really matters by Sarah Susanka
With this being the end of the year, and summer holidays, it always feels like a time to regroup, reconsider, to keep some things and let others go, revive some things and throw others out, refine, rechoose, review.
Although it likely happens everywhere, I was talking with an American friend, who's spent half her life in each hemisphere. She thought perhaps it's more so here, as there is that sense of a breath taken with the summer season as well as Christmas, so it's more of a break in time than the shortstop of Christmas and a return to the busyness of life in winter. I know that the charity/op-shops are busy collecting the fruit of people's sorting and tidying efforts in January.
I found this book in Canberra, and it's introducing me to new friends and reminding me of old. I'm working one poem into an article I'm writing at the moment, as it seems to sum this time, the project, the idea behind it.
On googling, I find that Sheenagh Pugh is less than thrilled with the (considerable) response her poem has received. You can read her thoughts on her website here.
But then, that's the catch, whether you write a poem or play or article or story or novel or blog entry, whether you make a quilt or a softie or a bracelet or a doll, and then let your work be published. You can't hold onto your own version as the only one, and you have to expect that others may find ways and meanings you never thought of and didn't anticipate.
I've seen some versions of my quilt designs that take the ideas to entirely new places in colours and fabrics. Not always colours or fabrics I'd have chosen, but isn't that part of the choice, in publishing? To let others travel the ideas along new paths? I think so. It's a grace and gift that they liked what you did enough to be inspired to play with the idea for themselves, in their place, for their purposes, in their lives.
So it's a shame that Sheenagh Pugh isn't so happy with how her poem has been used (although it would get up my nose too if someone PC'd my prose, changing 'man' to 'human being' for example, damaging the work's scansion and put my name to it...).
In Cynthia Voigt's series - well, not exactly a series, but a group that belongs together - of teenlit books beginning with Homecoming, then Dicey's Song, there's one called Come a Stranger.
One of my favourite scenes from that is where the main character, a girl, engineers a meeting between a man she admires and respects, and the boy who was named after an uncle who died in Vietnam, an uncle who was a childhood friend of the man's. She does so as a gift - but finds that the gift she wrapped, so to speak, is not the gift he unwraps. What matters most about the meeting for that man is not the young boy who never knew the uncle whose name he bears, but meeting the boy's grandmother, his friend's mother, and their common ground in speaking of the son who was his friend. Their common ground, their common loss. We can wrap a present, or publish something, but we cannot control its subsequent journey. The world is too big, people are too varied.
On the link above, Pugh gives permission for her poem to be reproduced on personal blogs, so here it is. However she feels about it now, I'm glad she wrote it, glad it's in the world, and in this anthology, and that we can read it and find a meaning in it for ourselves and our lives.
Sometimes, things don't go, after all,
from bad to worse. Some years, muscadel
faces down frost; green thrives; the crops don't fail,
sometimes a man aims high, and all goes well.
A people sometimes will step back from war;
elect an honest man, decide they care
enough, that they can't leave a stranger poor.
Some men become what they were born for.
Sometimes our best efforts do not go
amiss; sometimes we do as we meant to.
The sun will sometimes melt a field of sorrow
that seemed hard frozen: may it happen for you.
Saturday, December 29, 2007
August Sander set out to make a photographic 'atlas' of the German people, photographing all sorts of types - farmers and women, workmen and children, families and the old - over several decades in the first half of the twentieth century. Much of his work is housed in the Getty, in Los Angeles - this exhibition is on at the AGNSW till 3 February.
Exhibition link: http://www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au/exhibitions/current/august_sander
For the category Green, the colour is on the cover of You've Got Mail. Yellow is the colour of the dog in that film, and the colour of the cardboard, which is also part of Schooldays.
It's brief, but there you are.
This is today's, so I'm now up to date. Next week it's letter V and the categories are Car parts, Office items and In the kitchen.
Now to catch up on the last couple of weeks - if you haven't read this blog in a little while, or have wondered where the daily entries are, read down to find out....
A tad late, but here's another Scatterday (last week's one).
For Christmas, a sparkly Snowman, a Sparkly village of little houses and a Sign.
For Beverages, Sparkling mineral water.
For Medical, the Sparkling wine, also known in some of my circles as Fizzy Medicine.....
As to the DVDs, Sleepless in Seattle features Christmas and a Sneezy fiance due to his medical condition, Shadowlands has plenty of medical, also features Christmas and a brother rather fond of his beverages, while The Shawshank Redemption doesn't feature Christmas, that I remember, has a little medical due to violence, but at the beginning, it's overconsumption of a beverage in a car that causes some of the subsequent trouble.
Next Scatterday is letter Y with the categories Green, Schooldays and Animals.
Devotion to Scatterday for Letter D led me to Dubbo, in central western NSW. Thus we have: for Touchy-feely, Double Delight roses (from the beautiful Cowra Rose Garden) and The Dish (radio telescope near Parkes), which is all about stuff in the air around. Or something. Besides, it was a special stop to get the photo, and it's a D, so it's here.
For Sewing, the Dubbo quilt shop, a Diamonds quilt in the Dubbo Museum and, also from there, the Dubbo Clairvoyant Fruiterer's embroidery. Is this the first clairvoyant fruiterer to feature in Scatterday?
For Vehicles, Dubbo's World Champion cyclist and three views of a Dray from Dubbo.
Done and dusted. Next Scatterday is letter S and the categories are Medical, Beverages and Christmas.
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
Monday, December 24, 2007
Been away for a couple of days, have a bunch of photos to share (Cowra has a wonderful rose garden, and what happened with the birds' nest, for starters, not forgetting Scatterdays) but today's task is gingerbread (biscuits/ cookies/ stars/ people, not the cakey sort). Catch up soon!
3 level tablespoons golden syrup
3/4 cup caster sugar
2 cups plain flour and 1 cup self-raising flour
1 level teaspoon bicarbonate soda
1 level teaspoon each of ground cinnamon and ground ginger
1/2 level teaspoon ground cloves
pinch finely ground cardamom (optional)
1 egg and 1 egg yolk (save the left-over egg white for Royal Icing)
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
Put butter, golden syrup and sugar into a saucepan, beat to dissolve, then cool to lukewarm. Sift plain flour, SR flour, soda and spices intoa mixing bowl. Make a well in the middle. Add egg, egg yolk, vanilla and warm syrup mixture. Mix thoroughly.
Take about 1/3 of the mixture at a time and knead lightly using a little flour (not too much flour) then roll out onto a lightly floured surface. Cut out with Christmas cutters - hearts, stars, angels, sheep).Place on greased baking trays lined with baking paper and bake in a moderate oven (180 to 190 degrees Celsius) for 8 to 10 minutes. Watch carefully, as they burn quickly after this time, and if overcooked the flavour will be spoilt. Remove from trays and cool.
Store in an airtight container. Serve them perfectly plain or decorate with Royal Icing. These biscuits keep for weeks and weeks in an airtight container. They're delicious with coffee or icecream and especially popular with young children. The recipe makes about 30 gingerbread people or 50 to 60 small hearts or stars.
And they'll make your kitchen smell like Christmas.
Sunday, December 23, 2007
There was also a sign advertising their Christmas photo opportunity - not Santa, but Nativity photos. In a rural area like this, it wouldn't be too hard to conjure a cow or two, and some sheep - I wonder what they had planned. It sounded like such a good idea.
Saturday, December 22, 2007
Although I'd seen the film, The Dish, and knew of the radio telescope's role in the lunar landings, this was the first time I'd seen it for real, looming among the paddocks beside the highway outside Parkes, NSW. It's still an international astronomical facility.
(It wasn't easy to get a good photo - not so much because of the haze, but because of the relentless flies. It's tricky to focus a camera and stay still when they're crawling on your hands and face - you wave them away and they come right back.)
Friday, December 21, 2007
Thursday, December 20, 2007
It was good to have caught this brief time - they grew so quickly from pink and helpless to the survivors gone, flown away into their own brief lives. I first took photos on 11 December and photographed the empty nest on 20 December, less than two weeks later.
I thought about whether to post the dead nestling picture, and then thought, well, it's part of what really happened. One day, a nestling basking in the sun in such a delightful way, and then the attrition which is also part of the cycle. If it had still been alive, I'd have tried to put it back in the nest, but it must have fallen at night and not survived till morning (it's been an unusually cool December).
That section of vines will get pruned carefully, leaving the nest in place. Maybe it will be used again next year.
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
(No, this is not a paid ad - just the commentary of an impressed first-time customer!)
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
It is bewildering to find that the local council is considering building a suck-em-in shopping mall in the town. As a tourist, I'm utterly uninterested in shopping malls and their predictable contents. But streets like those of Mudgee, with wonderful old buildings and a lovely variety of shops and businesses, not to mention cobbled laneways with cafes - why would you destroy that for a cookie-cutter predictable mall? In an area where they are clearly interested in tourism?
These wedding-cake Victorian buildings are in one of the main streets.
Monday, December 17, 2007
Sunday, December 16, 2007
Saturday, December 15, 2007
We had a family gathering today to celebrate Christmas, and it was a lovely day.
Amazon paid four million dollars (nearly two million pounds sterling) for it and is showing off this beautiful object (for such it is, with silver and moonstones and vellum and more) so the mug punters like you and I can see it too (maybe a lot more than if it had been bought by a private collector without commercial interests).
www.amazon.com/beedlebard is where you can see The Tales of Beedle the Bard.
Her charity is one addressing the needs of vulnerable children in Europe.
Back in a few days - didn't get in enough of that basking...
Letter D, categories Touchy-Feely, Sewing, Vehicles.
D is for Discoveries, like this bird's nest I've been watching this week, although the Touchy-Feely is observed through the camera rather than actual touching - look at those feathers....
D is for Digital camera, an essential Sewing tool for me now.
D is for Draughts (or Checkers, in US terminology, but a) I'm not American and b) it doesn't start with D), which proved itself a Vehicle of both Humiliation and Elation today. I got thoroughly done by a nine year old and then a seven year old - this is the moment before the nine year old's Victory Move (I was black and whatever I did, I was a goner!).
D is also for Dairy Milk Duo, a second entry under Touchy-Feely, the mouthfeel of chocolate (melting as it does) being legendary.
Next week the categories are Medical, Beverages and Christmas and the Letter is S.
Friday, December 14, 2007
Basking looks like fun. Might try it myself. Back before Christmas.....
(with Scatterday/D, but it will be late. Happens.)
Thursday, December 13, 2007
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
(and yes, that's with zeros instead of letter o). The article says: Massachusetts-based Merriam-Webster Inc. said "w00t" — typically spelled with two zeros — reflects a new direction in the American language led by a generation raised on video games and cell phone text-messaging. It's like saying "yay," the dictionary said. "It could be after a triumph or for no reason at all," Merriam-Webster said.
Hello? Caity has been using this word like, FORevah, as the kids would say. Word of 2007?? (Caity's just ahead of her time? She's a techno-trailblazer!)
OK, another take, this time from OUP. Their word of 2007 is:
And the thing about this is that while the word itself is new to me, the concept is a friend of the idea explored in Barbara Kingsolver's book that I've been reading, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.
To quote the OUP site: "Locavore” was coined two years ago by a group of four women in San Francisco who proposed that local residents should try to eat only food grown or produced within a 100-mile radius. Other regional movements have emerged since then, though some groups refer to themselves as “localvores” rather than “locavores.” However it’s spelled, it’s a word to watch.
Just so you're really informed, here are their runners-up (I've faded back the definitions so you can see what you can guess before reading - just highlight them with your mouse to see the definitions):
aging in place: the process of growing older while living in one’s own residence, instead of having to move to a new home or community
bacn: email notifications, such as news alerts and social networking updates, that are considered more desirable than unwanted “spam” (coined at PodCamp Pittsburgh in Aug. 2007 and popularized in the blogging community)
cloudware: online applications, such as webmail, powered by massive data storage facilities, also called “cloud servers”
colony collapse disorder: a still-unexplained phenomenon resulting in the widespread disappearance of honeybees from beehives, first observed in late 2006
cougar: an older woman who romantically pursues younger men
MRAP vehicle: Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle, designed to protect troops from improvised explosive devices (IEDs)
mumblecore: an independent film movement featuring low-budget production, non-professional actors, and largely improvised dialogue
previvor: a person who has not been diagnosed with a form of cancer but has survived a genetic predisposition for cancer
social graph: the network of one’s friends and connections on social websites such as Facebook and Myspace
tase (or taze): to stun with a Taser (popularized by a Sep. 2007 incident in which a University of Florida student was filmed being stunned by a Taser at a public forum)
upcycling: the transformation of waste materials into something more useful or valuable
If you recognise from the parent birds what sort these might be, please let me know in the comments. For now, mostly, I'm watching, and trying to catch what I can without intruding (yay for zoom, when its focus catches what you want it to catch).
Birds haven't nested in this spot before, to my knowledge. The vines won't get their pruning till the birds are grown and gone.
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Jon Krakauer wrote a brilliant piece of journalism in his work about Christopher McCandless, who went 'into the wild' in Alaska and did not return alive. He explored the ambiguities and meanings and difficulties of this young man's story with great writing. Sean Penn and his cast and crew have made a companion piece of equal quality in this film. Bravo.
And bravo to the McCandless family, who have let the story now twice be publicly told in ways that do not always flatter them, but that place truthtelling and honesty first.
If you haven't read the book, then do. If you haven't seen the film, then do. Each illuminates this story in different ways.
Roger Ebert's review is here.
Monday, December 10, 2007
Sunday, December 09, 2007
The pile of presents under the tree is growing as Christmas gallops closer. The tree sits in a front window and is lit at night as a greeting to the street and passers-by, together with the fairy lights along the verandah.
Saturday, December 08, 2007
Local Hero, Hamish Macbeth and SeaChange - what is it about little seaside towns that inspires such wonderful quirky comedies? And they're not fluff either, for all the fun they have.
K isn't the easiest letter, so it's been on my mind this week, between other things, and then when I assembled the photos I'd collected...
From the top, left to right: Letter K, followed by a photo of Kinokinuya bookshop in Sydney, a very Dangerous Thing. K&Co scrapbooking paper, from which I'm planning to make some Christmas presents (always a Dangerous Thing, planning Christmas presents when December's nearly half over...) and it includes Blue patterned papers. The K DVDs: King Arthur, with Dangerous Things like Love and Fighting and Slightly Mangled Myths; Kate and Leopold, largely similar except it's a romantic comedy, and A Knight's Tale, which is also largely similar AND a romantic comedy.
Next row: In the Neighbourhood, at an op shop, I present for your delectation Kilts, Knickknacks, Kitsch (no, I resisted temptation and left the clock in the shop) and a CD to assist you in Kicking up your heels (which can be Dangerous...). How good's that clock, though? Should you be watching the clock while meditating on Mary? It would seem somewhat discourteous...could it be Dangerous?
Next row: Blue Knitted blanket and Blue Kitchen utensils, interspersed with more items from the Neighbourhood op shop: Knitting patterns and Kit (aka clothes - and they're Blue too).
Next row: Dangerous Kitchen knives, Blue Kitchen enamelware, and In the Neighbourhood of a quilt shop you can find Koi fish (I also thought of the Japanese alphabets, isn't one at least a K word like Katagana?) and also Kit quilts.
Next row: In the Neighbourhood at the fruit and veg shop you can find Kumera, Kipfler potatoes and Kiwi fruit. And as hinted yesterday, King Island Cream elegantly covers all three, with its Blue lid, Dangerous nutritional label and being found In the Neighbourhood.
O-Kay. Roll on next week - although I won't promise anything so comprehensive...The letter is D and the categories - Sewing, Vehicles, Touchy Feely.
Friday, December 07, 2007
You can also see two more of the wild modern baubles. Very happy with them!
If you want a bunch of Christmas decorating ideas, Country Living has a new book out called Merry and Bright with lots of photos for inspiration. It's on Amazon and findable other places too, no doubt. Gorgeous cover.
The evidence, presented for your consideration: King Island Cream, with its Blue lid, a nutrition panel that will in one glance confirm its status as Dangerous, and ubiquity In My Neighbourhood....
Thursday, December 06, 2007
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
This afternoon, I was visited bountifully by the thrifting fairies - I'll post a picture in the next day or two. Maggie Alderson in the SMH (Sydney Morning Herald) had a wonderful article about thrifting and home decorating recently, (which I mentioned in this blog post and her principles included:
A) Channel what you need - you will probably find it
B) Think outside the box
C) Transform things
D) Never stop looking
E) Buy it when you see it
and in order:
A) I might have done this...I certainly gave the idea some thought. I knew what I wanted, and the dimensions dictated by the space into which it will go
B) I did, but burgling from a seed of an idea gleaned from somewhere I don't remember - ?blog ?magazine?
C) I will
D) I won't....
E) I did. This afternoon.
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
Monday, December 03, 2007
Sunday, December 02, 2007
Decor8, which is a fabulous blog for design/decor/homeware/craft ideas, pointed me in the direction of Raydel Photography (I particularly like The Bird in Hand image) and Irene Suchoki (love the blossom twig still lifes, and the black and white work) - dreamlike vintaged still life photography that suggests more than you can see in the frame.
Holly at Decor8 also did two fabulous roundups of 2008 calendars from various craft artworkers. Part One here, Part Two here. Letterpress, screenprinting, all sorts of ideas.
Pie Bird Press has letterpress cards in saturated colours with designs reminiscent of Kaffe Fassett fabrics, such as this Chard one and these Plums.
Nicquiltz has various artworks, but this linocut of Pretty Beach particularly caught my eye. I also like this Rose Thorns linocut by Winged Lion.
When you see the cost of some scrapbooking/collage/altered art embellishments, the array on Etsy is both vast and good value. Piddix sells lots of different collage sheets, including these vintage snowflake photos (taken by a lonely Northeastern farmer in 1900) and vintage Japanese wood blocks.
I'm fond of tags, and there are so many to choose from, like these shabby blue scrolls and these scalloped round ones. You can also find quirky vintage ephemera, such as vintage flash cards and more.
If you've got favourite Etsy shops, please leave their addresses/URLs in a comment.
I haven't put images here because I didn't want to burgle copyrighted ones, but the links will take you over to see the items.
And no, not everything from the box went onto the tree. Have to decide what is travelling on to a new home, and what might be kept for another year....
Saturday, December 01, 2007
Last year I made up this mosaic of favourite photographs from the year. Today, amid Christmas lists and letters and cards, I've been working out which pictures to include from 2007.
With the Flickrtoys Mosaic Maker, the easiest way to make one of these is to put your favourites into a new set in Flickr, then just put in the set's URL for the mosaic. Saves picking 24 separate photos...just organise them in the set in the order in which you want them to be in the mosaic.
I made this 4 columns x 6 rows, but be warned: if you get it printed at a standard commercial place, it may not exactly fit 4in x 6in printing (as I found last year) - you might find the edges shaved a tad.
Still, I put this into Christmas cards (pasted into the inside cover) as a window into 2006.
Now where did I put the soft little cone trees I made earlier this year?? They were inspired by this blog post... and see more pictures from Flickr here and here.
For a different sort of small cone tree, The Small Object has a pattern and pictures here and a fabric garland tutorial here.
How about making your own advent calendar? There's a pdf pattern here from SewMamaSew or check out Ali's boxes here and here.
SewMamaSew has a bunch of pictures and links for handmade gifts here, including a Wellness Bag.
Tomorrow we'll have to get out the big green tree and decorations - and switch on the fairy lights outside (cue annual puzzlement with that timer widget). It's only a modest display around the verandah, but it's a neighbourhood greeting all the same.
For a Cath Kidston-inspired/red and sky blue and white Christmas decorating (just so fresh and clear, and a fun upside-down tree), check out the pictures on Happy Loves Rosie.
I've been backfilling, after a busy week, so there are a bunch of 'earlier' entries filling in the days that have been missing.
In the supermarket yesterday, the Metal trays for Christmas turkeys had a photographable texture (although would you put a heavy turkey in one of these? I'd be doubtful of their strength for anything bigger than a chook...).
I couldn't decide if the Moisturisers are about Texture, or Weapon (against ageing...) or both. ummmmmm......both!
Mockery is a Weapon, thus the books (Leunig, Borat, the New Yorker and more), and Merriment is also a Weapon (with a Christmas decoration saying Merry Christmas).
Miniatures are a Hobby (I bought the needlepoint cushion at a miniatures fair, the tiny work on it is eyestrainingly amazing.). Maybe this summer I'll more done on this house, although the journey is part of the fun and it will probably never be finished... a characteristic of most hobbies.
And the DVDs are back. Movies with Weapons! - Munich, Master and Commander, Memphis Belle. (Pennie's got her babushkas, I've got those useful DVDs....).
Next week's Scatterday categories: Blue Things, Dangerous Things and things In My Neighbourhood that start with the letter K.