Friday, February 29, 2008
You bought little more than a steel skeleton rusting in a paddock, and now it is a bus again, sometimes carrying people on joyrides, always bringing them joy.
Rainbow gold is such an individual thing.
Now – what’s next?
There are those who will know the inspiration for this particular story....
Just love that quilt. I'd be guessing it's from old clothes, but the quilter's been so clever with her layout of the scraps, and it has wonderful rhythm and harmony, an almost-checkerboard about it. After a busy day, this image has a soothing serenity. Even from what may seem to be chaos, patterns can be formed and harmony achieved.
Thursday, February 28, 2008
That’s good, sweetie.
I got Mr Boo.
Can’t go without your bear.
I got three books.
There are books at Auntie Lara’s house.
Like my books best.
Well, you bring them too. But maybe she’ll have some you’ll like.
I got my quilt.
Can’t go anywhere without your quilt, can you, little man?
Can I bring Fizzcat?
No, Fizzcat lives here with us. She’ll be here when you get home.
Will the baby be here when I get home?
Yes, lovey, the baby will be here.
Love you Mum.
Love you back, buddy.
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
What do I remember? The scent of my grandmother’s hankies, and my mother’s baking, and tobacco on my father’s tweed jacket when we hugged him. My brother learning guitar. All the important things.
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
“Mom, you make beautiful scones. I just find that Auntie Sue’s recipe is faster when I’m in a rush.”
“I do change the sheets and towels every week, Mom. Why did you tell Grandma that I don’t?”
“Don’t you like the fragrance of curry in my kitchen, Mom? I do. It’s fun grinding the spices.”
“I know Megan’s kids are doing well at their music lessons. It’s great, isn’t it? They are gifted. Maybe you’d like to see Davy’s soccer match one Saturday?”
“I love you, Mom.”
I haven't spent much time listening to audiobooks, so it's been interesting to consider how it's different to reading. The pace is different, dictated by voice rather than eye-speed. The characters are inevitably fleshed by voice and tone and all the individuality and humanity of someone reading aloud.
Maybe I've been fortunate that my first audiobook experience for a long time has been such a superlative version (I believe it won an award or two) and of such a good book (James Fenimore, are you rotating slowly? tough, buddy).
The rrp for this is about $50US, but if you investigate Amazon Marketplace and/or eBay, you should be able to pick it up for less.
Monday, February 25, 2008
Look here, instead. See? Here’s our boy, our sweet and precious little boy. For all his life, we’ve been searching the thickets surrounding his castle to find him, past the thorns of autism.
He has learned to write his name. There it is, on papers strewn across the table, in pen, in pencil, texta. Wonky. Wonderful. Bright in the morning light, more important than anything.
Sunday, February 24, 2008
Oriental Lattice, as featured in Australian Patchwork and Quilting Vol 16 No 7, issued Feb 2008 in Australia (possibly later overseas).
I was rather pleased with this one - a chance to use LOTS of oriental fabrics (and a few that weren't, but which worked in well). The magazine sent on a lovely email from a reader who'd recognised it as one of my designs, and liked it (she was already making another one of my quilts). So nice to get that sort of feedback (thank you!).
Need to get a move on on my Quilters' Guild of NSW entries, the date entries close for this year's show is the end of February. That would be this week...
Saturday, February 23, 2008
Friday, February 22, 2008
Red or white?
The most important thing is Jerome and me. Our day, us.
White? Traditional, my mama says.
Jerome, who has a cowlick over his sleepy eyes first thing in the morning, and who cradles me in his sleep as though I am dear and precious. Jerome, whose stinky sports shoes HAVE to be left on the outside verandah.
Red? The colour of scandal, love, blood, hearts, fire, rich things, roses with scent to haunt you always.
Jerome’s eyes light with laughter when he sees me coming down the aisle. Red. Yes.
The 1992 film, directed by Michael Mann and starring Daniel Day Lewis (and his chest) is a favourite, and brilliantly good. So I'd always meant to read the book. Started a couple of times. Gave up, in the face of a wilderness thicket of colonial prose c.1826. James Fenimore Cooper, I tried, I really did (and by the way, the Fenimore bit must have been fabbobananas for lifting your name to attention from the herd - can't imagine 'James Cooper' having nearly the same impact).
So what's not to like, an audio version - abridged - and read by the wonderful William Hope (who reads Henry in The Time Traveler's Wife, the unabridged audiobook version).
O-kay. So in go the three CDs to the car's CD stacker, ready for the daily journey to and from work, and we're off.
Sheesh. I hadn't realised Michael Mann had taken so many liberties with the original. Roger Ebert's review notes: It is also inspired, of course, by the novel by James Fenimore Cooper, whose frontier fantasies were completely demolished in an hilarious essay by Mark Twain, who noted that whenever the plot required a twig to be stepped on, a Cooper character was able to find a twig and step on it, no matter what the difficulty.Mann's film is quite an improvement on Cooper's all but unreadable book...
Quite so. Maybe I be jus' a chile of mah times, but if those girls had been kidnapped one MORE time by the Injuns, I would have had a Spasm. I think it was three times. I lost interest. Omigod, the girls are gorn and got again, so the heroic men go off to rescue them. And then (spoiler alert for the book), Cora gets stabbed by Magua (a kinda 'knife plunged into her breast to the hilt' deal). See, I much prefer plucky Cora surviving than Alice (pretty much utterly swoony and whimpering in the book, whereas she did get that Clifftop Moment in the film), and as for Magua (in the film) bumping off their pappy, well, it was fine and heroic and all. In the book, pappy survives too. And forget the swoony romantic matinee hero/heroine stuff we so enjoyed in the film - it's not in the book either.
William Hope, you did a great job. Lots of vocal variation, and assorted, credible accents. I blame James Fenimore entirely. Because I can, my favourite version of The Last of the Mohicans will ever after be the 1992 film. Thanks, Michael Mann (well, and I grudgingly guess James, for writing it in the first place...).
I shall be refreshing my happy memories of the film sooner rather than later. Always a fave.
Thursday, February 21, 2008
Everything they are, each one of them – daily lives, breakfast choices, tea or coffee at elevenses, whether they grumble about the weather, recycle their newspapers, believe in God or Allah or nothingness, whether they love their children or hate their job (or both). All they are is down to this, these cells.
Somewhere they’re waiting for me to find what there is to be found, and their doctor to say. Yes. No. This disease. Medication. Surgery.
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
This one, something’s different. Her eyes are alive, her hand holds mine and she doesn’t connect the electrodes.
Now. She says. And for all my scepticism, something here is unexpectedly real. Now is the time for change. Take your chances. Run if you can. This isn’t everything. Find out what’s outside the wall.
The door dissolves. Gunfire.
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
Bare hands. Bare hands with soil-filled fingernails, hunting in the dirt. They’re too small to find with gloves.
Must be close…AH! Bingo. The slight teardrop of a freesia bulb, and another, and I start filling the tin bucket till my fingers can find no more.
Come spring, my grandfather’s freesias will flower again, keeping him still with us.
Monday, February 18, 2008
(Wonder if it's still there?)
In the culprit’s absence, we grinned conspiratorially. I mimed camera, and he nodded, and went in search (the linen closet was a good guess, or under her bed). We rendezvoused on the stairs, and crept up them silently.
Seventeen years later, at her 21st birthday party, those photos of her guilty, chocolatey face were more than adequate return.
Sunday, February 17, 2008
So for this, I chose fabrics in a particular palette, and let the quilt evolve from there.
I'm feeling a little detached from it - which is not always the case with challenge quilts. It's not that I don't like it, but it is much more successful right now at engaging my head than my heart. Which is enjoyable, but of a different quality to a quilt that engages the heart.
I've given away a couple of quilts in the last couple of months, and each time it's been good, but not necessarily easy. I've been glad to have done it, and glad to have been able to bestow them upon recipients to whom I wanted to give something special. And glad that they're being used and part of their lives now. Sometimes it's easier after the event than before.
I think I have an idea of who this quilt is for. Maybe. It's something you have to let bubble to the surface, and then you say, aha! and you know. Sometimes I know right away that a quilt is for someone in particular, and it's just as much fun to make - but I know all along that it's not staying. Other times, it needs to bubble to the surface in its own time.
All of us have been friends for a long time and work hard to earn a decent livelihood for our families.
Embroidered clothes. Aaah, a fellow textilian. Through the brilliant Kiva, I'm one of those lending to this group. Want to play? Microcredit's fun, and when the money comes back, I can lend it out to another entrepreneur. Why not add to this loan to Shamshad Iqbal?
I was thinking of going to the flicks today. When you add up the ticket at the multiplex, and a bite of lunch, and a drink, you're close enough to the basic $25US Kiva loan. What the heck - the film will come to my lovely local cinema in a few weeks, and I can see it then. For now, the money's on its way to Pakistan. Cool.
Saturday, February 16, 2008
In an alternate version of contemporary times, Smokehill National Park where Jake has lived all his fifteen years is the only place in the US where dragons live. Although with five million acres and a Serious fence, they don't leave and are rarely seen. On his first solo overnight hike, Jake finds a dragonlet - and it's a serious federal offence to give succour to one. But he does (of course). And so the story travels.
While the voice of this story is Jake's voice, it's not necessarily a teenage boy's voice, somehow. I wanted to like this book more than I did - at times the prose is so dense and rolling and the sentences so long that I found myself losing track, a little, and needing to find my bearings again, reread sections to reorient myself....
Would I read it again?
Yes. And maybe the second time, knowing the story, I could navigate the prose style more effectively (admittedly I was reading it at a gallop). But it felt like a looser, and I hesitate to say it, less disciplined (edited?) style than her other books. A lot closer to the almost stream-of-consciousness of her blog.
There is an extract from Dragonhaven on her website.
From her blog, I read that her next book, Chalice, is due out later this year (it's listed on Amazon.com). Will I read that? Of course.
But I still love Sunshine best of anything and best of all, of her works.
Only The Blue Sword's so good, too. And Beauty....
Friday, February 15, 2008
“Tim, it’s time for school. Put your lunch in your backpack, and stop jigging around.”
“Timothy James, sit down on your seat. Now.”
“Tell me later, matey. I have to help the next kid in the queue. Milk, sweetie? And a Vegemite sandwich?”
“Tim, we’re doing quiet reading in class right now. Read your book, like everyone else.”
“Tim, you’re the GOALIE! You’re supposed to stop the goals, not let them in. Now we’ll lose.”
“A dance? A new dance? Sounds good. I’d like to see it. Can you show me?”
Thursday, February 14, 2008
The cicadas sing. Your eyes start to see movement among the grass, ants, busy, bustling. It smells fresh, green, this early morning grass. A kookaburra laughs, high above, and a screeching swoop of cockatoos fly over.
Today is the piano exam. Maybe you should be practising. For now, this is peaceful, and something to remember when the panic rises.
And a happy day to all of you readers of this blog today, whether you get overwhelmed with Valentinia (is that a word?) or not. Because you know the people who love you every day of the year, without the need for any commercial prompting.
It's been a busy week. Can you tell? Not even a photo of the desk...
Normal transmission should resume on or by the weekend, along with a bit of a catchup.
These roses are from Cowra, the beautiful expanse of rose beds outside the tourist info centre there in central western NSW.
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
Susannah’s in our Venturer group – it’s girls and boys. I’m not sure what to say to her, when people are around. But I think she likes me. I sure like her.
Valentine’s Day, in Maths. All you need are two pencils. SMS-abbreviations make it faster. I caught Susannah’s eye. She watched them, watched me. And smiled. Signalled back.
Can’t wait for recess.
I've been pouring ideas into my head from magazines like these for a long time. Hope to take action sometime this year, or maybe throughout the year, and continue reorganising the house. Maybe even finish (and then photograph!) the sewing room (hi Candy, who has asked me about this!). For the sewing room, I have a fabulous concept for a cupboard, but I'm still deciding on paint colours. When my brain has time and room for such things.
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
So why would I be sitting here with a pile of hexagons in front of me? Tacking? Whipstitching?
Auntie Lula started it. Years ago. And now her daughter, knowing I quilt, has given me this bag. Auntie Lula. Brownies, rich and warm on a cold winter day. Hands that taught me to sew, to cook.
And so, in summer sun, I sit and sew her hexagons, finishing what she began.
Monday, February 11, 2008
You can stitch hope, with your fingers, and love, and anticipation, and all sorts of dreams, without ever imagining…
“Are you going to finish that?” he asks, seeing it open on my lap. Back then, he cried with me. And a year later, cried again when our daughter arrived safely. It was still too soon, for this, then.
“Yes. It’s time, isn’t it, Grandad?”
Country Home (US) is still one of my favourite decorating magazines. I was introduced to it years ago, and its version of modern country - not cluttercountry, which tended to be much easier to find in magazines here - remains inspirational. This book may have pictures I've seen before - dunno, yet, I'm still reading - but it won't be a hardship to see them again. It's also interestingly organised, into versions of country.
Sunday, February 10, 2008
It was a grey day yesterday, more of the rain we've been having all week, on and off. But what's to complain about, when the dams that were at 33% full this time last year are now double that?
I pulled out a jacket that normally wouldn't get worn in February/summer, but you never can quite tell when you're heading up the mountains. I know it's snowed there in December (also summer) although that's rare.
(If you click on the mosaic, you'll go to its page in Flickr, where it's larger).
Old wares shops fascinate me. There is always, always something you've never seen before, and things to appreciate and dream over. Where could those doors fit into this house? Look at all the greens of those bottles, there's a quilt colour scheme silhouetted against the window. Loved the two quirky little houses, home-made, perhaps? And the colours of the little accordion - wonder what its history might be?
Katoomba has a reasonable amount of Art Deco architecture, some wonderful, some shabbily ignored. It's been good that of recent years the Carrington Hotel was restored.
Along Katoomba Street, you'll find plenty of bookshops, mostly second-hand and antiquarian, with some new books in these, but mostly not. Wonderful spines on old children's books, an amazing assortment of stools and seats on which to perch while you browse.
There's still a hippy edge in Katoomba - it's a meld of all sorts of ways of thinking, from conservative to avant-garde to alternative, and you'll easily find a shop or three selling Indian cotton clothing. Always a homewares shop or three as well, with an eye to the locals and the tourists - these foofly rosy cushions amused me, and I mentioned the lovely cupcakes yesterday. The old chap sitting almost in the window of his dusty secondhand bookshop with a rug over his knees looked comfortably settled, and on a showery cool day, there would be worse places to be.
The fifth row has some architectural details - an iron cross, two adjacent buildings, a mural of Bridal Falls, a statue in a junk shop, the waratah-cutout street rubbish bins.
The sixth row of photos is about things in shops - one had an astonishing array of eiderdowns, an astonishing number of which were pink. The found sculpture of a mad sort of insect made me chuckle, while the brightly coloured tins struck a happy note. The Radio sign is welded into the railing, a reflection of this old wares shop's original incarnation, and well, there's yesterday's excellent lunch.
It's not grand, Katoomba, but sorta shabby and interesting - there's an energy around, it's not dying, but travelling to its own music. If you go to the end of Katoomba Street to the viewing platform for the Three Sisters and the valleys, the shops there are geared for tourism, and you'll pass assorted galleries on the way. I hadn't been there for a while, so it was good to look at familiar places, find new ones, and just browse. Even the parking gods smiled. I wore my jacket (more than one shop had its heater on, and a couple featured fires in slow combustion stoves - yup, in February/summer) and didn't get too wet, and came home happy.
I'm still listening to The Time Traveler's Wife on CD - a bit over half way through, as I'm only listening in the car to spin it out as long as possible. It's so very good - William Hope and Laurel Lefkow's voices are almost a distraction from the road. I come home and reread the section I've listened to in the book, and hear their voices again in my mind.
I note from the Internet Movie Database (imdb.com) that the release date for the film of the book has been pushed from June 2008 to November 2008. Sigh. I hope they do it well, I'm looking forward to it, but that's a long shove on, five months. Who knows the vagaries of film releases? But with November already noted as the release date of the next James Bond film, and the next Harry Potter, and some other things - could TTW maybe come in October? Or earlier? Please? (Eric Bana is playing Henry - ha, the Australian infestation continues!).
Today it's been sunny most of the day, and the washing smells fresh and good as it comes off the Hills Hoist (rotary washing line). Yup. Housework's been the order of the day, and the one day cricket match on the radio this afternoon its soundtrack. Unless there's a batting collapse, India should have this one in the bag - Australia's got an uphill battle defending their unusually small score (well bowled, India!).
Saturday, February 09, 2008
Some days you just need to run away. So today I headed up the Blue Mountains to Katoomba and Leura, to browse in bookshops and old wares shops, have this lunch in my favourite cafe (Loaves and the Dishes in Leura - and believe me, between Leura and Katoomba you have, oh, a zillion choices of cafe) (not that I'd claim to have tried them all - but this one is reliably good) and breathe some new air.
Came back refreshed, with a couple of treasures (including Reece's Peanut Butter Cups from the specialist sweetshop for a dear American friend, something else from somewhere else for my mother's birthday, she reads this blog sometimes so I shall say no more) but mostly it was about a change of scene and air after long long days at work and another busy week ahead.
Cupcakes have made their new-style way to the mountains - found a lovely little sliver of a shop in Katoomba Street, Cupid's Cupcakes (they had little and big ones and they were yummy, cake AND icing).
Poked around in the astonishing junk shop where I've had a few finds in the past (nothing today, but you can't expect to find something every time), but I did find a couple of vintage photos for friends (including one who needs cheering up, I hope I've chosen well) in another old wares shop.
Today was for fun. Tomorrow, the inevitable payback - housework. Sigh.
I will do a mosaic of Katoomba images, but for now my internet's veeeeeerrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrry slow, so maybe not tonight.
Hope you're enjoying your weekends too.
Friday, February 08, 2008
He has another set of these tools. After hours, they shape slivers of exotic timbers into inlay work too small to be done without magnification and good light. People close their mouths on the weekaday work his hands create – and let them fall open at the fineness of his weekend carpentry.
Not so easy.
So they asked me what I would write on such a message.
Apart from the fact that I'm rather older and female, so not necessarily very likely to write the same sort of thing...it was an endearing enquiry, and something of an honour to be asked.
But what to say?
Hard to know, in some ways, what their best beloveds might like. Who knows the taste of a teenage girl? And, more importantly, what's realistic (and bearable) for a teenage boy to write.
They were lovely boys. It was an honest enquiry.
I advised steering clear of poetry. Hard to do well, easy to get wrong, and therefore tricky.
So I said, think about why you like her. Is it her laugh or how she cares about people, or how smart she is, or how she makes you feel happy when you're with her? What are the things you appreciate about her? Maybe you could mention a time you went out together and it was a good time, and why it was good.
Write something that's honest, and sounds like you. Sounds like something you'd say. Not flowery stuff that can sound fake, and probably makes you feel a bit daft in writing it anyway. Do you notice how you enjoy the classes you share more than the ones you don't? Why is that?
Honest stuff cuts through more than foofle. Means more.
Is this making any sense? Being any help?
And they said yes, and looked a bit more certain. I hope their best beloveds are happy with the messages they get, and have some inkling of the thought and time the boys were putting into their efforts.
For all they can be obnoxious (hormone poisoning...!) it's worth never forgetting how very sweet and endearing teenagers can be too. Really and truly.
The story of Eternity - Arthur Stace's conversion and his subsequent decision to write that single word, which had changed his life, on the streets of Sydney (over half a million times, and anonymously till someone set out to discover the artist's identity) is one of the great stories of Australia. It's found its way into art, and literature, and film, is a bronze set in a quiet corner of Sydney Square, in Martin Sharp's art, and more.
If you google
Thursday, February 07, 2008
I remember seeing a fellow professional's office - she came across as a very proper and capable lady, but the hubcaps punctuating the top of her office walls added to that picture and stopped you working off assumptions. Apparently she'd got in trouble for them, which was a shame - I think they would instead have been a point of conversation/discussion/connection with her clientele. I've had interested enquiries about a couple of my wall items, but haven't experienced that intolerance.
I'm thinking I might paint this pillar, though. Boring beige isn't the most engaging colour on the paint chart...
Summer. It’s not too hot, and a walk seemed like a nice idea in the dappled sunlight and warm breeze. Hat, sunblock, walking shoes. Ready.
Second hint? The grumble in the distance, repeated, louder.
And suddenly the day is dark, the sky an angry grey and grumbling turns to crackling, a flash of lightning and it’s too close, the whoosh coming is torrential rain.
I’m a mile from home. I run in a hurried squelching. A drowned rat finally reaches the shelter of the porch. Laughing. Exhilarated. Shivering.
Wednesday, February 06, 2008
Can you tell I've been working long hours at my desk?.....
It's nearly time to leave before they lock up, and of course right now the rain has decided to teem.
It was sunny this morning.
My umbrella is in the car.
My car is not in a covered car park.
Sunday, February 03, 2008
One of my Patent Quilt Theories is that it's worthwhile to make sure your quilt colour choices aren't being biased by your clothing colour choices. I don't wear brown much - wore it too much years ago, and only now are a few brown things creeping back into my wardrobe. But in quilts, brown's a great colour.
To give another example of a clothing colour - this one worn by very few people: mustard. Not usually very flattering, but a great colour in quilts, whether zinging with hand-dyes or warm with country prints.
I haven't made much for a while, so it was good to be cutting and sewing and pressing and seeing something come together.
Saturday, February 02, 2008
I'm using the 100 Word Stories blog for my prompts.
Let me know in a comment if you decide to play, so I can read your work.
While northern hemisphere bloggers wax wistfully lyrical about summer - and I'm not ungrateful for things like never having to heat up a car engine before using it, or not really owning a winter coat (jacket, yes, coat, no - well, I have the one I take when I go to wintry places) or as the Yarn Harlot wrote of this week, not having a baguette go from warm on purchase to frozen baguettesicle by the time you get it home - I'm not ungrateful. But roll on March.
I've lived in places that get hotter than Sydney, but there's such a difference between dry heat, like an oven, and the jungly enervation of humidity.
Spring and autumn, they're my favourites.
(Yup, this is another photo from years ago. I really will try to document the present day this week...)
Friday, February 01, 2008
Yesterday in the church she lived in our words and memories. We said goodbye.
Today (I have a hanky stuffed in my pocket) we’re making choices and decisions. Jojo will take the lamp, Narelle the chairs and sidetables. I want the photos. Look at that one of Grandpa. How long has that been sitting there?
Guernsey, on a summer evening, the moon rising and the twilight making everything beautiful.
I tweaked this photo in software (if you go to my Flickr stream you can see the fixed up version) but I like the misty blueness of this. It's become my memory of that evening, even if the other may be more correct as to how it actually was.
But all these years later, how could one say? So I've blogged the scanned, untweaked one. Just because.