Wednesday, April 30, 2008
In her second novel, Saving Francesca, she does the same, with a different character in different circumstances. Wonderful prose. Great rereading it this week (I read it when it first came out - I know people who can't read books again, but I'm not one of them).
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Monday, April 28, 2008
Sunday, April 27, 2008
And the world is divided into those who will eat brussels sprouts, and those who WILL NOT (they're usually emphatic).
Buy the tender little ones. Don't overboil them. Combine them with a sweet contrasting flavour, like carrots, or a complementary sauce (maybe a cheesy white sauce) with something like bacon, to balance them.
Saturday, April 26, 2008
Or maybe I just took the photo because I like the aqua and vintage style of them. Could be.
Friday, April 25, 2008
A defence forces honour guard, a catafalque guard, the utter stillness of each of the ones in uniform. The stooped, grey-haired man who moves around the edges of the growing crowd to give us the sheets with the order of service, the words of the hymns and prayers and sacred texts of this one day of the year. He wears his medals and is still, in this way, serving.
In 1915, Australian and New Zealand forces were part of the attack on Gallipoli - a costly, heroic failure that has made ANZAC Day, 25 April, an unambiguous national day with a different, deeper resonance than Australia Day in January.
Dawn services - large ones in cities, smaller ones in towns and villages across the country, and across the world where Australians may be - are an integral part of this day. In the suburban area where I live, it's a gathering that draws many people into a quiet, respectful crowd, single people, couples, families, small children held by their parents, babies bundled against the cold and held close.
It begins at 6am in the half-light. The flags at full mast, the local concert band leading us in singing "Abide With Me", the voices quiet, almost reedy, not a rousing chorus, but a union in music, unity expressed. We sing, bow our heads for prayer, then listen to a member of the local clergy, who quotes from Les Carlyon's magnificent history of Gallipoli, prose that puts you there in sight and sound and smell and hearing, amid the heat and flies and the scent of thyme, the lice you hoped would drown when you swam on the beaches, the tumbled, twisted, irretrievable bodies of no-man's land, the newspaper pages blowing across this landscape from trench to trench, the bugles sounding advances, retreats.
We sing "God Save the Queen" and quietly repeat, at the end of the ode, "Lest we forget", a murmur that binds the crowd in common purpose, the reason we're here, as the dawn light comes across the sky, even on a grey morning such as this one.
The bugler sounds the Last Post, the flags are lowered to half mast and the silence is utter, even with such a crowd, so many people. Reveille sounds, and there is a shifting and settling, and the voices unite to sing "Advance Australia Fair".
And we all return to our own lives for another year.
Except this year was a double. My father was marching in a morning ceremony. Theirs isn't a large village, and the small group of marchers, less than a dozen of them, came around the oval/cricket ground, followed at a respectful distance by a large group of local school children and other people. Leading them, uniformed Lancers on horseback.
It was still grey, and thinking of rain. The ground was muddy, and among the crowd were raincoats, and wellington boots (gumboots), and had furled umbrellas at the ready. Not a large village, but a very respectable crowd. We sang a hymn, and listened to a medalled older man talk about the dreadful, brave roulette of Bomber Command. Wreaths laid, and the ceremony over, the village hall filled with people eating morning tea, home made sandwiches and cupcakes and Anzac biscuits.
On ANZAC Day, I think of my father and uncles, who are still with us, all of whom were in the defence forces during World War II, and my Uncle Willie, who was a pilot who was lost over France in that war. The first time, he came back, smuggled by the resistance. The second time, he didn't.
Lest we forget.
The saluting soldier in the top left photo, turned, at the end of the dawn service, into the crowd and was clutched by his toddler child, who reached over from his mother's arms to his father's, hugged him and then sat up to gently play with the medals pinned on his father's uniformed chest. It was a quiet moment in the crowd, but emblematic of what war is about: duty and family.
The RSL had a proposal, this year, that only returned soldiers should march within the main groups, with relatives wearing medals, and other non-soldiers, at the end of the march. I'm so glad they didn't enforce this. The village march here was short, and the soldiers marched alone, but in the city marches across the country, it's heartwarming, and moving, and somehow very right to see the people marching who are either side by side with their father or grandmother, or marching wearing medals to stand there for someone who can no longer march, or is no longer here to march. Sometimes they carry photos. of the soldiers in whose place they have come. And that is the future, so the medals are aired, the memories refreshed, thanks regiven, year by year, onward, always.
Lest we forget.
Thursday, April 24, 2008
Can't show this any bigger, because it's going to be published later in the year* but I did enjoy these fabrics, esp. the aqua/chartreuse one. Yum. Great colour combination. Clearly, it inspired me, because there is evidence of handquilting here, there is indeed. Not my usual thing, since I generally find it daunting and slow and something that gets in the way of me playing with the next lot of fabrics.
Further to my Amazon comment (read: rant!) from earlier in April: the first shipment from my order of 8 April, which shipped on 11 April and was estimated to arrive (by standard international shipping) by 17 May, has come, on 24 April.
I am happy that it's faster than the estimate, and await the second shipment (sent three days later) with interest...Maybe I was lucky. Maybe they cover their behinds, by estimating such a long duration. Maybe they did retire the Amazonian mules for more modern transport...
I finished Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister, and liked it, so am glad that Wicked has now arrived to read. The composer was on Spicks and Specks this week (Stephen Schwartz), and I felt fraffly up to date, knowing about Wicked-the-musical and its source. A production is planned for Oz (Australia) from July 2008 in (sigh) Melbourne.
*(look for it in Australian Patchwork and Quilting magazine Vol 17 no 2) (current issue in Australia is vol 16 no 9, so it's five issues away).
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Particularly happy with the vintage green cotton ricrac (60c I think), the little silver jug (I already have one for pens etc, they're good and solid - this one was $3) and the little artist's figure ($2). Not sure what I'll do with the latter, but I've got an idea or two. New green bead necklace $4. Not bad going for an investment of $25 or so.
The traffic goes the other way too - the Salvos van came by this morning and collected a bunch of stuff. I happened to be going by their local store later in the afternoon and took a quick look. It was startling to see, already on the floor and for sale, stuff they'd only picked up that morning. That's fast! And no, I didn't buy anything back. I wasn't checking for it either - hadn't occurred to me to do so - I was after something else.
My sandpaper board has vanished, and I need to write on some fabric. The Salvos yielded a wooden teapot stand with a flat back (I was looking for a wooden chopping board or similar) and Big W (Walmartish store) some sandpaper, so a bit of glueing, set overnight, will give me another sandpaper board. Otherwise I would have checked the local hardware store that does, sometimes, have cheap/free offcuts. But the teapot stand was only a dollar or two.
(Sandpaper board: if you haven't come across one of these. If you want to write on fabric with a Pigma pen or other fine pen, a sandpaper board will hold the fabric stlil and prevent pulling. You can buy them made, but fine sandpaper glued to a board backing does the trick.)
The biggest luck-out at an op shop today was an unplanned buy that just shows the value you can find. A quality Australian brand coat/jacket (peacoat length?), for a mere $10. 70% wool, poly, cashmere (feels lovely) in useful black, well made, classic style and a great fit in great condition. I got it drycleaned, just to spruce it, and one button needs resewing (it's not gone, just almost off). It seems barely worn - the sleeve label is still sewn on, and there are no signs of wear. In this climate, a coat isn't necessarily an everyday wear thing in winter (I don't stand around on chilly train platforms much), but it's going to be handy. It's warm and comfortable, and a Find! (Certainly I know other op shops which would have had a much higher price on it).
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
Osbert Sitwell's wonderful volume found me in an op shop on the weekend for only a couple of dollars. When I'm in the mood for a rant, I must remember the possibility of a tirade, not to mention the balancing effect of a panegyric (a formal expression of praise, I checked).
I flicked through this in the op shop. The contents pages (click on one of the photos, they're over in my Flickr photostream) looked promising. Both sides. My library has previously lacked any volumes particularly dealing with prigs and snobs, and I'm looking forward to reading about the delights of foreign colonies. As you would.
What's not to like????
Aren't words wonderful? They may be slothful, or lazy, but I am merely indolent, and it turns out to be useful...
If you pine for your own copy, they start under $US5 plus postage on abebooks.com.
Monday, April 21, 2008
The petrol tank (gas tank) of the car was almost empty, and this is how much it cost to fill...
It's the first time it's cost over $50 for a tank of petrol for a medium-sized 4 cylinder car.
In July 2006 I thought prices were high, and blogged it here:
and that time it was $45 to fill. Prices went down after that, but they're back up. Cheap day of the week petrol here has been around $1.34/litre for the green Vortex one (which is usually about 7c/litre more expensive than plain unleaded, but which goes a bit further).
$51 Australian is about 47.50 in US dollars , or 23 UK pounds.
31 litres is 8.2 US gallons
This fuel cost approx, in US dollars, $5.79c/gallon, or in UK pounds, 75p a litre. How does that compare with petrol for you?
It was amazing that the moment barrel prices went up on the world market, this was reflected at our pumps, even if that fuel hadn't made it to Australia yet.
Now to wait for the flow-on effect on prices for goods, since so much is transported by road.
Still, cars are very handy. I drove to visit a design wall I could use to lay out those chain pieced blocks from the other day. It would have been way too far to walk, and it was my reward for working virtuously for much of the day (when I didn't have to!).
Sunday, April 20, 2008
Maybe that's the point where some projects lose their energy and focus, get put aside and maybe don't ever get finished.
This one will. I took a break from it, read some more of Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister (rich prose, a plum pudding of prose with the sharp acid catch of lemon peel - Maguire has great imagination, the way he's playing with Cinderella and other stuff to make something new).
And I guess this quilt has some of those qualities, combining old and new. I'm a bit over those seams. But when I get them finished, I can play with a cornucopia of blocks on a design wall, and feel the energy of the next step in construction. And it's also how you look at it, without process there is no product, it's the effort and time that make something happen.
Mostly, I enjoy process, the rhythm of it, the zone in which you can find yourself. And I am happy with how this quilt is coming together.
Saturday, April 19, 2008
A lady nearby said, "It's a great picture of a chicken, I love chicken things," and I thought, gee, I didn't even particularly register the chicken, certainly not from the point of view of seeing it as the major part of the picture...ah, our different ways of seeing.
Any clues about artist etc? I'd love to know. Should I have put it back or taken it home??? (I left the op shop without it). The frame's not great (and seemed original, judging by the back, which I didn't photograph). But that rosy-apple-cheeked little girl...
Friday, April 18, 2008
(I've been doing more dreaming of reading, and writing about reading, than reading itself, this week - and more quilting than anything else, some for magazines and today, something that's just for me. It's so good to play without having to stay aware of explaining a technique or skill, but just play and design as you go, be in that good creative process.)
Tomorrow there's an adventure planned, should be fun...
Thursday, April 17, 2008
- I made a small quilt from scraps and my own design, which mutated as I sewed and pondered, and the final result worked rather nicely
- I had a lovely lunch seasoned with quilting conversation
- I got to talk quilting more with other aficionados, and saw some lovely magazines, and planned an op shop tour in new territories...
- Ikea still had the curtains I couldn't get out of my mind.... I hope they don't disappear with the next catalogue
- Angus and Robertson had a couple of promising books at 75% off - a Watership Downish but they're magpies story, and Chic Modern (inspiring photos of modern home design ideas)
- While helping with some advice about a quilt guild newsletter, I got to have yet more quilting conversation and see a spectacularly graphic antique quilt
- The art supply shop had some pencils which might work for another quilt idea I have, and I found three different possibilities for stabilising/lightly padding the fabric
- eBay provided me with a couple of winter wardrobe ideas and a sweet (and not bank-breakingly expensive) vintage quilt which might become a Recycled Threads idea
- While driving about on all these adventures, I listened to my still-favourite audiobook, The Time Traveler's Wife (yes, I know, I've listened to it more than once, but the other ones aren't here yet...). William Hope and Laurel Lefkow, I kowtow and bow in obeisance and admiration for your work on this - just marvellous.
It's too dark for decent non-flash photography, so maybe I'll illustrate this tomorrow. Hope you all had a good day too!
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
I've read other Jodi Picoult books, although I don't devour them as must-reads. This one is simultaneously interesting and repellent, given its topic of a school shooting. But she plays with such things in ways that explore them through a multitude of threads, and I'm prepared to take the journey with her.
Monday, April 14, 2008
Ah, the pleasure of a holiday, and some time to read. So this week I'll blog some of the books on my pile of possibilities.
This one's by the author who wrote Wicked, which became a successful Broadway musical (not yet seen here in Oz). He starts with known tales and fairy tales (Cinderella, in the case of this one, and the Wicked Witch from The Wizard of Oz, in the case of Wicked) and reworks them in an individual style.
This paperback cost $32 Australian. I had a gift voucher for some of that, so I did buy it, but is it any wonder that I've ordered Wicked from Amazon, when even with the exchange rate and postage, it's costing under $20? For the same edition, large format paperback?
Sunday, April 13, 2008
Um, they put a parcel on a plane, and it arrives here in Oz, and the Oz postal system generally takes less than five working days to get a parcel from anywhere in this whole big big country to anywhere else in the country (which is still one big sucker of an island continent). If Australia Post can do it, in a country less populated and bigger than yours...
Sea mail from the US is no more, so why is supposed air transit (and I've flown this journey, it's a shorter one than to the UK, about 17 hours from the West Coast vs. 24 hours+ to London) taking so long? Is the US Mail, or whatever courier/logistics/mail system they're using, populated by Amazonian mules, and it only finds a plane when the mules totter into the international airport?
I ordered something from Barnes and Noble, and while their shipping is a few dollars more (per shipment and per item), they had it packed and shipped within about 48 hours tops, and estimate delivery at 7-21 working days.
This is an apples with apples comparison, by the way: standard international shipping. I know I could pay more for faster, but is this an Amazonian ploy to make us pay more?
Dear Amazon: I love that I can buy from you things that are harder to find here, (and that the exchange rate is rather nice at present) but why is your shipping so slooooow? Can you bung that biplane back in the Smithsonian, and have a chat to Boeing about their latest models? Please? And put the mules in a nice paddock, and find some biofuelled trucks? And repay the appreciation of your international customers with better service as regards shipping?
(it's been interesting to order things through Amazon marketplace sellers, and have them generally arrive pretty quickly, also by airmail. Ask them about the planes they're using. And I've had things from other US online retailers arrive by Global Priority within a week, so clearly there ARE faster planes out there than the ones you're using....)
The dolls house was made by the inmates at Berrima goal, (a working goal in the Southern Highlands of NSW, where inmates built and sold toys and wooden objects to the public) and is solid in construction, will take any punnishment kids could throw at it.
Saturday, April 12, 2008
(Yup, I forgot to photograph the baby clothes...!)
Friday, April 11, 2008
Thursday, April 10, 2008
I chuckled hugely at the number of comments about the bookshelves. Such wise, reading readers you all are!
And meghs, I will get back to 100 word stories again....
Wednesday, April 09, 2008
Isn't this a purty, purty place? Lovely colours, that sweet turquoise, delicate embroidery on the sofa fabric, and books....
um, about the books?
WARNING: RANT FOLLOWS!
Didya notice, fellow readers, that the books are SPINE IN??? This image is from the March 2008 Country Home magazine, a magazine I've been buying for years, a magazine I normally respect and enjoy. But holy-moly! It's the second magazine in the last few months (yup, I'll name names, the other one was Elle Decor and I meant to blog that picture too, an apartment in Houston if I remember) to proudly show a collection of books displayed this way.
I hardly know where to start.
Um, why do they have books at all?
Why are their books merely decorative?
How the fangdoodle do they find a book to read, or are these books not about reading, but about having books to show they're nice reading folks, only if you're nice reading folks wouldn't you want to prioritise FINDING the nice books you want to read, not storing them so YOU CAN'T FIND ANYTHING EASILY unless you spent your entire childhood playing memory games like Pelmonism (I think that's what it's called, I spent my childhood, or substantial parts of it, READING).
Bookcase by the Stupids.
I'll reproduce the description below, because multiple folks have been responsible for not pointing out that this particular Emperor is not only nekkid, but daft as well.
Oh Country Home, you make me weep. And you said it yourself: the backward facing books (backward. Do I need to labour that point? Nope. The readers who read this blog aren't daft) turn what could have been a distracting jumble (both words hugely offensive. Distracting from what? Why is distracting bad? Jumble? Cornucopia, that's what a bookshelf is, a collection of treasures. If you buy a 'jumble' of books, then that's your taste. What, you should just buy books with blue spines or beige ones, so they're decor-books-by-the-yard, irrespective of the WORDS AND STUFF INSIDE THEM?) into a neutral element (neutral. Um, neutered, maybe? simple demonstration of owner cringe? into a laughingstock, maybe....).
From memory, in the Houston apartment in Elle Decor (designed by a son for his mother, but who made the book-organising choice I don't recollect), the decision to put the books spine-in was partly influenced by the fact that they were all dirt-common bestsellery stuff - implication, in this posh noice apartment, they were ashamed of their reading tastes so preferred the calm cream of the page-ends to, omigosh, revealing the titles/authors and their common tastes in reading. Well heck, then put your bookcases in a private room in your apartment, not the living room. Surely any booklover who comes into your parlour will pull out a book or two and instantly know that you're a reader with your own tastes. If they don't share yours, tough luck. They can read what they like.
(I'm steaming, can you tell?????)
Now if only every library in the world adopted this fabulous idea for neatness and design style, wouldn't that be grand? Bit tricky to bung on the spine labels, of course, and it might drive the patrons NUTS...
...and I wonder why there are NO BOOKSHOPS with this display idea?
I are boggled like whoa and damn.
(Just in case you wondered, the fourteen bookshelves scattered through this house all subscribe to the wonderfully old fashioned and incredibly messy idea of having the spines on display, the spines being part of the browsing wonder of the books. Retro, but, um, NOT STUPID?!)
Country Home, I have loved so many of the rooms and ideas and houses you've included over the many years I've been reading. But omigosh.... couldn't someone, at some stage in the editorial process that resulted in this page, have spoken up about this?
Tuesday, April 08, 2008
Monday, April 07, 2008
Tonight, I need to work on handquilting a project. Me. Handquilting. I must be nuts. Certifiable. Well, not certifiable, but certainly not a regular handquilter. It's not a huge project, so it's doable. And this is what it wanted...Do the Quilting Rules say you can't use embroidery thread? you must have even stitches? Piffle! Be off with you, Quilt Police!
Sunday, April 06, 2008
Here are my two loans, if you'd like to look and see how it all works. If you scroll down past the lenders you'll see the info on the microfinance organisation, and scheduled repayments etc.
Just reading the stories of people as you choose your next loan is an education in how the third world works, and how people's lives are lived there. Fascinating. Learn more about Kiva here. Minimum loan amount is $US25, which is not a lot, and you know that your loan (not donation, so the money can go around and around and be useful many times over) is helping specific people.
There are Kiva gift certificates, if you want a present for someone who has everything...
If you click on the photo you can see a larger version at Flickr.
Saturday, April 05, 2008
As we set off along the river path this morning, the mist was still rising after a chilly night, hadn't yet been burnt off by the sun. It's turning autumnal, cooler nights, cooler days, the return of mist and fog in the early mornings. It hasn't been a hot summer, but autumn and spring remain my favourite times of year.
I've just done a monster catchup, so if you're a regular reader, skim back through the last couple of weeks to find entries which have magically appeared for days on which they probably didn't happen, but maybe they did. Anyhoo. Back to a photo a day...
1.Life and Laughter— funny forwards and tales of hilarity from everyday life
2.Touching tales— personal e-mails that touch the soul
3.Family— the first steps to the last, and all things in between
4.Love and romance— e-mails to make you go 'oooh'
5.E-mails you regret sending— e-mails that make you go 'arrrgghh'
6.Embarrassing typos— it's amazing how easily meaning goes ashtray with a small typo
7.Current affairs— news and its effect on us, whether it's local or from overseas
8.Complaints— for those moments when only 'putting it in writing' will do
Friday, April 04, 2008
Thursday, April 03, 2008
Wednesday, April 02, 2008
Photo from the Royal Easter Show. Isn't this like jewels?