Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Gabaldon shelf

0808 The Gabaldon shelf.
Originally uploaded by rooruu
I've been going through a delightful revisiting of Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series this year. It's partly reading/print, though I've still a couple of books to go (I read other things in between) and partly due to audiobooks. I now have most of the unabridged audiobooks as well, and am thoroughly happy with Davina Porter's excellent readings (I experienced a little disquiet at first, but now am perfectly content). The books, as you can see, are thick, and the audiobooks therefore long. Hearing the audio is sending me back to the books, rereading sections I've heard, reading ahead to upcoming sections.

Gabaldon's created such a rich and engaging world - twisting plots, wonderful characters. I know I've hooked several others onto her writing, and they've mostly gone on to have Gabaldon shelves of their own.

As you might see from the book on the left, I mainly have the paperbacks, as that's all that's available in Australian bookshops. The first of any new title in the series here is the large format paperback, followed by the standard size. So since I expect to be rereading these for many more years, I'm gradually acquiring the (more durable) hardbacks from the US.

If you haven't read them (the first book is Outlander, unless you're in the UK or Australia, in which case it's called Cross Stitch) then do.


Saturday, August 30, 2008

Stone wall

0808 rock wall
Originally uploaded by rooruu
Such good colours and textures and shapes - monochrome on monochrome, until tyou look and see all the shades of grey and pale browns, and the bright lime of the moss.

More time at the dentist today. I'd rather think about stone walls. Tell me if you feel this, she says, applying something icy cold to a tooth that is JUST FINE, judging by the height by which I spontaneously elevate from the dental chair. O-kay, she says. After an hour and a half of it all (my mouth aches hours later), there's another appointment made for a date a few weeks hence. Sigh. Spent a large part of the rest of the day with half my mouth numbed, surreptitiously checking that I wasn't drooling (I wasn't, but you can't tell). Dentristry and elegance. Worlds apart.


Friday, August 29, 2008

Magnolia stellata

0808 Magnolia stellata
Originally uploaded by rooruu
The more usual magnolias are showier, grand. I like the delicacy of stellata, the way in which air and space are part of the flower's gracefulness.


Thursday, August 28, 2008

Early morning trees

0808 morning trees
Originally uploaded by rooruu
There's something very beautiful about the gently dappled sunlight, the pale blue sky, the tracery of twigs through to the strong verticals of the tree trunks. I'm glad I looked up.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


0808 camellia
Originally uploaded by rooruu
The structure of these never fails to amaze me. There's something almost origami about them, or maybe reminiscent of first class food carvers. Delicate strength and rhythm to them. Beautiful.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


0808 jonquils
Originally uploaded by rooruu
(I keep typing jonquilts, my fingers know that quil- word so well they can't help themselves!)

Sign of spring. So cheerful! And their scent is a favourite.


Monday, August 25, 2008

Water's edge

0808 water's edge
Originally uploaded by rooruu
The profile on the stone's surface seems to echo the transitory ripples on the water. Or so I thought.


Sunday, August 24, 2008

Chimneys and Olympic thoughts

0808 chimneys and sky
Originally uploaded by rooruu
Rosehill racecourse, where the Stitches and Craft Show is held, is near an industrial area including these refineries. There was a certain beauty in the way the chimneys rose above their surroundings, with colours reflecting those in the sky.

My favourite gold medallists are both Australians: Steve Hooker, with the pole vault, and Matthew Mitcham's diving from the 10m platform. Not just the grit, the skill and the many long hours of practice required, as with many other sports, but because of the sheer bloody courage required to leap into the air as they do. (And how about Matthew winning gold with the highest-scoring dive in Olympic history?)

My least favourite moment: why do Australians who get silver or bronze have to apologise to the country? Hello? Second or third best is pretty damn good... So is just getting selected for the team, putting them at the top of a huge pyramid of other sportspeople.

Chinese innovation: the widget in the flagpoles that makes the flags flutter when they get to the top. Much better than limp flags, as so often happens in stadia.

Memo to the television sponsors, whose ads are burned on my eyeballs: your ads are burned on my eyeballs. Cease and desist. Please. There's repetition and there's mental cruelty. Enough. Please.


Saturday, August 23, 2008


0808 blossom and sky
Originally uploaded by rooruu
Another Saturday walk along the river - the weather was kind, sun and wind, where rain had been forecast. As usual, we were able to solve pretty much all the world's problems (as one of course does, on a long Saturday walk!) as well as checking in on this tree. The blossom's less dense than it has been, but still beautiful. It's not yet spring, but it's getting closer...jonquils are out, and the blossom trees, and when the days finally warm up, you know it's closer than it has been.

In the afternoon, I toddled off to the Stitches and Craft Show at Rosehill. I haven't been for a couple of years, and don't know that I will again. Beading and scrapbooking are less my thing, and they're bigger at this show, with many vendors. While there were plenty of people there, I saw everything I wanted to in a couple of hours (whereas the June show at Darling Harbour takes a day).

Upstairs this time was what appeared to be a concept allowing smaller businesses to have a table for their wares. It felt a trifle awkward, somehow, and I browsed from a distance rather than up close.

My eye was caught, however, by BKH Design. She sells bags, homewares, and fabrics. The fabrics reminded me of Florence Broadhurst - not as copies, but in that style of modern design, and on a midweight cotton, heavier than quilt fabric. You can see more of her work here:

Friday, August 22, 2008

Kiva: the Volver a Empezar Group

Kiva is microfinance, an easy way to lend directly to the world's poor and help them improve their lives. Among the many choices, I'm biased towards textiles and women, so my latest loan is to this group in Bolivia. Their name seems to translate generally as "start again". I'm aware of all the basic services I take for granted and they do not. Reading the stories of Kiva's borrowers is such a fascinating window into other people's worlds and lives.
About the Volver a Empezar group:
The center of Alto Lima is located in the Ballivian zone in the city of El Alto which is where the "Volver a Empezar" Association is found. They work with great responsibility with their payments and internal activities. Within the group, many of the women lack basic services in their homes. For example, doña Verni cannot rely on potable water that should be supplied by public water basins. What's more, like many others, she cannot rely on gas services and must buy gas in tanks. Lamentably, she lives in a zone where distributors of these tanks do not pass very frequently which is why she has to go to busy streets in the hopes that one of these trucks will pass by. She longs to be able to rely on these services in her home. The main activity of this group is the weaving of sweaters, scarves, and other pieces of clothing, in Alpaca wool that they later sell in the "16 de julio" market in the city of El Alto. Currently, they want to be able to increase their production so that they can sell their products to handicraft shops. It is for this that they need more capital for the acquisition of raw materials to make their sweaters. They have the security of increasing their income, in this manner they will also be able to improve the quality of life for their families.
Who are they?
Bertha Blanco, Reyna Apaza, Karen Quispe, Reynaldo Sinka, Martha Arroba, Emiliana Ramirez, Julia Ronquilla (not pictured), Gregoria Cora, Feliza Capajaña, Tomasa Calle (not pictured), Julia Quispe (not pictured), Lucia Mayta, Feliza Tola, Veneranda Sinka, Hilaria Mamani, Cristina Mayta, Nelly Villca.
You can lend as little as $US25. And, when it's paid back, you can lend it again to another Kiva borrower - it's a loan, not a donation. This group still needs several thousand dollars, so why not support them?
Of my earlier loans:

There's a Kiva link over in the sidebar with another business if you'd like to support a different one.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

A question or two

In trawling through Flickr, someone has come across one of my photos. They've written to ask if they can use it in a tourist guide, and if so what name they should write for the credit.

On the one hand, flattering. On the other, I wonder how many commercial organisations are using Flickr as a free source of stock photography, relying on the flattering effect of such requests to avoid any reimbursement (like they'd have to pay for stock photography). There would appear to be commercial gain for them in their guide. Nor have they specified print/online/other multiple use possibilities.

What do you think? Would you say yes, if someone approached you about an original photo of yours like this?

One piece left...

0808 one piece left...
Originally uploaded by rooruu
Who'd a thunk? After being the tearoom for a couple of months, the last ?third or so got done in less than a week.

I've decided perhaps there's an identifiable factor called "jigsaw ending frenzy" in which the forcefield of the jigsaw increases in inverse proportion to the number of pieces left. As the number of pieces decreases, the urge to find their place intensifies (you wouldn't believe how many people get interested when it's nearly finished....).

The self adhesive Contact plastic went on So Fast....

And now we're basking in our achievement (there were times when we thought we'd put a board over this one and start another - but now we're glad we persisted).

The next one is a photo of a whole lot of hot air balloons preparing to ascend. The general consensus is that it's easier. Surely. Except for that rather large green/brown farmland section....


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Quiltlet: B is for Bondi

0808 Quiltlet B is for Bondi
Originally uploaded by rooruu
This is the second in the series of little quilts I'm designing for Australian Patchwork & Quilting magazine and naming after Australian places. Maybe, after Sydney, Bondi is one of the most familiar Australian place names? Probably, what with its iconic beach.

The aqua with chartreuse circles fabric in this quilt is the one that set me off - and I can't count how many times I've used the Lonni Rossi chartreuse oriental lettering fabric. It's a design you could do in many colour combinations and fabric themes, though.

This one's in vol. 17 no. 2, which is out in patchwork shops now and in Australian newsagents any day now (they also included a quilter's profile of me in the issue, which was flattering).

G's with the magazine now, and I'm working on H, such is the lead time of magazines.

I'd love to hear from anyone who's making any of these designs, and see pictures of your versions!


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The scream...

There's a collective jigsaw puzzle in the tea room at work - anyone's welcome to sit with it with their cuppa and switch brain spaces for a little while.

Turns out this particular one, though, is pretty tricky - it's taken some months to get this far. I don't do jigsaws at home, but fiddling about with them in odd breaktime moments at work has been pleasant (and at times, frustrating!).

When they're done, we put clear self-adhesive Contact plastic on them and bung 'em on the wall (trust me, nobody else wants to wrangle this Simpsons take on Munch again!!)

Monday, August 18, 2008

Current reading: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

I'm not sure what sold this one to me. The quirky title? The fact that I did once visit the Channel Islands, as they were a place I'd always wanted to see (although Sark was the biggest drawcard, I must admit)? The letters-format of it? A review that compared it favourably to Helene Hanff's 84 Charing Cross Road which is one of my enduringly favourite books?

Can't say which. But I can say I read it in a sitting on the weekend, and found it engaging and delightful. It's fiction, set in 1946, when a London-based author, Juliet Ashton, learns of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, and through this of the lives of those trapped on Guernsey through the Nazi Occupation. The epistolary form lets voices speak - funny, sad, descriptive, occasionally vituperative. It's got light and shade, and some lovely quirky funny moments. From an early letter of Juliet's:

PS. I am reading the collected correspondence of Mrs Montagu. Do you know what that dismal woman wrote to Jane Carlyle? 'My dear little Jane, everyone is born with a vocation and yours is to write charming little notes'. I hope Jane spat at her.

I chuckled. Juliet's character, in particular, comes off the page so clearly.

Mary Ann Shaffer, from what I can gather on the internet, was an American who had visited Guernsey in the 1970s and who became interested in the Occupation years there. She wrote this book under prompting from her literary club. Sadly, although she was able to know it was going to be published in thirteen countries, she died early this year, aged in her seventies, before it was published, and her niece, Annie Barrow, did the final tweaks (as Mary Ann had requested her to do).

Anyway, I'm delighted to recommend this book. Do read it.

Added later: both Candy and Isabelle have left comments saying they'll read it.  I chuckled.  You were certainly two I thought would like it!  (Pennie is another, and Erica, and...oh, quite a few people!).  My copy's already in the hands of one friend, and headed then for the hands of another.  And then I suspect I'll want it back so I can reread it.


Sunday, August 17, 2008

A well-received quilt

0808 well-received quilt
Originally uploaded by rooruu
This is the gift-quilt I wrote about last week. I didn't make it solo, but co-ordinated its creation (design, assemble, baste, partly quilt, partly bind and generally whipcrack the others so it got made on time!).

Isn't it lovely when someone who really needs a quilt receives one their friends have made, quite out of the blue? She likes watery pursuits, so the quilt's colours reflect that.

And even it's nicer when their first action is to wrap themselves in it.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Saturday lunch

0808 chicken pie
Originally uploaded by rooruu
There's a new bakery opened locally, so it seemed worthwhile to try them out. This is a chicken, leek and mushroom pie, garlanded by grape tomatoes. It was a nice pie, with breast chicken meat and baby mushrooms, although the gravy was a tad 'dried-herby'. The pastry is certainly presented elegantly, and 'ate good'. With a touch of spring warming the air and the Saturday Sydney Morning Herald to browse, it was a most pleasant Saturday lunch.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Wool yarn

08 handspun wool yarn mosaic
Originally uploaded by rooruu
It's hard to know, sometimes, when it's OK to photograph at markets and when it isn't. I'm neither spinner nor dyer, but I am an admirer of colour, and these were beautiful. I just wanted to catch them to remember and enjoy.

Thursday, August 14, 2008


0808 conifer
Originally uploaded by rooruu
A catch of the day (well, from last weekend, the climate's colder where we were). Can't tell you any more than that it's a conifer and its colours and shapes appealed, so out came the camera.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Ikea 2009 catalog

Yup, I can spell Australian English and English English.  But if you want a sneak peek at the new US Ikea catalog, here's a link.

We may not get all the same things, but it's an idea of what may be on offer.  There isn't a preview of the Australian Ikea catalogue on the website.  The print version's due out in Oz in September.

Snow on wattle

0808 snow on wattle 01
Originally uploaded by rooruu
OK, tomorrow will be something other than snow...but for right now, here's another glimpse. The country's floral emblem - brilliantly blooming along the road to Canberra - here with snow. The weather shifts are evident: snow's fallen, weighing down the yellow blossoms; the sun's melted it and then the air's cooled again so the melted snow refreezes as ice, with yellow centres caught within.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Snow light

0808 snow near Collector NSW 01
Originally uploaded by rooruu
A few minutes after yesterday's photo, the sun came out, the light shifting from grey to snow-clarity, an avenue of deciduous trees whitened with snow on their windward sides and the top of branches and twigs. Beautiful.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Snow in Australia! (and not in the mountains)

So you're just innocently pootling home from Canberra's quilt show, and it starts raining.  Um, is that rain?  It's kinda sorta drifting rather than falling.... it's SNOW! 
Sure, there are places in Australia where it snows in winter, but this isn't one of them.  From Lake George, to Collector and on to Goulburn, sometimes lighter, sometimes heavier, it snowed.
Naturally this car was as tragic as a number of others, stopping beside the road to take photos.
It's a long time since I've been where it's snowing.  I'd forgotten the taste of it on my tongue, the tiny thumpthud of it (don't think this car's even been snowed on before), melting crystals on the windscreen glass, the whirl of it in the air, the change it makes to the landscape - more than any other weather, it alters the landscape and the light. 
The distant hills were lightly whitened, and trees outlined with the windborne drift of it, like an artist had gone through to highlight light and shadow.  Roadside trees burnt black by summer bushfires, now monochrome charcoal drawings with white highlights.  The blazing sunshine yellow of the wattles blooming along the road lightly burdened with snow and, as the temperature shifted, ice, then more snow.  Tin roofs whitened.  Wind driving the snow so it seemed to focus on just this car, just this windscreen, the wipers pushing it away in steady heartbeats.
After Goulburn, it was gone.  But although the drivers had slowed down, the conditions needing more care, I'm sure the grins of delight were echoed in car after car at this rare gift. 
I know very well how snow can be an inconvenience or worse, but when it's something so rare, it is a gift and a joy.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Still busy...

...but that Breaking Dawn entry proves I'm still alive...

There are photos on the camera, so they'll make their way here shortly. It's the blog or a quilt tonight, and the quilt, a gift, is needed more urgently.

back soon!

Breaking Dawn: Twilight book 4

Gee, it's hard to know where to start.

Will two words do?

Train wreck.

Ye gods! - this book had me not knowing WHAT to think. I enjoyed the first three - blogged about them a little while ago, and was looking forward to seeing what she did with the fourth to resolve some of the intriguing loose ends from the earlier books.

Sheesh. If you still want to read it, borrow, don't buy...


The feathers thing???Broken pelvises that seem to mean little? A mutant baby whose name is a ghastly mashup of its sorta grandmas'? and recalls one of the world's most famous monsters? The hero offering his rival the opportunity to 'make puppies' with the heroine as it will be less dangerous to her health? What the?? A cottage in the woods that was so icky-twee I nearly had a hypo? A huge battle that wasn't? Andtheyalllivedhappilyeverafter, including a plan B for the rival which was squicky at best???

Ah well. It's a shame. What was Stephenie Meyer thinking?

The consolation?

Read this forum from, and this one. They're snort-Diet-Coke-up-your-nose hilarious.

I'm boggled as how they might, if they will, make a film of the more startling events in Breaking Dawn. I'm looking forward to seeing the first film (due in Australia in January 09 at present, Dec 08 in the US) and I'm sure they'll punt on more if it's a success. Maybe the fourth will get major rewriting to something more consistent and um, better?