Friday, October 31, 2008


0810 afternoon tree
Originally uploaded by rooruu
Yesterday the afternoon sky was clouded with quiet, beautiful shades of grey-blue, and the tree a tracery over it.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


0810 rhubarb
Originally uploaded by rooruu
It's a while since I did any fruit and veg shop photography. I was in there the other day, and just took this rhubarb photo - when the misting spray came down and I whipped my camera out of the way.

Wouldn't this make a good colour combination for a quilt? Lime to jade greens, pink to cranberry. Hmmmm. Maybe when I'm finished all the ones I have to get done first.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Crosshatch (a book rant)

0810 crosshatch
Originally uploaded by rooruu
I picked this photo because of the 'cross' bit.

The habits of publishers in Australia sometimes utterly bewilder me.

For instance: I read Charlaine Harris' first Sookie Stackhouse novel recently. Lots of fun (Dead Before Dark is the title). O-kay. If I want to buy any more to read from an Australian bookshop (thus supporting local etc) then I have to buy the locally available editions. Which not only have stupid covers in comparison to the charmingly quirky illustrations on the US covers (a small detail, I know, but interesting - why change something distinctive for something which is boring, which the UK covers are?) BUT also cost a BOMB more.

US price for items in this series which have been out for a while: $US7.99. Which even with the battered Australian dollar is under $15AU, plus postage.

Bookshelf price for the same titles here, is $AU30 and upwards. Per book. Hello? The words are the same. They are larger format than the US paperbacks, with aforesaid daft boring undistinguished thematic covers. This isn't Booker Prize material, folks, it's fun reading. When one book is the price of two cinema tickets (and doesn't have to be), well, the readers make their choices too.

I can buy the next five in the series from for under $60AU, delivered to the door. I couldn't buy two at the local bookshops for that. Even at amazon, and adding the postal charges for five books, beats the local price. (The Book Depository does free worldwide shipping, and discounts many titles as well).

Something is rotten.

Another example: A while ago a colleague was trying to track down a picture book for a present; it had been mentioned on the radio. Two different local bookstores quoted 6-8 weeks and prices ranging from $29.95 to $32.95. From an online retailer, it converted to under $13 AU and arrived a week later. But do any chain booksellers tell you, truthfully, that they're only observing the Recommended Retail Price when it suits them? No, they don't - how many mug punters have been caught by that little game?

I know I might find the Charlaine Harris books in the local library. Might. If it was open after hours and had the stock and I wanted to use the petrol. But its collection is incomplete and its hours incompatible.

Rant over. zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

PS. and the audiobook versions of Charlaine Harris' work aren't available on, if you live in Australia.  Like, it seems, a lot of stuff.  I wish authors/publishers would do better at audiobook rights, think outside the US market.  There are customers here too.....


Sunday, October 26, 2008

Purple buds

0810 purple buds
Originally uploaded by rooruu
There's lots on the agenda today, and stuff that's dropped off because one day isn't enough to do it all - things budding and blooming and happening. Got to get some quilting done!

Back of my mind somewhere, have to let my NaNoWriMo idea brew some more. National Novel Writing Month ( starts on 1 November, in a week. The goal? One 50,000 word novel in the month. Is it cheating to write notes now, or phrases, or odd comments about characters? Dunno. It's all part of the adventure. I do have the germinating germ of an idea...

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Pink flower, white wall

0810 pink flower, white wall
Originally uploaded by rooruu
It's been a beautiful sunny spring day today. Warm, not too hot, time to have lunch in good company and get some work done this afternoon. This evening? Some quilting, which will be good too. Might make some soda bread tomorrow - I got two cartons of buttermilk (a key ingredient which I don't normally have in the fridge) and there's still one there.


Friday, October 24, 2008

Pink lily

0810 pink lily
Originally uploaded by rooruu
With morning light behind them, there was a wonderful pink translucence to these flowers. Still tired today, but mouth not nearly as sore as after the last lot of dental work, so hurrah hurray for that!

Thursday, October 23, 2008


0810 toofless
Originally uploaded by rooruu
Today was it - morning appointment with the oral surgeon to finally take the rest of the recalcitrant tooth out. It didn't stand a chance, and if I ever have to have another toof out I'm a huge convert to sedation as part of extraction.... Even though I was silly as a two bob watch coming out of it (which is fairly usual, I believe), and provided my lovely chauffeur with plenty of blackmail material (I didn't say did...). Lots of sleeping the rest of the day, and relief that it's finished.

I should say that these weren't the actual tools the oral surgeon employed, but representative, well, kinda sorta...

I'm glad it's over. Well, except for the bills! Expensive things, teef.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Chard and cooking

0810 chard
Originally uploaded by rooruu
If I had a vegetable garden, I'd grow chard like this, wonderful colours! It reminds me of Kaffe Fassett fabric, he had a chard one a while back. This is the larger version of my current blog header - the colours were too good not to enjoy for longer. I took the pic at the local farmers' market - it's not a very large one, but still nice to have there each month. I didn't buy chard, but I did get a dozen organic free range eggs from happy chickens.

Jamie Oliver's recent program on eggs and chickens was excellent for inducing guilt - I feel faintly criminal now if I buy anything but free range, after seeing what he showed. More recently, I've been watching his Ministry of Food programs and am utterly bewildered at why so many people are resorting to take-away because they cannot cook at all. It's astonishing, then, when they learn even a little, how transforming it is to their whole lives - not a chore, but a joy.

I also watched his series on School Dinners - another eye-opener. And if you look at the UK schools food trust, or whatever it's called, the standards and expectations on the website now seem vastly different from what appeared to be acceptable when he tied on an apron and went into the land of fried chips and chicken nuggets very few years ago. You've got to respect someone who, having got celebrity, is being so damn good at making it work for good.

In Australia, noted chef Stephanie Alexander is involved in a project to have children growing kitchen gardens at school, and learning about food from soil to plate, so to speak.

We learned to cook at home, as kids, starting with simpler stuff and going from there. Maybe I'm lucky, but when I think of the Ministry of Food idea of "Pass it on" (learn one recipe, then teach it to two people, who then teach it to two more), I don't think I know anyone who can't cook. It would be maybe adding to or refining repertoires, not developing them from scratch as the idea intends.

So maybe I'll do it this way. Dear blog reader, head on over to Jamie's Ministry of Food and look at some of the videos and find a recipe that interests you. See how Jamie makes it and have a go yourself. Then pass it on, in whatever way works for you.   It's a very generous website, lots of pictures and information - not one that wants to push you into buying the book by only giving you a squeak to start.

I tried his way of making an omelette, which was different to other ways I'd tried (eg. no milk added, just the eggs whisked) and then did some tweaking.  Two eggs for a single omelette, not three, and I skipped the salt (rarely add it to anything anyway, so even a little tastes strong).  Some smoked salmon shavings on the top, or shaved triple-smoked leg ham.  Or served (you don't have to believe me, but it tasted good) with sliced strawberries on the side, instead of tomatoes.  Got that last idea from French toast with raspberry coulis that I had at a cafe for breakfast once - before that, French toast was a savoury dish only, nothing sweet with it (although I believe North Americans add maple syrup to it, which I can't quite approach.  Bit too sweet.  The raspberries and strawberries still have a bite to them).

Hmmm.  Maybe I'll head back over there myself and try something else.  Not because I can't, but because I can, and I might learn something new, too.  

If you do try something from there, do leave a comment here, esp. if you've blogged about it, so I can enjoy reading your take on it.


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Power pole puddle

0810 power pole puddle
Originally uploaded by rooruu
Took this early in the morning - sun up, but the light still gentle. It was interesting to see how it came out nearly monochrome. I don't recollect that being how it struck me when I took the photo. The reflection was what caught my eye, the sharpness and snatch as the puddle had this angular view. I stopped, and stepped back a couple of paces to see it again, then pulled out the camera.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Reading: Temeraire

0810 book: Temeraire
Originally uploaded by rooruu
This book (also known as His Majesty's Dragon) is fabulous! Take the Napoleonic wars (the British side of them) and add in the aerial corps, which is, um, dragons. The prose is restrained and engaging - the characters sound period, not plonked - and the inventiveness of the story is borne out in its telling. Naomi Novik didn't just have a good idea, she made it work. When naval captain Will Laurence finds his whole life turned upside down by being forced to become the handler of the dragon Temeraire... the story begins. And there are sequels. Yay! (And Peter Jackson has the film rights).

I love it when you find/read the kind of book that makes you want to buttonhole strangers to recommend it, so they can share the hit and pleasure too. Consider yourself buttonholed!

You know that list of rooruu's favourite books from a little while ago? Something just lost its place, because this has definitely vaulted on.


Sunday, October 19, 2008

Irish Quilting magazine

There's a new magazine coming out, Irish Quilting.  It was mentioned in an equilter newsletter, and this is the magazine's website .  I'll have to ask the newsagent about it.  Wonderful colour in the quilt on their home page.


Diana Gabaldon and Outlander: the basic poop

This year has been full of Gabaldon words for me, revisiting the Outlander series in written text and the unabridged audiobooks.  So, if I've managed to get you interested, here's the basic poop and links to take you onward.

I blogged about my shelf of (paperback) Diana Gabaldon books back in August, and am extremely glad that I went ahead and ordered the hardbacks before the Australian dollar nosedived. Here's the upgraded shelf. I've read and reread these books in paperback, engrossed by the characters and stories and the world of them. I don't own a lot of hardcover fiction - most fiction in Australia isn't published in hardcover, unlike the US - so anything I do have in hardback is usually a firm favourite (or something like The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society, a shorter book that was published here initially in hardcover).

Candy commented on my last entry that my Gabaldon enthusiasm has finally borne fruit (ha! - I've lost count of how many people I've introduced to this engrossing series!) (and I've only had one failure. I won't mention that it's my dear mama, because she sometimes reads this blog) and she's invested in Outlander, asking what comes next?

Here's a visual record for you, Candy. And yes, there is an order in which to read them:
  • Outlander (published in Australia and the UK as Cross Stitch)
  • Dragonfly in Amber
  • Voyager
  • Drums of Autumn
  • The Fiery Cross
  • A Breath of Snow and Ashes
next, coming late in 2009: An Echo in the Bone.  There's a three to four year gap between each Outlander novel being published.

The Outlandish Companion covers the first four books; there is a plan for another volume, but that would likely be when the series is complete (at least two books away, Echo plus at least one more).  Some editions of this were titled Through the Stones.

A significant character from the Outlander series, Lord John Grey, appears in a separate series of shorter novels and novellas:
  • Lord John and the Private Matter
  • Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade
  • Lord John and the Hand of Devils (which contains Lord John and the Hellfire Club, Lord John and the Succubus and Lord John and the Haunted Soldier)
With Cross Stitch, the text is slightly different to Outlander - one scene, and a few other small changes.  Now, by choice, I'd read Outlander.  Which you have to buy from The Book Depository (if you don't want to pay postage), or eBay etc, or a second hand bookseller, as the new book edition sold here as standard is Cross Stitch.

The audiobooks are available in two versions, and the only ones worth considering are the unabridged readings by Davina Porter for Recorded Books.  The abridged ones are as little as 25% of the original text (ie. 75% is gone) and these heavily butchered abridged ones are not worth bothering with, imho.  You can find the unabridged ones at Amazon and, with the unabridged Fiery Cross being the exception, only available to US purchasers from Recorded Books direct.  For me in Australia,, via a membership, was the cheapest way to obtain them, no postal charges and downloaded to iPod.  Of course, if you can find a local library with them, that's another option.

A graphic novel with a Jamie and Claire story taking place with the time span of Outlander is also in the works, likely to be published some time in 2009.  Diana talks about that on her blog and website.

(Entirely selfishly, while helping Candy I've given myself a one-stop location for the Diana Gabaldon links I use.  Ha! again).

* poop as in information.  No pejorative associations implied or intended.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Trailer: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

As is the odd and indeed curious wont of filmmakers, you can't have just one film with a kinda maybe similar theme at once; more often than seems explainable, you get a glut.

So while one waits for any more news of the film of The Time Traveler's Wife - no poster, no trailer, no website, no-show at the Toronto Film Festival as had been anticipated, a release date for the US that has vanished from the imdb page linked above, but with so little publicity, one has doubts that its release is anytime soon... and there's no sign of an Australian release date.  Sometime in 2009?

There's The Curious Case of Benjamin Button , based on a short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald.   Also involving (literary) time travel.  No poster, but there's an official website , and a new non-teaser trailer.  Film starts in Australia on Boxing Day.

First jacaranda of the season

The purple blossom on the ground alerted us - when jacaranda season is in full swing, in November, the blossoms carpet the ground unmissably. But today, there were just a few, here and there, so we looked up and saw with delight that the jacarandas have begun to flower.


Friday, October 17, 2008

Gum trees: evening

0810 afternoon light
Originally uploaded by rooruu
The warm light of late afternoon runs along the gum trees, lighting them differently to mornings - still one side, with the sun closer to the horizon, but while the morning light catches quietly, the afternoon light gilds. It's Friday, and the weekend is welcome after a busy week.


Gum trees: morning and evening

0810 trees at morning and evening
A side by side comparison.


Thursday, October 16, 2008

White plumbago

0810 white plumbago
Originally uploaded by rooruu
Such pretty stuff, plumbago, in its blue form or white. Generous enough in flowering to strew on a weekend lunch table. And again, since it flowers so long.


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Quiltlet: D is for Duckmaloi

0810 D is for Duckmaloi
Originally uploaded by rooruu
Isn't Duckmaloi a great place name? This is the fourth in my series of quiltlets (small quilts) for Australian Patchwork & Quilting magazine (this is in vol. 17 no. 4).

I based this one on a beautiful, simple, vintage one I saw - it looked like it had been made from scraps, but when you looked again, you could see balance and thought in the placement of the fabrics. The original had clearly led a tough, appreciated life as a doll quilt.

Had a lovely comment on C is for Cootamundra, which I blogged a few weeks ago - she said she was going to make it in pinks and greys (the original is in greens and yellow). It's just great when people see a design and can find ways to make it quite their own. Duckmaloi, in thirties fabrics, or blocks of hand-dyes, would look quite different. And so kind when they let you know.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Red Cross trauma teddies

0810 Red Cross trauma teddies
Originally uploaded by rooruu
I had to visit the pathologist this morning, and felt a tad pale after the unchatty vampire with the rather beautiful Pandora bracelet had finished her work. Unfortunately, being old and, it is assumed, brave, I don't qualify for a trauma teddy. But it was nice to admire the basketful instead of thinking about the monosyllabic vampire (whose bracelet, she mentioned, had ended up costing her over two thou*.  Oh, I said.).

Aren't those individual faces and expressions and colours just delightful? Red Cross volunteers knit trauma teddies and supply them in all sorts of places where children may need comfort. Just one wonderful way in which craft skill translates to charity and kindness.

*two thousand dollars?  Yikes!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Gum trees: morning

0810 gum trees
Originally uploaded by rooruu
Early morning walk. Diana Gabaldon on the iPod (Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade), camera in pocket, water bottle in the handy little crochet long-strapped dilly bag I bought the other week. The tall trunks of these gum trees, and the early morning light. It's good.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Irish soda bread

0810 soda bread
Originally uploaded by rooruu
Yesterday I had meant to be at the opening of The Shopping Sherpa's doll house exhibition (see button top right). But circumstances intervened. So today I made one of my favourite foods, because it always cheers me up. Love Irish soda bread. With butter, for sure. Tried it with smoked salmon, and that worked well too. Yum.

In case you don't know it, it's an unyeasted wholemeal bread - gorgeous hot from the oven, good the next day when warm, if it lasts that long.  Doesn't keep, but why should it?  I tried a whole bunch of recipes till I found the one I always use now.

(OK, if you ask I'll post the recipe on this blog...I don't have it by me just now.  It does have a couple of secret - but not obscure - ingredients you don't find in standard recipes.)

Saturday, October 11, 2008


0810 leaves
Originally uploaded by rooruu
One thing I appreciate about a decent macro mode on my small camera is that it makes me see, and consider (and photograph) what I might otherwise pass on or pass by. This may have been a grevillea? - but look at those shadings of greens and pale browns and almost-pinks, and the shaping of the stem.

Friday, October 10, 2008


0810 photinia
Originally uploaded by rooruu
An effective hedge, photinia. But I liked these buds and little flowerheads, macro-close.

rooruu's fifty best books

I thought, enough with the lists from other people and companies - what's MY list of top books/reads/authors?

So I thought about it, and wandered along the bookshelves, and here's the list.

It's a brew of children's and adult fiction, classics and bestsellers and bestselling classics, out of print stuff, newer books, some narrative nonfiction (it's my list, I get to make up the rules!).  Some I've reread recently, others not so recently.  But if I had to have just fifty books (well, some are series, but you get my drift), right now this is the list (note: no guarantee it won't change sometime - heck, I only read a couple of these books for the first time recently - who's to say I won't find more treasure soon.  Happy to.).

rooruu’s fifty books
alphabetical order by author
fiction and narrative nonfiction
each author only once – so fifty authors (and you can say series)
if you post this list on your blog, please include a link back to the source, 

  1. Margaret Atwood        The handmaid’s tale
  2. Jane Austen                 Pride and prejudice
  3. John Berger                 Ways of seeing
  4. Geraldine Brooks        Year of wonders
  5. Bill Bryson                  The lost continent
  6. Truman Capote            In cold blood
  7. Margaret Craven          I heard the owl call my name
  8. Marcia Davenport        The valley of decision
  9. Annie Dillard               The writing life
  10. Paige Dixon                 A time to love and a time to mourn
  11. Louise Erdrich             The blue jay’s dance
  12. M.F.K. Fisher              The art of eating
  13. Frederick Forsyth         The day of the Jackal
  14. Diana Gabaldon           Outlander (Cross Stitch) series
  15. Louann Gaeddert         Perfect strangers
  16. Kate Gilmore               Remembrance of the sun
  17. Elizabeth Goudge        The white witch
  18. Kenneth Grahame        The wind in the willows
  19. Helene Hanff                84 Charing Cross Road
  20. Georgette Heyer           Regency novels (eg. The Grand Sophy)
  21. William Horwood        Skallagrigg
  22. Ted Hughes                 The iron man
  23. Sebastian Junger          The perfect storm
  24. Jan Karon                    At home in Mitford
  25. Cecil Maiden               Beginning with Mrs McBee
  26. Robin McKinley          Sunshine
  27. Anne Knowles             Matthew Ratton
  28. Patricia MacLachlan    Sarah, plain and tall
  29. Alastair Maclean         The Golden Gate
  30. Norman Maclean         A river runs through it
  31. Melina Marchetta        Saving Francesca
  32. Ursula Le Guin           A wizard of Earthsea (series)
  33. William Least-Heat Moon   Blue highways
  34. L.M. Montgomery      Anne of Green Gables (series)
  35. Audrey Niffenegger    The time traveler’s wife
  36. Tim O’Brien                The things they carried
  37. Arthur Ransome          Swallows and Amazons
  38. Alice Sebold                The lovely bones
  39. Mary Ann Shaffer        The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
  40. Nevil Shute                   Pastoral
  41. Mary Stolz                    The seagulls woke me
  42. Patrick Süskind             Perfume
  43. Rosemary Sutcliff         The mark of the Horse Lord
  44. Agnes Sligh Turnbull    The wedding bargain
  45. Anne Tyler                    The accidental tourist
  46. Cynthia Voigt                Come a stranger
  47. Evelyn Waugh               Brideshead revisited
  48. Jean Webster                  Daddy Long Legs (series)
  49. Laura Ingalls Wilder       Little House series
  50. John Wyndham              The day of the triffids

Do you want to play along? (If you do, leave a comment and a link to your blog so I can see your choices too). 

use this list as it stands, and add your own evaluations thus:
*** my top pick on this list
** read it, a favourite
* read it
~ read it, indifferent
^ would like to read it/plan to read it
write up your own list of fifty favourite books, alphabetical by author, and leave a comment so I can take a squizz.
If something above isn't familiar to you, the Amazons often have either editorial reviews or reader reviews, even for out of print titles.

Thursday, October 09, 2008


There's a new badge on the sidebar!  Right up the top!  The red one!  See????

Anna Maria aka The Shopping Sherpa has the most amazing collection of modern doll houses, and they're on display in Canberra.  Follow the badge link for exhibition information, or click here to see the collection in full colour on the computer screen you're using right now....

No, this blog entry wasn't at all prompted by a comment on the previous entry on writing.  No indeedy.  Entirely separate.  Remarkably coincidental.  Etc.!!

If I could be in Canberra this weekend for the Official Opening, I would.


0810 writing
Originally uploaded by rooruu
I recently tripped over NaNoWriMo - National Novel Writing Month and thought, OK, I'll play.  It's a crazy idea, but good crazy, and sometimes it's a spur like that which sets you on your way (and note, Sarah Gruen's novel, Water for Elephants, began as a NaNoWriMo project.  NY Times bestseller now.  Magic happens...).

All my published writing has been nonfiction, mainly articles, and while I enjoy that, writing a novel has always been on my somewhere someday slate.

So I've nothing to lose by playing along with NaNoWriMo come November.  If you decide to play too, leave a comment so I can take an interest in your progress.  The goal is 50,000 words.  Not edited polished finely wrought words (you can do that in December).  Just the words, because it is a place to begin.

At the moment, I have an idea, and I'm letting it burble along till November.  Asking it questions, to see what answers come.  Brewing, like coffee.  Or soy sauce.  Or beer.  None of which I drink, as it happens.  Fiction writing, for me, is sometimes a matter of prodding your mind, as though it's the Lion and you're Young Albert.  Fish out that stick with the horse's head handle and stir it to action.  Even if it didn't go so well for Young Albert.  Sometimes you don't know what you're going to write until you start writing it.  Such as references to The Lion and Albert.

What am I referring to?
Stanley Holloway audio of this monologue on YouTube here.
Text of "The Lion and Albert" here .

As part of immersing myself in a writing mode, I've taken the possibly crazy step of setting up a separate blog focused on writing/books/words - links, ideas and so forth.  It's still new and only has a couple of entries so far, but do take a squizz at Keyboard and Pen if you're interested.  Keyboard and pen, because they're two of my most important writing tools.  Love that blogger scheduling tool too.

No.  I won't bore you about the tooth.  Maybe I'll write an entirely fictitious scene about a recalcitrant tooth instead - it's not annoying, it's FODDER!



Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Genteel spoonfuls

0810 raspberry jelly
Originally uploaded by rooruu
Genteel spoonfuls are the order of the day, and probably the tomorrow. And maybe the next day. So I made raspberry jelly with mandarin oranges in it (using tinned ones, because fresh can stop the jelly setting).

My aching jaw was grateful.

The tooth is still winning, however (dammit) so the saga will continue, and the plans for the next few days will have to be revised.

And prancing around in my mind are the charming teeth poems of Spike Milligan and Pam Ayres.


Neither of which applies in the current situation. But never mind.

Top 100 books

Australian booksellers Angus and Robertson polled their customers again for their favourite books - here's the 2008 list  they've just released.  It's a curious brew of classics and best sellers.  

Do you want to play along? (If you do, leave a comment and a link to your blog so I can see your choices too). 

*** my top pick on this list
** read it, a favourite
* read it
~ read it, indifferent
^ would like to read it/plan to read it

1 Harry Potter series - J.K. Rowling*
2 Twilight - Stephenie Meyer*
3 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen**
4 The Obernewtyn Chronicles - Isobelle Carmody
5 My Sister's Keeper - Jodi Picoult~
6 To Kill A Mockingbird - Harper Lee*
7 The Book Thief - Markus Zusak^
8 Breath - Tim Winton
9 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini^
10 Break No Bones - Kathy Reichs
11 The Power Of One - Bryce Courtenay
12 Fight Club - Chuck Palahniuk
13 Magician - Raymond E. Feist
14 The Bronze Horseman - Paullina Simons
15 Mao's Last Dancer - Li Cunxin
16 Memoirs Of A Geisha - Arthur Golden^
17 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold**
18 Cross - James Patterson
19 Persuasion - Jane Austen**
20 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte*
21 The Time Traveler's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger***
22 The Secret - Rhonda Byrne
23 Marley and Me - John Grogan
24 Antony and Cleopatra - Colleen McCullough
25 April Fools Day - Bryce Courtney
26 North & South - Elizabeth Gaskell
27 In My Skin - Kate Holden
28 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte*
29 A Thousand Splendid Suns - Khaled Hosseini^
30 The Other Boleyn Girl - Phillipa Gregory*
31 Nineteen Minutes - Jodi Picoult~
32 Atonement - Ian McEwan*
33 Shantaram Gregory - David Roberts
34 Pillars Of The Earth - Ken Follett^
35 The Pact - Jodi Picoult
36 Ice Station - Matthew Reilly
37 Cloudstreet - Tim Winton
38 Jessica - Bryce Courtenay
39 A New Earth - Eckhart Tolle
40 The Princess Bride - William Goldman*
41 Running With Scissors - Augusten Burroughs
42 Anybody Out There? - Marian Keyes
43 Life Of Pi - Yann Martel
44 Seven Ancient Wonders - Matthew Reilly
45 People Of The Book - Geraldine Brooks*
46 Six Sacred Stones - Matthew Reilly
47 Memory Keeper's Daughter - Kim Edwards~
48 Brother Odd - Dean Koontz
49 Tully - Paullina Simons~
50 Tuesdays with Morrie - Mitch Albom
51 The Catcher in the Rye - J.D Salinger~
52 Eragon - Christopher Paolini
53 Eat, Pray, Love - Elizabeth Gilbert~

54 It's Not About The Bike - Lance Armstrong
55 A Tale of Two Cities - Charles Dickens*
56 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
57 The Alchemist - Paulo Coelho
58 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell*
59 A Fortunate Life - A.B. Facey*
60 The Mists of Avalon - Marion Zimmer Bradley
61 The Notebook -Nicholas Sparks~
62 Water For Elephants - Sara Gruen*
63 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
64 The Host - Stephenie Meyer*
65 Dirt Music - Tim Winton
66 Eldest - Christopher Paolini
67 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon^
68 It - Stephen King
69 World Without End - Ken Follett
70 Emma - Jane Austen*
71 Temple - Matthew Reilly
72 Little Women - Alcott Louisa May*
73 Lean Mean Thirteen - Janet Evanovich
74 Scarecrow - Matthew Reilly
75 American Gods - Neil Gaiman~
76 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
77 P.S, I Love You - Cecelia Ahern
78 All That Remains - Patricia Cornwell*
79 The Last Lecture - Randy Pausch
80 Past Secrets - Cathy Kelly
81 The Persimmon Tree - Bryce Courtenay
82 Husband - Dean Koontz
83 Plain Truth - Jodi Picoult~
84 Wicked - Gregory Maguire~
85 Spot Of Bother - Mark Haddon
86 Always And Forever - Cathy Kelly
87 The Road - Cormac McCarthy
88 Cents & Sensibility - Maggie Alderson
89 Me Talk Pretty One Day - David Sedaris
90 The Shifting Fog - Kate Morton^
91 We Need To Talk About Kevin - Lionel Shriver
92 Everyone Worth Knowing - Lauren Weisberger
93 Hour Game - David Baldacci
94 Darkly Dreaming Dexter - Jeff Lindsay
95 The Woods - Harlan Coben
96 Half of a Yellow Sun - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
97 Middlesex - Jeffrey Eugenides
98 Scar Tissue - Anthony Kiedis
99 Infidel - Ayaan Hirsi Ali
100 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks

If you're quick, you can toddle over and see the 2007 list on their website here.  It does include Cross Stitch, by Diana Gabaldon (Outlander, if you're US/Canadian).  Dang.  I shoulda voted.  There's got to be more love in the room for it than at least some of those listed above.  Another note: lookee how Twilight's up there at no. 2.  And that's before the film's out.
In case you were idly wondering, according to Forbes magazine the world's ten best paid authors are:
  1. JK Rowling
  2. James Patterson
  3. Stephen King
  4. Tom Clancy
  5. Danielle Steel
  6. Nicholas Sparks
  7. Janet Evanovich
  8. John Grisham
  9. Dean Koontz
  10. Ken Follett

Tuesday, October 07, 2008


I apologise for this appalling Australiana Christmas decoration. It's quite the worst I can remember seeing. What you see here is the full abomination - a hybrid koalapine, a species which deserves extinction.

I'm sure every country produces a decoration or two with a local/patriotic theme. I'll admit to having several quite charming Australiana ones. But this? Yikes. Aaaargh. I apologise. Have you found a worse one, from any country?

The dentist apologised today too. Must be the day for it. After two hours, the tooth she was trying to extract had barely budged, despite several strategies which I won't detail here. Suffice it to say that they involved multiple needles (why are dental syringes so enormous?), knives, brute strength and so on. My Quasimodo jaw is gradually coming back to life (why is it that you always feel as though you're drooling when your mouth and jaw are anaesthetised?). Rather too much life. Not much talking going on here - it hurts to move it much at all, even with painkillers, and dinner for me will have to be something mashable and consumed in very genteel spoonfuls. And guess what? I'll be back there in less than twentyfour hours, when the dentist is determined not to come second to an unco-operative tooth (did I mention that she said she expected the extraction to take ten minutes? She apologised.).


Monday, October 06, 2008

Appliance adventures

0810 iron
Originally uploaded by rooruu
Part 1

The picture is the easy one, in recent Adventures in the World of Appliances.

Old iron:thermostat dicky. Result: things melt. Not good. Consequence: need new iron. Thoughts in advance: nonstick surface on iron (old iron had stainless steel) and hmmm, how much is auto cut off, because when you're quilting you sometimes do leave it on a long time and don't always remember....

Solution: toddle off to shopping centre, comparison shop between a department store and two discount department stores, and luck into this one at 50% off in a catalogue sale - with teflon and auto cut off. I do like ludicrous discounts on decent quality items.

The auto cut off is tripped after 30 seconds of horizontal inaction and 15 minutes of vertical inaction. Remains to be seen if that beep becomes an annoyance, but it is safer.

Part 2.

Buy a refurbished iPod nano for carting about in the car and handbag with audiobooks on it. Refurb section of Apple site has confidence-building phrases like "stringently checked" and "quality control" and so forth.

iPod arrives. Connect to computer. Nothing happens. No battery charging, nothing on the screen, nothing at all. Connect to a separate dock. Still nothing.

Ring Apple tech support. Tech support guy suggests three things, none work, pronounces it DOA (that would be Dead On Arrival, they have a readymade term for this when they're selling stringently checked and quality controlled goods?).

Transfer to another phone operator. They expect that someone will be At Home for a whole day for pickup of DOA nano, and At Home for another whole day for delivery of replacement nano. Nope. This holiday's not long enough to be trapped at home for Apple's convenience for two whole days.

Transfer to supervisor for discussion of Plan B, connected to Friday's visit to the city. Plan B is finally worked out, and supervisor throws in a free nano case. O-kay. Supervisor says he will personally check that the replacement works.

Friday: exchange occurs.

Friday night: replacement unit connected to computer. It wants to know if I speak English, but my computer (Windows) doesn't recognise it as any kind of known hardware. Greaaaaaat! Is that steam coming out my ears? Stringent, quality-controlled steam?

Monday: Supervisor says oh, you have a Windows computer? I forgot to check that - I tested it on an Mac. Transferred to technician, who guides me through a restoration of the operating system on the iPod to Windows.

Eventually, iPod works as it should. Sigh. I've had a long term love/hate relationship with Apple and Mac and iPods. When they're good, they are fine, but when they're bad, throwing them at a brick wall is too good for them. The computer I've hated the most, ever, was a Mac (not one that I owned, but one that I had to use at a place where I was doing volunteer work on computer).

Did I tell you that the iron worked just fine, right out of the box?

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Current reading

0810 current reading
Originally uploaded by rooruu
Travelling northwards on the pile: The Story of Edward Sawtelle, which I first heard about through Amazon publicity. It's a version of Hamlet (John Marsden's just brought out a novelised version of Hamlet too) and has garnered enough positive reviews to give it a whirl. Oprah now likes it too: although I'm not a slavish follower of her choices and haven't read many of them, as far as I'm aware. Still, I hugely respect the promotion she's given to books and reading.

The Historian. I'm part-way through this and finding it a bit of a battle. Persistently ominous without the om turning into anything else, and I'm not sure that I care much what happens to any of the characters. I've read good reviews of it, but it's yet to grab me.

The Good Thief. Another new one, well-reviewed where I've read reviews of it. Haven't started it yet.

44 Scotland St. This is the first Alexander McCall Smith I've tried - I know plenty of folks who enjoy his work but I just haven't got around to it yet. I kinda like the setup of assorted stories of people living at the one place, so we'll see how it goes.

Dairy Queen: one I'm reading for adolescent fiction purposes. Which means that sometimes you have a lovely time, and sometimes you have duty.

What's on your current reading pile? Leave a link in the comments so I can browse your choices...


Saturday, October 04, 2008

New china: birdsong

0810 new china
Originally uploaded by rooruu
After mumble mumble quite a number of years, um decades of the same everyday china (nice though it is, and economically purchased from a church sale), this is the new everyday china chez rooruu, as has been alluded to recently.

What appealed? The white background, so the plain white platters etc that already reside in the cupboard will work with it. The aqua inside these two bowls, so the plain aqua pieces that already reside ditto ditto. And the silhouette - there are quite a few nice silhouetty designs around in images, homewares etc. This is simple and looks nice with food on it (some china looks like you shouldn't EVER put food on it).

The range has another bowl and of course mugs and also some other plates in aqua and white if you want to buy yet more (no). If you want the details, it's called birdsong, is made by Marie Claire and came from Myer department store and is a seasonal range, ie. they only stock it for a while, then it's gone forever.  They have regular %-off sales on homewares, too.  The reflection on the larger bowl is a reflection, not a shadowed design - it's just black on white.

I don't know what your kitchen cupboards are like, but few people seem to have empty this acquisition was the cue for a major spring clean of the kitchen cupboards and pantry, with exciting detours into "if there isn't a lid for this plastic container, it's not staying" and "the use-by date on this is WHAT?" and so forth.  Rubbish in the bin, recycleables in the recyclable bin, several boxes of saleable stuff to the op shop (Goodwill/Oxfam/charity), a good cleaning of the emptied cupboards and the new china's out of the box and on the shelf and in use.  Just have to go to Ikea for a couple of white metal shelf thingys (can't find them on the site, so I'll show you when I have them to hand) for stacking purposes.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Daytripper Mosaic

0810 daytripper mosaic

If you follow the link (click on the image), the largest size is there in my Flickr photostream.



0810 daytripper mosaic
Originally uploaded by rooruu
One ticket, one day in Sydney. What can you do?

Lots.  I'm only doing one photo a day for Ali Edwards' a week in the life project I alluded to a day or three ago - except for today, which has been documented in somewhat exhaustive detail.

Starting from the top daytripper ticket - so you can catch trains, buses, ferries as you wish for the day.  Day wasn't entirely planned, but the cost was only a dollar or two more than a plain return, so what the heck.

Train station - nice old building.  I was a bit early, so occupied myself with the Sydney Morning Herald and a cool drink - even early today, it was warm.

Mad floral shoes from the Metro section of the paper, worn by a girl in a band.  You'd think the flowers would brush against each other and fall off.

Central Station - the country platforms, colourful safety bumps and the sandstone clock tower.  If you haven't been to Sydney, the native stone for the area is Sydney sandstone, which just glows in the right light, and is so warm and pale (not like the heavier, darker stones which characterise other cities).

Having alighted again at Town Hall, the Queen Victoria Building is right there, with its sculptures and carved sandstone, Victorian elegance against the modern minimalism of the buildings around it.

I had a message to do at offices near the Hilton Hotel, and it was an opportunity to inspect the Bronwyn Oliver sculpture, Vine, that's in the Hilton foyer.  It's enormous!

The coloured glass and narrow passageway are part of TGV, The Galeries Victoria.  Two floors up is the huge Kinokuniya bookshop, but I'll go there at the end of the day, not traipse around carrying any finds.  The Big Issue is a magazine sold by the homeless, who keep a percentage of their takings.  Anytime I'm in the city, if I see a Big Issue seller, I'll buy a copy.  This man was wonderfully cheerful, and easy to spot in his bright safety vest (I didn't photograph him because I didn't like to ask - it was odd, in the centre of the city, how often one felt inhibited about taking photos, mostly because you didn't want to seem like a Bad Egg of some sort).

Wandered through the stationery Dymocks (a choice of thousands of 2009 diaries) and then the bookshop Dymocks.  I photographed the home design and quilting sections where I browsed, but no purchases - apart from anything else, I have a gift voucher for Borders... On to the newish Apple Store, which I hadn't been to before.  Naturally, surrounded by its friends and relations, my iPod worked fine and didn't show the on/off switch problems I'd been having.  There are benches and tables laden with internet connected Macs, laptops and desktops, and they encourage you to do some browsing to see how they work.  So I did, and browsed to my blog page.  Because I could.  And took a photo, so I could blog my blog.  Because I can.

On through the Strand Arcade, admiring the graceful trusses - Victorian, maybe?  I couldn't photograph it, but it's good to know there's a Crumpler shop there - they make very excellent bags from little ones through to large - I keep my digital cameras and iPod in Crumpler bags.  Australian designed, wacky names, good quality.

Toddling towards Borders, I was very happy to see a big wall of one of my favourite books, The Time Traveler's Wife.  After due consideration, the gift voucher was invested in two fiction books: The Story of Edward Sawtelle by David Wroblewski, and The Good Thief by Hannah Tinti.  If I like 'em and want tell you about it, I'll do it here, in a later blog entry.  The bookshops around home aren't bad, but the big ones in the city - Kinokuniya, Borders, Dymocks - always have stuff you haven't seen.

I detoured through the David Jones' Food Hall, photographing some pomegranates and zucchini flowers on the way (so that's how they sell zucchini flower!) and had lunch at the Piccadilly food hall: Thai Mussaman beef and a view.  Back into DJs and liked (but didn't buy) these Christmas cards.  I seem to have a bit of a thing for silhouette designs at present.  I didn't buy because I bought some cards in the sales in January (at half price).

Afternoon tea was taken in the DJs coffee shop overlooking Hyde Park.  The famous David Jones' passionfruit sponge cake is not quite as good as it used to be, but it's still a winning combination - the tartness of the passionfruit, the sweetness of the cake, the richness of the cream.  Yum.  Started reading one of my new books while eating cake; when I'd finished the cake, I fished out my writing notebook and wrote for a time - I rather like writing in cafes and rarely have the chance.  Especially not when you can look out over a pleasant view like this one.  They weren't madly busy at that hour, so they let me be. It was a nice break in the day, change of pace, change of thinking pattern.

No photos of this, but I went upstairs to browse their sale racks and came away with three pieces of clothing for work (a top, a dress and a pair of trousers), for less than $50 (they would have totalled nearly $200 if I'd bought them at full price, which I didn't and wouldn't have.  And it's kinda nice, when you've just gone through your summer stuff and thought, it's time to replace those cream/taupe cotton 7/8 length trousers - and have a pair waiting for you, heavily reduced in price.  Yay!

Across Market St to the other David Jones' store to suss out their Christmas shop, which has opened.  I know, it's ridiculous to be thinking Christmas with October barely started.  But they have different things to other places more locally, and now's a good time to see that before much has been sold.  The little figurines are Gisela Graham designs (or some similar name) and pricey.  Some of the painted faces had unfortunately shifted from a slight superiority to a downright sneer, which isn't exactly what you want on your tree, is it?  The Christmas decoration stories they have this year are not vastly different to what one has seen before: blue/white; tropical brights, such as pink/lime; traditional green and red; some handcrafted-look stuff in red/white; and so on.  They had lots of Jim Shore figurines, too, and lights and so forth.  I invested in two decs I didn't photograph (they're Christmas surprises) and a box of the painted red/white hearts.  And have no particular plans to return for anything else.  It wasn't 'orrible, it's just that a) this house has plenty of Christmas decorations and b) the selection was quite repetitive, one bauble deisign or bird might appear in different colours to suit each 'story'.  Anyhoo, no trees in this house till December!

On the way back to the station, took time to browse Kinokuniya - photos here of their home design section and quilt book shelves.

So there you have it - a daytrip in town which didn't end up involving ferries or buses (did I mention it was 35deg Celsius, hot hot hot?) but did get a few messages done, browsed some bogglingly big bookshops and more.  It's good to have a change of scene like that when you're on holidays - go breathe some different air (probably smoggier, but you can't have everything), mix with different folks and create some different spaces in the day.

Ali Edwards' idea is to comprehensively document each day of a week, but I've gone a different way, detail on one, and just one photo of the others.  Whatever works for me! - not sure how I'll scrapbook it yet, but I'll think that out later.  There were so many other things I could have added to the day today too, but it was always a smorgasbord to pick from, rather than a required list of destinations.  The Powerhouse Museum and the Many ferry, for instance will still be there another time.


The US presidential election

From here in Australia, it's been fascinating to watch.  But now, it's also getting a tad scary (exhibit A: Sarah Palin interviewed by Katie Couric.  Especially if you watch Tina Fey's version from Saturday Night Live...).  Here's how the New York Times' editorial summed up the VP debate:

In the end, the debate did not change the essential truth of Ms. Palin’s candidacy: Mr. McCain made a wildly irresponsible choice that shattered the image he created for himself as the honest, seasoned, experienced man of principle and judgment. It was either an act of incredible cynicism or appallingly bad judgment.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Quiltlet: C is for Cootamundra

0810 C is for Cootamundra
Originally uploaded by rooruu
Here's the third in my series of quiltlets for Australian Patchwork & Quilting magazine: this one, C is for Cootamundra, is in vol. 17 no. 3, out now in Australian quilt shops and newsagencies.  (Quiltlet?  Little quilt?  Call it what you will).

Although most of the quiltlets won't have direct reference in their design to the place after which they're named, this one was too good a conjunction to pass by. Cootamundra, such a wonderful-sounding Australian place name, is very much associated with the national floral emblem wattle (or acacia). Some yellow yoyos, and a green background (coincidentally the national colours, green and gold) and, well, this one's turned out pretty patriotic. Yay to the photographer who found some real wattle to include!  I was aiming for an impressionistic kind of wattle, rather than a botanically accurate one.  But you've already worked that out, haven't you?

During this break I hope to finish both I and J, which will be out in issues in 2009. And no, I won't tell you which Australian places I've chosen...