Thursday, September 28, 2006

Two good "newses"

Within 2 seconds of each other I have received, just by sitting here in front of my pc, two pieces of good news (one as yet unconfirmed though). First I get the "new mail" signal - uh oh, it's from Carlton. What more bad news can there be? Our absolute rock in the backline, Bret Thornton, has been having trouble with getting a new contract from Carlton, and the thought of him NOT being there next year has been a real downer. But now the club is making noises that contract problems are all media speculation, and that the club is making every effort to contract T-bird to continue at Carlton.

Just as I finish reading this, my youngest, Techie Son, announces that he's just got an email to say he's been accepted as an exchange student to the University of California at Berkeley for one semester next year. UC Berkeley is where I met the Man Who Cooks in 1969, so this has much significance for the Forbes family. Number One Son and I immediately think of the ramifications of not having Techie Son around to sort out all our various computer problems - we will have to cope!

On the other hand, I look around at Techie Son's room and think what a perfect craft room it would make - I could set up my own mini bookbindery there. Mwahahahahah!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Some of my latest book creations

This is a book before it is sewn together. The text papers (middle) have been bound in two places. This is the inner binding which is not visible once the book is sewn together but ensures that the text will not fall apart if disaster strikes and the binding threads break.

The finished book, with three decorative wooden beads incorporated into the stitching.

Inside the book (forgot to turn it!).

Now for the results of the weekend's bookbinding course. We ran out of time so there are still things to finish, but this is a book case, held together with two toggles which you can just see at the front. That's a fabric covering, which first needed to be backed with paper and dried before pasting onto the bookboards.

Book case from the top.

I've propped the lid open so you can see the toggles better.

The book case open. The end papers still need to be attached to go over the white areas, but I'm first hoping to be able to create a book BOX which would have a head and tail at the middle section. This was what we were supposed to make during the class but we ran out of time.

One of the three books we made in class that are meant to go in the book box. The cover and text papers are all handmade, with the most wonderful soft feel to them. I will probably wear out the book just touching it all the time. (I have just confessed to Pea in an email that I also love the sound the book makes when I touch it. Is that too weird?) The stitching is the 4-hole hemp leaf stitch often used in traditional Japanese bookbinding.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Stacking dishes - is it only me?

Does anyone else get infuriated about finding every last inch of kitchen surface cluttered with dishes, glasses, cutlery, etc which would take up a fraction of the footprint it they were stacked (this is prior to putting them into the dishwasher, which of course rarely gets emptied if unprompted)? Or is it just me? Sometimes it seems like there's a contest going on: watch out, points taken off for letting a bit of kitchen surface show! Even the Man Who Cooks is guilty!

But at least he cooks. Came home from my workshop this afternoon and there was a wonderful aroma of some long cooking meat. But that's for tomorrow night. Tonight we had grilled chicken (Turkish recipe), with fennel cooked to melt-in-the-mouth and roast potatoes. Yum.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Learned how to post a slideshow!

Ok, so I have been a bit lazy in posting lately, but then along comes Pea to tell everyone how to do those nifty slideshows and get them into Blogger. I know I've posted these photos individually before, but I just wanted to get something up and running to see if I could make this work.

These are some of the books I've made since April when I first started on my new hobby. This weekend I'll be attending another 2 day course - making 3 books and a covered box to put them in. This morning, before my aerobics class even (so I haven't been THAT lazy), I followed directions on how to make a matchbox to fit a miniature book. I'll eventually get around to decorating it and will photograph it.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Weekend too far away

Last weekend, that is. I still haven't posted anything yet about our trip to Castlemaine, so here it is.

On Sunday morning we walked 3 ½ hours from Castlemaine to Maldon, following the train line. Because we were trying to make the 12.40 train back rather than wait another 3 hours for the next train, we didn't have any rest stops. Comes 12.40 and we didn't know how far we had to go, when we rounded a bend and there was the train station. Despite the hip joints feeling the effects of that steady walking we managed to break into a run and made the train. It's a steam train that runs only on weekends and public holidays. It felt so good to sit down and enjoy the scenery we had just passed through but were too intent on making the train to be able to really appreciate it.

We passed through some nice farmland.Saw a wallaby in the forest. Well hidden, but it's right there in the middle. Click to enlarge the photo.
Mel having a nice Harcourt apple in the train.After lunch in Castlemaine we drove to a lookout which looks out over town and listened to the footy, much better reception up there than at our place. The Bulldogs beat the Magpies - hahahahahahahahaha! Go Doggies!

Here's me resting my weary feet on the dashboard. We're sitting in the car at the Burke and Wills monument overlooking Castlemaine.

Rugged up having breakfast outdoors the next morning. You can see the shadow of the camera sitting on my new mini tripod at the bottom of the photo.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Exploding books

No, this is not to combat the bats, but is a fun type of book I learnt to make last week. The first photo shows the exploding book closed, on the right. The one on the left is a book made out of a CD cut in half (caution: CDs need to be heated with boiling water first before cutting to prevent pieces flying up into your eyes).

This is the exploding book opened up. You can make them out of contact sheets of photos printed out onto normal photocopy paper, or write things on them, decorate them (wish I could draw!), whatever you can dream up. They can be made in any size. I was always attracted to pop up books, even as an adult, and exploding books are a very basic kind of pop up book. Fun!

This is the CD book opened. It would be good for cards, or for decorating, writing poems in, etc.

Going to the country

We're leaving for the country this morning, so will be offline for a couple of days. We always time our drive to coincide with being in Malmsbury at lunchtime. In the cooler months they make the BEST steak and kidney pies. We usually eat at the nearby Malmsbury Botanical Gardens - so picturesque, and full of agro geese and ducks who want part of everyone's lunch! Sometimes when it's very chilly we sit in the car facing the gardens, a nice outlook, and even then the ducks and geese will come up to the car door, waiting for a handout.

I was going to post photos of my latest book creations, but Blogger isn't co-operating this morning. Will do that when we get back on Monday.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Bats no match for fruit bazooka

I've remembered that some teenagers were in court not too long ago, on charges of shooting at bats. At the time I thought to myself, "Way to go, guys". Found this article about it on the internet.

Bats no match for fruit bazooka [Ka-Poom! Ka-Poom! squeak...squeak...Ka-Poom!]

From: AAP By Catherine Best
June 28, 2006

THREE mischievous teenagers used a fruit-firing bazooka in a Melbourne park, endangering a colony of protected bats, a court was told today.

The trio used the 2m homemade weapon to fire oranges at a colony of grey-headed flying foxes at Yarra Bend Park, in Melbourne's east.

But the shots were heard by a group of golfers who dobbed the young men in.

The teenagers sat sheepishly in Heidelberg Magistrates Court today as their solicitor Andrew Robinson pleaded with the magistrate to let them off lightly, saying: "Boys do what boys do."


Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE) prosecutor Richard Desmond told the court the offenders made an "orange gun" using a length of PVC pipe, with a range of 10m.

The weapon, filled with butane gas from hairspray, was loaded with oranges, ignited and fired three or four times at Yarra Bend Park as a "test" on December 8 last year.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Bats - possible uses for mankind

At dinner tonight the Man Who Cooks and I were lamenting the lost opportunity for eradicating the huge colony of bats in one fell swoop (apt phrasing there) when they were still roosting in the tens of thousands (endangered - yeah, right) in the Melbourne Botanical Gardens. A few evenings of controlled release of deadly gases would have done the trick. But no - they were herded to a prepared site which the bats of course settled into as per plan - NOT! In reality they wound up in gardens all around Melbourne.

But what else has mankind missed out on? What use could we put these critters to? I thought of their dreadful leathery wings - wow - that would make great material for binding books with. Durable and waterproof. Waterproof? says the MWC. Then wouldn't they make the perfect umbrellas? The ribs form the frame, you'd just need to stitch together enough sets of wings to give coverage, and attach a conventional umbrella shaft and handle. I await further suggestions from readers.

By the way, the previous post on household chores was sent to me by my mother in an email and is not some clever thing that I made up. I tried to add an explanatory note in that post, but had a devil of a time getting rid of underlining of text that was carried over from the email. Even though I got rid of the underlining of the original text, any text I wanted to add was underlined, so I gave up.

Household chores - too easy!


1. Open a new file on your computer
2. Name it "Housework"
3. Send it to the Recycle Bin
4. Empty the Recycle Bin
5. Your computer will ask you, "Are you SURE you want to delete Housework permanently?"
6. Calmly answer "Yes", and press mouse button firmly......
7. Feel better?

Works for me!

Monday, September 04, 2006

Another (final?) bat update

We are finally rid of those bats, reported on earlier (here and here). I'm not sure if it's due to the wonderful suggestion of Pea to shine light into where they're hanging out (couldn't resist), or the fact that the berry supply that had attracted them in the first place had simply run out. That was helped along by the regular appearance of a flock of birds that also took a liking to those berries, but with actually more annoying consequences than the bats. The bats stayed only from dusk and left before it got light. The birds moved in during the daytime. You might recall that I mentioned a clothes hoist near the berry-bearing tree in the photo I took. Well, those berries have a rather quick-acting and explosive effect on the innards of those birds, with the result that I'd have to rewash about 1/3 of every load of wash I put out. My solution was to get some old sheets and peg them onto the top of the clothes hoist which protected most of my wash. It worked well!

The rotary clothes hoist is very iconic in Australia, and is so practical (read more about it here). In our first house we inherited one that used to be driven by water power. A hose was hooked up to it, so after hanging up the clothes, to raise the whole thing up you just needed to turn on the water at the tap which would then push it up to catch more of a breeze. That feature had been dismantled by the time we bought the house, but I don't know if I would have been game enough to try it. I could think of all sorts of unwanted scenarios happening! I rely on muscle power to crank up the washing.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Blogging blahs

It seems to be difficult lately, getting around to visiting everyone, let alone leave comments, and then there's the issue of posting on one's own blog. If I were living in the northern hemisphere I might have the excuse of the demands of the new school year starting. But I don't even have school age kids anymore. Maybe I can put it down to Spring Fever - yes, here in the southern hemisphere Spring officially started yesterday, accompanied by a delightful 23º C (73º F). Our first tulip is out, the bird of paradise is in flower, the Japanese maple has a lovely cover of young green leaves and in general the garden is looking lovely. No, no photos, I just couldn't be bothered at the moment! And besides, you all know what tulips and maples etc look like. I think I'll head outdoors again and enjoy the predicted 24º today (before a cold front comes through tomorrow).

Now if it would only bring rain. This is becoming serious: even in normal times Australia is already the driest inhabited continent (Antarctica is the driest continent) but this winter has been the driest in a long time. On top of that El Nino is about to hit again. People in the rural areas have been doing it tough for a while (we've been in drought for a decade), and it's not going to get any easier, at least not this year. Anyone know any rain dances?