Thursday, November 29, 2007

Bye for now...

My dear blogger buddies,

I have been taking a break from blogging and am not sure when I'll be back. Rest assured this lapse is for good reasons - no tragedy has befallen me or the family. Quite the contrary: my new crafty life is really kicking in and the Man Who Cooks is retiring next month after 33 years with the same employer. While still exulting about my own retirement (and very much enjoying my newish very part time job), I am now exulting over his retirement and the thought that we will have time to spend together at leisure and not have to plan things around full time work commitments.

Some of you are under the impression that I am still whiling my time away on Waikiki, when in fact I returned to Australia on November 9th. Sorry that my lack of posts had led to that misconception, and thanks to all of you who have wished me a happy vacation in Hawaii. It was great fun, but it's always good to get home again.

My love to you all, you are never far from my thoughts.


Monday, November 05, 2007

Meeting up with a dear friend

Connie and I have known each other since our university days in the 60s and 70s in Berkeley. Although we have lived in different countries for over 3 decades (she still lives in Berkeley), we've kept in touch and have always been able to resume our friendship very easily on the rare occasions when we do see each other.

Connie doesn't like being away from home very long or traveling long distances, so that pretty much rules out a trip to Australia, although I live in hope that one day she'll come to visit me there. But for now I'm really happy that we've at long last managed to be in Hawaii at the same time.

As friends do, we share interests, including visiting botanical gardens, and when we went to the gardens in Honolulu on Friday, I discovered that she too loves palm trees. It's always nice to find out something new about a longtime friend. We tried to find a variety that would grow fast but only to a size that would comfortably fit in her garden. The ones we saw though were mainly huge!
Afterwards we walked to Chinatown and had a dim sum lunch (called yum cha in Australia) - eating is another shared interest.

In the evening Dad joined us for a light meal in the International Market Place, and afterwards he took this photo of us in front of the Duke Kamanahoku statue - just like all the other tourists do. Dad cut off the Duke's head though.

We were going to go to a beach tomorrow but it looks like it will be too rainy for that. I can't help it, but all the rain makes me feel so happy, I just wish I could take it home with me. Anyway, we've got a couple of alternative plans, and the main thing is that we'll be able to spend the day together.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Halloween in Waikiki

This was an event that took me by surprise. Thousands of young people and (ahem) supposedly more mature adults, turn out in wild and weird costumes, parading up and down the main street, photographing each other and pointing and laughing.

This was my "costume": My version of the Aussie corks on the hat, which is supposed to keep the flies away from your face. I used my mom's rollers sewn onto my beach hat. Printed out an Aussie flag from the internet and attached it to a roller on the top. Too cryptic for the Waikiki crowd, but I did hear one "Aussie Aussie Aussie!" to which I naturally shot back "Oi oi oi!" Too long to explain to non-Aussies.

We lasted until 10 p.m., but the party went on - we could hear raucous laughter, screaming and what sounded like police sirens going until the wee hours. For more photos go to

Monday, October 29, 2007

Just to prove I'm in Hawaii

This was taken at a beachside restaurant where Dad and I had lunch today. Life is good.

I spent the morning at the zoo, and went back again after lunch. Even though it was Sunday, there were no crowds to contend with - everyone's at the beach. I saw flamingos for the first time since a trip to Florida in the 1950s. Such a beautiful color.

The galapagos tortoises were awesome. This one was quite lively, and HUGE.

The view from the zoo towards Diamond Head is great
- you can't see all the high rise hotels.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Not drowning, waving

I will soon be in Hawaii, leaving on Friday. I'll spend a couple of weeks with my dad, have a few mai tai drinks under the 100 year old banyan tree right on the beach, eat some prime rib steaks at Chuck's Restaurant, and in general hang out. My very dearest friend from university days will be visiting there from California too, which will make it even more special.

I'm not much of a beach person, but I've actually bought a new bathing suit and a pair of canvas beach shoes (Keds!) so that I can at least look the part, but don't look for photos of me looking the part! Instead, if you go to this site and watch long enough, you might see me walking by and waving to the camera. You'll certainly see other people doing that, and lots of people who don't know they're on camera and looking silly, having their photos taken in front of the Duke Kahanamoku Statue. Hee hee.

One of my physical feats when I was in Hawaii last year was to hike up to the top of Diamond Head from the crater, and then walk back all the way to Waikiki beach. (Bus reliability is not Hawaii's strong point). Look at that photo above and marvel at the distance covered!

So dear readers, this blog may become even more dormant over the next couple of weeks. I will try to post once or twice and read some of your posts, but don't hold me to it.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Victorian Seniors Festival Week

...and oh what a week it was. There's a substantial book filled with various events free or low cost to seniors, right around the state, offering something of interest to everyone. It'll take me a while to get through all the things I was interested in, but managed to get to a few events this week.

One of the best things about Seniors Week is that public transport throughout Victoria is free for seniors, so on Tuesday I decided to do a train trip and went down to Geelong for a few hours. There were lots of seniors on board, we all just flashed our seniors cards at the conductor - oldie power! On the journey home, I had a nice little snooze, the kind where you don't really fall asleep, but just close your eyes occasionally. So I feel fairly confident that I did NOT snore, unlike the senior lady across the aisle who woke herself up with a snore, and then she laughed at herself.

On Wednesday I drove up to the Dandenongs to see a house built from flattened kerosene tins. A returned soldier after World War One lived there with his two sisters for about 20 years. It would not have been an easy life but they made things as comfortable as they could. The water for the bath was heated up by pipes connected to the fireplace. Since I had driven so far I decided to look at the National Rhododendron Gardens, but as so often happens to me in the Dandenongs, I missed the turnoff (or more likely, the sign was missing at an intersection), and wound up at the Nicholas Gardens instead. Never mind - these gardens are beautiful, although needing restoration, and mid week they were quiet.On Thursday I did a tour of one of Melbourne's oldest cemeteries, the St Kilda cemetery. This is just down the road from MIL, so I stopped in for a chat afterwards.

On Friday, after going to a rather disappointing paper craft exhibition, I went on a tour of the Capitol Theatre, a cinema designed by Walter Burley Griffin and his wife Marion in the early 1920s . It was fascinating to see, even though changes have been made over the years, but at least it wasn't demolished completely. The best thing was the ceiling, which this photo doesn't do justice to. Originally there was seating for 2100! That has been reduced to about 550, the lower level was demolished to create a shopping arcade. More info and photos, if you're interested, here.
Today we drove to Black Rock, a beachside suburb, to tour an old house that was used as a summer house by wealthy people in the 19th century. I would have never known about this if it were not for it being mentioned in the Seniors Week book. The Minister for Senior Victorians (yes, there is such a government official) is going to get a big thank you from me.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Where did the time go?

I have been keeping busy with lots of fun things to do since I returned from my trip to Albury. Have been to a great new version of the Nutcracker ballet with MIL, celebrated our 36th wedding anniversary this week by going to see the musical 42nd Street (I LOVE tap dancing, and even the Man Who Cooks enjoyed the show), created books inspired by the artist book exhibition I saw in Albury, went for a walk along the Yarra River, and of course fitted in a bit of work at the optometrist. I have not been reading blogs but aim to catch up in the next few days.

I still can't get over the wonderful exhibition I saw, and have since been in touch with one of the main book artists. Unfortunately she works far away up in Queensland, but I am determined to one day go up there to attend one of her workshops on bookbinding. Here are some photos I took, to give you an idea of the scope of the exhibition.

Some info on the exhibition. The book pictured here is made from sewn together bus tickets. I have been saving my tram and bus tickets to create a book like this, but it sure takes a while to get so many!

Yes, Virginia, this IS a book. Books can come in all shapes and sizes.

The circular book at the top left is made of emptied and dried teabags, again, lots of tea drinking necessary to collect so many! The paper used for teabags has to be strong, and the tea is a natural dye that makes a lovely shade. The book at the bottom left is made of envelopes sewn together.

These books have been sewn with coptic stitching, with decorated stitches added. There was a whole bookcase devoted to books with this stitching (see next photo).

One of many such bookcases in the exhibition.

A closeup shows a concertina book on top of the bookcase, cut out to form a beautiful structure when opened.

At the middle bottom of this photo are a couple of tiny books made out of cardboard, where the waffle of the cardboard forms part of the visual interest. I have a "thing" about working with cardboard, so boxes tend to be hoarded at my house.

This is the workspace provided for visitors - I spent a number of happy hours here, working out the construction of some of the examples left on the table. Basic materials and equipment, as well as instructions for making one of the books were provided.

Here's a spectacular looking book, opened out, that has a clever construction using no paste or glue, just sewing together.
And my miniature version, looking at the spine, and with accordion text pages.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Spend, spend, spend. It's no way to happiness

I've been taking a break from blogging, and dread to think what my Google Reader will look like when I finally log in, as I haven't even been reading blogs.

So this morning when I was reading the newspaper online and saw the opinion article Spend, spend, spend. It's no way to happiness, I thought, that's something that I feel strongly about and it's a ready made post. Written by Catherine Deveny in The Age newspaper, she can often be quite controversial, but I think this article is spot on.

I don't know when I'll be visiting your blogs next, but it shouldn't be too much longer. I hope you're enjoying life as much as I am! I came back from my Albury trip last week with fresh inspiration for making books, and on Sunday I did a drawing class for "absolute beginners". I sure fit the criteria there!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

I'm in Albury, NSW!

Got here yesterday by train, with the main goal in mind to visit the new Library Museum and see a special book artists' exhibition. When I arrived at the Library Museum this morning at 9.30, a half hour before opening time, there were already some people waiting to get in. By the time the doors opened, there was a veritable charge of all manner of eager library users / museum visitors towards the doors. What a great sight: mothers with babies in pushers, oldies, young people, a group of international visitors, even some larrikin types. Overheard one of them say to another that he was here every other day.

There must have been a number of things to attract all those different types, but I was practically alone in the book artists' exhibition. But what a feast for the eyes, I don't know if I'm going to have time to visit much else before I go back to Melbourne tomorrow afternoon. It is the most wonderful exhibition, and well worth the trip to Albury. The library itself is light and airy, and even allows visitors to the city to use the internet for an hour. Hence, this post which I thought would have to wait until I got home.

I will try to get to visit the art gallery and botanical gardens, but that exhibition is calling me back for another look.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Learning new things about long time friends

This week I had lunch with four friends I've known for a long time. One of them has been housebound for a week and felt like some company. So I organised for the 3 of us to bring something over to her house for lunch and making sure we all didn't turn up with the same thing. It was fun for everyone, especially the hostess as she just had to set the table and wait for people to arrive with a surprise lunch. We liked it so much that I think we'll take it in turns to have a surprise lunch delivered to the table!

Usually our get togethers are spent going somewhere with a particular activity in mind, such as an art gallery, and that would drive our conversations. We had never had the opportunity before to just eat and talk, without the husbands around. So it was quite surprising to find out new things about people we've known so long. The theme seemed to centre on school days, and how teachers could influence what you did or didn't do, how you perceived yourself, etc. All of us had come across teachers who were negative or set in their ways about passing on skills and knowledge. But we'd all gone on to defy their predictions for us - good for us! And thank goodness for all the teachers who did encourage us.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

The weather's too nice to blog

... that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it.

On Wednesday and Thursday this week I packed a picnic lunch and a good book and headed off for places I knew would be ideal spots for relaxing. My first choice was Ruffy Lake Park, just a short drive away. However, as I approached the car park I was confronted with maybe a dozen huge buses already there, marquees set up around some areas of the park and what seemed to be a few thousand high school students who were having a sports day. I figured the park was big enough for everyone and I chose a place right next to the lake and away from most of the activities. I'm glad I stayed - the day was wonderful. I didn't have my camera but this is the view I sketched from where I was sitting. There were lots more trees but I thought I'd quit while I was ahead.

On Thursday I went to the zoo. I go there frequently as we belong to Friends of the Zoo and get free admission. My main goal this week was to see the cherry blossoms in the small Japanese garden within the zoo. I was just a week or two too early for that, so I'll have to return for another visit.

Usually I visit just a couple of animal groups (always including the giraffes) before settling down for lunch and a read. Despite my frequent visits I always find something new, it's unbelievable how much change the staff can produce in a short time. This time I discovered a huge new area for the Australian animals, replicating the dry landscapes so often seen here.

These are kangaroos made of timber, but of course there are also real ones! You can see a grass tree to the right, and the red sand which is common to much of inland Australia (that's why they call it the Red Centre). I find deserts quite beautiful.

This is a lizard called a lace monitor lizard. They can grow to 8 feet, but this one would have been only about 6 feet long. It was quite lively.
I always feel quite relaxed after my zoo visits. And seeing the school kids on their excursions is always entertaining. The reactions of primary schools kids of course are fun to watch, and even high school boys can forget to be "cool" for a while and go "ooh" and "awwww" along with the rest of us, especially when watching the young gorillas. I'm also grateful to zoos for preserving endangered species. The Melbourne zoo now has a family of Sumatran tigers. For years the male was all on his own, but a couple of years ago a lady friend was imported for him and now there are three "cubs" - they've grown so fast though!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Where it all started

At some stage I must have mentioned that I met the Man Who Cooks at International House at the University of California in Berkeley. This is a hall of residence for U.S. and international students and "its mission is to foster intercultural respect, understanding, lifelong friendships and leadership skills for the promotion of a more tolerant and peaceful world." Well, the Man Who Cooks and I certainly did our bit for trans Pacific relations. He brought me back to Australia and here I've been ever since.

I House, as it is more commonly known, has various fundraising projects to maintain its building and programs. One of the projects really appealed to us: donating a brick with an inscription. Our brick has now been inscribed and will be installed on the cafe patio soon. Our little bit of fame.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Free your feet, free your soul

By coincidence, just as footwear discussions are raging around Bloggerworld, Melbourne's main paper yesterday had an interesting article about the tyranny that the fashion world inflicts on susceptible females.

The link to the entire article is via the post title, but I'd like to quote my favorite bit here:

"When I was young in the '60s, we rejoiced in liberation from stiletto heels and winklepicker toes — no more bull, no more bunions. A '60s mini-skirt required a blunt toe, a low heel, a free foot. Sixties girls strode down the street in their mini-skirts and comfy low shoes, cool and free, active politically and physically."

I can SO remember that. But why have so many women gone backwards? If anything the pointy shoes most recently seen on victims are even pointier than they were in the 50s and 60s.

But I should talk, speaking of pointy: pointe shoes for ballet are the ultimate feet killers, so I relinquish the right to say anything else about shoes!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

My life in footwear

Jelly had an interesting post the other day about her favorite shoes. It was so much fun to read and to look at her photos. She suggested that others do a similar post. At first I thought I'd be the wrong person to do this - my favorite footwear is very practical, either lace ups or slippers. But as I started looking around in my closets, I thought I'd do a footwear retrospective. Here goes.

Boring stuff first, my black all purpose lace ups. I would wear these shoes most days except in summer. Obviously I don't wear skirts or dresses very often. Number one consideration for me is that my feet are comfortable. I had enough years of wearing stupid high heels which are bad for your feet and back.
When I'm at home I am usually to be found in the latest incarnation of my beloved red velvet slippers. When I was working I would sometimes celebrate my days off by having a Slipper Day, when I would stay at home the entire day and not put on street shoes. Wearing my slippers all day meant that I was having a real day off.

For the rare occasion when fancier shoes are called for, I wear these low heeled shoes on the right. They are getting old and rather loose now, so I think it's time for me to replace the sheeps wool inserts. These inserts caused a bit of interest the last time I went through a security check at the airport - I think the security guard was wishing she had a pair for herself. They keep your feet cool in summer and warm in winter. The white loafers on the left are winners as they are made in the Indian moccasin style so can be worn without nylons and allow the feet to breathe.

When I can be bothered to put them on, I wear these ancient clogs when I take the wash out to the clothesline. I bought them in Germany in the 1960s when clogs were all the rage.

Up at our bush block I wear gum boots - keeps the mosquitoes away from the ankles, keeps the feet and legs warm as well as dry.

For special event footwear, here are my wedding boots which went beautifully with the ethnic influenced dress my sister made for me.

While I was looking for those boots and panicking that I might have thrown them out, I came across my folk dance shoes, which I had forgotten all about. When I was at uni I spent a lot of time folk dancing. These shoes are from what used to be called Yugoslavia. That was some tough leather to take all that use, but they were comfortable and flexible for dancing.

Still on dance shoes, there were also pointe shoes from my ballet years (between the ages of 26 and 38 - I was always a late starter!). Unfortunately I didn't save a pair, but here's me wearing them.

About 1980 I discovered Italian shoes, specifically Bruno Magli shoes. These were the first of two pairs I bought, on sale for $100. That was a hell of a lot of money for shoes in those days, but they served me well and are timeless. I might just wear them again!

The second pair of Bruno Magli shoes I bought however were not so successful. I loved the look of them in the shop window, lusted after them on a daily basis until I finally gave in and bought them. But they were not so comfortable - read my lips: high heels are not comfortable. I still love the look of them. I'm thinking of displaying them on a timber wall.

Finally, my beloved hiking boots, which have been my faithful walking companions since 1969. I wrote about them in a post in February 2006.

I hope you enjoyed this retrospective. Let me know if you do a similar post. Don't forget to visit Jelly's post, and Tanya has also produced a very interesting footwear display.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

The cat's out of the bag...

...yes, it is my birthday today. I wasn't going to mention it but Merle has spread the word on her blog, as I discovered in some comments on my last post. To celebrate we're going out tonight to see an Argentine tango group perform at the state theatre. I'm really looking forward to that!

Merle has also awarded me the Nice Matters Award (and coincidentally so did Kali) - that plus having a birthday (62 if you must know) is making this a bumper week for me.
I'm not sure what traits I exhibit that entitle me to the award, but in Merle's case, it might be because I barrack for the same footy team that she does. Go Blues!

Now here comes the difficult part: I have to nominate 7 (according to Kali) or 8 (according to Merle) people for the award. I've never come across a NOT nice person in Bloggerland, and most of the people who immediately spring to mind have already got the award. So I am going to do something totally different and nominate two (yes, only two) bloggers. These two have opted out of blogging this year and I dearly miss reading their posts . This is not meant to put pressure on them to start blogging again, but just to let them know (I'll email them) that their time in Bloggerland did leave a legacy. They both live in Queensland and one day I hope to meet them face to face. They are

I miss you, ladies!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Uh, what about a title?

Like Diane recently, I often find it's hard to think of a relevant and unique title for my posts. I mean, how boring is "My weekend". But I'm afraid that would be the most relevant.

A major event for me last weekend was meeting up, face to face, with yet another blogger buddy. Catsmum lives near Castlemaine, and I was delivering to her the special CD Meow made for her blogger buddies. Before I left I had to plan a little cross country route to Catsmum's place. Here's a photo of my maps, the CD on the left and a gift book I made using Japanese stab binding. I couldn't resist using my ginko leaf craft punch to decorate the front cover. Catsmum and I share a love of Japanese themed items.

We had a lovely afternoon tea and I got to see the amazing quilts that she makes. Here we are in front of one of the many displays throughout her house of her blue and/or cat-related collection. (Now I'm thinking: why didn't we take one in front of a quilt? But you can visit Catsmum's blog to see those, I guess.)
Our dam was not as full as we thought it would be, looks to be half full, but that's 100% more than what it was in summer, and we're not complaining!
Here's a view from the top of the dam, our sleeping shed in the foreground. The weather was kind. And yes, it was a good weekend, despite......the Blues losing again, but at least they played competitively. See the car parked there? That was where I was sitting listening to the game late Saturday afternoon. As the Blues came from behind to finally take the lead in the 3rd quarter, I gave a celebratory blast on the horn. This came as rather a shock to the Man Who Cooks, who was quietly tending the campfire nearby. I saw him give a little jump out of the corner of my eye. I tried to control my celebrations after that, and alas, there was not much further cause for horn blowing in the last quarter as the other team got back into the lead.

Friday, August 10, 2007

It's the weekend - not working!

So, I survived two full days of work this week, but for those of you who expressed concern about being sucked back into "most-time work", as Joan put it, I don't think that's going to happen. In fact the timetable is every Monday morning from 9 - 12.30, and every second Saturday morning, and even that is flexible. But having set times makes it easier for me to plan something in advance. So far I'm happy with that.

A few of you have asked what I do in an optometrist's practice. Well, it has nothing to do with librarianship, but does require organisational skills. Already I have updated the opening up and closing procedures, something I was involved with as a reference librarian. Basically I'm doing receptionist stuff, answering the phone, making appointments, typing letters, cleaning the dummy lenses when there are no customers, unpacking supplies and entering them in the database, and sometimes helping people choose frames. Did you know that glasses are considered a fashion accessory these days? As I looked at the bewilderi1ng display of frames and then looked at myself in the mirror, I realised that I am very out of fashion with my round glasses, and glasses in general these days are very small. I will try to resist spending what I earn on some new frames! Much better to spend it on craft workshops.

Tonight we are leaving for Castlemaine, and I look forward to the prospect of meeting up with another blogger buddy. Catsmum lives near Castlemaine, and I am delivering to her a CD of songs that Meow made for those of us who sent her our favorite titles. I have been enjoying my copy immensely. In fact, the other day I was listening to them on my headphones while blogging, and didn't hear MIL ringing the doorbell. Got a surprise when she knocked on the window. I think I'm in the bad books.

Have a good weekend everyone!

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Slightly less retired

After all the hoohah I've made about how much I've enjoyed being retired over the last year, I must confess that a part time job has fallen into my lap. A couple of half days a week at a local optometrist (5 minute walk from home) shouldn't put too much of a dent in my leisure time. I'll see how it goes. This week I was needed for two full days though, and today was my first full day's work since retiring last year. I was able to come home for lunch - nice!

The Man Who Cooks was working from home today, also supervising the final step of our 40 year old pool's renovation. It has been empty for weeks, waiting for weather to co-operate. Last week it was too windy, blowing stuff into the pool that would have ruined the new surface before it got a chance to harden. Today was also windy but not as much, and apparently the garden beds are covered in tarps to stop the stuff from blowing around. I don't dare look.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

How do you wield your knife and fork?

Recently Susie mentioned that her Australian sister in law still kept a number of her Aussie ways even after living more than 30 years in the U.S. I was curious as to which habits she maintained. When Susie replied that her SIL used her utensils in an unusual way, this got me to thinking again about why Americans have a different way of eating than Europeans and Australians.

Briefly, the American method is the cutting of a piece of meat, fork in the left hand, knife in the right, then putting the knife down and swapping the fork to the right hand, whereas elsewhere the fork and knife remain in the left and right hands respectively. I jokingly wrote to her that I was going to research the reason for this on the internet, Google being the font of all knowledge, of course!

Well, with a simple search of "eating utensils", I found the following at
A history of eating utensils in the West: a brief timeline. Basically it boils down to the lack of forks in early America. You can read more about it at the link given, but here are the most relevant entries.

Early 17th century
As forks become more common implements at the table and are used for holding food steady while cutting and for conveying the food to the mouth, it is less necessary for knives to be made with pointed tips. They begin to be made blunt at the end.

Governor Winthrop of the Massachusetts Bay Colony possesses what is said to be the first and only fork in colonial America. The fad for using a fork has not yet reached the Americas, but Americans continue to import their knives from Europe. The blunted knives imported from Europe are not so easy to eat with as pointed ones were, and many people begin to use a spoon to steady food while cutting it. They then switch the spoon to the right hand to scoop up the bite of food -- the beginnings of what is known today as the zig-zag method.
I don't know about you, but I found that very interesting, and continue to be amazed that the internet could provide me with this information.

So how DO you wield your knife and fork? I asked Pea, my only Canadian reader (that I'm aware of), and it would seem from her answer that Canadians also use the zig-zag method, indicating that this is a North American thing. I'd be interested to hear from people who know of different methods used in other countries.

Saturday, August 04, 2007


I have always loved crayons, still do, even though I haven't used them for years. When I was a kid we had a tradition of opening just one present on Christmas Eve and the rest in the morning. One year I happened to pick crayons and a coloring book for my evening present. Of course I woke up way too early on Christmas morning, probably around 5 a.m., so I decided I'd use the time to do some coloring in. I was sharing a room with my sister so couldn't turn on the light, and didn't want to get out of bed because the heating wasn't on yet - this was New York, and it was cold! So I colored in half under the blankets in pretty much dark conditions! I remember being amused to see my artwork in daylight - choice of colors and staying within the lines took a battering! Well into my early 20s, my mother would still include a fresh pack of crayons for me under the Christmas tree. She'd probably still do that if I didn't live on the other side of the Pacific.

Below is a nice crayon saying, most recently read in an email from Alice, and a few weeks ago in a post by Merle. Crayons have something important to say to us, as I've known all along.

  • We could learn a lot from crayons
  • Some are sharp, some are pretty,
  • Some are dull, some have weird names,
  • And all are different colors....but
  • They all exist very nicely in the same box.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Shared items in Google Reader

Gina asked in her comment about the Shared items feature in my sidebar. This is what I wrote to her, in case other people would like to know too:

The shared link is available when you use GoogleReader (like bloglines, it tells you when someone has posted something new, and has saved me heaps of time). So if you do use GoogleReader, beneath each post that comes up, there are a number of options at the bottom, one of which is “Share”. If you tick that, it becomes part of your Shared Items list. Then click on the Shared Items link at the top left of Google Reader. This will bring up a list of all your shared items (you get to set a maximum number) and then you click on the link “put a clip of your shared items”.

Just follow the instructions from there, easier if you use Blogger as there's a button to add your list to your blog, you can still tweak colors, etc. I hope that's clearer than mud!

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Laugen Bretzeln!

Today Meow and I had lunch together, near a bakery that makes those special large soft pretzels (Laugen Bretzeln) you often see in Europe and in some cities in the U.S. but they are not so common here. I do love eating those pretzels, and made a big deal of them when I found them in the Barossa Valley recently. Here's Meow and I doing a silly pose, showing off our pretzels. (Sounds rather rude, doesn't it?).

Meow, aka Connie, is quite a clever and artistic person, as I discovered when I dropped her off at home after our pretzel expedition. I was especially impressed with her DVD show, complete with appropriate music, of her trip to Broken Hill last year. Absolutely stunning!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

My first craft show

Today I went to the Craft and Quilt Fair in Melbourne. I was a bit apprehensive about the anticipated crowds, but I got there early (9.20) and had previously planned out what I wanted to see. As I approached Jeff's Shed*, I felt a part of an army of like minded people. Marching along with me were women who, well, had that crafty look about them. It was a hoot! When I arrived the queue was not long and moved quickly. Fortunately I had brought cash with me, which eliminated the need for me to stand in another queue for the ATM.

There were half hour demonstrations of lots of products and techniques, and there were so many products, I was astounded. My favorite was specially treated fabric with paper backing in A4 size which can be put in an ordinary inkjet printer. Photos, graphics, text etc can be printed onto fabric and then sewn into a project. Most people there would have been thinking "quilts", but I was thinking "fabric covered books". There was something for everyone and I'll certainly be going to more of these crafty events.

*Jeff's Shed is Melbourne's Exhibition Centre, nicknamed after the 1990s premier of Victoria, Jeff Kennett. The shed is an important place in the life of the Australian male, where he can retreat to, to tinker with bits of wood, metal and the like. It is a tragedy for the Man Who Cooks that there is no shed in our garden. He has to make do with part of the rumpus room.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Montsalvat, 1930s artist colony

Yesterday I met up with Lindsay (another Blogger buddy) and his wife Anne, and Gina who I've met previously. They live in Eltham, a lovely suburb of Melbourne, but had not met each other previously. We had lunch at a cafe next to the Eltham Library (yes, I did get there early to borrow some books), and then we went on to Montsalvat, an artists colony that looks like it could be in Europe. Artists in the 1930s gathered here and built an interesting collection of buildings, using materials from houses and buildings that were being demolished in Melbourne. They tried to be self sufficient by growing their own food, and had cows and poultry for milk and eggs. Artists in residence are housed around the place in quaint little cottages which form a village like atmosphere. It was a fabulous day, aided by wonderful weather and great company - my blogger buddies!

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Friday, July 20, 2007

Natural friendship pools amongst bloggers?

Yesterday I wound up commenting on Motherkitty's blog for the first time. I have seen Motherkitty around the Blogosphere for a while now, commenting on blogs that I have been reading. Because I am making a conscious effort to keep my blog reading to a manageable size, I rarely add new blogs to my Google Reader. But sometimes there is just something that catches my eye (OK, if the truth be known, I was seduced by a link on another blog by the promise of seeing a "hunky pool guy", I couldn't resist clicking and wound up at Motherkitty's). When I first visit a blog I always read someone's profile, and then check out a few recent posts. In this case, I decided that Motherkitty was someone who had something to say, and had a few things in common with me. And of course there are some blogs that we both read.

Now I know that shared blog lists are the obvious way of bringing bloggers together, but what strikes me is that there seems to be a defined community of us, a tiny part of that huge world of blog communities 'out there'. We are finding each other amongst millions of blogs, and pretty much sticking together and that this community is not expanding that fast, considering all that's 'out there'. Is it just me, or does anyone else find this an interesting phenomenon, am I stating the obvious, totally out of it? Hello, are you still there?

We will not be here for the weekend, leaving tonight for the country and staying in our favorite Castlemaine accommodation, the Campbell St Lodge, for two nights. We've booked one of the two rooms on the upper floor, views over the town. Bliss!

Saturday morning will see us do our ritual visit to the library, then the art gallery, and Sunday will be taken up with a long hike in the Wombat Forest with the Great Dividing Trail Association group, which we've just joined. Will catch up with your blogs Sunday evening.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Ghostly Melbourne

On the evening of the coldest Melbourne day in yonks*, do the Man Who Cooks and I choose to:
  1. sit at home in front of the TV?
  2. crank the heating up and get out extra blankets?
  3. put on extra layers of clothing?
  4. get stuck into the whiskey?
  5. all of the above?
  6. none of the above?
You would be correct if you said None of the above. No, we chose to proceed with our planned tour of Melbourne's haunted buildings, starting at 6 p.m. and going for a bone-chilling 1.5 hours before we retreated to a restaurant. And amazingly, we were not alone. There were about 20 of us foolhardy souls traipsing around the city, listening to stories about ghostly sightings, alarmingly many by security guards.

The tours are being conducted on Tuesday evenings while the current exhibition of Spooks: Stories of Haunted Melbourne is on at Melbourne's City Museum. I am a great fan of this museum, which is in the lovely Treasury Building (designed by a 19-year-old in the 19th century) to store the gold from the gold rush. Melburnians and visitors to our city would do well to spend some time in this museum, looking at the various exhibitions, the gold vaults, continuously running video of old trams (a Val favorite), and much more. Oh, and the Treasury Building is haunted too...

*a wonderful Aussie word meaning "a long time"; usage also indicates laziness at looking up the exact length of time elapsed since it was this cold

Monday, July 16, 2007

Our rainwater tank

Our rainwater tank was finally delivered and installed on Friday. It has been a long wait as the suppliers could not keep up with the demand due to the drought. Now we can start collecting 5000 litres for use in the garden and pool. A hose will go under the house and out into the back garden - there's quite a fall so we won't need a pump. It started raining shortly after the tank was hooked up and what a wonderful sound that was, listening to the water pour into the tank.

The Man Who Cooks inspecting our new addition to the family. The lower pipe is for the overflow when the tank reaches capacity. It's an optical illusion that makes it seem that the pipe is going uphill...
We park the cars in front of the moveable fence which is on castors.

After only a couple of hours of moderate rainfall, water had already reached the lower tap on the right. I wonder if we should give the tank a name.