Thursday, May 31, 2007

Met Miss Eagle today

Today I drove out towards the hills to meet up with Miss Eagle of Oz Tucker. She had a lovely lunch and a nicely laid table prepared for us. There was plenty to talk about, she was also a librarian at one time, is interested in food, and was very interested in my idea of taking the train all the way to Sandy Stony Point on our $3 Seniors tickets. I had brought along some of my book creations to show off her. Then we went to a craft warehouse to look at zillions of papers, stickers, stamps etc. What a fun day!

This is a big week for me for getting together with blogger buddies. On Tuesday I met Sharon from Beyond the Blank Page, who I've met face to face a couple of times before. Strangely enough we wound up in Bellbird Paper Arts again. Tomorrow I'm off to do a print workshop at Barb's, and one of the other people there will be Connie (Meow from Varieties of Life).

As I was driving home today the rain was really pelting down, the dark sky seemed to be just above the roof of the car - it was wonderful! But I had to think how long it had been since I've had to drive in that kind of weather. Oh may the dams and reservoirs fill to bursting point!

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

My first car

Susie, over at Susie's Space, mentioned recently that her first car was a VW, and a few of her readers commented that they too started out with one of those adorable, reliable cars.

I was lucky to have found Gertrude, a bright yellow convertible, that reliably took us over many highways and backroads of California. Here are a couple of photos, early 1970s.

Sunny California day, top down, ready to go for a spin!

Car camping in the Sierra Nevadas.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

22 question meme

I got this from Meow. Let me know if you want to play along too.

1. The phone rings; whom do you want it to be?
My parents, ringing from the U.S.

2. When shopping at the grocery store, do you return your cart?
Of course, and I'll sometimes bring back carts that others have left. I hate the supermarkets that make you use a coin to get a cart, it seems so insulting.

3. If you had to kiss again the last person you kissed, would you?
Of course!

4. Do you take compliments well?
I think so, I think I smile and probably blush, even at my age!

5. Do you play Sudoku?
I'm not a numbers person, definitely a words person. One time I thought I'd try the kiddie Sudoku, with only 6 squares instead of 9. STILL couldn't figure it out. I like to do Target, which is a 9-letter square from which you have to make as many 4-letter plus words as possible, always using the letter in the centre.

6. If abandoned alone in the wilderness, would you survive?
Yes, as long as it wasn't too cold.

7. Do you like nipple rings?
No way!

8. Did you ever go to camp as a kid?
I went to a bible camp as a kid in New York. It was fun except for the bible reading...

9. If a sexy person were pursuing you, but you knew he/she were married what would you do?
Not applicable.

10. Could you date someone with different religious beliefs than you?
Yes, in fact I married a Jew. Neither of us is religious so it hasn't been an issue for us.

11. Do you like to pursue or be pursued?
To be pursued (this is going back a long way!)

12. Use three words to describe yourself at the moment:
happy, fit, full from the wonderful roast lunch the Man Who Cooks made today

13. Do any songs make you cry?
Not for a long time, but Ebb Tide used to do it for me. I know, you've probably never heard of it.

14. Are you continuing your education?
Always, although these days I'm concentrating on crafty things.

15. Do you know how to shoot a gun?
Wouldn't have a clue.

16. If your house were on fire, what would be the first thing you grabbed?
My wallet with credit cards, etc. IF I had time.

17. Who was the last person you shared a bed with?
The Man Who Cooks.

18. Whom do you text the most?
I do not text. I do not own a mobile phone.

19. Favorite children’s books?
I love the Dr Seuss books. I read them to my brother (he is 13 years younger than I am) and my mother gave me the books for my sons. So I got to enjoy them all over again.

20. What do you buy at the movies?
I rarely go the cinema these days, but when I do I might get a box of popcorn. Somehow though, these days it doesn't taste as good.

21. Do you know how to play poker?
No. (Meow, that's a surprising fact about you that YOU do!)

22. Do you wear your seat belt?
Always , even if I'm just moving the car in the driveway.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Japanese tea ceremony and kimono dressing

Today a few of us "girls" met in the city to participate in a fundraiser for cancer research. Kimono House, a local business which specialises in importing beautiful fabrics and other items from Japan, organised demonstrations of the Japanese tea ceremony and how a kimono is assembled and worn. It was absolutely fascinating. I had been a bit sceptical of the whole tea ceremony thing, having read how ritualised and exacting it was. But I can see now how much like meditation it is, just watching the slow, stylised movements of the hostess preparing the tea and serving it. Although we were on the second floor of a building on the main street in Melbourne, we felt a thousand miles away from everything. We got to sample the green tea and some Japanese sweets which are not sweet at all, but very delicate and with the most intriguing texture. It was a lovely and gracious experience.

After lunch we went back for the afternoon session, where a professional kimono dresser fitted a kimono to a young Japanese woman who had never worn a kimono before. It totally transformed her into a graceful woman and I think she was amazed herself at the transformation. This is not attire to don as you're rushing out the door, or needing to run to catch the tram! You have to be prepared to take only very small steps. Traditional kimonos have many layers, although today we saw kimonos with only two layers. The fabrics, needless to say, were exquisite.

The building where Kimono House is situated is the Nicholas Building, built in the 1920s by the wealthy Nicholas family. It still has some vestiges of grandeur, and currently houses interesting shops, in addition to Kimono House, such as Buttonmania and a great retro shop, with clothing, shoes and lots of paraphernalia from the 50s and 60s. It also has the last working attendant operated lifts in Australia. Beautiful stained glass ceiling in the arcade on the ground floor. Worth a visit! 37 Swanston Street.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

The Iced Coffee Con

Ok, this will be the last post I write on this theme, but I was thinking about the big disappointment the Man Who Cooks and I had when we were in the U.S. last year. Here in Australia, an iced coffee is a double whammy of coffee (duh) with ice cream and sometimes cream in it, served in a tall glass with straw and long spoon. This is a great appetite spoiler, a good way to have coffee when the weather is hot, and doubles as a dessert as well.

So it was a real surprise that when we ordered an iced coffee, we with ice in it. When we queried this with the wait staff, we were told where the sugar and half and half were, and we could help ourselves.

It just goes to show that things can have the same name but be entirely different entities altogether. This was also the case when we moved from the east coast to the west coast of the U.S. in 1960. I can't remember many examples now, but there was one having to do with hush puppies. In one place it was a type of shoe or shoe brand, but elsewhere (the south?) it had something to do with food??? I'm sure someone will have more specific info on that.

While I'm on the subject of recreational eating, I've just come back from morning coffee with former colleagues. It was great to catch up with them, and also to sample the bakery goods of a local cafe. Almond croissant with custard filling - YES! It was quite large too, and I thought I would take home half of it, but no. I ate the whole thing. I think I'll just have an apple for a late lunch.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The big Chocolate Con

Last Sunday the Man Who Cooks and I wanted a nice warm drink after driving back from the country. Mr Tulk's, the state library's own excellent cafe, was not open (and why not?), so we went next door to the Queen Victoria complex, expecting to have a choice of cafes. Not so, it seems, only a very busy chocolate cafe, so we thought "great". This would fulfill two requirements: warm drink and rich dessert-type sugar hit in one.

After a bit of a wait, and getting close to the time when I'd have to leave for the talk at the library, our "hot" chocolate drinks arrived. Well, they were not so much chocolate drinks, definitely not hot, but more do-it-yourself chocolate drinks, similar to if you ordered a salad and the waiter brought the lettuce, tomatoes and other ingredients, along with a knife and chopping board, as well as bottles of vinegar and oil, etc. and then you proceeded to make your own salad.

What arrived at our table was a cutsy-poo ceramic structure with a candle at the bottom to keep the thimble full of milk above it warm. And this is essential because you need that "heat" to - wait for it! - melt the chocolate chips which were supplied separately on a plate! These you are meant to gradually add to the thimble of milk and stir and sip it with a very clever metal device that was a "straw" with a round bit at one end for stirring. If you're wondering what that would look like, just think of the little mirror-thingie your dentist uses to see into your mouth. Oh, and when you run low on milk, the tiniest of ceramic jugs, which wouldn't be out of place in a doll's tea set, was there for you to generously add to the little "warming tower". To make this an even more interactive experience, the candle kept going out and we needed to flag down a busy staff person to reignite the drink warming flame.

By this time, I did not have time to fiddle around waiting for my chocolate chips to melt. Yes, I know it's special chocolate but it's only a hot chocolate drink, folks - get over it! So I scooped up the remaining chips, popped them in my mouth, and left the MWC to ponder where the value was in the $6 per drink. And it wasn't even warm.

P.S. Susie's comment gave me an idea. I didn't have a camera with me, but I could certainly find a photo on the internet. Here tis! The jug here is bigger than the one we had, and there weren't as many chocolate chips. But you see what I mean about the dentist's mirror thingie?!

Monday, May 21, 2007


This weekend we had a brief trip to the country so we could go on an informative walk led by a knowledgable local, looking at the use and abuse of water in our local area. Goldmining from the 1850s to the 1930s had made great changes to the landscape, not all positive, but what we saw on the walk was nature's regeneration of the land since mining stopped.

That was very interesting and worthwhile, but the highlight of the weekend was seeing our dam with quite a considerable amount of water in it, plus the usually dry creek behind our property not only had water in it but was flowing! Unfortunately I forgot my camera, but I'm sure you can picture it. And all the green around the place was a sight for sore eyes. We could hardly stop looking at it. Regeneration of the dam and land.

I wanted to get back to Melbourne by 3 on Sunday for a talk at the State Library. It was the last in a series on artists books, and this one had 3 artists talk about how they alter books and why. Most intriguing! For those of you who don't know what an altered book is, for an example picture a book with an interesting shape carved out of the cover and through at least half the pages. Beautiful! More info here. Btw, these books would have been thrown out and pulped anyway, and even the librarian in me would not be offended at this. As one artist said, it is like giving a book a new life. Regeneration of the book.

I felt regenerated from that weekend.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Long time, no tag

It's been a while since I've been tagged. Jeanette has tagged me to write about 7 RANDOM facts about myself. Well, this will be very random (read: no thought processes involved as we're just about to leave for Castlemaine - have to return some books to the library there, heh heh). So here goes.
  1. I love paper products, always have. I loved to collect stationery, now I create books.

  2. If I could have only one kind of meat product for the rest of my life, the choice would be easy: chicken!

  3. In my 50s I learned Auslan, Australian sign language, so I could communicate with the deaf students and staff at the university where I worked. But many years ago as a teenager I fell in love with the German language, became a German teacher and worked as a librarian at the German Cultural Institute (Goethe Institute). Have dabbled in Spanish, Italian and Greek.

  4. Late starts in life: classical ballet in my mid twenties, first child at 39.

  5. Before our garden became too shady, I had quite a collection of bearded irises, all named. I used to draw up maps of where each type was, and had all the information on a database, including when they flowered each year.

  6. My favorite animal is the giraffe.

  7. I love driving a manual car. My last two cars were/are a Mazda 626, before that a zippy little Datsun 120Y. My first car, when I was still living in California, was a VW bug, convertible! One time the Man Who Cooks drove up to the Sierra Nevadas with a friend to go camping. But when they parked Gertrude (the name I gave the car) at the start of the trail, they left food in the car. When they got back, they found that a bear had torn open the roof to get at the food.

Was that random enough for you? Have a good weekend!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

I just can't help myself

...I just love to join libraries. Yesterday I was in the city and found myself near the city library. As with most public libraries these days you can become a member no matter where you live. I found some good craft books which I was able to borrow straight away. Recently I realised that all my library cards were starting to clog up a large amount of real estate in one part of my wallet, so I moved them all to a previously underused section. They make rather a pretty picture, as well as representing quite a few branch libraries for each of the cards shown here.
(I have removed this photo today as a blogger buddy has pointed out all my ID numbers are showing which could present a security risk...). Instead, this is a photo of my wallet with the cards, without all the details. Strangely though, I had uploaded this earlier today, but it hasn't shown up, plus the Google server was down. Does this sound ominous to anyone else??

And I enjoy using the online catalogues from home as much as actually being in a library. Fiddling with library catalogues was an essential and favorite part of my working life, and now I can make that work in my own interests. I usually plan my various book conquests before leaving home. It pays to thoroughly check out a library's website to see what else they offer in terms of databases and full text newspapers and magazines. Some catalogues allow you to set up an alert so that an email will be automatically sent out when the library acquires something that you are interested in.

I have never been one for buying books unless I felt I was going to use them again and again. Rarely have I bought fiction. There are just too many books I still want to read the first time, let alone having the time to read a book again. Sad but true.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Case of the disappearing photos in Blogger

... and I may be the Sherlock Holmes of Bloggerworld.

A while back, Kerri alerted me to the fact that all photos were missing from my post Indulgence Days. So I went back and uploaded them again, in batches, as suggested by Alice . Today I get another message from Kerri to say that only 5 of the 7 photos are showing. Sure enough, I can't see them either. The missing ones are the last two photos I uploaded, and were in a separate post that I then combined into the main one, as per Alice's instructions.

And here, dear Watson, is where I think the problem arises: so that I don't have these rogue drafts cluttering up the place, I deleted the draft post containing those last two photos. I know new Blogger tells you that these photos will disappear from that vast cybergallery in the sky, but I figure, I have uploaded them in the new post that I republish. So the photos attached to that post should remain and I am just deleting duplicate photos, right? If you have followed me thus far (hey! wake up!), does this deletion seem to be a reasonable explanation of events, or non-events as the case may be?

I know people have complained about their photos disappearing, but as this hadn't yet happened to me, I, um, didn't pay much attention. Now I am paying attention, but will it do any good???

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Mother's Day book for MIL

I made a photo album of the San Francisco trip we did with MIL last year. It's 3-dimensional.

MIL was delighted!

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Thursday, May 10, 2007

Butterfly parade

This is the book I made for my mother for Mother's Day. She called it a butterfly parade, which is really a good title for it.

Butterflies have always had a special meaning for Mom. She was raised by her grandparents and was especially close to her grandfather. Near the end of his life, he told her that when he died, he would come back as a butterfly and sit on her grandmother's apron. Those were the days when women always wore aprons.

This is the book opened up. Each butterfly, printed onto translucent paper and sewn into the book, contains a memory my mother and I have shared.

This is the book closed.

The book from the back. The butterfly paper is from the wonderful Zetta Florence paper shop in Melbourne.
I am really proud of this book, and hope to make a similar one for myself.

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Friday, May 04, 2007

What's new, Pussycat?

Today was the day I met Meow for the first time, although we've been blogger buddies for a while now. We decided to meet in a library near where we were going to lunch (and more dangerously, near a wonderful scrapbooking shop), but the question was, how were we going to find each other? I had suggested we go around humming "What's new, Pussycat?" until we found each other (you'll know why this is relevant if you read Meow's blog), and maybe getting on library staff nerves. But that turned out to be unnecessary, as it was a very small library.

We used the opportunity to join yet another library system and borrow some books. Then on to lunch at one of the places recommended by the friendly librarian. After that we forced ourselves to go to the scrapbooking shop where Meow proceeded to buy many items relating to, guess what, cats! I bought some paper I didn't need but couldn't resist, and signed up for a workshop next month. A very pleasant day, thank you for your company, Meow!

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Indulgence days

Update (6 May) Thanks to Kerri for alerting me that the photos had disappeared from this post. I've uploaded them again and hopefully they'll stay this time. Now uploading for third time (14 May), using Peter's and Cris's suggestions.

We had a few days of indulgence, staying Sunday night at the vineyard resort. The package included a beautiful 4-course dinner, and hefty breakfast. To work up an appetite for dinner (as if we needed to) we walked up into the hills behind the resort at dusk. I was aware of an odd sound, in the distance, like farm machinery, but at this hour? I turned back to see a cloud of hundreds of white cockatoos settling into the tops of tall eucalyptus trees for the night, and they rose and flew around in a mass, another 3 or 4 times before finally coming to rest. What a sight, and what a sound, even at that distance. Too bad the distance and poor light wouldn't let me capture it on a photo. But here are two photos, the first from the balcony of our unit, and the second a photo of the unit itself, the building on the right, which consisted of two units. It was very peaceful: no TVs, no telephones.
When we arrived there was a group of tense looking people, clutching clipboards and folders - yep, they were attending a conference or workshop or other work-related activity, and instead of paying attention to the wonderful food and wine, they had to chat with colleagues at a big table. At breakfast the same people were talking about forming committees and networking. Oh how I miss such things - NOT! However, they were pretty lucky to be able to gather at such a great resort. And no, their presence didn't bother me, as I sat there with the Man Who Cooks, quietly exulting in the knowledge that I'd never have to attend a work-related function again.

The next day, Monday:

We walked to a lookout.
We hiked to some waterfalls but there was no water, although I did get to set up this silly photo. I just made it into the frame. The Man Who Cooks did not fare as well though. When he got up after the photo was taken he discovered that he had sat on sticky sap from that tree. Fortunately he had a change of pants.
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When walking back to our car, we saw these beautiful birds, I think they're called Southern Red Robins, but don't hold me to it. Thanks to Rebecca and Catsmum for the correct info and this link.

We chose to go on some back roads on our way to Castlemaine, and are so glad we stopped at the tiny town of Majorca. This was the old general store, one of only 3 or 4 buildings left from the gold rush. At one time, there were more than 50 houses and buildings on the street you see here.

We stopped at this very depleted reservoir. Fortunately some rain has started to fall, and there's even some water in our own dam. The countryside is showing a light green fuzz, very encouraging.