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!