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.