amazing abby and her new toy

Oh my!  This is Abby’s new toy – a scroll saw.  She saved her pocket money for weeks and weeks, and on Saturday morning headed off to Hare and Forbes Machinery with Julian to make the grand purchase.  Even Fu was enamoured with this marvellous toy!  And the best way to spend my birthday Sunday – why it was watching, helping, encouraging and celebrating Abby’s amazing persistence and skill as she set about carving her own wooden toys.

There I sat, in the shade, her Owl sweater on my needles, watching with sheer delight as she and Julian worked it out.  First they drew straight lines … then curved lines … then angles … Abby doggedly cut and adjusted and improved her technique for over three hours.  Yes, my wee perfectionist was determined to get it right, but also, there was a lovely and gracious acceptance – possibly for the first time in her life! – that when we try new things, skills will come slowly and only after much practice and patience.  It was the perfect birthday present for this mama.

Eventually she felt confident enough to explore the possibilities of the cookie cutter collection (see Jules!  I told you that collecting in excess of 100 cookie cutters was not a waste! ).  First a simple duck, then a pig, then a rabbit …

By mid afternoon, she was ready to try her own designs … along with much thicker wood and different styles of blades!  She wants to make characters that emulate the design of Ostheimer – profile shapes with bevelled edges (my use of the word bevelled is completely amateur so just insert the right one should you know what I mean ;-) – so Julian also showed her how to use the Dremel for adding extra dimension.

She drew her doll, traced it onto the wood, and slowly, slowly cut – Julian by her side, offering encouragement.  It was AMAZING!  Look at the detail of the hair!  In and out, in and out she went.

There was only a brief halt to activities for dinner, and then it was back to the painting. Unlike me, who whacked the paint on my simplistic little farm girl as quickly as I could – making a few messes along the way – Abby waited patiently for each coat to dry before adding the next colour or detail.

And now she has this gorgeous doll!  As well as a long list of other characters, animals, objects and dreams she would like to draw out of wood.  I’m in awe of my fifteen year old girlchild-woodworker.  Awe!  Who knows where this new skill and passion will take her!? It will be such a delight to see.

As I said, best birthday present ever.

loveliness found ~ 9/52

~ my mummy coming to visit – with an icebox full of pouring cream! ~

~ the soda stream – Julian’s Christmas present – adored by the whole family
– soda water on tap is just the best ~

~ following Alicia’s advice to try this technique – and loving it so much
we’re on to our third loaf for the week ~

~ a new to us, gorgeous vintage chess set … enticing us to plonk down
at the kitchen table and share yet another game ~

~ knitting, knitting and more knitting – yum! yum! yum!
hoping to reach the owls by the end of the week ~

~ the sweetest daughter – sharing her time and talents ~

~ family … learning / fun / exploring / teaching
… the perfect back garden Sunday ~

~ my wonky – but fabulously fun! – first attempt ~

~ her extraordinary, first time marvel – oh my! ~

~ another birthday – 43! – and the candles are no longer lit because of
the huge chunk of long, streaked-with-grey hair that caught fire
whilst the birthday girl (moron) leaned across the birthday wreath
to blow out her candles – ahem! – age would appear to be dulling her brain ~

p.s. there are no photos of the fiery spectacle – Abby and Mum were too busy gasping with horror whilst Julian was grabbing the dog quilt with which to smother me.  I, however, upon seeing the flames out of the corner of my eye, simply clapped my hands over and over the flames, putting most of them out, whilst turning to the sink where I doused the remaining singed bits in water … the stinky burnt mess fell into the sink and Abby trimmed up the remaining hair with the dressmaking scissors.
An almost fitting end to the week.



phew … it’s been a big week here in Bootville.  Classes started afresh for the academic year.  All 7am starts – very tiring for this out of practice would-be-nurse.  And in the wee hours of Wednesday morning, a fox broke into the chooks’ house and killed Benny and Souffie – ripped out their throats.  It was my fault.  I’d been leaving the door to their house open over summer as the nights have been so hot and still.  I didn’t want them to feel hot and yucky.  Now two are dead instead.  So stupid!

Oh my.

It was so horrible.  We were woken by the terrible noise made by the first of our girls to be killed – she cried out in such terror and agony whilst her sisters went bonkers with fright, banging and flapping about the house.

By the time Julian had exploded out the back door and raced through the garden to their enclosure, the next girl to be killed cried out in the same horrible way.  Meanwhile, poor Nog and Lettie had managed to get out of the fox’s way and were frantically trying to get out the gate – in fact, they ran out as Julian ran in.  We found Nog pretty easily – she was hiding in the Vietnamese basil, but Lettie secreted herself so well, we didn’t spy her again until well and truly after the sun had risen.

Poor, poor Benny and Souffie.  I know death is part of keeping animals, and anyone who’s ever kept chickens has experienced Mr. Fox at least once.  But boy oh boy … when Julian carried their still warm bodies out of the enclosure to put them somewhere safe until morning when we could bury them, I cried.  When I cracked my next egg, the following day, I cried.  Abby cried.  It was awful.  But the way of the natural world I guess.  My Uncle Keith used to lose his chooks to carpet snakes – ugh!  He’d go down in the morning and there’d be a carpet snake – too fat with all the chooks he’d eaten to get back out.  Family consensus is, if we were chooks and the occasion arose when we were about to become another animal’s dinner, we’d rather a fox than a carpet snake.  Though scant comfort at the moment, I must say.

As for Mr. Fox – we didn’t even see him leave he was so quick and sly.  We have carefully searched along the perimeter’s edge – we think he got in where the chickens had themselves dug a small hole under the wall of their house, where it butts up against the sewing shed.  The fox could have gotten under the sewing shed – as does Fu, but the thought a fox would do it simply hadn’t crossed our minds because he would have to have gotten into our garden first, which has quite sturdy 6 foot fences – and then, with a bit of wiggling, through the hole and pop! into the house.

I’ve since read that foxes can spring over a six foot fence from a standing position on the ground.  Good grief.  I’ve also read that the end of summer is a prime time for an increase in attacks as the spring born cubs learn to hunt for themselves.  And here in our neighbourhood, an abandoned house which was home to a huge number of foxes, was pulled down last week – maybe those foxes have found new homes closer?

Extra mesh has been dug in, heavy rocks have been laid on top.  Regardless of the heat, that chook house door will be securely shut every night for ever more.  And – just in case it works – we’ve taken a leaf out of Hugh F-W’s book and are peeing on the fence.  Well – you know, peeing into a container and throwing it on the fence.  Folk wisdom suggests the scent of urine – especially male – deters foxes.  Others say it does nothing at all. Might as well give it a go.

Meanwhile, Nog and Lettie are stumbling on.  Nog lost a lot of feathers – you can imagine that the fox grabbed her by a clump of feathers and when she jumped, they just came out – she has bald patches between her shoulder blades and around her tail and butt.  She looks a wreck – but seems pretty confident still.  Nog’s always been a bit dim.

Lettie, on the other hand, has no visible signs of attack at all, but is a nervous wreck.  She’s always been very sweet – always talks to me when I go near, drops herself at my feet ’cause she loves to be carried and stroked, a very friendly and relaxed chook.  Now, if she was human, she’d be diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.  The first day, she stood by the water bowl with her head drooping and eyes closed.  It was so sad.  The next morning when I opened the door she stood in it silently, and every few moments, would put her head and look one way, then the other.  She did this for a good five minutes before deciding it was safe to come out.

But today, Lettie’s made herself a dust bath and is dozing in the sun.  And Nog’s being Nog – bumping about, chattering away to herself and munching grain.  No eggs since the attack – I’ve read this is very normal.  And they may never lay again.  We’ll see.

So – big week.  Tiring week.  Sad week.  Oy.  By Friday, I needed something to soothe my spirits – some new wool from Wondoflex’s bargain basement (only open Fridays and Saturdays and literally in the basement) – 12 ply for $25 for a bag of 10 balls.  Perfect for knitting Abby her 2013 jumper – Kate Davies’ Owls.  Round, and round and round – and on those 6.5mm needles it’s rising like well yeasted bread.

Hopefully next week will be a bit more gentle.  Autumn has certainly arrived with a jolt.


the crib

Well … this might just be the daftest thing I’ve ever brought home .. but gee, it’s so sweet I just couldn’t resist it.  Besides – it had been sitting forlornly on the side of the road for a few days – no one else was taking it, so without me, its next trip would have been to the tip.  So we (well, me at least) are now the pleased as punch owners of this very old, very sweet cane crib of course!  In really lovely condition – apart from the layer upon layer upon of paint.

It was a very funny hard rubbish moment.  There we were, the day before New Years Eve, driving back from the shops, when I spied it yet again.  Now, I’d made sure *I* was driving so that I could stop with impunity – first rule of hard rubbishing with family – NEVER let the husband drive because he will NEVER stop when you spy something marvellous, no matter how passionate your request!

I pulled over with glee.  Abby hopped out, flipped down the back seats and cleared the space – god, she’s good.  Then the two of us carried it over and slid it in.   There was only one problem.  This lovely big crib left no room for the car’s third occupant.  I suggested leaving Julian behind and coming back to get him after we’d dropped the crib home.  He was’t keen.  It was 32 degrees, middle of the day, no shade.  Abby said she’d stay behind – she had her drawing pad and pens.  Yes, I confess, for a split second I thought “Cool!  That will work!” and then I remembered I was her mother and she was my innocent child, so politely declined her generous offer.

It was at that moment Julian thought it only right toremind me that it was MY desire to cart the crib home, therefore, I should be the one who stayed behind.  I was baffled “How?” I quizzed, “When I’m the driver?”  Abby smacked her forehead.  Julian rolled his eyes.  Ahem.

So they tootled on home with the crib and I … well I decided that it was too hot to stand in the glaring sun, so sunnily said – “Never mind me!  I’ll walk – it will be good exercise!”  Truly I did :-)

I made it about a third of the way – making sure to choose the shady sides of the streets – dreaming of ducking into one of the little neighbourhood stores on the way for a bottle of cold water.  And then – not even knowing quite where I’d be,  Jules came back.  I’m smiling now as I type.  Oh the silly things I get up to.  Our whole home is a treasure trove of rolled eyes and funny tales :-)

Now, we Boots have no real purpose for even the loveliest of cribs at this time in our lives.  Nor any real room for it in our home.  But one day … when we have our lovely home in the country, I will have it all stripped back (boy, won’t that require a mammoth effort – I’ll save it up for a winter’s day when I’m so cold I’ll do anything to warm up!) and rubbed with beeswax.  It will sit in a softly lit, breeze scented, sweetly decorated bedroom waiting for lovely long visits from tiny folk.  Perhaps (hopefully!) Abby’s. There’ll be a firmly fitted mattress (ah, all those child safety precautions studied in paediatrics will be put to good use), a fitted quilted top (no ties!) a hand knitted sleeping sack just waiting to be snuggled into.  Mayhaps a friendly crocheted doll in the corner.

Until then, I’ve pulled the saggy mesh bottom out – held in place with a million nails hammered half way in and then bashed over – that was fun!  Given it a good clean.  And put it in the Tardis – I mean, sewing shed.  Ingeniously, I was able to put it where two tall stacks of clear plastic crates filled with fabric stood.  They are now neatly standing inside it.  No weight on the actual crib because it has no bottom.  Cool huh!

And if I’m desperate for fun (i.e. haul all the boxes out again) I can bring it out into the garden and drape it with quilts and fabric for photos.  Works very well as a prop :-) and aren’t these fabrics utterly gorgeous?!  I bought a metre of each – $5 a metre.  It would have been positively foolhardy NOT to buy them.

Oh it is sooooo pretty, isn’t it!  : sigh :