Abby thinks Little Miss Flower sounds way cooler. Too bad. Whatever she is called, she is finally finished. Well, the applique and embroidery that is. Tomorrow, I shall back her, quilt her, bind her and hang her. Oooh … that last bit sounds a wee nasty. You know what I mean :-)
Today was a wonderful day of rain, staying at home, folding the washing (ha!ha! the folding bit wasn’t that wonderful but the fact that I can walk around the end of my bed is marvellous, let alone find knickers in the morning), and curling up, first with Sweetpea, then with Abby on the sofa in the freshly rearranged sitting room, finishing off the girl of camellias.
We had cups of tea, doggy quilts, and a marvellous narration of Nathaniel Hawthorn’s House of Seven Gables. Oh, there were also many trips to the garden for wee-wees, and time out in the kitchen for biting. Later, we had Lisa Mitchell, Ruth Moody, Sarah Blasko, maths homework, hot chocolate and cinnamon toast. Really, what more lovely way could there be to spend a day.
I started the girl of camellias quite a while ago – before the great sadness – and then, in the busyness and upside-downside-ness of life, she lay forgotten in the spare ‘oom sewing basket. This morning, whilst plotting my stitchy day ahead and thinking of the supplies I would need to tackle my Miss Guild-inspired projects, I realised the craft kitty was bare and rather than start something new, I would need to find something old. Something pretty, something finishable – and there she was. Perfect.
Collar – finished.
Camellia branch – finished (this is what the camellias in my garden look like – I have at least four huge bushes and the blooms they have given me all winter have been glorious)
Birdy – finished (my interpretation of the beautiful rosellas that live in Aunty Cate’s back garden)
Hair – finished.
Shoes – finished.
The Girl of Camellias – ready for quilting.
I’ll have to go to bed early so that tomorrow’s quilting comes quickly :-0
p.s. we’re listening to Pink now, and having such a good discussion about the importance of being real, and telling a good story – Pink does this quite well. Being a mum to a 12 year old is awesome.
warning: following you will find the worst photos I have ever taken. Sorry if they hurt your eyes and make you reach for stronger glasses. Indulge me :-)
They were taken with my iphone (one of the older ones, not a good camera) from illustrations in a book in which every second photo was blurry. Seriously. A really expensive interiors book which, yes, was full of great beauty, but had this silly conceit where most of the photos were blurry. I don’t know what they were thinking. Crisp photos of these gorgeous rooms would have been way nicer but! The photography is not important here … it’s the fact that the wonderful combinations of colour and pattern made me salivate with creative excitement. Something that hasn’t happened for a loooooong time.
See, the other night, when we were printing out the photos for our photo wall, I have to say, at the risk of sounding unbelievably puffed up, 2008 – 2009 was just filled to the brim with so much creating. I was so busy with my hands and imagination. There are quilts and embroideries and dolls and things for our home that I had simply forgotten about. As iPhoto slid into 2010, the output was struck by drought. There were light showers here and there, but not much ticking over. Made me feel a bit sad. Abby told me not to worry, she is sure the potential is still there, I’ve just forgotten how to fit it into life. Maybe.
I’ve thought a lot about this since. And today, as I was heading to the stockroom for lunch – odd yes, but I like sitting out the back amongst all the boxes and proofs and booky-chaos – I picked Tricia Guild’s new interiors book “Tricia Guild” ( I guess when you’re as successful as Miss Guild, you can name a book after yourself ;-) off the shelf for entertainment. Somehow it slipped into the store last month without me noticing, and the first I knew of it was when I had to remind a customer last week at 6.05pm that we were now closed as she sat, drooling, in our armchair section, slowly turning the pages back and forth and back and forth.
It is SUPER indulgent. There are chapters named simple / restful – stuff like that – and frankly, the only kind of rest I could have in a room that WILD with colour, froo-froo and pattern would be the drug induced kind. Never mind Miss Guild, I understand. As I began reading – well, looking, the words are few and far between – I found myself itching to pick up paper and pencil and take notes. Instead I pulled out the phone and began taking photographs to remind me. And hopefully, poke me into making the time to sit down and create.
Here they are:
:: mmm .. round cushions – never tried this – and I love the pieced gusset and buttoning – would have to have cushion forms custom made ::
:: cool wallpaper – how would I interpret this? – felt? – don’t know – still thinking ::
:: yeah pom-pom lampshades – I’ve done a few of them – but the flowers – how nice would THEY look in felt – yum! ::
:: oooooh lampshade with dangly bits – niiiiiice – I have a standard lampbase in the garage which needs a new shade – reminds me of an amazing plastic wind up music box/merry go round I had has a child – when it got going, little petals flew around – then I think of those clowns made out of yo-yos ::
:: more geometric wallpaper – makes me think of those eyes of god we used to make in the 1970s with lurid coloured wool and popsicle sticks – imagine it in fabric – pieced – like a log cabin – yeeeeeees ::
:: look closely – the curtain is striped – and the pattern is repeated vertically – same pattern in black on each different colour – there’s a wall quilt forming in my mind’s eye – shades of pink and red with the pattern in white – and I know just where to hang it ::
:: this is the pattern that had me reaching for the camera – and it’s bellowing “needlepoint cushion! needlepoint cushion! needlepoint cushion!” – again, in white and red – see, Julian wants to keep the colours in the sitting room limited to red and white and wood – I can work with that ::
:: obviously, this couldn’t go in the red and white and wood sitting room – but looking at this, my heart yearns for a green and yellow quilt – this will shock those who know me – I have never liked green and yellow – too many ugly Australian Olymic uniforms – but this is just singing sunshine and soft, sweet grass ::
:: how much do you love these old, thick manky mirror tiles – awesome! – reminds me of those picture puzzles where you have 8 printed square tiles and 1 blank square tile in a frame and you have to slid the pieces around to form the picture – hmmm ::
:: and, when my fingers and eyes need a rest from all the stitching I long to do – can I come and sit out here – not on the swing, I get really motion sick – I’ll sit in the rusty old chair (see Mum, we should NEVER throw ANYTHING away) and Abby can come too and swing to her heart’s content whilst Sweetpea bites at her toes ::
So – here I’ve shared what I would like to do. Now will I do it! Maybe you need to nag me. Shame me! Poke me in the ribs and say hey slack Lily – get off your lazy butt and do something good. Okay. What should I make first – you tell me …
.. the house was dappled with sunlight. From the backgarden, the scent of wild and rampant jasmine drew me in ..
A French Country Song sang to me richly from the sitting room ..
Toby – Dido’s best friend – had new pyjamas. Flannel cowboys no less.
I watered the vegetables and gathered the spinach and mint for the evening’s dinner ..
A hopeful child set the table for Settlers of Catan ..
A besotted husband tinkered with his mighty bike ..
I roasted chicken and tossed salads ..
Julian made tea and we played – Abby’s quite the imperialist and without us even noticing, effortlessly won the game ..
Now the lamps are lit, the house is quiet and still, and I haven’t yet decided whether to indulge in some television (bad lily! bad lily!) or finish The Pillars of the Earth (Ken Follet’s cathedral building masterpiece).
But! Just so you know it’s all VERY real here in Bootville:
1. I have cleaned up 4 puppy wees on the carpet in less than an hour.
2. Abby found half a small cockroach in her spinach salad .. thankfully we found the other half with it’s neat mid-section slice still IN the salad.
3. There’s three weeks worth of washing on my bedroom floor .. I hate folding washing.
4. And Mum, the red spotted lanterns stopped working already! Now, next time I think of knitting, I shall instead plod my way along the stranded lights, testing for a broken bulb.
However, I haven’t taken photos of any of these things so we can just push them to the back of our minds and LEAVE them there. Okay? Okay!
Firstly, thank you for all the lovely wishes and prayers for Sweetpea. She is doing a little better – still weak and quite a different personality, very cuddly and quiet and grateful. But she is making progress – like a small child, she wakes from a long nap, is thrilled to be up and about, has a romp, a game, an explore and is then buggered and falls down where she stands for another sleep. Blimey – what a dramatic few days.
Julian has taken it into his head that we should spring clean this year. Mum, close your mouth, you look like one of those silly clowns at the Ekka :-) Now, his version of spring cleaning does not involve beating the carpets, washing the picture rails, or airing the mattresses. Instead, he wants to breathe some new life into our home. Rearrange to bring energy. De-clutter to bring peace. Create new corners to enjoy.
So today we began with the kitchen. It is a large kitchen with the sink and built in cupboards running the length of the back wall. Another smaller set of cupboards, the stove and oven built into the huge old fireplace opposite the sink. On one side is the door to the w.c. and laundry and the other, a nook, small corridor to Abby’s room and the back door to the garden. In the large open space between the sink and the stove we had the table and chairs. There was ample room to move around but it drove Julian nuts. In the nook we had a bookshelf with cooking equipment and utensils and the doggies’ beds on the bottom shelves, two small chopping blocks from Ikea under a small window, and an armchair next to a small built in bookcase filled with cookbooks.
Not any more. We pulled everything out of the nook – the armchair is currently in the hallway – not a brilliant spot that’s for sure – vaccuumed and mopped and then slid the table and chairs in there. Cosy but sweet. Then, dividing the big open space, is the bookshelf with one chopping block at the end of the bookshelf, and the other chopping block tucked into the corner against the wall. Julian LOVES it. We can now access both sides of the bookshelf which means it is so much more useful. And we now have the cooking equipment, herbs and spices, and fruit and veg right near the stove. And fairy lights – I found them in the garage and wound them round the long posts of the bookshelf. I love fairy lights.
But the piece de resistance is Julian’s idea for the large blank wall above the end of the table. He asked me to keep it free – he thought some of our photos would like nice hanging there. That did sound nice … but expensive. I listed off all the things we would need – a disk of photos to take to OfficeWorks and have printed on proper photo paper. A HUGE collection of plain frames to pop them in, and then packets of hooks to hang them all. Julian looked crestfallen for a second, then came up with his marvellous plan.
Abby, Julian and I spent a few hours this afternoon choosing our favourite photos and printed them out on a nice stiff paper with a high white thingy (can’t remember what the packet said!) that we already had in the art cupboard. We just used our colour laser – we’ve had many inkjet printers over the years – have always spent a bit on them, then they’ve cost us a FORTUNE in ink and frankly, the end product was never worthy of the money spent. The colour laser – it’s a absolute workhorse, just keeps on trucking year after year.
We printed them all at 5 x 7 inches and I cut them out using the guillotine, leaving a small white border around each photo. Except for some Julian printed without ROOM for a border – silly billy! I stuck them up with blue tack. I’ve used up one and a half packets already and we still have plenty more photos to stick up. Whilst I stuck, Julian cooked in his lovely new cooking corner – homely bliss :-)
And now, we cannot take our eyes off the wall. Its fun to study them and realise we like the same things over and over. Lots of photos of dear Abby. Lots of photos in mum’s lovely back garden, lots of picnics and trips to the beach. Lots of laughs with friends. Simon and Toph are there, always beside us. And lots of Julian’s marvellous photos from India and Dubai. My goodness, being a biased wife, I reckon some of his photos are worthy of National Geographic!
Talk about a quick, easy and cheap family project, and it’s made a beautiful corner I know we shall thoroughly enjoy as the year draws to an end, and the summer holidays wait just round the corner.
p.s. Mum, we’ve hung the dear little red and white spotted lanterns in the front window and they are DIVINE! Thank you :-)
’cause you’re just not going to believe this. I can’t, and I’m sitting here, right next to it.
Late Thursday afternoon, Sweetpea began cawing like a crow. Mmhm. Julian was in Sydney, Abby and I were baffled. We picked her up, checked down her throat as best as we could (last week she had stick across the roof of her mouth), gently felt her tummy. Nothing stood out. We put her back down. She staggered about a little, moaning, made her crow noise again and fell to the floor. Yep.
We rang Julian. He said he’d noticed a little scab behind her ear the night before – could that be anything? We picked her up, parted her fur, and found a bloody great tick. Poor Sweetpea crowed and moaned and thrashed about. We threw ourselves into the car and flew to the Animal Emergency Hospital – place of Toph’s awful final hour. I can’t remember breathing as we drove through the long twilight streets, silent tears running down our faces as we tried to stay calm for Sweetpea and to not crash the car. Poor little Sweetpea drooled all the way – I’m talking pools of drool. Then she vomitted. Twice. Each time my dear dear Abigail caught it in her hands. Can you imagine – my 12 year old sat there, covered in dog drool holding handfuls of vomit. What a trooper.
The vet saw us straight away and yes, it was a huge adult Paralysis Tick. Deadly. One of Australia’s most feared parasites. Once the symptoms show, you often only have 24 hours before death occurs. I could barely speak to the vet, I was crying so hard (what a role mama of a mother huh!) and the words were just choking up in my throat.
I had to sign a mountain of paper work – acknowledging I understood the anti-serum might kill Sweetpea. That she was at risk of heart failure. A DNR order – that’s right, a doggie DNR, should the neurotoxin move to her diaphragm whereupon the options became ventilation or death. Holy cow.
We left Sweetpea there with the very attentive nurses and vet. They hooked her up to an IV with fluids, medication to slow down the drool (’cause inhaling that can lead to pneumonia) and of course the whoppingly expensive (I’m talking HUNDREDS of dollars) anti-serum.
We called when we got home – she was holding her own. We called at bedtime – holding her own. We called in the morning – a wee bit of an improvement. Her gag reflux had improved slightly. She was able to walk – albeit like a wobbly old drunk. Her oxygen SATS were 100. I could bring her home. Home! Eeeeek!
See, once the anti-serum has been administered and the symptoms have improved – i.e. no longer at risk of the diaphragm ceasing to work – there’s nothing else the vet can do. The anti-serum neutralises the toxin and now we just have to wait for Sweetpea’s wee little body to heal itself. They bathed her in an anti-tick solution and went over her very carefully, but we have to remain viligant in case there’s another little bastard of a tick. Holy cow. Abby’s added ticks to her list (mosquitoes and intestinal worms) of organisms that serve absolutely NO purpose in the great circle of life.
So it is now Saturday morning. I spent all day yesterday sitting in the kitchen armchair, beside Sweetpea’s little teepee. She lay dozing, cried a little, moaned a little, and every couple of hours would lurch to her feet and try to walk across the kitchen floor. I took her outside, she would do a little wee, then flop onto the grass. Back inside, back to the teepee.
She’s still cawing like a crow – the neurotoxin from the tick paralyses the vocal cords which changes the tone of their bark – and improvement is oh so slow. Recovery can be a couple of months. But this morning she lay in bed with us and snuggled and licked our chins and bit our fingers. A bit of the old Sweetpea returning. We just have to take it slow.
The tick would have come from our recent holiday. They are extremely uncommon in Melbourne but rampant on the south eastern coast. When in Marlo (tiny, tiny fishing village) we stopped for lunch and a toilet break for Sweetpea and she romped through some knee high grass by the beach. Perfect tick nursery – we know now.
Whilst I sat beside her, watching her little chest rise and fall, listening to the moan of her outbreath, I knitted. Quiet. Unobtrusive. She needs that at the moment. Everything else just fell by the wayside. Who could believe that just six weeks after Simon and Toph’s terrible deaths, we would be knocking at that door again.
Please keep little Sweetpea in your thoughts and prayers. And thank god for loving husbands, daughters, mothers, 24 hour vets, expensive anti-serum and knitting. Without them, I’d need a valium.
Living here in the temperate south – as opposed to the tropical north! – I am in awe that well into October / Spring we still need our winter woollies. The light filled days linger until so late. The trees are smothered in vivid apple green. Flowers are dancing prettily on every street. And yet, that wind is still chilly chilly whilst the temperature loiters in the mid teens. Nights are especially cool. So are mornings. Good shawl weather.
The Thursday after Simon and Toph died, I met Julian in town for lunch. I didn’t fancy sitting at home all by myself, dwelling on the terrible sadness of the week, so hopped on a train and shared some of the day with a sympathetic and loving soul. We ate pizza at a lovely Italian alley-way restaurant, chatted about the good things we would do the coming weekend, and when the conversation inevitably turned back to our dear little, so so missed doggies, tried to focus on all the wonderful stories we hold in our hearts about their lives. It was a bit sad nevertheless, and on my way back to the train station, I slipped into one of Melbourne’s famous fabric and wool stores – Clegs.
There I spied huge hanks of hand painted wool from New Zealand. The colours were so very pretty – I was instantly drawn to the brash oranges, reds, pinks and yellows but when I saw a bundle of soft heathery pinks and greys and lilacs and greens named “Spring”, I decided that was just the gentleness I needed.
As for the shawl – well, what else do you do with neither a large nor a small quantity of wool bought on the spur of the moment, but knit a shawl :-) I do so love knitting shawls. I love how they grow and grow – forming the point of the triangle as well as stretching their arms out further and further, so that when finished, they nestle so perfectly around my shoulders, hugging me warmly. My purple one that Abby wore recently is so big that I can cross it over my chest and tie it on my waist at the back. It’s a marvellously peasanty look but oh so warm and perfect for when I’m cooking or else wise busily occupied.
This one, Multnomah, offered the opportunity to try out a new techniqe – the Feather and Fan lace stitch. As mentioned previously, it was a wee challenge settling into its rhythm, and if you look closely, you’ll see that one of the earlier rows is extra wide – oops!. But, chanting softly under my breath, I quickly found the pattern just flowed from my fingers.
I’ve fringed all my previous shawls – must be the 1970s child in me – but with the lovely curves and tumbles of the feather and fan pattern, tassles would have looked a right fright. Nevertheless, me being me – that is, I possess utterly no sense of “less is more” – I couldn’t possibly leave it plain. So I used a picot cast off. An extra big one. I cast on four stitches using the cable cast on, then cast off 8 and so on so forth. It took AGES! Almost all the day actually – with the wind really picking up outside and the temperature dropping with sun, I began to think I would never get it round my shoulders for the evening. But I did.
All done. Lovely. Now I’ve got another one all ready to go. Hee! hee! hee!. It’s a lovely hand spun and dyed wool from just outside Brisbane in an ice turquoise blue and I’m leaning towards this pattern. It will make such a lovely beach shawl to snatch up when the evening cools off during the coming Summer holidays. But first, there’s another baby bonnet to finish and these glorious fingerless mitts to knit.
Oh how I do love knitting. I think the very act of knitting is just as marvellous as the end product – don’t you :-)
Before we get stuck into today’s programme, you must watch this – it’s bewitching! I’ve put my order in already and I cannot wait to have it in my hands. Please Mr. Book Depository, send it by your speediest owl, my heart is racing with anticipation!
Doesn’t that tickle your fancy! Yes, run away, run away and order it, and then come back to read about Nigella and some early morning baking. And the photos – signs of spring, some baking and the finished sideboard. Remember? I thrifted it from the roadside a few weeks ago, painted it and collaged the top. Here it is! Hope you like it :-)
Wednesday I start late at the bookstore and it is amazing what fabulous opportunities and time a mere extra hour can grant me :-) Abby skips out the door to catch her tram, Julian pedals off on his pushbike, and I slide back into my kitchen chair to sip my second coffees, running through the never ending list in my head of all the projects – existing and fanciful – I could tackle before I need to be on my way. Usually, by the time I’ve finished all the chores I’ve also added to the list, there’s only time enough to throw on my clothes and dash up the street.
This morning, however, time was moving like thick, cold honey from a jar – slow, slow, slow. Perfect for a morning overflowing with warm spring sunlight and a new cookbook – Nigella Lawson’s Kitchen. I might have mentioned it before, but I am a HUGE fan of Ms Lawson. I don’t care that she flirts with her mixing spoons, stuffs herself from the fridge at night and can’t turn the stove on without a coquettish smile. I first *met* her many, many years ago when I was a young mummy, living here in Melbourne with my wee toddler Abby and an always-at-work-husband. Wednesday nights, Julian went out with friends from work, Abby was sound asleep in bed, and Nigella was on the ABC with her program, Nigella Bites. Oh my. I can’t tell you how many second dinners I had on those Wednesday nights. Both Nigella and her food were so enticing, simple and accomodating of my small pantry, fridge and skills, that I was back in the kitchen at 8.30, apron on, trying out what she’d just shared. Thinking back, it’s fair to say that it was Nigella Lawson who fostered my love of cooking.
How to be a Domestic Goddess, Nigella Bites, and Feast are my favourite and most used cookbooks – they all grace the benchtop at least once a week. From these books I have learnt so much – my skills have increased out of sight, my experience with different ingredients, my ability to ad lib, my knowledge of food and why and how it works. I must add, however, that my love of Nigella is not blind. Her last book – Nigella Express – was absolute rubbish. I pounced on it with glee when it came out, made a myriad of recipes from it, they were all flops and frankly, did home cooking a major disservice. The whole book smacked of something thrown together too quickly without any real passion.
Thus, when I spied her new tome, Kitchen, nestled by the dozen in their boxes in our storeroom, I approached with trepidation. Was the Nigella I so adored really present in these pages? Would I hear her voice, her history, her experience in the enclosed notes and advice? Would the recipes WORK and be worth eating!
I am pleased to report – YES! As the sun poured in this morning, I sipped my coffee and read, read, read. Lovely stuff. Real cooking for families who love cooking and good food but need it to be accessible and timely. Now, Elaine – my boss at work and owner of the store – adores cookbooks – our cookbook section is unrivalled – but she has never owned a Nigella cookbook nor cooked from any of them. Indeed, she SCOFFS at Nigella and no matter how much I have sung her praises this year, Elaine has always smiled indulgently, denounced her as slightly ridiculous and largely unhealthy, and refused to countenance any suggestion that she was worth a second look.
So, I looked for a quick cake recipe that would be healthy and yummy – found a beauty – Venetian Carrot Cake – and set to making it. Just to prove Elaine wrong :-) Oh, oh, oh, oh! How good is this! It is dairy and gluten free – uses olive oil instead of butter, and almond meal instead of flour. It only needs two carrots, a half cup of golden sultanas, nutmeg, three eggs, half a cup of sugar, the mentioned oil and almond meal, and a half a lemon. Ingredients I always have in the pantry and fridge. Changes I made – Nigella steeps her sultanas in rum. To use her phrase – I couldn’t be faffed and I don’t like rum so I just added the sultanas plain. She also tops the cake with toasted pine nuts – couldn’t be faffed – so I simply squashed an almond into the middle of each one. Oh yeah – I didn’t bake it as a cake ’cause I didn’t have time to fiddle about with baking paper so I simply spooned the mixture into cupcake papers.
They looked gorgeous, smelled gorgeous and were super yummy and moist. Elaine loved them! And Kirk (her husband) had two! Yep, along with that toothsome, lemony, carrotty goodness, Elaine had to eat at least a few of her words :-)
And this evening – I made the Spring Chicken – perfectly lovely, dead easy and required just the amount of energy and attention I had left after a day at work. This is a good book.
Now, I am sitting here in the kitchen – and after such glorious spring weather this morning, I am bundled up in my flannels, having a bit of a shiver, whilst the wind roars around the house – it’s making the stove exhaust fan spin all by itself! – and rain thunders down upon us. Spring is such a contrary season isn’t it! I’m off to bed to read the Clockwork Angel – well, I have to compromise since that speedy owl still hasn’t shown up.
This is the tale of Biker Jools and his chickie babe, Biker Lil.
Actually, she wasn’t always Biker Lil. She is really a meek mummy who is afraid of lots of things – aeroplanes, underground carparks, elevators, sailing … you get the picture. Instead, Biker Lil can usually be found wearing lots of florals and long skirts, stitching and knitting, cooking and pottering.
But one day, she was sitting on the sunny grass having a picnic at the Tilba Cemetery (as you do) with her man, Biker Bool (who’s always been a biker) and he said, “Hey! Instead of riding home in the car with your Aunty Cate and Nana Nic and Girlie Abby, why don’t you ride with me on the back of the bike!”
Uh-oh! Biker Lil hadn’t been riding on a mighty bike (Bootspeak for motorcycle) for many many years. She looked at Biker Jools – he looked so thrilled with his idea and it was a beautiful day. So, she bravely squashed her braids into the spare helmet, squeezed her frothy white blouse into a spare leather jacket and climbed aboard.
Woo hoo! Off they zoomed. They bumped back up the grassy knoll to the dirt track – Biker Jools fancied himself a right Steve McQueen straight out of the Great Escape – jiggled along the dirt track and its cattle grids, and finally, burst back out onto the smooth curves, dips and hills of the highway.
It was breathtaking – literally and metaphorically. There were so many beautiful fields and vistas – and lots of lovely cows. Biker Lil just loves cows.
They coasted along behind Aunty Cate, Nana Nic and Girlie Abby – and Dido, who popped her head up every now and then, to see whether Biker Lil was holding on or looking like Nan the time she rode the Octopus at the Ekka with Abby and Peter :-0
And then, Biker Jools yelled back, “Hey! Let’s leave the highway and have an adventure!” Biker Lil couldn’t answer, her breath was being sucked out of her body and her mouth was as dry as the Bega riverbed. But she was really having fun, so she smiled and nodded her squished helmety head with vigour.
Off they roared. They explored the ruins of the burnt out old Bega Hospital (a heritage site, leased to a craft group who managed to burn it down, only to find the government had no insurance so now the remains just sit there, high on the hill, its beautiful brickwork glowing in the sun; the gardens, tended by generations of keen green thumbs, growing into the wards and theatres.)
They bumped along narrow grassy tracks that ran along the strange sandy bed of the Bega river (there are occasional billabongs in the sand and recently, after flooding rain, the river actually ran for the first time in over a decade, but mostly, it’s just sand with the water burbling along underground.)
Biker Lil banged Biker Jools on the back when it was time for a photo. It may be a lacking on her part, but she just found it too hard to hold that camera steady whilst whizzing along ;-) Biker Jools cheated and used his mobile.
There were glorious trees …
Wonderful contrasts of colour …
Fragile and abandoned houses …
Softly coloured long grass …
and pretty, pretty weeds.
It was a wonderful adventure! But the next day …. ooooooooh!
Biker Lil’s bum sure was sore. My golly, she walked like a cowboy who’d just spent a month in the saddle. Clearly, she needs more practice if she wants to put the meek mummy aside every now and then and fully embrace her bikie persona ;-)
We Boots are taking a wee holiday with our Aunty Cate and Uncle Mick in Merimbula – a dear little seaside town on the far southern coast of New South Wales. In my dreams, I live on the edges of Merimbula, in an old farmhouse, on rolling rich green pastures with dairy cows and a few pigs and chickens overlooking the ocean. Julian kayaks every morning. Abby continues to go to school and draws and sews and visits the beach everyday. And I – I milk the cows and grow vegetables and potter about this dreamy farm creating a beautiful life. Mmmm … good day dream. Something we need to seriously work on – getting the Boot family settled in Merimbula that is, not eliminating the dreams :-)
Anways, it is a lovely drive from Melbourne to Merimbula. We pass through so many pretty old towns and villages – Orbost, Cabbage Tree, Sale, Bruthen to name a few. This time we stopped in Sale for a picnic lunch, and this time I was super prepared. We had roasted maple chicken legs, coleslaw, cranberry and cinnamon muffins, home squeezed grapefruit and orange juice, and a thermos full of tea. Alas – the food was yummy but the weather was FREEZING! It was only 10 degrees and there was a wind that I swear was blowing straight off the icebergs of the Antarctic. Oy! And poor Abby – Sweet Pea had chucked up her breakfast on Abby’s jumper in the car, so the poor girl was reduced to wearing my shawl ’cause at 12 years old she is “old enough to pack my own clothes mum” but not to think of including a spare jumper.
What fun huh! Freezing cold, dog vomit … however, there were these two extraordinary towers in the park we picnicked in. Goodness knows what they were used for – they were quite old, with windows and doors and pulleys on the upper floors. A mystery to us but boy were they wonderful! They were SMOTHERED in ancient vines – some parts as thick as my leg and as lifeless as a door nail (to share Dicken’s sentiment, just why is a door nail so especially dead looking?) and others, rampantly fertile and jostling their way up the brickwork of the towers.
Of course, the Gothic romance of these towers was too enchanting for Abby to withstand and she spent most of her picnic circling them, peering through windows and trying to climb her way to the top. They really were completely fascinating and I’ve yet to find any reference to them on google. Sale’s a hard town name to search for – google is convinced I simply want to look at available real estate. Nope, just the real estate that would appeal to an evil stepmother/witch with a gorgeous but irritating stepdaughter to hide.
The weather turned even drearier further down the highway – 6 degrees with a stiff wind, rain and hail – and poor Julian rode his motorcycle. With each drop of the thermometer, Abby and I would look at each other, shake our heads and exclaim, poor dad! He felt poor. And wretched. And cold. And desperate to arrive. Poor Julian.
p.s. we stopped for honey at a dear little dairy farm in the village of Cabbage Tree. Oh my, the farmers were in their late 70s at least. They had 114 dairy cows, more dilapidated machinery than I’ve ever seen, and a wall of shelves in the honey room full of jars of PICKLED SNAKES. It was the dairy wife’s hobby – pickling snakes – and she was jolly proud of them, pointing out her favourite ones whilst I tasted the honey. She was a bit apologetic that she herself did not kill her biggest specimen – a massive and very poisonous brown – she found it dead on the road and thought it too good to pass up so she pickled it too. PICKLED SNAKES. Awesome. Don’t you just love meeting folk like this – what a wonderful world of eccentricity.
This is Dido. She is Abby’s latest creation – made from beautiful pure wool felt from one of our favourite local shops – the Little Sparrow. Oh my is this one pretty shop – full of beautiful Steiner-inspired toys and craft supplies and their felt is just scrumptious. Most of it is hand-dyed so the colours are beautifully mooshy and I think it is mostly from the Netherlands. Very very yummy and well worth a visit.
Anyways, back to Dido. Abby draws up her own patterns – over the years I’ve impressed upon her the importance of starting on paper first so as not to waste good fabric and felt! But I don’t think she keeps them – this is terrible. We need to make a folder to keep all the clothes and doll patterns in just for posterity if nothing else.
At this stage in her stitchy life, Abby likes to sew her seams up on the outside, and with the arrival of a huge bag of tapestry wool last week with her Nan, has fallen in love with the thick bulky look of stitching in wool. She has learnt blanket stitch and we keep practising, but her favourite stitches are the simple old whip and running. She’s also very resourceful when it comes to button holes. She cuts a slit in the fabric and then hand stitches the edges – such patience :-)
With Dido’s coat’s buttons, Abby found some wonderful big yellow buttons in the button jar, but alas, they only had one central hole. Being a silly mama, we figured she could stitch out in a compass-like manner from the centre hole and that this would work fine. Hmph! Not quite! The buttons then couldn’t go through the holes – with their edges being attached to the fabric and all. As I sat there stumped and bemused, Abby quickly sewed smaller, simpler buttons on the inside of the coat which would button through the stitched button holes underneath and voila! All was repaired, workable and pretty. Good thing the girlie is of clearer thinking than her mama!
With the creation of Dido, Abby decided to forgo the single felt hairpiece, and try yarn hair. Such fun! She cut all the lengths and I sewed it on under her close supervision. I’m sure she’ll be trying it herself soon.
As for the clothes – Abby LOVES making her dolls clothes – wee Dido has her sailor’s outfit, complete with detachable red felt collar, a pair of flannel pyjamas (same fabric as Abby’s 2010 flannel nightie) and a red felt coat that I’ve promised to crochet a little collar onto.
Now Dido has a wee boy friend – he needs his hair stitched on and then his head attached but already, his wardobe is growing. I’d better get out that chenille needle so that he and Dido can enjoy our spring weather together. Meanwhile, Dido has donned her coat and is ready for her first big adventure – catching the train to town to lunch with Julian and Abby :-)
Have a lovely adventure you two sweet little girls and make sure you don’t get caught in our cold and sudden showers of spring rain!
Mum left this morning – her lovely holiday over, she had to fly onto Canberra for a boarding school conference before back home to work. We were sad. It was so wonderful having her here with us – Abby especially loves it. She and her Nan get up to so much mischief and giggling and indulgence. Tram trips to town just to have the perfect hot chocolate. Hours spent swooning through small, quirky boutiques and coming home with all kinds of pretty treasures. But everything comes to an end and it was time to say farewell until the summer holidays. And I must say, this left us all a bit flat. So it was out to the garden to soak up the most GORGEOUS spring day we’ve had. We set up camp, brought out our favourite things and revelled in the loveliness that was there for the taking.
There was story telling/playing and drawing …
Knitting and … more knitting …
Julian hung out his *washing* and did some *planting* …
Sweet Pea romped …
Sunny juice was squeezed and gulped, as we all grew hotter and jumpers were ditched …
Old bikes from Julian’s always growing collection (all, I might add, from hard rubbish – you should have seen him one rainy morning last week, running home instead of catching the train, pushing a wonderful 1970s children’s bike that he found in a pile of rubbish on the footpath up the street) were stripped down, thoroughly cleaned, rebuilt and tested …
Baby bonnets were finished and modelled … including the learning of a new method of sewing up – the kitchener stitch, very cool …
[ okay, just tried it on a baby at the bookstore, and it's a bit big - fits an 8 month old, so I'll need to knit another in the smaller size for a little newborn who's on her way soon! Never mind - it was a lovely knit and Abby and Julian will tell you how I've said endlessly since finishing, Oh I wish we had another baby to knit one for! ]
And when the sun drooped lower in the sky and the air turned cool again, raspberry muffins were baked and gobbled up warm.
The day didn’t quite end there – Julian rode up to the shops for bbq supplies and we had our first bbq of the season, whilst I dug out another garden bed filled with dead fish fern and weedy tangles, dug in the compost and manure, planted some parsley and daisies and gave it all a good mulching. But all this was done in the gloom of early evening so you’ll just have to take our word for it Mum! :-)
Spring camping in the back garden, all home together, is the most perfect way to spend the day :-) Hope you too find an opportunity to head out into the garden with those you love and soak up the sun.
Oh my! What a lovely two days we’ve had at home – me, my girl and my mum. We laugh so hard. It is so good to just be here together. Cloth on our laps, needles in our hands, fabric and thread strewn across every table in the house. We all have so many projects on the go. Mum is stitching a needlepoint Christmas stocking for her littlest grandson, embroidering a skirt for herself, and she’s supposed to be seaming up my cardie from way back when my ankle was broken. Hmmmm …. it seems to have been left in a bag in the corner. I may just have to stop biting my nails and give it a go myself. Abby’s imagination is overflowing with softies and all things felt – today it was a dear little doll.
And me – well goodness, you know me. I have projects lined up til the cows come home – after they’ve been moo-ing around the universe for a millenium.
Our day started in the kitchen – too cold and gray outside – and we were keeping Sweetpea company – she’s a kitchen dog until she’s toilet trained – and I had kitchen chair cushions to work on. But then there were blanket scraps from the cushion covers, and felt scraps from Abby’s doll, and thread from the embroidery … so before I even realised what I was doing, my fingers were stitching up a wee garland.
A spring posy garland for the living room window. A spring garland to bring the soft colours and prettiness of outside, inside. A spring garland that is still cosy and warm for these cold spring days.
[ there are wee scarlet runner bean plants shooting against the bottom of this fence - we're hoping it will become much prettier before long ]
Gosh garlands are tricksy to photograph nicely when you want to get the full length! Even more so when there’s fresh spring sun pouring in the window :-) Never mind – you get the drift, don’t you.
Now, back to the chair cushions so that I may clear the kitchen table and make breakfast for the folk that are still a-sleeping, cosy in their beds. Have a lovely weekend dear readers.