Sunday, December 30, 2007

They say it's your birthday...

...We're gonna have a good time.

It was a great time. A big thank you to Lara and Mark for hosting the Western Suburbs Affiliated Branch of Rubi & Lana's Knitting group.
Despite having to work in the morning I was able to make it in time for Cake cutting and a rousing chorus of "Happy Birthday".

Mary-Helen and Sandra were there, as was Jenwren, Sally and her ever-so-patient David.
Young master Inigo was a bundle of dark-eyed cuteness matched only by the soft bunnies in their hutch.

Much knitting was done, books and yarn admired and cake consumed. Sally's assertion that she was not a lace knitter was completely contradicted by her wonderful lace scaves while Mark quietly knitted his Intarsia .

Ravelry meanwhile continues to impress. I received numerous birthday greetings through gmail and ravelry mail because a little birthday cake icon had popped up on my avatar - it is very nice to get good wishes from afar.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

After the Storm.

It rained and it thundered and flashed, not once but twice in the day. The Hailstones were big but not devastating, the rain was fierce and loud on the corrugated iron roof and the poor old gutters couldn't cope. All the critical electricals were turned off and the blackouts only lasted a few minutes each time. I think the rainwater tank was about to burst its seams because the overflow sump was flooded.

I went out about 6 o'clock to admire the rainbows and in the process discovered that the bottom of the garden had turned into a bubbling stream.

Luckily a lot of the plants were on raised beds or were established enough to hold their own but by the spread of the mulch it was obvious that the stream had at one time been a raging torrent. This is our pet concrete Goanna sitting in the new water feature - I don't think the Pittosporums are enjoying it though.

After the storm the sun came out and gave a colourful display as it set just to reassure the world that all was well.

The water flow does not come as a surprise because it's all got to go somewhere and there was a lot of it. The forces of Nature do not respect man-made fences or manicured gardens. If the changing climate is going to make heavy rainfall of this kind a feature it may be time to adapt.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Peace on Earth and Goodwill to all

Good tidings we bring to you and your kin;
Good tidings for Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Christmas Colour

This stunning example of the West Australian Red Flowering Gum or Corymbia ficifolia is not in my garden. I tried growing it when we first moved in but it didn't survive. This marvelous specimen is in a suburb at the base of the Blue Mountains, much hotter and drier than my backyard and its saturated colour just takes your breath away.

My Christmas Bush has started to turn a subtle shade of red as the younger white blooms mix with the older red sepals. It is not as showy as this hybrid I saw in a garden several stations to the East but I think I prefer the demure blush to the brazen scarlet.

Ceratopetalum Gummiferum is native to this area so the bush is full of showy red trees and shrubs - especially on the wriggly, windy road of Mitchells Pass. Its funny to see the flowers of this abundant tree on sale at florists for $6.50 a bunch but this probably accounts for late night raids of front gardens and nature strips by secateur-wielding entrepreneurs.

While the focus is on the garden this is the result of the constant rain and misty cloud we have had for the last six months:

here is the feral Strawberry patch

and the feral Tomato patch:

and the feral herb patch with rosemary, lavender, chocolate mint, common mint, and lots of so-called annual flowers that have resurrected themselves. Not shown is the feral potato patch.

After the Cockatoos and snails and possums and parrots have all helped themselves there might be something left for us.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Qatlho'! ISE5 Partner

A fantastic package arrived in the mail today! It's from Jenn, my ISE5 partner, and may I say she has done herself proud.

She knitted this beautifully soft and squishy scarf from Knit Picks Gossamer and there is an extra skein included! As one of the Knit Pick untouchables (not deemed worthy of overseas postage) I am glad of the chance to see what their yarns are like. The pattern is of her own making so I am going to try and deconstruct it to knit a matching hat (or she could take pity on me and send me the stitch :-) )

Here are all the goodies laid out on my local coffee shop table - I couldn't wait until I got home so all the other patrons shared in my pleasure as I unwrapped each little package. Even the fact that Australian Customs had obviously been there before me didn't spoil the fun.

As well as delectable chocolate, tea and locally spun Alpaca yarn there was a beautifully hand-crafted notebook and matching star ornament, both in my shade of green. The two candy canes peeping out the top have been claimed as tax by the young lad (he says, 'thank you very much')

As to the Klingon reference in the title of this post - well that was inspired by this pattern in Elsebeth Lavold's Pattern book The Embraceable You Collection which was included among the goodies.

Everything in this book resonates with the historic, sci-fi, theatrical nerd in me. I mean - patterns inspired by the Terracotta Warriors, 4th century Scythian uniforms, Tristan and Isolde, and Star Trek! Oh, be still my beating heart.

So, Thank You Jenn, for this wonderful, thoughtful exchange,
reH nay'meylIjyIn Dujablu'jaj.**

(*Thank You!) (**may your dishes be always served alive)

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Me being a Groupie

This is me and (gush) Tom Stoppard- one of the best playwright in the English language in my humble opinion. The man whose Rosencrantz & Guildenstern made Hamlet readable to all those English Lit students.

I was very privileged to be able to focus and plot some lights on him for the "Tom Stoppard in conversation with Andrew Upton, interrupted by Geoffrey Rush" talk in the Opera Theatre today.

It was a very casual, free flowing discussion among three very interesting theatrical types, nothing too dramatic (excuse the pun). During the set up Mrs Upton was there giving hubby Andrew a bit of moral support. I'm afraid to say her stage presence is a lot better than his but I suppose that's why he's a playwright and screenwriter and she is an Academy Award- and Golden Globe Award-winning Australian actress.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Windscreen Principles

From adversity comes The Principles of Knitting by June Hemmes Hiatt.

It started out as "One of Those Days" - I had to drive into the city to get the car windscreen replaced because of an exponentially growing 10 cm crack. The city had been deluged by hailstorms and high winds so I was very, very lucky to get a booking at the glass repair shop.

The fact I had to drive over 100km to get there was a minor inconvenience. I had planned to leave early and pick up the replacement wireless router that had died the previous week and do various little chores on the way down the highway.

Ravelry got in the way! At 10:15 I got a polite suggestion that maybe I should get off the computer and head off to Mascot to make it for noon.

With the help of the M4 and the Cross City Tunnel (I do like those tunnels - am I the only one?) I pulled in on time. I wasn't impressed when told the job was going to take over two hours - it was too far to travel to work so I was stuck in the small shopping precinct of Botany Rd, Mascot a place not renowned for its relaxing environment.

The Council Library came to the rescue - and with it the discovery of a book I have heard about but never read until now. I was very impressed with its wealth of information, the detailed, clear illustrations and the quirky bias that June Hemmes Hiatt has towards certain knitting techniques.

Even though she states "The most important thing to understand at the outset is that there is no one way to knit" she clearly has a bias towards "Right Handed Knitting" ie 'drop and throw' style and knitting straight instead of in the round.

As for "Pencil Knitting" aka 'English' she has this to say;

"While I can understand how it must have evolved, I have yet to discover any modern justification for the version I call Pencil Knitting, in which the right needle is held from underneath in the crook between thumb and forefinger. This is most certainly a system that requires it to be learned in trusting and uncritical childhood because with out the aid of a knitting belt or stick it is quite clumsy - I don't think many adults would put up with learning it.

If someone you know knits this way and offers to teach you how, decline as politely as possible, but do decline. If this is the way you knit and you like the results, by all means continue to do so: the world needs its eccentrics to make it a more interesting place."

And to that last phrase I say 'hear, hear"

Saturday, December 08, 2007

We Sheep

It's that time of year again - it's amazing how time flies!
I did the Messiah rehearsal this morning and opened the windows wide so I could hear it. I love the trumpet solos, and the Counter Tenor, and the Bass - I just love the whole thing.

As was last year both KnitTatPug and Julie were performing in the choir - I was the annoying person shining lights in their eyes. (I have a theory that if you can't be seen you can't be heard - sound operators may disgree with me.)

The soloist in this quick snap is Stephen Bennet - a Bass singer who played a fantastic Achilla in Opera Australia's Julius Caesar - another wonderful composition by that talented George Frideric Handel fellow.

Friday, December 07, 2007

The Power of Rain

Thunderstorms - I love them. They really give you a sense of perspective about the huge potential of nature and how pitiful humans and their electronic devices are.

Over the past hour there's been a big one rolling around the hills and I think it's safe to finally go back online (I have been caught out before by this false sense of security though).

These are a few snapshots of one of a flock of Cockatoos that took refuge in our Gum trees at the height of the deluge. The force of the rain was so great it kept knocking the poor old Cockies out of their branches.

This one just gave up and stayed upside down for several minutes until the worst was over.

When the rain had passed they flew off loudly complaining in their raucous voice about the injustice of it all.

At least they have stopped ripping apart the Acacia tree at the front of the house - the car was covered in a blanket of leaves, branches and stripped seed pods plus a few strategically placed blobs of Bird Poo on the windscreen. I'm afraid I took a bit of delight in seeing these in-your-face- birds get their comeuppance from Nature.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Call me Marvin

"The first ten million years were the worst. And the second ten million years, they were the worst too. The third ten million years I didn't enjoy at all. After that I went into sort of a decline" - The Restaurant at the End of the Universe

Here's a thing:
without looking in your wallet/purse list the entire contents; the credit cards, membership cards, discounts vouchers, lottery tickets, library cards etc, etc, and then imagine life without them.

This is what I have been doing for the past 24 hours because between using my wallet to purchase petrol at 2:30 pm on Monday and going to buy dinner with it at 6pm, it went missing.
I left my bag unattended on the Concert Hall stage while I focused the roof for The Bjelke Peterson School of Physical Culture (that's worthy of an entire post by itself but I don't want to relive any of it or inflict it on you.)

I don't like to think that there are people in my workplace that would help themselves to a wallet but it looks like I have been a bit naive and am now paying for it. I have been on the phone all morning stopping cards, arranging replacements, filling out forms and trying to remember where my Birth Certificate is so I can get my Driver's License replaced.

This has made me very, very depressed. I can totally empathise with Marvin and the grey rainy day outside is reinforcing the gloom.

"Life? Don't talk to me about Life."

Friday, November 30, 2007

I did it!

The last Strand Galaxy in the Sydney Opera House

Whew - I made it! A whole month of blogging.
I don't think I'll be doing this on a regular basis though it did bring a bit of discipline to this erratic weblog.

30 days of revelations about my work, the garden, my knitting and various excursions and historical memorabilia.

I hope for some it was interesting, entertaining and even educational.

On the eve of World Aids day I would like to dedicate this last post of November 2007 to the late Ron Nelson - workmate, Comrade, past president of the Australian Theatrical and Entertainment Union and friend from a time when we were all passionate and dedicated to the cause of Workers Rights.

I would also like to welcome into the world Inigo George Nettle, the beautiful son of Lara and Mark - may he bring them happiness , joy and the odd sleepless night.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Sweet Blueberry Ash

And here it is in all its pink petticoat glory - the lovely Blueberry Ash. Like the Christmas Bush the lovely thing about this tree is that it will have a second colourful display of blue berries as soon as these blooms are done.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

A Night On

7am start in the Concert Hall for a one-night performance of Dionne Warwick. Finishing at 11 pm and just catching time to do a post.

It was a gentle show, the audience knew all the words and sang along in the Chorus, Ms Warwick was entertaining but restrained, as a woman of her vast experience has a right to be. I only had the care of House Lights for the show so was able to make wonderful and hopefully final progress on outstanding UFO's.

The downside is that the goods lift that makes getting the hardware out of the Hall easy, is broken. I am so glad I don't have to carry all that truss and all those lights down the stairs and into the truck.
Instead I'm going to load my car up with a few lights for the School end-of-year concert and once again, head on up that mountain road.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

A Night Off

The end of a long day at work - a hot sticky evening - the rain has finally stopped. I had the night in the city to myself so I headed to Little Korea and Elizabeth's bookshop. Bought Volume One of Preacher, and a couple of other Vertigo comics.

On to Makotos, inspired by Grab Your Fork's reviews of this busy chain of Sushi bars.

This is dessert, a juicy strawberry wrapped in sweet dough, after several plates of Mango and Salmon, Shark fin boats and Edamame.

There are so many wonderful restaurants in this small area it's often hard to choose - "Mr Dduckbocki and Miss Kkochi" were high on the list for their novelty appeal as well as an interesting menu. I may save that for next time/

Monday, November 26, 2007


Despite having several WIP and UFOs on the knitting front I went ahead and started up a new pattern after impulsively buying the yarn from Little Knits.

I am on their mailing list and the mere suggestion of exclusive offers and '50% off' pushes my bargain buttons. The catch is that the postage is often as much as the yarn although they do try and reduce the overall cost. Despite this some of the best I have knitted with has come from Little Knits.

The wool/silk Mondial Giada I'm using for Wicked is light and smooth to knit. It has the same twist as Zara, another nice yarn, and although the colour is a bit lighter than I expected it is knitting up to a lovely garment. The last Zephyr design I knitted was Green Gables in Classic Elite Provence and that was a great success.

I love these designs, the way the top-down technique is so easy and quick and their flattering shaping . I might have to try Rusted Root next.

Sunday, November 25, 2007


This is a female Satin Bowerbird's bum - not the most flattering shot but the result of several minutes skulking around under the Mulberry tree hoping she would give me nice close up. After I retired back to the garden seat she did finally come close enough for a profile shot. The dark blue male was much more elusive and quite territorial. He shot off in pursuit of a Currawong that fancied a mulberry feast as well.

Hisses, creaks, pops and rusty hinge noises alerted me to the birds presence while I was weeding. They also can sing quite melodiously and often mimic other birds, which can be confusing sometimes. I don't know if it's the absence of the cat, or the rain and plants flowering but the number of birds we have in the garden seems to have doubled. There's even a Wattle Bird nest in the Blueberry Ash. Now if only the Blue Tongue lizard would come back the ecosystem would be complete - we've got plenty of snails to tempt it.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

A Little Voice is Heard

It was a big day here in the mountains, the local school held a market day, the Brook Theatre opened its new play and there was an election where the Prime Minister lost his seat to a female, former ABC reporter. Oh, how sweet that is.

The Green Party, the one that keeps the rest on their toes, had a major presence in most electorates and seem to now have 5 Senators in the Upper House. It is so good to be able to have a choice when the main parties are a bit Tweedledee and Tweedledum. The fact that preferences make a vote twice as valuable is a great way to express this dissatisfaction.

The local polling station was in the School Hall and I was in there the night before rigging the lights for the forthcoming school production. It's so good to see the Hall finally being used for Drama so it was a pleasure to help them look the best it could. I cringe when it's suggested that the fluorescent lights could do as good a job - "where is the magic" I say.

The Brook on the other hand did do magic - with a tiny rig that ran on a 10 Amp fuse and used less power than most people's Air Conditioners. Mouna Stone directed and stared as Little Voice as well as designing and making the sets. She has an amazing singing voice and she and the rest of the cast gave a wonderful and entertaining performance.
I was disappointed to leave at interval because of the hyperactive 9 yr old. I think he wanted to be up on the stage with them. He'll get his chance.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Sweet Jessamine

The scent of this Orange Jessamine is like Opium - the perfume not the drug. It is so rich and powerful that on humid summer nights it fills the house sometimes to the point of nausea. It always reminds me of Paddington when I first arrived in Sydney and lived in a Terrace off Five Ways. The sticky heat was a real shock for a girl who had spent the last three years in Dunedin - not a city renowned for warmth or sunshine.

This bush is by the back door and is one of a few exotics we have in the mostly Native garden. Some were here when we came, some like the cabbage tree and Pohutakawa, were planted as reminder of past lives, and some were planted by my Mum when she lived here 10 years ago. Of the introduced species they are the most precious.

Down the side of the house are two large roses, a deep Crimson Red and a flowsy Pink with a lovely perfume. They were surrounded by concrete and fibro but still flowered profusely every year. The concrete boots are gone and instead they have a mulched bed with regular doses of Cow poo - I wonder if such kindness may reduce their hardiness. I value and admire their tenacity and strongly repel any suggestions that they be replaced by something less prickly, as they do have a mean thorn.

The garden is also productive; cumquats, mulberries, strawberries for the birds, beans and just today we saw our first Apple!

This is on a tree we called Lady Penelope because it a triple grafted mix of Pink Lady, Royal Gala and Granny Smith. I don't know what variety this first fruit is but it will definitely not be picked until it is well and truly ready. Its close proximity to the bird feeder and the rowdy group of Cockatoos that have recently moved in do concern me a bit but I'm hoping they haven't got a taste for Apples, for their sakes.

Thursday, November 22, 2007


Eek! Another squeak in. Just like the mice I can hear scratching above me in the roof. At least they're quieter than the Possum - it sound like he is wearing Doc Martins Boots, the way he pounds over the corrugated iron roof.

It's raining steadily on that roof and the sound is so reassuring. I know our poor old Valiant Safari will have a mini swimming pool in the front tomorrow but I would not give this steady rain away for anything.

This morning there was mist every where as I caught the train to work and the moisture has made the rocks bloom with colourful algae.

The journey home was met by an thunderstorm in full force so there was no computer work happening while the lightning cracked above that iron roof. I wonder if that is why we have had two printers and one Modem zapped by lightning strikes?

It looks as though La NiƱa has well and truly arrived and I welcome her.