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.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Youse are Great

cash advance

This is a little indulgent I know but I think all the people who read my blog are Geniuses and I thank you all for your patronage.

Lara also came up with another wonderful time absorbing Link here - the highest score I have manages to achieve is 45 out of 50 and I have earned quite a few bowls of rice getting there. Did you know that laconism = terseness. I do now.

Hopefully on Saturday there will be good news on several fronts both for Lara and the nation at large. I am hoping we see the safe arrival of young Inigo and we see his Aunt elected into the Senate with a large number of her colleagues.

I'm not sure where I saw this How to Vote link but it was very useful in confirming something I knew already - "Bob Brown for President".
Failing that, as M-H says "Kevin, don't FIU".

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Bees in my Tree

This post is dedicated to the wonders of the Ceratopetalum Gummiferum or as it is more commonly known the NSW Christmas Bush.

The tree is in full bloom at the moment so there is another scent to rival the Native Frangipani (which has almost done its dash). In a few weeks this mass of white flowers will turn bright red and just before Christmas, will be sold for extortionate prices from Roadside Stalls for last minute guilt gift giving.

An official explanation for the colour change is: " the white flowers of New South Wales Christmas bush are fairly insignificant. However, after flowering finishes, the sepals usually develop a pink to red colouration and produce the massed display that make it one of the most popular Australian plants in cultivation."

I don't think the white flowers are 'fairly insignificant' - they make an awesome display, especially when they are covered by Bees and glowing in the late afternoon light. This tree is about 10yrs old and has been kept trim to encourage flowering. It aspires to great heights though and maybe one day we'll just let it go - the sky is the limit.

Meanwhile, in another part of the Garden a rival for showy display is preparing itself - the melodious Elaeocarpus reticulatus (Blueberry Ash) has buds on every twig and branch and is going to explode in a mass of pink very soon. Just watch these pages.

Monday, November 19, 2007


This is a "squeak in by the skin of my teeth" post as another long day comes to a close.

I present two teapot cosies that were knitted for a Ravelry Tea Cosy exchange and which were dispatched last Thursday to their Tasmania recipient. Australia Post came through with flying colours and delivered the parcel of Cosies and other goodies today. I have it on good authority that Emma was very pleased with all the contents and I now look forward to receiving some little Tea Pot cover from my upstream exchange partner over the next month. (No pressure!)

Both the patterns came from the seemingly infinite pattern database that is Ravelry:
The Red and Black Skull and Crossbones is an adaptation of the Pirate Gal hat by Erssie and the Fulled Autumn Leaves comes from Autumn Tea Cozy by aemmeleia. My thanks to both of these generous knitters for making their patterns available.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Sculpture by the Sea

We made it for the very last day of Sculpture by the Sea on a brilliant blue sunny day. There was over one hundred sculptures along the 2km of cliffside walk between Tamarama and Bondi beach and double that number of people walking the track to see them.

The sculptures were so varied in size, shape and composition and were placed up cliffs or over banks and down on the sands of the beach.

Since moving up to the mountains I have missed the last two years of SbtS and I had been a regular patron from way back in 1997 when it first started.

It's a big deal now with lots of big names in the art world and it draws thousands of people from all over the world over the several weeks it's held.

It was interesting to see that 7 days away from the Federal election both the major parties made an appearance for the final prize giving.
Peter Garrett MP and Malcolm Turnbull MP were both pressing the flesh, though not together. I didn't stay for the full Media event though I hear The Chaser team turned up to poke fun at them.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Knitting and Music

Despite a fuggy head, a hot afternoon and the dreaded trackwork I managed to make it to the Rubi & Lana knitting meet for the first time in many months. I also wanted to pick up some of R&L's lovely laceweight yarn to send to my ISE5 partner and bought 2 balls in a rich Peacock shade. Each one has 900m of soft merino yarn!

At the meet I saw an lovely lace top knitted from just one of these. It was derived from a Vogue Knitting patten and had an edging of ribbon at the neckline. The knitter (whose name I can' remember because my brain is fuggy) couldn't recall the exact source but I'm going to look through my VK back copies and see if I can find it.

The remainder of the day was spent at work doing the final of the Rachmaninov Festival. During yesterday's rehearsal I was blown away by the Pianist playing Piano Concerto No. 3 and tonight he was awesome. I now know that "it has the reputation of being one of the most difficult concertos in the entire piano repertoire." and I can see why. He got a standing ovation at the end of the performance and I was one of them.

The SSO is apparently making a recording of this series with Vladimir Ashkenazy as the Conductor. It will be definitely going on my wishlist.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Warning: Dummy Spit in progress

I must confess - today I did a very unprofessional Dummy Spit. The combination of a totally stuffed up head with the pressures of last minute programming and a probably innocuous remark caused me to stomp off high dudgeon.

I have the dreaded lurgy, my throat feels like sandpaper and my nose is a dripping mess. Despite this I still managed to catch the 6am train and get to work on time but I wasn't in a social mood.

I got through the morning's Rachmaninov rehearsal because I was high up in the Lighting Booth by myself and nobody was pressuring me. Later in the day though I had to quickly programme a little Strand 200 for a last minute change to a Fashion Show in the Utzon Room. I, and the people around me, didn't realise how short my fuse was until the smart-ass remark. It all settled down once I was left to myself to finish the job in peace.

Hopefully this "mad Tech disease" won't last long - otherwise I may have to be put away in a quiet little rubber room.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Scent of Twilight

Twilight, I'm bringing the washing in from the line and a sweet soft scent fills the air. Not the pungent richhness of the Port Wine Magnolia or the sharp perfume of the Jasmine - this is the gentle, tantalising aroma of the Native Frangipani. It's in full bloom at present and because of the recent rain is the best I have ever seen or smelt.

All the flowering trees in the garden are going to put on a good show this year, the Christmas Bush is a mass of buds getting ready for the season and the Blueberry Ash is going to be covered with little petticoat shaped, pink blooms very soon.

The only tree that hasn't come to flower is the New Zealand Christmas Bush or Pohutukawa. The streets of Bondi are lined with this hardy tree and they are all in full flower so why isn't mine? It's very healthy and has plenty of moisture - maybe it's too comfortable and doesn't feel the need to reproduce.

On either side of the reticent Kiwi the Blueberry Ash and the fluffy yellow blooms of Backhousia Myrtifolia are certainly doing their bit for the honeyeaters and the bees. One could honestly say that everything in the garden is lovely.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Sandpit Drama

Back in the Studio and here is the set for Gilgamesh - a box full of sand. All the action takes place here, three actors and a heap of toys/props and some dramatic lighting.

The set up was quick - as it should have been with a 15 lamp rig! The performance itself is a a quirky little piece aimed at an older audience despite the matchbox cars and action figures. The bits of the Tech run I saw were entertaining and amusing.

There has been no knitting done today as it's been one of those do-everything, be-everywhere days. Marquees to derig, Drama shows to operate, Concert Halls to check, pager continually going off. I must have walked for miles up those pink-grey Tarana granite steps and my feet are killing me.
Time to head home up the mountains.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Another Scarf

This is the "other" scarf that I started for ISE5 - it's nearly finished and even though I haven't got a recipient for it I will complete it. The Mohair Goat yarn is wonderfully soft and comes all the way from Halifax Nova Scotia. It will make someone a nice Christmas present.

The scarf is in the Studio and it's the quiet before the Bump-in tommorrow morning. The set for Gilgamesh is a 7.3m x 2.4 m pit of the finest brown dirt, all 6000 kg of it.

"A high energy and brutal adaptation which combines hip hop, toys, matchbox cars and professional wrestling to deal with themes of masculinity, power, love and loss."

I hope the scarf can cope.

Monday, November 12, 2007


A few weeks ago we took a wee day trip to Newnes, an shale-mining ghost town about 187 km from Sydney and about an hour's drive from home. The scenery is awesome as it is nestled at the end of the Wolgan Valley surrounded by spectacular sandstone escarpments.
This once thriving industrial town has few habitable buildings left. The Newnes Kiosk, formally the pub, has a long and colourful past. It used to be situated on the other side of the road on the banks of the Wolgan River but after being extensively damaged in a flood was moved to higher ground by a large group of volunteers over three days in '87.

As well as the glow worms in the disused rail tunnel the main attraction is the extensive ruins of the Refinery and Shale processing plant. They cover a huge area and it's the closest thing we may have to a classical Archaeological site.

Old photos of the mill in its heyday show the "dark Satanic Mills" that produced Coke, Crude Oil, Kerosene and Benzine. The company that started the whole venture in 1906 never prospered and despite other owners and Government schemes the plant ceased production in 1932.

The entire area is now part of Wollemi National Park and the bush is gradually reclaiming the coke ovens, the retorts, the ammonia scrubbers, the pump houses and Paraffin Sheds. Considering the amount of toxic and noxious material that must have produced in the area it is a wonder that anything grows at all.
We plan to go back there again in the cool of Autumn and stay at the large picturesque camping ground or (my preference) the solar powered cabins. Deep in the valley with no phone reception, no TV, no computer - just walks and books and knitting.