The unwanted visitor

That Debbie, she’s a pain in the backside.

Just before midnight, it became clear she had turned slightly, and we weren’t going to cop the worst of it after all. We went to bed at midnight, after checking the Bureau track map. It had been a long and tiring day. After 4 hours, we abandoned sleep. The pressure had plummeted, the wind speed had risen to a quiet scream, the rain was hurling itself at the front of the house like a crazed axe murderer. After a brief foray outside to the circuit box to throw one of the trip switches back on, the Husband reported that all was secure and dry inside. So we’re back on track watching. We know how lucky we are. Wind speeds on Hamilton Island are currently 187kmph/116mph…

I don’t know if you’re graph and chart enthusiasts. I am, I love a graphic representation of data. And this is ‘my’ cyclone, so I get to show the pictures. Below are charts showing rainfall and pressure/wind speed. You can see how the increasing wind speed correlates with the continuous drop in pressure associated with a cyclone. It’s going to get a lot lower and the wind gusts a LOT harder before we’re done.

Here’s where TC Debbie is sitting right now

So, it’s been pretty windy and wet, but the worst is still to come. I’m very glad neither of us has to be anywhere else today. For one thing, a bit more sleep would have been good, but nature’s sound effects put paid to that! I’m grateful that we were able to sleep in our own bed instead of on a strange floor somewhere. I’m grateful the roof over our head is holding on, and that we still have power. But most of all, I’m grateful not to be in Bowen tonight…

I’ll be updating this post as the morning progresses, so check in later for more news. Meanwhile, so long from the pointy end…


Update from the Zone

The Cyclone Zone, that is.

We’re not bang in the middle of it, but those who are have better things to do than report, so for those who are interested, here’s the latest.

Yup. We’re still waiting for Miss Debbie to get her lardy great arse in gear and actually go somewhere. Sorry, do I sound annoyed? That’s because I am. With apologies to Bob Marley “the waiting here is not fine”, because the longer she lurks out there at sea, the bigger and uglier and stronger she gets.

The darker orange area is for strong destructive winds and gales, which we can expect by tomorrow morning. The lighter orange is a watch zone for gales within 48 hours. The category symbol in the storm centre is in blue for actual and light black for forecast, bold black for historic.

If you like maps and charts and tracking stuff, which I do, there’s a heap of information out there. The Bureau of Meteorology is putting out 3-hourly updates, and I’m keeping a close eye on the Higgins Storm Chasing bulletins and the links they give for other sites. This one‘s my favourite – ooh, colours and swirly!

To all those who’ve sent good wishes and crossed fingers, a big thank you. Quite apart from everything else, responding and commenting back has kept my mind off the impending weather 🙂


She’s turning south. The question is whether she’ll hit the coast before she hits us…

For those who don’t live in a cyclone zone, it’s hard to imagine what it means. Here’s a YouTube clip from Cyclone Marcia in 2015, the one that missed us by turning south towards Rockhampton when she was only 150km offshore. That’s a Category 3 you’re looking at. We have a Category 4 heading our way.

I’ll keep posting updates as long as we have power. And once it’s over I’ll let you know we’re clear 🙂


Here we go again…

It’s that time of year in the tropics.

Well, to be strictly accurate, it’s rather late in the year for this sort of thing. I’m talking about Tropical Cyclones. But yes, we’re on alert again. There’s already an active system off the coast of Western Australia, Tropical Cyclone Caleb. So if ours develops, it’ll probably begin with D…

image © Accuweather

This is what the low pressure system off our coast is currently looking like. It’s not yet an official Tropical Low, the stage before Tropical Cyclone. Yet. However, Higgins Stormchaser reckons we’ve got a 75% chance of the thing converting to something nasty by Sunday.

If you want to read more on this story, go here. Higgins Stormchaser have an excellent record of accurate reporting, photographing and predicting some of our more energetic weather events. The coastal strip between Cairns and Mackay is involved, and although the Bureau of Meteorology hasn’t yet issued the official warning, we’re paying close attention, and I’ll be hooking up the caravan to power and firing up the ‘van fridge tomorrow in case we lose power in the house and have to transfer food to the ‘van fridge, which can run on LPG, or propane. Time also to hit the supermarket and lay in some groceries and emergency supplies, fill some water jerrycans, etc. Last time this happened, the cyclone reached Category 5, and was 150km off our coast, and then it abruptly turned left and made landfall just north of Rockhampton instead.

I hadn’t counted on babysitting the Dowager’s cat during a major weather event, but she’ll just have to put up with it. She’s vocal enough at the best of times, but I’m really not looking forward to the incessant yowling and complaining because she can’t go out…

If you could cross your fingers that the low either deteriorates or passes north or south of us, that would be appreciated. I’d rather the former; that way no-one gets clobbered.


It’s beginning to appear that we may escape the wind. Not the rain, however, widespread flooding is on the cards for most of northern Queensland.  The image below is the 8 day rainfall forecast from the Bureau of Meteorology. I think I need to find some sandbags…

On a roll with a roll

I’ve found a small and gentle job on which to reintroduce my squished finger to sewing.

It’s a crochet hook roll for Alys at Gardening Nirvana, a thank you gift for sending me some jumbo crochet hooks from the US, sizes I couldn’t get here. It all started when I was making the chunky denim yarn mat to put in Miz Lizzie, and now that I’m making another mat with ‘plarn’ (plastic bag yarn), the big hooks have come in very useful.

Having very recently sorted my scraps into usable colour order, I was able to dip straight in and select suitable strips in her favoured colours of blue, green and purple. Alys is just starting out with crochet and doesn’t have a huge hook collection (yet!) but I’m sure that if her enthusiasm takes off there will be many more, so I’ve tried to allow for a couple of hooks in several sizes from weeny to big and chunky. There’s also a slot for a small pair of scissors. Fortunately I also had scrap batting in roughly the right size too, so the project came together quickly and easily. The binding around the edge is identical to what I use for quilts, but half an inch narrower for a tidier effect. I’m rather pleased with the whole thing.

The process is pretty simple – I didn’t think about doing it as a tutorial till it was finished, and too late, so sorry about the lack of photos. Hopefully it’s fairly self-explanatory:

  • Make a piece of fabric up using scrap strips, or use whole cloth if you prefer. Make a lining piece or again, use whole cloth. Trim a 1 inch strip off the outer fabric – you’ll need this later. Trim everything so it’s square and straight, and spray baste together in a sandwich with batting in the middle.
  • Make or cut a piece of fabric to form the inner pocket for the hooks. It needs to be at least 3 inches shorter than the roll itself. Bind the top edge of this with the 1 inch strip you cut off the outer fabric, and topstitch down. Lay the pocket piece down onto the inside of the sandwiched fabrics. Pin the left and right edge in place.
  • Take a ruler and quilt marker, and mark out pockets for the scissors and crochet hooks, up and down the full height of the tool roll, from the bottom of the pocket, across the binding and onto the lining fabric. Ensure you create pockets of a variety of sizes.
  • Quilt the lines you have marked through all layers, including the pocket. Trim out the roll to get rid of uneven edges and any threads. Cut a 2 inch wide strip of binding fabric the circumference of the roll plus a few extra inches. Press it in half along its length.
  • Bind the roll with this narrow binding. (I’ve done a binding tutorial elsewhere, which you can find here) I hand-stitched down the inside edge rather than the outer one as I felt this would be more durable. Stitch on a button loop or piece of elastic to the centre of the right hand outer edge. Stitch a button to the approximate vertical and horizontal centre of the outside of the roll. You may need to move it slightly left or right to accommodate something inside, so test with tools in the roll before you finalise the button position.
  • Put tools into roll. Roll up into three sections and secure with button. You’re done!

Now that I know the finger’s up to sewing, I’ll be returning to the projects in hand. It’s time to get quilting on a couple of things, including making a start on the TWX blocks

ROYGBIV and a couple more

…. I don’t think the rainbow normally features teal, pink, black, white, beige, grey or brown.

The scrap tangle is conquered! We are down to manageable proportions, and the boxes, baskets and buckets are all sorted. I had to add a box for brown (a colour that does not generally please me much) because I had an unaccountably large number of brown scraps. Who knew? I shall have to find a way to use these not so lovely fragments. The beiges and greys, cream, black and white in another box, and then finally, the rampant individualists, who refuse to be categorised and are too multicoloured to go anywhere else.

After the browns, that last box is going to the most challenging to use up, the special needs scraps which won’t fit just anywhere, being too quirky, too bright, too complex. There aren’t too many scraps that defied sorting, luckily. I shall try and regard them as the leaven in my scrappy dough, the ping of colour that lifts what might otherwise be just… OK.

A rainbow scrappy quilt is now on the horizon. A scrappy block a month isn’t a big ask, and I’ll just let it grow till I think it’s time to stop or I start repeating myself – or indeed, I run out of scraps in that colour. Grab a box, sew some pieces together, trim to size, job done. And then we’ll see how many scraps are left! It’ll have the virtue of dealing with the very smallest bits (because obviously I’ll make a point of using those), leaving me with the more versatile larger pieces which almost attain the status of ‘fabric’ rather than ‘scrap’. I’m not abandoning the Anemone scrappy quilt, but it’s a different kind of project, and doesn’t eat up these smaller scraps.

Not looking forward one little bit to the pressing and trimming bit that comes next, no sir… On the upside, the Bird finger is on the mend 🙂

Scrap Blindness

OK, well, the idea was to find a project that wouldn’t need nimble fingers, because Bird.

We’ve been talking about scraps, the care and management of. As I’ve confessed on more than one occasion, mine are like unruly children: they leave a mess everywhere, they’re into everything, they spread out of their allocated space and they darn well keep on growing. I have an uncanny ability to  ignore this growing problem and a deep-seated reluctance to address it. My current inability to sew seemed a perfect opportunity to bring about a bit of order without having to feel guilty/ tempted by a sewing project, because I can’t do that yet, but pulling scraps out of boxes and buckets, no problem.

Here’s only about 50% of the problem. Now, my classification of a scrap is anything smaller than about 3 inches square. Bigger than that, it’s fabric. Usable. It gets put away into my stash, without fail. So, these boxes, baskets and buckets are full of really small bits. Some of them tiny bits. There are one or two garments in mid-deconstruction, being  harvested for the fabric. The only way to bring this lot under control was to arm myself with some plastic bags from my dwindling supply, tip out one of the boxes and get sorting.

My brain seizes on colour first, rather than size, pattern or any other form of organisation. So that’s how I’m approaching the problem. The blue bag is done. There isn’t a scrap of blue left in any of those boxes. So are the aqua/teal and green bags. I’ve actually emptied enough of the boxes to transfer these colours back into them so I can see what’s there more easily than in a nasty grey plastic bag. Next will be yellow/ orange, then red, then pink, then purple, neutrals/black/white and finally all the multicoloured stuff that doesn’t have a strong lead colour. I thought about trying to sort all the colours at once but it didn’t work, I kept getting distracted.

Once they’re all done, I shall sort the individual box contents so they’re sorted, pressed and trimmed, tidy and colour-coded and ready for use. This is how it looks after the blue, teal and green were extracted from the overall mess.

There’s still a long way to go… I wonder how far I’ll get before I lose the will to live get bored.

Flippin’ the Bird

I don’t claim to be ladylike, exactly, but I don’t indulge in unseemly gestures much.

Which makes it doubly annoying that I’m now in a permanent state of social disrespect with my middle finger. For those of a squeamish disposition, suffice it to say that I have injured the longest finger on my right hand, and it’s now splinted so I can’t easily bend it. Hence the Bird effect.

For those who enjoy the odd “eeeuwww!” moment, read on.

I had to go to the courthouse today to get myself excused from jury service for the third time in as many years. (I’m not a shirker, I did jury service 4 years ago, but my name seems to come up with monotonous regularity every year, and in a population of over 80,000 in the greater Mackay area, I feel it’s statistically dubious, so I get excused.) Anyway, I had my left hand full of papers, and the car door swung shut fast, because the car was parked at a downhill angle. My right hand didn’t make it out in time…

Lots of swearing and scrabbling futilely at the door later, I managed to get it to release my mangled finger. Fast forward through my court-house errand, where the clerk took one look and told me to take my wounded paw to hospital, and signed all the forms for me. Half an hour’s wait at the Emergency department with the purple digit in a cup of ice and three tablets of pain relief, and I emerged with an annoying aluminium splint and some rather vivid and lumpy bruising, but no breaks. It seems I have an unerring talent for damaging myself in painful but not excessively serious ways.

Typing takes ages, writing is difficult, and sewing by machine or hand is out for the next few days. Just as I thought I might catch up on my slipping deadlines. Bummer…