Happy Christmas!🎄

It’s that festive time again.

To all my lovely friends, followers and casual drop-ins, a very Happy Christmas or other festive celebration of the season, whether Diwali, Hanukah or Solstice. It is a time for light over darkness, joy over sadness and love over misery and anger.

Here in north Queensland, the traditional snowflakes, snowmen and Christmas trees can look a bit incongruous as the temperatures soar and the air conditioning struggles. So I leave you with our own local version of the festive colour scheme, the beautiful soccer-ball sized blooms of the Flamboyant Tree, aka Poinciana or Delonix Regia. Tree and ornament in one!

Best wishes from the three of us in Chiconia for health, peace and prosperity in the coming year.

From my (temporary) front door

I’m linking to Cecilia’s blog, where she has invited all her blogging friends to post a video, or show a photo on FB or IG with a view from our front doors this Sunday morning.

My blog plan doesn’t allow uploading videos, and I’m not on FB or IG, so please accept this still photo instead.

For me, in Australia, it’s now Sunday evening, but the photo above was taken today. Not FROM my temporary front door as such, since the view it offers of the side of the next-door caravan is deeply uninspiring, but off to the side, showing my dog enjoying a frozen chicken neck in the grass, our broken car (which is why I’m stranded behind a temporary caravan front door) and out to the pasture full of fat, happy Angus steers beyond. It’s 31°C/88°F, and very still and dry. Every so often, the Sunlander train booms past in the distance. The birds sing, children splosh happily in this caravan park’s pool, and if I have to be stranded, there are many worse places. I’m grateful to be cool, and dry, and fed, and safe.

Roll on Monday, and the start of the process of extricating ourselves from the strandedness. It’s going to be complicated…

Time Flies…

… when you’re having fun.

And it still is. Fun, that is. Thank you all, old friends and new, for making blogging still a rewarding, enjoyable, funny, hopeful and positive place to be creative, make friends, receive encouragement and share joy and sorrow.

Who knows where we’ll be in another 8 years, but I hope that I’m still blogging, that I still have things to talk about, there are new friends to ‘meet’ and fresh ideas to enjoy.

Thank you all. It has been a blast!

Being thankful

Thanks for this day, for all birds safe in their nests, for whatever this is, for life.
Barbara Kingsolver (2008). “Prodigal Summer

I’m thankful. For my life, the fact that I’m alive, for small triumphs in adversity, for peace and plenty (not merely ‘enough’). I’m thankful that in my small circle of life I have lost no friends or family to rampaging lunatics, or fanatics, or war, or disease, poverty or desperation. I’m thankful for independence, bodily and legal autonomy, for peace and modest happiness. I’m thankful for abundant green life, for sunshine, rain, and the beautiful earth.

And the birds.

What a privilege it is to watch this tiny master builder constructing its extraordinary nest. It’s over 30cm (a foot) long, and the bird’s barely 5cm/2 inches.

This nest is literally 50cm/20 inches from our door onto the back deck. Despite the regular comings and goings of ourselves and Mouse, the bird has simply ignored us as though we weren’t there and plugged on with its enormous task.

I’ve put out some offerings, and am truly touched and honoured that some have been accepted. He hasn’t gone for the dryer fluff, residue from the Husband’s cotton singlets. He’s had a bit of dog hair, but not much. By far his favourite nesting material has been my colourful thread ends, which are hopefully lining the nest – the clump at bottom left disappeared overnight. Since the nest is fully under cover, I didn’t worry about the cotton fibre absorbing too much moisture and staying soggy.

He flies to and from from the backyard with bits of vegetable fibre, fragments of dead leaf, bits of spider web and so on. The whole world is his salvage yard, and he is the ultimate artist/ sculptor/ builder/ architect/ homesteader.

I have a lot to be grateful for, including the time to watch and marvel.


I’m nervous…

I’ll admit it, I hate technology changes. My 2014 4Gb MacBook Air 11 inch has finally come to the end of its useful life. It’s no longer possible to update the OS because of hardware limitations, and without the OS being updated to the latest version, all sorts of extremely useful things are no longer co-operating. Like Google Chrome. Like my anti-virus software. Like… well, almost everything. It’s done a sterling job while it could, but it just can’t keep up any more. So we’ve had to bite the bullet and upgrade… I’ll use the old one for storage, so it’s not wasted.

Today, I’m picking up my MacBook Air 13 inch with Apple’s new M1 chip and 256Gb storage. It’s just as light as the 11 inch, but with the benefit of a larger screen and keyboard. Downside is, it doesn’t have USB ports. Eeek! So all that stuff I’ve happily been plugging in is now, er, orphaned. Except, of course. that there’s a cunning work-around. Say hello to the Multiport Adaptor. It plugs into the USB-C mini-port and gives you output to USB-C, HDMI and USB. So I can, if I want to, still use my 3Tb external hard drive for backups, rather than the Cloud, about which I’ve always felt ambivalent. There may be other ‘eeek!’ moments, but 64 times the storage space, up to date software and future-proofed hardware is a benefit I can’t look past. And I’ll no longer be getting those ‘Your startup disk is almost full’ messages…

And yes, I’m definitely taking the lazy way out and getting our local Mac-friendly computer shop to do the transfer of… everything. I don’t want to make any irrevocable mistakes in setting it up, and when the thing asks me if I want to ‘enable the doohickey whatsit to make doovalackey thingamajig operations smoother’ I don’t want to spend 3 hours online trying to find out what that means. Paying for 2 hours of expert help seems like excellent value to me!

There may be a period of radio silence while I adapt to all the new stuff and get all the settings and features working to my liking (fingers crossed). Please be patient.

Normal service will resume shortly.

*A moment from David Bowie. You’re welcome…

A spoonful of kindness*

Many years ago, I tied the first millstone around my neck.

At the time it felt wonderful, and it made perfect sense, or I wouldn’t have done it. I am speaking, of course, about the dreaded Mortgage. At the age of 25, I took on my first. It was in a gentler time, when owning property was less sink-or-swim, mortgages were more affordable, and buying a home was a matter of celebration, not desperation. I happily ate mashed potato and baked beans for a year to make the payments till a better paying job came along. One of my sisters gave me a wonderful house-warming present, a canteen of cutlery (flatware). It was thoughtful, and very generous. The knives, forks and spoons were beautiful, Sheffield stainless steel and in the elegant traditional pattern called ‘rattail’, which dates back to the late 17th century.

30 years later, I’m still using them daily. Over the years, two of the dessert spoons and two of the tea spoons have gone astray, which has distressed me considerably. I finally did something about it. Arthur Price & Co were the original manufacturers, but I was deterred and discouraged to find they do not have stockists in this country, nor were they very interested in sending me just 4 replacement spoons by mail. So eventually, I went to The Famous Sheffield Shop, and found they had the same pattern, would mail to Australia (“yes, of course, ma’am, we’d be delighted”), and would individually make the 4 spoons I needed for a very reasonable price.

They were mailed on 22nd July and arrived, beautifully and carefully wrapped. today, 3rd August. That’s only 12 days – faster even than most airmail letters!

And the spoons are beautiful. There are tiny differences in shape between these and the Arthur Price originals, but only if you’re looking for it. They’re glitteringly, immaculately perfect, and make my 30 year old spoons look satiny and patinated. I’d better start using them so they can start to develop some patina of their own!

I’m a great believer in celebrating excellent service, hence the endorsement. They were customer-focused, helpful, efficient, pleasant and speedy. And they also sell a treasure trove of all sorts of other lovely stuff, from moustache scissors to cufflinks, to sharpening steels to quaichs.

I am currently drooling over a pocket knife with turquoise inlay in the handle….

A spoonful of kindness* is hard to beat, whether it’s the generous and thoughtful gift of a sister, or the helpful and efficient service of a big company dealing with a tiny order from very far away.

I have received kindness in spoonfuls, and it would be good to find a chance to pay it forward.


*“Brighten someone’s day by adding a spoonful of kindness” 
Tom Baker, the 4th Dr Who – 1974-1981

The Travels of Mouse: a new dog park!

Now that Mouse has his own blog space, I have to ask his gracious permission to publish his thoughts here. Thank goodness he said yes!

Happy Greys Social Club

Hello people, Mouse here.

I’m delighted to report that the Staff have located a new off-leash and fully-fenced dog park for me to zoom about in. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

I was a bit off-colour yesterday morning due to all the packing and upheavals, and didn’t feel like eating my breakfast, so Mum packed it up and brought it with us. Good job, really, as by lunchtime I was starving! As usual when we go north, lunchtime happens right around Bowen, and it’s pie-time. Funny, that…. Anyway, Dad was able to indulge (with a little help from Me) and Mum had a ham salad roll (I helped a bit with that, too). She said it was lovely bread and very tasty ham but it was far too large, so she had half and ate the other half another time.

We were making good time in the…

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Radio silence

I’m sorry it’s been so quiet around here.

I’ve had a lot on, but it’s all chopped into small, not-blog-worthy chunks. I’m still getting used to the whole diabetes thing, and managing the weight-loss that my doctor recommended.

Then there was the work of setting up Mouse’s new blog and the research and pulling-together of information for it.

I’ve been assembling Hopscotch blocks, making orphan blocks from leftovers, putting stuff away and tidying my sewing room. A bit of a rainbow mix.

I’ve started to have some very early ideas for the sister-in-law who still doesn’t have one of my quilts but is interested in having one, which will be next out of the traps after Twilight is finished. I’ve cut backing and batting so I can start quilting Twilight, and I’ve decided on the colour and bought the quilting thread. Coming soon.

And finally, I have been a bit distracted. A close member of my family has been diagnosed with bowel cancer and is waiting for surgery, then pathology, then classification of the cancer so that a treatment plan can be developed.

Faced with news like that, finding beauty becomes a good bit harder.

But I’m keeping my face turned towards the sun 🙂


A different kind of sweetness

I have been a Very Good Girl.

I’ve got all the blocks for Floribunda quilted, in my usual freehand wavy line pattern.

I’ve also sorted out fabrics for the sashing front and back. It will be the same green as the green block backgrounds on the front. On the back it will be a goldeny-orange batik fabric with spiral swirl patterns and a tiny touch of metallic gold.

It’s really satisfying to have this bit done. Tomorrow I shall start cutting the sashing strips for front and back, and if time permits, I shall start assembling. I’ve got an appointment with the Diabetes Educator at 11.30am, which promises to be quite an intensive session.

I’m also continuing to be a Very Good Girl in other ways.

My lunches these days are nearly as colourful as the quilt, don’t you think? In the past 18 days, I have lost 5kg (11 pounds).

So, progress on the quilt, and progress with improving my health.


Farewell to all that

The Great Australian Pie Tasting Tour is no more.

I must bid farewell to my ongoing vacation-time quest in search of Australia’s best steak & kidney pie. Also chocolate cake, cheesecake, biscuits, cookies and cupcakes. Out of the blue, symptom-free, I have been diagnosed as type 2 diabetic. My doctor spotted high blood sugar on my annual blood work-up and sent me to do a glucose tolerance test.

I did not ace it.

The radio silence from Chiconia these past few days has signalled furious behind-the-scenes activity. I have made appointments with all the necessary healthcare professional. I have been thoroughly scared into submission by the highly menacing information in all the booklets and fact-sheets and websites I’ve been directed to. I’ve ordered information books and cookbooks. I’m waiting to find out what kind of glucose monitor and test strips I shall need. I am rattling with medication and vibrating with good intentions.

There’s one upside. I don’t need to inject insulin. Yet. Whether that materialises is in my hands and how well I control my intake. We all know I’m anally retentive, so hopefully I’ll stay well on top of it, but equally, we all know I dearly love a good meat pie, and my ongoing love affair with cake in all its forms is legendary. This will require a severe exercise of willpower and common-sense.

If there are any T2 diabetics out there who’d like to share their top 3 tips, I’d be delighted to hear from you. If any non-diabetics would like to offer some cheerful encouragement, that would also be most welcome, as I’m feeling very meh, not to say depressed.

Meanwhile, I’ve quilted two thirds of the Floribunda blocks. Two rows left to go. I might just have time to finish it amongst all the medical appointments!

Ah well. Illegitimi non carborundum, as Pa used to say.