Consider the lilies…*

… The lucky things just have to be beautiful.

Hippeastrums, or Amaryllis. At left, a Golden Shrimp flower

And they are, which is why I’m thankful for them. It has been a slightly dismal week. We’d looked forward to a nice break, a holiday from the daily grind. Just me, the Husband and doggo in our caravan, doing stuff we enjoy in a different and relaxing location.

Instead, it turned into a week of worry, stress, expense and fairly extreme confinement. To cut a long story short: we broke down (or rather, the car stopped working in mid-highway, just turned itself off) in an extremely inconvenient place. Car couldn’t be fixed, recovery service wouldn’t transport a dog to get us all the way home. We were stuck in a tiny, rather remote caravan park with no car for 5 days in a space 4m x 2m (13 x 6½ ft), in temperatures exceeding 30°C/86°F. Happy days. Good job the air conditioning was working! Worse than hotel quarantine – no bathroom, and three of us in that space 😕

Wild Turmeric, or Curcuma longa

We’re home now. Still no car, that remains in the inconvenient remote spot till the garage gets round to taking a look at it tomorrow. Much depends on what they find. However, the  Husband has his motorbike to get to work and I have my feet and a bicycle for local things like grocery shopping. It will be OK. The caravan is unpacked, finally. The huge mounds of laundry are done. Doggo is delirious with joy at rediscovering all his favourite places and beds. We have friends who will give us a ride if there’s an issue. I’m a bit weary, but it’s under control.

But I do wish I was a lily…*

*Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: yet I say unto you, that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.” Luke 12: 27-28

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.

Two steps forward, one step back

As a patient, or someone recently out of hospital, your wants and needs shrink amazingly.

The comfort of familiar things, freedom from pain, a small measure of independence, sleep, and a body that appears to be co-operating in achieving these things. Those who know me even a little will know that I have been pushing the boundaries, in some cases a bit too hard. Yesterday, I tottered along, (with the Husband in full hover-mode beside me) up and down the BIL’s street in the sun. I made 400m/ 430+ yards before I called it a day. Later in the day, it became apparent this had been 200m too much. I have trouble applying the brakes, in almost everything I do. The result was an evening of strong pain and fatigue, and all the elation of the morning evaporated. Lesson learned. For now, anyway.

Bruising to match my back jewellery. Why can't they get a needle in without leaking all over the place?

Bruising to match my back jewellery. Why can’t they get a needle in without leaking all over the place? It doesn’t hurt, but it’s not pretty.

Today, we are doing laundry, packing suitcases and acquiring travel necessities such as chocolate… I will be doing a lot of the packing, but from a firmly seated position. Tonight we have dinner with a few friends from our motorbike club (so I can torment myself a little more with how long it’s going to be till I can get back on the bike, you understand), and then on Friday morning, we’re OFF! I could easily have left it another day, but the siren call of my own bed, and things being where they should be, and close at hand, is irresistible. It’s undoubtedly true that being at home will possibly make me take on too much again, but at least my large and flawlessly comfortable bed will be there to fall into. I will have help and support from the Dowager while I’m not allowed to drive (another 2½ weeks, eek!).

And then, of course, there’s the sewing room…. I feel the irresistible pull of unstarted and unfinished blocks, of projects on hold but due in a few months, the wheeled chair for zooming around the floor from machine to ironing board. I’ll definitely have to ration my time in there, but it will be therapeutic to be making again, so the rationing won’t be too strict.

Lots of time in the kitchen will have to wait till I can stand for longer periods. I had a call while in hospital from one of my GF Bakery customers, rattling off an order “for Monday, yes?”. Well, er, no, actually. Silence. I explained. They hadn’t ordered from me for about 6 weeks, so were unaware of the issue. I’ll give them a call when I get home and give them an ETA for the resumption of normal service 🙂

And finally, the ♥ thanks ♥. I owe you all a huge debt of thanks for the kindness, care, compassion, support and strength you’ve sent me. It has hauled me by my scruff through some quite dark and lonely moments and brought me out the other side to the realisation that yes, the pain will stop, the back will get better, and in six weeks all this will be behind me (geddit?). Sorry, couldn’t resist. You know me and puns.

Love you all.


And we’re off…

Three and a half hours to go.

Screen Shot 2016-05-30 at 6.58.57 amI suppose I’d better finish the Moroccan Lamb and Chickpea soup I’m making for the Husband’s lunches. And the packing. And collect all my electronic stuff. And check in online. I had one fairly major blip yesterday when Qantas messaged me to say my flight had been cancelled. Waaaah! It’s all sorted now: I’m on a bigger, more comfortable plane that goes a little faster (10 minutes less in a plane seat, yay!) and nothing extra to pay. My blood pressure did go through the roof, briefly.

I wanted to express my very great appreciation and gratitude for all the good wishes, prayers, candle-lighting and positive thoughts that have been wafting my way since I first discovered my back problems have become acute. I hope to pay you all for your efforts by making a full and pain-free recovery. Meanwhile, I feel borne up by it all, and there’s a real sense of the force and power of good thoughts and intentions, which I hope will guide the surgeon’s hand when the time comes.

If surgery happens this week, it’s unlikely I’ll be posting except for my scheduled F2F posts, which are already done and dusted and waiting to go. One here, and another over on the footsquarefreestyle blog, to launch the start of this year’s block swap.

See you soon, hopefully with excellent news to share.

AHQ: answering the call

Many of you know that from time to time, I make quilts and laundry bags for Aussie Hero Quilts and Laundry Bags, which go to our Australian service people, letting them know that people back home are thinking of them and appreciating the work they do on our behalf.

Yesterday, I got this email from AHQ’s founder (email quoted with her permission) with an urgent call to action:

Hi all

Just a quick request. I am wanting to increase the number of Fallen Warrior Quilts we have, preferably in time for ANZAC Day. No definite plans but I know that many of the families of the 41 fallen will be together this year and there is a lot of appreciation for our Fallen Warrior Quilts and I know that some of the families who have not received one (because their loved one died before we were formed) would dearly love to. We do not have much time and there is so much on but if you have time to make a few poppy blocks and send them to ME, not Caroline, that would be great.  You just never know what we might be capable of if we try.

The tutorial for the block is here:

And the postal address is in my signature block below.
Anything you can do would be great.



 Jan-Maree Ball
Founder Aussie Hero Quilts (and Laundry Bags)
PO Box 248, Cherrybrook, NSW, 2126
Mobile 0422227019


 Screen Shot 2015-03-10 at 7.56.07 pm

I’m making three of the poppy blocks explained in the tutorial.

Jan-Maree will collect blocks made by many, many AHQ contributors and have them assembled into commemorative quilts for the families of the fallen in time for presentation on ANZAC Day on 25 April. These quilts are always treasured and are an important way of showing appreciation and respect and support for the families left behind.

If any of you quilters out there feel able to join in, and  have time to make a very simple block or two in the next week or so, the tutorial and the address to send them to are right there. Even if you miss the deadline for ANZAC day, the blocks will be kept and used for the next Fallen Warrior quilt, so your efforts will not be wasted.

Go on, get involved and give the families left behind a poppy for remembrance…

Languid Lounging, part 4

Don’t worry, I’m not going to carry on indefinitely…

Screen shot 2014-11-11 at 6.54.32 PM

Now we are two… One more to go.

Here’s the latest. One more, and then I’m calling it a day. They look so nice and clean and crisp and pretty.  Why didn’t I do this years ago?

Today has been a very, very good day. Rather than waiting till the morning to post, I wanted to give some good news. Behind all the frantic stitchery, I’ve been waiting to hear whether the cancer I beat two years ago had snuck back up on me. Today, I found out that the Little Bastard, as I fondly named it at the time, is still beaten. The numerous shadows seen on my recent bone scan are merely my ever encroaching arthritis, the special new hotspot being one of the vertebrae in my neck. But you know what, I just don’t care. Arthritis is not a death sentence, and I’ve lived with it for a few years already. So to all of you out there who knew there was something up, to those who knew what the something was, and to anybody who took the trouble to send positive thoughts my way, a profound and heartfelt THANK YOU♥. There’s still a bit of a medical journey to go, surgery next week, an MRI at the beginning of December, the possibility of more surgery, but I’ve always maintained that surgery is just falling asleep with painful consequences! Now I know what the job is, I know I can tackle it. And thanks to you all out there, I know I’m not doing it alone.

Now, back to business as usual!