Monday, May 30, 2011

Hip hip Hooray!

After days of folks informing me they are unable to reply to my postings I have indulged in a little detective work ... I have solved the problem.  A Hip Hip Hooray Day!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Busy Sunday

It appears that Blogger is still experiencing problems!  After signing in I go straight to the dashboard, but should I try to view my blog ... I need to sign in!!  After already doing that.  Ah well ... at least I can post.

The weather is supposed to pack up, which for farmers means it will improve giving much needed rain to aid germination of their crops.  To the rest of us, a little rain is welcome; a storm we can do without.  Though often a forecast storm fails to eventuate.

This morning The Other Half and I had a working bee.  I have been promising myself to tackle the litter for days, and with the prospect of strong winds, decided today might be the day.  Gum trees are native to Australia; the perfume of eucalypt permeates the countryside.  Gums grow to the left of us; gum trees grow to the right of us; they grow above us, and their falling leaves litter the ground.  They give a welcome shade in the heat of summer, but those leaves on the ground!!  They create a constant task of clearing, of raking up, and disposing off on the soon-to-be bonfire.

I raked and wheelbarrowed in my red wheelbarrow, ten loads of bark and leaves.

The Other Half added to the ever increasing woodstack.  A chain saw is essential to reduce to firewood the fallen limbs, from the aforesaid gums ... they tend to fall over in a strong wind, especially if that wind is followed by rain.  Every fallen branch is dragged to the wood cutting area, and gradually it finds itself cut into manageable sizes for winter warmth.  Once cut the smaller pieces are tossed onto a pile, while the larger pieces, those that will burn for a hour or two, are carefully stacked onto the base of what was originally a bed

Let winter arrive!  We are ready.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Peaceful afternoon

This is the best time of year in the mid-west of Western Australia!  The terrible heat of summer has dissipated, the sun still shines much of the day and the breeze today was negligible.
As I sat in my armchair, stitching, [rocking chair just isn't 'stable' enough for stitiching!] and listened to the birds wheeling and circling my mind wandered ... as it does when one is content.
Radio talkbacks over recent days have centered upon childhood [and politics, though I choose to switch my ears of for much of that topic ... too depressing ... too confrontational].  The experts suggest that today's children are over protected; mollycoddled is the word I would have used.  I think the experts just may be correct in their analysis.

I remember a childhood of living in the country, near a swift flowing river, paddocks to wander over, a bike to take me on 'explorations', of gazing up into the night sky for a glimpse of the first satellite into space [OK that gives my age away within a decade].  All exciting events.  Fishing with my Dad, watching my Mum bake and being given the privilege of  'jamming' Shrewsbury biscuits together, or carefully sprinkling red jelly crystals on Belgium biscuits.  Eating them was important as well!  We didn't sit around waiting to be entertained; we made our own entertainment.

My brother and I played Dentists, as we had a gnarled old cherry plum tree in the garden.  This tree grew small spikes that we transposed into the dentist's drill.  No crying allowed!
We dressed up.  Around age 7 I remember tottering in a pair of my Mum's high heels, an old hat carefully perched on my hair, knocking on the door, and pretending to be an important visitor.  I was invited inside for a glass of cordial [I didn't know fizzy drink existed], and a cake.

All these thoughts tumbled through my mind as I stitched ... I suppose I have always been a dreamer, but it is preferable to being a worrier.

Sunday, May 22, 2011


Driving into town the tall aloe plants growing alongside the main highway are eyecatching. It wasn't until I moved to the mid-west that I knew aloe could grow as high! In my previous experience aloe vera was a small plant, often contained in a pot near the back door, close enough for a quick dash to pull off a fragment to 'dress' a slight burn or graze.

In Western Australia, and perhaps other regions ... I am not familiar with the rest of Australia ... aloe plants grow prolifically near to places of human population. Aloe, along with the pepper tree, must have been part of the herb folk-lore of early settlers.

Not having photographed the aloe plants growing alongside the highway to show you, I searched back through my CD's of photos [just imagine taking as many photos 20 years ago with a 'normal' camera as we do today with their digital cousins!] for a photo of an abandoned homestead, not far from the Rabbit Proof Fence between Yalgoo and Morawa.

Near to this old homestead, that must have been quite a building in its day [leaving one wondering why it was allowed to go to wrack and ruin ... perhaps its isolation had some bearing, or maybe the poor farming land surrounding it were reasons for depopulation], is a sign that reads, "The Outback starts Here".

My initial reading of that sign was on my first trip north, by coach, to a job ... how I wondered exactly where I was heading!

In the Outback potions would have been essential in treating minor wounds etc. Life must have been tough for the men and women carving out a home in this formidable environment.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The media [note the small m]

Once upon a time newspapers gave us News. Once upon a time the radio played music, or serials that we followed either in the evening or in the morning at baby bathing/feeding time. News and weather were regular ... on the hour, and certainly at meal times when the man of the house would be there to listen. I recall the silence that was maintained at the table whilst the news and weather were on!

If we wanted gossip we could stop and speak to Mrs Know-it-all down the street, or try to avoid a telephone call from Mrs Down-the-road who seemed to know everyone's business. I saved movie star photos, mostly black and white, simply because magazines boasting colour photos were too expensive.

Today news is not news ... it is opinions. Serials? There are programmes purporting to be serials, but usually trivia dressed up in saccharine, liberally laced with half-truth and supposition. The newspaper seldom 'reports' news ... it fills its pages with biased opinions, seemingly in the hope 'public opinion' will suck in the details, swallow them whole, and before we know it ... what they supposed becomes a truth. Except these 'opinions' were not the calculated views of the public ... they are picked up and given credence because so many today do not want to be outside the 'public opinion'.

This state of affairs makes me cross! I dislike being cross because of what over-bearing, self-opinionated, want-to-make the rules people hoodwink those who do not, who cannot. think for themselves.

End of moan ... thankfully the sun continues to shine, the world continues to turn on its axis, and there are birds and bees, flowers and trees to make a pleasant diversion from the media.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Sky Hooks

Many a new employee of construction related businesses, particularly those just left the swaddling confines of the classroom, have been dispatched to the nearest 'builders warehouse' to pick up a sky hook. While the youth stands at the counter stammering out his request, he is unaware he is about to begin an important induction into the job. Innocently the customer is asked if he would like a left hand sky hook, or a right hand model. The lad is not sure ... his neck takes on a rosy hue that moves with alacrity up to the forehead hair line. Should, he wondered, make a swift phone call to the boss, or should he show his abilities to problem solve, and make an uninformed decision.

As he stands, unsure, uncertain of exactly what a sky hook looks like, he becomes slowly aware, by the barely concealed grins and the gathering audience, that perhaps he is having his leg pulled. A lesson is learned ... and another day he will be part of that sniggering group relishing the embarrassment of a young employee slowly coming to the realisation that while he may be looking foolish, at least if he takes the opportunity to slightly turn the tables, he will have passed into manhood in the eyes of his fellow workers.

Recently I heard of an idea by a city entrepreneur to build several blocks of sky scrapers over the river, and adjacent highway, land being extreme expensive in the city centre. A councillor who wanted to know what would happen in time of flood scuppered this idea. There would be no place for the water to run to.

Like a flickering black and white movie a vision slipped into my mind. Just imagine if there were sky hooks! It would not matter if they were right handed or left handed, it would not matter if they had stick-on arms or whether they were attached by invisible cords [in the interests of aesthetics], or heavy iron chains ... as long as they held a building in place. No more would a building code need to incorporate earthquake proof construction methods as they would be held in place by sky hooks, not held to the earth's crust by deep footings. Instead of buildings hogging good farming land a city could be established in the sky ... leaving of course regular spacing for the sun to penetrate to ensure the carrots, the cabbages, and the animals and humans, received an adequate supply of sunshine. A whole new existence would alter the concept of modern day life on earth.

In the future of such an invention a lowly new employee would be sent to the hardware warehouse for a shovel or a trowel ... the obsolete tools of the past. No longer would a building be set in concrete, instead it would float, anchored by the wonderful sky hook, closer to the heavens. Of course there needs be some way for the human masses to reach these buildings of the future ... an escalator into the sky. The land would not be covered by inessential housing, by space taking shopping malls, or sprawling suburbs. That precious land could instead be covered by sporting fields, swimming pools, farms, gardens, forests, or parks where folks could escape to from their floating suspended elevation.

Just imagine! While some may laugh ... consider what scientists are working towards this day ... a new colony on some distant planet, where the lucky, or unlucky, few would need to wear special clothes and masks just to survive, where life as we knew it is not as we know it.

I rub my eyes ... I sit up and look around. Was I asleep? Did I dream? Or am I in a state of suspended animation?! A cartoon character walking on a stage on earth, or a puppet on a string?

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Market Day

A bargain ain't a bargain unless it's something you need. ~ Sidney Carroll

The first Saturday of each month in our nearest town sees people flocking to an open grassy area, the town park, on whose perimeter gazebos, makeshift trestle tables, and open sided tents showing their wares to the bargain hunters.

My favourite site is near a corner, under a tree, and there under a flapping gazebo [today ... a breeze whistled around the park] a little elderly lady has an unpretentious stall. Her wares seldom vary; she sells jams and pickles; she sells the most delicious apple tarts with a little pastry fancy leaf in the centre, and she sells zucchini loafs and scrumptious carrot cake loaves decorated with icing and topped with walnut pieces.

Upon entering the park we wander westwards past the other stalls; most selling goods that are more of interest to a young family; clothing, toys [have you noticed that invariably there is a greater choice for little girls than small boys?], nursery rhyme books, and sometimes hand-made doll's beds or rocking horses. The local Service Club runs a caravan selling tea or coffee, sometimes the local church has a BBQ under way and the sausage, bread and tomato sauce concoctions from that stall are especially popular with the menfolk.

Stalls sell Emu oil products in expensive looking jars. I have never closely examined the products here as the thought of those beady-eyed Emu's losing their life all for oil-products does turn me off. Close by a stall that I have purchased from sells Olive Oil [by the bottle or one can take along at least a 2-litre container and have that refilled], soaps made from olives, and recently have expanded their range into a collection of dishes ... all decorated with pictures of olives.

Between the Olive oil and the Emu oil my favourite stall lies. Never a Market Day goes by that we don't stop at that stall; we are recognised as regulars!

Other stalls have jewelery, or books, and one has 'men stuff' ... spanners, screw-drivers, hammers, you name it, he has it; some need oiling to improve their appearance, others are pre-metric, but he always has a lot of 'admirers'.

In the centre of the park a rotunda holds pride of place, alongside a 'plastic playground' for the children. Invariably there is a musician in the rotunda ... often a lady sings 'easy listening' songs, to her own accompaniment on the keyboard. Today a gentleman sang gentle songs, songs of yester-year ... do you remember "Hello Mary Lou"?

It would be true to say that I enjoy Market Day in our local park where bargains abound for those wishing to buy.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Nothing Changes

"Oh, if I could only make people realise, how full of possibility is the country life, and how rich in blessings." M.R.G. [The Farmer's Wife Sampler Quilt book]

I recently received my ordered copy of The Farmer's Wife Sampler Quilt book by Laurie Aaron Hird. For several weeks I have, almost furtively, searched the 'Net for comments re this book. I have found patchwork, never realising how interest grows in what seems to many a futile hobby ... cutting up pieces of fabric and sewing them together in some different sort of order.

I have read some of the letters written in 1922 by women who preferred that their daughters did marry a farmer, a man of the land. Perhaps it is because I prefer the quieter life ... though don't get me wrong, a day, or even a week in the city is perfectly fine, but oh, the blessed quietness of the country after the hectic rush of the city, the feeling that one is only a spectator of some crazy fast way of living ... that I was drawn to this particular patchwork sampler quilt.

One letter in part read "The city draws from the home, not toward it." I have two projects well under way, and am fast reaching their completion, simply because I want to have all projects out of the way before beginning this quilt.

Life is so different depending upon where we live.

This morning, as My Man was at an appointment, I sat reading. The view from the car park is downward to the Indian Ocean. The walled harbour provides a sheltered anchorage for boats ... fishing boats, pleasure craft, visiting yachts or catamarans, while on the sandy shore small boats lie upside down looking for all the world like turtles sleeping.

Closer in to the carpark a new housing subdivision stands; pristine, cars parked outside garage doors in a straight ordered line, footpaths not littered with toys or bikes as this area is peopled by mainly older folks. From the distance it looks lovely ... except ... the houses are so close together! I am sure the whistling kettle calling the lady of the house hanging out the washing in for a well-earned cuppa would resound loudly to the neighbours. No, not for me this living so closely to others.

Our closest town, the one with the harbour, has a population just under 5,000; not large, though not small either. The area where we live is a rural area ... about a dozen people live nearby. We look out onto hills where sheep or cattle graze, or where wheat is sown, grows, and is harvested. There is a rhythm to living in the country; even if we don't have more than a few acres.

I am so looking forward to beginning this new project, and as I read the letters from these women of almost a century ago, I recognise where they are coming from, and while many had what many would today call primitive mod-cons, they were happy. I read, I realise how much times have changed, but deep down women still want what is best not only for themselves, but their families.

Monday, May 2, 2011

A New Home Found

“It’s teatime and all the dolls are at the table. Listen. It’s that simple.” Anne Lamott

Until I moved to Australia 'garage sales' were just words in the advertisement column of the local newspaper. I imagined a lot of folks, extremely interested in what the seller not only had to offer, but why. How wrong can one be!

I now live in Australia, and suddenly garage sales are exciting. Treasures abound in every corner; each weekend is a time of wondering ... what might be someone else's 'no longer needed item' that I would so love to own.

In the beginning I purchased dishes, the type that I had left behind in New Zealand simply because there is only so much one can transport across the Tasman Sea. Of course books are always a drawcard ... so much so we need another bookcase.

At the weekend we attended another garage sale, and while much of what was on offer was children's clothing and books; neither of which we had any use for, there were some treasures to be found. Inside the open garage several tables were covered with assorted items, and perched on the top of a precarious pile of bed-linen lay a baby doll. Poor little doll ... its stuffing was thin, but such a delightful expression on her face [this doll was obviously a little girl doll] there was no resisting picking her up. The price read 20cents!

We wandered around the half circle of tables; several beige dishes with pink flowers and deep green leaves beckoned. But ... in all seriousness we need no more dishes.

Then I spied another doll. This doll was a boy; he was a sleeping doll, and the price was $2. Why, I wondered, the difference in price. I offered $2 each for the dolls; the deal was done.

I have always been one to name dolls, or dogs, or cats, pet lambs ... the list is long. My first doll had a porcelain head, the rest of her body was cloth. She was named Daphne as I so loved the perfume of the daphne bush. I pushed her around in the cane pushchair that my brother and I had been pushed around in. Daphne came to a sticky end ... my brother [a year younger than I] tipped her out, and Daphne suffered from a broken skull ... sadly unmendable!

Promises were made that I would be given another doll. This never happened until I was about 10 or 11 years old, almost too old for a doll. Instead of a walkie talkie doll that I could have chosen I picked a doll that had a perming kit for her hair, and, joy of joy, patterns for making clothes. I found out that dolls hair does not grow after a hair cut ... her long hair became short hair. That hair could be permed and primped ... and it was.

I sewed a blue taffeta ball gown with two outer layers of tulle for this doll, who strangely enough, was never given a name. I sewed dresses with matching knickers, I knitted a lavender double-breasted coat, with a slit up the back and pockets and small back belt.

But these two small dolls at the garage sale are delightful. When mentioning to the lady running the garage sale they needed names. She suggested Kate and Jordan, the names of her children. I instantly replied that I thought she was going to say Kate and Will ... these little baby dolls have names. I won't forget when I found them lying in a garage offered for sale because the children of the house had outgrown them.

Kate is thin ... I will need to carefully open her side seams and add a little stuffing. Will and Kate both need clothes ... a little project for the cool days of winter. As they sit in the rocking chair Kate is telling Will some scintillating tale, but he does appear uninterested. Perhaps she is wanting to share a sweetie?