25 December 2008

let the summer begin

Christmas elf departs in a hurry

He hasn't taken off that Santa hat for days.

It's been a glorious day here in all the best kinds of ways. Tomorrow we're heading off on our summer holidays for some more sun, and a bit of sand and surf too.

See you in a few weeks, friends.


24 December 2008


mantlepiece at Christmas

To everyone who comes here and reads, I wish you a very merry Christmas, or a happy Hannukah.

Stay safe, eat well, love fully.

23 December 2008

tiny knitted acorn pattern


Finally, a little Christmas gift for you knitters.

These little whimsies make lovely Christmas decorations, bookmarks (early prototype seen here), or just delightful additions to your nature table. (Sorry about that last link - you have to scroll down quite a way through all sorts of waffle to find the acorns ...)

Anyway, wanna have a go? Ok.

To knit this in the round:
scraps of fine yarn, set of four 2mm dpns

Using the colour for the body (not the cap) of the acorn, cast on 6 stitches, place 2 stitches on each needle.
Round 1: kfb all around (12 stitches)
Round 2: knit
Round 3: kfb, k1, kfb, k1 etc all around (18 stitches)
Rounds 4-9: knit.
Round 10: Change to cap colour yarn, kfb all around (36 stitches)
Round 11: purl
Round 12: moss stitch (that's seed stitch, for you Americans)
Round 13: keeping moss stitch as correct as possible, decrease by two stitches per needle. Best decrease is p2tog, so you keep the little nubbly acorn-cap type lumps. (30 stitches)
Continue in moss stitch, decreasing by two stitches per needle until you have 18 stitches.
P2tog all around (9 stitches)
Stuff with wool fleece or polyfill.
P2tog all around (4 stitches)
P2tog (3 stitches)
Knit a tiny 3 stitch i-cord for a couple of rounds to make a stalk. Fasten off. Weave in ends.

You can make a little hanging loop if your acorn is to be a Christmas tree decoration, or continue the i-cord to make a key ring decoration, or even longer and finish with a tassel to make it a bookmark.

Enjoy. Please let me know of any errors or if anything's unclear - I'm unused to writing out patterns. And if you make one, please leave a link in the comments so I can come and see!

The pattern is on Ravelry here.


21 December 2008

fourth light of Advent

fourth light of advent

The fourth light of Advent
it is the light of man.
The light of love,
the light of thought,
to give and understand.

Heard three mornings ago ... Mum, Mum, come in here quick! The sheep have arrived!

And wonder of wonders, this morning the shepherd turned up. Mary and Joseph can't be far behind.

18 December 2008

99 things meme

Nicked from Knitters-Knitters.

Things you've already done: bold
Things you want to do: italicize
Things you haven't done and don't want to - leave in plain font

1. Started your own blog.

2. Slept under the stars.

3. Played in a band.

4. Visited Hawaii. I sat in the airport for an hour and gazed blearily and jetlaggedly at some palm trees. I reckon that counts.

5. Watched a meteor shower.

6. Given more than you can afford to charity. Nup. I give what I can afford.

7. Been to Disneyland/world. (Disneyland, 1982)

8. Climbed a mountain. Lived on a couple for the winter - Mt Baw Baw, and Falls Creek.

9. Held a praying mantis.

10. Sang a solo. All the time, every day (car, shower, you name it).

11. Bungee jumped. No freakin' way.

12. Visited Paris. March 1986.

13. Watched a lightning storm at sea. In Queensland one New Year's Eve, up high in the hills overlooking the Gold Coast and water. Spectacular.

14. Taught yourself an art from scratch. Photography??

15. Adopted a child.

16. Had food poisoning. As Jen (who has adopted children) said, why is this question immediately following the one pertaining to adopted children?

17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty.

18. Grown your own vegetables.

19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France. (Where else would one see her, pray tell?)

20. Slept on an overnight train. Across the Nullabor to Perth, also once in Spain and possibly also in Italy I think.

21. Had a pillow fight.

22. Hitch hiked. Around England, into Scotland, and later in the north of France. The further south we went in France the dodgier it became and we ceased before we were found dead and interfered with in a ditch, and bought Eurail tickets. See item 20.

23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill.

24. Built a snow fort

25. Held a lamb. Aawwww ... no.

26. Gone skinny dipping.

27. Run a marathon. Oh you must be joking.

28. Ridden a gondola in Venice. Ridden the water taxis in Venice though. And looked longingly at the gondolas. Does that count?

29. Seen a total eclipse.

30. Watched a sunrise or sunset.

31. Hit a home run. Softball match in Year 8 PE class. Never to be repeated.

32. Been on a cruise. Does not appeal in the slightest.

33. Seen Niagara Falls in person

34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors.

35. Seen an Amish community

36. Taught yourself a new language. Not taught myself, but have been taught French.

37.Had enough money to be truly satisfied. What kind of a question is that? Sheesh.

38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person

39. Gone rock climbing. Just recently for the first time ever! With my boys and Sandra and her boy.

40. Seen Michelangelo's David in person.

41. Sung Karaoke. Again with the you've got to be kidding bit.

42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt. I don't know what this is but it sounds cool.

43. Bought a stranger a meal in a restaurant. Uh, can't say I have.

44. Visited Africa. Nearly, so very nearly. We had the itinerary planned (Zanzibar, and a game park in Tanzania) and the money saved and then I fell pregnant and it was all OFF.

45. Walked on a beach by moonlight.

46. Been transported in an ambulance. (Actually yes! I was in utero and Mum's labour was frighteningly quick. It was a Sunday afternoon in London, 1964).

47. Had your portrait painted.

48. Gone deep sea fishing.

49. Seen the Sistine chapel in person. I got a sore neck.

Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris. I've stood underneath it, but I was a penniless backpacker (see item 22) and we satisfied ourselves with looking at it rather than conquering it. We did see Paris from the top of Notre Dame though, so I figure the view is similar.

51. Gone scuba diving or snorkelling. Queensland and Fiji.

52. Kissed in the rain.

53. Played in the mud.

54. Gone to a drive-in theatre.

55. Been in a movie. No but I've been in several tv ads.

56. Visited the Great Wall of China

57. Started a business

58. Taken a martial arts class

59. Visited Russia

60. Served at a soup kitchen

61. Sold Girl Scout cookies. Uh, no. And we refer to them as biscuits anyway.

62. Gone whale watching.

63. Gotten flowers for no reason.
(Gotten? What a word! How about Received? Anyway, yes, the mister brings home the occasional bunch for "no reason", or so he claims).

64. Donated blood. (just.can't.do.the.blood.thing)

65. Gone sky diving.

66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp.

67. Bounced a cheque.

68. Flown in a helicopter. No, but my cousin has and she told me about it in great detail.

69. Saved a favorite childhood toy. I still have Teddy, my dollshouse, Pollyanna and many, many books.

70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial

71. Eaten Caviar (why does caviar have a capital letter here?)

72. Pieced a quilt. One day I'll cut up all that fabric, I swear.

73. Stood in Times Square. One day I'll visit New York, I swear.

74. Toured the Everglades. I doubt that I'll ever get to Florida though. Sorry Joke.

75. Been fired from a job. Sad but true.

76. Seen the Changing of the Guard in London.

77. Broken a bone. See item 8.

78. Been on a speeding motorcycle

79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person.

80. Published a book. But I've edited three.

81. Visited the Vatican. see sistine chapel, sore neck, etc.

82. Bought a brand new car. (Leased a brand new car).

83. Walked in Jerusalem. One day! I swear!

84. Had your picture in the newspaper.

85. Read the entire Bible.

86. Visited the White House.

87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating.

88. Had chickenpox.

89. Saved someone’s life.  When he was 2 and a half, Son #1 silently and without thrashing or panicking, sank to the bottom of a pool when I was right beside him in the water.  The speed and silence of it terrified me and made me realise how frighteningly easy it is for very small children to drown.  I reached down and hauled him up within seconds, but the terror and dread stayed with us for years.

90. Sat on a jury.

91. Met someone famous. Me and Cate, we're like this. Also, I played Noelene Browne's daughter in those Vesta ads in the 1970s. See 55.

92. Joined a book club. Started a book club no less. We've been going 4 years now.

93. Lost a loved one.

94. Had a baby.

95. Seen the Alamo in person.

96. Swum in the Great Salt Lake.

97. Been involved in a law suit. I won an equal opportunity case once, but not really a full on law suit.

98. Owned a cell phone. I do own a mobile phone, as we call 'em. I've even been known to send a text or two overseas.

99. Been stung by a bee.

17 December 2008


Luminare socks

The Luminare socks are finished at last. I think I started them some time in September, as I remember being laughed at by ignoramuses on the train, going to the Show. Finished last week, worn a couple of times already and finally photographed today.

Luminare socks listing to starboard

All those people who take beautiful artistic shots of their own feet clad in new socks have my utmost admiration. I wrestled with chairs, the self timer and the hoiking up of my pants to show off the socks and took about eleventy gazillion shots before settling for that one. Yes, I am listing to starboard, and yes that is a wardrobe door knob lying on the floor behind me. Also, the shoes need polishing. Let's just say ... keeping it real.

I love these socks. Great pattern, stretchy cably lace (without a cable needle!) and gorgeous yarn bought from The Knittery and hand dyed by me yes I am so very clever. And modest.


15 December 2008

full steam ahead

Christmas pudding

The pudding is made. Once again we missed Stir Up Sunday (must put it on the calendar for next year ... it's the Sunday prior to the first Sunday of Advent), but the deed is done. It's pictured here awaiting its baking paper, tinfoil and string in preparation for the long four hours of steaming. I managed to keep up the boiling water all afternoon, topping it up from the kettle regularly as we pottered around making mince pies, but then retired to the lounge room to watch The Life of Brian (an excellent choice for Christmas viewing) and the pot boiled dry. Good thing brandy custard covers a multitude of sins.

mince pies

The mince pies, made by three boys and I (the mister was on the roof, festively clearing out the gutters). Sharp eyed readers will notice that one child claimed three and spelt out his name. They taste fantastic, despite over-enthusiastic pastry kneading by Son #2 who has suddenly developed an interest in cooking which I am strongly encouraging and cultivating (we made chocolate cake together the following day).

the statue puts on her Santa hat every December

The lounge room is looking suitably festive with the angel chain up, and the statue wearing her December headwear. The Advent Fairy even turned up last night with the stable. Better late than never I spose.

kitchen window at Christmas

And that shot is for Sarah, who asked her readers how we decorate our kitchens for Christmas. It occurred to me that I don't actually decorate my kitchen - all the decorations are in the lounge room with the tree and Advent table, cards, Advent calendar, angels et al. Feeling suddenly inadequate for neglecting my poor kitchen, especially upon hearing that Badger has three Christmas trees in her house, I remedied the situation with a festive windowsill arrangement. Soft trees from Stephanie's pattern, made ages ago, and yes they match my skirt), with a knitted Christmas pudding from last year, and a red paper flower made by Son #3.

Ah, that's better. Now, I just need to actually commence the Christmas shopping and card writing.

14 December 2008

Third light of Advent

third Sunday of Advent

The third light of Advent
it is the light of beasts
The light of hope that we may see
in greatest and in least

12 December 2008

T and J, I can't believe we are now in our forties

Supper Club.  Wednesday night.

It's a good thing isn't it, catching up with old friends. Like, really old friends.

Friends from those golden olden days before kids (mine), divorces (others') and wrinkles (all of ours). T (of the sugarbowl), J and I met at work about 17 years ago when we were the three young bloods of our department, and then again on Wednesday night, only slightly more crumpled and thickened around the middle.

We gossiped about old work colleagues and swapped stories of who had turned up where (we all still work at universities, just different ones) and who still has a job (ha! not funny considering ...) and who beats whom on Wordtwist and who knows about elven bloodlust and generally had a marvellous old time. We probably bored the crap out of J's partner - I noticed her eyes glaze over as we embarked on yet another story about work.

We watched the light on the steeples fade and the sky turn a brilliant deep blue. We lounged on the old leather sofas and spoke of how we should be drinking cognac, not tea.

T told more of her famous anecdotes. I reminded her of my favourite one thus far, about how Helen Garner, with whom T had a passing friendship, told her that when she was naming the protagonist of Monkey Grip chose Nora specifically because it can be shortened to an unflattering Gnaw. Just as Helen is abbreviated to Hell. So T told me another literary anecdote which is now my new favourite. T doesn't have a blog (but by golly she should, it'd be bloody fantastic and you would all go and read it, wouldn't you, yes you would. You tell her that in the comments, ok?) so I will tell it here. When we all worked at our previous university in the city, we would all go to the Vic Market in our lunch hour and get our weekly fruit and veg. One day T had done her shopping when a friend in publishing rang her and suggested drinks after work, casually mentioning that a couple of "author folk" would be there. T agreed, and, burdened with several bulging plastic bags full of veggies, looking hot and dishevelled and much like a bag lady (I'm embellishing here, cos T doesn't have a blog so can't defend herself and she probably doesn't read my blog anyway any more anyway), turned up to the venue.

It turned out to be the Hyatt.

And the author folk? Whom T met, while juggling her plastic bags of fresh produce? A.S. Byatt and Vikram Seth.

Love it.

And by now T will be back in Perth and online again, so please excuse me while I go thrash her at Wordtwist.

9 December 2008

I don't have time to blog

bird in cage, from Jodie

But I'm here anyway. I need to break up the Advent posts or we get a bit same old same old around here. So here are some unrelated snippets for your edification.

The little birdcage ornament was a gift from the gorgeous Jodie at ric-rac (ages ago). Thank you Jodie! (Reasons to love the internets #873).

What else? I finished my Luminare socks and have already cast on and done several inches on the next sock, which will be a pair for the mister. I'm in denial about how ugly they are turning out to be. It's the thought (not to mention the hours and hours of knitting) that counts, right? Photos to come, unless I frog them due to aforementioned ugliness problem.

The smallest person in the house is happier. Thank heavens.

I seem to have something on every single night for two weeks, with the exception of tonight hence the not really having time to blog and should be being in bed status.

Posh work dinner last night, for which I purchased clothing! I haven't bought a new frock or anything for a function for years, except from the op shop. I was at Magnolia Square market on the weekend and when my friend heard about the dinner she decided we should look for a dress for me. I stroked one at a stall nearby and nearly fainted at the $850 price tag. At a market! Do people really go to markets expecting to pay that kind of money? Clearly they do, in Malvern. I was looking for something hovering around the $60 mark, personally, and there's still guilt at that price when I can get perfectly good at the oppy ... sew it myself for fraction of ... etc etc yeah you know the rest.

Yikes. Anyway I ended up in Myer buying a beautiful white linen and cotton cross between a jacket and a blouse, with lots of pleaty gathery bits and two of its three buttons missing so got it for 20% off although the price was still guilt inducing, not to mention the jacket I also bought because it will be 'so useful for work'. Ahem. Anyway, a quick dash to Spotlight to purchase three magnificent mother-of-pearl buttons for the white blousejacket, and I was all set. Teamed it with my long black velvet (op shop years ago) skirt, and the posh black shoes and felt rather swish. Son #2 took a photo of us all gussied up for the dinner, however he positioned me carefully in front of our stained glass window and I look like I have a halo in all the shots. I also looked like the wait staff but in higher heels. Oh well.

Tomorrow the elder two finish school for the year, but the youngest still has a week and a half to go. As you might expect he is seriously pissed off at this gross injustice. He felt better when I announced that his brothers have dentist appointments tomorrow after school break up.

The booklists for next year have come home, reminding us that they will all be moving up a year after Christmas. The grunting teenager will be in Class 9 and I am kind of in denial about that. Again. The middle child starts high school (Class 7!) but this feels less of a milestone as he's already at the school so it's just a shift to the room next door (he got a coveted place at the school at the beginning of this year). And littlest will be in Class 4. Again with the yikes. How can this be? And he'll be ten soon so they will all be in double figures. Where did those nappy and pram days go? When did I get so old?

Nearly the witching hour; time for bed.

Although that reminds me I have some things to say about my current audio book, Tobsha Learner's The Witch of Cologne. I hadn't read any of Learner's books before, but it had good blurbs from respected critics on the cover so I picked it up. It's kind of compelling but there's rather a lot of sex. I'm subjected to copious descriptions of pendulous breasts and aching loins at around 9.10 am each day on the freeway, which isn't really my cup of tea. Plus it's read by an Australian actress with exaggerated dick-see-yun, desperately making sure the vast sums spent at ello-cue-see-yun lessons and drama class weren't wasted. One can almost hear her leaning towards the microphone, throat thrust forward, emoting passionately. It's tiresome, frankly. But as I said, the story is compelling. And historically interesting, with lots of tidbits about midwifery, witches, Inquisitors, Jews, heretics et al.

Prior to that I listened to In My Father's Den by Maurice Gee. Excellent, moving, and beautifully understatedly read.

Two minutes till the witching hour, let's see if I can hit PUBLISH before the clock ticks over.

Edited to say, that time stamp is wrong. It's not 11.17 it's 11.58pm. Must fix.

7 December 2008

second light of Advent

second light of Advent

The second light of Advent
it is the light of plants.
Plants reach up to the sun
and in the breezes, dance.

5 December 2008



Dear littlest one,

My heart broke for you this week, yet at the same time I was so very very proud of you. You showed courage, integrity and generosity, and I know things are going to get better for you now. Your ability to put things behind you quickly and move forward with faith, hope and an unflappable spirit and lightness of being are inspiring.

All my love,