Wednesday, 28 November 2018

A quilt for a friend

As our choir rehearsed for a recent concert one of the altos was looking rather unwell. Each week my young friend wore a black turban. Obviously, she was having chemotherapy.

I wondered if she wanted to be in the concert or felt under an obligation. It turned out that singing was the best part of her week while the chemo and radiation were happening. On the night of the concert, she wore a wig and nobody in the audience had a clue all was not sunshine and roses.

What incredible resilience. No sooky feeling sorry for herself. No complaining. No running away. My friend has no family in Australia other than her husband. She sings beautifully and I find that if I sit or stand near her then I sing better. At times I felt like not attending rehearsals, but her courage gave me courage.

So I made her a quilt. It's just big enough for a moonlight picnic by the beach. Not too fancy, plain. The music fabric was a leftover. The other pieces reflect how singing feels to me. This time the quilting went quite well, no frilly or wonky bits.

She was happily surprised.

Her treatments are over and good health has returned. The turban has been put aside in favour of some rather nice handmade hats. I'm not making her a hat though.

Tuesday, 30 October 2018

What's eating this building?

The building next door is being demolished. A new bigger and more modern building will replace it. Many people will be employed on both jobs, and jobs are desperately needed.

Look at this yellow giant! This huge and powerful machine is eating the concrete building. Bite. Bite. It chomps through steel. Chomp. It bites through reinforced concrete. Pieces tumble down. It looks like a giant mechanical dinosaur. The little red machine moves the rubble about.

What did it look like before? There was a ten-story building that occupied the entire site. Bit by bit, day by day, the old has disappeared. Not much more to be done.

Sunday, 7 October 2018


I was walking along a footpath near my home and saw these stunning bromeliads.
Yes, of course, I knew that pineapples are part of the bromeliad family. Somehow though I had not thought about bromeliad fruit.

These fruits are bright red. There are about seven more little fruit growing - in the bunchy bits.

The plants are about one metre high and are growing at the front of a block of apartments. Partial shade, plenty of water.
The dark green leaves at the front are spider lilies.

Sunday, 23 September 2018

A quilt to celebrate a wedding

A friend recently married. James plays the piano for the choir I sing with. He is a really nice, non-complaining, always-there type of person. How could I resist the temptation to make a quilt with a music theme? An added bonus was finding a glorious fabric from Ghana.

I was working in the local op shop and a piece of African fabric came in, about three metres long, never washed or cut. The design appealed to me, but I could not think what to do with it so that the design would show. I paid a fair price - not as high as the true value but not terribly low either. Then I did a little research. The fabric design is from Ghana and is intended to be used as clothing for a wedding. I washed it to remove the wax and the colours remained vibrant. Abracadabra, a quilt for James to celebrate the wedding.

The quilt looks a little better than in the photo. I avoided symmetry. The music fabrics were pictures of instruments and the names of composers. The bright pieces match the colours on the backing. I tried hard with the quilting this time and stuck with straight lines. The edge stretched a little as I applied the binding, but the quilt will still be useful for many years.

Tuesday, 11 September 2018

Exercise Kakadu 2018

We are in the middle of Exercise Kakadu at present. This is a naval and air force exercise involving more than 3 000 people from 27 countries. In total 23 ships and submarines are taking part, as well as 21 aircraft. There's onshore work as well as at-sea work. And ceremonies - lots of ceremonies.

Can you make out 3 ships in the front and 3 behind? No? They are there!
The other ships were moored in different locations that I could not get close to.
I went for a walk down to the wharf near my home and saw six ships getting ready. Three at the front and three behind. The size is not really obvious in my photo, but each is about the size of a small cruise ship. They are all grey, but different countries choose different shades of grey. The ships are not all the same size because they do different types of work.

This year China is taking part, which is a tiny bit controversial. Other countries involved include Bangladesh, Brunei, Cambodia, Canada, Chile, Cook Islands, Fiji, France, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Korea, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Tonga, United Arab Emirates, USA, and Vietnam.

What usually happens for activities like this is that for the first few times a country sends observers to check if they really want to be involved. Next, they send a ship and some personnel. If this is a success, then they become more involved. The Tongan navy is new this year; they have been observers in the past.

Kakadu repeats every couple of years. It is Australia's largest maritime exercise and the goal is to strengthen partnerships across the Indo-Pacific region. All the countries involved have to face not only defence issues but also natural disasters, piracy, people smuggling, and drug trafficking.

One of my brothers-in-law and one of my nephews were in the Australian Navy in years past. It is a difficult life and requires lots of courage. When I stand on my verandah and see these ships in the harbour, I am reminded to be thankful for the skill and effort of all those involved in keeping our part of the world peaceful.

Monday, 3 September 2018

A round quilt

It's been a very long time since I wrote anything here. Such a lot has happened. I've been busy and then lazy.

I made a round quilt. (Should I say circular? Not sure.)

My daughter asked for one and I will never try this again. The project was far beyond my skills.

I decided to make something like a spiral, beginning with a hexagon. That was not too bad, although the outside strips did become longer than I anticipated. Then I cut another circle the same size and some wadding. Abracadabra! Turn it inside out and all the seams should be hidden from view. Just add quilting. That was the plan. It was just a bit tricky.

Apparently, if the spirals are always in set colours the pattern becomes more obvious. Then it has a special name. Not worried. Quilting this monster was the daunting part. My strips are intended to be different widths and colours so mistakes are invisible. If the finished product was hexagonal, it could have a binding instead of being bagged.

The quilt was finished and handed over.

Then I found out that someone else had given her a better quilt. Bah, humbug, and all that.

But, and it's a rather important but, I met some lovely people at the quilting club who coached me through much of the process. I learned new skills. I think my daughter learned not to ask for so much too. Life's like that.

Friday, 30 March 2018

Good Friday

It's Good Friday and beautiful. All the shops are closed. Everyone is supposed to be enjoying a long weekend.
But no.
I went for a walk this morning and saw this.
No, they're not just standing about. They are loading branches and logs from trees that fell over. 34 degrees. Humid. 

This young woman was lifting and hauling heavy gear.
In my local park, there were around thirty men and women working hard. Very hot. Heavy workwear. Boots. Chainsaws. Mulchers. Front-end loaders. Trucks.
I really admire people who can do hard physical work in hot conditions. They are so fit.

I am so glad I did not have to work like that today. It's breezy and gorgeous at my place, just perfect for sewing.

Monday, 19 March 2018

Cyclone Marcus

On Saturday we had Cyclone Marcus visit us. Just a little Category 2 cyclone, you understand; hardly anything to worry about. Ha! And Ha again.
These shade trees in my local park will not be providing any shade in the future.
Our flat has a lovely view of the harbour. Another way of expressing that is to say we are very exposed to wind from that direction. Yes, indeed. The strong wind blew water between the window pane and its surround. Strange bubbling noises and spatters. That was a new experience. The doors rattled; the windows generally leaked; that was to be expected. Bubbling? That was new. And quite unnerving. The wind was supposedly only about 125km/hr. I think it may have been a bit stronger.

We lost electricity, but our building has an emergency generator that kicked in beautifully. Looking outside, I could see we were the lucky ones as all other buildings were in darkness.

After a few hours, the water pumps were turned off in our building. This is quite a tall building so water is pumped up to the roof and gravity fed to all the rooms below. The building manager spoke on the PA system and advised everyone to shelter in the bathrooms for a few hours. The eye of the cyclone passed right over us. Soon it was all over. Water and normal electricity were switched on again. Rain and wind stopped. We looked outside.

One of the main streets in the CBD
Branches everywhere
Upturned trees galore! Tropical trees are shallow rooted so they fall over quite easily. Streets were blocked. When the trees fell over they broke the water pipes and irrigation lines.  The crowd was out and about with phones and cameras. I did the same.

Minor water leaks were bubbling in the parks. One major broken pipe was being repaired in the main street near us. Shop signs had been torn off and scattered about. Some buildings which had not been well built or maintained had suffered minor damage.

The real damage has been caused by trees. Cars, fences, shadecloths, and buildings are crushed, ripped, and damaged. It is not safe to drink the water as so many pipes have been broken, but everyone now has access to water for other purposes. Trees brought down overhead power lines. That left nearly 30 000 people without electricity. Streets were blocked by fallen trees.
Irrrigation lines burst as trees fell.

Yesterday the hardware stores sold out of chainsaws and generators. Schools are closed until they are safe for children and staff. There is no electricity for the airconditioning for most of them. The children can not get a safe drink from the bubblers. Only about 10 000 homes are now without any electricity, but powerlines are still down in some areas. Many streets have now been cleared. Some busses will run today. Traffic lights are working again.

The looters have been busy.

This has been a huge wakeup call for our area. Just a little Category 2!! All this damage!

The cleanup is a big job.

Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Playing Grandma

On Grandma's quilt.
Finally, I was able to visit Pippa. I have had a bad cold for a week but decided that I probably am no longer contagious.

My first thought was that baby Pippa seemed rather small, but that was quickly howled down by Doting Mother. What has happened to my memories? Of course, I remember my own babies as absolute geniuses who practically spoke and swam within days of their birth. Could this be a hallucination? Delusion? Dementia? Oh, not a total fabrication!!

I snapped a couple of photos for the Boasting and Bragging Compendium. This seems to be an essential modern accessory carried by grandmothers in their handbags. Mine is at the ready on my phone.
Here she is snuggled in Grandpa's arms.We talked about who is to be known as what due to the large size of the family. Three grandmothers. three grandfathers, one great-grandmother, and so forth.