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.

Thursday, 15 February 2018

New family member

This week we welcomed a new little girl into the family.
Her name is Pippa and she came a little early.

I was surprised that Pippa and her proud parents stayed at the hospital for only a few hours.

Everyone is delighted that the birth went well. When Camilla was born, her back was broken during the birthing process. We did not find out until she was about seven years old and in constant pain. The advice from the specialist was that she must always do lots of sport to build strong muscles to support her body. We were told that she must never become pregnant because the injury would not cope with that and she would then be paralysed. Camilla and her husband knew the risk and decided it would still be worth taking.

It seems the doctor was wrong. Hurrah! The breaks in her bones have healed completely. Thank goodness. The happiest result imaginable. Healthy baby, healthy mother.

I am overflowing with love for this little girl. Pippa, you may be small but you are part of a huge family with members scattered around the globe.

Monday, 5 February 2018

Quilt for my sister

I have now posted this quilt for my sister. She lives in a secure aged care facility in Melbourne now. I hope this quilt is useful and is not lost too soon. I visited Colleen last July, but probably will not be able to visit this year at all.

Colleen has dementia and needs lots of help. Her adoring husband, also in his eighties, visits her every day and is home alone now.

He did a mighty good job of caring for her at home, feeding, bathing, dressing, toileting, everything she needed. Finally, someone helped him even though they have many friends and two of their children live close by. Because he is a calm sort of man and everything always looked the same as always, nobody knew what was happening. All I knew, and I am at the opposite end of the country, was that my sister was taking some tablets for dementia. I had no idea how ill she had become or that her husband was doing everything to care for her all by himself. Most people in this country are proud and wish to maintain their dignity, but surely the medical professionals should have done a bit more.

So much for my nasty rant and rave. I need to remember that this could happen to me or to someone else that I love. I wonder if we really learn enough from experience.

I tried to quilt in straight lines this time, but still make some sort of design. That was considerably more difficult than I expected. The quilting turned out fairly well, but I do need to improve. The pieces are mainly from a kit I bought online.

I finally joined the local patchwork and quilting club. They meet several times each week and have clubrooms in the light industrial area of town. The set-up is marvellous and the lighting is excellent. I could see so much better there than at home. The space for cutting was just amazing. So many mats and rulers! So every Thursday should now see me stitching merrily away and learning from those around me. Would you believe it, but on Thursdays the club runs from nine in the morning until nine at night.

Tuesday, 26 December 2017

On the second day of Christmas

On the second day of Christmas, we continue feasting. And shopping. And writing those thank you letters.
Today is Boxing Day. Huge sales events in every city. Yes, I'll be looking for something special too. Online research today in preparation for the attack tomorrow.

We certainly feasted yesterday. Turkey, stuffing, roasted vegetables, mince pies, pastries, stone fruit, Christmas cake, wonderful coffee, and a sparkling wine. And more! It was a bit tricky preparing the food with so much tinsel on the kitchen bench, but we coped. That was not a Weight Watchers day at all.

Today our daughter and son-in-law will come for a cold lunch. This will be the sort of Christmas dinner I knew as a child. I was an adult before I learned that some people in Australia had hot food for Christmas dinner. I had thought that was just a fairy story.

Last June Camilla and Kevin got married and now a baby is expected. Yes, I am the enthusiastic mother-in-law from that other place. Interfering rather than supportive, probably. I searched through the suitcases of old baby clothes. I found the baby cutlery from thirty years ago. I found the crocheted baby blankets.

And  ...  I made a quilt. Camilla loves horses and rode for years. This quilt has horses. No matter if Baby is a boy or a girl, able-bodied or otherwise, active or indoorsy, this quilt will be just right I think. I was extra careful with my free-motion quilting this time. Actually, it was not free-motion because I drew lines. I was a bit disappointed because I bought wadding that was supposed to have adhesive on both sides. That didn't work at all. Then when I rinsed the quilt to remove my marking lines, the wadding shrank. I'll steer clear of that stuff in the future. However, Baby has a quilt that I made and it will be serviceable.

One of my students is a coptic Christian from Egypt and her family will not celebrate Christmas until 7th January. I think the other orthodox Christians around town celebrate two Christmases. That's a good idea - one social and one religious. I like Christmas for its social and political focus, although I love Christmas music. Customs from around the world make this time of year really special. Peace and harmony, giving and receiving, feasting and shopping. What could be better?

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

It's in the mail

At last the baby quilt is in the mail and off to Perth.

I was annoyed with myself because the free-motion quilting was very untidy. In the end, I decided that no matter what happened I could not do any better just now, so if the new owner does not like it they can just turn it over. The quilting does not look so obvious on the reverse side. Nobody wins all the time.

The quilt top was partially made some years ago (maybe 15 years) when I took some lessons. It was all completely overwhelming at the time and more lessons did not help in the slightest.

So now both twin boys get a small quilt for playing or snuggling or camping or something.

My message to myself? Learn how to do that quilting with rulers. I know they are sold at the local quilt shop and somewhere on YouTube will be some examples of use. And, And, And ... I found out that there are some proper lessons scheduled for February with a club that I simply must join. A New Year resolution well before the new year arrives. Or should I be trendy and call it a personal goal?