Wednesday, 27 March 2013

The artist from the other side of the world

A little while ago I participated in Vicky's Grow Your Blog Party. It was fun. Some of the bloggers hosted giveaways. Of course I entered if I thought the gift would be a lovely extra. But actually I did not really think it would come to anything. Lots of bloggers. Lots of readers. Big distances. Postal services in some places are not very reliable. And more.

But I was lucky. An artist in Germany offered one of her fibre creations as a prize. It was pretty. She seems talented and generous. I entered and I was chosen. Hurrah! Fantastic! Lucky me!

This is Eusebia Blumenstengel's blog. I noticed she has a shorter name, Ines.

Then I waited. But it did not take long. A parcel arrived this week. The angel-fairy is so soft and delicate. She is like a vision. She has an invisible face but somehow there is communication. There is a line to suspend her from a ceiling or a curtain rod.

I have put the angel-fairy to one side for the day I have a grandchild. I can see it hanging over a bassinet. Watching. Guiding. Caring. Bringing beauty.

Thank you Eusebia. This is wonderful and fills me with gentle emotions every time I look at your creation. You are talented indeed.

Monday, 25 March 2013

Easter concerts

Last night my choir the Darwin Chorale gave our Easter Concert. The Darwin Youth Choir performed some pieces during the concert as well.

There are so many things happening in our community at Easter that for the last few years we have given our Easter performance on Palm Sunday. This suits the performers and the audience much better.

The concert was held in Christchurch cathedral and we had a good sized and appreciative audience.

The sounds really reverberate in the cathedral and we took advantage of this. We had musicians playing trombone, trumpet, and French horn. Wow! Bounce that off the walls! Other musicians played the flute, violin, piano and organ. The sounds were fabulous.

We really enjoyed singing two North American spirituals, Ain't No Rock Gonna Shout For Me and My Good Lord's Done Been Here. Most of the pieces were from contemporary composers which seemed to bring a fresh influence. I like Jenkins's version of Pie Jesu the best.

This you tube clip is not us, but it showcases Pie Jesu nicely. It sounds this good no matter who sings it.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Tales of another city

I was browsing through a local book exchange and grabbed some interesting bargains. Among them are two volumes of Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin. I have read the first one and will soon read another. There is a stream of eight in the series and some were used to make a television series. The writer Armistead Maupin was an American journalist who wrote for the San Francisco Chronicle.

Here is a link to this journalist's home page.

These cost only $12 each
and I get $5 back at my book exchange.
Amazon has these books at a ridiculously low price second hand, but then there is postage. They are not available in bookstores here as these books are so old. We do not have many book stores here in my city.

What did I think? I was surprised to hear that these books are considered humorous. The one I read is not. The level is light and breezy, about the same as in a popular women's magasine. Easy reading with no thought required. The setting is 1970s semi-hippy society, the days of liberal attitudes and flower power. Entertaining. Fun. Suitable for baby boomers who might remember the times. I would not bother again to buy any of this writer's work, but at the bargain price I paid I got good value.

Do you have book exchanges in your area? They are shops where the owner buys used books and resells them. If I take these books back to the same shop I do not get back the full price I paid, but I get something. It is better than a library in some cases, because I might decide to keep the book. It is better than a second hand book store, because there is a guarantee that I can get something back later if I return to the same place. Do not remove that price sticker. There are some book exchanges that resell craft books and magasines. Love them. My sister buys western novels for her aged men clients because libraries no longer have any. Youth novels are good purchases because young people do not often reread their books and they cost such a lot new. People who read romance novels seem to patronise book exchanges, judging from what I see on the shelves. Book exchanges are not highly profitable businesses unless you have a marketplace of people unable to access many new books.

Friday, 15 March 2013

Watch out Julius Caesar!!!

The date on this is 1623.
Shakespeare has been popular for a long time.
Today is the Ides of March.

If you studied Shakespeare's Julius Caesar at school you will be very familiar with the dramatic cry, "Beware the Ides of March." This was uttered by the soothsayer to Julius Caesar and predicted his murder. Apparently Shakespeare was quite accurate in his plot. The soothsayer can actually be identified and is named in historical documents. The setting, the date, the people, and the motives are all accurate.
How did Shakespeare do that? Mark of a genius I suppose.

In the original Roman calendar March was the first month of the year. There was a holiday from the beginning of the month until the Ides of March and this was part of the celebrations for New Year.

One of many images of Julius Caesar.
The Romans did not number the days sequentially from the first through to the last day as we do. Instead they counted back from three fixed points on the month:
  • the Nones was on the 5th or the 7th depending on the month; 
  • the Ides on the 13th or the 15th; and 
  • the Kalends which was the 1st of the following month. 
These words are always expressed as if they are plurals in English.

Ides occurred on the 15th of the month in March, May, July, and October, and on the 13th in the other months. The Latin root of the word 'Ides' means 'divide' and this date split the month at the time of the full moon. The Ides of each month was sacred to Jupiter the supreme deity of the Romans, and the sacrifice of a sheep on this day was common.

This is how the Roman calendar is calculated.
People did not have weekends at this time, and everyone continued working from one day to the next without a break. Nowadays we find ourselves returning to this system of labour and time divisions. The concept of a weekend is culture-specific and has only existed for a relatively brief period of time.

The Ides of March had other social and political significance though.

In Roman times the Ides of March was a financial deadline, and was the time by which all debts must be settled.

The Ides of March was also the Feast of Anna Perenna. This involved some raucous behaviour, parades, partying, and fancy dress.

The ides of March also marked the beginning of the consular year. Two elected consuls took office on this day. This tradition had begun around 220 B.C. A consul is rather like an ambassador and a politician rolled into one.

So watch out if you have a colleague named Brutus or Cicero. Stay away from political groups if your name is Julius. And  ... Beware the Ides of March.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013


No idea where this photo comes from.
My husband can be a trifle irritating to the perfect wife and gorgeous personage. And to me also. I wonder if this is one solution.
These people seem to like it dear. Just try it. You'll soon make friends. Here is some extra money. I'll come back later and collect you. Have fun.

Monday, 11 March 2013

Was your mother like this?

Mother knows best.
I must thank EvalinaMaria for the following advice. She posted it on her blog  Well, I think she did. When I went back to the page I could not find it, but there it is in my Google Reader. Strange.

My mother was not completely like this, but she certainly had her moments.
Today we do not advise our children quite so forcefully about the consequences of their behaviour. Psychologists seem to have given incorrect advice in some areas. Now we are living in a society where violence is seen as a problem solving method.

Anyway ... Enjoy this advice from the past. I hope it brings back interesting memories for you as it did for me.

by EvalinaMaria

My Mother taught me about ANTICIPATION...
"Just wait until your father gets home."

My Mother taught me about RECEIVING....
"You are going to get it when we get home!"

My Mother taught me to MEET A CHALLENGE...
"What were you thinking? Answer me when I talk to you! Don't talk back to me!"

My Mother taught me LOGIC...
"If you fall out off that swing and break your neck, you're not going to the store with me."

My Mother taught me MEDICAL SCIENCE...
   "If you don't stop crossing your eyes, they are going to freeze that way."

My Mother taught me to THINK AHEAD...
I bet the mothers of these girls did not say this;
probably different advice though.
    "If you don't pass your spelling test, you'll never get a good job."

My Mother taught me HUMOUR...
    "When that lawn mower cuts off your toes, don't come running to me."

My Mother taught me how to BECOME AN ADULT...
    "If you don't eat your vegetables, you'll never grow up."

My Mother taught me about GENETICS...
    "You're just like your father."

My Mother taught me about my ROOTS...
    "Do you think you were born in a barn?"

My Mother taught me about WISDOM OF AGE...
    "When you get to be my age, you will understand."

And last but not least...

My Mother taught me about JUSTICE..
    "One day you'll have kids, and I hope they turn out just like you....Then you'll see what it's like!"

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Hand feeding wild fish

One activity here that is lots of fun is to hand feed the wild fish at Doctor's Gully. This is walking distance from my home.

Years ago a man, Doctor Atkinson, hand fed a couple of fish at the beach where he lived. The next day they came again and he repeated the feeding. So it grew.

When I came here to live in the 1970s fish feeding was well established at Doctor's Gully and it was free. A local family bought the site, improved the facilities, and established a small business called Aquascene. The fish come only at high tide so Aquascene  is only open then.

Fish feeding sounds boring but it is definitely not. The idea is to stand in the water and the fish just come along and eat bread from your hand. Most people stand in the water for a while and the fish will swim around you. Young and old, tourists and locals. You can sit and watch. You can throw bread into the water and watch what happens. I have taken most house guests there at some time and our children went there many times. Stale bread arrives from various bakeries around town and this is freely available to the customers. The owners provide a commentary about which fish are there, the tides, the history and anything else the audience asks. I have seen many species there including mullet, catfish, garfish, rays, turtles, mud skippers, and milk fish. For some unknown reason the crocs never come. Perhaps they wait a little further out and grab a passing meal.

Here is the website about this place.
This is not a paid advertisement. I know some people who read this blog are stuck inside because of the ice and snow, so this piece of tropical life will hopefully give them a warm hug.

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Film clip of my tropical city

I found this film clip on Youtube and thought it reasonably well done. It is like an old fashioned slide show and is quite long. The narrator sounds as if he is elderly, and might possibly have a hearing loss. Probably he visited Darwin for a week or two on holidays. Another person's view of my environment.

Many people find the multicultural nature of life here to be outside their comfort zone initially. In time some of that arrogance fades.
We do not routinely shoot every crocodile even though salt water crocodiles do occasionally eat people. Both salt water and freshwater crocs are protected. Why? This is their territory and the humans are the intruders. People have lived here alongside the crocodiles for about 60 000 years. It's true. That long.
Enjoy this window into a tropical lifestyle.

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Closer to victory

I have attempted another zipper pouch. Still had to re-do a few sections but a better result than all previous pouches. This is now holding some computer gadgets. Neat and tidy.

Happily the tabs at the ends of the zipper are much better. Neat little triangles. Could improve my handling of the zipper ends though. Managed to quilt the outer shell. I was pleased with my quilting this time and hope it disguises where I joined a few bits and pieces. Made four pockets on the lining.

The outside is a cotton-silk blend, quilted onto a bamboo wadding. The lining is cotton.  The colour is actually  a smoky green. The fabric is rather retro, and came from some trousers that I shortened.

Monday, 4 March 2013

Cruise liners in port today

Queen Victoria
This morning I watched two cruise liners come into the harbour. The Europa is a small boutique style cruise ship. The other is the Queen Victoria, a sister ship to the Queen Mary 2 which visited last year.

The Queen Victoria looks huge to me. Enormous.
Here is a link about this ship.
It has been raining all day so I could not get a good photo. Here is a photo from Wikipedia.
The library. But which person is the librarian?
Actually the Queen Victoria is not considered a true ocean liner because the hull is not constructed with the required heavy plating. It is apparently the cheap version of a Cunard liner, but it is a Cunard so you still get the grand treatment. It seems very luxurious to me. Would you believe it, but they even have a librarian on board for the guest library. It is a classless ship which means that all passengers have access to all facilities. The cabins are not all the same though.

The Europa is considered the finest cruise ship in the world today. For the lucky ones with good taste. It belongs to the Holland America Line. Customs on board are conservative. Men are expected to wear suits for fine dining. Good casual wear is the norm during the day; you know, what you wear to the Country Club! Here is one review of the Europa.

You probably already know that the majority of cruise ship passengers are women, and the majority of passengers in general are older people. They have the time and the resources after all. Around town today there are approximately 4000 extra oldies from both these ships spending their money and boosting the local economy. Both ships leave at about sunset.

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Water usage

It is wonderful to have water coming from a tap inside the house. I think of this when I see film of third world countries. I think of it when boat people are in the news. I think of it when people say they want to live off the land.

Water is free but getting it to the consumer is not. I pay the costs for the water I use and the bill comes every three months.

Water is used in the processing or manufacture of many things I use daily. Gold mines use enormous amounts of water and that water remains contaminated for a very long time. Water is used in preparing meals and cleaning afterwards. Water is an invisible presence in our modern Western lives.

Go to this British website for a terrific presentation about water usage. I am very impressed by it.

Friday, 1 March 2013

Success with a zipper pouch

Recently I took part in a swap where we made zipped pouches and filled them with chocolates and such. My efforts were poor.

In my long ago past I could design a garment, draft a pattern and sew well. I entered competitions, competed against professional couturiers and won prizes. Somewhere along life's journey I lost nearly all those skills. Bah! It is definitely time to relearn how to sew.
The best photo of the disastrous pouch.
Note the dreadful ends on the zip.
Of course I tried to hide the faults.
The old sewing machine wore out and I bought a new one, fancier and with more modern features. Learning how to use that is a continuing challenge and I frequently become annoyed. These days I sew only plain things. Patchwork with straight lines and wobbles. Shapeless clothes for a pudgy body.

So joining this swap was a good idea. Zippers? They are not inserted the old way any more. Too old? Live with it!

What happened? The strip piecing I used to make the first pouch was a remnant from some patchwork classes taken years ago. A bit more here and there and a zipper from my hoard and I thought it would all be a cakewalk. Wrong! How many times could I sew and unpick? Unfortunately after a few times the fabric was starting to stretch. Interlining or quilting would have prevented that. Why not try this fancy technique for the zipper ends? Why? Because I did not think the process through completely and it was a failure, that's why. Did that part only three times. Broke four needles.

Found some other fabric and made a different pouch much simpler in design. Still not perfect, but actually my best effort at the time. Filled and posted it to my partner far away in the northern hemisphere.
Re-made pouch.
Slightly smaller due to dodgy previous attempts.
Zipper inserted differently.
The handle seems to have shrunk.
Needs further analysis and development.

So ... I went to the machine and re-made the pouch I should have made the first time.
Open-topped pockets inside. No internal zipped pockets. Little loopy handle to prevent it getting lost in a pile. Still not excellent but definitely better than fair. The stripes do not match and that is fine with me. The design is not marvellous actually because setting the corners makes the top appear too long. A better design would flair towards the base to compensate. Access to the contents would still be good and the bag would stand more attractively. Nitpicking.
My pouch in this photo is filled with jewellery. Diamonds and pearls? No. Low cost jewellery I really like, but all in the same colour range. Nothing worth stealing. Organised. The new pouch is useful, although not perfect. Now it is time to make a few more for the gift drawer. Hopefully they will be even better.