Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Wishing for fireworks

It is New Years Eve. Lots of fireworks displays are scheduled for tonight here. We planned to go to the waterfront for the nine o'clock display. Just a short walk. The Weather Bureau suggests caution.

The monsoon has arrived. It's been raining for part of the afternoon. The rain comes from the south east, and the cloud in the north has already struck. Not really heavy, but rain nevertheless. Not good for fireworks.

Monday, 29 December 2014


In some families there is a strong physical resemblance. In others it might be more about personality or athletic interests or something else.
Children, parents, an uncle, and grandparents

Today one of my nephews arrived in Australia on a visit, bringing his daughter. One of his aunties collected them from the airport and took this photo.

As soon as I saw it I remembered how the nephews and nieces in that part of the family looked as children. I am lucky enough to have four nieces and ten nephews.

Here are two photos. The modern day Dad is one of the boys in the older photo.

Sunday, 28 December 2014

BBQ Invitation

I am trying something new to me.
I have had this powerpoint presentation stored on my computer for years. I do  not know where it came from, who made it, or anything. I am happy to acknowledge the owner, because I value copyright of intellectual property. I suspect some of the images are actually from other sources anyway.

To watch this I think you need to download the ppt rather than watch from the link. I hope I have done this correctly.

BBQ Invitation

Thursday, 25 December 2014

Christmas greetings

It is hot and humid today. Lots of dark clouds and thunder. Patchy rain. Usually it rains on Christmas Day here, but not usually in the morning.

We had a wonderful Christmas dinner with my daughter. So good. She and Kevin are both excellent cooks. Ham. Barramundi. Mango salsa. Potato salad. Cheese board. Champagne. Coffee. Great conversation.

I am very lucky to have received sewing gifts. Brilliant! And I have already begun a new project.
Yesterday we went to a Christmas party at the Herbarium where my husband volunteers two days a week. One of the botanists and his wife are expecting their first baby in ten days. Ah! A quilt is needed. I have started already.

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Apron strings

Vintage bias binding
This should look straight
but I am a poor photographer.
I made a new apron for Christmas cookery. I am a messy housekeeper and need a big serviceable apron if I am to stay clean. One for general cleaning and another for cooking is the best plan.

The result is satisfactory but not fabulous. Why? The curve on the apron base needs to be much more pronounced. When I wear this apron it seems to droop a bit. A more curved base would have eliminated that problem.

I recycled an old red tablecloth that had a hole in it. The fabric is rather heavy gabardine. The frilly lacy has been hanging about for years. I found the vintage check bias binding at an op shop.

By not having any specific Christmas image on this apron I am hoping it will do double duty for Valentines day celebrations too. Two special occasions in our home.

My mother liked to dress us in red during the winter when we were children. She made us some lovely outfits. We looked well-dressed and loved.

Now, when I see a red fabric I recall my father-in-law delivering a lecture about wearing red. He informed me in no uncertain terms that only prostitutes ever wore the colour red. (Perhaps he had some personal experience in this area.) I was very upset at the time because I was wearing a red dress that I had made. I was a new bride and it was only the second time we had met. G was of course completely wrong, as he was about many things. I immediately threw that dress in the bin and I have rarely sewn anything red since. It has been more than 35 years. Some cuts are deep. I certainly never made anything red for my children to wear. Last Christmas I stepped over this emotional scar and made myself red pantaloon pyjama pants. This year the apron.
I wonder how G would react to the Santa Fun Runs?

Friday, 19 December 2014

Oh no! She looks so like me!

Yes, I am attempting to exercise more. And this cartoon looks amazingly like me.

I don't know who made the picture, but I thank them.

So I looked for some more, just to keep me in the mood of course.



Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Hot night

Photo from NT News
I will be quite pleased when our air conditioning is fixed. No cross-flow ventilation in the bedroom. But we do have a ceiling fan.

Last night was hot here in Darwin. The minimum was 29.5 degrees Celsius recorded just after five o'clock this morning. For those living with Fahrenheit that is about 85 degrees. Luckily the humidity was only around 70%.
That was the warmest night ever recorded here.

The highest minimum ever recorded in the Northern Territory occurred on 5 January 2006, when Jervois Station. east of Alice Springs, recorded an overnight low of 33.7 degrees Celsius.

Without a good night's sleep, tempers can be frayed around here. Irritable people. Violence. You can guess.

A nice thunderstorm late this afternoon will make everyone feel better. A few clouds, but ...

Monday, 15 December 2014

Sitting pretty

I had not attached the little laptop table when this was taken.
It clips to the frame and folds away when not in use.
We have new chairs. Just two. One size for me and a larger size for my husband who is much taller than me. Goldilocks will not find a baby one though.

Our old lounge suite, a Tessa, was bought in 1980 and the chairs had been reupholstered once. It was nice when it was new, but not any more. One day we will replace the settee too. Tessa is a good Australian furniture manufacturer.

So we decided on these chairs which we saw advertised on TV.
The brand is Stressless and we chose leather because we deserve something luxurious now we have weathered small children and puppies.

Of course this furniture is not available here, so my husband found a shop that sells this brand when he went to Melbourne in September. These chairs were not in stock at the time so we had to wait for them to come from Norway. Then the shop staff assembled them from a flat pack and freighted them to us. Wonderful service. They really were very easy to deal with, even from far away.

Funny. I am not yet game to get any perspiration on my chair so it is covered in an old sheet for a while. Very bogan. Very senior citizen. I won't show that sight to you!!

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Good friends make life worthwhile

Yesterday I had morning coffee with my dearest friend. Lots of chit-chat, although it is called de-briefing these days. Of course we never gossip! We have seen each other through some shocking times and some good ones too over more than 30 years. Isn't it lovely that good friends can just trot along like that. I know secrets about her and she knows secrets about me and they remain completely confidential.

J works in a socially disadvantaged area with children who face huge challenges. She has never gone for any promotion due to her political values. J receives lots of criticism for devoting her life to such work and is accused of wasting her high IQ. (It's really high.) Her attitude is that these children really really need someone smart and highly skilled, more than a lot of other children do.
J is glamorous. She wears size 8 clothes still, in her sixties. Always lovely shoes, always the same brand, which you cannot buy here. Hair care and skin care are high on her list or priorities too. And cook! Yes, this is the person who taught me to use cognac in my Christmas cake instead of rum.

So we had really good coffee from beautiful bone china cups as we sat among her orchids. Total luxury.

Friday, 12 December 2014

Busy, busy

Feeling as if I am accomplishing very little, yet I am rushing about like a dervish. Tomorrow I promise myself I will be very lazy and relaxed.

Thursday, 4 December 2014

A little bit of fun

I have developed a rather strong habit of wasting time on Facebook. (Frown) One of my favourite feeds is Grammarly. Yes, my grammar is improving as a result. (Smile)

Here are two photos Grammarly posted today. You can see that the alligator joke originates at a different website.

Amusing, you'll agree.

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Another baby quilt

I have finished another baby quilt and it has already been received by the future parents of a much anticipated baby boy.

I felt I could not share a photo until the baby shower was over.  My contribution of a quilt is the standard gift our family makes for new parents. More children? No, no more quilts; just one per family is my limit.

For this quilt I used a tropical jelly roll for the top, described as batiks but really prints. My wonderful sister had sent this as a gift one year. The backing is a tan print of little leaves and flowers. The wadding is bamboo. Very serviceable, but not too warm. My quilting is improving, although those corners still annoy me.

My family is like a straggly garden plant, a rambler rather than a bush. Branches everywhere in all directions. New directions, sometimes crossing sometimes just enjoying the sun and breeze. This little boy will be a first cousin twice removed.

Yes, we really do organise our family relationships this way. Baby's grandmother is the first cousin of my husband. This means that my husband Michael and Cathy share a whole row of aunts and uncles and they also had two grandparents in common. This is where the first cousin part comes in. The new baby will be Cathy's grandson. So, two generations down the family tree are expressed as twice removed. First cousin twice removed.

Sunday, 23 November 2014

St Cecilia's Day Concert

St Cecilia, the patron saint of music
Yesterday was St Cecilia's Day and my choir, the Darwin Chorale, put on an amazing concert to celebrate.
We performed at the local university theatre and had a very appreciative audience. Some songs were in Latin, one in French, and the rest in English.

St Cecilia is the patron saint of musicians and there is a European tradition of a concert for this day with a mix of Christian and secular music.
For our concert we provided a good mix. A string ensemble played some Vivaldi. A small choir performed some madrigals and English folk songs. The whole choir performed some lovely folk songs from Wales, some spirituals, some church music from the 16th and 17th centuries and some modern pieces in honour of St Cecilia. We had an amazing soprano soloist who effortlessly reached top A. It was a joy to be singing with her!

Here is a youtube clip of the Cantique de Jean Racine which is one of the pieces we sang. It is by Faure and is in French. Raccine wrote the words in the 17th century but the music is more modern. This clip takes a while to get going because of the long introduction. Apparently it is sometimes used at funerals. This piece is really lovely to sing as the melody just lightly skims along. I hope you enjoy it.

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Lucky me

I am very lucky indeed.

I do some tutoring. The students who need a tutor often are having a rocky time either in school, at work, or in life generally. But they are choosing to improve the situation. I try to work with only adults but end up working with some children as well. (I do have all the right cards, Police checks, and qualifications for this, except for a formal TESOL certificate.)

One particular student is making quite good progress. M is a dear little girl and I really enjoy working with her. Her mother received a lovely letter from the school about little M's achievements this year.
Mum was so pleased she presented me with an arrangement of flowers. I am so touched. I am paid for this work, and still the family gives me flowers.

Such a nice thing to do; I just wanted to share that there are such lovely parents out there. And I am so lucky.

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Moth Orchid

A couple of years ago I bought my husband a potted moth orchid (Phalaenopsis sp.) for Fathers Day.
In the never-failing spirit of my gardening the plant stayed alive but did not flower. Until this year. We have three flowers on the spike. And enormous grins on our faces every time we look at them. So far the flowers have lasted for four weeks. Incredible, seeing the original flowers lasted four days. The petals are perfectly white and yes, they do almost sparkle. In the throat of the flower are tiny touches of yellow and red. There are two tiny tendrils like feelers, maybe this is where the idea of a moth comes in, maybe. Perhaps the cultivar name is Aphrodite.
These orchids originate in Asia, and this particular one is from the Philippines. These plants have half a dozen sturdy leaves and seem to prefer a mild spot in the garden. My friends grow them very easily. Ha. I wish I was so clever.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Melbourne Cup Day

The carved horse is crocodile wood.
We thoroughly celebrated the Melbourne Cup here today at our place.

For breakfast I had made some really delicious muffins - high protein with added chili.

I made a special effort for lunch setting the table with my horses topper. Tasty little pizzas.

And for dinner we had wild boar meat. Very interesting. I would never go out in the bush and shoot a feral pig myself so I appreciated that it was lean and organic. The champagne was excellent too.

The race itself was a mixture of incredible excitement and huge sadness. Two horses lost their lives.

Around town there were many parties at lunch time and I even saw several men in dark suits.

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Words to invite a smile

As soon as I saw this I smiled.

Very enjoyable.

In fact I could almost curl up in the feeble position or else ask for an expresso. It must be the old timer's disease.

Oh no! We should nip that in the butt!

You can find more silly nonsense, and some good advice too, at

Monday, 13 October 2014


Just enough for two.
Tasmanian smoked salmon and real champagne.
When I saw the accountant for my income tax this year she indicated that I would receive a tax refund. And I did!!!!! Whoopee!!! We celebrated. Champagne and smoked salmon for breakfast. With a few other little treats.

I live on my superannuation and my husband's super. (Share and share alike around here.) And a tiny bit from tutoring. Not a big income but my needs are small. I do not have a Healthcare card or receive any Centrelink benefits whatsoever. No university scholarship. A totally self-funded retiree.
But, and this is a huge but, I pay tax on every cent that comes my way.
Some people's super pension is tax-free, but not mine or my husband's. I play according to the rules and pay tax on my tutoring income too. I swear, it feels like my taxes are supporting the entire nation at times. Yes, I realise it is not true; it just feels like it.

Oh, that real champagne tasted good. Thank you to the tax man.

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Different tunes

The world would be a tragic place if we were all the same.

Imagine it. A world where all the families lived in houses and nobody lived in a caravan or tent or hut or just in the open. A world where we all wore similar clothes, perhaps even the same colours. A world where we all ate the same foods. A world where we all played the same music.

Blah! No new thoughts. Nobody would ever invent anything new. No new ideas. No poetry. No books. Nothing new.

I admit I am conservative. I do not like changes. I value things that work already for me. I drink from a cup and saucer because it gives me a certain feeling of connection to my heritage. Sometimes I drink from a mug, but not from a dipper, and never again from one of those cups with a hole in the lid. Conservative.

I use Facebook. I connect with just a few real friends and family that way. I also use it to learn about things happening in other parts of the world. New ideas, or at least new to me.

Today I was delighted to see these images from Bored Panda on Facebook. The artist is from Brazil I think.

I found the casual sex poster a bit confronting at first. Then I realised that what I dislike is not casual sex but irresponsibility towards sexual health. Personally I do not play the casual sex sport, but I know others do.
Marriage and childlessness - these do not bother me at all.
Sexual preferences has definite limitations in my mind, But the poster helped me clarify what those limits are.
Clothing - challenging. I do not like to see people wearing clothes that are not fit for the job. I do not feel comfortable seeing pregnant women in tight stretchy dresses. The bodies of the elderly do not look like the bodies of the young and I need to face that part of reality. But as for insulting people about the way they look! That is nasty indeed!

I wonder what others feel when they see these posters.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Study, study more

I am not much company lately as I have rather a lot of study to get through. My last assignment was reasonable, but I want the next one to be lots better. Hmmm.

But some things are looking so much brighter because I have to work hard. My husband loves to be studying. He is good at it. Lately he has noticed that I actually need a bit of time and encouragement to make the necessary progress. So. Little things. Things he never did before. Very caring and sweet.

Monday, 29 September 2014

So old, so special

Once the colour was a strong blue, and the border was yellow.
Today I discarded a treasure I have owned for most of my life.
Yes, when I was about 8 years old my sister and I were given cotton scarves for Christmas. Mine was blue and hers was red. That's 55 years, almost. Maybe they were called kerchiefs; maybe. The style that was fashionable at the time, as I remember 50s films and magasines, was for the scarf to be tied at the neck with the knot slightly to the side at the front.

I have taken my scarf with me as I moved from home to hostel to flats to houses, from town to town. Always folded the same way. Occasionally it was worn, but not often. Now it is ragged at the corners and speckled with age marks. The colours have faded through washing and time. We have so much in common.

Today it was worn for the last time to protect my hair as I dusted fans and so forth.
But into the bin.
I wonder if anyone else has kept such a simple item from their childhood for so long. And I wondered how you felt when it simply had to go.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Vintage Needlework

This little gem is just one of the treasures from Iva Rose.
When I was a little girl we had a needlework book in the house that was really old. I think it had belonged to my grandmother, my father's mother, but I am not sure. The pictures and projects were from the late 1800s.
I am not sure what happened to the book but I have found something similar.

If you like old books then have look at this site.

At Iva Rose old patterns are scanned, cleaned up, and then sold to the public. Nothing elaborate or outrageous about the publications, just ready for a creative person to do something.

You may have to hunt about for a while as there is quite a big collection on this site. I found this book of crocheted edges in the section Books Under $10.

If you enjoy making or wearing vintage styles, or making them for theatre productions, you might also enjoy looking at these sites.
Vintage Dancer
Ageless Patterns

Sites like these make me realise just how hard many women had to work in the past and how fortunate I am to live in more liberal times with greater person freedom.

I am thinking that a couple of pattern books might make a wonderful Christmas or birthday present for someone. Thinking also about how to make the postage worthwhile.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Thinking about domestic violence

In my knitting group are several women who have experienced domestic violence from their husbands or former husbands. I have a very close friend who has been a victim of domestic violence by one of her daughters. Sometimes I see and hear news reports about cases resulting in deaths.

Behaviours are learned; we all know that. I am thinking a lot lately about how the perpetrators learned these terrible behaviours. As a teacher did I accidentally teach someone to be violent? Children learn to be polite or selfish or kind or studious, among other traits. I know I learn information from sources like documentaries on TV. I learn fitness information from websites and general popular press. Did the domestic violence behaviours come from films and songs? Video games? News items about wars? Are the people desperate for understanding and friendship but something is going wrong? Not all the victims are poor, some are very wealthy. Not all are European; all ethnic and racial backgrounds are involved. All religions too, I suspect. One of our local politicians was recently in court for behaving openly in this way to one of her family members.

I have been wondering if I am violent too. How would I behave in similar circumstances? What actually are the circumstances?

Then I think about how we react to reports of violence. I wonder why some actions and reactions generate lots of support, but not others. Is the media condoning violence, being an enabler?

I saw this chart and wondered what other people think. This illustration is about husbands and wives. The chart does not cover everything; it is a beginning. Do you think domestic violence is about feeling superior to another person, or is it something else?

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

A Town Like Alice

My home is not quite as dust-free and fabulous as it might be. I have wasted (???) far too much time lately chasing an old memory. But it has been fun.

Deborah from The Beautiful Matters wrote that her book club was reading A Town Like Alice. I had read this while a high school student, along with a couple of other Nevil Shute novels. Instantly, I was hooked. Jumped on the internet to find out more about Nevil Shute. It's amazing what you either have forgotten or never knew. Researching the author was fun.

I live just a day and a half's drive from Alice Springs and have been there many times. My daughter lived there for a while. But in the book Joe, the hero, goes to live near Willstown and there is a need for that town to become more like the Alice. Willstown is modelled on Burketown and Normanton which is a region where my mother lived when she was young. You have not died and gone to heaven when you visit those places. Isolated. Conservative. Flies and heat and dust.

I downloaded a copy of A Town Like Alice from the Gutenburg Project, as the novel is not available locally, even through my library services.  It is also available from  and This is not an arduous book to read. Relaxing. Simple. Engaging.

I found two versions if the film on Youtube and watched them. Yes, I accidentally found one version dubbed in French!! Watch out!
The original film was made for cinema in 1956 and covers just the first half of the novel. Peter Finch and Virginia McKenna play the leading roles. It is well made and I enjoyed seeing places I had visited as a tourist.
The second version is a television miniseries (1988) and is in three parts. This is close to the novel, with Bryan Brown and Helen Morse taking the characters of Joe and Jean. Lovely. The only negative with this version is the overload of Aussie expressions. Television, movies, and the internet have changed the way we speak now.

When I was at school reading this book there was still a very negative reaction to anything associated with World War II. Many families, including mine, had someone who had been a prisoner in Changi or similar places. These matters were not discussed, as the professional advice given at the time was that the ghastly memories would fade if left alone. So this book and film were not popular in my town. But attitudes are different now.

Have a go. The book is free for your Kindle or computer. Maybe it is in your library. The films are free. Housework is a mere drop in the bucket. If you do it, nobody notices anyway; so skip it for a while. Enjoy yourself.

Sunday, 31 August 2014

School visit

K's classroom had colourful displays
about the work the children were studying.
On Friday I visited a local school with some friends. It was delightful.
K is in Year 2 at St Andrew Lutheran Primary School in Leanyer. They had a special morning for welcoming into the school any grandparents and special friends of the children. I was invited as a substitute grandparent. K has one set of grandparents living near Quebec in Canada and another set in Brisbane in Queensland. A bit far to travel for morning tea.

First we all went to chapel in the Dreambuilders Church nearby. The pastor delivered a short child-friendly service and the school choir sang. There would have been more than a hundred visitors. Many were young mothers with babies in prams, but quite a large number were oldies like us.

Next was a tree planting ceremony commemorating 175 years of Lutheran education in various parts of Australia. The grounds of this small independent school are quite attractive with some lovely trees and shrubs to provide shade and a welcoming atmosphere.

K proudly showed her books.
All the children wear a uniform every day.
We walked over to K's classroom to have a look at how they do things now. Chairs had been stacked away so that the visitors could move about freely. The room was well-organised and K's school books were filled with interesting activities and worksheets. K's teacher, Ms Perkins, must be an education powerhouse. St Andrew School follows an IB curriculum which is compatible with the Australian Curriculum. An inquiry method of learning is strongly encouraged and is working very successfully. Little K is definitely achieving two years above her peers in the Government schools.

K took us on a tour of the school. I was impressed by how well-behaved the children were. It is a small school and the religious ethic seems to encourage respect and kindness. Very quiet and calm.

When the children stopped for recess we walked over to the Assembly area where a generous morning tea was ready for all to share.
I had a very enjoyable morning. K seemed to proud to have visitors as well as her mother and brother at the school.
I took quite a few photos, but am trying to display only those where children could not be clearly identified. (I did have permission to take the photos.)

Monday, 18 August 2014

A Christmas quilt - and a rant about copyright

Time to get cracking on those big Christmas sewing projects. Whaaaaa! This is not a one-night project.
Reindeer Wishes

I read a blog called The House on the Side of the Hill, written by Melody.
In her latest post Melody gives a link to another blog called Petals and Patches, written by Leanne.

If you scroll down to Leanne's April post you will see a photo of a really simple but very appealing Christmas quilt called Reindeer Wishes. It is described as a wall hanging but I think it would be charming as a cot quilt or on the back of a settee. If the family is neat and clean this would be a wonderful tablecloth for Christmas celebrations.

At the fabric shops here (two shops for 100 000 people!!) the Christmas fabrics are taking pride of place lately. Now is the hour!

The pattern is available from The Patchwork Tea House, and apparently a few other shops too.  This design is the intellectual property of the designer or the company who has bought it.

It would be easy to adapt some of the squares to suit the family. I would be inclined to change the fabrics according to what I have or can easily find. The embroidered squares are reasonably simple, a circle with three tiny leaf groups and a large word inside. The large drawing in the middle is charming in a naive country style. I think my preference would be to do the embroidery in blue but that could change.

There are lots of Christmas quilt designs on Google images. If you want to make something you see, then buy the pattern. Once you have bought the pattern you are permitted to make any changes you wish and usually to make the quilt as many times as you wish.
When I worked in schools I saw people really push the boundaries concerning copyright. If it is not your brain-work, do not pretend it is. If it is yours then you deserve credit for that. No-one should steal the product of your intellect. You are free to sell the copyright of your work, even give it away. The new owner can resell the copyright too. There are some things that do not have copyright or patents and some countries do not recognise copyright at all. Copyright expires after a certain length of time, but may be renewed.

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Almost free DVDs

My local newspaper, the NT News, has been running a wonderful program this week. Actually, I think it is running through all the newspapers in Australia that are part of the News Limited group.

On Sunday when I bought the paper it came with a free DVD and a huge case. For just $2.50 each day I am collecting, and watching (watching when I should be doing something else) the set of 14 programs about animals. It is marvellous. I am having a wonderful time. Some of the segments are definitely not all that new, but the film makers' skills and the narration are so good that they are unlikely to become outdated.

My favourite so far has been about insects and the life in the undergrowth. Oh, I know I should be doing some serious study instead. Those assignments are looming.

OK. OK. the cost is not all that cheap when you consider that there are 14 discs and each one costs a few dollars, more or less. Would I normally buy these? Actually yes. I do have some of this material already, but to have it all together is very nice indeed.

I hope some of you are having as much fun as I am lately.

Monday, 11 August 2014


Some of my friends are grandmothers. I am not. But I do notice how incredibly proud they are of their grandchildren. It seems a bit strange to me, because that does not reflect the relationships I had with my grandparents at all. But times change and the way we relate to people changes.

Anyway I recently found this photo on facebook and sent it to one of my friends. She was really happy about that so I thought I would share it more widely. It is very nicely composed with an excellent arrangement of initial consonants. This makes it pleasing to say. When you read it you will also notice that the rhythm is very musical - the three syllable words at the beginning and end create the sense of a short song.

This is not my photo and I have no idea who owns it, so I can not use it in a way that earns money and I can not claim it as my work. That would be a breach of copyright.

There are lots of lovely grandmother sayings on the internet and on Google images.

Wednesday, 30 July 2014


It is Eid al-Fitr as I am sure you know. This means that the fasting through Ramadan is over,
people visit their families, and there are celebrations in the community. Apparently in some countries this is celebrated on just one day, but here it seems to be a mighty three days. There are special prayers and ceremonies.

We have one large mosque here in Darwin and on Fridays it is common to see men in their white clothes after they have visited for prayers. They also have a big hall for community events. I admit I do not know very much about the system or practices but everything seems to run pretty smoothly around here. The Islamic Society of Darwin runs a Weekend School which educates their children in the religion, rather like Sunday School.You can see some photos at this site:  and

My husband has been trying to learn Indonesian for years and years. He now has a tutor who comes to our home and gives him personalised instruction once a week. Pak Ewan is a really nice person and a very devout Muslim. He interrupts his lesson to pray. This suits my husband quite well as Michael was educated in Roman Catholic schools. Lots of praying there too. So Ewan has travelled home to Indonesia for a while to be with his family at this important time.

If your community is a little plainer than mine, you might find this interesting. It is worthwhile finding out a bit more, because lately we are hearing horrible stories on the News about Muslim people. Not everyone is like that. People are people.

Monday, 28 July 2014

What is normal?

After my last post Shirley wrote in a comment, "What is normal?"
Shirley writes at

Shirley is a lovely person as I am sure you will realise after you read a few of her posts. She lives in a country town in the USA and I think she was one of ten children. She met and married her sweetheart and they continued to live in the same area. They raised a family and now there are some grandchildren. Shirley loves her husband but they must live apart because he is not well enough to live at home. Heartbreak. The nursing home is not quite as good as Shirley would like and much time and effort is spent in attempting to improve hubby's level of care. It must be exhausting driving for hours almost every day to do this. The grandsons also take a lot of time and attention, although this is always a pleasure. I thoroughly enjoy reading about those boys. Shirley does hand embroidery for clients and sells some in an Etsy shop. Until recently she also worked at a sawmill.
So Shirley's life is busy, loving, careful, and not what she imagined it might be.

What is normal for me? What is normal for Shirley? What is normal for you?

No, I do not remember where this originated.
If it is your work then I am happy to acknowledge it.
For me normal is being in my own home and among the objects that carry memories. Normal is fussing over my cat who wants to eat at all hours but must stick to her diet. Normal is eating home prepared meals because I do not like salt added to my food. Normal is wishing I was gorgeous but not putting quite enough effort into fighting the signs of aging and lifestyle. Normal is fiddling about on my computer, studying, tutoring, and staying in touch with people I care about. Normal is hearing my husband snore vigorously as I try to go to sleep. Normal is realising that I am very lucky to live here where I can look out and see a beautiful tropical harbour and interesting ships going about their work. Normal for me is rarely getting everything finished and then regretting my poor time management. Normal is sometimes spending time feeling sorry for myself, and later feeling ashamed because I know many people have hugely more difficult things to deal with.

My life has returned to normal after a truly wonderful holiday. Yes, there are bills and expenses because I have made mistakes with my computer. Aaargh!!! Yes, it is up to me to make things happen here. Yes, my studies are a bit too hard. Yes, the cat comes to talk to me if I sit on the toilet! Yes, the meals are a bit ordinary at our place and I like it like that. Yes, all these factors combine to prove I am alive and not a character in a novel or film.
Perhaps I do not know another word for normal.

Friday, 25 July 2014

Restarting normal life

We are safely home again.

Flowers from
Three local people were on MH17.
We cruised along the Rhine and Danube on one of those Scenic Space Ships. Absolutely marvellous. I will write a bit about that later.

The trip home was marred by the MH17 fatality of course. How could that happen? We were travelling Malaysian Airlines and had previously been booked on that flight. One change and our lives are very different. We were already in the airport when we heard what had happened. Truly dreadful.

I am very thankful we are alive and had a safe trip.
I will write again when life is returns to normal.

Thursday, 3 July 2014


I am on holidays in Amsterdam.
Unbelievable indeed.
We flew from Darwin to Kuala Lumpur, had a day there and then flew to Amsterdam.

Kuala Lumpur was just lovely. This was new for us both. The plane got in quite early in the morning and we had a hotel room to use for the day before our late night flight. Beautiful hotel with tennis courts, football, volleyball, fabulous pool, a spa with all the trimmings, and the list could go on and on. We took a tour on one of those hop-on-hop-off buses and hopped off to see incredible shops. Hermes. Chanel. Louis Vuitton. etc.

Amsterdam is just a bit cooler than I was expecting it to be. OK, lots cooler. Neat. Clean. Interesting. We toured some canals. The Van Gogh Museum was wonderful. So was the Maritime Museum.  We have been to lots of interesting places. This is the world of the cyclist commuter. Here is a photo of my husband on the steps of the Science Centre. Actually, this is part of the roof.

Now we are cruising along the Rhine to Budapest. A very jolly holiday is before us.

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Lucky find

I took some old clothes down to the op shop. Naturally, I had to be polite and look around. It is all for charity and even one purchase might make a difference. What a lucky find!! A pretty little vase.

 The vase is about 10cm tall and seems brand new. The mark on the bottom tells me it was a well-considered gift. Probably given with lots of love. The maker is Aynsley and the design is Pembroke. It is a modern reproduction of an eighteenth century design.

Aynsley bone china comes from Staffordshire in England and the business was established in 1775. In 1861 they started producing the bone china wares that we know today. Here is a link to their website for a little dreaming. Here is another link which explains a little more why this china is valued.

I saw the same vase for sale on ebay for nine pounds. Now I am wondering why this vase was sent to the op shop. Perhaps someone is downsizing so they can move to an apartment. Perhaps someone died and no-one wanted this rather old-fashioned style of vase. Perhaps a marriage broke up and possessions were discarded. Perhaps it was associated with bad memories. Perhaps someone just did not like it. Now though it is in a happy home and can live a long and joyous life. And the charity is happy as well. At the moment the vase holds some dainty yellow orchids. Very pretty.

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Wise owl card

My husband had yet another birthday this week. I stitched this card for the wise owl in my life. It was really easy, but looks terrific.

I used two shades of brown but this design would look much better in contrasting colours. Some talented person could add beads.
Another talented person could tape a stick on the back to create a puppet.

Here is the link to the free downloadable pattern from Mr Printables.

Yes, I know it says this is for children, but sewing is just sewing no matter what age people are. No fancy equipment required.
Print the pdf onto light card. Cut out the motif roughly and with a big border. Jab holes with a pin. Thread the needle and tie a big fat knot that will not go through the holes. Sew. If you can not make a knot with the ends at the back, stick down the loose ends with sticky tape. Trim the outline. Do something with it, like make a card or puppet or crown or bookmark.

Monday, 16 June 2014

Menopause Friends

Are you at this age?
Is this already pirated from Disney? Someone must own the copyright, But I do not know who. If it is you, let me know and I will acknowledge it.

I wonder where Frumpy, Sports-car-y, Wrinkly, Coloured-hair-y, Sporty, Wine-drink-y, Tubby-tum-y, Holiday-girl-y, Crafty, Bright-clothes-y, Gossipy, Manicure-y, and Hilarity are. I found menopause to be a short trek to a very good future indeed. Soooooo much better than what it replaced.