Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Flying with fears

Have you ever been nervous as the plane took off? Been cautious of a passenger? Been flying with hidden fears? Over the weekend strong publicity was given by the press here on an incident that occurred on a plane flying from Brisbane to Denpasar. It began as a hijacking.  It turned out to be a series of silly mistakes.

A young Brisbane man loves his Balinese wife. She left him. He became distraught. He decided to go to Bali to find her. He felt terrible so he took over-the-counter medications. Not a wise choice and not in the recommended dosages. He then took some air-sickness tablets because he hates flying. The combination of medications made him confused and a little unwell. On the plane he needed the toilet so he got out of his seat. Being unwell he went to the wrong door, the door of the cockpit. He waited, he felt worse, he banged on the door. The pilot interpreted this as an attempted hijacking and alerted staff on the plane and at the airport. The press also grabbed the story. The man was arrested and questioned. The story was gradually revealed. No charges were laid but he had to leave Bali immediately. He still loves his wife. He still has not found her. He now feels worse. His finances are worse too.

The story is a sad one. A series of errors. A series of fears. I wonder what other situations arise on planes that are based on fears and mistakes.

Here is a link for the story. It leads to a photo and a clearer version of this man's story.  http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-04-28/australian-who-sparked-bali-hijack-alert-may-return-home-today/5414354

Look at this photo of Rowan Atkinson, the actor, on a plane and behaving unwisely. Actually it is from a short Mr Bean film. Not real. A slapstick extension of how some people entertain a child. What would the pilot or the passengers think? Flying with fears?

If I have the details of the photo wrong I apologise.

Monday, 28 April 2014

A precious life

"Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" -Mary Oliver.

Isn't this a wonderful question! I saw it on this blog  http://deepestwell.blogspot.com.au/
Worth a look. She has some appealing quotes.

Sunday, 27 April 2014

Anzac Day 2014

This was taken after the wreath laying. There is a huge screen
showing what is happening for those who can not see very well.
Over on the left you can just make out some of our choir in turquoise shirts.
Last Friday was Anzac Day and we celebrated it magnificently here in Darwin.
What is Anzac Day about? It is a day when Australians acknowledge effort, mateship, loyalty, courage, and the sacrifices made by our servicemen in times of war. On the original day troops landed at Gallipoli during World War 1. Thousands of men died on too many battlefields and from disease. Probably other wars were just as bad but we do not have records of that. But now we know.

Here in Darwin I sang with my choir at the Dawn Service. It was very well organised and the speeches were both inspiring and touching. The Army Band played extremely well. Thousands were at the cenotaph for the ceremony. Seating was provided but lots of people chose to stand by the trees. It is always a difficult time as tears roll down the cheeks of so many. Not as many wreaths as in previous years. Hundreds of poppies afterwards though.

The Dawn Service was followed by a special church service at St Mary's Cathedral.

Then the parade. Wow! What a parade! We actually had the biggest military parade in the country.
This photo was taken later, at morning tea time.
This is the riderless horse, now waiting patiently.
Leading the parade was the riderless horse. How do you stop the tears when you see that? For those unfamiliar with the idea, the riderless horse shows us that the rider has been killed in battle. All the equipment is still on the horse. Someone walks along leading him and there is always a big space in front and behind. Silent. Solemn.
Three tiger helicopters flew over at least five times. Incredible. Low. Noisy. Probably quite an expensive show of strength. Definitely worth it.
There were two military bands. The Army Band and the Navy Drum Corps. The drum corps stayed at one of the intersections and kept playing the entire time, except for a few minutes while the Army band went past.
Who marched? The veterans, of course, with most of the older ones riding in Army vehicles. Wheelchair veterans with their carers had a place. The dog squad. The scouts and guides. Veterans from PNG. Vietnam Vets. All the various cadet groups such as Air Force Cadets. Every sailor in the region was there in their whites. All the Air Force personnel looked wonderful in their blue uniforms. The Army was there. Definitely. They all marched. And they brought their big boys' toys! Two huge canon, maybe howitzers, formed an arch over the parade at the main intersection in the city. The Army showed off their tanks and a selection of armoured vehicles. And then there were the US Marines who are training here. One feature of their display was that someone marches along calling out a rhyme to help everyone stay in step. Different.
Three hornets flew over in formation. Just fabulous. It felt so close. The noise and the sight of these planes brought a huge cheer from the crowd.
The tanks could not fit along the last street so had to exit the parade at an intersection.
See the Navy Drum Corps in their whites who have stepped to one side for this.
The parade was the biggest and most spectacular I have ever seen. So much effort went into it.

After the parade the servicemen went to the RSL for the party. Always a big noisy party for Anzac Day. And they did not let the side down.

There were other ceremonies in Darwin and the surrounding area. There were other celebrations too. But only one parade.

All these photos are from our local newspaper, the NT News. They were posted on facebook.

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Look up!

Look up! It's a bird! It's Superman! No it's  ...  a huge helicopter.
Yesterday morning I looked in the sky and saw a helicopter. Nothing unusual there; helicopters fly around several times a day. But this one was big, long and military. No Defence Force exercises yet. Could this be associated with Anzac Day? A rescue from somewhere too far away for regular helicopters?

Not my photo, but Tanya's.
Helicopters are tricky to photograph.
Last night on the TV news there was an explanation. 
It was a CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter and is here with the Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 463, who come from the Marine Corps Base in Hawaii. These huge helicopters will be at the RAAF base for a six month rotation and come to support the 1150 US marines who are involved in a training exercise with Australian personnel.

These are the biggest helicopters in the US Defence Force and have 7, that's right 7, blades on the main rotor. The rotors are set at an angle which looks slightly odd. The CH-53E can transport up to 55 troops or more than 13 tonnes of cargo, and can carry external slung loads up to 16 tonnes. It can lift aircraft as heavy as itself. The Super Stallion has a cruise speed of 278 km/h and a range of 1 000 km. This helicopter can refuel in-flight. 

I know one lady who reads this blog is interested in military matters. 

So, especially for her:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sikorsky_CH-53E_Super_Stallion
And also :  http://www.dvidshub.net/news/122935/marine-rotational-force-darwin-2014-begins-arrive-down-under#.U1hE9fmSySo

Photo from http://www.sikorsky.com/

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Living in a tropical city

I want to share with you something of my tropical city of Darwin. I have been here for more than 35 years and it is generally a pretty good place to live. Multicultural. An outdoor lifestyle most of the time. Wet dry tropics. Patches of rainforest. Patches of savannah woodland. About 90 000 people. Lovely harbour. We plant our parks for foliage and shade here, not pretty flowers.

Lately on other blogs  people are sharing video clips of towns they have visited. I love it. Yes, it is unlikely that I will actually visit the Yukon. Or see a lighthouse that looks like a picture book illustration.  Or see people wearing jeans and coats in Summer. And lots of other little things that we each take for granted about our lifestyles yet other people notice.

So I found a clip of my city, Darwin. It is not the absolute latest, or professionally made for television. But it is well made and rather close to cinema quality. You will notice it is made by a young person and all that goes with that. Darwin is a popular destination for young backpackers too.

I live in the central city area near the rainforest, parks, beaches, cliffs, and tourist attractions. I can see Crocosaurus Cove from my verandah. This is where the girls are swimming in a perspex enclosure while crocs swim in the same tank. Yes, they really are man-eaters and unpredictable. Yes, the experience is actually scary even though there is a level of safety.

I hope this is a little different from where you live. No jeans and coats!!

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Big impact, small size

Small size, but the effect is amazing.
I found an inspiring blog by a UK artist who makes delightful embroideries, Teasemade. Small, as on buttons. Fun as with coloured birds on a white wedding dress. Now that is a big impact project. Fascinators. Brooches. Cushions. Simple designs with a big impact. 
Could anyone do this? Well, yes, if you had the ideas and the persistence and developed the skills. And were really really motivated.

Sami Teasdale likes to do interesting projects with buttons, appliqué, and hand embroidery. Amazing. Look in her Etsy shop for some of her work. You will notice an emphasis on birds, particularly blue tits. But there are owls, red cardinals, and sea gulls too.
These photos are all hers.

Scroll through a few of her posts. Especially the buttons.  I really enjoyed reading about the fascinators and other headwear she has made. OK, I really enjoyed looking at the pictures and read merely a selection.

A brooch of the button variety.
Sami is a trained teacher but works in the private sector now after a career in schools. She sells her work through her online shops and also teaches small classes face to face. Her blog has instructions for how to do similar projects, and the photos are clear.
I like to sew and embroider, but in a very simple unskilled way most of the time. This lady takes simplicity seriously.
This is a fascinator or small hat.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Palm Sunday concert in Darwin

Last Sunday was Palm Sunday. Next Sunday is Easter Sunday. The choir I sing with, the Darwin Chorale, likes to perform something big every Easter but have found that Palm Sunday is the better date for this. Many people go away for Easter as we have four delicious days off work. Easter events here can be poorly attended.

A section of the audience as Ambrose sang one of his solo pieces. To the right of the harp
are the piano, keyboard, and organ. The pews are all turned around away from the altar.
This year we did the Jerusalem Passion by Murray Wylie and we had a big enthusiastic crowd. This is a really enjoyable work to sing. The music is modern, although not pop music. The rhythms and melodies reminded me of Irish ballads. The words are all in English. It's long - think of 29 separate songs or pieces. Some are sung, some are instrumentals.

The local newspapers gave us great free advertising. They are so supportive of community events.

Who wrote this? Murray Wylie is a music teacher who lives in Brisbane. He wrote some pieces, then a few more, and constructed this lovely celebration of the Christian Easter. So many of the traditional European oratorios about Easter are sombre, serious, dramatic, and heavy; but not this. The usual pattern is to follow a gospel about Holy Week, impress upon the audience the weight of the sins of the world, and then have a short rejoicing. Murray Wylie took a more modern approach. Vocal soloists, tenor, baritone, and contralto, tell the story from Christ's point of view. The choral pieces are full of alto and male parts and sopranos add a touch of colour. These are all parts that a community can sing, rather than trained opera singers. We substituted duets for a couple of solos as the vocalists needed some support there. We had a small orchestra with a piano, organ, keyboard, harp, a few brass instruments, flutes, and strings. And a narrator who read from a script. All locals.

Our concert was held in Christchurch cathedral in Darwin and we had an audience of about a thousand. The local churches are our main supporters for such an event.
Are the members of the Darwin Chorale all Christians? No. Am I? No. You do not have to be in love to sing a love song to an audience. You do not have to be Christian to sing a Christian song either. There is a huge volume of beautiful European music that was written for churches, and it is well constructed.

All the Jerusalem Passion music is available free to download from this website.   http://www.jerusalempassion.com/resources-music.aspx
If your group wishes to perform this oratorio, and you do not have to do all of it, then simply contact the composer. He will usually give the go-ahead. You do not need all the instruments we used nor a huge choir. 

Sunday, 13 April 2014

A small quilt for someone far away

More quilting when I should have been studying.This quilt is for Anne, one of my sisters-in-law who lives far away in the Blue Mountains.

Anne needed a hip replacement. Unexpected. She went to the doctor with a sore knee! One thing leads to another. So her son who lives in Kenya came home to look after his father (with multiple health conditions) so Anne could have the surgery. She was then able to spend some time in a rehabilitation hospital and get really good care. Life certainly becomes complicated.

Anne is home now and has her quilt. She has already been shopping and vacuuming and is hobbling about on walking sticks. Probably bushwalking has disappeared from her lifestyle now. A few other joints are deteriorating, the doctor said.

We made a quilt so she would be a little more comfortable. And we hope she feels our love each time the quilt is used. I say 'we' because while I stitched Michael held the fort and put up with my distracted behaviour.

Anne has a very productive vegetable garden in her back yard and flowers in the front. She ran a small nursery from home for a while. So it seemed a good idea to choose predominantly florals for this quilt. I used the disappearing nine patch pattern, but next time I try this style I will add a border or two. The binding is made from strips of the fat quarters used. The back is a blotchy tan representing the earth.

Friday, 11 April 2014

Ice skating in the tropics

Yes, we are ice skating. Well, some of us are. The outside temperature is around 35 degrees Celsius and the shopping centre is air conditioned to about 27 degrees. Ice skating is a wonderful treat here. Heaven knows how much electricity this must be using!!!

Casuarina Shopping Square eatery, with ice skating.
Just a few children at a time. Well supervised.
The big shopping centre at Casuarina had an ice skating rink built for the school holidays. Children are allowed to have a short lesson with qualified instructors. A really fabulous opportunity for families who will never see this sort of thing in the outdoors.

It is noisy and popular. Neon lights. Loud music. Wow!!

Has this happened before? Sort of. Alice Springs had a similar set up over the last Christmas holidays. There was a much bigger ice skating rink at the same shopping centre when my children were small. I calculate that this was in 1988. No lessons then and anyone could hire the skates and have a turn. I am guessing that there have been OH&S changes since then and that is why only a certain number can participate at a time and with instructors.

I had to take my photo through a glass barrier. The space used by the rink usually has tables and chairs so shoppers will sit and buy meals. It is small. But extra tables have been placed upstairs. And a high glass barrier installed. Very nice really.

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Another quilt is finished

A quilt for a much anticipated baby. A little boy called Dante has arrived.

Friends of ours have just had a baby. They are a bit younger than us!! A lot younger. This is their second child and it has been quite a wait. Number one is already at school, and has been for three years now. The parents are lovely people and this little boy will be loved and treasured.

Our family has made a habit of presenting a small quilt to the family of a new baby. I had some jelly rolls. Bit of this. Bit of that. This way. That way. The back is patterned with sand and shells. My patchworking has improved and so has my quilting. And now a finished product!

We will visit over the Easter break and see if little Dante likes playing or sleeping or just lying on his new quilt.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Home, sweet messy home

I have no idea where this comes from although the little green notes in the corner mean something. It looks like Aunty Acid, but I am not sure really. It was sent to me on facebook. I am not sure if it is an example of irony or sarcasm, but it hits the spot for me. "You either married it or you share DNA."

Being part of a family suits me. I love my husband and children, and people are not perfect thank goodness. Life is not a film or a magazine. Homes are not just houses. Support, tolerance, and sharing are not the sort of codependence that damages people irreparably. Love is not just kissing or uttering tender words. My family sets me free and I hope I do the same for them.