Saturday, 31 December 2016

Will it rain?

"Save us," whispered the plants.
Will it rain tonight?

This month we have had 530mm rain here in the CBD. Usually, we get around 240mm. Our annual rainfall is about 1 540 mm. Not our wettest month. Not our wettest year.

My poor pot plants have been battered by the strong wind that comes with many of the December storms. I move them around so they get fresh air and sunshine without too much windburn. Now the poor helpless things are shoved at the ends of the verandah in a bid to shelter them from the wind.

Will it be fine enough for the New Years Eve celebrations? It is sunny now. Will it last?

Each New Years Eve there are two free concerts and two fireworks displays at the waterfront, just walking distance from our home.
This year the children's concert has characters from TV. Later is the adults' concert with Diesel.
One fireworks display is at 9.00 and the other at midnight.
I like the crowd, the excitement, the noise, and of course the fireworks. Yes, I'm a sook and do not stay until midnight.

But, will it rain?

I am wishing you a very enjoyable evening. Promises to be good can wait a while. Eat something high in calories!

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

A new quilt

A new quilt! This is my first attempt at free-form quilting. I have a lot to learn yet, but YouTube is a wonderful teacher.

Some friends have just become great-grandparents. A surprise for the family, but one little error in judgement can cause a lot of confusion in a teenage girl. Our friends were quite upset as they thought they were doing a good job helping to raise a lovely young woman. She was obviously carried away by young love and did not know what to do when the results were not everlasting happiness. Young and naive. Now a very young mother.
Her school has been marvellous and she will resume her studies by doing lots of it on-line. This is a continuation of the procedure during her pregnancy. Her mother, aunt, grandmother, and grandfather are all teachers so she can get extra help from them too.
The baby boy deserve a great future so our family made this quilt. Our family? Yes, without my husband's support cooking, shopping, and putting up with the chaos this task would not have been done. I sewed and Mr Wonderful did everything else.

(I cheated. The patchwork was already stitched, although it was a bit wobbly.)

Sunday, 25 December 2016

Merry Christmas

I wish you a Merry Christmas.
Last night we joined German friends for a traditional German Christmas feast. It was lots of fun.


Today has been excellent here. A cool overcast day with a maximum of only 33 degrees C. Very comfy. I feel sorry for those having temperatures over 40.
Our Christmas lunch finished at four o'clock. We had a hot meal of turkey and our daughter brought a delicious trifle.
All were happy with their gifts. I had sourced some Swiss cookbooks for Camilla and Kevin so they can get the most from their trip to Switzerland in August. Kevin was delighted to find recipes for foods he knows well but did not really know how to cook at home.

Now I will lounge about enjoying the remaining eleven days of Christmas. The chocolates and cakes should last at least that long.


Saturday, 24 December 2016

Decorations

One of my students surprised me with a gift of two very pretty Christmas decorations. They are made with feathers. Next year they might go on the tree, but this year I placed them where we could enjoy them more.
This butterfly is about 12 cm across. There is a clip underneath.

The bird is about 15 cm across. It is turned so you can see both the face and the tail.
I sat it on a glass plate with a bead garland so it could balance.

The earth tremor the other day has definitely caused a little permanent movement in our building. Our bedroom door does not shut now, although it did before. I wonder what the insurance company will do about that.

We are buffeted by strong winds during cyclones and so forth. (The higher you are, the stronger the wind.) This causes little cracks to open in the concrete and let water in. Tall buildings like ours are constructed in modules like Lego and then the pieces are joined. One particularly wet year the water ran down the wall under the paint. Engineers inspected and the insurance company sighed heavily. People came with ropes and harnesses, the relevant glues, and lots of skill.

So ... maybe another tremor will come along and change things again. We will calmly wait until the Wet Season has finished.

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Earth tremor

We had a significant earth tremor this morning.
The quake was 278km ENE of Dili and registered 6.7 on the scale.
The tremor lasted about two minutes at our place.
The building shook and I could hear it cracking. The furniture really swayed.
Other people reported feeling and hearing the tremor all around the city.
This picture is from the US Geological Survey site, a brilliant source of information.
The local TV station posted this second picture on social media. I have no idea where they found it.

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Babe concert

The auditorium filled fast. Only two empty seats during the concert.
It's terrific the way our symphony orchestra
has developed such a following among families.
On Saturday afternoon the Darwin Symphony Orchestra enchanted us all with Babe.
The film played on the screen and the orchestra played.
I thought this would be pretty ordinary, but, it certainly wasn't.
It was fabulous, amazing, magical, and so forth.

The film runs with voices and other sounds, but no music. The orchestra plays, and plays, and plays, for more than an hour.

The Babe music uses huge chunks of Saint-Saens's Organ Symphony (Symphony No. 3). A piece called Pizzicato from Delibes's ballet Sylvia is used. Grieg's Springdans is another piece clever people might recognise. The Babe theme song is from a 1970's pop song by Fitzgerald and Keeley, which utilises a melody from Saint-Saens. The composer of the score for the film, Nigel Westlake, pulled together all these bits and added some more of his own. For this concert version, the music sounds the same to the audience but is just slightly different from the film.  A bit more emotion here and there because there are no digital effects; extra flutes, oboes, clarinets, bassoons, trumpets, harp, tuba, and percussion.

This show has been performed before in Australia. I understand that the next time will be in New York, with a different orchestra of course.

If you ever have the chance to be in the audience for this, then go. Don't hesitate.
This was the poster. Have never seen that violinist at all.
If I had words, to make a day for you,
I'd give you a morning golden and true.
I would make this day last for all time.
Then fill the night deep in moonshine.

Friday, 9 December 2016

Writing those cards and letters

Love getting Christmas cards and letters. Every Christmas I wait anxiously for the first one to arrive. I know emails are easier but I value knowing that my friends have gone to a bit more trouble, just for me.

Today I posted a few cards and letters myself. More to do tomorrow.

I have a routine.
First, comes the gigantic task of writing the Christmas letter. Aaaargh! It seems like the fiftieth epistle to the Romans or something. What to include? What to gloss over? Photos are essential. Two pages, printed back to back, with a festive border.
Next is the card writing, envelope addressing, decorating, and so forth. I do try to be quite ethical in my choice of cards. Handmade is best. Charity cards are next. Purchases from op shops are considered ethical because the profits are not lining the pockets of tycoons. Cards for overseas friends are always tricky. They should have been posted weeks ago anyway.
Of course, I ran out of stamps. Had to buy a roll of 100. I seal my letters so I am not interested in the discounted Christmas rate.

Already we have a string of cards pegged across the window. Letters came with every one.

I freely admit that when the children were little I hoarded favourite cards from relatives and friends and displayed them year after year. Handmade and special. But the children grew older and discovered my deceit. Some of those cards are stashed in a drawer now. My memories. My heart strings.

Thursday, 8 December 2016

A tree at home

At last, I have assembled and decorated our Christmas tree.

Usually, I become cranky because it seems a big job and I dislike doing it on my own.
This year, we chose to use only part of out tree and the job was smooth and easy.
In the past, we had dogs who chewed decorations. That made life tricky if there were tree lights too.

I know lots of the child-made decorations have been discarded, but there are still many meaningful bits and pieces. There's only one left made by one of our children and I do not even recall which child did it.
Some of the decorations were made by my older sister.
Some are souvenirs of holidays.
The aluminium garlands like tinsel were sent to us when our son was born in 1979. Mum had used that tinsel on our trees when we were children. How glad I am that she saved it. Memories flood my mind every year when we use it. Thank you, Mum.

A few parcels have been wrapped already. More to come.

Sunday, 4 December 2016

O Christmas tree! O Christmas tree!

This lovely tree is now decorating the Mall in my city.

What kind of Christmas has no sunshine? Or palms? Or mangoes?
Christmas in the tropics is magic.
If you are good, Santa might bring you sunny days and warm nights too.

Saturday, 3 December 2016

Peking Opera

This week we went to a performance of Peking opera.
In the past, we had a local group who used to do Cantonese opera. This time it was a professional company, the Jungju Theatre Company of Beijing.

Wow! The bookings were so heavy that two extra performances were scheduled. The audience loved it. I loved it. Wonderful.

The show we saw was One Good Turn Deserves Another. Subtitles were shown on the side walls of the theatre, using a powerpoint presentation. The translations were short, but the ideas were conveyed well.
The costumes were just beautiful. There was a simple display of some costumes in the foyer and I managed to capture a little of the finery. Lovely embroidered silk.

Amazing headdresses. Bling.

Terrific makeup.

Although the compere described the props as simple and bare, they were still excellent.

And the voices! Spectacular.

I'm guessing that a lot of this cultural history was lost during the Cultural Revolution, but I am so glad it is being revived.