31 August 2010

wild life

Encounters with wildlife have been plentiful lately.

Yesterday there were three Tawny Frogmouths sitting as still as statues in the tree above the trampoline, upon which two boys were going ballistic with a soccer ball.

tawny frogmouth after the rain

I saw my first wombat around here! (I've seen them elsewhere, and in nature reserves before). I was driving Son #1 to soccer and it was noodling about by the side of the road - after we passed I saw it crossing the road behind us in a most leisurely fashion. I flashed my lights at an oncoming line of traffic and the guy in front waved and nodded. I watched in my rear vision mirror as he braked and held up the long line of traffic and Wombat Divine made it safely to the other side of the road.

Another day last week I pulled into our friend's driveway, reporting for carpool duty, and came to a stop beside a large kangaroo. It watched suspiciously as the little kids exited the car to get in the friend's car (for the ride to primary school) and the big kids all got in mine (for the ride to secondary school), then it casually loped off down the side of the house round toward the clothesline. If the other neighbours had looked out their bathroom window at that time they would have seen a big grey roo going past only a few centimetres away. (They're probably used to it, there are heaps of kangaroos around that particular group of houses).

That night, coming back from taking Son #2 to a party, I came *this* close to hitting a wallaby that leapt out from behind a tree and skidded across the road in front of me.

Son #2 has reported seeing the echidna again, who has been notably absent for a few months. I'm glad to hear he's alive and kicking. The mister said he saw one curled in a ball by the side of the road recently while walking the dog, but possibly the presence of a large greyhound was responsible for the just-pretend-I'm-a-spiky-soccerball act.

The mister also reports that a mob of about 20 kangaroos spend their days lazing about outside the loungeroom windows of the house he's working in at the moment. Rolling around on their backs and everything apparently.

The kookaburras are everywhere right now.

kookaburra by the swing

As are the usual Rosellas and Swift Parrots.

And my babies of course ...

distrustful glance

Oh! And most exciting - a pair of Gang-gang Cockatoos have been hanging about. I heard that familiar creaky door sound the other day and looked up to see the silhouettes of two cockies flying overhead, but couldn't make them out. Then that afternoon I heard them creak again and there they were, sitting in a tree near the front door. I've heard them a few times since, but not been able to get a good photo.

Our resident Welcome Swallows have returned to their little mud nest above the laundry door (a mud nest on a mudbrick house).

House Swallow

They arrive every August and in a few weeks we will be hearing the pitterpatter of tiny baby Swallow feet ...

baby swallow

There is a rooster in the garden at the bottom of our hill, and I swear, I'm going to be making chicken curry if it doesn't stop crowing at all hours of the day and night.

The Dalmatian next door is still as mad as a cut snake but lovably goofy.

The rabbits continue to eat everything I plant in the garden.

The other morning we were awoken in the pre-dawn gloom by the unearthly shrieks of a rabbit being taken by a fox. And so the cycle of life continues.

As for mine own wild life, I am off to craft camp this weekend with a bunch of wild wonderful women. Can't wait.

27 August 2010

chai mix for winter afternoons

grinding cloves for chai mix

This winter has been the first proper winter we've had in years. Truly cold, with real rain day after day. At eleven years of age, the youngest child's entire life has been spanned by Victoria's ten year drought and he views the squelchy green grass of our [usually dry brown dustbowl] lawn as something of a novelty straight out of an Enid Blyton book.

The wood burner has been burning continuously for about two months now. We just shut down the vent before going to bed and in the morning open it up again and off it goes, sometimes all by itself and other times with the addition of a handful of kindling.

And I've been discovering the joys of making my own chai mix.

1 tin of condensed milk
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamon
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

Blend all in a jar, shake well. Store in the fridge up to 2 weeks. To use, stir 2 tablespoons directly into a cup of strong hot black tea. Best enjoyed by the fire with some Miles Davis on the cd player.

25 July

26 August 2010

Long time no blog.

Here, let me make it up to you with this tiny bouquet of daphne.

tiny daphne

I don't actually have anything of note to tell you, except for the goings on in my family.

These of late have featured:

a strings concert (Son #1 played violin beautifully in a string quartet);

a guitar concert (Son #1 played two [solo] pieces beautifully); and

two nights' worth of Twelfth Night pulled off by a bunch of exuberant and occasionally wildly talented fourteen year olds. Son #2, in a spectacular piece of typecasting (he is our token extrovert, inexplicably trapped in a family of introverts) played Sir Toby Belch, complete with a very impressive set of bushy muttonchops. His sword fight with Sebastian went on a trifle longer than expected due to the failure of Olivia to hear her cue, and the spectacle of two boys swinging swords at each other while simultaneously looking intently and meaningfully over their shoulders into the wings at the recalcitrant Olivia, was a sight to behold.

Son #3 hasn't done much I can tell you about except read voraciously, although hey what's new. Seriously, all our boys have gone through phases where you can barely prise a book out of their hands, but this child is unstoppable. He reads for hours and hours on end every single day. Currently he's re-reading the Harry Potter books for about the fourth time - he started last weekend and is on the fifth book already (which he picked up yesterday and is already halfway through, and you know how big the fifth book is). Edited to amend - I originally wrote Son #1 but it's the 11 year old who is the voracious reader at the moment.

What else? Oh yes, for those of you not of our shores, Australia had an election a week ago and we still have no idea, six days later, who will be running our country for the next three years. When it became clear a hung parliament was the outcome everyone was shocked and traumatised (and people such as myself were gobsmacked that Mr Rabbit actually got any votes because OMG how could anyone actually vote for someone who's blatantly sexist and racist not to mention a rabid twit ...) ... I wrote a huge ranty post about this a couple of days ago and deleted it, and do you know what? I'm feeling a whole lot calmer and more detached about things now; I am watching the two major parties' wooing of the independents with much amusement. It is passing extraordinary as the Tailor of Gloucester might say.

As for me, I'm kind of in limbo at the moment. I have spat the dummy with just about everything I'm knitting and haven't touched my needles in ages. I need to remedy this as Fathers Day approaches frighteningly fast, as do the arrival dates of several new babies over the next few months.

Bookwise, I have just read The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell and by golly you should too. Immediately. I haven't yet found a good replacement book so what with the lack of knitting and lack of reading and exhorbitant amounts of time watching my children on stage every evening and going to work and going to uni and driving children to soccer matches and parties and attempting to keep food in the house and a sore throat at bay, I've been busy but not actually achieving anything apart from half an hour's worth of weeding in the weak winter sunshine last Sunday.

And there endeth the blogpost.

13 August 2010

wine o'clock rambles

winter sunrise

Camping boy did return safe and sound eventually. They were delayed due to rain in the desert and the bus getting bogged so they spent the night in a Scout hall in some tiny unknown but clearly hospitable small town en route, arriving home at lunch time on Sunday. (They were told not to turn up to school on Monday, but to spend it showering and sleeping. Ours obeyed).

early morning mists

My subject this semester is a European cinema studies subject (I've run out of history subjects that don't bore me rigid fit in with my work schedule). Lots of Jean Renoir and Jacques Tati. I am enjoying it immensely needless to say. Please remind me I said that when I'm trying to juggle essay writing with work and life and holidays (yes) and laundry/bathroom renovations (yesss).

early winter morning

In a rush of blood to the head I have somehow booked myself two holidays. Outback camping with the family in the spring for a week, followed by a brief three days at home to download photos and catch up on my bloglines undertake lots of laundry and grovelling cooking and then a friend and I are heading off to Bali for five days to go to the Ubud Writers Festival.

Did you see how I so very maturely refrained from inserting an embarrassment of exclamation marks or juvenile Squees!? I'm saying them in my head, don't worry.

more sunrise shots from the back door

Son #1 has just completed what might possibly be the coolest Work Experience ever: a week at Triple R. He has had a ball, made a 40 minute radio show with the other work experience boy, eaten a lot of astronaut icecream (yeah, I don't know why either), met all sorts of amazing people and learned how to navigate Metlink's Journey Planner. (He punched in the addresses and announced faintly that the trip would involve a bus, train, bus, bus and tram. I stepped in, punched in the same addresses and narrowed it down to a mere one bus, train, then tram. Sheesh).

full moon

My father and my middle child are both performing in productions of Twelfth Night soon; almost simultaneously but in opposite ends of the country. Dad is playing Malvolio and Son #2 is Sir Toby Belch. (Dad was Sir Andrew Aguecheek in a production a decade or so ago, while Son #1 was Sebastian two years ago. This play is a recurring leitmotif in my life (I had to write an essay on it a few years ago, and also many decades ago while in high school) and I was hoping for some Beatrice and Benedick action this time, or even some Titania and Puck, but no luck.

the end of the rainbow

I see, clicking on the links in that previous para and getting all nostalgic like and in the interests of updating you all on essential life matters, that the cat was still alive then (well barely, what with the catching on fire bit), I still haven't finished the green vest or the granny blanket, that my boss and I have not been opshopping enough lately, and that two years on and at the tender age of sixteen, Sebastian and Viola are now Special Friends.

PS. BALI!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Squeee!

5 August 2010

Dad socks

I bravely gave my dad a pair of handknitted socks for his birthday.

quickie socks

I'd been hesitant to in the past (not least because my mother has a tendency to adopt a bemused expression and say Why would you bother to knit socks? and really, I can't be bothered with that conversation any more) because they live in hot hot sunny hot Queensland. But this winter Dad had said that the evenings had been chilly so I thought I'd warm up his elderly English toes with some handmade goodness, and after all they live barely over the border into Queensland so I reasoned they're within spitting distance of wintry woolly country.

socks for Dad

I wanted quick, thick and warm, and these fitted the bill perfectly. They're made from 8ply (DK weight) superwash so can be thrown in the washing machine, and each sock took only a couple of evenings' worth of knitting. Never mind that I actually knitted three socks because I didn't want to do the prescribed short row garter heels and tried to wing a heel flap before deciding to conquer the heel after all (because if I can conquer nupps I can do most [sing along with me] aaanny-thiiiing). Et voila, with the help of a YouTube tutorial, I successfully executed my very first short row garter heels. What did we do before this modern internetty thing, eh? (Answer: asked our grandmothers).

socks for Dad

This is the actual true colour (Bendigo Woollen Mills 'Claret'). Those other shots were taken on a very dull day and my camera decided the socks were pink.

The pattern is the Quickie Socks, taken from the hilariously titled book The Joy of Sox which is filled with suggestive flirty photos and sock patterns titled Afternoon Delight, Morning Glory, Red Hot Lovers, Foreplay and so on. The joke goes on a little too long but some of the socks in there are magnificent. I'm looking forward to making the rather beautiful Make Up Socks soon (for me), once I learn how to do toe up construction. More assistance from Grandma Google needed.

(Dad's quickies are ravelled here).

2 August 2010

a new habit

31 July

Do you read Habit? I've been enjoying its beauty for about a year now, and when those in charge issued an open invitation to join in at the flickr group during the month of July, I happily signed up.

It's been a lovely semi-regular meditation; a chance to pause, notice and reflect, without the (self imposed) pressure of those Photo a Day projects to which I annually subject myself and then fail miserably.

I posted several images and words to the Habit flickr group throughout the month and was thrilled and honoured to have two of my photographs selected for the blog, including one on the very last day of the project.

I've started a Habit Flickr Set of my own, to which I will continue to add on an occasional basis. It's become a habit worth keeping.