30 December 2007
This novel's been around since 2003, but I seem to sometimes miss new books in my favourite series. The main character in this series is Dido Hoare, an antiquarian bookseller who lives in London. She has a toddler and a father and, of course, is too inquisitive for her own good. Like most of my favourite characters in novels, Dido has a knack for solving mysteries involving dead bodies. Highly recommended - there have been two more books in this series since this one, so I'll be tracking them down soon.
Val McDermid writes terrific stories. She has written multiple series - this is the latest in the Tony Hill series. Earlier works were adapted for TV and resulted in Wire in the Blood, but I never found the TV series very appealing. Absorbing characters through words and carrying your own images of them in your head is infinitely more satisfying. I finished this one today and enjoyed it immensely.
This is the next book I will start. It was enthusiastically recommended to me by Sarah, so I expect it to be a good read. I love the way readers want to share their favourite stories with others, don't you?
What are your fiction recommendations? I plan heaps of reading time this year, so please leave a comment with your suggestions so I can get started!
28 December 2007
To answer Lisa: yes, I now have a Sydney swans garden gnome residing at my place. He is comfortably placed next to one of my indoor plants, since I wouldn't be able to see him as frequently if he was outside in the garden. To Helen: he is lining up the football to kick for goal - that's why the football is where it is!
25 December 2007
23 December 2007
This is a Hebe variation - one of many of the gorgeous plants from New Zealand in this family. Hebe, in Greek mythology, was the goddess of youth, so it's lovely to this represented in the garden. I love these plants because they are fairly hardy and have such gorgeous flowers. They brigten my spirits every time I see the glorious pink wands in bloom.
22 December 2007
I discovered an extraordinary shop - The Merchant of Venice. This is a tiny shop in the Italian Forum walkway, which sells unique imported papier-maché masks. They have to be seen to be believed. Many are gilded in gold or silver; have feathers or ornate beading; and are simply sumptuous.The shop also sells a unique range of Venetian jewellery , which was quite tempting (but I resisted). I was reminded of the scene in The Phantom of the Opera - do you remember the masquerade ball and the costumes and masks that all the guests wore? If you are ever in Leichhardt, do visit this shop. It is so amazing.
15 December 2007
12 December 2007
I regularly go to the movies with my friend, Angela. We sometimes see movies that intrigue us (Snow Cake); movies that menace us (Michael Clayton); movies that make us cry (Brokeback Mountain) and movies that overwhelm our senses (The Phantom of the Opera). But I confess, dear reader, that last night it was the smouldering Clive Owen who was the attraction. Aaahhhh.
Honestly, this movie may be a little loose with the facts of history, but if you let all that go and ignore the schmaltz, it is a wonderful treat for the senses. There is even a wonderful sea-battle scene (it was meant to be the Spanish Armada being defeated by the English) - I do so love a good explosion, especially when it is the result of cannon-fire.
And did I mention Clive Owen?
09 December 2007
On the way to the Blue Gum hotel (if you are ever in Sydney on the first Saturday of the month, you are invited to join us at the Blue Gum, Waitara - we have a private room!), I stopped off at Craft Depot and ended up buying a couple of metres of this gorgeous Valori Wells print. Now I have to add 'Make a blue and green quilt' to my Things to Make List.
Now it's Sunday and a heavy thunderstorm has just finished pelting down. We've had thunderstorms most days this week and, compared to the others, this one was tame. It did have hail, though! The legacy of the storm is oppressive humidity. Welcome to a Sydney summer.
08 December 2007
06 December 2007
Let's start with the things to which I have committed.
* Kambra challenge (due ?? theme ?? I forget - must check)
* Art brooch for Rhonda (recklessly promised last time I was on holiday)
* Cecile's art quilt challenge - due 8 February
* Art Quilt Workbook lessons (after many months, I have reached the end of chapter 1)
* Aus/NZ art quilters journal quilts (one a month in 2008)
* Rock-inspired quilt (ha! you thought I'd forgotten, didn't you Susan?)
Things I want to make but haven't told anyone yet (until now).
* Scquilters Cheer me Up ATC swap - at least 4 cards due 16 April. (Better sign up for it first).
* Baby quilt for a friend
* Applique quilt with linen
* Pink and yellow quilt
* Locker hooked rug (Lessa got me interested in this when I was in Adelaide - she even let me practise on her sample)
* Framed textile pieces
* More ATCs for swapping
* Seven Sisters quilt (I have the templates. Maybe this should be on the other part of the list - I think there are at least three people who know about this).
* Another blue quilt
* Japanese floral print quilt
When exactly do I imagine I will do these things?
03 December 2007
I dumped a whole compost bin's worth of compost on it; dug in bags of blood and bone and cow manure and then planted. Aided by the wonderful rain we have had over the past month, everything flourished.
The tallest plants are tomatoes - two different cherry tomato varieties. They are as tall as I am and laden with flowers. The other bush on the left is also a tomato; this time a Roma. You can see some of the fruit at the bottom. In between, I have climbing beans, four types of capsicums, three eggplant bushes, a rosemary, two clumps of chives and three basil plants. Not bad for a small bed!
02 December 2007
I first encountered Matt's writing through the sports pages of The Australian newspaper. He was a totally committed, hopelessly besotted fan of the Fremantle Dockers AFL team. Every week during the footy season, he would despair, rejoice (although there were usually few reasons for rejoicing) and basically torment himself about his team, all the time with a wry sense of humour. Although a totally committed, hopelessly besotted fan of a totally different team in the same competition, I felt his pain.
Soon I discovered that Matt wrote about politics with the same attitude. His observations were always acute and delved below the obvious. I listened to him on the radio and, sure enough, he sounded exactly as I would have expected him to sound. He made me laugh especially since his comments were so spot on.
The world is a poorer place now that he's gone. That a person I never knew could have such an impact. I shed a tear for a person I never met. Such is the power of words.
Matt Price's obituary is here. His blog is here.
"Today the nation of Quiltland declared its independence. An archipelago of several million islands, ranging from tiny outcrops of sewing to spacious art studios, this brand new land is already struggling to survive. Surrounded by hostile nations who claim that Quiltland is occupying land promised to them by the founding fathers of Woodwork and Mechanics, this tiny country is bravely establishing its legitimacy in the international community."
Quilters unite! Pledge your allegiance to this new land now.
28 November 2007
26 November 2007
Immediately, I could see that this is a wonderful venue for groups of quilting friends who want to treat themselves to a weekend away in this lovely town. I can imagine arriving on a Friday afternoon and sewing like crazy until Sunday afternoon (in between visits to the quilt shop and the bakery).
I don't mean to sound like an advertisement, but the costs are so reasonable! Check out the website.
25 November 2007
One of the highlights was the collection of 2006 Journal Quilts made by members of the Australia/New Zealand Art Quilters online group. Alas, I wasn't organised enough to make any last year, but I plan to do so in 2008. Each participant had five quilts displayed, and they were arranged in small batches. I liked this method of display - it wasn't overwhelming, as it often can be to see a wall of small quilts. Unfortunately. I couldn't get back far enough to include complete columns of quilts in my photos, but these will give a taste of what some members achieved. I'm sorry, but I didn't write down the names of the quilters.
The Braidwood quilt event is held the last weekend of November and is a terrific way to indulge yourself. Did I mention that there is an outdoor market with lots of goodies for sale? I bought fabric pieces (of course) and some homemade jams there. No trip to Braidwood is complete without a visit to the bakery, either!
24 November 2007
22 November 2007
So you can imagine how eagerly I waited for this new novel - The Almost Moon. Second novels are often disappointments and, while I wouldn't say that this book falls into that category, it didn't compel me the way The Lovely Bones did.
The human mind is incredibly complex. How people make decisions and how the behaviour of other people affects us is also challenging to unravel. That's what makes us and our stories endlessly fascinating. The Almost Moon offers some insight into a dysfunctional family and the effect that each member's actions have on others. It certainly made me consider how difficult it can be to extricate ourselves from dysfunctional ties. I suppose that's why I read novels - to think about the issues raised - so in that respect the story is worthwhile pondering some more.
20 November 2007
I guess it's particularly irritating for me this week because I voted last Saturday by lodging a pre-poll vote. Since I plan to enjoy myself in Braidwood on Saturday at the outdoor Airing of the Quilts, I wanted voting out of the way.
The Outdoor Airing of the Quilts is a wonderful event. Braidwood is the first entire town to be listed on the state's Heritage Register. The architecture is much-admired and the quilts look amazing when they are draped over the 19th century buildings. I look forward to taking many photos to share.
19 November 2007
18 November 2007
"This Challenge will be a lot of fun. Make a small art quilt (between 10-12 inches square) and be in the running for some great prizes.
Download the details and the Registration forms from the link below and get involved. You will need to send for your 'Challenge Material' which must be visibly incorporated into the finished project. Registration forms must be accompanied by a non refundable donation of at least AU$5 per quilt entered. You can enter up to two quilts in the challenge."
This is a terrific way to enjoy creating a quilt and also raise funds for this worthy cause. Details of the entry requirements and registration forms are available from Unique Stitching and Designs. While you are there, check out the art quilt collection of products that Cecile sells - there are some yummy bits and pieces for purchase there! The due date for entries is 8 February, so I will have time over the holidays to get mine made. Good timing!
12 November 2007
In this book, Jeanne has divided materials into chapters - plastic, paper, surface design and fibre. Using her own small quilts as examples, she shows how she used these materials and encourages us all to try them too.
It's quite a hefty book - 159 pages - and I am enjoying seeing how she uses found materials to express her thoughts. Stimulating! Check out Jeanne's website here.
10 November 2007
The Painted Quilt has great credentials - it's written by Linda and Laura Kemshall. It brings together myriad techniques that can be used to add colour to quilts above and beyond the colour of the fabrics used. All the usual methods are included: paints, pens, pastels, dyes, image transfer etc. These were known to me, but what impressed was the glorious examples of how the authors have used the techniques in their work. The photographs are wonderful.
Fabric Art Workshop by Susan Stein takes a different approach. Each chapter presents a different technique and precise instructions about how to do it. There is a gallery of quilts at the back, but no details of the techniques used on the pieces.
The difference? The Painted Quilt inspires with the design potential of various methods of colouring cloth, while Fabric Art Workshop is a handy book for reference but not overly inspirational. The Painted Quilt is sumptuous, while Fabric Art Workshop is handy for checking the specifics of using a technique.
09 November 2007
Six-and-a-half hours it took. I left for the airport at 1.30pm and arrived home at my house at 8pm. The journey was tedious for me so I won't bore you with the details, suffice it to say that you know something is going pear-shaped when you watch the luggage and catering being unloaded from your plane, just before you are due to board. Sigh.
04 November 2007
For this quilt, I printed all the words for 'wind' that I could find onto blue mottled fabric to represent the sky. The clouds are made from fabric I created with yarn, pieces of felt and lots of shiny silver pieces such as sequins and chocolate wrappers. The clouds are dark, but have silver linings.
Since I made this piece, some people have told me that the clouds look like islands floating in a sea. Definitely not my intention, but perhaps if I'd quilted it differently (with lines of stitching that 'blow' across the quilt) my intent would have been clearer.
Satin stitch update:
I have been having difficulty creating an even satin stitch finish around the edges of my ATCs, so I sought advice. Today I made a textile work to give as a thank-you to someone next week and I think I finally got the satin stitching right. Whew! Can't show a photo until next weekend. I'm going to Adelaide and will be at the South Australian Quilters' Guild's Festival of Quilts on Thursday. If you see me wandering around, come and say hello!
02 November 2007
"We are quilt artists who are embarking on an art challenge together. The plan: periodically, we will each make a small quilted art piece -- 12 by 12 inches -- on a designated theme. We'll use this blog to post our process, progress, and results. We're from different places throughout the world and our artistic styles vary, but we share a love of art quilting and a desire to play, experiment, learn, and grow."
The results of the first challenge have just been posted on the blog and wow - they are fantastic. Brenda is one of the participants and I've been lucky enough to see private peeks of her quilt as it has progressed, so I've enjoyed being an observer of her creative process.
On the Twelve by Twelve blog, you can see not only the results of the challenges, but also comments by each participant and, of course, you can add your own comment. I'm entranced by how each person interprets the theme and I am already envious!
31 October 2007
I'm especially thrilled that so many Australians won prizes (yeah, I know that's my bias showing through, but hey - if we can't congratulate our own local talent...). I'm going to drool over the photos some more now.
29 October 2007
In 2004, Nola and I decided to make journal quilts so that we could try out different techniques and just play with ideas. Our quilts were A3 size, because we wanted something smallish, but still big enough to show off whatever we chose to try.
This is my second journal quilt. It has fused leaves on a background fabric; it is hand stitched with perle thread and free-motion machine quilted. What did I learn from this quilt?
1. Don't hand quilt with perle thread through fused fabric. Extremely sore fingers will result.
2. This is the first time I tried free-motion quilting. That's why I'm not showing you a close-up photo.
3. This is the first time I sewed mitred binding. All the bindings on my other quilts are made with strips on top and bottom and then strips on the sides.
4. This was the beginning of my orange phase. I still don't know where that urge came from.
5. Orange and purple - oh yes!
Nola went on to make more journal quilts than I did. I started a new job and suddenly didn't have the brain power to be creative at home. I did, however, make three other journal quilts that year and will show you (as soon as I can find the photos). So I guess a total of four in the year isn't that bad after all?
27 October 2007
These two trees are at the end of my street. Yesterday we had a fantastic thunderstorm and the effect of the rain is evident in the jacaranda flowers on the grass. Jacarandas grow brilliantly in Sydney and when they flower, it heralds the hot weather yet to come. Thunderstorm season is here and so, sadly, is the humidity, which won't leave now until March. I'm not a happy little vegemite in the humid Sydney summers.
But I digress. Jacarandas not only have glorious branch structure, but the haze that the flowers form is amazing to view from above. To fly over Sydney during this time is one of the world's best treats. I leave you with these photos of this stunning tree, taken about an hour ago.
23 October 2007
Another one of my recent events: Brenda has a photo of some of my ATCs on her blog (and I didn't even think to take a photo!). Last Saturday, I talked about my collection at the NSW Quilters' Guild meeting. I think there may even be a few converts to swap cards at the December meeting, so my collection can grow some more. I think I have about 80 now, and I'd like it to reach 100 by the end of the year. Can it be done?
21 October 2007
Do these sort of things actually increase sales? A tea towel?
20 October 2007
There is a lot to find interesting in these stories. Thankfully, the word 'art' does not start with a capital A. It always makes me cringe when I read people saying 'I make Art' or "I do Art' - it seems so self-important.
The stories in the chapter about creative childhood were fascinating, with the suggestion of being a creative mentor to a child something to consider. Of course, my favourite chapter was about work spaces (I love seeing where people work).
After finishing dipping in and out of the book I realised that reading about other people's processes is really a form of procrastination for me. I need to stop doing this and start stitching. So if there is any value for me in Living the Creative Life it is the message to just do it.
18 October 2007
Now you can share the show and tell too! This week, Pennie decided to set up a blog for our group and added some photos she has taken over recent years. Here's the moral of the story - always smile for photos because you never know where they will turn up!
Check out the Sydney Scquilters blog here.
15 October 2007
It's a small textile piece, with woven strips of homespun plus the strips of paper, all stitched. Stamped on some of the fabric. Metallic coils as tassels on the sides. It now has a place on my cork board in the sewing studio.
14 October 2007
As I love the effect of hand stitching on my quilts, I now have a multitude of new ideas buzzing around in my head....
13 October 2007
12 October 2007
I've finished weaving the 1/4-inch strips together to make this piece. I've started stitching along the strips - it sure takes a lot of thread!
Once the stitching is finished, I'll cut this up and make ATCs from the pieces. I am in love with this colour combination at the moment and want to use it in everything!
08 October 2007
I usually buy a diary about September, for the next year. I like to have one week to a double page spread and, since I carry it everywhere, I like it to be a compact size. Not those teeny, weeny ones but about 15cm high. I like a spiral bound diary and I require it have essential information such as last year's and next year's calendars. Anything else is a bonus.
Last year, I discovered Debden's Swiss Cheese range and thought I would try one. Loved it instantly, because it had a blue cover (so superficial) but mainly because it has a double page monthly planner at the beginning of every month. Perfect for anyone who works to deadlines, like I do!
So, of course, September rolled around and I started looking for a 2008 diary in the same range. I automatically went back to the store where I purchased this year's diary.
"When will your diaries be in stock?" I asked.
"If we had any, they'd be over there," I was told.
"That's not what I asked," I said. "I can see there aren't any there. I'm asking when they will be here."
"If they're not on that shelf, we don't have any," came the reply.
"You mean you don't know the answer to my question," I said, quite nicely I thought.
"Umm, I suppose not."
So I returned every Saturday during September and had exactly the same conversational exchange each time. October arrived and I started to worry. What if I couldn't buy one of the same type of diaries for 2008? I had important dates to note for 2008. I had things to plan; deadlines to record! How much longer would I have to wait; would I have to settle for an inferior diary?
You'll be pleased to know I purchased my Debden's Swiss Cheese 2008 diary last weekend (this time with a lovely green cover). From a different store. All is well with the world.
07 October 2007
I bought this Campanula at least 10 years ago. I had it in a hanging basket on my balcony and the plant formed a tight, green mat of foliage for most of the year. Tiny, jagged leaves were all I saw most of the time until, once a year, it burst into glorious bloom.
Once had a proper garden, I divided up the plant and planted pieces of it in different pockets of the garden. Some pieces spread, while others withered. It rarely flowered. This year, my various Campanula plants are covered in tiny, bell-shaped flowers. I love it more than ever.
So what lessons has it taught me?
1. How to focus my camera for close-up shots. I've only achieved that skill today.
2. How I adore blue flowers.
3. How to be patient and persistent.
4. How to appreciate what is here today.
02 October 2007
Not usually fond of short stories (because they often start to get interesting just before they end) I will make an exception for this collection. Non-demanding reading, dead bodies galore and crafty women who have noses for sleuthing - it adds up to stories perfect for bedtime reading. Haven't come across a quilting-related story yet, though.
To AJ (who asked what an ATC is): ATC stands for Artist Trading Card. These cards are 2 1/2 inches x 3 1/2 inches and, if made by textile artists, they are constructed with fabric and other embellishments. You can see some examples of my last ATC swap here.
01 October 2007
To escape the weather (and to ease the accompanying hay fever), I've spent the day sewing. My first batch of ATCs is completed and I've started to weave fabric strips for the next.
This is a very time-consuming process, but I also find it quite soothing. Therapeutic, really. The act of weaving quarter-inch strips allows my hands to do the work while my mind wanders. As you can see, there's a long way to go before I've finished these strips. Then I'll fuse them to the interfacing and start the stitching along every strip - horizontally and vertically. So it will take a while, but eventually this piece will end up as another set of ATCs.
Thanks to everyone who looked at my blog yesterday. I've changed the type of counter that's on my blog so you can see how many visitors (scroll down and look at the right-hand side of the screen). Next time it gets near a number with a zero, we can count up together!
I get so excited when people leave comments on my blog. Assuming that other bloggers might feel the same, my new aim is to leave more messages. Imagine the fun if we all did this!
30 September 2007
I purchased them in Mittagong a couple of weeks ago - don't you find things in the most unlikely places? They are made from wood and are wonderfully light.
Thanks for the comments on my previous post. Now I don't feel unloved!
10,000 is creeping closer....
Added: 8.02pm 30 September:
I've had several enquiries about the source of these buttons. I bought them from Applicuts, who had a stall at the Quilt Indulgence Festival in Mittagong. I'm not sure if the buttons are on the website yet - they were very new at the time - but you could probably email them and ask!
29 September 2007
So please leave a comment. I want to send some of my artist trading cards on journeys - tell me why you'd like one of my ATCs and you might end up with one. Be the 10,000th visitor and you can have one too! Please prove to me that someone actually reads this blog instead of just stumbling over it accidentally.
28 September 2007
24 September 2007
The two fabrics in the background are the linen/cotton blends I bought on Saturday. They cried out to be purchased because I already had the fabrics shown on top in my stash (purchased last year). I still need a rose-coloured print - I'm thinking maybe spots. No definite design yet, but I feel a need for half-square triangle borders...
23 September 2007
I washed my linen/cotton fabrics today and now they are beautifully soft after the sizing has gone. Definitely they need applique. Something naive, I think...
22 September 2007
This morning I bought some beautiful linen/cotton blend fabric. I didn't plan to - I went to the shop to buy a spool of thread. The fabrics are two plain colours - a creamy colour and a blue. Gorgeous. I feel that they need applique so I want to work out a motif that isn't too difficult so that I can consider using needle turn. I also feel the fabric needs stitching in perle thread, so that has to be factored in as well - when my brain starts functioning again. Has anyone else used linen in their quilts?
18 September 2007
I was riveted as I watched the compulsion of these people, whose aim is to grow the largest pumpkin in the world. There are some absolute whoppers here! I was particularly taken by the pumpkin that grew supported on a small trampoline so that it could grow a rounded bottom instead of a flat one. Who'd have thought?
Check out this link to The Sydney Morning Herald review. Next week it's ferrets. Not sure about watching that one.
12 September 2007
That's where I'm headed tomorrow for work. We sponsor the Quilt Indulgence Festival, which starts on Friday, and I'll be surrounded by quilts, quilts and more quilts. Haven't heard of the Festival? See this website for details.
If you visit the Festival, please come and say hello. Did I mention I'll be the one surrounded by quilts?
11 September 2007
So here I am, instead, reading the latest in the 44 Scotland Street series. It's astonishing how quickly you can pick up the threads of the characters' lives, even if the previous book was a year ago. Poor Bertie. What an eye-opener to see the world from the perspective of a six year old. This book is quite wicked as it lulls you along and then suddenly you find yourself chuckling.
AMS has single-handedly made me long to visit Edinburgh.
09 September 2007
The rain eased off today so I was able to venture into the garden and continue to cut up pieces of bougainvillea and cram them into the recycling bin. As I looked around, I saw a miracle:
yes - it's lavender in bloom! You may remember that I have killed seven lavender plants in six years, so this is cause for celebration. I rushed to take photos because the plant may drop dead tomorrow, given my record so far. Beautiful flower buds - I am too scared to even touch them.
When flowers like this emerge, I feel optimistic that other things will work out too.
07 September 2007
Well, maybe that's not the correct term. Perhaps untidiness would be more accurate. The thing that has bugged me the most for ages is that my cutting mat suffers from fabric-creep - where piles of fabrics seem to accumulate on the sewing table and slowly encroach on my cutting mat so that every time I want to cut, I have to sweep piles away. (Yes, I know I could put things away after I use them, but where's the fun in that?)
So, after perusing my favourite reading matter - the IKEA catalogue - I took myself off to the store. I measured and thought it through carefully - I would buy the Antonius system of baskets, with a solid top. Cutting surface and storage in one! How ingenious.
This is what I returned with instead:
I present the Forhoja - my new cutting table with two handy drawers for rotary cutters, small rulers, templates and the like. My cutting mat fits beautifully on top. I envisage the two shelves with baskets of fabric and I plan to attach cuphooks at one end to hang large rulers. And it moves! This is one of the attractions - I can roll it into a convenient position for cutting and push it back against the wall when I'm not using it. I so love IKEA.
And yes, Helen, I love snooping at other quilters' sewing areas, too!
06 September 2007
There's a fine line between security and paranoia but the distinction appears to have been lost here.
In the meantime, most of us plan to ignore it all and enjoy the sleep-in - that's what I'll be doing!
04 September 2007
02 September 2007
I am pooped after a day of jumping, screaming and applauding at the footy. The Swans thrashed the opposition and a good time was had by all. Now for the finals...
Note added 4 September:
Lissa wants to know who made the ATCs. Doh! I should have included this in the first place. Top row from left: Lisa, Liz, Lissa and Sue. Bottom row from left: Dianne, Pennie (well spotted Lissa!) and Maggie.
01 September 2007
Yes, it's true. A woman can never have too many ATCs. Today we swapped and tomorrow I will take photos. We were supposed to make two - one to swap and one to keep - but I was wildly giving them out like, well, like trading cards. They were supposed to be samples for a demonstration I am presenting but they were eager to be liberated. Must make more...
28 August 2007
26 August 2007
I have a bougainvillea growing against my side fence. In late winter, I prune it back to thicken up the growth. It then rewards me with masses and masses of flowers all summer long. Yesterday I did the pruning and filled my recycling bin with the thorny cuttings.
But then, last night, I saw on Gardening Australia on TV that they visited a bougainvillea specialist and he described how he cut his plants back very hard every six months. So you can guess what happened today - I now have a stump. It has a diameter wider than my arm and is about a foot tall. Oh dear, what have I done? I will report back in a month or so whether it has sprouted new growth or curled up its toes.
PS. As a result of this extreme gardening, several long, strong thorns inserted themselves in the pads of my fingers (yes, I had gloves on). This makes it extremely painful to type. Should be interesting at work this week...
23 August 2007
Kerry Greenwood, another wonderful Australian novelist says:
"I don't know how many Cliff Hardy novels there are, but there aren't enough."
and I have to agree with her. In fact, there are 31 in the series so far.
Cliff has not had an easy life. He has been bashed so many times; has had many relationships with women, some happy and some not so happy; has solved cases; has taught PI skills at college to eager students - all the while living in a shabby terrace in Glebe. In the most recent book, Cliff tries to deal with being stripped of his investigator's licence while at the same time seeking revenge for his lover's death.
Over the years, Cliff has found crime in practically all the suburbs of Sydney. Corris' descriptions of place are so spot-on and he is the quintessentially Sydney bloke. Peter Corris says of Cliff:
"He has a love-hate relationship with his time and place. He embraces the best aspects of Australian life - the tolerance, the classlessness, the vigorous urban and rural culture - while despising the greed and the conservatism that are constantly threatening to undercut what he sees as "real Australia".
I have been a Cliff groupie for a long time now and have enjoyed meeting Peter Corris several times at book readings during the years I worked in a library. To hear Corris read from a Cliff book is the ultimate thrill for such a groupie and his skill as a writer has ensured that Cliff is revered as the most famous Australian hard-boiled detective. Bring on the next book - soon!
20 August 2007
Sometimes I rush out and buy the book, and then look at it and fondle it for ages before I start reading. This is because I know that once it is finished, there will be another long wait until the next one arrives.
This is what happened with the latest novel in the Isabel Dalhousie series of books by Alexander McCall Smith. This series is simply lovely. Sounds like a wussy description, but it's not. The novels celebrate thinking - thinking about one's effect on other people; thinking about consequences; and thinking about kindness.
My favourite sentence from this novel:
"Do not act meanly, do not be unkind, because the time for setting things right may pass before your heart changes course."
How true is that?
I finished the novel last night and immediately felt sad it was over. According to the author, he will be starting work on the next in the series in December so I guess there will be no more until late next year. Sigh.
(Which reminds me, the funniest book I have read recently is also by Alexander McCall Smith. It is called The 2 1/2 Pillars of Wisdom and is screamingly funny, once you get into the rhythm of the story. Laugh out loud!)
19 August 2007
After a soothing afternoon last Sunday spent in the company of Nola and Carol, it seemed as if I would ease on into the working week. Indeed, this is what happened and before I knew it, suddenly it was Friday and I had plans to meet up with friends for dinner. I try to avoid going out on Friday nights because usually I'm brain dead but I rallied and we had a fun time catching up.
Yesterday was market day at the NSW Quilters' Guild meeting, where members could sell their wares. For the grand sum of $1.60, I purchased four pieces of blue fabric (of course, I can never had enough blue fabrics) from Kay. I also purchased a pack of Brenda's notecards, each one featuring one of her quilts. She still has some for sale if you are interested. One of my great plans is to produce such cards with photos of my own quilts but since I haven't done that yet I thought using Brenda's was the next-best thing.
During the week I discovered I have been nominated by two people (Susan and Nola) for the
for this blog. Thanks! It's one of those pass-it-on awards; this one is for being friendly and creative, I guess. I think the word 'nice' is under-rated. Some people think it is a trite and overused adjective but it has positive overtones to me. If you think you deserve this award, consider yourself nominated!
It's been raining since late last night and my garden is soaking up the precious drops. It's a perfect day to stay inside (perhaps with a short nap later) and try to overcome my disappointment with the draw we had at the footy last night. A draw. Can you believe that? It was such a tense game that I was quite exhausted afterwards so maybe that nap would help.
12 August 2007
13,000 Australian women and 500 Australian men are diagnosed with breast cancer EVERY year. Did you realise that? To see so many people on the field last night was the most life-affirming experience. I cried. It was an extraordinary symbol of support for any Australian touched in any way by breast cancer.
I remembered you, Chris Seccombe.