28 August 2007

Blood moon

I've been popping in and out of the house all night to watch the lunar eclipse and finally the moon turned red (just as promised)! Caity has a great photo of the blood moon on her blog if you want a look. Very spooky.

26 August 2007

One thing leads to another

So here's the thing - put a pair of secateurs in my hand and an urge to prune overtakes me. Give me a pruning saw and it becomes the urge to destroy. Who knows what would happen if I had access to a chain saw?

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

Sydney through Cliff's eyes

For over 25 years, I have been engaged by a fictional character, Cliff Hardy. Cliff is the protagonist in Peter Corris' series of novels and he is a private investigator, based in Sydney. Since The Dying Trade was first published in 1980, I have followed Cliff's investigations and life adventures through these stories.

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

Aaahh

Don't you wish the author of your favourite books would write more quickly? This is one of my common dilemmas - when a long-awaited new title arrives, should I start reading straight away, devouring the story, or should I savour each chapter, reading it slowly?

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

Surfacing

You've probably been wondering where I've been, but I can assure you I haven't been flitting around on some exotic holiday. It's been a week of focusing on all the commitments I have and mostly that means work.

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

Remembering

Last night, I went to the footy. Before the game, there was the most extraordinary event - the Field of Women. Over 13,000 women, all wearing pink ponchos, and 500 men, wearing blue ones, filed onto the stadium to fill out the shape of a Pink Lady. This is the symbol of Breast Cancer Network Australia, the national organisation for Australians personally affected by breast cancer.

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.

11 August 2007

ATC session

I am presenting a session on Artist Trading Cards at the Quilt Indulgence Festival on 15 and 16 September. This will include a guided tour through my collection of ATCs that I have swapped over the past few years. Each person in the session will have the opportunity to make an ATC or two , so I've been trying out simple new designs that can be stitched by hand. These are my first two, but I have several others in mind. I am enjoying the hand stitching and look forward to doing more of it.

10 August 2007

Lisa Walton's exhbition


My friend, Lisa Walton is holding her second solo textile art exhibition this month. It opens on 29 August and I'm keen to be at the opening to applaud her loudly. I know how much time and energy Lisa invests in her work and she has made some simply stunning pieces! If you are in Sydney between 29 August and 9 September, pop in to the Chrissie Cotter Gallery in Camperdown to view the exhibition (and you may even feel tempted to purchase a piece).

07 August 2007

Crafty eye candy

Since I don't know any French, I can only look at the pictures in this inspirational magazine - and what pictures they are! Sometimes, when looking at magazines, connections are made as two ideas collide. That is what happens to me when I look through Marie Claire Idees. The photography is gorgeous, the craft projects are divine and every issue is chock full of things that spark ideas in my head. Yum.

05 August 2007

A little progress

Excuse the peculiar angle of the photograph, but I need a bigger design wall to cope with this quilt top so I had to resort to laying it out on the floor. I have two rows of blocks laid out on two sides of the quilt now and need to stitch them together before working out how many more blocks I need to make for the other two sides. Considering I only sew these blocks by hand at the monthly Scquilters meetings, I think there are definite signs of progress here.

04 August 2007

Chrissy's blog

My dear friend Chrissy has just launched her new blog. You may remember the heart quilt that Chrissy made for me last year (click here to see a picture). Well, it won a prize in the recent Sydney Quilt Show and was only beaten in its category by another quilt - by Chrissy! See here for the results.

You may recognise the photo above. Part of it (me) is the picture that I chose to use when I started this blog. It was taken one day several years ago when Chrissy and I were photographing her quilts. In fact, the quilt in the background is one of her first pieces.

I love that technology can aid communication between people in different countries. I am in Australia and Chrissy is in New Zealand, but we can still spark off each other creatively. How wonderful is that?