Saturday, October 24, 2009

This is a catch-up post just to clear my mental decks of bits and pieces. I have almost finished the bag of brown alpaca, at least the flick-carding part of it. I have given myself a few little cuts from errant passes with the carder and they of course instantly got dirty. They are not healing well, although this morning they look a bit better. I didn't card last night but knit socks. No doubt The Imp was glad to have my lap back. I think one more evening of carding and the alpaca will be done. I've found how to fix the carder (I think) so I can start carding white to spin.

I've had a bricklayer in yesterday to patch the holes outside and in. The Imp was beside herse
lf with curiosity with what was going on behind closed doors. He was not the tidiest of men (is there one that is?) and I had a major job of cleaning up bits of mortar left everywhere. It's a good thing the rug in the lounge room is not important.

I've got a quote and put in the order for new awnings out the front. I ordered a canvas cover in green with beige and brick stripes. It
cost over four times what it cost the last time to recover the awnings. I wasn't expecting that. I have a quote on replacing the brush fence screen at the front of the house. I like the screen as it gives the front some privacy. Once it's done I can clean out the hole that is supposed to be a fish pond and maybe even get it functioning. That will be the end of my renovations for now. I've spent more money than I anticipated but the exterior will be done except a bit of painting and oil sealing the deck.

We've had lovely warm and spring-like weather and I have all my vegie plants ready to go. I hope I can get them in the ground this weekend. I don't think we will have another frost even if the "official" safe date for planting tender crops out is Melbourne Cup day (1st Tues in November), as Memorial Day was in Ohio. My seedlings of cukes and melons are ready to go as well. I'm missing the heirloom tomatoes, and I especially like "Green Zebra". I stil
l have far too many tomatoes. The citrus is in full and fragrant bloom. The junior plums are covered in fruit. I have one iris in bloom but there are lots in the neighbourhood. I'm tempted to leave notes in the letter boxes of the homes of the best iris and ask for extra rhizomes the next time they divide them.

I had lunch with old friend J (I have a LOT of J's in my life, but I don't want to add names) at Old Parliament House yesterday. It was such a lovely day that we ate outside. They have a
dded a little gourmet kitchen shop with locally produced olives and over-priced eggs. They also had waratahs in red and white and I couldn't resist. They are so spectacular. In the gift shop for OPH I got kookaburra and emu Christmas tree ornaments to add to the menagerie on my tree.

Some of you who are my closest of friends and who read this blog may have been aware that, after my trip to the states last year, I was thinking of retiring back there to be near X2 and the other folks I miss. Due to a large number of things, including the parlous state of the US health system and my complicated medical conditions, I have abandoned that idea. I know what's what here. I still love Australia, while I miss many people and things American. I can only hope my various pensions leave me enough room to take a trip over there periodically. And please, you in the states, you are more than welcome to visit here. The plane trip is not that horrible and the end result is surely worth it to see this astonishing country, if not just me.

Book reports: I have finished both Out of Mao's Shadow and The Age of Homespun. They were both extremely interesting books that expanded my mind considerably and I recommend to anyone. Continuing in my China theme I have started Lost Daughters of China as my BBBB. I am halfway through Janet Evanovich's Fearless Fourteen and Stephanie is certainly fearless as always. As usual the plot is bizarre and the action never stops, nor do the laughs.

Monday, October 19, 2009

What appears at left is not just a skein of handspun wool, but a very carefully designed skein of sock wool. Wool and nylon blend, tightly spun and plied. Looks damn fine if I do say so myself. I wish I had more of this wool to spin in decent colors. Whatever possessed me to pick out yellow and peach is a mystery. I got it at Bendigo several year ago and haven't a clue as to which vendor.

No knitting to report on as I have been working through the bag of brown alpaca (which annoys the Imp because it means I have no lap) and can see the end in sight. I was trapped in my studio on Friday as I had air conditioning installers taking over the house and cutting off the power. I was going to card alpaca but discovered the drums on the drum carder had bedome misaligned somewhere along the line and I couldn't figure out how to align them. Ashford's helpful staff in Cooma told me to go online and look at their website, which I couldn't do without power to the wireless router. So I was forced TO WEAVE, and weave I did, a whole 4 cm. But it is weaving and it looks so nice and listening the "loom music" of shafts and beater was a joy. I hope I don't have to wait for similar circumstances before I get back at it.

I am totally out of commission as far as doing anything productive today. The installation of the a/c revealed a hole in the outside of the house where the old furnace was. I need to find a bricklayer but I also wanted to assemble bricks for him to use and I know I had bricks. So I spent Saturday accumulating bricks from various palces around the house, which also involved cutting/pulling the vinca next to the main shed where I knew there was a pile of bricks. At the end of this exercise I was knackered. Sunday I managed to stagger to the markets for supplies. By luck or because I was too weak, I couldn't start the lawnmower so that chore remains (as does the ankle high green patch in the back yard). I did just manage to plant 3 rows of beans (Romano, Tendercrop and Gourmet's delight) before collapsing.Today my feet and hands and very sore and I am still very tired. A day of rest is called for. My peas are now all up and need some supports. I had asparagus for dinner last night and the rhunarb roots I planted are already sending up leaves. Since the rest of the week's weather forecast is for a daily increase in temeratures to end at 28C I may be ready to plant tomatoes etc. soon.

I'm reading Out of Mao's Shadow by Philip Pan which is fascinating and bizarre. Watching the Communist party deny things that everyone could see and forbid people from talking about what everyone knew is so alien to what we in the west take for granted. Now that they are battling the Internet, it's a now world that they don't seem able to conquer.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

I am hoping Blogger will let me post some photos without losing them, which it often does. At left is my new front porch which replaced a very bizarre structure left by the previous owners. It had two levels, with a half-a**ed pergola overhead, was made with the wrong sort of wood, constructed poorly, and the steps were merely piles of bricks. The new porch has a handrail and only two steps and is all at one level so it makes getting large things in and out a bit easier. I was ashamed of the old one when the occupational assessment team came to the house post surgery; the bricks and no handrail were an accident waiting to happen. My back steps have also been replaced. And there is much sun because I am standing where my monster "pencil pine" or tall narrow juniper used to be. It was beginning to heave the pavers and causing a trip hazard. There is a pile of woodchips where it was. When I shift the chips to the front and assess the hole, I want to plant a deciduous shade tree (not too big) because the left window is the living room and it faces west without the shield that my street tree gives the rest of the house.

Next at right is a heap of clean brown alpaca that I washed
last night. I spent about 4 TV nights sorting out the nasty

bits and flick cardings the ends of the most promising locks. It's much shorter than the white, rarely getting over 2" in length. I have also been spinning the rest of the white batts I had made and filled up another bobbin. I have lots of white to card, and now brown as well. The brown was just as filthy as the white was; the first wash water was the same colour as the fibre. There is another 3/4 of a trashbag full to go.And lastly but never least is The Imp. She spends most evenings on my lap while I watch TV and has never interfered with fibre tasks. If I leave the comfort of my recliner and therefore remove her, this is what I am shown when I return. And do not think she wants her belly rubbed. She most adamantly does not and I have to wrestle her out of the chair so I can reclaim it.

I have spent my weekend ironing, shopping, gardening, sleeping, and yesterday suddenly was struck by a desire to work on my 4 shaft loom. I had to rethread it once more and sley the reed at the same time, but it didn't terrify me the way it used to. The studio is still a mess so no photos of that yet. My little furry assistant helped out by knocking most of what was on the table between the looms on the floor.

I mentioned before my love affair with rock. I have been watching a BBC series called "The Seven Ages of Rock" and I cannot get my head around what they are talking about. I know the Brits have a completely different view of rock than Americans do, and naturally the Brits claimed they invented it. The first show was the birth of rock and supposedly covered 1965-1969. According to this show The Who were the first real rock band, there were no American bands mentioned except for the black blues artists who influenced bands like the Stones. There was not even a passing mention of that band from Liverpool known as the Beatles. The second show was about art rock which supposedly included psychedelia altho drugs are hardly mentioned in either show. The bands covered were Pink Floyd, David Bowie, Velvet Underground, Roxy Music and early Genesis. That's it. When talking about the idea of concept albums or music being dramatic, nobody seems to remember Tommy by the previously mentioned band The Who and I distinctly remember the furor it sparked in the early 1970's. What about Sgt. Pepper? I don't know if I want to watch the rest of this series altho there are some wonderful interviews. Watching Jack Bruce describe how he came up for the opening riff for "Sunshine of your love" was worth the pain, also to find out that Ginger Baker is still alive.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

A long weekend (Labor Day) and I didn't manage to post. My headaches seem to have passed, so it was probably only a minor concussion which has no care but taking Panadol. I was very tired on Saturday, did a lot on Sunday and paid for it on Monday. I am still very tired and have not slept well in ages. I'm back to the old rotisserie nights when I sleep on one side till it hurts and wakes me up, and I change position until the other side hurts, repeat ad nauseum. I was on my feet a lot on Sunday doing the weekly shopping plus a trip to the local garden centre. I got 2 early tomatoes, just because they might be all gone when I do my major garden purchase. I got lots of peat pellets into which I planted all my tender pumpkins, melons and squashes, those that I must raise from seed because they aren't available from commercial sources, such as yellow crookneck summer squash, fancy melons, etc. Altho I am not sure why I plant fancy melons because I rarely get any results. We have had rain off and on for almost a week which is very unusual, and I hope it means the summer won't be bone dry. I've bit a very large bullet and am installing ducted reverse cycle heating & cooling (a heat pump to the Americans). This is mostly because I am not sure that the furnace has another year in it, and I would really like to be able to function when we have days of 45C. In the past it meant I laid around and perspired, but I could actually continue normal activities with a/c. Plus it adds to the value of the house. Right now it's supposed to be mid spring and we are due for a frost tomorrow, so who knows what the summer will bring.

One of the things Aussies usually have to contend with in spring is swooping magpies, who are only protecting their nests. I have never been swooped and I have lots of maggies in my garden but they also come and help me garden. I'll be weeding away and look up and there's a magpie standing 6 feet away waiting for me to uncover something edible. I had to almost shoo him out of the way of the lawn mower last week (much rain equals much growth of greenery). I also noticed that the possums have eaten almost all the leaves off my climbing rose (Cecile Brunner). I don't think there will be any lasting damage but there are several small birds (wrens, silvereyes) that would like to nest in the protected depth of a rose bush and are now left in a glass house.

I did manage to take 2 computers to recycle and then had a grieving spell for another part of the Bear which has left the building. How can I feel emotional attachment to a computer? Because he lived in front of that computer for years. It had gotten so unstable that I had to delete files en masse becuase Windows crashed so frequently. I don't think anything extremely personal or work related was left and, having seen the mountains of computers at the recyclers, I don't think anybody has the time to revive a hard drive. I forgot there was an extra drive on the system and found a lot of the stuff I wanted to save there. But it took days to do all of this.

Work has been incredibly boring lately and there are many days I just want to take a nap during the day. All I am doing is catalogue the dregs of a private collection (and I do mean dregs) and do authority work. I have been changing subject headings for "handicapped" to "disabled" for weeks. There are so many different headings and so many with subdivisions that it's never ending. Yes, there is a global way of doing this but I don't have access to the software, and those that do are too busy with more important things. I used to say proudly that I love my job but not so much lately. I am also being moved to a (potentially) much noisier location without my consent or even being informed which annoys me. My boss usually keeps me in the loop but not this time.

Knitting has taken a back seat to spinning. I've plied the sock wool, and am spinning the batts of alpaca I had carded. There is so much left to wash and card that the mind reels. I'm going to have to devote evenings to picking over alpaca to wash or I will nevet get it out of plastic bags and turned into something usable. I keep finding things I could weave if I had the time which is also annoying, and another reason for wanting a/c.