Friday, 26 June 2009

Magpie buskers

We were up early at Lakeside Farmers Market this misty Saturday morning buying organic Charlotte potatoes, tiny cauliflowers, Queensland blue pumpkin and quince jelly. Yin bought some good luoh bak (daikon - it's actually Chinese in origin but most people know it by its Japanese name) to make his wonderful fried radish cake. Of course if you look closely Yin is not standing by Fernleigh Farm, source of delicious organic vegies, but by Buninyong Wines, our local vignerons.

Compelled to buy sausages by the super young saleperson on the Scout's sausage stall, we sat down on a damp seat with a lake view to wash down a well-cooked brekky (no parasites in these snags!) with very strong coffee.

I threw a bit of meat to a teenage magpie and the whole family - seven of them - flew down to join in.

When I wasn't quick enough they opened their beaks and gave me a seven-bird chorus. I adore magpie singing. They got my whole sausage, in dribs and drabs to keep them singing for more.

Unfortunately, by the time I got the camera out they were going off to look for other sausage eaters.

It was an interesting performance, I haven't had magpies around the lake beg for food like this before and wonder if pickings are slim with the continuing drought. These incredibly smart birds are quick to work out new techniques.

I have a very soft spot for them. They're clever, they have the most beautiful song of any bird I've heard, and they won't live anywhere except Australia. Apparently the idiots who introduced Australian possums to New Zealand and rabbits to Australia tried to settle Maggies in New Zealand, but they never prospered. Here they manage country and city with equal aplomb.

Sunday, 21 June 2009

Small projects

I've been washing, mending and altering some warm clothes from op shop finds. A long grey woollen skirt reminiscent of winters in 1910, black wool ski pants that Audrey Hepburn may have worn in Charades, a 1960ish olive wool cardy in need of pocket removal and button replacement and a very bright red woollen waistcoat.

I love this rather boxy style with its raglan sleeves and now it has its cheery buttons I've worn it a lot.
While it took a month to finish the cardy, I whizzed through the waistcoat in an afternoon.
The waistcoat came in at the waist, a style I'm not keen on, so I made it nicely boxy too with kantha-style quilted edging. This was really fun to sew, and it's extremely comfy to wear.

I used up some strips a friend gave me from her recent quilt so the back and front edges are a bit different. Sewing good cotton to fine wool is very pleasurable. I might use a length of wool I found as a backing for the pieced cotton top of a child's quilt I'm working on, instead of using wool batting and a cotton backing as I'd first planned. Two layers will be light, warm and washable.

It's cold enough now for the dogs to welcome a bit of wool too, despite their thick winter fur.

Sunday, 14 June 2009

Clouds and stones

Yin and I drove up to Ararat some days ago on a hazy day with clouds filling the sky. Yin wanted to see the memorial museum to the Chinese diggers who first found gold in Ararat, many of whom came from Toi San county, Yin's own area of China.

I'm pleased with these images because that strange hazy light, just as you find in old postcards of 1950s China, is exactly as it was that day. Pure accident that I captured that light.

The exhilaration of hills and trees for miles and miles.

Ararat is narrow and stony and perched up among the hills. You can look down a street and see clouds at the end.

The Gum San Museum was grey and quiet and beautiful. Yin was happy to find a map of his home town there.

Then we went to have coffee and cake at a cafe under the grapevines in the main street before visiting the cemetery.

There was no one else in the cemetery, it was warm and peaceful.

the Chinese section is small and very few memorials remain.

There a few Chinese inscriptions left. Here is one.

Then we drove back home through the same vast, cloudy hills.

And I didn't want the day to end.

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Queens Birthday doings

I'm always grateful for the Queen's Birthday holiday. It comes in early winter when holidays are scarce and when the chance to curl up in a chair all day with a book and music and a bit of tasty handwork is truly welcome.
The rain of the last week has allowed the violets to bloom at last. This morning I knelt in a soft misty rain and picked a handful of flowers from the multitude. The scent of violets and damp earth was delicious.
Since I've been going to the Elephant Patch to study stitches, I've found three autumnal embroidery works, from three different places, all within a few days. There's one under the violets.

Here's another with a formal feel, and below is a more flowing design.
I don't have a big pile of such pretties, but I keep small box of embroidered pieces as samples of different kinds of stitches and styles.

I found some plain doileys as well. I'm trying out stem stitch to work a little wintry scene on one. It's harder than patchworking and quilting - I have to concentrate very hard and unpick as much as I stitch. I hope the Queen is enjoying her birthday as much as I am!

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Winter blue

It's been a beautiful clear winter day today and I've indulged myself playing with some of the shirt fabrics I've found.
When I sit at my desk I look past my blue winter curtains out into the bare branches of the nectarine tree and the grey wooden fence. The red geranium puts all this blue into perspeective.

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Swans on the pond

There are two swans on the pond in the park which means very soon there will be cygnets. Between juggling the camera and two excited dogs on leads (so they won't disturb the birds) and trailing a mass of willow stems and other useful gatherings, I didn't take very good pictures, but I was so happy to see those birds I had to share them.

There were three species of ducks, a pair of suburban geese and some other water birds too - it's a busy little pond, and not as empty as it looks above.