Sunday, 30 May 2010

Winter rain and winter pleasures

A weekend of cutting and ironing and tacking. Playing with squares and rectangles. Pulling out the baskets and boxes and finding more colours and textures I want to use.
Blissed out with colour.
Watching the rain.
Sewing things together, unpicking, more sewing. Having  fun.
Watching the rain, drinking ginger tea.
Reading about the early archaeologists working in the ruins of the old Mayan cities.
Should I quilt in Mayan glyphs? Or the last autumn leaves?

Friday, 28 May 2010

Tapa and tea trays

The Ballarat art gallery is showing an exhibition of Tapa cloth from the Pacific.  The exhibition comes from Queensland which has some very old pieces of tapa cloth - with the permission of the relevant communities. The tapa in the exhibition comes from Fiji, Tonga, Samoa and Niugini  and I think also Vanuatu, and some is made by families living in Australia.

 A collection of the traditional tools and materials accompanied the various cloths.

I have a few treasured bits of tapa rescued from Op shops and now I know that my piece (above) comes from Fiji.
The tapa reminds me of the tea tray cloths I also find in Op shops. A shared idea of honouring a guest or occasion by covering an everyday object with a beautiful cloth.

The fragment of lace I found last week harmonises well with the tapa.

Saturday, 22 May 2010

Frost in May

This morning the dandelion clocks were frosted and the roses blurred with ice.

But I love winter and the frost. Kitty the sheepdog loves the cold too. She's nearly 14, and is taking life easy now, but this morning she dragged me off to the park

We both sighed with pleasure when we got there.

Kitty adores frost and cold. She rolled and ran like crazy and was soon speckled all over with ice.

Lots of happy dog pics - if she had a camera you'd see happy human pics too.

I had fun in my own way.

Even juice cartons

bits of paper

and fenceposts are beautiful under frost.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Learning about fungi in Trentham

On Sunday I went to Trentham, a little town in the forest and learned a lot about fungi. I learned about mushroom police and massive parasitic organisms and how to identify things edible and inedible.

Alison Pouliot ran the workshop and field trip. I've been trying to get to one of her workshops for 2 years now.

She showed us well over 50 species of fungi gathered close to Trentham that weekend and I was delighted to see snow fungus - one of Yin's favourite Chinese 'mushrooms'. A beautiful thing, translucent white, frilly and in texture like a firm seaweed.It grows on trees in China - and also in Trentham!

Alison explained that as well as the thousands of (mostly unidentified) Australian fungi there are many introduced species from Europe here that came with the rootstock of the pines and broadleafed European trees.

I know a few edibles - field mushrooms, slippery jacks, morels and my favourites, saffron milkcaps. I can blewits to my edibles now. I learnt a lot about the deadlies and am even more wary than I was before. A good thing really.

Alison stressed using multiple identification points to make sure you have a genuinely edible mushroom, and told us a cautionary tale of someone who mistook a baby amanitas muscaria for an edible puff ball, and she described how an edible baby puffball can become a deadly adult as it matures.

I wish we had the volunteer 'mushroom police' or piltzcontrole of Europe here. Sort of the CFA of the fungi world, they sort out the edible from the deadly for people.

Off we went to the cemetery. There we could find a patch of native forest, a patch of introduced exotic trees, pines and some open ground. Lots of different spots for different mushies.

Places with both eucalypts and pines can be tricky for mushroom hunters. The edible orange pine mushroom of Europe, growing by the pine tree, looks very like the poisonous Australian orange mushroom growing by the gum tree. Obviously it's a good idea to include the environment in your checklist of how to be sure you  have an edible mushie.

Check your fungi carefully and have a good field guide

If you haven't got a permit to pick, a mirror will help you look at the underside.

Don't just slice your mushrooms off at the stem - cut down under with your blunt knife so you have the base as well - it can be vital to identify your find.

We found blue, lilac, dark purple and scarlet fungi. Fungi in every shade of orange, brown and yellow, transparent parasols, jellylike blobs and what may have been a baby luminous fungi. I really want to see these fungi growing and glowing greenly at night in the Grampians. Next autumn, maybe.

The cemetery was full of these beautiful, deadly fungi, the classic fairy toadstools, many big as dinner plates. As we admired them a man on a tractor drove up and mowed them neatly away.

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Lucky dip

Sitting at home with a bandaid on my nose (bouncy dog, tripped over, rosebush) and grumpy after a tiring week, discord and dishes, I opened my library book.

Look what I found - someone wrote a letter on a paper napkin, perhaps from a cafe near the library, and slipped it into a book of illustrated stories (Flight vol 1). They left a bookmark too - a gift, a token?

The mystery of it has charmed me out of my gloom.

It's not mine to keep so I'll put it back in the book and send it on its way.

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Intangible heritage

First of all, something intangible. I think this place must be rainbow city, it's amazing how often I walk out of the gate here and look straight into a rainbow. I've never seen so many in other places I've lived in. I don't always catch them, and in fact I was trying to film the evening cockatoos, but this is all that I managed to take.

Now the heritage bit.
(If you don't know what 'intangible heritage' refers to, check out the Heritage Victoria site)

I had a good morning on the Alfredton bus where I caught some intangible heritage that's pretty much missing now from the buses in Melbourne. I caught these words and phrases; 'plenty of dough', 'dill', 'strewth', 'good on ya' out of the chat behind me. This is the natter of my childhood, and despite Heritage Victoria I reckon it'll soon be gone.

Hard to take a picture of 'intangible heritage' but last night's meal comes close to it.

Red roast pork ribs and dried beancurd and peanut soup.

Bak choy and Chinese broccoli with dried scallops

 Rice, and at the very edge (of the pic) offal simmered in a soy and anise stock.

140 years ago Ballarat would have been redolent with thousands of similar meals as the huge Chinese population cooked up dinner.  All Yin's dried goods, typical of Cantonese cooking , would have been for sale in countless little shops along Main Road. The vegetables would have been growing in the market garden allotments along the creeks and the pork would have come from the backyard. Just about everyone -  Chinese, English, Irish, Welsh, German - kept a pig or two in the backyard.

This weekend Ballarat is showing off some of it's tangible heritage and lots of buildings and gardens and collections will be open. It's worth a visit to the Ballarat Heritage Weekend if you are in the neighbourhood.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Monday morning

Walking the dog down the back lane I found golden apples and stripey pelargoniums and a gate for my collection

I admired my harvest while I had breakfast. It was early enough to flick through some Thaw magazines before work. Reading Thaw makes me happy to live in Ballarat.
Normally Monday morning is just a rush to work.
Maybe I should practice getting up early every Monday.

Sunday, 2 May 2010

Bibliophiles at Clunes

Back to Booktown weekend at Clunes. This year I went with a fellow bibliophile and we spent all Saturday just looking at books, poking down laneways and enjoying the old buildings.

Beginning at the Town hall we went all around the town. It took us four hours and we checked out every bookseller.  This is an antiquarian and second-hand bookselling event. The choices range from $1 books from the library sale to breathtakingly rare old books. In between there are the desirable books. I yearned over a collection of Cecil Beaton's black and white photos of Japan.

It gets tiring looking at books

 We ate sausages from the RSL stall and we finally sat down to a cuppa in the RSL hall itself.

It seemed right, so near to ANZAC day, and we'd already paid our respects to the guardian with his fresh new wreaths.

Many of the buildings are restored, but others are old and worn and touching beautiful.

I can never resist an alley

We mostly just looked and enjoyed, but I found a few  special books and a jar of crab apple jam.

Then back home through the mild evening, peering in at gardens.

and being warned off forbidden fruit.

Planning on moving to Clunes? This would be a good place.

Or here, up a long and unpainted staircase, wooden treads worn in the centre,

to a lace-curtained apartment above the town.