Saturday, 29 December 2012


Water in the creek in 2003

On Christmas morning I awoke with a glad heart, hearing the words:
She's here!

I sat up in bed and came fully awake, alone, listening... to the morning songs of birds and insects. I puzzled over this traveller of dreams, she who moves between worlds, she who made me awake so glad to know: “She's here!”

Jerry was already up and had finished preparing a pot of coffee by the time I wandered into the kitchen. We spent the day basking in one another's good company, enjoying a morning walk before the heat of the day. In the afternoon we received welcome rain, 30 mm (over one inch), breaking the very long dry spell we've been enduring. That made our hearts sing. The Wet Season brings new life and the first rain gives us hope that our creek (which provides our household water) will start running again before too long. And we pray that proposed mining activities near the headwaters do not contaminate it.

Life depends on water. Drought reminds us of that essential relationship. Jerry and I have chosen to live within a limited water supply and we pay close attention to our water usage. We also pay close attention to the condition of local waterways. What could be more important than uncontaminated water? Around the world, this awareness is awakening.

Late on Christmas Day, while online via satellite internet access, I read about:

who began a hunger strike on 11 December on behalf of all Aboriginal people in Canada, indeed, all first nations people and those who care about basic human rights like clean water and housing as well as protection of land and waterways. 

I read about the recent Canadian legislation that removes thousands of streams and lakes from environmental protection. 

I recall that the recently elected Queensland government withdrew a $97000 grant from the Queensland Environmental Defenders' Office. As the Wildlife Preservation Society of Queensland wrote: 
"The state government is undermining the community's capacity and capability to protect its environment and well being."
What kind of skewed values determine that the most important priority is to make it easy to access and extract natural resources as quickly as possible, using methods that all too often leave behind contaminated water and land since it can be more profitable to pay a fine than to take measures to prevent contamination?

My values tell me there is nothing more important than protecting the land and the water, for ourselves, for our children and future generations, for the plants, the animals and small creatures, for the planet itself, Mother Earth.

Chief Theresa Spence, thank you for your courageous work.

Our water supply, 2003
Post by M in JaM
Photos by J in JaM

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Catching up

Out the Kitchen Door

I love the current view out my kitchen door.

I caught the bus early Friday so that Jerry would have the car while I spent the weekend helping care for the twins. Can you say: busier than a barrel of monkeys”? Yet, even with all the twins' exuberant energy, things are so much easier now than during their first two years when the adults struggled to find time to eat and sleep. I can tell you truthfully that their mother now qualifies as Master Toddler Whisperer. And their Dad looks like the Pied Piper when the twins follow in his trail.

Besides catching the bus down and back, I also caught a cold... yes, that's a risk associated with riding public transit... and caring for toddlers. Home again. And I'm happy to report that the dog caught the mouse! Now I'm off to catch up on my rest while enjoying the quiet sounds and colours of the Bush. Hooroo....

Moss on bark

Monday, 3 December 2012

Dry Season Blues

Poinciana in bloom in Dry Season

A poinciana tree decorates our place with reds and greens for Christmas holidays.

The hot, dry weather continues. Lots of creatures must be having a hard time finding food and water. Plants that were in bloom or completely covered with leaves by this time last year remain bare. We're getting a break from smokey days, thankfully. Fire danger remains high though no fires are burning near us at the moment. These days call for simple endurance.

Last night a mouse ran down a steel brace from the ceiling and darted behind the lounge. Later it ran across the floor and disappeared under a recliner. I guess rodents are the source of the recent rustling sounds emanating from the ceiling. The cheeky mouse we've seen is probably a young one exploring the neighbourhood. We haven't had rodent problems in ages. But, it's always something, isn't it! I gave the kitchen a careful clean before we went to bed.

This morning I felt unhappy when I saw gnaw marks on the bar of soap by the kitchen sink and when I cleaned up mouse traces from the stove top. I felt even more unhappy when I noticed holes gnawed in the ends of two hotpacks – which are filled with wheat, of course. A pile of wheat husks now lay nearby. Doh!

J has gone to town to buy four mouse traps....

Post & photo by M in JaM

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Thankful Thoughts

During this Thanksgiving week, I'm feeling especially thankful for the dry sclerophyll open forest that we get to walk through each day and for the physical ability to make those walks. Our canine companion encourages us.

Walking the dog in dry sclerophyll forest
Something has eaten almost all the leaves of our orchid collection growing on stones at ground level in front of the house. No blossoms from those orchids this year. I just hope they survive. Plans are afoot to transplant them into hanging pots.

Nature provided a welcome surprise during our daily walk. Eagle-eyed Jerry noticed this native orchid in bloom, maybe twenty feet up in an ironbark gumtree. Amazing abundance in a harsh environment and canny enough to avoid ground level.

Queensland native orchid in ironbark gumtree
A neighbour who raises chickens (and other birds) stopped by to give us fresh eggs. Why, Thanks! She doesn't engage in craftwork, so I gave her a couple of my hand-knitted dishcloths. The yolks of the eggs are incredibly yellow, in comparison to the eggs from the supermarket. We made a batch of yummy deviled eggs. They didn't last long... but we do know where the chickens live.... 

Over the past week we had almost daily thunderstorms along with a smattering of rain. We appreciate any rain at all as it has been very dry. We unplug the computer and the landline phone during thunderstorms and that unsettles us. Thunder also makes the dog very nervous. We can avoid sedating her if we stick to a routine but that curtails our own activities and results in not much else getting done. We figure it's worth the effort and we're thankful that it works.

Lemon scented gumtree reaching for rain
Each afternoon our eyes turn skyward in search of clouds and we take note of wind direction. I examine online weather forecasts. I feel more than ready for the end of the Dry Season... and I'd be grateful for more rain than thunder, thanks.

Post by M in JaM
Photos by J in JaM

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Total Solar Eclipse: 14 November 2012

Total Solar Eclipse on 14 November 2012

We live just outside the track for solar eclipse totality that occurred this past week. Neither of us had ever seen a total solar eclipse. We decided that we couldn't let the chance of a lifetime slip past. In the weeks leading up to the eclipse, we kept our eyes out for a possible viewing spot within the track of totality and also within reasonable driving distance from our home. We spotted a farmer's paddock on the other side of the Atherton Tablelands. There was a bit of room between the highway and the paddock suitable for parking and providing a clear view to the southeast. Totality for the location would occur around 6:40 a.m.

As the day of the eclipse grew nearer, a gloomy weatherman began predicting cloudy days and warned that our region might miss out on seeing the eclipse. Warnings in the media about traffic congestion and delays increased as massive numbers of visitors began arriving in the region. More people began to consider driving further inland where clear skies were more assured. But inland roads and facilities are very limited. 

We heard that one station owner got a phone call asking if he would be willing to accommodate some Japanese tourists who were arriving in Australia for the event and leaving the day after. The property owner liked the idea of earning some easy money and said, sure, how many? “3000.” Oh, said the property owner, well, I do have five tents....

We rose before dawn on the day of the eclipse. It was cloudy. We drove toward our selected spot as the day began to get light. We encountered light sprinkles of rain which increased by the time we reached the halfway point in our journey. Traffic also increased. We got delayed by roadworks. In spite of growing uncertainty, we pressed on.

Fortune favoured us. The clouds cleared by the time we reached the farmer's paddock where another four or five cars were already parked, including one belonging to a friend. People stood wearing special glasses as they gazed toward the sun.

We hadn't found any of the special glasses to buy at local stores. To protect our eyes, Jerry had prepared a pinhole projector for viewing the eclipse. He cut a hole in large piece of cardboard and taped aluminium foil across the hole. Using a needle, he punched a small, smooth hole in the aluminium foil. The image of the growing eclipse was projected and focused onto a sheet of white paper fastened to a clipboard leaning against the wheel of the car. Not exactly elegant, but it worked perfectly.

He was arranging the set-up when another car pulled in beside us and a young woman's three sons hopped out as she tended to extracting an infant. They didn't have special eclipse glasses either. The boys clustered about Jerry as he pointed out the projected eclipse image and explained the set-up. Science in action. The five year old grew excited and said he had a piece of white paper and a clipboard in the car. He ran to get it. When he returned, Jerry solemnly put the boy's paper and clipboard in position in front of ours. The boys crouched beside the clipboard and watched the image of the slowly changing eclipse. Ownership does give learning an edge.

As soon as the eclipse was total, we all turned around and looked at the eclipsed sun. Words fail. I felt completely gob-smacked. I felt joyous, like I was witnessing a birth. What a privilege to witness such an event.

The twin grandsons, now two years old and living on the coast, likewise got a terrific view of the totality. When it ended, they demanded, “More!”

From the mouths of babes....

Post by M in JaM
Photo by J in JaM

Monday, 12 November 2012

Happy As Larry

Content Codger here and now: Jerry opted for a quiet birthday celebration this year, rising at dawn as usual, spending the day at home periodically relaxing in his new rocker, getting served cappuccino with homemade Anzac bisquits, finalising and sending file to Guy who immediately used his MakerBot to generate the ABS plastic shell for the new and improved LED clock – AND - ending the day with a glass of Australian wine.

The sun continues to shift southwards. This week we get to see the total eclipse of the sun, weather permitting. The sun's current position allows it to illuminate the Chinese holiday mobile that's been hanging in front of this window of our home since last Christmas. I love the way coloured light gets thrown around the room as the gentlest air currents make the mobile move.

Common Green Treefrog
I trust the common green treefrog knows something about the weather. We could use some rain. Everything is very dry. The frog lives in the shower/laundry area, spending the days hidden in a partially open pipe where the washing machine drains. Pipes make great amplifiers for frog calls. Lately, we've been finding him perched on the top rail of the gate that we close each night in order to keep the neighbour's goats out of the shower and shed proper. Twice the wandering mama goat and her two kids appeared and insisted on moving right into the house, but the upset dog drew the line despite being no match at all for mama goat.

3 ply handspun; 30% baby alpaca, 55% superfine merino, 15% silk
blended roving ("Sandstone") from Freelance Fibres
I wanted a break from spinning white cotton. Also wanting yarn to knit another pair of fingerless gloves, I dug through my fibre stash and found the last of a blended roving of alpaca, superfine merino and silk, surely enough for my plan. Listening to an audio book, I settled at my Ashford Traditional wheel whenever I had a chance and it didn't seem to take long to spin three singles over the next few days. I placed the three bobbins on my Lazy Kate and began plying. Soon I had created my first 3 ply yarn (not counting “Navajo-ply” which creates a 3 ply out of one single). I like the look and texture of the final yarn. The alpaca adds warmth, the silk adds shine, the merino I can't resist... and I had the chance to try something new.

Make that Two Content Codgers.

Post by M in JaM
Photos by J in JaM

Sunday, 4 November 2012

It's That Time of Year

The native sandpaper figs are fruiting.

Someone has mowed around the schoolbus stop, a facility built by local residents for their children. Mowing reduces fire hazards and accidental snake encounters.

School bus stop
Last week, in the evening of the same day as my close encounter with a huntsman spider, Jerry discovered what he thought was a small python slithering along the shelves above his computer. Both of us admire pythons though I wouldn't be comfortable with a big one on the loose in the house. When I took a torch to have a closer look at the snake, we realised it wasn't a python. It was a night tiger... and a ready biter. The night tiger didn't like the spot light and retreated behind a small box. As the evening went on, Jerry periodically located the snake which always moved away from the light of the torch, thus he slowly wrangled the snake along the open shelves around the perimeter of the room and toward the kitchen door. Finally reaching the frame of the open door, the snake hesitated. Jerry gave an encouraging vigorous shove with a soft pushbroom. The snake climbed on board the broom bristles. Luckily, it didn't race up the broom handle, but waited until offered escape into a nearby shrub.

We had another unexpected encounter as well. Having finished our shopping day in town, we headed home, then stopped along the way at a little roadside park with a stream running through it. Two ducks were swimming on the small pond. We parked under a gorgeous paperbark gumtree and unpacked a thermos of coffee to fortify us for the drive ahead. Sipping from our cups, we scanned the park and noted a number of other people had similar ideas to us. Suddenly, Jerry exclaimed, “That's an echidna!”

Can you see the claw on the back foot?
In the 25 years I've been living here, I had never encountered an echidna in the wild... or in a little roadside park with people strolling here and there. This solitary echidna busily dug in the ground, maybe 50 feet away from us, totally unconcerned about the presence of people. Jerry grabbed the camera and began taking photos. He got quite close to the echidna... who continued digging for ants, termites or something edible. Sometimes you get lucky.

Did you know that an echidna baby is called a puggle? Have a look at an echidna puggle at Taronga Zoo.

Post by M in JaM
Photos by J in JaM

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Alert Awareness

This philodendron blossom stays open for one day. I have to keep alert or I miss it. Whenever I take things for granted, awareness goes downhill.

It got hot yesterday, 34.8 C (94.6 F), building up to a brief shower after dark which cooled everything back down to an enjoyable temperature. By bedtime I was wearing a flannel shirt over my tank top when we walked to the bedroom. It felt even cooler when I got up at 5 a.m. The sky was just getting light. As I walked past the shower on my way to the kitchen, I grabbed warmer clothes that I had left hanging on pegs. I began musing about the fact that I no longer worry about creepy-crawlies getting into clothes left hanging in the shower room. It's just never happened.

During our first years in Far North Queensland, we slept in a beautiful Moss tent, safe from insects and other creepy-crawlies. Tents work a treat that way... as long as you remember to zip the zipper all the way to the end. But, eventually tents develop holes.

When we finally got our own property, it had a bedroom. We began sleeping under a mossie net there. Over the years we coped with occasional creepy-crawlies in the bedroom: centipedes, snakes and huntsman spiders. Each time we successfully wrangled them back outside... sometimes with a hint of panic flavouring the air. Using a soft push-broom, Jerry has become a Master Wrangler when it comes to evicting huntsmen spiders. Neither of us has the courage to let one climb onto a bare arm for transport outside, as one of our previous housemates could do.

Clutching my warm clothes to my chest this morning, I reached the kitchen where the stone walls still retained some of yesterday's heat. I threw my warm clothes onto a chair and stripped off my tank top. In no time I had slipped on the warm t-shirt. Chuckling at myself and feeling slightly ridiculous, I started at the bottom of my shirt and lightly patted up my torso to prove nothing was lurking inside my shirt. But... something WAS there. Something with stiff bits... near my shoulder... not far from my neck....

Time truly stretches in such moments. I had time to think: no, no, no, get the shirt off, get the shirt off, it's surely only a cockroach, ewww, nononono. I whipped the shirt off in a flash and flung it, now inside-out, onto the floor. Nothing moved. I turned on a brighter light. Nothing to be seen. I gingerly straightened the shirt. Nothing. I lifted the shoulder and a huntsman ran out. I squeeked.  He disappeared under a nearby workbench. Huntsmen get as big as my hand. He wasn't that big. He was only as big as my palm.

I'm using a new way of storing my clothes in the shower room.
After calming down, I reflected on how non-aggressive the huntsman had been. Most are timid biters. The bites aren't considered dangerous. They are scary because they are big. They are most dangerous to drivers who panic when the huge huntsman crawls into sight inside a moving vehicle. I'm sure the huntsman felt as threatened as I did. Today's experience made real for me the knowledge of huntman strategies for survival:
1. Freeze
2. Flee.
3. Bite if all else fails.

Not a bad set of strategies for anyone facing Life's surprises and uncertainties.

Post by M in JaM
Photos by JaM

Tuesday, 23 October 2012


 Pattern weft: my 2 ply handspun cotton (spun from Easy To Spin Pima cotton top)
Warp: golden cottolin; crackle weave threading with summer winter treadling

My motto: I live life slowly.... (exceptional efforts exist on twin-sitting days). As the weather heats up, I slow down even further. But... I do find that small, steady efforts - even at a slow pace - yield results.

Band: blue pearl cotton pattern weft on golden cottolin warp;
crackle weave threading with summer winter treadling
I completed the finishing processes on my experimental woven samples: two narrow bands and two table runners. They are hemmed and washed. The table runners are not very long. Perhaps I should call them table loungers. The length looks good on my table.

Table runner: patterns wefts: blue pearl cotton and Heirloom 8 ply cotton in yellow;
golden cottolin warp; crackle weave threading with summer winter treadling

I feel very happy with the look and feel of the samples, especially the one I wove with my handspun cotton as weft. I feel encouraged to keep spinning cotton yarn and start planning next winter's weaving project: more cotton fabric, perhaps handspun weft with fine commercial cotton warp?
Table runner. Pattern weft: my handspun white Pima cotton 2 ply;
Warp: golden cottolin; crackle weave threading with summer winter treadling 
I haven't yet completed the finishing (sewing and washing) processes for the two main woven pieces from this project. I bought blanket binding for their edges, but forgot matching thread. I managed to find a small amount of almost matching thread in my thread box, located my magnifers and a torch, borrowed a screwdriver from my husband and set about figuring out how to adjust the bobbin tension on the sewing machine. Success! I sewed the binding on one end of the woven fabric and promptly ran out of thread. No more sewing until we make another trip to town. Once I have thread, I'll sew in the cool of the morning as it's getting too hot to sew in the shed under the tin roof.

Without air conditioning during tropical summers, we have a few cool hours in the morning to get energetic things done, as well as anything else that requires thinking. Then the increasing heat slows body and brain. We don't fight it. Only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the mid-day sun.

Post by M in JaM
Photos by J in JaM   

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Birds of a Feather

Currawong stays alert between drinks

Currawongs have been coming to our bird bath. They do savor a drink and a splash. I love hearing the calls of currawongs.

Rainbow lorikeets
Lorikeets chatter and screech, continuously, but their brilliant colours make one forget to notice noise levels. Two kinds of lorikeets have gathered at the birdbath today: rainbow lorikeets with blue heads and scaly-breasted lorikeets (slightly smaller) with green heads.

Rainbow Lorikeets and Scaly-breasted Lorikeets 
The birdbath has a circumference of ~114 cm (~45”) . The lorikeets squabble if more than six gather around the rim. I infer that lorikeets like to occupy a personal space of about 18 cm (~7”). If each bird is about 5 cm (2”) wide, that provides 10 cm (5”) or so between each bird. I assume that distance is a little further than necessary to nip a neighbour's leg. ETA: Lo and behold, I just saw 11 lorikeets crowded around the rim. There goes my avian personal space theory.

Great Bowerbird
The Great Bowerbird is another welcome visitor. One bowerbird regularly admires/attacks its reflection in the windows of the weaving room. We also encounter this bird in the shower room excitedly conversing with its reflection in the mirror whenever we forget to turn the mirror to face the wall after each use. I can't judge the bird as too foolish since both my husband and I have found ourselves talking back with vehemence at newsreaders on tv.

We're slowly getting over the habit of watching tv news, like we got over the habit of reading printed newspapers. When we lived in California some 25 years ago, my husband bought and read a newspaper every day. Nowadays we find most of our news online through forums of interest and blogs. On occasion when I can't resist seeking a traditional news fix, I look at The Guardian newspaper online. Most often I wind up feeling like I've slowed down to look at a wreck on the freeway.

Watching native birds visit the birdbath makes me feel content on these warm autumn days.

Post by M in JaM
Photos by J in JaM

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Houston, do we have a Problem?

Take me to your leader....
Look who has landed: gorgeous harlequin beetles... but hard on hibiscus, right? I'm torn between doing the “right thing” to protect the hibiscus and doing nothing because the beetles look so dazzling. I guess that's one of the reasons I don't qualify as a gardener. I have to remind myself that I have other good qualities.

Avoiding the decision about the beetles, I cut the fabric from the loom. Now I look at the loom and know it's empty even though it's covered to protect it from dust and bat droppings. That's the way it shall remain until cool weather returns. The finishing process for the woven pieces has begun. I've threaded the treadle sewing machine, a Singer 328P, and begun sewing beside the cutting lines of each woven piece (six pieces, counting four samples). Each will be hemmed by hand and washed.

experimental band in commercial cotton and cottolin
This is my first unwashed but hemmed sample, a narrow band with four picks of crackle weave in the centre surrounded by plain weave. I squeezed this piece out of the very last of the warp, coaxing the shuttle through an ever-narrowing shed. I'm pleased with the result. Warp: cottolin. Weft: cottolin, pearl cotton and unmercerized cotton.

Kookaburra's fierce regard
A kookaburra has been coming regularly to the bird bath. He keeps a sharp eye on things. The little birds stay out of his way. Even snakes take heed. Is it too much to hope that the kookaburra might like to eat hibiscus beetles?  

Post by M in JaM
Photos by J in JaM

Sunday, 30 September 2012

Mining Update

My apologies for not posting last week. A gastro bug/virus laid me low... again. What a year!

A Land Court mediation hearing between Monto Minerals subsidiary Baal Gammon Copper and concerned residents of the Walsh River community regarding the proposed mining venture (behind our home) was held last week in Herberton. 

Save the Walsh FNQ has released the following statement:
“It was a fantastic outcome for the local residents of the area, we all feel it has been a real win, “ said group spokesperson Holly Richardson.
“We cannot divulge the full details of what was agreed upon, because of a confidentiality agreement but we can say the new proposed lease has been adjourned and absolutely nothing further in regards to the new mine can proceed until the next mediation with local residents in February/March 2013. 
This mediation will take place after the next wet season, giving Kagara and Monto Minerals the chance to prove that they can work together to address the current issues of environmental harm as demanded to be rectified in the three Environmental Protection Orders issued against them.”
Meanwhile, back at my loom, I've finished weaving the planned projects and there's not much warp remaining so I've been experimenting. Most people do samples at the beginning of their warp. I find myself doing samples at the end. 

Crackle weave threading with summer/winter treadling.
Sample: handspun white Pima cotton 2 ply weft on cottolin warp

One of my small samples has my handspun white Pima cotton (2 ply) as weft. I'm delighted with the look of it. How much the sample shrinks during the finishing process remains to be seen.

Close up shows some variation in grist of cotton weft, but not a real problem
Now that I'm feeling some energy again, I expect to reach the end of the cottolin warp tomorrow and cut it from the loom. That will mark the end of my weaving-on-the-loom season until cool weather returns next year.

Post & Photos by M in JaM

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Is Responsible Mining A Contradiction?

Lorikeets drink water from the Walsh River and its tributaries, too.
The Twentieth Century saw the development of the Mighty Extractors, powerful machinery that harvests massive numbers of trees in forests, strips the ocean of fish and removes mountain tops to reach and extract ore bodies. Fast, efficient, relentless and driven by need to profit now, they devour resources like a plague of alien locusts. And then they move on, maybe pay a fine or two that seldom actually covers the costs of rehabilitation, to find other cheap pickings and cooperative governments.

Our current system favours these behemoths.

Recently, the new Queensland government, led by Premier Campbell Newman (LNP - Liberal and National Party), terminated the Environmental Defence Office which was dedicated to protecting the environment in the public interest.

Earlier this year I reported that the nearby mining operation went into receivership after an environmental order forced a cessation of operations after contaminated spillage flowed into Jamie Creek and then into the Walsh River. Latest report is that mining operations are resuming and an expansion is proposed. We have already experienced a failure of trust in the mining company's ability to mine responsibly in our region.

We are concerned because our household water supply comes from a creek that originates near the mining area. We are concerned for the endangered Northern Quoll. We are concerned about the habitat and quality of life for wildlife as well as for humans.

Keep informed about this issue by going to:

Post by M in JaM
Photo by J in JaM

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Hands, Heart and Home

My handspun Easy To Spin Pima cotton 2 ply

My collection of handspun cotton skeins continues to grow. I'm halfway through spinning a pound of Easy ToSpin Pima cotton top from Cotton Clouds. My knowledge grows and my technique improves thanks to hours of handspinning. I learn best through direct experience – and even then the learning happens slowly. I think it's muscle-learning, not brain-learning. Now that I'm more confident spinning cotton, I like to listen to an audio book while I spin. I'm producing a pretty even cotton yarn now and that's what I want.

Cotton 2 ply yarn wound on wooden skeiner.
Singles were spun and plied on Ashford Traditional wheel. 
For the first time I used the charming wooden skeiner that formerly belonged to Australian artist Mary Dau. The skeiner worked perfectly with the cotton yarn. It's thanks to the generosity of Mary Dau and her son that I began spinning cotton.

My weaving likewise continues slowly. I plan to weave a sample with my handspun cotton. In times past, each weaver needed a bunch of spinners. I'll weave through the pile of cotton skeins in no time at all... well, I would if I did anything quickly. The crackle weave I'm currently working on engages my mind to the extent that I cannot listen to an audio book while weaving. Yet my sessions at the loom and the experience of using handwoven tea towels and table runners every day give me a feeling of lasting satisfaction.

“One must take the bitter with the better,” said someone. And so we received news of another death in the extended family. Heartbreaking to lose good people. 

“God needs them more than we do,” said an elder Auntie. I wanted to argue but thought better of it. Best for me to marshall my energies toward joining in the resistance to the proposed resumption and expansion of mining behind our home. More on that issue in my next post.

Post by M in JaM
Photos by JaM

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Two More Birthday Photos

I had enjoyed knitting two sets of Owl Puffs for the twins, but forgot to take photos for my records before wrapping the Owls for the party. J managed to get this action shot as the Owls were revealed.

Two sets of Owl Puffs for twins second birthday

Birthday parties for two year olds can be pretty chaotic, but one could find quiet areas, too. Doesn't this photo say something charming about the capable young woman of today?

After recovering from the party, I dove back into spinning and weaving projects. Now I'm taking a few days break from hand-crafting after overworked shoulder/neck muscles laid me low. I thought I was being smart by alternating my activities. I spent a day weaving for a bit, spinning for a bit, chopping veggies, then back to spinning. But I neglected to consider that I was using basically the same muscles. By bedtime I knew I was in trouble. I'm feeling better now, thanks to panadol, rest and massage with theracane. I have to figure out better strategies, i.e . get a whole lot smarter. Yes, for a person my age, I'm pretty optimistic.

Staying strong and positive is asking a lot sometimes. That's when it's time to endure... and remember that things do change. May they change for the better in your life and mine.

Post by M in JaM
Photos by J in JaM  

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Celebration of the Twins Second Birthday

Life turned unpredictable this year. We've been getting lots of practice in making plans while not getting too attached to them because they always change... due to onslaught of various viruses, trips to hospital, the need to stay home when a neighbour notified us that he would be doing a controlled burn along his frontage, just expect the unexpected and she'll be right, mate.

Sometimes things come together even better than planned. That's what happened over the weekend.

Back Yard Ready for the Celebration of the Twins' Second Birthday
The weather was perfect. Everyone brought a plate. There were things to eat for those with food sensitivities as well as traditional snags on the BBQ. The crowd included all ages, babies to grandparents. We got to catch up with folks we don't get to see often and marvel at how the children have grown. Always love seeing the twins.

Mmm... cupcakes!
What a treat!
Impossible to keep track of everything that's happening,
but must be something fun
Dad gives a helping hand.

Post by M in JaM
Photos by J in JaM

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Venice California 1974

For the last several weeks I have been sleeping on the floor at Dan's place in Venice. Dan is a model maker working on Close Encounters of the Third Kind, a movie to be released next year we hope. I live in the San Francisco Bay Area and always need a place to stay when I fly down to the movie set in Los Angeles each week and work for 4 days and fly back.

My tiny bedroom has a mattress and a lamp, all sitting on the floor. My airline carry-on bag has a few changes of clothes for the week, my life is very simple. We spend long hours working on the movie set and only sleep at Dan's house. It's a cute tiny cottage on one of the canals in Venice. It's a bit run down but the entire area has seen better days.

This morning I woke up to hear someone singing just outside my window on the canal. It was a male voice and sounded like opera. By the time I have gotten outside on the small patio that is slipping into the canal the voice has moved a few houses down.

I see a raft made of oil drums and bits of timber floating in the middle of the canal. The raft is being poled down the canal by a young black man singing opera and another brother is sitting on a sofa. The raft also has several trash cans and long handled nets. The sofa dude has netted something out of the water and puts it in a trash can. Dan has appeared next to me with a cup of coffee and I learn that they are the Venice canal garbage guys and the one singing opera is Samuel, the other guy is Al.

The local residents encourage them to keep the canals cleaner by giving them things, but Dan hasn't made it clear what kind of things. Ahh, the mysteries of the canals of Venice.

J of JaM

Today Venice is quite up market but it 1974 it was seedy, hip and cool.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Season of Shy Birds

Male Red-tailed Black Cockatoo

A pair of Red-tailed Black Cockatoos have been feeding on the minute seeds within the gumnuts of bloodwood eucalypts near our house. That massive bill gets put to good use. The ground below the trees is littered with lots and lots of shredded gumnuts. The shy couple take flight whenever we walk into view until one lucky day we managed to use a telephoto lens to capture a few images as they perched on high. One of the largest cockatoos. these magnificent birds average 63 cm (25 inches).

Female Red-tailed Black Cockatoo
She has attractive yellow speckles and bars enhancing her appearance.
Pale-headed Rosellas like the grevillea blossoms near our windows and they are shy but regular visitors of our birdbath. These birds like to travel in pairs. One stands guard, keeping an eye out for danger while the other bird takes a drink. They are so shy that we have resorted to hiding inside the house to take photos through the glass windows. Pale-headed Rosellas average 30 cm (12 inches).

Pale-headed Rosella with grevillea blossom
Yet another shy bird, the Peaceful Dove uses the birdbath with great caution, usually accompanied by one or more companions to help keep watch. All take flight if we step into view. Shy and small, they average 22 cm (~9 inches). I love the sweet call of a Peaceful Dove: “woodle-woo.”

Peaceful Dove
While life has been a bit unpredictable in recent weeks, we have had a lovely, relaxed weekend. Temperature dropped to 2C one night. I appreciate the way DH lays a fire each evening in preparation for lighting it in the brisk mornings. I have been spinning more cotton and weaving again.

Flyer Magic
I love this photo – the essence of captured light reveals the flyer in motion on my spinning wheel.


Post by M in JaM
Photos by JaM

Monday, 6 August 2012

August Winter Days

Bamboo in August

Not a Aussie native, this slow-growing bamboo provides a screen between the laundry and our bedroom. I love the colours and shapes.

Scarlet Honeyeater (male)
This shy, little Scarlet Honeyeater shows up when the honey gem grevilleas bloom in July and August.

Scarlet Honeyeater loves nectar of honey gem grevillea.

No problems with the minor surgery I had last week. Tomorrow the stitches get removed. What did take everyone by surprise was little grandson going for emergency surgery on weekend after an accident that required stitches to repair soft palette. No fun. Good thing they make little boys (and girls) resilient.

I'm going to blame my current singular lack of motivation on the after effects of the sedation I was given for surgery. I might give it another week before I tackle anything requiring focus, like weaving. I did get some knitting done... and then undone when I got it wrong. I did spin a little cotton until the cotton fibres floating in the air kept getting stuck in the ointment on the stitched incision on my nose. I eventually gave myself permission to coast for a few days.

Now I sense a change in the air.

Post by M in JaM
Pix by JaM