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