Saturday, April 04, 2015

Spring has sprung

G'day all!

I am a very bad blogger, but you know that already...

This early Spring has been wonderful.  Some things that have happened have been less wonderful - losing Leonard Nimoy and then Sir Terry and then Malcolm Fraser (ex-Prime Minister of Oz and someone who had stood up for his humanitarian principles for the last 40-odd years) and the Germanwings disaster...

Mm, gluten and dairy-free "pizza".  Why yes, there is
only half of it left.  The rest was in my belly, and
that second half soon joined the first...

Green trees!  A miracle!

But the flowers and the weather have provided nice little pep-me-ups along the way, even if we got to equinox and the weather got worse not better!  Still we need a bit of rain and a bit of gloom to remind us how glorious it is here.

I've been making a bit.  I've been working.  I've been slacking in the garden, then slaving in the garden.  It is starting to come together.

These showed up a day after I said that I still
had the dogwoods to look forward to...

Two weekends ago we went to the local African Violet society show and sale.  The sale was better than the show but never mind!  I'm just used to the insanity of the "Early Morn" African Violet group in my home city.  Their plants are just amazing - people who grow for show are a dedicated breed!  But we came home with some lovely little plants and lots of Streptocarpus varieties.  We now have even more plants in the house - the only room without a plant at the moment is the bathroom - I might move a couple of orchids back in there...  Even the laundry has plants in it!

These are in my yard!

Last weekend we went to the Spring grafting festival organised by the local tree fruit society.  We learned how to do a simple splice graft, where you cut the rootstock and the scion on an angle and mate them up, trying to keep as much cambium (the juicy vascular part under the bark) in contact as possible.  Then you wrap the graft up with tape, tightly, and wait to see if the graft takes.  We did a bunch of semi-dwarf apple trees with some interesting varieties of apple (okay, ones that I like cos DH was not expressing an opinion plus some I thought sounded good like an unnamed variety from a tree on Vashon Island).  We came home with six little apple trees and two quinces, total cost something like $16.  I have no idea how long it will take for us to see if the plants have taken or if they will even take but I keep dancing out to the front yard to check them.  (I have plans for them to become something like a Belgian Fence.)

Not in our yard but still pretty!

I have to admit I've been busy avoiding things too.  I'm not going to go into them on the blog, but I have to say it was more of an unpleasant surprise than I would like and now I have another set of regular tests that I have to undertake.  Yay me, I have to have breast cancer screening (that's happening at the end of the week), bowel cancer screening (every five years), melanoma screening (every year) and pancreatic cancer screening (every year, some time in earlyish May).  Plus I have to watch for "bowel habit changes" and stomach pains, and with me that happens every time the wind changes.  Oh joy oh bliss.

Yoshino cherry trees in bloom.

Love this street when the cherries are in bloom

It is a pity that my body looks reasonably good but is actually pretty screwed up genetically.  I keep thanking pitchforks and pointy ears that I never had kids because passing all this crud onto them would be horrible.  But for the nonce I am reasonably healthy and long may I stay that way (or better!).

Different Japanese ornamental cherries

And back to the Yoshino cherries.  Ahh....

It is interesting to see the things that trip me up.  Health issues are an obvious one.  People often say that I seem to have a very good attitude regarding cancer.

If a good attitude means ignoring it as much as possible, well yes, yes I do.  Not much I can do apart from try to look after myself and get regular screening.  It is the only way I can function.  If I start looking at Dr Google then I melt down into a quivering mess.  So I blithely ignore the internet on such subjects and keep on cruising on my own special plane.

Piper's Creek

Today DH got cranky with me because I "was not walking fast enough."  We were strolling through a fairly wild park and I keep stopping to take photos because the leaves are bursting out and it is becoming even greener (moss keeps things green here in winter even when the deciduous trees have lost their leaves), plus I cannot walk fast even now due to this weird voice/throat thing.  Turns out that "not fast enough" is one of my buttons and DH mashed it good and proper.  I offered him the car keys so that he could hurry back whilst I moseyed, but he refused them at first. then finally took them and ran off.

Mossy mosses

"Not fast enough", "not quick enough", "not big enough" tie into my role as baby sister.  I was never enough, always holding my family back because there's no way someone with a five year gap to the next sibling and a much bigger gap to their eldest siblings is ever going to keep up unless they are carried or otherwise transported.  Of course DH was the eldest and never had to deal with this version of "enough" (though he has his own bogles about "enough").  Anyway, it seems that not enough is still triggery for me.  Weird, huh, how early habits can carry through your life?

Green greenness.

It took me a while to get my composure back, though if you plonk me in the middle of nature, even a suburban park, I will regain it, possibly more quickly than in any other situation,  I kept plodding along, admiring the greenness and the little creek that I was following.

Salmonberry, Rubus spectabilis

By the time I reached the end of the trail and had the car in my sights, DH appeared from the other direction, bearing apple juice.  He apologised for being cranky with me and things were okay again.

Tonight we went to a friend's "hooray I quit my job and I'm going back to uni" party, and I went for another stroll, mostly because I needed to walk off two meat patties and a fair amount of pulled chicken.  They live near Green Lake and I've often wanted to walk around there in the late afternoon/early evening.

Green Lake at dusk

So that is a quick round up of the last few weeks.  I will soon have another quilt done and TWO knitting projects (both shawls, both need blocking).  But first I have to help DH move an absolute mountain of vegie patch mix/mulch we got for the back yard.  It turns out that 8 yards of the stuff is a LOT!  I had to go buy a wheelbarrow (which I'd been thinking of doing for ages anyway but this pressed the point!).


Thursday, March 12, 2015

Stop dying, people!

Another icon of the SF and fantasy world has fallen.  Death came to Sir Terry Pratchett, one of my favourite authors, and released him from this mortal coil.  Vale, Sir Terry!  You gave so many of us much to think about, and much to laugh at and with.  Thank you.

I admit that I am not anywhere near as sad about this as I was Leonard Nimoy.  pTerry was not such a part of my life I guess - I enjoyed many of his books (some I could barely get through - The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic were both so thick with puns and laughs that I could not read them, certainly not in public on the train) and his world view is one I share but I guess it comes down to me discovering his work when I was already grown up, and never having a crush on him.  Also Alzheimer's is a mongrel thing, and I share one other aspect of Sir Terry's beliefs.

In other news, umm... well what has been happening?  Not that much really - I've been getting outside to enjoy the glorious early Spring we are having.  Today I went up to the University of Washington campus to see the cherries, which I had read were in full bloom.  They aren't quite in full bloom, as you can see, but they are getting there.

I keep hoping that the ethereal beauty of the blossoms will translate to pixels but it doesn't really.  They are still lovely lovely trees, and this year there are a lot more signs asking people not to climb the trees (yes, people climb the trees or get their girlfriends to climb them or put their kids up them to take photos!).

Alas, it is supposed to rain on the weekend, so it will probably ruin the blossoms, but we might be lucky!  I might be able to get back up there mid next week.

We've had an amazing start to March - only a couple of manky days so far, but it looks like we are going back into normal weather over the next couple of weeks.  Normal weather means nice during the week and raining on the weekends, because that is of course when we want the weather to be nice!

I have done a few things - I went to IKEA and bought some things for the house and built them.  I love building IKEA stuff.  I love opening the boxes and seeing how carefully everything is packed

See how neat that packaging is?
I also love putting all the stuff together.  Admittedly I sometimes get things backwards but as long as I don't use glue I can usually turn it the right way around and make it good.

And my new little metal IKEA trolley just
fits my sewing machine and overlocker

I've been knitting a shawl and I finished a cardigan but haven't got modelled shots of it because I'm not dead sure I actually like it - it is a bit roomier than I thought it would be.  I really should remember not to knit stuff that hangs like a sack on me.  I haven't lost my figure (yet, though currently I'm eating like a horse so that may be on its way!) and things that bag on me just make me look bigger than I am.  But it is nice and warm and cosy... but I could make it slimmer fitting and then it would be better.  But can I be bothered?  (The yarn is worth it - was not cheap yarn!)

Here's a couple of little quilts that I finished six weeks ago:

Three other quilts are waiting for me to get off my butt and get them basted, quilted and bound.  Oh and another three quilts are in the same boat when I think about it.  I really have to pull my finger out and get onto them.  It's hard, though, when the weather is delightfully sunny (if not always delightfully warm) and outside beckons.

I've been working in the garden too.  I got sick of the two mounds in the front yard - one of sod that had been removed by the bobcat but was too heavy for me to drag around the back and the other of vegie/garden bed mix.  I decided to combine the two - I covered over sod mountain with newspaper and moved the mound onto it.  Now I have a raised garden bed that is nearly two feet high!  I think I'll sprinkle wildflower seed onto it and maybe plant a couple of perennials in it.  I've also planted four roses and a small apple tree (Ashmead's Kernel, my very favourite!).   The property manager for next door cut several limbs off our Douglas fir (with our permission and indeed encouragement because the quotes we had were $1,000 to do that work!) but now I have weeks worth of Douglas fir bits to dispose of through the greenwaste bin.  I can put a big brown paper bag of trimmings next to the bin and they should take it.   I just need to get the big bags.

Anything else?  Sunsets?  Lots of sunsets.  Lots of flowers.  I love this time of year, even if it means allergies and scratchy eyes.  That is what anti-histamines are for.


Friday, February 27, 2015


Alas, no g'days today.

A man has died, a man I never knew except from afar.  A man that I admired, who played a character that I adored.

Of course I speak of Leonard Nimoy and his most famous character, Spock.

I'm old enough to have been around in the early days of Star Trek.  By the time I was in my early teens, I had settled on Spock as my favourite.  He was my first crush (and I was glad to discover I was not the only geeky girl who thought he was the best!).  I spent a year when I was fourteen or fifteen trying to be Spock.

Yes I always was a weird one.  And that year was one of discovery of what it is to be human, what it is to feel and to smile and to rejoice in life.  In trying to be an alien, I found me ever more so than I ever had.  It gave me courage to ignore the kids who tried to bully me, the kids who tried to make my life a misery.

Spock made it okay to be different.  He showed us that we need difference, that we can't all be Captain Kirks, rushing in to save the universe and getting the girl, that we need balance.  (I'm not saying that I am the rational one, but I do have a certain pragmatism that keeps getting in the way of various pie in the sky ideas...)  It is okay to be bookish and to love learning and to be fascinated by life in all its various guises.

We are not all the same, and that is not only okay, that is good!

Thank you, Leonard, for all that you gave to us over the years.  Thank you for the deep humanity you displayed in playing an alien, in being Spock.  You inspired and deeply affected so many of us, and have become a part of who I and many others are.


Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Waves, I'm still here!

G'day all!

I've been slack and busy at the same time recently.  Sorry for not blogging!

Fab sunset from 17 Feb

I've also not had lots to say because:

a) the most exciting thing that has happened has been my colonoscopy, and
b) do you really want to know details of that?

Actually, the details aren't that gross....

I need to get some nice pics of the things I've been up to - I only remember to take pics under artificial light and my phone doesn't do so well then.

Pretty Seahawks Space Needle

I lie when I say only one exciting thing has happened.  Two exciting things have happened:

a) my colonoscopy, and
b) Spring has come early to Seattle, like 2-3 weeks earlier than normal.  I'm not going to send it back but I'm a bit worried because we are going to get close to freezing at night over the weekend and I've got a lot of plants budding out, if not actually flowering yet.  It's been a warm and sunny winter.
(I can't list c. because the Seahawks lost the Superb Owl)

Crocuses going nuts

So when I have decent pics of my knitting and quilting, I'll be back at you, showing them off.  Okay?


Saturday, January 17, 2015

Washed away

G'day all!

It's raining.  Surprise!  Welcome to Seattle in winter.

Actually, we've had a pretty mild and dry winter, comparatively.  I've been able to go and watch sunset around three or four times a week.  When we moved here three years ago, we had Snowmageddon and then I remember cold front after cold front after cold front blowing through.  It was a bit of a shock after an Australian summer and I didn't really have good wet weather clothing.  And I think I saw about two sunsets in the first month.

Sunset with actual sun on the actual horizon!

But I learned!  I learned to get insulated raincoats - normal raincoats just are not warm enough.  I learned that microfleece is really warm.  I learned to not use an umbrella and just wear raincoats.  I do have a brolly in the door of the car for those occasions when I get caught out but I tend not to use it much.  My mum would be shocked to see me tromping around in the rain with my raincoat and my snowboots (warm!) or my hiking boots (apparently only water resistant, not waterproof).

Float plane taking off from Lake Union.

Then again, I'm no longer a little kid with a predilection to picking up every cold that goes by and then developing bronchitis and asthma.

And you ask what about lovely lovely wool?  You say are you not a knitter and spinner?  Don't you wear the products of your own hands?

Wool is lovely and warm and it doesn't mind getting wet but I do mind getting it dry.  So my woollies have to be worn under the raincoat or when it isn't raining.  I have a lovely range of knitted (and other) hats but if it is raining I can't wear them.  My hood shoves them over my eyes.  I've had a few occasions this winter when I have been able to wear them outside the house and it is lovely.

A while ago I got some yarn that I had ordered as part of a rather expensive yarn club.  I had been treating myself and I thought the yarn would be delightful.

Waaay too much gray for me!

Uh, no.

So I've over-dyed it and now it is somewhat more like what I expected.  I've got ten skeins of it I think, enough to make a pullover out of.  What I'll make is anyone's guess.

Manky shot but much less gray, believe it or not!

So what else has been happening?

I announced the results of the contest and have heard from Rachael but not Pat.  Pat, if you are out there, please contact me.

I've been doing a bit of quilt top making

Hey, it's upside down!

Folding fabric takes forever!

I've been working on getting my fabric washed and organised,

Pretty shelves!

though if you look at the floor at the moment, you would not know it - I threw my big bin full of random good bits of fabric and scraps on the floor so I could sort them...

Turns out I have a LOT of fabric.  See those quilt tops above?  All from stash.  The backings will all be from stash too.

I've been working - mostly doing drawings this week.  Even doing tracings of things and then colouring them in takes forever.

Weird gray sunset.  No colour
effects used.

I've been trying to go for walks because I'm feeling a bit porky.  The scales at the doctors' told me I am a kilo heavier than I was in October, so apparently I'm not that porky.

This also is a colour shot, no effects used!

I got told that I don't have any known mutations that would cause cancer in me, but I do have a variant of unknown significance of a certain gene that causes certain familial cancers (that noone in my direct line has died of, and since one of the cancers is melanoma and we are one of the moliest families you'll ever see plus hello,  Australian!).

Inside the Moore Theatre, Seattle.

I found out that Dame Edna Everage is in Seattle at the moment (oddly enough, Barry Humphreys is as well!) and managed to snag us some tickets.  Of course since I found out so late, we had to sit up in the "paupers" area rather than in the expensive seats down the front.  We were rather glad of that because she is a very wicked lady and she likes to pick out people from the audience.  She says things that pretty much noone else could get away with.  Lord knows what she would've done when she saw DH wearing his tie dye tshirt and if she made him speak, she would've recognised his accent as not being from here but from somewhere somewhat closer to her humble beginnings before she became a gigastar.  Anyway I don't think I've smiled that much for that long since my wedding day cos my goodness my cheeks were sore!  And after the show, I hurried down to the expensive seats and found myself a gladdie to take home!  Yay!

You would almost think she was with us!

I've been eyeballing some yarn for my next project.  I have five balls of a lovely spotty yarn that I want to knit up.  Only problem is that only three of the five sorta go together, even though they technically are the same colourway.  This is the joy of hand-dyed yarn.  I can knit two rows of one ball and two rows of another ball but I will still have an area that has a lot more colour than one of the later areas.  I am thinking I might do a bit of a gradient - start with the darkest (or lightest) colour and work to the other end.

I won't be knitting the tulips

Our visiting cat is not allowed to visit inside any more.  It started off as amusement but we've let her take it too far and her owners are upset.  Instead she sits on our doorstep and cries.  I don't know why our place is so attractive to her - we give her scritches, obviously we give very good scritches but well surely a larger house with many comfortable places to sleep would be better but who knows what a cat thinks?  Anyway, it is sad making but she is not our cat and to be honest we do not want the responsibility of a cat.  A cat is a forever animal requiring a solemn commitment to the animal's wellbeing (she says, with her own cats not really any longer hers because we had to leave them in Oz) and we are not going to be here forever or even for the lifespan of the average cat.  We could have a hamster or something similar because they don't last long.  But a cat?  It was bad enough having to leave Nutmeg and Cheshire behind, knowing that they are being well looked after, but adopting and then abandoning a cat... argh!

And that, she said, is that.  I've been having deep and meaningful thoughts about things but when it comes time to sit and blog, they all flitter away.  Thoughts like butterflies....

Or pretty pretty tulips.