Saturday, December 29, 2012

Hey, what happened to 2012?

G'day all!

Wow, we are in the few days of December, the dying days of 2012.  This has been an incredibly quick year, and I am told that as I get older, they will go faster and faster.  No wonder people cry out, "Stop the World, I want to get off!"

A tropical Christmas - tacky!  Fab!

Christmas has come and gone, with its good cheer and fellowship.  Christmas carols have been sung for another year, woe and alas - I like singing them even when trying to sight sing the descant or the alto line, depending.  Sometimes I sing the bass an octave up but I won't blame one particular friend for that cos I also latch onto tenor lines as well.  Christmas presents have been opened and admired and as yet are still sitting under the tree except for the camera lenses which have been put to use on the cameras as appropriate (my phone, the Big Camera).

We have seen a juvenile Snowy Owl up at Sunset Hill, when I decided to drive up there for sunset a couple of nights ago on a whim.

Snowy Owl
I wasn't sure which of the owl or the sunset was more interesting.  Most of the people there thought the owl - that is what they were looking at.

Or sunset?

We drove over to West Seattle yesterday and had a look around there.  Nathan had never been.  There are some great views of Seattle across Elliott Bay.  It would be a nice place to live if you didn't have to commute to Seattle/SLU every day.

Teeny tiny panorama

All in all, it has been a pretty quiet week.  I've got some things done but mostly just had a break from things.  Admittedly I spent waaaay too much time looking at upcycled jumpers (sweaters) on Etsy and getting ideas for the ones I've been gathering.  Ahem.  This was all inspired by a skirt I got at a Christmas fair a month ago, a skirt I particularly like.  I have to work out how to make the overlocker cooperate on two layers of woolly goodness - my experiments so far have indicated the sewing machine is happier on that thickness of material.

This little owl has been following me around.

Time for some reverb, yes?

Day 22:  What was the greatest gift you received in 2012? What was the greatest gift you gave?   What do you intend to give yourself in 2013?

What was the greatest gift?  Probably the hand of friendship.  It isn't easy moving countries, even when you do mostly speak the language.

What was the greatest gift I gave?  Hmm, probably extending the hand of friendship out the other way.  (No, not that way you naughty people!)

What do I intend to give myself in 2013?  The gift of time - try to cut down on some things that are taking up too much time and work on things that matter to me, or need to be done....

Day 23: What will you let go of? 
Name three excuses -- stories you tell yourself that are holding you back -- that you are going to let go of in 2013.

Three excuses -
  1. I'm not good enough
  2. It won't work
  3.  I'm just a blonde (*giggle*)
Those are pretty good excuses, no?  OK, they aren't.  I most likely am good enough, if I don't give it a bash it certainly won't work and yeah, the blonde is fairly much out of a bottle now after chemo.  (But I do have a wave in my hair these days that I never had before!)  Even when the blonde wasn't out of a bottle I still had a brain in my skull.  Still, it works to make people think I'm vapid and then clobber them over the head with something.

Day 24: Your most important habit?  
What is the single most important habit you intend to cultivate in 2013?

My most important habit?  Habit, habit, habit.  Hmm.  Regular exercise.  It is good for mind, brain and body.

Day 25:  How will you be vulnerable?  The soft white underbelly, the flaw in the armor, the Achilles' heel -- weaknesses are what make us the most human, the most beautiful.  Next year, how will you tend to your vulnerabilities? How will you build them a shelter from the storm? How will you put them through physical therapy? How will you find a way to make them work to your advantage?  

I know what some of my vulnerabilities are and they are typical of many peoples - fear of abandonment, fear that I'm not good enough, fear that I'm not worthy.  There's also that extra one of fear that It Will Come Back and No Treatment Will Work.

I dragged a friend down some of those horrible steel mesh see through stairs the other day - she is even more scared of heights than I am but she made it down.  I was proud of her cos I didn't realise that she was less capable of dealing with them than I was (I have to sing songs and look out, out anywhere bar down down down... omg I could fall through the cracks!).  I sometimes forget that others have vulnerabilities as well.

A view like this helps distract me.
I don't like exposing my vulnerabilities, just like any other person.  Flaunting them or even just revealing a little of them is simply a way to get hurt.  You learn that one quickly enough as a child!

So I will coddle them and swaddle them and put them aside as much as possible.  Maybe sometimes I will unwrap them and examine them and wonder how I can make them and me less vulnerable.  I will remember that they are part and parcel of being human, part of this whole experience.

Day 26: How will you make time?  How do you intend to carve out more time for the things that are the most important to you in 2013?

Time management is not one of my strong suites I have to say.  I tend to futz around a lot, drawing together inspiration and wondering how on earth it got this late (in the day or the evening.  Actually, like now!).  I need to plan things a bit better, not sit on Remrants in Ravelry so much (I've already started limiting my Ravelry time!), get back in contact with some bloggers I used to follow quite a bit, and make sure I've got some handcraft to hand (usually knitting) so that I can utilise any "downtime" on the computer to make progress on my projects.  I would like to focus my daydreaming a bit more too, both of crafts and other things that I like to think about.

Day 27: How will you honour your creativity?   How did you make time for creativity in 2012? Looking back, is there one creative time or one particular creation that stands out for you? (Maybe you could share it here?) How will you continue (or start) making time and space for your creative passions in 2013?

Making time for creativity in 2012 meant robbing Peter to pay Paul - rather like a very small Ponzi scheme and about as closely monitored by authorities (in this case, me).  If I took creative time, it usually meant I didn't get exercise done instead.  I should focus more on getting both exercise and creative time done, along with work of course!  This means less stuffing around ont he computer!

I am thinking of getting a couple of books on creativity that I've found on Amazon to play with.  I've done a couple of things on creativity before and found them useful, but I think it is time for a refresher.  And if anyone knows how to actually distill ideas and get them down on paper/cloth/insert media of choice here, I'd like to know about it.  Sometimes I am just brimming with ideas but have no idea how to implement them, or have so many ideas I just can't choose between them.

I haven't shown all these off yet, have I?

I think as far as creative times went, my nesting period a couple of months ago, when I managed to finish about five quilts in a couple of months - now that was a pretty impressive creative time!  You might ask about the knits I showed off in August I think it was - that was pretty good too but some of those knits had been waiting for most of a year for me to tie in some ends or do some seaming.  Three of the quilts had been waiting for backs for a while, and two were fairly new, completely made this year.  All of my quilt backs are pieced, to a greater or lesser extent, so making the backs is almost as complicated at making the fronts for some!

Day 28:  How did you overcome *those* fears?  Think of three things that daunted you in 2012: how are you going to work towards overcoming them in 2013?

Those fears.  The things that are far worse than the monsters in the closet.  (I have finally gotten past the fear of something living in my wardrobe - for years and years and years I had to have the wardrobe doors shut to keep the bogey monster inside it, thank you very much big sister!) It isn't dignified to be my age and be scared of the boogie man!  Monsters Inc was a fine movie btw and made the monsters much nicer.

How to overcome those fears.  There's only one way - run at them full tilt, waving a sword and screaming like a crazy person.

I didn't have an option about moving to Seattle - I didn't really want to come here, I could anticipate the weather and I saw that as the biggest hurdle for me.  I know I am solar powered - Oz and San Jose suit me just fine.  The winter weather is Seattle's worst aspect, followed by the traffic.  Days of grey are not inspiring, and it amazes me that Seattle is home to so many big industries, but it doesn't amaze me that it is the home of grunge (as in the music) nor is home to so many craftie types.  After all, when the sun sets at 4:18 in midwinter and it is dark by 4:30 many days (see above-mentioned grey), what else are you going to do?  (Ok, ok, our neighbours have been demonstrating what else you can do - the squeaking beds and squealing women are a little more than we would like to deal with or know about...)  But I'm here and I'm going to make the most of it.   Suck it up, sunshine!  When you can see the area, it is lovely - Cascades in one direction, Rainier in another, Olympics across the Sound.  It is green all year round, except it went brown(!!!) in August and things were looking water stressed by September.  Without this amazing setting, Seattle would be blah.  The water and the mountains make it.  Make it what?  They simply make it.

The Fear of It Coming Back.  Well I can exercise, I can eat good foods, I can cut back on the sugar, try to not stress about things and keep up my regular checks.  But it is one of those fears that really is out of my control and stressing about it doesn't help any, so I mostly can put it aside and leave it be.

Other fears?  Well we deal with them as they occur.  Do I need to worry about them?  Is there any point worrying about them?  If I worry about them, will it help any?  Mostly the answer is no, so that is the point when I find something else to worry about, something within my control. Letting go is probably one of the biggest lessons I've learned in the last few years.  There's always something I could worry about but why expend the energy on such things?

I might be back on New Year's Day with the last of the reverb - I should do it before 2013 but I might well be on a little roadtrip somewhere.  DH has some time off and we have an itch to scratch and a car to scratch it with...


Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas, to those who will or do

May all your days be merry and bright,

and we might get to see some of the white stuff here in Seattle!

The top of the tree, with birds and gifts.
And yes that is a fungus - cos nothing says Christmas
like a red and blue toadstool with purple glitter.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Solstice, Reverb2012 week three and another FO

G'day all!

It is the shortest day, the longest night of the year and I am sooooo glad that the days will not get any shorter.  Indeed sunset is already getting later (though sunrise is also getting later, but that is ok cos sunset is the thing I notice more!).  The earliest the sun sets up here in Seattle is 4:18, but because we have a ridge to the west of us and umm well this is Seattle, often it gets dark earlier than that.

In good news on the sun front, we've seen the sun both yesterday and today!  Yesterday was gorgeous for a good couple of hours in the afternoon.

Aurora Bridge, Fremont
And then I got to see sunset, well the sun go behind clouds, at Sunset Hill.

Close enough to solstice.
It is amazing to see how far south the sun is compared to how far north it gets at midsummer.  See the Olympics - the little teensy range in the pic above?  Well at midsummer, the sun sets north of them!

(Am having difficulty finding pics but trust me
that is the other end of the Olympics)
It is totally brilliant to see the changes in seasons, even if it does mean having to survive through some total mank.  Days where it has not stopped raining all day, though I do have a new mantra - it makes things green!  Rain makes things green.  The forecast was for a warmer and drier than normal winter - I am sure the people out on the Olympic peninsula would agree with this at the moment...  They've been having snowstorms all week.

That white stuff on the foothills?  Snow.
It is certainly different to what I've experienced before and anyone who picks on my home city's weather should come up here and see what it is like to play with the big boys.  Melbourne's weather is nothing compared to this.

Solstice also makes it three years since I was diagnosed with breast cancer.  Man, that was not a good Christmas present, though in other ways it was the start of knowing what I was up against.  I remember walking past the local lawyers and solicitors and thinking I'd better go make a will (no, I don't have one even now, yes I am bad).  Alas I am not a three year survivor yet - that has to wait until August next year.  With with any luck I'll get there.  It won't be for want of trying.

So, some of you might like to see another of my quilty FOs.  I'm stringing them out quite well, aren't I?

This is my granny square quilt done in Kate Spain's "Good Fortune."  It was a fun little thing to do and my first quilt with a grey background.  I also learned that I really really really need to use a 1/4" foot when I'm piecing quilts.  Ahem.

Looks pretty good down at the beach.

I think I like the back more, even upside down

That day was so windy...but gorgeous
This was another OldRedBarnCo quiltalong - thank you, Dana, for bringing quilting into my life.  Admittedly I'd probably be a lot richer moneywise if you hadn't but eh.  I am richer in quilts and friends for it.

Onward, ever onwards - there's more reverb2012 where the last lots have come from.

Day 15: What tingled your tastebuds?  What was the most extraordinary dish you sampled in 2012? What made it so magical?
It needn't be the most extravagant dish, just the one that knocked your socks off with its flavour, texture, aroma, freshness, colour, significance, timing… whatever. Relive the magic and help us savour it with you here.

Hmm, what tingled my tastebuds most?  What made me think dreamy, yummy, best thing on the planet, give me more more more?

The things I remember most are:

1) Finding my favourite flavour gluten and dairy free "icecream" in a fairly local supermarket.  Sad, yes?  (For what it is worth, it is Double Rainbow's Mint Choc Chip Soycream.  It is like normal mint chip icecream down to the compounded chocolate bits in it.

2) The fall/winter hash (with corned beef) at Portage Bay cafe.  They only do breakfast/brunch/lunch.  This little beauty is a stonkering meal - it often defeats me and I have to bring some home.  Three scrambled eggs (no dairy) on top of a handful of thin sliced corned beef and winter veg all cooked up on the hotplate... I get it every week.

3) This:
They had to get me a new one with no wafer/cookie.
My sorbet in the Space Needle restaurant.
Pretty mundane, really - I'm not exactly a gourmand or a gourmet cook.  I've done a couple of great roasts recently - if only pork in the States came with the skin on so I could make crackling.  Mmm....

Day 16: Who inspired you in 2012? And why? What gifts did they give you? And how will you carry these forward in to 2013?

Who inspired me...  I find inspiration all the time, things that make me ooh and ahhh.  I see knitted things that make me want to knit them, quilted things that make me daydream, colours of happiness, pictures people have taken that make me want to travel, even chats with people that bring amusement and good cheer.  Picking out just one person is too hard.

Day 17: Think of one person whose life you made a difference to in 2012.  What did you gain from this? How will you continue to make a difference in 2013?

Is there anyone out there whose life I did make a difference to?  Maybe my sister, my husband.  My bosses are pleased that I am in their lives, and not just for work stuff (and I am pleased to be in theirs). But someone in particular? I don't do charitable acts just to be charitable or big note myself - I donate and assist behind the scenes.  Gosh, I am really coming up short here.

Day 18:  The colour of you.  What colour best represents the year you had in 2012? And why? What colour would you like to invite into your life in 2013?
Be as literal or metaphorical, clever or crazy, or just plain off-the-wall with this as you choose!  Can't wait to read your responses to this one!

The colour of me.  Just one?  Blue, well more blue green, ultramarine.  Currently it is the brittle blue of cold skies, though more often the grey overcast drizzle and rain Seattle is so well known for. If I am allowed more than on colour, here is the colour of me, loud and proud (though not gay).

These are our colours, though DH wants some more
orange and some lime green and maybe purple too.
In 2013?  More colours please!  Lots of them, but bright, clear colours, not muted or greyed out or brownish.  And some more in my hair too :-)

Day 19: How did you nourish your self?  How did you nourish your beautiful body in 2012? What self-care practices will you take with you into 2013?

I look around me and I see my various ways of nourishing myself.  Books, yarn, material, pictures.  Reaching out to others through things like this blog or knit nights.  I kept up my self care of this blasted lymphedema - I have a pretty purple tie dyed sleeve on at this very minute - and am working on breaking scar tissue down from surgery over two years ago.  I've started working on some lower back issues that I've had for a while - nothing severe or crippling, just enough to be annoying.  I was surprised to discover that apparently my gluteal muscles are not activating properly, which means my hamstrings overwork and tighten up my lower back.  By the time the PT guys are done with me I'll have buns of steel and abs to go with them.  But not yet.

In 2013, I'm going to try to reduce the size of my stash.  Both fabric and yarn have gotten to the ridiculous stage where stash starts being more burden than joy.

Day 20:  What was lost and what was found?  What was lost in 2012? What do you intend to find in 2013?

Sometimes I think I lost my sense of humour and joy in the world in 2012.  There were some dark days along the way (mostly not induced by me).  However, on the clear days here, my heart and soul are lifted by the sheer beauty of this place, and I still find things that make me laugh.  I have not lost my accent, though I am becoming used to the local accent enough now that I don't notice it unless I concentrate.  I managed to lose a few pounds, or at least decrease my measurements, but I'll have to keep working at that now that winter is here.  I'm less inclined to walk everywhere when it is cold and raining and miserable.  Plus I need to waterproof my boots - I thought they were waterproof but apparently not!

What do I want to find in 2013?  Peace, contentment - not the RIP type, just contentment with what I have and who I am.  Also to be able to spread that around.  Or maybe courage, the sort of guts I rarely display, the courage to grab life by the throat and really live it on my terms.

Day 21: What's on the dream list?  What items did you tick off your dream list in 2012? What other, unexpected, dreams came to fruition?  What are the top three items on your dream list for 2013?

You know for someone who spends half her time in lala land (I even have a bag that says so), I don't seem to have much of a dream list.  Most of what I have relates to travel, and to living in a way that pleases me and getting our mortgage reduced at home.  (See reducing, not increasing, stash.)  I have the feeling that when I was diagnosed with cancer, my future disappeared and my dreams, well they went up in smoke and I am still rather afraid to make new dreams.

On my dream list for this coming year is more travel around this place and Oregon.  I've seen photographs of places and events that just make me want to get in the car and go go go, but now is not the right weather.  Getting to Canada would be great too.   It makes it so much easier when you've got a car and you can just get in and go without having to plan and book and rent a car and get whatever they give you.

Also on the dream list?  Stash reduction by making stuff and giving things to needful homes.  If I want to keep it all and it keeps reproducing at this rate, I'll have to get a closet that is a Tardis or something.  A Tardis would be totally brilliant, actually, for moving stuff - it could just leave and reappear somewhere else, with any luck even around the right date.  Anyway, I need to stop replacing stolen dreams with stuff, stuff that ties me to this planet.  See?  I have too much stash!  The Grim Reaper can't take me yet. 

I need to find me.

Well that is your blimmin' lot for the week.  I've got plenty more blather in the tank where that lot came from but really?  Enough for one post.  So


Saturday, December 15, 2012

Hang on, it's December?

G'day all!

How did it get to be halfway through December already?  It means we have been in the States for almost a year!  Wow, time flies when you are having fun!

I'm hoping this December is not a December when Things Happen.

I believe it was December 2005 when we moved into our house - we bought a nice little place.  I thought that move was pretty traumatic, after living in the one rental for nearly eight years.  Ha.  Little did I know that in 2007 we'd move to the States, Fort Collins in Colorado (a place that I really enjoyed but moving?  Nuh-uh).

In December 2007, we had to fly to Canada (only from Colorado, thank heavens) to get new visas for DH's new job.  We spent most of a month tooling around there (visiting family I didn't know I had, visiting friends, being given a most generous trip across Canada on the train by DH's parents who had flown across for Christmas with us in Colorado... whoops since we couldn't be in the States any longer...) then flew from Toronto to San Jose in California (and going from snow and ice to sunshine and 15C?  Amazing!).

In December 2009, that job had dried up and we flew home to Oz.  That was traumatic enough, but then I discovered a most unwelcome lump.  That wasn't the best Christmas I've had, but at least we were home with family.  2010 was all about getting treatment and then starting the long slow process of recovery.

In December 2011, we got new visas for DH's new job in the States and prepared to move back to the US.

Actually, I'm seeing a pattern here.  I hope to be able to enjoy this December but I'd better watch out next year.

The Olympics have snow.  More snow will have
fallen by now and even more by the end of the week!

So this has been a sloooow week.  The weather has been mostly grey and dull, though we did get some lovely and much needed sunshine yesterday.

Beaches should be sunny, right?
Today I caught a ride out to Vashon Island to go to the Seattle Modern Quilt Guild's Christmas sew-in (many thanks to J for driving me!).  Vashon really is an island - you have to take a ferry to reach it.  The village there has certain things aimed at tourists and I was happy to fall into their traps :-)  I even bought some cleaning supplies for a charity that delivers food (and other goods) to families in need.  There's also Island Quilter, who were our hosts today.  They offered 20% off to anyone there for the quilt guild, which was very nice and a little more fabric may have come home with me... but some is for presents (for me or for others?  Both!), so say no more for the moment.

On the way across, I noticed that the hills to the south, far to the south, were snow covered.  No snow where we were though.  (Mental note to self - buy chains.)  Those hills didn't look very high.  The forecast this week is for a big storm system to move in with high winds and the possibility of snow down here in the lowlands!  Exciting, eh?  But more exciting was that I could have this for lunch!

Gluten and dairy free fish and chips!  :-)
Now let's do a bit of catching up on the old ReVerb for the week.

Day 8: Considering the idea that nothing lasts forever: what was the most important relationship that you fostered in 2012? 

How will you continue to nurture it in 2013?

This would have to be my mate L, the person I met way back in Feb at the local garden show (held indoors, of course because hello!  Seattle in February!) when I just so happened to hear someone say they live in Ballard.  I haven't nurtured our relationship as well as I could've recently but we will get our acts together and catch up a bit more.  I'll nurture it with lots of walks and talks and op shopping is likely to happen.  (But don't worry, C, I hope to do some more with you too!)  I also have to add my bosses back in Oz, for putting up with me working sooo far away.

Day 9: What was the best book you read in 2012, and why?

You know what?  I have no clue!  I've not read a whole lot of new fiction this year - it's been hard enough keeping up with things.  I've re-read a few old favourites though - it seems when I am struggling with adapting to a new place and trying to make sense of where and what I am, I dive back into books that are comfortable, like slipping on a pair of old shoes that make your feet say ahhhh....  I probably also dive back into bad habits.  The books that took up residence on my bedside table were "Threshold" by Sara Douglass (alas she has left us) and "Restoree" by Anne McCaffrey (also alas departed).  The third book that should be living there is "Pride and Prejudice" but alas it seems it didn't come with me and I may need to buy Yet Another Copy of it (my third?  Fourth?).  Currently I am re-reading David Brin's "The Uplift War," another old favourite.  I know them almost off by heart and it drives DH nuts that I keep reading old favourites - he can't stand reading a book twice  - but it seems I need something stable, some degree of old, comfortable to balance out the new and exciting and challenging.

Day 10: What was the greatest risk you took in 2012? What was the outcome?

This one is a no-brainer.  Moving back to the States for DH to pursue a new career opportunity.  There just aren't too many places that want a chap with his skillset and abilities in Oz.  So far - well we are still here and that is all I'll say, though he does seem happier with his work life than he did back home.

Day 11: What was music to your ears in 2012, literally or metaphorically?

Hmm, what was music to my ears?  Some of the buskers at the local farmer's market?  The guy with his weird string instruments at one of the fairs I went to early this year?  The sound of my in-law's accents?  Being told that there was no sign of recurrence of my breast cancer?  That was pretty good :-)

Day 12: What made you dance in 2012? What made you weep?

What made me dance - my BiL getting married to his long time love.  The beauty of this place, the wildflowers on Mt Rainier and Mt St Helens and Hurricane Ridge in the Olympics.  The beach, the fall colours.

What made me weep?  Leaving family and friends and setting out on a brand new adventure.  Grey winter days (ok, maybe not literally).  Some other stuff but we won't go into that here.

Day 13: Please post your favourite picture of yourself from 2012, self-portrait or otherwise!

Hmm, well there are two shots I like of me, both taken on the same day, at pretty much the same time.

Oooh, I can caption Flickr photos now!


Interesting how the two consecutive pics
have such different smiles
Day 14: what was the most important thing you learned in 2012?  How does this learning shape the path going forward?

This one has me bushed.  I'm not so much learning stuff as having things reinforced.  Staying cool and calm and collected - well trying to - remembering this too shall pass... that sooner or later there will be a sunny day and to keep hanging in there...   The most important thing... I really don't know.  Nope, no clue.  Nothing I've learned has been earth shattering or completely changed my world view.

So was that revealing?  Intriguing?  Well thought out?  Probably not.  LOL

Saturday, December 08, 2012


G'day all!

I was looking at someone's blog and thought I'd play along with the 2012 reverb she had joined.  Now that I'm doing it, I'm not so sure about doing it but it might give me and you some insight!

Day 1: How are you starting (the month)?

By running frantically, trying to get stuff done for a work conference.  It got done in time :-)  Then I slacked off somewhat, well focused on something else - making Christmas presents.  They are now (mostly) sent off so I can get more work done and clean up the house for Christmas.

Day 2: Your most significant outlay?

For the year?  Hmm, either moving here to Seattle or buying a new car (cos we couldn't get a second hand one as the sort we wanted is extremely popular.  I have to say I seem to have accumulated a certain degree more yarn and fibre and quilting material and rain coats and books and pictures and plants and ....

Day 3: What do you really wish for? Imagine a scenario where you only had one year left to live. What is one thing that you really wish to do that you just haven't had the chance to accomplish yet? What steps could you take (however small) to ensure that you accomplish this thing in 2013?

This is a bit of a trigger question for me.  I've already faced this as a possible outcome for me.  Two years and four months ago, I had an extremely aggressive breast cancer cut out of me.  I'm still getting regular check ups, though if I get through to August next year with no problems, I am reasonably unlikely to have secondaries suddenly pop up (unless of course they are already growing).

So I am not going to contemplate the question as it stands - I've already done that.  I don't really wish to return to it.

Instead I'll ask myself what do I really wish for?

For me?  Ten sets of hands so I can knit up some of the yarn I have?  Time to craft and make all the things I'd like to make?  The courage to set some of my creations free out in the world?  The knowledge that at least one person loves me enough to never leave?  I'm not sure what I want more than anything else.

For the world?  The ability for people to see what needs to be done and having the will and the guts to do it, to ensure that their children and their children's children, etc, have a world in which to live.

Day 4:
How are you going to celebrate your self this festive season?

Hmm, this is another of those questions that sounds a bit airy fairy to me.  Here's my airy fairy answer.  I'm going to stay true to myself.  I'm going to set some things up so I can get more things done and feel less owned by my stuff.

Day 5: What was your dream destination in 2012 and why? It can be a town, city, country or region -- real or imaginary -- and doesn't matter if you actually got there or not!

I contemplated this one for a while, then realised what it was.

London, for the Olympics, to see my nephew swim in the 200m breaststroke final.  Alas, he did not make the Olympic team (though by the sounds of the shenanigans some of the team got up to, it is just as well).

Day 6: What did you learn?  Compare the “you” from the beginning of 2012 to the “you” that you are now. What new skills or talents have you learned or discovered this year?

I can free motion quilt now - didn't think I could at the start of the year.  Umm. what else have I learned?  That I can survive in a climate like Seattle's (though at the moment half the time I just want to hibernate).  Am I that different to how I was at the start of the year?  Have I changed?  I don't really know.  I might be a bit more chatty but that relates to a certain isolation because moving and making friends again is difficult.  I am a lot more confident about finding my way around here and dealing with stuff.  I can also go for a walk in the rain without an umbrella thanks to my many raincoats.  I only had one when I moved here, now I have four.  Not one of them is black.

Day 7: What's the one thing you want to take with you into 2013?

Good health.  I want to continue to dance with NED (no evidence of disease).


Well, that is the lot for the week on reverb.

OK, currently I am peeved.  I got a parcel from Knipicks and I was excited because I ordered a really cute mitten kit.

Well they must've sold out before they filled my order because they did not show up.


I was really looking forward to getting them.  They are sooo pretty.  I can buy the e-pattern instead but I thought the kit was a good deal.  (It was a great deal, actually.)  I got another kit but I wasn't quite sure about it and now am more meh about it.  However, it did come with ten balls of various colours  of Stroll (sock yarn), some with glimmer in them so I can knit a cardigan with them instead if I decide I don't want to make a shawl from it.

I promised to share some quilts with you ages ago, didn't I?

Hooray, I uploaded three of the quilt pics I took out at Golden Gardens - I have a lot more but they are on the work laptop and it is asleep at the moment and I can't be bothered waking it up, uploading pics and then sending it back to sleep again.

With a name like Golden Gardens, would you expect to see this:
The trees are gold but not the sand
and Golden Gardens is a beach?
I lugged all the quilts I finished out to get shots of them.  I wandered around and then found the right place.  Yes?

Beauty shot looking out at the Olympics.

I started this quilt quite some time ago, as a quiltalong with Rachel of PS i quilt.  I like to jump on board with quiltalongs, especially when there are prizes involved.  I have no idea why I do this over and over as I never win anything.  At least I learn a bit along the way and eventually end up with something I think is very pretty.

This poor quilt waited for about 18 months for me to make it a backing and then quilt it and bind it.  Once I decided to do it, I went for it!

I really like the back.  I had to make some more squares.

I think it was worth the wait.  By the time I took these pics, I had been using it for about a month and had already had to wash it gain.

Detail.  I only quilted the white squares.
 I free motion quilted the white squares only using a squiggle pattern.  That was fun.  It also means only about half of it is quilted, which made it go a lot quicker!

This could be the beach anywhere
except for the pine trees....

We had two superb days in a row a month ago.  We've only had one completely clear day since, and oh boy could I do with a good dose of sun.  The sun is now setting at 4:18pm, yes FOUR in the afternoon, and there is a ridge between us and the horizon, plus it is usually cloudy.  At least sunset doesn't get any earlier - it's as early as it gets.  It actually will be a little later by the time solstice comes along, but sunrise will be close to 8am then instead of quarter to.  I love watching the pattern of sunrise and sunset change, though I have to say I'm not too keen on the results in winter... Sunrise at 5:16am and sunset at 9:14pm in summer though is pretty grand :-)

OK, that will do you - it is a lot to go on with!


Monday, December 03, 2012

A boring rant

G'day all!

I have a shiny new computer.  It has red and blue LEDs inside it.  Ooh err.  It should be very fast and should last me a while - my laptop lasted nearly five years and still would work if you could get the fan controller to behave.

DH installed our favoured operating system on the new machine and umm, well, let's just say I am very,





disappointed in the user experience so far.  There's been two new iterations of the system since I tried to upgrade the OS in my laptop.  I've been running ubuntu, btw.

I don't know if it is my system is not linux friendly (or more specifically ubuntu friendly) but I can't make it do basic things like set up the mouse buttons to do what I want to.  I can't pin programs to the task bar (that we had to reinstall because their new idea about taskbars is show all the programs in a bar on the left of the screen).  I can't configure anything on the system except for the background, whether I want a dark or a light taskbar, and whether I want a left or right handed mouse.  I am not using Unity, the new ubuntu window manager/user experience as DH installed gnome for me - it is the window manager that I am used to but it seems half busted.

Quite frankly, my user experience so far has been so very very very bad that it is making Windows 8 look like a real option.  And that annoys me greatly because I like running a different system, I like not having to worry heaps about downloading a virus and screwing the whole thing up, I liked how I could make the user experience the way I wanted to.

I've been mucking around for hours and I still can't get some nice little things that I used to like up and running.  I've installed things... I keep logging out and in again because that should make the new installations work.  I am so very very peeved with this.  Why did they have to go and ruin ubuntu?

Why do user experience designers have this need to foist their ideas about how we want to interact with the computer on us and lock things down so tightly that you have to be a guru to make things work the way you want to, the way you are used to.  WHO CARES if it makes the task bar messy?  (The UX designer, obviously.)

One of our friends used to work for Canonical, the creators/developers/maintainers of ubuntu, but he got out six months ago and joined DH at Amazon.  Just as well because he would never hear the end of my whining about this craptastic, locked down operating system.  I thought the whole idea of linux was computing your way, not some way that some user experience designer thinks it should be.

I can do sooooo much more on the work laptop to customise the desktop the way I want it to be.  It runs Windows 7.  I could do sooo much more even on the locked down machine that I had at AXA (Windows XP) - I could not install programs but I could alter the look and feel to be what I wanted.

Ah well, it is all a learning experience.  I am sure we will figure things out sooner or later, or I'll just learn to deal without my favourite application.  Yes I can look it up online but you have no idea how easy it was to check things just by looking at the top task bar - oh, it's 38C in Melbourne, it's 6C in Seattle, it's 25 in Sydney, 13C in Fort Collins, all without having to click on anything or hide all the windows covering the background....  Such a simple little thing and gone.  I've found ways to get it going again but they just don't seem to work on my machine, the app doesn't seem to be updated any longer and I'm wondering if Canonical is actively trying to stop people doing such things and ruining the clean look of the system.

I am almost annoyed enough to fire off an email to the guy who runs Canoncial, only I don't know what his email address is.  They want people like me to use Ubuntu so why on earth do they make it so flipping hard?

Rant over.  For the moment.  I've still got plenty of rant all pent up but I should talk about much more interesting things, like some recent experiences.

For those who got this far, here's a pretty picture of some Fall leaves.  The liquidambars/sweet gums are pretty much the last to go and they are going in droves now.

Glorious fallen leaves


Saturday, November 24, 2012

Aimez Aidez

G'day all!

Ok, the post title doens't make lots of sense but it may or may not rhyme... lol

About six weeks ago I saw that my friend over at Celtic Caston was doing a knit along for a Berroco pattern called Aidez.  Well I hummed and hahhed over it (not hemmed and hawed - we have different vowel sounds to Americans!) and then saw some yarn in my very local yarn shop (The Tea Cozy) that would do nicely and umm, well, I started knitting.  After I bought the yarn (cascade Eco+ in purple heather, shade 7811), of course.

Waiting for breakfast
Despite a little issue with row gauge because I did not use the correct yarn and did not allow for row gauge to be off - always a critical issue in a raglan sleeved item and I knew it would be (ahem!) - it fits quite nicely.  It is nowhere near as loose as the model on the Berroco website.

The back
Hmm, I look like a bit of a linebacker there... not that we play American football much in my country.  I guess holding my handbag (aka purse in the US) was not a good idea.

If the weather had been a bit more cooperative here recently, I would've gotten it done earlier but the blocking took days as I had to do it one piece at a time on the ironing board and steam block it.  It worked out well enough, it just took two days... lol probably as long as it would've if I've wet blocked it.  The problem with wet blocking is that it would then have been pinned out on the bed.  I can't use the guest bed for blocking as it is a fancy pants air mattress.  Oops!

A bad attempt at an arty shot
So it was an easy knit, though do remember that row gauge is critical in raglan sleeved items.  I did some cables with an old knitpicks needle tip from a broken set and some without.  I also modified one of the twists - the left twisting one on the back - because as written, it was just looking messy and not twisted.  I swapped the stitches over, left two behind the right to, making a proper cable crossing.  The right side looked fine as written.

I think you need to see how pretty Nathan's breakfast at Portage Bay was.  He'd already eaten most of one piece of coffee de leche French toast by the time I took this shot.

Yum!  The topping bar is great.
I am also pleased to say it has not rained on me yet today.  Hooray!  We've even seen the sun on occasion :-)


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Knitalong, Aidez

G'day all!

This post comes to you care of my phone, as I have had another crack at breaking a computer (though I have not in any way damaged my work laptop, it's done it all by itself). 

Celtic cast on has a knitalong happening for Aidez, a free Berocco pattern.  Excuse the lack of links, they are hard to do on the phone, no cut and paste.  I thought I'd best show my progress as the knitalong ends in a couple of weeks...ack, better get my skates on! Plus the shot is pretty average but what do you expect from a phone?

So far, I have done both the sleeves and fifteen inches of the back, plus the fronts are now a good twelve inches long. This means that I should be able to get it done in two weeks, surely? I've knitted this much in just under three weeks.

Time will tell!

Thanks for the birthday wishes, btw, they were much appreciated!


Friday, November 02, 2012

A wilted birthday

G'day all!

Happy birthday to me!  It is my birthday in Australia but not quite here in Seattle yet.
Birthday sorbet yesterday with my friend L.

Over the years, finding out where I am from is becoming increasingly interesting to me.  Who am I?  Where am I from?

This is something that is difficult - my parents are dead, my grandparents are long dead (my father's parents so long dead my mother never met them), my cousins are old enough to start popping their clogs....  I'm at least third generation, more like fourth generation Australian.  One of my sisters has traced our lineage back to the Second Fleet, she thinks (lots of people with the same names is an issue).  So yeah, not only am I a colonial, I probably have convict blood in me, a matter of some pride in Oz.

This would look a lot nicer if embiggened.

Apparently I look Dutch or possibly from some part of Sweden.  I don't look particularly Norwegian if the people I see around here are anything to go by.  I'm too big, the wrong colouring and the wrong shape.  I know my ancestry includes English, Irish, Welsh and Scottish peoples but it doesn't really inform me as all of those have been such a melting pot for so long - wave after wave of invaders.

We had a rainbow at sunset yesterday.  Lasted forever!

So tonight, I went to a talk by Sylvia Olsen, technically about Cowichan sweaters but just as much about her life and the knitting that has informed it.  Here is a lady who was alien to the First Nations tribe she married into, yet she has put down roots there.   At the same time as it was inspiring and an interesting talk, I was also saddened because it became all about me, me, me.

I've been here since January, 10 months almost.  I have not put down roots.  I have not integrated in any way.  I have one friend, well one and a half friends - I have the phone numbers and email addresses for two people and one I ring regularly, though not as often as I should have over late summer/fall.

Still loving the leaves...

I've gone to knitting events and talked to people and tried to share things and given people my mini moo cards.  At the Nordic Knitting Conference, I talked to some people there who said how hard it is to be an outsider and how hard they found it to integrate into Seattle society - it's known as the Seattle Freeze but don't worry, I've found it happens all over the USA.  Anyway, the very next night after being all pally with me, they didn't want to know me any longer.  I wasn't interesting any longer.  They were not from Seattle, so it ain't just the Seattle Freeze.  I've had the same thing happen in Colorado and in California.  I rarely got to know people who had lived in that place all their life.  It was the imports who became my friends, the people like me who would like friends and did not have established groups and cliques.

Love the plays of yellow and red.

So it is a bit depressing on top of the usual I'm a year older (on the other hand, given the events of late 2009, I'm a year older!  I made it another year!  Yay!).  I am introverted.  I am actually quite shy and uncertain in social stuff - being geeky did not set me up socially for life, it usually brought rejection.  I don't make friends easily or often, though once I do, I tend to think of them being friends for life, even if we haven't talked for five years.  I had hoped that I would have some friends to invite out to dinner by now, but the only ones coming are my husband's friends, people I've met through him.  I enjoy their company and I'm getting to know them better and we can have fun but it would be nice to have some of my own friends.

Rugosa rose hip and fall foliage.

I go to knit nights and have been to the spinning guild twice now and I have some sorta friends there.  Maybe I am trying too hard.  Maybe I'm not trying hard enough.  Maybe I'm just a very dull person.  Maybe I exude loneliness. Maybe I'm too geeky, too chatty, too weird, too me

Instead, I fling myself into my crafting because it fills some of the gap.  If I can't have friends here, maybe I can have lots of nice things instead, things that I can say, "I made that, aren't I a clever girl?"  Having someone's approval, even if it is only my own, is nice :-)

A little quilt, the fish now has a big eye on it.
I made that all by myself, aren't I a clever girl?

I won a book tonight because it is my birthday tomorrow :-)  If I wrap up some of the yarn I bought online recently, I'll get a present too.  I could wrap up the new tops I bought to replace my lovely lime green fleecey that I lost today.  I can pretend.  I'm good at pretending.  Plus I know this too will pass.  I'll get used to being mumbly-cough soon enough and I'll find someone(s) to be my buddies sooner or later.

I liked these leaves against the paling fence.

Oh, btw, many apologies, I have been even worse than normal at responding to comments.  That's because some scumbags spammed my comments and I had to chuck about 100 comments into my spam box and now gmail throws all of the comments in there, and I'm not very good at checking spam as I discovered the other day when I found goodly handful of comments there.  I'm trying a different commenting form, one that I think will let me reply in the comments.  I hope.


Wednesday, October 31, 2012

OldRedBarnCo smackdown

G'day all!

I started quilting because of Dana over at Old Red Barn Co back in 2009.  I've been participating in most of the quiltalongs we've done through her Flickr group, oldredbarnco quiltalong.  This has to be the quickest project ever.

The challenge was to find a colour palette on one of the many colour palette websites and design a quilt/wall hanging/lap quilt/mugrug/something quilty from it.  The challenge was announced around 24th of September and we had until today, Halloween, to finish it.  OK, it was not really a smack down but I just like the word.  Technically it is a quilt challenge throwdown!

I've been meaning to play along but I couldn't find a palette that reflected what I wanted to do.  I really wanted to use colours like the ones in this picture:

By Ballard Locks
I wanted to make something that was all fally/autumnal, though I was also thinking about having bright autumn leaves on wet concrete (something I am seeing a LOT at the moment as it has rained for most of the last two days!).  But woe, I could not find a palette that was what I wanted.

But then I saw one at 
Color by COLOURlovers

It was love at first sight.  Giant goldfish, and even better I had all the stuff I needed in stash, well except for the grey which I had bought for this project only I could not find the right palette for the old idea.

So on Sunday I drew up a picture of what I wanted to do.  Then I cut the picture up into squares so I could count how many squares I needed in each colourway.  (Mental note to self - make sure you take a picture of the drawing before you cut it up!). Monday I cut up the material I needed and started sewing and cutting half square triangles.

Tuesday I was still sewing them together into the right picture.  I finished putting the front together, then stole material from the back of another project and basted the quilt. 

This morning I free motion quilted it, put a binding on, sewed down the binding with the machine (no time to do it by hand!)
Almost finished!

and chucked it in the washing machine, then tumbled dried it.  (Shh, yes, I used the dryer!)


I need a bigger eye for it, but I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out.  It's a bit rough but it certainly reflects the palette!  Plus it was the quickest thing I've ever done, quicker than mug rugs even.  OK, it is only 26" X 23" (about 65cm by 57cm).

Now I have to get more work done and soon will have to clean the house!  I've been neglectful of my duties recently, getting this done.


Friday, October 26, 2012

Dudes, srsly who turned off the lights?

G'day all!

It is a remarkably dull day here in Seattle today.  Seriously dull to the point of wondering who turned off the lights?  Even our new monstrously bright light is struggling to cut through the gloom.

Maybe I just moved to Mordor or something.  With sights like this around the place (clearly taken on a non-gloomy day) it is possible

Gruesome gibbet

Someone has had fun decorating

I have had an interesting time recently in the Confucian sense.

Two days ago this laptop shut itself down in the middle of a hangout (google video chat).  I have detected a serious disk error!  Goodbye!

But it restarted ok and my boss and I had further discussions about it and he decided that either it goes to be fixed or he just gets a new machine (he's making the assumption that it is going to be pricey to work out if it is the hard disk or not) and ships it to me.

So yesterday I sat nursemaiding it through a BIOS disk check and a Windows disk check.  Neither of them noticed any bad sectors or really bad stuff.

So we decided it was fit to go again.

BANG!  Shut down in the middle of another hangout.  This time really bad stuff - when it came back up it said it didn't recognise the disk.  So I shut it down again and brought it back up in safe mode when it started booting.  And ran out to buy a backup disk cos despite what I thought, this particular machine was not being backed up.

My car needed petrol (gasoline) so I stopped at a servo (petrol station aka service station aka gas station) to fillit up.  In the US, they have the clicky things on the pump trigger squeezy thing so I clicked that on and filled up the car.

Then my finger got jammed in the trigger mechanism.  Petrol is still pumping EVERYWHERE - down the side of the car, on the forecourt and I can't get my finger out and I can't switch off the pump because the hand in the trigger thing is the one close to the pump and I can't swivel around far enough to get to the emergency off thing or just switch the pump off.  I get my finger out and it is still pumping fuel!


I manage to reach the hanger up thing and flip that down and it stops pumping.  Ok, it was only probably a gallon or less lost but ARGH!  a) getting my finger stuck and b) stupid design that lets me get my finger stuck and c) this is dangerous stuff and I've just sprayed it all down the side of my baby car - he's only four months old.

So I tell the guy inside and he's like yeah, ok, are you hurt?

No, only jammed my finger and lost a bit of skin.  And spilled gas all over the place.

And he's like whatever.  I'll tell the boss.

So I go outside and wash off the side of the car as best I can whilst trying not to stand in petrol, and then get in, expecting to blow us all to kingdom come, but I don't obviously because I'm still here telling you all how I became a total environmental hazard.  But how embarrassing!  I've never had that happen before, and all because my hands were cold and the trigger needs you to squeeze as hard as you can to start pumping but to stop it, needs to be as far in the unsqueezed position as it can be... stupid!

And it was only the second time that I've had my fuel discount card actually work.

And I forgot to say whether or not I wanted a receipt I was so frazzled, so now I don't know how much fuel I put in the car (nearly nine gallons, I think).  I hope the transaction went through ok.

I don't think I'll go back there and buy more petrol.  I'm already too embarrassed just thinking about it.  I've been filling petrol tanks in whatever car I've been driving at the time for 25 years or so and this is mortifying to me.

I am most pleased to say that the backup disk seems to work ok, that the laptop has survived installing two lots of software (for the back up disk and for my tax return) and is still going at the moment.  This is a good thing because I killed my old laptop two months ago by upgrading the software, only one bit didn't upgrade properly and now the fan control doesn't work and it gets stuck in a loop until it overheats and shuts down.

I seem to be extra good at breaking things.  My phone has its own quirks too.  At least my reputation has not gotten to be that of a friend, who used to walk into a computing lab at his uni and the whole room full of PCs would shut down.  His local Apple store got to know him quite well because of the number of times he went in with a product under warranty that had died.  LOL

And I still haven't caught you up on all the fun things I've done recently.

Let's start with some recent stuff and see if I ever get back to stuff that happened in September... in another post or three.

On Saturday, DH and I went off to Fibre Fusion, a little festival in Monroe, about an hour or so northeast of here.  I was surprised that he wanted to go with me but that was ok.  The fairgrounds had a canary show, a gun show, a swap meet and Fibre Fusion all on at the one time, which made for an interesting mix of people!

At the swap meet, we found this amazing old trunk.  $45 - we didn't even haggle, we just bought it.  It is a bit musty/mildewy inside so we may end up taking the wallpaper off the inside and making sure it isn't bad underneath.  If it is ok, we cna clena up the insides, then it will end up as quilt storage.  It needs some cleaning up on the outside too - it's a bit rusty and the wood is dry dry dry - but it is totally amazing.  And flat on top so that when it is all fixed up we can use it as a coffee table too!

A trunk in my trunk!
(Sounds better than a trunk in my boot or in my hatch...)
(You can see my loot too and stuff we got at home despot)
I was very restrained at Fibre Fusion.  I only bought two lots of stuff - some CVM roving after I missed out on buying an excellent CVM fleece (silly me told someone what a nice fleece was but did not take it then and there myself!) and some norwegian sheep roving and pretty coloured BFL top from Crown Mountain Farms, who just so happen to be in Yelm.  Yelm is not far from Seattle, though the only things I remember about it are a) it was small and b) I got stuck in a horrible traffic jam and it took about 20 minutes to get through one set of lights.

I showed DH how to use a carder after he expressed interest in how they work.  He then asked me if I want a carder (!!!), and I said well I already have one but it isn't very good and is 8,000 miles away, so a new one would be nice.  My old one is ancient and crabby and needs to be jollied along.  A new one would be grand.  I discovered Mr Fricke, who makes Fricke carders is a nice old gentleman and local to boot (well he lives in Washington state which makes him local).  But now decisions, decisions!  Which to buy and why?  Not Ashford or any of the big brands - I'd prefer one locally made but US made would be ok.  And a new one so I don't have to make the blasted thing work.  It took a lot of fiddling with the old one to get a reasonable result, not even a good result, and every time I used it I had to fiddle more.

As it stands, I think a new computer trumps the carder and I can only have one or the other.  Then again, I might be able to do a deal with the boss if I get a new work computer and the disk out of my own laptop can be fitted to this laptop, assuming it is the disk that is wrong with this one.  (Why not just put my disk into this machine anyway?  Because it doesn't run Windows and I'd have to install it and swap licences over, etc plus I want my work stuff to be separate from my personal stuff.  And I want to run linux/ubuntu so that I am much less fussed about viruses.)

DH also blew a wood worker's mind away by telling him how he could do a particularly nifty trick with his wood turning.

I have had a lovely time this week doing some free motion quilting.  I bought two books recently and read through them and decided to play around with a new quilt.  Plus I bought some quilting gloves and an extension table for the bed of my sewing machine (plus if I really need it, I have a teflon sheet to put on the flat bed).  OMG, what a difference it makes!  I have had so much fun putting leafy swirls on this new quilt.

Free motion quilting - fun!

I now have two quilts with their binding ready to be sewed down.  I am a quarter of the way through the big quilt.  It is taking a while but it will be excellent when it is done.

I've also been doing a bit of spinning - this stuff is glorious to spin, but alas I've spun it all up.

Blissful spinning
  60% BFL, 20% silk, 20% sparkle from Woolgatherings.

Knitting is also happening but slowly.  I'm working on a humble scarf and it is taking forever, though it turns out it is quite long, plus it is a mistake rib sort of pattern and they take forever.

Hmm, now I have myself in a fuss because the transaction for the fuel hasn't gone through yet and I'm worried that they will think I've done a drive off and will end up in trouble over it.   Off to Ravelry to fuss there!