Saturday, January 26, 2013

Australia Day 2013 - a long way from home

G'day all!

This is the fourth Australia Day I've had away from home.  I've read the newspapers pontificating on what it is to be Australian, and I'm still not sure what it means, beyond being a person born with at least one parent who is an Australian citizen or a person who has migrated to Australia and become a citizen.

I know some of the things that mark me as an Australian.  My accent for one, despite the best efforts of various well-meaning Americans to make me sound like them.  Nup, not happening.  I'll keep my he-yah and summa, my Powl's books, not pow-el's books, thanks all the same.   Some Americans love my accent - I have absolutely NO idea why - when I go back home, I know I sound like the people around me and oh my goodness, I sound like that?  I'll also keep my somewhat off sense of humour, even if I can only indulge it in certain company.  My attitude to health care - after all Australia is a socialist country (I can hear various Americans gasping cos you know one of the biggest insults is to be socialist if I understand the comments made on some websites) - we have socialised medicine and a safety net for the sick, elderly and out of work (ok, I've been on it and I can tell you it sucks dog's biscuits - I'm being polite here - to be on the dole.  But the medical care for my cancer was just dandy.  Non-urgent (ie won't kill you) medical problems can take a long time to be treated but urgent stuff - you get the best of care and it is FREE).  My attitude to giving everyone a fair go.  (Note that a fair go is not the same as the American attitude of the self-made man/woman - Australian ambitions tend not to be so lofty as to think someone raised dirt poor will be able to become a multi-millionaire.  However, the daughter of a scrap metal merchant should be able to go to university if she has the academic ability and the interest.)

It really is amorphous, which is why I tend not to get on my high horse about how great it is to be Australian.  Cos is it?  All countries have their good and bad points, and the country that I was born in is no exception.  It's just luck of the draw where you are born, and really I was pretty lucky to be born where I was.  I have much to be grateful for.

So instead I'll just link to a few oldies but goodies, like these:  A favourite movie, The Castle.  This is only a taste of the movie itself.  You'll hear DH and I exchanging quotes from this movie - "I dug a hole.... It's filling with water!"  "Ah the serenity" (massive speedboat whizzes by.)  "Tell him he's dreamin'."

Some old but favourite songs about Oz/being Australian

(Terribly sad story now goes with this song, RIP Greg Ham)


(Not my fave Midnight Oils but I can't think of my fave one currently!)

(Don't worry, we couldn't work out the lyrics either!)

Oh, just so many oldies but goodies.  Well I enjoy them anyway.  Some will have made it overseas but not all of them I reckon.  I know people will say "What about this, what about that" but if I listed all of the songs I like, this post would never end.  Also some of the best versions are the ones that we made up along the way - AC/DC's "It's a long way to the top" has long been It's a long way to the shop if you want a sausage roll.  The Angels' Am I ever gonna see your face again with the crowd replying "No way, get lost, piss/insert word of preference here off!"  We make the music our own.

And in my own Australian way, I don't do much swearing.  Blaspheming yes (for me it isn't blaspheming though), but I don't drop the f-bomb for example, much to the amusement of various friends.  I sometimes sound either like British gentry with my piffles, but other times more classic dinky-di Aussie.  Of course that makes me very unAustralian but at the same time more entertaining.

Next time around you might get something other than twaddle out of me, but I won't bet on it.  I might have a new FO to share if I ever stop ripping it back and redoing it.  LOL


Thursday, January 24, 2013

Glimpses of Portland

G'day all!

It occurred to me that I didn't post on Saturday night.  I was in Portland, Oregon, escaping the Eternal Gloom that had wrapped Seattle in its ample bosom (an inversion layer trapped fog and pollutants and it was yucky!).  We took the Amtrak Cascades down there and caught the Coast Starlight back.

We are happy because we didn't miss our train.
Our bus takes us 100 yards from the station!


Did you know that I love taking the train?  Even if it costs double or quadruple what it would if we drove?

Scenery wasn't great - very foggy!

I can just sit and watch the scenery go by and knit - if we drive, I have to pay attention




because I am The Driver.  DH is The Navigator, except he has an unhandy habit of falling asleep after lunch and occasionally not telling me where I am supposed to go.  That is ok if I am headed for a big city and the signage is good but sometimes I'm headed off whoop-whoop (that's oo as in pool, not oo as in moon) or I don't know where I am meant to be heading then we have An Issue.  On the train though, I know where I am going and I don't have to worry about how we get there.

Also on the train we don't have to stop for loo breaks or for food and we get the bonus of being able to get up and walk around without stopping!  Plus there are other people on the train who are often amenable to chatting.

All aboard!  Superliner entrance with stepstool.

I think I prefer the Coast Starlight to the Cascades train - the Coast Starlight is a long distance train with the double decker Superliner cars plus an observation/cafe car and a dining car!  You haven't dined until you have dined on a train on a bumpy line (the line between Portland and Seattle was surprisingly smooth).  The Cascades train is lower and the seats are closer together and don't have the nifty leg and foot rests (ie not for sleeping on) and I had to starve because the only thing the cafe had that I could have was apple juice and I'm good and don't drink my calories these days, except for when I do.

Portland's Union Station. Note the tiled roof.

So we got down to Portland and I spazzed out somewhat because I was really really really hungry (for some reason I didn't have more than one old, squashed energy bar with me - normally I carry food with me) and being gluten and dairy free, I can't just grab any old thing to eat.  Ok I was in Portland, which is about as hippy dippy as you'll find anywhere, but that night we really honest to god did find a place that was only friendly to gluten eating meat and fish eaters - any vegetarians or vegans would've starved in that place.  They couldn't even serve DH some bread - they "burned it again." 

Nice building

Small park by nice building

But it was cool (literally) and sunny, and I found a yarn shop by accident (honest!  I said that it would be nice if we found the yarn shop and then I looked across the intersection we were standing at and there it was!  Knit Purl.)  I may have bought expensive yarn.  I may want more of it.

Odd choices for me, non?

Just down the road is Powell's books.  We wandered around for a while and then DH found the books of his dreams (Alexander's "Pattern Language" and associated books).  We stood there, looking at the approximately 10 kilos (or so it felt) of books Nathan had gathered along with my small contributions (small books!  Really!) wondering how on earth we would lug these around Portland for another whole day and joy of joys, wonders of wonders, Powell's has a delivery service!  $12.48 later, our books were being sent to us!  And they arrived on Wednesday, which I thought was fantastic - it was a federal holiday on Monday.

I got a man hug
DH nearly knocked the poor
guy over with a bear hug
I should take pics of the books but I need to save pics of those for a bad day when I don't get outside at all or have an FO to show off.

Speaking of which,  ta-dum!

Now with added fish face.

Elfe.  Umm I need to put that on Ravelry.  I don't think I've even listed it as a project yet.  Whoops.  Thanks to C for taking pics outside Bad Woman Yarn, one of my LYSs.  This was my first contiguous knit - go search Ravelry for contiguous knitting.  It is a top down seamless technique that gives the effect of set in sleeves, only they aren't.  It looks pretty cool, eh?

Anyway, back to Portland.  It was sunny though not really clear and quite cold - under 4C.  At night the fog rolled back in and there was HOAR FROST!  I get overly excited by frost on things - those in my circles on G+ may have noticed this.  We don't get frost a lot where I come from.  Admittedly I don't want it to be really cold because I don't do so well in real cold - even fridge temps do horrible things to my skin - I'm red a lot at the moment and it feels like I'm sunburned.

Someone's pawprint.  Cold hand!
Ice on a pond

Frost on grass

Whoops, back to Portland.  The much vaunted light rail and street cars are great to get around on, once you work out how to use the ticket machines.  The ones on the streetcar route had just been re-designed and we still couldn't work it out.  Why not just have a button for each of the two or three ticket types, then one for full or concession fare, then take the money and spit out a ticket?  It also helps if you know where you are going and read the map the right way (I was 90 degrees out for most of the trip).

That place name makes me snigger

There are many lovely old buildings in Portland.  There are some nice new buildings and some OMG who designed that horrible thing buildings as well.  But the old buildings are charming. I'll leave you to figure out which is which.

There's lots of bridges across the Willamette.  I won't show you pics of all of them.
The Steel Bridge
Dunno this one's name, too lazy to look it up
It is not a very large city and we did a lap of about two thirds of downtown on Sunday, just walking around, and a bit more on the streetcar.  It has lots of cool stuff and DH is a bit sad that his work isn't based there.  I am glad because I don't think we would ever get out of Powell's.  It is huge - over three floors, like a library, only you have to pay to take the books out of the place, plus it has a cafe.

Morning tea.  Click through to embiggen to read.
After wandering around and around and around for hours, we made our way back to the train for the 4.5 hour trip home (and it only took 3.75 h!  Hooray!  Home early!).  The sun set as we travelled up the Columbia River and it was divine.  (Sorry to the person who had to listen to me mildly cussing at the big camera as it refused to focus.)

The fog closed in but that didn't matter - it was dark.

At the start of the trip, I started a sock on the bus.  I took a pic before getting off the train.

Buses are bumpy in Seattle.
Train lights are not that bright it seems...

Despite not doing as much knitting as I expected, I still got to the heel of the sock for me.  Not too bad for a weekend with only a few hours of knitting time.


Saturday, January 12, 2013


G'day all!

The weather is glorious here at the moment.  Cold - below freezing at night and if we are lucky hitting 4C at best during the day, but it is sunny with very little wind and is dry and gobsmackingly gorgeous.

If I can't have warm, I'll happily have brrr! with sun :-)

People are asking if I miss summer at home and given Melbourne has been hitting around 40C then dropping to 25C and then back up again, I think I'll put up with freezing and sun... given I'm a bit of a lizard and love the heat, that is saying something, isn't it?

Frost!  Hoar frost!

Looking east at the Ballard locks


Great bikini weather!  It's hitting 37F some days.
Girls, get your gear off and into one of these little numbers....
I love the way the shops bring in such appropriate clothing whilst putting the winter clothing on clearance/sale.  (I picked up some bargains, but not in bikinis so you can live without fear of me showing them off.)

A light frost

Sun sun sun over Aurora Bridge

Shoulda rotated this
I saw this Dale of Norway pullover hanging on the rack at the op shop and swooped down on it like an avenging angel.  It is an XXL but whatever.  It is magnificent.  It is a design created for the Lake Placid Goodwill Games in 2000.  I should do a blog post on it but others have already done them.  Still... $13 plus tax for a US $250+ pullover.  I saw one online on ebay that sold for $96.  This one is almost perfect - it may have been worn briefly but not for long.

Can any regular reader guess who I was
thinking of when I bought this fabric?
I may have acquired some more fabric.  This is only a little of it.

Socks on their recipient's feet.  He says they are tight.
I finally got pics of DH's new socks on his feet (my legs are not that hairy!).  He wore them anyway.  They are knitted out of a yarn supposedly coated with aloe vera - On your toes (good name for a sockyarn eh?).  I know it was not soft enough for me aloe vera or not.  Anyway now he can wear lime orange socks.

Fremont Troll with chalk.
After a year of being here, I finally got a semi-decent shot of the Fremont Troll.  Alas, someone had decorated him.  And yes, he is very big because that is a real VW beetle under his hand.

Parallel parking on a steep hill :-)
There was a car close in front.
So did anything happen this week of note?  We had a lovely dinner with DH's boss and his wife - it was a very ADD conversation with lots of jumping from one topic to another and excited gabbing.  LOL  That night there was a windstorm which really picked up during the 15 minutes it took me to drive from home into Belltown.  I was worried that there was something wrong with the car - he was wobbling strangely - until I parked him and discovered I could not open the door into the wind...  I had to wait until the gust had died down.

I've knitted a lot more than this now.

I knitted a bit on my new top.  I really should take a new pic of it, now that I am more than halfway, maybe even being 2/3rds of the way through.  I am knitting an Elfe using recycled green yarn and a steel grey cotsoy.  I finished off a quilt and have another basted, ready to go, plus another one to be basted and quilted.  And I want to make




but I've also got a story battering at me and I have paid work to do and I really need to vacuum the place from end to end and tidy and I want to make a skirt out of op shop pullovers and and and... and it is nice outside and I have to keep going for walks because I have to when it is nice - there is plenty of meh weather here to keep me inside.

Me?  Organised?  Spending my time wisely?



How was your week?


Saturday, January 05, 2013

A year

G'day all!

It is now a year since I (we) left Australia.  A whole year.

I think I'm a whole lot more comfortable with the idea of living in Seattle now that I have been here for almost a whole year - we spent three days in Hawai'i before we came here.  We arrived in Seattle on the 7th of January last year but of course 2012 was a leap year.

Sunset, Oahu, Hawai'i, Jan 2012

Is it doable?  We are still here, so it must be doable! I have to say the 2.5 sunny days we had to start the New Year certainly helped.  Ask me in another five days - the forecast says it will almost certainly rain every day until Thursday - and my opinion may change.

Anyone for a picnic?  Sunbaking? Jan 2012

We came here hoping things would work out, hoping that DH had found a job that was a good fit for him.  The old job wasn't - they wanted interchangeable work units and anyone who knows my DH knows he is not interchangeable and also will not conform to the masses just because someone is putting pressure on him to be like everyone else.

(Not that I can pick - outwardly I may pretend to be average but no, I go my own way.)

So far, so good.  DH seems to be happy, which makes me much less stressed.

Sunset, Golden Gardens

People ask if we miss Home.  Of course we miss Home.  Our families and friends are there, people we've known for years and people we've known for only a short time.  We understand the culture there, we understand how to do things there.  Americans might speak a form of English but it doesn't mean that our cultures are the same or that we know how to negotiate things that Americans almost instinctively know how to deal with.  Of course the same applies in reverse - Americans who live in Oz have to learn to navigate our health care, our roads, our way of doing things.

Interestingly, very few people in Seattle ask if we will become citizens.  In San Jose we got asked that a lot.  I don't know if Seattleites are less punchy about their American-ness or if they just don't care.  Or maybe it isn't polite - they are somewhat more Canadian up here than in California.

Our first sunset in Seattle, Jan 2012

A surprising number of people can also pick that we are Australian.  The rest think we are English or Kiwis.

Various of our family members are talking about visiting, or actively planning to visit.  That is good - we need to keep up with family and we'd like to keep up with friends too.

It certainly has been a year.  It feels like forever and it feels like just yesterday that I said goodbye to friends in Melbourne and friends in Sydney.

A taste of home, Sydney-style

But we are here and whilst we are here, I am going to take advantage of what this place has to offer.  And it has plenty.

SPACE NEEDLE! and sculpture Jan 2013

Seattle Center, 2 Jan 2013

Lovely old buildings, Seattle, New Year's Day 2013

Pioneer Square area, NYD

Pioneer Square, Seattle, New Year's Day

Shilshole Marina, Ballard

Seattle, Dec 2012

Puget Sound, recent

Aurora Bridge, Fremont

Golden Gardens, Ballard

Seattle, December 2012

Seattle, Nov 2012
Autumn leaves, Ballard

Ballard Railbridge, Oct 2012

Tatoosh Range, Sept 2012

Mt Rainier, Sept 2012

Mt Rainier, Sept 2012

So many gloves and mittens.  Selbu-style.

Lampshade.  We made it.

Zinnias, Sunset Hill

Mt Hood, Oregon, Sept 2012

Shipping canal, Fremont

Us, Mt St Helens, Aug 2012

Mt St Helens, Aug 2012

Us at Mt Rainier, Sept 2012