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why I might stick to fabric

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Our hand-built pots and handmade Christmas decorations: Youngest Aunt’s nicely embellished efforts on the left; my plain ones on the right. I think I’ll end up with good colour depth on my purple stars 🙂

Youngest Aunt and I recently attended a pottery workshop, which was enormous fun. It was also utterly demoralising to have youngsters throwing pots as if they’d been at it for years while we struggled. In our defence, it was a first for both of us, whereas some of the youngsters had previous experience. And sometimes, one of the advantages of youth is that it is fearless: mistakes don’t matter, because clay is malleable. Youngest Aunt and I were probably trying to get it right first time because, well, we’re aware that life doesn’t always give you second chances. You could say – and there’s no pun intended – that we are more set in our ways. I would also contend that neither of us is totally inflexible.

We hand-built a pot apiece and made some Christmas decorations. We also tried our hand at throwing a pot on the wheel. I appreciate that a greater level of experience would improve the overall artistic experience, but at this stage my reaction is that I’d be better off sticking with fabric. The pots are still at the pottery because, although firing was included in the cost of the workshop, that couldn’t all be done on the same day. We will have our masterpieces in time for them to provide a Christmas giggle. And, you know, for my purple stars to be given a spot on our tree.

May all your decorations have good colour depth, too, whether they’re fabric or clay 🙂

 
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Posted by on December 14, 2019 in Health

 

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high maintenance?!

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I think they’re much higher maintenance!

Recently, I casually mentioned to the Bs that I would need a suitcase for a couple of days away that involved an overnight stay. I didn’t mean a large one, just carry-on size. YoungB demanded to know when I’d suddenly become high maintenance? You what? Me? Yeah, not likely.

In principle they’re right, but I no longer have a backpack that’s large enough. So I ended up taking a small backpack, a shopping bag with my shoes in it, another with my swimming clobber, another with my craftwork – a small bag of crochet, because I thought that might be easier to pick up and put down than any knitting I have on the go – and yet another with food. R-i-g-h-t. That would have all fitted into the suitcase I had in mind, and been a lot easier to carry.

May all your suitcases be ideal for their intended purposes 🙂

 
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Posted by on December 11, 2019 in Crochet, Health, Knitting, Travel

 

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the broad inspiration

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Funeral pyre stuff, with Tyrian purple cape.

I hope those long-ago cast members don’t mind my sharing this, which I happened to find after I’d made my current version of the costume.

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Different, but definitely a close relative 🙂

If I’d allowed myself more time, I might have made something closer to this tunic style. I suspect that would also have required wider fabric. Most saliently, anything that required vast amounts of time was never going to happen. Right?! Right.

No more fancy dress nonsense now until Christmas. May your plans for that be making rather more progress than mine 🙂

 
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Posted by on December 3, 2019 in Sewing, Singing

 

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cobwebs

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We managed Christmas in the middle of a building site. And I’m still using the same carol books 🙂

Our house has more than a few cobwebs, not only because I’m pretty bad at remembering to get rid of them but also because, thanks to our raked ceilings, they are often in such high places that they’re not terribly obvious. I get the brush out now and then if I happen to remember.

When it comes to brushing away mental cobwebs to learn some new-to-me music, I have to admit that remembering is something my fingers don’t do as well as they once did. Youngest Aunt and a friend are singing a couple of hymns at a wedding in January, and asked if I would accompany them. I’m more than happy to do so.

Youngest Aunt didn’t have printed music for either of the hymns, but they are not particularly difficult. I managed to locate both via online sources. One was simply the words and melody with a chord chart. I don’t claim great expertise in that area, but it wasn’t beyond me to work out, and Dr B – who is, after all, a composer – gave me a couple of helpful tips. All I need to do now is practise to make sure my fingers can deal with the bits we tweaked!

While I was able to find online versions of the second hymn, they were all more complicated than what Youngest Aunt’s sung version suggested. My idea? Ask Middle Aunt, who is a practising – as in, current – church organist if she had access to the music. Enquiries elicited the response that, yes, she did. A PDF arrived via email the next day. Don’t you love technology when it works?

I’m swapping between them, to keep my mind and fingers nimble, but they’re surprisingly similar and I have had a few tired moments where I can’t make the transition from one to the other without also making mistakes. Hence the practising 🙂

With regard to the photo, taken at YoungB’s first Christmas, we really were in the middle of a building site. I might add that, 80 per cent completion of the pergola notwithstanding, the circularity of being unable to do things – because A is clogged and B needs to be cleared but B is packed to the gills with C and until A is empty it won’t change – is still with us, these many years later.

May all your building projects be truly completed when they are finished 😀

 
 

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if that’s what it takes

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Coffee will keep you going!

In the large office where I work, folk occasionally decide they just can’t be bothered coming to work. While I genuinely appreciate the necessity for mental health days, which is how I’d describe that sort of leave, and I would like to have that luxury, I doubt if such an attitude is in my DNA. More importantly, it’s the sort of behaviour that would swiftly relegate us to the poorhouse.

So there’s one distinct downside to the present day gig economy: while being told at every turn to look after our mental health, increasing numbers of us are in precarious employment, which means that many of us frequently turn up to work when perhaps we shouldn’t. And sometimes, it simply means that too few of us carry far too much workload because, well, the work still has to meet deadlines. Yeah, right.

You will, I am sure, appreciate why I described a recent whole-of-staff wellbeing day as a deeply cynical exercise. The best wellbeing gesture might be to give everyone the day off on full pay, or to make all those contract positions permanent: you know, to treat your staff as if you really valued them and wanted to look after them. It won’t happen, I know. And people voted for this government!

In any case, I turned over the calendar this morning. It’s now December; officially silly season. Our family is already so overwhelmed by conflicting engagements that we’ve decided we may have to send Dr B to represent us at one cultural event, because YoungB and I will be at other – separate – events. Having a lifestyle takes a lot of effort. Right?!

As to getting in the spirit more broadly, well… Is there a tree? Yeah, nah. Advent calendar? Yeah, nah, and that’s been the case since the new, larger TV was installed, because it’s so low that there’s now nowhere to hang the calendar. Door wreath? Uuh, that would also be a no.

Will those things happen? Some of them might. It’s a pity the Advent calendar no longer works, because that was something easy and instantly festive. I will drag out the door wreath and tree, and slowly prepare some festive bits and pieces. Eldest Aunt is the one most likely to grizzle about their absence, and she will once again join us for Christmas. You can see why that calls for more effort than I might usually make: whinging adults are enough to sour anyone’s seasonal cheer!

But there’s always coffee to keep things in perspective. Photo is a macchiato – just one of several, I admit – downed during a long catch-up with cousins in town yesterday. We had a thoroughly enjoyable few hours, reminiscing and forward-planning at about the same rate as food and coffees went down.

May your days be filled with similarly good beverages 🙂

 
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Posted by on December 1, 2019 in Musing

 

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lamenting for thy hand, Belinda

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Re-creating an earlier costume and in part replicating the “lying on a funeral pyre” pose

I am not good at fancy-dress gigs. It’s historically verifiable that my Mum was very good at such things, even thrived on them. Occasionally, however, I don’t mind making the effort for a good cause. Themes are helpful but not always appealing. You might remember my long-ago agonising about what I could do that would be suitably jungly for a family birthday party!

This time, the theme was Queen for a Day. Many years ago, I shared the role of Dido in a production of Dido and Aeneas. The costume was not too extravagant, so I thought I could approximate it without too much effort. That’s what I did. I didn’t have any suitable old sheets, so I bought a length of cheap, narrow, cotton fabric. I folded it end to end, cut it, then sewed the selvages together, so that I had a piece of fabric about the right proportion to go around me twice and leave ends that could be tied at one shoulder. I didn’t hem anything, but I painted the edges of the resulting rectangle with a bronze fabric paint.

Tyrian purple being the name of the game for the real identifier, I bought a length of purple velvet (from the reduction table) and did nothing at all to it. When it came time to dress, I simply fastened the velvet to the front of the costume, and wrapped it around. I reckoned that later it would keep me warm (this proved to be a good plan). Although my original costume didn’t involve a crown of any sort, I decided that this costume would. I made a coronet from a metallic gold ribbon decorated with Phoenician-blue dots. Dr B insisted it needed a ruby. Of course, they’re the sorts of things I have lying around the house! I made do with a small stick-on red rosette.

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The idea’s the thing. Right?

Because I could – meaning that I still had them in my jewellery box – I wore the earrings that were part of my original Dido costume. The other Dido had slightly different earrings, which she described as hubcaps. Mine weren’t.

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More chandeliers than hubcaps, but they’ve survived remarkably well for cheap costume jewellery 🙂

May your long-ago bits and pieces now and then come in useful for theatrical purposes 🙂

 
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Posted by on November 25, 2019 in Family history, Sewing

 

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smoky obscurity

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Hills obscured by smoke from bushfires

There are no fires too close to the city, but yesterday there was lots of smoke. Morning commutes to the CBD were hazy enough to require extra caution and it was still hazy – as you can see – when I took this view from the window around 10.30.