Category Archives: Reading

employment-go-round again

I’ll miss watching the progress – and the view 🙂

YoungB’s contract is at an an end, so he’s on the job-hunt. Again. The thing about our recent elections – both state and federal – is that the change of government (at both levels) means that there are opportunities aplenty in different fields, some of which he might find appealing. He’s had his resume professionally tarted up – I beg your pardon; updated – and it’s impressive.

Me? I’ve officially notified the Powers That Be the date on which I’ll be retiring later this year. Leadership at work seems surprised. I don’t know why! My age is no secret. I’ve clearly been suffering work-related aggravations to existing health problems ever since I started there. I’ve made absolutely no secret of my intentions. Why is it suddenly unexpected, and something they hadn’t foreseen? You know that emoji where you smack yourself? Yeah. That seemed about the right response; but I didn’t.

Someone who appreciates why retirement is a good idea asked me what I’m going to do – apart from all the obvious things like crochet and knit, of course – and I said I might cook. She thought that was a wonderful idea. So did I. I like cooking. I would have to shoo Dr B out of the kitchen – it is his domain, after all – but I’m sure he wouldn’t mind me elbowing into his space if it means he has more time to do other things. I would bake, too. It would be gratifying to go back to making bread. That was one of my great pleasures that simply disappeared.

Dodgy back and leg notwithstanding, some routine exercise will also feature large. It’s most likely to be continuing the hydro-pool exercise classes that I presently attend. They’re generally kind in terms of both parts of the physique and, because it’s a therapy pool, the water is always wondrously warm. I would be free to join a book club. Or a gardening club. Or a photography group. Or all of the above!

I could once again suss out options for joining local choirs. This time, when they all respond with some version of, “We rehearse and perform during the day, during the week,” thus putting such delights entirely out of full-time worker contention, it wouldn’t matter. I’d have that availability.

I might by then have reached the top of the waiting list for eye surgery, and, postoperatively, be able to see better than ever – really ever, as I’ve been wearing specs pretty much all my life – and then I might be able to reinvigorate my sewing and make some inroads on all those projects that are presently too difficult. Oh, boy. And people wonder if I’ll have enough to do. Smack-yourself emoji again, I think.

Meanwhile, however, there’s a certain amount of excitement and tension around YoungB’s potential new job. There are choices in fields where he has qualifications and expertise, and there are choices in fields that would suit his outgoing personality. There are jobs with crossover. He’s already sent inquiries and job applications. It’s going to be an interesting few months, watching how everything turns out, but he is likely to have some much-needed downtime before starting in any new position, whatever the field.

During that downtime, I anticipate the mealtime conversation will centre on matters mechanical. I’ll be knitting in my room, if you’re looking for me 😀


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wet weekend

YoungB’s view Dhilba Guuranda-Innes National Park. Photo © Gianluca D. Pompili

Last weekend, it rained. Heavily. Nothing daunted, YoungB and a friend took off for an overnight camp at the bottom of Yorke Peninsula and Dr B kept plugging away at matters motorbike. For my part, it translated to little of note involving outdoor activities and a chance to catch up on crochet and reading backlogs, interrupted by the barest minimum of domestica. A winning plan. Right? It was.

By the end of the weekend, row 15 of the temperature blanket was fully attached and ready to be enclosed, and I’d almost finished Book 2 in the sci-fi series I’m trying to read a step ahead of YoungB. That was as much energy as I could muster. I certainly didn’t have sufficient mental fortitude to tackle either of the serious books YoungB has sent in my direction with glowing recommendations; too much effort!

Whether or not you’ve had rain, I hope you’ve been able to take some time out from everyday domestica and do something for yourself.

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Posted by on January 30, 2022 in Crochet, Reading


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permission to read

Image from here

Christmas came and went. I hope yours was enjoyable. Ours started with coffee and a video-chat with Dr B that contained news of, and an exchange of greetings from, family in various parts of the world.

YoungB picked up our lunch from the pub. We managed to cope with the small amount of tidying up required after we’d eaten it. Then we settled down with our Christmas books. His was actually last year’s gift that he hadn’t yet had time to give the attention it requires. Mine was one of this year’s. I sent him out to do Christmas shopping – as I wasn’t able to do it myself – and told him that I’d enjoy an Aussie whodunnit. With guidance from a friendly retail assistant, he chose The Survivors. I read it at a sitting and thoroughly enjoyed it. It will bear rereading. I’ve passed it on to YoungB for his bookshelf.

In pandemic news, COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc. Our capacity to deal with it is two years behind the rest of the world. We kept it at bay by shutting our borders, but didn’t have the skyrocketing infection rates that other countries have been experiencing from the outset. Nor, it must be said, did our leaders channel funds to meet the inevitable demands that they must have known would be put on a system ill equipped to deal with them once borders were reopened. That wouldn’t have required a crystal ball, but you’d swear they didn’t think about it At All.

COVID-19 is here now and it’s everywhere now. The constant barrage of updates to local exposure sites has blunted our energy. The exposure factor is relatively low if you can stay at home and reduce your interaction with outsiders; but that’s not always possible. YoungB perforce commutes daily to a job that requires his on-the-ground presence. I am still on leave, but can easily WFH and anticipate that that may be the situation when the office reopens. I have yet to yet to receive official confirmation.

That old mantra remains: stay home – unless you have to go out; wear a mask – if you do go out; and wash your hands – wherever you are.

So, having done today’s essential foraging, and in the spirit of staying home and keeping myself out of mischief and others out of harm’s way, I’m sitting in the loungeroom and reading. I think it’s not a bad plan, and hope that you’re able to do something similar.

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Posted by on December 30, 2021 in Health, Reading


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Sunday arvo in the burbs


Everything at my fingertips, and that waiting square now done 🙂

Big mug of jasmine tea, good book, phone (in case anyone calls), (slowly) growing pile of granny squares, excellent daylight for ease of both crocheting and sewing (increasing number of squares with ends tidied), pleasant temperature… what more could you want for an afternoon’s relaxing?

Dr B seemed to think I was having not merely a relaxing afternoon, but a lovely, relaxing day doing nothing at all but read a good book and crochet some more squares for the baby rug. Obviously it must have looked that way to him. But by the time he said that – patting my shoulder as he passed my chair – I’d dealt with three loads of laundry and chivvied YoungB into doing a load for himself. Believe me, if Dr B had dealt with all of that, you’d probably still be hearing about it wherever you are! No matter.

He spent at least half his day with his guitar, working on Classical Gas. He did a spot of bike maintenance (both pushbike and motorbike). He did a spot of gardening (pulled up three weeds, I think). He hunter-gathered for us so that we didn’t starve (a most unlikely outcome). That is, he generally took things a bit easy so that he’s refreshed for tomorrow’s pushbike ride.

YoungB was out on Friday night: first at soccer with a gaggle of friends, then a Fringe gig with an expanded gaggle, before staying overnight with one of them and coming home late, then rushing into town for a family lunch and later a catch-up with another mate. It was a busy day and he was exhausted by the end of it, so looking for a quieter day today. He did a load of laundry (see above) and a bit of pushbike prep for the week, but that was about the limit of his exertion.

I hope your weekend has also been pleasant and productive 🙂



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enabling or providential


Sing me a rainbow! I hope you can read the colours, in case you want to order some, too 🙂

My mother was a great enabler. I well recall the day she came to me and mentioned, oh so casually, something along the lines of, “I’ve just been to the local second-hand shop and there’s a set of hardback Dickens novels there for $10.” She didn’t suggest I should buy them. But, as a uni literature student, it was pretty much a given that I would do so. And I did! I have them still, and they don’t look at all out of place with the variety of other books in my library shelves including a good selection of other Dickens titles.

How could I forget the time she encouraged me to buy a piano, accompanying duet stool and assorted sheet music, at auction? We had a piano at home, but I was about to head out into the world on a permanent basis and would need my own so, you know, it was not a silly suggestion and the instrument was in fair condition. We decided on my upper bidding limit, which was obviously dictated by my then financial resources. My limit turned out to be higher than that of my chief rival bidder, because the piano came home with me. Once tuned, it moved with me to various suburban locales and enabled me to put in a lot of hard work over many years before I sold it to a fellow student and bought a more serious instrument. Every now and then, I dust off some of the sheet music that formed part of that original auction item.

When it comes to yarn, however, I must say that Bendigo Woollen Mills (BWM) do it every time! I receive one of their new shade cards and oh, the colours! Or, oh, the softness. Often, it’s oh, the colour and the softness. I’ve been looking around for cotton to crochet little blankets for a couple of new cousins. I generally trawl my LYS in the hope of finding something appropriate because I like to shop locally. The dilemma then is that, if I do find anything, although I’m keeping my spending local and can start straightaway, I’m generally buying overseas product. BWM takes a little more time, but it’s local enough to be a better environmental option at least with regard to its travel-related carbon footprint.

Luckily, time is on my side for these blankets, as they’re not required until next year. I will use up some stash yarn, but wanted a splash of brightness and my stash is largely on the sombre side. I haven’t seen anything in the LYS that could hope to rival the colours in the latest shade card from BWM. The two new colours are particularly appealing. So, you know, I might have to bend the plastic and crochet a few extra blankets while I’m at it, just in case there are to be any other new cousins.

May all your enablers have such providentially helpful timing 😀





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back in business


Nothing to do with specs or books, but look at this beautiful iris, which somehow escaped transplanting 🙂

Mending the existing specs frame proved impossible. However, by great good fortune, there was a frame in stock that was the right design and size, and whatever colour it is (slightly different from the original, I think, but I don’t much care because once the specs are my face I don’t see them). I was delighted to find such a low-cost solution and am once again restored to reasonable vision after what were a fairly rough couple of days.

To wind up the week in pleasant style, last night Youngest Aunt and Uncle, Friend E, and Dr B and I attended a “meet the author” talk by Aussie crime writer Chris Hammer whose new title Silver was released earlier this year. The talk took place at a library that’s probably halfway between the others’ southern-suburban residences and our northern-suburban one, and a lovely walk out from the City for me after work, so it was a winner all round in that respect.

We have all been readers of pretty much anything from an early age, and Youngest Aunt and I freely admit to being lifelong whodunnit aficionados, so we didn’t need the added incentive of wine and sandwiches that were included in the ticket price… but they were very nice, and it’s always good to support local wines and wineries. And, you know, thanks to my new specs, I could see everything that was going on and what was in the sandwiches!

May all your literary events be equally as clear and delightful 🙂


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Posted by on October 12, 2019 in Food, gardening, Reading


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did I make it or not?

Firstly, happy new year. Personally, I hope 2014 is a better year than 2013 turned out to be but whatever it holds, I’ve no doubt at all that there’ll be more plans made and never fulfilled. I mean, for example, I’m already a year down with my plan to knit YoungB’s cabled jumper and I haven’t yet begun it! (That leaves me two years in hand, I tell myself. Bags of time, absolutely bags.)

Wrapping up with 2013 Sewlutions: if I put the Yalta top as a success and something I could or even would wear to work – and the answer to both of those is yes, since I would never be without at least a short-sleeve jacket in any paid employment, which would certainly hide a multitude of sins – then I came in as a completion. Since my original brief was something like that, perhaps I got there in time. (Excuse the poor picture, I was being lazy about the tripod; and I deliberately didn’t include my face since it’s presently suffering an horrific outbreak of cold sores.)

Wearable and respectable and a vast improvement on my old, faded tops. But is it acceptable to the Mistress?

Wearable and respectable and a vast improvement on my old, faded tops. But is it acceptable to the Mistress?

If, however, we take the view that my main purpose was to use that lovely piece of rayon to make a nice top? No, I failed quite dismally. I could have sat up late on New year’s Eve and done a terribly botched job simply to make the deadline (although, being among the earliest to greet the New Year, I’d have had hours in hand, that’s not actually an option when you know your day is already spoken for). But that’s part of the deal, too: I wanted to do a good job. For once I wanted to have all the seams finished nicely and the neckline tidy and the hems straight. In that case, the Yalta top doesn’t fit the bill either, since I made it in such a rush that there are bodgy bits of finishing. It’s perfectly wearable, just not brilliant.

Also – because on New Year’s Eve I was tired to the point where I couldn’t keep my eyes open even to read a book (rare, but it happens) I went to bed and was so soundly asleep that I didn’t hear Dr B and Eldest Aunt come home from the beachside fireworks display – I didn’t blog about my failure or read Karen’s post on the appointed day. I’ve since headed over to do that, sure she’d have pulled another rabbit out of the hat; and, you know, of course she had! But I had a feeling there’d be others who might also be in that grey area of not knowing quite whether to claim a success or a miserable failure and probably quite a few who didn’t manage to meet either the Sewlution or the deadline. That’s proved to be the case.

In a bigger picture way, I’m quite sure that my muddled output was a product of my muddled year. I did manage to knit a reasonable amount – 14 completed items, if my record on Ravelry is accurate, as well as two cardigans that are frogged or still WIPs, a care shawl that’s also still on the needles and the Noro Silk Garden scarf that’s growing slowly – but my sewing was less productive. I mended a lot of things, though I always think of that as rescuing them otherwise I probably wouldn’t do it! But let’s see, what did I make? A bandanna, quite a few lavender bags, several totes of varying descriptions, a little clutch I didn’t blog about but use all the time and three aprons as well as the galactic Yalta top. Not a large output, I think you’d have to agree. Perhaps this year I’ll manage to get that sewing room back to a better state of usefulness and improve my output.

So I remain uncertain as to the answer to my question but perhaps, if the Mistress is in a good mood, She might reckon I managed to meet the goal of making a top suitable for work. Otherwise I’m in for a terrible time. I hope you’re not also quaking in your boots!


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Posted by on January 2, 2014 in Knitting, Reading, Sewing


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sew I was planning to write something

I intended to do a review (of sorts, or maybe I mean an overview) of some of my sewing books. But, excuse me, I’m far too tired. It’s been a long, busy day and if this comes out coherently I’ll be very pleased!

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Posted by on August 15, 2012 in Reading, Sewing


perspective on a small room

By many standards my sewing room is small. But, heck, although it’s really a multifunctional space, I do have a sewing room! There are lots of good things about it. It might be messy (it is, sometimes more than others) but it has a table, bookshelves, a desk, two wardrobes, some sets of drawers and some industrial shelving. There’s a chair (not on wheels, but a chair) and a heater.

There’s always something happening here. Industrial shelving is to the left of the table

The purists would say the table is too small for easy cutting out of patterns and/or fabric and I suspect that’s true, but it’s a lot bigger than a card table, cleaner than the floor and cutting out at the table is much kinder to my ageing knees than doing it on the floor. The bookshelves are where reference books, knitting patterns and paper dressmaking patterns are filed, the box of dried lavender mix lives and some boxes with FOs as well, plus my containers of knitting needles and crochet hooks have a space on top of the shelves.

The desk used to be Dr B’s computer desk. Nowadays it’s an extra space for things I don’t need for the project I’m undertaking (I might put my tins of scissors and cutters on the desk if I’m doing something that doesn’t need them). It’s also a good place to put whichever machine – sewing machine or overlocker – is not being used for any sewing. I tend to keep the sewing machine on the table pretty much all the time because I’m likely to use it for small tasks more frequently than I’ll use the overlocker. Having the other machine on the desk means I can maximise space on the table. Also, I can have a reference book open on the desk should I need to do so.

The wardrobes are both used as linen presses (sure, it’s a sewing room but the house has no linen presses and it would be greedy of me as well as silly to insist that the linen goes somewhere else when there is nowhere else) but there’s also a certain amount of stash and paperwork in the drawers, not to mention my two irons. It’s safer for them not to be on the ironing board unless they’re actually being used. They fall off far too easily and that can’t be good for them. The sets of drawers contain fabric scraps, rowing programs and results, ribbons, zips, bias tape, velcro and things of that nature, as well as tools for applying pop studs and punching holes in things (to mention only a few of the knick-knacks). I’d say a lot of them come under the heading generally of – what’s that wonderful word? ah, yes – notions.

The industrial shelving was my present to myself some years ago when Dr B was away and I was trying desperately to create some sort of order out of the chaos (back then, I had just one small wardrobe which was our only linen press, so storing anything else was difficult). I marched out to the shed and raided Dr B’s supplies then had a wonderful day bolting things together and making sure the shelves were square (as in plumb; I remember that Boy looked at me a bit strangely when I wanted him to admire how square they were because, well, they’re rectangular). There are bags of scrap fabric and just loose fabric as well as baskets of stuffing for toys. I covered it all with a cheerful, jolly curtain that I hung on a piece of piping. Not technically brilliant but, you know, it worked. Of course there are other things on the shelves, such as cameras and tripods and boxes of photos. But at least they’re on the shelves, not the floor and they’re behind a curtain.
My chair is an old wooden one that Youngest Aunt used when she was at university, so it’s venerable. I made a slipcover that gives my legs better protection against a couple of rough spots that the original cushion didn’t quite cover. It works fine, too, even though I made it very hurriedly indeed. The little under-table heater – no, it’s nothing at all like a kotatsu, but it’s quiet, economical and effective – keeps my feet warm and if I were to close the door, it would take the edge off the room’s chilliness in winter.
There are some drawbacks. Because it is a multifunction room, there’s often a basket of laundry awaiting folding and the ironing board is occasionally used as an ironing board for things other than what I’m sewing (I know; but I haven’t quite given up on ironing shirts for special occasions). There are holes in the floor because of termites (yes, treatment now seems to be getting the better of the little beggars) so I have to be careful where I put my chair and where I stand but there’s a carpet that helps disguise the worst of the problem and, along with the heater, also keeps my feet warm. There’s only one power point, which means I run a lot of powerboards and extension cords but I can tuck them out of harm’s way quite easily.

There are days when I think I’m hard done by because I have to side-step around the table and dodge several fold-up airing lines but, when I tell Boy or Dr B to put something in the sewing room (because sometimes it’s also where stuff gets stashed in a dash and stash cleanup because People are Coming To Dine With Us or something equally unusual), there’s no questioning where I mean. So, yes, it is small and yes, it could be tidier (sometimes it’s difficult to keep all my projects quite as neat as I’d like and when I have several on the go they tend to spread out) but really, all things considered, it’s pretty much mine. It’s taken a long time but it has been worth the wait. Even if I grumble a bit about the inconvenient bits, I actually have a relatively dedicated space for sewing. Aren’t I the lucky one?!

PS (on 23/7/12): Sorry, some of the formatting seems to have gone awry. I tried to fix it but it didn’t work!


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sometimes reading a book is better than knitting

I know that sounds a little like heresy but there’s a reason I say it. I was knitting Eldest Son’s scarf on the bus yesterday morning and I could see that something about it just wasn’t quite right. For the life of me, I couldn’t put my finger on what. The yarn wasn’t split or twisted but there was something that jarred on one edge. It wasn’t a bright morning and I was a bit cramped so couldn’t get a good look at what I was doing. Therefore, between that and being very tired, I only knitted a couple of rows then simply rested my eyes for the rest of the journey.

On the way home, the bus was too crowded for knitting. I was in an aisle seat and thought that, even with my wonderful short needles, I’d be risking a few dropped stitches if I knitted. Besides, I had a new book to read, so that’s what I did: enjoyed the first few chapters of Garth Nix and Sean Williams’  Troubletwisters: the Monster.

The problem was just a couple of reversed stitches

Once home, I spread my knitting out on the sewing table, stoked up my work lamp and easily spotted the source of my unease: I’d made  a mistake, somehow purling where I should have been knitting in a couple of spots. It was a good thing I hadn’t knitted lots of extra rows. As it was, I was able to drop my couple of stitches back a few rows and fix the problem quickly. I might not have been quite so cheerful if I’d carried on knitting regardless of my concern and then had to drop back a lot of rows. Reading is such a good thing!


Posted by on July 20, 2012 in Knitting, Reading


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