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but where do we belong?

It’s all right for him, he’s a coach.

YoungB has two part-time jobs, one as a barman, the other as a rowing coach: opposite ends of the day and entirely different skill sets.

Last weekend we had the opportunity to see him in action as a coach. Happily, his intermediate-level girls’ crew acquitted itself well, despite having been rowing as a crew for only a week. Dr B and I couldn’t really cheer. The best you could say of us is that we provided food and drinks for that particular coach. We couldn’t cheer for his old school – divided loyalties, given his new workplace is a competing school – and we couldn’t cheer for either of his old clubs – who’s there that we know any more? – so it was an odd sort of day. The weather was lovely – as you can see – and YoungB’s girls won their second race, so he had every reason to smile.

And was it good to be back among the rowing fraternity, even if we’re struggling to find our rightful niche? Oh, yeah. Rowing tragics, that’s us! And for good measure, I was very grateful to have my cooling neck bandanna with me because the sunshine was fierce. 🙂

 
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Posted by on February 9, 2017 in Rowing

 

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positively something or other

Monday mornings are usually fairly hard work, I admit. You’d think the weekend would have provided R and R and it generally provides at least a modicum of both of those. Sometimes the weekend has been busy yet there seems remarkably little to show for any of the busyness. So there I was on the bus one recent Monday morning, trying to cheer myself into a frame of mind that wouldn’t have me shedding tears if my computer looked at me sideways. I admired the last of the bottlebrush blossoms and all the greenness of the Botanic Gardens, admired the contrast between the architecture of the Wine Center and its neighbouring buildings and delighted in the splash of colour provided by a bougainvillea overhanging the top balcony of the Botanic Hotel.

I still wasn’t too sure about the sideways glances and how I might react to them, but I’d talked myself into a more cheerful frame of mind by the time I reached the office. And that’s where the truly positive bit happened: I was able to provide lots of helpful advice to a workmate whose son is a beginning rower. In a very strange twist of fate, there are three other rowing mums at work. Much as rowing is often seen as the domain of private schools, our kids all attended or, in her case, are attending, state schools. What’s more, we cover all three such institutions (and not to brag, it’s fitting that YoungB’s school has two representatives since it’s the one with the longest-running program). So that’s positively amazing all on its own.

Equally positively amazing is that we are now into November and Father Christmas is today making his annual journey to the Magic Cave where he’ll ensconce himself till Christmas Eve. In Bologna, YoungB is doing mid-semester exams whereas here the Wayville Showgrounds are hosting end-of-year deciders for his home university.

I must apologise for providing a sparse post with neither photos nor links, but we are presently computerless and this is being typed on a very old and correspondingly unreliable iPad. Fnigres corsesd that this works at all! And avagooday wherever you are, because that would be positively something, wouldn’t it?

Edited to add: I have no idea why that date is 20 October. I posted this on Saturday, 8 November 2014, the day of the Christmas Pageant. Perhaps my ancient iPad is so stuck in the past it couldn’t make the leap!!

 
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Posted by on October 20, 2014 in Musing, Rowing

 

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the satisfaction of being a volunteer

Each bow carries a coloured number. Also, there are boat holders up on the pontoon, keeping things straight for the start.

Each bow carries a coloured number. Also, there are boat holders up on the pontoon, keeping things straight for the start.

Like any parent and anyone involved with kids and sport, I’ve volunteered to help out at all sorts of things over the years. You won’t be surprised to hear that I’ve just finished four days of heavy duty volunteering at the Australian Masters Rowing Championships, which were held at West Lakes last week. I was supervising the area allocating bow numbers, where our days started at least an hour before the day’s rowing and finished well after and, really, we just stayed in one spot all day with the occasional comfort break when there was a lull between bursts of frantic activity. Dr B came down to see us one afternoon and he thought we were busy. At that particular point, we were having a quiet moment where we could pretty much tick off numbers as they came back in and hand them out as required without too much delay.

For those of you unfamiliar with rowing terminology, let me explain what I mean by bow numbers. Each boat carries a little colour-coded square with an alphanumeric code on it, to identify it by lane and correct race, which goes in a holder on the bow (I know, duh). There’s a set of numbers from A1 to A8 all the way through to Z1 to Z8 so, as you’d understand, in a day that has anything more than 26 races, and they all do, you go through the set of numbers more than once. Therefore, it’s important to get all the information correct AND to get the bow numbers back ASAP after races so they can be reissued for their next use. There is a system of fines for non-return of bow numbers, so I’ve spent four days reminding people that the club will cop a fine if they don’t get that bow number back in time, then further threatening them with removal of digits and limbs and calling in my Italian mate with the cement truck if they really don’t bring their bow numbers back in time. (Yeah, it has been that much fun.)

The weather was appalling the first two days but Saturday was not bad and Sunday was lovely, if a shade cool and perhaps occasionally windier than you might want. The race schedule was reinvented a few times which meant that there was a day where the alphabet began at O. Luckily, by that stage we were using a linked computer system, which expedited matters enormously (we’d previously had a manual system that kept being outsmarted by folk with smartphones). By and large, rowers are a fairly good-natured lot and they were patient through the trying part of getting the systems in synch. We made one mistake in handing out numbers, which we caught fairly promptly and notified to the referees, so no harm done. By the last day, as you’d hope, we had things running very smoothly and received many a word of thanks and congratulations for our efficiency. That’s always heartening. Bad weather can and does happen everywhere but if the event is well organised and runs smoothly in other respects, then you don’t feel quite so grumpy about what’s beyond your control.

As part of the packing up procedures, one of our admin/runner volunteers did a sweep of the boat park and nabbed a few bow numbers that had been overlooked and brought them in for us. Because there were so many composite crews, the chain of communication and responsibility was often a shade smudgy, with one club assuming another had done the right thing and nobody having actually managed it. It’s therefore truly astonishing that we managed to pull off what we were told was a first: that is, not lose any of our bow numbers. By that I mean that we had a full set of numbers at the end of the regatta and were only missing one from the spare set for which we really couldn’t account, because it didn’t appear on any list of lost numbers (truly, it was probably lost at sea on the day where conditions were so rough that a couple of bow numbers broke). I personally think the threat of the cement truck did the trick. 😉

It would really be remiss of me not to mention our young boat holders. They were all high-school kids and some of them probably in their early secondary years. They did a fantastic job. One lot received a thoroughly deserved standing ovation from the rowers when they finally staggered into the main pavilion at the end of the day when there’d been whitecaps on the water. They’re not that common a sight at West Lakes and those who’ve been around the place a lot longer than I have were saying they’d never seen such bad conditions there. Through all of that, two lots of kids were working hard on the pontoons to hold the boats. I heard that one of the girls was chucking up over the edge but, heck, the waves were breaking over the pontoon so you’d need to be a very seasoned sailor indeed not to be adversely affected. I hope they haven’t been put off by that, though I’m not sure I’d blame them if they were, because they are the sorts of people who will be the tireless volunteers of the future.

Lest you fear that there was a complete absence of knitting and things of that ilk, I’m pleased to report that I discovered that one of the other head honcho volunteer folk is a very serious knitter who makes lovely little scarves in yarn that’s a wool and silk blend, bespoke dyed by one of her friends in muted colours, and as soft and cosy as you could wish to have around your neck (I accept that my Ballarat scarf is a little on the scratchy side because of the metallic yarn). We swapped a few yarns – sorry, couldn’t resist – about our various knitting projects. During one of my short strolls around the place during a comfort break, I was complimented on that very same Ballarat scarf by one of the vendors (I resisted the merchandise). She said that the colours are lovely. So they are.

Not Great Aunt Susie's sofa despite appearances to the contrary.

Not Great Aunt Susie’s sofa despite appearances to the contrary.

Besides knitting confreres (I spotted a few amongst the rowers, too), one of my bow number co-volunteers admired the above tote that I made from those samples of furnishing fabric given to me by an erstwhile colleague (I’d used the tote to tote my day’s supply of water bottles). She recognised it as a particular linen – apparently that furnishing fabric is distinctive – and congratulated me on how sturdy it was while reminding me that I’d pay a lot of money if I wanted to buy such a thing. She’s quite right. And while I suppose it might not be everyone’s idea of chic to cart around a bag made from fabric that’s recognisably the same as Great Aunt Susie’s sofa, I’m really pleased with mine (and couldn’t care less whether it’s chic or not). It works well and I know it’s much better made than any I’ve bought so far.

Have you been volunteering of late? f so, I certainly hope you’ve enjoyed yourself as much as I did.

 
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Posted by on May 5, 2014 in Knitting, Rowing, Sewing

 

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oooooh

YoungB came home with his state team polo top and hoodie today. Ooh, lovely. They do suit him.

I walked up a very steep hill yesterday, the sort where going down has to be taken very slowly for fear of falling. Oooh, my glutes are letting me know about it today!

And, ooooh, tomorrow YoungB turns 19 – I don’t believe it, but apparently it’s so – and on Friday he flies out to compete at Rowing National Championships, representing South Oz at the Interstate Regatta. Are we ready for this? Not really; but we’ll manage.

Sewing? None. Knitting? I’m getting my travelling projects lined up to take with me so that I can occupy myself usefully when I’m not driving during the two-day trip to Sydney. A beanie for a friend’s husband looks like being the ideal project: not complex but using a self-striping yarn that will keep things a bit interesting (and which I can deliver in person on arrival). Mitts also feature. But the Noro Silk Garden scarf that I still haven’t finished? No. I’m sure I’d finish it on the way, but that’s one I’ve discovered is better worked on when I can pay careful attention to it. Otherwise, I have a habit of losing slipped stitches and the edges are suddenly uneven. Knitting while travelling needs to be relatively simple. I’m sure there are plenty of knitters who work on immensely complex patterns while they’re travelling, but I personally find cables about as much complexity as I can deal with in a car. And I’ll be expected to converse.

Anything else? Organising photos I’d promised for an imminently forthcoming presentation night. The technology misbehaving didn’t help that, but at about 2 o’clock this morning, I called it quits and went to bed. As far as I can tell, the systems churned all night and delivered on the promise by this morning. Nothing I could include in the blog, of course!

So am I tired? Oooooh, don’t ask! But, ooooooh, it’s really all a bit exciting and we are buzzed. Hope you’re finding lots of ooooohsome things in your life, too!

PS: too tired to chase up links. Soz.

 
 

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do cups runneth over?

At the interstate regatta, at least as far as YoungB was concerned, the singles competition was important – he didn’t progress to finals but was pleased to have improved his time by about 30 seconds since our state championships – but the main game was the lightweight men’s IV, in preparation for the Penrith Cup competition that will take place during National Championships later this month. How did they fare? They missed out on a podium finish but, all in all, their coach was very pleased. They didn’t – and, indeed, don’t – have the same amount of race experience, and certainly none against that level of competition, as the other crews on the course, most of which contained national-level athletes. Even so, they were in third place right up to the 1500 metre mark (I was following it in real time on the computer and cheering loudly all the while). They placed fifth by about half a canvas. You can imagine that they were a little crushed after having started so well, but they’ve had that experience now and know what to expect for Nationals and the Cup in March. They’ll be out for blood, I expect; and the reputation of the state will be at stake.

As to jungle parties? I don’t know why I do it to myself, really, but I stayed up most of the Friday night sewing! Having the house to myself meant that I could but it hadn’t been my intention to do so. I went to bed a few times, but my mind was racing along at light speed, trying to solve problems. And when I found a solution, I had to implement it at once. My mantra, however, irrespective of problem or solution nutted out, was, “This is a $6 fancy dress costume, not couture sewing,” that being the fabric cost, not the value of time invested.

Of course I had equipment problems. My overlocker decided to throw in the towel. I must have lost nearly an hour doing a complete re-thread or three, but in the end I decided that more time spent there would be truly wasted and did most of the work on my sewing machine. It doesn’t take much longer to do that, I suppose, but the seams aren’t finished neatly (I could have taken extra time to do tidy seam finishes but that didn’t feature in my plan; that would rank as couture), and because of overlocking problems the side seams pull slightly. Neither is a major concern for a wear-once garment, I assure you; although it’s sufficiently well hemmed and put together that I could drag it out for a family dinner if I so chose. Or possibly a rowing presentation night.

Because I was travelling to the party with Youngest Aunt and Uncle, I had to meet their departure timetable (my own would have allowed me a bit more sleep, I think). Youngest Aunt had said they planned to go as Tarzan and Jane – at which, Dr B had suggested that I should, therefore, go as the monkey; he lives, though I don’t know why! – but in the end Youngest Aunt wore a leopard-print dress she’d had in her wardrobe from years ago and Youngest Uncle added a jungle-themed T-shirt – genuinely from Botswana – to his shorts and they were suitably attired. Youngest Aunt and I reckoned we almost matched, except that I’d spent some considerable time getting my hair to a state where lavish application of product would ensure that I could rightly consider myself the Wild Woman from Borneo. (It was what we were told when we were kids and we hadn’t brushed our hair, so I thought it would be both sufficiently jungly and reasonably achievable.)

Sorry to say, there are no photos of me and my outfit. I’ve sent out an SOS to other family photographers and while I’m hopeful of getting something at some point, I haven’t so far had any donations to the case. It’s true that the dress on its own is not terribly exciting or appealing, although the funnel neckline is rather fetching. I like that little piece of silliness. And I confess to having gone back and sewn the side seams so that they don’t pull quite so much. I mean, I know myself well enough to know that I’ll wear it again, no matter that it started life as a fancy dress outfit.

There’s been a lot more rowing. The state squad for Nationals has been announced, and YoungB has held his seat for the Lightweight Men’s IV. It’s the first time in seven years that our state has sent a crew for Penrith Cup comps, we’re told, so that’s exciting in itself (if they weren’t up to scratch, they wouldn’t have been given the nod). There was a presentation evening with wine and cheese sort of stuff (hence my suggestion that the leopard-skin dress might be all right; but Dr B insisted that wouldn’t be necessary because they’re rowers not ponces). What was nominally the last of the Schools regattas before Head of the River was lengthened by inclusion of competition for the remaining state championship races, those held over from the extremely hot second day of state champs (you know, when it was generally reckoned rowers were wimps, however sensible). We had a country regatta in the meantime there, and YoungB always enjoys those (we do, too) because they have a completely different atmosphere. He raced hard and was exhausted by the end of the day.

We had an OS friend staying with us – herself a former rower, so she’s always good value for YoungB because they can talk tech and be on precisely the same page; I understand a bit more than Dr B because I’ve done some rowing, but I can’t give advice from a position of expertise – and that’s been a lot of fun in all sorts of ways (including some long lunches at local eateries). We’ve all exercised together and learnt a few new tricks to keep the weight loss going. There have also been employment-related interviews of various sorts. In a word, we seem to have been doing a fair bit of rushing about and it’s sobering to realise that autumn is officially here and uni term has already begun. (YoungB probably feels as if he hasn’t had quite the break many of his mates have enjoyed because of the intense chemistry summer school he was obliged to complete and the amount of rowing training he’s been doing.)

More rowing and more jobs to apply for and more rushing about all over the place have all taken their toll on our patience and energy. YoungB was the other night ready for bed when he came home at about 7 o’clock (that was quietly reminiscent of a time when he was small and did actually fall asleep at the table).  Dr B and I are barely managing to put our feet one after the other. Oh, yeah, I think our cups runneth over all right, but with exhaustion rather than elation. Having said that, it was very heartening to see the state crews announced and officially presented to their adoring fans (parents, for the most part!) and not a little exciting to realise that YoungB can now claim to have been a team-mate with some of our local Olympians, who are also getting a (or in their case, another) state zootie.

On a positive and non-rowing-related note, the Maine Morning Mitts finally reached their intended recipient – ahead of her needing them, she assures me; I’ve needed some plenty of times already but it is probably the case that we keep much earlier hours – and she loves them and seems to think they were a lot of hard work. I have no intention of disillusioning her on that score. 😉

I’ve also sewn up half a dozen or so lavender bags for Nonna. I don’t know where hers disappear to, but no matter how many I send, she never seems to have any, whether I make them with loops to hang in the wardrobe or simply ones that she can throw into the drawers where she stores her undies. Still, that’s little enough effort and I try to make a couple extra – I did – so that I replenish our own stocks, which tend to dwindle because I have a terrible habit of taking them to give to other people.

If this has been a little more all over the place than usual, it’s a fair reflection of the way things are. Messy but busy. Whatever your place looks like, I hope you’ve been able to get lots of knitting and sewing done and that, if you, too, are involved with sporting folk, you’ve thoroughly enjoyed cheering their participation and saluting their achievements. Now I’d better get back to work or the house will probably fall apart around us!

PS: I’m not at my usual computer and I haven’t been able to scavenge any appropriate photos. 😦

 
 

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it’s supposed to be summer

Arguments rage as to when summer begins officially – in Australia, we don’t start our seasons coincident with solstices and the like, but arbitrarily on the 1st of the relevant month; I have no idea why such a decision was taken or by whom but it was and a long time ago – but whenever it’s meant to be, our temperatures lately have been too cold for comfort. Well, for my comfort. The upside to the continuing chilliness is that it’s still perfectly all right to whip out your knitting and whizz through a few rows between time trials at rowing. So today, that’s what I did. That purple scarf? Mate, I’m on the home straight! And, you know what? One of the coaches came up to congratulate me for knitting. Yeah. Trendy as, that’s me!

She and I talked about knit and natter sessions – or stitch and bitch, whichever it might be wherever you are (and perhaps that varies according to mood) – then for a little while about knitting for payment and knitting whilst commuting on long bus trips – the two are linked, because it’s possible, we agreed, to bowl over a lot of knitting in a six-hour bus trip – and the joys and attractions of Arans and Fairisles. Dr B just sat there and grinned. Of course, he probably couldn’t hear half of what we were saying because he didn’t have his hearing aids in (he’d taken them out for cycling purposes) but obviously he caught the gist of it because, once the coach had returned to her rowers, he felt absolutely obliged to point out that, in the big scheme of things, fancy knitting is decadent. Plain knitting? Perhaps allowable. Anything else is beyond what’s required for immediate survival and therefore has to be considered wasteful of time and resources. Hmm, yes. You can tell, can’t you, that YoungB did a philosophy unit this year?? Me? I just kept right on with my very plain knitting. I mean, it doesn’t come much plainer than a long, straight, garter stitch scarf.

Of course, I haven’t really started any other of my Christmas crafting, unless you count pulling out relevant patterns, ironing fabric and ensuring some clear space for sticking PDF patterns together prior to eventual cutting out of fabric. I consider all those things progress, because I’m much more easily able to do something for a few minutes if it’s all just waiting there; but I’m scarily aware that, help, the Advent calendar is at the halfway mark and I have such a busy weekend coming up that there’s little likelihood of doing any sewing. Too bad. What gets done will get done and what doesn’t get done I plan not to mention. Out of sight out of mind, and what the eye doesn’t see the heart won’t grieve and all that. What about you? Do you have a good plan for making light of the unfinished projects and instead celebrating what you have achieved?

 
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Posted by on December 13, 2013 in Knitting, Rowing, Sewing

 

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wheels and water but not waterwheels

Sometimes the stars align and the weather delivers a spectacularly gorgeous day that’s perfect for all sorts of activities. I think the photo makes clear that we had such a day today. Dr B, in his capacity as Audax ride organiser, waved off cyclists from one locale while I cheered, and photographed, rowers at another. We met up at rowing after his cyclists had all vanished into the Hills.

I don't really have permission to display their images; but if you can identify them from the back view, you're doing well

I don’t really have permission to display their images; but if you can identify them from the back view, you’re doing well

Today’s regatta was a time trial over the distance of 7000 metres. YoungB’s crew came home in second place overall, having been narrowly beaten by a scratch crew from another club. The scratch crew contained at least one Olympian and a couple of state scholarship holders to our certain knowledge. They’ll probably never again row in that configuration but simply vanish back to their ordinary club crews. A bit the way I vanished, really, when the caressing little breeze turned darn cold and I could no longer feel my fingers.

I know. I couldn’t even hold my knitting needles! How terrible was that? I do hope that your weather has been as sunny and splendid as ours was at the day’s beginning but I won’t be wishing the colder stuff in your direction. If it interferes with knitting, it’s not a good thing, is it?

 
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Posted by on November 16, 2013 in Cycling, Knitting, Rowing

 

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