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quick brown foxes

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The best advice I was ever given was to become proficient at typing numbers without looking, because they’re the farthest from your home keys. I’m not sure what this book recommends. Image credit

Typing exercises used to be such fun. I don’t truly recall ever having to type, “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog,” but it’s a relatively easy pangram. There are many other such examples, which are a great deal more difficult because the words are less common, or their juxtaposition not something quite so everyday.

This arises from work conversation about WH&S issues and the value of touch-typing, and progression from typewriters through early computers to today’s models. Everyone chuckled when I mentioned Wang computers and those 5 14-inch floppy disks. The younger folk could visualise the 3 12-inch diskettes, which were around longer and later; but anything larger was pretty much in the category of museum exhibits.

So when you feel that you yourself are a museum exhibit, what should you do? Why, expect skilled signwriters to use many jazzy, quaint old alphabets effectively; maybe even on a typewriter 🙂

 
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Posted by on September 12, 2019 in Musing

 

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simple pleasures

Things I Love Thursday: Drying Clothes Outside | Kinda ...

Image copyright – thank you,  Kate. You don’t need to be frugal to understand the benefits of outdoor line-drying

Dr B and I have been doing a fair bit of gadding about the place, one way and another. It was a seamless transition for him: I slid into the passenger seat as YoungB vacated it, you might say. Fewer excursions were two-wheeled, because I categorically will not get on a motorbike and I do not ride a pushbike; but I was happy enough to accompany him in the car.

There’s some necessity for household chores to be done early if we’re going to be out for the rest of the day. If there’s sunshine and a good breeze, I can launder bedlinen before we leave, retrieve it from the line when we return and remake the bed straightaway. There are few things as delightful as the fragrance from breeze-dried sheets wafting around you when you’re drifting off to sleep. It makes you feel virtuous, too!

Just as an aside with regard to the above photo, no, I would not hang my clothes that way. For example, from my perspective, there would be entirely too much effort then required to iron jeans that have been pegged by the leg. If you are time-poor – and this is a discussion I had many years ago with a fellow student nurse, when we were both struggling with night duty, studying for final exams and simultaneously maintaining daytime apparel for our uni-student menfolk – then you do your best to minimise after-laundering effort. But, you know, everyone has their own way of doing things, none of it is wrong, it’s often necessary to change methodology to suit differing circumstances, and the results are what count. I liked Kinda Crunchy Kate’s enthusiasm for the overall concept.

Of course, let’s give thanks to our local star – that “small, unregarded yellow sun”, as Douglas Adams described it – and some bulk movement of air (aka large-scale gaseous flow, global air currents or wind) for assisting with the drying, but I had to take care of all the precursor steps. Those sheets didn’t magic themselves into the washing machine and onto that line; no, they jolly well did not. And you can be quite sure that Dr B didn’t, either.

May you, too, have plenty of opportunities to enjoy the benefit of our local star, whether for boosting your vitamin D levels, or drying your laundry and helping to make it smell fresh 😉

 
 

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luckily, I don’t need to breathe – much

Lunchtime concert.jpg

YoungB performing at a school concert in 2006.

Days like today are entirely too few.

Dr B has been practising his classical guitar quite religiously for weeks now, because he has a hand condition that improves with precisely the sorts of exercising involved in playing guitar. YoungB has commented upon the audible improvement to Dr B’s playing.

Today, we were all sitting about feeling various stages of unwell – Dr B is almost over the URTI he passed on to me, and I’m probably about halfway but with a twist he didn’t manage (namely raging sinusitis, so my head still feels like it’s going to explode if I lean over too far), and YoungB, despite his considerable dedication to not breathing near us more than he absolutely has to, is probably coming down with it.

What do you do on a day like that? Well, if you’re Dr B you call me in to help with a couple of piano questions (easily sorted once I realised I couldn’t actually read the bar numbers and Dr B pointed out which bar he wanted me to play). If you’re YoungB, you dose up on anything you can find – Vitamin C, garlic, ginger, lemon, whatever tea with honey – and haul out your flute so you can practise up some of that fun music from primary school. And if you’re me, because you’re there you stay at the piano and grab the accompaniment so you can play along with YoungB.

Although I’m not in that photo – it’s an old one, taken in poor lighting from much too far a distance for the camera’s capacity, so please forgive its graininess – on that occasion, I accompanied YoungB. He thought his schoolmates would laugh at him, but he got up there and performed anyway. So did I, on a piano even less up to the task than the camera! In fact, YoungB’s mates actually thought it was pretty cool and probably only Dr B and the music teacher were as disconcerted as I by how bad the piano was. YoungB has forgotten all of that. I haven’t.

Today, I don’t care what housework didn’t get done. To be fair, I’m too sick to do much but laundry, and the menfolk aren’t much better. We’re getting by on the occasional supermarket dash and perhaps too many pre-prepared meals, but we are in no danger of starving or dying of malnutrition, and we are resting. All of that aside, the main thing is that we had an afternoon of making music together. Money can’t buy that sort of pleasure and fulfilment.

Then, in light of the news of Franco Zeffirelli’s death, of course we’ve spent this evening sitting upright on the sofa and rewatching – for the I couldn’t tell you how-many-eth time – our old and somewhat dodgy recording of his fabulous La Traviata with Teresa Stratas and Placido Domingo. Yeah. I can sit there and gasp, and nobody cares whether it’s because I’m trying to breathe or just gasping in awe.

Vale, Franco, and thank you for all the pleasure your artistic vision has given to so many of us for such a long time. The world is a lesser place.

 
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Posted by on June 16, 2019 in Musing

 

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sew, wine bottle carriers?

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Bourbon bauble. Image copyright the Grove.

In the past, I have generally not been too “Bah, humbug” about Christmas. Nowadays the comparison tends to be to the Grinch, but in my neck of the woods that’s an alcoholic cocktail. In the interests of full disclosure, I advise that it’s currently the cocktail jug of the week at my local pub. I know that because I was there with YoungB the other night, having an after-work cocktail. We drank bourbon baubles (see image), whose main note is ginger, but the green looked appealing and equally refreshing. I’ll stick to Ebenezer Scrooge as my comparator, lest I confuse myself.

In any case, cocktails aside, what I’m trying to say is that in the past I have made a lot of effort not to be Scrooge. This year? OMG. It’s all too much. We have had an insanely busy year at work and there’s no end in sight, although we’ll down tools at the end of next week and not have to pick them up again for a fortnight. Now, if I could simply sleep for that fortnight, I might face 2019 with more equanimity than seems presently possible.

I’ve been fortunate enough to have had a round of workplace Christmas lunches that have been pleasant breaks from the office. But if you’re out having a good time, you’re not doing the urgent paperwork, even though you’re actually working. it’s a conundrum.

So, sewing? I wanted to make some shopping totes for various family members – that would be those for whom I haven’t crocheted anything – but, you won’t be surprised to hear, I have decided that wine bottle carriers are half the size and – being unlined in the version we use – considerably less effort. Dig out the owl hessian (burlap if that’s more meaningful) and stoke up a jug of green cocktail liquid: there has to be some sewing time in there somewhere!

Oh, I’m sure you’re all much better organised. But just in case you’re not, let me wish you good luck with all your making 🙂

 

 
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Posted by on December 15, 2018 in Crochet, Sewing

 

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giving my feet a treat

Very soothing fizzy footbath

Very soothing fizzy footbath

And did the new boots work out on today’s 12 Km walk? Yes, they did. Youngest Aunt and I managed 419 metres of climbing, some of it on steps worn so deeply that I was lifting my weight through almost half my height. I have to admit, my knees don’t like it very much, going up or coming down. Every time I was asking myself why I was there, I thought about the people with mito who’d love to have even a small amount of the energy I take for granted and kept putting one foot in front of the other, however slowly.

All the same, I sat very still for quite a long time with my feet in the footbath when I came home. I don’t have any blisters and the tennis ball therapy is helping my old fracture so that my toe isn’t painful today; but, you know, little treats help us keep going.

I hope you’ve been treating yourself, too 🙂

 
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Posted by on July 5, 2015 in Health

 

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scratching

It could be me, really. Copyright remains with Ingo Arndt.

I was at Spotlight the other day. It’s right by where I do my grocery shopping, so I thought I’d just bob in and have a look at some of their homewares (with birthday gifts in mind) and, although I’d quite decided that mine is an urban jungle and therefore a business suit with high heels and a few silly accoutrements would do the job for the jungle theme, I actually found myself irresistibly drawn to the remnants table and looking around on it for a piece of jungley fabric! And, wouldn’t you know it, I found some. At least, it might not be jungley, just “reminiscent of big cat and not all big cats are jungle cats but you’ll get the idea” fabric. I think it’s something like the markings on an ocelot, most of which are to be found in northern South America; that is, the Amazon. Surely that’s jungle enough for anyone.

In any case, although I reckoned I only needed a couple of metres, I bought what was left on the bolt because it seemed wasteful not to (it was a reduced-to-half-price remnant and the shop assistant threw in the balance for free)! I could probably make a little summer top out of the remaining almost a metre. It’s a stretch polyester, which is not such a brilliant idea for our summertime but it drapes beautifully and should make a reasonably flattering dress. If I make a top as well, it would still leave me the option of urban jungle because it would probably be all right with a business jacket and skirt. The trick now is to pick a pattern that won’t be time-consumingly difficult: either something I’ve made before or a very simple new pattern. I’m scratching my head about that at the moment.

Now that our own rowing state championships are pretty much over – thanks to the cancellation of the second day’s racing, YoungB still has to compete in a couple of events that, I gather, the officials are hoping to slot into a regatta in the near future – his training and all sorts of other things really start ramping up prior to the interstate regattas. Although I’m not directly involved in preparations for the interstate stuff, I’ll certainly have things to do that are beyond my ordinary daily domestica. Therefore, time for extracurricular activities – and, alas, at this time of year, sewing probably does fall into that category because it’s not portable enough to be carted off to rowing, unlike the knitted mitts which certainly are – is going to be limited. I’m scratching my head about that, too, because you might recall the party coincides with the interstate regatta.

Another bit of head-scratching relates to my lack of qualifications for employment. I’m supposed to apply for three jobs a week – and I negotiated that down from the original suggestion of five which was clearly silly – but, you know, it’s still a case of applying for what are obviously junior positions and putting my name down for information nights for jobs I’ve no hope of getting just so I can say I’ve done my bit. The lunacy of it all. It’s not as if you can really just trot out a pro forma letter for anything. You have to make at least an attempt to address the selection criteria. Nobody is going to employ me in a “starting” position and I feel stupid even sending off the application just to keep some bureaucrat happy. Attitude? Mine is not a good one at the moment, I admit.

YoungB is more sanguine about it, although he advised me against even bothering to apply for one job that he reckoned I’d find too physically taxing (he was probably right; one of his hefty mates holds such a position and finds it demanding). Both he and Dr B tell me to just keep sending off the applications. Don’t work too hard at them, don’t get too stressed about the whole procedure, don’t take it personally – I’ve had that advice from others; but sometimes it’s hard to take it any other way – and don’t let it get you down. Right. That’s all good advice but it’s such a waste of time and, you have to think, not just mine: someone at the other end has to make some sort of attempt to read the application and make a decision as to whether I’m remotely suitable.

I do transcription work from home. A couple of my erstwhile colleagues have agreed with me that we’re never going to earn a decent wage doing it, unless we’re prepared to work for a lot of hours and juggle multiple contracts. Some people do (for example, a couple of even more erstwhile colleagues – that is, those who left before jobs were targeted; what one incumbent described as escapees rather than redundants!). I think I have to balance health and family considerations against the possibility of what a negative impact it might have were I to stay up all night typing (even though I do frequently start work early so that I can make the most of the morning tranquility). I might once have reckoned that feasible but by my present age, and with my life experience, I know perfectly well that doing those sorts of things is a shortcut to disaster. So I’m just going to keep scratching out those applications and hoping for the best.

Whatever you’re scratching around at, I hope you’re finding your creative mojo. Of if you’re also on the job-hunting treadmill, just keep right on scratching away at that, too, and you might come up with the goods. But if you don’t, just remember to take your knitting to the dole office, will you? Perhaps it will keep you from scratching!

 
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Posted by on February 7, 2014 in Musing, Rowing, Sewing

 

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not Jungle January but possibly Feral February

Jungle butterfly or social butterfly!

Jungle butterfly or social butterfly! (This is an old photo that I was somewhat afraid to tinker with too much, so excuse the poor quality.)

We have an important family celebration coming up next month and the dress theme is “Jungle”. Sad face. We struggled enough a few years ago when the theme was “Hollywood Glamour” but that was relatively achievable without TOO much effort. Why is it such a problem? First, I’m hopeless at fancy dress (unlike my Mum who was a whizz at such things). Second, in the case of jungle clobber, I’m definitely past the age of dressing in the style of Jane and Tarzan! Third, Dr B and YoungB will be interstate (rowing championships again) and this means I’m on my own: no nearest and dearest for moral support (and I can tell you now that they won’t be at all interested in or supportive of my having to make an effort to tissy myself up if they’re not doing the same thing).

So. Jungles. After getting over the immediate shock, I put my thinking cap on and came up with the idea of Mary Leakey! But maybe an archaeologist isn’t really suitably jungley? Then I thought a better choice might be Osa Johnson (long ago I read I Married Adventure) or Michaela Denis (I’ve read one of Armand Denis’ books and remember occasionally watching their TV program when I was a kid) or Joy Adamson (doesn’t everyone know Born Free?), perhaps even Karen Blixen (whether for real or in the Meryl Streep version) or maybe I could reference Elspeth Huxley (gleaning info from her book about Thika or the TV series with Hayley Mills‘ performance as Tilly), since they’d all be recognisable as a type; and, with the first few, that would provide an excuse to hang a camera around my neck and, for once, not have to apologise for its being there.

The pedantic among you might argue that they’re really more African-savannah types, more safari than jungle, and I wouldn’t disagree (though there’d be areas of crossover, I think; after all, Osa Johnson travelled in North Borneo and that’s decidedly jungle territory). There’d also be the option of dressing like Dian Fossey (or Sigourney Weaver, I guess)! In any case, there’d be a certain sameness about what I might choose if I were to dress as any of those women.

Luckily for me, there’s lots of inspiration around the place and, even more luckily for me, presently there’s Jungle January 2014. I’m not participating but I’ve been stalking the blogs to get ideas, of which there’s an abundance. If I decide on that sort of jungle, It’s going to come down to a jungley or jungle-animal-print fabric, I think, plus a hat that I can “safari up” (thanks to Sew Busy Lizzy for that suggestion). Or I could wear some clearly marked Puma clobber and pretend to be one (offhand, and without more thinking, that’s a bad idea because I don’t know anyone who buys Puma clobber that I could borrow, which is what I’d have to do because I certainly don’t have any myself).

Of course, if I decided my jungle was Amazonian, I could dress as a butterfly or in fabric covered by butterflies or in butterfly colours (and, oooh, I could make some butterfly wings, an adult version of those that YoungB was wearing in that photo; I’m really quite good at those).

Thinking more laterally, Australia’s Kakadu and Daintree are sometimes considered jungles and if I took that view, then I could just go in shorts (or perhaps camo trousers), a T-shirt, khaki-coloured Explorer socks, Rossi boots and a broad-brimmed hat with a mozzie cover. Absolutely my kind of outfit, although I might just end up looking a female version of the Bush Tucker Man; there are probably worse fates. On the other hand – how many hands are we up to now? – I could decide that my jungle is an urban, concrete one and go in a snappy business outfit with killer stiletto heels! (That would, however, make difficulties with the camera-round-the-neck idea; and I’d be crippled for weeks.)

So, although at first I seemed to have absolutely no idea what to do, I think it’s possible that I will be able to come up with a fairly simple, fairly fast plan and probably one that’s not hideously expensive. All of those considerations are important because in the run-up to that date, I’ll be having to do a certain amount of ensuring that the Bs have everything organised for their Sydney trip. I mean, a national rowing regatta takes clear precedence over a costume party. Or even if it doesn’t, maintaining domestic harmony would probably tip the scales, don’t you reckon?

PS: Apologies if I seem lazy citing so many Wikipedia references, but I find it a good starting point for further research or reading if you’re at all interested (in my case, I already knew about most of those women from having read some of their work, or about it, then seen films and/or documentaries etc).

 
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Posted by on January 13, 2014 in Musing, Photography, Rowing, Sewing

 

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