Wednesday, January 31, 2007


I am obsessed with checking the weather map. My house is literally in the middle of this image. It has been raining without stop for three days, with lots more in the week before that. Our main dam which was at just 20% capacity three weeks ago is about to overflow. My shoes are all soggy, our dogs are all muddy. the washing is piling up and everything smells musty. Weather predictions for the rest of the week are ....rain and perhaps the first cyclone of the season.

Monday, January 29, 2007

All Alone Again

The beds are empty before 11am.

The playstation lays dormant.


Because today I sent these gorgeous creatures back to school.

My son started high school today and my daughter begins her final year of high school. It is a really exciting time in both of their lives and a big time of transition for our family.

My son had his long hair cut off on the weekend. It broke my heart! He thought it was better for the start of high school. I hope he gets there and sees others with long hair and lets it grow back! He has his ultra cool sunnies on top of his head.

My daughter is a school leader and is going to assist the year 8 transition to high school programme. She is wearing her new contacts and has already broken her ultra cool sunnies in the bottom of her hand bag. She generally spends half an hour straightening her hair before she leaves, but is finally starting to embrace her bounce.

I hope that we all have a good year - not too stressful for any of us.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Am I weird???

Thanks to everyone for their kind comments on our anniversary. I took my Pete to lunch (I surprised him by picking him up from work unannounced and didn't return him for two hours...slow eaters). My Pete bought me a box of 'have a heart' ice blocks. This is a tradition that began with our first anniversary when we had no money at all. He stopped at the corner store as he walked home from the bus stop and bought me a have a heart. It made me cry at the time, so he continues to buy them for me.

Di has tagged me to say six things about myself that are weird. I am a little quirky, but never weird!

First thing: I hate silence. I always have the radio on. I love to sing loudly and I seem to use a lot of my brain space to remember the words to thousands of songs. I listen to JJJ and love alternative music.
Second thing: I hate to be categorised or pigeon holed. This makes me somewhat contrary. If every one is choosing blue, I will choose red in order to avoid being predictable. I think that I have an inner punk who loves anarchy and an inner hippy who just wants everyone to accept each other for who they are.
Third thing: I never drink hot liquids or alcohol and all of my water has to be boiled before I drink it. I don't understand hot drinks, it just makes me feel hot on the inside and that is not pleasant. I don't drink alcohol because I have a sarcastic, somewhat caustic, tone with about a three second delay. This means that I can actually stop myself from saying the worst of what I am thinking...this fails when alcohol is involved. Not pretty. I have boiled my water since becoming very sick with giardia some years ago, it is now just habit.
Fourth thing: I do not have a very good vestibular system. This means that I have vomited on all popular forms of transport at least once and I do not enjoy rides at the show or roller coasters. Once I became so sick while driving across a corrugated dirt road that I got out of the car and told my Pete that I would walk the rest of the way, it was about 40km. He followed me in the car for about an hour before he talked me into allowing him to drive me. He drove very carefully.
Fifth thing: I fidget and move a lot. This is probably connected to the fourth point. My body is just seeking feedback about where it is. My father was constantly cross with me for wiggling my leg under the dinner table when I was young. I don't even realise that I am moving, it just happens and he is an impatient and cranky bugger.
Sixth thing: I don't like to eat foods that are red. I don't like tomato, beetroot, capsicum or chilly. I don't eat the red snakes or jelly beans and I don't like red cordial. I won't eat tomato sauce. BUT that is not weird at all!

Hmm. I feel very exposed now that I have told you my oddities. It is now my job to tag others, but I won't do that to six people. If you would like to expose your own weirdness, please do. Let me know that I can feel weird amongst others. Stomper, you are tagged though. I am reciprocating your tag to me.

I'll leave you with a photo of new growth on the lillypilly bushes. The flowers are ordinary, but the new leaves are the most glorious hot pink colour.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

It was twenty years ago today

Look at these babies. Today My Pete and I have been married for twenty years. That is astounding!! It was 36 degrees on the day that we married, can you see how hot we look! My flowers were wilted and we were sweating profusely. Never get married in January in Townsville.

We were only just 20 when we got married. We were both still at university. My Pete was beginning his third year of architecture studies and I was finished my Bachelor of Arts and beginning my Post-Grad Teaching. It wasn't so easy financially for the first few years, but we didn't really notice at the time.

Would I do it again? Absolutely, best decision we ever made. It all works out in the end.

AND my beautful 80's gown and veil haven't aged too much have they? Don't we still love ruching, puffy sleeves, cocktail hats and asymmetry (Notice that the flowers only hang from one side of my veil.) No perm there either, people, that's a natural curl!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Birthdays, frustration and lots more rain

Today is my niece's second birthday. I always find that a second birthday is much more exciting than a first. By two they really understand what is going on. She knew we needed to sing, she knew she needed cake, she knew she needed candles. It's amazing how much they really do know after a very short time! Here she is blowing out her candles.

I am the eldest of three sisters. We each have two children, one of each gender, who are aged four years apart. Isn't that neat and tidy. I am a very good aunty to my nieces and nephews, just as my sisters were to my children. Our families revolve around the children. I spend a lot of time with all of them, they are frequently here making a mess in my house and my children probably spend just as much time at their houses. My children are older than my sisters'. I am always so impressed with how genuinely patient and caring my children are toward their cousins.

I have done very little sewing because my machine is skipping stitches and causing a lot of frustration (and a considerable amount of cursing). I am using a thread that I would not usually use and I don't think my machine is coping with it well. I had to resort to ironing clothes today because I can't sew. We are about to tackle the problem for the third time because I have client quilts waiting. I am beginning to feel the pressure!! (and I don't want to iron any more)

In the past few days we have had over 150mm of rain (6 inches). It has been beautiful. My Pete and I try to walk for an hour each afternoon around the river - generally we manage 3 to 5 afternoons each week. This is our pathway.

We park near this footbridge, cross it then walk along the river, across the main bridge and back to the carpark. It takes about an hour, at a brisk pace. This place is an absolute credit to our council. It has a wide pathway which is about fifteen kilometres long down each side of the river. Hundreds of people walk part of it each day. Along the way are sign posts telling you how many steps that you have taken as a part of the 10 000 steps per day health campaign. Here, at the footbridge, is a weir. Last week the water level was one metre below the spillway. Today for the first time in many months we saw this...

It's just a trickle, but it's very welcome.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Rain and Quilts

Last night the first monsoonal rains arrived. It can just rain heavily for days in a row, but I think I can see a little sunlight just now.

We have two dogs, Thomas and Percy, who were named by our son when he was still in his train phase. They are both working dogs and keep each other busy in the yard playing tag. Percy is a little bit nervy. He likes to know where he fits within the pack. He rounds up anyone who goes into our yard. He pushes at your leg until you walk in the direction that he has chosen. He longs for a flock of sheep. When it rains he believes that it is his duty to ensure that the drips from the pot plants do not hit the ground.

He stands in complete concentration for hours watching the drips form then as they fall...

he quickly laps them up. When the drips stop forming he knocks the pot with his snout to start them off again. He will be exhausted by tonight because he will do this all day today. Does he need therapy?

I have been working on my resilience quilt. I have added some quilting and flowers.

The quilting is intersecting lines that look similar to the flower stalks. They represent the way that people's paths cross in life. I had initially thought that there would be flower buds and flowers, but decided to make it just flower buds. Sometimes being resilient does not mean that you are blooming - just coping. The flower buds hold the promise of more, but not just yet. The lines on the flowers could be hearts breaking or the flowers emerging. It is for the viewer to decide. That would indicate a state of mind within the viewer.

It is not yet a finished quilt. There is more stitching to be added, the stalks and the flowers need detail added. I was feeling happy with it. That is, until someone said to me that it could be modified to make an Easter project because the flowers look like eggs. I will have to make them less 'egg-like' as I add detail!!

Finally, here is another quilt that my daughter has made. She is showing a real flair for combining patterned fabrics. This is a skill that I do not have. I look for fillers to support the patterns. I think I will buy her some Kaffe Fassett fabrics. I'm sure that she could do something really interesting with them.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Ground Hog Day

Today my Pete and I had the conversation that we have on the 20th of January each year.

"Is our anniversary on the 21st or the 24th?"

"Which do you think, darling?""


"Four, twenty-four. It's on the 24th."

"That's right, baby. You got it."

Guess which role I play in this conversation.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

I have been selected

by Stomper Girl to complete a meme. This is the first meme I have completed. I have kind of avoided them, thinking that surely I have more interesting things to say than answer some questions. In truth it is probably that I am worried that I don't have any interesting answers! SO please read on, I apologise if I bore you.

1. Do you like the look and the contents of your blog?

The look: It's OK, but that is all. It's very green. Green is not my favourite colour, but it seemed appropriate for peppermint. I chose that name because my business is called Peppermint Patch Quilts. I like the alliteration and the smell and taste of peppermint. I need to add a banner and my links on the side. I am a bit in limbo because I haven't upgraded to beta. I need a day to sit and work on it.
The contents: This started purely as a site for me to discuss quilts and promote myself as a quilter. Initially I was only talking about quilt related topics and visiting other quilt related blogs. I think that the blog is evolving to be much broader than that now. I am allowing it to show a lot more of my life. I guess that is because I have a lot that I think about, a lot that I read about, a lot that I worry about and a lot that I wonder about. As I visit other blogs I have realised that there are lots of us thinking, reading, worrying and wondering. I enjoy that. So do I like the contents? Yes, their mine, they reflect me and I'm pretty happy with me.

2. Does your family know about your blog?

Yes. I spend enough time here for them to wonder what is going on! My daughter tried to read over my shoulder as I wrote the other day (she is not well raised!) and I felt a little self conscious about it and asked her to leave. She turned on the other computer, put my name into a search engine and opened my blog within ten seconds. Curse that school learning.

3. Can you tell your friends about your blog?

Yes. Do I need to keep it a secret?

4. Do you just read the blogs of those who comment on your blog?

I blog surf from one blog to another without knowing the path I follow. It might be through a blog ring or through comments on my blog or the blogs of another. Someitmes I read a bit, sometimes a lot, sometimes I just look at the pictures.

5. Does your blog positively affect your mind?

Adults only do something which is not compulsory if there is a positive outcome for them, so I guess it must have a positive effect. This year I have been a little lonely because I left a busy workplace to start a home based business. Home-alone based business. I have enjoyed blogging because it has become a social group for me, a chance to converse with other adults.

6. What does the number of visitors to your blog mean?

I don't really look at the statistics, but I do love to receive a comment. I felt a little exposed at first by commenting on other blogs, like I was pushing into a conversation. Now I comment to those I find interesting and hope that they will comment to me too.

7. Do you imagine what other bloggers look like?

Not really, I haven't thought about that at all. But Stomper likes to know what others look like, so here I am. I recently had my hair cut to shoulder length - just imagine that.

8. Do you think blogging has any real benefit?

It makes me feel like I have a social group in my lonely old house. My husband appreciates that, because if I'm lonely I ring him at work. I am interested in people's thoughts. I know that the luxury of composing on blogger really gives you a chance to consider how you want to express yourselves. I take a long time to draft exactly what I want to say and I'm sure that you do too. I love to see what people are quilting and making.

9. Do you think that the blogosphere is a stand alone community separated from the real world?

No because I'm pretty certain that only real people are writing blogs.

10. Do some political blogs scare you? Do you avoid them?

I know where the buttons are to navigate away from topics that don't interest me, not scared just not interested.

11. Do you think that criticizing your blog is useful?

Criticizing my own blog or someone else offering criticism? It's me, I am my own worst critic, I'm not too worried what others have to say.

12. Have you ever thought what would happen to your blog in case you died?

It's not mentioned in my will, but I guess it would just live on by itself unless someone deleted it.

13. Which blogger had the greatest impression on you?

I don't know. I like lots of blogs for lots of different reasons and when I sort out my blog you might find yourself with a link on the side and know that you make an impression on me.

14. Which blogger do you think is the most similar to you?

Again. I don't know. I talk about topics that are universal;life, kids etc. I guess that makes lots of blogs similar to mine.

15. Name a song you want to listen to.

This question is out of context here, does it reveal something about me that I don't realise? I'm not sure how to put a youtube box in here like Stomper did, so I just have a link.
My song is My Chemical Romance, Welcome to the Black Parade. Quite anthemic, sing it loud and proud. I love these lines:
Do or die, You'll never make me, because the world, Will never take my heart. Though you try, You'll never break me, We Wanna Know We want to play this part. Won't explain, Or say I'm sorry, I'm unashamed, I'm gonna show my scar. Give a cheer, For all the broken, Listen here, Because it's who we are. I'm just a man, I'm not a hero Just a boy Who had to sing this song Im just a man, I'm not a hero, I. Don't. Care.

My kids love it when I sing loud and proud and...I. DON'T.CARE.

How was that Stomper Girl.. Was I interesting?

Saturday, January 13, 2007


This giant shoe

belongs on these enormous (and very flat) feet.

Today my Pete took our son shopping for shoes for the new school year. These size 9 and a half monsters are the result of their expedition. He now officially has the biggest feet in our house, bigger than both of his parents. HE IS TWELVE!! He is not even a fully-fledged teenager.

This year our son has grown more than ten centimetres (4 inches) in height. He has suffered with very sore tendons in his legs due to his rapid growth. The shoes that he bought today are two sizes bigger than those that he bought this time last year. His hands are longer than mine, but not yet as big as his dad's.

He still weighs around 38 kilograms, so he looks like a bean. His ribs and spine show through his shirts. This is not through lack of eating! He is just growing too fast for his calorie intake. We assume that he will slow down and fill out eventually. No wonder teenagers become sedentary and want to sleep all the time. His growth rate right now is almost that of an infant. There were a couple of occasions last year when I was called to pick him up from school due to illness. When I got him home he just slept. He needed time to catch up with his own body.

My sister says that he reminds her of Shaggy from the Scooby-Doo gang. He has long hair, he is gangly, he lopes along and is a bit of a dag. Thankfully he is a little bit brighter than poor old Shaggy, who never seems to get it.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Two's Company

It is hot! It has not been below 28 degrees C in over 48 hours, there is no breeze and the humidity makes the air thick. We are surviving in the air conditioning.

Tonight we are childless. Our daughter has gone to the first 17th birthday party for the year. All of her friends will have the licences soon, that will bring us to a new era of parenting - does the joy/worry never end? Then she will stay the night at her friend's house. Our son has gone to a movie and sleepover for his friend's 13th birthday. We won't see either of them until some time tomorrow.

Childless and it's hot...? We're not cooking! So my Pete and I headed to the Strand. This is a really lovely promenade along the ocean front in Townsville. It is always breezy and cool, as the air comes staight off the water. There is no surf in Townsville, barely even waves. The waves break at the Great Barrier Reef because the water becomes suddenly shallow. Inside the reef the ocean can look like a lake or the wind can whip up a swell, but you won't see rolling waves like in the southern areas unless there is a severe storm.

We went to an open air bar which is literally on the water front, just a rock wall between your table and the ocean. We ordered tappas platters and drinks and enjoyed the cool ocean air.

Afterward we sat on the grass and ate icecream (mine is obviously the peppermint) and watched two curlews chasing insects in the lights of the pathway. These birds are quite shy. They mate for life and stay together within a defined territory. They usually run along the ground, although they are capable of flight.

As we walked back to the car my Pete asked, "Was this a date?"

I guess it was.

Was that me a little while ago bemoaning the impending departure of my children?

(NOTE: This is the first time that I have had to take my camera with me when I went out - does that make me a blogger? And that is orange paint on my hand. Oh, and I guess my children can stay a little while longer.)

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Big Picture

I tend to be a wholistic thinker. I think in terms of the big picture rather than in details. If you and I were to go shopping together and I lost you, I would be able to see you in my mind, but have no idea of what you were wearing that day.

When, on new years day, I heard that a 17 year old boy was killed by two 15 year old boys in a country town in Australia I thought in terms of the big picture. It is believed that race was a contributing factor in this crime. I thought about public policy and how it can be used to promote tolerance or lead to intolerance. I thought about our knowledge of the development of the frontal lobe of the brain - it is our censor, it considers consequences of actions and has been shown to not be fully developed until after the age of 20. I thought about this town as representative of Australian attitudes to 'multi-culturalism'. I thought about the loss of a children - victim and perpetrator, friends and family. I thought about education and its role in the acceptance of difference.

But then I saw the name of the young boy. I realised that I know him. His mother is a close friend of my mother. My mother has been planning a holiday to visit them for this year. I have known his family since before he was born. He was just one year older than my daughter. The picture became much smaller.

Now I am thinking about resilience. How does the human spirit get up and go on. I am an empathetic person - I find it easy to put myself into another's shoes and consider how they are feeling. I can't allow myself to do that in this case, it is just too sad and too close.

For some time I have been planning a quilt about flowers that grow from the desert. I intended it to be a comment on the resilience of the earth and nature. All my quilts hold memories of what I was doing or thinking about at the time. When I look at them I can be transported to a time or place quite quickly. This one is now all about resilience. The human ability to continue, to maintain optimism and find strength. We are amazing creatures.

It is obviously not finished, still more work to go. I hope that I don't have to make another quilt that embodies these feelings.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Are you kidding me?

Yesterday in Townsville a lady accidentally drove her car into the Ross Creek. All was OK. Today we bought the local paper. (We do this just once a month so that we can "tut-tut" the real estate prices.) The incident was reported as below.

"Police said while investigations were continuing, it was believed the vehicle had been parked in the carpark and the woman had hit the accelerator rather than the reverse peddle when she tried to leave."

Well, I think the investigative journalists at the Townsville Bulletin have cracked the case. It was the "reverse peddle"!

What the ..... is a reverse "peddle"? It must have been a fancy car. I have to use the reverse gear in my car because it only came with three "peddles". I guess you had to pay extra for a fourth reverse PEDAL! Good grief, who writes or edits this paper! No one old enough to actually have a licence.

**** **** **** ****
My daughter absolutley blitz her interview for exchange. She was confident, articulate and intelligent in her answers. She didn't look to us for assistance once. She spoke about world politics, her own feelings toward exchange and acceptance of the belief of others. The only question that she struggled to answer was to discuss a difficult decision that she has had to make. She looked across the table and said "My life had been blissful, the hardest decision I have ever had to make is which subjects I should study." What a fabulous childhood she is having!

As the interviewer left confided to me that she felt certain that my daughter would be very successful in the next stages of the process. She had no doubt that she would be the perfect candidate for exchange.

In April my daughter will attend a live-in camp with other applicants. She is really looking forwards to the camp.

And finally some quilting content.

I enjoyed a lovely day sewing with Flo. We are making use of the fabrics that we have dyed. Flo is making a beautiful piece with fused fish - lots of details on her fish. I was piecing using improvised methods to make a background for some appliqued flowers. I used colours which were all very similar and really quite bland. My husband thinks it has a bit of an outback look to it.

This week I have to get back to work on client quilts. I have enjoyed a break for Christmas, but it is time to earn money again!

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Manly Fish

Not as in the place Manly, but as in not girly fish.

Yesterday I made this for my husband to take to work and hang on his noticeboard near his desk.

I had some fish left over from my current project and I wanted to experiment with some quilting. Through the day we spoke on the phone and I told him that I was making something for him to take to work.
"That sounds lovely", he said. "Is it something...manly?"
Now this surprised me. I wouldn't have expected my lovely, gentle, softly-spoken guy to say that. At home he wouldn't have worried, but he obviously has an image to uphold at his mostly male office. A manly image.

If I had had the time I would have whipped up something with purple and pink bunnies surrounded by lovehearts and roses. Instead I just did this...

Now he has to explain to everyone why those fish come from Sydney.


Today some people are coming to our house to do a preliminary interview of our daughter. She wants to go overseas on exchange next year. My sister listed to me all the reasons why she will be selected: independence, confidence, intelligence, involvement, leadership. These things are all true and I agree that she is a wonderful candidate and would represent her country proudly. She would learn and grow and develop, she will become an adult. These are all great things.

BUT...when I offer my support for her, I am giving tacit approval for her to leave our house. It won't be the same house again. There will be three, one missing. A good mother supports the dreams of her children (that's me). A bad mother sends her children away (that's also me). I raised her to be her own person, this is what should be, but I don't want to stand up and help her out the door.

Monday, January 01, 2007

A New Year

Well, welcome to 2007! There was a time in my life when each new year was a shock, but now time seems to be going so quickly that I am noticing the decades more!

Last night we enjoyed over an hour of heavy tropical rain. We were just about to head off to see the fireworks when it started, a quick check of the weather radar was enough to make us stay home. (Obviously the spirit of adventure does not dwell in this house!) Today there are still a few puddles around.

Today everything is fresh and clean, and humid and hot!

I spent ages today trying to take a photo of a big, beautiful Ulysses Butterfly as it flew through our yard. Unfortunately they fly quickly and rather eratically and I am not that good a photographer. We planted lots of Euodia trees in our yard. These trees attract the butterflies and are the host plant for the caterpillars. They are in flower at the moment and, as you can see the blossom also attracts the lorikeets.

The beginning of a new year is traditionally a time to make resolutions. I don't like to do this, it just provides with me with ways to be a failure! Instead I prefer to look back at the year that has past and reflect on it, learn from it and consider how I might proceed into the new year.

2006...I really loved 2006! I took a year away from my teaching job and stayed home to be a quilter. This was a risk for me, a scary risk which caused a few mini-meltdowns early in the piece. These are the things that I learnt about myself
* I can succeed as a quilter - my ideas and my skills are good enough
* I need a deadline to kick me along sometimes - the freedom of time at home does not always make me more productive
* I like company - a year alone always sounded so appealing, but I am pretty boring company! Thank you blogging for becoming a surrogate social group
* I adore my husband - he has done everything he possibly could to make this year possible for me. He pins up my quilts, he follows me around cleaning up the messes that I leave behind, he ferries children, cooks food and hangs out washing (he doesn't like ironing or toilet cleaning though) Oh, and he will talk to me on the phone three or four times in a day when I am craving human company.
* I am messy - it comes with creativity
* I have raised completely independent children - these guys are amazing
* I can just say thank you when someone offers me kind words about my work - I am in the habit of immediately pointing out all the faults or problems with my work when someone compliments my work. I am consciously stopping this habit

My childhood conditioning says that I am never quite good enough. Why is it that even though I am many years beyond my childhood this can colour my every thought. This year I have shown myself that I can succeed. Now I just need to believe in myself enough to allow myself to continue like this - not get scared and run away.

Sorry...that was deep. I guess it is the time of the year for personal reflection. I hope that when you look at your year you will like the person you see. I am pretty damn happy with where I am right now. I would be happy anywhere so long as I had my Pete with me!!