Sunday, March 17, 2013

Focus on Life - Week 11 "The Possibilities are Endless"

This week the prompt for the "Focus on Life" photo challenge, the brain child of Sally Russick of Studio Sublime is "The Possibilities are endless".
Each week Sally sends us a photo prompt to encourage us to look at, & document, our lives in an unique way as we travel through 2013. As this weeks phrase has different meanings it can be interpreted in a number of different ways.

When I look at a length of fabric, a ball of yarn, bundles of glass, a beautifully grained piece of timber, a blank page or canvas - I see endless possibilities. When I'm faced with a bland, bare room or a patch of undeveloped or unkempt land my brain & imagination go into overdrive as I visualise the potential of what they could become.

However, when I see a storm damaged tree being felled, I tend to see just that! Oh yeah, my mind might wander to the possibility of some nice mulch for the garden if the tree crew have a grinder/shredder they use. But as a rule it's just about the tree coming down.....& a stump being left.

And so it was earlier this week when the crew arrived to remove a wattle that had become unstable in recent storms.

I watched as they worked on it - whittling away bit by bit.

I got excited at the potential of some garden mulch...
& even helped drag over some of the branches.

I burst into laughter as I looked out from the patio & saw what they were doing with the stump!
Apparantly I'd been nice, the coffee & the cake at smoko time passed muster,  & the guys said I deserved a throne complete with foot rest. Even tree stumps have endless possibilities.

That will teach me for teasing them about the height of stumps here in Brisbane. I've noticed there seems to be a bit of a thing about leaving taller than normal stumps in. For some reason a lot of tree's only get taken back to fence height & it looks exceptionally odd!

Please pop on over to The Studio Sublime & catch what everyone else is up to.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Focus on Life - Week 10 "All Wrapped Up"

This week the prompt for the "Focus on Life" photo challenge, the brain child of Sally Russick of Studio Sublime is "All Wrapped Up".
Each week Sally sends us a photo prompt to encourage us to look at, & document, our lives in an unique way as we travel through 2013. As this weeks phrase has different meanings it can be interpreted in a number of different ways.

I managed to both start & wrap up a small DIY makeover project this week ...& I was pretty thrilled with that, but what I immediately thought of when I read Sallys prompt was a project I started on not long after moving to Australia.

At the time I needed something to keep my hands busy in the evenings, while also wanting whatever project I chose to be easy to pick up & put down, not requiring constant reference to a pattern & being completely transportable. I've always loved the colour shift yarns that are available - yet time & time again, upon attempting to knit them up into a garment of some sort I would discover that I far preferred the way they looked in the ball.

It seemed that crocheted squares would fit the bill &, at the end,  would result in a wonderful warm blanket or throw to cuddle up in outside on the patio next winter..... not to mention give me the perfect excuse to delve into some of those luscious colour shift yarns on the market.

Yummy yarns and forgotten skills.

So I revived my crocheting skills that have lain dormant for many years. Many, many years in wasn't so much revive as exhume!!
Fortunately the pattern I chose was exceptionally easy to remember so I've just been able to relax with hook in hand & watch as the colours bloom.

Piles of colour - these squares are all wrapped up!

Of course, after I've watched the centre colour bloom, it's a bit hard to get enthused about finishing off the black borders on each square. I tend to lose interest when it comes to repeating the same process many times over. Sewing the ends in should be interesting......
Of course it helps my motivation that it's the black that makes them square ;)

Gratuitous group shot - with lashings of small DIY makeover for good measure.

So that's me;  80 fully finished squares, 20 pretty rounds waiting for their black borders, 3 1/2 balls left to crochet up & then comes a whole lot of end sewing in & sewing together before I can finally crochet the black border around the whole darn thing & say "Well that's that all wrapped up" -  then proceeding to wrap myself up in it!

Please pop on over to The Studio Sublime & catch what everyone else is up to.

Sunday, March 03, 2013

Focus on Life - Week 9 "Knock, Knock"

This is my first post in the "Focus on Life" photo challenge, the brain child of Sally Russick of Studio Sublime. Each week Sally sends us a photo prompt to encourage us to look at, & document, our lives in an unique way as we travel through 2013.

Of course I was late to the party - but all that matters is that I am here now. I think it is quite apt that I'm in time for this one.

Let’s open some doors to see what awaits us on the other side.
Is it a door that holds opportunity?
Is it a door that holds a story?
Is it a door you have been hesitating to open?
Is a gate to a new life?
A door to a new adventure?
Is it a door that holds a memory?
Is it the perfect door for a simple picture?
You have arrived at the door for a reason, open it up and step in! 

 The second I read the brief I knew what my photograph would be of. It had to be the door that I crossed the ditch to walk through 7 months ago - which also just happens to answer "yes" to every question posed above.

This time last year when I was sitting in Christchurch, New Zealand trying to find suitable rental accommodation online for a small family & assorted pets across the Tasman Sea (commonly referred to as the ditch or the pond by Australians & Kiwis alike) in Brisbane, Australia - what the front door looked like wasn't high on my list of priorities.

In fact when I finally managed to find a place that seemed it could work for us the first thing I noticed was what a boring shaped house it was - a simple brick rectangle plonked towards the front of a large block of land.The second thing I noticed was the fabulous outdoor patio that ran the entire length of the house & the somewhat dated tiles used under the covered part of said patio, & at the front entrance, had a sort of quaint character to them.

It's surprising that I never really picked up on this front door in any of the photos I perused online, given my long standing fascination with doors. I think the very first board I started on Pinterest was a "Door" board!

The appeal of this door struck me when I arrived in a new country, still weary from the stress of an International move...& facing wall to wall cartons & packed furniture. It's 3 panels of carved decoration make it seem a slightly elaborate door for such a plain house....that made me smile, I know there must be a story there somewhere.

For the first few weeks this 1970's solid timber beast, with it's carvings & panels, was the barrier against the winter rain & chill. As the weather warmed up this door stayed open to welcome in the warmth & fresh air, the sounds of nature & the occasional critter.

Before coming here I knew that there would be a new life - that much was a given. As for this door - there has been many a time I have said to my partner that I'd love to pop it off of it's hinges & turn it into a bed head....& yeah, I so would!
(if I didn't have a landlord to answer to...)
But, it's potential as a bed head aside, this door was not only one I was hesitating to open but also one that represents a new life, new adventures, new opportunities & right now I'm pretty sure it's absorbing some of our stories to keep safe for the future.

That is assuming it doesn't end up as a head board ;)

Head on over to The Studio Sublime & catch what everyone else is up to.

Friday, March 01, 2013

Easily Distracted

This week has been wet. It's also been overcast - but mostly it's been wet.

Wet here apparently involves huge drops of moisture alternating between pelting down manically, flooding guttering so that it overflows drenching humans, pets & plants within minutes, & stopping suddenly leaving a person wondering where the heck it has gone. The saving grace is that it is also warm - with temperatures still being 24° - 29°C ( 75° - 84°F those of you stateside).

Given that the rainy/storm season has finally arrived I had made plans for the days when I couldn't be working outside this week. They involved a little painting &, more importantly, unpacking the rest of my glass now that I finally have more storage sorted. Or so I thought.....

Right up until the time that I stopped to make my first cup of coffee & looked out the kitchen window...

This little guy was sitting on the patio railing. Now don't get me wrong there is nothing at all unusual about Rainbow Lorikeets in the garden - apart from the fact that they don't usually venture up to dog & cat territory. Just as well the dog is a rain wimp & was curled up in a pathetic wee ball on his beanbag - with the cats doing similar in the bedrooms.

This particular Lori wasn't at all afraid of the human that, feeling sorry for them that the bird feeder had just received an impromptu clean out & was now a water bowl, ventured out with a freshly peeled lychee & two slices of mango. He just sat, not even a foot away along the rail, & watched me - then when I backed off  he invited his friend up.

What happened next was as funny as a play! Straight off he knocked the first piece of mango off...
It really doesn't need a dialogue but I couldn't resist.

"Oh darn, Ethel - that's one down."

"You go for the next thing, Archie - I'll just keep an eye on 'er over there!"

"Easy there Archie - don't scoff too much, you never know what it could be."

"Hmm, Ethel - I'm not so sure about that one...unusual texture."
"Careful Archie - you nearly knocked me off!"

"You sure it's not some sort of egg?"

"Oopsy, seems it just joined that other thing."

"This isn't so bad - you hold that end & make sure it doesn't fall."

"Grr - I said hold it Archie!"

By the next downpour the mango & lychee are forgotten as my latest distractions take refuge in the tree right next to the deck & groom each other in an attempt to dry off.


These birds are so entertaining to watch - gregarious & unafraid, for the most part, of humans. They did go down onto the patio & eat the fallen mango between showers - but left the lychee for the ants. 
Just as well really - it could become time consuming peeling lychees for the Loris ;)

Friday, February 22, 2013

The Grass Isn’t Always Greener On The Other Side Of The Fence….

Or in this case, the ditch. … fact sometimes the grass can be a crispy brown – so crispy that it’s like walking on shredded brown paper. Hot, shredded brown paper.

The grass isn’t always greenest where you water it either – especially if there are water restrictions on & you can’t water it at all.

No, this isn’t an analogy about life…it’s a fact. Australian grass is completely different to New Zealand grass. I suspect the fact that it gets so hot here you can smell it heating up & marinating for a bit, before cooking itself, under the sun’s intense rays has something to do with it….along with the type of grass planted.
It’s also high time I posted about my arrival in Australia – something I started to do months ago, but somehow I got side tracked.

Oh yeah, side tracked by a country that is sensory overload on every which level. I’ve been visually distracted by birds so behaviourally bold & colourful that they refuse to be ignored, by dragonflies that resemble helicopters & butterflies & moths the size of small aircraft. 

My ears are constantly assaulted by sound - birds from dawn until dusk with cicadas & crickets adding to the wonderful cacophony on warm days (which is pretty much every day), frogs, possums & owls pitching in once it gets dark.

Perhaps I should save chatting about how easily distracted I am by the readily available tropical & sub-tropical plants that thrive in this climate for another time…. & about how excited I was to find a stand of Blue Ginger among the bush & weeds down the back or how I was hooked when the neighbour threw the first Bromeliad over the fence…..
And all of the above distraction is before I even leave home!!

 A few quick snaps from today in the garden ....
see what I mean about distractions!

This is city full of huge glitzy malls accessed by large busy highways bulging at the seams with loads of BIG cars (& even bigger trucks) often driven by people wearing maxi dresses…the cars that is – not the trucks! Just thought I’d throw that in there while using nouns relevant to size.

On one hand it’s a fast paced city, one that wakes early & ‘appears’ to sleep early too. On the other hand, once one discovers where to look it’s also a city full of beautiful parks, outstanding gardens, speciality markets, farmers markets & a seemingly endless round of entertainment &  fun community events ….often involving fireworks.

It’s a wonderful cultural mix. Locally there are many beautiful Sudanese women – tall & stately with a proud bearing & long slender legs that never seem to end. It’s always a highlight when I see the older women gathered outside a shop in their traditional colourful costume & head wraps.
Vibrant & colourful is the name of another game here too – tattoos. Large tattoos. Large, vibrantly coloured tattoos. Lots of full sleeve & leg tattoos…on woman. I'm pretty sure that I’ve seen more since I’ve arrived here than I have seen in my entire life before.

I’ve been here 7 months & one day. In that time I’ve been initiated into the Australian lifestyle by way of bush fires close by & a couple of good tropical storms – one the tail end of a cyclone. I’ve seen some rather substantial spiders, evicted some messy house geckos (well actually I might have set the cat onto one or two of them), stumbled across my first bearded dragon in the garden, have  killed a *few* cane toads & now drive willingly on that highway that I was never going to drive on – ‘never’ being right up to the point that I discovered a plant nursery that I needed to visit.

I've made new friends, met lampworking friends previously known only online, discovered that I have great neighbours & that tropical storms & flooding can bring about good things - such as enjoying the company of fabulous house guests & forging lasting friendships.

I love it here - even though I have to admit that the settling in hasn’t always been easy. The first 5 months were often fraught with obstacles in getting some of the more important things done such as arranging schooling, medical care, bank accounts, internet & a landline. You know, just the little things. Red tape, more red tape & all that. Now that I finally have myself a Doctor (one quite knowledgeable about thyroid issues – finally, thank goodness) & a bank account. I’m not sure which I’m most thrilled about ;)

Post Script: This post was intended for yesterday – I fell asleep in my chair last night before checking the draft & posting it. Remember those early starts I mentioned?....

It seems appropriate that I post it today though – as it helps me to focus on the positive rather than dwell too heavily on the significance of this date. I feel as if it can’t possibly be two years since that horrific day when  life, as my home town of Christchurch knew it, changed forever… for everyone. But there you have it.