Monday, December 30, 2013

Back to Sydney

Apparently we just HAD to have dim sum (known as yum cha) in Sydney, and so we did. The kids are plotting their afternoon of shopping (you should have sen my daughter's haul; if nothing else the girl practises hard and it pays off) while my mother tries to accept the fact that sometimes I won't let her pay for meals.
This picture is actually from the 26th, but I only just received it, and yesterday I was in the same place with the same person again, and the view is still as gorgeous and besides, I'm not hideously embarrassed at the way I look in the picture so why not.
We've been friends since we were ten. This is not an inconsequential amount of time.
We walked from her house along a lovely pathway on (I think; I was inattentive to details such as place names and the exact locations to which they applied) Signal Hill which coincidentally is a central landmark in Cape Town where we both grew up, and found this grave marker of a South African. In Australia, yes.
Like I said, stunning views. And if I didn't actually say it before, I just said it now.
Unfortunately grand heights over the ocean have tempted those who wish to shake off their mortal existence, and signs such as this are posted with quite some frequency as an attempt at suicide prevention.
This picture was taken at (more or less) South Head, and shows North Head off in the distance; this is the entrance to Sydney harbour.

And then of course the family and I had to have Peking Duck at our favourite Peking Duck restaurant (BBQ King on Goulburn, if you must know). Followed by Honeycomb Magnums. So even though you can now get Magnums in the US, sadly the honeycomb flavour which we all agree is the very best, in part because it still has plenty of chocolate is reserved for the Southern Hemisphere only.

If one is to have chocolate, one should have plenty, no matter which hemisphere one happens to find oneself.


Sunday, December 29, 2013

Lazy Day

My mother got the grands to pose for a group photo.
The little girls decorated with flowers. They especially wanted us to note the "love heart" on the bottom centre right.
I had bought my nieces a so-called "Friendship Bracelet" kit which was actually a set of cardboard looms and perle cotton to be used to make sixteen-strand Kumihimo braids. The older niece was going gangbusters once she got started, but the surprise was that my younger nephew was fascinated so I ended up giving him my spare foam loom. He's like I was in that he likes making things - the older nephew skateboards, by way of comparison.
The tile guy (from near Dubrovnik of all places) did some more work on the pool. Apparently he's been complaining bitterly that the tiles ought to have been Italian, but even my sister-in-law, generally a strong proponent of all things Brand Name and/or Designer, balked at the extra twenty grand it would have added to the construction costs.
For tiles which are to be UNDERWATER, after all.
I made ricotta and made that into gnudi with roast fennel and tomatoes which we ate with Moreton Bay Bugs for dinner. Yummers!
I do not quite yet have another finished beaded Kumihimo necklace, but soon.

Today: Sydney!


Saturday, December 28, 2013

The Beach at Kiama

Not an exciting day, but we did get to go to the beach. My brother lives in the middle of nowhere, known as the Southern Highlands I believe, but it's an hour of driving if you want to go anywhere.
You wouldn't think so from all the covered huddling in the picture above, but it was perfect weather, just gorgeous. The covering up is from the sun (Oz has a huge hole in the ozone layer, so everyone is very mindful of skin cancer risks), not for warmth.
Turns out that my son is a suitable photographic model for my daughter now. Who knew.
The beach is really very pretty, and neither too big nor too crowded. I suppose there are advantages to living out where the population density is lower.

I finished braiding this necklace in the car home, and sewed the clasp this morning.

My primary cat (the one I got first, the one for whom the secondary cat is her pet, the one who asks to be picked up when she's in dire need of closeness) is sick, and I'm heartsick to be away from her although I know she's in excellent hands.

One of the reasons I like handwork is that it's perfect for muling or considering or analyzing or worrying, so she was on my mind with every stitch and I hope that as I stitched the necklace to make it whole and well, my little Isis is also getting well and hole.


Friday, December 27, 2013

Fitzroy Falls and the Illawara Fly Treetop Walk

Apparently my family is best at taking the longest time ever to get going anywhere. To be fair, there was a bit of disaster bring with regards to the pool my brother is having built: the builder is in hospital with gangrene and may lose a leg, so construction is sorta kinda in limbo.
Wandering around the garden I kept seeing lorikeets.
Eventually we got the cars loaded up and went to the Fitzroy Falls. There's not a whole lot of water, but the hiking trail has plenty of lookouts with spectacular views.

We had a scare in which we lost (and found, fortunately) a niece.

Someone kindly offered to take a group photo. My baby is the tall one.

The vegetation was cool along the trails.
There were streams we could see across the valley that looked perfect for swimming, if completely inaccessible.
People stopped and chatted.
There was tree-hugging accompanied by skepticism. "It just feels woody!"
Half an hour later we were at the Illawara Fly Treetop Walk which is insanely cool. You're above the canopy of the rainforest and can see clear to the ocean.

A tree underneath one of the walkways had clouds of bees (sadly not visible in the picture below) coming in and out of its hollow core.

Not everyone looked at the view all the time, even when the walkways were swaying.

Yes, we climbed this. Yes, the views were stupendous.

The trees up-close were gorgeous and weird too.

See? The Pacific.

And we could see the Fitzroy Falls area too.

The way these walkways were constructed was genius, if a little scary.
And when we got back I was able to photograph two necklaces finished.
Not much progress on the pool except for some waterline tiles.


Thursday, December 26, 2013

And into the Thick of It

So after checking out my mom's new apartment, we drove for hours to my brother's house in the middle of nowhere, jet lag hitting hard, into a maelstrom of people and kids and more kids and party preparations and people and food and drink.
My daughter explored the house.
People wore silly hats as they philosophised.
People wore silly hats as they did more food preparation.
There was a humongous tree with an obscene amount of presents underneath it which looked like this after the locusts, um, kids were done.
I slept until forever (almost eight o'clock) this morning and I think I'm done with jet lag.
Today the weather was gorgeous.
We went into Sydney so I could visit one of my oldest friends. The Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race comes right by her house.
Lotsa boats with sails.
In April and November the whales come past, and sometimes stop to rest in Diamond Bay, just to the right.
It's really pretty, and I wish my pictures captured the deep turquoisey-blue of the sea.


Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Good to Go

Suitcases waiting for the cab.
Our flight was delayed so we were rerouted and got to spend an extra three hours at airport so I completed an entire Kumihimo necklace. So now I guess I have a queue of one needing clasps.
Eventually we made it in, but not our luggage which arrived mid-afternoon.
The view from my mom's new apartment is crazy gorgeous, even though the weather is grey.

It's high up too.


Sunday, December 22, 2013

So Sew

I've been doing a bit of sewing lately.

A dress. I'd made this pattern before, but for some reason made it in a size bigger than usual, so I have to wear a camisole underneath because it slips around all the time. I made the top bit in my size and left the skirt slightly fuller and it was almost perfect.
Except insanely long, so I cut off a LOT. No, I have no plans for this strip of fabric. I should make it into dolls' clothes for the nieces but I'm just not in the mood.
 The fabric is well-ages enough that it could probably be deemed retro. The funny/sad/odd thing? It's not the oldest fabric in the stash by a long shot.

The oldest fabric I have is a piece of emerald green brocaded silk (The Real Thing not that sleazy crap I've seen in stores here) which my paternal grandmother bought when she went to the Far East around the time I was born, or perhaps even earlier. She never sewed it and as my mother was the only daughter-adjacent person who sews, she inherited it and never used it, and now I have it and I'm desperate to make it into something which is neither so classic as to be already outdated, nor yet edgy enough that it'll be All Wrong the following season and so, paralyzed by indecision, it's still in the stash, uncut.

A travel bag using leftover fabric from my dining-room chairs which I reupholstered summer of last year (2012. That was the Summer of Upholstery).
 Lots of pockets, including a dedicated iPad pocket and a couple of large outside zippered pockets.
 Inside too.
There are pockets for business cards, slots for pens and lip/chap-sticks, phone pocket, candy pocket (well...), passport pocket, pocket for headphones, the Square thingie (that you use to swipe cards), tea-bags - and various non-denominational pockets too.

Lots of zips. Six, actually.

It's a bit floppy and I really should have added stiffening (plastic canvas) but I didn't. Guess I could open it up and insert it at a later date, but knowing me, I probably won't.