LogoThis is a photo I took as I was setting up for something I had in mind last Friday afternoon in town. As you can see, I'm checking the flipout LCD screen of my chunky Canon Powershot. I've grown to love this camera in the last year. It's my dad's old camera and he passed it on to me when I started blogging, along with a scanner. He's been a big supporter of my writing endeavours over the years and I appreciate it more than I can say. Thanks Dad.

This picture was taken on the corner of Bourke and Swanston streets, a busy mid city Melbourne intersection. I wanted to take a picture here the week before last; I passed by and noticed that my reflection in this black glass window was somewhat slimmer than in real life, like in a sideshow mirror. But it was raining and there were lots of people jostling about and I was being hassled by over enthusiastic uni students collecting for charity. Like really hassled, which puts my back up straight away, no matter how worthy the cause might be. However, last Friday was warm and sunny, despite being almost winter. I had just returned some slippers that Grace refused to even try on and was rushing to catch a tram to visit my sister and newborn niece in hospital. This time I just went about my business quickly and calmly, not caring how funny other people might think a middle aged woman in homemade clothes taking her picture in a grotty shop window might be. The pictures I had in mind didn't work out, as is often the case. Not to worry, one thing I've learned from doing SPC is to take a few shots if possible and to see what happens. I ended up quite enjoying this challenge and have loved seeing pictures of everyone in their different streets. There's something good about seeing the physical worlds that people inhabit.  Check it out here.


Snatch and grab gardening

When I first started this garden, there was nothing I liked better than a whole day with my hands in the soil, by myself or with a quiet fellow gardener. Not coming inside until it was well and truly dark. I'm not the garden fanatic I once was and my days seem so full of other things now. That said, I really miss my time in the garden if I don't have it. And miss having food to pick fresh. So I'm making an effort. Part of this is trying to make the garden more of a joint venture. G is really good at weeding and mowing the grass but I'd like the growing and picking of vegetables to be something he could do, especially once I go back to work full time. In consultation and without fighting. Which is difficult, because apparently I'm really bossy. And so is Grace.

During Saturday morning's garden effort she snatched seeds from my hands, trampled recently planted onions and wrestled the watering can from her dad. Grace is keen though, and I just love seeing her pick one of the remaining beans from vine and eat it, standing in the vegie patch saying yum. Sometimes she picks some silverbeet for lunch, and comes inside saying, bean, bean. Bean meaning food in a general sense. I'm learning that it's important to give her little jobs to do, like helping her to pull out a weed and asking her to put it on the compost. And getting her involved in sprinkling seeds around. We might have a few things come up in odd places but I don't think that matters really.

We've had some rain and weeds and seeds are sprouting all over the place. Lots of self sown cos lettuce, garlic bulblets and onions that I missed over summer, spring flowering annuals like nigella and flanders poppies. We even have a second lot of cosmos flowering. And the sage border is looking rather splendiferous. The soil is looking better than it has for a while and I've been trying to focus our limited gardening efforts to sowing seeds and planting rather than general tidy up. If you don't sow, you don't grow and you don't get is what I've been saying. G agrees with me, in principle, but still finds it hard not to weed the whole garden then plant. This used to be the way I did things, but if your garden time is limited to an hour here and there, and a mosey around when you hang out the washing, then I think planting should be the first thing you do when you have a little chunk of time, not the last.

crochet obsessed

My right hand pointing finger is developing a callus between the joints and I'm watching a lot more TV. Ever since the craft weekend, the one where I was going to sew a new wardrobe but forgot my sewing machine pedal, I've been on a crochet binge. It's even got to the point where I was wondering if it would be rude to bring it out at a family gathering. I think it is, sigh. So I didn't.

I'm on to my second project which is granny square based, but I wanted to share my first crochet for the season. A pram rug for Ruby-Lee. It's about pillow case size and is designed to go in the pram over the top of every thing else. I wanted one myself but by the time I got around to it, Grace was sitting up in the stroller and the moment had passed. I know Betty will be given lots of bigger blankies, mum's been knitting and crochetting up a storm and I can't compete with her either in speed or finish. Well, not yet. So here 'tis, all finished and washed, being dried on a towell in the sunroom. It's probably a sure thing that Betty won't have a chance to get on the internet before I give it to her (not that her computer or internet work at present), so I don't think the surprise will be ruined.

This is my first real attempt at ripple, and as I didn't have a pattern I had to make it up. I lost count of the stitches at several points so it has an irregular zig zag which I'm sure won't detract from it's purpose. The edging is fairly firm so I think it will all hold together and take machine washing in a bag. I know they're not baby type coluurs but Betty has a lime green stroller and they're our kind of colours anyway. And in a year or two it will be the perfect size for a doll's blanket.

I haven't been this crochet mad since the winter after Grace was born. I made several rag rugs that year and a garment which I refer to as my martha stewart poncho, as it was made while I was a guest of the state durning the crazy time. I remember that my mind didn't start coming back until about half way through, but that crochet was good. The poncho has been stuffed on the back of the cupboard but suddenly seems to have found favour as something I might actually wear.

Anyway, enough yacking. It's nearly time for my new favourite TV show, Wilfred (SBS 10.00pm thursdays). About a bastard of a dog played by a person in a dogsuit. He talks and smokes cones fashioned from fruit juice bottles and is hell bent on undermining the relationship between his lovely owner and her hapless boyfriend. She can't hear him talk like a person, but the boyfriend can. It's very clever and very funny. Perfect granny square viewing. Must run. Will fix typos and spelling errors tomorrow.

meeting uncie mo

Logo A couple of weeks ago, Grace and I walked around to visit my sister Betty. She'd been in hospital for rest and observation but was home again. And pretty pleased about it, hospital not always being the most relaxing place to be. On the corner of her street, I stopped to take a quick self portrait, resting my camera on a low wall. I was hoping to catch the feeling of being at the top of the valley, of the sun lowering in the sky, about to set. Not with the self-timer. Anyway, as we were mucking around, Betty's partner, Camo rode up on his bike and joined the self-portait action. He's a good sport like that. Grace was pretty happy to see Mo, as she's named him and although the camera didn't catch it, was chatting away.

All this seems like a long time ago now, Ruby-Lee was born yesterday. Mum, dad and bub are all doing well, although I expect they're just a little swamped with visitors. I snuck in an aunty cuddle with Ruby-Lee this afternoon and Grace met her cousin for the first time. She was pretty good at the hospital, although there was a little shrieking and hyper excitement. Which I guess is to be expected when you're two. I feel a bit like that myself. 

More streets here.


I'd like to introduce you to the newest member of our family, Ruby Lee. Nestled inside Betty's arm. Her mother, my sister, my niece, Grace's cousin and so on. How I love the web of family.

Born this afternoon by caesar, about 4.2 kilos. Her dad was there and is still beaming with joy. Mother and baby doing brilliantly. Much celebration all round (and more than a little relief). Welcome to the world Ruby-Lee!

meet me in melbourne

Come one come all.

If you're a blogger and in Melbourne on Sunday June 17, would you like to meet a few other bloggers? The (almost) no rule Meet Me in Melbourne bloggers gathering will be in the Flagstaff Gardens in the afternoon from 2pm onwards in the vicinity of the kids' playground, near the junction of Peel, William and Franklin Streets. You can come in any guise for as long or short a time as you like. BYO picnic paraphernalia if you so desire - perhaps some afternoon tea to share.

The only rule? A name tag with who you are and the name of your blog.

And no excuses, like you don't know anyone or are worried your type of blog won't fit in. It's the perfect opportunity to get in touch with some of your on-line acquaintances and plan to meet up. We all share the desire to connect to each other through our blogs, so I'm sure none of us are too scary in real life.

Of course being Melbourne, the weather is something of a lottery. Please check on the morning of the meet for latest details and weather contingency plans at any of the following blogs:

soozs big adventure



If you'd like to help us spread the word (even if you can't come in person) please copy and paste this post to your blog. We're also working hard to bring you one of those groovy badges so stay tuned.

Any questions? Feel free to drop me a line in the comments or email me. No matter how big or trivial. This is going to be fun, I just know it.

Being happy about the rain

There's been welcome rain around here over the last few days. The TV news showed happy politicians and pictures of people carrying umbrellas and wearing raincoats through city streets where rain flowed into the gutters. Not to mention rain soaked paddocks with pools of water and happy farmers. Although I'm guessing there would still be lots of anxious and worried people out in the country. One patch of rain does not break a drought. Still, it's good to see lush green grass and weeds growing in the garden. I'm even thinking about planting winter vegetables. Yet there is part of me that is becoming more melancholy than usual, part of me that is closing off and wants to sit in front of the telly with my crochet (granny squares, pictures soon). It's getting cold and I really don't like wet weather. I like what rain means and does, of course. I just don't getting about in it. But I've told myself that this year, I'm not allowed to grizzle about the rain. Because we need it, lots of it. Days and weeks and months of it.

On Thursday, I was working at a different office than usual and was sitting where I had no good view outside. What I did see was wet and gloomy. The customers came in with bedraggled hair, wearing raincoats, shaking umbrellas. I had the same conversation over and over (I find it adds a pleasant and convivial dimension to the day having a Topic To Talk About). So, I asked if it was still raining outside and they gave me little weather reports as I attended to their paperwork and other business. Many said they thought the rain was good and seemed unbothered as to how it might affect their day. Some seemed genuinely happy to be out and about in it. A few moaned and groaned and I said that I wasn't allowing myself to complain about it this year. Because we really need it. Most agreed with me then. Yeah, yeah for the farmers.

So I'm going to try and appreciate the rain. Celebrate it even. Go for walks in my raincoat, teach Grace how to stomp in puddles (she has pink and yellow spotty gumboots now after one of the barbie boots dissappeared, possibly over the back fence), sit inside and watch the rain while reading or sewing, bake and eat wintery stodge, go for more walks - maybe even the bush, think of a new water feature for G to intall and of course, take lots and lots of pictures of rain soaked beauty. Hopefully while not destroying my camera. Which I will need to take lots and lots of pictures of my new niece(?) who will be born sometime over the next few days I hope.  Excitement!

Although really it's not just the rain. I had rather a good chat with my head doctor yesterday. We talked about work and home, the sundry worries and tensions in my life. And about the big headache I seem to be getting fairly frequently and about how I'm not sleeping well. She said I had a lot on my plate and that it isn't surprisng that I was a bit anxious. Normal even. Which is nice to hear. It's not just that I'm being neurotic about the weather. Sometimes when you've been a bit crazy it can be hard to tell the difference between your life being tricky or going through one of those patches and being well, crazy. She also said that it was good to keep writing and taking pictures, even if sometimes it comes from a place of anxiety or melancholy. Or something to that effect. She also gave me a script for some very gentle sleepers. No-one has suggested that before and what a difference a night's sleep makes.  I'm even looking forward to going to bed tonight, after one last granny square. And to more rainy days. 

Under the clocks

LogoOn Saturday morning we went into town with Grace to have a shot at taking some city type street scenes. I've been meaning to try a short excursion with Grace on the tram without the pram for a while now and this was a good excuse. She loved it, especially on the ride home when she made friends with a three year old girl and they had a shrieking match. G and I thought it was quite funny, but once it reached a certain level and the other mother started telling Ebonee to "use your inside voice, or it's time out" we had to put our sensible parent faces back on. I must have been a bit hyped up myself from taking photos and hanging around Flinder Street Station steps.  For those not familiar with Melbourne, the steps of Flinders Street Station, or "under the clocks", is a common and well known meeting place. Except that it is so big and bustly, that you often miss the person you are trying to meet.

It was a lovely sunny day and I quite enjoyed hanging around and watching the kids holding court. A woman in footy gear at the bottom of the steps told me that one of kids had a rat on his shoulder, unfortunately I missed that one. G took the photos that I'm in with Grace, but I took all the rest. I still don't feel like I have one image that says to me, yes this is it. Noetheless, quite a few have bits in them that I like. I've put some of my favourites from the day on flickr. As far as taking pictures in public, this was the least awkward I've felt so far. Perhaps because as well as being Melbourne's favourite meeting place, Flinder's Street is a tourist landmark and there were lots of other people taking pictures.  And I had G there for moral support and kidwrangling.

More streets here.

there was cake

We've got a way to go before I'm completely happy with how we do mother's day around here. It's not that I want to buy into the whole commercial slippers and flowers thing, but now I'm a mother, it's like I want some recognition, some celebration of this big and essential part of my life. G says I'm not his mother so it's not up to him, but as I pointed out, I am the mother of his child, surely that's reason to get involved? Then I got in trouble for claiming my mothers day sleep in (on his day of rest) last week. So I got the days wrong, it's not like I tried to get a sleep in again this Sunday. Not that I've really had a sleep in this Saturday either, what with getting up and going into town to have a crack at some street photography featuring people we don't know, which kind of felt a bit weird. Even so, it was a whole lot easier and more fun than I imagined. But back to mother's day, we're not naturals at celebration and I don't want the day to just slip on by like any other Sunday.

Much to Grace's excitement, we baked a cake that I had an idea for last week. She helped and it all got a bit shouty when she started grabbing the softened butter with her fists and throwing flour in the air and trying to eat the sugar. Which I guess is why cooking with kids is so much fun. Maybe Grace needs playdough and I need an outdoor kitchen. Just thinking about it at the moment makes me tense but I think it's that time of the month and everything is making me tense. Much to my surprise, the cake turned out rather well. Even if I do say so myself. It's was an upside down pear and coconut cake. I was hoping Betty might come to lunch as it's the sort of cake I know she'd like. But she felt like mooching around home and I can't say I blame her. I remember that big, ready, overdue feeling with Grace. Never mind, we sent some over in a tin.

After lunch we had a little photo session, again proving how hard it is to get a group photo where someone's head doesn't looked possessed. Grace was up way past naptime, tired and zooming. Still I don't mind this one; we're talking about ears, nose, mouth, eyes and Nana's glasses. I can hardly remember life before motherhood anymore. I'm starting feel as though I've come back to being the essential me again, yet different. I see everything now through the mother lens. There's a whole lot I wanted to say about this and about learning to appreciate my own mother in new ways, even if she does irritate me sometimes (can you please stop smoking please?). And about how I have a deeper understanding of how much my mum misses her mum. But I'm tired and really should go to bed. So I will. But there was cake and lunch and we hung out together. Really, it was pretty good.

Happy mothers day :)

ooh, the tree dahlias are out

Just a couple of days ago, I was looking at some tree dahila pictures on Flickr and thinking, oh ours won't be out for ages yet. At least another three weeks. So this morning, when I looked up from hanging out the washing, I got quite a surprise when I saw tree dahlias everywhere. Maybe I missed something yesterday or maybe they popped their buds overnight. They are a little early, last year they bloomed in early June. I know this because I wrote about it and it's a post consistently visited by the googlers (gardeners, I imagine). This afternoon I took some time out from my sewing, and braved the bees and a ladder to get up close.

Aren't they they most glorious plant? And they're big, taller than the house and ridiculously easy to grow. They have a pretty, if slightly triffid like, foliage during summer. Ideal for renter's gardens, for places where you want something big, quickly, or for the back of perrenial beds. You would think that they'd be a weed or a pest plant but they're not so rampant that you couldn't get rid of them if you wanted. Best of all, they bloom just as you realise that winter's really coming and that you're going to have to start wearing shoes, closing the house and turning the heater on.

They're likely to bloom for about a month, unless they get blown down by high winds. Then we'll cut the canes down. If anyone (in Australia) would like a cutting, let me know.

Visiting my sister in hospital and the challenges of street photography

LogoFor most of this week my sister Betty has been in hospital. She's due to have a baby sometime in the next fortnight and there have been some complications. I'm not going to go into detail here but she's OK and so is the baby, who is very active. It's mostly been a mattter of lots of rest and of being close to medical attention should they need it. Of course, I've been a little anxious, this is my little sister and my niece(?) in waiting. We've been visiting on a sort of roster system and taking her treats, as the hospital food is well, hospital food. And going for short walks whenever the doctors have allowed. (This is not my SPC shot because we look like tourists and standing next to a pregnant lady is reminding me that I really should loose 20kilos).Anyway, Betty's situation has improved and she was discharged the other day.

I've been taking my camera everywhere this week, and trying to take the odd street photo when time and circumstance permit. My fear at looking like a nong in public is fading as I try desperately to get at least one picture, with me in it, that comes close to what I would consider to be a good street picture.  If I'd got the light right and managed focus, I would have been quite pleased with this one as it captures a scene outside the hospital that I'm sure many inner city Melbourne residents would be familiar with. Except that there's no pregnant women smoking. Which is a good thing. I know how hard it is to give up and that many mothers of my mum's age were allowed to light up post delivery, but really. I'll stop with that now, I think. Anyway, check out the guy on the right near the pillar. I think he's looking at this middle aged and somewhat plump woman taking pictures with an old digital camera perched on a rubbish bin.

Here's the colour one. I think I prefer it in black and white but I do like the ubiquitous green bags the girls in the street are carrying. I think I said it last week, I'm loving this challenge, especially viewing everyone else efforts, but technically it's hard, hard, hard. Time to re-read my camera manual methinks.

Visit SPC on the street here.

One year, one week and a day

That's how long I've been at this blogging thing. I can hardly believe it. Time has flown and yet I feel like I've been doing this for ages. Perhaps because blogging has become so entwined into my routine. You know, Tuesday is self-portrait day and Fridays is for memes (OK that one has slipped). Wednesday is not a good night for blogging and neither is Sunday. On account of the telly; House and then Ugly Betty folllowed by Grey's Anatomy. So highbrow. At least it's not Big Brother which once again I'm being sucked into bigtime. I can tell I'm going to get a lot of crochet done this season. Yep.

However, I digress. I thought I might use this post somehow celebrate being a year old blogger and knock over some memes that have been languishing on my to-do list. The first one is from Shula. And it's about how I named my blog. To tell you all the truth, the name muppinstuff has not grown on me as I thought it might. But that sometimes happens with names. (I really like the name Mrs Washalot. Indeed I think a lot of my motivation for that blog came from the name. It just felt so, so right.) Anyway, sometime during the celebration of Grace's first birthday, I decided that I really needed a hobby. Something creative, maybe involving craft or writing. A chance to learn something new. A week or so later while exploring the world of our new broadband internet, I fell down a rabbit hole and discovered the world of blogs. And then craft blogs. And mummy blogs. And I wanted in. I started harbouring some deep domestic fantasies of the crafty, pretty life I could have, and the wonderful things I could make and how fabulous it would all look on the page.  Then I got caught up in a week or three of indecision regarding blogging platforms and thinking about a name. I wanted something made up, something noice, you know, different - unusual. Lists were made and names rejected, most rightly so. The word "muppin" is a term of endearment in our house. It means cute and a bit hopeless (as in hammering nails into plaster walls hopeless). The "stuff" just popped out of my head and is no doubt related to that epic and nightmarish (for me) TV show of my youth H.R. Pufnstuf. Witchypoo used to scare me senseless. The name was put before the committee and not rejected out of hand. It stuck. If another name comes into my head that feels really right, well then I'll take it on. But at this stage that might feel like changing from Janet to Dansing Autumn Mist or some such. Just had a thought, maybe I should drop one of the "f"s. Hmm.

The next meme is the thinking blogger award. I feel a bit bad about this one because Em nominated me for it ages ago. I've also been nominated by Kerryn and Melissa. Thank you. It's now my turn to nominate five bloggers who make me think, but before I do that can I just say that all the blogs I read make me think one way or another. I really enjoy feeling that I'm part of this huge overlapping set of conversations between (mostly) women with different voices and things to say. It rocks my world. So, I'm going to list five bloggers who've been influential during my first year in blogland.

Dooce. One of the first blogs I stumbled on when I came down that rabbit hole. I like the way she writes about her mental health issues, head on. Obviously this is something I can relate to. Her term "my crazy", is one I've begun to use myself. She's funny and serious. And she lost her job because of blogging and now it is her job. I can't help but admire that.

Personal Political. The first Australian blogging mother I found when I googled "australia mother blog". I often find myself thinking about Suzoz's posts the day after. She's a little older than me but sometimes when writes about her youth, I recognise glimpses of a world I was once part of too. I greatly admire the way she writes about growing older and lesbian motherhood and a wider world view. Through her awesome blogroll, I found many thoughtful blogs of the lefty, feminist, alternative bent.

Sooz. Another woman of mighty intellect. Proof that you can be a craft blogger and write about deeper and/or messier meanings in life. That you don't have to be one or the other. This was very comforting to see when I was starting out and felt nicheless. She also lives around the corner from me and I've been lucky enough to get to know her in person through a funny mix of blogging, neighborhood and shared connections. Who knew that blogging would be a way of making new friends offline?

Poppalina. Has always had a way with textiles, toys and Flickr mosaics which are all visual brain fodder. Of late though, she's been writing about suicide and the aftermath; posts that confront deep and difficult taboos. Not only do I think she's incredibly brave but she has infused her posts with a dark humour and elegance that in no way undermines the seriousness of what she's saying.

Wave of Modulation. I found Sheryl's blog though last year's NaBloPoMo . I think I've only commented once or twice but I read everything she posts and I have to say she upturned the way I look at my camera. I don't think I'll ever be the photographer she is, and I'm comfortable with my own style and slowish progress but there was this moment when I realised that I could point my lens at the sun, that I could look for the light and shadow in different ways. That I was looking for the feeling in an image, not just a representation. She has a beautiful way with words too.

Like I said before, I feel like I'm surrounded by the words of wonderful creative women. All over the place. And I feel like blogging has given me a place to say my piece, to be trivial and deep. To try and mesh it all together. And I've learnt heaps; about myself, about writing and blogging and web2. Hell, I can even do a couple of pieces of html, which is not that impressive in itself but it makes me proud.   

Craft is good

Life seems to be zooming past at the moment. Already the fabulous weekend away crafting with Sooz, Suse, Di and Sandra seems to be fading into blur. I rushed to get away and I rushed to catch up when I returned, but the in between seems like an oasis of calm. Jumbles of craft supplies, many fantastic projects, the whirr of sewing machines, conversations that went from intense to hilarious and back again, red wine, civilised meal times, not feeling rude bringing my crochet to the table afterwards, walking on the beach, a fantastic view and a gorgeous baby boy.

Despite my compulsive listmaking, I forgot to pack two really crucial items. My pillow with the peaceful cream pillow case and even more importantly, my sewing machine cord and pedal. Doh! Which means that the material I cut out last Thursday is still in a box awaiting transformation into new clothing. And may well remain so for some time. Oh well. Lucky I packed a bag of wool and some crochet hooks at the last minute. I picked and unpicked my project several times but I think I may have rebonded with the crochet hook.

photo courtesy of Di, thanks, I love the blur.

It's a ripple blanket, but of my own devising. Not having access to the internet, patterns or even my mum, meant I had to find my own way. When I returned and checked, I thought, I'm doing it all wrong, but then thought again, this is a style of work I like. It's quick and fun to do in front of telly. And suitable for Australian conditions. The project I started while I was away has been set aside. The finished item I have in mind needs to be much smaller. I won't pull the first one out unless I run out of wool and may well use it to turn my stash of odd bits of wool into a knee rug. Yet, I'm not at all worried about loosing my weekends work.  The new project is sailing along, all the better for concentrated time with a wool and hook.

As I crochet, I've been letting Grace play with a sample and some small balls of wool. On Wednesday I was sneaking in a few rows and saw this.  Isn't it just the best? It thrills me in a way I can't express that she's playing at crochet. How long before I can teach her the real thing? Oh the excitment.

From all reports, Grace was a total delight while I was away. Well, except for the regular throw herself on the ground and kick and scream until she goes red in the face tantrums. Which happen several times a day, no matter who's there. I missed her even more than I thought I would, but it was OK. We talked on the phone each morning and at night and she seemed to understand that I was away and that I would return. I got home later than I anticipated; it was so hard to leave the crafting circle, I'm a slowish driver and we had to cross town. When I crept into her room to gaze upon her sleeping form, she said hello, hello. I picked her up for a cuddle and she said hello again and then, sleep. Little tired girl.

But oh yes, it was good to be away. Just for a while.

On the streets of our town

Grace and I on the way back from the park. Near the intersection where I have frequent run ins with drivers who pay no heed to the pedestrian lights on the right turn. There's been more than one occasion when I have met their eye with an angry look and pointed to the walk sign and the child in the stroller. Or come close to thumping their windshields. As you can see, it's not a pretty corner. Like many of the main streets in our suburb.

I like it that Grace and I are both looking at the camera, which is resting on the window ledge of a business building. It's about five o'clock and most of the lights seem to have gone out. I would have preferred not to have cut my feet off, but compared to some of the others I've taken, that's a minor issue. The May street photography challenge is going to be even more of a technical challenge than I thought. Oh well, I guess I'll have learned a whole lot more by the end of the month, which has to be a good thing. Anyway, I'm really looking forward to seeing the streets of your town.

Visit SPC here.