life of a packrat

Our modem died on Sunday, and if you sniffed it there was a suspicious burny smell. So we were cut off from the world of email, blogs, flickr and it made me feel, well a bit panicky. Not like being on holiday cut off, for which one plans. More like, what if the conveyancer sent me an email and I didn't read it. Or what if I wanted to buy something online... like perhaps a new modem? Anyway, I bought another one today and more or less figured out how to connect it properly. The only issue is that the send/receive on outlook seems to have become somewhat temperamental. But working. So, this afternoon I have been inhaling the internet with great pleasure. Inhaling it, I say. Utterly tragic. Anyhow this post was meant to be about my latest opshopping exploits...

Despite the fact that I'm trying not to buy or otherwise acquire anything new, the opshop has been good to us of late. On the way to the craft retreat, the Salvos at Kyneton had a beautiful window of old board games in well used but good condition. In the city, they'd have been for display only or asking an exhorbitant price. So I tentatively asked how much they were and then had to ring Gerard to see what he thought. We now have monopoly and a draughts set. The draughts are beautiful but I love how the monopoly game has writing in the lid. It sends a big tingle down my paper emphemera loving spine. Also bought some books: an Enid Blyton story book about two children who go fishing, an old TV comic compedium and a Dorothy the Dinosaur golden book, in which the other characters keep stepping on her rose garden. She doesn't yell at them, even though she is obviously very unhappy about it. It's on high rotation at the moment. Very high rotation. Romp-bomp-a-chomp.

Then last Tuesday, I was in Savers with Grace waiting to meet Gerard for out appointment to see Mr Bostonov* at the bank and Gerard called me to say he was at Don Bosco standing guard over a really great chunky Lego train set and that I should come and have a look. We bought it (it was really great) and then dashed off to our appointment. When we returned to pick it up, I found some really great books including these three Alison Lester board books. We had the other one already and being a total Alison Lester fan, it delights me to have the complete set. I was going to give them to Ruby, but Grace is loving them almost as much as Dorothy. They were only twenty cents each and the Lego was also absurdly cheap, so I felt like I should pay a bit more, a feeling I sometimes have at Don Bosco. It's one of my two favourite opshops: cheap, friendly, community minded and they support good causes.

Expect photos of Lego soon. It is dominating the loungeroom in a charming way. At this point.

Then on Friday, after my GP appointment at which I learnt the scary news that my medication is a bit below what's considered to be the theraputic range (I'm dreading pressure from my new psychiatrist to increase the dose to the point where I'm a fat(ter) totally level robotic blimp), I stopped by Savers again. We're looking for a new wardrobe for Grace's room as the one she has now, although lovely, is far too big for her new room and not very child friendly.  No wardrobe, but..... more books for Grace (we like books) and these Enid Gilchrist pattern books for me. When I saw Sue's at the craft retreat, I knew I wanted some too. Sewing, retro, paper, ephemera - what's not to love?  I thought $4.99 was a bit exy, but when I got home there were more than I expected in the bag and it looked like they were meant to be $4.99 each. Eeek. I feel a bit guilty, and the freak in me wanted to go back and correct the error, but it was an honest mistake. Maybe it's karma for how shabby Savers were when I asked to return stuff from my psychotic shopping spree back in 2005.  Anyway, I do love these books. Not just for the patterns but for the ads too. Check it out, the fantasy of the yummy mummy is certainly not a new one...  And I think my mum may have had one of those child leash things for my sister.

* Grace has an old phone in her room and Gerard often plays a game with her, pretending that Mr Bostonov from the bank is calling. He asks her if she would like to talk to him. If she says no, he says, no she's not avaible now and hangs up.  As we were signing the loan documents, Grace kept burbling on about Mr Bostonov. It was pretty funny really.

weekend craft debrief

Slipping back into a cold, wet, greyness that is Melbourne in late winter (especially in a drafty house), overlaid with a million and one things to do and this creeping tiredness that goes with the weather, I'm hanging onto that special craft weekend feeling. Sure, it was cold and wet, but when you're having that much fun it really doesn't seem to matter. Especially when you're inside, crafting. But even when you're outside, taking photos, it's fun.

Anyway, I've been thinking about why I like these weekends so much. Of course, there's the most obvious attractions: spending quantity time in the company of inspirational, creative, nurturing women (including some who don't have blogs). Sitting around at night, knitting or sewing and talking. Watching someone else make something you haven't thought off before. Eating and drinking, being cooked for, baking a tart instead of dinner. All the pleasures of a shared table. Even drying the dishes with someone else. Not to mention cracking jokes about the decor, although I have to say, it really wasn't a patch on the house we went to last November, that was a stunner that one. And there's the whole thing about being out in the country and seeing new and pretty things.
late afternoon sun across the road from the Kyneton woollen mill where we stopped on the way up

However, I think something that I really, really dig about this craft weekend scene is the time to spend immersed in making. At home, even if I think I have a whole weekend to do something, there are really just little gaps of possibilty and projects just sort of creep along. If I'm organised, there's two hours in the afternoon while Grace is asleep that are good for sewing and maybe some time after dinner if I don't want to go on the internet. Athough I do sometimes knit while my flickr pictures upload. On a craft weekend, you can craft all you like. Because it's a craft weekend. I remember on the first one, this feeling of liberation crocheting around the table, after dinner. These women understand. And there's busy hands everywhere. Making has an urgency, a priority. Love that.

Anyway, I started knitting a new scarf, several times. Loopy wool, so it kept getting wider and wider, until after about the sixth ripping I learnt to count the stitches every couple of rows. That'll be for Grace if she likes it. For me or mum or Betty if she doesn't. Bought some glorious dark greeny, bluey, murky but brilliant wool, which I think may be the first time I've bought wool new. But I only bought enough for a scarf and I think want to make a vest. There's a design in my mind I think could knit. Will have to make a sample to see how much wool I'd need. I didn't actually go to the wool show, with the move imminent, an event holding that much temptation to buy was something I was prepared to forgo for a whole day of sewing with the music up loud. Started off by finishing the silk top that has languished unfinished since the last craft weekend, and a skirt that has also been cut out but unmade since then. Made a skirt for Grace which, in the excitment of mummy returning home, she said she loved but so far refuses to wear. It's for school, she says. So now I have only one more cut out pattern left in my unfinished projects box!  Also fixed Grace's toy giraffe, he's in a fragile state and kept splitting and spilling kapok all over her bed. He's meant to be living somewhere safe now, but I noticed he's back in her bed already. Oh well. She was pretty pleased to have him back.

we saw elephants and butterflies

I really didn't think that I had time to go to the zoo today, my brain feels so cluttered. There just seems to be so much to do, think about, plan and organise. Settlement on the house is fast approaching and we know someone who'd like to take over the house we live in now, once we're ready to move. There are boxes appearing, stuff to sort and a neverending stream of complicated looking paperwork that proclaims that you must read and understand it before you sign it. And appointments for this and that (including two trips to the dentist, hmph - middle aged teeth) from here until breakfast. And I've had a disturbing dream that involves eating a whitebread sandwich filled with raw chicken breast fillet, skin off. Not once but twice. Yuck.

However, go to the zoo we did. With Mum and Betty and Ruby. I'm glad. It was my one in four thursday off work. And seeing that I'm going away for the weekend (without my little family), to maybe finish one or two things from my unfinished projects box before packing away all my sewing stuff, to gossip and drink red wine with some fellow crafty bloggy types, it seemed like a good thing to do. The zoo was pleasant. If a bit cold and bracing. The moment we arrived Grace demanded that her jumper be removed and then ran off to see the pigs. We visited the snakes and lizards, shudder. Then the giraffes, who always brighten my day. Then on to the elephants with a side trip into the butterfly enclosure which I adore, but Grace is not so keen on. But I got some extra time in there this visit. Then visiting more elephants and on to the monkeys. Including the cutest little baby one, having a cuddle with his mummy. Awww. By then we'd done our dash, and  things were starting to distintegrate so we went home for lunch and a nap (Grace, not me, I wish).

Once Grace was tucked in, I read the loan offer, tried to make sense of it. Rang our mortgage guy, talked and emailed him some pdfs, talked some more. Decided I felt less baffled. Called the bank to make an appointment to sign the paperwork and got through. Sent an email to the conveyancer. Rang a small community run childcare place near where we are moving and a) got to talk to someone and b) found they have one place available on the day we want it. So now we have an appointment to go and have a look around and sign more paperwork. Accomplished in one small afternoon than I expected to get done in a whole day. And got to go to the zoo for as long as the children could handle. Anyway, it's all good. But please, no more icky dreams.

Was going to load all my zoo photos onto flickr too but the uploadr is being a beast. Sigh.

I like moss stitch

Last winter was all about crochet: the computer wrap, various attempts at ripple stitch, a baby blanket. This year I'm knitting. Which doesn't come as naturally. With basic crochet stitches, I can picture what I want to do and know how to get there. More or less. When I'm knitting, I loose track of what I'm doing and forget whether I've done a purl or a plain. The mistake is not obvious until much later which has led to much unravelling and re-knitting. In the case of one scarf, four times before I was happy enough to call it finished. But now I've remembered how to do moss stitch and I'm enjoying knitting. Especially after my once favoured green needles broke and I bought some bamboo ones on sale from spotlight. The bamboo feels light and warm at the same time. Almost enough to make me cross to the other side. 

This scarf is my third and the wool is a cream wool boucle from the sixties or seventies judging by the label. Found at my second favourite opshop. When it's finished, I'm wondering whether I'll branch out and try something with a pattern. To move beyond the square. Although I suppose I could make a blanket. Or design a garment based on squares and rectangles. It's tempting because this sort of knitting is relaxing and goes so well with watching telly or waiting for my photos to upload onto flickr. And I've never learnt how to follow a pattern for crochet or knitting. Sewing yes, but that's different. There's so much more I could make if I could learn to follow a pattern. Maybe.

July's self-portrait theme is skill. See what everyone else is doing here

quiet weekend

Today I drove around in the sunshine, visited my favourite opshop on the way to the supermarket and bought a pair of beautiful Italian boot/shoes that Grace touched but put away in her shoe drawer, some summer gardening pants for me (I'm starting to think that my wardrobe for the next year will need lots of things that can get covered in dirt or paint) and a big stack of magazines that I'd call house p*rn. Only I'm not allowed to call it that, because as G says, it's not a word we want Grace to be using. Then I went to my second favourite opshop and looked out the top floor window at the clouds scudding across the western horizon and felt happy. By the time I'd finished the fruit shopping and the supermarket, it was three so I didn't spend the afternoon sewing as planned. Just sort of hung out at home with the family. Pottering. Making spanakopita for dinner. Talking about our plans. It's nice to have a quiet weekend once in a while.

Last weekend was consumed with the Pool Together event for the Coburg Olympic Pool and it was the most amazing success. Exhausting in a way but also, crowded, good humoured and fun beyond our wildest dreams. People came that no-one knew even. Although I did run into some people that live where we're moving to where the conversation would start off... you look familiar, or I know you?.. and then we'd work out a connection from some past point in life. In a good way. And it felt really good to be part of the goup that made it happened. It's been a long time since I volunteered in any sense and I think I like it. Gee, the places that blogging will take you... (but that's a story for later I think). Anyway, I'm feeling very positive about the upcoming move. It feels like exactly the right place for us.

Grace and I made crazy lurid gingermen for the cake stall and because, while I was doing last weeks's supermarket shopping (in a rush, as opposed to meandering down the aisles singing love is in the air and dancing queen), I became certain they weren't going to be any good and that furthermore I would be judged badly as a woman (who used to have a cafe) on my baking, I decided to make lemon slice as well. So there's been a bit of a baking frenzy. Neurotic but fun. It was my first cake stall as a mum, so I'm going to let that one through to the keeper. And relax next time.