Friday, April 29, 2016

Another week

Back to school and back to work - not much to report here, other than on the weather front, where it refuses to either get cold or rain. I am going down the beach this weekend so I'll see if that makes it rain ... I tested it with 100 loads of washing last weekend and still the sun shone! Here is another sunset dog-walking shot with a son in short sleeves. I know, it looks like he has a cotton ball on a piece of string.

I have finished that snowball and red quilt, and am now moving on to quilting another old forgotten one. And the gallery sold two more of my quilts! So exciting,  I will have to make sure that I spend the money on something proper and not just fritter it away on coffee and pantyhose. I also went for three runs this week in an attempt to get some fitness back. It isn't quite like starting over completely again - thank heavens - but I am not exactly at the "run 8 km while singing and dancing and giving thanks to the joyous spring" stage that I was in September. Or I think I was - I might be giving it a slightly optimistic tinge. My bones and muscles objected but I will keep going, it is much nicer running in the open air than being inside a gym, and I know it's good for me.

Monday, April 25, 2016

In a finishing mood

I want to get started on a couple of new projects - including a request from a friend, which I hardly ever do - but first there has to be some finishing up and some clearing out. I threw two quilt tops into the bin that I was never going to finish and really didn't like. One was half quilted but still it went - I took the safety pins out first then ditched it. And yesterday I did some quilting, on the red scrappy one that I pieced a few months ago.

It was awesome because I got a chance to use my new book. I did just a straight line on the red, and then did different designs in each of the octagon / snowball blocks. You really can't even tell the quilting is there because the fabrics are all so busy, but it was a good chance to try every single design in the book.

I did all the ones for circles, and hexagons, and even diamonds with a bit of finessing before moving onto the squares, which was a bit harder, so I went back to the circles and invented my own variations. This is a great book for me; lots of ideas, which I struggle with sometimes. Some of the designs worked better than others but that is exactly what this type of quilt is for!

We've had a pretty quiet second week of school holidays - number two son had four days at a holiday camp that he went to last year and loved. Actual camping in a tent, and lots of fires, and bush walks, and optional activities. Only thirty kids and much better rather than the regimented school camp, which he found a bit oppressive. He's so like me .... it was so funny in Melbourne because he had the same reaction to the big city that I did when I was eleven - he just fell in love with it. He is the same age as I was when my family took a trip to Wellington for the first time; and I just remember how amazing I thought it was after growing up in a small town - somewhere old, and grotty, and cool, and people lived above shops, and concrete, and graffiti and I so desperately wanted to be a part of it, like the cool kids.

And my younger son had exactly the same reaction - we were walking along a street somewhere very unprepossessing but very urban and he was all "this is SO COOL Mum" ... now Melbourne isn't exactly New York (and Wellington sure as hell isn't, not now and certainly not back in the early 1980s) but I think if you have a taste for the city then you find your city where you can. I moved to Wellington six years later to go to university, so I think we'll lose him to the bright lights at some stage, which is fine by me. I can always go visit.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Australasian Quilt Convention

In Melbourne I managed to offload the children at the Museum - right next door - and sneak a couple of hours at the AQC. Completely unplanned - I hadn't even realised it was on - but then I saw a flyer for it and thought it would be a shame to actually be in Melbourne and not get there. So off I went. There were lots of quilts, and masses of vendors, and seething hordes of quilters. I didn't get to any of the classes or talks, which is a shame, but my two-hour window really just let me see the quilts and have a quick poke around the shops.

As you can imagine, there were some extraordinary quilts there. They pick up the best ones from the separate State and Territory shows, as well as some other specialist exhibitions and some themed ones. I really liked the Wartime Quilts exhibition - old quilts mostly made by men from pieces of wool uniforms. Fascinating, and good explanations of the historical context, which I always like.

I also liked the series of quilts by Victoria Findlay Wolfe and Di Ford-Hall... and it made me think about some of the dissatisfaction that I have with these shows in general. If I had to sum up the quilts as a whole with a single word it would be "overwrought". Overquilted, overdone, over-embellished, over-thought in the case of the art pieces. My single word would not be relaxed, fun, lively or effortless.

And I wonder if that is because you only get a single quilt to show everything - you don't get to show a range of differing things that work off a single theme, to give the audience a chance to see where you are going and where you've been. Which is why I really liked Di Ford-Hall's very traditional quilts; none of them would have stood out at all mixed in with the crowd, but when you saw them all together they complemented each other, and you can see what her priorities were in a quilt, and how she worked that, and explored it. I don't have any answers for this but I'm not sure the quilt show format we currently have is doing anyone any favours.

Apart from the quilts it was great to go into the Royal Exhibition Building - built in 1880 and the site of the opening of the First Parliament in 1901. Which was the subject of Tom Roberts' Big Picture which we had seen in the exhibition a couple of weeks ago. It was very cool to look up at the roof and recognise the arches from the painting.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

A week in Melbourne

For the first week of the school holidays I took the boys down to Melbourne - they'd never been and I haven't been a tourist there for 20 years, so definitely time for an explore. We drove down (about 660 km on very good roads, so an easy day's drive) but I didn't take the car out again when we got there - it was trams and trains and walking! And that in itself is a novelty for my little suburban children.

Melbourne is very cool - easy to get around in, great public transport, lots going on but not at all rushed or unpleasant. My older son took masses of photos of buildings and streets, just whatever pleased him. I was quite resolved not to make any of the decisions other than transport and accommodation (it's too hard) so we spent a lot of time figuring out what to do next, and where to eat, and how to get places. Tiring, but good practice for them for endless travel in the future, without mum's credit card.

We went to the Zoo, which was fantastic, and the Museum, and Scienceworks, and Matilda the musical which was very good indeed. We went for walks along the riverfront, to the markets, took the tourist tram around the city, and visited the Shrine of Remembrance. We didn't eat many vegetables, and slept like bricks in a perfectly cool, dark and quiet apartment.

We stayed over the road from the Botanic Gardens, just out of the CBD, and spent some time walking through the gardens, and occasionally stopping for a sit down. We caught up with friends who - due to a recent job change - have just moved into a house actually in the Botanic Gardens, which is a bit of an awesome place to live. We had a look round and saw the empty mews and cottages and stables ... full in 1876 but not much call for a coachman now.

And then drove back yesterday through the densely populated south-east corner of Australia. If your attention span and bladder could stand it, you could put the cruise control on 110 km/hr and keep it on for six hours.

Friday, April 8, 2016

End of the week and end of the term

Whoosh and it's Friday again and not just any Friday, but the end of the school term and into two weeks of holidays. Which we are all ready for. Number two son had three days at school camp this week to finish up the term - he quite enjoyed it but wasn't super thrilled. I think it's a bit regimented for him. And his older brother had filled him with the highlight of the camp which was racing around dangerously in dune buggies ... it must have been a bit TOO dangerous because sometime in the past three years they had taken the engines out. So the kids pushed each other around in dune buggies, which my younger son was NOT impressed with. And to top it off he came back with a rather virulent (we could even say explosive) gastro that flattened him out for a day or so.

In his absence we had quite a nice quiet time enjoying the serenity and taking the dog for long walks in the sunset. This photo was on Tuesday which was our (hopefully) absolute last gasp of summer at a ridiculous 31 degrees. Still t-shirts in the middle of April.

This probably doesn't look very thrilling but I was excited because it's 30 yards of fabric that came jammed into a USPS box. Because of the way the shipping costs are structured it's much more economic to order 30 yards than 6 yards ... other than the fact you have to spend all that money on fabric of course. But it was very exciting, even though most of the ones I bought are blenders. The $AUS isn't all it could be at the moment, but I don't think it's going to get any better in the short term, and it is still so much cheaper than the fabric stores here! Which I don't even bother going into any more, now that I buy my batting on-line as well.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Monday again

And before you know it it's Monday again - I am not sure what happened to that week! I do know really, because I was off work sick for two days with some kind of bug that made me very tired and a bit wobbly. So lots of sleeping and not much else, and the weekend was very quiet as well.

I dropped my Dad back to the airport on Sunday which was a stress nightmare because the airport was having an open day, and it took us an hour and a half to go the last 3 km, in increasing frustration, and Dad missed his flight. Luckily the airline was very understanding (we weren't the only half-mad wild-eyed passengers that morning) and he got home to NZ eventually without having to pay any more, but honestly Canberra is meant to be free of this kind of nonsense! It's a pay-off for the small town tedium that is our normal existence. 

But there was a bit of sewing - I finished the  orange and purple cross blocks and put them together. They look very cool - at this stage I don't want to do a border so it's not a big quilt, but I might put it aside for a while and then see how I feel when it's time to quilt it.

One other thing Dad and I did was go to the Tom Roberts exhibition at the National Gallery - it was fantastic! What a wonderful talent, and able to switch between all sorts of types of art with equal felicity ... both Dad and I really enjoyed it. It helped that I am 5'10'' and Dad is 6'3" so we could get a good view of everything. And we felt quite young and sprightly (ages 45 and 73) compared to the rest of the viewing audience, which is always good.