Tuesday, 31 March 2009

A Century of Women's Votes in Victoria

On March 31 1908 Women in Victoria finally gained the right to vote, the last women in Australia to be granted this right.
Kavisha Mazzella was commissioned last year by The Victorian Women's Trust to write an anthem, a wonderful song of Love and Justice.
Kavisha gifted the song to the women - and men - of the world so we can all learn it and work to help the women of the world who have yet to achieve equality, and love, and justice.
You can download a clip of the song here and there are links to the sheet music, notes for choir leaders etc on the VWT site.

Today I caught the train down to Melbourne, and we gathered on the steps of Parliament House:

This is the lovely and lively Molly who sang with us at Federation Square on Nov 28 2008, and again today in Parliament (she is 87!), Beth and Amy.

We weren't expecting to sing with Kavisha but she said we HAD to and I wanted to anyway! Queued to go through security and given big Visitor Vs to wear on our chests and ushered in to the Queen's Hall where there were lots of politicians, staff, visitors...
And a stage for us...
I am on the far left, with Mary Crooks from VWT next to me. We are a much truncated choir compared to the 400+ women who sang in Federation Square but we were just as vocal! Got lovely applause and encouraging comments. This photo was taken by Steb Fisher with my unfamiliar camera and therefore a bit fluffy. Steb took lots of photos, all of which will be MUCH better I know!

Kavisha Mazzella and Mary Crooks with a polly who's name has utterly escaped me (obviously NOT Bob Cameron who is my Local Member and who I do know...). See the statue of Queen Victoria overlooking proceedings? I wonder what she would have thought of it all?

And then we stopped at a Japanese restaurant just down Bourke Street and the VWT shouted us lunch:

I then went down to Southern Cross Station and caught the train home to Castlemaine
I LOVE this station, beautiful curves like a woman's body. MUCH MUCH better than what was there before, barren noisy wet windswept and ugly as...

P.S. I also wrote about the Choir on International Women's Day.

Monday, 30 March 2009

What to do with an Epipen

Subtitled What NOT to do with an Epipen...

I am really really allergic to bee stings. I am one of the few people in the country who have to carry TWO Epipens to keep my heart kicking along until the Ambulance gets to me. I have had a couple of cardiac arrests after bee stings, and it isnt a good thing. Admittedly there is also a fair amount of naturally produced adrenaline after I look down and see the back half of a bee hanging off some part of me...

I got a script for a new Epipen the other week because the old one had reached it's Use By date but hadn't needed to be used (whew). I told The Sweetheart it would be A Good Idea if he actually knew what one was like to use.
He read the instructions about removing the grey cap, to press the black end against the thigh (unkindly simulated by rather squishy aged lemon) and then give it a good whack.
I don't know what he was thinking cos he didnt actually follow the directions as they were written and as he had read them out to me. He put his thumb over the black end and savaged the lemon. Unfortunately, he injected enough adrenaline into the ball of his right thumb normally needed to get my heart started.

Not good. Within a few minutes his pulse went from 50 to 100 bpm and he went very pale and shaky - but that might have been the thought of the needle. Blokes are like that.
After ringing my GP who advised getting him pretty quickly to the Royal Melbourne Hospital for observation I took him the 40 kms into Melbourne. In 20 mins... A lot of that was through a frustratingly long 80 kph construction zone on the Calder Freeway, too.

The staff were lovely, they told him they see a lot of accidentally self-injected adrenaline so he wasn't the first idiot (he thought he was). Kept an eye on his blackening thumb for about 2 hours and it looks more like a bruise than necrosis so they sent us home. His pulse rate is almost back to normal and he has stopped being so cranky. I dont get like that after I have adrenaline. I am so grateful to be still alive I don't stop talking apparently.

I keep telling him it was better he learned the hard way to do it the right way than waste an Epipen when I am lying on the ground dying after a bee sting and there isnt enough adrenaline left to keep me alive...

He is still cranky.

Friday, 27 March 2009

Today I am creative...

Today I would like to make bread. But if I make bread I have to fire up my wonderful old four oven Rayburn wood stove (that also heats my bath water) so I can cook. I don't have any sort of instant cooking facilities. Not even a microwave. My Best Sister Noela gave me the dear old (60+ years old) Rayburn as a house-warming present when I bought this house.
A literal and figurative house-warming present.
It is wonderful for winter with the old iron kettle singing and lovely cooking smells of soups, stews, bread and cakes. And all at once!

I am working on a Bush Fire Quilt. I started it a few weeks ago in a working bee with Nada who owns the quilt shop in Sunbury. There were a few donated Cobblestone Blocks and I made more. It isn't at all large (yet...?), the blocks are 6" finished so this is only 3'6" x 4'. I don't know whether to make more blocks or to add some different borders.
I had meningitis at Christmas 2005 and since then my brain doesn't always work how and when it should. I can't think what to do with this. I used random 2½" squares and scrap blues and reds for the cobblestones. I used to make a quilt in a blink and this is brick wall so very frustrating. I have had a meningitis week and feeling very blaaah.

This is one quilt I made before my brain went silly. It was a community project, a quilt for the new extension and renovation at Castlemaine Library. I thought if we got something that was about 3' x 4' we would be able to hang it on a small patch of wall.
I had 25 women helping, only one of whom had ever made a quilt before, some had never even threaded a needle.
I handed out 8" pieces of black homespun, and explained a few techniques for making "a bit of a book shelf" - applique, photo transfer, embroidery etc etc. Judging by how terrified some of the participants looked I only gave them a small slice of the shelf, if they looked more confident they got maybe a 10" or 12" piece.
And then I sent them home.
They kept coming back for more and when I had 21 metres of "shelf" I had to tell them to stop!!! We wouldn't have had a wall in the Library big enough to hang it on! The Library Quilt ended up 1.9m x 3m. There are pictures of it's gestation here.

I made a quilt for my nephew, Frosty. Ages ago - another pre-brain fade quilt.
The material I used for this Stack and Whack design is shown in the label (below). I loved the way this turned out - not all girly for a gorgeous boy. Frosty is now studying aeronautical engineering - at Uni four days a week and flying high on the fifth. A wonderful life, he was born to fly!
I made a salad of vine ripened tomatoes all juicy and smellsome, basil freshly picked from my garden, and slices of brie, all dribbled over with thick balsamic and left to steep for a couple of hours.
Served in a Woods Ware Jasmine bowl and eaten with one of my great grandmother's forks.

I think every so often I shall give you a glimpse of my home.
The house is mud brick and rammed earth with red bricks on the floor downstairs (you can see the floor in the photos of my meals). There are lots of old posts which came from Victoria Dock holding up the roof. My home is also called Banaghaisge - I had lots of adventures and interesting experiences before I got to own this place - my first ever house! It was a wreck when I found it, no power, truckloads of rubbish to be carted away, holes in the floors and roof... There is still lots that needs to be done but it feels like a peaceful haven now.
This is the front door.
Come in!

Thursday, 26 March 2009

A Great Book

I found this book in Castlemaine Library the other week and am still savouring my way through it. So far I have learned how to cut peat, do dry-stone walling, make hurdles and ladders, dig a well and what a bodger is...
"The Forgotten Arts and Crafts" is by John Seymour, full of wonderful illustrations (by him?) and great old photos of people with their craft. Or art. It was originally published in the 1980s as two separate volumes - "The Forgotten Arts" and "Forgotten Household Crafts".
I would love a copy, but there doesn't appear to be one available in any second hand book shops in Australia. Maybe I should just see Patrick at the Library and ask him to put it aside for me when they next have a clean-out of old books...

P.S. If you want to know what a bodger is here is a link to a most very comprehensive description. You could probably become a bodger after reading this!

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Random things...

This is basil and mint from my garden in a little still life on the kitchen table

Floss, my sister in law, sent me home from Mitta Mitta the other weekend with 7 or 8 garbage bags full of material she no longer needs. She is putting her artistic energies into that wonderful garden, not into sewing any more. I spent many days washing it all, and folding - except for this laundry basket full of old linens, embroideries, d'oileys waiting to be starched and ironed.
What treasure!

Patchwork materials in the first few piles, and then linens and blends from Bruck Mills in Wangaratta, followed by some piles of furnishings and curtainings.
Itchy sewing fingers!

Somebody works at Stoneman's Bookshop in Castlemaine who has lovely legs!

I got the doll's house painted. Undercoated really, and then sanded. I am stuck on what colour. It was easier to paint my house ("Bluegum" which looked like the new foliage on Tassie Bluegums, but after I bought 40L of it looked like an odd and inappropriate for a house in the bush turquoise. And THEN people told me about sample pots...).

And I had a handsome pear and a creamy yummo brie for dinner!

Friday, 20 March 2009

Rain, lovely rain!

Last Saturday morning at The Sweetheart's there was a GREAT crash of thunder and the power went out and the rain fell out of the sky in great sheets. The gutters overflowed (not so good when they are box gutters as you can see). The water ran down the trunk of the big gum tree in the front yard in rivulets making clean and green patterns. We went down the street for breakfast...

On Friday night we went - again - to the Comedy Club at the top of the Athaneum Theatre in Collins St. I had to stand on a table and lean out the window (to a chorus of "Jump, jump, jump" from behind me - why people so unkind???) to get a shot of the theatre and restaurant across the street. The Box is where we had dinner (very most yummy) and where The Sweetheart said "G'day Mate" to the infamous Mick Gatto a couple of weeks ago. Mick Gatto was sitting at one of those tables out the front. A couple of days later the news was reporting him Up To No Good in Singapore. What did I do when he spoke to this maybe King of Melbourne's Underworld? I just walked on as tho I didn't know him. But then I am the one now blogging about him... Been enjoying Underbelly 2 - mostly for the trip down fashion and furnishing memory alley! The Comedy Club was great fun - thank you Jacqy (again) for the tickets!

Sunday we went to Phillip Island to old car races - Phillip Island Classic. The Sweetheart took lots of photos and you can see them here.
I fell in love with this lovely old 1952 Riley. It turned out to be sheltering a bloke The Sweetheart went to school with, and who was Best Man at his first wedding years ago. His cousin who is only the second owner was in the driver's seat. It has only done 90,000 miles, and has lovely original leather upholstery and a shiny wood dash. It cost him £90 in 1962!

This is a 1924 Wanderer. It raced in the first Australian Grand Prix and did 80 mph. I imagine this would be extraordinarily frightening at that speed - no roof, no roll bars, no anything between you and the gravel except a leather helmet donated by some WW1 flying ace. And owned by a great nephew of the original hoon, too...

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Happy birthday Noela!!!

My sis Noela has a birthday today, happy birthday Noela!!!

Here she is wearing the ball gown our Mum made in 1961 to wear to a Highland Ball. Hector, our Dad wore his kilt of course.
This is crystal organza, a Vogue pattern that I keep searching for. Mum made it all on the Singer treadlie (which I still have tho we sewed it to death, combination of Mallee dust and constant use by 6 kids - Mum never had much time for sewing really) having to put greaseproof paper on the seams to tame the slippery material and when she finished it at 3 a.m. apparently put it on and waltzed alone around the house to celebrate.
Mum wore this within 6 weeks of having her 6th baby. People in town didnt even know she was pregnant. Underneath Mum wore the taffeta petticoat that she wore when she was 16 and bridesmaid when her sister was married. It is perfect on it's own, and with a more than full circle skirt. Mum is nearly 6' tall and even tho Noela is the tallest of us girls the hem is still dragging (all 21 feet of it!).
I havent been able to get in to the gown since I went past 50 kgs...I used to wear it to balls, too - with my Doc Martens to make dancing comfortable.

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Fang Fairies


Two weeks ago I whinged to Maggie my almost cousin who lives around the corner that I wished dentists bulk billed like doctors. And she said "But there is a clinic for pensioners - a bit of a waiting list but cheap as chips".
Had a bit of a Google and then rang Daylesford Community Health Centre and they said "3 year waiting list", then Maryborough - "2.5 year waiting list" and I thought "It is getting shorter" so rang Sunbury (where my Sweetheart lives) and they said "Three years" and I cried and wailed "BUT MY TEETH HURT" and she said "In that case you are an emergency, come in tomorrow".

And it isnt going to cost me more than $96 all up (unless I get dentures and then they cost $150 or something!), I have a crown from 5 or 6 years ago that has cracked from where they put the pins in, and a baby tooth near my eye tooth that is about to be canonised as it is a miracle it is still with me. The root has probably been resorbed which explains why it is wobbly and like old ivory - and a smoking elephant at that.... And I have advanced gum disease whatever that means.

I went back on Monday after some xrays (also free...) but the dentist had called in sick so next Tuesday.
I never even knew about the dental clinic thing for poor people.
I would be so crap at rorting the system...

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Lovely looooong weekends....!!

How cute is this little thing! It is a possum scarf - I bought it at The Mighty Mitta Muster last weekend. It is for Moo (the grandkid) who lives in Hobart. The Sweetheart and I went up on Saturday morning to Mitta Mitta for another wonderful stay with my brother and sister in law at The Witches Garden.

The Mighty Mitta Muster was on Sunday. It has been running for about 20 years, and getting better each year!

There was show jumping!

Skye and Ellie won a prize in the Dog Jumping

And then there was the tent pegging exhibition - wonderful and exciting

Wild bull rides for little kids!! And wood chops for everyone else!

We stayed at The Witches Garden in a quilt-laden and extremely comfortable old bed in the tree tops. The best way to sleep.
Two Tawny Frogmouths belong to the garden since they were injured in accidents and can't fly.
Flowers from the garden.

And when we got home Jake was EXHAUSTED from playing with three friendly dogs, staying up all night inviting possums to come down and play, sniffing out bush rats and possibly snakes (shudder), and acquiring a whole host of flea friends to bring home with him.
Sleep well Jake!

And I still haven't worked out how to make a nice page, especially when adding photos.It is getting frustrating so I will just publish and be damned!!!

Sunday, 8 March 2009

International Women's Day!

At the end of November last year there was a wonderful performance of an anthem commissioned by the Victorian Women's Trust and written by the fabulous Kavisha Mazzella. It was to celebrate 100 years of women's suffrage - when we got to vote in Victoria. There were over 400 women from all around Victoria who gathered at the BMW Edge Theatre at Federation Square to sing this very moving anthem. And I was one of them! We had only had 5 rehearsals - only one of them as the complete choir. After we sang we got a standing ovation and so we sang again. And that audience filed out and we had a 'second sitting' and got another standing ovation. As the anthem is over 6 minutes long we sang for almost half an hour! We cried, the audiences cried - even the blokes.The Victorian Women's Trust has produced a CD ($10 including postage) with us singing, and the gifting of the song to the women (people) of the world, and a video or the performance. You can find it all here. And there is a vid of our performance on Youtube hereI will add some photos when I get home - but we are up at Mitta Mitta at my brother's and sister in law's wonderful Witches Garden (see the link in the entry below - it is a magical place). Today is the Might Mitta Muster and we are about to go down and look at working steam engines, old cars, art exhibition, wood chop, Jack Russel races, and eat junk food and drink beer.Who could ask for anything more?Well yes it DOES get better - tonight is the Wombat Gully Music Festival (by invitation only). We have to come up with a performance for the talent show between now and then. I imagine we will get more clever as the beer levels rise in us...XXXX

Thursday, 5 March 2009


I told people that today I would show you some of my quilts.
The easiest way is to go and check out my gallery - it is crowded with quilts!


This was about 1965 I think, taken at my Auntie Pat's and Uncle Ernie's place in Kerang. They still live in the same house (different carpet tho).
Back row is Noela, Elspeth and I, with Lew, Alpal and Marion in the front row. I think Mum must have got a bulk deal on the hair cuts, we all look the same. But SHINY! There were six of us in 8 years (Dad wanted a son and heir and Mum (!) made the mistake of having four girls before figuring it out.

I have been sewing today. Cobblestone blocks in reds and blues for a bushfire quilt. It is actually kind of cool - good sewing weather to make up for the extraordinarily scary hot and horrible times we have recently had.

I managed to get an emergency appointment tomorrow with a fang fairy from Dental Services Vic - because lots of my teeth hurt I don't have to join the 3 year waiting list. Oh, the luck of being on a sick person pension - too poor to pay for a 'proper' dentist but with all the time in the world to sit and wait for one to become available...

The Sweetheart and I are going to Mitta Mitta for the long weekend. The Mighty Mitta Muster is on, and then Sunday evening there is The Wombat Gully Music Festival (invitation only). We will be staying at The Witches Garden again - always a good place to be.

Thank you all for reading me and for the lovely comments. It is only going to get better!

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Bare Bear

My Bare Bear has been with me since I was tiny. When I was 3 I threw him in the copper when Mum was doing the washing (can you imagine - three babies under three and doing the washing in a copper under trees. Before we got electricity in the Mallee...). All his lovely soft fur fell out. And when I had my tonsils out at 7 I cut him open and took out his growly bit. He is a bit worse for wear, but he has had a lovely long life. And he knows lots about me that nobody else does.
I love my Bare Bear.

Sunday, 1 March 2009

I feel so sanctimonious - I am now into my SECOND month of blogging...
And just a quick thingie cos I dont want to go two days without an entry (after only two days of writing as it is, ha ha).

Friday night we went out to a wonderful dinner at a Japanese restaurant in Flinders Lane (right in the centre of Melbourne) with a million Gorgeous Young Things flocking around and lining up to go partying in Meat Markets (primarily Spice Market), and then climbed to the top of The Athaneum in Collins St to a Comedy Club show. Very very funny, very worth going to. Our friend Jaquie got super cheap tickets and we went with her bloke, and two previously Pommy friends of theirs (who just became naturalised on Australia Day). The compere took off all his clothes at one stage and flapped his floppy bits at us. After that he got dressed again and there was a sense of anticlimax about the place so I yelled out "Take your clothes off". My, how we laughed.
I thought it amazingly brave of him to take his clothes off. He had a Mummy Tummy and he hadn't even had a baby...

Then yesterday after faffing around dragging ourselves out of a lovely sleep-in I went off down to help Nada who owns the quilt shop in Sunbury. She has organised some quilt-ins to make quilts from donated orphan blocks, UFOs and even completed tops. Got given a pile of pretty blue cobblestones and I am making a little pile more and about 30 red cobblestones to go with them. Sewed for a few hours in a church hall with lovely generous women. There were four of us Scquilters there - Wendy, Louise, Nada and I and we had a couple of in-house discussions which amazed a few of the older (non-Scquilter) women there ("You mean you haven't ever met before????" and "You know each other from (shudder) The Internet????"!!!).

Today we were up at the very crack of dawn (or even before) and after a quick shower and HALF A CUPPA TEA we went off to Camberwell Market in The Little Red Car. There isnt very much room in The Little Red Car so we decided on the way that there was no point in even looking at chairs, or large paintings, hat stands etc.
Looked at lots of lovely vintage frocks and bought a pure silk skirt for me, and a gorgeous gorgeous ball gown for Moo to wear in a few years - all cream lace bodice all hand beaded and a full skirt of silk chiffon over satin with satin ribbon bands ($15). Needs a new zip, but I can do that. Easily.
Because it was a bit chilly and I hadn't brought a jacket I acquired a stunning raspberry Japanese coat (what are those short ones called?) - double breasted with buttons and a pocket hidden in the side(ish) seam but with kimono sleeves (another $15).
A great 6m length of shibori blue on white silk which I folded around my head to keep my hair in place (that was exxy at $45!).

Doesn't this look gorgeous with the red flowering thing on the left? The shibori is wrapped around my head a few times. The Sweetheart kept calling me "Queen Evangeline" cos I looked so regal (well I hope that was why). Evangeline was my paternal Grandmother's name (Evangeline Letitia - how is THAT for regal???)

The same stall holder had astounding Wedding Kimonos, silk embroidered and re-embroidered with great padded hems - the dearest ones were $700. Wish I had $700. He said they were $5,000 to $10,000 originally (but now they were 'used' so would rarely be used as wedding kimono again). Stunning.

This is one of the kimonos - with detail of the exquisite embroidery (right) - notice how they have joined the seam with the pattern exactly matched. Fabulous!

And a bundle of blue patchwork material to make some more cobblestones - about 2.5m for $5.

Towards the end we ran into my dear friend Campbell The Swaggie who performs at festivals all over the country, lives on his busking and also supports charities such as Fred Hollows Foundation, and Starlight Foundation, and sponsors a couple of kids through World Vision etc.
Bought him a cappuccino and a pie'n'sauce and listened to his wonderful oratory for a while - another customer came up and said "The last time I saw you was in Darwin, never expected to see you here!"! You should always expect to see Campbell!! And if you do meet him on the road give him a lift, and do give him a couple of bob if you hear him performing. He is on his way to Port Fairy Folk Festival via the Bush Fire fundraiser with Midnight Oil and Hunters and Collectors etc, having just come south from a festival at Cobargo. And then he will be at Canberra at the National over Easter (as I will be too, hooray!).

This couple was bringing home a coffee table on the back of their little scooter. I cheekily asked them where the chairs were and she said "We took them home already"!!!

I shall add some photos to this posting tomorrow, but now bed is calling me in a soft snorey sort of voice.
Goodnight - and thank you for listening (tomorrow I may also well learn how to write and add a clever signature...).