Saturday, September 29, 2007

We actually had rain just as we crossed the border into South Australia, which was most welcome. It was very early morning, and the dark clouds and wet roads and golden light were very dramatic.
Those hills in the distance are the start of home territory for us.I love the blue scrub here,it's probably a form of saltbush, but we didn't feel like stopping to investigate.And finally we were back in our own little town. I can't believe I drove all that way! I enjoyed it so much that Mereth never got a go at driving. Next time I'll share, I promise.


Thursday, September 27, 2007

There was a lot of this after we got onto the Mid Western Highway. The Newell highway was very pretty, and such a good road. We turned off it with a pang, especially as I knew what crossing the Hay plain was like from previous trips. Can we all say 'Desolate'?

In the middle of nowhere this little church appeared, adrift in a sea of burnt yellow grass.
We detoured from the highway for a moment, to take some closer photos. A sign said it's still used on the third Sunday of every month. It's almost impossible to imagine the times when it was part of a thriving rural community. This is a very sparsely populated area now. Gunbar may be marked on the map, but there's not much there.
And then there was a lot more of this, with only that tanker up ahead to keep us company.
We are actually at home now, having made a dash for it at the end, so the next post will be the last of the road photos, and then a bit of what we'll be up to next. It may be strange, but we would like to get back in the car and do it all again, we had a great time even if we didn't linger along the way.


We came across several of these enormous silo complexes in New South Wales. I have never seen them in Queensland, and Mereth has never seen one in South Australia. We sailed past several without stopping, exclaiming at them, and finally agreed to stop at the next one so that Mereth could sketch it. This one is at Rankin Springs, and while Mereth sketched I wandered around and took some photos of the plants.
These poppies were self-sown, all around the blue-metal driveway of the silo. I loved the colours of the petals against the grey stone. I would like to try for that combination in some hand-dyes.
Some of the gum trees along the road must have had traumatic pasts, to end up in the shape they were. So many have died off, and the whole of Australia looks so dry. We really need 10 years of good rains to rescue the country. There were a lot of failed grain crops along the way, so these silos may not be full this year. So sad to think of all that effort and hope coming to nothing.
Some plants manage to grow no matter what the conditions.


The details are getting a bit blurred now, we have seen a lot of countryside go by. This lovely avenue of tree was somewhere in the Stanthorpe area we think. We should have labelled all our pictures. I don't know what sort of tree they are, but in leaf they would look spectacular.
There were some nice splashes of green in the fields, and even little clouds in the sky, but it never looked like rain.
There were lots and lots and lots of hills, and the car made heavy work of going upwards for long stretches at a time. (It couldn't have been all the stuff in the back of the car that weighed us down, surely). It's sad to be overtaken by caravans when going uphill.....
We climbed quite a way.
And went down the other side.

Rinse and repeat.....
until we hit the plains on the other side.

Mereth wants me to mention that she took all these photos from a car moving at 100k an hour, and thus they are pretty good, considering. Yes, but it was MY camera!


Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Second day on the road, and we are pleasantly tired. We left really early this morning, so we got a photo of the sunrise over the hills on the New England highway. It was all rather picturesque.

We grabbed this photo of the little church at Allora, with a hedge of May bushes in flower. It was beautiful with the sun coming up behind it.

The traffic has been quite bearable, only two awkward moments, both involving trucks that wouldn’t slow down. I’m so not impressed with drivers in a tearing hurry. Better to be like us, with the window wound down so we can take photos of the countryside and point out alpacas, Shetland ponies, coloured sheep and Belted Galloway cattle.

We have been hopping from McCafe to McCafe, but desperation drove us to sample truckstop coffee. It smelt like sausages, tasted of biscuits and had a curious whiff of nail polish remover at the end. I don’t think we’ll try that again.

Internet access is sporadic in the country; I will compose blogs each night, and post them when I can.


Friday, September 21, 2007

This is the way we will drive, taking 5 days to do a very leisurely 2200 km. We could do it easily in 3 days, but why hurry? We would like to see a few sights along the way, and not feel like we have to go tearing through the countryside. I like driving, in good weather conditions, so hopefully we'll have pleasant weather for our little jaunt.

It's so HOT! It's as if summer has arrived already, not nice when we are working hard cleaning and carting stuff around. But we are nearly finished. It's all good. And check out Mereth's blog for the results of our sewing spree this morning.

DD and partner are arriving tonight, so we will have a good get-together, and the rest of the house will be cleared out tomorrow. The things I regret leaving most are my plants, but that can't be helped; my new house has a darling garden as well, so I will settle in there. It has been a little neglected, so I will have a nice time putting it all to rights.

I will not regret being without

  • cockroaches
  • mosquitoes
  • 100% humidity
  • summers that last 9 months, with the above mentioned humidity
  • spiders that I can Hear running across the floor towards me
  • geckos; I love geckos, but they are v. messy house-guests
  • mildew
  • being 7 hours away from a major city
  • mango trees trying to grow in through my windows
  • fruit bats
  • no screens on windows or doors
  • grasshoppers, furry caterpillars, moths, sandflies.
I will miss my family of course, but they are all growed up now and they know where I am when they want to come see me. And I do love Queensland, so I will be back to teach and to visit. I just have other things to do first.


Thursday, September 20, 2007

Do you like what I've done with my sewing room?
This is why I have been so busy, why my sewing is inaccessible, why my life is in such upheaval. Things have happened that I have no intention of talking about on the blog; suffice to say a new chapter of my life is starting. It's sad and exciting and overwhelming and good and bad, all at once.Yesterday was Phase1, the removal of the furniture and effects. They pretty well packed the half-container to the gills. We had to laugh when they went to shut the doors and couldn't, necessitating a bit of a reshuffle. We have so been there and done that.

Phase 2 will be the clean-up, and the discovery of things that I meant to pack and didn't. Hopefully that won't be too catastrophic. Phase 3 will be leaving to drive to my new town. Mereth and I are hoping to have a nice little road trip, without any elements of Thelma and Louise or National Lampoon's Road Trip. At the gathering an older quilter, who had never seen the movie, commented that we were doing a Thelma and Louise, then added 'But that ended badly didn't it?' Uh....Yeh! Didn't start too well either.

My Gammil Statler is on order, soon to be delivered to my new home, which co-incidentally is half a mile away from Mereth. I will use the town as a home base, and travel to teach both locally and interstate. Maybe even in the US. Mereth will set up a machine quilting business, and teach workshops locally. There are irons in fires all over the place.

Today we are feeling quite weary, so a mini-retreat has been scheduled. I still have my scraps from the letters I was piecing, and two machines and an iron. We may be sleeping on mattresses on the floor, but we have the basics we need to keep on sewing. We will make a few more letters and let the kinks in the back muscles work themselves out.

If you've ever wondered how much material you actually have, moving is a great way to find out. Try writing 'Material' or 'Fabric' on 31 boxes and it becomes obvious. This is the bulk of it, apart from FQs, UFOs and various bits that have been used as packing in other boxes.
Interestingly enough, I had more boxes marked 'Books'. It seems I have an even bigger problem with paper than I have with fabric. But I am entirely unrepentant about that!


Sunday, September 16, 2007

In case you've never seen an Australian Magpie, this is the fellow that kept trying to drive us away. They take baby birds from the nest, so other birds hate them. We were vastly entertained by the antics of a feisty Willy-wagtail, who kept harassing the magpie. I did try to get a photo, but the wagtail was far too quick. They are lovely little birds, dapper in black and white plumage, and very cheerful and courageous.

It doesn't look like the magpie was bothered much by the attacks though.These are a few detail shots of my pink sateen wholecloth. It's impossibly thick and heavy, and very old and stained, but still beautiful. It's all handstitched, out of 18" wide fabric; if I had to date it I would say middle 1800s.
There isn't a binding on this quilt, just the edges turned in and stitched together. It's holding up surprisingly well for it's age.


It's so hard to keep track of time here, we did intend to post every day but here we are on the last night and one post is all we managed. Yesterday Meredith and I spent some time in the morning photographing Kaye's antique quilts, and one of mine; just before lunch we ran away for a little while to take some photos in yet another early settler cemetary. It was a beautiful afternoon, and we wandered around in the sunshine admiring the weathered stones and lovely spring flowers.Bruce had warned us that there was a very territorial magpie there, so we were prepared for him to attack us. Sure enough, he soon appeared and called out, and when that had no effect he began dive-bombing us in turn. They are quite dangerous if they get near your eyes, so we took appropriate action.You can laugh, but it works!
Every time I visit this cemetary I notice different things. This time it was the lettering styles on the headstones that made an impression. Some of them are so unusual, and I could imagine them pieced or appliqued. When I have a little more time I will make a collage of some of my favourites, and then stitch a few of them.


Friday, September 14, 2007

Meredith and I arrived here at Kaye's late in the day yesterday, to find a hive of activity in the workshop. There is something happening all the time.

The coffee is going down well, and it’s my idea of a perfect day; the sky is covered in grey cloud, with the sun peeking out occasionally, and there is a steady trickle of quilters arriving for the day of workshops. Meredith is doing yet another binding, this time on a cream wholecloth quilt. A red wholecloth was bound last night, and a blue one is waiting in line. The pattern is by Australian designer Kim Bradley, digitised by Dawn Cheetham.
This is me and Deb Geissler, an American quilter and pattern designer, here to give workshops tomorrow.It's Spring! Flowers are blooming everywhere.
There will be 12 quilters sleeping over tonight, should be fun. Lots of red and white wine, chocolate and laughter; all the necessities of life.

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