Sunday, December 30, 2007

Happy New Year's Eve, Everyone...

Here's the latest kniting effort. It's actually all sewn together now, but sadly it's a bit small. I'm going to try to block it with steam to make it a little larger...it's my first time knitting with cotton, using Rowan Cotton Glace. Pretty color, though, don't you think? And it's not a Partridge in a Pear Tree, but how about this cheeky visitor to the apple tree outside our bedroom window a couple of days ago? In the few minutes I watched him, he devoured about 15 little apples! There are flocks of these sulphur-crested cockatoos that swoop into the trees in the yard here...very beautiful, raucous birds that can inflict a LOT of damage!
It's New Year's Eve in Exeter, and we'll probably do our usual: in bed by 9:30PM after a glass of champagne! I tellya, we're real ragers around here!

Hope you all have a safe and sane New Year's Eve. Here's wishing you all the best of all good things for 2008.

Monday, December 24, 2007

And A Very Merry Christmas To All

The builders wound up their 2007 activities around midday on Friday, and have departed till 7 January. Thought you might enjoy seeing where things are at this point. Here's the new "kitchen" in the garage. Pretty neat to have all this available out there...makes washing up after the cats much easier. I can also wash and dry their bedding easily, and it never hurts to have an extra fridge for wine, beer and soft drinks out there. This is the other side of that wall, with the new outdoor fireplace. The renderer has started with the chimney, and it's looking good. I think we'll use this area a lot, don't you?
And here's our bathroom, just off our bedroom, with our closet on the left. The brickwork here will also be covered with sheetrock and painted...no brick will be visible anywhere.
This is the view from our bedroom. The wall on the right will move to the right about one metre, and the opening shown will be much larger. There will be a large set of French doors there onto a verandah, where I'm sure we'll sit in the mornings with our coffee...it faces east.And here is the lovely view from our temporary digs. It was raining when I took this shot on Thursday, but isn't it pretty? I hope to catch a shot sometime that has the two sheep, Mary and Martha...they are a kick, always looking for a treat.
Finally, I wanted to share this lovely poem I came across today, that expresses my wishes to you all as this eventful year ends and we look forward to 2008:

A Lyric Day
Robert W Service

I deem that there are lyric days
So ripe with radiance and cheer,
So rich with gratitude and praise
That they enrapture all the year...
To-day has been a lyric day
I hope I shall remember long,
Of meadow dance and roundelay,
Of woodland glee, of glow and song.
Such joy I saw in maidens' eyes,
In mother gaze such tender bliss . . .
How earth would rival paradise
If every day could be like this! ...


Merry Christmas, everybody...may you enjoy this special day with family and friends, and may the coming year bring happiness and joy beyond measure.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Demolition Derby!

Woo-hoo! They've started demolishing the inside of our house, and here you see me (left), with my darling in-laws, surveying the damage. Feels SO good to have this kind of progress, especially given the terrible weather challenges of the past few weeks. DH looks like a happy camper, don't you think?
Patch is inspecting a big pile of windows and enjoying the lovely sunshine this morning...yesterday was glorious, too! Now, this afternoon, it's beginning to cloud over again, and we are expecting MORE rain this week. I tell ya, we should be building an ark, not a house!
Can you believe this incredible pile of lumber that's come out of the house? Patch and the others find this all very interesting...especially on Saturday, when there aren't workmen around to make noise!
As you can see, the connection between the house and the new garage is still a bit tricky! We're thinking of auditioning for the high wire act next time the circus comes to town... Do you see the cool new outdoor fireplace to the left? Can you just see us sitting out there on a warm evening, sipping our wine and enjoying the fire? The renderer is coming Monday to start rendering (stuccoing over, for you Northern Hemisphere types) the fireplace, so it will match the garage. The house will also be rendered when it's finished.
It's so great to have this project really underway, at last. The mud everywhere is a bit of a worry because we still have big open trenches on one side of the house. They can't fill them in because the ground is so soggy that the bobcat can't get back there. If only we'd get a couple of weeks completely free of rain, they'd be able to take care of this...pray for dry! I know, I know, that's positively un-Australian, but it would really help...just for a couple of weeks.

The new garage is going to be absolutely wonderful. They've moved the old kitchen cupboards out there, plus my old fridge and dishwasher. How easy will it be to barbecue, then keep the mess confined to the garage?! I'm also going to put the old washer/dryer in the garage, so I can wash the cats' bedding out there and avoid having lots of cat hair and twigs in the "nice" new dryer in the house!

In the next couple of weeks they'll have the new internal rooms of the house framed up and I'll be able to give you a glimpse of the new quilting studio. It's going to be really great, with closets at one end with shelving for stash and mess, AND...a large windowseat with that incredible view.

In knitting news, I've nearly finished my first cotton sweater - pics next post. No quilting news as yet. I haven't discovered a place in the temporary digs to set up a quilting station, but my Bernina is here and I made sure to park the plastic tubs with my stash near the front of our new shed, in front of all the furniture and household stuff. Gotta be ready when the mood strikes, doncha know?!

Monday, December 03, 2007

Moved Out!

Friday was moving day, and over the weekend we got settled in at our neighbors' house. The cats moved into their new digs on Saturday: What you see above is the two outdoor screened-in rooms, with the two inside rooms just behind. The cats are allowed to roam around freely outside this complex during the day, and then they get locked inside each night.

Here's what the inside of one of the indoor rooms looks like. We'll be adding more places for them to "roost" up high on some shelves, I think, but this works for now. You can see Cassie lounging in the camp chair. Since not everyone gets along with everyone else, the division allows for the two more agressive males to inhabit one half of the complex, while the other five more mellow types live in the other half.

And both rooms have this view from the windows and from the outside screened-in area:
Meanwhile, at the house, here's what's happening to the kitchen:
After a few hours of messy work, the skies opened up (AGAIN!) and here was the result:
Today there are no workmen here, the ground everywhere is a giant mud bucket, and there are pools of water everywhere.

This will be short, because I'm writing while sitting on the floor of the empty bedroom. Our internet connection isn't up at our temporary digs, so we have to come back here till tomorrow to send e-mail and such.

More later...pray for some sun!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Turkey Day!

Hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving in the States...eat some turkey for me, please!

Business as usual here, but it started raining day before yesterday and hasn't really let up, and no end in sight...sigh! We're surrounded in a quagmire of mud...again. Time to get serious about packing things up here...we'll move out on 1 Dec. Not sure how we will go about schlepping all our stuff out to the new shed through all this greasy mud, but I'm sure it will happen somehow.

Night before last, Alfonse, our little black cat, managed to climb onto the roof framing for the extension, in the middle of a huge thunderstorm. Lightning, deafening thunder, and constant rain. We couldn't find him at dinnertime and thought he'd come in at some point. That didn't happen, so at 10PM I decided I'd better make one more circuit and look for him. Wellies and raincoat on, flashlight in hand, circle the house in the rain and very slippery mud.

Spotted him on the roof and started calling him to come down. He meowed piteously and continuously, but wouldn't jump down onto the scaffolding. Did I clamber up onto the scaffolding, in fear and trembling, trying to reach him? Of course. Was I successful in getting him down? Of course not. He retreated to the "safety" of the roof of the house. Sigh.

Wandered around in the shell of the extension and found a large ladder, in the dark, and dragged that over to where he was cowering. Crept up the ladder, flashlight in hand, all the time thinking "if I fall on this slippery ladder, it will be REALLY BAD!", and started calling him again. He slowly crept closer and I managed to grab him by the scruff of the neck and haul him to me, all claws out and desperately scrabbling at me.

Brought him inside, where he indignantly headed for the food dish and then settled in for a nice warm nap on the couch. Grateful for the rescue? Nah...he's a CAT!

All's well that ends well. Now, if the builders will JUST finish up the garage, with its two kitty condos, life will get a lot easier!

Monday, November 19, 2007

New Sock Basket Needed

As you can see, I've managed to fill up this basket with socks for me. There are three (and a half!) pairs I've made for DH, as well, but they aren't in this basket. I've also got three more pairs for myself on the needles...I should try stopping knitting sometime soon! Here's how the slab looked when the crew finished pouring it and removed all the forming up lumber. That's the last time we'll be able to see this wide-angle view...it's now framing up and there are walls and stuff in the way. There is, however, a nice big picture window right in the middle of the wall, and French doors on either side.
Here's how it's looking today. Roof trusses are going on now. Noisy, but very nice to see. There are thunderstorms predicted for later in the week, so I know they're gunning to get at least the plywood on up there ASAP.
I actually started clearing out the kitchen yesterday. Can't tell you how TIRED I am of packing and unpacking! Plus, I managed to tweak my left lower back picking up boxes that are too heavy for me. Will I ever learn?...don't answer that!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

It's All GO in Exeter!

Can you believe the size of this rig? It needed to be able to go completely over the house! Isn't this an amazing shot? Ross thought it looked like the cement was falling from the sky, it was so foggy this morning.
The shiny part below that looks like a swimming pool will be our new living and dining room. The curved part where the guys are just starting to smooth it out will be the new verandah that extends beyond the living room. There will also be an outdoor "room" on the right hand side...cool, eh?
A mucky job, but nice and cool this morning. As it warmed up and the sun came out, the flies also came...horrendous! Any Aussies reading this will understand what I'm talking about! The blowflies here are unbelievable.So all this activity happened between 7AM and 10AM. Now it's just finishing up the smooth surfaces. I'll post tomorrow how it looks when all the formwork is down, but isn't this GREAT?!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Progress!

We've had sun for the third day in a row, and the place is a beehive of activity today. The deck that will be at the end of the addition, overlooking the dam, is being framed up. It's huge and curved, so a BIG job. In the middle you can see the new garage with its plaster on. Note the little section at the far left of the garage...that's two rooms where the kitties will live at night, or when we are away, with their own little screened in exercise yard, so they can either snuggle up in their two cozy, insulated rooms, or go outside and enjoy the fresh air, trees and birds, but still be secure. The huge truck on the left has the roof trusses for the new addition. I think we'll be seeing a LOT of work in the next couple of weeks! Hooray. The inside of the garage is looking very neat. And how about those cool stilts the taper/mudder is wearing? You can just see the kitties' two rooms behind him at the end of the garage.
And lest you think I haven't been doing anything lately, here's the evidence. This is the current sweater in progress - a Tomten jacket by Elizabeth Zimmerman, on 4.5mm circular needle, knitted with Bendigo Woollen Mills Rustic in Green Tweed, with Alpaca insets in Sphere. I'm coming down to the home stretch on sleeve 2. It's a very cool design, and should be warm and cozy next winter:
This sweater was finished in time for me to wear it recently, and I really love it. It's Knitting Pure and Simple's V Neck Top Down Raglan Cardigan, knitted on 4.5 mm needles, with Bendigo's Rustic yarn in Graphite. It's such a simple classic design, I'm sure I'll get a ton of wear out of it.
And I apologize for this bad pic, but it's Phoebe, from KnitPicks, in their Wool of the Andes yarn in Sapphire Heather, knit on 4.5mm needles. Gorgeous color, but very hard to photograph. There are really cool cables running down the arms, but hard to see.
In other news, enabler Jane Ann has aided and abetted me in my interest in English paper-piecing, and I'm mulling over a hexagon quilt, maybe Grandmother's Flower Garden. Picked up the hexagon papers yesterday at the LQS...we'll see how I go!

Friday, November 09, 2007

Hoo, Boy, Am I Glad THAT'S Over!

Well, long time, no post. I have to say, I've never been in such a deep hole for so long. So glad to be back among the living after that horrible hiatus, and may it NEVER return!

So, what's been going on, you might ask (that's for the 2.3 of you who may have wondered whether I might surface again one day!)? And thanks, QuiltingFitzy and Clare, for rattling my cage and motivating me to get going.

We started on our renovation project in September, with the demolition of the garage and outbuildings. It's been a slow process from there, mainly because of the weather: lots of rain, mud, wind, muck. This picture is, I think, worth a thousand words. The garage has looked like this for the last two or three weeks, but today (Saturday, of all days!) there are workmen here putting on the outer "skin" of the garage. The weather is holding so far, today, and I'm hopeful that we'll have more clear weather next week. The cats will have two rooms at the far left of the picture, with kitty doors to an outside wire enclosure. I will be SO happy when they can move out to these new digs. Right now, all seven are living in the house...yikes!

And speaking of the house, here's how things are looking in there...warning, it's NOT a pretty sight:

All the stuff that was in the garage and the cats' house has moved inside, mainly into the living and dining room. I also had to empty a few kitchen cabinets onto the dining table so they could remove one section of cabinets when they removed the double doors to our outside screened-in porch, so the dining room now looks like this:
And instead of looking out at the lovely view through the French doors, that's been replaced by this:
And doesn't EVERYBODY have a chainsaw and whippersnipper on their dining room floor?
BTW, I wish all those boxes you see stacked up there were full of our stuff, but unfortunately they are still just full of the old packing paper from when we moved in. I need to get started packing things up very soon.

Here's the plan: in another two or three weeks the garage/cat rooms will be finished and the cats can move out there. We will then pack up the stuff from the house and movers will carry it all out to the new garage. At that point, we will move to our neighbors' cottage a few doors away for the duration.

So, that's what's up with us. I haven't been doing any quilting at all, but I did loan a few quilts to the local society's quilt show a couple of weeks ago...it was in Burradoo, a nearby suburb, and was just a wonderful show.

I've also been knitting like crazy (poor choice of words, that!): four and three quarters sweaters and nearly 20 pairs of socks since I last posted. Knitting is small, portable, and manageable, when everything around me is in chaos, for the moment. Still, it's going to be wonderful when it's finished.

I've been reading all your blogs regularly, and want to say a big thank you to you all. Your sharing of your lives has really helped keep me sane over the past three months, and I LOVE you all!

BTW, for those knitters among you, and I know there are a few, if you aren't on Ravelry yet you should be. It's a great site, still in beta so you can't log on until you're invited to join, but you can add your name to a queue and they'll let you know when you can get on. I wish there were such a wonderful site as that for quilters.

Not to worry...I'm back! And there will be more pics of the project and my handiwork, but Blogger won't let me put up more than five pics at a time.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Taking a Break

Time for me to take a break from blogging, I think. This long, cold winter is getting me down, and I just don't feel like doing much of anything. Think I'll hibernate for awhile, and hopefully when spring comes I'll resurface.

We should be starting our remodeling project soon, and will need to move out of here in a couple of months. Should be back in the house again around January/February of 2008.

Best wishes to all...hope to see you again in a few months.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Road Trip!

Didn't get a chance to post before we left for the U.S., but we're in California at the moment. DH had a short biz trip to Chicago, but I stayed at the condo and lazed around, went to the movies (saw Waitress and Evening, both very good), and visited the local yarn shops. We were to have returned to Oz yesterday, but extended our trip for a few more days to make a short road trip up the eastern side of California. Here's a shot on the road just north of Lone Pine, looking west toward Kings Canyon National Park and Mt. Whitney. Today we'll meander a bit further north to Mammoth Lakes, June Lake, Mono Lake and Bridgeport. Then we head west into Amador County to visit good friends there, before returning to the Bay Area on Saturday.

Here's what I've done on the trip. First socks are plain stockinette, because I felt a pattern would distract from the gorgeous green Koigu variegated yarn. What fun to knit this stuff...it's so soft and fluffy it's a dream to work with, and feels great on your feet, too.
And here's my second pair of Jaywalkers, knit with variegated sunset colors of Crystal Palace's Panda Wool, a blend of wool, bamboo and a bit of nylon. This stuff is a bit splitty, but very soft and lovely to knit, too. I bought another color while in the Bay Area, very pale pink and cream. Can't wait to start on that, too. I'll post a pic of my other yarn purchases once we're back in Oz.
When I can get on the Internet on this trip I've been reading everybody. So good to stay connected to you all!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

A Finished Object, or Two...

Success! This is almost my first sweater. When DS was five years old (when dinosaurs ruled the earth), I made a little raglan sweater for him, that turned out wonderfully well. He wore it till it wore out. And now, I've made one for myself, only a few decades later! Loved the pattern, loved the yarn, love the fact that it fits! And here's the first completed Monkey Sock. The second one is underway, but as I need to keep track of the pattern rows, this one will be a knit-at-home sock. I've also started a pair of socks to knit on the go, in a self-striping, almost-Fair Isle yarn, that's turning out to be really beautiful. Pics soon.
This cold, clear morning deserved a photo, and can you believe the gorgeous protea on the right? I think this is a South African native plant...it seems to be thriving in the frost. The morning this was taken it was minus 3 degrees C. (about 28 degrees F. for your Northern Hemisphere types), so it's pretty impressive that this plant looks so good.
As you see, the cats weren't deterred by the cold, and they had a fine time prowling the yard.
Check out the frost in the foreground of this pic...you'll note that Chloe has wisely decided to stay under the leafless tree, where there's plenty of sunshine and the frost has gone!
So, this is the week we hope to have approval of our house remodel plans from the local Council. Keep your fingers crossed!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

No Ark Yet

So, the rain has stopped, though we've had more than 13 inches (332 mm) of rain in the last two weeks. It was clear this morning, with this stunning sunrise, though extremely windy and cold...2 degrees C., or 34 F....Brrrrrrr! Ross did a wonderful clear-out of the spillway, so the dam hasn't overflowed again. This morning it was so windy we nearly had whitecaps!

The cats are absolutely loving being inside. Last night both the big grey fellows were on the bed with Ross, till I booted them out. They spend their nights in the bathroom, to avoid those incidents of World War III on the bed at 2AM! Wonder if Feliway would help them. I actually think it's too much testosterone, even though both brothers have been fixed, long since. The other five, comprised of three females and two males, get along much better and are able to spend the night peacefully in the laundry. The two fat old ladies rarely leave their little cupboard nests and seem happy as clams in there.

And here's where I am with the sweater/jumper. Just a few more inches on the sleeves, and I can block this baby and wear it. I'm really loving the color.

I succumbed to the apparently worldwide urge to make a pair of Monkey socks (designed by Cookie A. and pattern available free at Knitty.com) This is Knit Picks Memories yarn in Red Hat color, though the overall tone is much more purple than the blue of this photo. A very fun pattern, I must say.
Also finished the red pair of socks, using Colinette Jitterbug in Fire color, using Nancy Bush's Oak Leaf pattern from Knitting Vintage Socks, but the red color is so intense I haven't been able to get a photo that looks anything like correct.

Meanwhile, we're finishing interviewing potential builders and checking out references. This is turning out to be a much more expensive project than we had envisioned, but at this point we aren't ready to retrench to less extensive modifications. Will keep you posted. Our neighbors, who only come here once a month or so, are kindly agreeing to rent us their house during the time we need to be out of ours...isn't that terrific?

So, that's the news of the day from here. Still no quilting, but getting to a much better mental/emotional place.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Rain, Rain Everywhere...

As you can see, our dam is overflowing this morning. We're hoping the downhill side of the dam will hold, otherwise there's going to be a big flood of water cascading down our hill!
Here's DH trudging out to attempt to improve the capacity of our spillway...my hero!
We couldn't leave the cats in their little chicken coop and yard because it's just not weatherproof at all. You can actually see through the mortar holding the bricks together in places, and the roof is a joke. It was freezing, wet and mucky out there, and I wasn't sleeping for worrying about the cats. So, yesterday we moved them into the laundry in the house: During the day, those who want to venture outside have a staging area on this little porch outside the kitchen. As you can see, it isn't weather-proof either. Fortunately the house has remained dry, may THAT continue to be so!

And here are the three fat ladies settled into the cupboard in the laundry room. They rarely venture out, preferring to sleep away the storm in comfort. Their four siblings are in and out, being more adventurous, but all come inside to sleep for the night. You can barely see Cassie in her donut on the top shelf, but Spike (on the left) and Chloe (on the right) were more willing to be photogenic. As for me, you'll find me on the sofa, snuggled up under a blanket, with either my computer on my lap or the second of the red socks, nearing completion. I think we'll venture out this afternoon, though...I'm so sick of my own cooking I could scream...