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Dirt and Noise

You may remember that I had everything thrown out of my fabric storage cupboard because my husband was looking for a leak in the bathroom?  Well he found the leak an it turned out to be a major problem.  We had a new bathroom installed about 18 months ago and now we find it wasn't properly done.  Solution? Rip it out and start again.

Now I am living in a building site once again.

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They are being extra careful of making sure the drain doesn't leak again.

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My husband becomes obbessive compulsive about cleaning.  After they leave he gets his industrial vacumme out, puts on his ear muffs and cleans.  I can't stand the noise!  I end up going to sit on the beach or walking.  After the noise of the builders all day and then him it is all too much.

So I am cooking, knitting sitting out on the back patio and trying to survive.  No sewing.  It is too close to all the noise and dust.

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One good thing.  The builder is our future son-in-law and that means we will get a good job.

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I just wish it was finished already.

Labor Day Visit

It was the Labor Day holiday yesterday and now that restrictions have been eased a little my grand daughters, son and daughter-in-law came to visit.  It seems to have been so long but actually it is only a couple of months.  The cafe still isn't open except for take-aways, but we bought fish and chips and sat on the beach together to have lunch.  Such a simple pleasure that we had taken for granted.

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It was a warm day but still there was a stiff breeze.  People were out in small sailing boats and both my husband and I wished it was us out there.  Jasmine climbed the rocks and told me she was Queen of the castle.

Screen Shot 2020-05-04 at 5.04.39 pmNugget the puppy realised that we were on a beach.

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So decided that he needed to dig to China.  It was such a nice day.  Now the word has come through that school will return over the next two weeks.  I didn't have the heart to tell my husband he is still going to have to social distance and will not be able to baby sit the girls all the time.

Some looks backwards

I had a feeling I should ring my cousin Beverly.  When she answered the phone I find out she is just out of hospital after cancer surgery.  I never disregard those feelings, even if they are wrong.  Most of the time they are right.  Our mothers were first cousins but they always regarded themselves as sisters.  I now know why.  Beverly's mother's father died from the Spanish Flu.  He was very fit, having won an Olympic medal, but it cut him down and my grandparents took over the care of the children whilst her grandmother found work.  So they were brought up as siblings.

I also kept an old photo of a group  standing by the Parramatta river. This was my Paternal grandmother's sister and her children. 

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Her husband served in WW1.  Both died of Spanish Flu.

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My father's father died at about the same time from other causes leaving the women with little income and lots of children.

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Many young women died in this outbreak.  My grandmother told me that the feeling back then was that it was their duty to step up and put themselves in danger by visiting the sick and taking on the nursing of others, even if it meant they died.  The young men had laid down their lives in WW1, now their country needed them.  The young men were remembered, the young women have been forgotten.   It was the women, across generations, pulling together as a family that got my family through these tough times.  In fact it is my generation who reaped the benefits of their hard work and dedication.  I pray that it goes better for our health workers in this pandemic.

Keep safe.

Up and walking

After nearly a full year of not being able to walk I have been trying my legs on short walks every day, just to the corner of the street.  Then around the block and I have kept increasing that a bit each day.  I have been very hesitant in how far I go from home after an episode I had last year.  I got half way around the island, (that is only about 2.5 km) and my legs shut down.  I had to ring for my husband to come and rescue me and in the following week the soles of my feet blistered and peeled off.  

But today I made it all the way around, all 4.5 km.  My feet and legs are aching but my soul is flying.  I saw a ball of seeds just ready to launched into the wind.

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Because of the virus there is almost no one on the beaches.  One lady in the distance facing north on Norfolk Beach.

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And a child with an inner tube when I faced south.

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She then launch herself out into the water.

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Then I reached the wetlands and had to make the decision if I would turn around and go home, or risk it and continue on.

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On I went.  Last time I was here was in the drought.  We have had some rain since then and everything is green and butterflys are everywhere.

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Across the first creek and I could hear water flowing.

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There were lots of spider nests in the bushes and trees, glad I wasn't here in the morning when you have to fight your way through them.

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Then over the next creek and the sound of running water grew.

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Around a turn in the track and there it was, running water.

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It has been years since the creeks were running.  There are plants growing, birds and bats in the air and I'm sure there will be lizards and snakes in the undergrowth.  I also think I have found the subject for my next embroidery. 

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Being able to walk is such a blessing.  One I never appreciated like this before.

Moving on

I am still waiting for the post to bring my new threads.  I wonder how long this will take?  So I continued on with the second donation quilt.  Remember that most of this is left over fabrics and I have to say that I am pleased with the outcome so far.  I have finished piecing the top of the quilt and added some borders.  I wasn't sure of just what I would do but I found some check fabric in the dress up box.  It has been washed and added.

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Now for the backing.  I had plenty of the fabric for the outside boarder having purchased 4 metres at the sale.  I can't decide if I should add appliques in each of the plain boxes or not.  What you can't see in these images is that this piece 'shimmers'.  All the fairy fabric has sparkles on it.  I'm not usually into sparkles but I love this.

I see that friends are busy making masks.

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And I found this link to a pattern that looks quite good.  It was picked up by the N.Y. Post.  I still have a pack of masks left over from my fabric dyeing but I can see I should make some of these for neighbours.

On the home front my daughter came to bring us some vegetables and a camera for her father's computer.  I am so proud of her resilience.  She had resigned from her lecturing job at the University in January and took part time work in Out-door education which has now all been stopped because of the virus.  So she has set up a new business as a tutor for high school students  and while she is building this up has landed a job packing fruit and vegetables.  That might sound as a bit of a come down but it is work when the lines outside Centrelink stretch out into the distance she has an income.  Her partner is self employed and has work lined up until May.  We were going to have a wedding but that is now on hold.  It will be a super post virus wedding party.

At this time

Everyone around the world is a bit anxious at this time, about the virus and the economy.  The stock market is all over the place which will severely effect income and jobs. Thoughts turn to 'how will we survive?'  My mind goes back to when I was a child and my paternal grand mother came to look after my sister, my father and myself.  This was my mother's first clash with cancer and we were not sure she would come home.  Nana would have been in her late 70's early 80's at this time.  Things were a mess then and I remember all the talk of when Nana was young and how they had got through things, which most of the time we just laughed at.  She lost a good portion of her relatives to the Spanish Flu, which has been compared to this current virus, but now that takes on another meaning.

This drawing by May Gibbs of a kookaburra and a gum nut baby shows that back then people were equally concerned as they are now.

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We were drilled on how to not waste anything, how to cook cheap nutritious meals, re-use clothing even extract the cotton thread for re-use.  How to grow vegetables, look after each other and trust in God.

I made a trip to the Supermarket yesterday and was able to get most of what I wanted, but no flour.  I was the only one in there with a mask on.  I got some funny looks but when I started to cough I also saw how pleased people were that I had that mask on.  I hope that I don't have to go out again for a couple of weeks at least.  We are a lot better off than back in the early 1900's we have the internet to keep in touch, compare notes and take part in classes.

I have been looking at India Flint's web page and she has a variety of classes on offer.  Some free some for fee, non too expensive.

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I missed this course but someone I know who did it said it was great.

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I think this is the one for me.

Screen Shot 2020-03-19 at 10.44.01 amHave a good weekend.

An historic Quilt

My neighbour Jane Beatty, who's home lies in the street behind my house, has a wall hanging on her bedroom wall of a unfinished hexigon quilt.

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Even though the quilt is unfinished the pieces have been handed down through the generations of her family.  Each generation added a few more flowers until the piece reached it's current size.  I suspect it was one of those projects that someone thinks they will finish, but it never happens.  Jane then took this and sewed it onto a backing cloth and it now hangs above her bed.  She has not removed any of the papers or the original tacking.  (My mind almost explodes when I think what those papers might reveal.)  This piece will then be passed to her daughter.

The quilt was started in the 1860's by Ellen Mary Fitzhenry nee Cronin who emigrated to Australia in the 1860's from Ireland.  It is not known jut where she started the quilt, Ireland, on the way out, or in Australia.

(sorry for the quality of this photo but it is old, on glass and under glass.)

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Mary Ellen Fitzhenry.

It is known that she sewed this central red group of hexigon flowers.

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The beginnings of this quilt then passed to her daughter Ellen.

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Ellen Oliver nee Fitzhenry with her son, (Jane's father) and her aunts Alice and Marie. (early 1900's)  All three of these women contributed to the quilt.

The fabrics used change with each era but there is still a continuity to the whole.

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You can see from the tacking of each piece that paper not cardboard was used as a backing and if you look closely you can count the number of whip stitches used to attach each piece to it's neighbour. There are some blocks that scream 1920's and 30's. This one was stitched by her mother,  Margaret Oliver.

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But his piece speaks eloquently of far more than of just the fabric and stitching.  It speaks of a history of women over more than 100 years.  Of family and how that has succored it's members.  Of a commonality of understanding and shared love of textiles between it's female members.  Each piece is saturated with memories and the lives of the women who stitched it.

Wouldn't it be lovely if we had a written record from the makers about the making of this quilt?  So much is just guess work.  What we think might have been the intentions and emotions of the makers.  Men documented everything they did.  Women didn't think that was important.

But it is.

Getting Closer

I was supposed to go up to Toowoomba for the weekend and to a meeting at the Guild, but I think it is safer to stay where I am.  A couple of residents of the island work on the movie set down on the Gold Coast.  I doubt they have had contact with  Tom Hanks and his wife, but I think it better to just stay around home. And then my daughter-in-law had to be tested as she had been in contact with some Asian students who had been in contact with other people who tested positive so they went into isolation. Luckily  for her the test came back negative.  But the knowledge of those who have the virus is moving closer to people we know.

When I do go off the island I am going to take the barge, even if I have to brave the elements.  At the moment those elements are looking like a cyclone just off the coast.  We are expecting 50 knot winds today.  But the ferry is nearly always crowded, especially in the morning and afternoons.  I am going to have to go and get food, although toilet paper is good at the moment.  What I haven't been able to buy is antiseptic, might have to make my own.


This is a good chance to iron all the fabric in my stash.  That's a job I have been putting off for years.  I really need to sort those fabrics and I can 'pet them' at the same time.  Now, not ALL these draws are fabric, five hold finished work and other stuff, but the rest is fabric.

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And this chest of draws isn't all fabric.

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Just most of it.

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I have a lot of ironing ahead of me.

Also time to stitch a sample for the next Children's Class.  That isn't till June/July so hopefully all this madness will have passed.  I am in the process of drawing sea gulls for this task.  But I need to simplify the drawings so that the kids can stitch them.  I always start with things that are too complicated.  Why can't I just make it simple?

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The Saga of Ted

I told Jasmine (my 7 y.o. grand daughter) that she had to be careful of Ted because I didn't think I could fix him again.  And you guessed it, Nugget the destroyer got Ted again. 

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No telephone call this time, Jasmine would fix him herself.

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She got her sister's machine out and got stuck into him.  She worked for three hours until she got him back together again.

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Not too bad for a 7 year old with no help.

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I think I better have another look at him to see if I can help next time I am there.  I thought this one would be a natural when I was teaching her during the holidays.

New Equipment

My new sewing table has arrived and hubby has now assembled it for me, twice.  The first time he got it all wrong and had to do it again and he is an Engineer!  I wouldn't have stood a chance at it's assembley.

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It sits in front of the long desk and the table and desk are flush with one another.  Great when you want to support a heavy quilt.

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The table also makes the machine a "flat bed " and is very comfortable to sit and sew at for an extended period of time.  (Notice that woollen cord I made for the scissors.  Soft and easily tires onto the machine.)

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The other piece of equipment I have been working on is my embroidery frame.  I have found it increasingly hard to find pure cotton tape to bind the ring with.  My solution to this has been to cut strips of calico .  I then neatened the edge with a tripe zig zag stitch, to deal with the inevitable fraying, and bound both rings.  Now I'm all ready to start my next Quaker Sampler.

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