Thursday, December 30, 2010

riot of colour (and a riot of noise)

the king parrots are in fine form at the moment...i suspect punch-drunk on the abundant flowering blossoms they gorge on all day. obviously not full enough to stop them from turning up at the verandah asking for more food though. yesterday they were at the back steps screaming for attention - what they got instead (and they shouldn't really be surprised by now) was a camera lens in their faces...didn't seem to perturb them at all with one just hopping up closer and closer.

i'm surprised by how much joy the birds have given me this year...yet another of those things that i really didn't pay much attention to until my life was forced to slow down so drastically. they have such personalities when you stop to watch - one of the big males in particular is plain nasty. he hogs all the food and attacks anyone who wants a piece of the action; last night i watched him chasing another male from tree to tree away from his female friend, eventually resorting to attacking his feet when he wouldn't give up and leave...ah,men!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

wise words

'without the bitterest cold that penetrates to the very bone, how can plum blossoms send forth their fragrance all over the universe?'

- zen master dogen (quoted in 'how to be sick' by toni bernhard)

Monday, December 27, 2010


anyone by any chance remember a long-ago post about the fingerpainting one of my godsons did for my christmas wrapping last year? when i wrote earlier about free spoonflower swatches i promised to show what i ended up doing with it (if you don't know about spoonflower, it's a world of creative possibility you might really want to can choose designs others have uploaded, or you can make something really personal by uploading and using tools to play with your own, which are then printed onto a selection of fabrics).

so, here you go, the visual transformation of the painting i was given...from this:

to this...

to this.

(apologies for the last photo, taken on a really overcast day on some really grotty pavers)

Sunday, December 26, 2010

love is all around you

with the year drawing to a close, presents sent off in all directions - and the mad rush before christmas finally over - it seems like a good time to catch up on recording some recent projects...

this is quilt/floor mat no 2 - a 'welcome to the world' present for the new little sister of my australian godson...made with love of a couple of different kinds, including amy butler's love collection of fabric (seem to be becoming a bit of a devotee...and especially drawn to her sunspots line from that collection).

(wasn't going to forget the closeup of some of the 4 metres plus of hand slipstitching this time!)

Saturday, December 25, 2010

a christmas blessing

whatever this day means to you...however it has played out for you...whatever it has given you (and perhaps taken from you)...i wish you peace - always.

(ornament from kylie johnson of paperboatpress)

Sunday, December 19, 2010

wise words

'a true friend never gets in your way unless you happen to be going down.'

-arnold glasow

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

when you don't feel like celebrating...

there are particular days that are harder to bear than others - special occasions and anniversaries of any kind can bring up a range of emotions with this illness...they seem to be like markers somehow - signs on the road telling you how little distance you have come in a year. with those days can come grief for what you did not have, what is lost to time...the clock ticking and feeling that your life is going nowhere. these are the days where it is so easy to drown in a pit of despair and longing. and this is how i was feeling today, on my birthday. lost to a sea of churning and overwhelming emotions that were threatening to pull me under...

and then i found myself somewhere, somehow, in a place of peace. even through the unbearable physical pain, and isolation and loneliness i feel connected and supported by my friends and family. by people who i know are caring and thinking of me and wishing, just like i am, that this day (and so many others) could be different. maybe it happened in the moment, born of pure exhaustion, when i finally let go of trying to shape things to my desires for how this day would be - or what i felt i 'should' be doing - and accepted it as it is?

and from that place my gratitude and blessings seemed to multiply. suddenly i became aware of how grateful i was to have a quiet house to rest in, to have the sound of rain on the roof at times or an overcast sky to soothe my eyes. to be able to take these hours in the way that my body needs to right now. to have friends and family who understand that while i really want to take their calls (or to see them) i am quite likely not going to be able to - and give me the power to make the right decisions for my body about those things. feeling so blessed to have people in my life showing me in different ways that they are sensitive to how i am feeling about this day.

i was able to focus on the progress i have made in this year; the new expressions of creativity, new connections and friends, new possibilities for treatment. the ways i can, and do, continue to grow and learn in spite of all that is happening physically. there are so many different things that have happened in this year that i treasure and hold so close to my heart. it's a journey...not an easy one, and certainly one noone would chose of their own volition, but one that has its own rewards. and they are plentiful and priceless.

and then a bonus - the best kind of news i could possibly hope for: i discover an article explaining that there are really promising stage 1 trials going on with an antiviral drug for XMRV. that this drug seems far less toxic than many others and much more potent against the retrovirus that may well be responsible for all this suffering. couldn't have asked for a better birthday present than another good dose of hope! that, and the people in my life who love me, they get me through these days and show me the silver lining peeking through.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

wise words

'when your sense of self is no longer tied to thought, is no longer conceptual, there is a depth of feeling, of sensing, of compassion, of loving, that was not there when you were trapped in mental concepts. you are that depth."

- eckhart tolle

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

wise words

in loneliness, in sickness, in confusion - the mere knowledge of friendship makes it possible to endure, even if the friend is powerless to help.

it is enough that they exist.

friendship is not diminished by distance or time, by imprisonment or war, by suffering or silence.

it is in these things that it roots most deeply.

it is from these things that it flowers.

- pam brown

Thursday, November 25, 2010

child of mine

i can feel you slipping away...even though you were never there.

i can feel you tearing my heart as you pull away.

no lifechanging moment of realising i had joined with someone to create another being

no precious months of being more than whole as i felt you grow

no birthing you into this world and feeling you leave/feeling you come

no holding you in my arms completely overcome by wonder and something more than love

no watching you grow too quickly to hold every moment, to sear
every second into my memory

no seeing you change and seeing you dream and shape your world with your hopes and desires.

none of this, none of this was ever there to lose.

yet all of this i feel slipping away, all of this I see leaving as I fall

onto my knees and crying out for the you that is never going to be.

(know a lot of people have seen this in various places but it seemed the right one to start with seeing it was a subject that's come up with two friends of my contributions to the creative for a second or two project, although not written in the two weeks i had the journal. this one is for you 'a' and 'b' know who you are. XXOO)

coming out...

since i posted this piece of writing earlier in the week i've received a few really lovely comments about it, and queries about where it came from - and then subsequent encouragement to 'out myself' as being the author. i decided that i shouldn't wait to see if people were liking what i was writing anyway...that's never been why i write. so there you go, owning up now!

and a small prelude to any future poetry that may find its way here: i usually write when overwhelmed or extremely confused and emotional. it's a way, for me, of working my way through things...when i write i feel like things go straight from heart and head to my hand and the paper. so it's cathartic and therapeutic but doesn't tend to necessarily make for the most uplifting of reading.

snail adventures (the sequel)

anyone who remembers my last encounter with a snail would, i suspect, have been surprised to see how i reacted to my most recent gastropod meeting. last night i came in from the vege garden with lovely armfuls of lettuce and chinese cabbage (t, this is what the mystery 'evil' plant is apparently)...and someone catching a ride on the cabbage. he happily kept munching and exploring away on the kitchen bench and didn't seem too perturbed by all the discussion, investigations and cameras in his little face. he seemed so full of personality with the waving and retracting of his antennae and his fearless wanderings in a strange place. and i was delighted to find that you can indeed hear them eating, as elizabeth tova bailey described in her book. was actually quite reluctant to let him go and entertained fantasies about my very own snail company, but couldn't bring myself to deprive him of his liberty.

(feeling a bit introspective and insular perhaps)

(and heading off on an adventure up the wall and to try and get inside the oven...not a good idea, didn't have the heart to tell him people actually eat his species)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

wise words

the invitation

'it doesn't interest me what you do for a living
i want to know what you ache for
and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart's longing.

it doesn't interest me how old you are.
i want to know if you will risk looking like a fool
for love
for your dream
for the adventure of being alive.

it doesn't interest me what planets are squaring your moon...
i want to know if you have touched the centre of your own sorrow
if you have been opened by life's betrayals
or have become shriveled and closed from fear of further pain.

i want to know if you can sit with pain
mine or your own
without moving to hide it
or fade it
or fix it.

i want to know if you can be with joy
mine or your own
if you can dance with wildness
and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes
without cautioning us to
be careful
be realistic
to remember the limitations of being human.

it doesn't interest me if the story you are telling me is true.
i want to know if you can disappoint another
to be true to yourself.
if you can hear the accusation of betrayal
and not betray your own soul.
if you can be faithless
and therefore trustworthy.

i want to know if you can see beauty
even when it is not pretty
every day.
and if you can source your own life from its presence.

i want to know if you can live with failure
yours or mine
and still stand on the edge of the lake
and shout to the silver of the full moon,

it doesn't interest me
to know where you live or how much money you have.
i want to know if you can get up
after the night of grief and despair
weary and bruised to the bone
and do what needs to be done
to feed the children.

it doesn't interest me who you know
or how you came to be here.
i want to know if you will stand
in the centre of the fire
with me
and not shrink back.

it doesn't interest me where or what or with whom
you have studies
i want to know what sustains you
from the inside
when all else falls away.

i want to know if you can be alone with yourself
and if you truly like the company you keep
in the empty moments.'

- oriah mountain dreamer

Monday, November 22, 2010

inner wisdom

'know that your quest for health is not in vain.

that there is a world of possibility and that the healing powers of the universe are unlimited, infinite.

know also that you are always whole, no matter the state of your health.

and know that every day you are alive you are doing what you were born to do, you are where you were meant to be.

and that the only place you ever need to be is here and now.

do not trouble yourself with concerns for the future, it will be exactly as it is meant to be.

and the most useful thing you can do to create the future you dream of is to commit fully to being where you are.

don't rush yourself.

don't judge yourself too harshly.

how hard you are working to be well is known.

everything you are struggling with is understood.

you are loved and supported always.

and everything in the the universe is conspiring to help you regain your health.'

- anon

Sunday, November 21, 2010

in persuit of perfection (yet another itty bitty dress!)

i feel like i'm finally starting to get a bit more of a handle on the itty bitty baby dress, honing the details (just made another almost identical to this to go with the bunting)...

...the last one i made i added a bit in to the straps on the pattern as i felt they were a bit too short to tie easily...

...and then this time i decided to taper the ends of the straps into points from the widest bit of the curve (really wasn't liking those small round ends to sew)...

...and i decided to stitch the bias to the front of the bodice first, followed by the skirt also to the front of the bodice (previously sewn to the bodice lining), then handstitched in the bodice lining instead. didn't take long at all and made for a much neater finish...

...also changed the seams to what i know as 'pajama seams' which look much better - and stronger...

...and i'm happy with how i'm doing the bottom hem now too.

wise words

rest, weary heart,

from all thy silent griefs and secret pain,

thy profitless regrets, and longings vain;

wisdom and love have ordered all the past,

all shall be blessedness and joy at last;

cast off the cares that have so long oppressed;

rest, sweetly rest!

-jane laurie borthwick

Friday, November 19, 2010

out and about

a medical appointment is as exciting as trips into 'the real world' get these days...and it had been more than a month since i'd even been to one of those. so yesterdays adventure had me seeing my surroundings with new eyes. fantastic light with the rain and everything looking vibrant and lush. driving along the riverside expressway and gazing at all the 'new' buildings i've never been up to going inside. feeling like a stranger in my own city.

quite taken with this old myer building just a block from the doctor - so much character.

(this last one is what it actually looks like - in case you were wondering!)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

baby bunting

another baby; another baby girl...that itty bitty dress pattern is getting one serious workout at the moment.

this time though i added something a little different to the mix, something i've been wanting to try for a while. i found myself inspired by kelly of vintage mum, modern child to finally have a play around with the idea - so there was also some matching celebratory baby-warming bunting (made from the matching damask and liberty-like fabric and bits of leftover doilies from other projects). a very free-form flowing kind of sewing...

bit too much with the dress? maybe. fun though!

itty bitty dress strikes again

molly also had an early christmas present sent over last week; the - by now - almost compulsory itty bitty dress. it was a slightly punchier/funkier version than normal, to counterbalance her soft and pretty quilt (and a slightly extended version to accommodate her lovely long legs).

Saturday, November 13, 2010

drumroll please

here you go patient people (and not so patient people), will put you out of your misery now and show you what i have been building up to the last few days. i really can't believe this is actually finished - i think i'm still in shock! my first venture/adventure into the wonderful world of quilting...

made especially for a very precious little girl on the other side of the tasman, with so many blessings and hopes for a beautiful and joyous life sewn into it. i only wish i were able to deliver it in person and meet miss molly while she is still all new and teeny...i hope she can feel all the love in there.

the devil is in the detail

(studying the binding instructions - again)

(a beautifully mitred corner, if i do say so myself.
can't believe i forgot to take a close-up of the handstitched seam at the back of the binding - the whole 4 1/2 metres of it)

why not drag the suspense out a just a little more before the final reveal?

i was absolutely amazed at the amount of paraphernalia required - the walking foot, the quilters ruler and mat, the rotary cutter, the special threads. quilting pins, binding clips. not to mention selecting fabrics for the top ( i went with a couple of amy butler charm square packs from her daisy chain collection, picking out the patterns and colours i liked the best), for the sashing, the backing, the binding. and then the batting for the middle of the 'sandwich' (this one has organic cotton). for someone who has so much trouble making decisions at the best of times and is currently having trouble concentrating on more than one concept for more than a minute it was, to say the least, 'challenging'.

and then all the different bits of information and technique to absorb (bizarrely, the walking foot came with no instructions and required numerous googlings when i figured out it wasn't on correctly. while the binding clips - just like hairclips - came with a three step diagram on how to clip one onto the quilt). i would have been completely at sea without my consulting panel of 'quilting queens', who i pestered with constant and overanalytical questions about every possible detail. i'm so sure that they are just as glad as i am to know this first attempt is over!

and did i mention the issues with the sewing machines that led to a bit of a falling out between ellie and i? or the 40yr old ironing board which had to be updated when it was eventually found the be the culprit of the rust stains which appeared while ironing the sashing (these then also had to be replaced)? i really was beginning to understand why people choose to simply buy something already made...yet there is such satisfaction in seeing something come together and knowing you made it all with your own hands.

and wait until you (finally) see the finished product though - i think it was all worth it.

Friday, November 12, 2010


seems only right that i prolong the anticipation with this one...seeing as it took me literally months to make! so, here you go - a little black and white teaser before i finally unveil the finished product.

yet another cushion

did i ever mention that i have a bit of an addiction to cushions? just a slight one...i think i could happily live in a house that was pretty much furnished purely with them. this one was a belated birthday present for my grandmother - in blue, naturally. i'm sure it will fit right in to its new surroundings with every other hue of blue.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

melody beattie

unlocks the fullness of life. it turns what we have into enough, and
more. it turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to
clarity. it can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a
stranger into a friend. gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace
for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.'

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

'i will make something for you' - no 3.

what's an appropriate present you could think of to give someone who's married to a photographer? (someone who owns an art gallery to boot)

whatever it was would have be related to anything other than photography...surely? or, then again...maybe some of your handmade cards with your own photos?! in truth there was actually a little logic behind this, knowing that the recipient is moving into a new house soon, and the last thing she may want is anything else to take up room or gatecrash her new styling plans. still, did strike me as a bit ridiculous at the same time!

three down and one to go in my 'i will make something for you' series now then (since i never got five to take me up on the offer...crazy people). no 4 has me totally stumped though.

while on the subject of snails

in the last couple of months i've discovered two very special books that are simply too good not to share (although i'm tempted to buy them for all and sundry and will now be giving my 'secrets' away).

the first of these is a little gem called 'the sound of a wild snail eating' by elizabeth tova bailey. right from the moment you see the cover and the layout you're sure that this is something special. and, luckily, the words inside live up to expectations. attempting to do justice in describing this story is no easy task...i almost feel that it's something which should be left to each reader to explore as untouched. so i'll keep my explanation as brief as possible, hopefully just enough to entice you too to want to read.

put simply, it's a tale about a woman bedridden with severe ME/CFS who 'adopts' (involuntarily) a snail. it might not sound exactly riveting but is actually incredibly interesting and the writing is so beautiful you want to take it slowly - at a snail's pace? - and savour every word. each sentence is so exquisitely sculpted that it feels like a meditation to read. without dwelling overly upon her illness bailey nonetheless manages to gently shed light on just how serious ME/CFS can be.
the emphasis, however, is very much upon the snail - drawing you in to the world of another slow creature and revealing just how much we can learn by pure observation. who knew that gastropods had such fascinating lives?

when i read this the first time i was going through a particularly tough patch, back to spending most of my days in a darkened room and struggling to deal with any sensory stimulation whatsoever.
somehow as i read i felt more at peace and soothed. i would smile to myself as i delighted in another small morsel, sharing the obvious joy shining through the pages and luxuriating in the beauty of the writing. i could feel the snail working its magic on me too through bailey's words.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

there's a snail in my garden...

well, there was - he's currently in the kitchen with the sacrificed beetroot leaf he was lounging about on, while i contemplate his fate. so...what does an animal-loving vegetarian do with an interloper like this?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

kahlil gibran

your joy is your sorrow unmasked.

and the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears.

how else can it be?

the deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.

is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter's oven?

and is not the lute that soothes your spirit the very wood that was hollowed with knives?

when you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find that it is only what has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.

when you are sorrowful, look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

spiderweb symphony

i caught sight of another spiderweb while watering this evening - and went running for the camera again. love the way the drops of water catch on webs and transform them into something that resembles nature's own version of jewelry. it looked so perfect...then i managed to half destroy it! so sorry little spider.

it reminds me of a pearl collar necklace my grandmother gave me, and the shots where the shutter speed was technically too slow make me think of the movement of a conductor's baton.

dietes at dusk

one of the multitude of wonderful things about tending my vege garden is the way it draws me outside and reveals things i would have completely missed the mornings a quick 'check in' as the day begins shows me any new growth overnight (or other surprises like new holes in things), and towards dusk when it's time for the daily water i find the whole world turning a little magical in the evening light.

(picnik-ed image...not quite this magical looking without some enhancement)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

how cute is this?

somewhere approaching as cute as a newborn i think...excited to have the current baby boom among my friends starting with a couple of girls (as requested!) - a good excuse to sew some dresses and such. in fact i thought this was so cute i hung it on the bedroom wardrobe door the night it was finished, and ohhed and ahhed at its sweetness every time i caught a glimpse...

it's my normal imperfect style where i'm most impressed by the overall effect. this time though most of the inside even looked presentable. that's some soft cream damask that had been sitting in the cupboard for a decade or two on the inside. and the main fabric is another vintage purchase from my faithful friend ebay.

(i'm still taken with including these details on the selvedge - anyone know if they actually have a name?)

okay, baby-sized drumroll please: here it is!

it's a slightly bigger version of the previous 'itty bitty baby dress' i made - a free made by rae pattern. the last attempt was so small it barely fitted its owner (one of the most delicate specimens i have ever seen) just after she was born. this is the next size up - 1 to 3 months, plus a teeny bit more for insurance - and hopefully i'll get a bit of feedback on how it fits. definitely recommend erring on the larger side though if you're going to give it a try. now, i just need to ask the universe to kindly bring on a few sunny days again...