Tuesday, December 20, 2005


I haven't blogged for AGES, and one excuse is that I have been a road warrior. Many trips to Melbourne and back. Once it took me seven hours, door to door. Storms closed Sydney Airport, so I was one of the lucky ones who did manage to get home. I have whinged and whined, carried on about how tough it is, so it came as a shock when a colleague described me recently as 'relentlessly perky.' It was meant as a compliment, a comment on how glad I always seem to be. This put me in mind of Pollyanna, one of my favourite childhood books. The other day I went straight to the bookshelf, where it can still be found, and opened it up. Soon I was as engrossed as ever, the story familiar and yet seen through my grown-up eyes for the first time. When did I read it last? Probably in my early teens. A long time ago. Sure, it was saccharine. And yes, Pollyanna is nauseatingly sweet with her glad game. But her determination to see the best in what you already have rather than wishing for something else is a great lesson. I read straight through it to the end, wishing I had the next in the series. Maybe Pollyanna did teach me something all those years ago.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

I've got the world at my feet

I can hear you thinking.. here comes another sock post. But no, this post reveals one of my deep dark secrets. I have a weird fascination for manhole covers. Look down, everyone! Look at the world at your feet! Once you start, you realise how much variety there is, how much beauty. I started in Montreal, suddenly struck by the French words on the covers. I'd lurch into the middle of the road, camera pointed towards my feet, snapping happily. This was my first.

I soon discovered I was not alone. There are websites devoted to them. The wonderful site http://www.drainspotting.com/ includes a huge range of manholes. A colleague sent me a wonderful site from Japan , not to be missed. The same colleague sent me this little gem, from Virginia, USA.
Look closely - made in India!

Some are so delightful in their simplicity. I can't resist including this one of a tree in Erskineville, the next suburb.

Worrk took me to Wellington, NZ, last week. It was a symposium on digital repositories run by the National Library of NZ. A free morning allowed a walk around Wellington, including one of my very favourite things to do - a ride up the cable car, with a walk down to the city through the wonderful botanic gardens and an historic cemetery. Naturally, my eyes are alert for manhole covers, and I was not disappointed. Several lovely examples have been added to my collection, and here they are:

Aren't they lovely? So next time you are walking around, look down and see for yourself these windows to the nether world. And remember, if you come to my house, you are likely to be treated to a slide show featuring manhole covers of the world. You have been warned.

Sunday, November 13, 2005


Yay! As you can see from my proud photos, I have finished my very first pair of socks. This was from the Classy Slip-Up pattern in the book my daughter lent me, Knit Socks! by Betsy Lee McCarthy. I thoroughly enjoyed knitting them, once I got used to using five fine bamboo double pointed needles. What fun! Now I am looking at all kinds of other patterns, including some for gloves.

No no no, you MUST get back to knitting your pink fuzzy jumper. I promise I will .... no more projects until it is finished.

Another first this last week was our attendance at the Sydney Sity Klickers group, which meets nearby. We had a most enjoyable afternoon looking at magazines, comparing knitting and stash sizes, confessing unfinished projects and horror stories about felted knitting. We'll definitely go again. Several of us have blogs, including this one, who had a link to the most fabulous shawl which is making me drool.

No no no. Step away from that pattern. Go towards your pink fuzzy jumper now....

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Our signature scent for summer

Spring is almost over, summer is coming on. The wisteria has bloomed, and the tree waratah is still in full glorious bloom in next door's garden. You can just see it behind the wisteria. The jasmine mingles with the wisteria, and the heat is rising.

My toes have emerged like white grubs from their winter sock cocoons (I'll spare you the pictures) begging for a shiny coat of pink nail polish.

Alex has been a bit strange(r) lately. He is always busy in his garden, and has been muttering things about a baby crocodile. He says if its mother appears, he'll be calling the cops! Alex likes height in his garden. I think it is to entertain his neighbours - he builds things up to fence height so we can all get the benefit of his artistry. So I really thought I ought to investigate this crocodile business, and got the camera out. This is what I saw:

If you look closely at the first picture you'll see a pink dinosaur up on a pedestal, along with a couple of other plastic dinosaurs. In the second picture, peeking out from behind one of the pots, there is another plastic dinosaur - the fabled crocodile.

Alex saw me taking the pictures from his kitchen window, so he knows it has been immortalised.

But I haven't addressed the question I posed - what is our signature scent for the summer? I came across this phrase years ago when someone told me what her signature scent was. Florine was her name, and her Signature Scent was Red Door, by Elizabeth Arden. I was quite taken with the idea, but really I have too many different kinds of perfume and am much too flighty to have a single scent that expresses the ME. Until this year. And you know what it is? It also comes in a red package, spray or roll on. It is RID. Yes, the insect repellent. Because with the summer comes the flies, and this year is no exception. Trendy? Sexy? Effective? I just won't leave the house without it.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Love those legacies

When we needed a new computer, some while ago now, our Son-Out-Law offered to build one to our specifications. Oooh!

Make it fast with great graphics, so we can play The Sims at speed! OK, no problem.

Give us six or more USB ports so we can dangle peripherals all over it! OK, no problem.

Give us a 3 1/2 inch disk drive! Huh? Whatever for?? Said the SOL. Why don't you just use memory sticks? Because we still have old disks, and because we are old fogies. OK, he said, and found one somewhere. We have used it, and I am glad we have it.

Give us two serial ports! Huh? Whatever for?? Said the SOL. Because we have LEGACY TECHNOLOGY, that's why. He shrugged, and said OK, and the new beast was delivered as specified.

Now despite the waves of E-Bay frenzy and general de-cluttering, we still have our two electronic books hanging around. Two Rocket e-books - His and Hers. If you've never seen one, here it is:

(Note the Pug coaster - nearby there is a pug mouse mat too.) I've long had a thing for electronic books, having done a consultancy assignment on them once in the dark ages (1986). I spoke about them at conferences, talked about them, thought about them, had to have one. So a big part of me resisted the idea of ebaying them.

The Women's Library, where I am a volunteer, has a book discussion group. Being a huge fan of Willa Cather, I suggested one of my favourites for a forthcoming group - A Lost Lady. Where is my copy? Looking, looking. Uh Oh. Purged in the Great Book Purge of 2005.

Thinks - this book was published in 1923. Maybe it is available digitally? I look. It is. I download it. Thinks - I'll put it on my Palm using DropBook and Palm Reader. I do that, it works. Reading on the Palm is a little bit small though, and I remember the ebooks. I wonder whether they will still work? They'll need to be fired up to be ebayed (if I decide to do that.) Rootling around in all the electricals, both of them come to the surface. I plug the cables into the sneered-at dinosaur-age serial port, fire up the CD with its software, and turn everything on. It works. Both books are just fine. Not a glitch, not a configuration problem, nothing. I am stunned.

A Lost Lady is a fine book. I am reading it in bed with the backlighting set at 60%. Ain't technology grand?

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Home alone

After the Iron Chef episode, the food story goes sadly downnill. The Man has gone overseas. It is just the Pug and the Cat and me. Our mission, and we chose to accept it, is to go through the packets and cans and Unidentified Frozen Objects to search and destroy.... or eat. Because I am both extravagant and parsimonious, it is the latter.

So, the last piece of frozen Christmas cake, which I made myself to my mother's recipe, was very expensive and reasonably good. Still a sliver to go.

The last half frozen bagel was breakfast with vegemite. The box of tofu mix - mixed, set, pressed, chunked, dusted with potato flour, deep fried in my quite good attempt at agedashi tofu. The Cottee's raspberry jelly. Jellied, eaten. Never much trouble dealing with jelly, especially Red Jelly.

The can of Chicken Tamales in green sour cream and chile sauce. Well, at least half of it. The other half will probably be compost tomorrow.

The last two lots of frozen bread turned into toasted cheese sandwiches for lunch. Carrots and celery and ginger and parsley, all juiced and drunk.

We are coming down to the wire. What about that packet of Four Cheeses sauce? The macaroni is waiting for it, but it is sure to be gluey and horrible. What about the besan flour that has been in the freezer since 1995? Or the Masa Harina in the freezer I brought back from Mexico? I managed to throw out the jar of tamarind puree - the mold was quite a work of art. The Quaker Instant Grits? No way. I'll eat grits no matter how old they are, and I have to keep them in case one day I have no grits at all (shudder }}}} )

The vietnamese rice paper wrappers? The iced over won ton wrappers? The Sara Lee croissants? ( I think I can deal with those, and they are only a couple of weeks old...) The marinated tofu wrappers? The Japanese sesame nori sprinkles? Some of those went onto a salad.

What was I saying about getting down to the wire? What will I do with the pomegranate molasses? I can't go on. What's that??? Lurking up there in the unreachable upper cupboards????? Oh no, it is instant red bean paste powder. I kid you not. There is a box there. Instant red bean paste powder. There were two sachets, now there is one.

See? The box says I will enjoy its great taste. The box says Step 3: taste great when served immediately.

Ummmmm - there is one sachet left. Ummmmm..........

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Bang the gong, the heat was ON!!!

And did we ever have fun! We couldn't resist the opportunity to attend a dinner at Galileo's restaurant at the Observatory Hotel in Sydney featuring Iron Chef Hiroyuki Sakai. Having been Iron Chef fans for a long time, with a considerable investment in tapes and The Book, we just had to go. It was expensive, it was the middle of the week, Michael was leaving for overseas the next day, but what the heck!

Was it good? Was it worth it? Yes yes yes, it was fabulous. Eat your hearts out.... Here is the menu:

The first course was a series of little canapes:

Smoked salmon tartare, Oursin a la Printaniere (sea urchin roe - it is the little green cup) Beignets d'Huitres, Swordfish Brochette, Tartare of Venison, Endive a la Flamande. All with a Sakaitini cocktail.

Then came the Oeuf Cocotte a la Creme de Morilles et Macadamia Nut. Oh, divine. There was fresh truffle in there (this IS Iron Chef, after all) and the egg and the macadamias were (in high pitched voice..) sooo goooooood!

Then came Harry's (our nickname for Hiroyuki Sakai) Charlotte Mousse D'Asperges au Caviar. Yes, real caviar. And the little palisades of asparagus which Michael has tried with great success. Here he is enjoying it:

Valiantly onwards to Croquette de Foie Gras parfumee a la Truffe. Yes, truffles and foie gras. Ymmmmm. followed by Jewfish and Marron in potato wrapping, with a nori sauce and a vongole sauce. Moving right along to the spatchcock in a herb salt crust with mesclun salad. (yes, we have pictures of them all).

Finally the dessert, described as La fete des Berries, but as you can see, much more than that:

And the piece de resistance (sorry, I can't be bothered figuring out how to add accents to the French) - the chef himself came out to be photographed and rejoice in the good feelings engendered by the grand dinner. Alas, the group photo with the three of us was not achieved (we have dark video instead) but this proves we were there and we had a good time:
Did I say a good time? Try a GREAT time. Truly fantastic.

Monday, October 10, 2005

The people demand pictures

There should be some tatting in this picture, to illustrate the title of the blog. But for today the blog is just KnitPug. Here is my sock, in progress. Jonty is always close at foot.


No No No. When you are knitting with five needles, and are changing from one to the next, you use the EMPTY one. You DON'T pull one out of the stitches......

Saturday, October 08, 2005

I'm Back!

Well, my mother told me she thought my blog was crap. Her word. But I think I'm over it now, and am ready to leap back into the saddle and continue my record of life in the inner city.

It has been a busy time for me. My mother stayed with me for a week (and I forgive her criticism of my blog), I went to the ETD2005 conference, I went to Canberra for two meetings. It has been busy. The ETD conference was fantastic, I really enjoyed it. Electronic Theses and Dissertations. This is the area I have been working in since February this year. As libraries move away from print to digital storage, there is much work to be done on how to store a university's research work digitally. I've been working with a project called ARROW, which is building a digital repository system based on Fedora's open source storage layer, with an application layer being designed by ARROW and built by VTLS. My role has been to do use cases and develop content models for theses, research papers, interface with End Note, and now I am working on access control. It is a logical extension of my career, which has spanned library and information technologies through print, online, CD-ROM, and internet. This is a fascinating project and I am lucky to be involved.

It has meant learning another language though. I came home from the conference one night babbling about some of the interesting things I'd learned and talked about. Mum and Michael told me to stop, they couldn't understand me. Talk English! they said. I said I should have gone to the Conference Dinner where people at least spoke the same language.

In the meantime, back on the knitting front, I succumbed to socks. I borrowed my daughter's sock book and some double pointed needles, bought some sock wool, and despite the unfinished jumper have launched into my first sock. Struggling with all those needles made me feel like I was knitting with an octopus - they wanted to go every which way. I had to cast on and start knitting four times, finally getting it right. It is starting to go quickly, and is very exciting. I can hardly wait to see the sock develop. Pictures will be posted.

Finally, Sunday morning wouldn't be right without the Sunday papers. And the Sunday papers wouldn't be the same without spelling errors. This morning's crop included these:

City steals itself in wake of latest Bali terrorist attacks

This is a reference to the people of Newcastle. There was a group of people from that city in Bali, and many of them were injured, some killed. It is also, I think, a reference to the fact that Newcastle used to be a centre of steel production. Did the journalist (Amy de Lore) mean City Steels itself? Which would have been correct. But how can a city steal itself? Ridiculous.

Next, in the property reports, we hear that it was a young couple who lent casually on a wall who won the auction. What? Lent casually? How do you lend on a wall? Was this a new form of finance? Do you think the journalist (Michelle Singer) meant LEANT on a wall? I think she did.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

An update on Rachael

For those of you concerned to know more about Rachael, here she is, safe and sound. When she lived at Hello Gorgeous, she always liked to be in the window, with an outlook. She even used to have her own coat, quite a sparkly affair. She gave up her coat to a (real) cocker spaniel when she came to live with us. After her encounter with Jonty, she has taken up her post in our window, so she can keep an eye on the street. She seems very happy there, and Jonty hasn't spotted her yet. So all is calm in Rachael's world, and in Jonty's.

We are not sure yet whether there should be another encounter. Jonty does like having something to attack. He misses his bags of leaves. Huh??? Well, since South Sydney Council was swallowed up by Sydney Council, we no longer have human street sweepers gathering leaves into big bags. They used to leave them leaning against street poles. Jonty used to fix those bags with his beady gaze, then lunge at them, biting, shaking them, generally savaging them. Those bags sent him into a frenzy. Please don't ask me why, if I understood Pug Logic I'd be worried. He didn't like the human street sweepers either, and despite their attempts to befriend him, he always tried to bite them.

Now, however, we have little sweeping machines that go around scooping up the leaves (and there are many this time of year - the camphor laurels drop piles of their leaves in spring.) Poor Jonty misses the excitement. Rachael - come here......

Friday, September 09, 2005

Tio Alex and the Asparagus

Alex is our next door neighbour, and a source of many things - confusion, annoyance, amusement, weather reports, updates on real estate prices (especially of his own house) and masses of rotting vegetables. Michael has taken to calling him Tio Alex, which seems to wash over Alex like water off a duck's back. Or should that be a chicken's back? Alex sometimes refers to himself as Chicken Brain. We think this is a reference to something his brother once said to him about buying a house in our area, rather than somewhere more salubrious. Alex has been in this suburb for fifty years, and it is now becoming trendy and higher priced. Alex cackles at the idea that his place is worth as much as it is, and gleefully refers again to himself as Chicken Brain.

He's an old Italian, with not much English, but thinks of himself as the Padrone of the neighbourhood. He's extremely nosy, and always has an opinion. Most of the neighbours are wary of him, but he's harmless. He really should have been a farmer. When he was younger he colonised bits of spare land around the suburb, wherever he could make a deal, and would grow vegetables for the local fruit shop. Sometimes we would get some. As he gets older, he still has an arrangement with the fruit shop, but doesn't grow anything any more. The deal with the shop seems to be that he helps unload and pack stuff, and in return gets to take the older fruit and veg that don't sell. A couple of years ago we got quite a few trays of swiss brown mushrooms. I dried some, and some I put in jars preserved with oil. I gave him one of the jars. Next time I got trays of mushrooms, jars were included. Hmmm, subtle hint. He liked the mushrooms. I made them again.

The trays of stuff he leaves are a challenge for me. I get out my old book of jams and preserves. Sometimes I make pickles, or freeze what I can. I hate waste. But sometimes I am defeated. The stuff is too old, or I haven't got time to do anything with it. Here is the latest offering - a tray of asparagus. The label says it is fresh, but believe me, it isn't.

Asparagus jam? Asparagus chutney? Asparagus pickle? I don't think so. Aha! I know what I'll do with it. I cut all the plastic tape off the bunches...... ASPARAGUS COMPOST!

I wonder what will be next. Oh, and by the way, Jonty loathes Alex and tries to bite him whenever he catches sight of him. Alex seems not to mind, and asks when Jonty is going to get the needle. Alex thinks this is funny.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

The joy of motherhood

It just makes me glow with pride. Like mother, like daughter. Mother leads the way, daughter follows (sometimes.) She has started her own blog and in it she displays her wonderful knitting talents. Look at those tea cosies! Don't they make you just drool? And the display of cabling makes me very happy.

So I have to counter with the progress I've made on the front of the re-knitted jumper. You see I haven't gotten very far, but at least it hasn't been abandoned. I've just cast off for the sleeves. Managed to make a mistake while gripped by the Ashes last night and had to rip some out, but have gotten going again. You may not be able to see well, but I'm using the Boyes knitting needles my Aunt Jane gave me. It took a while to get used to them, but I really like them. The way the knitting hangs makes it easier to deal with than stiff needles.

One of these days I am going to do a post with some of my favourite blogs, but for the moment you can enjoy Julie's, and perhaps this one. Over and out for now, back to work.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005


I haven't blogged since the devastation in the Gulf States of the U.S. When I began blogging, I thought I would keep it light and frothy, amusing, entertaining. In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, I just couldn't do it. It didn't seem right to be so trivial.

On a plane home from a work trip to Melbourne yesterday, I travelled with a friend who also has a blog. We discussed this question. She encouraged me to write about my reactions. A blog is about life, and life isn't all amusing or frothy. There is the dark among the light. So I've been thinking about the words, and here goes.

You might be wondering why a girl from Sydney is so upset about it. It is a long way away, after all. But I am very upset. A couple of nights ago I went to bed, and burst into tears. "What's wrong" asked Michael anxiously. Earlier, we had been discussing our visit to New Orleans in June, 2004. We talked about things we had seen, such as the Aquarium, the Cabildo, Jackson Square. "That whole city" I sobbed. All those people, the buildings, inundated and ruined. I continued to cry remembering visits past.

My first visit to New Orleans was with my mother and my sister, way back in 1965. My mother's sister, my Aunt Jane, lived in Hammond, north of NO, and we were going to meet her, Uncle Bill, and our cousins for the first time. How exotic the US was for us Sydney teenagers. Louisiana was a strange place of misty Spanish moss, heat and humidity, and the city a fascinating mix. Coming from white Australia, the black faces around us were new and intriguing. We had our portraits done by a street artist in Jackson Square - I still have mine. We ate beignets and gumbo, we explored the attractions of the city. We drove across Lake Ponchartrain to Hammond, like driving across the ocean. We ate thin-sliced catfish at a stop along the way.

I visited again several times, always enjoying my relatives' company. In 1971 my sister and I again visited Hammond, Louisiana. Gwen had been living in London, I had visited her (you saw me in a previous post, wearing my fur coat during that vist). We travelled together from London to Hammond. We still have pictures of ourselves in the local newspaper. We were exotic to them too. There we were, on the verandah of the big old wooden house, wearing the latest in hot pants from Harrods, long flowing hair, dark smoky eyeliner.

I returned to Australia, Gwen stayed in the US and met her husband. She spent some time living in New Orleans, and still lives in hurricane-prone Florida.

Several more times over the years I've visited Aunt Jane and the family, so I've gotten to know the place. And last year's visit with Michael was to introduce him to that world. We stayed with Aunt and Cousin Jane near Baton Rouge, we met the next generation. We explored New Orleans and ate at Mona's Middle Eastern with Cousin Susan and other family members. We drove across Lake Ponchartrain. We drove around the city, down St. Charles Street, with its beautiful fretworked wooden mansions and the fabulous fern-covered arches of the oak trees.

So you can see my memories are strong, and they are fresh. I've made anxious phone calls and everyone is OK, the New Orleans contingent having evacuated. They don't know how their houses are.

I spend time on Google Earth, hovering anxiously over their addresses, trying to see what detail I can. I've sent the grainy pictures to them - the miracle of technology.

I've needed to write this, so I can go back to being (hopefully) amusing. My thoughts are still there, with them all.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Honey, I Ebayed the Pug!

No no, not really! But I'm getting close.... I have become an ebay addict. Selling and buying. I'm having such fun selling up all the old stuff around here. And even more fun buying red china - the Villeroy and Boch Granada china we have.

But let's back up. Being an acquisitive pack rat, I've bought a lot of stuff over the years. Living in a small house means there really isn't room for it all. Some of it I've outgrown (sometimes literally) and sometimes I've just moved on.

It started with a small music cabinet. It sold to someone with a music store in Kalgoorlie, it was trucked across the Nullarbor.

Then I had a couple of aboriginal bark paintings, which were fine in my office. But when I left that job I had nowhere for them. They certainly didn't belong in a Federation house. Off one went to Melbourne.

Then my daughter mentioned that clothes were a big seller on ebay. Aha, my chance to get rid of that 80's denim jacket with all the silver glitter on it. What was I thinking when I bought it? It went to Adelaide, to someone who LOVES it.

We bought a new LDC computer monitor. The old one went, for $5. Better than nothing, and it is out of the house. A new TV, ebay with the old. The new Palm Zire 71 - ebay with the old Palm Vx. Then a big wooden filing cabinet. Now that we have a built-in desk in the back bedroom it was surplus to requirements. Ebayed.

Now I'm having to dig deeper into the archive. The latest thing to go was the fur coat I bought in 1970. Here I am wearing it in 1971 in England. Alas, living in sunny warm Sydney gave me little opportunity to wear it, and I'm afraid I rather grew out of it. I am no longer 22 and quite that size. "I'll be that thin again if only I try" I think. For too many years I've been thinking that. I answered all the questions about its condition and took closeups of it and discussed postage. Finally, it sold for about what I paid for it all those years ago. Diane, in Wisconsin, will be receiving it soon. As I posted it today, wrapped in tissue paper in a big box, I must admit to being a little weepy seeing it go. I hope Diane will love it.

Now, what's next..... Looking looking around the house. I wonder what I'd get for an 18 year old cat? Portia, come here and let me take a nice photo of you.....

Saturday, August 27, 2005


Once upon a time, when Jonty the Pug was a lad, he had a bit of a stoush with a Border Collie. We were waiting for the pedestrian lights to change, we on one side of the road with Jonty, and the Border Collie on the other side. Waiting, waiting. Their eyes locked...... the lights changed. We proceeded towards each other. Jonty was on his lead, the Border Collie free. They attacked each other in the middle of King Street, and it was a nasty occasion.

From this one episode in his youth, Jonty has generalised to ALL Border Collies, or really any dog of the same size with black and white colouring. He can spot them a mile off, on the other side of the street, the other side of the park. There is always an instantaneous reaction - he stiffens, hackles rise, he growls. And you know what? They don't even have to be real dogs. All this business about dogs recognising each other through smell has whiskers on it. This is purely visual. We know this to be true.

Just up the road next to Martin the Hairdresser is a gay glitzy costumier, Hello Gorgeous. In the window of this shop, at ground level, sat a stuffed Border Collie. Whenever we walk past, Jonty barrels at the window, barking maniacally, hackles raised. He goes berserk, and passers by think it hilarious. We do too. So did the proprietor, who one day tucked the dog under her arm and introduced us - the dog's name is Rachel. Jonty went ballistic.

One day, we noticed that Hello Gorgeous was closing down. We couldn't let Rachel get away from us, we've had too much fun with her. So I went in and made a successful offer on Rachel. I smuggled her home in a big black bag, hiding her from Jonty. We planned a surprise event for Jonty this weekend. As I was describing our plan to our neighbour, Debbie, she said "Kate - are you playing a practical joke on your DOG?!?" I confessed, we were.
Is that pathetic?

We were out walking with him at the 4 pm walk, and I slunk home before them. I set up Jonty's dinner bowl, with Rachel sitting at it. This was the view that greeted Jonty when he raced in looking for his eats.

We had our cameras ready, and Jonty did the entirely predictable. He went completely berserk. I even used my mobile phone videocam to take some videos with sound, and he performed a treat. What you are missing here is the growling and the barking and general carryon. We laughed and laughed, but eventually took Rachel away so he could eat his dinner in peace. We shall produce her occasionally and get him used to the idea of having a little friend.... or just to tease him some more.

Isn't it sad when you are reduced to playing tricks on your Pug!

Monday, August 22, 2005


You learn something every day. I just learned that comments on my blog were restricted to registered users. They are no longer - anyone can add a comment if they want to. Over to my readers.....

Drama on the street

I'd been out for my lunchtime power walk, and was almost home when I heard a racket in one of the paperbark trees in our nearest cross street. There was a flying fox hanging high in the tree, with a couple of currawongs giving it a hard time. Was it caught there? Was it able to get away? As I rounded the corner to our street, I saw Alex and a mate, rootling around in Alex's garage. I asked if they'd seen the flying fox. No, they hadn't, so they came up to have a look. Alex said he thought the flying fox was caught by a string around one of its legs. After all, the currawongs are nesting and they often take bits of string as building materials. We couldn't see it though. So I decided to call WIRES - the wildlife rescue service. They asked whether it was a ladder job. Oh yes, I said, it was quite high in the tree. The volunteer on the phone said she'd send someone with experience in rescuing flying foxes. I thought I had done my duty, and continued to work.

On the 4pm Pug Walk (yes, there is a 4pm walk and a 6pm walk, in addition to the morning walk..) we saw quite a commotion in the street. A huge fire truck, fully fitted out with firemen, blocking the narrow road. A string of cars behind the fire truck. An audience of agog pre-schoolers up against the fence of the kindy, taking in every minute of the rescue. I approached the leading fireman, who told me they almost had it, but that at the last minute it had made a getaway. No string around its leg? "No," said the fireman, "it had legs enough to get away from me." As the fire engine packed up and took off, it gave a quick blast of the siren to excite the kids. It did. They chanted happily "Fi-ya men, fi-ya men" as the fire truck departed. It must have made their day.

Was I right to call WIRES? Was the flying fox invading the territory of the currawongs? Was it making a new home and standing its ground .. er... hanging its perch? Was it a good use of the fire department's time and resources? Oh, life in the big city. Soulless, sterile, dull. NOT!

Friday, August 19, 2005

The Kiss

The 6 pm walk often takes us past the day care centre when the place is busy with parents picking up their children. They often react to Jonty. There are cries of "Puppy, puppy!" even though Jonty is a greybeard. Some of the children are anxious about him although he pays them no attention. We passed one such little girl, about three or four years old, the other night. Jonty was right next to her as she waited for her mother to organise her into the car. She did some leg clinging, but was obviously interested in Jonty. He is pretty good with littlies, so I encouraged her to touch him. She was very brave, and touched him on his back. He noticed her, and came closer to sniff her a bit. Ooooh, more leg clinging, but she was emboldened to pat him on the head, and feel his very silky ears. Just as we were to go our separate ways, she leaned over and gave him a kiss on the top of his head. We all felt very blessed.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Watch out for flying toys!

We live in a flying toy zone! Behind us is a day care centre, and one neighbour is a keen cricketer. This means that it is sometimes a hard-hat area in our back yard.

We think that one of the day-care denizens must be practicing for the Olympics. We call him (note the sexism) Chucker. Toys come flying over, raining down on us. Bricks, blocks, balls. Thomas the Tank Engine plastic toys. Buckets and spades. Lego and plastic bowls. We hope they don't land on Portia, who likes to sun herself in the garden and doesn't move very fast. One day our cleaner, Gladys, came rushing through the house...."Kate Kate, Chucker has outdone himself!'' Sure enough, there were seven toys that had come over in a very short time. We usually wait until all is quiet over there, then assume our identity as the Secret Chucker in reverse.

Geordie, the keen cricketer, is fond of batting tennis balls over. We often hear the thud as they land on the roof, or in the garden. He and his mates come to the door, and we search for the balls. Sometimes we find three or four, and chuck them over his way. They can land in the gutters, or in the side lane, or anywhere in the garden. Their garden also backs onto the day care centre, and they too experience the overflow. They have confessed that sometimes they keep the good balls.

Today as I was walking Jonty on his 4 pm walk around the front of the day care centre, a tennis ball came flying over - I didn't see where it came from. With an audience of small boys, I reached into the drain and retrieved the ball. Over to the boys. "Is this yours?" I asked, handing it to one of them. His eyes lit up as he took the ball, and said "No, it isn't." Well, it WAS his by now. One of the other boys said it had come flying over the house.

Was the ball Geordie's? Is it justice that sometimes the balls go flying in the other direction? Does it all even out in the long run?

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Adding a hit counter

This blog is going to be so darned popular I need to know how many visitors I get! So I've done the techie thing and put a hit counter here. Now I'll know how alone I am in the universe.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Big Fat Plugs

What's that you read? Aren't I supposed to be talking about Fat PUGS?!?!? No, it is no misprint. This time it is PLUGS. You see them in the picture. Don't they drive you berserk? Yesterday we had a bit of a spend-up. Bought a new thin screen TV because the old one was taking up too much room. And we bought two new mice - the computer kind. Whizz bang bluetooth wireless mice, one for home, one for the office.

WIRELESS HA! This wireless mouse takes up not only one of my too few remaining USB slots, it has to have its own power source. Why is it that every piece of computer equipment has to have its own power source? The speakers. The modem. The camera cradle. The Palm cradle. The USB hub. And so it goes.

There are eight accessible powerpoints in this room, but still I need the three powerboards you see pictured, plus one more. I have six-point boards, and four-point boards, but I can't use every point on the board because every piece of equipment has this huge FAT PLUG that takes up more than its fair share of the space on the board. The worst offenders are the ones that insist on going sideways, claiming a specific spot on the board so they can face right or left. What is going on inside those great fat plugs? Why are they so greedy? Another question might be - why are the power boards SO THIN? I'm not the only one, surely, to have a spaghetti of cables and a passel of plugs lurking under the desk. Why don't power board makers make their boards big enough for these great slug-plugs? Nice wide slots so you can actually (oops - did I actually type 'actually?) use all the points. I think I'll write off to the board makers now.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

My next project

I said I was going to make a doll's dress, and here I go. But didn't I say a while ago that my daughter STILL has my sewing machine? Yes, she still has it. So I have decided to go the whole hog and create this dress entirely by hand. All the seams, everything. This is the start of it. The sleeves have gone in, the underarms need to be sewn up.

Truly, the seam sewing (double running stitch) doesn't take all that long to do. Then I will embellish it with some of the tatting I have. All those little strips with nowhere to go, each one will find its place. Such a lot of frou frou.

And when I am not tatting or sewing or patting the Pug (or even working!!) I have been wrestling with the Sudoku puzzles. As you can see, I completed one! This one was a moderate, and apart from a kid's one, this is the first I have ever done. Just what I need - another way to waste time concentrating on something totally useless.

Sunday, July 31, 2005

Pcinic day in Sydney

What a glorious day in Sydney. Winter, almost spring, and it is warm and sunny. We went for an afternoon mini-picnic to Berry Island , near Wollstonecraft on the northern side of the Harbour. A rug, a couple of chairs, some coffee and jam sponge rollups, the Sunday NYTimes puzzle, and the sunshine. We met some friends for a chat. Jonty needed some shade from the sun. He's very happy with his position on a lap, and his Nebraska Huskers cap for shade. We went for a walk around the 'island' and Jonty managed very well with some assistance up the steps. Our friends had their guide-dog-in-training, Goldy, a young golden labrador. She wasn't wearing her pink guide-dog learners jacket today, but she was very well behaved.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Out, out, damned junk!

D-Day has arrived. Ditch that junk! See all these balls of cream wool in the bin? I bought those in 1988 (yes, you see it correctly, nineteen eighty eight) from a shop which no longer exists, for $32.00. Yes, sadly, I even still had the docket. Even in those dim dark days that was REALLY CHEAP for that wool. I bought enough to do an Aran jumper. I had my eye on cables and bobbles. I had the pattern, and what a great deal on the wool. Knitting began. The wool began to reveal itself for the junk it was. It broke every now and then. I knitted on, thinking it might be just one ball. It wasn't. I wasn't going to waste my time doing something as labour intensive as an Aran jumper. But could I throw it out???? Would you???

Oh no, I decided to crochet granny squares from it. If it broke, it wouldn't matter too much. The blue wool came from leftover cardigans and jumpers of yore. Of course, other more interesting projects intervened. The squares and the wool gathered dust and moths in the cupboard. Finally last week I took them out of the cupboard, and with the support of my husband and daughter decided they had to go. So they went into a plastic bag in the front bedroom. Should I give them all to St. Vincent de Paul? If I did that, some other muggins would seize the wool and try to do something with it, encountering the same frustrations I have had with it.

So as you see it now, it really is in THE RUBBISH BIN where it has belonged all these years. Aaaahh. Such a relief. Now I can get on with some more projects.......

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

I confess, we have a cat

I confess, not only do we have a pug, but a CAT! This is Portia, who gets along very well with Jonty. Portia is probably 17, but we aren't really sure. She more or less came with the house.

She and Jonty cooperate at dinnertime, lobbying for their eats. They think dinnertime is 3 pm. I think it is no earlier than 4 pm, but they do wear me down. Portia is extremely vocal, and as she winds up, so does Jonty. By 4 pm the combined effect is irresistible. Dinner is served. It takes a lot less time to eat it than it does to convince me to give it to them. Working from home makes me an available target for their wiles.

I've spent all day thinking about interoperable metadata schema for an 8 am conference call in the morning. I've also done my business activity statement. Phew! That's something I've been putting off, but it isn't too bad once you get going.

In another furious bout of time-wasting I have gotten together all the equipment I need to record my vinyl record collection to hard disk/CD. Many happy/unhappy hours have been spent trying to get the adjustments right, but I am still getting distortion on my files. The records themselves play just fine through the computer speakers, but not the recordings. Either another sound card is required, or I am doing something wrong.

More happy time-wasting has been spent on getting Skype installed. This involved buying a microphone for the PC, which naturally led (don't ask how or why...) to the purchase of a new flat screen monitor. Happy scrabbling around under the desk with a zillion cables later, and Skype works. Happy birthday to my sister in the US! Skype allowed a very pleasant phone call.

Isn't technology fun? Don't you just LOVE new toys??? Don't you adore crawling around under the desk to see what is plugged in where, untangling masses of cords and wires? I think I'll go back to my knitting...

Monday, July 25, 2005

The beginnings of a tatted tablecloth...

Here is a piece of tatting I tend to carry with me when I travel. It is called Patchwork, and comes from Mary Konior's book Tatting with Visual Patterns. Tatting is great to travel with. It is small, it is light. I have a plastic shuttle for working with, so I can carry it on a plane. You don't need a hook, the shuttle I use has a pointy tip for pulling picots through. You are allowed to carry tweezers on planes. These are essential when you have made a mistake and have to unpick rings. Thank you Mary K for teaching me how to do that - it is impossible to unpick rings if you don't know this trick.

Will it end up tablecloth size? I have other pieces of work that haven't made it - bits of crochet and such. I guess I'll have to do a lot more travelling. Did I really say that? Don't I spend enough time on aeroplanes and waiting in airports?

And now for something completely different. It is always a bit of a lucky dip when my husband goes to the video shop. He tends to return with black and white submarine movies made in 1956. Bloke movies. He has a theory that the video shop gets only one or two copies of interesting things, rather than the many shelves full of the latest Hollywood monstrosities. This has resulted in some interesting choices. A couple have become firm favourites. Tais Toi, with Gerard Depardieu and Jean Reno. The hilarious Wasabi with Jean Reno See IMDB review . A couple of nights ago he came home with another winner - Bubba Ho-Tep. Yep, you got it. But wait, there's more. You wanted to know the real story about Elvis? About JFK? It is all here in this movie. Since seeing it, Bubba Ho-Tep has become a stock phrase of ours. We are now referring to Jonty as Pugga Ho-Tep. Don't just take my word for it, the IMDB reviews agree with us. It will become one of our regular borrowings, along with the two Jean Reno movies, Men in Black I and II, and Galaxy Quest.

Over and out for today, heaps to do.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Starch that bonnet

It isn't a good picture, but it shows the effect I was after with the starching. The brim now sits out like a proper bonnet brim should. I'm happy with it. Most of the bonnet was tatted with a shuttle, but the rondels (which really need to be ironed properly) were done with needle tatting. I've been a shuttle tatter for a long time, but on a recent visit to the US we went to Amana. There in the schoolhouse was Bonnie, sitting tatting with a needle. After long and detailed consultation and comparison of techniques, I bought a book and the tatting needles in Hastings, Nebraska. It is quite a different technique. Fast and effective.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Knitting not tatting

Here I go again. This is the back for the jumper I knitted, only to pull it all undone. Unpicking was no fun, as I had sewn it up all too well, and it was difficult to get it apart. I salvaged as much as I could. I'm using the Boyes knitting set my aunt gave me. Holding the knitting feels quite different with the flexible needle, quite unlike stiff needles. I like the feel of it. The knitting goes quickly, as this is 12 ply. Just as well it does, seeing as I am knitting it twice!

Friday, July 22, 2005

Three days of meetings in Melbourne. Glad to be back home! Jonty is pleased to see me home. He was sick again, but the cause has been isolated to some leftover rice which really did not agree with him. But he is chirpy and enjoyed his walk, so I am not worried about him.

Here is a picture of him looking regal on his pug cushion. Don't those legs on the cushion look like his?

I did try re-starching the tatted bonnet, and it has worked better. The brim stands out more stiffly.

Today I am going to get back to the knitting I ripped up, and make a good start on it.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

I can't believe I'm doing this!

I swore I would never join those people who feel it appropriate to share the minutiae of their quotidian doings, but when I saw the chance to join the Knitters with Pugs webring, I knew I had to do it. Just to see whether I liked it. So here goes.

Requirements: Pug

Yes, I have a Pug. Jonty the Magnificent is nearly 11 years old. He is a fine Pug indeed. Once he was a show pug and became a champion. His breeder used to take him off for shows, and he loved it. Now he rests on his laurels. He is also father of champions. His breeder used to take him off for dirty weekends, and he loved that too. Now that he is an elder statesman, he is content to sniff other dogs, and sometimes get excited. But that's all. Today he is not well. Ate grass this morning, and has thrown up many times. I hope he gets better soon.

Knitting or other textile craft: Oh yes. I knit. I crochet. I bead. I tat. Projects on the go right now include:

A jumper in Jo Sharp wool that I knit to the end. Tried it on. For the first time ever, I unpicked the whole thing. It was too big, too short, the sleeves too long. I am just beginning to re-knit it. Same pattern, smaller size, shorter sleeves, longer body. Pictures will be posted soon.

I recently finished a baby shawl for a good friend. I started it for her first child, finished it for her second. Picture attached.

Last night I finished tatting a lace bonnet for a big doll I had when I was a child. It is currently drying, having been starched. I need to iron it, pull out all the picots, and make sure it is in good shape. Then I will post a pic.

Finally, projects I have planned:

  • Finish the Jo Sharp jumper
  • I have some blue velvet on which I am going to applique a tatted picture of a willow tree, adorned with some Swarowski crystals and turn into an evening bag
  • A dress for the same dolly who now has the tatted bonnet drying on her head.
  • Sundry black material to make into tops for me, when/if my daughter gives back my sewing machine.
I think that's enough for now.

My first post....

Tatted bonnet

Here are pictures of the little doll bonnet. Finished. The starching didn't seem to work as well as I hoped, so I have folded back the brim.

I think I will have another go at the starching thing, and have the brim forward and stiff. I think about trying hair spray but am tentative about that. See the cute pug cushion in the background? This is one of Jonty's favouriet cushions, he likes to lie upon it in regal splendour.

He thinks the doll is for him to play with. Sorry Jonty, not today.

Here is another picture, showing a pug cushion in the background.