20 May 2009

Farewell, Uncle Toes

Uncle Tony - or 'Toes', as we used to call him when we were kids - died peacefully this morning.

Dotter and I were all ready to drive down today, to see him one last time, but we were too late.

He had a very rare form of leukaemia - a type which only a few people in the world have at any given time - and we always knew his prognosis was bad, although we hoped that maybe he'd be the one to kick the trend, and live longer than the typical 11 months after remission - and he was certainly working for that goal - but it was not to be. He was exactly average (but only in this regard).

In many ways it's a relief he's gone quickly - the disease was taking a cruel toll, and it's better that he didn't linger. But I did want to see him one last time.

Uncle Toes had a crazy larrikin sense of humour, always ready with bad puns, and much silliness. He also had a tremendous generosity and kindness of heart. He was always laughing, even in the face of terrible adversity.

He was our 'naughty uncle', the one who'd bring us cups of milky tea and Vegemite toast in bed (after we'd brushed our teeth!) when all us cousins complained we had the 'hungries and thirsties!". He developed the 'Tea Dance', a funny ritual that had to be performed whenever making tea in a pot (it involved turning the pot around a certain number of times, and doing a little dance) - which was often, as he loved a good cuppa!

When he turned 60, we gave him a small glass jar of marbles, with the label "Replacement Marbles - take one as needed" ... he kept it on his office shelf.

When he was in hospital for the sessions of aggressive chemotherapy, he would befriend everyone, from the doctors to the cleaning ladies. He was the first chemo patient they'd ever seen who set up an exercise bike in his tiny room, and exercised every day, for as long as he was able. He was that kind of guy, proactive, and always looking for the best in people, and situations.

I can't bear that he's gone - far far too young (a few days short of his 66th birthday). He leaves a huge hole in my heart.

ETA : his funeral will be in Albury this Tuesday 26 May.

16 May 2009

The puppeh has landed

Look who's come home!

Yes, it's young Petal! She has a rubber ducky, which squeaks. She even likes playing with tiny balls (something Lily was never into).

She loves the smell of wool (good dog!), and loves to sneak into my jumper for a puppy nap curled up under my chin.

Her first night (last night) went smoothly, better than we were expecting. No night-long howl-fest, she settled down and slept well (as far as we know!). Dotter made her this little red sleeping pocket from polar fleece - chihuahuas have a fine tradition of burrowing!

So, so far so good! She's currently lying on the beanbag with Hubby, curled up under his chin :)

On the knitting front, I have a lot of projects on the go, all started for Knitting Camp. This is the Ribbed Jacket by Shepherd, knit in Cascade 220. I've finished the back and both fronts, and am now knitting the sleeves (both at the same time). The yarn is just gorgeous, extremely smooshy.

I got the pattern booklet at the Knitting Camp, I suspect it's a discontinued one, as it was on sale, and I can't find it on Ravelry (well, I've added the pattern, but I'm the only one to have knitted it, online, anyway). Lots of 2 x 1 ribbing!

12 May 2009

3 sleeps

Petal at 8 weeks (last Saturday) ...

She and her siblings are real boisterous puppies now, jumping and running all over the place, into everything, attacking soft toys, chewing fingers, gnawing bones ... she knows her name, and comes when called!

She comes home with us this coming Friday! I've already cooked the first batch of puppy food (brown rice, minced offcuts, diced carrot, zucchini, and potato, cooked in the crock pot), and frozen small portions :)

10 May 2009

Alone at last

Okay, back to my holiday ....

After leaving Knitting Camp on Sunday 26 April, I drove down to Jervis Bay for some long-overdue alone time, stopping at the Sourdough Bakery in Berry, which my Sydney knitting pals highly recommended (and with good cause!). This was my lunch (homemade gnocchi, peas, feta cheese, tomatoes, basil, yum yum).

Sew and Tell (133 Queen St, Berry) was the other must-see attraction in Berry - a delightful store packed with embroidery, beading, and knitting books, supplies, kits, and - oh - the yarn! Shelves and shelves of Noro, Sublime, and - the big draw card - Cascade 220 (not available in Canberra at all) - as well as tons of other yarns. I bought enough dark brown Cascade to make a ribbed cardigan.

After a reasonable run down the Princes Highway, through Nowra, I reached my destination : the Huskisson Bed & Breakfast. I met my delightful hosts, Kate and Steve, and their pets - Sundae the chocolate labrador, and cats Quokka and Chester.

I had the Verandah Room, at the front of the house :

With my very own bathtub :

There is a common area with a dining room, little fridge, microwave, kettle and so on, and living room with wood fire, and a ton of books and other treasures. I was the only guest in residence, so it was all mine!

The weather was pretty wild - Sunday night had gale force winds - and that was the night I chose to walk to the local Indian restaurant! The food was great, even if the weather was scary.

On Monday I explored the area - this is the beach at Huskisson :

Overlooking Hyams Beach :

More of Hyams Beach, which supposedly has the whitest sand in the world, although I don't quite know how you could be sure!

An unusual warning sign ...

Breakfasts at the B&B consisted of a bowl of really delicious seasonal fruits, with a pot of tea, and thick slices of toast, with locally made jams. If you ever have the chance to stay at the Huskisson B&B, take it. It's utterly wonderful, even in cold weather - curled up on the cushy sofas in front of a crackling fire was just what I needed. Knitting, reading, and not a lot else.

On one morning it was warm enough to sit out on the front verandah with my favourite things : cryptic crosswords, knitting, and tea.

On Tuesday I headed over to Vincentia (the next little town down from Husky) for the fish & chips at JB Seafoods. Flathead. Nom nom nom.

Even better when eaten by the seaside! This is the Moona Moona Creek estuary - the most beautiful little spot.

Huskisson was delightful, I really loved it. The main street is very attractive. I had lunches at a variety of cafés, all excellent - Main Deck, Locavore, and the Husky Bakery and Café. Dinners were at the local Indian (very good), Thai (excellent), and Italian (so-so) restaurants.

More knitting, this time with Chai Latte and a Banana & Macademia Pastry, at Main Deck. The project is my Cascade ribbed cardy.

Kate, Steve and I became friends over these few days. Kate is my age (born 7 months before me), used to be a violinist too, and we have many other things in common! They are professional filmmakers; Kate has quite a few documentaries to her name (for the BBC etc), and Steve is a cameraman.

Lulu had to get in on the act, of course - I caught her trying to lead Kate's Camembert astray, but hopefully I got her away fast enough!

All too soon, it was time to come home. I took the scenic route, from Berry across the mountains to Kangaroo Valley. I saw a whole 3 cars and 1 motobike on the crossing. One of the benefits of travelling midweek!

I stopped for lunch at Fitzroy Falls - it's only a short walk to the lookout. I'm really not good with heights; it took more bravery than I was expecting to walk out onto the platform and take these pics. I mean, there's only a plank of wood between my feet and a long long drop!

My last holiday meal - a steak and mushroom pie with sweet potato topping, at the Fitzroy Falls café. Just perfect for a chilly damp day.

And so I got home on Thursday, after nearly a week away. It was great, and not least because I'm nervous about long drives by myself, in areas I don't know. It was my first ever holiday alone. So I did it, which was no small thing, and everything went well.

Now to book my time away for next year!

09 May 2009

OMFG, it's a book!!

Look what arrived by UPS International Express post yesterday!! It's REAL!! Eeeeeee!!!

This is so awesome and exciting! The Rich Tennant cartoons (written especially for my book) are perfect, too! I'm going to see if I can buy a signed print of one or two (he doesn't sell originals).

Next step is to go through this review copy with a fine-tooth comb, and send any factual / typo errors in within a month, to be corrected in the first reprint. I've already spotted a few minor mistakes, damn, which slipped through the editing process, but I guess that was inevitable!

I wanna do this again - it's addictive!

ETA : It is out in bookshops in the States & Canada now, as well as online shops (Amazon.com etc etc). I'm not sure, but I think it might be available in Australian & UK bookshops too, in the near future.

08 May 2009

Dib dib dib, dob dob dob

Holiday time at last! On Friday 24 April, Bells and I set off to Knitting Camp. It was held at the stunningly beautiful Mt Keira Scout Camp, just out of Wollongong. Knitting Camp is organised by CR & K Daisy Designs in Wollongong.

This was the camp's third year, and its biggest yet. Well over 40 women, and one guy (Ladies and Lee!) were there, with ages from mid-20s to 70+!

We had a smooth drive up, and arrived around 4pm. We choose our bunks :

Oh for heaven's sake. Lulu had snuck into my bag! No wine was safe!

This is the 'Chalet', or sleeping quarters.

How could anyone resist such enticing paths? The lush greenery was such a balm to us Canberra-ites, who have got used to (but still don't like) drought-stricken dry gardens.

On Saturday there was a dyeing class - good fun!

Here are my two skeins (with Lee's suggested Plum and Primrose dyes).

How's this for the perfect class location?! The veranda on the end of the Lodge, surrounded by towering forest ...

The Lodge had an imposing front door :

Inside the Lodge, where we sat to knit, and enjoyed the open fire ... Daisy Designs had tables full of delicious yarn, patterns, and needles on sale. I think we all splurged!

Lulu was blissed out by the Bliss yarn, and tried to nick the pincushions!

For as long as it was sunny, we sat outside, overlooking the stunning view.

Lee didn't have a hat, so my apron had to do!

The divine Lee and luscious Lulu really hit it off! Goodness!

Saturday night was the Big Hawaiian Night! Despite the chilly weather, we dressed up with leis, sarongs, and more - Rose Red was particularly noticeable with her stunning red wig and red flowery sandals! And who could forget Lee with his floral codpiece!

In short, we all had a great fun time, even Lulu (well, that was hardly surprising, given the amount she drank). I loved putting real people to Ravelry and blog identities, chatting with all the knitters, spending time with dear friends, discovering new friends, and being able to just KNIT all the time. What a treat not to have to cook!

While it was very full on and loud at times - I'm used to more solitude and a quiet life - it was a very enjoyable experience. Dotter is making noises about coming along next time ... so I think we'll be doing this again!

For other reports on the camp, with even more photos, visit Bells, Lyns, Web Goddess, Random Knits, Missyfee, and JP! And a huge thank you to Rae, Kerry and Christine for all their hard work in making the camp happen!

I'll post about my Jervis Bay days tomorrow ... stay tuned :)