Friday, October 31, 2008

Tomorrow it begins

NaBloPoMo - A whole month of daily posting. Can I do it? Ought I do it? (Does anyone care?) I've done it once before, so I know it's possible. What on earth am I going to write about? I can hardly depend on fortuitous wildlife visitations every day. I might actually have to plan what I post ahead of time. Either that or find lots of silly but irresistible quizzes to, THAT would be cheating. (Ok, so there are no actual rules about content, but I'm a perfectionist so content free posts must be avoided if at all possible.) You guys like pictures of food, jewellery and pets don't you?

Clara watching for cats

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Eastern Water Dragon

Look who came to visit us this afternoon!

Stalking the dragon

Caitlin dragged the dog inside saying there was a lizard in the backyard and freaking out because she once saw Clara dismember a blue tongue lizard at the dog's previous home back before we inherited her. At first I assumed she was talking about a bigger than average skink but, no! We all piled out on to the back deck and there down by the back fence was this great big Eastern Water Dragon. Adam took one shot from up on the balcony and then I grabbed the camera and went downstairs to see how close I could get.

He watched me stalk him and let me get within about 2m of him in the end, he was probably about 60cm long (though I'm notoriously bad at estimating length), and he seems to have had an injury to his tail at some point. There's a creek down the back of our place, running through a narrow bit of bush, I just love seeing that such a small area of suburban reserve can support such gorgeous creatures.

He watches me with suspicion

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

I've been redecorating

When I switched to the 3 column template there were a few things about it that I wasn't quite happy with but I had no idea how to go about changing them. Today I decided to see if I could find a new template that would do what I wanted it to. I googled and I clicked my way through to endless hideously designed blogs offering free templates that were either way too busy for my taste or just didn't work. So frustrating.

Then I found myself here reading a tutorial on how to create a 3 column template by customising a 2 column one. OMG, I get it! HTML begins to make sense! I did a lot of playing around testing things out on my test blog and then once I had it behaving I took the plunge and brought the new template over here.

Do you like it? I'm a bit concerned that the layout is too wide, though it should be ok on newer monitors, is anyone having to scroll sideways to see it all? Other than that, I think I'll try to get the header image a bit shorter, I'll probably play with the fonts and colours a bit and I'm still trying to get the flickr badge centered.

We won't talk about how many hours of my day it swallowed up.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Link-fest No. 7

Random linkage for your amusement/edification.

Zero Punctuation - "Zero Punctuation is The Escapist's groundbreaking video review series starring Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw. Every Wednesday Zero Punctuation picks apart the games so you don't have to." Is funny :)

Darths and Droids - webcomic of Star Wars as a Dungeons & Dragons game.

Gagging For It - "An Australian Comedy Portal: news, reviews & performance details - where to find your comedy around Oz." Wish I could go see more live comedy.

Geek Crafts
- a blog collecting links to all sorts of, well, geek crafts. Check out the crocheted Dark Mantle, click through to the original post too for more photos.

Joss on Whedonesque, with the latest on Dollhouse

Sunday, October 26, 2008

NaBloPoMo prize donation

Today I finally hauled all my jewellery making paraphernalia* out and made some necklaces. It's been ages since I made anything new but there's nothing like having a commitment to provide motivation. My contribution to the NaBloPoMo prize pool, let me show you it!

I've promised a set of handmade semi-precious stone earrings and necklace as one of the prizes that will go to a blogger who completes the challenge of a post a day for all of November. Because I'm all decision-makinged out this weekend I'm going to be offering a choice, the winner gets to pick one of the sets that appear in this post. I have 2 to start with and may add others between now and the end of November.

No. 1 is a set made with moss agate, riverstone and gold plated beads and findings. The necklace is 55cm (21.5 inches)long.

Moss and stone

No. 2 is a rhyolite and tiger jasper set with sterling silver spacer beads, clasp and ear hooks. This necklace is 48cm (just shy of 19 inches) in length.

Rhyolite necklace

Now, if you want to be in the running for one of the NaBloPoMo prizes then head on over to the website, add yourself to the November blogroll and get ready for 30 posts in 30 days starting on November 1st.

*I had to check the spelling on that one and I simply must share the origins of the word with you all.
"Etymology: Medieval Latin, ultimately from Greek parapherna bride's property beyond her dowry.....1: the separate real or personal property of a married woman that she can dispose of by will and sometimes according to common law during her life"
(from Merriam Webster)

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Birthdays galore

Thursday was my birthday, I scored omelet for breakfast, a Dr Who calendar, Bill Bailey dvd, Goodies dvd, a couple of books of medieval tunes sheet music and the Spicks and Specks trivia game. I spent my day doing present shopping for Tom and having lunch with my mum and grandma. In the evening my mum and dad came with us for teppanyaki at Fujiya, which was entertaining and scrumptious, and there may have been some red bubbly and sav blanc involved. Good day :)

Today was Tom's birthday, we celebrated by taking five of his friends to Sydney Wildlife World, having lunch at the cafe there, gelato from the shop at the Aquarium and then cake from Michel's at home. It went pretty well considering we were out with six 7 year old boys, they all seemed to have fun and although Adam, my mum (no, she doesn't live with me, in fact she spent last night at my sister's place) and I were pretty tired our nerves were in good order. Tom got Guitar Hero for his birthday so that's been getting quite a workout this afternoon. As I type this, Adam is cooking a BBQ dinner, my dad and his mum are here and we're having steak, snags, prawns, corn on the cob, jacket potatoes, greek salad and coleslaw - quite a feast.

Tonight I plan on going to bed early.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Four generations

I took the kids to visit my grandma this afternoon and my mum came along too. Grandma is one month shy of her 98th birthday and although she's now living in a nursing home and needs a fair bit of help physically she's still going strong otherwise. I've been wanting to get a photo like this for a while now and today I finally remembered to take the camera with me and got David to play photographer.

Four generations

I made date scones and fudge for afternoon tea, which was all very well until Tom started bouncing off the walls after eating three pieces of fudge. My grandma is very appreciative of my scones so it's well worth the effort to do the cooking :)


Caitlin: It hit me in my cow muscle.

David: What? Where?

(I presume Caitlin pointed out the spot in question)

David: That's your calf muscle!

To do list

There's a whole bunch of stuff cluttering up my brain. Things that need doing, people I need to speak to, places I need to be, forms to fill out, plans to make, invitations to send, lists to write, all of it whirling around popping in and out of my conscious mind at random. I'm feeling paralyzed by the confusion unable to focus on anything and consequently stressing out even more over the most trivial things.

The answer is simple of course. I need to write a list. But hang on, there's all sorts of different types of things in my head, one list won't do the trick, it'll be too unwieldy, too overwhelming.

So it'll have to be a bunch of different lists. Let's see.

  • One for getting the house under control, de-cluttering and cleaning, that sort of thing (there's one thing I don't have to put on that list, I bought a new toilet seat and installed it on the weekend - Yay! No more broken loo seat!).
  • One for people I need to talk to about P&C stuff.
  • Fill in my calendar properly, that takes care of the places I need to be part.
  • Go through the in-tray and find all the mail that hasn't been dealt with.
  • One for the Christmas Party invites, and then send out the invites.
  • One for birthday present shopping (why must half my extended family have birthdays in Oct-Dec?)
  • One for Christmas shopping (if I don't start now I'm so doomed, especially now I'm working).
  • One for Christmas cards (then ignore it as I do every year, who am I kidding?)
  • One for the P&C reports and presentations I have to write for various end of year events.

Damn it, I need to get back to carrying my diary with me wherever I go, then I wouldn't have to write lists of the lists I need to write.

I'm just going to label this time of year list season and be done with it.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Margaritas and fajitas

We went out for dinner tonight, we headed off without a destination in mind, took Adam's mum grocery shopping and then dropped her home (she'd spent the day at our place just hanging out but was too tired to come out for dinner). As we pulled out of the driveway at mum's place we settled on somewhere at Crows Nest or North Sydney. Adam suggested Had to Happen (he's been there a few times for work lunches). Well. Margaritas and all you can eat fajitas, who could say no? Not me, that's for sure!

I stuck with the traditional margaritas (mmmm tequila), Adam had a tropical one followed by a beer - Dos Equis Amber - and the kids had coke and lemonade. I completely failed to take any photos, which is a shame because the spread of food for the 3 serves of (all you can eat!) fajitas for Adam, David and me was quite impressive. Tom ordered a taco and some nachos to share with everyone and Caitlin had a bowl of corn chips. Yep, that's right, I let my daughter eat corn chips and soft drink for dinner. The food was goooood and did I mention the all you can eat thing? The staff were attentive and friendly and the service was quite quick, we were there early and the place was pretty empty when we arrived, I imagine things would slow down as the tables filled. I'm not much bothered by how the food would measure up in terms of authenticity but as far as edibility goes I offer David's comment "That was better than Curry House!" which from him is high praise indeed.

For some inexplicable reason (I suspect an error in order taking at another table) Caitlin was offered a free hot chocolate when Adam and I got our coffee, she was so awed by her good fortune that she did take a photo. I'd share it but I can't find her camera, I presume it's in her room somewhere but darkness and a sleeping child hamper my searching.

Sadly the pricing means this can't become a regular haunt but we'll be back a some point for sure.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

This will be a photo free post*

Adam finally went to the doctor to have his ingrown toenail dealt with this afternoon.

The beginning of this story is probably about 10 months ago when his occasionally troublesome toe began to be a frequently troublesome toe that never quite got back to normal. I suggested he go to the doctor. The toe remained swollen and sore. I nagged him to go to the doctor. The toe got a little bit better...but then went right back to ickyness. I INSISTED he go to the doctor. He took to soaking his foot in antiseptic every night. And then, eventually, a couple of months ago off to the doctor he went.

The doctor said "I don't think I've ever seen one this bad", put him on antibiotics for several weeks and said when the swelling had gone down a bit to come back and get the nail cut out.

The weeks passed.

The deed was done today in the doctor's surgery with local anesthetic and Adam came home feeling slightly wobbly, he thinks the local may have spread a little further than intended. My mum was here for the afternoon and asked him "Are you in pain?"

"Probably, but I can't feel it."

*You really don't want to see what it looked like at its worst.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


It was kind of hard to get out of bed this morning, Adam and I slept in but we managed to get the kids dressed, fed, packed for school and out the door with just enough time to make it to school before the bell. I popped in to the school office to drop some keys off and have a chat to a couple of people, then took Clara to the dog park where she had a wonderful time chasing, being chased and wrestling with Gem (a lovely 1 year old bitzer who has some staffy in her along with who knows what else).

What was missing from all this was breakfast. So I came home and cooked myself some brunch.


English muffins with baby spinach, low fat cheese slices, grilled tomato, egg and bacon. 'Twas good.

Monday, October 13, 2008

This I like!

Which Fantasy/SciFi Character Are You?

Jean-Luc Picard

Which Fantasy/SciFi Character Are You?

An accomplished diplomat who can virtually do no wrong, you sometimes know it is best to rely on the council of others while holding the reins.

There are some words which I have known since I was a schoolboy. "With the first link, the chain is forged. The first speech censored, the first thought forbidden, the first freedom denied, chains us all irrevocably." These words were uttered by Judge Aaron Satie -- as a wisdom, and warning. The first time any man's freedom is trodden on, we're all damaged.

Jean-Luc is a character in the Star Trek universe.

I'm absurdly pleased by that :)

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Beorg-wic and birthday party reporting

Here we are at the end of two weeks of school holidays and I feel absolutely wiped out. Not because having the kids around has worn thin, they seem to have grown up enough for that not to be such a problem any more. Rather it's because I've spent pretty much the whole 2 weeks with a horrible lurgi. Same thing happened to me last school holidays too. I feel cheated. All I can say is it's a damn good thing that being a Dark Ages reenactor doesn't require you to give up paracetamol and anti-histamines as well as plumbing and electricity.

Let me tell you some more about last weekend. I did mention that the only facilities at Beorg-wic were pit toilets, didn't I? I went from Friday morning to Monday night without a shower, we had to carry in all our water and we couldn't park our car next to the tent site so everything had to be carried about 100m in along a bush path. Which is fine until you get to the tent, tent poles and 2 full 20L water containers. Plus, because I was sick and functioning on Codral, I couldn't do any of the heavy lifting (every time I tried the world would start spinning) so Adam had to carry it all himself. Adam also did the vast majority of packing for the trip, including supervising the kids packing. Caitlin did fine, she had everything she needed. David didn't pack any underwear. Tom packed a bouncy ball. Yep, JUST a ball, nothing else. It's a bloody good thing we packed the viking clothes separately and I, on a whim chucked in an extra pair of long pants for Tom. As it was, after a bit of toilet mis-timing on the first day Tom was stuck with going commando for the rest of the weekend. All of which explains why I didn't hold high hopes of enjoying myself.

Then there was the weather. Friday night the forecast was for thunderstorms. In the end we didn't get thunder but there was plenty of wind which we could hear in the tops of the trees (the pine forest was surprisingly sheltered and the wind didn't reach us) and enough rain to have us huddling under our half-pitched awning to have dinner. It was raining fairly steadily well into the morning on Saturday, I think the folks running the camp were beginning to get a bit worried about how they were going to manage, but it started clearing on the afternoon so all was well.

The tavern - it would have been interesting if we'd had to fit 160 people in here for the feasts had the rain not gone away.
The tavern

We had light rain off and on until mid-afternoon on Sunday when the sun decided to come out, rain again overnight, clear on Monday morning and then just as we finished packing the car at lunchtime on Monday huge black clouds rolled in again. Packing the car was interesting. I was still not up to much physically and Adam was a bit worse for wear too. Thankfully we were able to borrow a trolley from one of the other families to get the heavy stuff back to the car - there were a few people with either wheel barrows or trolleys, we'll certainly be taking one when we go next year.

Various workshops were run throughout the weekend. I attended one on ladies' headdresses on Saturday morning, who knew there were so many different ways to wrap a piece of cloth around your head? I skipped the candle making and soapstone carving, had a quick go at the archery range and then did the tablet weaving workshop late on Saturday afternoon. Adam wowed everyone with his shot to Harold's eye at the archery range and then spent most of Saturday afternoon at the forge.

Harold shot in the eye

Adam impersonating a blacksmith

First up was turning a long thin bit of metal into a longer thinner bit of metal. This took quite some time. He wasn't quite sure what to do with it after that which is why we ended up with the hook. The knife didn't seem to take quite as long, I think he was getting the hang of it. He spent most of the evening fishing for sympathy because his forearms were really sore.

On Sunday I didn't do much, just wandered around chatting to people and taking it easy. Adam decided to join in the mock fighting. This turned out to be not such a great idea as he ended up on the receiving end of a shield charge, was sent flying and got himself a suspected cracked rib for his troubles. He took it a bit easier in the afternoon and stuck to the tablet weaving class.

Tablet weaving lesson

One of the best things about the camp was that it was catered on Saturday and Sunday night and I didn't even have to provide for the other meals - the other Huscarls (or to be precise, one Huscarl and one honorary Huscarl on loan from Uppsala) undertook to bring food for us all. We had porridge with fruit, cinnamon and honey for breakfast (cooked in a proper cast iron cauldron, but we cheated and used our gas stove instead of an open fire), cheeses, bread, dates, nuts, apples, pears, grapes, chorizo and smoked salmon for lunches.

Our campfire, which kept going out in the rain. We had neighbours who very kindly kept letting us steal coals from their fire to get it going again.

Our campfire

We brought some snack food for the kids and beer. Gotta have beer! The feasts that were provided by the Ancient Arts Fellowship were very impressive - 4 courses each night and so much food we didn't make it to dessert either night. It was all authentic-ish food too (though I do believe there were potatoes in the stew) including lamb stew, roast beef and pork, chicken and bacon pastries, honey roasted veggies, pears poached in red wine, there was more but I was full and I can't remember the stuff I didn't eat.

So that was last weekend. I spent most of the week trying to recover and get up the energy for yesterday's exploits.

Caitlin's birthday party. At Luna Park. We only took 3 of her friends and my mum came along, so it wasn't that big a deal. All the girls were very well behaved and they all seemed to have a good time. I decided not to try and pack a picnic even though I knew the food there would be both over-priced and not very nice (I was was right). The one good thing about the place is that there's no entry charge and as neither Adam or I have the smallest desire to do any rides I was only paying for the kids, mind you it's still pretty pricey, we won't be going back in a hurry that's for sure. The fun part of the day was the way Tom kept vanishing on us. One moment he'd be standing just there, the next he'd be no-where to be seen, 'twas a little stressful. Caitlin's friends arrived at our place at 9:30am and we got back at 3:15pm, we had a bit of rest and then went out for dinner at our local chinese restaurant, Lee Central Park with my mum and my aunt (mum's twin sister) and uncle. As always the food was great, the staff good humoured and we came home stuffed to the gills and ready for some serious sleeping.

Today I went to my grandma's unit that she moved out of recently (at 97 she finally had to shift to a nursing home), I was meeting up with various other family members to go through all the stuff she wasn't able to take with her, pick out some bits and pieces to keep as memorabilia and help with getting the place cleared out so it can be sold. My mum, dad, both mum's sister's and their husbands, my brother and his family and my sister and her family were there. I decided not to add another 4 bodies to the mix and went by myself. My brother's wife took their kids to our place after they'd been at Grandma's a short time and then, once we'd finished at the unit, Martin and I bought lunch supplies and we spent the afternoon sitting on our front deck while the cousins played.

I hadn't planned to take much from the unit but ended up coming home with a box full of stuff and a small coffee table - we did kind of need one of those, now I can toss the kid's table from Ikea that we've been using up till now.

My favourite thing, that I just had to have, is a quite large (maybe 1.5L?) metal cannister which has the label "DRIPPING" stamped on it. Just looking at it quite boggles my mind, the sheer quantity of the stuff it was intended to store! Mum tells stories of snacks of bread and dripping so I know Grandma definitely used to use it. I also grabbed a letter opener that I have vivid memories of being forbidden to touch as it lay on the desk in my Grandparent's dining room in Epping. Caitlin unpacked the box, picked up the letter opener and said "Wow, even though Great Grandma is really old she has some really cool stuff" and I said "Yeah, put that down, it's kind of sharp." Guess that's why I wasn't allowed to touch!

And now, I'm off to bed, back to school and work tomorrow.

Saturday, October 11, 2008


You are my daughter.

I carried you inside me...and was violently ill for weeks on end (thanks very much). You were born in an entirely civilized fashion at 9:15 on a Sunday evening and then proceeded to ignore civilized timing of pretty much anything for many months. So, perfectly normal baby really. We even had your cot in the lounge room for a while and would retreat to our bedroom of an evening so that you wouldn't disturb your brother when it was time for bed. In the end we gave in and kicked daddy out of his study to give the two of you separate bedrooms. You convinced us to get rid of the cot and put you in a proper bed when you started climbing up over the high cot sides and plummeting to the floor at about 16 months of age. We put you on a mattress on the floor at first (because we already had one and buying a bed could wait). Good thing too, for the first week or so I'd come in most mornings to find you curled up on the floor on the other side of the room. Luckily the weather was still warm.

I sometimes joke that you are my changeling. Tiny and blonde to my big and brunette. You love dolls, I loathe them. You loved all things pink, I shuddered and refused to paint your bedroom walls pink. We went with blue and purple which you now claim as your favourite colours (phew!). You love all things Disney, again with the shudder from me. As you've grown older though, I find we have much in common. You've always loved to sing and I love sharing my favourite musicals with you. You love to dance - me too! - and I love watching you dance. We enjoy the same books, I'm so thrilled that you're starting to want to read more. You're well on your way to becoming a fantasy fan and I'm working on turning you into a sci-fi fan.

When I was little I wanted to be Robin Hood (ok there's one Disney film that doesn't make me shudder). I'm still all for dressing up and playing with bows and arrows. Seems you're quite keen on that idea too.
Archer Caitlin

I'm looking forward to the years ahead, yep, even the teenager stuff, the stuff I'm supposed to be scared of. I'm not scared, in fact I'm pretty sure we're going to do ok negotiating the minefields of adolescence. (Please leave me in my happy delusion for as long as possible.)

From when you were very young you have shown great empathy for others. When I explained to you recently how much it would mean to the boy in your dance class who has Down Syndrome to be welcomed with a smile when it was your turn to dance with him I could see you understood. And the next week as I watched the end of your class, even though you were frustrated by being paired with someone who couldn't get the steps quite right, I saw you smile at him and I saw his face light up.

I love you and I'm proud of you.

You are a sister.

Tom: "You're nice. I like going on the trampoline with you. I love you."

Big brothers are OK
(They do say a picture is worth a thousand words.)

You are a granddaughter.
Ballet costume 2007
You bring joy to your grandparents' lives with something as simple as a hug, a kiss, a drawing, an invitation to visit. You were the only one who thought to write Grandma a card saying how sorry you were when Grandma and Grandy decided not to live together any more, it meant a lot to her. When Grandy tells me about you giving him a goodnight kiss I can see the happiness you've given him. All your grandparents always come to your end of year concert to see you dance, one year Nana came even though her knee was still very sore after she broke it. Your grandparents love you very much.

You are a great-granddaughter.

When Great Grandma was in hospital you sat on the edge of her bed and played gently with her hair. She said no-one had done that for many, many years. I think she thought it was very special that you wanted to be close to her. You make her smile, she loves you.

You are a cousin.

I watched you and your cousin with your ipod when we were at the restaurant for Father's Day. Your heads were bent over the small screen together, faces alight with the pleasure of sharing. Your cousins throw their arms around you when we meet and again when we're going home, they love being with you.

You are a friend.

You care about your friends, things don't always go as smoothly as they might but you're willing to make the effort to fix things if they do go wrong. I've seen friends seize you in giant hugs, I've seen smiles of happy greetings, I've seen them not want to leave when it's time to go home. And I hear you speak of them with compassion and understanding. You are a good friend.

Dancer, singer, artist, storyteller, basketball player, trampoline tumbler, cuddler of cats and playmate of dog.

Tap costume 2007


Happy 10th birthday my gorgeous girl.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Beorg-wic loot

There were market stalls and craft workshops at the camp on the weekend. Adam and I both succumbed to the lure of bigger drinking horns, he now has one that holds 0.7L and mine holds 0.5L.

New drinking horns

Adam got busy in the forge and did some blacksmithing.

Hook and knife

Not bad for a first effort. The knife is quite heavy, holding it makes you want to attack something with it but we restricted ourselves to slicing bread instead (which it did beautifully).

I did a tablet weaving workshop and am now the proud owner of a tablet weaving loom and a few inches of trim for some garment or other.

Tablet weaving loom

Work in progress

We also ended up with a few pendants to put on necklaces and a bag of wool for more tablet weaving. I guess I have some crafting to get on with!

Monday, October 06, 2008

Beorg-wic was fun

We spent the weekend at Beorg-wic which is the annual conference of the Ancient Arts Fellowship. It's held at a site on the Danelaw property on the edge of the Moreton National Park near Braidwood. We were there with the Huscarls though only one other group member made it to the camp but everyone there was very welcoming and friendly so that was ok. The weather was marginal, we had a bit of rain each day so we were very pleased to be able to pack up with a dry tent!

I wasn't entirely expecting to be able to say this (what with having had a horrible lurgi and not really looking forward to spending 3 1/2 days with no facilities other than pit toilets) but happily I can, I've had fun this weekend.

I won't do a full re-cap now but you can have a few pics.

Caitlin outside our tent. We had a bit of trouble finding a spot big enough to fit the tent in.

Caitlin with her bow outside our tent

The campsite was just gorgeous. We had mist and fog and sunlight through the trees, pitch black nights dotted with firelight and on the last night the cloud cleared and there were stars.

Tents in the trees

This was the communal area, in the evenings everyone sat around the fire eating the vast quantities of fabulous food that was provided by the AAF.

Sitting around the communal fire

See? Fun!

Thursday, October 02, 2008

I'm androgynous?

Apparently so. Not that I think it means anything really, but there you go....

Your result for The Bem Sex Role Inventory Test...


You scored 73% masculinity and 50% femininity!

You scored high on both masculinity and femininity. You have a strong personality exhibiting characteristics of both traditional sex roles.

Take The Bem Sex Role Inventory Test at HelloQuizzy

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Down Under Feminists Carnival Oct 08

The 5th Down Under Feminists Carnival is up at Hell On Hairy Legs. She's done a stellar job and there's plenty of great reading on offer. Enjoy!