Friday, December 30, 2016


Tuesday 27th December was a very cold day (yes, I know that it is midsummer here but we are having peculiar weather in southern Australia), with a screaming southerly gale and there were no boats out on the river, sensible skippers opting to wait for a nicer day for a sail.  I was idly looking out the window  -  for those who haven't seen my cover picture on Facebook I have a panoramic view of the Swan River  -  when I saw a yacht under full sail hurtling before the wind up-river from Fremantle.  As I watched and wondered it made no attempt to go around the spit post which marks the channel and grounded itself in the shallow water at the end of the spit  -  a tongue of sand bank which stretches from Point Walter on the South Bank to the middle of Freshwater Bay and which , depending on the tide, is partially exposed.

After watching it for about ten minutes and seeing no rescue boats appearing I tried to phone the yacht club opposite the spit to ask them to send out a launch to give the yacht a tow but could not raise anyone there so I did what I have never done before and called 000 the emergency number.  After asking for the position of the yacht they sent the River Police and Rescue launch.  It came charging down the river from Perth and arrived just as a small launch arrived  and had managed to get a towline onto the yacht.  The whole procession headed down-river in the teeth of the gale so I am glad that the River Rescue Boat escorted them.  I am not sure why they set off in the teeth of the gale but there are public moorings on the river in Fremantle and I assume that is where they went.

While I am complaining about the southerly gales which we have been having we are better off than those States to the east which have had torrential rain, gales and flooding and several people have died.  South Australia has had yet another blackout  -  I think that is four times that the whole state has been without power this summer and Uluru  (Eyre's Rock) had multiple waterfalls streaming off it.

D1 returned to Sydney on Tuesday morning much to the cats dismay as they love her and she is very much a cat person.  They have furballs at the moment despite being brushed twice daily and Parsifal is vomiting.  I have dosed them with Catlax and will give them another dose tonight.  Parsifal likes to chew on the ponytail palm and that invariably makes him vomit and now we have another contender.  When I moved from my house to this apartment with no garden I gave some aspidistras to Himself.  Since they are one of the three shade-loving plants which are not poisonous to cats I have been looking out for some to plant on my balcony but to no avail.  They are so common that the garden shops do not stock them and they have to be ordered in.

Before Christmas I asked Himself if I could have a few plants back and he arrived a couple of days ago with a pot containing my original plants  -  very dry, shaggy and rootbound.  Yesterday I trimmed them, savagely root-pruned them and repotted them.  They are looking good and the root pruning seems to have done them no harm but Parsifal thinks that they are there to be chewed and I suspect that they will have the same effect on him that the ponytail palm does.  I suppose that they save me having to buy Catlax.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Where is the Sherry?

Having spat the dummy on the Christmas chocolate mousse (nine raw eggs  -  yuck!) and was assured that D1 and D2 would join me in eating a trifle if I made one  and which up until two years ago was a staple for Christmas dinner.  D3 and all her works are lactose and gluten intolerant and she is bringing a gluten/lactose free cheesecake  -  see previous entry regarding my disbelief regarding the 'cheese' bit.

Anyway, I have discovered a nice thick custard which is exactly the right thickness to save me having to make custard from milk and custard powder.  I was never sure of the amounts to make the correct thickness so this new discovery has saved me lots of work, dirty saucepans and trepidations in case I have the proportions wrong.  The cake and jelly are easy but sherry?  I searched the bottle shop and was not able to find any so I asked one of the assistants.

It turns out that we no longer have Australian-made sherry; it can only be sherry if it was made in Spain so the alternative is something called Apera.  I tasted it before I poured it over the cake and it tasted as though it had been watered down but since I used almost half a bottle that is probably a good thing..

I have prepared the stuff for the salad and D1 went over to Cottesloe and brought back enough glutened sausages for those of us who can eat them and D3 is bringing gluten-free sausages for her family.  So except for mixing up all the salad things  -  already washed and chopped  -   beating the cream and chopping the jelly we are all ready for tomorrow.

As a Christmas present for myself I splashed out on one of those automatic vacuum floor cleaners.  The one I bought has very big wheels and can do both the tiles and the carpets and move from one to the other although it gets a bit confused when it encounters the fringe on the big Persian rug.   I am going to have to work on that problem and it may be that I will have to haul out the Dyson and vacuum it the traditional way.

And I have ordered some matching earrings to go with the diamond chains I bought as an early Christmas present to my self.  This pair will have black diamonds to compliment my mostly black clothes and white diamond earrings.  There is no way a person can have too many Christmas presents.  😻

Monday, December 19, 2016

Differently Spinning

While I am waiting for the Rosewood Glitter fibre to arrive I have been somewhat at a loss to decide what to spin next.  I have a heap of yarn ready to knit and have been browsing patterns  -  but such indecisions.  I have sort of lost my nerve after running short of fibre with the Chunderup sweater so I have gone on another tack altogether.

A few years ago I bought myself a blending board  -  all the rage for a short while and they really are fun to use so I made myself a large number of 'rolags'.  These are long snakes of rolled fibre and they are spun 'woollen' rather than 'worsted'.  Woollen is spun from the centre of the fibre and creates a softer, fluffier yarn;  Worsted is spun from the end of the fibre and gives a smoother, shinier finish.

I didn't get much further with my rolags except for the school visits which Herself dragged me along to  in order to demonstrate to the Babies' Class what sent The Sleeping Beauty into hibernation.  There is no way anyone could prick her finger with a modern spindle but it gave the kids some idea of how yarn was created before the Industrial Revolution.  Herself died about 15 months ago and my rolags have been languishing unloved for years now.

The ones which I spun were all done on my treadle wheel (Ertoel Emma) but my electronic wheel (Ertoel Roberta) uses Irish tension which is set up for a long draw and fast wind in so it is ideal for the rolags and I have been spinning them for the last couple of days.  It is a bit addictive  -  I have not got enough to make anything meaningful so I am going to have to make more  -  and more  -  until I run out of Corriedale fibre since I have no other use for it  -  it pills badly.

D1 is arriving at lunch time on Wednesday and has cut out a Christmas dress which she intends to sew up on my sewing machine which at the moment is at the back of all the things I usually store in the spare bedroom so it is all going to have to be relocated.  Now that I have sorted out the car space problem D2 has made no efforts to move either of her Porsches out of my parking spaces but that is no longer a priority so I am happy to let them stay where they are for the time being.

It is the COTA Christmas bash tomorrow but I have spat the dummy on that one since they kept on changing the date and I kept cancelling other things to be there.  I have decided to keep on teaching next year for long enough to find out if things have changed for the better or if MI5 is gradually taking over all of our space and making it off-limits.  My Windows 10 seems to have settled down and does more or less what I want it to do but it can still surprise me on occasions  -  like now when it is refusing to get rid of a highlight after I changed the font.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Christmas comes but once a year - thank goodness

This year it is my turn to have the family on Christmas Day (on alternate years I have them all on Boxing Day).

Last night D2 and D3 and I went out to dinner downstairs and I announced that I had spat the dummy regarding gluten and dairy-free desserts and I intended to make a trifle for myself instead of the chocolate mousse which I have made for the last two or three years  -  ever since the D3s went gluten and dairy free.  That resulted in vehement declarations from D2 that she and D1 had always eaten trifle with no ill-effects and that I would have to make a normal-sized one as they intended to join me.  D3 has already offered to bring a GD-Free lemon cheesecake (a contradiction in terms if there ever was one) so her family will be able to eat that while the rest of us eat trifle.  I use my grandmother's recipe which is heavily laced with sweet sherry and cream; it is both delicious and decadent.

I realised partway up the first sleeve the Chunderup sweater which I am knitting that I did not have enough yarn to finish it and would need to order more fibre and spin  up another skein.  The only Superwash fibre which in any way matches is a colourway called Rosewood (very pretty pink and brown  -  I already have a sweater from it  -  but not superwash).  The only Rosewood fibre in superwash is heavily mixed with glitter so it is going to make a very interesting  sweater when it is finished. 

Meanwhile, to keep myself busy I have started knitting a black balaclava for SIL.  He rejected the black yarn when I offered to knit him a replacement beanie for the one which the dog chewed so a black balaclava is probably the last thing he will either want or expect but when he is out on the ocean in an open boat helping to supervise the kids' sailing and there is a southerly gale blowing he might appreciate it.  He is getting it anyway and can do with it whatever he wants.  The black yarn is surplus to my requirements and there will probably be enough to knit and post another one into the charity bin as well, as it will take the Rosewood fibre about four weeks to get here and then it will have to be spun so I need something to keep me occupied.

D2 is home for a while and intends to reclaim her cars  -  hopefully before next Thursday when D1 arrives but I am not holding my breath on that one.  I am planning to email Senor B702 who is in Italy and ask him if D1 can use his spare carpark for a few days.  Hopefully there will be no problem as he will not be back until after the New Year.

I will be glad when Christmas is over.

Monday, December 5, 2016

I have finished the front of the latest sweater

Yesterday I finished knitting the front of the 'petal soft' sweater which is anything but soft.  I have named the project Chunderup which probably only Western Australians will fully understand but chunder is as good old Aussie word. 

The back is very ugly but lifted a bit by the star which I placed between my shoulder blades and the front has actually been enhanced by a line of diamonds knitted up the front and finished, by some sort of miracle  -  certainly not by my maths  -  with the point of the last diamond coinciding with the point of the V-neck.  The sleeves will be basically pink but I have quite a lot of the grey left so will randomly decorate the sleeves.  At the moment I am drawing out a chart for a rose to go on one of the sleeves and I am not sure how I will decorate the other one.  I have finally learnt to knit from charts so the world is my mollusc [thank you Terry Pratchett].

COTA is over for the year and I have spat the dummy regarding their ever-moving feast which is their  Christmas party.  So far there have been three different dates and it has really messed up my arrangements so I am not going, preferring to join my knitting group instead.  I have decided to continue teaching next year, at least to begin with and see how I go with COTA's newly organised space and the state of their computers.

I have been having fun with my Acer laptop which Techie installed Classic Shell onto.  No-one uses Classic Shell so I decided to remove it and revert it to Win 8.1.  That was OK but when I tried to do a virus scan I found that the preinstalled MacAfee would not let me use AVG or Windows Defender and MacAfee was out of date and wanted money.  I tried to remove it but it refused to budge and, in desperation I asked Google for an opinion.  Google sent me to a site which said "Ah, I see that you have a preinstalled version of MacAfee which you want to uninstall.  Here is how to do it."  So I followed the prompts and it finally allowed itself to be removed.

The computer is now running a great deal faster after a scan which removed over 800 oddments.  There seems to be a great deal of stuff loaded which I have no idea about so I must ask either SIL or Techie and maybe I will end up with a useable laptop.  Not sure about its battery though ...