Thursday, October 31, 2013

Don't Make Yourself Comfortable

The tram I was on this morning had four of these things:
Six seats have been removed to make room for each of them. That's 24 seats gone. Can you think of a reason?

These things (some people call them "bum racks", but Yarra Trams calls them "bum-rests") take up a lot of room, so aren't really adding much standing room. On my trip I saw a maximum of two people at a time using each one - one person between each of the vertical bars. Granted that wasn't in peak hour, but when the tram is packed, could more than six people fit into the area that originally held six seats? Maybe, if the bum racks were flatter and didn't intrude into the passenger area so far, but they stick out more than half the distance of the original seats.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013


Today I went to see the exhibition of wonderful costumes from the TV show "Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries" at Ripponlea Estate. I really enjoyed the exhibition, which has been extended until 1st December if you haven't seen it yet. Approaching the house from the driveway:
Unfortunately you aren't allowed to take any photos inside the mansion, so I can't show you even a glimpse of the clothes or the way they are arranged inside the house. I was particularly fascinated by the mock-up of the workroom of the designer, Marion Boyce, with some of her extensive stash of beautiful fabrics on display, as well as notebooks and half-made costumes.

The ban on photography doesn't extend to the gardens, fortunately, and I spent quite a while wandering around the grounds, seeing parts I haven't previously visited. The fernery is something I do remember having seen before, but I still loved it:

The windmill is new since my last visit, but is a re-creation of one which was there originally. You can climb the lower part of it to get a nice view of the heritage apple orchard, where some of the trees are still blossoming. The windmill is part of the water recycling scheme for the gardens.
The perennial borders will look wonderful later in summer, but not much is flowering at the moment. On the right side of this footpath is a dahlia garden with only small shoots up so far.

I loved this wrought-iron flourish on a fence:

Somehow on previous visits I have missed seeing the lake! Here's the view across the lake from the tall pavilion at the southern end of the garden.
The gardens in the foreground feature some interesting succulents. Looking back from the other side of the lake you can see the waterfall:
Willows, waterlilies and irises:
Reminding me of the Monet exhibition.

The western side of the house:

The terrace in front of the house is lined with a bed of Lorraine Lee roses, which fitted the 1920's theme of the day, being bred in 1924.

All in all it was a gorgeous day!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Dahlia Protection

My dahlias are now each enclosed in plastic fortresses:
Slices cut from soft-drink bottles, inserted into the soil for a couple of centimetres. I am hoping that these will offer protection from cutworms, blackbirds, or cats. I am looking out for earwigs, and have scattered some iron phosphate snail bait around in case snails are the culprits.

I hope the poor mangled plants will recover and start growing again!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Mystery Quilt Bug

I enjoyed Bonnie Hunter's mystery quilt last year so much that despite not having finished that one, I want to participate in the next one. This year's is called "Celtic Solstice" and here are the colours Bonnie is working with:
Plus neutrals not shown in this picture. The colours remind me a lot of my sunflower quilt still in progress! So I'll probably have plenty of fabrics to work with if I choose to use the same colour scheme. And I might re-name it "Summer Solstice", as those colours look very summery to me, and it will be summer when the mystery runs.

I had thought I might try converting Bonnie's pattern to metric measurements as it goes along, but this year she is using a tool that I've never seen a metric equivalent of, the Tri-Recs rulers. So I ordered myself a set (before even asking any friends if they had one I could borrow), which arrived in the mail today:
So now I just need to choose a colour scheme and pull out some fabrics, and I'll be all ready to go at the end of November when the clues start.

Meanwhile, I thought the glasses race was over, as I went to pick up the local ones today. But they weren't right, and have to go back. With them on I needed to have my face no more than 30cm from the computer screen to have everything in focus, which is not quite the way they are meant to work! While that goes on, the internet ones may be somewhere over the Pacific, as they left the international sorting centre in Los Angeles on Friday morning their time.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Scatterday - P

It is the turn of the letter
and our categories this time are:

PIG in your sewing room

By my calculation, P is our preantepenultimate letter!

How about this plant stand? It sold on eBay for $530 three years ago. Picture found here.

I had several Pookie books when I was a child, but couldn't find them this week. So this picture is from eBay, where this book is for sale for $149.95 - with free postage! Apparently there were ten Pookie books, listed on the author's Wikipedia page. I've never met anyone who is familiar with Pookie, but I was happy to find a few bloggers who remember him, such as here, here, here, and here.

My dog Merle when she was a puppy. How about her pinnae? Her ears were the biggest part of her fifteen years ago.

PIG in my sewing room:
"PIGS" is an American acronym meaning "projects in grocery sacks" i.e., stuff you are still working on and keep in shopping bags. I don't keep my projects in shopping bags, so I've gone with this instead:
It is a shopping bag, covered in pigs. I made it earlier this year using the Nicole Mallalieu Zip-Away pattern

As usual, you can see what the other participants found for this challenge via the links on Cinzia's blog.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Square Flower

I love perfume of the philadelphus (mock orange) flower, and its almost square shape is appealing, too.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Dahlia Disappointment

This is the second of my dahlias to go from looking very healthy one day to being gone the next. The first one lost all its leaves, and I assumed snails had got to it. I sprinkled some iron phosphate snail bait around to protect the remaining ones, but today a second dahlia has bitten the dust. This one has had the stem chewed through, but the leaves are untouched. Is this normal for snails or slugs? Or is something else the culprit?

Tuesday, October 22, 2013


A victim of our recent high winds - large oak of some variety fallen in parkland off Domain Rd, South Yarra.

Monday, October 21, 2013


I found these uninvited rose blooms in my garden today:
They were growing on what should be a Charles De Gaulle bush (see last Monday's post to see what they should look like.) It's the rootstock trying to take over the bush. I hadn't really thought about these being grafted roses, as they are just bushes, nothing fancy. You might notice the smaller leaves in the middle of the photo, which are the rootstock leaves. When I traced down, I found there were three thick, healthy-looking stems originating underground. I removed them, which left the bush looking a little sparser, but hopefully will stop the rootstock takeover for now. I'll have to keep a closer eye on it in future, though.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Giant Worms?

Emergent, by Marynes Avila

This is a sculpture on display as part of MoreArt 2013, the Moreland City Council Public Art Show. I'm not being rude thinking it looks like giant worms. The artist's statement says that, "The work creates a unique narrative by echoing the 'latent' underground activity of earthworms."

Friday, October 18, 2013

Eastern Train Trip

Clock tower at Flinders Street Station:
I took a train trip to Nunawading for the Eastern Palliative Care fund-raising quilt show:
The quilts were a mixture of antique and modern, with the emphasis on them being loved. They are not your usual "show" quilts, but rather quilts that have been made for special people, and which have been used. One of my favourites was an African-themed quilt for a baby boy, which featured some very quirky African animals, including these zebras:
and this giraffe:
Aren't they cute?

I hope these photos are reasonably in-focus! It's hard to tell without my computer glasses.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

And They're Off!

It is spring racing season, but I'm not talking about the horses.

Yesterday I had my eyes tested, and I need some new lenses. As usual, the optometrist didn't have any frames I liked more than my current ones, so I'm getting the new lenses put in the old frames:
I've had these frames for a very long time. The optometrist always tries to persuade me that I should buy new frames, because "if they break when we are putting the new lenses in, there won't be any spare parts available". So just be careful with them, then!

So in 2 to 3 weeks, I will get my glasses back (if the optometrist doesn't break them) and be able to see again.

This morning (which was still yesterday in the US) I ordered these new specs from an online glasses supplier:
Although I think the lenses I ordered are a slightly different shape to these - I had a choice of 37 different shapes. They also quoted 2 to 3 weeks to get them to me.

Later today I had an email exchange with someone at the internet supplier, because I had entered the prescription incorrectly. So after I sent the a picture of the actual prescription, they fixed the order for me, and said, "your order will be immediately processed, and you should expect to receive it soon". 

So, the race is on. Two orders placed on 16th October. Which will arrive first?

Later: On Saturday 19th, at 2:39pm, I received an email that my internet order had "completed manufacturing and is on the way to our shipping location".
On Thursday 24th, at 2:28am, I received an email that my internet order had been shipped, which included a tracking number.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Purple Yo-Yos

Made a few yo-yos with these handy Clover yo-yo maker gadgets, for a secret project.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013


Poppies starting to open at the Legacy Garden beside the Shrine of Remembrance.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Rose in the Rain

"Charles de Gaulle" rose
"Charles de Gaulle" rose still looking lovely after today's downpour.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Mauve Mist

Callistemon "Mauve Mist"
Callistemon "Mauve Mist" planted in February 2011, blooming for the first time.

Scatterday - F

Cinzia's die has rolled an F for us this week, and our categories are Insect, Country, Shop, and Future Project.

Is that the second-biggest fly you've ever seen?

Fireplaces of former farmhouses are a common sight in the countryside. A small flock of sheep graze under the long-dead pine trees which once lined the driveway to this house.

Fabric shops are my favourite, of course! But these vintage fabrics were for sale at a flea-market.

Future Project:
The next hand-piecing project I have lined up to do is a pattern designed by Geta Grama from Romania called Flower Ball. This is Geta's photo from her blog post.
Mine won't be in these colours of course. I also want to see if I can add to the 3-D effect by the use of lighter and darker fabrics in both the flowers and background.
Geta has since made a lot larger version based on this concept, which will be at the Houston Quilt Festival this year. You can see that amazing quilt here.

Well that's the F-words taken care of. As usual, there are links on Cinzia's blog to the other Scatterday folks.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Real Estate-ese

Spotted while out walking:
This house has some not-so-unique selling points; I'd like to think that most houses for sale had "fully functional" laundries and bathrooms. Wouldn't you get a broken toilet fixed before putting your house on the market? I'm also not convinced of the desirability of nearby "fast food restaurants".

But what really caught my attention was the puzzle of exactly what the windows and doors are made from.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

I Made a Hat!

My trusty Elna and I ventured down to Brunswick to GJ's Fabrics today for a hat-making workshop with Nicole Mallalieu. It was lovely to be inside sewing with a bunch of budding milliners while the rain came down outside.

Here's a shot from early on in the process:
In the background you can see lots of hats Nikki had brought along for us to try on for size, to illustrate different techniques, and to inspire us. Using Nikki's patterns, some of us made hats for kids, and others for ourselves. I made a wide-brimmed hat for myself:
Making it was much easier and less scary than I had thought it might be. Those dimply bits are because I was impatient and didn't press the finished hat before I photographed it.

I will enjoy wearing my new sunhat once the sun comes out again. And I can definitely see more hat-making in my future.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Lily Three

Finished my third instance of the Tessuti Lily dress today:
Previous versions: Lily One and Lily Two. Version three has the same pockets and sleeve variation as version two, but is a bit longer.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Painted Lady

Australian Painted Lady, Vanessa kershawi, feeding on the flowers of a Wigandia caracasana at the botanic gardens today.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Definitely Pink

The buds I posted about last month are now opening, and they are the colour I had hoped for:
Red valerian, or kiss-me-quick, (Centranthus ruber), grown from seed I planted last September.

Sunday, October 6, 2013


Trip to Eltham for the North of the Yarra Quilters exhibition. This is the back of the mudbrick Eltham Community Centre where the show was held:
Interesting to look back at my blog and see the last two times I've been to this show. In 2009 I showed the front entrance. No picture in 2011 due to other happenings on the day.

Enjoyed the quilts as usual today. And the devonshire tea!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Pink Brushes

Another callistemon in flower in my backyard:

Friday, October 4, 2013

Pollination of a Weed

Spanish broom, Spartium junceum, grows along the road in places at Lal Lal, despite previous weed control measures. Today I saw how bees help it along:
Bee pollinating Spartium junceum
As the bee pushes into a flower to get to the nectar, the stamens and stigma spring up and curl over the bee. The stamens shower the bee with pollen. You can see how orange the hairy parts of the bee look because of their coating of pollen., and if you enlarge the photo you can see pollen flying into the air on the left.  Meanwhile the stigma touches the bee's back, to pick up pollen already there from another flower. This bee also has a good collection of pollen in her pollen baskets (the orange lump on her hind leg), to take back to the hive to feed baby bees.

Thursday, October 3, 2013


The Friends of the Royal Botanic Gardens have their spring plant sale this weekend. This amazing plant is part of their advertising, in the foyer of the Visitors Centre:
To give you some idea of how huge these flowers are, that's an A4 sheet taped to the pot. Unfortunately it wasn't labelled so I don't know what variety it is. But those are the largest vireya flowers I've ever seen!
Plant sale details here.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Word of the Day

Near the old Melbourne Observatory there is a stone obelisk which was erected in 1885.
Carved into the stone surround are the words "telescope collimating marker". Collimating? That was a new word for me. But the internet tells me that it is the process of aligning the optical elements of the telescope to get the best image. Who knew? Here's a page all about how to do it: Collimating your telescope.