Tuesday, October 31, 2006

This afternoon after our weekly Craft get-together, I was driving Andrea home. This means passing our own driveway, so I was puzzled to see a sign pinned to the fence beside our cattle stop. Then I remembered that it was Halloween, and our dear daughter-in-law Kim never misses the chance to celebrate something. She especially loves the opportunity to invite the kids to her place and do something nice for them.
I have not been sure how I feel about Halloween. When our own children were young, they were not allowed to go out trick or treating. For one thing, it seemed like a greedy, begging thing to do, and it was an American idea that I did not feel we really needed to adopt on this side of the world!
However, I have mellowed.
I must admit that many of my Christian friends continue to be horrified by the whole thing. Actually, I always thought it had originally been a Christian festival, "All Hallows' Eve", on the eve of All Saints' Day, symbolising the last ditch effort of evil to make its presence felt before being overcome by the power of God and goodness. Many of our Christian festivals were adapted from pagan celebrations...maybe this one has gone full circle! I would certainly never encourage anyone to dabble in the occult, or to feel genuine fear of things like ghosts and ghouls.
But to today's kids, it is really nothing more than an opportunity to dress up, to play a few scary games, and enjoy a few sugary treats as a bonus. I know Kim, with her lovely kind nature, just welcomes an opportunity to do something nice, caring and hospitable for the children she knows. Which is not a bad thing at all.
Meanwhile, I have equipped myself with a few treats and goodies, so I am ready if anyone should call. And they probably will, because our house is first port of call before reaching Kim and Charles at the end of the driveway. And knowing that today's children have to deal with too many grumpy and negative adults in their lives, I will welcome them in my friendliest voice, invite them in for a while, and then send them on down the driveway to "Devonside", where I know Kim has all sorts of delights waiting for them.

Monday, October 23, 2006

You know you have found something out of the ordinary as soon as you approach the gate. And if you are lucky enough to be invited down to see "Beef" Buffett's private museum, you are in for a treat.

Bernie and I headed down to New Cascade Road on Sunday afternoon, after Beef had rung to ask us to come and see his display that he has been putting together for many years.

It was wonderful! In a lovely, specially designed and temperature controlled building built specially for his display, Beef has arranged an eclectic collection of treasures and memorabilia, from both Norfolk Island and other Pacific islands. Some of the items are things he has picked up while working in New Guinea and other places, some of it has been handed down through his family, some of it he has obtained by being in the right place at the right time (and not taking no for an answer), and some has been given or lent by folk who are glad to see their treasures properly valued and displayed.

Now look at this incredible tangled mass of roots from an old Camphor Laurel tree that was cut down near the Mission Chapel. Who would have thought of moving it, varnishing it and even using it as a background to display other items?

Beef declares he took no time at all to polish off the red wine in this enormous bottle...and we believe him!

There are clocks and crocks, stuffed wildlife, valuable old books, old tools, a lovely old Bebarfald's sewing machine with leadlight doors in the cabinet, whalebone milking stools, old lamps, spears and masks and other cultural artefacts from the Pacific islands, wonderful old photographs and paintings. There is also a wonderful display of some of Beef's own woodturning, and he is a master craftsman in that area.

Now just outside the display room is an outside loo, fit for a Queen...I kid you not! Lined with polished timber, a timber seat, pictures on the walls, and everything sparkling!

In the workshop next door, there is lots more...all sorts of household, agricultural and carpenter's tools, implements and paraphernalia, most of it just waiting for a good clean up so it can be added to the display.

Then there are the grounds, a testimony to many years of hard work, with the beautiful tropical foliage and colourful displays. Anyone driving past this area of the island cannot fail to see how just one person has enhanced a whole area with his own personal beautification programme!

I suspect that in days to come, it will not be the official museums and archives which provide valuable information about how we lived in the past. The real historians are people like Beef, who have an eye for the quirky and the unusual, but who are perceptive enough to preserve those very ordinary things which we take for granted, until we suddenly realise they are not around any more!!

We should really value our eccentrics and our folk who are passionate about the past and exotic times and places, because the time, money and resources they put into their passion is enriching not only our lives, but those of future generations.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

The granddaughters Emily and Sarah were visiting Granny and Grandad for the school holidays in October, and spent plenty of time up at Silky Oaks stables and out on trail rides. To their delight, they had the opportunity to compete in the Equestrian events in the A&H Show.
Emily competed with Possum, a somewhat mature horse who has reached an age where he feels he deserves to be allowed to do things at his own pace, thank you. Nevertheless, Em worked a bit of "Possum magic" on him, and they made a great team.
Sarah, meanwhile, worked with Kit-Kat, who is the white and brown horse in the background. (I am sure there is a proper name for his colouring, but I am not much good with horse language!) In this picture, Sarah is working with another horse in the led-in section of the Show, which took place on the Saturday. Kit-Kat is somewhat younger and less experienced, this being his very first Show too. But he and Sarah were a good partnership.
The actual riding events took place on the Monday, the actual Show Day, and the girls had a great time, and came home with lots of ribbons. However, Emily left one of hers wrapped around the post in Possum's stall, because she felt he really deserved it for all his hard work!
Adding to all the fun was the fact that the girls' cousins Anna and Amy are also right into the horseriding scene, and were competing with them.
The four girls had a great sleepover at Devon one night, and really loved having the opportunity to get to know each other better. They can't wait till the next holidays!

Monday, October 16, 2006

Last Monday was the day of our annual Norfolk Royal Agricultural and Horticultural Show. This is a traditional Country show, but we are extremely proud of our Royal patronage, granted in 1968.
There have been Shows held on Norfolk ever since 1860, but there is a link that goes back even further than that. It was Fletcher Christian's first cousin, John Christian Curwen, who is credited with forming the very first agricultural society in England, in 1805.
I usually get asked to help judge the Needlework section in the Hall exhibits, something I enjoy doing, although I feel somewhat guilty about using it an excuse for not actually entering instead!
I try to make sure the other judge is someone who has plenty of technical expertise with needlework, to counterbalance my own focus on creativity, originality and aesthetics or "wow factor." We can only hope we get it right. I must admit we often do a bit of juggling, moving things from one class to another, in order to give out as many awards as possible! I would like to give a prize to everyone who takes the trouble to enter!
When I had finished judging, I took the opportunity to zoom around the hall with my camera, before the official opening to the public. My idea was to get pictures of flowers and fruit and produce to print out onto fabric using the computer...I have a real weakness for fruit and vegetable prints, so thought I could make my own, to use in Crazy patchwork projects.
The top picture is just part of 'Farmer Lou's' entry in the farm produce section. I think you will agree it is magnificent!
After the Show, a lot of the produce is auctioned off, with funds going to the hospital.
I think you will agree that it is all quite inspiring!

Thursday, October 12, 2006

So much has been happening lately, both on the island and in the family, and also in my creative pursuits, that I feel I have heaps to write about.
However, I must put this aside to fulfil a commitment, and "play tag". Tagging is the latest game in the interactive world of blogging, and involves issuing a challenge to a set number of fellow bloggers, who then in turn pass on ther challenge to other bloggers. It is certainly a good way of getting to explore other blogs, but I suspect that it may become a bit like a chain letter......the mathematics tell me there just aren't enough bloggers out there, at least not enough of a playful frame of mind and similar interests, for the game to continue for very long.
Anyway, I have been tagged by Norma in the U.S., a fellow crazy quilter, and the challenge is to describe five weird things about myself.
Now, putting aside my firm conviction that I am completely normal, and it is only others who are weird, I have thought long and hard about this. I have decided that weird things can come under four main categories...eccentricities, phobias, habits and body tricks. I will dispense with habits, because I have decided long ago that habits that do not contribute to smooth, efficient and stress free functioning of one's existence are just not worth cultivating or sticking with. But I can manage a smattering of the others.
Weird thing 1. I am scared of moths. Over the years I have become more tolerant of the little ones, but I still hate to be in the same room as a really big moth. On the other hand, as a child, I just loved hairy caterpillars, and would pick them up and stroke them. But I have not met a hairy caterpillar for many years, so I do not know what my reaction would be today.
Weird thing2. I can wiggle the little toe on my right foot independent of all the others. I have been able to do this as long as I can remember.
Weird thing 3. I am one of a fairly uncommon group of people who have "synaesthesia". Look it up on Google. For decades I used to wonder why I got weird looks when I spoke about Monday being a creamy yellow colour, about the letter C being bright green, and about the numbers going vertically upwards up to number 10, going horizontal until 20, then going back up to 100 before reverting to a horizontal but retreating pattern. Then I found an article in a Time magazine about this condition where, when one sense is stimulated, another one responds, and I did not feel so lonely any more.
Weird Thing 4. I do not like telephones. I can cope with answering them nowadays, but would rather make a long journey to ask someone something face to face than to ring them up. I have other phobias, to, like vacuum cleaners, but will not go into that.
Weird Thing 5. I would sooner shop in an Opportunity Shop than any other. You could put me in a city full of wonderful stores, and even give me unlimited funds to spend, but I would still head first of all for the Op shops and markets and second hand places, knowing they would yield me more treasures and exciting stuff than all the others put together. I know all you other creative folk - crazy patchworkers, mixed media and textile artists, collectors etc -will relate to this, and not regard it as weird at all. It is not just a thrift thing or a bargain-hunting mentality. It is the love of gathering together a random collection of pre-loved trinkets and textures, with the prospect of combining them into something new and wonderful, or simply giving them a loving and appreciative home!

Now, does anyone else want to play?

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Why would anyone go to a Garage Sale, and buy a teapot without a lid?
Even a fat white Coalport teapot?
I think you will agree that it makes a wonderful vase for these nasturtiums. I love nasturtiums, and have always felt they needed unusual containers to show off their rambling habit. Perhaps this stems from my childhood days, when there was a story in my "Dick and Dora" reader about some nasturtiums that were planted in a pair of boots!
In any case, these free-spirited blooms have brightened what has been a topsy-turvy couple of days for me.
Yesterday morning, we were putting the finishing touches to the "Best in Show" Museum display that I have been putting together for the Agricultural and Horticultural Society for this month. I made one final visit to the A&H office in town to get just a few more old trophies to fill in a few spaces. As I left the office, I reversed into what was virtually a paddock...and would you believe it...this tall spindly tree fair jumped out at me and left quite a scrape and dint along the side of my car! I felt so stupid, especially as we have not yet repaired the spot where the bank on the side of the road leapt out at my headlights a few months ago.
Oh well. The official opening of the exhibition went well last night, and everyone seemed to find the display really interesting.
This morning Emily and Sarah "veged" out in front of the TV, both of them feeling somewhat weary from all the horse riding they have been doing lately in preparation for the Show. This gave me a break to do some much needed vacuuming and preparation for the lunch I am putting on for the Cattle judge and stewards tomorrow.
This afternoon was sad and poignant. We went to the funeral for a much beloved lady, Dottie. Both Bernie and I have very beautiful (but different) memories going a long way back of this dear person, who, although she was rarely seen in public outside her home, had a special place in the hearts of so many people whom she had touched with her warmth and love. It was a huge funeral, and was conducted with a moving simplicity by our new chaplain Rod.
Dottie loved flowers. I think I will dedicate my free spirited blossoms to her.
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