Sunday, June 29, 2008


The Southerncrosscrazies on-line group that I belong to is having a Christmas Stocking Round Robin. There are three groups of 6 of us - Bells, Stars and Angels. Each person produces a basic Crazypatch Christmas stocking, and each month, this goes to the next person on the list to add some embroidery and other embellishments.

The RR organiser Joy, who is from Napier in New Zealand, and myself, actually signed up for two groups to make up the numbers.

So this month I have had the pleasurable task of beginning the decoration on two stockings, both of which actually belong to Joy.

The first is a very pale and delicate number, and I ummed and aahed before deciding not to alter the tone of it by adding any strong colour. A future participant may find the courage to do that. Whatever, I am sure it will look wonderful. That is the great thing about CQ - pieces do not need careful planning. You just keep working on them until they achieve balance and harmony. There are no rules.

Anyway, I have added some ruched ribbon to which I have sewn some star beads. The other seam has some embroidered stars with some tiny pink/gold beads added. It is hard to see but I have also appliqued a bell motif. I have just realised the whole picture is upside down, and being pale is difficult to see!

The second stocking is much brighter. Joy has done this one in what I call Medieval colours - deep red and gold!! I just love working with these.

A piece of my tatting in dark red occupies the space on one of the patches, and two seams have been embroidered in beaded feather stitch, and a variation of herringbone stitch. Finally I attached a gold heart, which was actually a segment from a bracelet I bought in an OP Shop in Noosa.

When working on a RR piece, one must discipline oneself to limit the amount of work you do on each piece, and leave some space for the other participants!

My own two "naked stockings" have been worked on by Maureen in Victoria and Helen in Queensland this month. Tomorrow I will post Joy's stockings off to those two ladies, while they will forward mine on to the next people on the list.

They will arrive home just in time to make them up for Christmas!

Sunday, June 22, 2008


My niece Tina, who manages Fletcher Christian, is one of the most cheerful and positive people you could ever hope to meet. Here she is with her Mum Sally (who is my sister) and her Dad Roy.

Since Tina and Brandt came to live here on Norfolk Island about 18 months ago, they have settled in really well, made many friends, adapted to the island way of life, and enhanced it in many ways.

Last week Tina put a 2-page spread in our compendiums in the units at Fletcher Christian with a lovely list of "Have you ever....." with some wonderful things you can do on Norfolk Island, many of them needing no money ...just some imagination and a willingness to enjoy simple pleasures!
I thought I would share some of them in today's posting, along with some pictures of the island. (many of these pictures were also taken by Tina.)


Taken a Trail ride on horseback?
Snorkelled with the fish in the coral reefs in Slaughter and Emily Bays?

Let the grains of sand stick to your toes?

Watched the cargo ship unload at Cascade or Kingston pier?
Walked around the cemetery to see the history?
Walked through Simon’s Water at Steele’s Point to find the waterfall at the end?
Taken the rainforest walk off Red Road?

Wondered at the big roots of the Moreton Bay figs near Headstone?
Visited the Sunday markets and chatted to the locals?
Driven on every road on the island(there is 170km of road to discover)?
Watched the planes land from the top of Mt. Pitt?
Collected shells and beach glass?
Hugged a pine tree? Walked through 100 Acre Wood?
Fed the feral chooks and ducks?
Eaten fresh cherry guavas off the bushes?

Roamed the historic convict buildings with the geese at Kingston?
Discovered the headstone at Headstone?

Had a cliff top breakfast?
Driven along to Anson Bay to source the Farmers’ stalls?
Found Hollow Pine on the way to Mt. Pitt?
Seen someone plaiting from flax, palm, corn husk or banana bark?
Enjoyed the Kingston buildings lit up at night?
Watched the sun rise and set on the sea?

Found or felt a Norfolk Island Ghost?
Swum to the pontoon at Emily Bay?

Surfed or looked into the rock pools at Slaughter Bay ?

Fallen in love with the Island, the people and their way of life?

If you have never been here - or even if you have - why not try some of these for yourself?

And by the way - do check out Tina's wonderful blog at

Friday, June 13, 2008


I awoke this morning feeling as if I had not cleaned my teeth last night. I realised that it was probably because my sense of taste was returning. I have had a rather nasty cold, and completely lost my sense of taste and smell. It was a distinct disadvantage on Bounty Day. I had piled my plate from the wonderful array of dishes everyone had provided for our festive lunch. But I found myself pushing it aside when only halfway through, because it all tasted like sawdust.
Fancy not being able to taste this wonderful feast - the photo only shows about one-third of the food we had there!

The loss of smell was a distinct advantage when changing William's nappies while I was minding him during the week. But I got to thinking - as I often do - how we should really value our senses for the way they enhance our lives.

Most of us speak about the "gift of sight", and there is no doubt that it is a great asset to us for both practical and aesthetic reasons. For me, colour is abundantly important. I could talk about colour, and how it affects me, for ages - and perhaps I will do just that in a future posting.

Some loss of sight and of hearing is something we all have to come to terms with as we age, and I wonder if we truly recognise how lucky we are to live in an age when spectacles and hearing aids have enabled us to retain an enjoyable quality of life for years far beyond those of our forbears. The image of grandma sitting in her rocking chair has been replaced by images of grandma sitting at the computer, playing scrabble, delivering a well-directed bowling or tennis ball, and participating in clubs and education courses - largely because these aids have enabled her to continue to experience the world with her senses.

One sense we very much undervalue is the sense of touch.

We know how important cuddles and kisses and stroking are. But we experience so much of our world from how it feels. Even the texture of our food is just as important as the flavour. Think about the sensation of chocolate melting in your mouth, the crustiness of freshly baked bread or biscuits, the fresh tingling coolness of a gelato.

For a crazy patchworker and textile artist like me, colour and touch go hand in hand.

We see through our fingers and feel through our eyes.

I love a surface that is richly embellished. When we have added lots of embroidery, lace, buttons and beads and ribbons to a surface, we call it "encrustation" and it really delights our senses.

For me there is a sheer delight in running fabrics and ribbons and laces through my fingers. And there is an incredibly sensuous delight in holding a cool glass bead or button to the lips. I love hankies, and have even made myself several out of the beautiful soft but crisp Liberty cottons. While I have had this cold, I have needed to borrow Bernie's - and I found some lovely tartan ones at the back of his drawer. It is almost worth having a congested head to be able to use them!
Two handmade Liberty handkerchiefs, with a man's silk handkerchief from England (an Op shop find)

I minded William this week for 3 days. It is just wonderful to watch him exploring his world with both his hands and eyes. In the hallway, I have some wallhangings, including this seascape that I started in a Judith Montano workshop. Each time Willian passes it, he stops to run his little fingers over it, feeling the beads and buttons and textures. I do not stop him - it is meant to be enjoyed that way. The handling may shorten the life of the hanging - but hey! Isn't it the quality of life - and how much pleasure you can give - more important?

On the opposite wall is my button wallhanging. Because it hangs up higher, I lift William to reach it, and he takes great delight in pointing at and grasping the different buttons. Perhaps I should make him his own button book? With the buttons vewry securely sewn on, of course!!
Now we probably learn to love particular textures, just as we have favourite colours and tastes. For my part, I know I love the feel as well as the look of silk. I adore the feel of the fur of my cats and dogs. As a small child, I can even remember fondling hairy caterpillars! I also love glass - for its cool clean smoothness - and for its honesty! This is some of my blue glass collection that I have in the bathroom.

Other craftspeople have learned to love the feel of wool and yarns, and are rarely without a pair of knitting needles or a crochet hook to ply their magic with their chosen medium.

I have often thought I would love to learn to do "Freeform Knitting" as in the beautiful work of Prudence Mapstone. I just adore the colours and texture and variety in her work. It would be so satisfying to the senses! But I think I will stick to what I know best. And I would need a million years to explore all the possibilities in the media I already work with. Meanwhile I will continue to give thanks to the Lord for all my senses, and hope they continue serve me well and delight me.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


One of the highlights of each year when I was a child was Empire Day. I am sure every person of around my vintage has very strong memories of this day and celebration. The day was commemorated on 24 May, which had been Queen Victoria's birthday, and was instituted soon after her death in the early 1900's. The main idea seems to have been to encourage all the children throughout the old British Empire to be reminded of their rights and responsibilities as its citizens, to reflect on their "glorious heritage", and to think of their fellow citizens throughout the world living in those countries that were coloured red in their atlases.

We would turn up at school that day equipped with red, white and blue ribbons, which we would attach to ourselves using a safety pin and a special red, white and blue card that was specially issued that day for every child.

There would be special assemblies and ceremonies, with marching, saluting of flags, often speeches by local dignitaries and MP's, and singing of national anthems and patriotic songs like ' Land of Hope and Glory.'. Even our school milk came with a special red. white and blue foil top on that day.

We took it very seriously. It may not seem very politically correct today, but I can tell you that our school had a large number of pupils whose families had come from Greece and other European countries, and they joined in with every bit as much enthusiasm as those of British stock!

Our reward for our fervent expressions of patriotic pride and loyalty to the 'red, white and blue' was a half-day holiday.

That afternoon we became normal exuberant children once again as we turned our attention to the real focus of the day - Cracker Night!

For weeks I would have been saving my pocket money, and even doing extra jobs to earn a few bonus shillings. Every penny was directed to buying a wonderful stock of fireworks. Sometimes on that afternoon, our parents would slip us a few extra coins to complete our little treasure trove. The children of our neighbourhood would often get together to compare our stash. There would be fireworks with wonderful names like Golden Rain, Roman Candles, CrackerJacks, Mt Vesuvius, Catherine wheels. Tom Thumbs and Double Bungers. And of course there were always one or two "Rockets" - a little dearer than the others - which would be kept for the Grand Finale. Now the Tom Thumbs were very tiny crackers which were strung together in bundles of about 40, and I distinctly recall separating these to increase my actual total of crackers.

Some years we managed a big bonfire with a 'Guy' on top of the woodpile. We lived in one of a block of flats with two up and two down. There were around a dozen of these blocks in a row, with one enormous backyard stretching behind them, so our preparations were often a community effort. But I do remember that my mother, very familiar with 'Guy Fawkes" celebrations in England, always helped us out a great deal in supplying clothes and stuffing for our 'guy'.

When nightfall finally arrived, the excitement had reached a real crescendo. It took a bit of restraint from our parents to enable us to string things out a bit, so the firework stash did not all go off in a puff of smoke too quickly. The younger ones among us needed our father's help with the rockets, and the double bungers were definitely left to the boys, because they were noisy rather than pretty. And the boys used to do awful things with them, like putting them in letter boxes or throwing them at girls - and sometimes tying them to the dog's tail! The boys, meanwhile, disdained the sparklers that were particularly enjoyed by the girls and small children. These are the only fireworks we now have access to!! My mother used to produce home made toffee and make cocoa, to add to the festivity of the occasion, and sometimes family friends and relatives would be invited round for the evening.

By the late 50's the world had begun to change. Empire Day became 'British Commonwealth Day', then just 'Commonwealth Day', the half holiday was dispensed with, and the whole commemoration was moved to the Queen's Birthday holiday in June.

Cracker night continued for a while, until it was decided by the authorities, in their wisdom, that irresponsible use and abuse issues with fireworks meant that we were no longer to be trusted with them, and our enjoyment would now be restricted to public displays and spectacles. Our Bonfire or Cracker night displays were pretty tame when you compare them with million spectacles over a city and harbour, but at least it was 'hands-on' and 'home-grown.'

It is true that there were occasional injuries, accidents and fires, and sometimes the fireworks were used for the wrong purpose. But hey! I heard last night there are over 60 alcohol-related deaths in Australia every week. I do feel sorry for today's children who have missed out on the sheer joy of a home-based Cracker night.

Most of Australia celebrated the Queen's Birthday yesterday. Norfolk Island usually has the holiday a week later. That is because yesterday was a far more important day for us as Norfolk Island people. It was our Bounty Day, a day when those of us who love this island really celebrate our pride in our heritage and history on this little far-flung outpost of the Britsh Empire!

Sunday, June 08, 2008

William is taking steps in more ways than one.

Walking - with still slightly tottering steps- is now his preferred method of locomotion, and even when he tumbles, he now picks himself up instead of finishing the journey with a crawl. I am sure it will not be long before he is running away from us to tease us!!

He is also taking firm steps in his discovery of the world around him. He goes in search of toys rather than waiting for them to be dangled in front of him. And the words are starting to come, with "dog" and "boo" being his current favourites.

I am mainly posting these pictures for his other grandparents in New Zealand. Although they get to spend some quality time with their first and only grandchild when Kim goes to visit for a week or two, it is not the same as seeing the day-to-day progress.
I have been minding William for three days this week, and it was serious "Granny and Grandad" stuff. Although he had a cold he still managed lots of smiles - as well as passing on his germs to me!
Watching TV with cousin Teddy

Playing Peep-bo with the clown toy is currently his favourite game at Granny's

Books are a firm favourite - it doesn't matter if they are upside down!

When you have finished playing, it is good to settle down to a sleepy cuddle with grandad!

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