Saturday, 21 April 2007

Saturday Sky

We were at La Perouse yesterday - it had been a beautiful day - sunny and warm and we'd had a wander on the beach at Congwong Bay before checking out the location of various things that Grandpa Flea needed to know for a Probus outing that he is organising. Late in the day the sky was filling up with cotton wool clouds and the sun was sending out long rays of "God's light" . Flocks of sea gulls and crows were circling around, riding the thermals and looking for scraps left by litterbugs. I was trying to catch the sun's rays in a photo - without a lot of success, but the silhouette of the birds against the sky really appealed to me.

While we were wandering around I became very conscious of how little I know of the geography and history of this land that I live in. La Perouse is on a bay at the end of the bus line in the south eastern suburbs of Sydney. The link above to Wikiipedia has a good summary of it's history. Named after Jean-François de Galaup, comte de La Pérouse, and traditionally an area with a large aboriginal community, it is still a relatively unspoiled waterfront suburb, but signs of the great middleclass sprawl are showing. Just up the road, the magnificent site of the now defunct Prince Henry Hospital has been broken up into small building lots for those with plenty of money, and high rise apartments are starting to encroach on the once unbroken view of Little Bay.

Fortunately, some historical parts of the site will be protected and retained. One of these is the Nursing and Medical Museum. We are going there for a Probus outing in June and will have a conducted tour by one of the nurses who worked there in the fifties and sixties. Prince Henry was known as "The Coast Hospital" and had originally been a quarantine hosptal for infectious diseases. A friend of mine studied medicine when we left school and one of her placements was at Prince Henry. At that time there was still an operating "leprosaurium" there. We were both amazed (and very young!) to think that there were people with leprosy living in Sydney - we'd only ever heard about it in the context of overseas countries. The leprosaurium was closed in the mid-late sixties after the advent of antibiotics that controlled the disease.

Just as well Janette isn't holding her breath - knitting content - SOON.

Thursday, 19 April 2007

Time Warp: Wildlife Wednesday - on Thursday

So - autumn is definitely here when the spider webs become cities suspended in the air - we have lots of golden orb web weavers (Nephila (Tetragnathidae)) here and in autumn they are prolific. In this first photo you can see a small spider above the large female - it's the male, waiting for an opportunity to mate with the much larger female. I had always thought that the male was killed and rolled up in a little cocoon after he had performed his duty, but the Australian Museum site indicates otherwise. Have a look at it if you want more information and better photos!

I love this last photo - I'm sure spiders were the first knitters - how wonderful it would be to knit such a fine, strong shawl.

We arrived home a few days ago from our rushed trip around the world (well, not quite - it just felt like it!). We had one night in Canberra with GrandPa Flea's brother - there are 5 "boys" in the family and brother Noel is what you'd call a dinky di Aussie - his speech is peppered with the metaphors and similes that used to mark the speech of the true blue Aussie. Unfortunately, this mode of specch is becoming less common as we become more educated, more exposed to other influences (especially American TV programs and advertising) and more multicultural (which compensates by bringing other interesting things to our culture). Once I even had to consult The Macquarie Dictionary when Noel said he'd been "flat out like a lizard drinkin' " - extremely busy to you and me! I took particular note, the next time I saw a lizard drinking - and the tongue movements were indeed very, very fast.

The next three nights we spent with my brother, Mr Mooney, at Tumbarumba in the foothills of the Snowy Mountains. Mr Mooney lives in Canberra but has a small hobby farm - off the beaten track, seemingly miles from the nearest neighbour, surrounded by a creek, acres of trees and a national park. Wild brumbies range through the bushland and across the meadows. Those who are fortunate - or unlucky - enough to come across them have to be careful, as I've been told that the herd disperses quickly, while a large black stallion turns to confront the intruders. Call me a wimp, but I didn't go looking for them. Mr Mooney's house was built of mudbricks and found materials by the original owner. It is delightful with white painted walls inside, slow combustion stoves, and a larder which has been built to stay cool in the hottest weather. Little leadlight windows appear in unexpected places, the floor is mud brick and the the house has a wonderful warm, tranquil feel.
There is even a tiny dog - Snooky - to keep watch from his sunlit spot on the day bed.
The only draw back is the "long drop" - a pit toilet across the yard away from the house, to those of you who are city born and bred! Long drops are just not on as far as I'm concerned. I spent far too many of my formative years having nightmares about children who slipped into the pit, redback spiders under the toilet seat and boogey men waiting in the dark as you made the long trek across the yard in the night. So Grandpa Flea and I stayed at the local bed and breakfast "The Lazy Dog" - it has a website "" but for some reason my computer tells me it can't find the server. We were very comfortable - warm beds, attentive hosts, Margaret and Peter, and a beautiful, placid dog - a big black labrador called Ebony.

So after three days of sunlight, family, food and wine we headed down to Melbourne for three days with an old neighbour of ours, and three days with our youngest flea - Ms Katie, her partner Ms FeeFee and their two delightful teenage fleas - Mr Lex and Ms Mary, three dogs, three cats, two axelotls and one guinea pig. It was another six days of sun, family, friends, food and wine. We caught up with our friends, The Captain and Tenille, who live near our daughter - it was good to see them again. I don't have enough time to go into details of our Melbourne visit, except to say that we didn't need wheels on the car to come home - we could have rolled on our spare tyres!

Oh, and I visited a wool shop in Melbourne - Wondoflex Yarn Craft Centre - where, surprisingly! I bought some Zhivago and two pattern books. The range of wools was good, but I still prefer my LYS, Cherryhills - it's a smaller shop, but the range of yarns is wonderful - I could be biased of course, but I don't think so.

I had lunch today with my knitting pal, Janette. It was good to catch up and to see the latest photo of her twin grandbabies - they are beautiful. My next post will be devoted to knitting - hold your breath!