Sunday, February 25, 2007
Sarah and I had a stitching afternoon for Ben and Sunny's (unborn) baby today. As you can see, we made ourselves comfortable, setting ourselves up at the garden table with cold drinks, nibbles and watermelon chunks.
Sare made a start to sewing satin binding on a flannelette bunny rug, while I made some progress with hand quilting the pink baby quilt. She's convinced this bub will be a boy, so chose a predominantly blue froggy design for her rug, while I'm convinced it will be a girl. I do, however, have a baby boy's quilt in the early stages - just in case!
I was congratulating myself for only picking up half a dozen fat quarters and a bundle of charm squares - until I unpacked my bag. As you can see from the photo those pheromones deceived me again.
On the way to board my Virgin flight home I was stopped by a female inspector for a random explosives check. After I had passed the bag check as well as the wand-over-the clothing test, I smiled and quipped that I had only been to a quilt show. Oh dear, she was not amused.
By comparison, the two policemen who were peering into the hall when I arrived in the morning, and who asked me what was happening, were astonished at the eyecatching quilts displayed by stallholders and the steady stream of excited quilters passing through the doors.
"So, is this quilting popular?" one of them asked me. I educated him.
Saturday, February 24, 2007
Friday, February 23, 2007
Quilt after quilt was auditioned for me, until at last I decided on this burgundy-toned one, an elaborate symphony of lotus flowers, symbolising long life, which now hangs in my dining room, halfway across the world.
Inside, though, I felt wretched. Discharged from a Cairo private hospital only the night before, after spending 3 days in intensive care for a particularly nasty case of dysentery, I struggled with queasiness, and my body felt so weak that I could only walk a short distance before needing to rest.
So when I heard that Jenny was staging an exhibition of these spectacular quilts at the Australasian Quilt Convention in Melbourne, and had brought out two of the quilters as well, I simply had to go. I just had to see them again, this time without the fog of nausea.
That is why, for the second time this week, I left the house this morning at a time when I would normally still have been well and truly in the land of Nod. I flew to Melbourne just for the day, on my own, and had a wonderful adventure!
The photo below shows Ahmed Nagib, one of only around 40 quilters who still keep this traditional craft alive. Just as he would have done back home in Cairo, he sat all day stitching and trimming his appliquee pieces as curious visitors to the AQC's "Quilt Like an Egyptian" exhibition craned forward for a closer peek at his work.
[Update: Thank you to Helen who has pointed the way for me to Pam Holland's blog. Pam has made a lively video of the AQC in general, and Ahmed in particular, and here is the link http://pamhollanddesigns.typepad.com/pam_h/files/ACQ5.m4v . You can click on the link to her blog too, on the sidebar above, and there you'll find more of Pam's videos. They really bring the experience alive!]
Hovering nearby ready to translate was his nephew, the moustachioed Ayman Ahmed, who warmly greeted me with "I remember you!". Was this mere Egyptian charm, I wondered, or are all Jenny's friends so deeply embedded in his memory? (Please don't disillusion me)
In days gone by these quilts would have been made to hang from the sides of tents on celebratory occasions or during Ramadan at the end of the day when the faithful were permitted to break their fast. Instead these days fabric printed with these patterns is rolled out by the metre for such decoration, and Egyptians no longer aspire to cover their walls with quilts from the Tentmakers' Souk.
[Update: Also from Pam Holland's always entertaining and informative blog is this link to an interesting article on the tentmakers. http://www.saudiaramcoworld.com/issue/198606/tentmakers.of.cairo.htm]
The quilts were wonderful, and on this first day of the AQC almost every one bore a red "sold" sticker, bringing their makers more income than they would generally have earnt in a whole year, as Jenny remarked in her lecture "Egypt: From the Tentmakers' Souk to the City of the Dead".
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
Tuesday morning saw me striding down the road before 6am to our park by the water where I joined a couple of hundred neighbours in time to see the huge superstructure of the Queen Mary 2 looming out of the darkness, surrounded by hundreds and hundreds of small craft with their navigation lights winking as they escorted her into Sydney Harbour.
She made such a slow and stately progress that by the time she had berthed at Garden Island the sun was well and truly up, shimmering off the city skyscrapers, and as I strolled back home for breakfast I found myself actually enjoying this early morning caper and wishing I could do it more often. Alas! the spirit is willing, but the body is just plain slothful.
The Royal Prince Edward Yacht Club at Point Piper (see photo below) was an excellent vantage point from which to watch The Queen Mary 2's little sister, the QE2, arrive later in the day.
Like many Sydneysiders we saw the visit of the two Queens as an excuse to get together with good friends and celebrate by the harbour on what was a quintessentially Sydney summer day - balmy and clear, but with a light zephyr blowing over the water.
However, unlike many who flocked in their thousands to the city to see the fireworks and gasp over these two reminders of a more elegant age, we were fortunate enough to make it home after our barbecue tea without becoming stuck in the gridlocked traffic that took much of the gloss off the experience (if talk-back radio is to be believed) and saw our Premier apologising the next day for being "caught by surprise".
The QE2 off Point Piper as she makes her progress towards Circular Quay.
Friday, February 16, 2007
She always looks glamorous, and especially so in this photo taken on her (Big "0") birthday.
Happy birthday, Gail!
Thursday, February 15, 2007
Knowing where to find exquisite African Violets (see previous post) isn't my friend Jan's only skill. She also runs exercise classes for "mature" ladies, and I never fail to walk out of there on Tuesday mornings with a spring in my step, and feeling as if all those sluggish blood cells have been given a good move along. Life feels good, and I have a smile on my face. We all do!
Some mornings, though, the sun glinting off Sydney Harbour , and the serenity of the beachside scene, just adds to the feeling of well-being, and this morning was one of those days.
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
If you look carefully, though, you'll see a tiny part of the border of Lachy and Merry's wedding quilt, "Alhambra Romance" which I've finally finished quilting - 4 months after their wedding day.
Firstly, I discovered that an African Violet, a birthday gift from my dear friend Jan last year, has re-flowered. Most houseplants at "Chez Jobbins" survive under a policy of benign neglect, and all I've been doing is giving this little plant, on the bathroom window sill, a drink of water every time I brush my teeth. No fertiliser, just water. Isn't it gorgeous?
Then the rain came down. Torrential, pounding, drenching delicious rain! It was so exciting to lie in bed listening to it drumming on the copper roof below the bedroom windows. I can't remember when I last fell asleep to the sound of rain.
Saturday, February 10, 2007
And the reason they care about it because their Christian faith is important to them.
The hedges and ornamental beds are always bright with colour, and the bank of agapanthus, planted in memory of a very loved past rector who was fond of preaching on "agape" (Greek for "selfless love"), is just spectacular with splashes of purple-blue in December.
So well tended is the garden that you'd think that the planting, clipping, weeding and cultivating was done by a garden service - but no. Every Friday morning a small band of around six volunteers from our congregation cheerfully turns up do whatever is needed, undeterred by heat, wind, drizzling rain, or cold. Di, in the photo above, is the "Head Gardener".
But the most wonderful thing for us is that once a month they come along here to the rectory and help us to keep the garden ship-shape. We all work together, and for 2 hours the garden is weeded, pruned, landscaped and whipped back into shape. It's positively unbelievable what is achieved in such a short time. I call them the "garden fairies" (though some of them might protest loudly at this!)
Today they came to us for the first time this year, and we really needed the reinforcements!While the men pruned the dead branches from a tree that had fallen victim to the dry conditions, Moo tidied up the mondo grass border, the others weeded and clipped and raked, Boak got covered in "cobblers pegs" clearing the undergrowth from a forgotten area down the side of the house, and I tackled the horrid creeper that is threatening to cascade down from the wall into our topiaried lillypillies.
Of course, after all that expenditure of energy, a healthy morning tea is called for!
Friday, February 9, 2007
So for her birthday on Wednesday I cut PINK dipladenias to create a centrepiece on the dining table, I arranged bright PINK serviettes in the empty wine glasses to look festive and PINK balloons on the mantelpiece, the guests arrived to a front gate festooned with PINK balloons, while she blew out a PINK candle on her birthday strudel.
And what colour did the Birthday Girl wear to her party?
[But doesn't that new necklace and earring ensemble, a special birthday gift, look stunning with her dress?]
Tuesday, February 6, 2007
Yesterday was a huge day for both of us, beginning with 8am church. All the children's activities during the 10am service started up again, including the Creche which I look after, and the children seemed to enjoy themselves. I had washed all the toys on Friday, made a fresh batch of play dough, and bought a new table for the little ones to sit at.
In the evening we hosted a BBQ for the 5.30pm congregation (around 40 folk) in our garden and it looked so pretty when we'd set up that I had to take a photo of part of it. By the time they all arrived after church, with the citronella flares lit, it resembled the set of "Survivor" - except that there were no mozzies, we ate a delicious meal (roast pork), there was no grumbling and when the time came they all left voluntarily. Just in time for us to watch the last few exciting deliveries in the one-day cricket.