The Camel's Back

That's a possessive - as in 'straw' - not a contraction, as in 'welcome back, camel'.

No more words. No time. Only captions. Enjoy.

Sorting. Far left - washed & drying. Centre - picked ready to be washed. Far right - waiting to be picked. Bottom - compost.

Shetland rolags - tricolour foreground, white (faun?) behind.

White Shetland locks washed and ready for carding. Quite a bit of feed contamination in this fleece.
The Romney is all carded - 139 rolags altogether. (Disappointed with the amount of second-cut in this fleece. Wish I hadn't paid $2.50/oz for it. Got robbed.) Divided them in half, spun one half in 24 hours, using my newly-acquired spinning technique which is SO FAST and which everyone should know. I love it. I want to marry it.
Romney Bobbin love, up close. English Woollen Longdraw, Be Mine.
Comin' to the end. I'll be happy to see the back of this one.
Cheeky. If only it were that easy.
Oh, and.....what the heck was I supposed to be doing? Oh, yeah - de-ignoranting my children. This is Science.

Holiday Part 2 - Mornington Penninsula

On the second day of our holiday we packed up the tent and headed for Melbourne. Just about half an hour down the road we crossed the Murray River, which means we had left NSW and entered Victoria. Mousie and Teddy were very worried because they thought we would be driving into a firestorm. HB, Possum, Dragon and I took turns at explaining to them that the firefighters had put all the fires out now and it was quite safe to visit Victoria. We did see a lot of burnt bush along the Hume Highway. We deliberately avoided including any of the burnt-out areas in our travel plans as authorities had been asking people to stay away and let the residents rebuild in peace. Interestingly enough, as we were driving along the highway listening to a talk back radio session, we found that the devastated towns were actually pleading for the visitors to come back because many of these small villages relied on tourism for income. So who do you believe?

Anyway, we arrived in Melbourne and set up our tent in its entirety this time as we were going to stay there for six nights. Despite HB's assurances, it was not much warmer in the tent when it was all completely assembled. At least everyone else seemed warm except me, so I just had to wear my polar fleece jumper to bed.

On Saturday morning (11/4) we did some grocery shopping right after breakfast, and while we were in the shopping centre HB found a store from which he needed to buy an item. Right outside was a stall offering toys for only $1.00. In order to keep the Half-dozen occupied while HB made his purchases, I told them they could each select something from the stall. Ducky and Mousie found lip gloss. Well, it was supposed to be lip gloss but it was actually more like a cross between glue and very thick, gloopy, bright lipstick. Mousie insisted on applying her own.Kitcat wanted some too but neither Mousie or Ducky were inclined to share. About 3 minutes after we arrived back at the holiday park, to stash the groceries in the tent, I noticed that Kitcat was missing. I called her but there was no reply. I scanned the tent and surrounding area but she wasn't there. I asked if anyone knew where she was but no one had any idea. We all called her again while I calmly started to panic. As I dispatched Dragon and Possum to run around the park to find her something caught the corner of my eye. There in the car, down behind the middle row of seats, was a very gaudily decorated Kitcat.She had hidden in the car, swiped Ducky's lip gloss and went to work on applying as much as she could before she was found out. You can see from the photo that she knew she had done the wrong thing, and she was not happy about having to (1) apologise to Ducky for stealing the lip gloss, (2) say sorry to Mummy for not answering when called, and (3) have the lip gloss scrubbed off her face!

After this incident we set off to explore the Mornington Peninsula along it's entire length, all the way to Portsea. There was a thick haze sitting over the city which makes the waters of Port Phillip look like they simply drop off the end of the earth here in this photo of the Half-dozen at Frankston Pier.We stopped for lunch at the township of Mornington, and then walked along the Mornington Pier. The Half-dozen were intrigued with the many people fishing, and with some of their unusual catches like this starfish.I was more interested in the view from the Pier such as these bathing boxes, which are quite unique to the Melbourne area, and the hilltop mansions, which are fairly common to any waterfront area within reasonable driving distance from a major city.Here's a closer view of some of the bathing boxes.We arrived at Portsea in time for afternoon tea. It was a long walk down to the beach, so we stayed on the hilltop and just looked, and took photos...... ......and took more photos....... .....and stopped a long time to watch the huge waves (between 2 -4m) rising out of the Southern Ocean and pounding Portsea Beach.On the way back to our tent we drove up to Arthur's Seat. It was quite late in the day and Kitcat was tired and grumpy so we couldn't stay for very long. The view was wonderful, even though we couldn't see the city skyline due to the haze.As we drove back down the mountain we had to stop to photograph the sun sitting low in the sky, enjoying its own stunning reflection in the water.The record of the rest of our holiday is in the making.

A very sad day

I put my elderly vizsla Marko to sleep this morning. His ongoing wobbliness progressed suddenly to partial paralysis of his hind end, starting yesterday after work. I spent the whole night snuggled up to him, saying goodbye, because I was pretty sure the prognosis wasn't going to be good. And it wasn't. The vet was just wonderful about the whole thing. I was such a wreck.

Marko was in the habit of bringing me a shoe every morning. He brought me a hiking boot this morning despite hardly being able to walk. I guess one positive is that he was still himself, and not in pain, right up to the end.

He was almost thirteen years old. I'd had him since he was a puppy.

A Baby No More!

Our little Kitcat turned 3 Years Old yesterday!

No longer a baby or even a toddler, she is now a Little Girl. (Although she will tell you, with great conviction, that she is a BIG girl.)We had our traditional birthday celebration for her on 27th as it was a public holiday in Canberra and HB actually had the day off (he has to work on many public holidays). The older children are still on school holidays - well, they started Term 2 today - so everyone was home to celebrate Kitcat's 3rd birthday. Here she is with her birthday gifts.Her 'big' present was a recycled doll house I found at the Op Shop. Included with some of her other gifts was a set of wooden dolls - a royal family actually - to live in the house along with some wooden furniture. Kitcat was also very interested in the Barbie Thumbelina DVD Possum gave her. She studied the cover for quite a while.One of the nicest parts of our birthday tradition is that all siblings are forced to happily put aside all squabbles and are forced to freely bestow kisses and cuddles upon the birthday child at gift-giving time. Isn't this sweet?What on earth has Nano and Grandpap wedged into the bottom of this gift bag? It just won't come out! (You can see Dragon having a laugh in the background. It was rather funny watching Kitcat trying to get the box out of the bag, insisting on doing it herself without any help - after all she is a BIG girl now.) It was a box of 'Lego Duplo' which is one of Kitcat's favourite toys at the moment, so a very welcome addition to our 'Duplo' set and was well worth the struggle - although she did allow me to assist her slightly in the end.Another tradition is that the birthday child chooses lunch and dinner. Kitcat chose party food, so here we all are feasting on party pies, party sausage rolls, chicken nuggets, cocktail frankfurts, fairy bread and fresh fruit. And don't forget the coke and creaming soda! And no, we didn't get through the meal without a spill ... it happens every time we let the younger children have soft drink. Guess who was found to be playing with the 'new' dollhouse while Kitcat was having her afternoon nap? "I was only setting up the furniture for her - she asked me to." Possum insisted, wearing a cheesy grin. (It's alright Possum, I wouldn't mind 'setting up the furniture' myself when I get a chance.)We were all too full after lunch to eat cake so we decided to wait to have the birthday cake after nap time. Unfortunately, Kitcat is just not at her best right after a nap, so we waited until after dinner when she was much happier. See.... she's smiling now.Kitcat requested a rainbow birthday cake with a cat on top. I know it looks like a white cake - but there is a surprise inside. Here she is blowing out the candles. (Well, after trying to blow out the candles for about a minute or two I gave Dragon the 'secret nod', which he knows means he can discreetly blow out the candles for whichever little sister it is who is struggling. He is very good at this.) Can you see the rainbow now? I made a marbled cake, and Kitcat thought it was quite magical that there was a rainbow inside her Cat Cake. And even though the fondant cracked and the pink icing had too much butter in it and the green icing had lumps in it which made it hard to pipe the 'vine' design and the cat ornament on the top kept falling over, she still thought it was very pretty which was all that really mattered. It was very yummy too, despite the amount of food colouring that went into it!Yesterday, her actual birthday, Kitcat went to daycare. I usually make cupcakes for the children to take to school when it's their birthday, but this daycare is an egg-free, nut-free zone. I forgot to ask them if I could make cupcakes last week, and I was feeling a bit guilty about the situation. Kitcat was a bit clingy when we arrived so in an attempt to distract her I told the teacher it was her birthday. The teacher took the cue and started asking Kitcat questions while I gave her a kiss and started edging towards the door. As I was leaving I heard the teacher say "Shall we make a birthday cake for you?" to which Kitcat replied with an enthusiastic "Yeah!!" I assumed the teacher was talking about a playdough cake or maybe a sand cake when they went outside to play. But when HB brought her home that afternoon he told me they had made a real cake for Kitcat, complete with purple icing and candles! So I was feeling guilty about nothing! Kitcat told me all about her cake which she and three friends had made 'all by themselves'. (What a great daycare centre!)

Happy Birthday to our gorgeous little Kitcat! We all love you very much and are very proud of you!!

I should not ride for nine days more often

I'm back from my trip to Texas and Nebraska. It rained the whole time I was in Texas, so alas, even though I brought my boots, I didn't get to ride. I had to think a bit before deciding whether I could bring my boot pulls through security. I finally decided I probably couldn't and stowed them in my carry-on. A determined terrorist could bring down an airplane by wielding a single boot pull, I'm sure.

To make up for the monsoon weather in Texas, Nebraska was warm and sunny. And then, to make me happy to come back, Portland was warm and sunny! In April!

Usually when Willow gets a few days off, she's stiff as a board when I bring her back into work. Imagine my surprise when I hopped aboard on Saturday, and she gave through the neck and back at all three gaits with no arguments. I couldn't make it out Sunday, but again tonight she was softer than she's ever been, right from the get-go. I kept her in walk for a long time, just marveling at the rubber-band feel in my hand. Did someone come train my horse while I was gone? Or was Willow just practicing her visualization exercises? I can't figure it out. Maybe if I never ride her again she'll be going Grand Prix by June.

Holiday Part 1 - Australian History

You've seen the condensed version, and this is the first installment of our Easter Holiday record. By the way, I should have credited HB with the idea for the fast-forward video. (He really does like my blog even though he usually only ever refers to it with the words "Don't you dare put that in your blog!") All those photos, in the video, were from HB's camera. The photos I'll be sharing in the next few posts about our holiday are the ones I took on my camera.

We attended the Easter Hat Parade at school on Thursday 9th April and then set off on our holiday. Our first stop was at Gundagai where we had to get the obligatory photo of the Dog on a Tuckerbox and let the Half-dozen throw some money into the wishing pool. This monument honours the early pioneers, and the words "The dog sat on the tuckerbox nine miles from Gundagai." from Bowyang Yorke's poem are well known across the country.

We drove further south before stopping for the night. The town at which we chose to stay has an unusual attraction. Here are the Half-dozen standing in front of it. Any ideas what it is?

What about now - do you know what it is?A submarine! A HUGE submarine, the HMAS Otway, has found it's final resting place here at Holbrook. This is certainly not something you expect to see whilst driving along an inland highway.
There is an interesting story about how and why the submarine came to be embedded in the ground at Holbrook. The town was originally called Germanton, but during WW1 the townsfolk decided to change the name, seeing as Germans were now the enemy. Lieutenant Norman Holbrook was the first naval officer to be awarded the Victoria Cross, so they decided that would be a fine name for their town. And seeing as Lieutenant Holbrook served on a submarine the town has had a special affiliation with submarines ever since, so much so that when the HMAS Otway was decommissioned they managed to obtain the top part of it. You can read more about the story here.
There are more photos of sunset, and moonrise, at Holbrook in my Submarine Sunset post over at Pic 'n' Poems.

Well, since we were on a camping trip we had to put up a tent. We were only staying overnight so we just put up the main part of the camper-trailer and the roof of the awning. It was quite warm at this stage as you can see - we are nearly all still in just t-shirts. We bought hot chips and sausage rolls for dinner, and HB hooked up a light from a battery he had stored somewhere in the toolbox. (He comes in handy lots of the time.) The Half-dozen were excited that our camping adventure was finally beginning.It soon turned cold, though. The Half-dozen were crammed on the floor of the main part of the tent like sardines in a tin. I think they all kept each other warm.But up on the bed of the trailer, on the air mattress, I absolutely froze!! HB assured me it would be warmer when we had the whole tent assembled properly. It wasn't. But that's part of the next edition of our Easter camping holiday.................

ANZAC Biscuits - step by step.

It's ANZAC day, so we made ANZAC biscuits. Here's a step by step, photo-illustrated recipe.

Step 1) Gather all your ingredients and equipment ...... and helpers.Ingredients: 1 cup plain flour, 1 cup rolled oats (not instant), 1 cup dessicated coconut, 1 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup butter, 2 tablespoons golden syrup (can substitute honey or light molasses but golden syrup is best), 1 teaspoon bicarb soda, 2 tablespoons boiling water.

Step 2) Measure the flour as carefully as you can and place into mixing bowl.Step 3) Measure the rolled oats and place into bowl.Step 4) Make sure all the oats get into the bowl - Kitcat can help with that.Step 5) Measure the coconut into the bowl.Step 6) Measure the sugar carefully - make sure you sister does it correctly. (We didn't have brown sugar today but our substitute, raw sugar, worked just as well.)Step 7) Mix the dry ingredients until well combined.Step 8) Make sure you flick enough dry ingredients onto the bench and floor to keep mum busy cleaning later, while you are eating fresh ANZAC biscuits.Step 9) Cut the butter into chunks and place in large saucepan. (NB make sure it is a large saucepan.)Step 10) Measure golden syrup into the saucepan with the butter.Step 11) Slowly melt butter and golden syrup while mixing gently. Smile sweetly as your sister rages in the background because she didn't get to do this step.Step 12) Measure the bicarb soda into a jug. Smile broadly because it was finally your turn.Step 13) Add boiling water to bicarb soda. Listen to everyone go "Oooo" when it froths up.Step 14) Add bicarb mixture to butter/golden syrup mixture. Listen to everyone say "OOOOO! Wow!" as it really froths up a lot. (This is why you need a large saucepan.) Then pour butter mixture into the dry ingredients.Step 15) Mix in the electric mixer on low speed until well combined. (You can add a little hot water if it's too crumbly.)Step 16) Roll teaspoonfuls any amount you can grab into small balls any shape you like and place on greased oven trays. Step 17) Make sure you allow plenty to stick to your hands to ensure a satisfying snack when you get to the finger-licking stage. (It is okay to eat this biscuit dough as no eggs are involved.)Step 18) Everyone have fun making biscuits as a family activity. Allow enough room for the biscuits to spread, or at least don't complain because mum transferred half of your mixture to another tray because you didn't understand the concept of biscuit dough 'spreading' in the oven. Step 19) Bake at 180C / 350F for about 15 minutes, or until golden brown. Cook a little longer if you like them crunchy right through, or a little less of you prefer them a bit chewy in the middle.
Step 20) Eat an ANZAC biscuit while completing the ANZAC quiz your mum sprang on you..... .... or while colouring in a picture of an ANZAC soldier and an Australian army nurse.And don't forget, in the midst of it all, to have a coupe minute's silence to remember our service men and women, both past and present.

P.S. We made the special Australia-shaped cookie for HB. He had to get up at 3am this morning to stand in the drizzling rain at the dawn service and the mid-morning ANZAC service at the Australian War Memorial. We had the TV on, watching the delayed broadcast, and listened to the band playing all the music for the ceremonies.