Australian Journal - July 2002
June 20-July 7, 2002 - Odds and Ends: It's been a very long time between updates; we've been quite busy with end-of-term activities. Friday, Clara's class put on a shadow puppet show they had been preparing for some time. They've had a student teacher (Miss P. to the girls) for many weeks, and she was the one who worked with them on this. The girls each made puppets (Clara's was a crab), and then they recorded all of their dialogue in advance, so that on the day of the show, they only had to remember how to move the puppets. Friday was the last day for Miss P., so they put on the show for the parents, along with a recorder concert, and then everyone celebrated with cake and cookies.
This was also the week when Clara's regular teacher returned from a two week trip to the States. She and her husband went to a wedding in Atlanta and visited a candy factory near Chicago (they own a candy business here as a sideline - which fascinates the Year 3 girls no end - and explains all the candy they get from their teacher for various holidays!) Unfortunately, one of their pieces of luggage - containing candy and some readers (books for the girls) got run over by a baggage truck, and got smooshed!
After the puppet show we all went for haircuts - and it seemed to have quite an effect on Lucy, who wanted her hair cut quite short. Since it has been cut, she has been so happy not to have to keep brushing her hair out of her face or hassling with clips or hairbands - the increase in her natural giggly behavior has been quite amazing.
The following week, Clara stayed home with Sandy on Thursday and Friday in hopes of getting over her lingering tonsillitis. The rest seemed to do her a lot of good, and on Friday afternoon, we got good news from the ENT (ear, nose and throat specialist) - inspite of the stubborn case of tonsillitis, he did not recommend taking her tonsils out at this point, and everyone was relieved at that news. She now seems to have finally beaten the infection, and it shows in her behavior - she's had a lot more endurance, and has been very cheerful and perky the last few days.
Saturday, we attended Lucy's graduation from Kindie (Preschool in the US); she will start Reception (Kindergarten in US terms) at the start of term 3 (late July). We rocked up to the school (note: in Australia, "rocking up" doesn't mean dancing to a rock band, but is common parlance for arriving somewhere - a meeting, a party, wherever) only to find all the usual gates locked. So we set off on a walk with some other parents and kids around to the main gate and came in that way. Mrs. Grantskalns, the principal was on hand to pass out diplomas, along with the head of the Junior School, Lucy's future Reception teacher, and Lucy's current Kindie teachers. Afterwards, the parents mingled while the kids played, and sampled the various plates of food everyone brought (ranging from Sandy's Blueberry Oat Cake to sushi!)
Sandy spent much of Saturday and Sunday checking out her new sewing machine, and mostly completed a quilted table runner in Easter colors. She is leaving for five days of quilt camp in Roseworthy (up north of Adelaide in the wine country) in mid July. Tim and the girls have a variety of activities planned - with the girls adding more all the time!
One of the issues that has been in the news lately is debate over whether Australia needs a Bill of Rights. Unlike the US and many other countries, Australia doesn't actually have constitutionally-guaranteed rights for citizens. This has come to the fore in the wake of September 11, and the suggestions for new anti-terror legislation which could be invasive of personal privacy. We hadn't really noticed any indications of the lack of a Bill of Rights until recently, when a TV show talked about censorship of record albums - one in particular was about fast food (is it art? Who knows!), and touched upon McDonalds. This album was withdrawn from the Australian market within days of hitting the street under tremendous legal pressure from McDonalds Australia. However, it is currently being sold in the US and other countries around the world - without a word from McDonalds - because in those countries, the right to free speech protects the musicians.
One of Sandy's major activities over the last couple of months has been preparing for Clara's birthday party. They considered various themes and venues, such as at a riding stable (which was discarded due to the chance of a rainout - Clara's birthday is now in the winter, not summer!) Other options were explored, with it finally coming down to a party at home, with a science show. Finally the day Clara (and Lucy, too) had been waiting for arrived. Ten girls from Clara's class, plus Lucy's friend Jessica, showed up, for a total of 12 girls. Allanah and Jessica's mom Jacquie showed up early, and stayed to help - which worked out well. Sandy had organized enough activities to keep everyone interested - making bead butterflies to start, opportunities to play with the "Bop-Its" Tim brought back from America in February, then outside for a "Dancing Popcorn" experiment, along with bubbles, jump ropes, etc. Then inside for a science show by the lady who runs the mobile science shows (usually for schools) from the The Investigator Science and Technology Centre here. The show involved lots of balloons, explosions, liquid nitrogen, etc. She kept the girls riveted for an hour. Then it was time for cake and ice cream, followed by opening presents. Finally, there was bingo for those interested, while they waited for their parents to pick them up. Several of the moms commented about how much their daughters talked and talked about the fun afternoon, and Clara said it was "wonderful."
Saturday night, we attended a housewarming party on the next street; this was put on by Donna (from Nebraska!) and her Australian husband, Tony. When they moved back here a few months ago, they nearly rented the place next door (you may recall the excitement we mentioned back then - as they have a 5 year old daughter). However, our landlord is allergic to cats, and they have a cat. So they ended up buying a place just around the corner. Donna remembered that the property agent had mentioned we had two little girls, so she and her daughter walked over one day and introduced themselves to Sandy, and invited us to the party. We had a good time, and met some more interesting people - including a British expat family (with three young daughters - 6, 3, and 9 months) who live on the street - however, they may be moving back to Britain in a few months.
Sunday, Clara went off to another birthday party - this for the Lucy in her class, who lives on some property up north of Adelaide in the hills. Lucy's family lives on thirteen acres, and one of the highlights of the party for Clara was being able to ride Lucy's pony, Stormy.
July 8-14, 2002 - Christmas in July? Sandy, Clara and Lucy have been enjoying their holidays together this week. Wednesday, Kimba, one of Clara's classmates came to play. Next week, Clara is invited to visit, and she is already looking forward to it.
Thursday, Katarina and her younger sister Zofia came to play with Clara and Lucy. Clara and Katarina dove into the sewing box which Sandy gave her for her birthday, and immediately started sewing patchwork squares together to a make a quilt for Tinky, Katarina's cat! They were so happy doing this, that Katarina ended up taking some home to work on, and Clara has continued working on her half - they're making great progress and should have the doll quilt completely pieced by the next time they get together.
Friday, the girls went to a play entitled "Cinderella's Birthday." The setting is one year AFTER the prince finds Cinderella and they go off to live happily ever after. The wicked step sisters were hilarious and the costumes were a hoot. The girls had an enjoyable afternoon - Sandy included! The next production by this little theater company is "The Mouse House", about a family of mice living in an old boot in the Outback - should also be very entertaining. This points out one of the great charms of Adelaide - it is possible to make bookings for an event at the last minute, get third row seats, and have an easy 20 minute trip from home to the theatre, in spite of it being Friday afternoon, and in spite of the theatre being on the opposite site of the city. Friday night, we went into town to eat and pick up a few last things for Sandy's trip to quilt camp next week.
Saturday, Sandy continued preparations for dinner with our neighbors on Sunday, with an early-morning trip to the grocery store and a butcher. Unfortunately, we had to follow that with a trip to the doctor for Clara. On some of these warm sunny afternoons, it is hard to believe that it really is winter here, but it is the peak virus season. In the evening, Clara cooked "Jungle Curry" for the whole family, a recipe from the cookbook she got for her birthday. Pictures of the pround chef are here and here (note the apple apron, a gift from Auntie Karla and Uncle David--with an apple on the front and little cats all over).
Sunday night we had Shane and Katrina, and their kids William and Francesca (Frankie) over for dinner. They are the New Zealanders across the street, at whose house we celebrated this last Christmas. And no - that's not the tie-in to the "Christmas in July" in the title - instead, a number of organizations / people down here celebrate "Christmas in July" to brighten up the short winter days. Tim walked into his cafeteria at work Friday, and the place was covered in Christmas decorations. Sandy cooked a brisket (one of her mom's recipes); to her relief, it came out well--even with Australian ingredients and our European oven (but the barbecue sauce was from the States!). The evening was great fun for all.
Clara has just been ravenous in her reading habits - we have to make a trip to the library every week to refresh her stock. One good aspect of this is that she's getting a good dose of American history and culture this way that she doesn't get in school. The Australian education she is receiving is more global than a typical American primary school education - but right now she's more familiar with the Australian First Fleet and Bastille Day than she is with Columbus, the Pilgrims, and the Fourth of July. Lucy is also in the early stages of reading (and actually has been making a lot of books) - she can read the simpler readers, and it appears it won't be too long before we have two ravenous readers on hand!
July 15-21, 2002 - Quilt Camp and Everything On Tuesday afternoon, Sandy drove up to Roseworthy (in farming country, on the outskirts of the Barossa wine region, near Gawler)for Quilt Encounter 2002 and got settled in well. She is sharing a "cottage" with 5 bedrooms, a kitchen / dining area, and one bathroom with three other ladies.
Wednesday, Tim, Clara and Lucy drove down to Goolwa to ride the Cockle Train to Victor Harbour and back. The Cockle Train is one of several steam-driven trains which are restored, maintained and run around the area entirely by a volunteer organization known as the Steam Rangers. Here's a self-portrait of the travelers along the way. Victor Harbor is the home of the South Australian Whale Centre; every winter the Southern Right whales return to the area - so this is a good time to see the whales; Tim and Clara were lucky enough to see some Right Whales in Encounter Bay, cresting and blowing. Afterwards, it was on to Goolwa Beach - the day was cold, windy, and rainy - but that meant pretty good waves, so there were surfers out and about. Then it was on to the Sir Richard Peninsula, which is effectively the start of the Coorong National Park. Clara was overjoyed to see black swans, as she had just read a book (Swan Song, by Colin Thiele) about a boy who raised an orphan black swan in the Coorong area.
Sandy had her first full day of quilt camp, and got well into her first quilt project. This project is a very colorful flannel quilt, which is intended to brighten up the couch in the girl's playroom upstairs.
Thursday, Tim, Clara and Lucy mostly stayed at home, and did some weaving with colored paper. They also ran some errands, and stopped at the girl's favorite park, the Dunstan Adventure Park.
Sandy had another full day - quilting class all day, then dinner, followed by an after-dinner show. She got well along on her quilt, and hopes to make more progress tomorrow, since she is not taking a class, but will be sewing on her own instead.
Friday, Tim, Clara and Lucy took a picnic lunch to Roseworthy, to share with Sandy. They also got to tour the classrooms, and see all the quilts on display. Sandy made good progress on her first class project (the flannel quilt), and was using Friday as a "free sewing day" to work on it some more.
Saturday, it was off to the National Railway Museum (largest in Australia - fortuitously located at Port Adelaide, in the northwest part of the city) and the Friends of Thomas event. There are large grounds, and several large buildings full of restored engines, passenger cars, freight cars, a model railroad, lots of memorabilia, plus small locally-made steam engines which carry passengers on a circuit around the grounds. For the Thomas event, Sir Topham Hat (aka the Fat Controller, for those familiar with the Thomas the Tank Engine stories by Rev. Audry) was present, reading stories, putting on a play, and generally trying to keep up with the trouble-causing Mr. Blue. There were also games (Lucy won a hard-fought round of musical chairs, from which Clara was eliminated in the first round), plays, magic shows, etc. Pictures are here, here, and here.
Saturday, Sandy started her second course, a hand appliqued basket of flowers--with a painted background and a woven basket filled with three-dimensional flowers. She also won some wool batting (wool, not cotton or polyester, as is the norm in the states) in the drawings Saturday night.
Sunday was finally Robot Day! We had been getting Clara's Lego Mindstorms birthday present unpacked, and the software loaded on the computer off and on over the preceding few days, but kept running out of time to actually build a robot. Today Tim, Clara and Lucy began building a simple rover robot. After building it, came time to program it. Then - the big moment - would it run? Yes! The first version had a couple touch sensors. It ran into trouble trying to run under the desk; a couple extensions to it's "whiskers" fixed that. Then we added a light sensors, and sound cues so that it could tell us what it was doing. Neither Clara or Lucy were happy when Tim insisted on taking a turn programming the robot to do HIS bidding. The girls can't wait to start work on a stair-climbing robot... Here are a few links for those interested in exploring Mindstorms further.
Sunday was also Sandy's last day at quilt camp. She had another good day, and arrived home in time for a late supper. Tim returns to work tomorrow, and the girls return to school on Tuesday; then Sandy will have time to provide a more thorough description of her 5 days at camp.
One more scanned-in drawing by Lucy is here. She wrote this without help, and it shows how her spelling / writing is improving. (The clothes she's changing into in the picture got cut off the lower right side of the drawing, since the sheet was too big for the scanner.)
July 22-25, 2002 - Back to School: Tuesday, it was back to school for Clara and Lucy - including the first day of Reception for Lucy. When Sandy asked Lucy what she thought of her first day, Lucy said, "I like it more than Kindie. There's more to learn." After a moment she then asked, "Why didn't they teach us anything in Kindie?" Unfortunately Lucy's new class is very large, and is a bit chaotic in the mornings; hopefully, with two teachers much of the time, and with smaller groups of kids coming and going all the time to specialty classes (e.g., French, library, PE, computing, etc.) it will be manageable once all the girls know the routines. After the first three days of school, French seems to be one of Lucy's favorite classes. Tuesday evening she came home and told us very seriously that "Madame" wanted her to watch the Tour de France on SBS at 6:00.
Apropos of nothing - one of the interesting things we noticed lately was the Australian Post "Wine Delivery Vans" - in the States, it is illegal to send wine through the mail - here, the Post Office has dedicated trucks for the purpose.
Wednesday evening was another Earls of Zetland club meeting for Tim. Thursday, Sandy went to a meeting of a local quilt club which features all-day meetings (including having a teacher in the mornings) every Thursday. And the teacher is the same lady who taught Sandy's applique class at quilt camp. Speaking of that - here's Sandy's more detailed description of her 5 days at quilt camp:
The Quilt Camp went for five days, and was organized around two-day classes on Wednesday and Thursday, one-day classes on Friday (or a free-sew day), and two-day classes on Saturday and Sunday. Several different classes were offered. On Wednesday and Tuesday, I took the Flannel Fantasy – Interacting 2 Block Magic taught by Lyn Uppill. The description reads:
"This eye-catching quilt is easy to construct using a variety of fabrics to stimulate your senses. Techniques on quick, easy piecing, including a deceptively easy way to piece the shaded 4-patch block, will be taught. Now is your chance to be adventurous with your colour choices to make a flannel quilt using bright fabrics. This quilt is also very effective when made in traditional flannel fabrics, or Batiks. Finished size 51" x 63"."
I have 7 out of the 12 blocks for the flannel quilt finished (and all the sub-units done for the other 5 blocks. Friday I used as a free-sew day, and also had a picnic lunch with Tim and the girls. Then on Saturday and Sunday, I took Basket 'o' Blooms taught by Vicki Zachat. The description reads:
"The following techniques will be covered in the workshop: fabric painted background, fabric weaving, 3D flower construction, needle-turn appliqué and embroidery embellishment. For those students who wish to make this project larger, instructions and notes will be provided during the workshop. The design will be enlarged incorporating the basket of flowers as four centre medallions surrounded by pieced and appliquéd borders. Finished size (of the smaller, basket-only quilt) is 39.5" square."
I thoroughly enjoyed the applique project and have a good start on that. We first painted a splotchy green area on the fabric to give more depth to the bouqet of flowers, and that was fun. Then we did a woven basket and appliqued that on. Then she showed us how to make about half a dozen different 3-dimensional flowers, and I think it will be really nice when it's all together. Also used those bias tools where you just pull the strip through the metal tool and iron as it comes out. I had never used those before, and it was pretty slick. Also met lots and lots of people, and many of them said that I really should joint a small quilting group and I have been invited to several different ones. Today, I went to one based in Colonel Light Gardens (southwest of here; Colonel Light was the original designer of Adelaide; he is the one to thank posthumously for the wonderful parklands and wide streets). This one happens every Thursday, and many of the ladies make a whole day of it. In the mornings, Vicki Zachat, the teacher of the applique class from camp comes down from Clare (about 150 km north of Adelaide) and teaches the group.
July 26-29, 2002 - Quilts and Flies: The girls survived the first week of Term 3 quite well; however, Sandy seems to have brought home a cold from quilt camp. Unfortunately, her doctor was also sick on Friday, so she couldn't see him until Monday. That didn't stop her from plowing ahead on her flannel quilt. She finished piecing the blocks for the top, as can be seen here; note that she is still undecided about the pattern and colors for the borders. However, after looking at it a while, she decided it needed to be bigger, so Sunday she started piecing an additional row of blocks.
Last Tuesday, on the first day of Term 3, Sandy took some pictures of Clara and Lucy in their school uniforms, ready to leave the house in order to document Lucy's first day of "real school". Here are Lucy, Lucy again, Clara, both together. Then Sandy told the girls they didn't have to pose anymore and could do whatever they wanted--and this is what she got.
Thursday night, Lucy was the "star of the day" in her class, so she got to bring home Alisa Bear (a stuffed bear) from Reception, for a "sleepover". So, Tim got down Sandy's old doll bed, and Lucy made a bed for Alisa to sleep in. She also read stories to the bear, ran the Mindstorms robot for her, etc. Lucy had to describe all this in Alisa's diary which travels with her to each house. Here is a picture of Lucy and Alisa; here is one of Lucy, Clara and Alisa dressed for school Friday morning. Note that Alisa has her own Wilderness uniform too!
Regarding flies - over the weekend, Tim started sorting out his fly tying kit, in preparation for tying some saltwater flies. Since South Australia is very short on fresh water (and thus trout), he has decided to try his hand at fly fishing in salt water. Unfortunately, there are very few fly fishers in the Adelaide area (unlike, e.g., Tasmania, or the eastern states). The girls are all in favor of his taking up saltwater flytying, as the materials (and resultant flies) are much bigger and gaudier than trout flies, and more to their liking (they both of course want to tie flies of their own.)
Tim and the girls also made a raid on a local Salvation Army store Saturday, and came home with stacks of books, including a couple Nancy Drews for Clara. They sorted the books into two piles - one to take on our trip to the Red Centre, and one to read now. They've got pretty good sized stacks, so hopefully they won't run out on this trip! Tim and the girls also stopped at the "Helicopter Park", so called by the local kids because there is a model helicopter there to play in. This park is located in the northern Adelaide parklands, and is within walking distance of the Old Lion; Sandy and the girls used to go there before we moved into our house. Here is a picture of the girls on one of the teeter totters at the park. This park also has some good climbing trees which the girls enjoy - they do miss the Little Leaf Linden at our old house (but, apparently, the kids who are living there now are enjoying it!)
Monday, the girls went back to school, and Lucy, at least, came home pretty exhausted, with hardly the energy to take a shower. However, after showers and dinner, both girls revived to the extent of taking on Sandy in a couple games of Mancala - Sandy, however, prevailed in both. Sandy also saw her doctor today, and he confirmed a sinus infection, so she's back on the antibiotics.
July 30-August 6, 2002 - Sleepovers: This has been a week of increasing excitement for the girls, as they are having a sleepover this weekend with friends Jessica and Allanah to celebrate Lucy's birthday. Here's Lucy all ready to party. And here's the cake Sandy made (and which Lucy stayed home from school to help decorate.) Can you guess that the theme is ladybugs? Some of the activities included painting little oval boxes to look like ladybugs, doing Aboriginal type dot painting, playing Pictionary, watching Pippi Longstocking, and lots of playing, both indoors and out. Here's Lucy opening Clara's present.
Something we've been meaning to mention for awhile is the "relaxed" approach the Aussies take (at least in Adelaide) to street numbering. There appears to be no rule regarding consistency between the two sides of the street - for example, one block can have numbers 80, 84, 88 on one side, but directly opposite, the numbers could be 133, 145, 157! At least on a single block, the numbers are consistently odd on one side, even on the next. However, that doesn't hold over the length of a street. In the states, one is used to having numbers count down to a main street, then up the other side (so you might have 45 South and 45 North on the same street). Here, that is not the case! Tim and Clara were looking for an art supply store at 45 Osmond Terrace a couple days ago. Now, Osmond Terrace turns into Stephens Terrace at one point - but north of the transition, there are TWO number 45s - both on the east side of the street; however, once on Osmond Terrace, there is another 45 - and it is on the WEST side of the street. They did find the art store eventually...
After all the excitement of the party weekend, the girls were pretty tired. Of course, Clara insisted "I'm NOT tired!" So, we said she could read in bed a few minutes. We came back to check in about five minutes, and this is what we found...
Sunday morning, we noticed another sign of spring - morning bird songs. Also the days are getting longer. We hadn't quite realized that the birds haven't been waking us up in the mornings these past couple of months, since the days had gotten shorter. Today, a kookaburra jarred us all awake. He was so loud that it seemed he must be right outside the window, and had both girls up and out of bed, looking out the window. It is really quite amazing just how loud such a small bird can be!!
We spent Saturday and Sunday mostly around the house, with a few errands such as trips to hardware store, craft store, and library. Sandy finished the last row of blocks on her flannel quilt, and Tim tied a few "Crazy Charlie" saltwater flies in preparation for his innaugral attempt at saltwater fly fishing. Plus, we got a few pictures hung.
Monday, Tim had to make a one-day trip to Melbourne for a meeting. He got back earlier than expected, about 6:15 pm - but Lucy was already in bed and asleep! Her first full day of reception had been very tiring. She was dragging a bit when Sandy picked her up; when Sandy asked her if she was tired, Lucy's reply was "Exhausted!"
Tuesday, Lucy made it through the day better. Perhaps she was inspired by the cupcakes Sandy had made and sent along for the class. They were the type made with mixed-in sprinkles which put colored spots inside the cupcakes - we've never seen these down here, so thought they'd be a novelty for the girls in Lucy's class. Sandy made them from a couple of boxes of mix which our neighbor Donna from Nebraska brought back from her recent trip to the States. Sandy also stayed and read with some of the girls as part of the volunteering she is doing with Lucy's class.
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