Thursday, June 15, 2017

Wandering back in

....for June ScrapHappy Day

But first  of all, thank you to everyone who commented and left well-wishes on my last post. Although I didn't get back to reply to you all, I did read every comment and was moved and heartened by your thoughts and concern.  Thank-you everyone, it meant a lot.

And for all those who asked, yes, my son did make it.  He was in the area not long after I wrote that post, about 3 blocks away, but the road there, just south of me, had washed away and other roads in off the motorway were underwater, so he was unable to actually get to me until the Saturday lunchtime. He had to leave his car and slog through knee deep mud to get here.  He was an absolute god-send, and worked like a trojan to get all of the mess out from under the house, clean mud off pathways, and co-ordinate volunteers who came to help. I am so glad he was here.

And here he is, doing the hard and dirty work
So I was writing a post-flood post, in fact have started a few over the last few weeks, but it just wasn't happening, those words just didn't want to come. Today I wrote nearly a whole post, then realised it was going to be epic once I included Scraphappy, so I ditched it and decided to just do a ScrapHappy post.  The other one will keep for another time.

In the days after the flood, it was incredibly sad to see the devastation and loss in my neighbourhood, and hear of huge losses all over town.  As I resumed my daily walking with Mirrhi, I began noticing pieces of fabric everywhere -  tattered, torn and muddied, some almost colourless after being immersed in water for days – they were hanging from trees, fences and poking up out of the ground. ……whole items of clothing,  parts of clothing and small scraps, all scoured and tumbled and altered by the floodwater....... bit like us townspeople.

I started to gather them as I walked, these small and fragile reminders of loss, and as my collection grew, I thought what a nice thing it would be to stitch them together, make a small quiltlet, not only to symbolise what our town had lost, but also a way of healing for myself, a project to turn my mind away from the clean-up still to be done, and the sadness in and around me, as I turned those scraps into a whole again........different but whole. And it felt good to have a project to focus on, something more creative than swilling mud from place to place.

Pieces of my own prayer flags, some found at the far end of the park, and hanging in my neighbour's trees.
And so I bundled some of the debris still hanging on my fences onto the larger light coloured cloth, and added some  nails and tools that had been sitting immersed in the water and had rapidly rusted to other bundles.......

Putting that muddy flood water to good use, steaming my bundles in it for a couple of hours......phew, nasty smell!

Cooked bundle, left to dry before unwrapping

not very satisfactory colour and markings

muddy marks are good

and rusty marks too
The other pieces I dusted  the dried mud and silt off, and then gently washed them. I used the piece with the rusty marks as the background cloth and then layered and hand-stitched everything kantha -style into a whole cloth.  Pleasingly, the background cloth gave me a high flood line!

The result is this small quiltlet's around 20cms x 23 cms.........onto which I added a tattered and muddied seed packet dug out of the mud…all that I could find of my well-stocked seed tin.....upper right edge ..... and a photo of one of my grandchildren, from a storage box full that were damaged by the flood....centre edge left.  Where the stitch is strong, the fabric is distorted and pulled out of shape…….a little like our own landscape  where the flood waters carved new channels, and deposited huge mounds of mud and silt.  I’ve loosely bound the edges of the quilt, enclosing it, as we were for a time as we waited for the waters to go down and roads to be cleared.

And finally, in the centre, a  rust-dyed velvet heart......a little wonky and out of shape as ours have been.... symbolic of the soft, strong and golden hearts revealed in the community in the days and weeks  after the floods, as everyone pulled together to help friends, neighbours and strangers.

I called it 'Parting the Flood Waters of Sadness'

Joining with Kate and Gun who kindly host ScrapHappy Day on the 15th of every month.  Pop along and see what other scrappers have been up to.

...... till next time

Addendum  I have to give credit to Gracie at Grace and Mending  blog for inspiring me with her wonderful work making art out of old stuff.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Mud and water as far as I can see

and it's not pretty

This is day 3 and while I've come through fairly well compared to 60% of the town, I'm not unscathed, emotionally and physically. A lot of photos here of the before, during and after and they tell the story of the inundation, the amount of water dropped on us in a short time and what's left now. What they can't show is the absolute terror I felt Thursday night, as the rain pounded and the river roared right beside my house, like a freight train.  I lay in bed with the dog cowering beside me.... both of us cowering actually....and we listened to the thumps and thunks in the night, as loose debris was hurled into the house, some of it huge trees I saw next day.  I had followed along on a local FB site, shared emails with concerned friends and was on the phone with friends and neighbours as we kept vigil and waited, and checked on each other.  I watched as the SES boats zoomed back and forth along the street, sometimes right through my front yard, to evacuate people from their homes and sometimes their rooftops. I was up and down all night checking the water levels, and by about 4am they were about 15 cm from the floorboards, so I got up and started emptying cupboards and stacking things up off the floor "just in case".  It didn't happen though, no water came into the house, but a lot of people weren't so lucky.

Then  my power went off about 3am, and I was on my own with it.  I had spoken with my son in Sydney and he said he was on his way.  My phone cut out, and so I couldn't tell him you won't get to me, all roads in and out are closed, some washed away, others angry roaring extensions of the river. It was a comfort to know he was on his way, but dam, I wanted him there in the house with me, right then! He's nearby somewhere, driving the countryside, trying to find a way into town.  I'll be really glad when he's here.

Above are all Thursday afternoon as we waited, the river had almost topped the 6metre levee bank by then and the park where Mirrhi and I walk every day was well and truly under water, with it heading rapidly to the road, the main road into and out of town(bottom picture)

These are looking east and north, by 6pm the roads out were under water, and my whole yard was a lake.

 From my lounge room looking towards the river, it was like a waterfall rushing over the levee wall, and the noise was unbelievable.  The levee bank here is 6 metres high and had disappeared completely

 My vegetable garden, only the lemon grass still visible
 Looking north
From the front door, looking south
 About 11pm Thursday from my bedroom window, one of many rounds of the house to check how high the water was coming up. This was still a couple of feet from floor level.
 Neighbour's house Friday morning. this is a new build, pretty messy in there now

Early Friday morning, the rain had stopped, but the river kept overflowing.  Looking from my front door again

Mid-morning Friday, back of my house, looking down at the vegetable garden that was

 Was planning to pick those tamarillos on Thursday and make jam, hope they're still there  

Well that was Thursday night and Friday. The water's gone down a lot and the clean up has begun.  It's been heartbreaking to see the mess under my house, the garden that's destroyed and the amount of silt and mud to be removed from around the house.  More in another post, I'm exhausted now and looking forward to a full night's sleep where I don't have to be up checking water levels.  We were told yesterday that there'd be another major flood last night because of a tidal surge, so I
was awake and on alert all night, but it didn't happen, thank goodness. 

 till next time...

Thursday, March 30, 2017


I think most people are aware that north Queensland was hit by a very nasty cyclone in the last few days.  It's still not good up north, because although "Debbie" crossed the coast with great drama and destruction, it was expected she'd settle down, having done the damage, and go away quietly. Not so, she seems to have gained a second wind as ex-cyclone Debbie, and is making sure she's not forgotten by drenching Central and eastern Queensland with torrential rain and massive storms.

That rain is moving across the border and giving us here in the Northern Rivers a drubbing as well.  It's been pretty wet and wild since the early hours of the morning, and the river is rising quickly.

Mt Warning is usually visible to the left of the picture....hiding today.

I took these photos from my bedroom window.  The water's moving very quickly, and dragging a lot of debris along with it.  I've seen some interesting things float past this morning..... a bright pink tub, a red bucket, and what looked like a piece of pontoon from further upstream......all moving far too quickly to get a photo of.

Drains are finding it impossible to handle the run-off. If we get the expected 300-400mls of rain forecast, the road here will be underwater by mid-afternoon.

In the opposite direction, a neighbour's front yard.....already deep under water.  I hope they got their car out!

Looking north, Hospital Hill hidden by rain
Parts of town are already under water, bridges in and out of town are flooded, and there's more to come. The SES (State Emergency Service) are warning of " a big event between now and 4pm".....we'll know soon if this is going to be a moderate or major event.  We're all hoping for the moderate of course, but listening to the rain that's pounding now, I don't think so.  I'm all organised and prepared, as much as I can be, with outdoor furniture put away, tools etc put away up high under the house, and the chooks stowed away snug and dry with plenty of food and water.

So for now I'll wait and see, and try to focus on something other than the weather.....sewing or cooking maybe. It's hard though, I just want to stay glued to the weather updates.

I'm thinking of everyone who's being pummelled by this freaky storm now, those still trying to clean up in north Queensland, and trying to manage without power, their food stocks running low and in some places, severe water restrictions, as well as those further south who are yet to feel it.  Stay safe and dry everyone.

.....till next time

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Using my scraps in March

It's Scrap Happy Day again.  I missed last month as I was in India, and this month's scrap project is to do with India.

I'll start with some background to my project so it's in friend Vana who organised the tour...which she called Stamping Around India.... has a quirky little shop in Wauchope NSW, in the Jacaranda House Creative Hub, where they regularly hold exhibitions that showcase and celebrate local artists.  The next one is coming up soon and is called Reflections - Stamping Around India Textile Trail.  Not only will it feature all the brilliant textiles that Vana bought on the trip, but she has invited each of us to create something that reflects out trip.

While I love the hustle and bustle, and colour, the noise and movement that never seems to stop in India, I always enjoy getting away from the cities and towns into nature.  One place we visited holds beautiful memories for me.....The Wild Ass Sanctuary in the Little Rann of Kutch in Gujarat.  We headed out to the Sanctuary in a very chilly dawn, but soon forgot the cold as this vast desert saltpan appeared before us. At first glance it appeared dry and desolate, but is actually full of life and sound.....the wind through the scrubby salt-bush, cries of myriad birds, most hidden from sight, and the background to it all, the calls of the wild ass.  In the monsoon season the area becomes a gigantic marshland, and is home to thousands of migratory birds of many species.

                                          Image may contain: sky, outdoor, nature and water

But we had come hoping to see the flamingos, they're here only in winter and we were lucky enough to spot a couple of large flocks, out in the marshes, feeding.  Off in the distance sadly, but there they were!


So I decided I would try to interpret this beautiful place in cloth and stitch as my piece for the exhibition, to reproduce the wonderful sight of the flamingos with the backdrop of the marshes, stretching out to the misty dawn horizon. And so I delved into my box of grey/blue scraps and sorted and auditioned and changed my mind about how I wanted it to look, and then of course, changed it back again.

And finally came up with a background I was happy with. I stitched pieces together in rows to start with, then used the stitch and flip method to join the rows. It's about  30cms x 23 (12x9).  

So far I've played a bit with using fabric to add the suggestion of the distant tree line and the shoreline. There'll be stitching to represent reeds and shallow water and of course, those all-important flamingos, for the moment, just paper cut-outs.

I'm hoping the finished piece will convey the sense of space and serenity I felt, but also that this marsh on the edge of a desert is not empty, but full of life and energy and sound.

Stay tuned.............

If you'd like to be inspired to use your scraps, visit Kate or Gun and check out the growing list of bloggers who are joining in on ScrapHappy Day.

..............till next time

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Make it quick

...........make it easy

Since I returned from India, my moods and energy have been all over the minute fidgety and restless, my mind anyway..... to get into the garden and the sewing room......the next, languid and indifferent and blah. Probably more blah than keen actually.  To be expected I suppose, but not where I want to be.

After hearing a friend, who rents a small studio space, say that she'd wanted to sew at home rather than trek across town, but that all her sewing supplies were at the studio, I had an 'aha!' moment.

I'd seen a mason jar sewing kit/pin cushion on a couple of blogs, so decided to make her one, the ideal small project that wouldn't take long, but would.....I hope...... get me moving again.

I've done a little step by step picture tutorial as I went along, pretty easy.  Gather your supplies....a mason jar....mine was recycled from the op shop.... fabric,you only need a small piece, about 12cms square (5"),  some wadding and cardboard.

Draw a circle on your fabric, using the jar lid insert, and cut it out about an inch larger.  Also cut a circle from your cardboard, same size as the lid.

 Put the lid insert face down, fabric on top, right side down, then pop some wadding on the fabric.

 Push it all into the lid, making sure the lid insert is pushed firmly right up into the lid.  This will push the fabric and wadding up through the top, so you end up with a little squishy bump to put your pins in.  Make sure the fabric is smooth and wrinkle free around the edges.  Turn the lid over, and trim the fabric so it sits neatly, use some spray adhesive ( or hot glue gun) to hold it flat. Oops no pictures of that bit.

Glue the circle of cardboard inside the lid, this will cover those messy jaggedy edges.

While it's drying, duck off to your sewing room and gather some supplies to gift with the jar, or if it's for you, decide what you'll keep in it.  I've put a couple of reels of  threads I had two of, some needles, a pair of scissors and  a few pins in the top.  You can do the label or not, as you please.

All done, start sewing, Anne.

That feels better, I'll have to see now what I can manage tomorrow.

........till next time

Monday, March 6, 2017

So, ok. I went to India!

..... and although I've been back a couple of weeks ..... actually maybe that's 3 weeks takes time to come back down to earth, sort through all 700 and something photos, then decide to sit long enough to write!

This trip was my 9th to India, and my first on an organised tour, usually I just head off with no definite plans, climb on and off trains and buses and check into likely looking hotels on the go.  It was very different travelling with a group, having to sit on a bus for long hours without being able to get off where and when I felt like, and, be constrained by an over zealous guide.  I understand why it had to be like that, and ...mostly.....submitted with good grace but often ill-concealed impatience!  But I believe all journeys encompass the inner as well as the outer, and this trip certainly presented me with some wonderful opportunities to do some self-reflection!

But all that's done now, and my friend Christine and I did manage some adventures by ourselves, heading off to an amazing temple standing on the edge of the Arabian Sea, and then east and north to West Bengal and Darjeeling.......that was really good, to just wander and explore and do it "our way".

The purpose of the tour was to explore the textiles, artistes and culture of Rajasthan and Gujarat.  There were hands-on activities of block printing; chundri - tie and dye; indigo dyeing; mud resist block printing, over-dyed with iron water.  We saw fabulous old forts and palaces; a step-well dating back  5700 years; watched weavers making rugs and carpets, using age old patterns that have been passed down verbally through their families.  We stood at the very western edge of India on the Arabian Sea and then were left speechless and awe struck at the serene beauty of the White Rann of Kutch in Gujarat, a salt marsh desert stretching from the coast of India to the Pakistan border.

So here's some 'postcards' of the trip.....not 700 I promise........although there were so many I wanted to include, that evoked  a memory, a conversation,  a smile or a laugh,  or a sigh of delight.  They're in no particular order, just snaps that caught my eye as I scrolled, edited and collaged.  If you click on the collages you'll see a larger image.

It didn't look like this lot were all that pleased to see me back, they were pretty fond of the house-sitters, I think, who were wonderful and did a great job of taking care of everything.  Their attitude has changed somewhat now that I'm the one feeding them!

View photo in messageView photo in message

I hope to post more pics and stories of India in another post.

till next time.............