Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Joy to the World

It's been interesting reading the responses to the recent post 'philosophising' ... about acceptance of / coping with / putting a positive spin on some the challenges that life throws at some of us.
so today I thought I'd point you all the in the direction of one of the links over there in the sidebar that you may have missed - the link to The Postcard Project.

I think I first saw mention of this on Bell's blog, and being interested in postcards, it piqued my interest.
Once I got over there, I discovered a wonderful, inspirational, positive individual named Beth, who despite the fact that she's terminal and needs to use a wheelchair, has made it her goal to send postcards to all those who would like her to. I think most of us would understand if Beth was a bit p****d at the lot handed to her [ and seeing she's human, I'm sure that some days it's hard to summon up all that much of a positive outlook ]
but it seems to me that Beth rarely allows herself to be bogged down in misery
instead she brings joy to others.

I could have asked for a postcard for myself - she says that you don't have to be disabled to ask - but instead I asked her to send one to David as he rarely ever gets mail unless it comes from Centrelink [ Social Security ]

THIS is what arrived [ I've obscured the postal details ]
not just a postcard but stickers and stamping - a little work of art

Whether your preferred version of Joy to the World is the Christian Christmas Carol, or the Hoyt Axton version made famous by Three Dog Night, I'm sure that you will agree that there are some folks out there who make the world a happier, sunnier place ... who quite literally bring JOY to the world.

Beth is one of 'em.

Today I posted off a package to her containing some Aussie postcards and some stickers that I'm hopeful will help her to keep on spreading the joy

Monday, December 29, 2008

in a nutshell

My day:re reading Jim Butcher, knitting, telly, quilt book, cuppa[s]

plus some gardening, blog reading and some mindless sewing of triangles for a scrap quilt

Sunday, December 28, 2008


I had a rather interesting conversation with a reasonably close friend the other day.
I can't really remember how it started but at one point, presumably in response to something I'd said [ or maybe just some errant thought -I don't know ] she said
"If the things that have happened to you, had happened to me, I'm not sure that I could accept it "
...mmm okay


now y'see, I couldn't count how many people over the years have asked 'how do you cope?' or just made the statement that they couldn't - cope that is. Sometimes they're talking about David ... sometimes about my husband's death... sometimes about my health. Usually I just give back some facile answer along the lines of " you cope because you have to"
this was a church-going friend talking about Acceptance with a capital A - a different thing altogether from 'coping' [ which at one point, when David was a lot younger, was the single word in the English language which I most loathed because I heard it so often ... but I'm drifting off on a tangent. Must stop. Must get back to the point ]

anyhoo, as the end of this year is nearly upon us, I've been thinking about her comment

Certainly there are things that have happened in my life - as in everyone's - that are not as I would have had them be
some of those things I could do something about
some of them not
but I can, to a certain extent, determine how I react to those issues.

I'm not altogether sure that I do accept them - capitalised or not - certainly not in the sense of believing stuff to be preordained in some fixed and immutable way.

What I do accept is that stuff happens and you try to deal with it.
It's not necessarily fair.
You don't have to like it,
you do get to choose whether you keep moving, or just curse the universe for its perversity while you stay bogged down in misery for the rest of your life.

The way I see it, you can either spend your time wailing " why me?" or asking yourself " why not me? Why should I be immune to what life brings?"

anyone care to weigh in ?

... and I think I'll leave you with my all time favourite quote. Don't know who said it originally, but it resonates with me:

'Bout the only difference between a stepping stone and a stumbling block is in the way that you use them !"


DaisyQuilts is having a giveaway to celebrate her first blogiversary - you have until New Year's Eve [ aussie time ] to enter so you'd better get your skates on!
The link's over there in the sidebar folks ... go to it !

Thursday, December 25, 2008

the wash up

I'll let you in a little secret - we actually celebrated Christmas yesterday as Nadie was starting work early this morning ... and before you start feeling sorry for her having to work today ... a lot of the other staff would have had family commitments ... and she was entirely sanguine about the pay rates !!

Nonna of course was already up here, and Nadie and The Boy arrived at midday with the grandkittens who are staying Chez Catsmum for a week or so. Nadie and Chris had brought all their presents up to put under my tree and after a lavish lunch of soup, lasagne, pork, turkey, prawns, roast veggies, salad and dessertwe opened them all.
I can tell that The Boy fits into my family just fine
... all of this detritus:
is the wrappings from his present to Nadie
which was
a whitegold and diamond nose stud

I got the definite impression that Nonna liked her shawl

David scored some new furniture and lots of small things to play with but his absolute favourite present was/is this articulated bead and wire thingie from The Boy

and me ?
... do you remember the three new Discworld novels that I scored last week for my birthday ?
well, I now have the next five to add to them. Yahoo! Three from Nadie and The boy and two from David [ needless to say Nadie was responsible for his choices ]
There was also a lovely T2 pack of breakfast, lunch and afternoon teas from #1 son & co
beautiful sterling cat earrings from my friend Karen
heart shaped millifiore earrings from friend Terry
... and a container of congealed, melted chocolate from my sister-in-law who still hasn't worked out after 35 years that chocolate = migraine. .. so I'm an ungrateful wretch. So sue me !

Then after all that, while we were still impersonating a pod of beached post-prandial whales, we had the second sitting so that Nadie and The Boy could head back to the Big Smoke.
which was. of course, when Nonna, David and I settled down for an evening of Carols by Candlelight as whinged about yesterday

So the upshot is that today has felt like Boxing Day

I got up at the usual ungodly hour, fed assorted goats, cats and dog, and then took myself, a cuppa, and a good book out onto the verandah to read in peace and a quiet that was only punctuated by some early birds discussing the whereabouts of the best worms, and the barely audible strains of Christmas carols emanating from the CFA truck which was apparently doing the rounds of the neighborhood. I would imagine it takes a fair bit of community spirit to volunteer to spend the early hours of Christmas Day driving Santa around in a fire truck and handing out sweets.

David put in an appearance and was persuaded back to bed with some breakfast and the promise of Muppet Treasure Island.
MIL didn't surface until Dave got a bit loud around 10.30ish and then she spent several hours parked in front of the live feed of the Midnight Mass from the Vatican.
The day has involved television [all] and knitting [me ] and reading [ also me ] and gardening [ yes, also me ] some sitting outside [all] a short walk [all] and a minimum amount of anything that could remotely be interpreted as housework

all in all a pretty good day even if it didn't feel quite like Christmas day

and to finish:
Extremely Weird and Totally Unexplainable Catsmum Christmas Factoid:
I don't have a favourite Christmas movie. I have never seen It's A Wonderful Life or Miracle on 54th Street, and haven't actually watched a 'Christmas movie' in years. Probably not since the kids got past the Rudolph-the-red-nosed-reindeer stage. Sad but true !

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

2 hours to go !

... and we're watching Carols By Candlelight [ the televised one from the Myer Music Bowl in Melbourne ]
I'd love to be able to report that it's the equal of some of the magical concerts of past years [ long past ]
regardless of my love of all things Christmas, I remain convinced that it's a thinly disguised excuse to feature every half-talented hack connected with the 9 Network and a number of strident young ladies who appear to have forgotten their skirts - and a handful of genuine singers
despite some very mediocre moments

the highlight for me [ so far ]
Dennis Walter and his glorious big bass voice and "The First Noel"

currently I'm listening to Sophie Palladino's "In Excelsis Deo" and she's doing a passable job of it, following what was undoubtedly the world's fastest rendition of the "Hallelujah Chorus"
NOTE to the Music Director: fast does not necessarily equal best or even acceptable

The Australian Boys Choir were a bit ... meh ... lacking their usual clarity and purity of tone

Can't help it ... I prefer my Carols to be traditional carols, or at the very least, actual Christmas songs [ I'll make the exception for the Hallelujah Chorus and also for Holy City/Jerusalem which are both Easter pieces but have become associated with Christmas ]

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Of mice and men ...

"T'was the week before Christmas ... "

I'm actually not sure where I was heading with that, but this is indeed a bit of a catchup of what's been happening 'round here.

Saturday was my grandson's 2nd birthday and the plan was that David and I would drive down to Melbourne, get onto the Eastern freeway to pick up Nonna, then cut across to collect Nadie, admiring her [ clearly genetic ] Christmas decorating skills in the process, then onto the Monash Freeway for the trip out to #1 son's.
The reverse trip was planned for later in the day and then tomorrow Nadie and Chris were to have collected Nonna en route to Castlemaine for Christmas celebrations. She [ MIL ] had expressed a desire to stay on for a few days.

So no real drama there - just a lot of time spent in the car on Saturday, and then 4 days to tidy up loose ends, get the dinner plans under control and prepare the house for MIL and finish her faroese shawl in time for Christmas
Ahh yes but we all know that saying about the best laid plans ...

but enough of that - onward to the party:

we had a lovely time with my son's family
much food was consumed
early presents exchanged as they can't come up here on The Day

my birthday pressie to the little bloke was definitely appreciated to the point where Stephen didn't get to put it together fully before it was claimed and tested out. Seeing that it wasn't really designed to be a convertible, and without the roof in place for reinforcement, one of the doors insisted on falling off repeatedly ... but no one cared and that was eventually rectified when the berfday boy had a sleep.
Some of the cousins were permitted to have a ride but he was very firm about letting them know just whose car it is
I was pretty impressed with all the anklebiters actually. Not one temper tantrum did I see. We think it 'mazing. [ sorry - outdated Aussie pop culture reference there ]
and here's the boy of the moment with his mummy - you can all see where he gets his colouring from, eh ?

and now I'll return to those best laid plans that I mentioned earlier:

When I arrived to collect a certain elderly Italian mother-in-law-of-mine , standing next to her front door was a collection of carry bags that clearly did not contain birthday or Christmas presents.
she was packed
everyone had been notified of her absence
she was ready
regardless of what I thought was the running order for the week
she was coming home with us

and so my week has taken a different turn than anticipated
meal times have gone out the window
as did any hope of finishing her present in secret
as far as she's concerned it's for me, and she'll find out otherwise tomorrow night

there have been a few small mishaps - like the full bottle of cinnamon oil that she couldn't see and
a] knocked over
and then
b] thinking it was just water, wiped all over the bench with the sponge
but hey - my kitchen smelled really Christmassy all day yesterday !

she's actually a pretty easy house guest and has spent most of her time just napping in the sun

and I did get the shawl finished and blocked in time

and Oakley even allowed me to work on his quilt
so it has minimal quilting and is bound and that's enough for now

Monday, December 22, 2008

Ve Haf Veys ov makink you VOTE!

If you pop over to Sooziii's blog you will find the links for this year's lot of decorated blogs and can cast your vote
ETA I want you to vote for the blog that you genuinely like the best [ but of course I AM hoping that's mine ]

Definition of a mean mum

Friday, December 19, 2008

Friday Fotos - Possession is 9/10ths of the law

My quilt
mmm quilt

Two years ago I just hung the preprinted panel
Last year it got borders - and I hung the top as was
This year it went up like that again until I started feeling guilty and decided to try and get it finished
Last weekend I found a nice plaid backing and some batting and pin basted - and it's been on the table all week while other things happened around it.
... Like my birthday
and Carols in the Park
... Like trying to finish MIL's Christmas faroese shawl
and making a few extra snowflakes
Every time I even LOOK like starting to work on it, there is a cat on there
Now if I can just keep him off it for a while it might get quilted

wish me luck

Thursday, December 18, 2008

and the only thing missing was the two of every kind!

Since 1938 "Carols By Candlelight" has been an Australian tradition, which has now spread to other parts of the world in the wake of expat Aussies.
It started in Melbourne - with 10,000 people that first year - and now hundreds of thousands attend gatherings great and small in pretty much every community in the country.
Millions more curl up on the couch on Christmas Eve to watch the annual televised version.

There is rarely a wet weather contingency plan in place

because it's taken as read that the weather will co-operate as we're into Summer here, but there has been an unseasonal [ and gratefully received ] downpour over half the country for the last week.

The local Rotary Club Carols By Candlelight was scheduled for an 8pm start at Victory Park yesterday evening and when we foregathered from 5.30 for choir practice and nibblies, there was some question as to what the weather would do. The skies were grey and leaden and not at all encouraging
would anyone turn up ?
it didn't seem very likely
and right on cue, precisely at 8pm, the heavens opened and a deluge of Biblical proportion ensued
... instead of the Nativity, we were suddenly looking for a bloke named Noah !!

but did the prospect of floating down Barker's Street stop us ?
not on your nellie

... they make 'em tough in Castlemaine
This:is the Thompson Foundry [Brass] Band [ you may need to click for the larger image to really see what's going on ] with three brave carollers at the front. From our vantage point off to the side, we sang along but the sound was so muffled by the rain we just hoped that we were singing the same verse :]

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


Some of you already know that yesterday was something other than just my Natal Day.
It was also the 9th anniversary of the day my sweety lost his long battle with cancer.

Nine years is a long time
and not

I still miss him every day, but not with the fierce pain of the first few years.
and although I will admit to feeling weepy last week, I'm okay with allowing myself to enjoy my birthday

that has a lot to do with the people that I have in my life.

- Nadie who always tries to be with me on that day [ and let's not forget that it's a tough day for her too ]
- The Boy who spent half the afternoon on two trains to get up here late Monday, knowing that he'd have to head back the next morning but did it anyway
- my friends Robyn and Jeanette who took me out for lunch after Nadie and Chris left
- my other friend Karen, who ever so casually announced that last night might be a good one to bring David out to see her Christmas lights/ decorations ... and then had nibblies-and-libations and Christmas cheer laid on in abundance once we got there to make sure that we stayed a while.

There were phone calls
There were emails
There were cards

I do know that I am very blessed in my friends

and now I suppose I'd better show you the pressies, eh ??

- books from David [ two more of Jim Butcher's Dresden Files ]
- and more books from Nadie and The Boy [ three Discworlds, so that I now have the first 26 in the set] plus a bottle of a certain cream based liqueur
-there was yarn from my knitting buddy Jeanette - luscious Collinette Jitterbug sock yarn
- this beautiful pendant from Robyn which came in the sweet little silver box
and then
- this teeny cat keyring from Karen who knew full well that it would get hung with the cat Chrissy ornaments. That's why I got it for my birthday rather than Christmas - so that I could enjoy it for an extra 9 days.
and a pin from friend Terry in Melbourne [ blue and cats - nothing more needs to be said really ]

Sometimes people have asked why I put so much time and effort into the Christmas decorating. Well, now you know a large part of the reason behind it.
It's a quite concious coping mechanism at a time of the year when it could be very easy to let things get the better of me

I had no choice in what happened to Marc, but I can choose how I will continue on and I would like the think that he would approve of the choices I've made for myself and for David

and the Christmas spirit will be back in residence tomorrow

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

finally the finale

Take a deep breath!
We are up to the last room in Great Christmas House Tour of '08.

We started at the other end of the house back in the first week of December and if you're still with me, I salute you! ... for your fortitude if not necessarily your sanity, which I am sure has been threatened by all this Christmas cheer
but in any case
onward and upward
here we are in the rumpus room
this is my new [purchased] santa for this year, and can you see why I positively definitely had to bring him home ?
check out his tummy ... it's a ball of red yarn ! How perfect is that ? Okay, so it's cheap, scratchy ACKrylic yarn, but you can't have everything. I found him at the gift shop run by David's day centre, so that's even better because the few dollars he cost me will go back into programs to benefit Dave and the other clients. Win/win
and here he is again with a few of his new buddiesHiding out in the back row there is this one that I made last month from this pattern ... he's the middle size and the only changes I made were to leave off the arms [ which wouldn't show anyway ] and to add a nose.
I've made quite a few of the others as well ... over a number of years ... but I wouldn't want to cause an internet meltdown by doing individual photos.
I DID make that big guy near the tree thoughand the quilts
and the poinsettia curtain on the storage unit [ up there to the right of the quilt ]

and moving on ...
every santa needs some reindeer
and I wouldn't want to leave out the rest of the livestock

and any stories to the effect that I bought the green couch and the burgundy-and-green rug purely with Christmas decorating in mind are scurrilous rumours and you shouldn't pay them any nevermind.
So there you are
Christmas Chez Catsmum
hope you enjoyed visiting

and tomorrow I'll tell you what I did for my berfday today :]

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Aforementioned penultimate Christmas Tour post of '08

Here we are with Boomama's Annual Christmas House Tour about to start,** and I'm only up to posting photos as far as the kitchen. I DID try to time it so that we would have the glorious finish on the day of the tour but, y'know, best laid plans and all that.
As with last year I'm just posting the one room and giving you the links to the rest if you're so inclined. it just isn't the room I was aiming for.

Apologies to all concerned but if you really want to see the main event aka the rumpus room which I haven't posted yet[ without having to come back tomorrow that is] then you'll just have to go and check last year's post on the subject. Of course there are subtle changes this year, there are always some changes but the essence is the same

Edited to add: the rumpus room post is now here
and I've found two other house tours going on
Kimber's is here
and Hooked on Holidays House Tour is here
this could take all year !!

have some Christmas Pudding and welcome to the heart of my home which is, of course, the kitchen ... the place where friends and family always seem to congregate around my big pine table
... this is where all the snowmen hang out and try to beat the Aussie summer heat [ not that we're having any of that just at the moment ]

There's a small quilt here too - of course - one that I designed for one of the Aussie patchwork magazines a few years back.
I think that the naive style partners well with the rustic tree which is a 4 footer and is mainly decorated with miniature wooden and china ornaments, teeny kitchen related things, spoons, cookie cutters and candy canes.
I did toy with the idea of lots of torn plaid or gingham bows on the tree but that kinda didn't happen.

These little guys are sitting on a vintage handmade wooden suitcase that Marc and I found at a garage sale many, many years ago. It has wonderful old stickers from the many ocean voyages it went on from about 1910 right up until the late 60s. Where would you ever find another quite the same ?
All the teas and coffees get swapped into festive tins, and that tiny one at the front ? That has my sweeteners in it.

Some of my blue scandinavian Christmas plates
and some more - The kitchen is the only room in the house that is allowed to have blue Christmas stuff in it. ... and don't get me wrong, I LOVE blue, it's my favourite colour ... just not at Christmas.
Mmmm what else ? Well, there are swags of fake evergreen and cranberries garlanding the old ladder that hangs over my kitchen bench and currently there are 13 crocheted stars and snowflakes suspended from it ... There are another 7 hanging in the window, and the windowsill has its own collection of folk art trees-and-candles by Maz and some more snowmen, but I can't seem to get a decent photo of them without backlighting from outside.

This laminated version of the classic poem "The Night Before Christmas" was a card given to me 55 years ago - I was a week old at the time - and it has been put up every year thereafter. My parents were stony broke in the early years of their marriage, as I've no doubt mentioned before, and so the only decorations were ratty, stringy, pathetic bits of tinsel , those accordion-style tissuepaper bells and lanterns that everyone had back then, a spindly tree, recycled cards and framed pages from the Reader's Digest... pretty tacky and awful but the upshot is that I still have wonderful treasures like this [ and the little paper nativity that I showed you last week ] that might have been thrown away had mum and dad been a bit more affluent.

as for the rest of the house:
bedrooms are here
bathroom here
big room here
and here
and here
my bedroom here

and that should about do you
until tomorrow

** and of course in the time that it's taken me to write this post and to get all these photos up here, the House Tour has already started and I'm 80 odd on the list!
Let the visitin' commence.