Small world’s colliding

30 03 2018

There are about 7 billion people on Earth, so what are the chances of two people from opposite sides of the world (US and Australia) being on the same tour in India and Nepal at the same time, and both knowing me??? I don’t even want to try to do the maths on that one!

Sharon lives near Los Angeles and is a friend of mine on Facebook — I first met her at technical writer conferences we both attended in the US. Julie lives in Perth and is a quilter — Julie knows of me, probably because of the work I do for the Community Quilts program of our state quilt guild, but I don’t know if we’ve met. However, Julie is quite well-known by another West Australian quilter, Michelle, who is a good friend of mine.

With that background, imagine my surprise when Sharon messaged me yesterday from Nepal telling me there was a Perth lady on her tour who’s a quilter and knows of me. I’m not sure how they got to me in their conversation, but I expect it was something like ‘Where are you from? What do you do in your spare time?’ ‘Perth; I quilt’ ‘OMG! I known someone in Perth — Rhonda Bracey — and she’s a quilter’, followed by ‘I know of Rhonda! Wow!’

Normally when a Facebook friend is off on a trip somewhere, I sort of follow along, but not very closely. But this time was different – I’d done a trek in the Annapurna foothills in Nepal back in 1988, so I was interested in what Sharon was doing there, where she was going, and how different it might be from my trip there 30 years ago. She went to some of the same places I went, so we’d been chatting about that on Facebook, when all of a sudden she asked where in Perth I lived. That must’ve been about the time she found out Julie was from Perth and was a quilter.

What are the chances? It certainly is a small world! And in this case, two of my world’s collided — my quilting world and my tech writing world. In Nepal, of all places.

Blast from the past

6 02 2018

I was hunting around in the bottom of some kitchen drawers the other day when I found an unopened packet of foil trays. I have no idea why I never used them back in the day, but there they were — in all their 1980s??? glory! How on earth they’ve followed me from house move to house move is anyone’s guess! (I’ve moved houses at least seven times since 1982)

Dating them is difficult, but I took a stab at it based on the information on the packet and the 87c (!) price tag.

So, how to date them… First, I looked for clues in the words and images on the front and back of the packet, then the fonts used, and finally the price sticker.

The images showed some fairly classic dishes and images I associate with stylised depictions of Australian life from the 1960s through to the 1980s, and perhaps beyond — the Sunbeam Electric Frypan, the spindly 3-legged BBQ, the styles of food (jelly moulds or garlic bread, anyone?), the plastic mugs in the picnic set… The women’s hairstyles and clothing could be anything from the 1960s through the 1970s, but perhaps not into the big-hair days of the 1980s — they all look a little more staid than that.

The measurements are all metric, so this packet must have been produced after 1974 when Australia switched to the metric system. For a period of time (perhaps one to two years?), measurements were often provided in the old Imperial system as well as metric, but this packet only has metric measurements. So it’s definitely after 1974.

That very rounded font screams the late 70s/early 80s, to me. However, I don’t have any evidence as to what font it is, or when it was widely used.

The biggest clue was the price tag. After getting over the 87c these 5 trays cost me, I saw that I’d bought the packet from Coles. And Coles had kindly printed their logo on the price tag. After a bit of Googling, I found that that style of logo was prevalent in the early 1980s, but had gone by the late 1980s/early 1990s, and was completely gone by 1991. The Victoria Library has digitised quite a lot of the Coles Myer history, including many of the annual reports, all of which have a logo on them. Based on those reports and some searches for Comalco Alfoil ads on YouTube, I estimate I purchased this packet around 1982 or 1983.

As a retail brand, Comalco Alfoil basically isn’t known in Australia after about 1990 — at least, not according to the searches I did. However, they were big in the 1960s through to the late 1980s, according to some Google searches. Leigh-Mardon, the manufacturer of the packet, were still going until they went belly-up around 2017. (As an aside, ‘Leigh-Mardon’ rang a bell with me — I remembered they produced the barcodes we used on the books in the school library I ran back in the late 80s and early 90s!!)

The other brand, of course, is Coles. When I was a kid growing up in Western Australia, there was only one Coles store as far as I can recall, and that was the big emporium (not called a supermarket then) in the centre of Perth. We lived in the country, so as a kid, the big treat the few times we went to Perth was going to Coles Cafeteria for lunch! Coles supermarkets came much later to Western Australia, possibly in the 1970s? I’d have to hunt through some of those old annual reports to find out when.

So, with a little detective work, I’ve narrowed the time frame down quite a bit to probably somewhere between 1981 and 1984 (I was living in Canada in 1986, so it certainly wasn’t then).

Of course, the bigger question is why on earth I kept them all these years!


Red, black, and white crazy quilt

31 01 2018

I made this red, black, and white (with splashes of yellow) lap quilt from fat quarters and fabric scraps, using the ‘Not so crazy’ pattern from Four Paws Quilting.

I quilted it with overlapping spirals, using a yellow thread, with a meandering stipple (black thread) in the border. The background fabric is a slightly off-white cotton, with two flashes of yellow.

This quilt is available for sale from my Etsy store:

Threads used:

  • Top: Isacord (trilobal polyester, 40 wt, colour 0600); Fil-Tec Glide ‘Black’ (trilobal polyester, 40 wt, colour 11001)
  • Bottom: Fil-Tec Magna Glide Classic pre-wound bobbin (white)

Farewell, good and faithful servant

26 12 2017

We bought a new car earlier this month to replace my husband’s car. We didn’t need to, but decided to do so for several reasons:

  • None of us is getting any younger, and getting into and out of standard cars starts to become an issue as you age and your joints start to ache. We’re not there yet, but no doubt will be some day.
  • Car technology has advanced in leaps and bounds in the 20 years since my husband bought his last car, and if we’d kept that car for another 10 years, there’d be 30 years of technological advances to have to learn with any new car he bought. Better to bite the bullet and trade up into a more modern car now while we are in control of the learning curve than to be forced to if the old one broke down and wasn’t worth repairing.
  • His 20-year old car was starting to cost us — we’d had the engine mounts replaced in the past year, and a few other things. And the cost of the annual insurance was almost as much as the value of the car too! His new car’s insurance is actually LESS than that for his old car.

He traded his 1998 model Mazda 626 Classic Sedan for a Mazda CX-5 Touring model. And it’s very nice!!!!

In the almost 20 years (April 1998 to December 2017) he had the 626, he drove 183,466 km in it (114,000 miles). At least 70% of those kilometres were driven in the first 10 years when we lived in Perth and he was commuting to work. The car didn’t get driven as much once he retired and we moved to the country in 2007. But it was a good and faithful servant, giving us basically no bother at all. It was sad to say goodbye to it, but we’ve stuck with Mazda as our previous experience with the brand has been very good (I had a Mazda Astina from 1997 to 2012 and only changed because I had an offer ‘too good to refuse’ to purchase my current car).

Here’s hoping the CX-5 also gives us 20 years of great service.

Busy as a beaver

23 12 2017

The first two weeks of December were super busy. In addition to my normal work, these things happened — some planned, some not — many of which required tradies in and out of the house:

  • two weekends away (Albany, Busselton)
  • leak from HWS tank (fixed under warranty)
  • air con balance FINALLY fixed (it took 2 years and multiple visits to find the problem!; under warranty)
  • extractor fan motor in rangehood died; replaced
  • plumber to find out why no water was getting to the shed (retic guys had switched something they shouldn’t have when they were here in Nov)
  • alarm guy to install 3G to connect to the monitoring centre instead of landline (NBN means no landline extensions)
  • data cabler to install extra data points, check/terminate extension phone lines in prep for NBN, and install mobile phone signal booster
  • new modem configuration for NBN (and a new USB/ethernet adaptor ‘cos recent laptops don’t have LAN connections)
  • removal and relocation of all visible extension phone lines connecting the multifunction printer/fax, landline, etc. (involved lots of work behind fixed cabinets and on the floor on my back with a headlamp to find and remove/relocate the phone cables)
  • issues with PCs (independent of NBN)
  • NBN switchover
  • roof vents installed (and other work by handyman)
  • the yellow toner in the laser printer blew out, spewing yellow powder inside the printer
  • bought a new car (Mazda CX-5) to replace DH’s 20 y.o. Mazda 626, so that’s been a steep learning curve too — there have been a LOT of technological advances in cars in the past 20 years!
  • booked flights and initial other travel stuff for a trip to the US for a conference and tour next Oct/Nov
  • negotiated renewal of current contract plus a new contract with another company (subsea pipeline engineering).

Signs seen in Albany, Western Australia

8 12 2017

We were in Albany last weekend, and on the drive out to Emu Point we saw heaps of signs warning us of turtle crossings (their nesting time is October to December), and quite a few for bandicoots, neither of which are very common signs in Australia. I like how they think turtles can go 40 km/h!


Red, white, and blue quilts

23 10 2017

At our annual quilting retreat in July, I took along a heap of navy and red fabric scraps, plus some white fabric with the intention of making a couple of quilt tops. Well, I made them then, but only recently got around to quilting them and finishing them off. So, it’s taken a while to get them up on the blog, but better late than never. Both are available for purchase from my Etsy store:

Red, white, and blue square-in-square quilt

All the blocks were made from various navy blue fabrics surrounded by white, expect for the two red and white blocks, which add a pop of colour. I added a quarter-inch border in bright red fabric to set off the predominantly blue and white colours, then added a wide navy border, with red binding to pull it all together.

I quilted most of the small squares with a ‘cathedral window’ (or ‘orange peel’) quilting motif, using a white thread. In the large border, I quilted with a large meandering stipple, using a navy thread.

The backing fabric is navy, with two red and white blocks for contrast. Dimensions: 44.5″ (H) x 39″ (W) [115 x 99 cm]

Red, white, and blue crazy quilt

I had fun making this ‘improv’ quilt. All the blocks are made from navy blue and red fabric scraps that I stitched together, then slashed apart, then joined to other scraps to make my own ‘fabric’. I then cut my ‘made’ fabric into blocks, and surrounded each block with white fabric. I added a half-inch peeper in various red fabrics to set off the predominantly blue and white colours, then added a wide navy border, with red binding to pull it all together.

In keeping with the angular shapes of the ‘made’ fabric in the blocks and the red, white, and blue of many flags, I stitched stars in the blocks, and diamonds in the wide white sashing strips. The backing fabric is navy. Dimensions: 38″ (H) x 34″ (W) [97 x 87 cm]