Trixie Belden and the Mystery of the Toy Box

Oooh, photos! Everyone loves photos. This is the back of my house, next to the back door. These are the dog beds. The little sofa is for the Brown Dog and the standard low dog bed is for the Black Dog (who is old and can’t get up on the sofa). (You may be interested to know that the sofa was once a futon-thing left outside in a hard rubbish collection, until it was hoisted onto the shoulders of Mr. T, brought home, given a solid wooden back and a bar across the front, then stained. I then made it a cushion from a single foam mattress sawn in half-ish by Clark Rubber, some polarfleece and copious swear words). And yes, their mats have matching polarfleece covers. I think this project was the beginning of the end for my tiny little sewing machine. I’m sorry, sewing machine. Death by polarfleece can’t have been a good way to go.

Anyway. This wasn’t my point. Did I have a point? Indeed I did. (Rare, but it happens sometimes.) I took this photo to illustrate the box of dog toys which sits between the beds. But your attention has probably been distracted by that weird thing sticking out from under the sofa. What is that? That is the cat’s tail. I swear that was the first time I had ever seen him go under that bed. What the hell?

There he is, curled up with a plastic bag of … something? (mental note: check that out) and a red Santa dog toy. And POP … there go all your illusions about the cleanliness of my floor. What? Like you clean under the dog beds? Whatever.

Anyway. Back to the box of toys. The dogs don’t play with the toys very much, unless we are playing with them. They like tug of war (hence all the various parts and pieces of soft toys everywhere) and the Black Dog likes plucking all the stuffing out of any toy with a hole in it. Oh, and they like bringing the squeaky ones into the lounge and squeaking them mournfully when we’re trying to watch TV. But they don’t really play with them when they’re alone. Which was why I couldn’t understand why the toys had been strewn around every day for the last couple of days. Why? Were they bored? Were poltergeists loose in the house? Was the cat playing with the giant squeaky pork chop? This really was puzzling me. I like to think I have the dogs all figured out. I mean, they’re dogs, after all. If they were playing with the toys all day, then why were they showing no interest in them when we were at home?

Then, the other morning as usual, I gave the dogs their guilt biscuit. This is the morning ritual where they wait on their beds, drooling slightly, and I give them a biscuit right before I leave, feeling bad about leaving them. I mean, they are at home all day, sleeping and eating and … hey, wait a minute. That is like my dream day. But this particular morning, I was a bit slow, and so I saw the Brown Dog settle down on his bed, bite the biscuit in half and … the other half fell into the toy box.



So I continue on my sewing adventures. Next step: pyjama pants! All ready for the long days of winter, which are … ooooh … many months away yet. However! How hard could it be, right? It’s some legs and some elastic. Sweet.

First step – cutting out the fabric. This is where I discover I have bought a perfect square of material, and that square is about 10cm too short for the pattern. And please note I am attempting the XS pattern. So I roll my eyes and pin them out anyway. Because for me, XS stands for X-Short, and I don’t need that extra 10 cm. We don’t need your steenkeng hemming length!

About this time I take the photo above, still chuckling merrily at my folly. Oh, what an amusing anecdote, I think to myself. How ironic and rich with lessons and learning experiences. And so I cut away merrily. Aaaand then … I notice what everyone else who sews has already noticed, and who are currently pointing and yelling at the screen like a pantomime whilst I do not hear them and cut irrevocably into my fabric. YOU ARE CUTTING INTO THE RIGHT SIDE OF THE FABRIC! TURN IT OVER! TURN IT OVER! Of course, I don’t hear you. YELL LOUDER NEXT TIME. Also, YELL BACK IN TIME because otherwise it won’t do me a damn bit of good.

About this time, Mr. T comes home and finds me sitting mournfully on the lounge floor surrounded by happy snowmen. “Are you sewing?” he asks absently, fending off dogs and thinking about more important things, such as what he can eat. “I was going to sew,” I reply sadly. “But I made stereoisomers.” This catches his attention, but not in a good way. I try to explain: “I cut on the wrong side of the fabric. They are mirror images, like a left hand instead of a right hand.” To better illustrate my point, I wave my hands listlessly in the air, very much like I just don’t care.

Mr. T looks at my handiwork for about 6 seconds before replying: “You have doubled that material over. You’ll still have two good copies. You would only have a mirror image if you had cut only one side of the material. Dumbass. And also I can’t believe you still think in chemistry terms instead of saying ‘mirror image’ like a normal person. Do we have any bread?”

So! I continue. Thank you for yelling, people, but it turns out it doesn’t matter as long as you are cutting out two pieces at once. Who knew? I thought that had just given me twice as many unusable pieces. As you may have guessed, I am not spatial. I’m not good at maps or other visual representations of shapes. Sad but true. I had to unpin everything and reassemble to prove to myself that I was still on the right track. But! Once I had done that, I sewed me up some pants. I can sew! And put in elastic! And after washing the done-but-not-hemmed pants, I can curse the fact that I DID need that extra 10cm on the bottom of the legs!

Next step: cuffs. How hard can it be, right?


So, I may have mentioned, I can’t remember, but I think I mentioned that I live in a veritable bucolic paradise in Prahran. Yes, I do. The lemon trees are still lemoning madly (and aren’t lemons supposed to be a winter fruit?), the avocado tree is growing little avocado bullets, and, woe is me, the fig tree has grown about 200 figs and is busily ripening them. I say woe, because the fig tree inspires a feeling of vague failure. I HAVE A FIG TREE. I should be figging and cooking and making jam and whipping up delicious desserts and breakfasts in an airy yet complacent manner which suggests that I just walked out the back and picked the fruit myself. Which I did. Would, I mean, if I did any of these things. Instead I just glance at the tree out of the corner of my eye and pretend it’s not there. Because … don’t tell anyone … I don’t really like figs. There! I said it! I will eat them, when I remember they are there, and I can drizzle them with honey, and make some half hearted baking attempts, but … there are hundreds of figs on this tree. Literally hundreds. And I just watch the birds eat them all, and I watch Mr. T run over fallen figs with the lawn mower (let me tell you, you only get to see that once, because fig all up inside the lawn mower is not optimal for engine performance) and I sigh for the figgy waste. Last year I collected about 20 figs for myself, total, and gave about another 20 to our next door neighbour (who is in his 80s and is of European descent and told me quite seriously that I should sell the figs by setting up a stall in front of the house). 40 figs off an entire tree. Wasteful. Bad.

But this year is Year of the Fig. (What, you didn’t know?) The figs must be put to good use. But how? Never fear. I had a game plan. First, this morning I collected about a dozen perfectly ripe figs. Then I took them to work. Then, I walked all around our open plan office, innocuously offering figs. Figs for all! Some people looked away, and some said no politely, but others … their eyes lit up and they leaned involuntarily towards the bag. I shook the bag invitingly. (Thereby bruising the figs, probably, but eh.) In my best drug pusher manner, I offered them a fig. Just a taste, I say. This one’s free. Go on, live a little! What could be the harm?

I have them now. They are hooked. They desire my figgy wares. This afternoon I got home and picked 36 more figs, divided evenly into half-dozens. I have 6 people, entirely within my power. The power of the fig. From the managing director down. I have chosen my fig addicts well.

And soon … I will call in my favours. Oh yes.

go speed racer

Walking the dogs last night, we saw one of those mobile ‘speed checkers’ on a quiet street. You know, you trigger the radar and it flashes: “Your Speed: 38 km/h” or similar.

You know what’s funny? Making the dog race up and down the road to check his speed.

Unfortunately, when he’s not tall enough to trigger the radar, you will be reduced to racing each other up and down the road. Like idiots. On a very exclusive, very refined Armadale street.

But on the plus side: 16 km/hr! Let’s see those Armadale matrons beat THAT!

this year I will …

How are your New Years resolutions holding up? … hey, where are you going? Look, there’s no need to be embarrassed. No one ever follows through on their resolutions. One of my major ones was to take more photos – – specifically, to take a photo every day. Both to practice and improve, and to create a record of my life at this time. Well, jesus, that’s quite difficult. And ends up with me taking ridiculous photos to Fill a Quota. Do you wanna see? Do ya do ya? Of course you do. You are Nosy and Lazy. That’s why you read blogs. (Well, that’s why I read blogs. You know what? You should all post more photos. I dare you. Double dare you.)

OK, this is my iPod at my desk at work. Can’t you see how taking a photo a day has improved my photography? In an amazing plot twist and story continuation device, my iPod case (which is under the iPod) is one of the purses created by Laura, mentioned below. Coincidence? I THINK NOT. (Also, now I kind of wish I had turned the case over, because there are Pelorian kittens having a picnic on the other side.)

I really like this shot; it’s the lighting. It makes me think of Dutch paintings. I will understand if, rather than chiaroscuro, it makes you think of mad people who allow large hairy animals into their home.

This is a sunset taken from my parents’ deck when I was home. I like to go home.

OK there’s a long story associated with this photo. At one of the many malls I went to in Auckland, the food court table tops each have a map of the coastline of the North Island. There were about 80 tables, each with a different map. At one stage I said to my mum, “hey, where are we sitting?” and lifted up my noodle bowl. Underneath it was the beach where my parents have a bach and where I spent most of my childhood holidays. BELIEVE IT … or not!


So, my sister bought a new mobile phone. Incidentally, it’s the same as mine. It’s a Samsung with a particularly large screen, and I made mine a little sock out of polarfleece because I was scared of scratching it. So, of course, she emails and requests a sock. Can I make a sock? CAN I HELL.

What I really wanted to do with the sewing machine next was “learn zips”. (Hey, baby steps. My next one will be “learn buttonholes”.) So I bought a zip. But how could I work the zip thing into the sock thing? Can’t. Bugger. BUT. What about making a matching purse thing? (Note how I have moved beyond “polarfleece sock”, which takes literally 30 minutes to make, into some complicated purse thing of which my entire knowledge consists of “people on the internet make them” and also, “I have these two here which I bought from Laura and I will look at the zip and see how she did it”. (Laura, do not faint.) (Everyone else: buy bags from Laura.) (On second thoughts, do not, as you keep buying all the good ones before I get to them.)) SO. I got my trusty polarfleece, and made the sock. Then I got my trusty Reprodepot goldfish fabric (actually this hasn’t proven trusty as yet, but give it time) and sewed a little goldfish patch onto the sock. NOW. For the purse. Keep in mind this zip has been sewn in four times, and unpicked three times, to give the example below. Also, I wasn’t planning to line this, but had to, because … it’s manky in there, what with seams and threads and bits of zip and stuff. So! Apologies for the weird lighting of these photos, and also, don’t look too closely at, um, the straighness of these seams. Or anything. Laura, LOOK AWAY BEFORE IT BURNS YOU.

The tag was also a Random Crafting Attack … I was wandering up Glenferrie Rd, killing time before an appointment, and wandered onto High St and into some sort of scrapbooking store. I am not a scrapbooker. However they did have stamps … alphabet stamps … and I DO like the alphabet. $25 later, I am the proud owner of some stamps, a stamp pad, and some white tags. I told you how my bank account fears me, right? So: this is the tag I made (and please note only THREE previous tags had to sacrifice their noble lives to produce this one!)

This makes my weekend officially productive. Now I can sit on the couch and watch Legally Blonde! Somehow … this doesn’t thrill me as it should.

I like to meme it meme it

Mate, two posts for the whole of January. That is weak. But you should have figured out by now that I am full on or not at all. Because I was back in NZ for two weeks of January, I had sort of written off the whole month in my mind. But I’ve been back for a week, the relaxation is worn off, and it’s like I’ve never been away. Don’t you hate that?

Photos are likely to follow, if I ever get my act into gear. But for now, Anne has memed me. Here goes:

Four jobs you have had in your life:
1. General office dogsbody at my Dad’s work (school holidays)
2. Processing student allowance applications (university holidays)
3. Hair model for my friend Jo … I would show you the photos but a drag queen did my makeup. True.
4. Midwifery exam supervisor. This put me off midwives for LIFE. Also rescue remedy.

Four movies you would watch over and over again:
1. Pride and Prejudice (technically it is a miniseries; essentially it is Colin Firth)
2. Chicago
3. Memento
4. The Sound of Music (technically a movie I HAVE watched over and over, not one I would necessarily want to)

Four places you have lived:
1. Auckland
2. Christchurch
3. Rotorua
4. Melbourne

Four TV shows you love to watch:
1. Futurama
2. Six Feet Under
3. Frontline
4. Grey’s Anatomy

Four places you have been on holiday:
1. Bay of Islands
2. Surfers Paradise (go to the Sunshine Coast instead. You’re welcome.)
3. Lake Ohakuri (with natural hot springs)
4. Lake Eildon (with natural kangaroos)

Four web-sites I visit daily:
1. (last count was 112 feeds; you’re on there. Yes, you are)
3. (Hillary updates almost daily)
4. Moonlight Cinema

Four of my favorite foods:
1. watermelon
2. fresh peas in the pod
3. pasta
4. chocolate

Four places I’d rather be right now:
1. asleep
2. on a hammock on the deck of a yacht, staring at the stars
3. Paris
4. still on holiday in NZ