Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Settling Into Summer

I am still thinking about the wonderful sights I saw during my extraordinary Australian teaching adventure. No matter where I travel, I love to look at houses! I like to imagine the home's inhabitants and wonder about their lives. This is a charming Australian style cottage which I noticed everywhere. Many are being rescued and lovingly renovated and many new homes are being modeled on these quaint ancestors. This architectural style personifies Australia's respect for traditions and good manners.

Another convention that delighted me was morning and afternoon "Tea Time"which occurred with perfect punctuality every workshop day. And almost everyone in class brought their own tea mug from home! And each mug had a special carrying container, as well!

In Brisbane, many of the gals were using the same cute pattern for their Mug Bags. This one belongs to Bev Sellers and happens to be made with Sassaman fabric from the Sunshine & Shadow line. Needless to say, Bev got extra points from the teacher!

Some of these adorable satchels even sported little pockets to carry a favored tea packet. There were always little cakes or scones with whipped cream and jam to enjoy with your tea, too! Consequently, the art of baking cakes is alive and well respected in Australia, too.

The coffee break is a thing of the past in the American workplace, we just carry our paper coffee cups everywhere we go and Starbucks is on every corner. But in Australia Tea Time is a comforting custom that I think we should remember and revive on this side of the world! 

But here, on the home front, the growth is lush, the mosquitoes are ever present and the zucchinis are the size of baseball bats! This morning, on my walk through the park, I noticed the first turned red leaves of autumn and acorns spread over the ground. Summer has peeked, fall is in site and I have some stitching to do in the studio... life is good!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Australian Native Color

A week ago I returned from a fabulous teaching tour in Australia. I was forewarned that it would be winter when I arrived on the other side of the world. But to my delight it was not the same winter we have at home. I laughed every time someone complained about the "cold". As you can see from these photos it was very moderate and pleasant; flowers still bloomed and the birds were enthusiastic.
Every afternoon reminded me of our early autumn... the temperature, the slant of the light, the long shadows and the hint of crispness in the air. It was lovely!

Above is a photo of my first teaching location, at Be Creative by the Sea Symposium in Coffs Harbour on the Tasman Sea in New South Wales. So most mornings began with a walk on the beach or exploring the residential neighborhoods near the resort. Below are two wonderful signs on the hotel property at the beginning of their little nature walk.

The wild life was quite exotic to this Midwestern girl. All the birds were twice as big and twice as loud as the ones at home. On my first evening I spied a huge bat flying right outside the window and hanging in a palm tree! This was not a puny little bat from Illinois, but a BIG bat just like the vampire movies! It was thrilling. My host, who lives in Coffs Harbour all year, says that in the summer there would be hundreds of them in the air!!

On my days off I was always treated to a local tour and gardens were always on my list of places to visit. The flora of Australia is unbelievable and just as amazing as the critters. Most of my classes were about translating and abstracting designs from nature, so the class projects often portrayed native Australian plants. This was a nice way for me to learn more about the flowers, too.

Just scroll through the photos and you will see a small sampling of the natural wonders that I enjoyed during my visit. I had plans to post my pictures while I was there, but the Internet, especially WiFi is often expensive and difficult to find. But it was kind of nice to be excused from everyday tasks and to take advantage of this incredible sensory experience.

These spiky trees were one of my favorite discoveries! It is called a Floss Silk Tree and is a native of South America. The thorns are the size of a Hershey's Kiss or larger!! Delightfully dangerous!

I see a quilt or new textile design in every photo and I am anxious to get into my studio and let the Australian inspiration take over. I will also be thinking about the many wonderful men and women who are new friends on the other side of the earth. Who could dream that quilting would led to such an extraordinary journey!