Saturday, April 19, 2008

Autumn Days

It's been a quiet and reflective time here at Littlecote, as the summer eases into autumn. I love it when we turn the clocks back for the end of daylight saving - the afternoons seem so mellow and soft. It feels like the day wind down into night.

Zoe was not successful with her audition for role with the Kiev Ballet. Although she was very good she was too short. Several of her friends from ballet have gone onto another round of auditions, but they are taller than her by about 15 cm. It was disappointing, but Zoe has been philosophical about it.

My Uncle Jack died on Thursday. He was my father's brother. Dad's siblings are much older than him; Uncle Jack was 15 years older and Aunty Dorothy is 13 years older. Dad was too young to have any recollection of Jack when he went off to the Second World War but he remembers a day when a strange man walked up the driveway. Dad ran in to tell his mother, and it was only then that he discovered that the strange man was his brother. From that moment, Dad followed Jack around everywhere. I remember my brothers doing the same when we were younger and we would go to Ballarat to visit him. Uncle Jack was 87. He had been hoping to outlive his legendary aunt who had lived to be 87 and about 2 months. If he had lived for another week, he would have done so. He didn't quite make it. We are all going to the funeral in Ballarat on Tuesday.

There hasn't been a lot of creating here in the last couple of weeks. Zoe came up with the design of this apron, and I sewed it together. We found the fabric at the Stitches and Craft Show. It 's cute isn't it?

The autumn weather has been just right for the quiet, peaceful, slow time we have had. Cheers!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Pointes and Presents

More excitement at Littlecote! Zoe's ballet teacher wants her, along with two other girls, to go "en pointe" so that they can prepare for an audition with the Kiev Ballet. Zoe is naturally delighted as it takes a lot of training to go en pointe and this indicates that the ballet teacher thinks she is progressing very well.

So, most of Saturday was spent driving around Melbourne trying to find a shop that sold pointe shoes in her size, and where the shop assistant knew how to fit her properly. Not just anyone would do, according to the ballet teacher! After several hours, visits to three shops, and over $100 later we have the shoes!

Since getting them, Zoe has hardly been off them. Luckily she is still on cloud nine, so the pain has not set in yet!

Zoe also went to her friend, Jaz's, birthday party on Sunday. As a gift, she made a really cute sit-upon, and another for her friend, Bella, who celebrates her birthday next week.

She's a bit of a star all round, really.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Beautiful Art

I just wanted to include some images of the beautiful art we saw at the Gallery of New South Wales. The one above is huge - it hangs in one room in such a way that you can see it through the arched doorways of two other rooms. It is titled "Vive L'Empereur" 1891 and the artist is Eduard Detaille. The colours are gorgeous and the subject is magnificent.

This one is by Edward Poynter; "The visit of the Queen of Sheba to King Solomon" 1890. It is also huge. Beautiful, isn't it?

This last one is a stunning sculpture from the Chinese collection. Zoe is studying China in her class this semester, so we wandered through the Chinese section of the gallery. So many beautiful things to see, and dating so far back. This sculpture was particularly impressive.

We also looked through the Archibald exhibition. We were impressed by a number of the portraits.

It's a lovely thing to have time to wander through an art gallery, isn't it?

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Sydney sojourn and other treats

I have just finished reading a wonderful book - Geraldine Brooks' "Nine Parts of Desire: The Hidden World of Islamic Women". It's a fascinating account of the stories of Islamic women encountered by Brooks during her six years as a foreign correspondent in the Middle East. It's told with compassion and intelligence, frustration and clarity. Brooks' overwhelming desire to understand the women of the Islamic world and to tell the stories of their lives has given me an understanding of their beliefs and the effect of a beliefs system that extends to governance and power over every aspect of their lives. Prior to reading this book, I had almost no knowledge of the Islamic world, now I feel that I know a little at least and would like to learn more. This book is a window onto another culture. Brooks makes effective use of her access to both powerful and powerless women; the result is informative and challenging. I highly recommend it.

The impact of this book is such that I had to begin this blog with a note about it, even though we have also had a very exciting and enjoyable long weekend in Sydney. We flew into Sydney on Thursday to celebrate Zoe's 11th birthday. We stayed at the Sir Stamford, where Zoe was given a special welcome gift of chocolates and we had complimentary cocktails. Luxury! We tripped around the city for three days, delighting in visits to the Art Gallery of NSW, the National Maritime Museum, Woollahra, Chinatown, the gardens, Circular Quay and Kirribilli. We also walked across the Harbour Bridge and climbed a pylon for a wonderful view of the harbour. Each afternoon we swam in the rooftop pool. The weather was as beautiful as Sydney. You can see a photo journal of our holiday in the link.

I did manage to complete something for Project Spectrum: Fire - a ski hat for Zoe that was almost complete and just needed some tassels. Quirky but cute, hey?

We have had wild winds this afternoon - one of the pots at our front door was knocked over and smashed and one of our fences fell down. Poor Greg had quite a task to prop it back up. Across the city, trees were uprooted, bringing down powerlines and brick walls, and smashing onto cars. We got a little bit of rain and there is supposed to be more but it has not eventuated yet. It's the rain we need - the wind raised dust storms across the state and made the sky a dirty, dusty colour this evening.

I am learning more about how to blog - hopefully The Littlecote Times will improve as I gain more skills.