Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Making string

Awhile ago I went on a search for string.  I wanted cotton or linen fibers, preferably white, about 1/8" diameter.  It's just string, but I couldn't find what I wanted.  (I miss Britex sometimes.) This was to go inside the binding around the neckline of my corset, to act as a drawstring, so I wasn't really willing to compromise on what I wanted.  But I remembered a type of friendship bracelet that I made eons ago at camp, a squarish-column shape with Vs running down the four sides, and made by holding five loops on your fingers and passing them through one another. (that's the best way I can describe it anyway)

I started with a test, to see how long the loops needed to be to achieve the final length I wanted, and to make sure I still remembered how to make the friendship bracelet/string.  On my test, for which I used DMC embroidery floss, I determined that I only lose about 1" every 10", so to make 72" long string, I needed 80" long loops.  The project didn't actually take too long, only two evenings of TV watching.  The most annoying part was the start, keeping 5 pieces of 160" untangled was quite a feat.  For the actual string, I used DMC Cotton Pearle, size 12, so the diameter was smaller than with the embroidery floss.  It works exceptionally well, and I'd definitely do it again.

My test,
you can see the Vs better with the colors.

Making the string. The other end was looped around my toe. 
I had to tie up the excess because 80" was way too long to
handle in one go.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Vacation Day 6

We took a really long meandering drive home.  When planning this vacation, I discovered a working windmill, and of course wanted to go, even though it was completely out of our way.  It was a really disappointing experience.  The gift shop (to buy the spelt flour they made on the premises of course) wasn't open weekdays, and we needed four people to get a tour of the place.  Also, I was really ready to go home.  Also also the flies were bad and it was ridiculously windy--though that's probably why they built the windmill there.  But the scenery on the drive home was worth it all.  We drove through the Stirling Ranges, the closest thing WA has to mountains (I think).

Most of our drive home looked like this.  I loved the red
dirt along the road.

Vacation Day 5

This was our one full day along the southern coast, and we made the most of it.  We went to the Valley of the Giants Tree Top Walk first--one of the places everyone told us we had to go.  The views were amazing, and you really were up in the canopies of the trees.  The walk is basically a series of platforms, with bridges suspended in between. 

Up in the treetops

That's a very tiny me in the middle of the bridge.

We then travelled to see Elephant Rocks, which was by far the most beautiful spot we saw on vacation.  We even debated about staying there all day, or about returning the next day before we drove home.  I think we'll be going back south before we leave Aus, if only to spend more time here.  It was basically a little tiny cove, which was really hard to get to, surrounded by giant, rather flat rocks--thus the name. The water was incredibly blue, and the waves were crashing on the rocks...it was a perfect ocean experience.  We left our shoes on the beach (which we almost lost when a very large wave covered the entire beach--they were only saved by a good samaritan who put them up in the bushes) and went exploring on the rocks. 

Elephant Rocks Cove

Ready to go exploring

All along the trail down to the cove one side of the path was
completely burned, while the other was fine.  It looked like a
fresh burn, so I'm guessing this was from one of the many
fires this summer.

Eventually we left Elephant Rocks and headed to Conspicuous Cliffs (we still aren't sure why they're called that).  This was really only the second time we had large amounts of space to ourselves.  We had a lot of fun wandering the beach, half-heartedly trying not to get too wet.  The sky had clouded over by this point, but we left before the rain hit.  Then we wandered the town looking for somewhere to eat, in the rain, in really wet pants.  We were completely ready to go back to our decidedly rustic farmstay and turn on the heater.

I have the goal of taking feet shots in all the
world oceans.

Dan getting soaked.

Joy.  I really like oceans.

Oh, while we were waiting for a restaurant to open for dinner we were wandering the local grocery store and found these.

Yuck!  And also--who would eat these!?

Vacation Day 3 and 4

Day 3 was Easter Sunday, so we stayed around Nannup, and relaxed at the B&B, but we did go for a scenic drive.  My photos don't do it any justice, but the area around Nannup is really beautiful.  Lots of rolling hills and grazing cattle.  Everything was so green compared to Perth.

Day 4 was also a lot of driving, and it was the only day it rained.  We made our way south to Walpole, stopping at various places along the way.  Beedelup Falls, which, because it was the end of summer, was more like a trickle. 

There's supposed to be water rushing down.

In several of the national parks, look-out trees were established to watch for fires.  Planes do this job now, and several of the trees are available for the public to climb, so we went to one of them.  Dan and I used the excuse that it was raining to not climb too high, though we were backed by lots of signs saying not to climb in wet or windy conditions.  This particular tree was 70 meters tall, and there were a few people who were up on the top platform when we got there.  We both climbed a little way up; there's a net around the outside of the climbing pegs, but there isn't a net underneath.  And the pegs are spaced really wide apart.  Going up isn't bad, but backing down is awful.  Your eyes are trying to focus both on the narrow peg and the open space between--the ground however far down.  So your eyes go a bit funny. 

There was a platform about 40m up, and then
one at the top.

Having a go.

Vacation Day 2

V-day 2 was considerably fuller than day 1.  We started by heading down to the south-west tip of Australia, Cape Leeuwin.  This is where the Southern Ocean and the Indian Ocean meet.  (Side note: Neither Dan or I remembered learning about the Southern Ocean in school.  It seems to be the same as the Antarctic Ocean, just by a different name.  Even Google Maps has it labelled the Southern Ocean, and I'm guessing that's different if you're in the states.)  But back to oceans meeting.  It's not as impressive as you might think.  No waves crashing into one another; you just look left, and the ocean seems to be moving in one direction, and you look right, and it's possibly moving in a different direction.

South west WA has some amazing caves, that are tourist hotspots, so of course we had to join in.  We toured Jewel Cave, and it lived up to the hype.  It was amazing the myriad of shapes that can form when dripping water leaves behind mineral deposits.  This particular cave is known for it's straw stalagtites, which are really long, narrow tubes--literally the diameter of a straw.  The longest one we got to see was about 15ft long.

We ended our day with a trip to Hamelin Bay, wandered the beach and got absolutely pummeled by wind and sand.

Two oceans meeting, with us standing right in front of it.

There was a pirate cow at Cape Leeuwin, I'm not sure why.

The lighthouse at Cape Leeuwin, from further along
the Southern coast.

Straw Stalagmites

Jewel Cave

The Organ in Jewel Cave

Calcite shaped like brains...or cauliflower

I really like this shot of Dan

And one of me, also at Hamelin Bay

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Vacation Day 1

I'm sorry I haven't posted sooner about this, my life has been consumed by sewing lately.  But more on that later. (Probably).

We drove down south early Friday morning, heading towards Dunsborough to see the cape there.  We ended up not taking a tour of the lighthouse, and instead did some impromptu hiking.  We thought it'd be a nice walk, the path started out paved and easy to identify, but it quickly became a tiny dirt path.  We wanted to make it down to the ocean, which proved harder to navigate than we thought, but also it was so peaceful there.  Up in Perth, unless you're inside your home, there are always people around, you can always hear cars; it's a city.  For much of our hike we couldn't see any other people, there was no one on the track or visible in the surrounding area.  There were no cars, just the ocean in the distance.  And the landscape was beautiful, all scrub-brushy and green.  Once we actually saw the ocean, it was a feat to get down there--a combination of rock scrambling and walking (falling?) down dunes.  But it was worth it.  We then headed into Nannup, where we spent the next three nights.

We stopped for lunch at a Sushi bar, and saw this
on the way out.

The flies were the only downside to our adventure--they were
horrendous.  That's actually one on Dan's forehead.

The flies don't like interior spaces, so having something swinging
in front of your face does actually deter them from going behind it.
So Dan occasionally wears my bag as a hat.  I just let my hair swing free.


Where we ate dinner.  This is the last food picture, I promise.
But this was by far the best fish and chips I've ever had.  We actually
got to choose what fish we wanted, and you could tell the difference!

Friday, May 6, 2011


Right.  So the reason for all the driving in the last post is that Dan and I went on vacation over Easter break.  This year the break was especially long for Australians.  They usually get Good Friday and Easter Monday off, but this year Anzac Day fell on Easter Monday, so Tuesday was also declared a public holiday.  Dan took Wednesday off as well, and we spent the five days down south.

It. was. wonderful.  Dan did barely any physics, we stayed at a B&B that we’ll be judging all future B&B’s against, did some unplanned hiking (as well as planned hiking), and spent lots of time staring at the ocean.  There’s no way I’m going to describe all this in one blog post, but soon I hope to have my two memory cards of photos and videos sorted and can then bore you all with vacation stories.  I will however, leave you with some teaser photos.

Tree Top Walk

Our trusty car after some unsealed (unpaved) roads

Elephant Rocks

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Driving in Australia

Overall, I think this went better than expected.  We’ve been here long enough to get used to what side of the road cars drive on, as well as what side of the aisle at the grocery store you push the trolley down, what side of the escalator you walk up and which side you stand, which side of the 2-lane bike lane to be in.  Driving on the left seems relatively normal now.  But it still throws both of us that the drivers of said cars are on the right side, the US passenger side.  Often, if there’s a child, or a dog, in the front passenger seat, I’ll do a double take, momentarily stunned at who’s driving.  For Dan, this manifests itself as a desire to drive really far to the left.  His subconscious mind thinks the majority of the car is to his right, as it is in the US, so he attempts to place himself left of centre.  Meanwhile, reality is still occurring, and the majority of his car, off to the left, is perhaps driving on the shoulder (when we were lucky enough to have one).  For me, I still want to get in the wrong side of the car.  Most of the time we were both fine, but I could tell when Dan was getting a bit tired of driving. 

Both of us only had one instance of pulling out into the wrong lane, and both times there was no one else around to notice, thankfully.  For Dan, it was at night pulling out of a driveway, and he didn’t even get all the way into the wrong lane before I told him to shift over.  For me, I backed out of a driveway into the wrong lane, and went for a couple car lengths thinking something wasn’t right, when Dan told me to shift lanes.  No harm done though.

What affected both of us the most though, the first couple days, was the amount of tension we experienced while driving.  Your entire being is screaming that this isn’t right, and I couldn’t drive for more than a couple hours before my shoulders would become really sore.  You’re also hyper-aware, and need to remain so, because any instinctual move could put you in the wrong lane.  So driver fatigue sets in a lot sooner.

But we survived, and by the last day I was able to drive without both hands rigidly fixed at 10 and 2.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Fall "colors"

Awhile back I noticed that some of the leaves were turning.  They weren't the first hints of fall, rather the leaves looked like they were burning up from the lack of rain and the crazy intense sun we Perthians get to experience.

This was taken almost two months ago.  I'd say the trees have been in a holding pattern ever since.  Occasionally there's a slightly more colorful tree or vine leaves that are bright red, but overall I think fall here may actually be less exciting than Berkeley.

Sweet Potato!

Sweet potatoes are giant here.  I know they can be big in the states, but usually you can find smaller ones too.  This was the smallest available.  SO many sweet potato fries.

Monday, May 2, 2011


I like today.

My costuming books from Amazon that I ordered two months ago, and were now almost 10 days overdue and I thought I'd have to go beg the post office to find--arrived today. 

I spent most of my afternoon fiddling with my dress mock-up, and I think I may FINALLY cut it out tonight.  That is, if I can hold off the paranoia that something's-going-to-go-horribly-wrong a little longer.

I went to Farmer Jack's for buns cause we're having turkey burgers with shredded Gruyere cheese in them tonight (my favorite-est burger) and they actually had plain Tempeh!  They've not had it in stock for going on two months, and they're the only place in Subi we can ever find it.  So I bought three packages.

And then, on my way out, I passed a guy wearing a Cal Bears sweatshirt!  I thought briefly about asking him about it, but though I'm having a really awesome day, I haven't completely changed my personality.

I hope your Mondays are as good as mine is/has been/hopefully will continue to be for another six hours.