Memory Monday

Kermit Saved My Life

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My first car looked just like this one. The same make, model and colour. Although I had leather seats and not those cool tartan ones.

A welch plug blew after about 4 weeks, which meant an expensive repair job for a 20c part. The passenger side door frame leaked so that when it rained you would get soaked (we kept a towel in the car for this reason). About 200m away from my house in the morning the car would try to stall, but some tricky clutch work would stop it from happening. After a while this became second nature.

I learnt a lot about cars from little Kermit. One of my big tips was that when it’s over 35C outside and you know you’ve got a full tank of petrol but she’s behaving like she’s run out… that’s a sticking carburettor seat. Pull over, let her cool down a bit, unstick the stupid flappy bit on the carby and you can be on your way. I helped two other stranded motorists with that particular trick – they must have thought I was some kind of car genius.

Stalling was this little car’s big trick. She would stop at lights regularly, I remember pushing her through the drive thru at McDonald’s in pouring rain. I got so adept at manoeuvring her from outside that I once parallel parked her while pushing her!

Generally, however, once she got going she would go quite well with the occasional stall at lights.

bell

So, one night I was headed out down to Banksia Street. I took Bell Street which most Melbournians will know is rather steep as it joins and becomes Banksia Street near the Mercy Hospital. This was my view – the yellow arrows are pointing to a “prepare to Stop” sign and the actual traffic lights that the sign refers to. You can see that it’s quite a way away. That slope is steep!

I apply the brakes and gear down and just as I pass into the intersection the engine cuts out! I’m stopped, quite bizarrely in the middle of a crossroads late at night and in petulant denial of all those pesky laws of physics and principles of momentum and such stuff.

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This is where I was, same spot as the car with the green arrow – only imagine it deserted and dark.

As I turn the key, all the while muttering obscenities under my breath a clapped out old ute with no lights on suddenly whizzed past from right to left, going the wrong way across me. Once it had passed, Kermit started as though nothing had happened and we were on our way.

If she had not stalled just at that moment I would have been hit by that speeding and probably drunk/stolen ute. As the realisation hit I found myself pulled over and shaking.

Has an inanimate object ever behaved mysteriously for you? Have you had a near miss? What was your first car?

Knitting, Memory Monday, News & Updates

Week 2 – Christmas is over

tree

Christmas is over. And as per tradition here on the 5th or thereabouts most people pulled down their Christmas tree and decorations and dumped the tree next to their bin for collection by the council.

I have two issues with this. The first is that, well look at that tree – so much green left in it and it smells absolutely divine and yet there it is cast aside as worthless. If you are taking down because of tradition then why not keep the unadorned tree inside for a while and still get to enjoy it’s life?

Screen Shot 2015-01-12 at 10.44.20The second is that this week there are several storm warnings. And the winds have been furious. Just look at this – a full sized bin knocked over by wind, and there were plenty more of those. Trees can become deadly in weather like that so to my mind they’re best left inside where they are not going to fly into a passing car.

Anyway, we didn’t do a Christmas tree this year because Elisa is at just the wrong age for it, although we will need to next year as Katja was so excited seeing them and kept pointing them out whenever we saw one. Instead we had lots of glittery stars hanging from the ceiling and I’m planning on moving those to the kids’ room to make it cosier.

And it now is a kids’ room – we moved Elisa in there on Thursday. I was sceptical as K gets so excited whenever she sees E and has had a few nightmares in recent weeks – they seem to feature bees or snails. I couldn’t understand who Wednesday night’s antagonist was. But so far it’s working really really well. It was lovely on Friday morning to hear that she had dreamt of “stickers, lots and lots of stickers with lots of colours”.

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The weather here is getting decidedly cold. Time to get out the woolies! Katja had a ball on Saturday when we got caught in a rather horrid sleety snow shower on the way home. She’s too young to remember previous snow so it was an exciting and new experience. We had to stop at very car on the walk so that she could grab some snow (which by then was a crusty layer of ice) so she could throw it in the air. Today the snow has gone, but no doubt there will be more given the weather warning sin place for later this week.

I remember the first time I saw snow. In Melbourne snow is something you go to, it doesn’t come to you. It was an exciting trip going up to the mountains and seeing snow for the first time. I remember having a hot chocolate and it was probably the best hot chocolate I’ve ever had. I would have been about 10 or 12 then.

When was the first time you saw snow? Do you remember it? Do you like the snow?

On the craft front my two active projects are coming along. I’m currently working on a bunny doll for Elisa and a pair of socks for me. Next week I’m planning on casting on this hat – I’m looking forward to it but want to have the bunny finished before then if possible. I’ll be using the same colours as the picture, mainly because every time I come across a picture of it I think it’s gorgeous.

So what are your current creative projects? Do you have more than one project on at a time? Do you know what your next project will be?

Craft, Memory Monday, Stuff

Branding Bullsh*t

I’m very proud of my father’s achievements. He competed for Australia in the 1976 Olympic games in Montreal, Canada. Then in 2000 he ran in the torch relay for the Sydney games. I have vague recollections of my Dad being on the telly (I was only 3 at the time) and the general excitement of those games.

As a child I also recall that most Olympic years I would be asked by whatever school I was at to bring in memorabilia for show and tell. It was part of the excitement, my way of being a part of it and a way to include others who perhaps would never get any closer than some kid at their school who had an official uniform. At school we would do all sorts of projects around the Olympics, covering history and sport and geography – it really was a great opportunity from an educational and community perspective. I even took Dad’s torch to the office in 2000 and caused much excitement there too 🙂

But it appears that the powers that govern the games have gone nuts this year. We’ve got knitters being told that they are not allowed to give gifts to competitors because it might infringe upon paid sponsors and now I see that a craft group has received a lawyers letter to tell them to cease using a word derived from their own name combined with the word Olympics to run a bit of a fun challenge. They’ve also been told that any patterns or people’s PROJECTS that show any of the imagery have to be removed.

For anyone who is a member of Ravelry, the details are here including the lawyer’s letter.

In particular the letter includes the following:

The athletes of Team USA have usually spent the better part of their entire lives training for the opportunity to compete at the Olympic Games and represent their country in a sport that means everything to them. For many, the Olympics represent the pinnacle of their sporting career. Over more than a century, the Olympic Games have brought athletes around the world together to compete in an event that has come to mean much more than just a competition between the world’s best athletes. The Olympic Games represent ideals that go beyond sport to encompass culture and education, tolerance and respect, world peace and harmony.

The USOC is responsible for preserving the Olympic Movement and its ideals within the United States. Part of that responsibility is to ensure that Olympic trademarks, imagery and terminology are protected and given the appropriate respect. We believe using the name “Ravelympics” for a competition that involves an afghan marathon, scarf hockey and sweater triathlon, among others, tends to denigrate the true nature of the Olympic Games. In a sense, it is disrespectful to our country’s finest athletes and fails to recognize or appreciate their hard work.

This is beyond ludicrous. While I understand that the US government has decided to grant the US Olympic Committee an exclusive right to the trademark, I’m not quite so sure that they had the right to do that in the first place. I totally disagree with the statements above. In my experience, the fact that people can become involved no matter how likely they are to compete themselves gets them excited and helps them to participate and actually enhances the games. To come down heavy handed on people having fun and taking part in this event in their own, harmless way goes completely against the ideals that the lawyers point out.

If you take this to the next level, it is obvious that primary schools will nolonger be able to hold their own mini Olympic sports days, nor will communities be able to have Olympic street parties or anything like that. It is commercialism gone mad – worse than Christmas! Next they’ll be wanting to rename Mt Olympus. I for one will be boycotting any Olympic merchandise and any company that is supporting the games. If we all did that we’d make a dent, make them nolonger commercially attractive and thus bring them back to the people, where they belong!

Memory Monday

Memory Monday – Baby Overkill

Yes, life was certainly simple when I was 3 months old! Here I am in my classic baby bouncenette – a simple metal frame with a mesh cover and straps to kind of hold me in. You’ll note that it’s even in pink. Either a grown-up type person would apply gently pressure to make it rock, or my own kicking and arm-waving would get the thing to move a bit (and presumably provide a means to exhaust me so that I would sleep).

Fast forward to 2012 and here I am fitting out the “essentials” for the imminent arrival of Bump. A bouncenette would probably be a good idea, but take a look at this:

This is the Fischer-Price Rainforest Deluxe Baby Bouncer which is currently selling on Amazon for £64.78 and is quite typical of today’s baby bouncers. It features “a toy bar with a see-through waterfall created by lights and clear spinning helixes and 3 colourful animals. After a day of rainforest adventure, turn on the calming vibrations and your little one is ready to relax! Suitable from birth. Soothing vibrations. Music. Detachable toy bar. Includes 2 toys. Support strap. Non-slip feet.”

So basically, you stick your child in this contraption, turn on the shiny lights and music and set the thing vibrating and walk away. Meanwhile your child is bombarded with sounds and images and probably kept awake.

Does it seem like overkill to you? It certainly does to me! Don’t get me wrong – the construction looks good, the toy bar is probably a good idea and the colours are gorgeous but music and “soothing vibrations”? That sounds like something I’d expect to see in an Ann Summers catalog, not a baby catalog!

And this isn’t the only thing – we now have nurseries with bumpers all over the cots (which are actually NOT good and can contribute to SIDS) and all manner of things. Muslin cloths… I think I’ll leave that one for another post.

Even if money were no object, most of the things on sale are quite frankly ridiculous. It will certainly be interesting to see if I change my mind in the next 6 months and what I deem to be actually important.

Memory Monday

Memory Monday – When TV Went to Bed at Night

As we enter the home stretch of the time known as Waiting for Bump, I’m saving up little projects that can be done at night for the anticipated boring hours of feeding and sleeplessness. There’s a few TV shows and movies included to watch for when my brain doesn’t want to really get involved (Next Top Model anyone?). People have started offering me the tidbits of helpful advice too, which to be honest I really don’t mind.

Last week one person mentioned that the big thing for her was the amount of crap on TV at 2am. Apparently she watched more 24 hour news than was good for anyone. That got me thinking about how lucky we are to have 24 hour news at all. I remember as a kid that if you happened to get up too early on a weekend all you would find was the image above accompanied by classical music. For those too young to remember, it’s a television test pattern. TV stations would actually close down at night and play something like this instead. I’m fairly sure that there was some random channel that did this almost forever – but that may have been SBS waiting for soft porn time so that they could show those weird foreign films.

In a way I miss those days. TV seemed to have some kind of comforting orderliness to it. There was cartoons before school, breakfast shows at around the time you were leaving for school, bad American soaps in the middle of the day following by game shows at about the time we’d come home from school. Next would be some kind of bad Aussie soap and then the news followed by current affairs shows, a feature show and then a movie and then the late news and the whole thing would close down for the night. You knew exactly what time of day to watch the kind of show you wanted to see. Now we seem to just have an endless number of channels devoted to utter drivel or looping repeats – even the repeats don’t play full seasons, they seem to just keep repeating the same 12 episodes.

I kind of get the feeling that back when TV went to bed at night there was a little more care taken with showing quality, more effort placed into winning viewers. What do you think? Has TV gone downhill since the days of the test patterns where you live?

Memory Monday

Memory Monday – Moomba

The second Monday in March was always Moomba when I was growing up. It was also Labour Day, the celebration of the 8 hour working day but really it was the Moomba Parade which was the true highlight. The parade has been going since 1955 and consists of colourful floats and displays from various groups. It generally culminated with the Moomba Dragon – a gorgeous Chinese Dragon manned by 150 boys and girls which thinking back was a wonderful example of the diversity of cultures represented. Also featured on the day was the Bird Man Rally – lots of silly people attempting to fly in their home-made costumes and landing in the Yarra.

The name Moomba is interesting – I grew up thinking that it translated to “let’s get together and have fun”. However, in 1981, linguist Barry Blake mentioned the origins in his book “Australian Aboriginal Languages”:

…undoubtedly the most unfortunate choice of a proper name from Aboriginal sources was made in Melbourne when the city fathers chose to name the city’s annual festival ‘Moomba’. The name is supposed to mean ‘Let’s get together and have fun’, though one wonders how anyone could be naive enough to believe that all this can be expressed in two syllables. In fact ‘moom’ (mum) means ‘buttocks’ or ‘anus’ in various Victorian languages and ‘-ba’ is a suffix that can mean ‘at’, ‘in’ or ‘on’. Presumably someone has tried to render the phrase ‘up your bum’ in the vernacular.

image found online, photographer unknown, showing float going past what is now Federation Square in 1973