Sunday 28 September 2008

stitching stories

it's been a while....about a week ago i said goodbye to the wise one and drove 750km (450 miles) east for the purpose of tutoring a costume-from-salvage-clothing class at the Geelong Textile Forum. the wise one was not pleased.

the Forum phenomenon is uniquely Australian and the brainchild of a treasure (the indomitable Janet de Boer) we had the good sense to import from the States over 25 years ago (well, it might be more but you'll have to ask her). for one week several hundred women (well, mostly) gather at one of Australia's most famous schools (Geelong Grammar) to learn a textile skill, dress up without their families watching, have someone else prepare meals & wash up and to have FUN. it's like being on a magical island for a week. (we tutors enjoy it just as much as the students)

in our class sewing machines were banned and after each person had contemplated the character for whom they were designing - complete with language, name, hopes, dreams, favourite colours and backstory - we settled in to the quiet rhythms of hand-stitching. somehow we all found ourselves back in the classroom after the evenings' entertainments, stitching until the pumpkin hour telling stories and giggling helplessly at rounds of ridiculous jokes

as the costumes took shape we added extra detail by beating leaves onto the surface (i call it the 'hapa zome' technique...a Japanese phrase meaning 'leaf dye'). these were Nandina domestica leaves. the image on the cloth looks for all the world like an illustration of the madder plant
our days began with gentle stretches and dances. we listened to flamenco, gypsy and jazz and danced between stitching

an added delight of this week is that traders gather in a large hall for the purpose of accepting monies from participants in exchange for delicious fragments such as this one purchased by my friend Jenni. it's a patchwork from Uzbekistan; seen from behind (above) and through a glass, darkly (below)...Jenni kindly hung it in the classroom window so that we could all admire it

towards the conclusion of our week together we gave a small performance. i'll post the photos when i receive them.

at the end of our last class day my students kindly presented me with talismans...found objects hung on handmade string twined from precious scraps. here they are hanging on the bedpost at home, together with a doll made by one of the Three when they were small

it was a lovely week, but the road beckoned....funny how it took me two days to drive over, but only nine hours to get home...

i think there may be a magnet hidden in the tea-pot

Wednesday 17 September 2008

bowled out

trawling for amusement across the ditch i found this one...a golden typo. anyone with sense would have left it in place as a national monument. click on the picture for the link and the full story...

and now on a more serious's a different angle on the global climate issue, well worth reading

I DEVOTED six years to carbon accounting, building models for the Australian
Greenhouse Office. I am the rocket scientist who wrote the carbon accounting
model (FullCAM) that measures Australia's compliance with the Kyoto
Protocol, in the land use change and forestry sector.
FullCAM models carbon flows in plants, mulch, debris, soils and agricultural
products, using inputs such as climate data, plant physiology and satellite
data. I've been following the global warming debate closely for years. 
When I started that job in 1999 the evidence that carbon emissions caused
global warming seemed pretty good: CO2 is a greenhouse gas, the old ice core
data, no other suspects. 
The evidence was not conclusive, but why wait until we were certain when it
appeared we needed to act quickly? Soon government and the scientific
community were working together and lots of science research jobs were
created. We scientists had political support, the ear of government, big
budgets, and we felt fairly important and useful (well, I did anyway). It
was great. We were working to save the planet. 
But since 1999 new evidence has seriously weakened the case that carbon
emissions are the main cause of global warming, and by 2007 the evidence was
pretty conclusive that carbon played only a minor role and was not the main
cause of the recent global warming. As Lord Keynes famously said, "When the
facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?" 
There has not been a public debate about the causes of global warming and
most of the public and our decision makers are not aware of the most basic
salient facts: 
1. The greenhouse signature is missing. We have been looking and measuring
for years, and cannot find it. 
Each possible cause of global warming has a different pattern of where in
the planet the warming occurs first and the most. The signature of an
increased greenhouse effect is a hot spot about 10km up in the atmosphere
over the tropics. We have been measuring the atmosphere for decades using
radiosondes: weather balloons with thermometers that radio back the
temperature as the balloon ascends through the atmosphere. They show no hot
spot. Whatsoever. 
If there is no hot spot then an increased greenhouse effect is not the cause
of global warming. So we know for sure that carbon emissions are not a
significant cause of the global warming. If we had found the greenhouse
signature then I would be an alarmist again. 
When the signature was found to be missing in 2007 (after the latest IPCC
report), alarmists objected that maybe the readings of the radiosonde
thermometers might not be accurate and maybe the hot spot was there but had
gone undetected. Yet hundreds of radiosondes have given the same answer, so
statistically it is not possible that they missed the hot spot. 
Recently the alarmists have suggested we ignore the radiosonde thermometers,
but instead take the radiosonde wind measurements, apply a theory about wind
shear, and run the results through their computers to estimate the
temperatures. They then say that the results show that we cannot rule out
the presence of a hot spot. If you believe that you'd believe anything. 
2. There is no evidence to support the idea that carbon emissions cause
significant global warming. None. There is plenty of evidence that global
warming has occurred, and theory suggests that carbon emissions should raise
temperatures (though by how much is hotly disputed) but there are no
observations by anyone that implicate carbon emissions as a significant
cause of the recent global warming. 
3. The satellites that measure the world's temperature all say that the
warming trend ended in 2001, and that the temperature has dropped about 0.6C
in the past year (to the temperature of 1980). Land-based temperature
readings are corrupted by the "urban heat island" effect: urban areas
encroaching on thermometer stations warm the micro-climate around the
thermometer, due to vegetation changes, concrete, cars, houses. Satellite
data is the only temperature data we can trust, but it only goes back to
1979. NASA reports only land-based data, and reports a modest warming trend
and recent cooling. The other three global temperature records use a mix of
satellite and land measurements, or satellite only, and they all show no
warming since 2001 and a recent cooling. 
4. The new ice cores show that in the past six global warmings over the past
half a million years, the temperature rises occurred on average 800 years
before the accompanying rise in atmospheric carbon. Which says something
important about which was cause and which was effect. 
None of these points are controversial. The alarmist scientists agree with
them, though they would dispute their relevance. 
The last point was known and past dispute by 2003, yet Al Gore made his
movie in 2005 and presented the ice cores as the sole reason for believing
that carbon emissions cause global warming. In any other political context
our cynical and experienced press corps would surely have called this
dishonest and widely questioned the politician's assertion. 
Until now the global warming debate has merely been an academic matter of
little interest. Now that it matters, we should debate the causes of global
So far that debate has just consisted of a simple sleight of hand: show
evidence of global warming, and while the audience is stunned at the
implications, simply assert that it is due to carbon emissions. 
In the minds of the audience, the evidence that global warming has occurred
becomes conflated with the alleged cause, and the audience hasn't noticed
that the cause was merely asserted, not proved. 
If there really was any evidence that carbon emissions caused global
warming, don't you think we would have heard all about it ad nauseam by now?

The world has spent $50 billion on global warming since 1990, and we have
not found any actual evidence that carbon emissions cause global warming.
Evidence consists of observations made by someone at some time that supports
the idea that carbon emissions cause global warming. Computer models and
theoretical calculations are not evidence, they are just theory. 
What is going to happen over the next decade as global temperatures continue
not to rise? The Labor Government is about to deliberately wreck the economy
in order to reduce carbon emissions. If the reasons later turn out to be
bogus, the electorate is not going to re-elect a Labor government for a long
time. When it comes to light that the carbon scare was known to be bogus in
2008, the ALP is going to be regarded as criminally negligent or
ideologically stupid for not having seen through it. And if the Liberals
support the general thrust of their actions, they will be seen likewise. 
The onus should be on those who want to change things to provide evidence
for why the changes are necessary. The Australian public is eventually going
to have to be told the evidence anyway, so it might as well be told before
wrecking the economy. 
Dr David Evans was a consultant to the Australian Greenhouse Office from
1999 to 2005

Monday 15 September 2008


goodness knows where my Pa found this one. i'm still cackling. aloud with a strong german accent (as my paternal grandmother would have done...)


8 Protein
200 g Puderzucker
1 Lemon (n), of it the bowl
1 Msp. Zimt, of it the bowl
150 g Almond (n), unpeeled rubbed
40 g Flour

For the cream:
� litres Milk
150 g Sugar
30 g Puddingpulver, vanilla or strength flour
2 Eigelb
250 g Butter
60 g Palmfett
Kirschwasser, for tasting

For the lining:

40 g Apricot (n) (Marillen) - jam
1 cup Fondant,
knows (icing)Cocoa powder
some Cherries,
kandierteAlmond (n), planed to the Verzieren

The Eiklar to rigid snow strike and by spoonfuls the sugar add, afterwards the snow always well deflect, Zimt and lemon bowl in addition give. The snow is to have a very tough consistency. The rubbed almonds with flour mix and into the snow carefully stir. On wrapping paper 6 rings with a cake tire mark. Apply on it �the paste �into same parts. Bake in centralhot pipe the soils immediately light brown, afterwards from the PAPER loosen and with the cake tire the soils make even. Set thus, drauf and force away. (I hope I have myself understandably expressed) particular cooling to leave.Cream:2/3 of the milk boil up. The remaining milk with the others added (sugar, vanilla powder, Eidotter) smoothly agitate, with the snow rod into the cooking milk stir. Boil up briefly, then to cool down leave. Kokosfett melt and with the butter schaumig agitate. The cooled down pudding cream by spoonfuls in addition give and well mix. Taste with Kirschwasser. (the pudding cream should not be Kn�tchenfrei, press by a filter and then with the remaining added mixes, the cream should be beautifully smooth), The most beautiful, cake soil to the side put. Afterwards, which coat and set five cake soils one on the other with cream. Last turn and operates the beautiful soil on the last cream layer put. These then with warmed up Marillenmarmelade thinly coat.Coolly place (not into the KS). Afterwards with the easily warm glaze and the typical Esterhazy sample covers pulls.

good luck with that one!

Friday 12 September 2008

green guide

...a few weeks ago i was contacted by Kristen Hampshire Ohly - who was in the process of gathering material for a new book - about the possibility of a wee chat.

today's inbox showed me that she doesn't let much grass grow under her feet; and i'm delighted to be included in her gathering for the 'Green Guide for Artists'

go here to read about it in her words...

Monday 8 September 2008

magic monday

on pootling into the village this morning to collect the mail from the post office i had a delightful surprise...a sumptuous parcel full of chocolate samples from Green & Black's awaited me.

it appears the company had found me via my website and (well, this is what they said in the accompanying letter) decided i was a "person of taste and style involved in the fashion industry" (clearly they haven't espied me at the end of a day's sheepwork) and sent me their chocolate to try.

and it is delicious. i'm usually strictly dark when it comes to chocolate but must admit their vanilla-infused white stuff is pretty seductive too. they concluded their friendly letter with offers to support future events with yet more yummy samples, fingers crossed they consider WinterWorks (next year's symposium on sustainable textile practice) an event worth supporting!

here's a link to their website, on which they have kindly posted some rather tempting recipes...

Sunday 7 September 2008

spring has sprung

spring has sprung and brought with it various firmly grounding farming duties, such as the crutching of sheep and the marking of lambs.

crutching is pretty much like being given a Brazilian but is achieved with clippers rather than wax. it's necessary before the ewes lamb, ensuring a cleaner arrival for the lamb as well as more aromatic access to the milk bar. and before any PETA members leap in with howls of outrage, no, the process is not painful (merely a trifle undignified). if sheep kept their posteriors pristine it wouldn't be necessary. as it is, humans have been intervening in sheep breeding for over 4000 years in order to coax them to grow soft fluffy wool rather than hard hairy stuff.

this makes it tricky to keep the rear end clean and so regular trimming is necessary. uncrutched sheep are far more likely to become flyblown in warmer weather. and don't confuse the process with mulesing. this is trimming of fluff, mulesing involves removal of skin. erk.

crutching is also required before shearing as is saves having to pick the stained wool out of the fleece. that same stained wool was used in the manufacture of the naturally dyed "berber" carpets so popular in the 70s. those lovely brown flecks in your otherwise oatmeal coloured floor covering were dyed on the sheep with poo, using urine as a co-mordant. enjoy.

marking of lambs means the docking of tails and in the case of ram lambs, also the removal of their gentlemens vegetables. the tail removal, though admittedly not an attractive thought does help prevent flystrike in later life (see crutching, above). a slow death on the paddock while being eaten alive by maggots is not pleasant.

and why are ram lambs neutered? simple. if the sheep are being kept for wool, then that grown on wethers tends to be more even in style and quality. ewes wool can exhibit the stresses of pregnancy and nursing; rams wool tends to be much stronger and comes with a unique perfume, reminiscent of the billy-goat leather handbag i once innocently purchased at a market in Spain. nasty, especially on warm days. (note to self, never purchase bag without doing sniff test.)

this perfume can also be tasted in the meat in the event the sheep is destined for the table and while some cultures and religions specify the consumption of entires it's not a flavour i would actively pursue in my cooking. mind you, having assisted at sheep births over the years i won't eat the stuff anyway, roasting lamb smells too much like freshly born lamblet and i'm no baby eater.

selling the lambs to someone else at 6 months when they've turned into monsters that destroy fences for fun and beat up their mothers for the last drop of milk is an easier proposition.

and now i can pootle off to my next two teaching engagements (Geelong, Victoria later this month; and Mandya, India in October) with a clear conscience. fingers crossed they'll all still have nice clean bums when in comes to shearing time when the weather warms up later this spring.

Wednesday 3 September 2008

mild deflation

ah well, ya try to hand on an award and what happens? deafening silence, for the most part (but thanks anyway, to those who responded). the black dog looms...we're not in Kansas any more, Toto...

on the other hand, workwise things are looking up. The Kapiti Summer School (run by Whitireia Polytechnic near Paraparaumu, Aotearoa) has asked me to teach for two weeks rather than just one, in January next year.

dates will be :

first session Friday16th January- Wednesday 21st January 6 days "introduction to Eco Colour"

second session Monday 26th January - Friday 30th January 5 days "mapping country"

email bloxham {at} clear {dot} net {dot}nz for details....