Sunday, May 25, 2008

Quilt Class.

Friday proved to be a great day. Long awaited and much prepared for by me. We were asked to get there early and be ready to start by 9.30 am ( instead of 10 or after when our group usually meets ). The building has separate rooms so as the class was only 6 of us (in the end ) we were all able to fit in the smaller side room away from the general meeting.
Jill our Tutor for the class, had made a quilt we admired during a Show and Tell, she called Blue Illusions,( in one of my photos ) which she had made from a book she had "40 Fabulous Quick Cut Quilts ," by Evelyn Sloppy. That's how she came to be taking us for the class. She was pleased there was just 6 of us as it made an intimate friendly little group for the day. 2 chose her colours of blues and browns, one chose greens and blues another pinks and greens ( in photo ), another reds and fawns/ golds and I chose as you already know, purples and icky greens. We laughed that there were 5 Bernina sewing machines ( all different models ) and one Brother - that is not the norm..... usually within our group there is a huge range of different machines, so maybe this quilt was one that appealed to a certain personality type? ( glad we didn't all decide on the same colour ways ! ) There was nothing difficult about this quilt. The things it depends on are careful pressing, straight cutting and organisation. ( Nothing new there )The basis really is 4 strips sewn together( purple/ green , purple /green ), pressed towards the purple; trimmed very carefully down to 8.5 across the ends. 2 sets of the 4 strips are placed face to face, marked diagonally sewn on either side of the line then cut. And from there just continue cutting and resewing to new parts. In one photo you can see my 4 components that then form a larger block. We had cut enough strips to make many large blocks. I have completed 4 big ones so far. Once the big blocks are sewn together secondary patterns emerge.( At one stage someone sewed the parts together incorrectly and they still looked great - so this pattern is adaptable and could be changed for a different result! )
We sewed for far too long really, but this day coincided with our Midnight Madness session.I think about 40 ladies stayed and enjoyed yummy Pizza dinner ( see photo ) (we couldn't finish it all) then kept on sewing. I eventually sewed a wrong piece and realised it was time to stop. Some others in the other room working on hand work or their own machine projects were still working when I left ( about 10 pm ) - but some had only arrived after 5 pm. I don't think I remember ever sewing that many hours in one day!
Now at home I am just continuing on and off making more blocks at my own pace. I love being able to organise my piles of strips and leave it all readyso when I have a little time, I work on it. SO FAR I am very, very pleased with it - But I so loved those fabrics I was bound to like it!
As always I was taking the photos so am not any of them - but you can see my quilt blocks and I will continue to report my progress.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Hunter Gatherers.

Just this morning we were laughing about being "Hunter Gatherers" and I realised I certainly am in at least 2 ways. Fabric for one - I hunt it down and then gather it. In the photo you can see the now complete 2 piles ready for my class on Friday. So yes, Andrea I am ready but can't start till then. ( there are 120 purple rectangles, each 2.5" by 9" and 120 green rectangles the same measurements. ) In preparation I have cleaned thoroughly and oiled my machine and packed it and all the gear I need in my 2 trolley bags . I have wound extra bobbins; renamed my gear where it was rubbing off and now hope I haven't forgotten anything!( I better check my requirements list one last time ) Isn't it strange how colours in photos change, with the light, I guess, but when I compare the photo of the fabric here and the one in the last post they appear different. IN the flesh so to speak, I really like the colours so hope they go well together in the quilt.
What we were really talking about with hunting and gathering was all the things we collect in Autumn that we grow.Some you know about the Kiwifruit and Avocados and Walnuts but we also grow other things. See here the basket of Persimmons - one of my most favourite fruit. They are not perfect like shop bought ones but they are off our tree and I had to pick some before the birds took them all - they are mean they start eating way before the fruit is properly ripe so if I want any at all I have to pick them early. We are also collecting Chestnuts and roasting them in the microwave. This year they are lovely - that's not always the case, so it has to be to do with the weather, amount of rain and early heat. We have a Sapote tree that the possums are enjoying so we pick some of them too. They don't keep well so it is no use picking lots at a time.
For the hunting part we set traps and poison bait stations for the possums and DH shoots rabbits - but that's about as wild as it gets - no big game!
Inky is almost back to normal the bald spots are covering over and he seems fine.( not limping ).
For quilting at the moment I am still handquilting the flower quilt and would you believe I am unpicking a large top I made some years ago that I don't like. It was made to use up scraps and I also introduced nice big pale blue 18" squares. The scraps spoil it so it is coming undone slowly cause I want the fabric back to use somewhere that I like it. All the other bits can go back in my parts departments ( ziplock plastic bags for various sizes actually ) When I iron the big squares out they still have plenty of potential. Never thought I would do that; but there ya go!
Roll on Friday!

Friday, May 16, 2008

The 30th Fabric.

First, some answers to questions in the comments.
Gudrun, the masks are to keep the wearer from inhaling the whiskers and any dust off the fruit. It can be quite annoying to some folk and causes runny eyes etc. JUMBO refers to the size ( as in Jumbo the elephant ). Those particular trays had our very biggest fruit in them and we will get paid on the size. Those Jumbo trays have 22 pieces of fruit in them. ( that's all that will fit ) There are also sizes 25, 27, 30, 33, 36, 39 and 42 . ( there used to be 46 as well but now that's considered too small. ) The fruit in each size is decided by it's weight. A middle sized fruit is 100 grams. The Jumbo ones are heavier than 150 grams.
Loulee, sorry if I led you astray.There have been no buyers even looking lately so I don't think we are moving any time soon. We are quite comfortable with having to stay for now.( after 30 years what's a little longer? )
Kirsty you are sure right about the moving rollers. Years ago I did a stint on the grading table and found that when I closed my eyes at night I felt almost motion sick and couldn't get the rollers to stop moving!
This morning I jumped at the opportunity to accompany DH on an excursion - he had to go up the road towards Katikati to get something in the truck. I asked if he would be prepared to go a little further as I wanted to make a quick trip into Katipatch which is on the corner of State highway 2 and Wharawhara Road. He agreed. You see I needed 1 final fabric to make up my 15 purples . I had some others I felt weren't quite right. I took my colour chart I had made with the fabrics I have cut so far to match against. I decided on the very bright and quite dark purple Moda marble fabric. I got a metre in case I want some for borders. I love going there even for quick visit like today. Cindy and Carol ( in the photo ) are so pleasant. It has to be my 2nd equal favourite patchwork and quilting shop. ( about 20 minutes from where I live )
It was a beautiful clear day so we drove up to the top of Wharawhara Road where the views of rural BOP ( just east of Katikati ) were stunning. here , looking across to Mt. Maunganui over green orchard and farmland.
Inky is progressing well. I saw him jump up to drink out of the birdbath - so he can still jump at least 3 feet and balance well. Birds' washing water is far tastier than his drinking bowl!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


After the Kiwifruit crop left our orchard in the bins on the truck it travelled for about 15 minutes to the complex where it is packed, cooled and stored before shipping. This is a series of photos showing what happens during packing.( this is our fruit in the photos ).
This is part of the packing shed ( there are 2 on this site ) showing the space needed for all the stages of packing. The bins are stored under cover for up to 2 days when they arrive so the picking scar can dry which helps the fruit to keep longer. Each bins is then automatically lifted in a cradle and gently tipped so the fruit rolls onto the moving escalator of rollers and into the shed. Here it moves across rollers where it is graded. A machine with a photographic eye does the first part and then it is seen by human eyes. ( photos 3 and 4 ) It rolls over in front of them so they can judge the shape, look for blemishes or damage and remove those.( you can judge the size of the fruit by comparing it with the graders hands )It was BIG!
It then travels on and gently falls into moving cups that weigh it ( photo 2 )and release it at the correct size / weight packing arm ( so all the fruit in one pack is much the same size ) (photos 5 and 6 packers ) When each tray / pack is full the wrapping is tucked in the lid put down and the boxes are stacked on pallet bases. The documentation is added ( telling size, grower #, packing shed code , # of fruit in pack, date etc ) and the pallet strapped up. The pallets are then moved to the coolstore to have the heat taken out of the fruit. They are stored at just above zero in the coolstores till they are shipped out to countries all around the world. At every stage checking takes place to make sure all the rules are met and the fruit meets the correct standard, has the correct number of fruit in a box etc.The temperatures in the coolstore are also checked.( click to enlarge the photos )
I used to work in a packhouse like this as the Quality Controller and then later was an Auditor of Quality Systems in lots of packhouses and coolstores. ( so know all the procedures )More modern labour saving changes are happening all the time - more photos on some of these improvements next post.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Inky Recovering.

I never thought I'd be posting in detail about the CAT! The 3 photos show him sitting proudly on the fence, spread out on the hearth mat in front of the fire and in the same repose but in his present condition with the blue plastered leg. He is very much recovered and leading his carers a merry dance. His history -12 years ago during a rain storm a tiny frightened little kitty, not old enough to have been weaned arrived in our carport and hid under the car mewing. His mother was a skinny wild cat who had been shot 2 weeks previously in the Avocado block.( we didn't know she had kittens ). It is a long way to the house and he may have crossed a creek in flood or more likely come the long way round across the bridge and up the hill. Either way it was a miracle he got to the house.( He must have been eating fallen avocados to survive.) Of course this big softy won him over with food and he stayed on to be our pet .They say cats have 9 lives; Inky is probably up to 7 or 8. At heart he is still a wild little guy who doesn't like other folk coming to his house especially men with loud voices. He thinks I'm his Mum - that's how he got his name Incubus ( it means a black devil who lies on top of women ( and worse )) and that is what he liked to do as a baby; snuggle right up under my chin looking for a feed I suspect. He only goes to the vet if very sick cause he hates the car. He has partial sight in one eye after a small stick got lodged in it and went around the eye ball. That was removed nearly a week later when we realised what was wrong. The vet took out a broken front tooth on that ocassion in case it was giving him pain. ( now his tongue hangs out ) He recently had the cutty grass up his nose trauma and now this.
He loves being outdoors and often follows us down the orchard and climbs the vines and pounces on us. He has been known to catch rabbits mice, rats and birds.( we discourage the birds!) Even with his diminished sight he can still catch things. We have seen him leap onto the back of a pheasant and ride till he feel off. Percy Peacock backs away. He doesn't generally fight with other cats but has a huge territory of his own which he will defend. There is nothing quite as awakening as a cat fight in the night!
On arrival home from the Vets this time he has his leg firmly plastered which he is not to get wet or dirty. Keep him inside! Oh boy. He is now trying to escape at every opportunity ( or open door or window ) so against the Vet's instructions I am wrapping a plastic bag around the leg with rubber bands and letting him have walks outside. This morning he went further than I like and I found him down inspecting the closest Kiwifruit block ( cause we sneakily picked the fruit while he was in hospital ) That tired him out and he is back asleep by the fire now.We had to set up a kitty litter tray for him which is ghastly for an outside boy but he caught on to using really fast. Of course DH thought it was funny me down by the tray showing him the example of how to scratch a hole! He has to be given anti inflammatories and anti- biotics daily which is working out okay and he has to see the Vet again next Tuesday. In the photo you can see the patches that were shaved for his Xray and ECG.( so he really looks the part )He is back to eating cat food including avocado with his breakfast( his baby food ) but for a few days he only wanted his Mother's dinner ( be it chicken pork toast crackers , whatever I was having )I think the words spoilt, indulged, pampered fit the situation quite well. It reminds me of having a 2 year child! Or maybe it it the equivalent of a Rest Home for cats. Again Thank you to all of you and your cats for the good wishes for his recovery. He can now put the leg to the ground and has no hesitation jumping - But for $400 I would hope for a miraculous improvement. The vet still wasn't certain what caused the swelling - there is a bone chip that he thought might be old - it may be torn tendon - obviously the meds are working anyway.
Finally I must mention his love of water which is strange for a cat. He will drink from the birdbath, climb up and inspect the handbasin and running tap, play in the creek and is fascinated by the garden hose.
A BIG MEOW to you all from Inky.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Picked and Packed.

It is raining here again today so we were lucky to get the window of fine to get our Kiwifruit picked.
The photos show most of the pickers who graciously posed for us. One gang were Punjabi Indians the other had guys from Fiji and Bangladesh.They were all excellent and did a great job - missing hardly any fruit. Everyone who worked here ( truckie; forklift driver; 4 tractor drivers and the pickers were such great people it made the job go well.)
We sent off 8 truck loads of bins of fruit like the one in the photo. The fruit has already been packed so I will do a separate post about that.
Thanks for your concern about Inky....... he is home with his leg in plaster and doing well. He has to stay inside (hates that ) so I will do a whole post devoted to him with his blue plastered leg.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Picking Preparations.

Although we have had far TOO MUCH RAIN in the last few days and weeks, the sun is shining today( and we hope things will dry out ). We have been told by our packhouse / coolstore they want us to have our Kiwifruit crop picked today and tomorrow.( starting this afternoon. )( the rules are don't pick wet fruit! ) Ideally it would not be picked so soon after rain as it may not keep as well, but some orchards have to carry on and pick cause ships are waiting at the wharf to sail with fruit. ( time is money for them )The other problem is tractors may get stuck and the ground will get very muddy. So very rapid preparations are happening here. Vehicles and equipment are being delivered ( we are not allowed to use our own - stupid rule ) 4 tractors to pull the 4 bintrailers (that each carry 3 picking bins ); a forklift for loading and unloading, documentation ( bin cards )for the fruit bins that will arrive by the truck load soon.The photos are of the unloading on the gravel area where all the empty and later full bins are assembled to be loaded on to trucks to go to and be graded and packed at the packhouse.( more on this subject as it happens; tomorrow perhaps )
Of course everything happens at once.Inky the 12 year old, little black cat ( our only pet )disappeared. I found him in the garden after he was missing 24 hours unable to walk, with an injured left back leg. ( of course it was the weekend ) Yesterday morning we took him to his vet and he is still there.( very skinny and frightened.) He has been given antibiotics and painkillers - the vet can't be sure what's wrong with the leg ( he had an ECG and X- ray.) The vet found Inky has a dikky heart so was not prepared to give him an anesthetic in case it killed him. Anyway cause we are now so busy and the Vet wants to observe Inky ( Incubus ) he is staying in hospital till we ring on Thursday. ( Yikes - how much will this account be??? ) I just hate animals being unwell and have vowed no more in the future; I find it too traumatic.
At the moment here it is HURRY UP AND WAIT! (I think I'll go and look at and stroke some nice fabric! ) I am trying to take Isabelle's advice and think of 3 nice things happening today.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

In a Jam.

As if the incessant rain wasn't enough without ANTS! My fault I guess, as I saved the life of some nearly ripe strawberries by making them into jam. I placed the dish of still warm , rich, red, sugary fruit in the pantry cupboard to stop flies landing on it and promptly forgot about it till next morning. It had attracted the attention of a colony of ants! There was a walking ( bus lol )trail of ants under the back door up the wall, across to the cupboards and IN. Very hard to see against the black cupboard doors but easy to detect against the white shelves.They seemed to be just admiring the jam and walking around the dish but had made detours in to inspect all sorts of other jars and packets .
The entire contents of the pantry had to be taken out onto the bench and table and each inspected. The vacuum cleaner was the only way of catching all the ants before they escaped. DH decided to help as he could see I had a big job ahead and it took both of us almost all morning to check every packet, bag and jar. It was a good opportunity to wipe down all the shelves and walls as well as discarding anything spoiled or double ups. Luckily very little was ruined by the ants but later in the day I found some had returned so we had to set 2 types of bait outside the backdoor where they were crossing and in case they got by that a bait in the pantry as well. It seems to have worked. Ants are very smart little creatures and I hate killing them, but they must stay outside if they want to live as far as I am concerned.( My goodness we keep a lot of stuff in our pantry! )
We have had so much rain all other activities are difficult to get done . DH is splitting firewood and our shed is almost full. I have been gathering and drying walnuts. The tomato plants are literally rotting out under the last few tomatoes the beans plants are rotting and the strawberries are rotting now unless I pick them early - hence the topic of this post.
I have bound the Fun Flowers quilt ( photo next time ) and have been cutting my green and purple fabrics.
I have finished reading an autobiography, "Never Tell Me Never, " by Australian, Janine Shepherd, which was an amazing story of grit and determination, after she is hit by a truck while cycling. She was a champion cross country skier, training for the Olympics, but had to change her life direction after the accident.( I would recommend this ).