Friday, June 30, 2006

I'm still here!

I have been busily cutting and stitching away on my applique blocks. This is the first - a pagoda house that I designed myself. I haven't ironed it yet, so it's a bit scrunched, but you get the picture. My stitching is okay, which will no doubt get better with practice. One of my angles is pretty wonky and I haven't decided whether to fix it yet! The anal retentive in me says yes, the fledgling maverick says NO!

I have two more to go and then all blocks are finished and I can begin putting the quilt top together. So I won't be on here until those other two blocks are done!!

Anne good luck to England against Portugal!

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Out of the cup; but no shame

The Socceroos are out of the World Cup after a last-minute goal to the Italians in the first knock-out round. Australia had its chances against the many-times world champions, but couldn't convert.

While it was a heart-stopping, and for some heartbreaking, way to go out, our Aussie boys can hold their heads high - they outperformed themselves and exceeded almost everyone's expectations.

Well done lads!

Anne, what a shame we won't meet in the finals!!

Monday, June 26, 2006

Our Nicole gets hitched

'Our Nicole', or Nicole Kidman to non-Australians, has done it. She's tied the knot with country music star Keith Urban in a clifftop twilight ceremony in Sydney last night - now that's a very straightforward and effective way to put the Tom Years behind her!

She looked beautiful, of course, and Keith looked pretty happy with himself. Ladies and Gentlemen, please give a round of applause for the Kurbans!

Congratulations Nicole. May this marriage bring you more happiness in one year than you knew in 10 with Tom (of TomKat fame).

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Go the Socceroos

Australia's new heroes, the Socceroos are through to the World Cup final 16 for the first time in the competition's history. Just making it to the World Cup was a triumph that hadn't been achieved since 1974!

Of course Australians, who insist on calling the sport 'soccer' (to differentiate it from the other different football codes played here and beloved by thousands), are now instant experts on the game. People have been getting up at all hours of the night to watch the matches and so far have been rewarded with some remarkable moments.

The Socceroos are playing Italy in a knock-out game in the next round. They have a pretty good chance against a side dogged by claims of corruption and match-fixing. Let's hope they win!

And for Anne, let's hope we colonials make it through to the finals and play England for the cup. Now that would be worth getting up in the wee hours!

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Australian quilts on display

The Sydney Quilt Show was held last week and unfortunately I couldn't see my way clear to make it the 300km to Sydney.

Judging from the photos on the Quilters' Guild of NSW website, there were some pretty impressive quilts on display.

I have to say I have a real 'thing' for the art and pictorial quilts (here and here, and here and here). As you can see from the image I've posted (Floriade by Margo Hardie was named Best of Show), 'traditional' quilts are still the winners in the eyes of the judges.

The Canberra Quilt Show is on in August - I'll defintely get along to that one!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

I applied myself...

Okay so it's not the prettiest heart you've ever seen, but not too too bad for my first effort at needleturn applique.

We learnt how to do the freezerpaper method and it was good. I like it and think I'll use this method for my quilt, as I like the hidden stitching.

Our teacher also showed us the method using double-sided iron-on fusing. I'm not so crash hot on this method as you have to blanket or feather stitch around the appliqued piece. I like that look for naive or country stuff, but not for my sampler quilt, if you know what I mean. I like the clean lines of the needleturn.

Anyway, it was fun, not too hard but certainly challenging enough to make me value the hard work I put in! And I like that you can pack up a small bit of work and take it anywhere with you and do some stitching when you can snatch 5 minutes of free time. Suits my lifestyle!

Monday, June 19, 2006

Modern applique

I borrowed this book from the local library, as I wanted to get a sneak peak into what we'll be doing in class tomorrow night. Bear in mind that this Australian applique book is now 15 years old when you read the following, which had me laughing out loud:

'What you will find in this book is far removed from the traditional craft of applique, which for years was closely associated with patchwork and quilting. These older crafts, while relaxing and enjoyable, are really for those with time to spare. Today's life-style does not always allow many of us to spend a great deal of time decorating our clothes and home. Fashions change too quickly and time is so precous that when something comes along that allows you to express your own creative streak, yet offers no pinning. no long hours or preoation, and definite
no hand sewing, it's got to be a winner.'

Obviously the author thought that patchwork and quiltig were dying arts, not realising that we clever women would find ways to modernise these arts as she had modernised applique.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Caretenaemia and toothiepegs

For the past couple of months I have been a little worried about Romily. SHe has had a yellow tinge to the skin around her nose and top lip. I thought it might just have been that she has quite a bit of pumpkin and carrot in her diet, but when my dentist asked if it was jaundice I began to worry.

I rang the government health info line (which was surprisingly good and surprisingly helpful) and we worked out that it wasn't jaundice (no yellowing of the eyes or tongue). After putting me on hold for a minute while he conferred with his colleagues, the nice nurse said there was a condition not uncommon in infants called caretenaemia. It's totally benign and doesn't require any treatment and usually disappears by the time the child is two or three. Basically the yellow colouring is caused by the body struggling to get rid of the beta-carotene and vitamin A found in many fruits and vegetables, including, of course, carrots. I could try to take carrots, pumpkin, mangoes, paw paw, pineapple, tomatoes, dairy, leafy greens, etc out of her diet, but what would she eat?

I am not at all concerned about a yellow moosh, so we won't be making any changes. She'll grow out of it eventually. I am just glad it's nothing serious.

What is serious is Romy's top gum! Four teeth came through within a week - three of them within 24 hours. She now has her two top front teeth and two top incisors. These make an interesting addition to the bottom two. The right incisor is much further down than the other three top teeth, which makes her look a little like a pirate!

An orange pirate!!!!!!

She is being very good despite the obvious discomfort. She's still a happy little bubba and with the help of baby paracetamol, is coming through it all like a little trooper. Bless :)

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Good moon rising

I cracked it! After several attempts at the first patch, I finally managed to sew the curved seam of this four-patch block called moon rising over mountain (or some such thing). Mind you, mine looks more like a sun, but you get the picture.

This was a fun block to make, but I can see why lots of quilters avoid curved seams like the plague. Or do large ones that can be done on the machine and whose curves aren't too tight - much easier to sew! While it doesn't look it in the photo, the block is actually even and measures 6 1/2 inches - as it's supposed to! Amazing. :)

I am supposed to do another block for Tuesday, but it's one I won't actually be using in my quilt, as I am doing an applique house instead of a patched house. We haven't done our applique class yet, so there's no way I'm attempting it yet!!

As my theme is Japanese/oriental, I'm doing a pagoda house instead of the country barn number provided by the teacher. I'm going to do the provided house in el cheapo materials as a lesson in how to construct the block, but I don't know if I'll get it done tomorrow or worry about it later. We'll see how tomorrow pans out.

I had a great birthday yesterday - thank you all for your well wishes. I even had a sleep-in this morning (on my birthday weekend). Aaah bliss. I love it when my birthday falls on or adjacent to a weekend - I can milk the special treatment for a couple of days!!

Friday, June 16, 2006

Dananananana they say it's your birthday

And it's my birthday too yeah. Aah the Beatles, get that song in my head every June 16. Yep, it's my birthday. I am 35 years old. How did this happen? Lord knows, but I can't believe I'm 40 in five years.

I have many things to be thankful for on my birthday. My husband, my angel daughter, my parents, my brothers, my lovely sister-in-law and my four gorgeous nephews. My health, my career, my holiday and travel memories, and, of course, my blogging buddies.

To celebrate my birthday I took Romily along to the movies this morning to see Stick It. It was a great girlie flick and I actually enjoyed it very much. Romily was beautifully behaved and even eventually fell asleep in my arms - for the first time since she was a little baby. What a great way to spend the day. I have more beautiful yellow lillies from my husband, so the house looks marvellous (despite the piles of stuff everywhere!), we're having lamb roast and red wine for dinner, followed by chocolate in front of the telly watching the first episode in the new season of Silent Witness. It doesn't really get any better than that. (Okay, so it does - a weekend in Chamonix in the French Alps would be all right I suppose!!!!)

And Carl doesn't know it yet, but he's looking after Romy all day tomorrow so I can get my blocks done for my sampler quilt in time for class on Tuesday night. We're learning applique, which is exciting, as I know I don't know how to do it yet!

So I won't be posting over the weekend - must get my stitching done! Catch you all on Monday.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Love in the mountains - part three

Here it is! Same reader warning applies.


I was very upset and shaken up by the deaths of
Peter, Michelle and 8-year-old KC. They were a very loving, adventurous and happy family. They'd shared many a caving, canoeing and bushwalking adventure together and were just in the primes of their lives. The avalanche and their loss threw me (and the whole team) into a spin. We all were asked to make an individual decision as to whether to continue on or to return to Australia. I very seriously considered pulling out of the expedition, but was convinced by one of the climbers that they needed me and that I would regret it forever if I didn't continue. I decided to go to Tibet.

Eventually our decision was unanimous. We would go on and we would summit Everest in the memory of the fallen. Our expedition took on a new meaning and the climbers were all motivated to achieve their goal in memory of our friends.

After a week or so of media commitments and logistical preparations, we boarded the minibus that would take us across Nepal and into Tibet. I climbed onto the bus only to find that the only spare seat was next to Carl. Bugger, I thought. Oh well, hopefully he'll listen to his headphones the whole way there and I won't have to talk to him.

He turned out to be surprisingly chatty! We talked about this and that and discovered that we shared in common a love for the same kind of books and the same kind of music. Well, well, I thought. Maybe he's not so bad after all. Of course, I wasn't thinking romance at all. I'd had a series of failed relationships over the preceding decade and I had sworn off men - particularly army men! I just assumed (to be on the safe side) that they were all married and of no interest to me.

So I said to Carl, what does your wife think about all this gallivanting around the world? What wife, says he. Okay, your girlfriend. Nope. Boyfriend? He laughed. Oh, says me.

But I had sworn off men.


After a couple of days making our way slowly up through Tibet, we arrived at Everest Base Camp (5100 metres; 16,700ft). Our acclimatisation was just about complete, but I certainly felt the lack of oxygen at such a high altitude. There's about half the normal oxygen level than at sea level, so you get puffed even bending over to tie up your boots!

At Base Camp we had one large main messing tent and two-man tents for sleeping in. There were three women on the expedition - me, our cook and one of the army's top female climbers. Merran and Tanya were friends from way back, so they shared a tent. I had no tent buddy and when I mentioned it, Carl immediately jumped in and said, you can share with me!


We had some laughs in our tent, snuggled deep into our respective down-filled sleeping bags. He turned out to be a very charming, funny guy. Boy was my first impression wrong. Put that down to experience, I told myself.

After a week of preparations and final acclimatisation, it was time to head 22kms (14 miles) up to Advance Base Camp (ABC), with an altitude of 6400m (21,000ft). This was where I was to spend the next six weeks of my life.

The climbers came into their own at this point on the expedition. They began the arduous task of ferrying equipment and food up the mountain. The aim was to establish four camps up the north-west ridge of Mt Everest and, after a small break, begin the summit push in three teams of four climbers.

During this time, however, the dreaded base camp lurgy hit our team (and others) hard. Just about everyone came down with a dreadful bronchial infection. Everyone except yours truly (for some bizarre reason). The sickies headed back down to base camp to try to get better and to have a rest at lower altitudes before their summit attempt.

Carl and his climbing partner had to head down the mountain very suddenly, as Peter had suffered a mini-stroke while we were having lunch one day. He suddenly couldn't feel his cheek or right arm and began speaking in tongues. We rang our doctor (who had become sick himself and returned to Australia) who said Peter had to get off the mountain right now and back down to as low an altitude as possible immediately. His climbing days were over. Carl rushed Peter down the mountain as fast as he could, with Peter suffering yet more attacks on the way down. It was scary. (Peter made a full recovery and waited out the rest of the expedition in Kathmandu.)

Carl eventually came back up to ABC, and, after one more attempted 'load carry' to Camp I, conceded defeat. The chest infection had knocked him hard and he declared himself incapable of climbing further up the mountain. It was not to be his expedition. (He wasn't overly worried by this, having just completed in the previous six months successful climbs on Kilimanjaro and Mt Kenya in Africa, Mt Shishapangma in Tibet and various peaks in the French Alps!)

This meant that Carl spent a lot of time alone with me in ABC. We shared books, he lent me his spare walkman and homemade music tapes, and we talked and talked. We even went to a party at another team's tent one night. It was most surreal! You should see the stars up there. I've never seen anything like it - stars down to the horizon with a 360-degree view of the mountains. The moon over the summit of Mt Everest away in the distance. It was just amazing. And would have been quite romantic I suppose - if any of us had had a shower in the past six weeks!!

We worked hard supporting the climbers in their endeavours to reach the top of the world's highest mountain. In the end, only one of our climbers and two sherpas summitted. Two other climbers came tantalisingly close, but turned around when they realised they'd run out of oxygen, time and energy.

It was exhilarating when one of our climbers radioed down to us from the top of the world - we were ecstatic!

However, this ecstasy was tempered by the death a few days earlier of an Australian climber in our camp. He wasn't part of our expedition, but we'd grown close to him through social engagements in the tent city that was ABC. He was a lovely, lovely man who'd gotten himself lost on Everest after a failed summit attempt. It was dark, he was out of oxygen and at death's door when he staggered into our top camp - our climbers took him in, gave him fluids, food and some of their precious oxygen and slept with him crammed into their tent for the night. In the morning he seemed right as rain, but when he stood up to get his boots to put on he just keeled over and was dead when he hit the ground. Our boys tried to revive him, but he was dead.

The worst thing about dying on Everest is that it is actually impossible for the body to be recovered. Unless you can walk, you cannot get off that mountain. It is all anyone can do to get themselves down. It would be suicide to try to bring down another man. This is one of the sad realities of mountaineering. That's why you have to maintain rationality and realise when it's time to get off the mountain - whether you reached the summit or not.

Again, I had to deal with all of the department of foreign affairs and media enquiries over this fellow Australian's death. All through this ordeal Carl was by my side, making sure all the comms gear worked when it needed to.

Once our summit attempts concluded, it was time to pack up ABC and head back down to the base camp. I was pleased to be leaving - it is very hard going existing where no living thing can manage to survive (there are no plants or animals at that altitude - there are a couple of scavenger birds, but they don't live there - they fly up, raid the camps, and then return to their nests. Clever mother nature), but I was also sad, as I knew I'd never be anywhere like that again, and we were leaving a lovely man behind, alone on the mountain.

The trek back down to base camp was awful. After six weeks of not walking very far, I found the going very tough and it took 12 hours to walk the 22kms. I was stuffed!! We overnighted at base camp and then in the morning that too was packed up. The land rovers arrived and we all piled in. Well, all of us except Carl and I. I realised that I was waiting to see which vehicle he got into as I wanted to go in that car too.

Uh-oh! Trouble!!

I finally threw my pack into the back of one of the cars, as Carl didn't seem to making any moves in that direction. As soon as I picked a vehicle, he chucked his pack into the same car! Double trouble!!

We were literally thrown together in the front seat of the 4WD. It was really only 1 1/2 seats, so we were shoulder to shoulder, thigh to thigh. It was tight!

It was a much quicker trip back to the border between Tibet and Nepal, as we didn't need to stop to acclimatise. On our overnight stop I had to confess to the two other girls on the trip that I thought I liked Carl as more than a friend. They were so excited! They promised to spy on him the next day, as I was so unsure of myself and my ability to read boy signals that I needed help!!

We crossed into Nepal the next day, only to find that the Nepalese royal family had been massacred by one of the sons, who had subsequently been shot down by palace guards. The place was in uproar and official mourning, which meant no one could travel into the capital. There was also a curfew in place to prevent rioting - the Nepalese take their monarchy very seriously indeed.

We were forced to stay outside the capital for the night.

Fortunately for us, this meant staying in a gorgeous hilltop resort with the Himalaya as a backdrop. The sunset views were just gorgeous. We wound down with a couple of beers each and a lovely steak dinner. Our first 'proper' meal in months. It was delicious - made even more so by the fact that Carl sat opposite me - after I'd already sat down. That night the girls confirmed my suspicions - oh he's DEFINITELY interested, they said. Big trouble!!

The next day we finally made it back to Kathmandu. We propped at a hotel in town for a few days rest and recuperation, as well as to clean and pack our several tonnes of gear for the return journey to Australia. That night, we were treated to a slap-up dinner at the hotel. Once again, Carl sat opposite me. We talked for hours until we were kicked out of the restaurant. A group of us retired to the bar.

Several drinks and several hours later, one by one people started to go back to their rooms to get some sleep. I didn't. Carl didn't. Eventually we were the only ones left in the bar. We were sitting together on a couch and neither of us wanted to move. Although we had to move our feet to let the guy finish vacuuming around us!

We sunk lower and lower on the couch and closer and closer together until finally I thought, I am going to kiss this beautiful man. So I did. At the very same moment he decided to kiss me.

Well how many cliches do you want to hear? The earth moved, my heart skipped a beat, my eyelids fluttered. It was the kiss. The Kiss. The most amazing kiss. A kiss of love. A kiss of promise. A kiss of relief!!

All this from one kiss. Boy, was I in big trouble!


After a couple more days in Kathmandu, it was time to leave Nepal, Tibet and Everest behind. Bittersweet memories for all of us, sweetened for Carl and I by the knowledge that we'd started something amazing.

We were married two and half years later, now are parents to a delightful 10-month-old and remain very happy with each other. I have found someone to love, and more important, someone who loves me just for me. Doesn't want me to change. Loves all my quirks. Loves me.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

We're baaaack

After a lovely few days visiting with my parents, extended family and friends in Melbourne, Romily and I are back safe and sound in Canberra. Darling husband picked us up from the airport and the Romster is now asleep in her own bed. I'm exhausted, having managed to pick up a throat infection, complete with temperature, nausea and ahem runny poos. But, we had a good time.

Didn't make it to the zoo, unfortunately. It was freeeezing the whole time we were there and rained off and on to boot. Lots of soup, cake, red wine and chocolate. Romily was an angel and behaved herself beautifully. She is a wonderful little girl and a dream travel companion. Remind me of this when she's five!!

Thanks for all the comments while I was gone. I am so glad I don't ha
ve class tonight, as I have had absolutely no chance to do any sewing. Hopefully I'll get some done tomorrow. (Tonya, I have done all the blocks to date on the machine, but my next block is by will really test out my abilities!). Will post the last part of my lurve story tomorrow - promise!!

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Extra long weekend

It's lucky I am typing this and not recording it - I had my final dental appointment this morning and three hours later half of my mouth is still numb! Two fillings in the same region meant she gave me a really strong anaesthetic - I wonder when I'll be able to feel my lip, cheek and tongue again?

Just a quick post to say thanks for all the lovely comments on my story and my blocks! I am off tomorrow morning for a five-day flying visit with my parents in Melbourne (650kms away from Canberra). I am taking Romily on her second plane ride and we'll be catching up with friends and family over the Queen's Birthday long weekend.

In case you're wondering, the Queen of England is still the Head of State of Australia - we didn't have our war of independence - so we have a long weekend in June each year to celebrate her majesty's birthday. Of course it's not really her birthday - that was in April. But hey, why let facts get in the way of a long weekend?

So, I won't be posting until sometime mid-next week. You'll have to wait till then for the final part of my story! What a tease!

In the meantime, here are another couple of mountain shots for those who like 'em.

This is a photo of the view we had from our first night's accommodation on the trek. Unbelievable!

This was us soaking up the sun at the top of the Annapurna Sanctuary trek - only a couple of hours later we heard the news of the avalanche. That's me on the front right.

Have a great weeekend!

Wednesday, June 07, 2006


I can't believe it! By changing from Internet Explorer to Mozilla Firefox as my browser I can suddenly load photos again!!


This photo is of Annapurna Sanctuary - inside the 'bowl'.

I'll edit the below post tomorrow and replace those very small images with bigger versions (that you might actually be able to see).


Love in the mountains - part two

Sorry for the's part two of my love story. Click on the photo collage for a bigger image and captions. Same reader warning applies.


All this time I had managed to avoid speaking to the angry ant major. The others were all very convivial and I enjoyed getting to know them. We spent a few days in Kathmandu getting acquainted and finalising last-minute logistics for our pre-expedition trek into the Annapurna Sanctuary. I teed up some media interviews and started preparing background information on my fellow travellers. All was going according to plan.

We headed off on the long bus trip through Pokhara to the head of the track that takes you into the sanctuary. Our large group included several of the sherpas who would accompany us into Tibet in a month's time to start the expedition proper, as well as a couple of trekkers and family members of several of the climbers. I was surprised to see one of the guys had brought his eight-year-old step-daughter along, but she was bright as a button and turned out to be more adventurous at eight than I had been my entire life.

The aim of the pre-expedition trek was to take the group into high altitudes so that we'd begin the process of acclimatising to an environment that provides much less oxygen in the air than you find at sea level. The Annapurna Sanctuary trek takes you through some spectacularly beautiful mountainous country up to an altitude of just over 4000 metres (over 13,000 feet). We set off up the path, which started with a heart-pumping staircase, for our first night's destination. I had never worked so physically hard as I did on this trek. It was exhausting and my leg muscles did not stop hurting for the entire 11 days.

Our first night was spent in a luxury 'teahouse' in Dhampus. It even had baths with hot water in the rooms - this was a much higher standard than I'd anticipated and was so glad to sink into a hot tub after a very hard day's trekking. We all had dinner together that night and then it was time to send the first of many internet updates back to our webmaster in Australia. This was my job and I felt a little bummed out that everyone else just had to walk and then rest, while I had other work to do! But I knew that once we were on Everest they'd all be doing the hard yards.

In order to send my reports back to Australia, I needed to use one of our ruggedised laptops and the satellite phone. Well, who do think was in charge of this communications equipment? The angry major I told you about earlier. So, hesitatingly, I asked him if he could show me how to set it all up. He was happy to do so and, with military precision, set it all up for me and told me he was happy for me to set it up by myself from now on. Sheesh, I couldn't even remember how to turn the laptop on, let alone set up a sat phone! But I didn't want to tell him that, so I tried very hard to commit the procedure to memory.

I shouldn't have worried, as Carl set the whole lot up for me every night. Thank goodness! I was so buggered from walking eight hours each day that my brain was in shutdown mode by nighttime.

We continued our ascent into the sanctuary through some of the most jaw-dropping scenery anywhere on the planet. One night it even started to snow lightly on us just as we were coming into the chosen village for a night's rest. In the morning, everything looked like a picture straight out of a fairytale - a light dusting of snow had transformed the landscape. I was so happy. So glad I'd made the decision to come on the expedition. A once-in-a-lifetime-trip kind of happy.

We eventually made it up into the sanctuary proper. It's called the Annapurna Sanctuary, as it's a natural amphitheatre, surrounded by a circle of mountains, with just a narrow gully that permits trekkers and climbers to enter. I could not believe how beautiful the snow-filled bowl and sky-high mountains were. I suddenly appreciated why mountaineers climb dangerous mountains.

And we were soon to find out just how dangerous they can be. The family of three (the one with the eight year old girl) decided to head out of the sanctuary one day ahead of the rest of the party. They wanted to take it slow and make sure their daughter wasn't too tired by the faster 'downhill' trek. We all thought this was a good idea and bade our farewells as we headed off for the day and they packed up, making ready to leave. Carl and one of the other expeditioners decided not come further up into the sanctuary, but to stay at the teahouse and try to recharge the sat phone batteries.

The rest of us headed up the track to its finish to bask in the sun and enjoy a coke and a bowl of something hot at 4000 metres. It was like being at a chalet in the European alps, only better, as there were only about 50 people in the whole area that day. We had a magnificent day in the cool, crisp air, trudging through virgin snow and taking in our surrounds. All that joy evaporated immediately when we returned to the teahouse and heard there'd been an avalanche down the track.

Some of the group immediately began worrying about our companions, but I thought they were over-reacting, as the avalanche had occurred around midday and the threesome should have been well clear of the avalanche site, as they were leaving quite early that morning. To my horror, Carl advised that the family group had been delayed in their departure because their daughter's boots had frozen up overnight.

Our expedition leader despatched our head sherpa down the trail to see if he could find out anything. By this time it was getting dark. What seemed like an eternity later, he returned. Ashen-faced. He had Peter's pack. With a ripped shoulder strap. I could not bring myself to think the worst. I hoped that Peter had dumped his pack and run safely out of the path of the avalanche and that he, Michelle and KC had continued down the track. They would be safe and well, I convinced myself.

Our team sprang into action. We made plans and lists of equipment we'd need to take with us to search the debris at sun-up the next day. We worked quickly and calmly before hitting the sack for the night. I don't think any of us got much sleep. We headed off down the track at daybreak and before long happened across the most god-awful, huge avalanche detritus. I'd seen avalanches on TV - you know the kind that start off with a snowball and cascade into a slippage of an entire snowfield. I thought I knew what to expect. I was wrong. This was a different kind of avalanche - it was all ice, boulders and hard-packed snow. The locals on the scene believed it was the result of an ice-cliff (serac) falling away off the side of one of the 7000m mountains that lined the trail.

It would have hit them like a freight train. I felt sick to the stomach as I walked past the avalanche debris. I knew that if they had been in the path of it they were dead for sure. We still held out faint hope that they'd made it out the other side. Our fastest trekker rushed down the trail to the next village, and the next in search of anyone who might have sighted the family. He came back empty-handed.

The group split into two - most of the team stayed at the site and started to dig. I went down the track with our deputy expedition leader, another trekker who was in shock and unable to function mentally or physically, and with Carl, our comms guy. We had to get far enough down the track to plug our phone and laptop into mains power to report the incident back to our headquarters in Australia. I went into hyperdrive at this point, helping our 2IC to prepare a situation report and media talking points. It's all now a bit of a blur.

Many hours later the rescue team arrived, looking very glum and mostly unable to speak. They had found nothing except Peter's very distinctive camera. They had had to leave the site as the sun hit it, making it dangerously unstable. They were worried that if they continued to dig they'd risk their own lives. They performed a brief ceremony at the site of the avalanche, with the help of our Buddhist sherpas, before they said their goodbyes to our companions.

We were contacted by the Australian Ambassador to Nepal and advised that he would be arriving on location the next day. We had a very quiet, sombre night before we headed back to Pokhara and into a media frenzy. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Picasa works

I noticed that some of my blogging buddies use Picasa to load their photos onto Blogger. I thought I'd give it a whirl - the result is below!

At least there's now a way I can post photos. Hoorah!

Will post part two of the love story tomorrow. With photos :)

Test image

Here are the blocks I finished on the weekend. As you can see, the one on the bottom's lefthand side is a little wonky - I bet than can be 'fixed' by slightly stretching when I join that block to the sashing!

I'm pretty happy with how these turned out. All the colours are working really well together so far! Posted by Picasa

Grrr to Blogger

Well this is now getting ridiculous! I still can't load any photos to my blog. I've finished my two blocks for tonight's class and they're looking really good. Not that you can see them. Grrr.

I hope they sort this problem out soon, or I may have to consider changing to another blog provider. Argh, just what I need!

Anyway, all is well here. Romily is a little trooper. Despite obvious discomfort with the descending teeth (some of which are agonisingly close to coming through), she is a happy little soul, bopping around the place and...pulling up on everything (from sitting!). She thinks she's very clever indeedy.

No one told me 10 month olds are so much fun! She 'sings' to me in the tuneless wail of a pre-toddler, she plays the blow nose game - I have somehow taught her to blow her nose on an exhale! She 'chats' non-stop and is as cute as pie.


Sunday, June 04, 2006

New toothipeg

Bloody Blogger isn't playing fair at the moment - can't load any photos with my posts. Can empathise with Judy more now!

I've been busy this weekend, but have managed to cut and mark up all of my bits and pieces for the next two blocks for the sampler quilt I am doing as part of my beginner's patchwork course. My darling husband has taken Romily out for the afternoon, so, as soon as I post this, I'll get the machine out and stitch it all together. Of course I won't be able to post a photo (grrrr Blogger), but will as soon as I can.

I also wanted to report that Romily cut her third tooth the other day. She has at least four teeth coming through in the top gum. The first top tooth through is the right incisor (the one between where the front tooth and the canine will go). The front teeth and the left incisor are also showing white through the gum. They'll be through by Wednesday I reckon - hopefully sooner for the poor little mite. She had a terrible night's sleep last night. We ended up having her in bed with us from about 12.30am because she just kept crying out in her sleep. She had several feeds during the night, which were for comfort more than anything. I don't mind a bit. Her gum looks sooooo sore. Poor little bubby.

Well, better not procrastinate any longer! Must get this sewing done :)

(I will post part two of my love story as soon as the photo situation is rectified. It's no good without the pictures!)

Friday, June 02, 2006

Love in the mountains - part one

Brought to you by request, my little love story.

Reader warning: this is my version of a 2001 expedition to Mt Everest. It contains descrptions of several tragic events and photographs of several of our now-departed friends. This version is not a complete history of the expedition, nor is it intended to be. It is the story of a very old-fashioned courtship and a very modern romance. You have been warned!!

I first laid eyes on my future husband in very early 2001. It was a pleasant day in Australia's capital city of Canberra, where I had travelled to attend a pre-expedition meeting for Exercise Everest 2001. I was the newly appointed expedition public relations officer of the Army Alpine Association's second Mt Everest expedition. We had been called together to go through the details required to finalise planning.

I was a little nervous, as I had met only one of the other 20 expedition members before this meeting and I didn't really know what to expect from a bunch of hardened army mountaineers. Well, of course, my fears evaporated once I met my fellow expeditioners. They were a lovely group and very interested in me and what I'd bring to the expedition. They'd never had an army PR officer along on a trip before, but they'd all done their fair share of public relations, so were pleased I'd be there to do it all for them. It'd make life on the mountain a lot less stressful, knowing their promotional engagements would be managed by someone else – namely me.

Half way through the meeting, an angry looking man strode in, sat down, and, when it was his turn to speak, issued a series of statements that sounded more like orders than requests. There went the convivial nature of the meeting - this guy was serious! I soon worked out he was the major in charge of communications. He was so annoyed as no one had put in their orders for batteries. Big deal, I thought. How big a deal could that possibly be? Having given everyone an ultimatum (put in your orders by next week or else), he left as abruptly as he'd arrived. I planned to give him a wide berth on the expedition!!

Fast forward a couple of months and we all gathered at Sydney Airport. We had oodles of gear - hundreds of items that all had to be accounted for when we arrived into Kathmandu in Nepal, via Bangkok. On the plane I was warned about the mayhem that is Kathmandu international airport - everyone was prepared to sit on our luggage to prevent it being pilfered by the many crooks waiting at the other end to 'assist' us with our gear. I was ready to poke someone's eye out if necessary! Of course it wasn't as bad as I was led to expect and I actually thought our disembarkation and departure from the airport went quite smoothly...


Stay tuned for part two (of three)!

(Updated 4 June: Grrrrr Blogger is still having problems loading photos.)