Sunday, November 28, 2010

Waiting, Trusting, Listening: Advent 2010

This painting of Mary is by Antonello de Messina: the Annunciation. Isn't it a powerful picture of a woman with great dignity and inner strength. I was introduced to this image this weekend.

We went to an Advent retreat at our beloved New Norcia, the Benedictine community an hour or so north east of Perth. This is the view of the courtyard in the guest house. It always makes me feel peaceful just to see this tower.

The theme for our retreat was listening, waiting, trusting. We looked at the birth narratives from scripture, and at art and music which helped us revisit these beloved stories. We prayed with the monks. In particular we looked at the words the characters in the Christmas story actually said -including the strong female characters in Luke's gospel: Elizabeth, Mary and Anna.

This is a picture of from a local Indigenous artist who has painted the angel Gabriel -it was at the back of the church, where people could make private devotions.

When we got home we did what we always do on the first Sunday in Advent -we started our Christmas preparations at home by putting up the tree.
We also put out our Advent wreath -but to my shame I have forgotten to have the right coloured candles on hand, so we lit a white one tonight to mark the first Sunday in Advent.

This is a picture of my Advent calendar quilt, which I made last year. As it was completed only on Christmas Eve, this is the first Advent it will be used to it's intended purpose -to mark the passage of days as we move through Advent. Despite what the retailers would have you believe -we are not there yet. Christmas is 4 weeks away. This is the time for preparation -for waiting, trusting and listening.
Just as Mary and Elizabeth would have marked the passage of time in their pregnancy, waiting and listening and hoping, so I hope that we can keep this theme going as we move through this season. In all the bustle of the Christmas preparations, this becomes even more important.

How have you marked the beginning of Advent?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The end of the holidays was very productive!

I finished the 'jelly roll' quilt -also known as the "Coffee Quilt" because it has prints which relate to all things coffee- beans, percolators, capucinos etc. I found this quilt stand in an op shop for the princely sum of $8.95!

I found a special cat bed for our 20 year old Lady -with in-built electric blanket. Just the ticket for old bones!

I made new cushions for our TV room. Very happy to have used up pieces of left-over wadding and fabric from my stash.

But my darling Husband went all out. This was a weed infested, derelict and disgusting corner of our garden , between our house and the one next door. My DD's room looks out on to this, and suddenly we decided (he decided) it was time to act! Lots of manure and coir in the soil, some re-located hardy plants from another area of the garden, some mulch and 300 kilos of blue metal later and look at this wonderful transformation!

This is a newly made bed near the TV room, on the south side of our house. Hope the hydrangeas settle in.

Oh what a lovely feeling to have got all these things finished.

Oh dear, we have to go to work tomorrow! Should be quite restful after all the activity we have done in the last few days!

Monday, November 15, 2010

The South Coast Holiday

Isn't these stunningly beautiful scenes of the Stirling Ranges in the rain? We had a mad day roaming around this area of unique biodiversity and scenery. We had a yummy lunch in the car at Bluff Knoll, because it was too cold and wet to sit outside. No matter, the sight of Bluff Knoll surrounded by clouds was wonderful. My DH used to live in Albany, and we know that you must not let the weather get in the way of your enjoyment of the place, because it will always be changeable like this. If you take the chance and go anyway, you will see wonderful things.

I took this picture whilst sheltering on a holiday cottage's front verandah, near Emu Point. We had been out walking and suddenly the weather changed. We only got a little wet, and when the rain eased off we walked around to the Emu Point Coffee shop for a coffee.

We stayed at Middleton Beach in Albany, and enjoyed the many walks along the coast that are available in either direction. This view is on the way to Ellen's Cove, early one morning as we walked up the side of Mount Clarence. It is only fair to put on record, after you have seen the pictures of rain above, that we were lucky enough to have some glorious weather at the start of our week there.

We read some lovely books -my favourite was a second-hand treasure: Garrison Keilor's book "Leaving Home", stories from Lake Wobegon, a fictional middle Minnesota town. Very funny indeed -the laugh out loud kind of funny.

We drove around our favourite places, walked a lot and ate in cafes and restaurants -some of the things we don't normally include in our weekly routine.

It was a lovely way to slow down at the start of our holiday.

Now I am home I have a lot of craft to keep me busy for the rest of the week. Hope to post some pictures of completed projects in a few days' time.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Off to the South Coast

My DH and I are going for a short holiday to Albany on Western Australia's south coast.

Compared to the kinds of holidays that some of our friends like to take, this is all a bit mundane really. We are not going cruising, we are not flying off somewhere exotic.

We are just going to drive for about 4 hours south of here, to a coastline with beautiful scenery, to stay in a rented holiday cottage at the beach, to walk, to read, to relax. Yet this is exactly the kind of holiday we like -the scenery around Albany is spectacular, and we love to revisit it. I wonder if we will see any whales? They migrate up the coast and sometimes stop over in Albany on their way up or down.

See you when I get back.