Thursday, May 31, 2007

I'm baaack!

A few last photos... really most of the rest of the trip was relatives, and you don't want to see pictures of relatives.

Here's the kooky front entrance to the apartments where we stayed in Glenelg (near Adelaide, South Australia):

and the equally kooky plaza inside it:
Yep, random dead boats: weird.

I wish this were better, but it's my first and only view of a possum. SO CUTE. But it was night and my camera sucketh.

I got home on Monday, but I was terribly jet-lagged, and by Tuesday two good friends were in the hospital, and then on Wednesday I found out that my department for the last 21 years (I had the same boss for 21 years — almost unheard of these days) is being disbanded, chopped into small pieces and reorganized into another division of the university.

The friends are both doing better now, and I am slowly becoming more philosophical, and gradually getting back onto San Diego time. But I may be a bit slow to get back into blogging.

Here's a sulphur-crested cockatoo to ease you into a restful evening.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

A visit to Penguin Island

I've always wanted to go see Penguin Island, a tiny island off the coast south of Perth which is Western Australia's largest breeding colony of Little Penguins (also known as "blue" or "fairy" penguins). Rob, however, thought it might be too commercialized and touristy. But when some friends of ours expressed an interest, he agreed to go, and it turns out it's mostly quite natural. Gorgeous, in fact.

The penguins, however, only come onto the island at night (when tourists are not allowed). So the tourist must visit the penguins in the care center, where ten rescued and born-in-captivity penguins reside in relative luxury. They are just as ridiculously cute as you might imagine.

When I get back to the States I'll post some videos of all these animals so you can peek. Not enough bandwidth at the moment, alas.

The island has great bird life as well. We saw pied oyster-catchers, crested terns — and grumpy gulls (protecting their rather rudimentary nests, which we saw everywhere with pretty spotted eggs in them).

We also saw a pretty "Twenty-Eight" parrot. I love these, though the farmers resent them for stealing fruit. They have a lovely call.

On the knitting front, all the driving gave me time to finish Carson's Little Star cardigan except for the I-cord ties. I just hope it fits — the body looks small and the arms look huge. I guess we'll find out and I can easily make adjustments once it's tried on!

Monday, May 14, 2007

Sorry, no koalas

There are less than a hundred thousand koalas in the wild, and they are all on the east coast. I am on the west coast of Australia. Hence, you won't see any koalas.

However, we spent last Wednesday and Thursday on Rottnest Island off the coast of Perth...

...where you can see quokkas!

Quokkas are pretty damned cute. Like all the native mammals, they are marsupial, somewhat similar to a small wallaby (though the Dutch thought they looked like rats, and named the island Rottenest — more recently shortened to Rottnest). They have few natural enemies and are not scared to beg, though it's unwise to feed them.

We got in some great snorkelling in two days on Rottnest. They have something like 18 beaches and it's not crowded at the moment, being autumn. I don't have any pictures of the snorkeling per se, but we saw an octopus, a huge catfish, a starfish, and a stingray the size of a small child. And lots of gorgeous fish.

We snorkeled at three beaches; here is one of them:

We saw this amazing lizard while hiking around. It appears to be a large black skink, but it is huge. It's the size of an Australian 'Stumpy' lizard, as big around as a juice glass, about a foot long from head to tail. He was absolutely gorgeous but my camera wasn't really up to the challenge. Here's the best I could do.

On the knitting front, I decided to go on to Ljod's sleeves and rip the back later. Fine, but I have to rip this sleeve back too. It's about 4" too long as the pattern is written. What is it with me? Do I have defective arms?

Not to be defeated, I started the second arm :-) I will try to knit it to the right length; then I'll know how far to rip back the first arm.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Aussie wildlife...

I know the northern hemisphere types among you are hanging out for some kangaroos. We hopped up the road (heh) to Walyunga National Park, which is only 15 minutes away, on Saturday. As usual (I've been there many times), it was nearly empty. The extent of the walk trails here are about what you'd find at a local nature preserve in a U.S. city — it's not similar to a U.S. national park in that respect, though I think there is a lot of land set aside as wilderness. Maybe it's more comparable to a piece of Nature Conservancy land. Much less built-up, too. We took an hour-long, very slow stroll (at the pace my 86-year-old MIL could manage) in the late afternoon (hence the grainy photo quality).

Anyway, it's a reliable place to find nice Australian birds, like these pink-and-grey galahs:

and a good place to find roos. If you flip your hair from side to side at them, they flip their ears back at you, and they let you get quite close!

Here is a young joey still nursing from the pouch, even though he's up and hopping around now:Still a mama's boy. Awww.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

A few pictures

The dialup connection is really slow, and I haven't had time to take very many photos yet. Well, really there is not much to take photos OF yet, because we are just hanging out in the vineyards, about an hour from Perth, at my MIL's house. We have mostly been visiting with family and neighbors so far, plus one or two friends. Very low key.

But here is Bristow. She is slightly bulky, and still unblocked. But very soft, spongy and cozy.

I used Grumperina's "pretty way" of picking up the stitches for the button band, and I was pleased with the result.

As usual I am totally in love with the buttons I chose. They are plastic, but mimic abalone, and each one is different. The full glory is hard to photograph.

And here is the start of Elsebeth Lavold's Ljod, in Queensland Collection Uruguay DK (merino/alpaca/silk — heaven!). Looks great, doesn't it? Too bad I made a big stitch counting error in row ONE, shifting the whole thing over so it's not centered, and will have to pull it all out. My MIL is nearly in tears about it, even though I pointed out this is 2 1/2 days of knitting and so not too depressing to lose. I am clearly a process knitter. She is clearly a product knitter. No worries, I am distracting myself with a two-year-old size of Little Star! I'll get back to Ljod in a day or two.
This post took over an hour of monopolizing the telephone to get loaded, so expect very intermittent posts! :-)