Patra's Other Place

I started out with Patra's Place, primarily dedicated to my linen collection and stitching projects. But I kept getting side-tracked, so I decided to create Patra's Other Place for anything not related to embroidery topics. So you now have a choice. If you are interested in me, read this. If you only want to see my linen and stitching, visit Patra's (original) Place! (Please note that by clicking on any of the photos, they will be enlarged to fill your computer screen.)

My Photo
Location: Melbourne, Vic., Australia

I am married to Ken. We have no children except a cat and a collection of Australian parrots, finches, canaries and a dozen hens.

Monday, October 31, 2005

An old fashioned couple: Ken and Gina at the top of Mt Wellington in Hobart, Tasmania. June 2005
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Sunday, October 30, 2005

In reflective mood, and looking for answers.

As mentioned in previous posts, I have recently immersed myself in some of my childhood classic books. Worked my way through the six Mallory Towers books (by the way, Sharon - are you enjoying the first two?), followed those with five of the Anne Of Green Gables series (there are a few that I don't have in my collection), and today, read Pollyanna all through (yes, I am a fast reader!). I don't have any more of the Pollyanna books, so I will have to start looking in secondhand bookshops for those. Still not sated, I have started on Little Women tonight and made the delightful discovery that my copy of this was originally my Mum's - evidenced by the inscription to her inside the cover, dated 1912. I should say, I re-discovered that fact, because I do remember Mum giving it to me to read as a small girl, along with her other own much-read-and-loved childhood books.

As also mentioned previously, I tend to re-read these old books at times in my life when I am unhappy or stressed, maybe because they transport me temporarily back into a time when life's pleasures were simple and sweet. Today, my reading had more meaning than usual, due to discussions with friends in the last 24 hours. Last night, we had tea/dinner with some very good friends who live close by. They are about 10 years younger than us, so there are a few small gaps in our common interests, and none more so than the type of music we like. Ken and I love much of the classics (but not opera) - we enjoy organ music (both theatre and church), and we are great fans of Andre Rieu, a Dutch orchestra leader who is doing a lot in Europe and the USA to bring the classics from the elite upper class(as he puts it) to the general public. We also like a bit of Country & Western, 1940's Big Band, and 1950s and 60s popular/rock'n'roll. Our friends don't mind most of that in small doses, but they prefer groups like U2, ELO and Cindy Lauper (spelling?). Last night they put on some of their DVDs of these entertainers. I had never seen or heard any of their music, although I had heard the names.

Well, call me old-fashioned, but I was appalled. That is not a new reaction by me to current 'music' trends. Okay, I just don't like the noise - I can't find any melody in it, and I hate the way they look. Our friends told us that Cindy was in her 50's - same age as me, and on the close-ups, yes I could believe it. But the clothes - oh dear...I just can't begin to describe it. And after seeing the other musicians our friends are so keen on, I started to think about the effect these people are having on the kids of today. No wonder we live in such an ugly, violent and angry society. Females don't seem to have any self-respect - it appears they dress to shock, rather than to make the best of themselves. The males are just as bad, and the stuff they sing (when you can understand the words) seems full of hate and anger, not to mention sex. Now, don't get me wrong - nothing wrong with sex, but when it is degraded to the levels of the gutter, well - as I said, no wonder the kids have no sense of beauty and compassion these days.

This brings me to the second discussion I refer to: with one of my new and very dear blog friends - Maggie Ann. A week or so ago, she responded to a light-hearted post I had here relating to Harry Potter, and I answered her comment later. Today, she posted again, and for those of you who don't read all the comments going back a few days (who would have the time!), I am taking the liberty of reproducing it here, as I think it is well worth a second look. Maggie originally expressed concern at the possible effect of Harry on his young readers, and I asked if she had read Enid Blyton, because that much loved lady featured all kinds of wizards and goblins etc. in her books, with no apparent detriment to my generation's morals!
Morning I don't believe I've ever read Enid Blyton but I am a 'serious' gal and do take the Bible literally. I sure agree that tv programing is horrid...the world is sitting in the devil's hand for morals on alot of tv. Multitudes of kids will be buying into the wicked values of 2005, what heartaches they will be opening themselves up to that need not have been. If God speaks against wizards, thats good enough for me. For me there is no higher authority nor wisdom than my God. Don't mean to be a thorn in the side though....I only want to let my little light shine for Jesus. We each choose for ourselves..I know that.

The tv programs Maggie refers to are some of the American mid-day interview shows, where people discuss the most intimate and sordid details of their lives for all the world to see. I suggested to Maggie that they have a far more profound effect on the children of today than poor little Harry Potter, and she agrees. (And Maggie, you are not a thorn in my side. I am not religious in any way, but I respect the beliefs of my friends, and their rights to believe in whatever they wish). So - my Blogging Friends - what do you think, if you have got this far?

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Third in my series of Yesterday's Ladies. Apologies to Ms Robyn for lateness - I had promised I was going to put these on every Tuesday! Like I am sure you were really sweating on!
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One week later and the waiting is over.

I don't know whether to be happy or sad. But at least we know where we stand, more or less. Ken had an appointment with the cardiologist at 4.45 pm today, and was going to hear the results of all the tests he has had. Yesterday, we had a message left on our answering machine: "This is Dr X's office. We have to cancel your appointment for tomorrow as Dr X is booked out. Please call to re-schedule". WELL! I had just got home - it was 5 minutes to 5 pm and their office closes at 5. I dialled their number and got their answering machine saying they had closed. So I left a caustic message saying that if they close the office at 5 pm, how about leaving the phone line open until that time? When Ken arrived home from his first day back at work (he will be working until Vic Roads actually cancel his bus licence), I told him the appointment was cancelled, and he visibly crumbled. He had been psyching himself up to this, and to be told he was going to have to wait again, was just too much.

This morning, I was on the phone to the cardiologist's office at 9.05 a.m. The girl who answered the phone recognised me immediately and apologised for last night, with some excuse about having to change their outgoing message, so they just happened to miss my call...yeah, pigs might fly too. Well, she shuffled papers and clicked keys and said the next available appointment was November 15th. I really saw red. "If we have to wait any longer to find out the results of his tests, not only will my husband have a heart attack, I will probably have a stroke, the way my blood pressure is!" I yelled down the phone, and the poor girl said she would give Dr X my message and ask him to phone me today. I went out and did my shopping and a few messages, and came back at 2 pm to find no messages waiting for me. So I called the office again, and this time, the doctor's secretary said "Oh hasn't he called you yet? Hold on please". So I held for a few minutes then a man's voice came on the line. I could hardly believe my luck; I mean this guy is one of the top blokes in his field, and I know he is unbelievably busy, so I didn't really expect him to speak to me, inspite of my tantrums! He was very sympathetic - he is actually a very nice guy, easy to talk to and explain things to you. He told me that Ken's tests confirmed the original diagnosis of his partner who did the first test - Ken's heart is weaker than it was last year, so they won't be able to recommend to Vic Roads that Ken retains his bus licence. But having said that, he said "But I still want to see him again soon to review his medications. While his heart won't get any better, with medication I can make sure it won't get any worse, so he can still find another job if he wants to - but less stressful than bus driving! But I am going to suggest to him that he retires, so he can at least enjoy the remaining years of his life".

I relayed all this to Ken when he came home, and waited for his reaction with my heart in my mouth. Would he throw a wobbly? Would he go 'into his cave', as the author of Men Are From Mars puts it? Well, neither of those. Ken went to the fridge, took out a beer and sat down to relax. He thanked me for doing all the chasing around, and said he wasn't surprised to hear the outcome, as everything had kind of been leading up to it. He felt the same as me - at least we know after all this time, and we can start planning the next stage of our lives. He had warned the boss at work that he would probably have to leave, and the boss said he would see if he could find another position in the company, but it would be difficult without that licence. But if that doesn't eventuate, Ken will have a look for some part time or casual work - perhaps in the retail field, as he has worked in shops before.

Overall, I was relieved that Ken was so philosophical about the outcome, but as he said, he has had time to adjust to the idea, so it wasn't such a shock. He is disappointed that he won't be driving buses much longer; he really enjoys that, despite the problems with passengers and traffic. Anyway, one door closes, another opens, as they say. Thanks to all of you who have been following our ongoing drama and leaving encouraging comments. I can't find enough words to express how much I appreciate opening my blogs and finding these kind words.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

WAITING, waiting, waiting....

Today (Wednesday) seemed to go on forever. We arrived at the hospital at 7.15 am, well in time for the appointed time of 7.30 am. Around 9 am, Ken was taken into the operating theatre to have an angiogram. I found my way to the coffee shop on the ground floor to buy myself a latte. When I returned to the day surgery waiting room about 10.30, Ken had just been brought back to recover. He was happy enough, as the cardiologist had said he was pleased to find that the arteries were healthy and the stent was still in place. But he wasn't as happy with the heart, and suggested that a PET scan be done the next day. One of the nurses suggested that they do it this afternoon, as the nuclear medicine dept. wasn't busy, so they took Ken off again about 1.30 pm.

I had been alternating between a book and some stitching, and after four hours or so on a hard chair, my backside was aching something awful, so I decided to go for a walk. It was a lovely sunny day, so I meandered along the main road, windowshopping, and stopping to browse and buy the odd item that appealed. Got back to the hospital about an hour later, thinking Ken would be finished by then, but no. He didn't appear again until about 4 pm. The nurses expressed concern that he had been exposed to so much radiation on one day, and advised him to avoid pregnant women and babies for the next day or so. I said "I suppose that means no sex?" at which they cracked up and Ken blushed!! We couldn't wait to get home (because we were TIRED, not randy!), but we had two stops on the way: one to the post office to collect my mail, and the other to pick up some chips (fries) for Ken, who was absolutely starving after fasting the previous night, and nothing much to eat all day!

The upshot of the whole exercise is that we STILL don't know for sure if the cardiologist is going to give the okay for Ken to continue working. Last wee he spoke as if it was a foregone conclusion that Ken wouldn't be able to return to work, but today, he wanted the PET scan 'to have another look'. It is driving us crazy. Ken is due back to work next Monday, so the doc. will have to tell him one way or the other over the next two days.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Second pic in the series of Yesterday's Ladies.

Last Tuesday, Robyn asked me if I could put one pic a week on here of these lovely ladies, so as it is now Tuesday one week on, and I am in the middle of posting pics to various websites, I thought I may as well put the second one on now. Isn't she lovely!

I like reading about what other people cook and eat. So when I think of it, I am going to add details of our meals here - if they were edible, that is! Tonight we had Steamed Chicken with Asparagus Salad. A breast fillet of chicken was halved, each piece wrapped in a slice of prosciutto, and steamed for about 10 minutes. I also steamed fresh asparagus (in season right now I think - and delicious), sliced it and added it to diced fresh tomatoes, baby spinach and shredded lettuce. Over the lot, I tipped a mixture of olive oil and Balsamic vinegar. A quick cup of tea followed before I took off for a Toastmasters meeting. Which reminds me - I haven't washed the dishes yet - bleah!!! (no, we don't have a dishwasher, and no, Ken doesn't 'do dishes'). Byeeeeee!

Monday, October 17, 2005

Here is the second picture from the series on Yesterday's Ladies calendar.
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Sunday, October 16, 2005

Our weekend.

Talk about Dismal Dora! I said to Patty when I emailed her today, that I tend to over-react to some things, and because of Ken's near death experience four years ago, I have this horror of going through that again. But for goodness sake, do I have to inflict my insecurities on the lovely people that read my blog?? I am truly touched by the warm-and-fuzzies I receive every time I have a blog-weep, but I must start including some more positive writings, or my friends will just get sick of hearing it all!

So. About this weekend, which is fast coming to an end as we sit together in our 'computer room', while Ken burns countless DVDs and I read and write blogs!
Saturday is usually the day I catch up on any housework, washing and ironing that I haven't done during the week, and that is what I did yesterday. Ken spent some time in the garden, some time watching the GP Bikes on tv, and some time snoozing. We had a couple of friends over for dinner. We have know W. and C. for about 20 years I guess, having met them a few years after we moved to this suburb. C. is in a wheelchair, as she has had both her legs amputated as a result of complications due to her diabetes. She also had a kidney transplant about 16 years ago. In spite of all this, she is usually cheerful, funloving and participates in their (adult) children's activities as much as any other mum does. I am telling you this, because C. is one of the people in my life who bring me back to the reality of my own blessings in life. My Dad had two favorite sayings that he often quoted:

There but for the grace of God go I, and
I cried because I had no shoes, then I saw a man who had no feet.
They are both great levellers when one is feeling sorry for one's self.
We started off with a bottle of red and some nibbles, then had roast lamb and veggies, followed by a dessert of strawberries and cream on a coconut/oat slice I had made earlier. Back to the lounge room where Ken asked what DVD they would like to watch, and they both voted for a comedy, so we put Benny Hill on and laughed ourselves silly for the next couple of hours!

Today, Ken rode his motorcycle down to Phillip Island with some friends who were going to the Grand Prix. When they arrived at the track, Ken said goodbye, and turned around and came home! This was a 310 kilometres round trip, but that was okay - he just felt like going for a long ride and this was a good reason. He had no intention of attending the GP as the entrance fee was A$77 this year, and he said it was just too expensive and he wouldn't go in on principle. So he arrived back home in time for a quick snooze, then watched the races in comfort. I decided to spend the day stitching, and made good inroads into a sampler I am doing for a friend's 60th birthday. Her birthday was actually in March, but somehow I completely missed it and felt so guilty that I decided to do this for her anyway! I will put a pic of it on Patra's Place shortly. Tonight for dinner, I made a delicious frittata-style meal. French bread cut into slices and laid in a ceramic dish, covered with smoked salmon and crumbly cheese. Mix two eggs and a cup of cream, pour over the salmon, and bake for about half an hour. YUM! Followed by fresh mango and pears with cream. You may have gathered I love cream!

That was my weekend.

Friday, October 14, 2005

No news is good news.

Today was The Day. The consequences of Ken's smoking are becoming more pronounced. After three weeks of tests, his cardiologist presented us with the results today. He is not going to allow Vic Roads to renew Ken's heavy vehicle (bus) licence, due to the deterioration in his heart condition. So as of now, Ken is effectively without a job.. Retired if you like. He went to the Bus company after seeing the doctor, and told the boss what has happened. They regard Ken highly in there, as he has an excellent driving record, is reliable, and not prone to abusing people. The boss is going to see if they can work out something else for Ken to do, to stay with the company, but the bottom line is, you're either a bus driver, or you're not a bus driver. Ken wouldn't be able to work in the operations (office) for a number of reasons, so his chances are slim. He has to go into hospital next week for an angiogram, but the cardiologist warned him that it probably won't make any difference to his heart; they just want to check on the state of the arteries.

Ken has been on the phone for a couple of hours tonight, telling his family the news. It was good that he could get it off his chest. Not much he could tell me, as I was with him all day, and of course we discussed it when he felt like talking. But I am just letting him be, at the moment. He is still officially on vacation, but my jocular comments of a few weeks ago have come back to haunt me now. (I said while ironing his work shirts, that it might be a wasted effort, if he never goes back to work).

So, after next week when the surgeon will confirm his diagnosis, we will be having to make some major decisions. Will we continue to live in this house, in this suburb? Will he look for part time work doing something less stressful, or will he apply for a disability pension (he can't get the old-age pension until 65)? And will we go ahead with the renovations we had been planning a month ago? Questions, questions, and no easy answers. What will be, will be, as the song goes. I am cautiously optimistic, and think that this could be the start of an easier lifestyle for both of us in the next couple of years. I did ask the surgeon on our way out of his office; what is the long-term prognosis for Ken, and he said "He can look forward to a long happy retirement, if he takes care of himself now". Only time will tell.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Calendar of Vintage Ladies

Every Christmas, I give my Mum-in-law a specific style of calendar as one of her gifts. She likes the long-line ones that have a month to a page, with one line for every day, so she can write her appointments and reminders on it clearly. I usually buy all my calendars from the RSPCA or the Red Cross, but last week our local newsagent had his range of 2006 calendars on display, and I saw a stunning long-line calendar called "Yesterday's Ladies". If I had enough money, I would have bought all his stock, as I can immediately think of 10 girls who would love it! But I settled for one, and will give it to Ken's mum, as I know she will appreciate it just as much as any of you. And I know she won't mind that I have scanned all the pictures in order to put them on here one by one, knowing how many of you will just love 'em....enjoy!

Vintage Lady No.1
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Sunday, October 09, 2005

I am with Harry Potter in Gryffindor!

i'm in gryffindor!

be sorted @
I found this quiz via Karen's blog (Little Grey Cat) and being a fairly new convert to young Master Potter, decided to have a go. What fun!!

Here are my answers:

Five things I want to do before I die

1 Finish my UFO's (well, some of them)

2 Take a joy flight in a Tiger Moth aeroplane

3 See the rest of Australia (W.A. and N.T.)

4 Open a museum dedicated to textiles, so I can permanently display my linen collection to the public.

5 Drive a steam train! (under the guidance of the driver, that is!)

Five Things I can Do

1 Sew

2 Cook

3 Talk

4 Listen

5 Ride a motorcycle

Five Things I Can't Do

1 Bunjy jumping

2 Ski

3 Parachute jumping

4 Knit

5 Drive a truck or bus

Five things that attract me to men

1 T D & H

2 Sense of humour

3 Love of animals and nature

4 Compassion

5 Romantic

Five celebrity crushes

1 Elvis Presley

2 Sean Connery

3 Jeff Kennett (former Vic. politician)

4 John F. Kennedy

5 Prince Charles

(I am strongly attracted to men in power; don't know what that says about me!)

Five Things I Say All The Time

I find this one impossible to answer. Most people are not aware of what they say habitually; it is better answered by someone who knows you and your speech patterns well).

Thursday, October 06, 2005

I should have known better!

In fact I should really scrub yesterday's post - what a whinger I am. Fancy putting all my insignificant problems on here for all to see, when I should have remembered my ability to bounce back after a 'downer'. Thank you so much Ms Robyn and Dawn, for your Warm and Fuzzies (for those who don't understand - that means warm and caring comments). The problems haven't gone away of course, but I have put things into perspective now, as I always do, and am grateful to just be me with the many blessings in my life, in comparison to so many people, such as Laurie at Rose Cottage, whose family have lost just about everything after Hurricane Katrina. And she is only one - there are so many more.

My doctor was sympathetic to my outpourings this morning, and agreed that five years is far too long to go without a break of some kind. But she said that a weekend away now and then would probably do the trick for me, as if I stayed away from Ken any longer I would start to feel guilty, thereby defeating the purpose of my time away! She is right. So after we know for sure what is happening with Ken next week, I will rethink my ideas for a break, and go from there.

Today was a rather nice day; that is probably part of the reason I am feeling fairly optimistic again. After the doctor this morning, I trotted around Eltham doing all my grocery shopping for the week, then came home to find Ken up and about, planning some more time in the garden. As the forecast rain hadn't arrived, I did a load of washing and hung that out, and then we had some lunch. After lunch, I set off to visit my Japanese 'Do Care' friend. I always take a few items to show her - today it was some of my current stitching, some of my vintage aprons, and a kimono that I bought in Japan when I was there about 30 years ago. It is not a heavily embroidered traditional kimono - more of a light house coat style, and I wear it a lot in summer. Atsuko happily inspected everything, which we discussed in slow detail while we struggled with each other's language! We do have fun communicating, each with a Japan/English dictionary, but we get there eventually. She always provides some afternoon tea, and today it was Sushi, which she knows I love. She always makes extra portions for me to take home to share with Ken. Such a sweet lady.

It is nice to know that people are thinking about you.

I had two unexpected phone calls yesterday. Well, I had more than two calls, but these two were just what I needed to perk me up. I have been feeling a tad 'down' lately, for a number of possible reasons. I guess first and foremost, Ken's health is at the back of my mind constantly, even though he himself is outwardly enjoying his vacation. Over the weekend he was busy transferring our old videos to DVD on one of his new-fangled machines. Yesterday, he weeded the whole of our front yard yesterday - a BIG job - and it looks great.(But he was exhausted afterwards). Today he collected his laptop from the shop where it has been since Friday, having an upgrade in memory, and happily played with it tonight. So, for him, life is going on regardless. Oh, I know that next week's appointment with the cardiologist is at the back of his mind like it is on mine, but he isn't letting it get him down. But I can't help myself. My blood pressure is still too high, despite doubling the medication. I have lost interest in people and activities that I was previously actively involved in, and I am tired, oh so tired. I haven't had a holiday for five years. I am not including weekends away this year - I mean WEEKS away. When I retired from full time work 6 years ago, I vowed never to go back to full time work, and my job at the moment is 3 days a week. I thought I would not need to take time off, seeing I am only working part time. But perhaps I do need some time off.

The two phone calls that I mentioned were from volunteer co-ordinators of the two organisations I was so active with just a few months ago. One of these girls works fulltime for two aged care facilities, as the volunteer co-ordinator. Her family - husband and two children - are all in poor health, so she is the carer for them as well. But she is unfailingly cheerful to all. She likes to do cross stitch when she has a spare moment, and when she discovered that was one of my interests, she made a point of asking me what I was working on, every time we were in contact. She told me she is going away with a girlfriend for a week - just the two of them. She needs a break, she said. When I told her how I was feeling lately, she said 'You need a break too. You work with needy people, you volunteer with needy people, and you have a needy husband. You may think you are coping, but it will wear you down eventually, and you must get away now and then to recharge your batteries'. I said 'How can I walk away from Ken right now? He would feel as if I have deserted him in his hour of need', and she replied 'If you don't, you will end up in hospital yourself, and he will be even worse off'.

The other phone call was from my Do Care co-ordinator, and when I told her about the previous conversation, she was in total agreement. She has been puzzled and quite concerned at the change in me, from an enthusiastic volunteer who loved taking my group of ladies out every month and more besides, to suddenly dropping away and disbanding the group altogether.

I have another appointment with my doctor tomorrow...actually today - it is 2.15 am as I type (Probably another reason I am so tired - too much time spent on this darn computer!) If she also says that I need a holiday, I might go to a friend's house down by the beach, take some stitching, and see if I can repair my soul. And I won't be near a computer, so if this takes place, I will leave a message on here so my Blog friends will know what is happening. Having said that, I am not counting chickens...I just can't imagine myself walking away from people that need me. I keep telling myself nobody is indispensable; the cemeteries are full of people who wore themselves out trying to prove otherwise. But, apart from running away from my first husband, I have never run anywhere, and think it is too late to start running now.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Another cat cartoon for all you kitty lovers out there!
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Saturday, October 01, 2005

Pam K - this one's for you.

Or for anyone really - whoever is interested in Australian native birds. Gouldian Finches are on the endangered species list in the wild, for the usual reason of habitat destruction. However, they are probably in no immediate danger of extinction, as they are a very popular bird in aviculture, although a bit harder to breed in captivity than most other native birds. Ken had a go at breeding them once, but was unsuccessful, as he was only beginning to breed native species in his aviaries, and the finches need specific conditions for continued success.

So these photos are from books, not from my own photos of birds in the wild. There are several subspecies of Gouldian Finches, two of the most common being the red faced and the black faced pictured here. These pictures don't do justice to the reality - these little birds are visually stunning. They look as though someone has meticulously painted them in vivid oil colours, which is why they are so sought after by bird collectors around the world.

Red-faced Gouldian Finch
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Black-faced Gouldian Finches
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adopt your own virtual pet!