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.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Are you a catty person? I am - MEOW!

You are a Ragdoll! You are known for your laid

back attitude. You are the ultimate in

low-maintenance. You'd rather hang out

around the house all day than seek adventure.

What breed of cat are you?
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Our menu for the week.

Ashleigh over at Stitched In Holland was driven to writing about her weekly menu on her blog - because as she said, she had nothing better to write about! Well, I happened to find that very interesting, because she is the only other person I know of who like me, plans her weekly menu ahead. I have been doing this for many years, even though I only cook for the two of us (apart from when we have the occasional visitors). I sit down on Wednesday evenings with my current recipe magazine (or other cookbooks) and find seven recipes that I want to try out. I write them down on a piece of paper, in order of the days of the week, then I go through the recipes again and make out a shopping list of what I need. About 11 pm, I head off to the supermarket, which in our case, is just at the top of our street, and closes at midnight. At that hour, there are no queues at the check-outs, and I can usually park right outside the entrance.

In making up my menu, I take the weather forecast into consideration...difficult in Melbourne, as like Chicago, we can have the four season in 24 hours! At this time of the year, we generally have salads, but if there is a cool night forecast, I will throw in a hot meal. Here is this week's menu:

Monday: Cold ham and chicken with garden salad.
Tuesday: Grilled steaks with potato salad, greens,and grilled tomatoes.
Wednesday: Crumbed lamb cutlets with salad or steamed veg.(depends on weather)
Thursday: Chicken kebabs on rice with corn and peas
Friday: Fish of the day (could be prawns, white fish - depends what is on offer at the shop!) with ovenbaked chips and salad.
Saturday: Corned beef and coleslaw. Dessert of fresh fruits and icecream.
Sunday: Leftovers! Or whatever else I can think of that will be easy.

We always have a glass of wine with our meals, and follow up with a cup of fresh brewed tea (not teabags) and a biscuit or slice of cake. I only do desserts on the weekends as we don't really feel like the extra course during the week. If you have bothered to read thus far, I am keen to hear your opinions and comments. What is your system of keeping your household fed? Do you eat out, or have takeaway regularly?

Sunday, January 29, 2006

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This is one of the newer Barinas - I couldn't find a picture of a blue one!

Looking for another car.

It was not a good day to drive around the suburbs looking at car yards. Ken has ended up quite sunburnt, and having a few breathing problems. He has been warned by all his doctors (heart/lung/GP) that he should avoid being outdoors in extreme weather conditions, i.e. very cold, very hot or very windy..and residual bushfire smoke doesn't help either. I took a very large-brimmed straw hat, and rammed it on my head whenever we left the car, so I didn't get burnt or headachy.

So why did we do it? And both days - yesterday and today. My little car (Holden Barina) is now 21 years old. I bought it when it was about 8 years old, and in spite of some pretty rough treatment by yours truly (such as changing from 4th gear into reverse at 100 kph on a freeway), it has never let me down. But now it is starting to make strange noises and worrying rattles, so considering that without a reliable and roadworthy car I don't have a job, we have decided it is time to replace it.

I am not in the market for a NEW car, for two reasons. Firstly, we couldn't afford one - a new Barina would set me back upward of $16,000. But Ken insists that I get one less than 5 years old, and a decent one will still be around $10,000. Secondly, I couldn't stand the stress of driving around in a perfect car, to have someone bump into me in a carpark or elsewhere and leave dings on it. I would never hear the end of it from Ken. So as I said to him when I bought my first Barina, if I buy something that already has a few marks, I won't feel so bad once it gets a few more, and he might not notice them anyway. He always does though :-(

So off we went yesterday, over to the car yards west of where we live. Today, we travelled in the opposite direction. We found half a dozen possibilities, all of which we disagreed over. You see, I look for different things in a car, than what Ken does. When I found the Barina all those years ago, I said "Oh what a pretty blue!" and Ken said "You're not buying a car because it's blue" to which I replied "Yes I am! This is just what I want". So again, this weekend I inspected all the blue cars in the size and price range I was interested in. Ken found silver cars, black cars, red cars, all the right size and price range, but I didn't want to know. I had a sit in a few of them, and narrowed down the field to the cars in which I could see over the dashboard - another Barina, and a Hyundai Getz. Both very pretty shades of blue! The dealers of course tried their best to sell me their cars on the spot, but I just laughed. We'll be looking around for a few more weekends, I think. If I am going to spend ten grand on a car, I have to be 100% sure it is the right one.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Another one of those quizzes...

You Are a Visionary Soul

You are a curious person, always in a state of awareness.
Connected to all things spiritual, you are very connected to your soul.
You are wise and bright: able to reason and be reasonable.
Occasionally, you get quite depressed and have dark feelings.

You have great vision and can be very insightful.
In fact, you are often profound in a way that surprises yourself.
Visionary souls like you can be the best type of friend.
You are intuitive, understanding, sympathetic, and a good healer.

Souls you are most compatible with: Old Soul and Peacemaker Soul

Thursday, January 26, 2006

I love a sunburnt country....

I do love my country with a passion, in spite of the 40C deg. heat today, and bushfires about 40 kls. from us. This is all part of living in Australia. You take the good with the bad, and for me, the good aspects of being an Aussie far outweigh the not so good.

I have always done something to celebrate our national birthday in some small personal way. I have been into the city and joined in the various festivities; I have participated in local events; and in the last few years, Ken and I have hosted an Australia Day party at our home. We invite about 20 people, but for various reasons (holidays, weather, etc.) we usually end up with about 12 - 16 people. But that's fine. Our house isn't that big anyway! So what do we do? The invitation is for lunch. We set up the outdoor furniture and sun umbrella every year, but every year so far we haven't ventured outdoors because of the extreme heat of the day. So we are inside with the air-con. going full blast, as well as a few extra fans. I put on a spread of salads with prawns and cold meats, followed by a dessert of pavlova (two today - strawberry/chocolate and banana/kiwi fruit). We finish off with lamingtons and a cup of tea. All good Aussie tucker! No barbecue due to total fire bans, but it's too hot for a bbq anyway. Everyone brings their own drinks, and the blokes usually bring beer, and the sheilas bring wine or soft drinks.

After the first course, I call for everyone's attention and put a tape of our national anthem on. We all stand and sing "Advance Australia Fair", then raise our glasses and drink a toast to the best country in the world (with apologies to those of you in other places reading this, who think your country is the best!). We spend the rest of the day chatting and drinking, with the tennis on the tv in the background. Today, some of my friends brought some small Aussie gifts for me. The picture here is actually one of six drink coasters. Another girl brought an Aussie flag tea towel, and a cute book on cats.

So to all my Aussie readers - I hope you had a happy Australia Day, and that none of you have been in the path of the bushfires. God bless our Firefighters.

Australia Day, 26th January 2006.
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Tuesday, January 24, 2006

There are some real mongrels out there...

And one in particular is going to find herself the subject of an attack in our local paper. Today while I was hanging washing on the line for one of my home care clients, I noticed something unusual happening at the other end of the back yard. Something white on a long pole, being waved back and forth. I took a closer look and realised it was one of those scoops used to fish leaves out of swimming pools. There was the next door neighbour, scooping rubbish out of her swimming pool, and then dumping same over the fence into my client's yard. She hadn't seen me watching her, so from the cover of a large tree, I called out "How neighbourly of you to share your rubbish with a disabled person. You do realise that it will be thrown back into your own yard in due course?" The pool scoop was rapidly withdrawn accompanied by a mumbled remark that I didn't quite catch, but I am quite sure it was rude. Not that I care. I HATE people who take advantage of others who are so vulnerable due to their age or disability. And I WILL be writing to our local paper. Said neighbour's husband ran for council a year or so ago, on the platform that he wanted to see more done for disabled people in the community. HA. It would pay to look in your own backyard first, chum. Wouldn't it be a hoot if they were reading my blog?

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Old greeting cards.

I had been asked to scan a few of the old cards given to me by an elderly client, so I picked out a few that I thought might interest those of you who like these items. As I have said on Patra's Place, I have a box full of cards, some old, some not so old, and if nobody wants them I will be giving them to the local primary school for the childrens 'art room'. I am happy to post a bundle of cards to anyone reading this who wants them, and I already have a couple of names - Maureen, Nicole and Sharon, as well as Maggie and Patty in the USA. I took some over to Sharon today, and Nicole has advised me what designs she would like, so Maureen, I need to know what you would prefer (religious, floral, etc) and also your postal address (you will find my email addy on my Profile page). Maggie and Patty, you haven't actually asked for me to send any cards to you, so I have scanned these few for you to enjoy and use if you are able to. Don't know how good the quality will be.

Old Christmas cards
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More old Christmas cards
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Old greeting cards (3)
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Old greeting cards
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Old greeting cards (2)
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Friday, January 13, 2006

Some people choose to die, others have no choice.

Ever wonder why these suicide bombers have so little respect for life - theirs or others - that they can do what they do? They probably haven't experienced watching a close relative or friend dying of a terminal illness. Most of us don't have a choice about the way we are to die, and if we did, we would probably want to make it as quick and painless as possible. But not until we had lived long enough to fulfill our earthly dreams and desires.

This morning I received a phone call, telling me a close friend had died last night. The lady in question was the same age as me (57) but had lived a very different life. My health overall has been pretty good up until now, apart from one bad motor accident from which I recovered, and high blood pressure which is pretty standard for most people after about 50! But my friend Claire was diagnosed with diabetes early in life. Due to various errors on her doctor's part at the time, she eventually had to have a kidney transplant (16 years ago). In the following years, she had to have both legs amputated, due to complications with the diabetes. Not both at once - a few years in between each amputation. But none of this stopped her and her husband having three children, who are now all lovely young adults. She was involved in community activities as much as she could, and she enjoyed dining out, visiting friends, shopping, and entertaining friends.

Last night, she and her hubby had been out to dinner. Apparently when they got home she said she didn't feel well, so he put her in the car and drove to hospital, but she died on the way there. The only positive side of this is that she passed away quickly and quietly. If she had not gone like this, the chances are she may have lived for another year or more, while her body eventually rejected the transplant - a horrible way to die, but it was what she told me last year that she was expecting.

I mourn the loss of this very dear friend - a lady greatly loved and admired, who always showed courage in the face of her adversity. I will miss her company, her sense of humour, and our shared opinions of politics and politicians.
Vale Claire Stanley. January 12, 2006

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Now and again, one feels completely satisfied.

It has been a very satisfactory weekend for me. And it's not over yet, so who knows what surprises may still be in store? Not much I hope; I feel like resting for the remainder of today! Yesterday I got all the washing done, dried and put away. Last night we had dinner out with our friends C. and F. The restaurant was smaller than what I had thought it was going to be, and very busy, with a two piece band who were loud in such a small venue, but as their music was mostly country & western with a bit of Elvis stuff thrown in (Elvis' birthday being the next day) we tolerated it quite well. C. and I being Elvis fans from way back (that's how we met) were delighted, and egged them on, much to the embarrassment of our husbands. And Ken was even more so when I whispered to our waitress that it was our anniversary. She told the musicians, who promptly made an announcement, which had everyone applauding us!

This morning, I got up nice and early before it was anywhere near the predicted 30 deg.C, and climbed up on our roof to clean the spouting/guttering. I usually do this twice a year, as they don't take long to fill up with leaves from all the surrounding trees. The Country Fire Authority provide a number of tips on how to keep your house safe during bushfire season, and one of them is to keep the spouting clear of leaves, as it only takes one ember or spark from a nearby fire, to fall into the spouting and set it alight. So I spent a couple of hours up there, waving to the neighbours (they're used to seeing me up there), scooping and sweeping leaves, and chucking it all over the side onto the garden and paths. Then I took the hose up and hosed the spouting out completely, leaving some water in there as a precaution (another CFA tip).

My next job was to tidy up the mess I'd made on the ground! Elsie the dog is also used to seeing me on the roof, but not Topsy. She sat on the back fence looking very startled at all the action, and when I took the hose up, she vanished! Back down on terra firma, and seeing I was already filthy, I decided that I may as well bath Elsie. Bucket of warm water with doggie shampoo, and dog leash in hand, I grabbed her before she could sprint to the back of the yard. She submitted to the wash, and as soon as I let her go, shook herself all over me and tore around the yard like a mad thing!

So, going out for dinner, cleaning the gutters, bathing the dog, getting the week's washing and ironing done, all made me feel I had achieved a lot. The rest of today will be spent writing letters and perhaps doing some stitching. Oh, and doing some Calligraphy practice!

Poor Ken didn't have a good day at all, until we went out for dinner. On Saturday morning, he dropped his bike and fell underneath it (it is a big one - Honda 750). He had just arrived at his chiropractor's office, and was parking the bike when it happened. The chiropractor and one his patients saw him through the window and rushed out to help. No bones broken, but both body and pride were bruised badly. He couldn't start the bike again because the battery was flat, so he called me at home to ask if I would bring the jumper leads from his car. I grabbed them, hopped in my car and went over to join him. Jumper leads didn't work, because one of the battery cells was no good, so it kept shorting out. So we left the bike there, drove my car to the nearest bike shop in the next suburb, but they didn't stock the battery that Ken needed. Next stop was Keilor, a suburb across town about half an hour's drive. That shop didn't have the battery either, but they called a shop in the CBD, who did have the right one. So another half hour drive into the city, to the shop where the battery had been charged up for us. Amazingly on a Saturday morning, we found a parking spot right across the road! Back to the chiropractor's office car park, and I waited with fingers crossed while Ken fitted the new battery. Voila! It started immediately, so we thankfully made our way home, with me following Ken in case of any further mishaps.

Once home, I rubbed some healing ointments into Ken's aching parts, and he hugged me, and said "Thanks for coming over and being there with me". Today, he did some minor jobs to my car and when I said "What would I do without you?", he just smiled and looked at his freshly ironed shirts. No words necessary!

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Gina and Ken: married 27 years, 6 Jan 2006
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January 6th - another Milestone.

Today (well technically yesterday, as it is just past midnight) is our 27th Wedding anniversary. Every year with my Ken is a bonus, taking his health into consideration. We always give each other a card, and go out somewhere special for dinner. We didn't go out on Friday night; instead we are going out on Saturday night with old old, I don't mean age. Well, they are as old as us and I guess to some people that's old (late 50's/early 60's)! No, I meant that I have known my girlfriend since we were teenagers, and her hubby is one of Ken's best mates. We are going to a restaurant up in the Dandenongs, called Kellys On The Hill - 'Kelly' relating to Ned Kelly. The menu specialises in bush tucker - kangaroo, crocodile, buffalo, etc. but also includes pizza and pasta for those with less adventurous tastes in food. Ken and I love bush tucker, but my girlfriend said she will stick to more traditional food like chicken or steak! Should be a fun night anyway.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Back of the calligraphy calendar box.
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2006 Calligraphy boxed calendar. One sheet for every day of the year.
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Topsy sprawled across the floor, right under the ceiling fan, on the hottest day in Melbourne for years. Her eyes are actually yellow - not electric lights like this!
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This is the Chocolate House Ken gave me for Christmas. It is no longer wrapped in the cellophane, and half the roof is missing now! But still lots left to enjoy, and share with any visitors who want to help demolish my house!!
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Man's favorite toy - the remote control. Here is Ken, playing with one of his many remotes!
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I do NOT collect China en masse! Just a few items that appeal to me. I do love blue and white, whether it is Delft or Blue Willow. The sandwich plate on the right and the ginger jar were my stepmum's, but the other items came from opshops or ebay.
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My stepmum left me this cabinet in her will, along with many little ornaments, some of which I kept, others I sold because they didn't appeal to me. The top shelf (inside) hold my Toastmasters trophies and Ken's motorcycle trophies. The other two shelves have knick knacks and pieces of china such as my crinoline ladies and the blue and white in the next photo.
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I posted a pic last year of the huge elk/stag horn fern in our front yard. Well, this one in the back yard was taken from the other. Just one frond, and this is what it has grown to in the space of a few years! We only ever feed it with banana skins (Don Burke says not to, but what would he know - lol!) and they both face the east, and have some shade in the afternoon.
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More geraniums - this plant's origin is at the top of a rock wall. I didn't even plant it, so I don't know how it got to be there, but for most of the year, it cascades down the rock wall like this, without any help from me! Topsy likes it too, but only because her favorite skinks (tiny lizards) live in the rocks.
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These geraniums are at the back fence. I planted two or three cuttings a few years ago and this is the result!
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Some recent snapshots.

It never ceases to amaze me how well you can get to know people all over our planet via the Internet. Like most of you I have my regular blogs to visit, and as I see photos of people and their homes, pets, hobbies, etc. I get to know them better all the time. I took a bunch of photos in recent months and have already put one or two on Patra's Place, but the ones I am about to post are not connected with my stitching or linen. They all have their own descriptions (cross fingers that Picassa is working tonight..), but to sum up, they are: parts of our garden, more of my china, hubby, my Chocolate House, and Topsy.

Oh, and just for Patty (Medieval Lady), some pics of my 2006 Calligraphy Calendar. You may be able to see the price tag on one of the pictures ($22.95), but as I discovered this item after Christmas, all the shops mark their calendars down, and I only paid $11.50 for it! It is not serious calligraphy - more a fun thing with half a dozen basic alphabets, but each week has a new font, and each day has a different word or phrase, with space where you can practice. I don't get to practice much, between reading and stitching, but I thought this was a novel idea, and plan to do my bit as regularly as possible. One of my home care clients has a 16 line verse written out roughly, that she wants done in calligraphy, so she can frame it for her bedroom. So I will need to practice to do a reasonable job. I am debating whether or not to do a one day workshop next month with the Calligraphy society, to freshen up my techniques. Only $40, and it would be useful, but in spite of being a member of the society for many years, I have never been to any of the meetings or workshops, and I am a bit shy about going for the first time. The members do some stunning work, and win prizes in shows all over the place.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Happy New Year to all who visit Patra's Places!

One thing about living in Melbourne, if you don't like the weather, stick around for a day - it is sure to change...and thank goodness for that! Yesterday (N Y Eve) the sun was blazing down, and it got to 43 deg.C (somewhere about 110 deg.F). Ken and I just flaked out. We had the air con. flat out all day and into the evening. Today, the sky is cloudy, there is a lovely cool wind blowing, and the prediction is rain. All our doors and windows are wide open, and the minute the wind slams one shut, I jump up and prop it open again! Inside the house it is still warm, as the bricks can hold the heat for several days. I am tempted to go out and hose the whole place down, which would help the cooling process along, but if everyone did that, our water supply would plummet even lower than where it is now - 58% the last time I looked on Foxtel's weather channel. So I won't do it.

We usually spend NY Eve with friends, either at home or at their place. Not always the same friends - it depends on what everyone has planned. But we usually find others with nothing else planned, as we did yesterday. A couple about two streets away, who we have known for about 23 years, were staying home because of the extreme heat. So when H invited us around there, we accepted, rather than just stay home. I cut some ham sandwiches, and we arrived there about 10 pm. We had some nibbles and sweets, drinks, and at midnight we toasted in the New year with champagne and ham sandwiches while watching the fireworks in Sydney and Melbourne on t.v. If you're wondering about the significance of ham sandwiches, my MIL says this is an old English or Scottish tradition - to have ham sandwiches and shortbread on NY Eve. Don't know why, but we do it anyway! (Helps to soak up the alcohol...)

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