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, December 26, 2006

Christmas is over for another year.

The best thing about Christmas Day this year was that it was the coldest Christmas Day on record in Melbourne. That might sound strange for those in the northern hemisphere who probably dread the weather at this time of the year, but for us it was wonderful. We had rain and even snow in the Alps, which helped to drench the terrible bushfires around our State. The firefighters were able to go home and spend Christmas Day with their families. Mind you, we are not 100% safe yet - some of those fires will smoulder for weeks, even months, and with the summer only just started, there will no doubt be more extreme weather and the ever constant threat of fire. But for now, there has been welcome relief.

Our own Christmas Day was better than I expected. Ken and I have come to dread the family get-to-gether; it always seems to be fraught with stress and underlying tensions, but yesterday was different. Maybe because it was the first time another member of the family hosted it - change of venue can make a difference! Ken's Mum coped very well considering how ill she has been in the past few months, so that helped make the day happier for all of us.

My friends and family have been very generous again this year. Ken gave me a chocolate house again (third year running - is this going to be a tradition? I hope so!!), a Black Cat calendar and an Elvis DVD. My other gifts included more chocolates, cakes, biscuits, a silk scarf from England, some embroidered items, socks, books, drink coasters, diaries, the cutest keycase and matching cellphone pouch with kitties on them! and from a very special friend, an antique petit point jewellery box with a lovely pendant.

Thank you to those who commented on the previous post about our Walk Through Bethlehem. I have replied to you all personally.
To everyone who reads this blog, my best wishes to you and yours for 2007. Thank you for visiting me in 2006, and I look forward to continuing our cyberspace friendships in the coming year!

Sunday, December 24, 2006

A Walk Through Bethlehem (in Melbourne).

Ken was watching the 6 o'clock news tonight, and called out something to me about a nativity display somewhere. I thought he was referring to the many Christmas lights displays around the suburbs of Melbourne, and didn't take much notice. I still didn't know what he was on about, even when he rang Channel 7 to ask where this display was, and they told him. We had a look on the Internet, but I was still looking under 'Christmas lights', and so I didn't find what he was looking for. As we had nothing else planned, we decided to go for a drive and have a look at the lights anyway, and discovered some wonderful displays not far from home.

Ken still had the bee in his bonnet about the Nativity display he'd seen on t.v., so we headed off for Thornbury, about half an hour's drive from home. We thought it was at a church, but no, it was actually a Catholic school. When we arrived, we were very lucky to find a parking spot close by, as there was a queue of people around two blocks to enter the display. At first we weren't going to bother joining the queue, but as Ken said, we've come all this way, we may as well stay for a look. We are both glad that we did.

How can I explain it? In the school grounds, people had re-created street scenes from biblical times in Bethlehem - all kinds of shops, ending up in the manger, with Joseph, Mary, Baby Jesus, a young shepherd, and the three Wise Men. Each 'shop front' along the street had people dressed up in periodical costume, and doing things like grinding grain, chipping masonry, etc. We have never seen anything like this, but found out that it was in it's sixth year. And when I came home to find out more, I discovered that lots of towns around the world do a similar thing! Here is the link to the one we went to: Walk Through Bethlehem.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Map of Victoria showing where the bushfires are.

I know several other Bloggers have this map on their blogs, but this is for those who have not yet seen it.

Busy time of the year.

We have a double whammy in December - Ken's birthday is one week before Christmas. So the past week has been busy but fun. Last Friday, we were invited to a neighbour's home for 'Christmas Drinks'. These friends do this nearly every year, and we have come to know their other friends fairly well, so this was a pleasant evening. On Saturday, we drove up to Kyneton (Victorian country town) and spent the evening with LeeAnn and her hubby Rob at a Christmas dinner put on by an organisation they are closely affiliated with. We had a wonderful time; the entertainment was excellent, as was the food, and the company of LeeAnn and Rob was the icing on the cake! Thanks again, guys!

On Sunday, Ken and I took his sister and her hubby to dinner at our favourite Chinese Restaurant in Eltham - "Noble House". Ken and I dine there at least once a year for special occasions, as the service and food is great, and the restaurant has a wonderful ambience. High ceilings, carpeted floors and the tables not too close to each other provides a quiet and peaceful atmosphere in which to enjoy the meal.
We took L. and D. there to thank D. for helping Ken out when he has got stuck somewhere with his motorcycle.

On Monday, Ken's 64th birthday, we both worked all day, and after we got home there were several phone calls for Ken, including one from LeeAnn and Rob. I picked up the phone to hear two voices enthusiastically singing "Happy Birthday" and realised who it was immediately! We went across to visit his Mum after dinner. She was very pleased to see us as usual, and as she hugged Ken, she reminisced "You were about five hours old, this time 64 years ago". She will be 94 in February and although she is now very frail after her recent heart attacks, she is still mentally as bright as the proverbial button!

Tuesday and Wednesday nights were spent at home quietly, as will Thursday at this stage. Friday our friends L. and M. will call around after tea and we'll swap gifts and probably watch a movie. We have nothing planned for the weekend lead-up to Christmas Day, and that's probably a good thing! Like most males, Ken will have last minute shopping to do, so I won't complicate things by making arrangements to go out or have visitors! On a more serious side, the less Ken goes outside the better, at the moment. Melbourne (in fact a large part of Victoria) is suffocating under a blanket of smoke from the terrible bushfires which are destroying so much of our state. Anyone with heart and lung problems are being warned to stay indoors as much as possible.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Scatching post legs.

This blog is boring without photos or graphics, but as I haven't got any photos to put on here at the moment, this little graphic will have to do!

Health and hot weather.

On a more serious note, Ken's Mum had another heart attack last week and is in hospital at the moment. She has had more stents put in her arteries, and we visited her today. She looked very tired, but cheered up after a few minutes, and was delighted to see my progress on the cross stitch project I am working on for the Embroiderer's Guild. We are glad she is in hospital at the moment, because while our weather is so hot and unpleasant, we know she is comfortable and being looked after. Like most people, she hates being there and is longing to get back home, but probably won't be able to for another week. We offered to have her stay with us for a week or so when she is discharged, but no, she wants to go home, and I can understand that. The social worker will be discussing her case with Ken's sister and perhaps organising more home help for her, which would be good. Working in that field myself, I know what help is available from local council, and she will be a lot better off at home with extra help.

Patty, believe me, I would love to swap some of your cold snow for this heat we are experiencing. Today it reached 37 deg.C (a bit over 100 deg.F) in Melbourne, and tomorrow has the same forecast. The good news is that our air-con. man came last Tuesday and regassed our old air conditioner. With this weather, it will probably only last a few weeks, but he is coming again next week to install a new one. Another large dent in the bank account, but with Ken's health, it is a must. At the moment, with all the smoke in the atmosphere, he has to be aware that like anyone else with lung disease, he may find breathing difficult when he is outdoors for any length of time. He was not well on Thursday, so he stayed home. I called his boss and told him Ken was entitled to his annual leave now and I wanted him to have next week off. His boss is used to me telling him what I want for Ken, and he is very good about it, so he okayed the week's vacation. When Ken woke up I told him he had next week off work, and he said "I'm glad it was you that asked - I wouldn't have dared ask for time off so close to Christmas!"

Sorry about that last post!

No wonder nobody bothered commenting on my previous post; in fact I'd be surprised if anyone owned up to actually reading it to the end! I think it was influenced by what was going on around me at the time, i.e.teens around here being particularly obnoxious and noisy, as they usually are this time of the year. Anyway, enough about that; I'm sure I'm not the only one with noisy neighbours! It's a selfish viewpoint when one considers what else is happening in Australia at the moment. I don't need to elaborate on our bushfires; every Aussie reading this is well aware of the situation, and I know some of my blogger friends are dangerously close to it all. So I should not be whinging about neighbours who celebrate Christmas and school holidays in their own way. It's not for long, after all.

Some of my more honest (as in upfront/don't mince their words kind of honesty!) friends have told me over the years I am intolerant of kids because I've never had any of my own to deal with. They are probably right. And if I am brutally honest with myself, I remember being a very noisy child and teen myself. As kids, my friends and I would run around our back yard screeching, just for the heck of it. Mum used to call out to me to stop it, which I did, but at the same time, annoyed because she was spoiling our fun. I never gave the neighbours a thought! What 10 year old does? And as a teen, I would play my rock'n'roll records as loudly as I dared, until Dad came into my room and threatened to disconnect the recordplayer unless I turned it down.

As for parties...oh yes, my memory serves me well here. One in particular comes to mind, when my best friend's Mum was away for the weekend, and Best Friend invited everyone and their dog to her home. I shudder now to think what her neighbours were thinking, and in retrospect, I'm surprised they didn't call the police, with all the noise and everything. There must have been about fifty kids coming and going all night. Last night, the boy next door celebrated his 18th birthday, with about that many kids. But his mum had warned me, and said they would be gone by 8 pm as they were being picked up by a bus and returned home at midnight. so from around 7 pm there was lots of noise and loud music, then a huge double-decker bus trundled down our hill and stopped outside our place. The kids were all out in the street by this time, waiting for it, and once they had gone, peace and quiet prevailed until midnight when they came back. But they were all gone within half an hour, so we had no cause for complaint. In fact, I almost envied them. What a ball they must have had! I must ask his Mum how much it cost; I might hire the bus for my 60th birthday! Anyone want to join me?

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Oh, is it Christmas Time?

So many blogs with so many pictures and verses relating to Christmas...why not this one? I was brought up in a Christian (C of E) household, where we had a Christmas tree, decorations and all those nice things every year while we were all at home. As my brothers got married and left home, then my Mum died, and there was only Dad and I left, we didn't bother with the frills - just put up the cards as they arrived, and went to Church on Christmas Day. Actually, Dad went on Christmas Eve, Christmas morning and Night, I think, as he was in the church choir. I just went to the morning service.

When I moved into my own apartment, Church went 'out the window' as I was living too far from home to go to Dad's church, and I didn't know where the nearest church was to my flat. I really can't remember what my first husband and I did to celebrate Christmas...can't remember much at all about that six years of marriage.

Ken and I used to put up a small plastic tree and a few decorations, but not having any children, and always spending Christmas Day with his family, we haven't bothered doing much decorating for years. I put a wreath on the front door, and we hang the cards around the lounge room, and that's it. Oh, we do post cards to friends and family, and we give gifts to each other, family and friends. As we've got older, we have both become a bit ambivalent about the whole deal. For a start, it begins way too early. The shops and media start plugging it around September, for goodness sake. And it's all spend, spend, spend. I saw a poster somewhere last year that said it all for me. A picture of Jesus looking very sad, with the caption "When did I say you had to go and spend money to celebrate my birthday?"

From November onward, the traffic gets more and more chaotic. Where are all those people going in such a hurry? There are twice the number of collisions at this time of the year compared to the rest of the year. I feel so sorry for the Police and Ambulance drivers. And supervisor was cross with me because I chose to look after one of my clients instead of taking the afternoon off to attend the staff Christmas Party. Well, excuse me, but I am in this job to look after people. The staff Xmas party should not disrupt the clients' needs - it should be held after hours or on weekends, as far as I'm concerned. Another thing about parties...why do people think it is necessary to get drunk to 'celebrate' Christmas? I hate it around here - the kids go nuts, driving like maniacs, loud music, broken bottles in the front yards next day....ugh. Christmas? No thanks - roll on January.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Ten days later...

Thank you dear Friends, who leave supportive and caring comments on my humdrum hiccups. Things are never as bad as they seem at first, when it is all happening around you. J. (the bike shop owner) calmed down and so did I, after I explained why I had been so angry. Ken called him a few days later and they talked for about an hour, and the upshot was that J. said to Ken "what would you like me to do?" So Ken now has a quote for the cost of rebuilding his bike's engine, which will have to be done if he ever wants to ride it again, and he accepts that fact now. His bike is over 20 years old and obviously by then major things do start to go wrong. A message for Ms Robyn and Nicole - tell your hubbies to trade in their bikes after 10 years!!

I retrieved our energy bills over the past year (I keep things like that for about 2 years before shredding them), and found that we were actually undercharged last year, so the company has adjusted that by increasing the monthly charge to make up for the shortfall. In case anyone reading this is wondering how that can happen, Ken and I are on a plan called Dual Fuel, which means that our gas and electricity bills are combined, and a monthly charge is reached by averaging the previous year's actual readings. We are charged the same amount every month for a year, and at the end of that year, the company works out the actual energy used to see if we are under or over the year's cost.

The Telstra bill is a different ball game altogether, and I am still fighting this battle. About six months ago, I saw an advert. online for a free trial mobile phone ringtone, which you would pay for if you wanted to keep it after the month's free trial. So I signed up for it - silly me. I never got the ring tone on my mobile, but our Telstra bill has been charged about $20 a month ever since. After fruitlessly trying to get through to someone on the phone to discuss this, I ended up taking the bills to our local Telstra sales office and asking them to do something. The people there were very patient with me, and they made heaps of calls themselves, both to Telstra head office and to this ringtone company - to try and get a credit for me, and to stop any further charges. No luck - I'm still being charged and I'm getting madder and madder!! I have deducted the amounts off the bill before paying them, so eventually I guess someone will write/fax/email/phone to ask why I am not paying the bills in full. I'll be waiting for 'em! I do intend to write a letter to Telstra, and send a copy to the Consumer Affairs bureau, and possibly one of the TV shows that love this kind of thing. Watch this space!

As for the air conditioner...Ken came home last night all hot and bothered after battling heavy traffic all day on the Monash Car Park (read freeway), to find our cable network Foxtel had been 'off the air' all day, and our old air conditioner had finally given up and was pumping out warm air. I didn't know about Foxtel, but he'd heard about it on the radio, and he was concerned for his Mum, as she wouldn't be able to reset the control box. Ken fixed ours in a matter of minutes, and we went over to his Mum's straight away and fixed hers. But before that, Ken was so cheesed off about coming home to a hot house, he rang our aircon. bloke and asked if he could possibly come around and re-gas our unit, if he was unable to fit the new one. The man said he would be here as soon as he could. Well, that can mean anything. Next year might be as soon as he can. BLEAH!!!

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