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.)

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Location: Melbourne, Vic., Australia

I am married to Ken. We have no children except two cats and a collection of finches, canaries and Rhode Island bantam hens.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Why am I doing this?

I shouldn't be here. I have other things to do - planting things in our back yard, stitching, returning friends' phone calls...at least the housework is done. Yesterday (Sunday) I vacuumed, dusted, and mopped the floors, while Ken did some work out in the yard. He put spotlights up so we can see the back yard at night now. He pruned some trees that were overhanging the yard, and he fixed some small items which needed attention. Then some friends came for tea, and we watched the closing ceremony for the Commonwealth Games. So Sunday was both productive and pleasant.

But why am I restless and discontented now? I had one half hour job early this morning (to shower a disabled client), and my only other job for today is at 2 pm. So I was home by 10 am with four free hours in front of me. I put the kettle on for a cuppa to eat with the donuts I had just bought, and sat down to open the mail. One phone bill, and two parcels. One is an eBay win, and the other is from Nicole, who had found some cross stitch charts in an opshop (going by the price tag of 20c!) and sent them to me - how kind people are! Thanks again Nicole - I will be emailing you shortly.

Having done that, I thought about what to do next. No more Games on tv to watch, and I don't normally watch daytime tv anyway, so I thought about making those obligatory phone calls. Do you ever have that feeling - you know you should be doing something - not even a difficult thing - but you just can't be bothered? So I decided to jump online and check out all my web stuff. There was an email from a group that I had joined last year, but not posted anything to since, and there were messages from other groups that I hadn't got around to keeping up with. I read my favourite blogs last night, so I am up to date with those online friends. Last night I also paid for my current ebay wins, and this morning, with one hour to go on an American auction which I will probably win, I decided to bite the proverbial bullet and sign up with PayPal, so I don't have to spend extra money on money orders and postage to pay for my overseas purchases. Goodness only knows where that will lead to. Now it makes it so much easier to pay, I hope I can control my overseas bidding...but there is so much good stuff out there..sigh..
Well, it is now just past 12 noon. I feel a bit better for having got all that off my chest, so I guess I'll make myself a bit of lunch and make those phone calls after all!

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Aussie! Aussie! Aussie!!

I am not a sports loving person at all, except for a mild interest in some motor sports, so the Commonwealth Games being held in Melbourne didn't excite me at the beginning of all the hype, and Ken feels the same about it. But I must admit we are now sharing the buzz with the Aussie gold rush lately! We've been watching a few hours of the Games the last couple of nights, and tonight's events were sensational to see. The mens' 5000 metre race had us both on the edge of our seat, yelling with the crowd, urging on the Australian runner (Craig something), only to have the Kenyan 19 year old pass him in the last few minutes - phew! I love it when they play our national anthem, and the crowd sing along with it. And I love seeing our Prime Minister John Howard and his wife sitting in there applauding along with everyone else!!


Topsy in her 'Elizabethan Collar', while she was recovering from her operation removing the abcess on her tail.
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These two show work in progress.
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Before and After.

The four photos below are before and after back yard landscaping photos. The top one in each pair is before; the bottom one is the finished job.


Looking at the east side of the yard. The back of our house is on the right in these photos.
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West side of back yard, showing Ken's aviaries top right hand corner of pics. In the "after" photo at the bottom, the sand is covering the new grass.
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Friday, March 17, 2006

Yippee! Our back yard is finished!

All except the planting, which we plan to do next month. I finished the film in my camera on Thursday as soon as the guys had packed up all their gear and gone, so the photos should be processed on Friday, ready to put on here.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

I'm cross again...just a bit.

Remember the lady I wrote about, whose neighbour threw rubbish over the fence? Well, nothing more came of that - the paper didn't publish my letter, but I think the neighbour got the message when I spoke to her anyway.

But my client, the same disabled person - really cops it hard sometimes. She gets two newsapapers delivered each day. There was a time many years ago, when paper boys as we called them, put the paper into a special slot in your letterbox, or put them on the front porch right outside your front door. But not now, it seems. The newspapers are wrapped up VERY tightly in plastic, and hurled into front yards from a moving vehicle...at least that is how it appears. Now my client cannot walk safely on uneven ground, so if her papers land on the front lawn, she is unable to retrieve them, as she would have to step over the garden bed to get them. Her neighbours being such kind and thoughtful people NOT, would never dream of picking the papers up and dropping them at her front door, so sometimes the papers will lie on the ground for a couple of days. She phoned the newsagent several times to ask if the person delivering the papers would at least aim for the driveway, if not her front porch (but that would be too much to ask, and she didn't really expect that...). The first two times she phoned, he said he would leave a note for the paper delivery man. Nothing changed. So I phoned him on Tuesday. Put on my nicest voice, said who I was (the Home Carer) and explained the situation. He said "I've already left notes - there's nothing else I can do". "Oh," says I, "well our local newspaper is always interested in human interest stories. I'm sure they would take the side of a disabled person who makes such a simple request?" Wooo!! He huffed and puffed and spluttered, and I said "I'll leave it with you". The next day, my client's papers were in the driveway where she could reach them. Isn't it funny how people respond to little hints about bad service being made public?

This isn't all she has to put up with. One of her other carers, who is supposed to do her weekly shopping in a two hour time span, takes about four hours, because she picks her kids up from school and does other personal messages, which delay her getting back to our client's home at the correct time. I threatened to 'dob her in', but my client, like most vulnerable people - said not to, as she is scared of retaliation or repercussions. Isn't that awful? I told our supervisor anyway, but didn't give any names, and she told me to ask the client to call her direct to discuss it.

On the lighter side of my work, another client opened the door yesterday morning in a rather distressed state. She took me into the kitchen and pointed to a corner near the ceiling. You can guess, can't you? Yup - a HUGE huntsman spider. It was a bit too high for me to climb up with a glass jar, so I got the vaccuum cleaner out and sucked him down. He was so big, that I actually felt his body hurtling through the plastic pipe - UGH! I kept the motor running while I carried the whole cleaner outside, and then turned it off, gingerly opened it up, and took out the paper bag, wearing my rubber gloves the whole time. Nothing scuttled out of the bag, so I quickly threw it into her garbage bin in the garage, and warned my client to keep her car windows shut tightly while it was parked in there!

Ah, the joys of caring for people..

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Life isn't so bad after all!

Thank you to all who left caring responses to my posts last week. It's funny how you see life sometimes; when those things are happening, you are really cheesed off at the time, but reading all that a week down the track, I am having a giggle! There's nothing too serious there.

We have just had another of those good old Aussie 'long weekends' - this one was the Labour Day weekend, supposedly to commemorate the 8 hour working day, I think? (No doubt those more knowledgable people reading this will correct me if necessary). I think we have far too many of these kind of days off here. After all, most Australians who work fulltime already get four weeks fully paid annual leave, not to mention a few days at Easter, and another half a dozen days scattered throughout the year. They are just nuisance value to some of us; for me it means that I am unable to service my home care clients because we are not allowed to work on public holidays. So they either go without the service, or I move them to Tuesday. Which I can do fortunately, but if I already had a full complement of clients on Tuesdays, the Monday people would just have to miss out.

Having said that, our long weekend was both pleasurable and productive. We brought Ken's mum over on Saturday for afternoon tea, to inspect our back yard, which is nearly finished. She was amazed at the difference (as everybody else has been who remembers the way it was). After a cuppa, Ken had a snooze on the bed, and I showed MIL a few things on my computer. We had been talking about embroidery, and so I showed her a number of my favorite blogs, with CQ, cross stitch, etc. and again she was amazed. She said "I wish I was 30 years younger, I would be right into all this!"

Sunday was a scorcher (over 100 deg.F), so Ken and I planned to stay inside with the aircon. going. We had a phone call from some friends to say they were coming up to visit, so I said come for lunch and inspect our back yard! So they did, and it turned out to be a good day, keeping relatively cool, sipping cold drinks and munching watermelon.

Monday started off with heavy rain all night and early morning, which was great for our yard, as it settled the dust, and kept the new mulch nice and moist ready for new plants. In the afternoon, Ken got a burst of energy and decided to clean out the five aviaries at the top of the yard, which have been empty of birds (but full of rubbish) for about 8 years. So it was a big job, and I pitched in to help him, as he had to keep stopping for breath, and I didn't want him collapsing in a heap at the end of the day! But we accomplished a lot, and he is now looking forward to restocking them with birds once the yard is completely finished; hopefully by the end of this week.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

And Tuesday has been just as bad!

Well, almost. I took one of my elderly Japanese friends over to the local shopping complex this morning, as she wanted to buy some pyjamas. She is a tiny - and I mean VERY tiny! little person, and the smallest adult womens' clothes are too big, so she buys children's clothes if she can get away with it. We had a quick look at the pyjamas in "Womens Wear" and went on to the kids' clothing section. Nothing there that she liked, so we went on to another department store and finally found something that fitted her, after trying on dozens of pyjama tops. Then she wanted three of the same outfit, so I found them for her and we headed for the checkout. After that we went into the supermarket for some groceries for both of us, and as she uses a walking stick, and carries a rather large bag, I had to carry all the other stuff back to the car - after we stopped half way for a coffee.
Now I am not complaining about any of this - I enjoy the company of my wee friend, and I am glad to be of help to her when it comes to shopping for clothes. But by the time I got home, my arthritic hands were soooooo sore after carrying those heavy bags. Still, there was work to be done, so I got stuck into it. I had not bothered dusting, vaccuuming or mopping floors since the work began in the back yard, as the dust and dirt just keeps finding its way inside, so I figured it wasn't worth even trying to keep the house clean. But today I decided I'd had enough, so I got out the vaccum cleaner and 'did' the whole house. Everything was fine until I used the nozzle to remove some cobwebs from the kitchen ceiling...and smashed one of the fluoro. lights to smithereens. Aggghhhh!!! Cleaned that up, put the vaccum cleaner away, and got the mop out. About half way through that job, I kicked the bucket over accidentally (well, of course - who would do it deliberately??), and the water spilled onto the carpet in the dining room. About this time, Ken walked in through the front door, and I growled "You had better turn round and go out again; this is not a nice place to be right now!" To which he took offence and did just that, slamming the door behind him! WAAAAGHH! So I had to run after him trying to convince him I was joking, it was nothing he had done, but boy he was going to be mad at me when I told him about the light I had smashed...

Turns out he was 'only joking' too, and had walked back out just to stir me up - yeah, funneeeeeee...But he wasn't mad about the light. Just commented that as it was so old, they might not make those fittings any more and the whole thing might have to be replaced by an electrician. Oh God, what next? At least the back yard is coming along nicely. Which reminds me - I haven't taken a progress photo this week. (writes note to remind self to take photos tomorrow before it rains).

Monday, March 06, 2006

Sunday bloody Sunday!

WOT a day. Ken took off about 7.30 am on his Honda with some mates on their bikes to the Super Bikes Race down at Phillip Island. They expected to be home between 7 and 8 pm. I trotted off happily to my Calligraphy Society workshop, where I spent a very pleasant (but frustrating) day with 12 other nice ladies who were at various stages of calligraphic skills. I sat next to a lady about my age who like me, had never been to a CSV workshop before, and also like me, only 'played' with writing now and then. We were instructed to buy four sizes of nibs, and a bottle of black ink, along with other supplies such as paper, ruler, etc. There were about four of us who hadn't used those kind of pens since we were kids in the 50's - remember dipping pens in the inkwell on your desk at school?? Well that's what we felt like! We all swore later on we would happily go back to our fountain pens and felt tipped markers, even if it was not the traditional way of calligraphy! Getting used to the nibs and ink was the frustrating part, with the resulting blots on our work, but it didn't spoil the day - we just did our best. The tutor was lovely - a brilliant and very well known calligrapher with several books under her belt. We didn't know that until later; she was very unassuming about herself, not conceited or patronising at all. I'm sorry I have no works of art to show off on my blog (sigh)...Celtic lettering is not my forte it seems, let alone struggling with those nibs! But I have decided to attend more of their workshops when they come up, on different lettering styles.

Now the other half of Sunday. I got home about 4.30 pm to find a message on the machine from Ken. He'd got a puncture on the way down to the Island, and had to leave his bike at a garage, and continue the journey on the pillion of one of his mates. They came back to the garage after the race, and one of his friends (David) stayed with Ken, while another (John) continued on to his home, where he got his car and trailer, and came back for Ken and his bike. They went back to John's place, where Ken waited for his brother-in-law to pick him up. I had phoned Ken's sister to tell her what had happened, and they offered to go and collect Ken, for which I was profoundly grateful. If it had been closer to home I would have driven there to collect Ken, but all this happened just before they got to the Island - a two hour journey from here. As I have never driven there on my own, I would never have found my way down there at night. But Don drove down there, and brought back not only Ken, but his bike on John's trailer. They got back about 10 pm, and I picked Ken up from his sister's home (10 minutes away). We got to bed well after midnight, both totally exhausted. Today, Don took the bike to the bike shop for repairs (it was actually more serious than a puncture), then returned the trailer to John at his work place.

It could all have been a lot worse - if Ken had been on his own, or if he didn't have such kind and generous mates, not to mention a kind and generous sister and brother-in-law. Certainly makes you appreciate people, doesn't it..

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Burke's Back Yard...NOT!

Our back yard landscaping is coming along nicely. All the old pool decking, tree stumps, and rubbish lying around was removed in the first week. Then the boys brought in a machine which excavated and levelled out the areas ready to be fixed up. The yard is very steep; if you stand at the very top end of the yard, you are higher than the roof of our house. It had two levels before, but they have made four now, all of which now have retaining walls of treated pine, held up with steel posts set in concrete. The old retaining wall was held up with wooden posts, which had disintegrated over time and led to the whole thing collapsing. The first level behind the house is to be a lawn, the next level will be a garden bed with low shrubs and ground covers, the third level more lawn and the top level against the back fence is garden bed, where there will be trees and shrubs. There is also a larger garden bed all along the right hand side of the property, with only one existing rock retaining wall, and this will be planted out with trees, shrubs and native grasses.


So at the moment, the retaining walls are all in place, top soil has been spread over the ground and mulch spread on the garden areas. Still to be done are the steps on each side leading up to the top area to where Ken's aviaries have been left in place; he feels more enthusiastic about replacing the birds now that he won't have to deal with fixing the yard as well. There are a few minor items such as a new side gate, edging on garden beds, and the lawn to be put in. This will be Buffalo grass instant turf. The landscaper and Ken tried to persuade me to have a sprinkler system installed for both lawn and garden, but I flatly refused it. I said that Australians waste more precious water on blasted lawns than anything else, and ours are just going to have to survive on whatever rain comes along. If it doesn't rain for a while and the lawn goes brown, so be it. It will come on again when it does rain!

As for the garden, Australian native plants are acclimatised to drought conditions, so apart from a helping hand of regular watering in the first few months, they survive perfectly well once they are established. Last week I visited our local council's working farm where they propagate indigenous plants, and discussed what I needed with one of the staff who was most helpful. She advised me to wait until late March or early April before planting anything, as it is still too hot and dry at the moment, unless I used massive amounts of water to keep plants alive, which would be a waste of time and water in my opinion!

I have been taking progress photos (on film, not digital), so hopefully, I will have a record of woe to go in the near future.

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