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, May 28, 2007

Topsy is in disgrace again.

Do I have enough toys, or shall I go and scratch someone?
Does anyone else out there have a bad tempered cat? I mean a REALLY bad tempered cat? On Sunday morning, Ken and I were snoozing in bed, when Topsy launched herself onto the bed, purring and kneading with gusto in her usual way. I reached out to stroke her and next thing I was yelping with pain. She had caught my hand with all claws out, and bitten it - HARD. Today I was $60 out of pocket, having had a tetanus shot and a course of antibiotics.

This isn't the first time that has happened - I had to have antibiotics about a year ago after a similar incident. Ken hasn't escaped her tantrums either - she's attacked him many times without provocation. As for Elsie, poor old dog. She's 18 years old, deaf and nearly blind, and has no chance when Topsy sneaks up behind her and jumps up on her back to hang on with her claws for a few seconds. Poor Elsie just yelps - she's too slow to react with a growl or a bite.

Ken says he is going to take her back to the Cat Protection Society to trade her in on another cat. He's only half joking; they probably wouldn't take her back, let alone swap her for another cat. But if we had children or older people as guests, we wouldn't be able to trust her - not that she hangs around long enough for anyone to touch her. She dives under the bed whenever there are strangers here, and doesn't show her face until everyone is gone.

Ken and I really do love cats, but we are very disappointed in Topsy. She is three years old, so she's had enough time to show her true colours, and she's not an affectionate cat at all, unlike our previous pussies. It's a shame; she is a beautiful cat, with such a cute little face when she's not cross.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Kitten doiley UFO.

Here she is. As this was given to me with no embroidery instructions, I'm taking the easy way and just using the basic stitches like lazy daisy and outline stitch. Poor kitty looks a bit cross-eyed because of the way the black stitching lies on the yellow of the right eye! I had to use my limited imagination with colours too...a red plush velvet couch sounded nice, and kitty is black because we have a black one of our own. I'm still not sure what colour to do the flowers. With the red couch, purple cushion, and green leaves, I'm reluctant to bring too much more colour into it. I thought a yellow/orange combination. Any suggestions?

Books, bowls, birds and flowers.

I was triggerhappy again yesterday around our house. The weather was sunny, the flowers were out, and the camera's batteries were fully charged, so off I went. The posts below are the result.

Most of my blogger friends are avid readers, and they all have these HUGE lists of books they've read in the past fortnight. Well, that's probably an exaggeration in some cases, but it sounds to me like nothing else gets done in some households - I just can't imagine how they get the time to read so much! Mind you, I have to admit to being jealous. I also love to read, but other things get in the way - work, housework, stitching, computer, eating, sleeping, etc. But I do borrow books, buy them occasionally, and have several thousand on my bookshelves, most of which haven't been read completely. But I didn't want to put the details on here - it would take up too much space, so I've posted a bit about my books and what I have inherited from my parents in the way of reading - on one of my other blogs - Patracat's Memories. Go there if you dare.

What's new (and old) around our house?

I saw this bowl at Ken's sister's house recently, and commented on how cute it was. A week later she handed me a little parcel - the same bowl for Topsy! Topsy just loves it..when there is food there.
One of my home care clients gave me this bowl last week. She is an artist and potter, and she makes these to sell at craft markets. I was delighted when she offered me a choice from her latest batch - they are cute!
LeeAnn, Miss Eagle, and other bloggers have been posting photos of vintage/retro/kitschy kitchen items on their blogs lately, so I looked around my kitchen to see if I could find anything of interest. This flour sifter must be all of 50 years old. I remember Mum using it when I was a kid, and you all know how old I am!

Of birds and nests...

This is a baby dove, about 2 weeks old, Ken seems to think. He saw the mother fly out of her nest under the eaves at the back of our house, and climbed up to have a peek in the nest. He brought this little critter down for me to see. Sorry the photo is so dark; it was just on dusk. If you click on it to enlarge, you can see the bird better.
Can you see the nest high up there in the eucalypt? We don't know what is living up there - could be a possum or even magpies. We don't have a ladder long enough to climb up for a look!
Same nest from a slightly different angle.

Plants in our garden - late May 2007.

This pretty little shrub is called Westringia. Has delicate lilac coloured blossom much of the year.
'Robyn Gordon Grevillea' - Aust native shrub that we planted a year ago from tube stock. I am so pleased to see this coming along so well; it will be a stunning bush in two or three years as they can grow quite big, and flower nearly all year round.
Close up of the flower.

This is a Australian native daisy - sorry I can't remember it's botanical name! The petals are very dry - like fine parchment. Come to think of it, that might be it's name: Paper Daisy plant.
This Zygo Cactus is in full bloom. It started from one piece about a year ago.
And this one is just starting. It is a very delicate shade of pink.

Off with the old butcher, on with the new.

Thanks to those of you who responded to my lament of the local butcher. Glad you understood how annoyed I felt! Well, last Monday, I went back and waved the leg of lamb at the owner of the shop who happened to be at the counter when I arrived. I think he was annoyed that I had the cheek to argue about the quality of his meat, and blustered some excuse about the machine they use to 'corn' meats and how it might not work properly sometimes. His attitude was that if that's all I had to complain about, why was I wasting his time! So I told him that this wasn't the only issue, and mentioned the meat tainted with detergent. He looked disbelieving, but then one of the other butchers came out and said "I told you about that, remember?" The manager still seemed cheesed off with me and finally said "Well, I'm sorry about it, but other than apologise, what else do you want? I can do another leg for you for no charge if you like". I said "No thanks, don't worry about it, your apology is good enough" and walked out of the shop. I heard the other butcher say "We're going to lose business over this you know".

On Thursday, when I did my weekly shop, I went into the Safeway supermarket and bought most of the meat I would have bought at the butcher. That night, we had sausages (I don't like them much, but Ken does). They were very nice - not dripping fat like the ones I've bought previously, and not too spicy. Tonight we had the most delicious roast beef ever. I've avoided buying beef for roasting for many years, because no matter what I did with it, it was always tough. So Safeway - so far so good. I see no reason why the rest of their meat should be any different. One of my friends buys her meat there and has had no cause to complain.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

I've been tagged...thanks, Jeanette!

Sometimes I feel like I'm back in primary school, participating in these mad things that fly around cyberspace! Seven random things about really don't want to know, do you?

1 I've been married more than once.
2 I've never had kids.
3 I shook hands with John Wayne once.
4 I have a really STUPID laugh. (I used to get detention at school if I laughed out loud in class)
5 I don't play (or follow) any sport at all.
6 I am 5' tall and weigh about 9 stone. Don't ask for the metric equivalent!
7 I adore Andre Rieu - he is one of the sexiest men alive (hope his wife doesn't read this!)

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Time for a change.

I am a strong believer in supporting local small business, and for the past 29 years, I have been a regular customer at our food shops in Eltham. There were three butchers here when we first moved into this suburb, so I tried them all, and eventually stayed with one of them for about ten years, until the quality of their meats was so poor I decided it was time to move on. The shop I went to next had an excellent reputation among the locals; some of my friends have been shopping there for years, raving about the fresh fish selection as well as the meat. I started buying my weekly meat supply there about three years ago, and until recent months, had nothing to complain about. But lately...I spend on average $55 a week, which I guess isn't much compared to what somebody with four kids might spend. Still, last year it added up to about $2500. Surely that makes me a good customer?

About two months ago, I requested a pumped leg of mutton. The younger of the two butchers didn't know what I was talking about, but the older man did, and said he would see to it. (If you don't know, it is liked Corned Beef, but they use lamb instead of beef. It used to be mutton when I was a kid in the 50's, but the butcher said mutton isn't used at all now for human consumption). I collected my pumped leg the following week and was very happy with it. About a month later, I ordered another one. The next week I arrived to pick it up, but they'd forgotten to do it. I was philosophical about it, these things happen. The following week, they'd forgotten again. I wasn't so easy on them this time. "Don't you have an order book where you write things down?" "Yes". "Well? Wasn't mine written in?" "No".
I finally got it last week. When I cooked it last night, it was almost unedible. The corning process had only penetrated about an inch into the meat, instead of the whole leg, so we got plain boiled lamb for most of our dinner - utterly flavorless. Just as well we had no guests for dinner - I would have been mortified.

But this wasn't the only thing that they'd done badly by me in this shop. Two weeks ago, I bought 400g of steak, pre-sliced for stirfrying. The woman who served me asked if I wanted it tenderised and I said yes, so she went off out the back and returned with the meat all wrapped up. When I got it out of the wrapping that night to cook it, I smelt something strange, like perfume. After checking the other meat I'd bought and finding nothing wrong, I decided it must have been the plastic bag it was in, and went ahead and cooked the meat. Ken took one bite and refused to eat the rest, saying it tasted like perfume. I ate two or three pieces and couldn't bring myself to eat any more, and of course it had tainted everything, so the whole lot - vegies and all - had to go in the garbage. We ended up with baked beans on toast.

I salvaged a small section of the wasted meal and took it to the butcher the next day. He listened to my story, had a sniff of the meat and the plastic bag it had been packed in, and told me to wait. He went outside, and brought back a bottle of pink liquid. "Does it smell like that?" he asked, and I sniffed. "Yes, that's it". He laughed and said, "Well, at least you know we are clean - that's the disinfectant we use - ha ha!" I'm afraid I didn't see the funny side of it at all, and told him I didn't pay $12 to eat meat tasting like disinfectant. He didn't offer a refund, but said he would make good on my next order. On Friday, after adding up my weekly order to $67, I reminded him of the meat I'd had to throw out. "Oh well, make it $60", he said. I felt like saying "Thanks for nothing, arsehole", but I didn't. I just handed over the $60 and said to myself it was the last time I would be going there.

But then we copped the lamb last night. So I will be going back - but not to shop. I'll be taking the remains of the leg of lamb to show them, and I will be telling them why I won't be going back there. I don't like buying meat at the big supermarkets, but it looks like I am being forced to do just that now. What do you think - am I being a bit tough on this shop?

Saturday, May 19, 2007

A quiet weekend, not by choice.

Last weekend was busy. Late Sunday night Ken said "Have we got anything on next weekend?" to which I replied "No, why?" "I drive all day every day, Monday to Friday. I've just spent this weekend driving. Gimme a break!" As it turns out, it was just as well we had nothing planned. I woke up on Thursday morning, with my throat feeling a bit 'scratchy' - you know the feeling? After I did the weekly shopping in the morning, I decided I would stay home quietly for the rest of the day, and as the forecast was for lots of rain, I was looking forward to doing some stitching and/or reading.

Early in the afternoon, the gutter on one side of our house overflowed after a heavy fall of rain. Sighing, I got the ladder out, climbed up on to the roof and sure enough, the spouting was blocked with leaves. Fortunately it had stopped raining just then, so I stayed up there for 20 minutes, cleaning out the spouting and all the gutters of the leaf litter that had accumulated. I'd left the car parked outside earlier, hoping the rain would wash it, and that was done nicely, so my next job was to find the special cleaning mitt and wipe the car down. Late in the afternoon, I finally came back inside, hopped under a hot shower and dressed in warm clean clothes. Not that it did much good. By then I was coughing and sneezing, and knew I'd have to act fast if I was to go to work the next day! I made up my magic cure of crushed garlic, fresh lemon juice, honey and hot water, and when Ken got home, I was hot and sweaty! LeeAnn called later, to invite us to join them at a concert on Sunday afternoon, and feeling positive about my recuperative powers, I accepted.

On Friday morning, I felt just a bit throaty, so I was able to do the four jobs I had on my roster for the day, but I was so glad to get home and know I had two days to rest and throw off this virus. Later that night I must have been looking pretty second-hand, because Ken insisted that I call work (we have a 24 hour call service) and tell them I wouldn't be able to do the Personal care job I had lined up in the morning. On Saturday morning, I woke up feeling very ordinary, so it was just as well I'd cancelled my job. I phoned Rob and LeeAnn to say we probably would not be coming up there on Sunday, and Rob understood completely, having been in the same position when LeeAnn got sick the last time we'd invited them here. Sharon and Pete called in this afternoon for a while, and it was good to catch up, but I'm afraid I wasn't at my sparkly best...once these bugs have left us all, we owe our friends some visits and invitations!

Monday, May 14, 2007

Mother's Day

I hope you all had a lovely Mother's Day. After having such a nice time at Chateau Yering on my birthday, Ken and his sister suggested we take their Mum there for Mother's Day. There were just the five of us: Ken and I, his sister and her hubby, and MIL. SIL arranged to see her offspring later on, so it was a nice quiet afternoon for us all. We all had coffee and cake except for B.I.L who chose a cheese platter with his coffee.
Here I am with M.I.L. at the entrance to the Chateau homestead. You'd never think she was 94, would you? Do I look nearly 60? I FEEL about 160 sometimes!

Kittens book by request.

OK, here you are, girls - the cover of the book I bought at Angus & Robertsons last week.
This is PART of one of the gorgeous photos in the book. I hope Ms Hale doesn't find out about this...but if she does, I hope she realises I am giving her free publicity - LOL!

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

New books.

I finally got across to Angus & Robertson's bookshop today, to spend the gift voucher Sharon gave me for my birthday. I intended to put it toward a new Melways street directory, as the one in my car is the 2001 edition, and there have been a lot of changes around Melbourne since then! On the way to A. & R. I stopped at another bookshop to suss out their price for the new Melways and was shocked to hear it was $50! I thanked the shop assistant politely and continued on my way. At A. & R., I found Sharon and her boss behind the counter, with the newest Melways on display behind them. On asking how much it was, I was delighted to hear it was $10 cheaper than the other shop!

I can't be in a bookshop and just buy one book and walk away. Gosh no...I had a gift voucher to spend! There were half a dozen books I could have bought if I had unlimited funds, but I settled for just one (apart from the Melways). It is called "Smitten - a kitten's guide to happiness" and is the CUTEST book of kittens I've ever seen - Meow and all you cat lovers out there - you must check it out!!!!! It has a recommended retail price of $35.00 but A & R had it on a Mother's Day special shelf for $14.99 (don't you hate that - we haven't had 1c and 2c pieces here for years, but bloody shops STILL market goods at .99c. Why on earth don't they just take it to the nearest dollar and be done with it...)

I had coffee with a friend about an hour later, and showed her the book. She ooohed and aaahhed loudly all the way through it, much to the amusement of the other customers and waitresses, who came over to our table to see if she was okay! Ken even had a look through it and he is not a book person AT ALL, but he chuckled over some of the pictures too. I'd love to scan a few pages and put them on here but as it is such a new book, I might find myself in serious trouble, so I might just scan the cover if anyone asks me here about it.

Retail therapy, the downside.

Miss Eagle over at The Trad Pad, has posted another thought provoking article which is well worth reading. This time she writes on the topic of shopping, a fairly harmless subject one might think, but given the media hype along the lines of 'shop till you drop', it can be a dangerous pastime for many reasons. Go see.

On a completely different topic, I caught up with some close friends today, after their six week trip overseas. H. gave me a belated birthday gift, and it was worth waiting for, believe me! I don't collect china as a rule, but I love anything with crinoline ladies on, and H. has indulged me many times in the past!

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Quiet weekend at the Wilsons.

After a run of busy weekends, with Easter and my birthday behind us for another year, we have been 'at home' the last two weekends. I have been given a one hour job on Saturday mornings, helping a disabled lady shower and dress, but as she lives just around the corner from us, the travel time and cost of petrol is negligible. I have refused offers of weekend work up until now, even though it's very well paid, because I wanted to keep our weekends free just for us. But as we approach retirement, any extra cash is a bonus, so when my supervisor offered me this job, I was happy to accept it. Apart from the financial aspect, the client is a sweet lady, who has had a rotten deal in life, and I am glad I can help her in my small way once a week.

When I arrived home from visiting my client, a friend rang to say she would drop by for an hour, so I started thinking about what we would have for lunch. I decided to christen my new poffertjes pan, and thanks to Ashleigh, my blogging friend in Holland, my first attempt at Dutch pancakes was a great success! As fast as I cooked them, Louise and Ken ate them, so I only got to taste a couple - didn't even have a chance to photograph them! My pan came with a recipe but it was all in Dutch, so I typed it out and emailed it to Ash, who kindly translated it into English for me. Worked beautifully, Ash! Meow, if you are reading this, you asked me if I had a good recipe for poffertjes, so if you want this one, just email me. Better still, how about coming over one day and tasting them??

As well as doing all the washing and other housework, I made the most of the sunny days and went nuts with the camera. Remember how I hated this camera, because I could never figure out how to use it? I think Topsy has unknowingly motivated me into learning how to use it - half of my pictures are of her!

Topsy - such an independent little Miss!

"You don't have to yell - I heard you the first time. I'll come inside when I'm ready".
"Well, I'm here. I'm on my chair and I'm waiting for my tea".
"You know I hate having that camera thrust into my face!"
"I've had enough of this. I'll just turn my back on her."
"That's it. Now I'm REALLY mad. Come and get me if you're game!"

Lorikeets in a flowering Eucalypt.

This gorgeous flowering gum tree was planted in our front garden about 5 years ago, when it was just a 6 inch tuber. This year, despite the drought, it has flowered continuously, much to the delight of our lorikeet family, who now turn up their beaks at our offerings of seeds and apple!

The lorikeets were a bit suspicious about my camera being pointed at them!

One year on in our back yard.

Remember these photos? One year ago, when the landscapers had finished.
Here is that garden bed, one year on. The plants were just seedlings when I planted them, about 3 inches high. Haven't they done well!
and these two saplings - Snow Gum on the left, Golden Wattle on the right - were about 12 inches high when they were planted.
Ken is tough on any foreigners (weeds) that appear in his precious lawn! See how green it is in spite of the drought - and it has not been watered by us since it was laid last year. Sir Walter Buffalo Drought Resistant grass - living up to its name!

Friday, May 04, 2007

If it wasn't me, it could have been one of them!!!
LogoThere are
people with my name
in the U.S.A.

How many have your name?

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Miss Eagle's Trad Pad

Miss Eagle and Herself (Miss Eagle's daughter) are seriously into interior decorating in the Shabby Chic style! Have a gander at these:

Couldn't resist snapping this fabulous chandelier.

And here is our Hostess with the Mostest!

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Some special birthday cards.

ALL my birthday cards are special. But I decided to scan these and show them here because they are particularly cute or unusual.

Sharon says this black cat reminded her of Topsy!

Louise's own kitty is just like this one, so the card on the left was an obvious choice!

One of my home care clients is also a cat lover, so she knew I would love this cutie.

Pam in Tassie forgot my birthday until a week later. All was forgiven when this card arrived!

Sandra knows how much I love owls...Ken says I am an "owlaholic:

Helen sent me this embroidered card from England. Much prettier than what it looks in this picture.

adopt your own virtual pet!