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, June 26, 2007

Ken's new toy.

Almost new (about 6 months old) Suzuki GSX750F. (Eat your heart out, Chris..)
I know we need the rain, but did it have to rain right at that time? It had just been freshly polished by the guys at the shop!

Of course it had to be wiped dry as soon as it was home in our garage.

Visiting friends last Sunday.

LeeAnn has just posted photos and commentary on PearTree Cottage, but I decided to write my own impressions as well. Ken and I are a bit reserved with people we don't know well, so it was with some trepidation we accepted LeeAnn's invitation to her hubby's Rob's 60th birthday celebration on Sunday evening. It was at her daughter's house, and we assumed there would be lots of family and friends, none of whom we would know. We were right about lots of family, but much to our surprise, we were the only non-family 'friends' present.

Introductions were made to Rob and LeeAnn's (grown up) children, and their little ones, but names were quickly forgotten among all the happy noise of little people tumbling about the house, with adults trying to keep an eye on them! After a delicious dinner (Amanda is definitely her mother's daughter; great cook, food in abundance!), we settled down to catch up with LeeAnn and Rob, and get to know the family. Amanda's hubby was wearing a tee-shirt with a motorcycle emblem, so of course Ken struck up a conversation about bikes, and within minutes they disappeared outside to check out Tony's bike.

Amanda (again like her Mum) is an opshop fan, and showed me some of her favourite 'finds', including a stunning embroidered tablecloth, which LeeAnn promptly photographed me holding! That reminds me - that naughty girl took all the photos and managed not to get in any herself...what a pity, because she has a new hairstyle and it suits her so much!

All in all, a very enjoyable evening - Ken and I were warmly welcomed, and felt at home right away. I think it is a great privilege to be invited to a family celebration like this, and Ken and I want LeeAnn and Rob to know again how much we loved being there.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Should I have been a school teacher?

No, I don't think I would last five minutes in front of a class of unruly kids, and even less in a class of kids who were smarter than me! My question relates to the effect I apparently have sometimes, on people, animals and objects. A friend (male) once told me that while he liked me as a friend, he wouldn't like to be married to me, as I can be very intimidating sometimes (read that as hot-tempered/wanting my own way). Being small (5 ft. 2 inches) and having two much older brothers, I suppose I did grow up with an attitude of trying to defend myself for much of the time!

As you may have read here a few weeks ago, our cat Topsy was in grave danger of being relocated to the Cat Protection Society from whence she came in the first place. She had been very aggressive to both Ken and I, to the point of biting and scratching us without provocation. I told her, eye to eye, one day, that we were going to get rid of her, and I was actually shocked when she looked straight at me, then dropped her head down as if she was crying. Do you know, from that day on, her behaviour has completely turned around. She no longer attacks us, and even jumps up on the bed at night sometimes, to come and lie between us, purring her little heart out. She has NEVER done this before in the three and a half years we've had her!

This time last night, I was battling to stay online with this computer. In spite of all the maintenance stuff I'd done on it, the wretched thing kept freezing, and throwing up blue screens and error messages. Ken offered to pull the cover off and dust the insides, and a friend who shall remain nameless offered over the phone today to give it a blow job....I don't know which threat did the trick, but it is now half an hour past midnight, and I have been on here non stop since about 8.30 pm. Not a hiccup to be heard, not a blue screen to be seen. What is this power I possess that has such an extraordinary effect on the people/things I threaten? Nah, get real. It's all just coincidence, right? (Just don't piss me off...)

Saturday, June 23, 2007

"Another day older, and deeper in debt..."

Those words are from an old blues or country & western song, sung by a mournful deep voiced man. I like the song, but never really thought about those particular words until they popped into my mind as we were driving home this afternoon, from a particularly expensive little shopping jaunt. Ken has been housebound for the last two weeks with a cold, and his doctor had warned him to stay inside and warm while our freezing Melbourne weather continued. Today he wanted to get his hair cut, as we are going out tomorrow night to a special birthday party. So the barber was the first stop, then Ken asked would I mind if we drove out to Ringwood (outer Melbourne suburb) to have a look at a bike shop. The weather was cool but sunny, and I had nothing better to do (apart from housework), so I agreed.

Two hours and three bike shops later, Ken had put a deposit down on a new motorcycle. He'll be picking it up next Tuesday, so no doubt I will be taking photos of it for him to put on his laptop's desktop! Funny how things happen. The owner of this shop remembered Ken from many years ago, when they knew each other in the motorcycle retail trade, and they spent an hour reminiscing, inbetween interruptions by staff and customers. When Ken told J. about his disaster with his Honda, J. immediately offered to have his mechanics pull the bike apart and see exactly what is wrong with it, so Ken can then decided if he should rebuild it (retirement project), or wreck it and sell off the parts.

In the meantime, Ken had made up his mind to purchase one of the bikes on the showroom floor - a 2006 model Suzuki 750 in as new condition. J. discounted the price, and threw in onroad costs, as well as comprehensive insurance. So it was a very good deal overall, not to be sneezed at, even though Ken had no intention of actually signing up for something today.

Ah well, some people say you only live once (my beliefs differ from that, but yes, only one lifetime at a time!), and the older we get, the less we are worrying about conserving our finances. I admit that while we are not wealthy, we are reasonably comfortable, and have enough super. to live on for a few years once we are both retired. But nobody knows how much longer they will be on this earth - look at the news every day and read about shootings, road accidents, etc. Ken has a shorter lifespan than me for reasons of health, so as far as I'm concerned, I'm happy for him to make the most of his time of reasonable health.

My dear old PC is close to melt down!

I had a bad few hours tonight. My computer, a six year old Compaq Presario, using the ME operating system - has a habit of freezing now and then. I've been told by experts (a) to upgrade it (out of the question - too expensive) and (b) replace ME with XP or Vista (too complicated for me). They say that ME has always been unstable and notorious for freezing, but I've put up with it. When it gets too bad, I run Scandisk and Defrag, and Ad-Aware and Spybot, and the combination of all those seems to speed it up and stop the hiccups...for a few months. Then it starts all over again.

This week however, after doing all the maintenance stuff, it kept on freezing, and tonight I had another go with Spybot, but everytime I tried, the screen blacked out, then appeared blue, with error messages. Oh yes, I've heard the blue screen of death or whatever they call it! But I don't give up I ran a virus check. That went for well over an hour, without freezing once! I said to Ken, well, there can't be too much wrong with it! So I tried reading and sending a few emails and it was okay for a bit, then I got half a dozen of those damn blue screens again, all with different error messages! Eventually I just turned the power off, then on again after a minute, and it restarted okay, and here I far, so good.

Does anyone reading this know what any of these error messages mean?
File AVV7RS(01)+00002745 Error:OE:0028 C0158B41
Or - OE:018888887:Bff8E64B
Or - OE28:C0030D12

I know there are websites where you can go which will tell you what they mean, but I just thought there might be a computer whizkid out there reading this....I also know the hard drive case needs to be opened up and given a good dust, but only one person has ever done this for me, and he hasn't been over here for a while...(Hint hint, you know who you are!). Ken says he isn't game to touch it, because if anything happened, he'd never hear the end of it!

Friday, June 22, 2007

An old friend creates a new Blog.

Oops!! Perhaps I should not refer to Helen as an 'old' friend...some people are sensitive about their age! Luckily, Helen and I have been friends for more than twenty years, so we are truly 'old friends'. This proverb is very apt:
New friends are like autumn leaves, found everywhere.
Old friends are like diamonds, precious and rare.

Helen is a lady of many talents, and has a wide range of interests, which funnily enough coincide with those of my own blog friends. She has edited newsletters for countless community groups over the years and one day hopes to write The Book that will become a best-seller! In the meantime, I have persuaded her to create a blog, where she can write to her heart's content, and via the comments of her readers, gain experience in writing with the world as her audience.

So, dear friends of Patra's Places, I invite you to check out another kindred soul, who loves the good things in life - reading, writing, cooking, travelling, fine china, and old-fashioned afternoon teas! (And don't forget to leave an encouraging comment)
The Barnes Residence.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

We had a visitor tonight!

You know how much I love owls. Now we have our own resident owl! Well, for an hour or so anyway..Our dog Elsie, as blind and deaf as she is, must have sensed someone else was in her yard, even 20 feet up a tree! She was yapping, so we went outside in the rain to investigate. This photo is way too dark I know, but even though we put the exterior lights on, Ken shone a torch up at him, and I put the camera zoom on as far as it would go, this is the best I could get. If you click on the photo it should bring it up closer. Ken has been going through his bird books and looking on the Internet, but can't tell for sure what kind of owl it is. Definitely not a tawny frogmouth or barn owl..possibly a Barking Owl. It was silent, while it was up in our tree, so we weren't able to identify it by sound.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The dark side of Melbourne.

I love Melbourne. It is my home town and I have always been proud of it - proud to show interstate and overseas visitors around the wide streets and beautiful old and new buildings. It had the distinction of being named the World's Most Livable City at one time.

But sadly, it has gained a reputation as a violent city. In the last 20 years, there have been more gun massacre-type incidents here than in any other capital city in Australia. But if you take one incident at a time - like the events in America's recent years - they are random killings committed by people who are your average citizen.

Melbourne is not a violent place. It is still a great place to live and work in. Most of its residents are like me - they love it, are proud of it, and are in shock over this senseless killing - something which appears to have been little more than a 'domestic' which got out of hand. Questions to be asked: How the hell did that man get into a nightclub with a gun? What was he doing with a loaded gun, if he had no intention of using it that night?

And finally, when are the law makers going to wake up and do something about these nightclubs that open at 11 pm and close at 5 am? There is more violence on the city streets in those hours than at any other time. No wonder the freeways are littered with cars in the morning. While the working people are heading off for an honest day's work, the morons who have been out 'raging' are driving home under the influence of drugs or alcohol (or both). That's why the police take them off the road at that hour of the day. It's about time the law set a curfew for these places, and forced them to open at reasonable hours - 6 pm to 1 am at the latest. Police and ambulance drivers would have less traumatic nights, and the nightclub set would have to be safe at home instead of endangering people's lives, and creating messes in the city for workers to deal with when they arrive to start work in the morning.

Day of horror on Melbourne streets.

Early on Monday, a gunman shot dead a 43-year-old Melbourne solicitor who went to help a woman in distress.
The lawyer, Brendan Keilar from East Hawthorn, was one of two men who went to the aid of the woman seen struggling with a man near a taxi on the corner of Flinders Lane and William Street, in Melbourne's CBD.
Mr Keilar was blasted in the chest at point blank range and died at the scene an hour later. The gunman fled on foot after the 8.15am (AEST) shooting and police later found a handgun at a nearby construction site, which was believed to be that used in the incident.
As heavily-armed police searched for the shooter, aged in his late 20s or early 30s, office workers were told to stay put and not panic. The gunman also shot and wounded the woman, reportedly his girlfriend, and the second man who tried to intervene in the dispute. The wounded man, who is in his 30s, is in a critical condition at the Royal Melbourne Hospital. The 24-year-old woman is in a serious, but stable condition. Both have gunshot wounds to their upper bodies and have had emergency surgery.

The gunman, described as unshaven and dishevelled, had reportedly just come from the Barcode nightclub in nearby King St where he had been involved in a fight with another woman. Witnesses told police there was an argument outside the club just 10 minutes before the triple shooting. Detective Inspector Stephen Clark said it was not known what sparked the altercation.

An eye witness told Southern Cross Radio he saw a woman being dragged from the cab by her hair on the corner of William St and Flinders Lane about 8.15am.
"She was powerless. A couple of guys came to assist … he eventually pulled out a gun. He shot one of the guys twice. Then he shot the woman and then the other guy.
After the shooting, he just casually walked away."

Another witness, Malcolm Bates, said before the shooting broke out the gunman grabbed a woman by the neck as she sat in a taxi, and tried to get into the vehicle.
"The lady got away and he turned, and shot three people basically point blank," Mr Bates said. "I was right across the road." He told ABC radio the gunman then ran down Flinders Lane toward the city centre. He said the whole scenario took no longer than "the wink of an eye".

Bystander Ross Murchie said he saw the gunman grabbing a woman by the neck and hair. "She was screaming and a guy had her by the hair," Mr Murchie told ABC radio.
"She tried to grab hold of a taxi that was going by and the couple of bystanders went over to ask what was happening. He let go of her hair, pulled out a gun and shot them all."

Eyewitness Zali said the gunman was "as cool as a cucumber" as he cold-bloodedly blasted his victims. "He just went bang, bang, bang, there was no mucking around," she told ABC radio. "There were five shots fired and the people went straight down to the ground. There wasn't even a scream, just a whimper."

The killer has now been identified as a member of the Hell's Angels motorcycle gang, and is well known to police around Australia, due to his numerous crimes.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Bloggers Meeting by Invitation.

There is a blog specifically created for organising get-to-gethers for Melbourne Bloggers. They had a meeting in May which was very successful from all accounts. Now Miss Eagle has suggested to me in an email that we might organise a meeting with the bloggers that we know by visiting each other's blogs. She did also suggest we hold a kind of Bloggers Garage Sale, as most of us seem to be 'crafty' in one way or another. Most of us have craft stash that we'd like to offload to another unsuspecting crafter for a few dollars, and rather than pay for the privilege of advertising on eBay, why not kill the proverbial two birds, and sell/swap with our blogger mates?

I had forgotten that Miss Eagle had only suggested this to me in an email, and I wrote on Val's blog that Miss E. had a post on her blog about her proposed event. Oops...after checking The Trad Pad, I realised my mistake, so it looks like I will be the first to mention it. Miss E. did suggest a venue, but I'll leave that to her to write in more detail on her blog. In the meantime, to make a start, I am going to list here the bloggers I have met, either in person or in cyberspace - who I would like to meet up with at a meet-and-greet style event. If you see your name here and you would like to attend, leave a comment at the end of this post. It will help Miss E. to figure out how many are like to turn up, and then decide on a venue.

Sharon (Beyond A Blank Page)
Jeanette (Jen's Chronicles)
LeeAnn (Pear Tree Cottage)
Val (Val Has Her Say)
Connie (Varieties of Meow)
These ladies live either in Melbourne or within driving distance. If I have left anyone out who would like to be part of this, just leave a comment.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Blogger Buddies.

Who said it was a crazy idea to make new friends on the Internet? I did..five years ago. Well, I have had egg on my face dozens of times since then! Today (Thursday) I had the pleasure of meeting up with two more lovely Blogging friends - Val and Connie. They drove to Eltham, and we met up outside the post office as arranged. Connie and I knew each other from 20 paces - we were both wearing all our Kitty brooches! (Well, all of mine. Connie probably has more!!) From there we went to Volumes bookshop/cafe and got to know each other while having lunch. One of the waitresses kindly took this pic for us - from left Val, Connie and Gina, a.k.a. Val, Meow and Patra!

I took this one of my two new friends:

Connie had to leave us earlier than originally planned, so I took Val to a scrapbooking warehouse in Eltham, and we happily browsed there for ages! Scrapbooking is not one of my interests, but I do love all the paraphernalia that goes with it. I ended up buying a special kind of pen which is used to write or draw and leave a sticky surface. This is then covered with fine powder and heated, thus creating an embossed finish. I did not spend an extra $50 dollars on the special heat-gun thingy required to seal the written creation (or stamped, if you use those gorgeous stamps), as Val told me she used her toaster to do this. I was wondering how you would do this without setting the paper alight, until she explained to me that no, you do not put the paper INSIDE the toaster: you hold it over the top...duh. (Wake up, Gina) well, we had a giggle over that one!

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Late birthday gift from Japan.

Isn't this one of the cutest little owls you've seen? My dear penpal Aiko in Japan sent it to me for my birthday, tucked in the little pink bag. She apologised for being so late, and explained that she has had to look after her elderly mother, because her brother has cancer and is no longer able to look after their mother himself. Aiko and other members of her family have all had health problems recently. Don't you feel helpless when you are too far away from loved ones to be able to do something for them?

Thursday, June 07, 2007

My week so far.

On Tuesday, I attended the second day of a weekly program I am involved in, called "Better Health Self Management (for people with a long term health condition). The first week was very informative and positive, as was this week's session. There are eight people in the group, and two leaders (facilitators). Each week we have to write an Action Plan for ourselves, as follows:
*What I am going to do
*How much I'm going to do
*When I'm going to do it
*How many days a week am I going to do it?
Then we have to give ourselves a mark out of 10 on how confident we are of achieving this goal. Last week my action plan was to do my arthritis exercises twice daily, and I had a confidence mark of 8 out of 10. I did well - I did those exercises twice every day except Saturday night.
This week, my action plan is to go to bed at a reasonable time. We have to be specific in our goals, so the leaders asked me to nominate a time. I said I don't usually go to bed before 2 am (gasps of shock around the room!) and said I was going to try for 10 pm. This got a few laughs, and it was suggested I make it 11 pm so it isn't such a shock to my system! My confidence rating was 4 out of 10, so the leaders tried to come up with some suggestions to help me achieve my goal. Well, last night I was in bed by 11.15 - close. Tonight as I type, it is 1.30 am and I still haven't had my bath, so it will be well after 2 am, as per usual...blasted computers...who invented these things anyway?

My Guest book.

Thank you to everyone who has signed my "Guest Book" so far. There were a few surprises there - Naomi and Pat in the U.S.A. have been my penpals for many years, and I regret to admit that I have not been a good correspondent in recent years. So it is great to see that you still keep up with me via my blogs! Why not start your own blogs so I can keep up with you in the same way?

I think I stuffed up something on my guestbook when I first opened it to see who had signed in. I have the option to vet all the people signing in, before they appear in it, and I wasn't sure how to finalise the procedure. There were about six other people who had visited, but left no message to say who they were or where they were from. The names they used were not familiar to me, so I tried to see if I could find out more information, but instead I think I deleted them! So, if you were one of these visitors, and are wondering why you're not in the guestbook, I apologise for the omission and hereby grovel to you, hoping you will have another go!

Sunday, June 03, 2007

What wonderful things we can find on the Net!

I discovered this Guestbook concept on Meow's blog in the early hours of this morning, and decided immediately that I wanted one too!! I loved collecting autographs of my friends when I was at school, and I'd be tickled pink if my blogger friends signed this cyberspace version of those old autograph books!

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Topsy has a reprieve, and Ken has a webcam!

It was a busy Saturday for us. I had a personal care job at 9.30 am, and straight after that I accompanied Ken to his chiropractor for his 11.15 appointment. From there we went to the Cat Protection Society to seek their advice about Topsy. One of the volunteer staff spoke to one of their vets, then she came over to advise us. She told us that female cats were often more 'feisty' than male cats, and that she had a female cat with a similar nature to Topsy. She confirmed that if we did bring Topsy back to them she would probably be put to sleep, as with an unpredictable nature it would not be possible to re-house her. She suggested that we take her to either our vet, or a cat behavioural specialist in Melbourne, who had a good record with helping people sort out their pussy problems :-) Apparently there is medication of several kinds available that will calm animals, and often only one course of treatment is needed to sort them out permanently.

As Ken and I really don't want to have an animal die just because we can't cope with her sometimes, and punishing her is not a good option, our next course of action will be to call this specialist next week to make an appointment. Hopefully it will be of help. Poor Puss. I'm sure she knows what is being said about her. Since last Sunday when she bit me, she has been looking at us with such a worried expression on her little face, and she has been staying inside more, instead of wailing to go outside all the time.

After spending another hour at the Cat Protection Society, cuddling all the kittens and visiting the outdoors older cat enclosures, we headed for the shops to look at webcams. Nicole and I have been chatting online late at night and as she has a webcam, I have been able to see and hear her on my PC. Ken was wondering whose voice he could hear, and when he came to investigate, he was intrigued by the idea of being able to talk and see someone on the internet. So being a man, of course he had to have this new piece of technology! We found a little Logitech model for $60 and as soon as we got home, Ken installed it on his laptop. (My six year old PC can't handle the new technology and I'm not interested in adding upgrades to it). Nicole was online when Ken got ours working, and there was great excitement in both households for a few minutes, while Nic, Chris and the Chickens waved at us, and Ken and I waved back! Ken finally got the microphone working too, so Nic and I were able to talk to each other as well later on. What fun this Internet thing is. Who among us Baby Boomers could ever have imagined such things? Not me, that's for sure.

adopt your own virtual pet!