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.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Photos I took yesterday at Hurstbridge.

I'm not sure if the residents of Hurstbridge consider themselves rural or outer suburban - it could be either, as they are 32 kilometres northeast of Melbourne, and their railway station is the last one on the Hurstbridge line, which is part of the metropolitan rail network. Whatever it is classified as, Hurstbridge is a pretty little town, with a uniquely Australian feel to it. Someone told me the other day that if the wind hadn't changed direction on Black Saturday, Hurstbridge would have gone.
There are many other picturesque towns on the fringes of Melbourne with a similar feel, but as this one is the nearest to me, I decided to do a post on the blog for the benefit of my overseas readers, who also produce walkabout posts on their blogs about their local towns.
Strolling down the main street of Hurstbridge, you will find the railway station and some small business concerns on the right, and a variety of commercial shops and business on the left - bank, post office, cafes, real estate agents, etc.

This group of shops is behind the main street, and is a very pleasant area to sit and have a coffee with a friend after you've done your shopping. It is close to the children's playground (below).
The children's playground is situated among plenty of trees to provide shade on warm days.

Rusty iron roof and the sign "Anzac Avenue" contribute to that Aussie feel!

This isn't in Hurstbridge, but I'm including it on this post because it was taken on one of the roads we travelled on yesterday while driving between Hurstbridge and Kinglake. It was a pine plantation before the fires. I think the timber can still be used, as they were in the process of felling trees and loading them on to trucks to be transported somewhere, and it looked okay underneath the scorched bark.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Today was a nice day in many ways.

I took the last of Lorna's fabric postcards to Kinglake Middle Primary School today.
The school had been burnt to the ground (this is all that is left - a concrete slab)

but temporary classrooms and offices have been erected nearby.

The principal was delighted to receive the box of postcards, and like all before her, was very touched by the messages written on the backs by the English children. She said she would send a postcard out with the school newsletter this week so every family would get one. I thought that was a great idea, as the parents would receive it in the mail instead of their kids bringing one home, and perhaps losing it on the way!
Have a look at these...the children had made up posters to thank all the people who helped their community during and after the fires. These were inside the window of one of the classrooms.

The top poster thanks the firemen, and the bottom one thanks the SES (State Emergency Service). I couldn't make out the centre one. There were other posters around the school, thanking police and ambulance drivers among others.

After I left the school, I went to Hurstbridge where I met a friend for lunch. She works at the Community Bank. Doesn't look like a regular bank, does it!
Hurstbridge is a tiny little town, and when the major banks closed down and moved out because there wasn't enough money in it for them, the Community Bank moved in, and they are doing very well indeed. Good on them - this has happened in many of our rural towns, and the local people find it hard to get to a major country town to their bank. So the Community Banks have been a godsend, and they are the ones reaping the profits when the locals close their accounts with the big banks!
While I was waiting for Sandra to come out for lunch, I went for a walk along Main Street. It is such a pretty town, I couldn't resist taking some photos.
I resisted temptation and didn't go into the opshop here

Or the antique shop next door

But when I strolled past the gift shop

and saw these delightful carved penguins, I just had to see what they had inside.

The shop is full of delightfully whimsical nick nacks, and when I saw these chooks, well...out came the wallet. Salt and pepper shakers, and one that sits on the edge of a shelf.

I've got some more photos, but it's 2 am for goodness sake! I'm off to bed, and will post the others tomorrow - er, later today.

How often does this happen?!

When I bought my new washing machine last month, the instructions said that if the purchaser lodges the warranty information online, they would be automatically put into a competition draw for a prize. I thought "Oh yeah, righto", completed the information required, and forgot all about it. Last Friday, I received an email from Retravision, saying I'd won $1000 worth of electrical appliances, and would I please confirm my residential address so they could make delivery! Ken said "that's a hoax, don't do anything", but I remembered the warranty deal, and ignored his advice. Just as well - look what arrived today! Two BIG boxes.

Unpacked in the garage, because they were too cumbersome to carry upstairs, were all these goodies!

Well, I guess one has to get lucky some time! Ken snapped up the shaver, as he has never had an electric shaver, prefering to use a safety razor. But this one is worth $199 according to the list, so he reckons it is worth trying.
I'll keep the hand blender, as I've often thought I'd like one of those. But the rest will go to the Bushfire Recovery Centre, as after looking at the toaster and jug, we still prefer our present kettle and toaster. And I have no need of a juicer, hair straightener, or electric hair plucker thing, although Ken said it would be ideal to get the hairs that grow in his nose...forget it!!!!!

I dropped into the Hurstbridge Recovery Centre today while I was up there, and told the lady in charge about my windfall. She was more excited than I was! And when I told her I'd be donating most of it to them, well...I think I made her day, LOL!

This is the Hurstbridge Bushfire Recovery Centre. These centres are scattered around the outskirts of Melbourne, and people can take goods there to be donated to the bushfire survivors.

Signs on the gate outside the recovery centre give you an idea of what people have lost. I'm not sure about the fishing trip request though...perhaps some men who used to go fishing have lost all their equipment, and just want to go out with other fishermen one day. I should mention this to Ken.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Momentous events at the Wilsons.

Saturday was a red letter day here. Having said that, I started to wonder where that term originated. I know it means a day of significance, but who says? So I got on to good old Google and found the answer here.
Well, our Saturday was not a religious festival, so perhaps I should not have used the term. What the heck. It was a good day. Some of you observant bloggers may have noticed that I have changed the picture on my Profile thingo. The previous photo was about two years old. Old being the operative word, I decided the ponytail hairstyle had to go. So when my hairdresser was applying the blonde colour to my mousey locks, I asked her if she could give them a cut as well. She was delighted to, as she'd been telling me for some time that I'm too old (not quite in those words, otherwise she would no longer be my friend OR my hairdresser), to be sporting a pony tail. Hmmph.

So she cut a bit. I said more. She cut a bit more. Then I asked if she can make it interesting, so it doesn't look like a pudding basin jammed on to my head (my hair is dead straight). So she cut some layers, then put mousse into the hair, messed it up, dried it, and voila! I'm quite happy with the New Look!

The photo also shows the other reason for red letters. One of our bantams has been sitting on four eggs for 3 weeks. Unfortunately she is a first time Mum, and didn't seem to understand that one does NOT leave the nest box when one's eggs are in the process of hatching. So the first chick to hatch was the only survivor, because within minutes of him breaking out of his shell, he was off and running, and Mother Hen was off the nest to chase him! The other eggs were left too long and the chicks died. Ken was devastated, but this tiny little Person cheered him up somewhat!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

If you are in the USA - please reply to this!

I've been watching the news about the tornadoes and hailstorms in the mid-West of America. While Victoria continues to come to terms with the bushfires, Americans have their own Armageddon to deal with. Tornadoes are even more unpredictable than bushfires; I don't know if I could live in the mid-western states. I'd be on edge for most of the year, I'm sure.
I know some of my blog friends live in the general area of this, so if you get a chance, please drop in here and say hi. We are thinking of you..

Friday, June 19, 2009

Vintage postcards, more bush photos.

While I was in Healesville last Wednesday, I couldn't resist the temptation of visiting some of their antiques and collectables shops. I found these very old (mostly hand painted) postcards, for $1 each.

I also bought these old Australian photo postcards. I know some of our overseas bloggers are a bit bemused by the lyrics to our beloved "Waltzing Matilda", so these might help explain:
"Once a jolly swagman"
(Swagman, Walbundry Station, Riverina District NSW, 1901)

"camped by a billabong"
(Billabong, Walla Walla Station, Riverina District NSW, 1901)
"under the shade of a coolabah tree".

Here are two more old Aussie postcards unrelated to Matilda, but nonetheless interesting:
Princes Street, Grafton NSW, 1894.
Miner's Hut, Lithgow Valley NSW, 1899.

Three last photos from Wednesday's trip:
Chum Creek area, showing the Black Boy grass trees being among the first plants to regenerate. These plants actually rely on bushfires to stimulate flowering.

The Toolangi Road. Virtually untouched by the fires, which inexplicably missed the town of Toolangi altogether, whilst burning just about everything around it.

My favourite view of Yarra Glen, looking toward Healesville, which is roughly behind the hills in the distance.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

A satisfying day.

I drove to Healesville today and met a friend for lunch. We took the postcards for Marysville School to one of the shops which is owned by a friend of the school principal, who lives in Healesville. She didn't know about the postcard project, but when I explained it to her, she thought it was fantastic, and promised to pass them on to the principal that night.
My friend has lived in Healesville for many years, and she knows her way around the back roads better than I do, so she drove me up to Chum Creek Primary School, where we met some of the teachers, and left Lorna's postcards with them to distribute among the 34 pupils. Two of the children were in the staff room while we were talking to the teachers, and they could see the postcards I was holding up. Their comment "Oh, cool!" The teachers themselves were like most other adults - touched by the compassion of the children on the other side of the world.
I asked if I could take some photos of the school and was told yes, but not to include any children in my pics. This is standard procedure these's a sad world isn't it, to think that a fantastic invention like the Internet is abused by the lowest of low-life - child pornographers..
Anyway, here are the photos I took today:

Chum Creek Road.

School car park, with new water tank on its side, waiting to be installed. The tree trunk in the picture shows how close the fire was to destroying the school - this tree was so badly burnt it was too dangerous to leave standing.

One of the classrooms at Chum Creek Primary School. Note the eucalypt in front of the classroom - it caught fire on the trunk, but the flames died out before they could do any more damage.

Mural on external wall of one of the classrooms.

New Chook pen. Like many of the other rural schools, these kids have hens for pets. The henhouse was destroyed along with the birds when the fires got so close to the school. Adults feel it is vital to the kids' wellbeing to rebuild the pen and get new chooks as soon as possible. Country kids love their animals and birds.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Busy weeks ahead.

Not having a job to go to, is working out rather well for me at the moment. Once I've been to my chiro. appointments, for the next two weeks I have plenty of things to do and places to go. All the driving probably won't do my neck much good, but I'll just wear my neckbrace while I'm in the car, and that should help.

Remember those fabric postcards from Lorna's students in England? I delivered the first lot to Strathewen Primary school, then my run was delayed by sundry annoyances. But I'm back on track now, after making some phone calls today. Tomorrow (Wednesday) I'm heading up to Healesville with two more bags of postcards. One bag has 24 postcards for the kids of Marysville Primary School. They are based at Taggerty at the moment, in a portable classroom, and as that is quite a long drive from here, the principal suggested I drop them off with a friend of hers in Healesville, where she can collect them.
The other bag of 34 postcards are for Chum Creek Primary school, which is not far from the town centre of Healesville. This school wasn't burned to the ground, but the fires came very close and destroyed a lot around the school itself. One of the teachers told me today that most of the children suffered trauma of one kind or another; one child lost his parents in the fires, and another lost his grandparents who were burnt to death in their house.

Next week, the last of the postcards are going to Middle Kinglake Primary school, which was completely burnt down, but the 120 pupils are presently being educated at portable classrooms in the nearby sports oval, I believe. Not sure exactly, but I guess we'll find out when we get there.

I have wondered if all the driving and phone calls have been worthwhile? I know the teachers I've spoken to think it is fantastic that the kids in England have such empathy for our kids. But what do the kids themselves think? And their parents? Guess I'll never know, but it doesn't really matter, does it. I believe that any good actions individuals carry out in the world have a positive effect on the planet overall.

Enough of this misery!

It brings me back to earth when I get comments from my friends on blog posts as I did on the previous post about my health issues. I'm not the only one after all! Oh I know that, but we all tend to sometimes feel alone with our own problems, don't we. Thank you for your sympathetic comments - I have emailed you all personally rather than replying here.

And now for some nice stuff. How about some photos of chooks? (Half of my readers immediately click on the X at the top righthand corner....). Oh well, I've got some pics of Topsy too...ah now I've gotcha. Cat lovers, one and all! Here she is in her 'bed' - a cat cushion that sits on top of the clothes dryer in the laundry, where she can keep an eye on everything going on in the back yard. Of course the curtain has to be pulled across just far enough not to obliterate her view. And if I draw it right across, it is not long before the poor curtain has more tears in it from being dragged back with those naughty claws.

Ken bought two hens at a poultry club meeting last Saturday night. The club president had brought a selection of his chooks for their regular club judging, and he agreed to sell Ken two of them. They are called "Partridge" Wyandotte Bantams - Partridge refers to the colour and pattern of the feathers. They are very pretty, and quite docile. They endeared themselves even more to me today when one of them laid an egg!

This closeup shows the patterns on their feathers - isn't nature clever?

A thousand curses.

Curse the truck driver who ran me down 35 years ago, and did this damage to my neck. May his chickens turn into emus and kick his dunny door down.

The latest X-rays of my neck show that some of the vertebrae/discs (whatever the correct term is)have spurs growing on them. Necks are supposed to have a natural curve. Mine is dead straight. Some of the bones are so close together, they are squeezing the nerves (or is it the spinal cord?), which is giving me a kind of neck-sciatica - you know, pins and needles up and down my left arm.

The chiropractor tells me some home truths that I have already figured out for myself: if I leave my neck untreated, eventually it will stiffen up completely, affect all my senses (sight, hearing and smell), digestion, and possibly the loss of feeling in my arms, one or both.

The good news is that with some serious (and expensive) manipulation, while he can't reverse the damage, he can slow down the deterioration process to give me some more useful years. I am to have three treatments a week for a month, two treatments a week for the following month, and a monthly treatment for however long I need it. Oh, and I have to do something myself too - 10 minutes of neck stretching exercises a day. It hurts, and makes me feel a bit nauseous, but I can put up with that if the end result justifies the pain.

I have two messages for you, dear readers.
1. Don't ever have a motor vehicle accident.
2. If you do, be sure and take out the Extras cover in your health insurance. We have claimed more on chiropractic, physiotherapy, myotherapy, dental, optical and podiatry than hospital treatment ever since we took out private insurance.
Thanks, Australian Unity.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

What did I say about Winter in Melbourne?

I said on my post here on Saturday that it is cold here. Well, today (Wednesday) it SNOWED in some outer suburbs of Melbourne. Including Kinglake. Which is not technically a suburb of Melbourne, but it is not that much further on. Here is a writeup in one of our newspapers. I heard a Kinglake resident talking on the radio this morning, saying how unreal it felt. Four months ago they were on fire, with temperatures up to 47 deg. C., and now it is snowing. The burnt out buildings, the blackened landscape, are all covered with a white blanket, as if Mother Nature is trying to hide the scars of a cruel summer. All very pretty, but when the snow melts, the continuing clean-up work will be made all the more difficult as it turns into mud and slush. And think too, of the people who are living in caravans and other temporary accomodation while they rebuild their homes. They must be freezing up there. No, Mother Nature - you are not kind at all.

The MOTH and I were back at the doctor today for a follow up visit after his diagnosis on Sunday. Ken wanted to go back to work today, but I ignored him and rang his boss to say Ken wouldn't be in for the rest of this week. Doc.Smith agreed with me, and said if Ken is still having breathing problems, he should not be at working driving around in this weather. He advised Ken to have the rest of this week off and gave him a medical certificate.

Doc. checked me over again and decided that I didn't have pleurisy after all, but the pain in my shoulders and back should be seen to. So we went to Ken's chiropractor later on, and after looking at the last Xrays that were taken of my neck (in 2006), he checked out the neck area and found that there was some deterioration there, causing the referred pain to my shoulders and back. He did some minor manipulation, sent me off for new Xrays, and said to come back again on Friday, when he would give me further treatment, depending on what the Xrays show.
While the radiologist was checking the Xrays to see if they were good enough, he asked the usual question that every doctor and specialist has asked me when they've seen Xrays of my neck - "What the hell have you done to your neck?". I told him, and he said "Well, I hope M.(the chiropractor) can help you. It looks bad".

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Winter has arrived in Melbourne.

Well of course, it is winter all over Australia, but as Ken is so fond of reminding me, if we were in Darwin it would be nice and warm instead of cold and damp. In return, I tell him that being cold and damp is a lot better than being on fire. The problem for Ken is, that cold and damp means increased coughing for him...almost constant coughing. That's what he gets for smoking all those years. But I don't remind him of that - he doesn't need to be told. Lung specialists tell him that if he moved away from Melbourne in winter, he wouldn't have this problem. Ha. Chance is a fine thing. It would be nice to be wealthy enough to have a home up north as well as a home down south. I don't want to move north. I don't like the heat in summer!

So we stay in Melbourne, stay inside the house, and add to greenhouse gases with our gas fire on all weekend. MIL is still living in aged care accomodation, and being very well looked after by the staff. They think she's lovely, she doesn't cause any problems, so they fuss over her and she loves it. God bless her, she deserves it. But she caught a head cold last week. I went to visit her on the previous Friday and stupidly gave her a hug and kiss. I should have known better with my training. Four days later, I've caught the cold, which I've had all this week. After two days of sniffling, I thought I'd recovered, until I started coughing in tandem with Ken. It's just as well MIL isn't here any more, because she would almost certainly have caught the virus from us if she had been, and now that she's not, one of us can sleep in the spare bedroom to try and avoid re-infecting each other.

I don't think we have swine flu. In fact I know we don't have swine flu. But if we did, I wouldn't be overly concerned - not for myself anyway. I have never had a flu injection and I can't understand all this fuss. Influenza has been circulating around the world in one form or another for 100 years, probably longer. People have died every year, and will continue to die from flu. Most people that have caught swine flu here have the usual flu symptoms, and if they stay at home in bed for two weeks, they fully recover and get on with living. With any virus, certain people in the community are more vulnerable - Ken is an example, with heart and lung issues. Older people and children are more vulnerable because their immune systems are not as strong. I think the media causes unnecessary panic. What do you think?

At the risk of catching something else, or passing on my own germs to some poor unsuspecting soul, I dropped into the local opshop on Friday and found these:

Christmas patchwork oven mitt for 50c. Possible gift for a certain XmasTree lovin' friend.
Polka dot silk tie for 75c (not for Ken. For craft purposes)
A tiny vintage car which looks like it was off a charm bracelet. Freebie. Another crafty bit.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Our postcards make the news!

Our weekly suburban magazine "Heidelberg & Diamond Valley Weekly", has published an article and photo about my visit to Strathewen Primary School with the English students' postcards! I can't find a link to the page, so I'm going to reproduce it here at the risk of being sued...if you click on the image it will bring it up more clearly and you will be able to read the text. Alana got a few facts wrong unfortunately, but overall it is a nice write up, and Lorna tells me her students are tickled pink to see it.

She showed them the post on my blog here with the photos of the school and their pets, and she tells me that her students now want a class pet of their own! They wanted a class puppy, but Lorna had to say no because it would be too much of a distraction. She is thinking about goldfish. When I told Ken all this he said "What have you started?!" and then made suggestions for class pets - budgies, hedgehogs, guinea pigs. Lorna said there aren't many hedgehogs left now - and anyway, they smell vile - LOL! But what a shame to hear they are scarce. I always imagined hedgehogs would be common in England, like possums over here.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Distributing more postcards to the bushfire areas.

On Sunday, Ken and I drove to Yarra Glen, which is about half an hour's drive from where we live in Eltham. I'd planned on going up there to visit the craft shop which has been relocated from the town of Marysville which was destroyed in the February fires. As it was such a pleasant day, Ken said he'd like to come, so of course he drove! (it's a man thing...).
I'd been informed that the craft shop in Marysville is now up and running in Yarra Glen, and thought it would be a good starting point to distribute some of the fabric postcards I'd been sent by generous craft girls in both Australia and overseas.
It was the right decision. We found the shop easily, by the sign out the front:

Inside, I approached the lady behind the counter who was busily knitting, and introduced myself, showing her the postcards I had.

Christine was delighted with them, and after we'd talked for a while about the bushfires, she chose half of them to keep and give to the ladies that she knows who have been affected by the fires. I wrote down some information about Stitchin' Fingers for her, so they can all have a look at what we do there. Ken and I spent some time browsing through the store, and I bought three embroidered hand towels, which will make lovely gifts at Christmas.

Christine pointed to a display near the door.
This is a photo of the shop at Marysville before the fires.
And this is all that was left.

Christine told us that they have between 50 and 60 local craftspeople who make things for the store, and after the fires, everyone went into overdrive to restock the shop. As you can see by these photos, they have been busy, to put it mildly. I held back my tears, thinking how soul-destroying it would have been for those people, who had all their work go up in smoke, possibly because of an arsonist.

When we left the craft gallery, it was only 3pm so we decided to have a look around the antique shops for which Yarra Glen is famous for.
We went in here

Then over to here

and finally, here:

I was very good and only bought one thing - a rather old book about the history of playing cards. (Those of you who know me, know I collect playing/swap cards as well as linens.)

By then it was getting late, getting cold, and we were getting hungry, so we drove back up Main Street and headed home.

adopt your own virtual pet!