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 29, 2010

The darker side of America.

If you use the resources of the Internet to its full advantage, you can be up to date with just about anything happening around the world, and not just the media's view point. There are heaps of blogs written by people who want to get a specific message across to their readers, sometimes to counteract what is in newspapers and on t.v. And those on the 'coal face' are generally more au fait with whatever is happening in their part of the world.

One of my blog friends Cathy has recently created a new blog, to comment on the problems they have with illegal immigrants where she lives in Arizona. She writes about situations that sends shivers down my spine. It is similar to what we experience here, but on a HUGE scale. In fact we don't have that much of a problem at all compared with the USA! People have to cross a sea before they get here. Over there, Mexicans just walk across that is privately owned by farmers, who are understandably unhappy about illegals who shoot their cattle and mess up their land on their way to a new life in the USA. Cathy's blog also has links to two other blogs which are political commentaries - and an eye-opener to this Aussie gal.

Monday, June 28, 2010

The MOTH's inheritance.

Ever since my MIL's house was sold, we have been making trips over there to clear the house of MIL's possessions. It has been an emotionally difficult time for Ken and his sister; their Mum is still alive, and even though she is fully aware the house has been sold, and she is urging us to take whatever we want, they feel as if they are robbing her home. Still, it must be done - the new owners take possession in the middle of August, and whatever the family doesn't take, must be disposed of. Fortunately, a neighbour has bought the house with a view to renovate it, so we don't have to actually clean the house after we've removed everything.

We've had an auctioneer come in to evaluate what will be worth selling at an auction house, and he has offered to organise a garage sale for the rest, and after that, getting rid of what remains to charity organisations, or the tip. SIL's hubby and I have been gently prodding our spouses along, but time is running out, so I put my foot down last week and told them both we must all go there this weekend and take what we want NOW. Ken spent a miserable day in the garage going through his father's 50 year accumulation of tools, nails, jigsaw puzzles, Masonic Lodge gear, and so on. He brought the Mason stuff home, along with one or two tools and other small items.

SIL spent much of her time in the laundry, sorting out what could be thrown out and what we could still use -unopened boxes of washing powder, multiple bottles and spray cans of every cleaning fluid you could name. Then there was the linen press in the laundry - towels and sheets that had lain undisturbed for possibly ten years or more, and were damp and mouldy. I took what was still in reasonable condition to give to our local animal shelters.

We moved to the kitchen and took out all the baking tins - every conceivable size and shape was there. MIL was an excellent cook in her day, especially when it came to cakes and biscuits. I took most of the tins, some of which I can use, and others I will spray paint with bright colours to use as containers for bits and pieces around the house. (Saw that in a craft mag. and thought it was a super idea for old baking tins!)

SIL was still wrapping glass and crystal when we left. Her Mum had two crystal cabinets full of the stuff, and SIL said when she has washed it all, I can come over and help myself. I said that I wouldn't be taking much, as after two marriages myself, and inheriting my Mum's silver and cut glass, I just did not have room for any more!

One item we brought home was particularly important to Ken. His father's mother loved to paint pictures, but not to sell. She just gave them to friends and family.

This one was on a wall in MIL's home for many years, and she said she wanted Ken to have it, as his sister already had one of her grandmother's paintings in her home. We carried it around the house until we decided to place it on the wall in our bedroom, as there was just nowhere else it would 'fit'. We had two small pictures on the wall before, but they weren't family heirlooms - simply pictures we had bought somewhere. So it was nice to hang something that is a piece of Ken's family history.

MIL always loved lots of flowers around her home. We still take a fresh bunch in for her on our weekly visit. If she didn't have fresh flowers, she had artificial ones, mostly roses. For years I thought this bunch of roses were real flowers, until one day I got close enough to touch them, and realised they were artificial - silk, I think. Definitely not plastic. SIL was going to throw all these fake flowers in the rubbish dump (she hates them!), but I rescued these and brought them home. They were covered with years of dust, so I dipped them in warm soapy water, wiggled them around, rinsed them in clean water, and hung them in the shower recess to dry. An hour later, they were as good as new, and I think Ken was pleased to see his Mum's beloved fake roses in a vase in our hall.

We still have a cuckoo clock in a box to unpack. His parents bought it in Switzerland when they went to Europe once. Like his Dad, Ken just loves clocks, and can't wait to have this one fixed and up on a wall somewhere. I said it has to go up the other end of the house; I do NOT want to be woken up with cuckoo noises when I'm sleeping in on a cold morning! Ken is agonised over his Dad's grandfather clock. He would like to have that here, but I put my foot down firmly about that. There is simply nowhere here for something that size. I suggested to Ken and SIL that they hire a spot in one of those long term storage facilities, and anything they can't make up their mind about keeping, just store it until they can decide what to do. MIL had an electronic theatre organ which both SIL and I would like to keep, but again, neither of us have the room in our homes for it. It is about 20 years old now, and of course is worth nothing, because in that time those kind of instruments have come a long way with technology. MIL used to play beautifully; we had great 'music' nights over there for many I'm getting emotional..

Thursday, June 24, 2010

First woman prime minister?

Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard, backed by factional Labor Party warlords, has made a tilt at Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's leadership.
God help this country if she gets the top job. Better the devil you know...

Monday, June 21, 2010

Today at Healesville.

I had been invited to give a talk about my linen collection to the Healesville PROBUS club today, and as the meeting finished at 1 pm, I decided to spend the rest of the afternoon in the town, as it was such a lovely sunny day.

Healesville is a picturesque tourist town nestled into the hills of the Yarra Valley.

The main street is geared to the tourist trade - antique and second hand shops, cafes, and hotels make up most of the shopping strip.
The Grand Hotel...not so grand these days, but nobody would dare to pull it down!
Healesville Hotel is a stately old lady in comparison to the Grand.
After an hour's strolling around the shops, I settled down with a cappucino to flip through the pile of craft magazines I'd just bought for $9 - bargain! They are usually about $10 each!
This was my view from where I sat with my coffee.
On the way home, there was a delay in the traffic while workers dismantled their road working equipment.

While I was sitting in the car, I noticed these cows meandering across the field, and thought it would make a neat photo.
Homeward bound at the end of a perfect winter's day, which had started out with a peasoup fog, but ended up with this cloudless sky.

Ararat, Vic.

Unless Australian places are named from Aboriginal names, most of them are from places overseas, particularly England and Scotland, seeing our first white migrants came from there. Ararat is a bit different. I thought it might be based on an Aboriginal word until Ken reminded me yesterday that it was more than likely named after the one in Turkey, but we wouldn't be finding remnants of the Biblical ark at OUR Ararat... I don't know why it was called Ararat, especially as it was founded by a Chinese population back in 1857. Anyway, you can click on the link and find out more for yourself if you are interested.

We drove there to attend an Avicultural bird sale, and also to have a look at the cemetery, as Ken's grandfather's brother is buried there. Ararat is about 240 kilometres (nearly 150 miles) from our home, and it took three hours to get there, but we stopped on the way for a coffee in Ballarat, which added about half an hour to the trip. Ken bought a blue budgie, a Charcoal Zebra Finch and a canary to add to his aviaries. After that we strolled around Ararat, had lunch, and visited the cemetery.

When we left Melbourne at 8 am, it was cold and foggy. The fog turned into rain as we approached Ballarat.
The rain continued to fall during our brief stay, but I managed to get a few photos of some of the interesting old buildings in this historic town.

By the time we reached Ararat, the clouds were dispersing, and the day turned out quite fine, although it was still cold. Here is part of the main street - I love the way it winds around as it goes up the hill.

Art Deco styled hotel - this form of architecture is found in many of our country towns.
At first glance the older section of the Ararat Cemetery looked like a small cemetery, but after we'd been wandering around for an hour, we realised it was quite extensive.
This gravestone was for a Wilson from Scotland, and Ken thought it was his ancestor, but the date didn't tally with his information. (We later found out the grave he was looking for was on the other side of the cemetery.)
Graves like this one are a bit sad. No identification left at all. Ken kept apologising to the ghosts of people whose grave he walked over where there was no gravestone or other identification, except for an oblong bump in the ground..
This was the only grave where flowers were actually growing in the ground. I thought "what a lovely idea", but after reading the tombstone, I got a bit tearful. It was for a 5 day old baby...

On our way home, we passed this derelict building, and I urged Ken to stop, so I could take some pictures. We didn't have time to walk around it, so I have no idea what it was once. Next time we're over that side of Victoria, we'll make a point of asking around the towns if anybody knows the history of it.

We were surprised to see a Wind farm just off the highway. I knew there were some in Australia, but had never seen any closeup. Not that we could get any closer than this, mind you!

Another 100 miles to go...

Monday, June 14, 2010

Half an hour in a woman's life.

I'm sure you girls have heard it before from men: "What do you do all day at home while I'm out earning a living to keep you in comfort?" Ken gets annoyed when I don't come running immediately he wants help with something, or wants to show me something. So today when this happened while I was doing the usual late afternoon stuff, I mentally listed everything I was doing. Here is the result:

At 4.30, Ken asked me to come and look at something on his computer. He made himself a cup of tea, and asked if I wanted one. I said “I wouldn’t mind a cup of coffee”. He made his tea and disappeared. I looked at the clock and figured if we were going to eat before 9 pm, I’d better get tea started. But before that, I had to bring the washing in from the line, as the night air was making it damp.
Put the sheets in the dryer, draped the rest of the washing over the clothes horse in the lounge room.

Started taking the ingredients for dinner from the fridge and pantry.

Lamb fillet hadn’t thawed out, so put that in the microwave.

Discovered the bottle of olive oil was nearly empty. Got stepladder from laundry to retrieve new bottle of oil from back of top shelf in pantry. Put everything back, put ladder away.

Sliced onion and chopped garlic, put in pan with oil.

Put peelings into small kitchen compost bin which was full, so took that outside to empty into garden compost bin.

Took lamb from microwave and cut up. Mopped up meat juices from floor where it had spilled from plate when carrying it to benchtop.

Chopped up cat’s meat to feed cat, who was sniffing the floor where I’d wiped up meat juice.

Blended spices and added them to pan with onion, then added lamb.

Discovered I had no vegetable stock powder, but remembered some in freezer.
Retrieved that and thawed out in microwave. Added to pan with meat. Covered and left to cook for half an hour.

Tidied up kitchen bench, stacked dishes ready to wash.

Made myself a cup of coffee and sat down to rest until it was time to add vegetables to the stew.

Showed this list to Ken who said “Well, what about the things you didn’t do? You left all the doors open, and I went around and drew all the curtains.”
“What doors did I leave open?” “The door to the ensuite”. Oh right. I’d been in there to get a coat hanger, and apparently hadn’t pulled the door shut behind me. Gee whiz. We girls make life hell for our men, don’t we?

Hot rods, trucks and quilts.

Ken and I went for a drive into the country yesterday, thinking we would find a nice quiet town and have a leisurely lunch. Driving through the Yarra Ranges National Park, and around the Black Spur -

we wondered where all the traffic was going to. The snow fields aren't far from there, so it was possible some of the traffic was headed up there, but we followed most of it here:

The nice quiet town of Alexandra (about 120 kls from Melbourne) turned out to be busier than Bourke Street! They were having their annual Truck and Hot Rod Show, but not only that - the local quilters group had their own show as well.

We decided to go there first, and spend the rest of the day in the town looking at the cars and trucks. Ken had never been to a quilt show before (surprise surprise), and I thought he'd be hurrying me along, but no, he quite enjoyed looking at them. He commented on colour, design and workmanship as if he'd been doing it all his life! I doubt very much if he will take it up as a hobby though...

The streets of this small town were jam-packed with souped up trucks and cars.

They were very lucky with the weather, as in spite of it being cold, the sun was out and it was a perfect day for strolling around looking at stuff, eating hot chips out of a cardboard cup, and later on enjoying a nice latte in a cafe. I have heaps of photos as usual, and will be posting them all elsewhere over the next few days, so if you are interested, keep your eye on this blog and I'll post links when I've done the photo shows.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Where do we go from here?

Isabelle over in Scotland had an interesting post on her blog this week. She is looking at aged care homes on behalf of an elderly aunt, and this exercise has started Isabelle thinking about her own future (mind you, she isn’t even SIXTY yet). She has posed several questions for her readers, and already has 17 responses, so I thought rather than clog up her blog, I’ll do my own thing right here, and trust she will see it on her next visit! Aren’t bloggers funny – well maybe not all of us, but I know many of my blog friends write as if we are neighbours, and can just drop in and out of each other’s homes!

Isabelle writes:
I wonder if it would be too soon for me to put my name down…? A nice room looking out over a garden; meals made; housework done; laundry taken care of… . Would they let me bring thousands of books, my computer, Mr Life and the cats? (Perhaps I’ve put these items in the wrong order.)
My reply is that it would be far too soon to put your name down for an aged care home! Yeah I know it sounds ideal – nothing to do but enjoy all that free time, but while you are still working and enjoying your work, you may as well stay put in your present home with the books, the computer, the MOTH and the cats!

Isabelle: I’m torn between thinking that we should buy a really practical house for our old age and thinking that we should buy one we really like. I want to move back to the other side of the city, near the sea, where I lived till I was nearly forty. Or a nearby seaside town? What would you go for? Sensible or the dream?
My reply: Can’t you have both – a practical house for your old age which just happens to be by the sea where you want to live? Aside from your own dreams, what does Mr Life want to do in his old – sorry, older age?

Ken has always wanted more land (as in acres) out in the bush somewhere, but we don’t have that kind of money. And everyone else warns us that in our advancing years, we need to be near a hospital. WHAT?? Why, for goodness sake? I can’t see us popping into the local hospital on a daily basis to be looked over, so why would we want to live close to one? Ken’s health is stable, mine is fine, and as long as we see a doctor for a regular check up on his heart and my blood pressure, we don’t need to be NEAR a hospital! If we had an emergency situation, we’d do what people usually do in a crisis – call an ambulance.

I like the thought of living ‘in the country’, but not in a very isolated or remote location. And not on hundreds of acres of land. Five to ten acres would be good, in a small country town, or on the outskirts of a larger country town. I don’t have any urge to live near the sea, but a river in the area would be lovely. Somewhere Ken could thrown in a line, and I could sit and read. We’ve looked in the windows of real estate agents when we’ve visited country towns, and have seen our ‘dream home’ many times. Country towns seem to have the best craft shops and groups, so I would be in my element. Away from the car hoons and noisy parties in the suburbs, traffic congestion wherever you go, and too many people in close proximity. All that was fine 40 years ago when I was in my 20’s, and enjoying the company of hoons (I had my own motorcycle), and too many people in close proximity at noisy parties, but now a quiet life is what we both crave.

To sum up, we need to face realities. The first reality is that we won’t leave Melbourne until Ken’s Mum has passed away, as we don’t want to be too far away from her while she is still alive. The second reality is that we don’t have the money to move anywhere right now, but that could change with a lotto win (unlikely). The third reality is the thought of packing up everything in this house to move is frightening. Thousands of books (mine)like Isabelle, cupboards full of craft stash/fabrics (mine), hundreds of CDs, DVDs, video tapes, records (mostly Ken’s), the contents of a two car garage apart from two cars and two bikes)- how many removal vans would we need? The final reality is that I love living in Eltham, and we have a lot of good friends in Eltham and surrounding suburbs whom I would greatly miss if we moved very far away.

So, Isabelle – I’m sure this hasn’t helped you make any decision about moving, but I hope you got a laugh! Do any of my readers have any comments to make on this subject?

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Money wasted by governments..

I'm sitting here blog surfing, and Ken poked his head around the corner to tell me that Brumby (no, not the horse - our state Premier) has announced he is spending $3 million of our taxes on bringing Tiger Woods back here to play golf again. He has also pledged $25 million towards upgrading a bloody football field....
At this time of the year when winter is setting in, the media feature lots of stories about homeless people on the streets of Melbourne. They claim there is nowhere for them to go - everywhere they try is full, and they are turned away. $28 million would go a long, long way toward building some housing for these people. Even if it were blocks of flats just to provide a roof over their heads temporarily.

It makes me sick. Money spent on sport is wasted while there are people in our so-called Lucky Country who are not lucky enough to have even the most basic accomodation available to them in times of need.

Another visit to Melbourne Zoo.

The MOTH and I went to the Zoo a month ago to see Mali, the baby elephant. We made the mistake of going on the weekend, when thousands of other people had the same plan, so we missed out. This is Ken's last week off before he goes back to work, so I persuaded him that we should go to the Zoo again during the week. It worked! The day was quite cold, but no rain, and sunny enough to take some good photos. Even though there were quite a lot of people there, there were no queues to see Mali or the new Sumatra Tiger cubs, so we were able to spend about half an hour watching the cubs, and then watching Mali and the other elephants.

We saw the rest of the Zoo as well, in the five hours we were there, and I've got a heap of photos which I will put on a separate blog for anyone who wants to have a look.
The tigers' exhibit has been made to look as close as possible to their natural habitat - thickly wooded, long grass, etc. which makes it difficult to get a good photo with a very ordinary 8 year-old digital camera like mine! We were able to see the four cubs very well - they are delightful to watch, running around, playing with each other, nuzzling up to their Mum! But the only photo of mine that turned out was this one of the mother, when she came out into the open area for a minute.


Friday, June 04, 2010

Japanese themed ornaments

My penpal in Japan sent me the little carved owl on the left. We found the lady in a plant nursery yesterday. I thought it was carved from wood, but it isn't. Not plastic...some sort of ceramic material. But for $10, Ken said it won't break the bank!

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Gone walkabout.

Our GP checked Ken over on Wednesday and pronounced him fit and well, but said he probably needs another week off work to build his strength up again, as he's had a virus for the past week, which has left him feeling washed out. It was such a nice day weatherwise, that we decided to drive up to Sugarloaf and go for a walk.

Here I am strolling down one of the walking tracks.

We surprised a small mob of kangaroos (and they surprised us!)

Recent rains have made everything nice and green.

We stayed until it was nearly dusk...

..and found the roos again on our way back.

There was still enough daylight on the way home to stop at the Kangaroo Ground Memorial Tower and check out the newly build viewing platform.

This is one of the best places for views of this side of Melbourne. You can just see the city skyline. If we had been there an hour earlier my photos would have been clearer than this.

adopt your own virtual pet!