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, September 30, 2010

I've lost a friend.

I've got some goodies to write about on my other blogs, but I'm not in the mood for that at the moment. For the past six years I have been visiting an elderly Japanese lady in my capacity as a volunteer community visitor for the Wesley Mission Do Care program. She passed away last Saturday aged 91, after being in hospital for two weeks. I had intended to visit her this week, not thinking she was so close to dying, but I left it too late. Her daughters have asked me to give a eulogy at the funeral tomorrow, so I've just typed out a page of my memories, and I'm feeling very sad.
I'll be back in a few days.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Possum visitors, flowers.

Most nights I leave apple outside for our resident possums, but having taken numerous photos of them in past years, I don't bother rushing for the camera these days. But when we peeped through the window tonight to see who was calling in for a feed, there was Mum Possum and a young one. The young ones are usually flighty, and run off if we venture outside for a closer look. But this little one didn't seem bothered by our presence, so out came the camera! Look at the little paws, dear little pet.

I had a photo of our tulips on here last night, but I took this closeup today before I picked them to take into Ken's Mum when we visited her. She loved them.

This is a closer shot of a shrub that is also on last night's post, but the colour was all wrong, so I took this today without the flash.

While I was in the back yard, I took some photos of our finches, so if you are interested, you can see them HERE on my birds blog.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Spring flowers in an Aussie garden.

In the past few weeks, the plants in our back yard have come to life with all the rain we've had lately, so I thought I would photograph some of them to show you. Some of my blog friends overseas have BEAUTIFUL gardens, and might wonder what is so special about my back yard! Well after all these years of drought, it is nothing short of miraculous to see anything flowering at all! While Aussie native plants generally are not as vibrant as European flowers, they suit our landscape. I've got a few 'foreigners' in there too, such as tulips, daffodils and hyacinths. I left it too late to photograph the others, but the tulips have just started blooming, so I took advantage of a fine day to snap them.
This small shrub is a native Boronia. Doesn't look much but the perfume is lovely.
These tulips have multiplied underground since last year! Love the colour.
Small Grevillea shrub called "Firecracker" or something similar because the flowers are bright red and yellow.
This is the top of our Golden Wattle tree, almost at the end of its flowering season. It was stunning in all its golden glory a few weeks ago, but whenever I went outside to take a pic, it was raining!

I can't remember the names of the rest of these shrubs, but they are all indigenous to this area, which is why we planted them.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Cooking and not concentrating.

Haven't got much to blog about lately, so when I had a slight mishap earlier tonight, I thought it might amuse those of you who enjoy (or otherwise) cooking.
I'd just put a lamb roast on for dinner, and decided to make the most of having a hot oven by cooking a cake of some sort. My favourite recipe books are those with titles like "Fast Cakes" and "Fast and Easy Slices", where the ingredients are generally ones that I have on hand in the pantry.

I found a nice looking slice using a cup of flour, half a cup of sugar, 100 g. of butter, coconut, raspberry jam, and 2 eggs. I got as far as melting the butter, shelling the eggs and weighing the sugar, but got sidetracked by "Australia's Funniest Home Videos" on the t.v. in the kitchen. Still giggling, I whisked the eggs in a bowl and turned back to the recipe book, only to find that I was supposed to separate the yolks from the whites, in order to whip the whites later and fold them into the mixture. Oh. Well, back to the recipe book to look for something that called for melted butter and whisked eggs. Found a recipe for Brownies, calling for 250 g butter, and four eggs. So I put away the jam and coconut, added another 150 g of butter to the saucepan, whisked another two eggs, and got out cocoa and vanilla essence.

It turned out to be a delicious mistake. I haven't cooked any kind of chocolate cake for ages, and even Ken was impressed enough to comment (he is my biggest critic when it comes to my cooking), so I guess I'll be doing this one again!

Monday, September 13, 2010

The tragedy of Pakistan.

Did anyone watch “Four Corners” on the ABC tonight? (Tonight being Monday 13th September). We had just finished dinner, Ken was on the phone to a friend, discussing new mobile phones, and I was sitting at the kitchen table with my second cup of tea. “Four Corners” came on the t.v., and for the next hour, I was glued to the screen.

Through the media, people hear very quickly about disasters happening anywhere around the world, and depending on what happens and where it happens, reactions can be swift or slow. For instance, the bushfires in Victoria in 2009 got world wide coverage, and money started pouring in from all over the world, to help the victims. Many of those people are now in new homes, or are having them built. Most of them still have post traumatic stress symptoms and will probably suffer this for years to come. Some of the country towns in Victoria have recently been flooded, and homes and businesses have been lost. But help is at hand. None of those people will go without food, water, or medicines, because in the Lucky Country we have systems in place to cope with that.

Not so in Pakistan. “Four Corners” started off with a message to the viewer that the following program could have scenes that cause distress. Is “distress” the word for what I felt as I watched the scenes of horror and hopelessness unfolding before my eyes? The reporter travelled around Pakistan with people providing aid to the flood victims. She spoke with people from UNICEF and other aid organizations, and representatives from the Pakistan government. They all expressed feelings of inadequacy to cope with the massive scale of this disaster. She visited hospitals which were overflowing with people – mostly mothers and children – who were suffering severe malnutrition and infections. She spoke to one doctor who I thought was very patient with her, considering the people milling around him with children and babies. One baby died in her mother’s arms, and the nursing staff tried unsuccessfully to revive her. They put the baby back into her mother’s arms, and she walked down the corridor alone, until someone came with water to close the baby’s eyes. The doctor said they were getting 100 people a day, and the corridors in the hospital were already filled with beds. They could not cope with any more. So what happens now, asked the reporter. The doctor shrugged. “I don’t know. Many more will die”.

She (reporter) went from towns to cities, in cars and by helicopter or plane. They flew over vast tracts of land, as far as the eye could see – covered with water. The reporter said 25% of Pakistan is under water. People were standing on islands of land only slightly higher than the floodwaters, some of them standing on narrow strips of land – the levees. Until the choppers dropped food packages, they had nothing to eat or drink, and very little shelter from the 45 degree heat. Once the flood waters go down, millions of people will have nothing. No homes, possessions, livestock, crops. NOTHING.

We in the so-called western world, the developed countries, sit in our snug homes with clothes, food, electricity, fresh water, etc. and watch these shows on t.v., feel sad for a few minutes, then switch channels to watch something more pleasant. I collected the dishes from our dinner and washed them, thinking about what I’d seen and heard. I kept thinking that this was not just a t.v. show, this was real life somewhere else on our planet. Those people aren’t actors who will go home at the end of the day. They are real people, right now, who are suffering terribly, and it won’t get any better for them for a long time, if indeed they even survive.

I felt so helpless. I haven’t seen any collections being taken up for Pakistan, to be able to donate a few dollars from my purse. I haven’t heard of any plans for a t.v. appeal where people can call in and promise a donation. The t.v. reporter said the aid agencies are doing their best, but they are struggling. There are massive amounts of food, fresh water and medical supplies being flown in to Pakistan, but immediate distribution of it is extremely difficult, due to the widespread floods. She wound up the program by saying that this humanitarian disaster is bigger than the Indonesian tsunami, the earthquakes in Haiti and China, and elsewhere, but the world is getting tired of giving.

And so life goes on. Police around Australia arrested over 1000 people for drunk and disorderly behaviour last Saturday night. Two footballs teams won semi final games. Has anybody heard what is happening in the Gulf, since the BP oil spill? I don’t know why I’m writing all this down. As if anyone is going to read it all. And if they do, what good will it do?
Sorry. I’m just very sad for the people of Pakistan.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Gas heater fixed.

Our plumber Gary came around on Monday morning and pulled the heater apart to find that the fan was indeed broken in one small section. It had to be taken to a place that is a 40 minute drive from here, so I offered to take it there, otherwise I would have had to pay for his time and travel to do it. I made the most of my trip by stopping at opshops along the way ;-)

Unfortunately it couldn't be fixed, as the heater is a Canadian model that we bought at a Home Show 11 years ago, and there are no parts available in Australia. So I brought it home again and called Gary, and he told me to leave it at his front doorstep, and he'd have a look at it (he lives nearby). Two hours later, he phoned me to say that he wasn't able to fix it himself, but had found a substitute fan of another (Australian) brand that would do the job. He came around on Friday and fitted the fan, and it works perfectly. How many tradesmen do you find that will go that extra mile to fix something? Most just say "sorry lady, too hard" and walk away. It cost $390, but that's a lot cheaper than a whole new heater, and anyway, we are fond of our Canadian Osborne gas log fire.

We invited some of Ken's cousins over for afternoon tea today, and Ken collected his Mum from the hostel to join us. It was a beaut day. MIL didn't have much to say, but when we asked if she was enjoying herself she assured us she was. It was so nice for her to be away from the hostel for the afternoon, and she was content just to be in the company of her nieces and nephews, listening to the conversation flow around her. We took her up to see the chooks, which she loves to do when she visits.
One of the cousins took some photos, and I've asked her to email them to me, as my camera is broken. It still takes pictures, but I have to hold it together to stop it falling apart in my hands, so I'm not using it much at the moment!

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Wild weather and expoding gas heaters!

I don't know if any of my readers are in New Zealand, but if so, my thoughts are with you after such a tragic day on Saturday. We saw on the news last night footage of the earthquake that has nearly flattened Christchurch, and also the plane crash on the glacier, killing nine people. There are tragedies and catastrophes playing out all over the world most of the time, but New Zealand and Australia have very close ties, and I'm sure most Aussies will be concerned for our Kiwi mates.

Here in Australia, several states have been swept by violent storms and winds over the last day or so, and as I type this, the rain and wind is lashing our house. Ken and I always worry about our birds in their aviaries, at the top of our back yard. There are several trees close by, and if one of them is blown over....well, I won't dwell on that.

For years I've been nagging Ken to install a retractable clothesline on our patio, for days like this when I can't hang the washing on our clothesline outside the back door. Well, I could, but what's the point - it would just get wetter! Several of our friends have these retractable clothes line under their patio roof, and it is so handy to be able to hang your washing out regardless of the weather, knowing it will get dry in spite of the rain. But Ken always said it couldn't be done. So when I saw a cute portable clothesline advertised in the Innovations mail order catalogue, I ordered it immediately. It arrived last week, just in time for me to put it to good use yesterday!

You can see by the wet bricks at the foot of the photo, that there is just enough shelter for my little clothesline. Obviously it isn't sturdy enough to hold sheets and towels, but I only want it for the lighter stuff anyway, which it handles perfectly. I was able to bring it all in before teatime, nearly dry.

Thinking we would settle in for a nice quiet night in front of our gas logfire, Ken was snoozing on the couch, and I was leafing through some cookery magazines, (REALLY exciting Saturday night) when all of a sudden, there was an awful roaring noise. We nearly jumped out of our skins, and Topsy shot off her chair and into the kitchen! For a few seconds, we couldn't figure out what it was - maybe the storm outside had turned into a tornado? But no, it was the gas fire. The fire itself was still burning okay, but the fan was making all the noise, so we turned it off immediately. Being a weekend, we won't be able to get a tradesman until Monday. Ken wanted to pull it apart and have a look, but I put my foot down and said NO - you're not an electrician or a plumber so just LEAVE it! He's looking up gas log fires on the internet at the moment, so I guess we'll be heading out very soon to choose a new one. We've had this one for 11 years, so it's had a good run. So much for a quiet night!

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