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.)

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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.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Ben Hur Stadium Spectacular, Sydney.

Ken and I booked in several months ago to see this show, and it was worth the wait, and worth every cent we spent on the tickets, accomodation, airfares, car rental etc. A few of the online and newspaper reviews were uncomplimentary, even scathing, and I can only assume they were written by young people who know nothing and care even less about events set in Biblical times. Ben Hur was a fictional character who is not mentioned in the Bible; he was dreamed up by a Civil War hero back in the 19th century. You can read more about the author and the background of the "Ben Hur" book here.

This stadium show was a play about an era 2000 years ago, acted by a mostly European cast. There weren't many special effects, pyrotechnic or otherwise, apart from two HUGE screens at each end of the stadium where the audience could see close up shots of the actors' facial expressions and actions, and this is what made it so stirring to watch. The actor portraying Jesus as he carried the cross was far more convincing than any other movie I've seen. The chariot race was arguably the most 'spectacular' and eagerly awaited part, and I doubt if anyone was disappointed.

We took heaps of photos, and a few short movies on our camera, and I'm going to try and post the videos on You Tube later on. In the meantime, here are three of my photos. Ken and I had planned to dress up in togas, but when we saw nobody else in any kind of costume we chickened out! These 'centurions' were strolling around prior to the show, dressed in the colours of the ANZ Bank (major stadium sponsor), and people were lining up to have their photos taken with them! Ken had just bought a Ben Hur souvenir tee-shirt which he put on to wear to the show.
Additional note 1.11.10: This blog has some fabulous photos of the Ben Hur Spectacular - worth visiting if you want to get a good idea of what it was like.

This is inside the Stadium which holds 80,000 people, I think.. The show was supposed to start at 8 pm, and we were seated an hour earlier, hence the empty seats in this photo. The show was late starting due to a huge traffic jam outside, but by 8.30, it looked just about full, although I read somewhere there were only (!) 40,000 people.

This was Ben Hur on his chariot - not a good photo as the horses were trotting quite fast, so it is blurred.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

More flowers blooming in our garden.

I'm not what you would call a gardener by any stretch of the imagination, but I do get a kick of seeing plants flowering in our yard. Ken and I go in spurts when it comes to new plants; we'll be passing a nursery, or shopping in a shop that sells potted plants, and we'll decide on impulse to buy stuff to fill in a spot somewhere. There are a lot of 'spots' in our front and back yards, and certain friends of ours who are keen gardeners would give their right arm to run amok in our place! But we like to just put things in at random and if they live - good, if they die, we replace them eventually. The last 10 years have been hit or miss with the survival of new plants, due to the drought, but now the rains have returned with a vengeance, those plants that did survive, are blooming profusely. So here are some more photos of the Survivors:

These trees (there are two, one each side of the clothesline) have been here since we've been here (30 years), so they are not new. I can't remember what they are called...Vibernum? As pretty as they look this year because they have never had so many flowers in previous years, they are a nuisance when in flower like this, as the flowers fall all over the washing on the line and I have to shake everything out before bringing it inside. 28th October. Have just found out these plants are Photinias.

We pride ourselves on trying to grow native plants instead of exotics, but we get sucked in by the labels showing beautiful flowers! This is a Trailing Lotus, which is native to the Canary Islands. (I got all this info. from Google)

This one is called Calibrachoa Million Bells. Not a native Aussie either.

We've had this on the east side (shaded) of the house for several years, and while the leaves have looked healthy enough, it has only just come into flower. It is a Clivia Belgian Hybrid (still got the label attached!) and originated in South Africa.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Rain, rain, go away.

That heading is almost sacrilegious, considering the drought we've been experiencing over the last decade, but the non-stop sound of the rain on our roof overnight kept me awake much of the night. At this moment while I am typing, we have hail beating down, and on our steel roof it is deafening. I just took these photos from the back door - our yard looks like it has been snowing. And I just noticed the white blobs on the photos - hail in action!

At 6 am I finally got up out of desperation, made myself a cup of tea, and sat down to spend some time online. I could have turned the t.v. on, but there is much more variety on the internet than on t.v. at this hour of the day.

My friend Val came over yesterday to share some craft show and tell, and we spent the afternoon messing around with paper napkins and Mod Podge, a kind of glue that I read about on a craft website. It was new to both of us, so we were keen to experiment with it and see just what it could do. Val used one serviette to make four cards, which turned out really nicely, but I didn't get around to photographing them before she left. I focussed on glueing serviettes to old baking tins that I painted a while ago for the express purpose of this exercise, and I am quite pleased with the result.

I used a napkin with chooks and flowers on it, to cover the sides of this loaf baking tin.

There was one orange chook left over, so I glued it on the base of the tin.

Heart shaped baking tin, using the same paper napkins as above.

Using a Christmas themed napkin, I covered a plastic yoghurt tub, more to see whether the glue worked on the plastic, than to make the tub useful for anything. It did work, so I might be saving plastic food containers from now on...more junk around the place, lol.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Not a good week.

Bit of a wash out, really. I was a bit 'flat' after my friend's death, then I caught a cold this week. Another bloody cold - I never get more than one cold a year, but I think this is the third one this year! I saw our doctor this morning to ask for antibiotics, as my colds usually end up as a chest infection, and I did not want to be sick in two weeks' time when we fly up to Sydney. He said my throat was 'red raw' (it feels like it) and my breathing was 'rattly', so he gave me a script for the ABs. He gave one to Ken too, just in case, as we usually manage to pass our germs on to each other within a few days. I was hoping to go to the Craft Expo this weekend with Sharon, but she had to cancel out, and as it turns out with this cold virus, I would have done the cancelling if she hadn't!

So I haven't had much to write about. But our garden plants are starting to flower now that it is half way through Spring, so I thought I may as well brighten up my little blog with some photos of them.

We have had this orchid for about 20 years, and it has never flowered before, despite feeding it and repotting it more than once. But this year it finally got some buds, then stopped dead. SIL advised us to bring it indoors, so we did, and VOILA! Flowers.

These little pansies are struggling to survive in the mulched garden bed. I should have put them in a pot.

There are many varieties of Australia's native mint bushes, and we have a few of them. They burst into purple profusion for a few weeks every year, but are evergreen for the rest of the year.

I don't know the correct botanical name for these. They are just daisies to me!

One of our native Hibiscus plants. In a few years, this plant should be much larger, and will be really beautiful in flower.

I like Geraniums. They grow anywhere, they grow fast, and they flower all the time. Ken reckons they are a weed, and pulls them out when I'm not looking. I wish he'd concentrate on the real weeds you can see in this photo!

More daisies.

This is another tulip, that has flowered since the bright red one I showed here last week. This is called a Black Tulip, although it is more of a dark Cherry colour. Very unusual.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Vale Atsuko Fitzpatrick, 1919 – 2010

This is the eulogy I gave at the funeral on Friday.
I met Atsuko in 2004, through the Do Care volunteer program. Anne Broadbent, the co-ordinator, asked me if I would be interested in visiting a Japanese lady, because she knew I was interested in the Japanese culture, and could speak a little of the language. On my first visit, I took a bunch of flowers, and my Japanese-English dictionary. When Atsuko opened the door and I said “Hajimemashite”, she had a big smile on her face! She showed me into her lounge room, and for the next hour we made limited conversation with frequent references to my dictionary. She told me firmly not to bring flowers again, no gifts, she insisted. Do Care’s policy is for volunteers to visit their clients fortnightly, but Atsuko said she only wanted me to visit her once a month, so that is what I did for the next couple of years.

As we got to know each other better, we found that despite the 30 year age difference, we had much in common. I have had a penpal in Japan for about 35 years, and in that time, Aiko has sent me many beautiful souvenirs. She came to Australia for my 50th birthday, and brought a number of gifts, including a wedding kimono. So every time I visited Atsuko, I took something to show her from my Japanese collection. I wrote to Aiko about my visits to Atsuko, and from then on she sent me two calendars every year – one for me, and one for Atsuko. Atsuko wanted to write to Aiko to thank her, and asked me to buy a box of chocolates to send her, so I organised that, and sent Atsuko’s letter with the chocolates. Aiko wrote back to me, and sent a separate envelope addressed to Atsuko in Japanese. Atsuko didn’t read the letter out to me, but she smiled as she read it, and said that Aiko sounds like a very kind person.

After I’d shown all my Japanese things to Atsuko, I started taking my embroidery projects to show her, as I had admired the embroidered pictures on her wall, and she was interested to see what I made.
She would always ask after my husband and his mother, and our pets. We have had dogs, cats and various birds in the six years I knew Atsuko, and one day I invited her to my home for afternoon tea so she could see them. At the time we had one cat Topsy, and a variety of budgies, finches and bantam hens, and she was delighted with them all. Every time she asked after Topsy, I would say ‘She is such a naughty pussy!” and Atsuko would laugh and laugh.

I was always happy to be able to help Atsuko with any problems she had around the house. I would change light bulbs for her, ring up tradesmen when something needed fixing, and when she had letters that she didn’t understand (mostly advertising) I would explain what they were so she knew what she could throw out and what she had to keep. One day I knocked on the front door and found it ajar. I called out to her, and heard her voice calling to me from the kitchen. I went in there to find her sitting cross legged on the kitchen sink! She had climbed up on a chair, and on to the sink, because the Holland blind had stuck and she wanted to free it. I helped her get down, and told her not to do that again – ring me if you need help with something around the house! I took the Holland blind down, re-rolled it and hung it up again. To my great amusement, she spent the next half hour testing it every few minutes to make sure it was working properly. She only stopped when I warned her she could mess it up again with all the pulling!

My husband’s mother is nearly 98, and she lived with us for a while before going into an aged care facility last year. She was like me – very interested in things Japanese, and when I asked if she would like to meet Atsuko she said she would love to. So I asked Atsuko if she would like to come to our place, but she said “Please bring mother-in-law to my home”, so I did. Well, my MIL is never short of something to say, and for most of the two hours we spent there, she talked about herself and her family almost non stop. Atsuko sat and smiled through it all, although there is no way she would have understood most of it!
Afterwards I asked her if she had understood what my MIL was saying, and she just smiled and said “She is a very nice lady!” Which she is.

Atsuko did not speak about her family in Japan, except to say they were angry when she married an Australian and came here to live. I asked her if she remembered the atomic bombs, and she looked sad, and after a minute she said “I saw the flash. But I don’t talk about it”. So I never mentioned it again, but she did say one day that she never hated the Americans for the war. She said “They had to do something to stop it”. She was very astute when it came to politics, and had firm opinions about the world leaders. We had many discussions about George Bush, Tony Blair, John Howard, and the Japanese prime minister and his family.

Sometimes she would ask me to take her to medical appointments, so I could help translate her wishes to the specialist and vice versa. One day she had to have some tests where she was required to lay on her tummy and have her back prodded with an instrument. The doctor was a bit rough, and I noticed her flinch now and then, but she never said a word. In the end I said to the doctor “I think you are hurting her” and he said “Most people would be jumping out of their skin by now. She must have a very high pain threshold”. I was so angry, but all I said was “When you have survived the bombing of Hiroshima, there’s probably not much else that can hurt you”. He stopped and looked at me for a few seconds, and when he resumed working on Atsuko, I noticed he was much more gentle.

Atsuko also like to visit Suzuran, the Japanese food shop in Camberwell, and I learnt a lot about traditional Japanese food during our visits. Atsuko always insisted on buying us some lunch to take home and eat, although in the last year, she didn’t have much of an appetite. She would tell me she wasn’t hungry any more, and that she just wanted to go to sleep. She would point up to the ceiling and say “Soon, I go”. Now she has gone, and I will miss her terribly. We had so much fun in that six years, and I will never forget her.

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