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.

Friday, December 31, 2010

It is HOT.

It is 5 pm and I've just turned the news on the radio and heard that Melbourne reached a top temperature today of 40 deg.C. which is 104 deg.F. for those of you who don't do metric. The wind is blowing a gale. Earlier today I went up to the aviaries and gave the birds a shower (Ken installed showers in the aviaries years ago), which they loved, flitting back and forth through the spray. Thank goodness the prediction is for a cool change tonight, and a pleasant top of 24 deg. tomorrow.

It looks like it is going to be a quiet night around here. The neighbours on one side are rarely home after Xmas, and I haven't seen any sign of them today. The families across the road are all new and haven't spoken to anyone else yet, in spite of me putting a Happy Xmas/welcome card in their letterboxes a month ago :-( We used to have great neighbours when we first moved in here 30 years ago, but in recent years, people just don't seem to be as friendly as they used to be. I spoke to one of the girls on the other side of us and she said she is going to a party, and her Mum and sister are going to a bar in Melbourne and won't be home until about 5 am. Makes me feel old. I remember the days when I spent NY Eve in town with my friends, not getting home until dawn!

Ken and I haven't done much in recent years - just watched the fireworks on t.v. then gone to bed. Sometimes we've had some friends around, or gone to somebody's home, but more and more of our age group seem content to just stay put on NY Eve. Pity. I used to look forward to a bit of fun and music with friends. Our next 'do' will be our Australia Day Party on Jan. 26th, but the success of that depends on who is able to come. We usually have about a dozen people, which is a nice number, although I would be happy if more turned up.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Not a good start to 2011.

I've just been reading the news on the internet, and I feel so helpless when reading about the floods in Queensland. My own problems with Telstra pale into insignificance after reading about the thousands of people that are or will be homeless in the coming weeks and months. Farmers, business people and families in rural towns have lost just about everything. Crops are ruined, after growing so well for the first time in 10 or more years, with the end of the drought. End of a drought is one thing, but why does the weather have to swing from one extreme to the other?

Predictions for tomorrow's weather is frightening for most of our country - record heat for South Australia and Victoria, with warnings of possible bushfires. Flood damage worsening in Qld. and another cyclone is heading our way up north somewhere.

Of course most people know that we Aussies are not the only ones suffering from weather extremes. A friend in New Zealand posted a comment on her blog that they had more earthquakes in Christchurch on Boxing Day. The snow in parts of America has brought their airports to a standstill, and I saw some shocking footage of a multiple car pile-up where cars coming down a hill got out of control on the icy road, and just continued to ram into each other. God only knows if anyone was killed. It looked like someone in a house nearby was videotaping it, and had posted it on You Tube.

Whoever you are, and where ever you are, reading this blog, I hope you haven't been affected by severe weather, and my warmest wishes for a happy and safe New Year.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Boxing Day here, and I've cooled down.

Me and the weather have both cooled down; we've got our internet back, and the weather in Melbourne on Xmas Day was just about perfect, considering the extreme cold in other parts of the world, and the extreme heat we have had here in past years. Yesterday was mild, about 24 deg. and cloudy. Not warm enough to make use of Ken's Xmas gift to me - a lovely comfortable sun lounger!

But no rain, which was good for those who had to drive any distance to be with family and friends. We drove nearly 100 kilometres - from Eltham to Heidelberg to collect Ken's Mum from her Home, then to Ken's niece's house in Frankston South. The Eastlink tollway makes it a lot quicker, and Ken's GPS saved us time and tempers by doing the navigating for us! They really are a super invention. I told Ken I might put it in my car during the week while he is at work, and go driving all over Victoria, now that I know I won't get lost!

Ken and I had lunch on our own at home for the first time in 30 years, so I made the most of the opportunity, and lashed out on two fresh crayfish/lobster - $80 but worth every cent.

I set the kitchen table with a fresh white cloth, a single rose in a small vase, and a simple salad - nothing to overpower the exquisite flavour of the crays...mmm!

We collected MIL at 2 pm and arrived in Frankston at 3 pm, just in time to join the rest of their family for dessert - pavlova, plum pudding, choc. mousse, and all kinds of other delicious foods. Within minutes of our arrival, Ken's niece hustled me out to the laundry to show me this:

Ken immediately fell in love and asked M. if we could have one, and she said yes, but I said no. Not today anyway, as we didn't have the correct food or a bed for it, and with no shops open on Xmas Day, we wouldn't have been able to buy anything. When we got home, Topsy was cross because she'd been left on her own all afternoon, and didn't want to be cuddled or patted. We should have brought one of those kitties home...I would have found something to feed it until today when the shops open. It would be so nice to have a LOVING little kitty instead of a bad tempered one. Topsy must take after me with her bad temper...LOL

Friday, December 24, 2010

I'M BACK!!!!!!!!

Ken came into our computer room tonight about 11 pm, turned off all the power points, waited for a few minutes, and turned them on again. When he turned on his computer, VOILA! He had Internet Explorer back! Called me in immediately, and as soon as I saw the expression on his face, I suspected he'd done something clever.
That is the best Xmas present we could have; it has been a nightmare this week, more so for me because Ken has been at work while I have spent hours on the phone to Telstra begging them to sort it out.

Telstra/Bigpond stuffed up our account by 're-bundling' all our services on to one monthly account when Ken bought his I-Phone. We have a landline, two mobiles, Broadband internet and Foxtel, all of which come under the Telstra umbrella. They do deals for people when they sign you up, promising discounts, upgrades, etc. At first it sounded okay - about $30 a month less than what we were paying before. And they said they would give us a new Broadband modem and a new Foxtel modem - free of charge. They duly arrived, and we suddenly discovered that we had the Platinum Foxtel account, with all channels, instead of the basic package we had before. When I queried this, I was told it's all part of your new deal.

Then I got the first bill. Instead of $230, it was $590. I nearly had a stroke - in fact I felt really sick when I saw it. When Ken came home from work and saw it, he said "We are going straight back to the Telstra shop where we bought the I-Phone, and sort this out". Johnny, the salesman at the shop was very sympathetic. He said the guy who did the original deal for us had been sacked because he had stuffed up nearly every customer he'd sold thing to, and Johnny was still sorting out the mess. He spent an hour with us going through the account, and said he would fix it up with the billing department of Telstra. One of the reasons for the huge bill was that we had been charged for the upgraded version of Foxtel, and Johnny said he would have that cancelled and get the basic package back.

Last Sunday, we noticed that Foxtel had reverted to the basic package, and that was fine with us. But later that night, we found we couldn't get on to the Web. We were able to send and receive emails on Outlook Express, but couldn't get Internet Explorer. That's when the real trouble began. We waited until Tuesday, thinking the recent bad weather could have affected the connection, but nobody else was complaining, so I called Telstra. The girl who answered was all smiles over the phone - "We'll have you back online tomorrow, don't worry!" Wednesday - nothing. No phone call, no connection. So I rang again. And again - speaking to a different person in the call centres everytime I called. I kept a record of the people I spoke to (15 in total) and I had to explain everything all over again with each person, even though they had my account in front of them with notes by the previous 'consultants' I'd spoken to.

Each person had a different reason for our problem - my computer is too old and they can't fix it; the new modem is the wrong one and will have to be replaced; the upgrade plan hasn't been implemented properly at Telstra, but won't take long to fix; Ken's virus protection wasn't working (it is) and both computers were infected by a virus that prevented access to web pages. It went on and on. I got put through to Technical Support in the Phillipines countless times, and had to sit for hours on both computers, changing settings (and crossing my fingers that it wasn't messing up the computers any further) - a process that was extremely slow because of the difficulty trying to understand their accents. I also did what Ken did tonight, and turned things on and off at the power, but it didn't work.

By Friday morning, I was so cheesed off, I emailed A Current Affair and the Herald Sun with my tale of woe, and I also rang the Ombudsman for Telecommunications and told him what had been happening. He promised to contact Telstra the same day, so I can only assume he did, and they fast-tracked fixing our problem. Phew! If I am contacted by the Current Affair producers or the Herald Sun, I'll still talk to them, because we think the staff at Telstra are incompetent and/or not trained well enough to be able to sort these issues out. I know they can't know every single thing, but instead of bluffing their way through a problem it would be better to say "I can't help you, but I'll find out from a supervisor".
End of rant. Nobody will read all this, but I needed to get it off my chest.
Happy Xmas!

Offline indefinitely

Telstra Bigpond have stuffed up our internet connection this week, so I ám doing this at a friend's house, as I can't get onto the internet at home, and Telstra support is non existent - it's Xmas, don't you know?? Xmas in Australia means parties, boozeups, holidays. For some people anyway - mostly those at these big corporations who have nameless and faceless people at the other end of the phone.
Anyway, just want to wish you all a merry Xmas and a Happy New Year. If anyone is reading this these days - don't get many comments now, so it might be time to shut shop I think.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Online shopping.

One of the t.v. current affairs shows recently had a special about online shopping, and the bargains you can get. Unfortunately the down side is that retail shops are suffering because more people are now buying via the internet, so retail trade is very slow this Christmas. I feel just a bit guilty when I buy new stuff on the internet, but I don't do it very often, as I prefer to actually see what I'm buying, rather than send for it and hope that when it arrives, it is actually what I want.

But this time, my purchase would have been over $300 in the shops, so I chose to go online and see what I could find. After a week of sweating because my purchase hadn't turned up when promised, it arrived safely today - a Tom Tom GPS for Ken's birthday. It is the newest model, and Choice magazine had a review in the current issue, giving this model the thumbs up, so it seems I made the right choice! And for about $100 less than the retail price. Ken will be 68 on Saturday, so I'm guessing that on Sunday, we'll be going for a LONG drive, while he tests his new toy!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Update on our birds.

We've had an explosion of baby birds in our aviaries this year! You can see the month by month report, and the cutest photos of the babies on my Australian birds blog here.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The past week.

It has been an odd week, full of ups and downs. I had a lovely afternoon on Monday with Ken's Mum. Another enjoyable day on Tuesday at the Embroiderer's Guild. On Wednesday morning G. and I had our last Tai Chi session for the year, and in the afternoon I was supposed to meet a group of ladies for afternoon tea at a local cafe, but the weather was so dreadful (heavy rain, strong winds) that we cancelled it. On Thursday, I met Val at our library to check out the latest exhibition, and she came back home with me for lunch. After lunch I picked up my disabled friend J. and took her shopping. On Friday I met a friend for coffee in the morning, and then spent the afternoon with Helen.

So, you think all that sounds okay, and what was the downside? Oh it was a nice week with all those activities, but when Ken came home from work on Wednesday it all changed for the worse! He was grumpy because he got absolutely saturated riding home on his bike in the rain. Understandable. Once he is grumpy though, he stays grumpy. My cooking was shit...why has he had to put up with this for 30 years? He found some stuff on his I-phone that was very noisy, and when I called him in for tea, the Iphone came with him, so I yelled at him to turn the bloody thing off. WELL! That made matters even worse. In the middle of all this, he looked out the window and saw that our rainwater tank was overflowing. I got the blame for that too, because I'd blocked one of the down pipes with a brick to stop it being blocked by leaves. So I donned a raincoat, went out into the teaming rain, got the ladder and climbed up on the roof to remove the offending brick. Came inside looking like the proverbial drowned rat and snapped "Happy now?"

Ah, the joys of married life.

Christmas party, and a baby budgie.

The aged care facility where MIL lives, had a Christmas party last week, for the residents and their families. It was a very happy afternoon for everyone who was there. Two of Ken's cousins came along with me, so we had a table to ourselves. I'm in the white Teeshirt. MIL had just had her hair done, and looked so sweet.

There are many new arrivals in the aviaries this year, including three baby budgies. This is one, sitting on my hand. Dear little pet, looking so cheeky already at 3 weeks old!

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Girls Night Out.

Once or twice a year, I have dinner with a group of friends I've known for more than twenty years. Last Friday we went to Sandra's home, preferring to dine in peace rather than in a restaurant with a couple of hundred other noisy patrons. We each brought something to contribute, so Sandra wasn't lumbered with a three course meal to prepare when she came home from work. She took this photo of us after we'd had a few bottles of champagne!

Louise in black, Helen in white, Gina in aqua, and Jenny behind Helen.

Here we are again - I took this one to include Sandra.

adopt your own virtual pet!