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.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Our next big reno project.

Ken and I have been discussing the pros and cons of solar energy for a few years.  Up until now the only thing that has stopped us doing anything about it was money (the lack of it), but now that we are in the happy position of being able to afford it, we've jumped in and signed up.  I have been reading forums and websites about solar panels etc for a while, and one website I check out regularly when looking for tradesmen, is "Quotify".  They connect people with service providers - all you do is provide the service you want, and your contact details.  They get back to you with three companies, who will contact you if you don't contact them first. They recommended three solar panel companies to me and all of them called me on my mobile phone.  Only one company actually left a text message with details of themselves, but the other two didn't.

So I called The Mark Group, and their rep. came out here this morning.  He stayed for nearly 3 hours and was very knowledgable and informative.  He took down lots of details, checked our electricity bills, took photos of the roof, and eventually called his office with his phone on speaker so we could hear the conversation.  The tech. at the other end instructed the rep to turn on his iPad and look at the email he sent.  It was a Google Earth photo of the roof of our house, and the tech had already processed the information the rep gave him, and drawn up an initital plan for where the panels should go.   We were very impressed!  So much so, that with all the information he gave us, we decided not to hunt around for quotes, as we really don't know enough to compare his quote with others. 

We said we don't want it done until about August because we've got other expenses before then, and are trying to spread them out over the rest of the year.  The total cost of panels, inverter, and installation is $7100, which sounds about right compared to what we've heard from other people.

The other expense we are faced with somewhat sooner is repairing or replacing the fences that we share with our neighbours on each side.  The first quote was quite cheap, as the tradesman was just going to prop up the existing fences.  The guy who came out today suggested that both fences should be completely replaced, at a cost of over $8000.  Assuming our neighbours will split the cost with us (and they have both agreed to) it leaves us with $4000 to pay, but we're not sure that the neighbours will agree to that price, so we're going to have to sit down with them to discuss it.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

More wildlife experiences.

The previous post was about the kookaburras in our back yard, and it was a bit too long to attach this story, hence the separate post.  On ANZAC Day, after we watched the various services on t.v. we decided to go for a drive, as it was one of those perfect Melbourne autumn days.  I wanted to go up to the Dandenongs, but Ken had other ideas, and as the driver, he didn't take any notice of my protests when he headed in the opposite direction - he had plans of his own!

A few weeks ago he had been out on his own somewhere and had passed a small country town cemetery that he wanted to have a closer look at, so that's where we went.  Wikipedia have a nice concise write up about Arthur's Creek, so if you want to know more about it, click on the link.  It is a VERY small town by anyone's standards, but has an interesting history.  A more modern house stands behind this shack, and one wonders why it wasn't pulled down because it is so dilapidated that it hardly seems worth saving.

Arthur's Creek Mechanics Institute Hall.   Do other countries have these?

This farmer explained that he was drawing water from a roadside supply, filling the tank on his truck because there was no water on the paddock where his cows are.
 He also told me he breeds Clydesdale Horses, as they are in danger of dying out because they aren't used by farmers any more.  This pic was taken using the zoom on my trusty camera, which picked up the horse that looked like a brown speck to my eyes, until the farmer pointed it out to me.  He was surprised to see it so close up on my camera face!

The local church.

 Arthur's Creek Primary School.  When the children leave this school they will have to travel a lot further for their secondary education.
 A common roadside sign that is seen right up to the edge of Melbourne's outer suburbs, as the trees are a feature of the landscape everywhere, and once a bushfire takes hold...

 At our destination:  Arthur's Creek Cemetery.

The cemetery is at the end of an unmade road about a kilometre long.
  But the views at the top make the dusty drive worthwhile.  Ken says it would be worthwhile being buried here just to have that view, and it seems that a lot of people buried their family members with that in mind, as the headstones are all facing down the hill!

Looking down over the valley, we spotted a herd of kangaroos grazing - see the dots in the centre of the photo below?

My camera has a nifty zoom feature, so I was able to get some closer pics.
 Roos seem to sense humans, and although we were the only people around, these ones looked straight at me, and started to move away.

These signs are very necessary on roads where roos are known to graze nearby.  This was taken just a few kilometres from where we live.

Native wildlife experiences.

Australians who live in the suburbs of capital cities are generally delighted by close encounters with our native animals and birds, whereas the folk in rural Australia probably take it for granted, and even see some animals and birds as pests, because they eat the crops.  I live on the fringe of suburbia, and we get many native birds in our yard, an occasional koala in the trees, and now and then a few roos from the vacant bush blocks at the top of our street.  Ken and I love all these, and we encourage the birds and possums by leaving fruit and seed out for them most days (although this is frowned on by Those Who Think They Know Better, but we're of the opinion that the animals and birds are not depending on our little treats for survival - they'll survive when we're gone!).

Some creatures don't fancy seeds and fruit though, so they are harder to please if you want them in your garden.  Kookaburras for example are carnivorous, and their diet includes mice, rats, small snakes and birds.  We have an ongoing mice problem in the aviaries - like anyone who keeps birds of any sort in a large enclosure - and Ken has tried several means of keeping them under control.  He used rat poison for a while, but realised that it doesn't kill the rodents immediately, and they could get eaten by cats or birds, which would then get sick and die, so he stopped using poisons.  Now he just sets traps with a bit of cheese or peanut butter, and when we find the mice in there, he "disposes" of them (I'm not going into the details).  Lately though, I've been doing something else.  I take the trap out of the aviary and let the mouse loose - with Tiger watching closely.  He has had hours of fun racing around the yard after mice, and a nice little hot meal to finish off.  Ken thinks this is cruel, but I argue that if the mice were out in the yard the end result would be the same.

However, last week things took on a new twist.  I brought a trap out of the aviary and set it on the table to look at the little mouse.  The young ones really are cute, no matter what you think of mice, and Ken and I were reluctant to leave it to be tormented by Tiger.  I remarked that it was a pity there were no kookaburras around, and right on cue, there was a cackle overhead, and we looked up to see a kookaburra in one of the trees, with his head on one side looking at the mouse trap!   It was such a surprise!  I grabbed Tiger and locked him indoors, put the mouse trap in the middle of the lawn and set the mouse free.  It stood there for a few seconds sniffing the air but before it could make a move, the kookaburra flew down in a blur of wings, snapped it up and landed on the branch of a tree, cackling happily.  We felt as if we had just been watching a wildlife documentary on t.v. - you just don't expect to see these things in your own back yard!  From now on, we are letting any mice stay in the traps until the kookaburras are around, and they are in the area most days.  They do have incredible eyesight, and I reckon they know there are mice around here.  There was a dead mouse in the trap today, and a kookaburra was up on his branch watching, so I threw the mouse on to the lawn and as quick as a flash, it was taken.  

Friday, April 25, 2014


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Sick and sad.

My poor hubby.  We suspect it was a mild case of food poisoning that made him sick at the bike races on Sunday.  So we had a quiet day yesterday with him having plain food such as toast and honey with cups of tea.  We had just finished dinner about 7 pm when the phone rang.  Ken answered it, and after a few words with the person on the other end, tears were running down his face.  His oldest and dearest friend had just passed away in hospital.

Ken met his mate (also named Ken!)  at school when they were about 10 years old.  They spent a lot of time together as teenagers, then Ken P got married and moved around Victoria with his wife and children over the next few years.  Ken kept in touch and visited them, but eventually they moved to Queensland to live, and only came back to Melbourne for occasional holidays.  We went up there, and Ken flew up to surprised Ken P on his 60th birthday. But they kept in touch by phone, cards, and in recent years by email as well.  They were more like brothers - Ken P had two sisters and my Ken has one sister, but the sisters were never friends, although of course they knew each other when they were kids.

Ken P. was an accident waiting to happen, all his life.  My Ken was always telling stories about the things they got up to, and the accidents that would occur to Ken P.  He lost the sight of one eye many years ago when he was stringing a barbed wire fence, and not wearing protective glasses.  As he got older, his health suffered major setbacks, with one leg amputated, and then things went from bad to worse.  But he was one of those blokes who just laughed it off.  Ken would ring him and say "How are you?"  and the answer would be "Oh I'm all right.  There's plenty of poor buggers out there who are a lot worse off than me!"  It was only because his wife Anne would tell Ken what was really going on that we knew how bad things were.

She called Ken on Good Friday to say that her Ken was in hospital and it was looking bad.  I said to Ken he should fly up there to see him, and he was thinking about doing it, then we got the phone call to say it was too late.  Apparently they have both willed their bodies to scientific research, so there won't be a funeral, but Ken P's daughter told us they would probably have a memorial service at some time in the future.  Ken has been looking up the flight times on his computer, but turned to me and said "I don't think I'll bother going up there now.  He's gone, and there is nothing I can do.  Their four (adult) children will look after Anne, so there's no point in me being there".

So it is a sad time for us right now.  Just as well the kitchen isn't going to be installed for a few weeks, as neither of us are feeling like dealing with that at the moment, but it is something to look forward to when we've worked through the grief of his loss.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Our Easter Sunday.

Ken took off early this morning with some of his mates, to a vintage bike meeting.  He left a card and box of dark chocolates on the table for me for Easter.  I had told him I didn't want any more Easter eggs;  if he must buy me something, I'd rather have a box of individual chocolates that we can share.  So I was happy with the box of Chocolatier dark selection he bought.  But we won't be eating any for a few days, at least he won't.

I had lunch at Eltham's newest cafe with a friend, then we drove over to Warrandyte to look at an art gallery, as all the galleries in Eltham were closed today.  We had a great day, and I arrived home about 5 pm to tell Ken all about it.  He was stretched out on the couch and when I asked if he'd had a good day he said no, he'd been throwing up all day!   Poor bugger had eaten some hot dogs and they must have been off, because he was fine before that.  Nothing worse than puking in public in front of your friends...
I'm off to make him some toast and a cuppa.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Happy Easter

New kitchen in the making!

This morning we drove over to the factory to see how our new kitchen is progressing.  Cliff had the cupboards and appliances set up in a rough configuration to give us an idea of what it would look like, and we were able to change a few small things, such as an extra drawer and different shelves.
In this picture of our kitchen as it is now, there is a shelf attached to the brick wall on the left  hand side with no cupboards underneath or above - just wasted space.  There are cupboards further along, extending above the fridge, and one cupboard below the shelf next to the fridge.  The wall oven and pantry are further along but can't be seen here because of the fridge.
LOL!  I just noticed a little grey kitty in this photo - Tiger's eyes are shining blue in the flash as he has just come through the laundry door!

Below are the cupboards that will replace those  The two boxy things sitting on top of the shelves are actually the cupboards (lying on their side) that will go on the wall above.  Below there is a small cupboard (which will have shelves) on the left, and the other spaces will all be drawers - shallow ones at the top, and deeper 'pot' drawers below.  The tall section at the end will be the appliance cupboard with shelves above that.   The space next to that will be where the fridge goes, then there is the oven (with my new oven sitting in there - rubbing hands in gleeful anticipation of improved cooking conditions!).  Next to that is the pantry.

The picture below is taken from the opposite end of the above photo of our present kitchen.  The sink and cupboards on the left hand side will be replaced by new cupboards and drawers in the pictures below.

There are two corners which are difficult to access at the moment, so I've having lazy susans in both corners.  The divider inserts in the drawers are ones that I bought this week, and Cliff is going to fit them into the drawers so they don't slide around.

Below, the new stainless steel sink is still in its wrapping above the cupboards housing the dishwasher which you can see, and next to that on the right are two small lift out bins, one for kitchen rubbish and the other for recycling stuff such as tins, glass and small paper items.  They could have been bigger, but I decided to keep them small because if anything is going to smell "off", it won't be there as long as it would if the bin was larger!
At the left of this picture you can just see a cupboard with some drawers.  The new stove top is sitting on top of that still in its box too, and those drawers underneath will hold cooking utenstils that are presently in a jug and hanging from hooks on the wall.  Be glad to have all those out of sight!  The bottom drawer will hold saucepans and pots.

Ken asked me yesterday if I was getting excited about the new kitchen and I replied that I still wasn't sure if we should be doing all this. But after seeing what it will be like, everything so much lighter in colour, and so many mod cons, I am definitely excited now! It won't be installed until next month, as the cupboard doors and drawer fronts have to be made in the selected colour, and the benchtops have to be ordered in the colour we want too. I'm not in any hurry - everything in our kitchen is working okay now, so I'm not inconvenienced in any way by delays.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

TODAY was my real birthday!

I think the calendars got it wrong this year. My birthday was definitely not meant to be celebrated on Tuesday, it was today! I had a perfectly lovely day which made up for a very ordinary day on Tuesday (except for the dinner with our friends, which was the best part). Today I was treated to lunch by Val, and Glenda joined us too at 12 noon at The Common, a new cafe in Eltham. When our meals were brought to our table, Val asked if I'd brought my camera. I hadn't, but I wished I had! The Common does not do plain every day food, and everything was worth photographing because it was presented so beautifully. Tasted great too.
Glenda gave me a set of fineline pens and a lovely hessian covered journal for my birthday. Val had made something just for me, but left it behind, much to her dismay! We got back to my place at 2.15 pm and Val stayed for a while to look at my latest artistic scribbles. Just as she was leaving, Melody and Christine arrived to look at some of my linens, so I did quick introductions and we chatted on the doorstep for a few minutes. To my surprise and delight, Mel and Christine brought me a bag of goodies too - a fat quarter with a cute cupcake pattern, another gorgeous journal and a lovely pen to match. We were chatting in the kitchen over tea and cake when the doorbell rang again, and this time it was my friend Sandra with a friend of hers from New Zealand. So they joined us in the kitchen for the chat-and-giggling for a while before they had to leave. Sandra also had a goodies bag with two packs of specialty tea and a bag of scorched almonds (yum).
Ken had gone out by himself for the afternoon, shopping for techno stuff, so we had the house to ourselves. I've promised all the ladies that when my new kitchen is up and running, I'll invite them over for a cocktail party to christen the the course of our conversation we discovered we all like to experiment with cocktails!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Week has fizzed out.

What is that saying about the best laid plans of mice and men, or something? The first half of my week has fizzled out to nothing much at all. I received half a dozen birthday cards on Monday, but on Tuesday there was nothing in the post office box. Not one thing - not even any junk mail! I asked the staff at the counter if the sorting was finished and they said yes, it is usually done by 8 a.m. Why, was I waiting for something? I said well, one or two birthday cards would have been nice, and they promptly burst into singing Happy Birthday! Customers and all - it cheered me up!
Ken had been grizzling about his mobile phone for weeks, and decided to replace it with a new one. Had to be done on my birthday, didn't it, so off we went to Telstra at Greensborough. I wasn't going to go with him, but I knew he would be a couple of hours, so rather than stay at home and sulk, I went along for the ride. But I didn't hang around at Telstra with him - no way! I wandered around the centre, buying a few bits and pieces I wanted for the new kitchen, and some birthday cards. We had a coffee and bite to eat before leaving, and got home about 3 pm. No messages on the phone, no visitors to eat my birthday cake that I'd cooked with such high hopes the night before.
The day wasn't a total write off though, as we went out for dinner with our friends Mark and Louise, who celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary on the same day as my birthday.
So there we are at the Templestowe Hotel where we had a delicious meal and a few drinks. Louise gave me a pair of storage jars for my birthday - they have ceramic roosters on top - really cute! I am in the process of making them a memory quilt for their anniversary, but I'd run out of the printable fabric to finish their photos, so I couldn't give it to them on Tuesday, but they didn't mind.
We were supposed to be going to view our new kitchen at the factory today, but Cliff the builder called us and said he had been delayed, and could we go on Saturday instead. No problem with that, but we could have done something else today if we'd known in advance. Ah well, I got the shopping done, which was probably a good thing, seeing tomorrow will be chaotic as usual, the day before the Easter weekend. I asked Cliff if he had any idea when the kitchen would be installed now, as he had said originally it would be the week after Easter. Now it won't be for another two or three weeks, as his suppliers have decided to tack an extra week on to their Easter break, which of course means Cliff won't be able to proceed with his work. Just as well we aren't in a hurry. But see what I mean about the week fizzling out? Tomorrow I'm supposed to be having lunch with a friend, but the way things are going, she'll probably call me to say she can't make it....
Easter isn't looking too exciting either. Ken is going to the same bike event that he went to last year. I'm not fussing about it this year - what's the point? I'll find something else to do I guess. Or I can stay at home and read my library books, or finish off the memory quilt. Maybe it will rain on Sunday and Ken won't ride his bike up there in the rain. Fingers crossed. Naughty girl.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

A busy week coming up.

The coming week promises to be exciting and fun!   On Monday we are driving the Ute up to Taradale to visit some friends that also have a new car, so the guys can drool over each other's cars and the lady of the house and I can sit and gossip over tea and cake.

Tuesday is my 66th birthday and we are going out for dinner in the evening with our friends L and M, who will be celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary on the same night.  A few friends have promised to drop in during the day to wish me a happy day, so I'll be doing some cooking on Monday night to have with all those cups of tea and coffee!

On Wednesday we will be going to see our new kitchen set up at the builder's factory.  If we approve of everything he has done, it will all be installed the week after Easter - whoopee!!  I still can't believe this is happening - from the original plan of simply replacing an aging cook top, to a whole new kitchen!

On Thursday another friend is taking me out to lunch (and we might be joined by Ken and another friend) - in Eltham's newest cafe.  I've had a coffee in there twice so far and am looking forward to having a meal as their menu is not the usual lunch offered in most eateries.

Friday of course is Good Friday, which Ken and I observe by having a quiet day at home.  Saturday will be busy for Ken as he prepares his bike for the Classic motorcycle meeting the next day, while I'll be busy both days packing up everything in the kitchen ready for it to be torn down later in the week!

Saturday, April 05, 2014

The End Of Daylight Saving at last!

Well, for the next six months anyway.  DST is one of the stupidest things ever invented.  I was reading a forum thread about it last night, and one lady wrote words to the effect that it really annoyed her to have time manipulated by people who were too lazy to set their own alarm clocks to get up an hour earlier, so they have forced everyone else to do it along with them.  I totally agree with her.  Do people really think that changing their clock changes time and daylight itself?   Geez....

Ken gets cranky because we don't eat dinner until about 8  pm most nights.  Well, as far as I'm concerned it is actually only 7 pm, which is a perfectly acceptable time to eat dinner.  He would like me to dish up tea about 6.30.  If we were to eat at 6.30 pm DST, it would actually be 5.30 pm which is way too early for my tummy. 

So we have an extra hour tomorrow?  Rubbish.  It's all in your mind.

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Clothes to match the new car.

While we were over at Greensborough, Ken said he was thinking about looking for an orange teeshirt to wear when he was driving his orange car.  We looked in Target and K-Mart but there was nothing to suit.  Then we looked at some of the menswear stores, and at the third shop we found two identical orange tops - one large and one small.  We tried them on, perfect fit, so we bought them...Yeah I know - TACKY.  But fun.

Here I am in mine, Ken wouldn't let me take his photo wearing his.  Mind you, I won't be wearing it with blue pants in future!  I had just put it on over what I was wearing the other day, without thinking of being photographed.

Life around here is getting just too darn busy.

The New Kitchen dream is fast becoming a reality.  We have paid for the appliances, and the builder came over on Monday night to sort out a few last  minute changes and confirm the colours we want for the cupboards and bench tops.  He will start building the kitchen in his factory next week, and says we should be able to view it by the end of the week, to see if there is anything we don't like and might want to change, before he installs it in our house.  I'm getting excited, but at the same time I look around the kitchen I've loved since the day we moved in to the house, and am wondering if I'm doing the right thing.

Ken has been feeling a bit like that with his car.  Our friends and family who have seen it have all openly admired it, but he says to me that he sometimes wonders if he will regret the bright colour.  I tell him to enjoy it now, and don't worry about regrets later on!   He can always trade it in on something a bit more subdued in a couple of years.

Harvey Norman at Greensborough closed down last week.  Actually Monday was their last day, but I doubt if there would have been much left by then.  We went over there on Friday to see if they had any small t.v.s left.  They didn't have ANY large appliances left - just small kitchen appliances, a few computers and cameras.  Anyone who reads this blog regularly might remember that Ken wanted to buy me an Ipad at Christmas, but I refused that offer because I thought it was far too much money on something I didn't need.  But when we found a Samsung 10" Galaxy 3 Wi Fi tablet for $325...well, it just had to be an early birthday present, didn't it.  I still had my doubts because I can't stand typing on those tablets - I really need a proper keyboard to type on.  The salesman listened to what I said, and went off to search for something for me.  He came back with a cute little bluetooth keyboard that the tablet can sit in, so it can be used like a laptop.  It was reduced from $79 to $30.  So, here it is - my early birthday present:
But it didn't stop there.  We went over to Harvey Norman at Thomastown yesterday, to pay for our kitchen appliances, and organise delivery.  While we were there, we were talking to one of the computer salesmen about my tablet, and I asked if there was any way I could be connected to the internet if I wasn't around a wi fi area.  He said yes, and explained that I could buy a prepaid package that is like a little independent modem.  So $90 later...I still think it is all just a luxury item, but I went along with it because I suspect Ken really wanted it for himself, but didn't dare so soon after buying himself a new car!

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