Saturday, March 31, 2007

Cleaning Squid

Kevin is going to do the bowel scan test that Rotary have organised for seniors. It must be completed before April the 5th, so the last couple of days we have been following the recommended diet: no red meat, plenty of fruit and vegetables and high fibre bread. We had grilled fish on Thursday night and a prawn stirfry last night. We have had tuna for lunch and Kevin has foregone his beloved bacon in favour of kippers on mixed grain toast and sliced tomatoes on toast for breakfast.

Today I was down at the markets and I found a little red cabbage for 50c. I remembered the squid salad that Helen had made last weekend, so I decided that I would attempt to replicate it. I had already bought a couple of pears, so I bought some snowpeas and a lime.

I went to the Spearwood fish shop to buy the squid. I was looking for the cleaned baby squid, but he had sold out. He had plenty of local squid though, and he said they were really easy to clean, so I bought 4.

Well, squid ARE easy to clean if you have done it a gazillion times before. We fumbled a bit and the mess was appalling - guts and squid ink everywhere. Eventually we finished and I put the cut up bits in the coating mix. Kevin has promised to divorce me if I ever buy whole squid again. Though I'm not intimidated by the threat, I think he has some justification.

Now I need to go and make the salad and cook the squid. I hope it is as nice as Helen's was - I should have written down the recipe.

Oh, and Kevin will start collecting the required specimens tomorrow.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Cracklin' pan

Last December Joan bought a nice new frying pan. Not too expensive, around $50. This morning I washed it and turned it upside down before drying it. My ears picked up a cracking sound and on closer inspection the base of the pan was self-destructing. Minute bits of whatever the base is covered with were exploding and separating from the pan. Joan decided to google the agents and our pan came up with a description and a note that it had a lifetime limited warranty.

I took a digital snap of the cracking and sent it off asking for their advice. In no time at all a reply came back telling me to pack it up and post it to them in Victoria so that they may inspect it.

Imagining that it would cost plenty to send to Kennett's state, I declined and told them we would dump it and buy a different brand. So there!

Actually it still works and I can gently remove any loose material so that it doesn't end up in a stir-fry.

Lifetime warranty! Those warranties are a bit like the 25 year roof painting warranties.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

We've been Googled

I had a phone call this afternoon from a young lady who introduced herself as Ivona. She is a journalism student at Murdoch University and was researching a local news story on, you guessed it, Bibra Lake. Her story was to be mostly on the plight of the waterbirds at the lake, but she thought it would be good to be able to quote a local on what has happened to the lake.

As it happens she didn't use much of what I said, but you can read her article here.

I think I should point out that although we do indeed go walking every day we certainly don't manage to walk around North Lake, Manning Lake AND Bibra Lake every morning!

I had not thought to google the blog. Might try it in a day or so. Kevin has googled himself before and found lots of references, but he has been sending photos to all sorts of sites for the past three or four years.

Regarding hits on the blog, we are a bit disappointed with the site meter we are using. It is supposed to show the location of people who look at the blog, but we can't seem to find the people we know who do look at it regularly. A friend in Sydney (Hi, Albert) has told us that he is reading it every morning, but we can't find him on the log, nor some of the other friends in Perth who we know read it. How do we know? They usually comment about something we've written.

It's good to know you are not talking to yourself, but we would like the record to be more precise.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Cool down

Who would have thought that we would be dragging out the Ugg Boots and thinking of an electric blanket three days ago? Not me. Actually, I have never purchased a pair of Uggies and have always sneered at people who wear them in public. They do tend to get the heel fold-under and look very redneck. Best worn with a lumberjack checked shirt!
Having said that, I do own a pair, bequeathed by my uncle. He never actually wrote it down in his will, they were just there when he left. I don't wear them away from the house and rip them off when visitors arrive at our door...but they are nice and comfy.

Today, Joan bought an exchange black ink cartridge from Cartridge World. It was cheaper than an original one by $5. One of our best printers is a Canon i560. It is nice to Kev by allowing me to refill each ink container with much cheaper bulk inks. I have been impressed with Canon in that they didn't have coded ink tanks like most of the other manufacturers, but now the new Canon printers all have a chip on the ink cartridge which doesn't allow refilling by amateurs like me. Bugger! I hope our i560 lasts for a long time yet. My cousin's son is a manager of a Cartridge World store in the east and he mentioned a workaround where with swapping around old and new cartridges somehow tricks the codes. I must find out how and write it down for future reference before I loose my mind.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Prisoner under Nippon

I have just finished re-reading the diary of a British soldier who was a Prisoner of War of the Japanese for three and a half years. His name is Fred Rudkin, the father of a friend of mine. It is a daily diary of the most horrible treatment of prisoners by the Japanese military. He wrote it on scraps of paper in minute handwriting and managed to avoid extreme punishment by hiding his diary throughout the years spent in a number of camps from Singapore to Yokahama, Japan. I have railed against the Germans and their holocaust and previously thought the Japanese were not as bad. This fine document details the systematic deprivation of prisoners; the harsh beatings, the appalling rations, lack of medicines and pigsty living conditions etc.

It is strange that POWs of the Germans were treated so much better, whilst most of the population knew what was happening to Jews, Gypsies and others.

Fred returned to England and eventually brought his family to live in W.A. It seems amazing that humans so badly treated could actually regain their health. He died recently aged in his nineties.

Today on our walk around Manning Park we drove into a carpark there where a motorcycle learner was being coached by his instructor. I heard the instructor yell out..'That was great.' and we went on our walk. A couple of minutes into the walk we heard a loud crash and in the distance saw the learner hopping towards the instructor and flopping to the ground. Probably a few more lessons yet.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Family Barbecue addition

I forgot one of the dishes at our feast.

On Saturday Kevin bought some WA herring (aka tommy ruff in other States). It was really cheap - $5.50 kilo for whole fish and the fishmonger scales and guts them for free. The idea was to try filleted herring in place of albacore in ceviche.

Ceviche is a family favourite and always appears at family gatherings for Christmas, Easter etc. We acquired the original recipe from an Argentinian family while we were living in Papua New Guinea, but it is Graham who usually makes it these days.

You start with a firm fleshed fish (albacore or Spanish Mackerel is ideal), cut it into strips and place into a bowl. Add shredded fresh ginger and garlic, chopped fresh chillies and sliced spring onions, plus a little salt. Cover with lemon juice and leave for a few hours. The lemon juice coagulates the fish flesh and makes it white and firm (basically the same process and result as applying heat in cooking).

The herring worked quite well, but were a little softer than the usual fish. The advantage of using albacore cutlets is the lack of bones and the ease in removing the skin. Herring fillets require a lot more work.

Family Barbecue

On Saturday I decided to make Raan Maseladar. The local IGA had lamb legs on special so I bought a small one and, after removing all the fat, marinated it in a spicy yoghurt mix. The recipe I used is from Madhur Jaffrey. I really like her recipes and always turn to her or Doris Ady when I have an urge to cook Indian. The lamb needs to sit in the marinade for 24 hours if possible, so we thought we would cook it in the barbecue for Sunday night's dinner.

Yesterday lunchtime I rang Helen and invited her to come and share it. She was initially reluctant because she had bought some seafood for her own meal, but decided that she would bring that along to cook on the barbecue as well. We added Graham to the guest list so I defrosted some tiger prawns and whizzed up my favourite marinade for them. I use fresh ginger, garlic, fresh coriander, kaffir lime leaves or lemon zest, fish sauce and lime or lemon juice combined in a food processor.

We had a feast. Helen had rolled strips of squid in salt, pepper and dukka and grilled them on the hotplate. She had prepared a delicious salad to go with them. The salad combined red cabbage with snow peas, coriander and thinly sliced pear dressed with sweet chili sauce and ranch dressing. Yummy, and the marinated prawns also went well with it.

Then we had the Raan, spiced yellow rice and green beans cooked with chili. Also yummy. Almost no leftovers, just a bit of rice.

Kevin is not keen on barbecued steaks and chops, so we don't use the barbecue very often. But it did a great job yesterday, first with the lid closed for the Raan, and then open for the squid and prawns.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

The end of daylight saving?

Today we changed back our timepieces….26 of them….clocks, watches, ovens, VCRs, vehicle clocks, phones and computers. I reckon there must be a lot of confused senior citizens who will be calling on their children or grandchildren to help change the more complex things like bedside alarms and ovens

We haven’t been too unhappy about daylight saving, but I can see that a lot of people are very unhappy about it. There seems to be a groundswell of opinion with an anti daylight-saving movement started. It reminds me of the time Coca Cola decided to change the recipe of its drink. There was almost a national emergency in the U.S. and Coca Cola backed down and decided that folks liked it as it was.

On the subject of Coca Cola, I owned a WW2 Jeep when in Papua New Guinea and we shipped it back to W.A. when we ‘went finish’. The Jeep was made by Ford in 1942 and the rear panel had Ford stamped into the metal in the exact font shared with Coca Cola. Our kids recognised the Ford name as Coca Cola long before they could read. Must have been the dreaded sight-word reading method long abandoned by education authorities.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Italian gardener

I guess I look a bit like an old Italian fella. When I was younger I was often spoken to in Italian...especially in Fremantle.

I sometimes feel like an Italian when I go on a tomato growing bender. The last house we owned had raised garden beds with limestone block walls and the ground was pure market garden earth. I had so many cherry tomatoes that we had to make tomato sauce regularly.
Our current house, which we plan to make our last residence, has not been kind to gardener Kev. My passionfruit vine has plenty of flowers, but no fruit. My tomatoes are an embarrassment. We do lack a north facing vegie garden and I'm blaming that for my lack of success.

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned that I burnt a large patch of lawn by covering it with plastic sheeting when painting some timber lattice. It looked dead, but as it was couch grass, the rhizomes were still OK and after a bit of de-thatching of the spongy stuff on top it is back nice and green. This de-thatching is a new thing to me, but I am assured that it is necessary to give new life and stop the spongy effect. I enquired about hiring a machine to do the whole lawn and it is hired @ $74 a day. It is too late in the season to do it now and so I will do the job in spring.

Years ago I was talking to a English chap about lawns and he called couch grass couch; as in the lounge chair. Was he correct and all of Australia has it wrong?

Friday, March 23, 2007

The Health Club

About 3 weeks ago we got a flyer in the letterbox offering a month's membership for $49 at the health club just down the hill from our place. If two people took advantage of this offer it was only $25 for the second person.

Last week we went to have a look. The club doesn't look that wonderful from the outside because it is housed in what looks like an oversized aircraft hangar or Quonset hut, but the facilities are amazing. Except that you can't play golf there, it has everything you would expect to find at a country club: a cafe, a member's lounge, hairdresser, massage parlour, two swimming pools - an outdoor one and a heated indoor one plus spa and sauna, social events a couple of times a week, squash and badminton courts and of course exercise studios with the latest equipment and classes for all levels of fitness.

They tried to persuade us to sign up for a 12 month's membership at a reduced price, but we decided we would only take up the four weeks' trial. Our reasoning was that it would cost us less than $10 week each to try out the facilities and see if we would use them. I thought the water aerobics class might be good and I could have a spa and sauna after. Kevin went along with the idea, though he kept mumbling about neither of us having the body beautiful and that it would be a waste of money.

Sadly, he may be right. The first week has passed and we haven't gone there once. The water aerobics class is Tuesday and Thursday. Tuesday I had a meeting. Thursday I was given free tickets to the movies, so of course I used them and went with a friend to see "Becoming Jane". Enjoyable, but not wonderful, movie. We could have gone to the club any afternoon and just used the facilities but we didn't. I suspect we need to acquire another habit. Just as we go walking before breakfast every morning, we need to go to the health club every afternoon - at least for the next three weeks.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

When I'm 64

Well actually Joan is 65 on 2nd April (better remember that one!) and I am 67. We are quite a way from yearly driving tests, but the last few months have given us a bit of a wake-up call. I was first to have a minor bump by backing into a near-new Honda Odyssey and damaging the Honda front bumper. Fortunately our insurance covered it without too much hassle.

Bingle No.2 was me again in our newish Sonata backing into a mate and crumpling our plastic bumper. Our tame panel beater fixed that up for $200 cash. Then Joan had a go a few days ago with a shopping centre carpark kiss with a towball of another car doing a reversing move in concert with Joan. I decided to repair this minor ding myself and it ended up pretty smooth ready for paint. I ordered a spray can to be made up with the matching paint and went to collect it today.

Just as I was heading out Joan rang to confess to another bumper bash. When she returned home I could see that it was a job for our panel man....his quote, $200 cash which included fixing up my dodgy repair job. These days of filling the fuel tank for $65; $200 for a professional job is nothing.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Bibra Lake is no more

Most of the local wetlands dry up in summer. Market Garden Swamp stops being swampy before or just after Christmas and Manning Lake dries out shortly afterwards.

The bigger lakes usually retain their water all through summer, but this year has been particularly bad. First it was North Lake about a month ago. On February 23rd Kevin posted a photo showing the lake covered in green weed, with no water in sight. The weed has now grown tall and yellow and the small area of water that was there has dried up.

Now Bibra Lake, which is at least four times larger than North Lake, has gone. There are a couple of largish puddles, but most of it is grey mudbank.
We took a photo from the same spot at the beginning of February. The water had started to retreat even then, but the lake was still quite full.

The grassed areas on the western side of the lake are still bright green. The Council regularly waters them with ground water from bores.

According to the paper today one of every 2.5 litres of water used in WA comes from bores. Certainly almost all local government owned sports grounds and recreation areas are watered from them. Like the director of the Conservation Council I am convinced that the drain on local acquifers and the lowering of the water table through bores has contributed to the parlous state of the lakes. We can only hope that this winter, and the next few, will be very wet and that the lakes will live again.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Papua New Guinea Association

I belong to an association called PNGAA (Papua New Guinea Association of Australia). The association is made up of ex-expatriates who lived and worked in Papua New Guinea. Its membership runs to the hundreds and quite a few are B4s (residents of PNG before the second world war). Some members were in private enterprise , others in the public service and some in the military. At self government and Independence for Papua New Guinea, many whites in the country wanted Australia to maintain control and stall off independence. Many people predicted chaos and economic failure. To some extent their predictions have come true, but there were never any independence fighters waging war with the Australian adminstration. We left the country at the right time and in very good condition.

I have been following talkback radio today about the Zimbabwe situation and have heard a number of ex-Zimbabwe residents lament the passing of the Ian Smith regime and the white controlled government. Quite a few were blaming Malcolm Fraser for the collapse of the Smith regime and the resulting government of Mugabe. Here is a link to a Zimbabwe history timeline

It was wrong to have Rhodesia strictly governed by a wealthy white minority and that is all there is to say about it. Mugabe is a bad boy and he has brought bad times on his own people. I suggest that the white farmers should have seen the land grab coming for years and should have started sending a few bars of gold out of the country for such a time. Pretty sure lots of them did! The whites in Zimbabwe have up until now, been a very privileged lot.

Back to the PNGAA. The story I wrote about on Feb. 22nd Coincidence and History has been well presented on the PNGAA site. Here is a link to the text and photos.

The site has many great stories of early times and wartime exploits by and about members.

Monday, March 19, 2007


These miniature pomegranates grow on a bush just outside our bathroom window. I think they are just ornamental, not edible. We should probably try to find out.

Why? Because a friend has been told that pomegranate juice will help him to fight his cancer. He was buying the juice over the internet at a premium price. Pomegranates have very little juice as I remember from trying to eat them when I was a child.

Pomegranate molasses is a very trendy food at the moment. I bought some to make a Persian dip that I had tasted and really liked. It is based on green olives and walnuts. I did a Google search and found a recipe which I intend to make very soon.

If these pomegranates are not edible I intend to try using them for natural dyeing. I was going to do that last year, but Kevin managed to get rid of them in the bin before I got round to it. They look very attractive now, but are quite ugly when they dry out and split.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

In January this year Radio National presented a programme by Tim Bowden titled Prisoners of War: Australians Under Nippon. It was a wonderful programme with interviews with and about POWs in Japanese camps. One episode featured a Captain J J Murphy who was a patrol officer in Papua New Guinea before the war and became a coast watcher during the war. He was captured by Japanese troops and taken to Rabaul as a prisoner. The Japanese thought they had a high ranking officer and through Tokyo Rose and later German propaganda broadcasts told the allies that they had our man. Murphy was one of the few Australian servicemen to survive in Rabaul. After the surrender of Japan, he was charged with treason and brought before a court. Six American Air Force Officers; fellow prisoners, testified on his behalf and he was freed.

He went on to become District Commissioner in the Gulf District of Papua and that is where I met him in 1961. JJ was a small man who was larger than life....a bit of a ladies' man and had done a couple of dodgy deals here and there. I recall a story going around about the time he was DC of the Western District of Papua, stationed in Daru. It seems that he and a few others used the government trawler to skip down to Thursday Island to get cheap beer and lolly water. Someone 'dobbed' and he was reprimanded. Before the war he wrote a comprehensive text on Pidgin English. I lost my copy in the return to Australia.

We had a few conversations over beers and I am sorry that I didn't know of his wartime exploits at the time. One day he was cruising past my school in the western end of the Gulf in the Government boat Magila and dropped the pick, was rowed ashore with a bottle of Johnny Walker red and stayed overnight in my one-room donga testing out my tank water. He died in 1993 and is survived by his wife.

Here are two pages from the Papua New Guinea Association journal Una Voce which describes the man far better than I could.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Papuan dream

Having spent around ten years in Papua New Guinea I often get very nostalgic about the place. There are two lingua francas in PNG; melanesian pidgin (pidgin English) and Hiri Motu. I can get by in both languages, in fact tonight I talked at length to an ex-student from the Gulf Province from my primary school class of 1962. He lives in Kerema, the district HQ of the Gulf Province of Papua New Guinea. I am thinking seriously of visiting the 'Gulf ' and other places I taught at.
Most Australian media people and indeed the Foreign Affairs Department of the Australian government who had PNG as a colony for almost a century refer to that country as Papyouare New Gini., when it is actually phonetically pronounced Parpooa Niew Gini. Embarrassing!

I have kept in touch with several of the first class I taught in PNG and I long to go back and meet with them and see the village again. It seems that the village, the school and my aluminium single officers' quarters have been wiped out by a minor tsunami and the village has moved some distance inland. I guess that I won't see the woman who dropped off firewood every evening at my place.

The Gulf Province is the poorest province of PNG and has no tourist destinations listed on any internet site. It is however, one of the most culturally pure sites of PNG, probably because of the lack of tourists. The Gulf doesn't have pristine beaches and beautiful islands. Most of it is in the delta of the mountain rivers spilling muddy waters into the Papuan Gulf. Somehow I have a need to revisit the place.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Sculpture by the Sea

We took a drive to Cottesloe this morning. We thought we would combine our morning walk with a visit to the Sculpture by the Sea exhibition, and that it was less likely to be crowded at 8am on a Friday morning than later in the day or at the weekend.

Well, it probably was, but the place was still very busy. There were quite a few couples and groups of people of about our age who had had the same idea. We wandered around and enjoyed our little excursion. The kiosk wasn't open so we didn't get a brochure to put names to the sculptures. Pity.

I really liked this piece. It was in three parts and we only photographed one section unfortunately. The second part was another couple of dogs sniffing each other and the third was a dog sitting on his haunches and looking at someone on the beach. I am really impressed by how the essence of dog has been evoked with such unlikely materials as carved furniture legs.

Kevin was greatly taken with Nautilus and so was I. I loved the attention to detail that had a chart in French and the books on the shelf with a stamp from the library in Noumea.

These two pieces also took our eyes and we both really liked the fisherman.

Talking it over with Helen this evening when we went there so Kevin could assemble her new barbecue, it appears that we managed to miss a number of pieces that she had really liked - and that she hadn't noticed the dogs at all. Obviously you need to make more than one visit. The exhibition finishes on Sunday but maybe we can get there again.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

short and not so sweet

I have had a bugger of a day! I am getting short with long time friends...I need to get away for a long time, maybe to walk into danger in Papua New Guinea?

Our son is still bleeding us; not dry, as we still have quite a few bucks and assets left, but his constant demands are a source of frustration at his lack of success career-wise.
I guess we should be doing a Dick Smith and giving away our money before we die to see how it is benefitting our kids. Bugger Dick Smith! He still seems to have a S...load of cash leftover to do what he wants even after being Mr Nice Guy. Bill Gates is in the same boat and his donations of millions of dollars still leaves him pretty flush.

It is a bit frustrating that the loads of cash we spent (lost) on our son would have established and financed a school in an impoverished third world nation.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Off to the flicks

We went to the movies yesterday, partly because it was Cheapo Tuesday ($8 with our seniors card) and the movie looked like it should have been a good one.

I don’t normally go to movies because inevitably I get some kid with his/her feet on the back of my seat or noisy people eating mice-smelling popcorn nearby. There were people eating popcorn from enormous buckets, but they weren’t so close as to bother me. The experience was OK.

It was a five out of ten. The story line was written by a high school kid and had the usual baddies and goodies. The goodies had a fall guy and the four of them got into all sorts of strife. In the end the good guys triumph and the baddies end up sort of goodies as well. That’s about it.

Driving home I recalled the flicks of my youth at the Mayfair Theatre in Bicton. The Mayfair and the Richmond Theatre in East Fremantle were, I believe, owned by the same people. At intermission the first feature from each theatre was exchanged with someone racing between the theatres by car. Both theatres had an ‘outdoors’ with deck chairs to sink into. Saturday night pictures often meant a bus into Fremantle to either Hoyts or The Princess. The Hoyts theatre had a crying room…not for sad movies, but so that mums could attend movies with their babes without upsetting the mob. Sometime in the early 70s movies were on the decline and the introduction of video tape started to bite. Big theatres like Hoyts eventually closed along with drive-in theatres. At about the same time motorcycles went out of fashion as well. Movie theatres and motorcycles are now back in fashion and flourishing. There are even a couple of drive-ins still operating in W.A.

The theatre complex we went to yesterday had 8 small theatres each showing different features. Comfortable and air conditioned and not too many patrons to annoy Kev.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007


I have been into photography since I was a wee lad. I remember buying a developing kit and developing film and making prints under my bed when I was about 13. No enlarger used there!
I have had numerous cameras and darkroom equipment and taught high school photography for seventeen years. Then all-of-a-suddy, it photography. Now I, and I reckon about 10 million Australians, have a good collection of film cameras in cupboards.

I have a collection, albeit small, of vintage film cameras. A friend has a collection which takes up a small bedroom. He writes up interesting cameras he comes across for his collection for a photo magazine. One very interesting piece he evaluated and wrote up was a WW2 Japanese camera gun which was built to train aircraft gunners . . . instead of bullets it filmed the trainee's shots for later assessment. The box it came in had Japanese instructions and I took them to a Japanese Teacher at Willetton Senior High School to do a translation for him. We worked out the gist of the instructions, but it seems they were written in an older form of Japanese which is no longer common.

Monday, March 12, 2007

A bit of nostalgia

I went to the doctor this morning. Nothing serious, just a checkup on how my carcinoma excision was healing. It finally has - just a few bits of scab left. Six months it has taken. I should be OK to give blood next month.

The doctor's surgery is next door to the house in Bicton we lived in for 28 years. It is now the offices of a real estate agency. I have not been inside since the day we left in November 2003 and I don't really want to see what changes have been made.

However, every time I go to the doctor's I look to see how the trees in the back garden are growing. There is a loquat tree which always bore a lot of fruit, though the rainbow lorikeets used to get most of the fruit. Last year it had a lot of fruit so I guess the birds did well. No fruit now of course.

There is a Tahitian lime which seems to be getting very tall. We used to cut the middle out so it would spread. I couldn't see if it had any fruit on it. They weren't very nice anyway.

We planted bamboo round the swimming pool when we converted it into a water garden and it is growing very tall. Might be taking over a bit. I wouldn't mind a look at the pond and garden, but the fence is too high to peer over. Probably just as well - I wouldn't want to be caught peeking.

I don't miss living in that house though it did have some wonderful architectural features like the carved fireplace in the front room and the original stained glass around the front door.
I think we made the right decision to move. We have everything we want here. Probably the best things are a cul de sac location rather than being on a major highway, a lockup garage instead of parking the cars in the driveway and a great workshop and storeroom. Plus so much less maintenance. A hundred years really makes a difference in that respect. Just ask Kevin.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

ABC Catalyst

Last week's Catalyst programme on ABC television featured a repeat of the Luke Wilmot story. I taught Luke at Willetton Senior High. He was not able to do much and had a full time carer looking after him. It was obvious that Luke had a functioning brain somewhere in there despite the uncontrolled gyrations and garbled speech. I was amazed to see the transformation of Luke due to an operation called Deep Brain Stimulation. The programme had footage of him as I remember him and Luke as he is now, driving a car, riding a bicycle and studying at TAFE.
Luke was suffering from Generalised Dystonia.

Our brother in law Michael who has advanced Parkinson's Disease is now a patient of the same surgeon and has this last week been accepted into the Deep Brain Stimulation programme. The surgeon has assessed him as being an ideal candidate and he is now on a waiting list. The surgeon is the only person doing this operation in W.A. and Mike has been told there is a 10-12 month waiting list. Hang in there mate.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Collateral Damage

I injured my right forefinger this morning. It has two cuts, one on the front and the other on the back. It is swollen and black and blue, though it is not hurting as much now as it did at first. How did it happen? A friend did it to me.

It was not intentional - in fact she was trying to help me. I had my arms full with bags and bundles I was taking into a meeting, so she closed the car door for me. Unfortunately my finger was in the way.

While my injury was not caused by any sort of military action it fits the definition of collateral damage in that it was not intentional and happened as a result of some other action. Kevin has done it twice to me.

First he damaged my face in a car accident. This was 42 years ago, before we were married. I sued him for damages and the government insurance paid up. We were lucky because the law had just been changed to allow one spouse to sue another. The change was so recent that it got reported in the paper. I received $3000 dollars which went a very long way towards paying off our first house.

The second time was in 1993 when he asked me to pour petrol into the carburettor while he tried to start the engine on his old Jeep. Unfortunately it misfired and the petrol ignited. I suffered burns to my face, chest and arms. I spent two and a half weeks in hospital, had three skin grafts and have very little scarring. Again I was lucky. And so was he. We are still married.

Friday, March 9, 2007

Only because I have to. . .

I don't really have anything nice to say about today. Well maybe a few things!?

Let's see....after spreading some plastic drop sheets over our lawn to spray-paint some lattice for our daughter's wall, I find that a large area of lawn is now dead. Extreme heat and solar burning: bugger!

Joan had a pleasant outing to celebrate International Womens' Day. Going to pick her up I went past our son's address which he shares with a young couple and I saw a police van with two large men in blue on the front porch. What are we to think? Many unanswered phone calls and we decided to front up and see what answer to our door knocks. More worry. We received a call back from our son and it seems that the male partner of the couple has 'shot through' with their child. We should be concerned that a child has been whisked off by her father, but to be perfectly honest we were relieved that our son wasn't carted off in a police van for whatever.

I also had success getting a friend's wife's computer onto the net and setting up her email client through a local area network at their place.

Tomorrow is another day.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Awareness Ribbons

It is almost impossible to keep track of them. Pink ribbons for breast cancer, pale blue for prostate cancer - we have metal pins for both of these. Goodness knows where they came from, but we have had them for years. I think possibly from when Kevin was a prostate cancer victim.

No longer - he is a survivor.

Our friend Margaret is an ovarian and breast cancer survivor. With chemo she lost all her hair. When she was on holidays in Queensland last year her butch hairdo provoked many stares. Later she said that she thought she should design a T-shirt that says 'I am a cancer survivor, not whatever else you are thinking' because she became tired of the immediate stereotypes.

"Tie a yellow ribbon round the old oak tree" - I can't remember what the yellow ribbon is currently representing, but you can check it out here.

One of the first uses of this kind of symbol was the WSPU (Women's Social and Political Union), a suffragette organisation established by Emily Pankhurst in England in the early years of the 20th century. Their colours were purple, white and green.

Today is International Women's Day. It was decreed by the the UN in 1977 - thirty years ago. Probably many people will have worn a ribbon or bunch of ribbons with these colours today. The suffragettes won their battle for the vote but I don't think women have won the war for equality or even recognition. An example is the rape victim recently sentenced to 90 lashes in Saudi Arabia.

Tomorrow I will meet with a group of women teacher friends to celebrate International Women's Day. We are not extreme feminists, but we will wear the purple white and green ribbon, celebrate the fact that 35 years ago female teachers in WA achieved equal pay and remind ourselves that the battle for female equality continues across the world.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007


I'm not an eBay freak, but every so often I log in to take a look at what's on offer. I have bought a few things on eBay...a computer, camera lenses and recently a wartime booklet named 'Moresby Mice'. Having lived in Papua New Guinea for almost ten years and having been through Port Moresby quite a few times on leave the booklet looked good. When I first went through Moresby in 1961 there was still much evidence of the conflict there during the war and I have held a keen interest in the Pacific war in and around PNG.
The booklet was advertised as a humorous look at Aussies and Yanks in Papua.

Before bidding I googled Moresby Mice and came up with several copies for sale ranging from A$30 - $50., so I thought I knew what I was after and how much it was worth. I won the auction at A$26.50 and postage made it up to $28.

When the booklet arrived I was a little disappointed. There were, as advertised, 27 pages (including a few blanks front and rear) a chronological list of events of the Kokoda campaign, a few photographs (most without captions) and some very basic full-page cartoons. As a kid I remember Bluey and Curly in the comic strips and recall the great drawing and wonderful humour....not so with Moresby Mice. Two out of Ten!

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Today's Collection

When we take a walk around the section of Bibra Lake called the Golf Park we invariably collect more rubbish than from any other walk we do. I posted a few days ago about the amount we collected and the variety of things we found.

Today we collected almost as much if not more. An interesting thing about discarded bottles: Coke, Jim Beam, vodka, water almost always have their lids screwed on. Maybe the litterbugs can't be bothered dropping or throwing away two things at the same time.

We found some interesting stuff today. First was a pair of white high-heeled shoes near the bank of the lake. We wondered about the possibility of a body when we found a bundle of pantyhose. No sign of blood though. Then Kevin found two black bundles, both the same. I pulled one of them to bits just in case they were bloodstained undies or something similar. I was a bit spooked by this time. The bundle was one leg of a pair of vinyl trousers that had been scrunched up and pushed into the leg of lycra tights to form a kind of dome. The other was identical.

I have come up with a scenario to explain all this. A young guy decided to go to one of Adventure World's adult parties in drag. Because the carpark was full he parked at the end of the Golf Park. As he staggered towards his car at the end of the evening he divested himself of some of his accoutrements. First the padding he wore to resemble boobs. Then the pantyhose. Then the shoes. They had had a bit cut out of the side of them to make them wearable on male feet. He probably had a little nap in his car before driving home.

What do you think?

Monday, March 5, 2007

Late again

We had in-laws for lunch with drinks yesterday and I had a long sleep in a chair afterwards, so no posting. I am still feeling a bit dodgy, so this is a very short one.

Some of Jean and Art’s sayings....

All tizzied up
Blinky thing
I feel jiggered lately
I feel settled
Silly Galloot
A beaut turnout
He’s a doer
A little tinker
Tuckered out
A coot of a place
Tickled pink
Give him the office

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Things you see and don't see

One of our favourite walks is around North Lake and since we started about two years ago we have been amused by this piece of board propped up against the fence. Last time we walked there we didn't see it, so today we looked carefully. No sign of it. Some miserable b . . . . has taken it. I can't imagine why - it's not artistic or even very well done. It was just fun to see.

Further along we came across this.

We can't imagine why someone would go to all the trouble of carrying a wooden ladder into the bush, then just leave it propped up against a not very interesting tree several hundred metres from the nearest road. It is about two and a half metres long. Must have taken some effort. We don't know how long it has been there - we usually walk counter-clockwise around the lake and have never noticed it before. Today we walked clockwise and saw it. I would love to know the story behind it.

Friday, March 2, 2007

A worrying evening

I have previously mentioned a friend who is suffering from Parkinson's Disease and Lewy Body Disease. His wife is off to a family wedding in Sydney and he reluctantly agreed to spend a week in respite at a nearby care facility.

The family took him to the centre at about 5pm yesterday. By 6pm he had thrown a chair through a plate glass window and escaped. Six carloads of friends were mobilised in an effort to find him before dark. He is not capable of walking far and we were hopeful of finding him close to the care centre. By 8.30pm we all had given up, hoping that some nearby resident had taken him in and settled him down with a nice cuppa. Then around 9pm his wife received a phone call from a lady who had noticed a bruised and disoriented elderly man shuffling around the Perth bus terminal. She managed to get his name and phone number from him and rang his wife. He was collected by daughter number 3 and her partner.

I have just talked with him and he told of his little adventure and how he had to walk some distance and cadge money off people for a bus fare. He is being looked after by a roster of his children; which was probably the way to go in the first place.

My feeling is that he had surmised that his wife had made arrangements to leave him there permanently and decided that he wasn't having a bar of it. I will visit him tomorrow.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Child sponsorship

Yesterday we received an email reminder about our sponsorship of a young lad in Bali. He is in his last year of primary school and we have been sponsoring him for three years now. It sounds like a big deal, but A$100 per year pays his school fees, writing and reading materials etc. Our sponsorship is done through the John Fawcett Foundation and 100% of the $100 goes to the child. It is managed by the foundation and the Head Teacher with the father can draw out approximately $10 per month. We can follow the transactions on the net.

John Fawcett is a Western Australian who has lived for many years in Bali and has devoted his life to helping Balinese on a number of fronts.

A few years ago I was involved in a project sending school materials to a school in the mountainous region of Bali named Bangli. The Bangli area is the third poorest area in Indonesia and is quite close to the Kintimani volcano. My cousin and I rounded up desks, chairs and computers and they were dispatched by sea to Bali. After many glitches with Indonesian Customs and other problems, the gear arrived and we travelled to the school to set up the computers. They were all wired in and we discovered that the power supply was filched from an adjoining building by bare wires and that it was only powerful enough to run one machine at a time. The story of getting adequate power to the school and paying for it is novel-length. Joan and I plan on returning soon to see if the computers are still running and if they need some repairs.