Thursday, May 31, 2007

More Woodwork

I asked Kevin to make me a little wooden loom today since he had had so much success with yesterday's project.

He ended up making two because I had not clearly thought out my requirements. I am very happy with the final model. I don't know what happened to the prototype.

Now I just need to talk him into some more projects. Ummm - shelves in the laundry perhaps?

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Educational cheating

I admit to being a bit of a cheat with a small project I am helping a grade 7 pupil with. Her class (at a Baptist College) was given an assignment to 'Design and Build a Hot Rod'. Individuals could choose between gravity power, solar power or by rubber band/spring/air/
water etc.

This young girl decided to select rubber band power and in her submitted plan showed it being driven by a propeller....bad choice! Her parents couldn't help her and she, although a very pretty girl is apparently not going to end up as an engineer; so Kev was asked to help.

The design was based around a Kleenex tissue box. I bought some balsa wood and constructed the propeller and the framework to support the considerable stress the six 'lackies' would put on the system when wound up. I had a great day trying several configurations and actually got the thing to move. Fortunately, the test of all the vehicles starts on a downhill slope.

Now to justify the cheating. As parents, most people will admit to helping out on their kids' assignments...we did. Secondly, this assignment was set by a teacher who thinks he/she is teaching high school physics. And lastly, I think I can teach her a fair bit by explaining the construction of the Hot Rod, the methods to reduce friction and how a direct drive to the wheels would be more efficient. So there.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007


On Sunday evening there was a TV programme on ABC2 about a woman from Melbourne who is doing wonderful work travelling to Albania (?) to find children who do not have the wherewithal to have corrective surgery for horrific disfigurements.

She arranges for them to be brought back to Australia or the U.S. and after rehabilitation, back to their families. The show followed the return of the kids to somewhat varied welcome from their parents. I guess the results are not always as good as expected.

I had a similar thing happen when I taught in the Sepik District of Papua New Guinea in the 1970s. One of my students had elephantiasis (Lymphatic Filariasis) in one leg. His leg was huge and he had difficulty walking. I heard on the radio that a team of Australian surgeons were on their way to Port Moresby to do corrective surgery on PNG nationals. I contacted Port Moresby General Hospital and the lad was accepted into the programme. He was flown to Port Moresby and the surgery was carried out there.

The district Medical Assistant (often called Medical Assassin) heard of my plan and gave me a fair bit of grief because I didn’t go through him. He didn’t talk to me again.

When the lad returned from Port Moresby, students gathered around to see his leg. He was ashamed of it. From the foot up to the knee was a complete success, but at the knee it ballooned out again and looked very strange. The lad was angry with me and the surgeons.

Sometimes even the best intentions are not good enough.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Winter TV

The home gym is assembled and being used. It took two brains and a bit of argument between the two of us before it was finished.

Winter is well and truly here and it is rather nice to sit down to a bit of TV in front of a nice space heater. Joan doesn't watch TV much, preferring to read. Sometimes this is very frustrating when something turns up on the box which is of interest to us both. Kev yells at Joan to look at the screen, but by the time her eyes manage to leave the pages, the story has passed.

Another annoying thing about Joan is that when she does watch a murder mystery with me, she has worked out the plot and the guilty before I understand what is going on. She claims it is because she reads hundreds of books a year...many of them murder mysteries. A mate reckons it is because I'm as thick as a brick.

Talking about murders; who would live in the quaint little English village from Midsomer Murders where five or six murders are the order of the day? Be bloody cold in the winter too!

Bibra Lake for me.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Home Gym

I have always been good at mechanical things: cars, washing machines etc, so I thought that assembling my new home gym would be a piece of cake. I was surprised at the quality of the thing. Chinese manufacturing took far less time to get up to quality than the early Japanese efforts. 'Jap Crap' it was called. Now it is rare to get a Japanese product actually made in Japan. Retail outlets advertise made in Japan on products as a selling point.

Any way, back to my home gym assembly. I found it reasonably simple to assemble the main frame, but when it came time to fit the three cables and about 9 pulleys I could not follow the instructions with the minute illustrations. Tomorrow I will take a digital camera to the jock shop where I bought it and get pics from all angles. Another great reason to have a digital camera.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Time to exercise

I mentioned before that I bought a new bicycle with the intention of getting fit. Today I saw an advert in the Quokka for a secondhand gym and my brother Graham and I went to look at it. It was outside in the rain and had been for some time. They will have a problem trying to give that one away.

On to the professional jocks' store where we found a nice new gym machine discounted to $299. It is in several boxes in our store room awaiting assembly tomorrow. I hope it has instructions for assembly better than most Chinese manufactured stuff.

I read in our daily paper that a study has shown that suggests that with exercise, older people can restore muscle and bulk as easily as young people. I shall report back on that one.

Friday, May 25, 2007


I thought I had discouraged the maggies' visitations, but this afternoon we had a gathering of friends in our alfresco area and despite the very noisy talkfest, the seven maggies swooped in for what they thought was their feeding time. They didn't understand that I wanted them to go away when I ran at them like a demented screaming 67 year old...which I am. They just resettled at a distance wondering why they were being ignored after five weeks of feeding four times a day.

I admit to being a bit silly by feeding them in the first place but they should:

1. Realise that they shouldn't shit on their benefactors' chairs, table and brick paving area..
2. Understand that if they are not going to be friendly enough to sit on my hand, to bugger off.
3. Understand that I am an grumpy old man .

Enough said.

Decision time

Yesterday I made the decision to discourage the seven maggies that fly into our alfresco area at least four times a day. They mess over the out-door furniture and the brick paving which gets a bit hard to clean. I guess if they eat, they s___.

It was almost as if I had painted a warning sign for them: not one visit yesterday and none this morning so far. As well as deciding not to offer any food, I have a hose with a jet trigger ready to give them a bit of 'shock and awe'.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Bali again

Today our Indonesian teacher rang telling me of the situation at the school in Bali where we installed some computers. Not good news. It seems that of the 14 machines we installed only 3 are being used and only for games. Minor problems stymie the staff as they have no experience with computers and cannot read English to get help from the 'Help' function of the operating system.

We have offered to return to Bali and get them operating again, but it seems as though they want/need to have a tech. visit once a month to keep them running. We are being looked at to finance a technical person to travel the three hours to the school. It would be almost a full day's work. We can, I suppose, afford it, but I am loathe to commit us to such an arrangement for how long we don't know.

Hindsight is good. We should have realised that it was not a sensible project at the start.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The 'Justice' system

Here in Western Australia we have a parliament and a justice system based on the British model. Should be pretty good! It is pretty good too....that is: pretty good for the criminals. There a few chaps here who seem to be able to shoot people, sell drugs, bash people and somehow not even be charged, let alone convicted. These blokes are all mates and are Perth's own mafia. Troy Mercanti shot an asian gang member in a night club with an unlicenced pistol and several of his mates helped get rid of the gun (on camera). A couple of our local footy heroes were involved in a minor way. Troy boy was slashed by the asian gang member before shooting the slasher. No one was charged.

Troy has just given himself up to the police over an unprovoked nightclub bashing. He is also facing court over a previous nightclub bashing. I have taught a few kids named Troy and somehow none of them were very nice.

I bet if I were caught taking a leak in an alley, I wouldn't be let off.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Unfit Kev

We drove up to City Beach to collect a couple of donated computers today. As I mentioned recently, computer models change so quickly and the current prices are getting lower and lower. It is in one way sad that great machines of five years of age are deemed to be obsolete and are upgraded. Been guilty of doing that myself quite a few times. They work perfectly and would be ideal for a retiree writing his/her memoirs. These two are most likely going to Bali when we next travel there.

I offered to help a friend with some minor repairs on his boat and today rode my new bicycle to his house which is about 1.5 kilometres from our place. The route has a minor hilly gradient and I arrived out of breath. After the little job, the ride back let me know that I am seriously unfit. I will have to think about some sort of exercise regime...maybe join a health club. Yeah!

We had some good news from the Indonesian lady who is helping with our enquiries about the computer installation at Catur School in Bali. She has been able to get the home and mobile phone numbers of the Principal and will ring him in the next few days to ascertain the real situation before we travel up there.

Sunday, May 20, 2007


I have just finished reading a book I purchased on eBay. 'Kiki: Ten Thousand Years In A Lifetime’

Albert Maori Kiki (1931–93) was of the Elema people in the Gulf of Papua. I first heard of him from a staff member at the primary school I was in charge of in Arehava village. I was ‘warned’ to be careful because Maori Kiki was the cousin of one of my staff. That teacher was very difficult to work with and I knew that much of his translation of my talks at village meetings was coloured with Kiki’s problems with Australian administration officers.

Reading his book, I can see that he was a very talented man who suffered a great deal of discrimination at the hands of Europeans (whites). I have always thought that we (Australians) did a wonderful job of bringing Papua New Guinea to Independence in 1975, but as I progressed through the book I remembered many similar incidents with government officers and private enterprise people dealing with natives.

At least Independence came without any rebels in the hills.

The other book I have just finished is ‘There Where The Pepper Grows’ by Bem Le Hunte.
This fictional tale is based on fact and tells the story of one Jewish family who escaped Poland and finished up living in Calcutta, India for the duration of WW2.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Computers will rule the world

I had occasion to attach a PC keyboard to one of our Macs a couple of days ago. The Mac immediately informed me that it didn't recognise the keyboard and gave me some instructions with which I could help it understand what was plugged into the USB port.

It told me to press the inboard key of the left hand shift key and then press the inboard key of the right hand shift key. It then told me that I had attached a PC keyboard and that it had configured it for use with this Mac. Smart!

Many years ago I saw the first glimmers of artificial intelligence when a spell check remembered and 'learnt' a new word. Google tells you what it thinks you meant to type in the search box when you do a typo and the Altzheimers aid; the autofill feature on forms is very smart. I am constantly amazed at these machines. What will they be like in 20 years time?

Friday, May 18, 2007


Bought a new bicycle yesterday and assembled it in about an hour. It is made in China but branded Repco. Aluminium sprung frame with twist-grip gear change and wait for it...disk brakes! It is a very nice piece of equipment for the measly sum of $189.

A friend loaned me his exercise bike so that my lucky legs (lucky they don’t break off) would get a bit of exercise. It never happened! So I will return the exercise bike to its place, the storage shed at my friend’s place and attempt to use my new treadly to get a bit of condition in the leg muscles before we do any walking in our upcoming visit to the U.S.

I have been gradually cleaning out my workshop and getting rid of lots of tired computers I have accumulated since we started the overseas assistance projects. Cables that used to cost a fortune are now worth nothing. Same, of course, goes for computers. Something that cost $2000 four years ago is now a give-away. Just today I was donated an iMac for one of our projects. It is still a great machine, but worth about $50 these days; that is if you can find someone who wants to buy it.

I searched around for a recycling yard to take all the computers and found one. Trouble is they will only take the CPU and not the monitor. The boss at the yard informed me that they are shipped off to China where people on very low wages strip them for the metal inside and even the gold connectors in circuits. So, the monitors went to the landfill site. I was a bit embarassed throwing them out of my trailer into landfill, but there is not much else to do with them.

Flotsam and jetson of computer collecting.

How do cables and hoses get into knots all by themselves?

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Feeling better . .

When I went this morning to have the thumb wound looked at by the surgeon I asked why I had been so ill yesterday when I had felt fine on Tuesday afternoon and evening after the op.

Apparently, ill effects from the sedative should have happened Tuesday. What had I done on Wednesday morning? Taken Panadeine Forte when I got up. Twenty minutes later I was a mess.

So now I have another painkiller to be careful of. I already knew that I cannot take morphine orally. Now it seems that I also react to codeine, though it may be OK taken after a meal. I don't think I will experiment for a while.

The thumb is fine. I cannot bend it but I can rotate it freely. It hasn't been at all painful, except if bumped. I am quite skilled at not using it; in fact I think I am just recalling manipulation techniques I acquired back in 1993 when my hands were badly burned.

There is only a small dressing on it now. Very little to show for an operation that cost over $1000 with only $400 refundable through Medicare and HBF. The hospital and anaesthetist costs were fully covered though.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

TV Quiz show

am a bit of a fan of the Channel 9 programme: Temptation. Good hosts, interesting questions and contestants. There are two ‘models’, a male and a female who are not too shabby either. The male model gets lots of other work and is found in many of the junk mail brochures that stuff our letter box every day. He looks very much like the football star Ben Cousins. The female model looks like every good looking young lady.

At the end of each episode of Temptation the winner and the hosts do a bit of handshaking and animated talking and the models move down from their last post on the set to also congratulate the winner. I notice that if the winner is a physically attractive person, both models will give them either a warm handshake and a peck on the cheek; however, if the night’s winner is not of the beautiful bod set, they tend to get at best a handshake. I don’t think I would rate too well there, either in the quiz or the congrats department.

Joan felt ill this morning after her small operation yesterday. She went back to bed for five hours and thought that she was over it, but once again she felt nauseous and chucked up. The neurolept anaesthetic: conscious sedation, was probably the villain here. Let's hope it settles down.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Bits and pieces

I dispatched a translated email message to a teacher in Bali this morning. I had my message translated by an Indonesian lady who works at Castlereagh School in Willetton. I wrote (in English) a simple greeting and then got down to business asking 5 questions regarding the computers we had dispatched to the school in the mountains.

The Indonesian lady, Pingkan, rang me at home and suggested that the letter I had drafted was not the way it was done in Indonesian. She sought my permission to add some polite niceties and chit chat before getting down to business. I, of course, agreed and her version was a lesson in cultural discourse.

Joan had a day procedure at a large private hospital today to remove a cyst growing near her thumb nail. It was a local anaesthetic procedure and she was out after half an hour of chop and rip. After the Medicare and Hospital Benefit fund rebate we have to come up with $600.
Australia has a great medicare system and wonderful hospitals, but I wonder how long public patients would wait on the free list for this little non life-threatening operation.

As we get closer to the trip to the US in July, I must get my International Drivers Licence from the RAC. I will also get information on the procedure to follow if we have a traffic accident.

Monday, May 14, 2007

The Monster Chorus

Kevin remarked a while ago that he might be creating a monster by feeding our visiting maggies. I think he has.

I was home alone this afternoon when they came to call. Just a few notes to let us know they were there. I ignored them. Then the phone rang and after I answered that, I went to look at our other call. Six maggies, five of them sitting on the outdoor setting chairs, and all of them staring hard at the kitchen window. They could obviously see me moving inside. I went and did something else and the calls increased in volume.

I think they gave me perhaps half an hour of warbling. It isn't hard to listen to, but it was VERY loud. Eventually they gave up.

It is a pity that they also leave their calling cards on the chairs.

Sunday, May 13, 2007


There is a nice fish shop in the suburb of O’Connor and it is always a pleasure to be served by a little Italian lady. Yesterday I bought some Kingfish.

It cooked up nicely and we had another piece left over to make a ceviche dish. We usually use mackerel for ceviche, but because the Kingfish was only $15 a kilo, thought it would be worthwhile to try Kingfish. The fish needs to be sliced thinly so that the lemon juice can ‘cook’ the fish and that is when I found the parasitic worms. They are not dangerous to humans.....but I wouldn’t eat a peach if it contained fruit-fly larvae.

I took the piece of fish back to the shop this morning and told them about it, showing the worms. Although I genuinely did not want cash back or more fish I was given a couple of pieces of snapper. Yum.

We used to buy fish caught in Lake Argyle; Silver Cobbler, a type of catfish. It was very nice but we also found the same worms in some of that flesh. Haven’t seen them in fish markets for years although Lake Argyle is teeming with them. Maybe the worms put people off.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Early Morning Alarms and Excursions

Martin rang at 7.20 this morning. He was late for work and had run out of petrol just round the corner from our place. Kevin got a can and went to his aid.

Couldn't find him, so came back and tried to ring his mobile. Mobile engaged. So Kevin decided to try again. Martin rang - where was he? Kevin found him, not in the place he had said, at this moment. Phew!

But then I heard our car come back. No funnel, so that was the next excursion. Everyone highly stressed by this time. Finally got Martin on his way, we had breakfast, and I took off for the workshop I was teaching. The car was well warmed up.

Dave next door came over this evening to return some cables he had borrowed. They had been a bit concerned about all the to- and fro-ing, wondering if there had been a serious incident. I wonder how many others in the cul de sac noted the coming and goings.

Friday, May 11, 2007

A very busy day

Late yesterday I received a parcel from my sister who lives in Esperance on the south coast. It contained photos from her family album that she wanted scanned, cleaned up and burnt to a CD to send to the US in preparation for her son's wedding there in July. That out of the way, I posted the CD off to her and then returned home and completed the small jobs on the Castlereagh computers I had brought home. I then set up a couple of them for the school computer gal, Sin Bee.

Sin Bee had been thinking about the problems I was having getting information from Bali about the computers we consigned to Catur School and when I arrived at Castlereagh School, she introduced me to a very nice Indonesian lady teaching at the school, named Pingkan. Pingkan has suggested that I find out the Head Teacher's mobile number and she will talk to him direct to determine whether Joan and I should go to Bali to finally get the computers working. Now all I have to do is get some help from The Fawcett Foundation in getting the Head Teacher's mobile number.

We have our cars serviced by a local mechanic and he and I have had long conversations about his disabled daughter. The daughter is eight and cannot talk. She has been withdrawn from school because of difficulties with other children. I went directly from Castlereagh to the mechanic's workshop to talk him into visiting Castlereagh and looking at the excellent work being done there with children like his. He is keen, but his wife, who is doing a teaching degree in special needs education does not want to admit that their daughter needs this sort of care and education. I think I have convinced him, but he is sure his wife will persevere with home schooling. The Castlereagh administration is keen to admit their daughter. It will be a pity if this opportunity is not taken up.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Castlereagh School

Today I drove out to Castlereagh School to collect some computers which needed a bit of a tickle up to get them back on the job. Castlereagh is a government school for physically and mentally disabled kids; some severely. The school is very well appointed with a dedicated staff.

One would think that it could be a minding centre for harried parents and no doubt it does sometimes fulfill that function, but I never cease to be amazed at the full-on efforts of administration and staff to provide an appropriate education to their students. That education is tailored to the ability of groups of kids. Some of the more able students will end a year being able to do simple PowerPoint presentations and use an email client, whilst the achievement of others may be gauged by the ability to feed themselves.

To visit Castlereagh can, at first, be daunting and even depressing. There are loud screams and flailing body movements, but in all this there is a very positive atmosphere. I don't think I could work there.

Sin Bee is my main contact there as she is the lady who oversees all the computer activities as well as having a full teaching load. She is a well liked and skilled staff member.

Fawcett Foundation; Grrrr

I mentioned the difficulty we were having getting information from the John Fawcett Foundation in Bali about the computer installation at Catur School.

Through the auspices of the Foundation, two consignments of computers were included in shipping containers to Bali. The Foundation held a meeting in Perth a couple of weeks ago and I gatecrashed it to get first-hand information of what has happened to the second consignment. I left a note with my questions and yesterday received an email reply. It seems that John Fawcett considers the installation to be my project and can offer very little assistance either with information or time. The Foundation in Bali has the Head Teacher's mobile phone details and the ability to talk to him in Bahasa Indonesia, but that seems too difficult.

The Foundation did, however, see fit to publicise the first installation on their web page as 'computers installed by volunteers' under the heading of Education Assistance. Bah!

Now, information about me. My GP has put me on to a new arthritis tablet named Prexige. It has given me much relief.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Eucalyptus Lehmanii

Kevin contacted the Agriculture Department regarding this scrubby bush that has been intriguing us for months and got an an official identification. It is apparently quite common, but we have not found any other specimens during our walks.

Today we spent quite a bit of time examining and photographing the stages of its flowering cycle. We were lucky - the whole cycle was present.

Formation of flower buds.

Ripe buds.

Partial flower.

Full flower.

Flower's end.


We probably should also have taken a photo of the dried up seedpods that were still on the bush, but we didn't.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Weekend footy

My team had a good result in this weekend's round of AFL footy. As mentioned before, I am a parochial Western Australia and as long as one of our two teams wins I am happy. This weekend it was the Eagles. The Fremantle Dockers lost by a heap of points. The Freo Dockers has been lumbered by this stupid name Dockers. It is supposed to show that they are from the harbour port. In fact the wharf labourers have never been called dockers. They were and still are, called wharfies; although there aren't too many left thanks to containerisation of cargo. I guess this is just like a host of other Americanisms creeping into our language. Cookies indeed!

I have been to only one real footy game in my life and that was in around 1950 when I was taken by my grandfather who was down in Fremantle from the farm. It was a memorable day, mainly because he treated me to fish and chips at half time. For a long time I looked at football on TV and thought that it looked like a helicopter had dropped hundreds of dollar coins on to the playing field and players were fighting and groping after them. I am warming to the game in my twilight years, but still don't know the rules well or even the names of most of the other teams in the national league. That said, I do think it has a lot more going for it than soccer and gridiron.

Many of the followers attending matches seem more concerned about getting their mugs in front of a TV camera than the game.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

PC = Problem Computer

I have a computer sewing machine which uses software that only runs on Windows. Therefore I also have a laptop running WindowsXP and my embroidery software. This laptop is not connected to the internet - I can usually download any embroidery designs I want on the Mac and transfer it via thumb drive to the PC. If I can't, I don't want it.

I decided to upgrade the embroidery software, so I needed an internet connection to register it. I have had the laptop since 2004 and have connected it to the internet perhaps 3 times. I have never had a problem before, but today there was one problem after another. As I was loading the new software upgrade I kept getting popup messages that told me with increasing urgency that there were major errors in my system and that I needed to download a repair program. I ignored the messages till I had loaded and registered my software, then downloaded the repair program. It was a very businesslike site - no misspelled words, so I thought it was fine. The instructions said Install, Run, Restart. I installed and tried to run it. Nothing. I tried to uninstall - couldn't. I tried to update my sewing machine, couldn't. I tried to run a CD, couldn't quit it. AAARGH!! Even a close down didn't solve it.

Kevin was sick of my grumbles so he rang Rob. Rob likes Macs better than PCs, but he knows Microsoft backwards and is our first port of call with computer problems. He listened to my description of the strange happenings and decided he needed to look at it.

It took 4 hours, 3 downloads of various antivirus programs and a lot of waiting for the programs to search and destroy before the problem was fixed. I couldn't believe what these antivirus programs showed. Four times connected to the internet, each time only to upgrade a software program, but there were 4 worms (each contained within the automatic Windows updates) and 233 pieces of malware.

If I didn't need to connect occasionally I would never do it. Rob has made me promise that whenever I do I will update and run the antivirus checks. And NEVER download a repair program again!

I still can't update the sewing machine itself. I just wish I could do it on the Mac.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Turtle Tortoise

This morning we walked around North Lake and just off the track found the shell of a long neck tortoise. The crows had done a pretty good job of removing most of the flesh and what was left was just right for our daughter Helen's primary school class. When we got home I washed it thoroughly and had a closer inspection of it....amazing stuff.

The top part of the shell, the carapace, is joined to the bottom part, the plastron. The spine is fused to the inside of the carapace and there are what look like ribs radiating out from the spine. At the rear there is a pelvis on which ball joints for the rear legs are visible. At the front is another very human touch with twin scapula. I'm with Mr Darwin!

The second photo shows the spine fused to the carapace and the pelvic girdle.

Gathering some information for Helen I found out that turtles and tortoises are very similar; turtles mainly living in the sea or fresh waters. The tortoise lives a fair bit of its life on land.
They, both of the order testudines, are the only reptiles with shells.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

More Maggies

Kevin was woken up this morning by a magpie chorus. Me - I slept through it. He fed them and they went off to scrounge from someone else.

Later in the morning I was sitting at the kitchen table when there was a tap on the window. A maggie of course, sitting on the lintel. I called Kevin, but by the time he had prepared some food the maggie was gone, and he/she hadn't brought the family.

We have both been out most of the afternoon, so we don't know if they fronted up for another feed. I do hope we haven't created a monster.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

creating a monster

A couple of weeks ago I started feeding a single Magpie some scraps. Now we have about ten 'friends' who visit about three times a day. The have become so bold that they fly into our BBQ area onto the chairs and glass topped table . If I don't jump up immediately and start cutting up some food they start up a very loud chortling chorus. If they see me through the kitchen window they wait patiently until I bring out their tucker. At first only the adult birds ate from my hand but now even the grey, young birds are getting tamer and will soon eat from my hand also.

Friends have a couple of dogs and when they want to go away a kennel has to be found and paid for. I am sure these blokes have a circuit and fly off to the next meal after they are fed here. Won't have to worry about them when we go overseas.

The entertaining part about the maggies' visit is that they swoop in and try to land on a glass-top outdoor table.

Best type of pets!

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Confessions of a mechanical incompetent

I am free motion quilting a piece for the QuiltWest exhibition at the end of May. I have been using the older of my two machines because I've had it longer and know most of its tricks and quirks.

I broke the darning foot this morning when it got caught up with a safety pin I was trying to open and remove. Damn and blast! I now remember that I broke another darning foot before, doing the same thing. Not wanting to take a trip to Willetton to replace it, I found a stippling foot. Does the same job, but has a different method of attachment.

Couldn't remember how to attach it, so I had to look it up. My frustration mounted steadily.

I had to remove the ankle (technical term for the bit you usually just clip various feet on to) in order to screw on the stippling foot. I tried, but I couldn't get the foot into the right position for the screw. Back to the reference material.

It said I also had to replace the screw that holds in the needle with another one. OK, found the new screw, replaced the needle, still couldn't attach the foot. Grrr!!

Then I looked at the illustration and my machine. I found that there was another screw at the back of the needle bar that I needed to remove.

Righty tighty, lefty loosey - I need these aids to memory. But the screw was facing away from me, so it took several attempts to actually remove it. Then the new foot fitted perfectly and I was able to sew again. The whole thing took at least 45 minutes.

Kevin says this is a very boring post. I say it helps mental health to vent, not to mention financial health, since I was ready to throw the machine out the window.