Friday, June 29, 2007

We are off!

Our flight to Bali departs Perth International at tomorrow morning. That means we have to be out of here just after 5am to pick up brother Graham who will look after our car and collect us in seven days. We will take plenty of photos of the school situation to show all the people who have helped us with equipment to set up in the school

A mate just informed me that today Garuda International (the airline we are flying with) has been banned from landing anywhere in the EU because they have deemed it to be an unsafe airline. Say what?!

Apparently Garuda didn't reply to demands from the EU to view their maintenance records etc.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

More Lee stories

My grandparents' farm was at Toolibin near Wickepin and Albert Facey had a small property nearby. I recall my uncle and mother saying that Albert Facey somewhat embellished his life story when he wrote his most successful biography 'A Fortunate Life'. Facey's cottage has been moved to the centre of Wickepin town.

My uncle, on his death bed, told me of Facey starting the district's first private tennis club. Tennis was very big in small country towns and sidings. Anyway, Facey's tennis club was at his block and there were several rules in place facing members-to-be. One was that prospective members had to use a specific type of tennis racquet and they had to be nominated by a current member.

My uncle Graham (Lee) explained that the rules were designed to keep the entire Lee family out.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Alan Lee

Alan Lee is a distant rellie ... not really sure what we are in relation to each other. He is retired like me and has been heavily involved in researching the Lee family tree for quite a few years. My mother was a Lee. Alan visited today bringing me up to date on his Lee family research.

Alan has collected lots of photos and information about the Lee family who emigrated from Toxteth Park in Liverpool in 1861 on the SS Great Britain. They settled in Victoria and later moved to W.A. and it is believed that the men rode horses from Victoria to W.A. seeking employment en route. The Lees eventually took up farming land east of Narrogin in the wheatbelt. Most of the brothers were successful farmers and it is sad that none of the farms exist in Lee hands today. I had many happy holiday times on my grandparents' farm at Toolibin, 30 miles east of Narrogin.

A few of the Lees were drinkers and brawlers. I'm OK on the drinking thing, but not much of a brawler. I guess I inherited the Lock family traits of humour and tolerance. Or maybe it's just because I am a bit puny.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Talking about the weather

The forecast this week was for lovely rain almost every day.

Sunday and Monday were obligingly soggy, but today has been disappointing. Fabulous winter's day, blue skies, not all that much wind, no rain. I want it to rain - LOTS, and so do the the farmers in the wheatbelt. It is winter though, and the temperature plummets when the sun goes down.

I don't like the cold - I could never live in Canada or the northern part of the US. Today's weather was lovely - just right for a walk (we didn't go, I went to water aerobics instead) and for sitting in the sun. If we didn't need the rain so badly I would say it was a "perfect winter's day" - I hear the Mamas and the Papas singing ..... we will be in LA in just over a fortnight.

In the interim there is Bali. I hope it doesn't rain while we are there but pours here. I won't miss the cold though.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Bali all go

Kevin finished packing the computer stuff for Bali today. We will be well within the luggage allowance, thanks to the extra amount that Garuda has given us. I admit at one stage thinking that all we would be able to take in personal luggage would be one change of clothing! Buy it there you say . . . . could work for Kevin, but not for me. Fortunately, this is not necessary.

We are also much more organised this time than the last time we went. We have a wonderful Indonesian lady here in Perth who will ring Bali to tell the head teacher we are coming. We have an English speaking driver prepared to do translations. I think it will work well.

We are also more prepared for the facilities or lack thereof at the school. Our day pack will contain a roll of toilet paper, insect repellent and some Wet Ones as well as water and food.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Lies, damn lies and statistics

W.A.. we're tops! The local Sunday paper, The Sundry Slimes is always good for some trashy reading. Today we are informed that Western Australians are pushing up the divorce rate (+21% in 2005) whilst nationally it was down by 0.7%.

Apparently we also incarcerate more aboriginals than any other state; our young females are binge drinking at a greater rate than the rest of Aus....48% drink weekly Vs 35% in other states and we probably are fatter than other states and use less toilet paper. Not sure about the last two, but I guess someone doing a PhD will present a dissertation showing just that

I think the Northern Territory has the largest beer consumption in Australia. Something to do with going troppo I guess.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

American money

I went to Garden City today to buy some US dollars for the Indonesian visa we will have to buy when we land in Bali next Saturday. You have to have the exact amount- $25 per person. They will not accept a $50 note to cover two, crazy as that seems. I bought another $50 as well, just to have a bit of cash when we arrive in LA.

I was surprised to see that US dollars are now different colours. Not as bright as Australian dollars, but certainly easier now to distinguish between $50 and $5. We had a few problems last time we were in the US, especially in low light situations.

One time we were getting on a bus in San Francisco and needed to pay $2. Kevin tried to feed $20 into the machine which wouldn't take it. We felt really embarrassed, blocking the entry of other passengers. The driver came to the rescue. He asked how old Kevin was, and when told he was 60 said " well then, just you get down the back of the bus". So we both travelled free. I can't see it happening here in Perth.

Friday, June 22, 2007

The Dinner Party

We obviously need to have more of these to get the protocol correct.

I served the first two courses as planned, then decided to leave a little time before dessert and coffee.

We chatted happily, drank quite a lot of wine and then Teena and Roy went home. No dessert, no coffee. I forgot all about it.

Oh dear - I hope they will forgive us.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Dinner guests

We are having people around for dinner tonight. We used to be into dinner parties years ago, but somehow that changed and this will be the first time we have had people, other than rellies, to dinner for probably ten years. We do have people for impromptu meals, but not the table-cloth planned meal.

Our guests are Teena and Roy. They both run separate business in the same market complex. Teena runs a craft shop, a cafe and sewing machine centre. Roy runs a brewing shop selling brew kits, ingredients and equipment. Each year Mr Costello (the treasurer of Aus) lets them take a trip to the U.S. to investigate craft fairs and shops as well as micro breweries. Not bad!

Fish pie is on the menu, preceded by home-made tomato soup.

This morning brother Graham dropped by and took me along on his daily run delivering stock from his employer to businesses all over the metro area. Some of the items were not worth the fuel costs, but the customer demands immediate delivery these days. Just as well Mr Costello covers the cost of the vehicle and fuel as a tax deduction.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Troublesome Troy

I mentioned some time back that bikie member Troy Mercanti has managed to get away without going to prison a few times.

He doesn't look like what you would think a bikie should look like. He has short hair and doesn't sport the traditional bikies' beard and distinctive clothing.

I also mentioned the blue at the Coolbellup hotel where a fellow was bashed badly. Turns out that TroyBoy was caught on surveillance camera giving the guy a real pasting. Troy's mate assisted with a bar stool.

The police are looking for Mr Mercanti. I am not a gambling man, but I bet Mr Mercanti can once again get off this charge. Methinks the witnesses will be talked to.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Safety and Justice

Today's 'West Australian' newspaper reports on the trial of Marco Sorani who is an associate of the Scorpion Boys gang. The result...he walked free.

All he did was get upset at a man and his son pulling in front of his car causing him to brake heavily. In fact it upset him so much that he motioned for the other driver to pull over. That driver got out of his car and apologised to Sorani and was immediately stabbed under his armpit. His son jumped out to help his father and he was stabbed below his shoulder. Father and son were treated in hospital.

The knife used was a small one of about 4cm long attached to his wife's key ring. It would seem that he intended to use it, seeing it was on her key ring.

Sorani has been in the news before. This time he was given a 30 month suspended sentence and an 80 hours community work order.

The road rage should have been enough for the community work. The stabbing should have seen him in prison. Good thing he didn't have the obligatory stiletto in the car.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Bali Preparations

We have spent most of the day doing stuff for the Bali trip.

Kevin spent hours filling old cartridges for the Stylewriter printers that went to Bali either in the first or second shipment. Then we went looking for other necessary items.

The most important was a strong cardboard box for packing one of the computers we are taking. We tried several of the electrical goods retailers. While willing to help, most had had their packing materials collected for recycling within the last 48 hours. We succeeded at last at Retravision in O'Connor.

Then we went looking for refill inks for the newer printers we have been given to take there. While some take the same ink as the Canon (Stylewriter) printers, others are more specific in their ink requirements. We are quite knowledgeable now about where to look for the stuff we need.

When we got home Kevin found even more information on the internet about refilling cartridges that he had thought he couldn't refill because of technological advances, so one of our own printers will go as well.

We will replace it with a printer/scanner/photocopier that costs $69 with a $20 cashback voucher. New ink cartridges for it cost more than that, but armed with the latest information from the net, Kevin is confident that he can refill them.

The school in Bali may have more printers than computers at the rate we are going!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Oh boy, I'm Zonked

I have spent a couple of h0urs at my brother's place and I am a bit pissed!

We tried to consume a couple of whites and were quite successful. One was a French white and at $8.00 it was a good start to the day. Can't remember what it was all about but I am sitting at the computer waffling on.

Dinner is a stew. I would like to say that it is 'beaut', and it probably is going to be pretty bloody good.

Ouch! I just fell asleep and head touched the keyboard.... so goodbye!

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Bikies' Bash

There was a bit of a Friday night biffo at a nearby hotel leaving one bloke near death. The local chapter of a bikie gang had a few members at the pub...probably supervising their business assetts, the skimpies. I'll leave it you to guess what the skimpies do in a very rough pub.

A friend, Haddon, lives opposite the pub and has in the past made complaints about the noise and fights that regularly occur on a Friday night. Some time back he was interviewed by several TV stations when a fellow was killed by a heavy blow and a fall onto the road. This time Channel 7 made a bee-line to his place to do a repeat, hoping that he would be able to describe the whole thing. Seven was probably a bit disappointed when he told them he didn't really hear or see anything. Never-the-less they showed him saying just that.

I want to get on TV too. Got to work on an angle there.

I went to Office Works today to check out their cheap printers for our trip to Bali. I bought a Canon multi-function printer/scanner/copier for $49. At that price I figure I will go and buy a couple more as they are cheaper than the replacement ink cartridges. What is that doing for the greenhouse gasses?

Friday, June 15, 2007

'Never get old'

'Never get old'. My uncle would tell me that every time I went to visit. He lived to be 86 years of age without too many ailments. Mind you he didn't drink or smoke. He might have been a nicer person if he had.

You might think that I would be worried that he can read what I am now writing about him. Not so. I don't believe in that stuff...he would also be able to see me do all sorts of things that shouldn't be seen by departed souls. Can they all see what I do? Ablutions etc etc???

Anyway, back to oldies. We went to friends' house today ostensibly to celebrate Joy's 68th birthday. Dear me, what a lot of old crocks we are. We eight friends share just about every affliction available. Won't name them, but we've got 'em. Bring on stem cell research.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Keys and the Locks

We went our separate ways today.

I attended the monthly meeting of the Machine Embroiderers' Group at the Embroidery Guild, then went to Warnbro to meet up with an internet friend (female and a quilter - just in case you are visualising other scenarios!)

Kevin firstly finished a "little" job for friends which involved building a wooden box to cover a pump and then installing the electricals. After that he took a pile of old keys to other friends in South Fremantle in the hope that one of them would fit a gate. None did, though one or two came close.

We have been collecting keys for about 30 years - sometimes seriously, but mostly as an occasional thing. It started when we moved into the Bicton house in 1975 and found a jar of old keys that didn't fit any of the locks. They were too nice to throw out. On our first big trip to England and the States we collected quite a few keys in second hand shops in various places. We had a board hanging on a wall with most of them displayed. When we moved I threw out out the board because the velvet it was covering it was so tatty, but we kept the keys.

They are in a bowl at the moment. I must think about displaying them again.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Fremantle Synagogue

Not too many people who work in Fremantle or visit Fremantle would know about the Fremantle Synagogue.
It was built in 1902 to serve the Jewish residents of Fremantle (about 60 in all). Later, as Perth developed, many of them shifted to Perth where another synagogue was built and by 1910 the Fremantle Synagogue no longer held services.

The synagogue was sold and has had many uses as retail outlets...most failing. In 1976 the Perth Hebrew congregation sought permission to remove the prominent Star of David to incorporate it in the Menora Synagogue as a tribute to early Jewish pioneers in Fremantle. The Fremantle council offered to supply the congregation with a replica of the star, leaving the original in Fremantle.

Of late, the side of the Synagogue has been used a billboard of sorts for large notices taking a swipe at Freo Mayor Peter Tagliaferri.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Bitten by the travel bug

I am not really a traveller. I know that aircraft are at least as safe as cars, but I am a little worried when I think of the passengers and all their luggage in a machine that weighs many tons which flies without even flapping its wings.

That being said, we have at last got our booking sorted out for the Bali trip. We are travelling Business Class and hope that is like we have seen many times before when we have struggled past Business Class to our Cattle-Class seats. Last year we upgraded to business on a flight to Canberra. The aircraft was a Boeing 737 and Business seats were the same as economy with just a bit more room around them. Not even a curtain separating us from the peasants. The only real difference we noticed was when we landed and were preparing to disembark. A hostess stood in the aisle holding back the mob until we Business Class passengers were all on our way.

But wait there's more. Barely a week after we return from Bali we are off to the U.S. for a wedding. And in September Joan is off to NZ for a conference and a tour and I will be visiting Queensland for a week then on to NZ to join the tour.

In Queensland I hope to catch up with teaching colleagues from PNG; many not seen in 46 years.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

A bit late

We went to a swapmeet this morning at Kardinya Shopping centre. Kardinya is the site of the first K Mart in Western Australia(?). I remember people travelling from all over to shop at this new store. Earlier, supermarkets sounded the death knell for corner shops and this K Mart looked like doing the same for department stores. Not so!

There are a few friendly corner-type stores around, one being the Fremantle General Store. The old corner store didn't have to bother with use-by dates. We checked to see if a can of something was still OK by looking at the ends to see if they were blown. Sugar came to the store in a hessian bag and was scaled out using a sugar scoop. Very little packaged food then!
When I was a lad, the bread was delivered by horse and cart and milk was delivered into a billy can left on the front verandah. The milk was randomly checked by some government person with a hydrometer to see if the milkman was watering our milk down. Another great scam stymied by the introduction of bottles.

Tom The Cheap, Tom Wardle, later to become Sir Thomas Wardle, started the first supermarkets in W.A. and no doubt he pinched the idea from the U.S. They were very successful with the first personal shopping experience for Western Australians where they actually selected their own purchases before paying at a checkout. Previously shoppers had to tell the storekeeper what they wanted and the item(s) were put on the counter and added up before money exchanged hands. No plastic shopping bags then.

Anyway we bought a few things at the swapmeet. I bought two 1 litre bottles of 'torch fuel' for one dollar each from a stall that was obviously a fire sale from a hardware store. This torch fuel is actually kerosene which normally sells for about three times that amount. I will go back and get a few more...great for cleaning. Also picked up a couple of video tapes for 50c each.

Joan bought a couple of books including an old book titled Sketching and Rendering in Pencil.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Bali travel saga

Bali is a three hour flight from Perth and it is quite difficult to get two seats in business to get there. On one hand we hear that the Balinese are concerned that Australians are not returning to Bali after a couple of horrific terrorist bombings and on the other it is very difficult to get a seat on a plane. We did think that going business rather than cattle-class would get us on, but it seems that we were wrong. We are wait-listed for one of three days and still no joy. We have just told our travel agent (well, he is not just our travel agent) that we are prepared to travel in the following week and hope to get a result tomorrow. Hope!

I did a bit of a Steptoe and Son yesterday and today collecting donated printers etc for possible inclusion in the Bali project. Paul, a friend, gave me a Brother all-in-one scanner/printer/copier. Lovely machine! The only thing wrong with it is that it had run out of ink. It seems that the ink is dearer that the machine, so Paul bought a new printer. I will suss out the possibility of filling the tanks with bulk ink. I have one-litre bottles of the three ink colours supposedly specifically for Canon printers. Tomorrow I will seek information from my friendly cartridge re-filler to see if there really is a problem using my Canon ink in other printer brands. Bet there isn't.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Absent Friends

We got a Christmas card from Tom and Carolyn today. Not for Christmas 2007 - this was last year's card that was returned to sender, resent, and has now arrived.

We met Tom and Carolyn in Popondetta in 1974. They were fairly new doctors from Canada working in conditions that must have seemed extremely primitive to them. After 4 years in the Sepik in PNG, the Popondetta hospital was almost state of the art as far as we were concerned. We socialised and when we went finish (back to Australia) we kept in contact.

When we met we had two kids - they had none. By the time we visited them in New Brunswick in 1990 they had five, and a few years later added a sixth.

This is what we garnered from the card. Son #1 is a neurological registrar (aka brain surgeon) who married a lawyer last year. Son #2 is doing a PhD and has to spend a semester in Paris - poor soul. Son #3 is teaching in Oman and doing lots of travelling (hasn't ventured to Oz yet). Daughter #1 is also teaching (Calgary), daughter #2 is in first year at Uni in Nova Scotia and #3 is in Year 9 and very sporty. Wow! They certainly did the right thing as parents.

We would like to meet up with them again, but there is no chance on our July trip. We will be pushing it to meet up with Ann (Kevin's cousin) and her husband Doug who live in British Columbia. Definitely no possibility of getting to the Maritime Provinces.

Besides, Tom and Carolyn have never visited Western Australia. We will have to keep putting forward the idea that a BIG TRIP is a necessary part of their future.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

More travel stuff

Yesterday we went to a travel agent and booked our Bali trip. It looked pretty good. A$1353 each which includes flying business class return, airport transfers and one week's accomodation at a nice hotel. Today we heard that the plane is booked out and we are on a waiting list. Joan asked the man to try and get us on an earlier or later flight. We should know tomorrow.

We have also sussed out a safe and reliable driver who does an all-inclusive full day's tour for rp450,000 per day which is roughly A$62. He won't have to take us touring, but will have to sharpen up the English skills when we get him to translate the operating instructions for the computers.

I am selling parts from a car that I bought for my son as a spare parts bank. He has a company vehicle and has sold his own car. There have been a few calls usually about the parts that are already gone and if we don't sell most of it by the time we are to go to Bali I will get it taken away by a scrap dealer. The dealers pay for the shell with a Woolworths shopping voucher to the value of $50. That's not too bad as I paid $80 for the whole thing. It has many good parts and I hate to see good stuff go into a crusher.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Snails and the Ark

I get an email newspaper from It often contains interesting stuff that the local daily rag doesn’t cover. In today’s posting there is an article about Indian airline hostesses being stood down because they were overweight. They took the airline to court to protest unfair dismissal. Their claim was dismissed by judge Rekha Sharma and in his summing up said:

‘If the air hostesses are asked to battle their is not understood how it is in any way unfair, unreasonable and insulting.’
‘If by perseverance the snails could reach the ark, why can’t these worthy ladies stand on and turn the scale?’

We have decided to travel to Bali within a couple of weeks to sort out the problems with our computer installation at Primary School Negeri 1 Benatih. It is going to be quite a task as not one person at the school…teachers or students know any English.

It means a day trip from Sanur up to the school with a driver who is a reasonably good English speaker to help with translation and a second trip to the school as a follow up later in the week. We figure that we need time with some teachers and especially four or five intelligent students. I think we all know that kids can learn new technology much quicker that adults.

This trip will be in business class as it allows us 30kg luggage each and we will be able to take another computer, printer and digital camera. It costs about $300 extra each to upgrade to business. Spend the kids’ inheritance.

We will of course enjoy Bali and buy the obligatory Rolex watches and copy DVDs.
Australian customs don’t seem to bother with such things as long as they are not brought into Aus. in commercial quantities.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Thomas Graham Lee

A little more about the career of T.G. Lee.

Gray Lee moved through the ranks over his career. Whilst head of the Liquor and Gaming Squad he realised that the gaming houses in Perth were only being raided once a year in November and only about six people were charged each time. He decided to remedy this situation and changed his Sergeant and without warning arrested 30 ‘prominent’ people in a club. They all pleaded not guilty, so he summonsed them as witnesses against the proprietor and they collapsed and all changed to plead guilty.

He went on to be the Police Chief State Prosecutor retiring after 38 years in the force as a Superintendent and recognised with the awarding of the Queen’s Police Medal.

Snip from the Australian Roll of Honour

After he retired he enjoyed being ‘council for the defence’ for friends and family even avoiding a Multinova speed-camera conviction himself.

The railway carriage he lived in along with his notes are in the Kalgoorlie Museum.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Lake Davilak

This morning we walked around Lake Davilak in Manning Park. The lake is quite small and has been almost completely dry during the summer. Over the past few weeks we have some good rains and Lake Davilak is once again a Lake. Not so yet for Bibra and North Lake, also near our house.

Most people think the name Davilak is from a pioneering family in the area, but the truth of the matter is that it most probably originated from aborigines believing that devils lived in the lake after dark....'Devil Lake'. Another theory is that an itinerant named Davies camped there and the Davilak name came from Davies Lake. I'll settle for Devil Lake.

This afternoon we went north of the river (we south of the river folks do venture north sometimes) to visit our in-laws Dorothy and Mike. Mike has severe Parkinsons Disease dyskinesia and is awaiting a deep brain stimulation implant operation. He has not thrown in the towel and has many projects on the go; quite a few beyond his ability. He is soon to get an electronic pump to administer his medications automatically and at lower levels over the 24 hours. Hope it improves him before the big operation.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Thomas Graham Lee

Recently I contacted the W.A. Police museum to donate my late uncle’s uniform adornments: badges of rank and medals etc. Before he died he arranged them on a display board.

Graham Lee was born in January 1916 and grew up on the family farm at Toolibin, a wheat and sheep area. He went to school at the Toolibin School which was a one-teacher school on the farm. At age 13 he left school and educated himself by reading books and with the help of teachers boarding at the Lee farm.

Through the depression he trapped rabbits and collected ‘dead’ wool and later became a shearer owning his own plant.

Later he applied to join the police force and commenced training in July 1938. His first permanent posting was to Kalgoorlie which was a tough mining town. The day he arrived at Kalgoorlie, the lead story in the Kalgoorlie Miner newspaper was about Arthur Shackleton who had beaten Don Bradman’s score by being arrested 334 times for drunkenness. Each time he was arrested his horse and wagon was taken to the police station until Shackleton was released. At odd times the horse tired of waiting for his master outside the pub and made its own way to the police station to be fed.

Some of his co-workers called him ‘Nelly Lee’ as they considered him to be a bit of an old woman. He was a very straight cop and the fact that his superiors warned him to keep off the brothels and gambling dens didn’t deter him from booking a few. He was punished by being sent out on the ‘Wood Line’ to live in a railway carriage at the end of the woodcutters train line where wood was collected for the water distilleries in Kalgoorlie.

He retired as a Superintendent in 1976.

maybe more later on T G Lee

Friday, June 1, 2007

The Infallable Falled

Joan is very sharp at writing the English language and is always 'there' for me when I mis-spell a word. Early this morning I was re-reading a previous post which she had written in March and found a spelling mistake. Could it have been a typo?

Pretty embarrassing, especially as it is a word we are both very familiar with and scorn people who mis-spell and pronounce it incorrectly. Prostate/prostrate. I took some pleasure in telling her and even though people are not going to backtrack too much into our blog, she changed it to the correct spelling.

After my prostate operation I was prostrate in bed for a few days.

[Comment by Joan: I never claimed to be the Pope, so there!]