Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Halloween Trick or Treat

Halloween has never been an Australian tradition, but it seems to be becoming an adopted fashion. Groups of kids roam the streets of suburbs such as ours, knocking on doors requesting "trick or treat". A handful of lollies (sweets) is the accepted response.

Last year we were embarrassed when we had nothing to offer the kids who knocked on our door. While Kevin wanted to give them cough lollies, I think we scrounged together some small change for their treat, so they were probably quite happy.

This year we decided we would be prepared, but we both forgot to buy the lollies. I went out with a friend today and when we returned to her house we saw a group of kids setting out on their trick or treating. So, on the way home I called into a supermarket and bought three bags of lollies (last year we had three groups ring our doorbell). I mixed them up and put them in a bowl near the front door.

I needn't have bothered. It is nearly 10 o'clock and we have had only one visitor - a teenage girl who nearly had a heart attack when Kevin opened the door and said "BOO!!" to her. She did take some lollies though.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

more amateur tech stuff

I managed to get the laptop stripped down and when I tested the start button mentioned, found that that was not the problem after all. A bit about half the size of my little finger has been cooked. Luckily I am able to get a spare for, I think, free. The tec who is looking for the part has warned me to ensure that the screws (about two dozen of them) go back in the same places otherwise some screws may go in too far and cause a short and blow up the whole machine. I am pretty sure I know where most if not all the screws go. I do have a jar of left-over screws and bolts from other repair jobs.

It should be back working in a couple of days, but I won't fess up if I can't get it going. So there!

On Sunday we had a visit from Joan's sister and husband Mike. Mike's Parkinsons is still bad even though several attempts at regulating the medications have been made. He tried the electronic pump to no avail, so is back on hourly tablets. They have a possible/probable date at around three months for the big Deep Brain Stimulation operation.


amateur technician

A few days ago our daughter Helen got me to look at her laptop computer. The start button was playing up. I fiddled with it and thought I had fixed it but it was still dodgy and yesterday it failed and we couldn't start it at all. Following the first'fix' I went to a sale of Mac gear at Presbyterian Ladies College and bought a top case which included the start button. Last night I disassembled the laptop, carefully labelling every one of the dozens of
screws and when I went to replace the top case with the one I bought found that it was for a smaller iBook. Damn! I will go back to PLC today to see if they will exchange it for the correct one.

Although we are still coughing, today is the day we must attempt to get over it and start living normally. I am unsure if I am still infectious. Hate to give this lot to someone else. The woman we got this flu from in NZ is visiting us in a couple of weeks and she is still suffering. Maybe it is the 100 day flu as the NZ Air hostie said.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Looking for things to do . . .

We are both still under the weather and we have been wandering about the house at a loss for things to do that do not require much physical or intellectual effort.

This morning Kevin did an oil change on the Daewoo and I stitched out some embroidery designs. We spent a lot of time on the computer and I found a very interesting site which offers a donation of rice for correct definitions of English vocabulary. I spent quite a bit of time there.

In the afternoon we went down the hill to the vegetable market and stocked up on vegies. It is the season for broad beans and we bought a few. Kevin decided Sweet and Sour would be a good evening meal so we went to the butcher there and bought a piece of pork.

When we came home I cooked the broad beans and we had them as a snack with butter, salt and pepper. YUM! I hated broad beans as a kid, but I think this was because they were overcooked. Also, I firmly believe they must be eaten in season - frozen broad beans are horrible.

The sweet and sour pork was yummy. I used a recipe from an old Australian Women's Weekly Chinese cookbook. It needed some modification in respect of the amount of meat (2.5 kg of pork chops for 4-6 people?!?) and quantity of oil, but the result was great.

I may need to revisit some of my older cookbooks.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

takin' it easy

I have been taking it easy over the last couple of days. We still have our colds/flu and the GP has given us another round of anti-biotics. I did have time to help a friend set up his computer for Broadband connection to the internet. The ISP is AAPT and their package posted out included a modem and a CD to set up the connection. That was typical of the treatment meted out to Mac users: the CD was for Windows only and when I contacted AAPT they told me that if I just plugged the modem in it would automatically connect...BS!
After a bit of fiddling I rang again and talked another young man into talking me through a manual set-up. Five minutes later we were 'on'. All there was to do then was configure the mail programme and everything was 'running like a Buick'.

Our daughter Helen has been attending a two-day PD course at a local yacht club. This evening she rang to tell me that another teacher on the course was an ex-student of mine from Willetton SHS and fortunately he had only words of praise for Kev. Made my day!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

On the mend

Today we are both feeling better. Last night we slept in the same bed and didn't disturb each other with coughing...I slept through Joan's coughing and I didn't cough.

Today I ventured out to try and buy a fruit tree to replace the nectarine which died some weeks ago. I visited several nurseries and hardware places and couldn't find something we liked with a fruit bearing time span within my use-by date.
At one place I was reading the label of a mango tree with a nice colour photo of the mango fruit and bugger me there was a fruit-fly trying to lay eggs on the photo. An optimist!

Later this evening I went to have an ale (or two) with my brother. We haven't seen each other for a few weeks because of our NZ trip. Graham is experiencing dizziness and his/our GP says his neck is out. I would like five bucks for all the times I have heard that. Graham has all the hallmarks of inner ear infection. I have had that affliction several times as has Joan and our daughter. Damned annoying in bed; when you roll over you get the spins just like when as a young fella you imbibed too much alcohol. There are drugs to help, but the problem eventually goes away. Our GP is a nice enough bloke, but he is all too happy to talk about his yacht or politics than take my blood pressure. I should move to a new GP, especially one who bulk-bills, but John has all my medical history and I don't want to start again with another GP.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

unwell still

We both visited our GP on Friday. Joan's hearing problem was partially cured but I have to talk loudly for her to hear me. I can still mumble and swear without her knowing.

The Doc gave us different antibiotics and wants us to report back as to which one was more efficacious. If we were part of a medical trial I reckon it should have been free.
When I went to the pharmacist to fill the scripts I was informed that we had reached the threshold of the Medicare safety net and all the scripts were free. Up until then, as seniors, the scripts cost us something like $4.90 each. There are some benefits to getting old! I must try and get sick again before the year ends to get full benefit.

A few months ago I had the free flu shot. I have had them every year and not had a dose of the flu, so I have been trumpeting the use of the vaccine. I know there are a few breeds of this bug, but it certainly didn't help me this time.

We have been house-bound and not wishing to pass this bug on to any of our friends. Been trying to think of someone who deserves the flu...I could spread a little sunshine.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Home, sweet home

We arrived back in Perth at around 5.45pm yesterday Our daughter Helen collected us and whisked us home. The flight in Business Class on Air NZ was good as was the executive lounge with lots of food and drinks. Pity we couldn't really enjoy the treatment as we were both very sick with the dreaded NZ lurgy. One of the hostesses (now termed cabin crew) told us that it was called the 'hundred day cough'. Thanks for that. Joan has been partially deaf since landing in Auckland from Christchurch. I have to yell at her to get a message across. Bodes ill for the future. I have seen couples get very offside with each other over partial deafness:the no need to yell at me syndrome.
We slept in separate bedrooms so we wouldn't wake each other with coughing. The last couple of nights in Auckland were bad. We got hardly any sleep. I have booked us in to the GP tomorrow. He can't do much with a virus, but we'll give it a go.

Today is washing day....the handkerchiefs separated and steeped in Pine O Clean.

My plans to sit in the sun have been thwarted by NZ style cloud.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

last day in NZ

Tomorrow we are flying out for an almost eight hour flight to Perth. Looking forward to getting home and sitting in the sun without a freezing gale blowing.

Today we took the Auckland Explorer @ $30 each. It does two routes and passengers can get off at stops of interest and reboard at specific times. We both had a horror night with coughing, headaches and runny noses, so didn't enjoy many of the sites. The Auckland Museum is an architect's dream and it houses, amongst other things, a vast collection of Pacific Island heritage items. Beautiful! We also visited MOTAT (the Museum of Transport and Technology) which was OK....6/10. Whilst we were there there were a couple of primary schools visiting. The museum is going to regret that visit. There was an exhibition on the evolution of computers and those knobs and switches got a good work out.

Auckland is the big smoke of NZ. 1.5 million people live here out of a total population of 4.28 million. That is not counting sheep. It may well be that our motel is in a different area, but there seem to be thousands of Chinese people here. Another thing we noticed as we walked out for a meal last night is that there is a lot of rubbish in the street and especially on escalators and stairs: cigarette butts everywhere. There are also large groups of Maori and Asian youth congregating even in the windy areas. They are doing the usual things young people do...leave rubbish, bottles and Macca wrappings around. The older I get the less democracy I wish to afford young people.

We walked out to try and buy a bottle of bubbly only to find that Auckland seems to have different laws/customs to the South Island and booze cannot be bought in grocery stores. We had to pay top dollar for wines or buy cheap Italian imports which we did.

Kev: on Joan's account

Monday, October 15, 2007


We are in Auckland after a midday flight from Christchurch. We caught a cab from the airport @ $68. We won't be cabbing it back to the airport.

Christchurch is a lovely city with many heritage buildings. Our train trip to the west coast was great. The Alps didn't disappoint...plenty of snow on mountains, deep ravines and about a dozen 8.5 kilometres long. The destination, Greymouth was certainly grey. We had an hour there before returning to Christchurch. It was an all-day trip and well worth the fare.

Yesterday we visited the cultural precinct which includes the old Christchurch University (now an impressive arts centre) and the museum. The Christchurch museum was probably part of the old university as it has the same architecture. The museum is superb and I will suggest that the curator of the Perth Museum take a taxpayer funded trip to see how it is done.

New Zealand is the land of the hoody. In Aus, people wearing a hoody are probably considered to be villains. In NZ a hoody is required because of the freezing winds. Even farms have large pine tree hedges to try and break the wind.

NZ is a bit hard to work out. On the train trip the meals and drinks were very reasonable. I had a Thai curry and rice dish for $7.00. On the aircraft today everything was sold, even a biscuit cost $3.00. We were full-fare paying passengers???

Kev: Posted on Joan's account.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

On the road again

Yesterday we left Blenheim on a dreary wet day to visit a few wineries before travelling to Kaikoura on the east coast. It was a good day to visit wineries and we went to three: Highfield, Wither Hills and Montana. We bought some wine at Wither Hills which is owned by Lion Nathan breweries. The wine was a bit costly until Mike, one of our group, pulled rank as an ex-executive of Lion Nathan and got us staff discount of about 30%. Good one, Mike! Wither Hills is a magnificent building and the underground cellars are enormous.

This is the second day at Kaikoura, a seaside town. Our motel is rated as the best motel in NZ and I can well believe that. Only thing it lacks is a wireless internet connection.
Kaikoura is between high snow capped mountains and a rugged coast. There are seal colonies along the beach and dolphin and whale watching all year round. Kaikoura was established as a whaling outpost in the 1840s.
We are travelling with a group of five others…Three from Queensland, two from the U.S. and us from Western Australia. We are getting along fine; all drinkers and non-smokers. That makes for a few laughs.

Tomorrow we head off to Christchurch, about 200 kilometres away. We have two days there, on one of which we board a cross-island train for a trip to Greymouth across the Alps. On the Monday the group divides and people fly to Auckland at different times. We will have a couple of days checking out Auckland before flying home to Perth…this time in Business class.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Real Estate weather

We have had two days of lovely weather whilst based in Blenheim 'New Zealand's Sunniest Town'. Blenheim is a nice tidy town almost city-sized. Our motel is the best we have stayed in anywhere. In the two days we have done a touristy drive around the edge of beautiful waterways and lunched in Picton. Joan and I even thought it would be good to live here. Then the long white cloud of NZ came in and the rain has settled in for what seems likely to be a long time. Today is day 3 of 8 of this tour and today I am driving the bus on a vineyard tour. It will be good for me staying completely alcohol free...until we get settled in our next motel. It will be interesting to compare motels. This one we are in has set the standard.

Monday, October 8, 2007

South Island

Yesterday I thought Bob was going to give me a rest way! In the morning we went for a drive into the bush not far from his house to see something interesting. It turned out to be a Buddhist temple. Quite something in the middle of the bush!
In the evening he suggested that I might like to accompany him on a short walk. Didn’t sound too strenuous. We ended up climbing a small mountain. I felt reasonably good and we went for an Indian meal later that evening.
The next day we did nothing except washing and waited around until 2pm and he drove me to the Brisbane International Airport. The airport is quite new and nicely appointed. The Air NZ flight to Wellington was not the best I have experienced. The aircraft was fully booked with families and their crying kids. The meal was the worst I have had on a plane. The flight encountered a bit of turbulence and so tea and coffee was not served. We landed on time in Wellington after a flight of 2.55 hours in a violent thunderstorm. Cheers from the passengers announced the touchdown. I caught a cab to the hotel where Joan was. The cab driver was an African who was lamenting the NZ loss in the Rugby. Joan told me that the flag at the convention centre was flying at half-mast. This is Rugby town.

This morning we walked down to the docks in howling winds and driving rain to visit the National Museum, Te Papa. This Museum is really outstanding with changing exhibits. My only trouble was walking around, as Bob’s mountain climb had caught up with me. Legs and feet of Jelly! We are now on the inter-island ferry and although in high winds there is little rockin and rollin. A three hour trip will see us ashore at Picton where we collect the hire bus. I have been nominated as a of three. Hope I don’t have to drive near cliffs, snow or ice. Our first overnight is at Blenheim where we will spend two nights visiting vineyards and I suspect have a few samples.

I have a settings problem with the blog and cannot arrange my photos properly. Have to look at that when we have time.

This evening we are in a very nice motel in Blenheim, about 25k from Picton the port for the ferry from the north island. Had a good pub meal and tomorrow we are off to do a wine tour. This country has a lot going for it!

Friday, October 5, 2007


This is the second day in Queensland I am am being treated royally by Bob, a colleague from Forty-six years ago at Malaguna Teachers' College in Rabaul, New Guinea.
Yesterday we drove for about an hour to Currumbin Waters near the Gold Coast to have a most pleasant day with another colleague, Howard and his wife Ann. Their house in on over an acre of land sloping steeply down to a small lake...beautiful spot! We had plenty to talk about recalling the characters we studied with. Some great, humorous and scandalous stories there! Had a lovely lunch and too much wine before returning home.
Today we went in to Brisbane by bus and caught up with Tom another fellow from the college. Again, many stories which we should collect for a book of PNG experiences.

Not sure what Bob has for might be a rest day.

I had New Zealand in my mind for this trip and neglected to pack a pair of shorts for the Brissie weather.It is 30+c at the moment.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

I'm ready

Helen is coming down to our place to cook us a meal rather than taking me to her place. Good idea. She will drive me to the airport at about ten.

Joan has been phoning me daily on a magical $15 phone card that seems to be like the Magic Puddin and never runs out.

The conference/workshop she is at in NZ has daily sessions finishing at 4.30pm and the restaurant they all eat at is above a smart looking car museum which unfortunately closes at 4pm. The convener of the conference has approached the manager of the car museum asking that the museum be kept open for another hour so that the 50 or so women might visit @ $10 a head. He wants $100 to stay open as well as the entry fee. Is that dumb?

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Google SketchUp

Google offers a free sketching program for both Windows and Mac. I have just had a little play with it to try and draw the Methane gas producer mentioned in yesterday's post. It doesn't really look much like the pig sty/methane producer I talked about, but it could, with a lot of imagination explain what I tried to describe yesterday. The individual pig pens were arranged around the circumference of the pen and daily the wastes were washed down into the fermenter.

I have started collecting all the gear I need for the trip to Queensland tomorrow night. Medicines, clothing (NZ South Island is cold and wet) and shoes. Helen, our daughter will collect me and make sure I have the tickets and passport etc, take me to her place for a meal and a couple of glasses of wine, then deposit me at the domestic terminal 2 hours ahead of departure. I am hoping to talk the airline staff into giving me a window seat so that I can rest my head on the window when I try and sleep. I have never been successful at sleeping on a plane, so this time I am taking a couple of Temazepam tabs. I'll either sleep or be hyper.