Thursday, November 29, 2007


A lot of new retail units are being developed along Leach Highway in Myaree.

There are new ones like the group that contains JB HiFi and the Kitchen Warehouse. This has now had a third block added at the back which will house, among others, Spotlight. Yet another blow to the Fremantle shopping scene.

Another block closer to Norma Road has been refurbished and is now ready for its tenants. Some expensive looking signage has been erected. The proprietors of this new showroom must rue the lack of a spell check on theirs.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


It is Helen's birthday tomorrow, Kevin's the day after. I have always maintained that it didn't matter that I didn't buy him a 30th birthday present because Helen was it.

I went to work on the Melville Community Textile Art project today and discovered that today is the birthday of Juliet's elder son (Juliet is one of the organisers of this project). He is 19 and seems to be setting out on the same path that Martin has trodden. I can offer nothing but sympathy to Juliet and Chris. I hope they have more success than us.

But in idle conversation the question of clustered birthdays came up. In our extended family most birthdays are (were, since some are now deceased) in either late March/early April (Aries ) or late November (Sagittarius).

It is an obvious cliche that the November arrivals were conceived about Valentine's Day. But why the March/April flush?

Sunday, November 25, 2007

House buying

We have decided to buy a 'flat' to house our son. It is that time in our life when we decide whether to leave our kids property, shares and money or enjoy what is left of our time on this place. The called apartments, are quite pricey. We looked at one from the outside today at a price of $240,000+. It is a two bedroom unit (that is another name for them) and it is in an area which looks reasonable. We determined that it is 'reasonable' by looking at the vehicles parked in the parking bays. There were no 'Bogmobiles' or wrecks. There were, however, a lot of supermarket trollies near the letterboxes. The letterboxes looked a little suss with some having doors ripped off. Joan has applied for a housing loan through Police and Nurses Credit Society. We are due for a largish lump of cash from the sale of shares in a mining company named Jubilee. We will have to pay capital gains tax on the cash from that but hope that the previous government's changes to the taxation laws will still exist next year so that our superannuation payments are not taxable. That will mean that the Capital Gains on our shares will be spread over our total income from our allocated pension and we will not lose too much to Mr Rudd.

On Mr Rudd, it is interesting that after a hectic pre-election battle the side that lost now has time to have a few beers and relax and the winners start work tomorrow.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

alcohol: beer and wine

This afternoon I visited my brother Graham and we had a few drinks: some beers and a couple of glasses of wine. I parked my car in his garage and Joan came to collect me and bring me home. I remember accepting a glass of bubbly in front of telly and that was it.

I know of other people who under the influence of alcohol do nasty things, like fight, vandalise and abuse others, but to be a party to the change of government over a few drinks is terrible.

To awake and find there was a new government of our nation was a frightening thing.
I hope that the promises of the election campaign are fulfilled.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Flytrap fixation

I admit it, I'm out to kill as many flies as I can. Down the backyard I have set up a flytrap farm trying out various baits: fish fertiliser, a commercial fly bait, beef stock and the mighty prawn heads. At this stage the prawn heads are in front by a mile. In the photo, that black mass is thousands of flies. Maybe I should start a competition like 'How many jelly beans in the jar'.

The prawns are also helped by the smell of all the dead flies. Fellow fly killers argue as to whether a successful trap is merely attracting flies from other houses. I guess that if there was a China-type drive to kill flies and everyone had a fly trap we could see a difference.

The fly brain is very small, but powerful. Even the smallest fly waits until you have both hands full carrying a carton of beer before it crawls up your nose for a drink. Farmers and politicians are not bothered by flies. On TV they can be seen earnestly talking with flies at their mouth, nose and eyes. At this time, on the eve of a federal election, the politician must make sure that nothing deters them from getting the message out; not even an Aussie bush fly.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

win some lose some

We have just registered our two cars and applied for the seniors’ discount. Don’t know why we have never done it before? It is a worthwhile discount of over a hundred dollars on each car for a year’s registration. We drove home pretty chuffed until we opened our mail and found a bill for two hundred and then in the afternoon our son came to get $68 to fill urgent scripts. We are his ATM. Did we win? Nah.

The flies are bad at the moment and Kev has gone into trap mode. I have several fly traps with different baits, but I can assure you that prawn heads have them lining up to get in the trap. Years ago there was a great product by Bayer named Tugon. It was a pinkish crystalline product when spread on a damp piece of cloth attracted flies and almost immediately sent them into epilepsy and instant death. Anything that good had to be banned and it is. I found a product that was supposed to be as good and shelled out $33 for 400g. It works, but doesn’t seem to have the attraction to flies that Tugon had. I read somewhere that Australian soldiers in the North African desert during WW2 had competitions to see who could catch the most of the billions of flies that bred in/on corpses. Wouldn’t want them landing on your bully beef.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Prawned out

When we bought the 10kg box of prawns yesterday we needed to pack them in smaller quantities to share with Graham and Helen. It was quite easy to break up the prawns - keep them in the plastic bag and box and just keep dropping them on the floor. We packed 6 x 1.5kg and 1 x 1kg. Then we had to find freezer space. There was a 1.5kg packet that I had bought earlier in the year that we decided needed to be used to make space for the latest additions.

So we set about thawing that packet of prawns - it had been so long in the freezer that it had solidified and couldn't be broken up. The block kept attacking me as it thawed - I have cuts and slashes all over my hands. Then we had to shell them and discard the heads (bin collection this morning so no need to bury or freeze them). 1.5kg rapidly reduced to about 800g, which is still a lot of prawns for 2 people.

Out with the recipe books. A friend had recommended an Australian Women's Weekly cookbook called 50 Fast Prawns. I have more than enough cookbooks, but when I went to the newsagent for quite a different reason I saw it and decided that we could afford $4.95 if it would expand our gastronomic horizons.

Last night I made Masala Prawns from the book. It is a variation on a basic curry recipe, but uses a pile of fresh herbs. Mint and coriander were specified, but I added parsley as well. It was delectable, but I had used only half the prawns.

Tonight Kevin used the same book to make Garlic Prawns from the remainders. This was NOT the garlic prawns one might expect to eat in an Italian restaurant. Since Graham had dropped in to pick up his portion we shared with him. None of us were really impressed, so I did another book search and found a more "classic" recipe to give him.

I think we will eat steak tomorrow.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Compost and prawns

Sunday evening Dave and Judy from next door visited for a few drinks and to swap experiences about both our recent overseas trips. Dave regularly travels for conferences and research about his business; that of composting. I mentioned that the Canning Vale Waste Management facility has a few residents up in arms about the pong it emits. I had wondered how it operates. How they make compost out of all the rubbish that goes into the green wheely bin. Dave has a business relationship with the facility and takes their end product. He explained that all the rubbish from household waste from several city councils is taken to Canning Vale and tipped onto a large concrete area where the large stuff that should never have been dumped as household waste is separated…gas bottles, printers etc etc. The rest is ground up in a big muncher and after a little breaking down (fermentation I guess) labels and paper and indeed anything that was originally living breaks down. This lot is put through a large screen which separates metals and glass and allows the rest to further break down until it is in a state to be used as compost. The residual metal etc is recycled.
Of course I did have three King Browns (800ml bottles of beer) whilst listening to his explanation and well may have missed out several steps in this explanation of the composting process.

Dave’s composting plant is near Mandurah about an hour’s drive from here. It is adjacent to Watsonia’s Pig farm from where a lot of the raw materials come. The flies are a bit savage at the moment, but it is hoped that the dung beetles will get into gear soon and reduce fly numbers. We are getting some flies here and also hope the dung beetles do their job soon.

A friend, Paul, gave us a tip on a good deal with prawns for sale and we went today to buy a 10kg box for $110. I asked my brother Graham if he also wanted some extra Cholesterol and we are to share the 10kg. He happened to mention it to his boss and I had to go and buy another 2 boxes for him. These prawns are not from the sewerage swamps of Vietnam. They are Western Australian sea prawns from Exmouth. Paul also mentioned a small kitchen tool which de-veins and shells prawns. I bought one and it works well.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

razor blades

The technology used to make razor blades is quite old. I started shaving with 'Blue Gillette' blades. My father thought you could sharpen them by pressing them on the inside of a drinking glass and rotating the glass using water as a lubricant....nah!

I have graduated to using Gillette Mach3 blades. Four blades are more expensive than a 1Gb flash drive and last only a few shaves. What a great business! Mind you, I shave in the shower and the times I have tried cheaper blades it ends up like a scene from Psycho with blood swirling down the drain and me looking like the 'the little Aussie bleeder', Norman Gunston, with bits of tissue stuck on wounds.
Even when we have travelled overseas to countries noted for their cheap gear, Gillette blades are much the same price as at home. If the Chinese can copy the iPhone, why can't they make half-price Gillette Mach3 razor blades?


It is 5.30am and I have been up since 4.30. Kev and Joan carefully calculated the time needed to get sister Shirl to the airport for her 7.30 flight back to Esperance. Joan set the alarm on her phone, but as usual I spent the night worrying whether it would actually go off on time and in this state I had in my mind that the time to arise was 4.30am. Most of the night was spent checking the time at hourly intervals and at 4.30 I got up and woke Shirley. Now we have been sitting around for an hour waiting for the correct departure time. I have this problem every time we are traveling.
Shirley's burns were treated and assessed at RPH Burns Unit and when back in Esperance will do a tele-conference with RPH from Esperance Hospital so that the progress of the healing can be monitored and a decision about skin grafts made. Her house is going to need major repairs to the kitchen and general cleaning and repainting to smoke affected areas.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


This morning my niece from Esperance down south rang to tell us that my sister had had an accident and been burnt on the arm. She was deep frying and was called to the door when a neighbor's child came to borrow something. By the time Shirl had dealt with the child, the deep fryer was ablaze. She tossed it into the sink; it splashed back and burnt her arm badly. She put the fire out and called an ambulance and was cared for at Esperance Hospital. The head honcho there determined that she would probably need skin grafts and booked her into the Burns Unit and Royal Perth Hospital. He reasoned that there was no sense trying to treat her in Esperance when Perth has Australia's premium burns unit. The hospital paid her airfare and we collected her at the airport. Her appointment is at 9am so we will have to plan carefully to get there on time in peak traffic conditions.

Joan spent five weeks in the RPH Burns Unit some years ago. She had a number of grafts and the superficial burns on her face actually smoothed out a few wrinkles.
Here is a pic of her on the second day in the unit. I took a daily photograph of her and presented 10X8s of the whole healing process so that others would see that all is not lost.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Cedar cladding

Friends, Dennis and Carole live in Fremantle in their lovely two storey house. It has Cedar planking as weatherboards and need painting with very expensive preservative every couple of years. They usually build a makeshift scaffold and Carole the fearless goes up high to do the painting. This time Den went and bought a stack of steel piping in preparation for the scaffolding and it was on the verge outside their house on a trailer. Den loves the engineering of such constructions, but as it turned out a fellow was passing, saw the pipe and knocked on the door to try and buy it. He was told what it was for and he offered the free use of a mobile cherry-picker if Den would sell him the pipe. I dropped in to see how it was going and was surprised to see Carole up on high, operating this rather complex machinery without even a tremble....looked like a tradesperson! The job was done in no time with minimum fuss. The cherry picker is on a diesel truck and reaches about 40-50' and has a rotating bucket. The safety features are high tech. Sensors shut off the machine if it is too near something or nearing the point of over-balancing. The truck speaks loudly in Japanese warning people when backing up.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Hear, hearers and Dorothy Dixers

Politicians around election times kiss babies and visit workers in factories etc and always use the opportunity to announce a bit of pork barreling or slag off the opposition. Inevitably there are two or three of the party faithfulls behind the man and they nod approvingly, tut tut appropriately or smile widely when the opponent is slagged off. Both the PM and Mr Rudd do it and it is as transparent as the Dorothy Dix questions in Parliament. The member for such and such an electorate asks a question of the Speaker along the lines of...'Mr Speaker, I address my question to the Minister for Silly Walks. How is it that since coming to office, the government has been able to overwhelmingly improve the silliness of Australia's walkers?' Of course the member posing the question must be a member of the government for the DD to work. The Minister for Silly Walks is then able to waste plenty of Parliamentary time explaining his success.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Run rabbit, run

I went to Bibra Lake again last evening to try and photograph the rabbits we had seen previously. There were only two of them playing in the grass. They look pretty nice and allowed me to get quite close before hopping into tall grass. When I was younger; much younger, rabbits lived in burrows and I wondered if these city dwellers still dug burrows? It seems they do also live in bushland when sufficient cover is afforded them. The story of rabbits in Western Australia is covered in this nice presentation; well worth a read. Yum,rabbit stew.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007


We have had a few days of insect infestation….thousands of small hovering ‘flies’ with yellow stripes on their backs. A friend thought that they were native stingless bees and they do look similar to the pics of the many variety of native bees. They are about the size of a small house fly and hover. This morning I rang the W.A. Ag. Dept and was told that they are Hover Flies and the whole metropolitan area is infested with them. Fortunately they are not like ordinary flies; they don’t bite, get on your BBQ snaggers or try and get up your nose for a drink. It seems that they are beneficial, pollinating flowers and fruit. I am, however, glad that they have moved on.

On the subject of flies, we have had a good run this last year…..very few flies as a result of the very dry conditions. Now, however, the flies have had a good season and are back in force. On our walk today near Bibra Lake we were almost choked by swarms of midges. Also near the lake in an open area we saw a family of six rabbits. They looked like they were having fun playing in the mowed grass. I will return today at dusk with a long lens on my SLR and try and get a few shots of them. Rabbits have had a bad press. They were here in plague proportions and I remember netting them around dams in the fifties on my grandparents’ farm in the wheatbelt. The Bibra Lake rabbits are unlikely to do much damage as there are no crops for them to destroy and if they ventured out of the parkland I am sure pussy cats and Rottweilers would soon eat them up…or in the case of the latter…tear them apart.

There is a mature fig tree in the parkland at Bibra Lake and it is laden with fruit. We have never been lucky enough to taste them as they suddenly disappear as they ripen. I guess it must be the council employees who cut the grass inside the park who do daily checks as the fruit ripen.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

A Cockup

Over the last few days I have been eagerly awaiting a flood of letters of protest to the newspapers about the Director of Public Prosecutions here in W.A. Nothing! Zilch!

Mr Cock, an unfortunate surname if ever there was one, decided not to prosecute a Member of Parliament John Quigley, even after Mr Quigley admitted that he had made threats to an undercover policeman involved in the trial of one Andrew Mallard.
Quigley is also a solicitor and represented Mr Mallard in his trial review.
Mr Cock has,I believe,made a big Cockup by not charging Mr Quigley because of his public profile. I doubt whether Mr Cock would be as kind to me if I were in the same situation.
Mr Quigley is a high profile solicitor who worked hard to overturn the murder conviction of Mr Mallard, who is now free after 12 years in the big house.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Melville markets

This morning we decided to get out and visit 'swapmeet' at the Melville Plaza car park. It is a big event with probably 150 sellers. It has a good variety of goods,even some antiques, most of them showing off their little yappy dogs.
We bought a couple of plants and Joan bought a nice old carving knife.
Some of the hundreds of buyers are regulars and two of them we recognise have probably been to every swapmeet since it started about 15 years ago. One of these two we call 'Bang' because he lets loose with a very loud yell 'Bang' at passing cars. The other fellow we call the vacuum man because he has a fixation with buying vacuum cleaners. Even though he cannot speak too well he knows his vacuums and carefully inspects every part before making a purchase. He has no preference...upright, barrel, he likes them all. He lives in care in Fremantle and after making his purchase crosses the road to a bus shelter to catch the 103 to Freo. While he waits for the bus he strips the vacuum down and reassembles it and just before the bus arrives smashes it on the side of the bus shelter and carefully puts all the bits in a nearby bin.
He will spend no more than $10 on his purchase and gets very angry if the seller will not lower the price.

Saturday, November 3, 2007


Today was a lovely warm sunny day. I went with some friends (actually we are all committee members of Designing Women and we had a meeting) to Heathcote. We met at the cafe there.

Heathcote is such a beautiful spot - perched high above the Swan River with views to the city and almost to Fremantle. Today the river was crowded with yachts and because the Red Bull air races were on, the sky was almost as full of planes.

There was a wonderful textile art exhibition at the gallery. There were lots of families enjoying the playground and picnic facilities. The restaurant was the venue for a wedding reception - we didn't see the wedding party, but we were treated to the view of numerous very well dressed guests. Everyone on site seemed to be happy.

Heathcote was once a dreaded destination. It was a hospital for patients with psychiatric problems - mostly women. When I was a child, when some one was "sent to Heathcote" it was a shameful thing, talked about in whispers. Today it is recognised that most of the patients were probably suffering depression; in many cases, post natal depression.

Provision of facilities for the treatment of mental illness is presently a political football in this state, and there is no doubt much more needs to be done. But the "good old days" were far from good, and Heathcote is more beneficial now to the mental health of its visitors than it ever was in the past.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Guru and junior Guru

OK, I confess; I couldn't fix our daughter's iBook. I managed to get a great deal on a similar model for $325. I removed the Hard Drive from her now dead iBook and bought a cheap USB enclosure so that we could access her work. I managed to find a few of her bits of work, but couldn't see all her settings for her email client etc etc. Go to the Guru.

Rob is my Mac Guru. I am a junior Guru: a bit like an auto mechanic...can fix other people's cars, but not his own.

Rob is very good and after a couple of hours of transferring data, all Helen's settings, music and photos were on her new machine.

Rob is a bit like a tradesman..."who did this lousy job?' I have to endure a few gibes such as 'Kevin, what have you done here?' But in the end it all works out fine. I owe him a nice bottle of something for his efforts. I hope Helen realises the effort which goes into such work.

The chap I bought the laptop from pointed me in the direction of an free on-line data storage site named Mozy. The free storage is a max. of 2.5Gb which is enough for important files which could be lost if otherwise not backed up to CD etc. I will use it.

Junior Guru Kev helped out friends' daughter today by sorting out a few problems on her Mac. I was also able to show her a few tricks and shortcuts. She gave me a bottle of bubbly. How did she know that we drank alcohol??