Sunday, December 30, 2007

Household furniture

At last all the funds needed to purchase the housing unit for our son have appeared in our Bank Account. All we are waiting for now is news that the tenant occupying the place has found alternative accommodation and is about to move out so that settlement can take place. From the time of loan approval, the tenant has 35 days to move and in this case he was hoping that we were buying the unit as an investment and that he would be staying in place. He will either start looking for a place immediately or sit out the 35 days.

We have been using the Quokka, a free to advertise paper, to buy good furniture for the unit. So far we have purchased a nice small dining suite and a lounge suite at a total of $100. The lounge suite is a two piece job; one being a sofa bed which is very heavy. The unit is on the second floor and that plus the size of both lounges will present some difficulty when we shift Martin in.

W.A. is experiencing seemingly increasing violence with bashings being the order of the day. In the last year there have been a number of ‘king hits’ at nightclub venues with several deaths. In today’s paper an article outlines changes to laws about murder. It seems that someone who kills another person with a punch could serve up to 20 years if they are found guilty of ‘intent to cause grievous bodily harm’. I would think that a decent punch would fit nicely into that category. Previously they were charged with manslaughter and if found not guilty were released.

We went to Melville Markets today and bought some herbs to replace those cooked by the Xmas heatwave. I also bought a cordless phone for my workshop for $10. Pity it doesn’t work.
The heatwave has killed off large areas of suburban lawns. We are fortunate that our lawn is couch and will regenerate in those brown spots.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Family Gathering

We usually only see other rellies at funerals lately, so today was a pleasant excursion.

It was prompted by the visit of cousin Anne (with husband Doug) from Canada for her sister Coral's 70th birthday. We met at Matilda Bay Reserve on the Nedlands foreshore, and the weather was very kind. Instead of the 40+ temperatures we have been having, it was in the low 30s and the sea breeze came in early. The reserve has heaps of mature shade trees and we were very comfortable.

Kevin is wary about family gatherings. While he enjoys them, he is not a "hugger and kisser" and there is always plenty of that when everyone first arrives. Some years ago, when I first got an embroidery machine, he asked me to make a T-shirt with the message "I'm happy to see you, but please no kisses". While I did my best, I was a beginner and it wasn't a successful exercise. He is still pushing for it.

Today wasn't too bad. Most of the females were happy to have cheek and air kisses, except for Aunty Vi. Aunty is 92 and the the sole survivor of the 6 siblings from the previous generation. She wants real kisses and she got them. Kevin hopes he didn't give her his cold.

There was at least one descendant, all of our generation, from each of the Lock siblings so it was very representative. Since most of the next generation were working, there were none of them present. A lot of grand children brag books were passed around, and our lack of contribution to that tally was probably noted with pity.

However, we did enjoy the afternoon and will not be reluctant to attend future gatherings. I did a family tree about 20 years ago. Maybe I should make the effort to update it.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Christmas Day

Joan and I exchanged presents in the morning before going north of the river to Hillary's. That was a bit embarrassing as I gave her my usual thoughtful present: a book voucher and she gave me a DVD recorder. Work out which present is mine.

Bit of a trek up the freeway and I was mindful of the Booze Bus traps that could nab me on the way home. I packed my new Breathalizer and it was worthwhile as I was close to the lower limit when we left to go home.

It was a pleasant day with plenty of food and as much drink as one wanted. Mike was sometimes quite animated and other times frozen. Parkinsons doesn't take time off for Christmas!

Mike was 'Father Christmas' adorned with a singing mechanical elf's hat. He didn't like that too much, but managed the job with a few mumbles.

As we were unwrapping presents he noted that he got more than anyone else because 'I'm dying this year'. Earlier we were in his garage workshop and I commented on a new shifting spanner on the wall rack. He tried to give it to me as he thought he wasn't going to need it anymore. His big operation is set for February/March and we all hope he doesn't give in before then.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Figs,Bunnies,fires and Christmas

This morning we decided to walk near Bibra Lake where there is a large fig tree. There were plenty of plump, soft figs to be had. They felt OK, but when opened they were dry inside. I'm guessing that the tree needs more sun. We did see a couple of healthy looking hopping rabbit stews as well. If a fox doesn't get them there will be hundreds in the lake area in no time.

We noticed a huge fire over our back fence. It looked like it was about a kilometer away so we decided to go and rubberneck. Turned out to be about 12 kilometres away and the mean old policeman wouldn't let us get too close. There were a number of fire units there and two helicopters dropping water. I always think that it looks like pissing into a bushfire when planes drop a few buckets worth of water onto a big blaze.
Pics: Maccas wasn't really ablaze. The fire in the pic was at least another 8 kilometers away.
Christmas is no longer the buzz it was for me. When my parents were alive and our kids were young, I liked the present openings and the gathering. Tomorrow we are off to Joan's sister's place and it will be a relatively small show with lots of food. Our son has opted out as he has done for the last 6 years. Helen will be joining us as will Dorothy and Mike's daughter Katherine who is here from San Francisco.

I have never been to, or heard of, a Christmas gathering where Christ was mentioned unless someone had trouble opening a bottle of bubbly. The Archbishop of Canterbury has set the cat amongst the pigeons by pointing out that the Three Wise Men almost certainly didn't exist and there almost certainly was no snow falling at Bethlehem and that Jesus was probably not born in December.
The Anglican Archbishop of Perth said the people had 'lost the plot' if they took Christmas stories at face value. I have heard similar before where believers say that the Old Testament is just a book of stories. I always thought it was!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Another wedding in Papua

At the Catholic Mission things were quite different to the LMS (London Missionary Society) station. The two Priests were French and certainly appreciated civilised living; fine wines and food. Even though the two mission stations were only a couple of miles apart on the same road there was little contact between the two.

I recall that when JFK was elected the LMS people were horrified that a Catholic had become President of the USA.

In the RC compound there appeared to be major division between the priests and the nuns. The nuns ran a small hospital and kept separate to the priests. This was probably because Fr. Michel availed himself of the medicinal alcohol to make Pernod. A colleague in Port Moresby sent aniseed powder out to the mission and voila…Pernod.
Fr. Michel gave a couple of us a bottle of ‘Pernod’ when we went on a fishing trip up the Vailala River. We caught nothing and drank the Pernod with river water.

Pic: Fr. Michel invites me in for a drink

On my infamous motorcycle trip to Kerema along the beach I was surprised to see another motorcycle coming in the opposite direction. I got quite excited as the other bike got closer. It turned out to be a nun heading back to the mission. I waved, but got no response. I never knew whether that was because I had stayed over with the priests or whether she knew I was in league with the LMS. or whether she was just having a bad time.
It did seem strange that two white people passing each other on a deserted beach should not acknowledge each other’s presence there.

The Catholic Mission had a plantation about ten miles inland. It had been run down and was in poor condition. A lay brother, Marcel, offered to run it on a profit sharing basis pitched in his favour and in no time it was making a handsome profit. The Mission was unimpressed. He branched out a bit and started a couple of small trade stores, one of which was very successful because he had a battery powered record player providing Tahitian music. The locals loved it, especially when the record cover featuring Tahitian damsels was on display.

Marcel, a portly Frenchman with a pencil-thin moustache, married a young mixed race girl whose father was a crocodile shooter. The wedding at the Mission station was a big show and as with a lot of weddings there was a bit of argy-bargy and one fellow was decked by the groom. The demon grog!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Wedding

A couple of staff members at my school were from the Central District; one was a Motuan from around Port Moresby and the other was from Hula some 90 miles from Moresby. They were both great blokes. We had lots of fun together.

The Motuan chap fell into a relationship with a nurse from the London Missionary Society hospital a few miles away. This wasn’t supposed to happen. The girls were supposed to serve faithfully after their training, not get married and leave the mission.
I was asked to be the go-between and talk to the Rev. Stan Dewdney about my man stealing his nurse away. It wasn’t too pleasant for a while but Stan eventually gave permission and the wedding was scheduled. My man asked if he could wear my suit in the ceremony and of course I agreed. My suit had been hanging in a cupboard for some eight months and tropical fungi attached to it made it look and smell like a mushroom farm. Never-the-less we cleaned it up and he wore it on the day. I was the best man.
Wearing a black suit in coastal Papua on a sunny, humid day is pressure cooker stuff, but he did it and looked pretty good.

In the weeks leading up to the wedding the father-in-law to be travelled to Arehava and shifted in with his son-in-law to be. Tradition had it that he could take anything he wanted, so the son-in-law to be, put all his valuables and his bicycle in my place. Even so, his sheets, pillow and blanket were ripped off by his new Dad.

I must mention Stan and his lovely wife. They had been in Papua since about 1925 and I don’t think they left during WW2? Once a month I would visit the Mission to give Stan a haircut. The ritual was the same every time. As I finished his hair he would say..’Kevin, would you please do my ears?’ Stan’s ears looked like a couple of anemones and it took a strong pair of scissors to cut all the hairs. The rub was, his next comment….’You know they have only started growing like that since I’ve been in the tropics!’
Pic: Rev. Stan Dewdney sans ear hair.

The Mission station was pretty well set up. They had a gun boi (boy) who was actually a man. He shot pigeons etc and their table was always good when I stayed there. There was a price to pay though. Before and after the meal there were prayers. After the meal there were individual prayers around the circle. When it came to my turn I opted out. They knew I was born a Protestant and desperately wanted me as part of the flock. It didn’t happen!

I also stayed over at the opposition, the Catholic Mission, a couple of miles further down the road. Some stories about that later.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007


My school was probably 100k from Kerema the District Headquarters where my boss the District Education Officer lived. During school holidays teachers were told to stay at their schools and not visit Kerema.

A friend, Albert, had a school close to the government station at Ihu and we were both a bit upset that we couldn’t hit the big smoke for a few days. I guess the DI thought we would get drunk and embarrass him. Being so isolated we thought that his ruling was a standard throughout the Territory, but unknown to us it was just his idea. Bastard! Not that Kerema was a metropolis; it had a primary school, a high school, a bush material District Office and a club about the size of the average room. It was however, certainly better than spending two weeks in a one-roomed SOQ listening to Peggy Lee’s ‘Lost Loves’ on a battery powered turntable.

There were about 40 Europeans on the station and a few of them had gone troppo. The first time I visited Kerema I saw a young cadet Patrol Officer walking down the dirt road eating a large drumstick which turned out to be part of his dog. He was soon repatriated south.

I bought a really old motorcycle and one weekend decided to go to Kerema along the beach. Beach trips had to be planned around the tides. Even then there were creeks, rivers and headlands that were major obstacles to a young traveller. At rivers there was always a village with a Ferryman to take you across the river for a stick of tobacco. Trade tobacco looks like a piece of liquorice and the locals pare bits off with a knife and roll it into newspaper to make a cigarette. I imagine lung cancer is rife these days after decades of smoking that tarry stuff in newsprint.

Kerema didn’t actually jump with joy at my visit and after an evening of drinking at the ‘Club’ I bunked down at a teacher’s house and headed back to Arehava the next morning. The next time I visited Kerema was by coastal boat to catch the TAA Catalina to Moresby on leave.

Pics: Catalina in Kerema Bay. Barge taking passengers to the plane.

Writing this, I have rekindled my desire to return to Papua New Guinea for a visit, but I won’t be doing any young-fella stuff travelling by myself along beaches. The locals are a bit too violent these days.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Arehava continued

This photograph shows a group of my Std 6 boys at Arehava PS. Of this group, five are now dead. Malaria is a common cause of death in PNG. From the 1950s, teams of men from “Malaria Control’ visited villages and sprayed houses and out buildings with DDT. The idea being that the Anophelies mosquito bites the person, usually at night and being heavy with blood flies to the nearest wall to rest and digest the blood. There it makes contact with the DDT and dies. DDT gets a bad press, but is still one of the front-line methods of malaria control in PNG.

The District Education Officer instructed me to have villagers build a new double classroom out of native materials. I had a few meetings and the surrounding villagers agreed to commence the building. It wasn’t long before one village complained that the other villages were not helping. Rather than front up to the men who were supposed to be helping, a couple of fellows dressed in warlike gear and came to the school with bows and arrows etc screaming that they would kill the children from the other villages. I talked to them and we had some nasty words, but they left. The students were shaken up and didn’t return to school the following day. I could see that there was only one way to get the job done…pay the group who was half finished to complete the job. They didn’t want money; they wanted some beer. I promised them a little party on completion. Trouble was that by the time they finished the job, I only had one carton of cans between about 16 fellows. That didn’t worry them. Because there was a complete ban on native drinking, they had no idea what a can of beer would do to them. One can of VB and a stubbie of foul home brew I couldn’t drink and they were dancing.
Picture of the new classroom:

The roof material is made of pandanus leaves sewn over a straight piece of palm wood and attached to the rafters with fine cane. When finished it is waterproof…and a rat haven.

Monday, December 17, 2007

More on Papua

My house was a one room aluminium ‘donga’ right in the village. It had a cast iron wood stove which helped by the tropical heat kept things nice and warm. I recruited a cookie. His name was Maisevese Horelau and he had been a cook for other Europeans, so was quite proficient at cooking, washing and ironing. He became my friend and tutor in Motu, the lingua franca of Papua. When I transferred away from the Gulf District to Madang, he came with me. At Arehava he guided me through the village politics.
Maisevese had accidentally killed a man before the war and was a prisoner at the outbreak of hostilities in Papua. He was assigned as a cook to an Australian Officer. He survived with good humour.

Our school garden was some miles away and grades 4,5 & 6 went gardening about once a fortnight for half a day. The garden had a bamboo fence which was regularly broken by wild pigs. A couple of teachers and I decided to sit outside the fence one night with pistol and a shotgun at the ready to try and kill a pig. In the near total darkness my torch failed and we shot blindly into the noisy feeding pigs….without any results besides a bit of blood found on the ground the next day.Some time late in 1962 the District Office at Ihu was allocated a new Land Rover. It came from Port Moresby and up the Vailala River to the Government Station by coastal trader. There was not really much use for it as the only roads were on the station and out to Arehava. A Patrol Officer named Visser, from Rhodesia, first drove out to Arehava school, along the beach and into the village near my donga. Villagers rushed to see the new car; most never even having seen pictures of one before. As Visser alighted he saw village kids touching his Landy. Out came his Rhodesian riding crop and a few hands were lashed. Nice chap!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

The past

In early 1962, at the age of 22, I was posted as Teacher in Charge to Arehava Primary School in an isolated spot in the Gulf of Papua. The school was made of bush materials and the floor was beach sand. It was only about 50 meters from the surf.
I was part of a major push by the Australian government to provide ‘Universal Education’ to Papua New Guineans…providing native English-speaking teachers as mentors for native teachers. Tough work for a 22 year old! I still keep in contact with several of those ex-students. They are in their late 50s.

Many of the Std 6 kids in my class were probably 16 or 17. I say probably, as it wasn’t important for the people of the area to record or remember when they were born. At the beginning of the school year an assessment of age for entry into Grade 1 was made by telling the child to put his/her arm over the head and try and touch the ear. At the same time the teacher looked to see if there were traces of armpit hair.

There was a steep learning curve in dealing with native staff and their families as well as village leaders, sorcerers and of course students.

I think back on those years and wonder if many of today’s 22 year-olds would cope with the isolation, diplomatic wrangles with staff and villagers and almost complete lack of contact with family and friends.

I made a few blues in the first couple of years. One staff member thought I had insulted his wife, also on staff, when I suggested that ‘Roll me over in the clover, lay me down and do it again’ wasn’t a really appropriate song to teach grade three kids. He later wrote a letter to the District Superintendent saying that I was ‘doing the crocodile business and not the school business’. He and his wife got a transfer, not me.

I had a .45 colt automatic pistol I bought from a planter and a gun was pretty important to kill the croc at the same time as a harpoon was rammed into its head.
I only went croc shooting with villagers twice, at night and only one croc was shot. Some crocodile business!

There was a nice teacher from New Ireland. He was settling in well and I taught his wife how to make pikelets. We got pikelets every recess for ages. After a couple of months his wife started screaming and wailing from their house on the school lot. I had to try and calm her, but as soon as I went she would start up again. She had dreams that her husband was having an affair with a student. This went on for a few days and we found that one very large Std 4 girl had gone bush. Turns out that my teacher was giving her extra curricular treatment in his toilet. Emergency! I had to ride the school bike along the beach and through numerous creeks to get to the government station to talk on the two-way radio to the District Superintendent to have the teacher shifted immediately before the villages speared him. We managed to organise a tractor and trailer to come to the school and we loaded all their gear on the trailer just in time. As the tractor and trailer made its way down the beach a large group of villagers arrived looking for him. Too late!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Museum or Historical Society?

Up until yesterday I had a nice collection of my deceased uncle's medals and badges of rank from his long career as a police officer in Western Australia. When he was dying he told me that it should all go to the Police Museum. I contacted the Police Department and was directed to a man who was collecting stuff for a proposed museum. I said he could have it all, but he has not been back to me in over a year.

On Sunday night last, on one of the commercial radio stations, there was an ex-police officer talking about a major bombing incident in the Goldfields in 1942. He is Vice President of the Police Historical Society and they have a small museum with quite a few exhibits and lots of information about the force and its members from colonial days to the present.

He mentioned my uncle as the source of most of the available information about the bombings. Graham Lee, my uncle, was a constable in Kalgoorlie/Boulder at the time. I decided to contact him to see if his society was the same as the one I had offered the collection to before. As it turns out they are rivals...not bitter rivals; sort of, in competition. When I rang him, he drove to our place and I was impressed enough to give him all the stuff. I did keep some very interesting documents relating to police procedures in wartime.

The Vice President of the society, Peter Skehan retired from the 'force' as Deputy Commissioner, the number two job. He should be able to help me if the cops come around and want the stuff I promised them.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Hair, visits and edger

We went for a walk around part of Bibra Lake this morning. The figs are not quite ripe and the rabbits are breeding like...well, rabbits.

Our friend John is going into respite care tomorrow for one week. His wife Joy needs a break. I went over to their place to give John a haircut...head, ears and eyebrows! I didn't venture into the nostrils. He looked pretty good after it was all done. He is at the moment, quite good about going into care for a week. Last time it was tried was a bit of a disaster. He broke out and went AWL eventually ending up in the city bruised and bleeding. It is hoped that this time his nocturnal wanderings and demon-chasing will not upset the management too much.

After lunch I visited a friend of 50 years, although I have only briefly met him twice in the last 30 years. He has Mesothelioma. I have been trepident (word supplied by Joan) about visiting him on his deathbed after so many years. When I arrived at his place I was pleasantly surprised to find that the chemotherapy he has been undertaking, seems to be working. He was bright and we had an update on the last thirty or so years. I told him that I was a bit frightened about visiting him in his final months and he told me that all his friends obviously feel the same. They no longer visit, but make phone calls to check up on him.

Thinking about all the money our son has/is costing us I decided to buy a lawn edger. I already have an electric edger which tries to cut the power cable and can only cut to a depth of 38mm...useless! For $199 I bought a four-stroke petrol powered edger made in the Peoples' Zingjang Ironworks. It is of course, a copy of a well known Australian brand at one third the price, but it is a beauty! Tomorrow I will be out doing all the edges I can find; might even do a bit of our neighbor's lawn.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


I am not afraid of spiders; they just make me cranky when I walk into a web. The spiders at our place are quite small and I think they could survive a nuclear holocaust. I spray them with flyspray and residual insecticide to no avail. This morning I walked into a single thread stretching across maybe three meters. If they would stop setting these traps I would promise to supply them with free flies from my fly trap.

Yesterday I read a posting on the West Australian Mac Users' Group from a mature age Indonesian Uni student here in Perth. His 'signature' on the bottom of his posting contained a familiar word...binatang, which in Pidgin English means insect. I copied the signature and popped it into a free translation program named Toggle Text.

The result.....'The High Season, Nectarine, Peach and.. the Fly!
The fly ought to become the national Australian animal!'

Pidgin is a quite wonderful language that has become the Lingua Franca of Papua New Guinea. There are some 800 pure languages in PNG and English is the official language. Tok Pisin, which is pidgin for Pidgin English, has spread to even remote villages. The structure of Tok Pisin is similar to English. For example, husat I stap? means 'who stops there?'
Or ' Wanaim as bilong trabel hia'
translates as....'What is at the bottom of this trouble?'

Inap. Taim bilong kai kai. Mi hangri tumas!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Jury Duty report

Joan drove me to Perth Central Law Courts to start my jury duty. We have had some experience on peak-hour traffic on the freeway north and thought it wise to leave just before 7am for an 8.15 start at the courts. Wrong!! The freeway was free; well almost and we were in Perth by 7.15am, an hour early. We did a touristy drive around Kings Park and even tried to spot the track where Mrs Corryn Rayney's body was found by our hapless constabulary. The murderer has not yet been apprehended, though her husband has been named as the prime suspect.

After wasting a bit of time, Joan left me at the courts. As the doors were opened at 8am potential jurists flooded in and crowded the lifts to the 4th floor. A series of security checks of summonses, and ID got us into the main foyer where we were issued with a card with a number on it. Further in this was scanned and my name appeared on the computer and I and the other 350 people sat and waited and waited and waited. The numbered cards was a new touch for me. They are designed to protect jurors by not giving out names for the villains to track you down.

Eventually the ballot for each trial started. There were four trials starting today and three more during the week. All potential jurors were eventually assigned to a case. The longer the estimated trial time the more jurors are selected in case one of them falls off the perch mid-trial. The two trials for my group of 50 were set to run for 5 days each and two extra jurors were selected for those trials. I assume it was the same for the murder and grievous bodily harm trials also starting today. Some trials were at the Central Criminal Courts; some at the Supreme Court and another two in Fremantle.

We were led into a court room prior to the final selection of the Jury. The four accused were in the dock, a married couple and two part Aboriginal men who were all accused of several house robberies and stealing a vehicle. All pleaded not guilty to the robberies, but the wife pleaded guilty to stealing the car. Each one of them had a defence lawyer; probably appointed by the Crown. The Clerk reading out the charged used legalese when describing the charges. The stealing charges were 'entering a property knowing that the occupant was present in a place of habitation'. Which, I think, meant that they knew there was someone living in the house they robbed?

Fortunately I was not selected and we all traipsed back to the selection room and waited for the next Trial Judge to call us. The court officer looking after us filled in time answering questions about selection and rejection of jurors etc. I told her that It was only on Saturday that I had seen that I could be exempted because of my age (68). She offered me exemption and I signed a document witnessed by a JP and I was out of there like poo through a goose.

People over the age of 70 are not eligible to do jury duty so I have no chance of being called again. If I am I will state my age again. I have done jury duty before, so don't feel that I am shirking my responsibities.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Jury Duty 1

Kevin has been summoned to do jury duty, starting tomorrow. He hasn't been all that happy about the prospect - sitting for hours doing nothing and feet in shoes and socks are major problems.

Today we started organising him. I charged his mobile so he can ring me when he is dismissed or if he is called up. We will switch it off tomorrow. I found him a book to read while he is waiting (Tim Winton's The Turning) and I have set the alarm. He has to be there at 8.15am so we are estimating an hour to get there (30 minutes in non-peak hour traffic).

Then we took the notice down from the fridge and actually read all of it. We discovered that he could have been excused on the basis of age (65 to 70 years - just needed a statutory declaration to be completed and submitted). Too late now.

So off he goes tomorrow.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Mike & Dorothy

I spent most of yesterday looking after my bro-in-law Mike. His regular carer was not available and I drove up the coast to be with him until his wife Dorothy finished work at 3.30pm.

Dorothy is retiring from her career as Principal of Mt Hawthorn Junior Primary School to look after Mike. Hopefully things will get better when Mike has the operation to insert electrodes into his brain to stop the violent dyskinesis. The operation is loosely scheduled for February...that is, if the surgeon doesn't take holidays or go to a conference somewhere.

I haven't spent a night looking after Mike as Dorothy has to, but I got a taste of the strain it must be putting on her, by being there for him over some 5 hours. He had two long periods of 'freezing' where he cannot do anything and panics, then a couple of relatively 'normal' periods where he urgently attempts to fix things. I managed to get a computer printer working again and helped set up a bedside table so that Mike can reach the bed controller and bedlamp. For him to get in and out of bed is a major effort and he has to use an overhead aid to start him rocking forward and back until he builds up enough momentum to sit upright.

Because of his condition, eating, drinking and other activities we would do without thinking about become enormous hurdles for him. He rarely gets depressed. I think I would have topped myself long before reaching his current stage.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Busy day

Today we have been signing up for a loan of $90.000 which, with some other cash we have, is to purchase the unit to house our son. We decided to go with an interest-only loan over three years and will sell off some shares to clear most of it pretty soon.

Waiting to see the loans officer at Police and Nurses Credit we decided to have a sandwich in a downstairs cafe. Next door to this cafe is a school teaching English to foreigners. There were several girls in their teens sitting next to us and it was strange to hear them talking in English as a common language. I guessed that there was a Swedish girl, a Spanish girl and maybe a German girl. The conversation was interesting as they were talking about the schoolies on the Gold Coast and although they didn't seem prudish they were astonished at the drunkenness and activities they had witnessed. It was obvious that schoolies week(s) were not part of their graduation from high school. It made me think about that and how we just accept that kids are going to get smashed and vandalise accommodation and buildings etc. Foolishly tolerant!

I have had a parking meter in my shed for some time. It wasn't stolen from the street; I bought it at a council sale. A couple of days ago I decided to put it in the garden to give an hour to a few people who are likely to outstay their welcome.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Paperwork done

This evening we drove to Rockingham to meet with the vendor of the unit we are buying to sign the offer and acceptance papers. There were many more papers than just the offer and acceptance.

The facilitator, the principal of the company Go Private introduced himself and gave me the once over. 'I think I know you from somewhere?' he said. And as quite often is the case he turned out to be an ex student of mine that I taught in 1977. Fortunately he was a good one and had a few good words to say about me.

I remember him well. I taught him in a class of bright kids and the subject was Electricity: low voltage of course. I recall that an option class had collapsed because a teacher had left and I was told to take the class. In those days I was able to show the boss that electricity would be a worthwhile subject and a new option was created for one semester. Couldn't do that these days! I started off with batteries and bulbs and we created circuits in parallel and series.

Later we made battery powered games of skill and even progressed to simple pinball machines made with solenoids I gathered from the scrap bins at an auto electrics workshop. Karl, my ex-student remembered these activities well. I was pretty chuffed that he remembered so much of my lessons thirty years ago.

I made another lot of chilli sauce today. I didn't want to waste the bag of chillies I bought a few days ago. I decided to keep the chilli seeds, dry them and grown my own. As I was collecting the seed I thought that I should do a 'Tom Lehrer' (Poisoning Pigeons in the Park) and scatter some seeds amongst the biscuit crumbs I spread for the magpies. Joan didn't think that was nice, so I decided not to.

I missed out on a ten year reunion of ex-students of my old high school last Friday. I was looking at the photos on FaceBook and I received an email from an ex-student saying that a few people asked after me on the night. He suggested that he organise a few beers at my local to catch up with some of them. I thought it was a great idea, but suggested it should be at our place so that I don't have to drive home. I look back on the 1997 cohort as a truly wonderful group of kids, now 27 years of age. Joan reminded me today that I am now 68!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Offer accepted

Last night we made an offer of $200,000 on a two bedroom unit to house our son Martin. Today the vendor rang back to accept the offer, so tomorrow evening we kickstart the process by signing formal papers and giving him a $10,000 deposit. He has a tenant in the unit and so must give him 35 days notice to move out. We will arrange the finance as soon as possible in the hope that he finds alternative accommodation and Martin can shift in as soon as possible. We have decided to furnish the unit rather than have Martin use his roadside collections. I saw an advert for small kitchen appliances; toaster, cordless kettle and iron for $12. each so we bought one of each. Then later when I was in a cheapo store looking for plastic sauce bottles for my latest chilli sauce brew saw the same things for $9.99 each. Bugger!

This afternoon we had a session with our financial adviser who showed us the good returns made on investments for the financial year up until 30th June 2007....overall something like 16%. But the last three months have been horror months for the Australian investments. He believes that things are on the mend and December/January are traditionally better. Let's hope.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

On Friday evening we went to Joan's sister's retirement show. Lots of people there; mostly teachers from the various school Dorothy has taught at. I did the Kev thing and took lots of snaps. I was able to use my birthday present from daughter Helen; a breathalyzer. I was under the limit. Mike, Dorothy's husband was out of hospital for the day and stayed over at home for the night. He is in Osborne Park Hospital which is a hospital for Parkinsons and dementia patients. Mike has been in there for a couple of weeks after having a fall and cracking two vertebrae and a wrist. His Parkinsons dyskinesis makes it very painful and he was transferred to Royal Perth Hospital for a nerve sheath injection.
He was taken to his specialist on Thursday where he was finally told that he had been assessed as a suitable candidate for the deep brain implant three months.

We are still looking for a two bedroom unit to house our son Martin. This afternoon we are going to Orelia to take a look at one priced at $205k which I guess means $200k. It is in a reasonable area with a large pool, BBQ area and full security. There are several blocks of units in Orelia at about the same price. Originally these blocks were State Housing flats, but were refurbished, walled off and sold to the public. Orelia is a suburb near the notorious Medina, but a much nicer area. We both taught at Kwinana High School in Medina in the sixties and blackboard jungle had nothing on that school. Orelia is approximately 25 minutes from Martin's workplace by car.