Thursday, July 31, 2008

Pickled onions

A couple of days ago I bottled some pickled onions, or more correctly, I bottled some onions in pickling vinegar and they should be pickled in a couple of weeks.

Whenever we buy commercially pickled onions they are invariably soft and the vinegar seems to be watered down. I thought about the wonderful, crisp POs that my aunty Glad used to make and decided to look up pickled onions in the CWA Cookery and Household Hints book.

This book was compiled from recipes and hints from women members of the Western Australian Country Womens' Association. It was first published in 1941 and surprisingly, is still sold for around $30. I say surprisingly because it is full of recipes that are relics from the past and often are inaccurate or not detailed enough. No Souffles or Satay Beef and Noodle Stirfry there.

Here is a recipe for Ginger Beer.....The average home brewer knows that those bottles would explode if not consumed within a week. Kerosene tins were in common use up until the late 50s for all sorts of things including cooking crabs.
Another old cook book is the Golden Wattle Cookbook published in 1926. The Golden Wattle is a bit more professionally set out and was used by HomeEc teachers in days of old. It has an updated edition at around $19.

Joan received a message on her phone to call her GP. When she replied, the receptionist couldn't tell her what it was about except that the GP wanted to see her and the earliest she could get in was a week today. If Joan was waiting for some test results this could be a bit scary. She cannot imagine what this is all about and I confess that I wouldn't be waiting a week to find out if it were me.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Notes from a Padded Cell

Trolling the net for articles/blogs about Papua New Guinea I came across a wonderful page by Jim Austin called 'Jim Austin's Notes from a Padded Cell'. There are short stories covering a wide range of topics including some from his PNG experience. Jim lives in Vermont USA. Check it out here, it is a great read.

Our friend Brian had his triple bypass operation on Friday and is doing well. Marg, his wife, says that he is doing well as he is starting to whinge about being in hospital.

Today I visited John, our friend who is in care . No change on that front. He imagines that his wife Joy visits him about every three weeks. Today is the first time she hasn't visited him in a couple of months as she travelled to York looking at houses and employment possibilities for their daughter Sue. York is about 97 kilometres from Perth and is one of the original country settlements in Western Australia. See here about York.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Jackson Pollock

Occasionally I take a look at a Sunday Arts Program called Sunday Arts. I find it strange that it hosted by a very cultured voiced bloke who was previously a very good TV comedian. It is a pretty good program until the host does an in-depth interview with an artist or musician.

Anyway, tonight there is (because I gave up on watching it) a segment on the Sydney ‘Biennale’, which translated means bi-annual. Art seems to need a foreign touch to be successful.

Also required at art exhibitions is an old warehouse with crumbling limestone walls and rough jarrah floor boards.

I am not a complete Bolshie about art. I have been to a few ‘openings’ and gotten into the plonk and tucker.

Art is a very intellectual business not for the likes of me. Blue Poles, for example, is something that is beyond my comprehension. Purchased for the National Gallery it has dramatically increased in value. See it here and if you can see what it is about, please let me know.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

A trip to the tip

After pruning our roses and transplanting 42 broadbean plants around the rose stumps, we decided to remove a huge 'hedge' of what is called Moses in the Cradle (Rhoeo). It looks very much like another troublesome plant we have in our rear garden named Wandering Jew (Tradescentia). Another bit of anti-semitism?

The trailer was pretty well loaded and I went to the tip (landfill site). As I was unloading the Moses in the Cradle a truck backed in beside me and a bloke who was a landscape gardener told me that I was throwing away thousands of dollars. 'Put each bit of root in a pot and when it shoots it will sell for $2 each at a swapmeet. People love it'. Bugger!
Maybe we will look out for remnant sprouting and our son can make a few bucks. It seem that it is of value. See here.

We have been having problems with Channel 9 reception on digital HD TV. All the other channels are fine, but even when I revert to factory settings, the set-top box won't find 9. At the place where I bought the TV and set top box, there is an ex student of mine and he told me to bring the box in to use their antenna to grab Channel 9. It couldn't find 9, so he talked to the TEAC agent and was told that Channel 9 have changed their settings and a software upgrade is necessary to once again get Channel 9. I have to take the box to the other side of the city in about a week. I would have thought that Channel 9 could have told viewers about the impending problem.

ABC Television has just started iView, which allows people with a good Broadband connection to download TV programs; even stuff you missed seeing a few weeks ago. Once again we are losers who are unable to get a fast BB connection because of a phone wire system called 'Twin Pair Gain' and also because we are beyond a RIM, which is a sort of sub-station for phone lines at a distance over about four kilometres from an exchange. Telstra who owns the lines is not about to change anything for me. Bugger again!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Dying seagulls

Today there was a news report of a couple of hundred seagulls suddenly dying at Woodmans Point. See, there is a God!

On ABC radio talkback this morning a caller suggested that they all died of cholesterol induced heart attacks caused by stealing chips from diners' plates in the fishing boat harbour.

It has not been determined what did them in. Autopsies and tissue samples have not shown any cause as yet. It is amazing that this problem has not affected the other sea birds at Woodmans...pelicans, cormorants, terns etc. The local landfill site is a very popular place for all these birds and thousands of them congregate there picking over the juicy morsels from suburban garbage bags. At the tip site,the council has a bird scatterer gun going off at regular intervals, to no avail.

Joan and I pruned our roses on Monday and yesterday I transplanted a lot of broad bean plants from a shady area out the back of our house in amongst the rose stumps in the front yard. They will get full sun in that northerly aspect. It looks a bit dumb with vegetables in the rose garden.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Bye bye Incandescents

The Australian government has decreed that incandescent light bulbs are a no-no and they are soon to be banned from sale. I reckon there will be a bit of panic buying as the deadline nears.

The alternative is to be economical compact fluoro lamps. They produce a cold white light. Maybe if they could make them a bit warmer as they do with some large fluorescent tubes they would be more acceptable. People like us with lots of halogen down lights might have to make regular trips to Bali to buy up the illegal bulbs.
Classy light ??

On lighting, I have spent a bit of time recently restoring three kerosene table lamps. One is an Aladdin made in the USA in 1923 which has a round wick lighting up a silk mantle. It is nickel plated and once held pride of place at my grandparents' farm. A nice piece with a bright white light. Nickel plating saved the work of polishing the brass although most of the classy lamps were of embossed brass. Click on photos to enlarge
The next lamp is a beauty; a Miller, made in the U.S. in 1892. It has a complex wick winder, a highly embossed tank and stand and gives off a nice warm light.

The last of the three is a repro and the brass plating is corroding off in places. Still a nice lamp!

I had to buy expensive parts for the Aladdin and the Miller but it was worth the cost and effort.

Today has been very stormy with lots of damage to houses and trees in the local areas, but our power supply has held. Damn, I was looking forward to reading under a lamp tonight.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Pingelly house report

Pingelly is about 180 kilometres from Fremantle. It is a pleasant drive of about 90 minutes. At this time of year the wheatbelt is looking good with large acreages of wheat and rapeseed each side of the roads. The appointment was for 11am and we had 30 minutes to drive around the town to check out our potential neighbors. 30 minutes was plenty of time!

Pingelly, according to the 2003 census, has a population of 1141 people. I suspect that it is even less these days. Although the town looks reasonable, it, like many other regional towns is dying out. There were many empty buildings and shops. The Pingelly Shire is insisting that any person purchasing the house must open the adjoining shop (part of the sale) at least for one day a week. As the house is in the main street, they don't want any more empty buildings in the main drag.

The house was great...probably the best house in Pingelly. The lovely Jarrah staircase and spacious and numerous rooms would be attractive if the house were in another town. After the inspection we visited Narrogin and the same house there would be selling at around $700,000.

Pingelly doesn't have anything going for it. We couldn't see ourselves just enjoying the house so far from the city.

Pros: Great house at a good price.

Cons: Having to negotiate stairs to go to bed.
Nothing to do in town.
Reasonable shopping is over 50 kilometres away.
Away from family and friends.
Price of fuel.
Part-time hospital
Don't want to start a new business at our age.

Looks like the Cons win.

The salesman travelled from Perth and was happy to show us the place with no annoying pressure or follow-ups.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Morse Code

We have made an appointment to view the house in Pingelly. The salesman is going to be a bit offside when we don't offer to buy as he also has a two hour drive from the city to open the house.

A couple of days ago I had a conversation with a chap who writes a newsletter for ex members of the W.A. Police Force. The Police Force in Western Australia was recently renamed the Police Service. I guess the 'Force' bit was a bit too heavy.

Peter is, along with others, establishing a Police Museum and he recently found a wonderful piece of equipment last used in policing in about 1950. It is a Morse Code machine. Morse Code was still used quite extensively up until then. The main trouble with sending Morse code with the traditional Morse key is the speed, which is on average a slow 15 words per minute. This machine is a two part set-up with a typewriter keyboard producing a punched 'ticker tape' type of paper tape which was transferred to a reader/sender which enabled fast transmission of messages. The Picture below shows the typewriter/setter and the sender on the right. This amazing piece is from an era of electro-mechanical devices.

About 15 years ago I found a piece of computer software that translated Morse code heard on short wave radio into words on the screen. Even then it was difficult to find Morse Code out there in cyber space.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Praying for petrol

Rocky Twyman is an SDA (Seventh Day Adventist) and he started the "Pray at the Pump' movement in the U.S. He leads groups who link hands around fuel outlet pumps and pray for cheaper fuel. He claims success with a drop of $.30 a gallon after a pray-in in Toledo Ohio. That works out to be around a 7 cent a litre drop. Divine Intervention!

Today he is leading prayers in Washington and collecting signatures to petition the Saudi Oil Minister to pump more oil. 'We are asking them to have mercy on us'. Yeh right!

Are there rules about what you can pray for? 'No, sorry mate, we can't help with Lotto.'

Having second thoughts about even looking at the house in Pingelly. It would not be good if we liked it enough and actually had to move there.

Saturday, July 12, 2008


We are pretty happy with where we live...a nice suburb, good neighbors and 10 minutes to Fremantle city. Our house is nice, with plenty of room and a large store room and workshop for me. So why has the idea of shifting suddenly popped up?

Pingelly is a country town in the wheatbelt of Western Australia about 90 minutes from Perth and Fremantle. I found an advert for a splendid residence there selling for an asking price of $550,000. See it here. It was built as a post office and has been made over into a wonderful house.

I was born in the country, but apart from nearly ten years in Papua New Guinea have lived mostly in the suburbs along the coast. I had to spend a year teaching at the small wheatbelt town of Goomalling and didn't like that at all. The locals were very critical of any teachers who left the town on weekends; even if they had family in the city. In the year I was there not one of the teachers received an invite to visit a farm or social event.

Writing this has almost cured me of moving to a country town. We will drive to Pingelly and do a bit of carpet crushing though.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Justice and the Church

Cardinal Pell in NSW, and Archbishop Hickey in W.A. have been a bit naughty over cover-ups of allegations of sexual abuse. They have both denied justice to some of their flock after the victims' complaints.

Father Terrance Goodall in NSW had a number of accusations levelled against him and in 2003 the Church determined that Father (not so) Goodall 'was guilty of other sexual and indecent assaults, had no boundaries and no sympathy for victims and was likely to re offend'. That sounded like it was enough to get a slap on the wrist, but it didn't happen and the original complainant was told by Cardinal Pell that his claim could not be substantiated.

Father Goodall went before the courts and was sentenced to a period of the rising of the court which turned out to be 4 seconds: a token sentence. If a policeman caught me taking a leak in an alley in the city, I am sure my sentence would be a lot heavier. Methinks there has been some lobbying by the good Cardinal.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

winter days

342 Canning Highway circa 1900

These cool winters days make us regret not having a North facing backyard to bask in the sun. Our old house in Bicton had a nice, large backyard facing north...wonderful! The house itself was built in 1897 and we were the second family to occupy it. We lived there for 28 years.
Canning Road (Highway) circa 1900. Leopold Hotel with the Bicton house on the right. Kids playing on the road amongst the horse poo.

Both of us go to our GP next to our old Bicton residence and sometimes we wish we could take a tour of the place next door and the back yard to see what they have done with it. We had a concrete pool which lapsed into disuse and we converted it into a pond with waterfall and limestone edging. It was stocked with Koi, Goldfish and Yabbies. It was good to drop a trap in the pond and get a feed of Yabbies at any time. Yabbies, locally called Koonaks, are minature lobsters and they are a source of income to farmers who grow them in their dams. They are sold mainly overseas at inflated prices.

One of the crazy things about the pool/pond was that when it was a pool the local council had to inspect it annually to see that the fences and locks were in place to avoid drownings, but once we converted it to a pond, no inspection was necessary.

A couple of pics of the house and the highway out front and the pool conversion. The small building in the background of the pond is a 'cubby' with a spiral staircase and cellar underground.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Battle for Australia Day

In the Saturday edition of the West Australian, Paul Murray discusses the newly created Battle for Australia Day.

There is a bit of debate as to whether there actually was a battle for Australia as it has long been known the Japan did not have any concrete plans to invade Australia during WW2. It is believed any invaders taking on the vast barren distances (without sushi bars) from the North of Oz to civilisation could not easily be fuelled and fed. The argument by historians is that history is only about what actually happened and not what could have happened. People in Darwin and Broome along with Sydneysiders might argue the point after severe bombings and loss of life.

That being said, I personally believe that if U.S. men and materiel had not turned up in Australia, Japan would have won all the Pacific islands and eventually had a crack at invading Australia. Of course the U.S. build up was not entirely altruistic; they wanted to secure their own territories and the U.S. mainland.

Let's hope they do the same if we are threatened by Indonesia in the future.

A friend, Dennis, visited on Saturday afternoon with a couple of bottles of Swan Valley white. Very nice too; so nice that it inspired us to open another couple of bottles...just for comparison purposes of course. Joan ended up driving him home. I seldom do that these days, but when I do, I get a severe attack of phoneitis. Can't remember how many people I talked (mumbled) to.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Better in a week?

I have finished...I hope, the maintenance on our daughter's unit. The tenants are Indian and when I went to install the door lock hardware the wife pointed out (she can't speak English) that the basin taps no longer worked. I took a look and it seems that she had turned them off with such pressure that the knobs had stripped. I tried to explain to her in sign language that fingers are OK to turn off a tap, not strong-arm stuff. I went to Bunnings and purchased a new tap set and replaced it. Whilst I was replacing the door lock I noticed that there was a lot of water on the floor of the toilet area. Oh no; the bloody cistern I had previously installed is leaking! I got down on my knees in the water to try and find where the leak was. Nothing! I realised that my sleeve was wet from water on the toilet seat. It hit me: there was a bucket full of water with a dipper in it near the toilet and no toilet paper in the dispenser. The old Asian toilet trick!

This morning I went to have a haircut. I am inexperienced at visiting a hairdresser; I usually hack away at my own hair with a razor blade apparatus. The first 'salon' near us was full and the cost posted was $17 - $19. I drove to Kardinya Park shopping centre where the cost was $21 and I sat down waiting for my turn. There were four young gals cutting and whatevering four women and the eight of them were loudly discussing 14 topics. I got up and walked out and drove to Fremantle wharf to the markets in E Shed. The going rate there was $12.50 and I waited a short time to get in the chair. The young lady asked 'how I would like it'. Several answers there, but I suggested No2 on the sides and No3 on top. She commented that I must like it short and I sort of wondered then whether I had got it right. She did the sides first and then the first harvest over the top looked like a US Marine haircut. Eeeek! Too late then and now I look like I should go and get a few tattoos to match. 'A week and it'll be a number four', she consoled.

I tried to see some pros to offset the cons. 1. It will be easy to wash and comb. 2. I can put a shirt on without messing up my hair. 3. I will get to see some movies at home until it grows.