Wednesday, August 31, 2011

A Chinese stove made in Turkey

Helen and James are in San Francisco for her cousin Katherine’s wedding to Rick. It is going to be a big affair over several days including a harbour cruise, a baseball game (all the guests have been told which team to barrack for) and of course the wedding.

On Monday Helen went to work and James was to go to work on Tuesday. After work I was to take them to Perth airport for their flight to Brisbane and SF. Monday evening around 8.30pm I had a flustered call from Helen telling me that they had miscalculated and it was actually Monday night they were to depart. I had had a couple of beers so couldn’t drive. They had to taxi it to the airport. James had bought a new suit and the alterations were to be completed Tuesday morning. They flew without that one.

Tuesday, I found instructions on taking Ruby, their dog, to a boarding kennel, cancelling a vet appointment and ringing the people where the suit was being altered.

I received a call from Helen saying that they had safely arrived in Brisbane. They should be now looking for a suit rental place in SF.

Work on our unit at Orelia is going reasonably well. I have decided to sell and hope to come out of the deal with a loss of around $30k. Hopefully I can claim this loss against my income tax, but the waters around this situation are quite muddy. Time will tell.

At the unit I have an electrician coming along on Friday to connect the new stand-alone stove for $95. There are three wires to tightens crews down on, but as I am selling the unit I don’t want to electrocute a new buyer by doing a amateur wiring job myself.
I notice that the stove, although a Chinese brand, is made in Turkey. Are wages in Turkey lower than China?

Local laws demand that smoke alarms be hard wired, unless, as in the case of this unit, there is no ceiling space. In this case an alarm with a 10 year Lithium battery can be fitted. A little bit expensive, but no where near the cost of an electrician to visit.

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Bridal Train

On Saturday morning a group of friends did a tour of the Woodman Point Quarantine Station. Most of us had heard about this establishment but had no real idea about the fact that it was in operation from about 1852. It is on a beachfront site and there was a large jetty for ships to tie up and disembark passengers and crew who had contracted one of the major plagues of the time. It was still operational into the 1970s. The site is now run by the Department of Sport and Recreation, but the quarantine station and machinery are left in place for tours. $9m was spent restoring the timber cottages, hospitals etc.

There was much to see and learn and everyone enjoyed the experience. The station has the first crematorium ever built in Australia. Because of the deadly diseases treated here, bodies were not buried, but cremated.

For those interested here is a link for a site with interesting details...

In the afternoon I went to collect a computer donated by a lady in her eighties. She was as bright as a button and she told me that she had spent 57 years in California. I asked her if she was a war bride and sure enough she married a U.S. Submariner in Fremantle in 1944. She only returned to be with her sisters in 2001 after the death of her husband. He served on the USS Tautog out of Fremantle. Some info about the Tautog.
Lovely lady and I am sure we will talk more about war brides.

There is a nice song by a local group called ‘The Bridal Train’ written by the band’s singer about her grandmother who married another U.S. sailor and sailed to America on the Monterey.
You can hear 'The Bridal Train' here.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Mike's wake

There was a change of plan in last night’s wake for my Bro-in-Law, Mike. I decided to be the ‘skipper’ and abstain from drinking. It worked well and I kept myself busy taking photographs and serving snacks.

I made some Aussie fare....celery pieces, filled with curried egg. They went like hot cakes and I was surprised that not many of the guests had tasted it before.

A pic of one of four plates.
The recipe is simple...hard boil your eggs, then remove the yokes and mix with mayo and curry powder and fill the celery. I recommend you try it. Young crisp celery is essential.

Some heartfelt speeches were made in honour of Mike.
Greg made a touching, but humorous farewell speech.

I was surprised how many of their friends are travelling to San Francisco today to attend Katherine and Ricks’ wedding. Dorothy, Katherine and Rick are off at about 5.30pm on the long flight from Perth. I feel somewhat guilty that I am not also going, but Helen and James are representing me.

Cousins...Katherine, Helen, Vanessa, Fiona and Janine.

Friday, August 26, 2011

six months

It is six months today that My Joan passed away. We were 46 years together and it is a comfort to remember those good years.

I am doing OK, but need to keep very busy.

The six month mark is not especially important...I think of Joan every day.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

There will be days like this

With the events of this year I have had a on off relationship with a bit of melancholia.

Today I had a bright spot when I delivered a laptop to a young Cambodian woman who has suffered at the hands of her violent husband and is now in respite. She is just 26 and has a nice young son. The agency looking after her asked me if I had a computer and printer which she could have. When I set it up and gave her some instructions she was beaming and heaped thanks on me. ‘Then I must remember, there will be days like this’.

Mike’s wake is on Friday evening and we are all driving up North of the River in my car and leaving the car there and cabbing it home. Should work out about $25-30 each for the four of us, which isn’t even the cost of a restaurant meal. Mike wanted a wet wake.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Vale Mike Treasure

My brother-in-law Mike passed away this morning. Parkinson’s Disease ravaged his body and his mind. The gifting of his body to UWA Medical School for research into Parkinson’s was a wonderful thing for him to do.

This bastard disease stole his very being.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Mike Treasure

Yesterday; Saturday, James and Helen helped me do some cleaning and repairs at the unit I own which our son Martin lived in for a few years. Helen busied herself cleaning out the fridge and it was soon evident that the door seals were damaged and most of the storage plastic-ware was cracked or broken. A quick decision saw the fridge on the back of James’ pickup and on its way along with the stove to the local landfill recycling centre. The heavily stained carpet in the main room proved to be salvageable after a few test scrubs with heavy duty spotter. I will hire a ‘Britex’ machine next week and give all the carpets a thorough clean. I decided to hire a painter to repaint doors and door frames.

Later in the day I decided to sell the unit rather than be the nasty landlord. I am guessing that I will lose around $30,000, but in the current economic climate, housing values are unlikely to get back to their previous levels in the time I have left. So I rang the young woman who was interested in renting the unit and told her that I was sorry, but I had decided to sell it. In no time a text message appeared on my phone saying that she would be very interested in buying it. Great news! There would be no selling agents’ fee and as her father lives in the unit above, she knows all the problems associated with this block of units. Once I have finished the refurbishment, she will take a look and haggle with the price I have indicated I would like.

My brother-in-law Mike is in hospital and he is in the final stages of his time here. Helen and I drove to the hospital to pay our respects to Mike. His daughter and son-in-law to be have travelled from the U.S. to be there with him. If he has not passed away over night he will soon leave us.

Mike had left instructions that his body be given to the medical school at the University of Western Australia to do research into Parkinson’s Disease.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Big Spender

Martin, our son, has just emailed me to say that he has found suitable accommodation near where he will start work in Melbourne. He cannot move in today as the room will not be available for a couple of weeks, but he has paid a month’s board in advance to secure the place. Whew! Meanwhile he will remain in the cheapo hotel.

My friend Albert had his radical prostatectomy. The operation was more difficult than anticipated and went for 5 hours. Soon after he was moved to intensive care due to an infection. He is responding to treatment for the infection and should be out of IC in a day or so. Kathy, his wife, is issuing a daily bulletin to friends and family.

The repairs and reno at the unit we own are going reasonably well. Rather than try and refurbish the stand-alone kitchen stove, I went and bought a new one and also a clothes drier. Quite something new for me who is not noted as a Big Spender. The laundry and toilet have been repainted and repairs made to a sliding glass door damaged by a recent break-in attempt. The carpets might come up with a professional carpet cleaner. If not, I will replace the worst of them.

The neighbors are feral. I couldn’t live there, but I won’t have any trouble renting the place.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Renting accommodation

Our son Martin is in Melbourne, He rang yesterday and admitted that it was going to be more difficult than he thought to find single accommodation. Duh!

Here in Perth, people are lining up to get rental accommodation. It is so scarce that people are pushing up the rental prices by bidding for the accommodation. I cannot see that Melbourne will be any different.

He may have to share a house with others and that is not a good option for him. He is having his job interview today, which he says is just a formality, and he will probably start work next week.

I have been doing lots of work on the unit where Martin lived for several years. It is going to cost. The stove needs replacing as does the carpet in the main room. The bathroom/laundry is getting a repaint and there are other jobs such as patching walls, replacing power and light switches etc. Should take a couple of weeks to get it to rentable condition. I knew there was a reason we didn’t want Martin living with us.

A good friend from the early 1960s in Papua New Guinea had a Radical Prostatectomy yesterday. Albert is to stay in hospital for seven days. This operation to remove a cancerous prostate is sometimes difficult to avoid nerve damage and can leave the patient with incontinence and or impotence. I hope Albert's is a successful operation with no bad side effects. I had a Radical Prostatectomy some 12 years ago and all I will say about that is, I am not incontinent!

Monday, August 15, 2011

San Francisco wedding

I have just returned from Perth Domestic Airport where I dropped off Martin for his plane to Melbourne. He is relocating there and has a job waiting for him....not a great job, but a job.
Finding Accommodation may be a little more difficult and he may have to do the Backpacker thing until he can get a unit.

Meantime, I will continue the refurbishing of the unit we bought to house Martin and ready it for rental. It will be rented as a furnished unit. Already the tenant in the unit above Martin’s has contacted me and wants his daughter and partner to move in. I will let an agent handle the rental. I don’t want the hassles of being the mean landlord.

I had a visit from Joan’s sister Dorothy and Mike yesterday. Mike has had Parkinson’s Disease for some years and it has progressed to the stage that he needs full time care. He cannot speak and needs specialised foods to avoid breathing in liquids and most regular food. I feel for Dorothy as she has to attend to his every need. Even so they are travelling to San Francisco in a couple of weeks for their daughter’s wedding. Mike shouldn’t be going, but Katherine their daughter wants her father to attend. We were invited, but since Joan’s death, I don’t feel like travel, so have apologised and will stay home. Helen and James are also going, so this family is represented. Mike and I got along well and it is very sad to have lost a friend to this insidious disease.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Veuve Clicquot

Our daughter Helen, gave us a bottle of Veuve Clicquot for Xmas. We never got to open it at Xmas and last week I opened it to share with Helen and James. It was ‘skunked’, so much so it was undrinkable. Whenever we have had a bottle of cheapo bubbly in the past which was flat or undrinkable, we merely returned it to the bottle shop and took another one off the shelf. Bottle shops don't take back their Veuve without a cash register receipt. You don’t get a receipt with a present and in any case you don’t expect to get a dud bottle of $90 wine.

No amount of googling will bring up an Australian agent for Veuve, but a local bottle shop has promised to do some investigation for me later today. I might be lucky yet.

Helen and James haven’t been too lucky though. They signed up for PhotoVoltaic panels at the same time as my brother Graham and I did and we all had the panels installed on the same day. At the time the sales person faxed off the applications for the 40c per kilowatt power input to be sold back to the energy company. Bro and I got ours acknowledged, but Helen and James heard nothing and when they contacted the energy company they were told that as they had not submitted their application before the government subsidy cutoff date they could only get paid 7c per unit into the electricity arguments thanks. That makes the expense of the solar panels pretty well useless as it will take a couple of decades to pay off the panels etc at 7c per.
Fortunately my cousin Edward is the man who has volunteered his services as a mediator and he has forwarded all the documents including a Statutory Declaration saying that the application was faxed before the closing date. Hope he can get the decision reversed. Cousin Ted has an impressive track record of winning over lots of government and commercial businesses.
Don’t sell Ted a car unless you are very sure it has absolutely no defects.

Just after lunch today I noticed a Channel7 TV transmitter vehicle near my house front. I’m guessing that something of import has happened in this estate and we should see something on tonight’s 7 News.
The cleanup and repairs etc are progressing in Martin’s unit. A few days ago we opened an inspection door to check out the condition of the electric hot water system. The HWS is housed in a vertical space which services three floors of apartments. It was inhabited by about 300 Australian cockroaches (Periplaneta australasiae). They are a large species of cockroach, winged, and growing to a length of 30–35 millimetres. Martin hit them with a couple of cans of insecticide and yesterday we gave them another jolt with an insect bomb. Martin made sure that the tenants above and below knew when he was going to ‘bomb’ them so they could go out for a couple of hours. I am guessing the bottom unit has heaps of dead cockies next to their HWS.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

London's Burning; London's Burning

London is burning! These riots raise all sorts of questions and the pundits have already solved the puzzle. I am really unsure about the situation there, but it looks remarkably like the G8 protests which start off with a few well meaning folk staging a protest followed up by hooded, masked hoons bent on destruction and looting.

British cops have a policy of going easy on such events. If it were in my neighborhood and the damage to my property, I’d be asking for water canon, tear gas and rubber bullets.

I wonder about insurance problems for buildings and property in these affected areas.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

A letter to Joan

Joan I am watching your fav TV show; Masterchef. It is the final with a female and male cooking it off. As you know I am not into these sort of programs, but I should report back to you about the result. I doubt that most people like us would pay the big bucks for such small serves.

I must thank you for all the pantry stuff you left me. Some of it is out of date now and I used some peanuts in a curry only to find that they were rancid.....should have read the use by date. I am doing OK, but miss you terribly. Helen and James are being very supportive. I eat ...and drink, often, with them and am happy that they still want me around.

Martin is soon off to Melbourne and I will decide if this is a time to sell the unit we bought to house him. I went down to BoganVille to do some maintenance today and wish that I could get out of that situation without losing too much.

I have created a slideshow of photographs of you and us and it brings tears to my eyes every time it starts up on the computer. I love you dearly my Joan.

I’ll let you know later who won MasterChef............results just in...the gal won.


Low-lifes are every where! Generally if one buys into a more expensive area, one expects to have reasonable neighbors, but sometimes the rules just don’t apply.

Helen and James bought their house in the same suburb as us and expected that they would have the same sort of neighbors as we have. As it turns out there is a family of ferals two doors up who are doing their best to make it uncomfortable to live there.

James has confronted them and talked to the parents who have no control over their kids and suffer verbal abuse from them. The parents admit that the previous owners of Helen and James’ house almost certainly sold because of their sons’ intimidation. A line has been drawn and things could get worse. Not good!

Similarly, the unit we own which houses our son Martin, has neighbors from hell also. His unit is in a block of about thirty units in a suburb known for its ferals. I would like to sell it when Martin leaves for Melbourne in a couple of weeks, but the housing market has crashed and I would lose too much cash. Never-the-less once I have refurbished it I will get a valuation. I don’t like being a landlord with all the attendant problems of rough tenants.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Oxford comma

Shock, horror.....the Oxford comma has been dropped.
Firstly a lesson on what the Oxford Comma is. I have never seen it used and hopefully have never used it in error.

The 'Oxford comma' is an optional comma before the word 'and' at the end of a list:

We sell books, videos, and magazines.

It's known as the Oxford comma because it was traditionally used by printers, readers, and editors at Oxford University Press. Not all writers and publishers use it, but it can clarify the meaning of a sentence when the items in a list are not single words:
These items are available in black and white, red and yellow, and blue and green.
The Oxford comma is also known as the 'serial comma'.

Anyway, Oxford University has dropped it and just the ‘and’ can now be the standard without the comma. Whew!

Today I returned our cat Amber to the Cat Haven. It has been a very timid cat over the last four months and spent most of its day hiding from me. The real reason I got rid of it was its bad habit of urinating inside the house. I had to fill out a form with a reason for bringing it back after a year and pay a fee of $15. Good value I reckon. I used a nice Apple iBook box to take her to her new premises after drilling a peephole in the end. She didn’t whinge too much after I assured her that she wasn’t going to be ‘put to sleep’.
I did want to be on good terms with Amber, but that wasn’t to be. Over the years we have had quite a few cats and with the exception of Amber, they have all been great.

As an ex teacher I should write a smoothover report on her and mention the good things about her.

She is a very attractive cat, who has a placid manner, neither scratching or biting its owners. She should do well in new surroundings.

Monday, August 1, 2011

A large family

Yesterday I visited Joan’s aunt, Pat Wray. Joan’s sister Dorothy was also invited and by late afternoon there were about 15 family members attending. I thought this was some big event, but I was assured it was a regular Sunday gathering.

Pat has 8 children, 25 grandchildren (with a couple more soon to arrive) and 12 great grandchildren. This handsome little bloke is a month old and another was born on Saturday. I think they all pity me without any grandkids. I can live with that.
Pat is in her 80s, still very bright and computer literate. She told us of a recent discovery of what she called a strange and well kept secret about her family history. This has inspired her to research her family tree and she has turned up some very interesting stuff. I can’t tell you what it is...but it is a bit spicey!