Tuesday, September 27, 2011

More road trip stuff

En route to Esperance last Monday we stopped over for a look at the Wagin Historical Village which has the usual exhibits of tractors, machinery, schoolrooms and other shops of old. It is unfortunate that Wagin doesn’t get many tourists and the only person in the ‘Village’ was an elderly volunteer collecting the entry fee. In other more visited touristy places we have visited in various parts of the world each point of interest was ‘manned’ and an interesting story was told.

This is a pic of an Australian invention in the machinery shed. It is a mobile circular saw...the blade covered by a bicycle tyre. It was used for land clearing and was, as it looks, quite dangerous. The blade could be turned to horizontal for lopping trees or vertical for cutting firewood etc. There were reports of the blade digging in and chasing the operator around in a big circle. My uncle had one...for how long I don’t recall.
Another exhibit was a steam stationary engine which, when I was a young fella, was in a house yard at the next farm to my grandparents’ farm. I don’t know why country museums have to paint exhibits in gaudy colours?
Further down towards Esperance is the town of Ravensthorpe. Through the town is a long hill of a 10% gradient and large ore bearing road trains have great difficulty getting over the hill some needing a pull by a tractor.
It is rare that Kev gets a break, but I have been pleased by the assistance the carpet company which laid the carpet at our unit is offering. A couple of days after the man laid the carpet I saw a small mark on the carpet. I dampened a clean cloth and gave the spot a gentle rub....it dried worse. I was not sure whether the layer had dropped some glue and wiped it off or I had brought in some dirt on a shoe. I went to the company seeking information on what I should use to try and remove the stain. To my surprise they told me they would send down their fixit man to take care of it either by cleaning it or replacing that piece of carpet. Unbelievable!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Esperance, Western Australia

This week, early on Monday morning, brother Graham and I started off on a drive to Esperance on the South coast of Western Australia where our sister lives. Esperance is around 720 kilometres from Perth and takes about 8 hours driving at the speed limit of 120kph with a couple of breaks. We decided to overnight at Lake King.
There is a lake at Lake King, albeit dry. There is also a motel....and that is about it!
Neither of us slept well...Graham suffers from heat and I suffer from the cold. He spent the night throwing off the doona and I spent the night wrapped up to keep warm.
We arrived in Esperance and moved into separate rooms at sister Shirley’s house.

This was not just a social visit, but I had brought with me a couple of computers to replace a previous machine which had died. I managed, after a lot of mucking around and talking with a help desk in the Phillipines, to get a connection and set up a freeby email client; Yahoo Mail. The Skype camera she had bought was not compatible with Macs, so I have suggested she sell it locally and once she has become familiar with using Skype, then buy a camera which is Mac compatible. Not sure that this will eventuate as Shirl is a bit timid when it comes to computers.

Esperance has a population of about 15,000 and magnificent beaches and outlying islands. Being so far south I imagine the water would be too cold for Kev. About 15 kilometers out of town is a large wind farm of about 15 turbines. It supplies about 22% of Esperance’s power consumption. Esperance has plenty of wind and most of the surrounding farms have large New Zealand style windrows of gum trees to break up the howling winds.

On Wednesday evening we dined out at a nice restaurant with the rest of Shirl’s family; Karen, her lovely daughter and the grandkids. A nice meal and good to catch up with them after so long. I don’t think I will visit Esperance again unless there is a funeral to attend....more like they will attend mine.

We did the drive back in 8 hours with us driving 200 kilomters each and making a couple of food stops. Graham’s new Volkswagen Passat was a pleasure to drive and when overtaking road trains went like a ‘shower of s***’. First time I have driven a turbocharged car and I was suitably impressed. The Passat has lots of interesting technological tricks, but is a bit bossy....it won’t let you do anything until the driver’s seatbelt is attached. Not sure how that is overcome in those states of the U.S. where the civil liberties of the citizenry allow them to drive without a seatbelt??

Nice to be home in familiar surrounds and with my own comfortable bed!

Yesterday I drove to the young Cambodian mum’s new retreat and replaced a MacBook laptop with Joan’s PC laptop. After giving her the Macbook a week ago she went out and bought a PC modem and Skype camera. It was easier to give Joan’s PC that trying to return and change the camera and modem. She is a lovely young lady and her joy at being helped is ample reward for me.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Phnom Penh

A couple of weeks ago I gave a Mac laptop to a young Cambodian woman who was being looked after by a welfare agency. She was in secure housing as she had suffered badly from beatings by her husband. Since then she has been moved to another unit. She wanted to use the laptop to Skype her mother in Phnom Penh. I gave her a few quick lessons on the Mac OS and she was delighted that she would soon be talking to mum.

Unfortunately she purchased a USB modem which needed a later version of the Mac OS which that computer will not run. Also she purchased a webcam which has only a PC driver. I have loaded the higher OS onto another Mac, but have decided to give her Joan's PC laptop as her support person is a PC guy and he can do the hard yards setting it all up. Joan had that PC laptop to run one of her embroidery machines, but switched to a Mac laptop using an emulation program to run PC programs named Parallels.

Things like this have suddenly put me under a bit of pressure I don't need at this stage. Joan's estate probate is still dragging out and I have no idea when it will be settled and to be perfectly honest I don't quite understand how it all works. One thing I am certain of, is that If I had gone first, things would be well and truly under control with Joan at the helm.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Not easy

I have finished refurbishing the unit our son Martin was living in and on Sunday a young couple are going to take a look at it with the probability of purchasing it. Hope they do as it will save about six thousand dollars in agent's fees.

The transfer of the title from our joint ownership to me is not as easy as I though it would be. Joan's probate needs to be finalised and those documents forwarded to the settlement agent so she can apply to have the title re-issued in my name. Same goes for our residence.

As George Bernard Shaw once said....... 'Life isn't meant to be easy'.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


I have just watched a TV movie ‘Fateless’. It is a Hungarian production of a most horrific event of WW2, the incarceration of European Jews

and the treatment of those who were not immediately consigned to the gas chambers. It is in black and white and to me, most emotional.

In my youth I owned a Volkswagen car. It worked well..much like the gas chambers of Auschwitz. Later when I read more about the WW2 I made a conscious decision not to buy a German product. We have been to Germany and in the cities we visited there was always a Holocaust Museum….but I am still not sure that the older generation still don’t think the Juden brought it on themselves.

So ist es auf die welt.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Carpet goes down at last

I spent the last couple of days filling numerous gaps in old vinyl floor tiles in preparation for carpet laying today. I had an early phone call from the carpet place telling me that the layer man was waiting outside the units at Orelia and I had to race down to let him in. My mobile phone had the sound turned off and I missed the call to tell me he was on his way.

He wasn't fazed and he is laying the carpet now. I just hope I haven't miscalculated the floor area and we are short of carpet. I will return to Orelia in about an hour to open the gate to let the man out of the compound. When I returned he told me he was having some difficulty and it was going to take another couple of hours. What he had done looked OK to me.
A work in progress....and no, the carpet is not blue.

Helen and James arrived back in Perth from the U.S. On Saturday morning. They did expect that their bags would also arrive along with them, but L.A. Airport sent them somewhere else. One of the bags has turned up and Qantas has delivered it to their home...the other is still in the jetstream somewhere. They enjoyed San Francisco and the wedding immensely. Katherine and Rick did themselves proud with a super wedding which must have cost heaps. 'Lots' would be under $100,000....'heaps' is heaps more. I am sorry that I didn't attend. I am just not ready to travel yet. Had Joan still been with us and not sick I am sure we would have had a wonderful time there.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

It aint easy!

Just lately, or is it all my life, things don’t go as expected? The carpet guys turned up and took a look at the job. I was told that the edge grippers were stuck down to a previous vinyl tiled floor with glue and over the years that glue had deteriorated and the grippers had in many places come loose. As well as that, the vinyl tiles had become so brittle that as they lifted the edge gripper chunks of tile also broke away...no warranty if the carpets are laid over gaps in the vinyl.

I dragged my brother down to the unit and we lifted the carpet and took it to landfill. Tomorrow I will remove all the edging and fill the many gaps in the vinyl with car body filler. The carpet can then be fixed directly to the vinyl using adhesive on Tuesday. Hope that is it for the whole place...too old at 71 for this stuff!

Helen and James arrive back from San Francisco this morning. I have to collect Ruby, their dog, from the boarding kennel and them from the airport at 11.30am.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Return journey is quicker

This morning I did the last cleanup of our unit which housed our son Martin. The carpet layer is to lay the new carpets on Friday. I thought I would ring the daughter of the tenant in the unit above Martin’s to inform her that she could view the unit over the weekend. She was most enthusiastic which feels good for a sale.

Later I had a second thought as to whether I could sell the unit before Joan’s estate is settled by the Public Trustee. We were joint owners of the unit and after a phone call to the trustees I was relieved to find that as it was in joint ownership, all I have to do is to present the appropriate department with the Death Certificate and new title will be issued.

On ABC talkback radio today there was a discussion about research which showed that the return journey of any trip almost always goes quicker than the journey to the destination. I would agree with that.

Boat People

Today I am finishing off the refurbishing of our unit in downtown Orelia. The carpets are to be laid this Friday. Orelia is part of what was originally known as Kwinana.

We both taught at Kwinana High School in the late 1960s and believe me when I say it was a tough school to work at. Kwinana HS has been rebuilt and named Gillmore College....I believe it has the highest rate of student absenteeism in the state. Nice looking building though!

Kwinana promised employment in the nearby industrial area, but employment gradually slowed down and many locals are unemployed and a malaise has settled over the youth of the area.

Both sides of politics in the Federal Parliament are still saying that they want to stop the refugees arriving by boat because it is very dangerous and people could, and have, drowned. They,of course, cannot publicly say that they just want to stop the boats.

The government’s deal with Malaysia to accept 4,000 largely Cambodian /Burmese refugees deemed to be genuine refugees with a swap for 800 of our boat people currently locked up in detention centres has stalled because of a court ruling. I would think that South East Asian refugees would be more acceptable to most Australians than Middle East refugees because of their track record of assimilation and that their religious beliefs and practices do not cause conflict.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Orelia, the Nedlands of the South...not!

I have been very busy refurbishing our unit readying it for sale. For such a small 2br unit I am amazed at how much work was required to bring it up to scratch. I decided to have new carpet laid instead of trying to clean the existing stuff. It will be done next Friday and shortly after it will be on the market.

This block of units was originally built sometime in the 1970s for the State Housing Commission and probably in the 1980/90s, sold off to individuals. The area is not what one would describe as salubrious and this particular block has run-down gardens and tenants who care little for their surrounds or their neighbours. In short it is crappy and I will be glad to be rid of it.
This description will not accompany the for sale advert.
Doesn't look too bad from a distance

Today is father’s day and it is the first time I can recall not having my children visit. Martin is in Melbourne and Helen is in San Francisco. I do expect that they will ring though. At the time of writing this the time here is 7.18am and it 4.18pm in SF and just to complicate things it is Sunday here and only Saturday there...Australia is ahead of the U.S. in a few things.

Martin rang me for Father’s Day just as I was leaving to bring a trailer load of furniture etc back from the unit. When I was loading a dining room table and chairs onto the trailer a tenant of one of the other units struck up a conversation.
As it happens he is gay and I was introduced to his rather shy aboriginal partner. He told me he loves it there...must be insane! I asked if he had room for some furniture for free. He ended up taking the dining table, a coffee table, an outdoor setting and all the saucepans, crockery, cutlery and glassware. All I brought home was the washing machine and a few tools etc. Easy! Saved me finding places to store it all and if/when Martin returns, we can always buy new stuff