Monday, 31 December 2012

New Year's Eve

Tonight we will be walking down to the waterfront to watch the entertainment and the fireworks, all of which is free. The fireworks there will be at nine o'clock instead of midnight so that children can enjoy them and then go home to bed. This works for me! There will be a free fireworks display at Mindil Beach at midnight. Members of the public are not to use their own personal fireworks and none are on sale. I wonder. I wonder.
Other people can go on to parties and functions. Some hotels and clubs are charging nearly $200 a head for some drinks, a meal and entertainment tonight. Other places are cheaper and some have no cover charge at all. Most functions will continue until two o'clock. I wonder how the customers will feel the next day when both the party and the money have disappeared.

This is described as a screensaver on the website.

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Smarty Pants

I am not a marvellous writer, not of form or content. I feel no compulsion to read great literature. I do not often appreciate the fine details of excellent writing. Nevertheless I do enjoy writing. Every Sunday I write to my son as my parents wrote to me for thirty years. I try to write on this blog nearly every day. I write copious emails to my friends and family. I write letters (not frequently, but sometimes) to family members who hold a special place in my heart. Postcards, birthdays cards, and similar call me.
Thus, hence, and wherefore ... When I saw this little poster on facebook I grabbed it gleefully, wickedly. I hope you enjoy its message and its style. I am quite certain I break all these rules regularly or even irregularly.

Friday, 28 December 2012

Gorgeous prize

A while back the lovely and creative Roslyn from Sew Delicious posted a great tutorial for an advent calendar. It was simple to do and looked fabulous. A multitude of felt pockets all held on the wall with reposition-able hooks. Easy to change the height to suit the household pets and the children. Easy to store afterwards. There was a generous giveaway along with this post and I entered.

It is my lucky day, again. I was awarded a prize pack of hooks and they have now arrived. Thank you Roslyn. Thank you also to the 3M company who make and market Command hooks. The little adhesive strips are all transparent which is an improvement in my eyes. There are five different sizes which is really great.

Well, they will not be used for this year's advent calendar but I have plenty of other uses in mind, including some New Year's Eve nonsense. I will probably share some of these with my daughter who lives in rented accommodation. That advent calendar is still on the program for next time though.

I live in a highrise in the CBD and although I own my home I sometimes do not want to make holes in the walls. There are many rules here about Christmas decorations on the doors and so forth. Thou shalt not ...

Yes, advertising in this way is working.

Thursday, 27 December 2012

An Unexpected Christmas

I saw this video clip on Roses, Lace, and Brocante  and it is so delightful that I wanted to share it.
The children are from Auckland in New Zealand and their accents are charming to my ears. Love the fact that it is all children. Love the upside down wings on the warriors. Yes, I know that Advent and Christmas Day have well and truly passed, but you will like this. Actually we are still in the season of Christmas until the twelve days are complete.


Hmm, I guess I am very sentimental.

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Superb Christmas Day 2012

A wonderful day. A superb day indeed.

I am very lucky indeed to have received some lovely gifts. I would like to mention a few.
The book is written exactly how Minh speaks.
She has lived such an interesting life.
My husband presented me with an assortment of books. One was written by a dear friend but every time I had looked in the bookstores it was sold out. How did he do that?
My husband liked his present which is a box heavily inlaid with mother-of-pearl. I thought it was one of the most beautiful things I had ever seen and have had it stashed away for many months. The craftsmanship is so good.
The gift from my son was a shopping bag with a vintage map of Melbourne on the side. Beat that you local shoppers! Not that I am actually competitive, am I? Now I am reminded that I have a shopping bag somewhere that is a souvenir of Vancouver - a gift from somebody else who travels. One kind thought links with another.

The much maligned sewing machine has decided to work. Hallelujah! Hoorah! Whoopee! I went back through the computer and deleted saved instructions. A tiny piece of thread worked its way out of the bobbin too. The relief is enormous.

Living so far away from family members the Christmas phone calls are really important. One of my sisters-in-law telephoned and we spoke happily. That in itself is a minor miracle as we had been very angry at each other lately. Forgiveness is tricky, but was obviously assisted by the Christmas mood. Thank goodness, as I want my husband to live within a calm family environment.

A wonderful day. The culmination of planning and effort was delicious, thoughtful, and special.

Monday, 24 December 2012

Christmas panic

Here are some free screen savers I downloaded from somewhere on the internet a few weeks ago. My sincere apologies to the real owners and artists, but they were offered free. I found these to be calming, non-charity, non-Santa, non-political, non-religious, and all that other stuff. Even vegetarians and animal rights activists will find them acceptable I think. (Soy candles??) Put them in your Christmas file for next year or use them right now until the twelve days of Christmas are over.

These images are from
vintage Christmas cards.
A small amount of Christmas panic has crept into my day.

My lovely new sewing machine has decided to misbehave. Some computerised part has malfunctioned. Bah, humbug. Yes, I should have sewn those emergency gifts months ago. I needed one today! Someone shall have a box of the home-made peppermint creams instead and I will work on more later for our little family. The sewing will be finished later and set aside for next Christmas. It is not like this has never happened before!

The gift stashed in the wine fridge will be given to our daughter in January sometime after she returns from her trip away. Yes, her brother sent all the presents in one massive parcel to our address and the labels fell off. So she was given one gift but not the second. I still can not work out who all those other parcels are for, even though we have seen the instructions in writing. More bah humbug.

We have far too much food to be decent. Nuts. Chocolates. Christmas muffins. Christmas bread. Fruit. Crystallised ginger. The cake I made in October or so will be eaten with joy because ...
  • the taste is not that bad, 
  • there is such a lot of it, 
  • I feel lazy, 
  • a cake is just a cake anyway. Bah, humbug.
Will be partying tonight with German friends. We are quite multicultural here. Other guests will be from Great Britain, Ireland, France, Philipines, Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, East Timor, New Zealand, Australia, Fiji, and India.

The Russian Father Frost who arrives by troika.

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Casino but not Royale

I went to the casino.
What, you thought a little town like mine would not stoop so low?

We have had our casino for about 25 years and it certainly is no longer the dirty carpet, lurchy drunks, stinky cigarette smoke place it once was.

These days it is called Skycity Darwin, but the business has gone through several owners and names.
Our casino is a large hotel with gambling on the side, more or less.
This is a close up of the main entrance.
You walk up a hill for about two hundred metres to this gleaming white pyramid.
Along the path the lawns are magnificent and speakers play music to help you relax.
The hotel section has more than 150 rooms, six restaurants, a ballroom, and specialist function and entertainment facilities including a huge lawn for outdoor concerts by the beach.
The casino section has more than thirty table games and (Ghastly!!) more than 700 gaming machines. Foreign currency transactions are possible, but you have to leave the casino area to use an ATM. The government regulations insist that no credit cards may be used in the casino area. There are special facilities for the wealthy clients so they do not have to mix with riffraff like me. Some gamblers come from Singapore for some fun here in quiet little Darwin. This arrangement seems to be a very profitable one for all concerned.

Here is a link.

Getting off the point!
My knitting and craft group had our Christmas celebration in one of the restaurants at the casino. A buffet lunch of everything you could imagine. Huge quantities of food. As much as you can eat. Soups, casseroles, curries, roasts, baked dishes, pasta, rice, salads, vegetables, fruit, cheeses, and at least six different deserts. Coffee and soft drinks are included in the price. Lunch is $20 and dinner in the same restaurant is $30. Because I am a Senior it was even cheaper for me. There are at least one hundred tables inside and more outside by the pool and children's playground. No rush. Beautifully clean and modern. Lovely staff.

This Christmas tree stands near the hotel section.
The sqiggly lines are because the bitumen can not take the heat
and tar must be applied to the cracks regularly.
Did I gamble? Not this time. I have tried using the gaming machines but that is not to my taste. I have tried table games in the past and 2-up. I quite enjoy those, but value my money too much to indulge again.

Have I been to the entertainment at the casino? Yes, but not for a couple of years. They get some good shows and the prices are quite reasonable. Good entertainment is not common here because artists do not want to travel so far and the customers do not want to pay the usual prices. Ages ago I went to a Chris Christofferson concert and more recently some opera. They put on some excellent balls but those are a little out of my league. Prices are usually around $300 per single ticket.

The casino pays massive amounts of tax of course. The NT government channels lots of that money into sporting facilities and some also funds the gambling addiction programs.

I am happy to use the facilities of our Skycity casino, but not to gamble there. If you gamble, then gamble responsibly.

Friday, 21 December 2012

Peppermint creams for Christmas

A number of blogs have recently talked about making peppermint creams. Sounds simple. One mother successfully made them with her preschool children. So, I decided to give it a try. Hmmm. Tempting fate??

Some of my peppermint creams with edible gold glitter.
I ended up with about 60.
      1 can condensed milk
      1 kilo icing sugar
      1 teaspoon green peppermint flavouring
      1 block cooking chocolate


  1. Combine ingredients. It makes a heavy dough a bit like marzipan.
  2. Knead and roll until smooth.
  3. Roll out and cut out shapes with petit fours cutters. 
  4. Set out on some baking paper. 
  5. Drizzle chocolate over.
  6. Package and act like a genius.
What could go wrong???

Left over dough. Now safely in the freezer.
Each lump is about half the size of my fist.
These pieces were easy to knead and roll.
Firstly, do not add the flavouring to all the mixture at the beginning. Make the dough. Halve or quarter it and only flavour one portion. You will definitely have to adjust the amount of flavouring. You could flavour and colour each portion differently. Rose. Strawberry. Kahlua. Rum. You can freeze the mixture you do not use today.

Secondly, drizzling chocolate is tricky. It gets everywhere. Well, it did in my kitchen. Maybe if you live in a chilly home it might be simpler. Today was overcast and cool and I definitely had trouble. It was only about 28 degrees C. Not hot. Not sweaty. Did not even need the fans. The finger licking was good at the time, but I feel pretty crook now.

Thirdly, the original recipe said it would make about 40. I reckon I will get about 200 out of this mixture. I definitely need more than 500g chocolate.

Fourthly, packaging is almost impossible. How do people do this? There must be something on Youtube somewhere.

I did as suggested but had to find an easier way. Messy. In the end I rolled some of the mixture into little balls and placed them in tiny foil cups. Then I spooned some melted chocolate on top. I sprinkled edible glitter on top of that and hoped that the eaters would get them out of the foil without any disasters. Into some takeaway containers and into the freezer.

Check out this post on Science Sparks and see if you can do it well. You are bound to be more successful than I was. It is supposed to be really easy. Obviously I am not as smart as a preschooler.
I got my recipe from The Great British Cookbook, because I did not want half a tin of condensed milk left over. It is basically the same, but larger quantities.

I admit these taste fabulous. Some will be given as gifts after I work out the packaging issue. Easter and Valentines Day are looking like occasions for peppermint creams this year.

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Gardens and gardening

Are you a gardener?
Cats' whiskers - easy to grow
I am not a good gardener although I try. I need to try more diligently. Even my potplants suffer from pests. The bromeliads are bomb proof, but I do not choose varieties which are difficult to grow. When we lived in a house my lawn was never the most even and lush. My gingers and heliconias failed to reach great heights, although they did flower quite prolifically. Maybe the origin of the problem was the soil, maybe the gardener.

For a few weeks I am minding a garden belonging to a close friend. The dog loves it when someone is fiddling about in the garden, although he is not much good at any of the tasks except digging. I am watering the orchids and pulling a few weeds, collecting fallen palm fronds and running the sprinkler. It is fun. Maybe if I had to do this and everything else it might not be such fun for long.

The following sign comes from the North Carolina Aquarium. I understand the feeling, although I would have expected that people would be encouraged to use the lawns and gardens at an establishment supporting knowledge of the natural world. What might be the purpose of their gardens? Should the plants be replaced with sculptures of steel? I admire the vocabulary. I wonder why it is required. There must be something about this I do not know.

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

What is love?

This is the time of year when we think about the people we love. But love might have a different shape or colour for some people.
Slow down for three minutes and read this. It is worth it.
A group of professional people posed this question to a group of 4 to 8 year-olds, 'What does 'love' mean?'
The answers they got were broader and deeper than anyone could have imagined. See what you think:

'When my grandmother got arthritis, she couldn't bend over and paint her toenails any more.
So my grandfather does it for her all the time, even when his hands got arthritis too. That's love.'
Rebecca- age 8

'When someone loves you, the way they say your name is different.
You just know that your name is safe in their mouth.'
Billy - age 4

'Love is when a girl puts on perfume and a boy puts on shaving cologne and they go out and smell each other.'
Karl - age 5

'Love is when you go out to eat and give somebody most of your French fries without making them give you any of theirs.'
Chrissie - age 6

'Love is what makes you smile when you're tired.'
Terri - age 4

'Love is when my mummy makes coffee for my daddy and she takes a sip before giving it to him, to make sure the taste is OK.'
Danny - age 7

'Love is when you kiss all the time. Then when you get tired of kissing, you still want to be together and you talk more.
My Mummy and Daddy are like that. They look gross when they kiss'
Emily - age 8

'Love is what's in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents and listen.'
Bobby - age 7 (Wow!)

'If you want to learn to love better, you should start with a friend whom you hate,'

Nikka - age 6
(we need a few million more like Nikka on this planet)

'Love is when you tell a guy you like his shirt, then he wears it everyday.'
Noelle - age 7

'Love is like a little old woman and a little old man who are still friends even after they know each other so well.'
Tommy - age 6

'During my piano recital, I was on a stage and I was scared. I looked at all the people watching me and saw my daddy waving and smiling.
He was the only one doing that. I wasn't scared any more.'
Cindy - age 8

'My mummy loves me more than anybody
You don't see anyone else kissing me to sleep at night.'
Clare - age 6

'Love is when Mummy gives Daddy the best piece of chicken.'
Elaine-age 5

'Love is when Mummy sees Daddy smelly and sweaty and still says he is handsomer than a movie star.'
Chris - age 7

'Love is when your puppy licks your face even after you left him alone all day'
Mary Ann - age 4

'I know my older sister loves me because she gives me all her old clothes and has to go out and buy new ones.'
Lauren - age 4

'When you love somebody, your eyelashes go up and down and little stars come out of you.' (what an image) 
Karen - age 7

'Love is when Mummy sees Daddy on the toilet and she doesn't think it's gross.'
Mark - age 6

'You really shouldn't say 'I love you' unless you mean it. But if you mean it, you should say it a lot. People forget.'
Jessica - age 8

And the final one -- Author and lecturer Leo Buscaglia once talked about a contest he was asked to judge.
The purpose of the contest was to find the most caring child.

The winner was a four year old child whose next door neighbour was an elderly gentleman who had recently lost his wife.

Upon seeing the man cry, the little boy went into the old gentleman's yard, climbed onto his lap, and just sat there.

When his Mother asked what he had said to the neighbour, the little boy said,
'Nothing, I just helped him cry'

Monday, 17 December 2012

Something amusing

The newspapers are full of tragedies. There is the ghastly massacre at a school in the USA. There has been yet another croc attack here, not far away. Wars rage. Financial pressures cause grief in many countries. And so it goes. While all these stories are very deserving, I find them quite depressing too. So ... I am going to be cruel and heartless at this time and give you a joke. This was sent to me by my sister and I have absolutely no idea of the origins.

New Alzheimer's test
 I've seen this with the letters out of order, but this is the first time I've seen it with numbers.
If you can read this, you have a healthy brain. Maybe you can forget about Alzheimer’s.

7H15 M3554G3
53RV35 7O PR0V3
D0 4M4Z1NG 7H1NG5!
1MPR3551V3 7H1NG5!
1N 7H3 B3G1NN1NG
17 WA5 H4RD BU7
N0W, 0N 7H15 LIN3
R34D1NG 17
W17H0U7 3V3N
7H1NK1NG 4B0U7 17,
C3R741N P30PL3 C4N
R3AD 7H15.
PL3453 F0RW4RD 1F
U C4N R34D 7H15.

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Another US massacre of innocent lives

The news this morning here has been of yet another US massacre. This time little children and their teachers have been murdered at their school. There have apparently been few survivors.

What is going on in that country? This is not the first time an event like this has occurred, but nothing appears to change. Is freedom to kill a basic human right and freedom? I do not think so. Who is important? What is important? Who is protecting the innocent?

In a properly run country people do not feel the need to arm themselves with guns. My opinion is that hunting animals with guns is only for farmers and those associated with agricultural industries. I do not support hunting for pleasure as a legitimate activity. I might expect slaughterhouse behaviour like this in a country torn by civil war, not in a supposedly democratic and civilised nation.

Here is a link to the story in The Australian newspaper.
This is a quote taken from that newspaper.
Twenty-year-old suspected gunman Adam Lanza shot dead 20 children aged between five and ten, and at least six adults at the school before killing himself with a shot to the head. According to reports, his body was found in a hallway. He is believed to killed his mother Nancy Lanza, a teacher at the school, at their home in Newtown before driving to Sandy Hook, where the shootings began at 9.30am, shortly after the school day started. The first call to emergency services to report the massacre is thought to have been made about 15 minutes later.

Where is the logic in this act? One report I read indicated that the person committing these murders suffered with autism. The autistic people I know do not behave in this way however. Obviously he was not well when he committed this act; well and sane people do not do these things. If this man needed medical or psychological support then why did he not get it?

Nobody anywhere in the world sends their children off to school with the expectation that something like this could happen. Is security in schools a significant part of this horrible tale? Surely an ocean of grief will wash over the region in Connecticut. Will it finally make a difference to the social policies of the USA?

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Orange footed scrub fowl

Around here we see quite a few orange footed scrub fowl. 

The scientific name is Megapodus reinwardt. Some people give the scrub fowl the baby talk name of 'bush chook'. These birds are one of three species of megapods in Australia and this word refers to their big feet. Orange footed scrub fowl are found across northern Australia, in New Guinea, and as far as Flores.

What does this bird look like? It is a ground dwelling bird the size of a domestic chicken, dark-coloured with strong orange legs and a pointed crest on its head. These birds can fly, but do not do it often. Mostly they walk around. Their legs are really sturdy for such a small bird.

Scrub fowl make a strange call. It sounds rather like a curlew and rather like a scream. 

Around here the gardeners are not happy when scrub fowl come to live in the garden. It is almost impossible to get these birds to move to another location. They scratch around all day long and leave lots of mess. While they are scratching they are looking for food of course.  Food consists of items found in leaf litter, including fallen fruit, seeds, and small animals.

Here is a good link. The photos are really clear.

Scrub fowl build nests. No, not cute little nests in trees, but huge mounds of mulch which are often two or three metres tall and up to nine metres across. In this mound the heat generated by the decomposition of organic material serves to incubate the eggs. These mounds are permanent features and may be used by multiple pairs or families. Although the mounds are usually in the shade under a tree they are sometimes built in sunny spots so that there is more heat for the eggs. Eggs are laid when the mound temperature is about 30-35 degrees. The eggs are quite large, resulting in a large chick.

I was walking past an art gallery and saw some sculptures that capture the presence of these birds. They are fearless and definitely never worried about construction sites or cars or any activity by people. The artist has used fly wire to construct the bodies.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Shaking and rocking the world

I woke up at two thirty this morning. An earthquake!! The whole place was really rocking and there was a lot of noise from our building. I could hear the noises above the racket of all the air-conditioners, so it was quite loud. My potplants rattled against the tiles and the wall. The windows rattled. Nothing broke at our place though. The cat was so frightened she urinated on the bathroom floor.

It seems that the quake originated in the Banda Sea, about 100km underground. If it had been in the top 10km there would have been a tsunami, but this was way too deep.

Here is a link from our local newspaper.

Monday, 10 December 2012

Christmas gifts are not always the same

I find it odd that people give chocolates as Christmas gifts. And I hate receiving flowers as Christmas gifts. A pot plant, yes; cut flowers, no. But over the years I have received some gifts I really liked.

I saw this mini poster and appreciate what it is trying to say. My feelings are a bit different.

As a child living at home we celebrated Christmas with toys, books, and a few other things. We did not have money to waste and everything had to have a purpose. We lived a plain lifestyle, but a loving one.

My mother always gave us bought knickers as a gift. For her these were a complete luxury. And they were the same for us for a long time. Mum made our underwear herself. They were usually cotton and huge and unpleasant to wear. Elastic was replaced and stitching was mended. I remember my first bought petticoat. Oh, how I loved bought undies.

I remember getting a shirt, a bought shirt. It was brightly coloured but too big to wear at the time. It was carefully hung in the wardrobe and I would often look at it and think about when the opportunity might come along so I could wear it. I did wear it once and eventually it disappeared, probably donated to the mission. But that was such a wonderful gift. It held a secret dream. Would I like clothes for Christmas? Maybe. My daughter gave me a lovely dress once and I still wear it occasionally. Some clothes are luxurious gifts.

Story books were luxuries too, so to get a new book for Christmas was wonderful. As we grew older it was important to treat the book carefully so it could be reused as a birthday present for someone else during the year. Some books were kept. I have about ten of them and the memories are worth the extra effort. Did I ever get a dictionary? Not for Christmas. My school friends had small dictionaries that sat on the desk at school, a status symbol. Mine was different and was hidden on the shelf underneath. Now in my home I have a whole shelf of dictionaries. Dictionaries of proverbs, superstitions, quotes, stitches, rocks, and so forth. For me a dictionary would be a wonderful gift, but it would need to be quite an unusual one as I have so many already.

Do I want an ipad, smartphone, new handbag, bikini, beach towel, movie tickets, face cream or more spices? Not the bikini please. No games or puzzles; I have enough. I have everything I need these days. What? Fabrics, DVDs, nonfiction books, a cake tin. Give me a dream, a luxury.

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Tragic result

On Thursday I posted a tale about a radio prank involving Kate the Duchess of Cambridge and the hospital where she was receiving treatment.

There is a tragic chapter to add.

The nurse who took the call has suicided.

I can only begin to imagine how this woman must have felt. Obviously she received a lot of blame. I am stunned by this news.

At this stage the two radio station employees have been suspended from their duties. Is this episode a case of bullying? Is it still funny?

I truly believe that nobody should feel such despair that they take their own life. There should be help. There should be enough love to fix the problems.

Somebody could and should have done more to help this nurse. Somebody knew what her life had become. If not, then why not??? Of course they knew.
This poor woman worked in a hospital, a centre of compassionate actions. She was surrounded by people who are trained to a professional level to understand others in their hours of need. The employer had a duty of care. Her colleagues had the same, plus they were close to her physically. They could see, hear, and feel how she was coping.

Her colleagues knew what words and actions could make that vital difference and they failed her.

Her family also failed her. Where were the loving hearts when she needed them?

I now hold the opinion that criminal charges should be laid against the radio station management and personnel who took part in the hoax call. The radio station continued to broadcast their recording of the hoax phone call for seven hours after they received the news that the nurse had died. This seems like some sort of crime to me, mocking her death. The broadcasting of a telephone conversation without the full knowledge and consent of the people in the call is a breach of the broadcasting legislation in this country.

I also believe that a share of the blame and possibly charges should be laid squarely at the feel of the hospital management.

The death of this woman must not be in vain. A family is now without a loved member. A profession has lost a highly trained worker. A hospital has lost someone who cared.

If I stand idly by and allow this suicide to be just another news item, do I share the responsibility?
Every life is important. I can not do something about every death, but I feel I can make a big noise about this one.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Hoax phone call

Kate, Duchess of Cambridge
The news services here today have been all abuzz with the story of a Sydney radio station which telephoned the hospital where Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, is staying.
The poor woman is dreadfully ill with morning sickness, to the point that she has to stay in hospital.

Two Sydney radio station employees impersonated Queen Elisabeth and Prince Charles and were given confidential information relating to Kate Wales's health. The radio station employees conducted the hoax call with the full knowledge of the radio station management. The London hospital security service allowed the access. The telephone conversation was recorded and not broadcast live. A solicitor checked the content before it went to air

Here is a link.

I think this prank was generally harmless. Definitely bad taste. Definitely an invasion of the patient's privacy. No-one should record a hospital conversation like that. I would not like it to happen to me or my loved ones. The nurse involved was probably tired and busy so I do not think she is to blame. But, I do think that hospital security should have screened the call. After the recent phone tapping scandal that has rocked Britain, this could be a crime, although as the call was an international one there is some doubt.

It is sad to me that the Royal family are treated badly by the Press at times. They do not have much freedom, given that they have not actually chosen huge areas of their lifestyle. These otherwise normal people live an inherited role which carries with it the obligations and honour of their country.
It seems that many people love Kate and William because they are so happy in public. They do their best and always behave as we would like young people in our own families to behave. I really hope they recover from this unfortunate incident. I hope both Kate and the baby are OK.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

New bookshelf

We have a new bookshelf. That might seem minor to other families, but we have an awkward entrance to our flat and any new piece of furniture is chosen partly because we can manoeuvre it through the doorway. The delivery man is to be congratulated on his efforts moving this with just a small hand trolley.

My  husband  saw the shelves one day when he was window shopping and raced home grinning hugely to tell his news. It almost matches a cabinet we already own. This was just what we needed. Not a perfect match but coordinated and impressive. The cabinet is the holdall for inherited objects and little treasures.

These pieces of furniture are imported from Bali. The timber is teak. It is a warm golden colour, and is really solid.
In Bali there are highly talented wood carvers who make furniture from recycled timber, sometimes from old houses and sometimes from boats. This timber is well seasoned and never warps or splits. I can think of five or six shops here in my city who sell these pieces.

Sometimes a factory in Bali will make several pieces the same, sometimes each piece has its own charm. When I use the term 'factory" it is not like the European connotation of a factory. These are more like artists workshops.

If you look carefully
you can understand why I think they match.
We like the carving, and the more ornate the better for us. (Yes, other styles of furniture are made in Bali.) See the lovely side panels on the new shelves. Yes, that will definitely collect dust. I decided I do not particularly care about that at the moment.

We spent some cheerful time smeared in teak oil trying to be good housekeepers. The timber was quite thirsty.

We have thoroughly enjoyed moving the books about. Move, rearrange, read a few pages, talk about something. Love that. Books about famous people. Books about European exploration of the Pacific region. Books about houses and styles of furniture. It was heavenly to rediscover books I had forgotten we own.

We have two sets of shelves in the spare room, containing novels. There are two more sets in the hallway with books about indigenous people of the world, and a few encyclopaedias. I won't bore you with the others; but there are a lot of books at our place. Most are non fiction.

This little video is not great but it does show something about Balinese workmanship.

Monday, 3 December 2012

Lucky me again

I visited my doctor and had the stitches taken out. The pathology report was back and the entire tumour has been removed. The swelling has gone and so has the bruising. It won't be too long before I can sleep normally again, something that has not been possible all year. The scar is not pretty and it looks a bit weird there, but the future is looking bright. This time I have been really lucky.
I looked at the scar from the surgery at the beginning of the year and it too is improving. Lucky again.

Now I can be more positive. I actually feel different, brighter, more energetic. I feel that I have been offered another chance at a long life and I am truly grateful. I will work to make my dreams reality. There is a ghastly saying that if you can dream it you can achieve it. Rubbish!!! Any fool can dream, but only some achieve their aims. There are so many things I want to do now. Time to put in some effort.

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Oh Christmas tree, Oh Christmas tree

The tree is finally up. Tinsel is fluttering as the fans whirl. You will probably see other views of my world at a later date.

This year we are using only the top two sections of the tree and I have placed it on a metal hatbox. Just the right size for us. Of course it is a fake tree; I live in the tropics. Of course there are no food-like decorations. Just imagine what the insects and ants would do with that, to say nothing of the humidity. This is a quiet little corner, out of the way but still highly visible.
I spy with my little eye some space for gifts around the base. 
Last year we still had the tree in the room when we had to race about and bring heavy pot plants and out door furniture inside. It should all be easier this season when the storms start. We live quite high up and the winds get ferocious.
Our windows and doors are tinted to protect us from the sun. It makes things appear a bit greenish. You can see the tropical blue harbour in the background and a freighter going past. That fuzzy line is the bush on the other side of the harbour. 
Yes, that is a boomerang on the wall, from around Normanton. It is decorated with real ochre and was made in 1969. The dark circle is a beautiful hand woven dish from Bali, really intricate work.

Friday, 30 November 2012

No work for me this morning!!

There was a breach of national security last night here at one of the Defence Force bases. (The one where I work!)

We have a Navy patrol base called HMAS Coonawarra inside a general Defence Base at Larrakeyah. An intruder got aboard one of the patrol boats, overpowered the officer on duty, tied him up, and ransacked the armoury, before escaping. It all sounds like a movie, doesn't it?

Usually to get onto the base I have to go through a major security check by a civilian guard. Then I may drive onto the base. To get onto Coonawarra there is another security checkpoint. It would seem that entry was by sea in this case.

NT Police, Federal Police and the Defence Force are all investigating. The theft of the weapons is most alarming. We are not being informed what was stolen.

I work at Larrakeyah in the mornings, well four mornings a week actually. I have my superannuation, my work as a tutor, and this extra job. I like being busy. I had to be screened before I could be employed as a civilian on the base.

Here is a photo taken this morning of the main checkpoint at the entrance to the base. The people in blue are the NT Police. Behind the police car is the fence of the local school.

Photo from NT News.
Here is a link about the story.

My boss will be quite busy today. Because the base is in lock down no kitchen staff will be able to get to work. When there is a lock down, no outsiders are allowed in, no meals are cooked, no cleaning is done, no construction workers are allowed in, no gardeners, ... and the situation is as if the base were at war.

Tonight is the Christmas party for the Sergeants' Mess where I work. There are turkeys, chickens, hams, and beef roasts all ready to pop into the oven for tonight. Decorations must be hung and other preparations made. Last year's party ended at about 4.30 in the morning. Staff were glad to finally go home. I am not eligible to work at this party because I do not yet have the formal uniform. There will be three chefs, a dozen stewards, bar staff, and kitchen hands. It is not silver service, but it still quite a nice event for the families.

I hope everything will be calm and orderly soon. I also hope the thugs are caught of course!!!

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Thirteen thoughts

I will not tempt fate today. Thirteen thoughts are plenty.

1. A friend of mine confused her Valium with her birth control pills... she has 14 kids but she doesn't really care..

2. One of life's mysteries is how a 2-pound box of chocolates can make a woman gain 5 lbs.

3. My mind not only wanders, it sometimes leaves completely.

4. The best way to forget your troubles is to wear tight shoes

5. The nice part about living in a small town is that when you don't know what you are doing, someone else does.

6. The older you get, the tougher it is to lose weight, because by then your body and your fat are really good friends..

7. Just when I was getting used to yesterday, along came today...

8. Sometimes I think I understand everything, and then I regain consciousness.

9. I gave up jogging for my health when my thighs kept rubbing together and setting fire to my panties.

10. Amazing! You hang something in your closet, for a while, and it shrinks 2 sizes!

11. Skinny people irritate me! Especially when they say things like...'You know sometimes I forget to eat!' .....Now, I've forgotten my address, my mother's maiden name, and my keys, but I have never forgotten to eat.

12.. The trouble with some women is that they get all excited about nothing -- and then they marry him.

13. I read this article that said the typical symptoms of stress are eating too much, impulse buying, and driving too fast. Are they kidding? That's my idea of a perfect day! 

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Paying for electricity

In our old house we had solar hot water so our electricity bill was always quite low. Now we live in a flat so solar just isn't ever going to happen. Electric hot water and electric stove.

We make fortnightly payments of $30 to the PowerWater Corporation and have ended up in lots of credit over about a year. Over $200. Most fortuitous given the latest electricity news around here.(Will I do a double superlative and say mostest?)

Recently a new government was elected here in the NT and one of their first moves has been to increase electricity tariffs.
How much will we pay now?

In New South Wales electricity costs 41.42 cents per kilowatt-hour;
          in SA it is 40.19 cents;
          in Tasmania 32.78c;
          here in the Northern Territory it is going up to 30.51c;
          Victoria 28.70c;
          Western Australia 26.99c;
          Queensland 26.84c; and
          Australian Capital Territory 23.06c.

I wonder what other households pay.
I read on some blogs about how expensive electricity and water is now, particularly in Britain.
The source of this image is

Our water bills are also increasing:
SA charges $4.2415 per kilolitre;
          Queensland $3.5050;
          Northern Territory will now charge $3.1998;
          Australian Capital Territory $3.0552;
          New South Wales $2.7614;
          Victoria $2.6589; and
          Western Australia $ 2.2557.

As a senior I get a subsidy from the government towards my water and electricity bills. One subsidy per household, no matter how many seniors live there! It is a small percentage up to a maximum of $1 per day. Not a lot but not too bad either.
Here is the link about our PowerWater Corporation, which is wholly owned by our government.

The average family will have to find an extra $2000 per year to meet these increases.
Doubtless more bad news will soon arrive as shops and other businesses realise that they depend on electricity to stay functioning.

My superannuation is a fixed amount with only very small increases each calendar year. I am so lucky I got myself a part-time job to supplement this.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

A Christmas poem

This is rather charming.
Christmas in Alice Springs is hot and dry.
If you do not know much about Alice Springs then imagine a town close to nowhere, two days drive to any really big place, camels, red dirt, heat, art galleries, and cattle. Think Uluru. Think about people living in a desert environment. The coldest temperature ever recorded in the NT was -7 degrees Celsius one winter in Alice Springs, but the slogan that sticks in my mind is, "See Alice when she's hot." It is not the hottest place in Australia. But it is really interesting and worth visiting.
This site will tell you a little more.  This site is much better

Here's an Aussie Christmas poem. Author unknown.

Christmas in Alice Springs

Christmas in the Alice is like no other place I know.
Santa doesn't like it much 'cause there isn't any snow.
His reindeer get all grumpy as the waterholes go dry,
For when it's stinkin' hot down here it’s bloody hard to fly.

Dressed up in a winter suit isn't very wise.
His nose gets even redder and the sweat runs in his eyes.
Once he nearly missed us and his nose began to freak.
By the time he turned the whole thing 'round, he'd got to Tennant Creek

He always seems to make it and he's full of Christmas cheer,
For when he's finally landed he's guaranteed a beer.
He leaves behind his presents with a cheery ho ho smile,
Then they pour him back upon his sled and off he roars in style.

Now someone asked old Santa if he'd ever lived in fear
Of being one day caught while drunk in charge of deer.
He gave a little chuckle with a twinkle in his eye.
You may have cops with cars down here but none of them can fly.

And then there was this rumour, or so I've heard it said.
He once used six white boomers to pull along his sled.
He thought it was a good idea while travelling in the bush,
But they hopped off into the scrub one day and left him there to push.

So if you should spend a Christmas out in Alice Springs
Be very well prepared mate for some bloody funny things.
Big fat men in bright red suits scream across the sky,
And sweaty grumpy reindeer complain loudly as they fly.

Through all the dust, the flies, the heat, and every thing it brings,
Santa carries prezzies out back to Alice Springs.
I told to you this story 'cause I thought you all should know.
Santa doesn't like it much 'cause there isn't any snow.