Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Important facts for young ladies

This has been in a file on my computer for years. I hope you like it too. I suspect it would make an interesting conversation with a grand-daughter, but I do not have one of those.

If you can read, then you probably already know these things.

1.        If your sister hits you, don't hit her back. The second person always gets blamed.
2.        You can't trust dogs to watch your food.
3.        Don't sneeze when someone is cutting your hair.
4.        No matter how hard you try, you can't baptize cats.
5.        When your Mum is mad at your Dad, don't let her brush your hair.
6.        Never ask your 3-year old brother to hold your icecream.
7.        Never hold a Dust-Buster and a cat at the same time.
8.        You can't hide a piece of broccoli in a glass of milk.
9.        Don't wear polka-dot underwear under white shorts.
10.      The best place to be when you're sad is Grandpa's lap.

Monday, 25 February 2013

The cleaner's joke

I am having a wonderful day so far. (Do not tempt fate.) I found this and thought it might bring a smile your way too.

Two brooms were hanging in the cupboard and after a while they knew each other so well, they decided to get married. 

One broom was, of course, the bride broom, the other the groom broom.

The bride broom looked beautiful in her white dress. The groom broom was handsome in his dark suit. The wedding was lovely. The guests rejoiced with the happy couple.

After the ceremony, at the wedding reception, the bride-broom leaned over and said to the groom-broom, 'I think I am going to have a little whisk broom!'


Shshshshsh......  Sounds to me like...... she's ......... been .... sweeping.... around!!!

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Easy entertainment

The weather is overcast and cool. The maximum has not even hit 30 degrees Celsius for a couple of days. Great weather for staying indoors. Great weather for sewing. Great weather for watching even more TV.

Great weather for a little Poirot. I own some DVDs of the Poirot television series, but Five Little Pigs is a full length feature film.

Agatha Christie had a particular strategy she often used, of gathering all the characters in a room and then solving the crime. It is followed in this story. Probably at some time I have read the story but I did not remember it.

Poirot does not call on his sidekicks Captain Hastings or Chief Inspector Japp in Five Little Pigs. The plot has certain predictable elements, but these may not have been common at the time of writing. Television crime stories have used most Agatha Christie plots with variations many times. A husband dies. The wife is hanged for the crime. The daughter grows to be an adult and then engages Poirot to reveal the truth. Was it the wife, the sister, the daughter, the mistress, the neighbour? Which of the Five Little Pigs is the murderer and why?

The costumes are delightful, and those who enjoy shows like Downton Abbey will appreciate the details. The sets are real houses which appear to be lived in, containing all the trivia of daily life. The garden is lovely but not manicured.
David Suchet is excellent as the Belgian detective, Hercule Poirot, probing each character for signs of guilt. I thought I recognised one other actor but try as I might I do not recall what she may have been in. As in most of the Poirot films the actors are highly skilled but not overly familiar.

This is not adventure drama like the Bourne Trilogy, no chases, no violence, no sex, no explosions, no foul language. The tension exists through the steady winkling out of motive. It held my attention well and I thoroughly enjoyed Five Little Pigs.

Friday, 22 February 2013

Anger management

Today has been challenging to say the least.

I have a difficult problem at work to solve. Just thinking about it gives me sleepless nights. The result is anger, anger that the situation exists, anger that it is difficult to solve, unreasonable anger directed at a person.

I am using this anger in a better way. I have launched into a frenzy of horrible jobs. At the front of my mind is this poster which I may actually have shown you previously. It really helps.

Watch out world. She's up!!! And she is energetic today!

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Yes dear. Of course dear.

Australian humour is complicated. We laugh at ourselves quietly. Here is a joke about Australian husbands and wives. This joke does not declare that domestic violence is acceptable. It reminds us that wives may or may not behave in a predictable manner.

Three blokes were sitting at a bar one night, boasting about their wives. 

The first man says:
'Well, I told my Indonesian wife to clean the house every day. The first day I didn't see much improvement, not much on the second day either, but by the third day, I came home to a clean house.'

The second guy says:
'Thats nothing. I told my Korean wife to cook my meals and keep the house clean. The first day I didn't see any improvement, not much on the second day either, but by the third day, I had a full stomach and my house was clean as anything.'

But the third man said:
'Well, I told my Australian wife to wash the dishes and clothes, cook my meals and keep the house clean. On the first day I couldn't see anything. and nothing on the second day, but by the third day, I could see a little out of my left eye.'

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Bombing of Darwin Remembrance Ceremony 2013

Can you see the Cenotaph, the canon, and the sailor out of step?
The woman in the teal jacket is our Administrator,
the equivalent of a Governor.
Today I sang with my choir at the ceremony to commemorate the Bombing of Darwin on 19 February 1942.  It was a massive occasion at the Cenotaph with about 5000 people in attendance. There were two other ceremonies - one at the wharf and one at the Peary memorial. Some of the survivors were present.

Here is a link to some photos from the ABC news service. They are rather good.  http://www.abc.net.au/local/photos/2013/02/19/3693816.htm

The morning was hot and humid. One soldier collapsed while guarding the Cenotaph. The ambulance officers were kept busy with the crowd too.

Planes flew over. Cannon fired (maybe they were not actually canon but Hausers???) Other gunfire. Smoke. Soldiers re-enacting the scene. Military band. Many wreaths. Very impressive speeches. The list goes on.

Occasions like this remind me that it is vital we select our politicians very carefully indeed. Politicians make war, not ordinary people. Then our various forces have to go out there and shoot the enemy whether they know the real reasons or not. Soldiers on both sides love their country and think they are doing the right thing. I believe it is a monumental tragedy that should be avoided. It is really sad that people die and before long it seems it was all for nothing.

Monday, 18 February 2013

More costume dramas

I like to play a DVD while I do the ironing. And that then gives me a good excuse to sit and do something enjoyable when the final shirt is hanging in the wardrobe. A coffee. A little hand sewing. Time wasting.

I borrowed a series called Cranford from the library. Great cast. The stories centre on a small town in rural England in the 1840s. The lead characters are two sisters, and their friend who has come to stay with them. They have friends and their lives are comfortable rather than impoverished. Romantic love makes an occasional appearance. Death knocks and takes. Some people are generous and kind, others less so. The lifestyle in the village or town called Cranford is governed by a strict social code.

The series is a British production and so is restrained, less wordy, and less physical than a Bollywood or Hollywood film. Quite often the point is made by not saying and by using subtle body language. Colours reflect the social conditions. I felt that this series brought history to life for me. I am now better able to make connections between life in my country and life in Britain during the mid nineteenth century.

I found the mores and customs of the time and place to be challenging at times, but I believe they are quite accurate. People had so little access to good medical support. Employment conditions were harsh. Social position was based on both marital status and money. Arrogance was both common and accepted as the norm. Deference was the order of the day. At one point a woman's sister dies and no other family member is around at the time of the death. In Cranford women do not attend funerals at all. When one of the central characters defies this unwritten rule and attends the funeral with her bereaved friend the entire town is shocked. Some of the customs and practices were familiar to me, mainly due to my own European heritage. Others I have learned about.

If you get an opportunity to watch this series on TV or on DVD then try it. I do not think anyone would have to watch endless hours of Cranford to get the general picture. I enjoyed what I saw.

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Ladies, ladies.

From my limited knowledge I conclude that those who read this blog are all women. In that case I heartily recommend that you all read the letter on his page. I just love it.

I am lucky enough to have grown so ancient that I no longer menstruate (extremely loud background cheering). I had found it to be an unpleasant experience and rather life restricting. Some other people may have had different experiences.

Friday, 15 February 2013

Valentine's day happiness

Each year my sweet, caring husband takes an active role in making sure we celebrate Valentine's Day.
My hand stitched card and the miniquilt that I made a previous year.
On our very first Valentine's Day he hired a car, presented me with a saucepan and took me to a place that he hoped would become our home. We had met just two weeks earlier. It is a strong, lasting relationship.

This year we gave each other gifts at breakfast time.

And for dinner at night we had veal croquettes and champagne style wine from Chile. My hero constructed a lovely dessert with ice-cream, pink meringues, and raspberries. Schubert played in the background. Relaxing, romantic and indulgent.

I am into the orange fashionable accessories thing at the moment. So this long orange necklace was just right. It coordinates well with the orange handbag and shoes I already own. If I am not careful I just might start behaving like a fashionista!!!

I gave him an antique box from Burma. It is papier mache over glass and is intricately made. There is an interior removable dish, making two compartments. It was described as a trinket box, but I suspect that actually it may have something to do with betel nut. The outer cover is about 8cm in diameter.

The box has tiny glass tiles in the elaborate design.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Danger! Losing one's temper

I am a bit volatile and can easily lose my temper. All people do this at times I expect. Some things do not bother me too much, but others ... whew!
So I appreciate this little story. I understand it came from a residential, Burnside, at the University of Rhode Island in the USA.

There once was a little boy who had a bad temper.

His father gave him a bag of nails and told him that every time he lost his temper, he must hammer a nail into the fence. The first day the boy had driven 37 nails into the fence. Over the next few weeks as he learned to control his anger, the number of nails hammered daily, gradually dwindled down. He discovered it was easier to hold his temper than to drive those nails into the fence. 

Finally the day came when the boy did not lose his temper at all. He told his father about it and the father suggested that the boy now pull out one nail for each day that he was able to hold his temper. The days passed and the young boy was finally able to tell his father that all the nails were gone.

The father took his son by the hand and led him to the fence. He said “you have done well, my son, but look at the holes in the fence. The fence will never be the same. When you say things in anger, they leave a scar just like this one.” You can put a knife in a man and draw it out. It won’t matter how many times you say I’m sorry, the wound is still there. Make sure you control your temper the next time you are tempted to say something you will regret later.

There is something worth recognising there. 

Monday, 11 February 2013

Sweet Pouch Swap

There are few things more exciting than getting a parcel in the mail.
Lucky lucky me. I got a parcel. And it was a sort of surprise. Well, I hoped for a parcel. I wanted a parcel. I expected a parcel. The sender had kept it a secret. I did not know who or when, although I almost knew what.

I participated in the Sweet Pouch Swap run by Ros from the blog Sew Delicious. The idea was that each person sewed a pouch. Then it was to be filled with chocolates and posted to another participant. There were no equal swaps with partners. Every person paid it forward by sending to someone that they did not know. Round and round we went. All around the world. This was a little bit scary. What if ... How ... Can I ...

Look at this! My pouch came to me from Amy who lives in Melbourne, Victoria. It is gorgeous. Amy added a bow to one side, making it more feminine. It is fully lined and she rounded the corners to add a bit of panache too. Pretty fabric. How big? If I stretch my hand out it is from thumb tip to the end of my little finger. Big enough for my computer charger and portable hard drive.
But, ridiculous as it sounds, it smelled like warm new cotton fabric. A smell from my past. Smells do not last here in the hot air. Smells are not as intense as in a cooler place. Aaaah.

A modern card with owls contained a message.
And chocolates. I rarely buy choccies. These are marvellous and I will ration them so they last a long time.
Lucky lucky me. Thank you, Amy. Your sewing is terrific. Your taste in chocolate is just right.

What happened to the pouch I made? Do you mean the first, second, third, or fourth attempt? Yes, I had a little trouble. Only a small amount of course. I tried to be a bit fancy and failed. I tried to be a bit clever and failed. Eventually I assembled something suitable for a stranger in another country. It flew away to Toni in the USA. She will not have it yet. Soon.

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Chinese New Year

Gong Hee Fatt Choy
From theholidayspot.com 

Now, the spelling and pronunciation may change from place to place but the sentiment does not. Today is the first day of the Chinese New Year and that is how to say the greeting. 

Chinese New Year is extremely important here in Darwin. We are proud of our Chinese history and the customs and lifestyles that go with that. Ceremonies began yesterday and will continue for two weeks. Chinese people have lived in this region since the 1880s and in recent times many university students of Chinese heritage have come here to study. We have an active Chung Wah Society, a temple, and a Chinese museum. Our Chung Wah Society has several Lion Dance troupes who will perform ceremonies around town. Girls are included in the teams but do not perform as part of the lion.
Here is a link you might like. http://www.chungwahnt.asn.au/

This is the Year of the Snake and is 4711 on the Chinese calendar. Chinese New Year is the main Chinese festival of the year and is not a religious event. Traditionally celebrations last for fifteen days, ending on the date of the full moon. In China the public holiday lasts for three days and this is the biggest celebration of the year.

The Chinese calendar is made up of a cycle of twelve years, each named after an animal. The animal signs are the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog, and pig. I know I am a rat just as I know I am a Leo. If anyone asked I would say that I do not believe in any of that stuff!

This photo from last year shows two lions entering a local business.
See the musicians, including girls.
Over a sixth of the people in the world celebrate Chinese New Year. Customs vary in different parts of the world, but everywhere the main idea is the same. It is a time to wish everyone peace and prosperity in the coming year. This is a time when families get together to celebrate and is also a special time to remember members of the family who have died. Many people will visit the cities of their grandparents to honour them. Just before New Year families buy presents, decorations, food, new clothes and people have their hair cut. Houses are cleaned from top to bottom. The aim is to sweep out any bad luck from the old year and clear the way for good luck. A red envelope is used to hold a gift of money, ensuring financial prosperity.

Here is one legend about Chinese New Year: The celebration is dedicated to a terrible mythical monster named Niam who preyed on the villagers and terrorised them. A wise old man advised the villagers to make loud noises with drums and fireworks to frighten away the demon Niam. Then he advised the villagers that Niam was afraid of the colour red, so if they placed red scrolls around their doors then Niam would not enter. This was successful and the villagers began to celebrate The Passing Of Niam. Later this celebration became the Spring Festival or Chinese New Year.

For more information you could follow this link. http://www.theholidayspot.com/chinese_new_year/

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Cynical Aussie wife

Australians have a distinctive sense of humour. We like our jokes to be a little sour. Dry wit is preferred. Cynicism is considered worthy of deep thought and generally amusing. Irony is favoured, but sarcasm is not always considered funny. Puns may be the lowest form of wit, but Australians like them.

Aussies need to be careful with racist and sexist jokes as these are not always thought to be funny.  They are not appropriate in the well-run workplace. One could easily end up in court for such comments.

That being said, here is a joke that I find hilarious.

What do I find funny here? Is it the concept that a wife might be obedient? Is it the idea that God speaks to men? Is it the phrase 'corners of the earth' juxtaposed against 'round'? Is it because someone has been outwitted? Is it really sexist? Personally I think that any man worth his salt could easily change the picture and a few words to create a joke in favour of men. Maybe it is not actually sexist or offensive, and just plain funny.

I must sit down with a refreshing cuppa and consider these matters. A wife such as myself could spend several hours on this task. I might even need the TV on at the same time.

Friday, 8 February 2013

Costume dramas and period pieces

On television lately there are plenty of semi historical shows. They serve many purposes and I generally enjoy them. Eighteenth century. Nineteenth century. Twentieth century. Various countries. Various social settings and behaviours are explored.

I tend to favour the shows that are similar to my own cultural background. As a child I lived in a conservative town. Entertainment had not spread so much knowledge of other cultural practices so people had clung to the styles from their own childhood in many ways. Social attitudes were more confining. Following the social redistribution after World War II families were encouraged to have a mother at home and a father at work. Society was reconstructed in such a way to assimilate refugees and to deny differences. The result was that I was brought up with customs that seem laughable nowadays but were considered mandatory then.

Here are just a few examples.

Salad rolls were not considered sandwiches
so we were allowed to have them.
Not this sandwich!!!

You may have two things on your bread or sandwich. Yes, a hamburger was revolutionary because it had more than two fillings. We could have butter and jam or jam and cream, but never butter and jam and cream. Devonshire teas were rigid in this regard. Woe betide the guest who failed the test. Club sandwich? Not in our neighbourhood. The same rules did not always apply outside the house and I was allowed to have a salad roll at school. I suppose the idea was to prevent anyone from being greedy and eating all the food that the family had available.

No first names, and let's be orderly.
Older people are addressed by their title and surname. That's right. The correct form of address was extremely important for young, old, work situations, and shopping. We did not refer to the neighbour as Joan. She was Mrs Harris. The boss did not use your first name until you gave him permission to do so. I still remember when my Deputy Principal used my first name when speaking informally with me in the staffroom and I was shocked. This was the 1970s. He was excused because he had suffered a traumatic event not long before, but he did apologise for his indiscretion. A married woman was known as Mrs Fred Jones not Mrs Amy Jones in order to associate the wife and the husband. Widows and divorced women were known as Mrs Amy Jones because the husband was no longer relevant.

Some conversation is not suitable in front of the ladies. We did not discuss politics at meal times, although it was perfectly acceptable at other times. Swearing was deemed a sign of lower social position. People did not discuss their health problems with other than their most intimate friends and family. Complaining was never a good idea, although it could be approached in a sensitive manner under certain circumstances. Bottles of alcohol were wrapped in plain brown paper when purchased. (Actually, I have seen this done quite recently.)

The list goes on. Sometimes I see customs portrayed in these costume dramas and period pieces that bring back many memories. When I saw this little poster from Downton Abbey it reminded me of the way we used cutlery and gadgets. My parents did not approve of fish knives, but a grapefruit knife was used to prepare the grapefruit before it came to the table. The bread knife was only ever used for bread and the ham knife only for ham.

Monday, 4 February 2013

Update on cruise ship death

The Voyager sailed for Bali today, rather late but at least on the correct day.

The NT Police have determined that the young lady died of natural causes and there are no suspicious circumstances. An autopsy was performed and her family has been notified. Perhaps she had an asthma attack, or a stroke, or a heart attack, or some other sudden crisis in her sleep. The Police are not telling. An inquest will still be conducted but that could be quite a long time away yet.
The woman who died was a member of the entertainment troupe and a very talented singer. A few clips of her at work were broadcast on our TV news programs. Her name was Jackie Kastrinelis and she came from Massachusetts.

It is sad for everyone actually. As parents we send our young people off to travel the world and to learn about ways of life in other places. We all miss them but know that the independence and growth will make them better people for the rest of their lives. It is horrible when they never come back at all.

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Cruise liner in port

This afternoon a cruise liner sailed steadily into the harbour, As I watched I thought it a strange time for this to happen. Usually they come in the early morning.

The Seven Seas Voyager really does look this wonderful.
The ship is the Seven Seas Voyager which is part of the Regent Cruise Line. It is a very luxurious ship with nearly 450 crew for only 700 passengers. The cabins and staterooms look quite roomy in the photos on their website. The ship was coming from Cairns.

I have copied the photo from the website and just cropped it to fit better on my page. You can read some more about the ship at this site.  http://www.rssc.com/ships/seven_seas_voyager/

Later on the local news there was a horrible item. It seems that a member of the crew was found dead in her cabin. The NT Police are investigating. How terrible for everyone. Absolutely disastrous for the woman of course. She was only 24. Sad for her family and friends. Not so nice for the other crew. An interesting but unpleasant experience for the passengers on their holiday. If her death was not from natural causes it could indicate that there is a murderer on board. Would you enjoy travelling with such a person?

I wonder how long the Voyager will have to stay here. Our Police are good blokes but not highly experiences in carrying out investigations of mysterious deaths. Their usual line of work is quite different.

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Storm lilies

After the rain the storm lilies bloom prolifically. Whether it is the rain or the change in air pressure that
encourages the plants to flower I do not know, but it certainly happens. Here in Darwin we have pink and white varieties, but the pink is far more common. Just about every household grows storm lilies at some time.  Storm lilies do not last long if you pick them for inside.

The proper name is zephyranthes, and they belong to the amaryllis family.

Storm lilies grow really well outside the fence.
These plants will bloom all year round and they need very little attention. I grew them outside my fence to stop animals from digging under and out. It also prevented papers and litter from blowing into my yard.

The flowers are funnel shaped and have six petals. There are five anthers and one stamen. They resemble a crocus in many ways. There seems to be no perfume. The bulbs look like white drops about 2cm long. It is easy to separate clumps of bulbs and they will nearly all grow. They prefer full sun and thicken into clumps very quickly. The leaves are long slender straps and are dark green like healthy soft grass. They grow to about 30cm high, but this can depend on the location.

Years ago when I was teaching in a preschool a caring mother brought in a huge supply of storm lilies she had removed from her garden. She said they were to share among the staff and to use them anywhere we wanted, at the preschool or at home. At lunchtime one of the assistants carefully cut about twenty of the bulbs into slices and ate them on a sandwich. I guess they are not poisonous at all!!

Friday, 1 February 2013


One of my closest friends comes from Numbulwar. This is a small community on the east coast of Arnhem Land. It is remote. In this map you can see Numbulwar marked near Groote Island. It takes all day to drive there from Darwin and you need spare tyres. The road is not smooth or sealed all the way. The last bridge is not really a bridge. You can get there by air and by barge, just not every day.

My friend Didimain
Didimain has had an interesting life and has done many things that other Indigenous Australian women would never even consider within the range of possibilities. For years she was the principal of the school at Numbulwar. It incorporates a preschool a primary school, a high school, and post secondary education as well. Students doing university studies also use the school facilities.

The people in Numbulwar have retained much of their own culture while also adopting modern Australian lifestyles. In this video clip the community is dancing in the grounds of the school. The main dancers are men and boys but women and girls are actually present. The cameraman could not capture everything. All ages take part and this is the traditional cultural method of teaching and learning. This dance is called wungubal. The Community of Numbulwar is proud of their dancing skills. The Red Flag Dancers from Numbulwar have toured internationally and performed for European royalty by invitation.

This is not staged for the camera. This is real life but somebody filmed it. See how happy the children are. The dirt really is that colour.
I thought some of you may not be familiar with this type of music and dance.