Friday, 30 November 2007

Progress so far...

The pantry window progressed to the next stage today with the drawing up of a full sized pattern for the top panel.

Next come the task of cutting the 140+ pieces of glass.

Thank you for all the comments regarding the design.

The Cornucopia idea is a good one for a pantry but really needs a wider window to give the spread of produce. Anyway, the way I am doing it is to create two panels that will fit into the window frame behind the clear glass. It has the advantage of being a sort of double glazing. It also means if I don't like it there I can take it out and put it somewhere else.

Promises kept, promises broken.

Mmmm....the last day of November.

I rashly, even if informally, made a promise to try to post every day in November. The so called Nablopomo challenge. Well, prior to this post I have done 25 posts but in fits and starts. Some days a couple of posts, some days none. But I have also posted 14 posts on the other, sex, religion & politics, blogs so I don't feel too bad. I have posted more than 30 times in November. But no bunny stamp, I fear. Too many minor things hopped in to disrupt the month...

There was Richard, who has had no signs of recurring problems.

The local election had me glued to the news services far more than normal.

And, of course, Margaret has headed off to Scotland.

I am not one to advertise unduly but I must put in a good word for Skype, the internet phone service. There is something surreal about hearing my computer 'ring' in the morning and to come through and talk to Margaret, in Scotland, on the computer.

And for free, to boot.

Mind you, we have the video option and I am in two minds on its merits. First thing in the morning, unshaven and dishevelled, I invariably look like someone who has been dragged backwards through a prickly bush.

But it is still something to marvel at.

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

The Pantry Window

Our pantry, a sloping roofed room that used to be the laundry in the original house, has a tall, thin sash window in it. Margaret found it at a wreckers warehouse. There were originally two of them and they would have originated from either side of a chimney.

The urge has been lurking there to put stained glass in it. But what to do?

Below are the embryonic layouts of the two panels.

The next step is to fill in the gaps and create a life sized drawing.


Pantry window - top panel

Pantry window - bottom panel

Monday, 26 November 2007


I have been very lax, blog-wise, of late. Sorry. But busy in other fields.

Friday was the official farewell dinner for Margaret - baked ricotta with red grapes, home-made grapefruit & honey sorbet, steak with broccoli, and followed by a creamed rice with dates.

Friday was the election. Details are already elsewhere.

Sunday was the real farewell to Margaret - baked salmon and steamed green vegetables, served with hollandaise sauce containing chopped chives, parsley & tarragon, followed by a yummy red berry fruit salad with yoghurt.

Tonight Richard and I lived the high life on some pretty classy left-overs.

In between all this eating, the garden was getting watered with the shower and laundry waters, some more seedlings planted in the vegetable garden, upgraded the operating system on Margaret's computer (safest to do when she is away), got stuff for repairing the grout in some tiling, researched some designs for a stained glass window I want to do, started the daunting task of tidying the study, watched the news to make sure Saturday night wasn't a very pleasant dream, fed the birds, sat in the gazebo, drew up a list of things to do and had the first bottle of my home brew.

Now, I need to visit a lot of long neglected blogs.

Saturday, 24 November 2007

Gone where the goblins go.

The 2007 Federal Election

Election night dinners, not always celebratory, are becoming something of a tradition.

Above are the two wine labels for tonight's dinner.

John Howard, Prime Minister and leader of the Liberal Party (centre right) is widely considered to have made a mistake in not retiring last year and leaving on a high. He stayed on to fight another election. He has shown himself to be very adept at pulling a rabbit out of the hat. His two main pet rabbits are fear and greed.

Kevin Rudd came to the leadership of the Labor Party (centre left) last November and has been favoured in the polls ever since. Got called a show-off by the Government when he spoke to the visiting Chinese president in Mandarin. (Mind you, he would have been called a phoney if he hadn't.) Some astute person kept a video of him, taken many years before he became leader, sitting in parliament picking the wax out of his ear and appearing to eat it.

The dinner itself will start with an assortment of dips and crackers, symbolic of the types of people who run for public office in this country.

Main course will, naturally enough, be roast pork, symbolic of the pork barrelling that has been evident from both sides of politics. It will be served with carrots and wedges, both also highly evident over the course of the campaign.

Greens will be on the side.

Dessert will be coconut mousse with fresh mango. The reasons being that Kevin Rudd, the 'fresh face' of Australian politics, is from Queensland, home of the mango in Australia, and John Howard was famously described as a dessicated old coconut by Paul Keating, a former prime minister.


Tuesday, 20 November 2007

A quiet ponder.

A little thinking time has been in order of late. The weather has been warm so I have retreated to the gazebo in the front garden, armed with a beer and a small bowl of beer nuts.

Somehow it helps put the world in perspective.

Richard update: There is a thought that his seizure may be some form of late on-set epilepsy but they are not sure as he has only had one seizure. Next step is to take him to (pause for dramatic chord)... The Seizure Clinic. If I understand it right, they try to induce a seizure in order to better understand what is going on. Not sure if I like that idea or not.

The observant among you will have noticed that there are some odd black stains on the bench.

Here is the culprit:

Well, OK, you have to squint, but amongst the leaves you will see a blackbird.

And this is what the incontinent little free-loader is eating:



Monday, 19 November 2007

Richard update:

Richard, in about 1986.

Thank you all for your thoughts.

Richard has had no reoccurence of the seizure. The results of an EEG come back tomorrow so that may tell us something.

In the mean time, life goes on.

The joy of stereotypes.

I went to a wedding on Saturday. It was for one of Margaret's class mates and so I was largely amongst strangers. It was illuminating to see the questions that I got from some of the women.

1. Do I have a list of all the local take-aways for use when Margaret is in Scotland? (She leaves on Sunday for three weeks).

2. Do I know how to use the washing machine? (At least they didn't ask if I knew how to use the kettle.)

3. And, as it was a Asian themed wedding dinner, do I know how to use chop-sticks?

It is intriguing to see how readily (some!) people pigeon-hole and stereotype others.

What would they think if they knew I had just put the Christmas Cake in the oven to cook?

Friday, 16 November 2007

To a poet, a thousand years hence.

To a Poet a thousand years hence

I who am dead a thousand years,
And wrote this sweet archaic song,
Send you my words for messengers
The way I shall not pass along.

I care not if you bridge the seas,
Or ride secure the cruel sky,
Or build consummate palaces
Of metal or of masonry.

But have you wine and music still,
And statues and a bright-eyed love,
And foolish thoughts of good and ill,
And prayers to them who sit above?

How shall we conquer? Like a wind
That falls at eve our fancies blow,
And old Moeonides the blind
Said it three thousand years ago.

O friend unseen, unborn, unknown,
Student of our sweet English tongue,
Read out my words at night, alone:
I was a poet, I was young.

Since I can never see your face,
And never shake you by the hand,
I send my soul through time and space
To greet you. You will understand.

James Elroy Flecker.

Monday, 12 November 2007

Lest we forget.

Poppies in my garden.

War is an instrument entirely inefficient toward redressing wrong;
and multiplies, instead of indemnifying losses.

- Thomas Jefferson

Sunday, 11 November 2007

Batteries not included.

Henry Bucks is an up market Men's store in Melbourne.

The above item is, believe it or not, a battery powered, brass-bristled, rotary BBQ cleaning brush from Henry's Christmas catalogue.

I knew something was missing from my life.

Saturday, 10 November 2007

Will you be in for dinner?

Life, said John Lennon, is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans.

Seems true enough today at least.

The scene: the Kennedy Family kitchen. Richard and Margaret are sitting at the bench on stools talking, I am in the kitchen doing stuff for lunch and dinner. I had observed to Richard that he looked very tired. He said he had felt 'funny' all morning. "A headache?" "No, just a funny feeling".

I am putting some frozen prawns out on a tray to defrost and ask "Will you be in for dinner?" This is a regular question to assist with aligning the kitchen staff's agenda with Richard's social agenda.

No answer. But is a sort of odd no answer, as if the universe is not quite right.

I look up and Richard has a most strange expression. Every muscle in his face is taut like twisted ropes, his eyes are looking nowhere in particular. Instinctively I race around the bench, happily fast enough to cradle his head in my hands as he falls to the floor. Margaret, sitting beside him, had no chance of stopping him falling.

For what seems an eternity but was probably only about a minute or so, Richard convulses on the floor, seemingly every muscle in his body intent on the maximum contraction. I cradle his head in my hand to stop it banging on the floor but can do little else. A little blood comes from his mouth; I suspect he bit his tongue. The seizure stops and, mercifully, Richard starts breathing.

Margaret, in the meantime, has called 000, the local emergency number, and an ambulance is on its way. She relays breathing rates and such like to the operator.

The rest of the afternoon is one of extreme tedium, the sort that always goes with sitting around hospital emergency wards. Blood tests, CAT scans, x-rays, and large slabs of nothing, waiting for results.

More tests are due to be done next week but we still don't know what triggered the seizure.

He is home, after eight hours at the hospital. He is sleeping.

Every so often Margaret goes in to listen to his breathing.


Memo to Richard: Next time I ask
"Will you be in for dinner?", a simple "no" with be just fine.

Friday, 9 November 2007

A student's life...

So, the exams are finished, what is one to do?

Well, the day went something like this:

◊ Got up, fed the doves and magpies, retrieved the newspaper.
◊ Coffee and newspapers in bed. Didn't finish either the Sudoku or the Crossword.
◊ Checked the email, sent off a birthday greeting to a friend.
◊ Showered & breakfasted.
◊ Paid some bills.
◊ Bucketed the shower water around parts of the garden.
◊ Fixed an electric outlet that has been loose for four years. Took 2 minutes to fix.
◊ Found a tin of paint the right colour and touched up some marks on the family room wall.
◊ Chatted for a while with a Dutch neighbour called Bill.
◊ Built a 'brewing box' - somewhere to keep a home brew warm while it is fermenting.
◊ Lunch. Bits and pieces from the left-over pile.
◊ Started a home brew fermenting in the brewing box.
◊ Sat in the gazebo and read for a while.
◊ Picked and ate some mulberries from the tree beside the gazebo. Took a bowlful in to Margaret.
◊ Sent off a few emails to friends.
◊ Mowed the lawn.
◊ Mulched some of the vegetable garden.
◊ Sorted out some of my photo archive - family photos & ones used for blog illustration.
◊ Sat in the gazebo with Margaret to exchange various stories about our respective days.
◊ Watched the little finches (Silver-eyes) flitting around the garden.
◊ Put some chips in the oven, made some garlic-yoghurt dip, poured some red wine.
◊ Watched the news, eating chips, dip and wine.

Still to come:
◊ A half hour walk.
◊ A much needed trip through a large number of neglected friend's blogs to comment on what others have been doing.

Tough, n'est pas?

Thursday, 8 November 2007

Rules Britannia!

The most ridiculous British laws:

1. It is illegal to die in the Houses of Parliament.

2. It is an act of treason to place a postage stamp bearing the British monarch upside down.

3. In Liverpool, it is illegal for a woman to be topless except as a clerk in a tropical fish store.

4. Mince pies cannot be eaten on Christmas Day.

5. In Scotland, if someone knocks on your door and requires the use of your toilet, you must let them enter.

6. A pregnant woman can legally relieve herself anywhere she wants, including in a policeman's helmet.

7. The head of any dead whale found on the British coast automatically becomes the property of the king, and the tail belongs to the queen.

8. It is illegal to avoid telling the tax man anything you do not want him to know, but legal not to tell him information you do not mind him knowing.

9. It is illegal to enter the Houses of Parliament in a suit of armour.

10. In the city of York it is legal to murder a Scotsman within the ancient city walls, but only if he is carrying a bow and arrow.

Wednesday, 7 November 2007

Now listen here...

The magpies have a young one in tow and are becoming a lot more friendly to me as a result. They can sense a sucker for a quick feed!

Baby magpies make a very demanding "Ark! Ark! Ark! Ark! Ark!" sound that continues until there is a "Glump!" sound of some food being pushed down it's throat. I can fully understand the parents wanting to find a quick feed. So I am out in the garden and hear a flutter near my left ear and there is father magpie, tapping his claws, saying something like "Listen here. My ancestor was a velociraptor, pay me some respect, better still, pay me some tythes!". The top of the brick wall is about at eye level so he is in a dominating positon.

I headed inside to get him some food. When I turn around I find that he has followed me inside and is sitting on the back of one of the chairs around the dining table! Still with the same superior look. I shepherd him out. Not before he does a couple of laps of honour around the lights and then flying out the open back door.

My impromptu offering is placed along the top of the brick wall, from where he samples it and then takes it off to junior, who is sitting high up in the Jacaranda tree.

Ark! Ark! Ark! Ark! Ark! Glump!

Tuesday, 6 November 2007

The situation has returned to normal.

Exams are over. Now I can take a pot shot at a psychology 'holy cow'.

Someone out there, maybe not a psychologist but they certainly adopted the idea with relish, someone out there decided that anyone who did not fit within the bounds of what was considered 'normal' must, logically, be abnormal.

It has nasty connotations.

Say someone is abnormal and you automatically think bad.

I prefer to consider it as common and uncommon.

I have long used two small jokes on the subject. The first is an observation that if everyone was like me then I would be normal. And the second is that things have now returned to normal but you do have to remember what passes for normal around here.

All of the people who write books, compose music, create things of beauty in any domain, who do the things that the average person can't or wont, are abnormal in the technical sense.

I don't think that is a bad thing.

Monday, 5 November 2007

Last exam! (For a while, at least!)

Tomorrow morning, Tuesday, is my last exam. Huzzah!

Then I move on to a long list of projects that have been on hold for a while.


Saturday, 3 November 2007


Four years ago today we sold our company.

The new owners guaranteed three years employment to the former owners but I got jack of their values and jumped ship after one and a half years to go studying. Well, if the truth be known the decision to go studying came after I jumped ship and was wondering what to do.

There was a further requirement of not entering into competition with them for a year after ceasing employment.

So four years neatly covers the two requirement and, just to add icing to the cake, I am very close to finishing honours in psychology. So I could go back into chemistry. I could head off into psychology. I could do a blend - auditing, training... I could do something completely different. Leadlighting, perhaps.

But I am totally free.

Well, cheap.

Twenty three years!

Happy 23rd Birthday Richard, son #2.

No, he doesn't have his head stuck up a weasel's fundamental orifice - he wore an fake mullet to a treasure hunt recently.

Hot under the collar...

On my desk top I have two widgets, one that gives the temperature at the nearest weather station and a companion one that gives the 'apparent' temperature.

I can understand the apparent temperature being less that the actual temperature. Sort of the old wet bulb, dry bulb effect; wind chill factor and such like.

But how can the apparent temperature be more than the real temperature?

Friday, 2 November 2007

Double entry bookkeeping.

When someone asks you, "A penny for your thoughts", and you put your two cents in, what happens to the other penny?

The dark side of human nature.

Former High Court chief justice Sir Gerard Brennan has accused Australian political leaders from both sides of the spectrum of talking with 'forked tongues' when it comes to the death penalty.

Sir Gerard said: "We cannot declare the execution of Australians to be barbaric and the execution of Indonesians to be acceptable. A country which speaks about such an important issue with a forked tongue can hardly lay claim to the rule of law and forfeits its credibility in the international forum."

I have to agree with him.

On one hand we decry the 'barbaric' intention of the Indonesian Government to execute to dopey fools caught in Bali as drug mules. How can they do such a thing? They are Australian citizens! On the other hand, our political, but not moral, leaders demand nothing less than the death sentence for the Bali bombers, responsible for the senseless death of over 200 tourists, 88 of them Australian.

Well, sorry, it's either wrong (read "barbaric") or it isn't.

And I firmly believe that it is.

I, nor anyone acting as my agent, has any right to take another person's life.

For any reason.


After thought: I do favour euthanasia in some circumstances, but it involves the desires of the person involved. They must wish to die.

Further after thought: The Bali bombers do wish to die, they want to be martyrs. Their dopey and distorted religious beliefs lead them to think that they will get their 'reward' once they are dead. But I don't wish them to get that gratification and posthumous glory.