Saturday, July 08, 2006


I reckon it must be more than one month since I have heard a radio broadcaster give a web address and put in www before the address. Unfortunately radio guests still do so. Some do it so labourisly (I have never written this word before and read it seldom so sorry for the obvious spilling mistake) that they think it is an important part of the web address. Aitch tee tee pee, colon, double back slash, Double you, double you, double you, dot highriser, dot blogspot, dot com.

(Do you know how hard that web address was to write?)

Container Bar

A few months ago I walked from QV down Tattersalls Lane to Little Bourke Street. I noticed in Tattersalls Lane what seemed to be an open air bar. It looked tres kewl.

A few weeks later when R and I et at Lemon Bistro in Bourke Street, I insisted afterwards that we walk up Tattersalls Lane and the open air bar was hopping, or is that jumping, going off?, or are they 20th century words? Perhaps it was wicked. Surely not gay.

A wee bit later there was something I read in paper about said bar. Ha, I know about that bar in Tattersalls Lane already, well before it gets flooded by city visiting Ringwoodians.

I have just discovered that there is an artists' night market in the city and I am not telling you when and where.

White Swan

I have not seen a white swan for years. I see plenty of black swans at Albert Park lake. Did you know their droppings are as large as a medium sized dog?

While chatting to R about the swans, I suddenly remembered a brand name, White Swan, but for the life of me, I cannot remember what the product was. Anyone help?

Rochy but not beyond

In the eighties we had two dyke friends who were partners. At some point the friendship ended but we had many good times together. One of the girl's mother was a matron at Elmore Hospital but she had retired when we met her. The hospital was saved not long ago by action of local people. She openly welcomed us as visitors to her home on more than one occasion.

It was a bit of an odd house, probably built in the sixties. It was cream brick veneer, and if you must live in a sixties brick veneer, this one wasn't bad. It's shape could be described as a flattened horse shoe or a boomerang. It started bedroom, then bathroom, laundry, entrance. Then on to kitchen which had two stainless steel commercial ovens and a huge gas fired stainless steel cook top. I had never seen anything like this nor had I seen a double sink with a smaller in between sink and then huge draining boards. There were many many cupboards.

The dining lounge area was an elongated but huge room. The fireplace was maybe two metres wide and did it heat. In case it didn't, there was some sort of supplementary heating, like a heat pump or similar.

The last area had two bedrooms, a sewing room and a bathroom.

The house was carpeted not with wall to wall, but with runs. That is runs of carpet are laid from wall to wall. There was no pretence about joins. The edges were obvious. I believe to carpet in this way is very expensive. The lighting was also very good, with lots of wall lights and minimal harsh overhead lighting.

The views were of the street, the side street and then maybe twenty metres away, the Campaspie River.

Our friend's mother designed it herself and although quite unusual, it worked really well.

She was a very busy person, rushing from pottery classes in Elmore, to China painting in Moama to volunteering at the hospital to catering.

A story I still dine out on when on the odd occasion the subject of wedding cakes arises, was when she was commissioned to make and deliver a wedding cake. She made the cake and popped ir into the boot of her Renault 16. In the main street of Elmore, witnessed by locals, another motorist made a very stupid move and caused Vi to mount a footpath and swerve around a verandah pole to avoid a collision. Upon arrival at the wedding reception, she opened the boot and the car jack was sitting fair and square in the middle of the wedding cake. It was patched up with cream later.

Our friend's mother could not possibly be still alive and living in the house, but on our way to stepmother's we turned into the street to have a look at the house. It was so long ago, I could not possibly remember where it was with out the help of
I looked in advance and recognised the street name. We found it easily enough.

Our dyke friend was a passionate Volkswagon lover. What do you think we saw sitting in the front yard of the house? An old but beautifully maintained Volksy. Too much of a co-incidence. Daughter must have returned from New Zealand and is living there.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Hot guys for the week

Yep, we have two hot guys this week. I never set out to watch this tv show, but often on a Friday night we would visit and certain friend and he would be watching 21 Jump Street, an American cop show. Back then, they were both so pretty. How to choose? Ah, take the same time.

Dustin and Johnny.

Technology #122

Yesterday's Green Guide in The Age was a bit of interesting fantasy.

Firstly I read of your tv, dvd, vcr, radio, hd recorder, sound system, computer and electric bread slicer all being combined. We will be media rich, everthing on demand. Nah, sorry, don't want and I don't think many people will. I am sure, like me, you can think of many reasons why you would not want this, but not any reason why you would.

Next we had tv broadcasts on you mobile phone. Maybe someone has a mobile phone with at least a fourteen inch screen but I haven't seen one. Tv is not worth watching on anything less. Fancy going from a 42 inch screen at home, no I don't have one of those, to a 2 inch screen on your phone. You could really look forward to David Attenborough's new nature series on that. What nonsense they talk.

I have often thought I should have a lap top computer. Many other do. I could ask Mr Visa to oblige if I really wanted one, but I just cannot think of a good reason to have one. Charles Wright of the Green Guide is inclined to agree with me and feels many people waste money buying laptops. If you are tempted to buy one, do read his column before committing.

I am sure I saw a mention somewhere of the new Microsoft operating system, Vista. I was never happy with Windows 3.1, Windows 95, Windows 98 but Windows XP Pro suits me fine thankyou. And the longer it is around the better I am knowing it's quirks.

What you tech guys could come up with though, (there can't be many woman involved it all this nonsense) is improving AM radio reception, truly cordless connections, ease of use and some basic rules for all tech gadgets and easier ways of taping tv shows. Don't even mention G codes or hd recorders. And what about inventing a fridge connected to the internet? Oh yeah, done that one.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Rochester and beyond Part 4

On the Sunday, stepmother took us in to see the sights of Echuca. She drove us around a bit. Her car only beeped twice when she exceeded the highway speed limit. We looked at a new housing esteate, the main shopping area and then parked on the edge of the river Murray. There is a defined history/tourist street and also an area where you pay to enter. The paid area is the old wharfs, a paddle steamer under reconstruction and a steam driven saw mill.

The admission price at $11.50 was quite high but it was a day pass. We were there for about forty five minutes and I could see no reason to go back. The mill was interesting, but more for the many steam driven engines that were operating. Hiss, shhhh, hiss, shhhh. Steam venting, oil cups dripping, damp warmth. Not a noisy sound, a bit comforting and constant. Hiss, shhhh.

Out of the paid area, the ticket also gave us access to an underground room at a pub where either and prostitutes and out of hours drinking went on. There was an escape tunnel from the back of the area.

On the trip to Echuca, stepmother complained about the hoons driving along the gravel road at speed. On the return trip I noticed the speedo was showing 90kph.

Rowena Wallace Wah Wah

The Rovers. Such a nice looking slim young lass actor on a boat in the north of Australia.

Bashed off today to see Wah Wah at Como Cinema. Not a bad 'little' movie. I asked R if we could go a bit early and have coffee first. Ever obliging, he said yes. We sat next to an interesting looking woman on the pavement of Toorak Road. I said to R, isn't that Rowena Wallace? He confirmed. Dark glasses made her a bit hard to identify, but it was her. Her of The Rovers and other shows, Pat the Rat in some other show.

She is a bit bigger than she was twenty plus years ago, but ok, so am I. She has lines on her face, but ok, maybe I detect a slight line in the morning when I am shaving. Her clothes were good, stylish, but maybe I looked ok too in all cinema going black.

She was on the verge of being imprisoned for social security fraud a couple of years, and that is where we depart.

We also depart on she had serious sad downward lines from her mouth. She had a hard time of it I suppose and no friends now, but what happened to cause her to have such sour mouth lines.

Really sad. Iooked on the net for a current pic of her and there none as she is now.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Paint and Paper

Perhaps twenty years ago, I took my mother and her now late best friend to shop for wallpaper. The late best friend was a real hoot and a lot of fun. We ended up in a house in Glenhuntly Road. There was room after room of wallpapers. They chose a wallpaper and bought three rolls and some time later, R and I hung it for her as a feature wall in her kitchen. We ripped off the old vinyl and left the backing paper and papered over it. Things come home to roost.

Perhaps four years ago, mother decided wallpaper looked grubby and needed replacing. Can I have for my birthday......... ? In 2002, there weren't many places sellling wallpaper, but we found one in Port Melbourne and they had a nice kitchen type paper. We gave to mother and astonishingly, no given the range of papers that are suitable for kitchens, perhaps not, it was exactly the same paper as we had bought many years earlier.

After a couple of false starts and inertia on our part, today was the day. She had also requested if we could paint her bedroom ceiling at some time. Her and my stepfather could manage the walls. As well as her bedroom, my mother also uses it as her smoking room. While she does not smoke much, step father refused to wash down the room, but was eventually persuaded to at least do the ceiling and mother did the walls.

I am not sure why we did not just again rip off the vinyl and paper over it, but we decided we needed a steamer. I rang a couple of local hire places, and the price was $70 and another $45. Big gap. I hate driving the car to South Melbourne. What about Carnegie Hire? Used to use them when we lived in East Malvern, and it is kinda on the way to Pakenham. Rang them and price was $30. Why such a big difference? The $30 one did the job very well.

We set off at 9 and after picking up the steamer arrived about 10.15. I am in the badbooks for my driving skills, so R drove and whinged about the traffic. Yes it is awful, but that is just how it is.

The steaming took longer than we thought, but was pretty well done by lunch time. I started on the ceiling painting while R started hanging the paper. We both finished about the same time, 4pm. But I had the second coat to apply.

After afternoon tea, I went back into the bedroom and it was looking good, but it was getting darker outside, but not too dark. I started applying the second coat and then the light disappeared quickly. My late father's words rang in my ears, never paint at night or in bad light. No, I am not going to visit again soon. It will be finsished today.

I am not sure what the ceiling paint will look like in the morning and I am not going to phone to ask. The fancy cornice was a bitch and the roller for the rest very small. There was bits of stuff in the paint and the paint was too thick. It would not do for my abode. But R's wallpapering effort looked very fine.

Knocked off at 7 and ma had cooked dinner. Et dinner and bolted back to the uncluttered sanctuary of our own home, arriving 8.50. Body is a bit achey, I am too old now for hard work like this, but it was a good day's work.

Nobody bother me tomorrow please.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Rochy and beyond #3

I knew that there were irrigation channels in the north of our state. Unless you are particularly interested, leave now, but then knowledge is never a burden.

I was interested to know how they worked. It would seem that there are three classes of channels. Big ones, medium ones and small ones. Stepmother lives on the edge of medium one which borders their four acres. Apart from cold water at their kitchen sink which comes from a tank, all their house water is from the channel. It is pumped by their pump to a tank where it is chemically treated and then into the house. It is clear and you can't tell the difference from the tank water. For this, they pay a set fee for household and garden water from the channel. The fee is calculated on averages.

In the winter, the supply to the channel is turned off but the water that remains in their channel stays there for their use. Given how little water that there is in the Campaspie River, I think their channel is supplied from the Murray River.

There is a lock at the corner of the property, although it is only a few inches of fall.

As well as their domestic water, they also pay a flood fee. They are allowed to flood their pasture, maybe three acres, six times a year, obviously in the dry summer/autumn months. The fee for this is also calculated on averages as their property is small. It is not worth the department's expense to monitor it. Larger properties have water wheel to measure the flow.

The border of their paddock area has small levy banks to contain the water. The water stays within the paddock area. The lift up gate is opened and for the first watering, it may take six hours of flow to get a couple of inches of water over the paddock. After the first water and the cracks are filled in, it may only take three hours the next time.

My step mother and her partner extracting all this water is a bit of an issue. Multiply by the number of farms, most extracting a lot more water from the Murray, well, one can understand why the river level in the Murray is so low.

I think it is the Campaspie River that feeds Lake Eppalock. Campaspie River is like a dirty drain with little flow. No wonder Lake Eppalock is now officially dry.

I think this water channel thing is all a wee bit wrong and there is a need to step back, in spite of the government spending mega dollars to cover the channels in, to reduce evaporation.

The street filth, love them to help them

There was a letter in the local paper critisising methadone users who get their supply from the chemist at the corner of Carlisle and Chapel Streets in Balaclava. There had been a stabbing there recently. Who knows if the guilty party was a meth user or not. Hear, hear, I thought. Get the scum away from there. Get them off the street.

The following week in the same local paper was another letter, well a few actually, but one in particular. The letter exhorted people to love these meth users as they are committed to and trying really hard to get off heroin. It is very hard for them. They need all the love and encouragement they can get. Go up to them when you see them leaving the chemist and give them some words of encouragement.

Did it change my mind? Dunno. Wish they would dress a bit better and not be so noticeable on the street by their behaviour.

What did amuse me was the letter writer, who also praised the chemist staff who she said dealt sympathetically with their meth clients in a very friendly and caring manner. Wotshite. It is a few years since I have been in that particular chemist, but it is not what I saw more than once. Maybe it has changed.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Rochy and beyond part 2

Sorry Jess, this is not a fluffy animal story. It is nasty.

My step mother used to breed and show Samoyeds, quite successfully. But before my father died, she switched to Sheeba Inus, a Japanese breed. They don't bark, are fiercly independant and tend to be a one person dog. They are smallish but not nasty dogs. Just incredibly aloof. My stepmother's present partner built her dog runs at the place they bought together. They house five Sheebas. A couple of them are rotated as house pets on alternate nights. Her partner has his own Jack Russell, an adorable spoilt lap dog. And then there is Jackson.

My stepmother's grandson went to jail for assaulting police I think. He had a troubled back ground and family life, of course, no excuse. He owned a dog, a British bulldog cross.....dunno, fighting dog. My stepmother, who for quite some time, kept her grandson on the straight and narrow, looked after his dog while he was indisposed and then kept the dog. Jackson, the was in the house when we arrived and he was gorgeous and cuddly and affectionate, but one could not help but notice his huge powerful chest and upper legs.

Later in the evening, we learned that he had killed a goat, a neighbour's pet. I suggested that he should be desexed at least, but step mother shook her head, without offering a reason. So, they keep a close eye on this dog. He is securely locked up at night and if they are out and watched constantly.

They also have four calves on their few acres. Usual, adorable, but snot dribbling critters.

SMother and I were chatting in back yard while her partner, B, was feeding the dogs in their runs. He had taken Jackson with him. There was a terrible comotion. Sm went running. I did not know what was happening. I impotently watched between two trees. Jackson had gripped onto one of the calf's neck. The calf was running with the dog attached. B was running after them with a straw broom, with Sm in hot pursuit. Almost sounds funny. It wasn't if you could hear the noise from the calf and the other dogs going beserk. B is nearly 80 and Sm is approaching 70.

Jackson had locked on hard to the calf's neck. Sm pulled at him while B beat him with the broom. Eventually they detached him. I saw B punching the dog in the head, then Sm told him to stop. She soundly berated him for letting the dog free with the calves. Later she said it was the first time she had ever spoken harshly to B. She did not blame the dog, and perhaps she is right, as his temperament was already known.

The calf was alright and Jackson was put in his pen for the day. The dog is so good with people, but bad with other animals. I suggested that the dog could not be trusted with children and I was pooh poohed. But hey, would you trust a dog like that with your children?

When I have an inkling of any sort of human to animal cruelty or human to animal nastiness happening on tv, I quickly leave the room. This time it wasn't on tv and I had to bear witness to it. It was not nice. I said nothing and although Sm explained things, I just thought it was all so wrong.

The ever wise R later quoted the president of the RSPCA, Dr Hugh Wirth, to me. If a dog attacks a human or another animal, in a serious manner rather than just a scrap, put it down.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Rochester and beyond part 1

Context first.

Father and step mother were living in the north of the state........don't know why they chose to live there, and after a 'long illness', father died. Although I heard about it anyway, over the telephone, she told me with some trepidation, that she had met someone else.

I was pleased. She made my father very happy and she deserved to be happy after my dad had gone.

We had met her new chap twice very briefly, once at her 52 year old son's funeral and once at christmas before last. He was outgoing, friendly and pleasant.

She had sold my dad's and her house in some awful location, and together, her new chap and her have bought a house in another awful location. I don't like flat land. It spooks me.

After putting it off for so long, we visited them and stayed the night. Her new chap is a lovely old fellah, very country, and boy can he talk. But he is interesting.

It was a long drive though. It was overcast when we left Melbourne and once we hit the hills of the Great Dividing Range, it was wet wet wet. What a wonderful new road though, the Hume Freeway. No more traffic lights in Sydney Road. We did not stop from the West Gate Freeway until Kilmore and only then for a disppointing lunch. Go to the local bakery in a country town for some nice food, so the cry goes. It was a lousy pie and the milk for the latte had been scalded. Some uncontrolled kiddies running aroung, daring the staff to drop hot food or coffee on them.

Lovely old buildings though, as there were in subsequent towns, Heathcote, Elmore and Rochester.

I tried to read the directions from my own notes, and actually got it right. Not becasue I could read what I wrote, but I remembered in my head what I was told. 4km past Rochester, 1/2 a kilometre along, turn right, bitumen becomes gravel after 3 km, fourth house on the right, 4wd will be parked out the front. If you get to the channel, you have gone too far.

It is a normal sort of house of a decade or so ago. There are four acres. Four older calves are in the paddock, innumerable dogs are in the dog runs. The house dogs are inside. It is damp and drizzly and that is how stayed for our time there.

Part two to follow, the animals.