Saturday, December 27, 2008

UK Windfarm

Back when we were holidaying in the UK, we driving along the M6 when in the distance, initially partly obscured by hills, a solitary wind farm tower appeared. Against the bare hills, it looked quite surreal and very beautiful. As we drove closer, more appeared, but that single one against the hills and sky was memorable.

Daisy asked if I had taken a photo, and I had not. I did some searching at the time, but given I don't even know exactly where we were, I could not find one. Now that Google Maps has added photos, I followed the M6 northward and sure enough, there is a photo and I found the location.

Google Images brought up many photos but I cannot find a photo taken from the distance and angle we saw the windfarm. This quite nice one is by Keith Bellis is taken from a minor road near the M6. It is not really how we saw it but quite a nice photo all the same. Click the pic for a better look. The location is Lambrigg in Cumbria.

The Kiddie Bone Doctor

The Bone Doctor and went to a supermarket bottle shop, or offy or liquor store, whatever. She had a bottle of wine and I had half a dozen light beers. I said to her, I'll pay. As we plonked the goodies down on the counter and I was getting out money, the lad behind the counter said, ID please.

I looked at him blankly, not understanding why I would need ID. The Bone Doctor twigged and pulled out her driving licence. Although once eighteen you can buy alcohol, the store's policy is to ask anyone who looks under 25 for their ID.

I was somewhat gob smacked for a minute. The Bone Doctor is 32 and a surgeon or registrar or something at our major Melbourne hospital. How could she be asked for ID?

As we collected the paid for goodies, Bone Doctor said, thanks Uncle Andrew. I said back, bitch.

Of course she couldn't wait to get back to everyone and brag.

But later looking at her objectively, she could pass for under 25. Good to have a bit of a laugh on a sad day.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Step Father is ill morte

You are probably fed up with up reading about deaths on my blog this year. I am fed up with them happening. I am sure this will be the last for the year and I want the record of it written here.

My step father died at ten this morning. Sister rang at 6.30 to say the hospital had called and told her a few hours. She called appropriate people. Mother called a friend to take her to hospital. Tradie Brother also went to hospital. Mother managed to get a smile from as she talked to him, even though he was quite drugged. Sister was outside making a call when Mother noticed that he had stopped breathing. Tradie Brother disbelieved her but the nurse who they called confirmed it.

Sister was absolutely distraught, Mother not too bad. They stayed until his family from Geelong way arrived.

I called work to report a death in the family and that I would not be attending today or tomorrow. Loss of 16 hours pay, gnash. We picked up Little Jo and brought her to our place as Sister did not want her to be there, and we relieved the Bone Doctor to go and comfort Sister.

We took Little Jo for a swim, watched a Wiggles dvd, took a walk and then on the way to Mother's, stopped off under a freeway in South Melbourne to initiate her into the evils of McDonalds. She did not like any burger, but made do with chips and and a thick shake and that was after having ham, cheese and watermelon we had already fed her at home. Now filled with sugar, salt and fat, Little Jo dropped off to sleep as we motored on the M1 to Mother's. Later we added some alcohol to her day's diet with a rum ball. We should have given her some nicoteen impregnated chewing gum to round it all off.

Yesterday's forgotten cooked chickens came in very useful. A stream of people came and went. Sister offered to stay with Mother overnight, but Mother wanted to be alone. Sister was eventually convinced when Mother told her that she was just make a mess everywhere and Mother would have to clean it all up. Quite likely. Sister is like a hurricane when she arrives anywhere and she has not lost the voice that she used when controlling Year 12 schoolboys.

By 8.30, the last visitors to Mother's departed, and she was now alone, as she wished to be, with her thoughts and the memories of someone she had spent the last thirty years with.

I seem to be the only one who is not surprised how well she is doing. Everyone underestimates Mother, her dizziness, her lack of knowledge of how to even turn on a light and her ablity to get everyone around her to help, with her charm and seeming helplessness, as a lack of survival skills. It will be hard for her, but she will manage.

At some point yesterday, after we all left the hospital, Step Father signed a blank cheque for Mother. Only a couple of thousand dollars to collect, but Mother will be at the bank at the earliest opportunity. If that troubles you, you need context. Step Father owed Mother heaps of money, indirectly.

Compliments to public hospital between Dandenong and Pakenham. They kept Step Father going for christmas day, and then did not prolong the misery. That he suddenly needed pain relief when he had not had any pain, was a blessing, for us and for him.

Now, who is going to pay for the funeral? Seven surving children down Geelong way, and four of us step-children, cost evenly divided seems morally fair. Why do I think this is not going to happen? Already R is making, 'just pay' noises. He hasn't actually pointed out how.

The brief version of a Highriser Christmas

Christmas Eve, work until midnight, bed just before two am. Up at 7.30 after been woken by the smell of roasting pork. R was up at 6 to put the roast on. Prepare everything for christmas dinner at ABI brother's place, except for christmas pudding which Sister cooked, the first year Mother has not done it. Highriser made the christmas cake in late October.

Realise along the way that we have forgotten frozen peas, ABI has some. Realise along the way, we forgot the roast chickens. Mother will only eat vegetable then as ham and roast pork does not seem to agree with her. I don't mention that it about shock to the system of a large meal and not what the meal was.

Drive to ABI brother's house, 1 hour, set up and decorate table, cook roast vegetables. 1pm Bone Doctor and Little Jo arrive. Ten minutes later, Sister and Mother arrive. Chat, eat christmas dinner, set off for hospital to visit Step Father. Sister calls from her car. Tradie brother arriving in 15 minutes. Turn around and back to ABI brother's. Wait half an hour and Tradie Brother arrives with girlfriend G. Point to fridge where there served meals are and head off for hospital.

Sister, Bone Doctor and Little Jo leaving hospital as we arrive. Sister red eyed.

Sister stays while Bone Doctor takes Little Jo back to ABI brother's where Tradie Brother and G are.

Supposed to be a short visit to hospital, but Step Father did not seem to want to doze off, given he has only a few days now. Sister had already cracked badly. R was next. Mother showed Step Father jewellry she had around her neck that he bought for her thirty plus years ago, that was the end of her. Highriser left the room and cracked. ABI brother left the room and cracked. Marvellous that we all did it seperately but of course in such awful circumstances, we had a good laugh too. Step Father's voice has pretty well gone, but all he wanted to talk about was Little Jo, or his Skip as he calls her (Joey, kangaroo, skipping joey, Skip. It is such a devastating shame that she is too young to remember him. She sees him and says birdies. She want's him to show her his now sold 100 odd budgeriegars.

Back to ABI brother's house for pudding and present giving and socialising with Tradie Brother's newish girlfriend G.

Finally leave at 6.10 to head home and realise we are supposed to pick up Dame M's Boarder and his female hairdresser friend to go to Brother Friends for second round of christmas, a tradition for about twenty years.

Call Dame M's Boarder and tell him we will be an hour late. Call Brother Friends and tell them we will be an hour late. Although R would have gone straight on, I am going home to shower. I was hot and sweaty and just need a few minutes at home.

Pick up Dame M's Boarder and hairdresser friend and drive half an hour to Brother Friends. Pleasant and relaxed evening, but all we really wanted to was be home after a such a bitch of a day. Leave Brother Friends at 11pm. R collapsed to his bed, and I am here doing my writing therapy.

Highriser thinks he will take a very selfish view of christmas next year. Not only was this the smallest number of people for christmas dinner, for various reasons, it was, as I warned R, just a lousy day.

Oh yes, Highriser drove the new car today. I turned on the ignition and the oddometer said 7km. By the time it arrived home tonight, it said something in the 200 plus km.

Feel lucky I am absoulutely whacked and you only got the short version.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Compliments of the Season

Since I am a heathen, don't expect any holy words from me. Christmas is good because I get presents. I suppose it is good for families to gather too and who could forget how it was when you were a child. Magical.

Ok, I recognise it is a special day at least and I feel the need to do something nice. No, this time I will not call you a selfish prick or prickess if you haven't arranged for you organs to be donated. Heaven only wants your spirit, not your messy bits. Leave them to benefit someone else.

What could I do that is nice, especially when I can't think of anything? Nice does not come naturally to me. I know, a repost.

Look after your elderly neighbours if you can. Preferably before you are alerted by the odour of rotting fleshl. It doesn't take much effort. We had one instance in our building of a elderly woman who lives on her own collapsing and not being able to get help for hours.

I wouldn't say I was old yet, but I am not that far away. I would like someone to do the same for me, that is check up on me, but not when the rent boy is attending to my needs.

Here is the lightly edited repost, first published May 2006.

The painter, the sister and and the daughters

I have mentioned in my blog before that we used to live next door to the late painter Albert Tucker's sister. Like in an older ad on tv, she welcomed us with baked scones when we moved in. The two nice boys moving in next door. They look very clean and decent.

She was a great neighbour, although there were times when she called out over the fence, we ignored her and crept around silently, but it was not often. As she was the other half of our semi detached in East Malvern, she wasn't easy to ignore and we did grow fond of her.

Our neighbour's father was a politician in the first Victorian Parliament. I can't remember the details now.

One night she invited us in for a sherry and canapes. We learnt how to make mock chicken. Forget how now but something to do with tomatoes. She was clutching a photo of her Adelaide daughter and son in law. We had already met her daughter who lived in Melbourne. She started to show us the photo and then pulled back. She repeated this a couple of times. Then she said with great gravity, 'Um, there is something I need to tell you before you see the photo'.

Our minds raced.

'His name is Rajiv and he is Indian'. Our ho hum reaction must have been a little disappointing to her.

While she was in the kitchen preparing tea and cake, we looked at the really weird pictures on the walls. Why would this very normal middle class woman have such odd pictures on her walls? Of course they were works by Albert Tucker. They were grim pictures.

The Indian born son-in-law called one evening to take our neighbour out for dinner when he was in Melbourne for a few days. We peeked out the curtains, sure enough he was Indian, although not very dark. Probably a Seihk

I used to buy The Age daily back then and she bought The Sun. Once I had finished reading The Age, I would tuck into the fence palings and she would retrieve it. She did the same with the Sun. The day arrived when she did not collect the Age or put out the Sun. We called her daughter who broke in and she had had a stroke. We visited her in hospital. It was indignity for her. All that hair on her face, no make up and speech very slurred. She recovered to a point. She would not be seen on a walking frame. The shopping jeep was her ideal walker and she did continue to wear high heels, against advice. But probably about a year later, again the paper did not appear jammed in the fence palings. Again we phoned the daughter, but it was the end this time.

We went to the funeral of course. The intellectual daughter from Adelaide attended and did the full histrionics thing. Unlike the Melbourne daughter, she wasn't particularly nice to us; quite dismissive really.

Some old queen conducted the funeral, and surprise surprise, not long later, he conducted my brother's wedding. Maybe it was the other way around.

The Melbourne daughter was very nice and grateful for what little we had done. She and her husband had a picture framing business in Eltham. They had two sons, I seem to remember. I bet they are important people in the world of art now, like their great grandfather. Maybe not. Should not have such expectations.

A fellow blogger posted a tale of the loss of a pet dog and it reminded me of pets we have lost. One was the cat Thomas. Our neighbour had taken a photo of Thomas sunbaking in her back yard and a while after her death, her daughter gave us the photo framed with a note on the back. I suppose the daughter would be oldish now. Just for curiosity, I put her name into google. Yes, she did come up. More interestingly, there were links to her sister, the Adelaide university lecturer, niece of Albert Tucker with the Indian born husband.

I was pushed for time and did not fully follow through at the time.

Here is what I quickly gathered. She is a WHISTLEBLOWER and a member of some club for whistleblowers. She accused authorities of stitching her up with a charge from the RSPCA regarding the death of her dog because of what she might divulge. She has an early child reading school/business, one in Adelaide, one in Melbourne, and is also on the speaking circuit. She is a rabid feminist. I really can't be bothered finding out much more. I am not that interested. More interested to know what the Melbourne daughter is now doing.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Deep Lake

For those of you who don't venture to the west of the State of Victoria, it is quite rocky and much of the bluestone seen around Melbourne comes from the west. There are many lakes, both large and small. One I am familiar with is Deep Lake on the Hamilton Highway near Mount Elephant.

I have only been there once. It was well set up for recreation such as camping, fishing, boating and water skiing. Did I once hear that is maximum depth is eighteen metres? Maybe my visit was a decade or so ago.

A friend sent me clipping from one of his local newspapers. The clipping is a real estate ad for a house on the edge of Deep Lake. Very nice stone house and it sold for only $460,000. My friend said it might have sold for $50,000 more if there was water in the lake. But the lake is dry and has been for a few years now. Nearby Shallow Lake was closed to allow more water into Deep Lake, to no avail.

Ok, we have had a very extended period of below average rainfall. But we have had some of late. I can understand why the lake would be low, but empty? I would guess that many of the lakes in the area are very low or empty. Why is this? Can't be just that rainfall is low. We have had droughts before and no one in living memory can recall Deep Lake not having water.

Might it be to do with bores being drilled left, right and centre? Might it be that the Western District Squatocracy are using the water on their land with gay abandon? Might it be that they have extracted so much water with bores, the water table has lowered? Might it be that some water run offs to the lake have been diverted for private purposes?

Might it be illegal activity or just a continuance of a Kennett policy or even one of Bracks? As would be expected, it is a very safe conservative seat, so I can't understand why our Labor government would not act.

I should write to the state member for Polwarth and the federal member for Wannon. See what they have to say.

The good news is though, unrelated, thank god someone has come up with the idea of a tunnel to help alleviate traffic congestion in Hoddle Street and not god awfully ugly flyovers.

You know kiddies though, I kinda of learnt at a very young age, that if you take something away from underneath something, whatever is on top falls down. I think even Little Jo has developed this understanding already when she demolishes our tower of wooden blocks.

Can we keep tunnelling, well maybe because of the way tunnels are constructed, but can we keep taking out oil, gas, coal, minerals, water at the rate we are? Won't the house of cards fall down one day? (Said in a deep voice with the echo button pressed) Journey to the Centre of the Earth.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Crowds

The task was to move briskly along a main street in our city. Quite difficult when the street was littered with christmas shoppers.

I stood back for a moment until I saw a solid and suited man with good presence who looked like he was going somewhere. Never choose a woman for this. They will stop to look in shop windows.

I slipped into the man's slipstream (no don't, please) and like an icebreaker, he moved through the crowds with me trailing along behind him. I did not get pushed or shoved. I did not have to dodge around people. I did not have to step to one side to avoid a collision. I got to where I was going feeling very relaxed and pleased with myself.

Give it a shot. I find it quite successful. Two people side by side moving briskly can work too, especially if they are holding hands.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Sydney Broadcasting Corporation

In Australia we have the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, or ABC if you like. Government funded, just like the BBC in the UK, and it does radio including shortwave radio and a television service to our near neighbours, even as far as China, normal television including digital and online. What it does with its small amount of funding compared to what the BBC gets, is extraordinary. I would go so far as to say it does some things better than the Beeb.

It has changed a lot over the years that I have been a consumer of our ABC. Some areas for better, some for worse. For local people, I go back to the days of Evans the Wireless.

It was probably eight years or so ago and on a Sunday and I was sitting in the car waiting for someone or something, and I thought I would tune into the radio news. It was supposed to be a national news service, but all I heard was about Sydney. Car crashes, delays on roads, punch up at the Coogee Bay Hotel (ok, I am exaggerating there). I got a bit annoyed. This is supposed to be National news for all states, not just for Sydney.

I had heard people refer to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation as the Sydney Broadcasting Corporation, and know I knew why.

Alerted to it on that day, I have always kept it in the back of my mind, ever watchful for signs of emergence of the Sydney Broadcasting Corporation. I got a lay down misere tonight.

While your eyes are already glazing over and you have noticed a cobweb in the corner that needs removing, it is my blog and I will proceed. You foreign types need some background. Even local folks probably do.

Christmas and New Year and much of January is our hot summer. There aren't any radio ratings and our ABC takes the chance to save money and networks right across Australia. That means we all lose local content. I am fine with the theory of this, no matter how crappy the programs are.

While they keep saying that we are listening to ABC local radio, it could be coming from any of our states and it has a national flavour. Saves our ABC heaps of money. I fully understand why they do it.

But if they are pretending that a nation wide broadcast is local radio, they really need to get it right.

Alan Brough, broadcasting from Melbourne, went national. He did ok and sounded inclusive.

I cannot say the same for Rhys Muldoon who was supposed to be broadcasting nationally, at least he was to where I am in Victoria, and during his quite boring quiz, he asked the question, 'Who on ABC Local Radio, hosts the Conversation Hour?' He went on to confirm the bias by adding, 'There is only one Conversation Hour Host'. I am happy to get this self confirmed religious Tory type that he is into trouble when this lands on Sue's desk.

Now in Sydney, the ever so book/film/celeb Conversation Hour is hosted by an ex comedian from The Doug Anthony All Stars. In Melbourne, it is hosted by a high rating and very respected radio current affairs broadcaster by the name of Jon Faine. In fact Monsieur Faine (he is presently in Paris) goes Victoria wide and even into southern NSW and Tasmania, the latter two by default of a powerful transmitter. In fact I have been amused by Melbourne to London dot com.

So, there are at least two Conversation Hours in Australia on ABC Local Radio, possibly more. Rhys assumed there was only the one that he as a Sydneysider knows about. Bad karma Rhys and what ammo you give to those who want to refer to our national broadcaster, the ABC, as the Sydney Broadcasting Corporation.

Rhys, if you want to know how to do it, listen to some old tapes of your boss Sue when she was on the wireless. I could never work out where she was. I think Melbourne, but not really sure. She presented nationally, so there was never any state bias.

Gee, how hard is it to check facts for a quiz???

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Driving the new motor

I will get my fair share of driving the new car when we are out and about, but I also have to get used to R's old car, the one I now have to pay the rego and insurance on. Believe me, if you have separate money, and pay for your partner's new car, less inheriting his old one, it is a nightmare to calculate.

R's old car wireless is extraordinarily complicated and a much cheaper and nastier unit than I have in the old Mazda. I will have to switch from illegal cassettes to illegal cds. I did read that there is button to shut off City Link announcements in the tunnel though. Yes, I have read the operational manuals for R's car. I learnt that you can raise or lower the seat belt mounting and the steering wheel. I also learnt that to raise or lower the headrests, there is a catch to release them. Not sure why I would to alter mine, the driver, but who knows who might be in the car.

Alhtough my old Humber had three different interior lights, the front one being built into the mirror, the rear ones on each side and individually operated by a beautifully smooth sliding switch and by the rear passenger, at least the Humber had a glove box light. My old Mazda has a glove box light. R's new car has a glove box light. But the Hyundai does not have a glove box light! Map reading lights, tick, cigarette lighter light tick, ashtray light tick, but I don't use any of those........well I don't really use the glove box either, but that is beside the point. If they can put a glove box light in a Humber in the early sixties, I would have thought the Koreans could have put one in a 2000 Hyundai.

My old Mazda has cruise control, which I use quite often. The Hyundai does not. The new Mazda does of course.

Ok, worked it out. If I need to go to Pakenham to visit Mother, then I will take the new Mazda and R can take the Hyundai to work, but I am still a bit bitter that the car I am ridding myself of has a light in the glove box, a motorised swivelling air con vent, and cruise control, and the one I am getting does not.

A Christmas Party

While many of you might think of dykes as being big chicks who would be handy to have around if you need to change a tyre, they are not all like that. Our dyke friends' would have to ask me how to change a tyre.

There could well be a misconception that they would not know how to host a good party. Believe me, they do.

I hate parties really, but the one last night was tolerable. It was highly planned, the food at regular intervals. The games. The prize giving. It was never boring. Fortunately a guest brought along an Ipod full of good party music to stick into a cradle.

Last year at the same party, NT ex pollie/copper wowed them in the aisles when he turned up as Santa. This year, the late Dame M's boarder wowed them by turning up in full drag. Windsor Shoes supplied the patent leather black thigh high boots. The rest created by Jasmine herself.

Two years ago the late Dame M deigned to appear at the dykes inaugural christmas party. I expect The Boarder made her headpiece. Both he and Dame M were very talented at anything like that. Dame M was mentioned more than once last night by various people. It was surprising that she went out in daylight. Normally she did not.

Not that we will be having any parties in the future, but I sure now know how to organise one.

This was somewhat of a contrast the barbecue we went to this afternoon. The food was fine and the company too, but it just lacked something and I couldn't wait to leave. Maybe it was because it was so hot, even though we were under shelter. Maybe it was because I wasn't in the mood for socialising lubricant, which would have just made me feel the heat more. Maybe it was because I went to work late this morning when it was my day off and I had made an error. Shut up you two pricks.