Saturday, January 30, 2016


The funeral of Dame M's Boarder went well and as always you find out a little more about the person who died than you already knew. We did not know of his quite dysfunctional Tasmanian childhood, with him mostly being brought up by his grandmother in Scottsdale, although he was born in Campbell Town. He was separated for much of his childhood from his siblings. His grandmother was an excellent sewer and set his path for the future.

Like many young gay men who are too young to know they are gay, he had a hard time in those backward days. Like myself he was forced to play sport, especially football and also like myself, he would stay as far away from the action as possible and if the ball happened to come his way, he would go the other way.

In his late teens he moved to Launceston where he worked at a supermarket and also at Waverley Woolen Mills. In a moment of madness, he married but we were told the marriage was never consummated. He never divorced his wife and of course guess who turns up now with her hand out? He fled after a year to Melbourne where he found an accepting community and began work in fabric factories in Collingwood, learning various clothing trades by day, and attending RMIT classes by night to obtain professional qualifications.

He worked on costumes for a very long list of locally made films,  ballet, opera musicals, plays and other stage productions. He performed in a few productions. He later had an haute couture  shop in Albert Park where he designed and made dresses for the rich and famous. His final employment was imparting his knowledge and experience to uninterested students at Prahran TAFE.

Our Hairdresser Friend spoke about The Boarder/Jasmine on our behalf and she was terrific. Our Dyke Friend also spoke and she was good too. His family, from who he was estranged for a number of years, all made themselves known to us. While they knew The Boarder did drag, they did not know barely half of what he did. One of his brothers did not attend the funeral, I assume from disapproval. Our photos and stories have been a huge revelation to the family, who assumed he was just the mild mannered meek brother and uncle who may have occasionally slipped on a frock.

While the The Boarder was a quiet, serious and well mannered chap, his alter ego Jasmine was not. She was funny, slutty and outrageous. The Boarder drank beer. Jasmine drank pink champagne, through a straw of course.

About three decades ago, The Boarder met the love of his life, Dame M, and they formed a wonderful platonic relationship, though she was some thirty years older than he. They partied together, worked together on fashion, Dame M being one of two people in Australia who could operate a Cornelli French embroidering machine. Como House once put on an exhibition featuring Dame M's hands. They were atypical soul mates.

The Boarder looked after Dame M as you would a Mother who you were close to. I mourned the loss of our friend Dame M more than I did my father. The Boarder was never really the same after Dame M died. Jasmine performed for all of our significant birthdays, including at one of the many parties Dame M hosted, one time for R's niece's 21st birthday when she was visiting from England. After Dame M died, Jasmine performed for our Dyke Friend's 50th, her ex g/f 40th, a social occasion and lastly for Brighton Antique Dealer's 80th birthday, sadly who could no attend the funeral as she was on a cruise to New Zealand with her daughter.

Dame M left The Boarder about 2/3 of her estate. After her family contested the will, he received less than a third, still a decent amount. He moved to a huge older rented flat in Ripponlea and crammed it full of Dame M's furniture, innumerable sewing machines including Dame M's machines and fabrics. A lot of fabrics, many bought from Middle Eastern shops in Sydney Road.

For years he drove a very old beaten up Ford Laser. It was continually stolen but always came back, once very nicely cleaned and another time the police found a family living in his car. Just a couple of years ago he finally bought a new car, a Ford Kluger, which of course was immediately named The Cougar.

Like myself, I don't know that The Boarder ever had a good and close long time friend. I could not say he was my friend, but we mutually respected each other and that he knew he could trust us with Dame M without him being there was a compliment of the highest order. Here are a few snaps of Jasmine. All but about two are my photos and most of them taken at Dame M's.

I remember Mother's mumu being nicer than this one.

Dame M and Jasmine at her 80th birthday party.

What you can't see is that underneath that outfit was a large merkin that we all gradually noticed as the evening progressed.

Miami Barbie, I think.

These last two photos are from Brighton Antique Dealer's 80th birthday in August 2015. We have learnt that it took a supreme effort for Jazzie to perform on the night, given how unwell she was, but he had promised.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Meet Mitchell Coombs

Interesting young Mitchell tells a little of his personal story. 2:39

Mitchell tells us about his home town, Bogan Gate. I checked; it is a real town. 3.41

Young Mitchell has greeting issues, rather like my own. 2:02

Mitchell not meant for a life on the farm, and nor was I. 1:34

Thursday, January 28, 2016

I should have gone to work

This week looked at in advance was panning out well. I was not working Sunday, I did not have to work on the public holiday, Australia Day, and my other day off for the week was Thursday. I thought since I am not working Tuesday I better go with R on Thursday, his day for taking for taking Mother out and seeing in the old chook, as I had not seen her since early December.

Fate intervened with the death of our friend and nearly two weeks later, the funeral is today, Thursday. I found out last Thursday and quickly sent a text to R. So this week he could not take Mother out on Thursday. She quickly responded when he told her that perhaps he could come Wednesday. He agreed. Come Tuesday evening after I had the day off, I was feeling guilty and decided to have a sickness in family leave day and go with R to see Mother. It was the usual woe is me when she called yesterday morning, I am so unwell, with her Chemist Warehouse order. It is easier and much quicker to get her CW order on the way than take her there.

She greeted us as a miserable dying old lady, as per usual. She asked me to look at the vacuum cleaner as the thing inside wasn't spinning. It is the dust spinning around in the vacuum cleaner and sure enough, the filter was clogged with talcum powder.

Lunch at the agreeable cafe followed. As per usual the lonely old unwell widow had cheered up considerably and we were laughing and joking and recounting stories. Then to the bank to see if her pension had arrived, it hadn't. Then chemist for a script to be filled where she has a growing account balance after a change of chemist hands and she had pay out her bill, bakery for cakes for afternoon teas for the next week, IGA for a couple of things, Aldi for a few things, Subway for her dinner for later but it had a long queue so she left. She then wanted Big W for underwear which she did not buy but bought a dress instead and there was another Subway nearby to buy her dinner.

Among the many things we discussed was the about to be born great grandchild for her, another great niece for me. While I know we visited ex Sis in Law each time a nephew or niece was born, I have little recollection of details. Mother has full recollection of each of her grandchildrens' births. Dates, hospitals, rooms and minute detail. She has an amazing memory, except for the order of her own children's birth. She is unable or refuses to grasp the concept that her quarterly council rates are in order of her children, that is I pay the first quarter, ABI Brother the second etc. She likes to send her rates bill to me so she doesn't have to ask the others to pay. I tell her no, just send the bill to them in order of birth, but she won't. I now post them back to her with a note as to who should be paying them.

She had bought us lamingtons for afternoon tea once back at her Shabby Shack. I cleaned her air con filters and R put her bins out for collection and then brought them back in as it was not the usual Thursday when he visited but only Wednesday.

Feeling sorry for her at all? Wondering about her neglectful children? Don't. ABI Brother shops for her almost daily and sleeps over on Friday and Saturday nights because she is scared to be alone on those nights. Tradie Brother took her out for a long drive last Monday to Launching Place where they lunched at a seemingly terrific hotel called Home.

Sister is a long way away and doesn't see her too often but makes up for it with cash.

While she insisted on only being happy with HBA/BUPA when we agreed to pay her health insurance, ABI Brother has swapped from BUPA to Australia Pensioner Health Insurance, which is cheaper for him. There really is no need for Mother to have private health insurance. She has never used it since we have been paying from 2009 and has always been a public patient. Now she has asked me to look at API Health Insurance and if it is the same and cheaper, maybe for what we pay it could give her 'extras' cover. No thought of reducing the amount we pay.

My mother is evil at times, but you would never meet a more charming, friendly and chatty person. I was about fifty years old before I realised how smart and manipulative she is. Little Jo said to her the week before when she went with R on take Mother out Thursday, Nanny, when I am 18 you will be 92. Will you come to my party? In spite of Mother being so unwell with multiple illnesses, including addiction to pain killers, I suspect there is a good chance she will be at Little Jo's 18th birthday.

Today is our friend's funeral. Tea and cakes with the family afterwards and then drinks and a food platter at The Greyhound later. The Greyhound does that for the wake for a regular performing drag queen or a regular customer. I'll have my sunglasses handy for the funeral.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Jetset, Pura, Isis, Shape

There is history in my blog and at times I put in a word into the search window of my blog to find out about something I forgotten. What I have forgotten is greater than what I remember. At times I am astonished at what I wrote years ago. I just don't remember.

The big building at number 5 Queens Road is clearly visible from our apartment. When we first moved here, the company Jetset (travel) had the naming rights. I assume building naming rights are a privilege to major tenants. Discreet dark blue neon signs atop the building faced four directions. I never photographed the sign in those pre digital camera days.

Then along came Pura, a large conglomerate company. The name is most familiar to us through their brand of milk. I thought Pura was owned by a New Zealand company, but I have just checked and it is owned my Mitsubishi of Japan. Yes, the maker of cars and many other products. Mitsubishi is such a diverse company that when one part of its business is not doing well, another part will.

Here is a photo of the sign. The same signs were bright white and the nearest lit up my bedroom at night. It did not take long before signs facing apartment buildings were switched off and I think only the sign facing north along Kingsway remained lit.

Did the next tenant learn a lesson about bright sign lighting from the previous naming right owner? No, it put four illuminated signs facing in four directions and it was not long before again three were shut down and removed. These signs must cost thousands of dollars. If I was a direct shareholder, I would be asking questions. Private enterprise wastes just as much money as government enterprise, if not more. This new naming tenant was a company that outfits commercial properties and goes by the rather unfortunate name of Isis. I am sure they had the name first and were copied by the terrorist group. I know I have photos of the Isis sign but I cannot find them easily and strangely blog searching won't find them either.

Well, Isis has disappeared to be replace by Shape. What is Shape? Ah, Isis has changed its name to Shape. Here is the new sign.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Couple of thoughts on the new pc

I suppose it is a combination of the new computer and Windows 10 but never have things been easier to set up. Everything just plugs in and works. Gone are the days of battling with installation cds, or earlier floppy disks, struggling to download programmes and install them. It has been pretty well a case of click, wait a few seconds and it is done, seamlessly.

The new computer

While we had upgraded our last computer, it was getting on a bit and while using Windows 10 improved its performance, it was still showing its age. I am allowed to slow down with age but my computer must not, so begone old computer.

Another issue we were having was the monitor was failing to come to life after switching the computer on and the problem was getting worse. After some experimentation, I found that unplugging the power at the back of it, waiting for a few seconds then plugging back in would get it going. Note, turning it off and on at the power point or unplugging it there would not work. Odd.

A friend had bought two computers by mail order from Sydney and then another for another friend. He gave the details to me and I looked at the website. I liked what I saw. I made a couple of alterations to this one, by adding another 4GB of RAM, and specifying the operating system be put on the solid state drive, which I believe will make it faster and leaves the hard disk drive free. I also added a wi-fi facility to future proof it against us being a Telstra captured customer. That added about $40 plus $15 for delivery.

I ordered it on a Wednesday, received the invoice and paid for it Thursday and it arrived Monday. Mucho work transferring files and setting it up but by the end of last week it was mostly how I wanted it. It is fast! I am very happy with it. Although it came with Windows 10 installed, we also received an original Win 10 on a USB stick, all in sealed packaging.

Never once have I ever been able to set up Outlook Express, now Windows Live Mail, without a call to Telstra and this time was no exception. Now you just hand over control of your computer to Aaron in the Philippines and he does it all for you. I would never recommend anyone to now use their isp email. You are too trapped by it. Gmail, Yahoo Mail are so much better, but they weren't around when we started with computers in the mid nineties. Yes, I know I could do isp mail through them but I am very used to Live Mail now.

So all is well with our fourth new computer in about twenty years. But not all is well with the monitor.

It was getting worse at starting up and R proclaimed on the Wednesday that he simply wasn't prepared to put up with a day longer. It is a pity it failed because we quite liked it. It was big enough at 21.5 inches. Gosh, I think 20cm is quite respectable. He pointed a couple out on the net to me and asked which one. I won't name the brand as we simply got what we paid for and $149 is not enough for a decent monitor. He went a short distance to the big office shop and came back with the new monitor. Oh, it was ugly. Oh, the screen was hard to read. Oh, it would not tilt. To be fair about his poor choice, it was not on display for him to see. We thought about it for a day or so after reconnecting the old  one and decided that regardless of whether the shop would take it back, we would always hate it.

So Saturday we took it back and the big office shop was happy to accept the return. We had boxed it up as best we could and everything was included. We sought the advice of an attractive young salesmen and he told us forget about statistics and details. Look at the price, look at the screen and decide if you are happy with what you see for what you are paying. At 23 inches, it is little bigger than the old one, but not really noticeably. So, we added another $107 to the $149 and this is what we bought, our first ever Hewlett Packard product.You will be pleased to know we are happy with it; looks, readability and the basic picture quality. The only quibble is the bulky external transformer, but we can live with that. It also came with an HDMI cable, so we used that to connect it to the new computer that we discovered had an HDMI input.

About $1000 spent, but money well spent and we won't have to spend on computers for some years.

Photos. Well, this is not a good photo of our new screen, but the screen is quite lovely.

The new is bigger than the old. Note that dvd read writer drive looks exactly the same. Clearly there is nothing sexy in the design of a better dvd/cd writer drive. It is old technology and I am slowly transferring cd/dvd storage to USB storage.

We really are such dirty housewives.

Safe to say the tangle of wires did not improve at all and that is in addition to what you see at the power point in the first photo. I plugged the external back up drive into the new USB3 port at the rear. Wow, that is.........not faster.

Household Management is telling me email things are not working like the used to for him. I can only do so much. Given he can still read an email sent in 1996, I don't do a bad job of keeping and fixing things.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Evening bits

Let me begin with a request to Margaret. We love your Tasmanian produce, clean and green and all that but not the smoke you are sending us. Can you do something about your burning forests pls. The smoke is spoiling our view. Thanx.

I won't be posting anything about Australia Day beyond this. I don't like the day much anymore. It is all becoming we are so good. We are ok, just, but could be much improved. As I say Australia is not too bad, but we have to remember our ancestors were invaders of a land already owned, no matter how sparsely populated. And, they seem to have looked after the land over hundreds of thousands of years ever so much better than our ancestral invaders did. We now are not doing a great job either.

What could have been very tedious, the Australia Day Award announcements on our ABC TV, was very well done. Jeremy Fernandez has always been a favourite ABC Sydney person for me and he was a good choice as the host. As soon as I learnt a military person had been nominated, I knew who would win. Yet, he did give both our army and Australia a good shake. He is not undeserving even if his business was bashing off overseas in wars to kill people. It is just that a few too many honours go to military types.

The Australian Senior of the Year was very deserving. And this where it gets complicated. On the surface it might seem to some that he has received the award for just doing his job as a no doubt very well paid head of Sydney's St Vincent's Hospital Emergency Department, he has done so much more and is certainly deserving of the award. He could not be lumped in with award recipients who receive awards for just doing their paid job.

I s'pose I am proud to be Australian but whoa, we could be so much better. How about less reliance on volunteer work and more support for those in need from our taxes, even if that mean support for volunteers from our taxes.

I couldn't wait to get home tonight to check on the weather smart device as to whether it was a full moon or not. I had guessed it was by the way people were who I had contact with at work today, and sure enough. Full moon, not that we can see it because of all the smoke Margaret is sending out way. Fen, take note. When bad things happen at work, look at the sky to view the full moon.

A waxy scorching

Some candle wax was spilt on the carpet near Christmas. Easy to get out, I thought. I consulted the late Martha Gardner's house hold tips books and then one by Shannon Lush. I wasn't particularly impressed with the use of chemicals on the carpet that aren't formulated for carpet. I then consulted the super sized search engine on the super sized information super highway and I found a solution I liked.

It involved putting brown paper over the wax in the carpet and pressing down on the paper with a hot iron. We have plenty of brown paper bags, so I got busy. The instructions said set the iron to its hottest setting and you may need to hold the iron there for up to 30 seconds.

Maybe they don't make brown paper like they used to? I put the hot iron on the brown paper for only 10 seconds, lifted the brown paper and the carpet was scorched in the shape of the base of the iron. Oh my god. What am I to do?

I worked away at the rest of the wax, leaving the iron on the paper for a second or two only and the wax was all removed. I then sprayed the scorched carpet with a chemical carpet cleaner and to my surprise, that helped a lot. Since then it has faded to the point where it is not even worth showing you a photo of scorched bit as it is barely visible and you would never find it without being told.

(This is an exceptionally boring post, even by my standards. What can I do to give a lift? A photo of burning candle? No. Ah, I've got it.)

Now all I have to do is get the wax out of my bed sheets.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Sunday Selections Warhol & Weiwei

Along with River and others, here is a Sunday Selection featuring some of the works of Andy Warhol and Ai Weiwei. This is not a timely post. We visited this exhibition a few weeks ago and I haven't had time to muck about with photos since.

This is the exhibition we visited and I just loved it. I have seen people queued outside the gallery for the Friday night event, but when we visited mid morning, it wasn't too busy.

We began with brunch outside Arts Centre building. It was a warm morning but not too hot in the shade of trees. This inflatable pig is advertising for a kids show or something like that.

The Arts Centre spire piercing the sky. In its original design it was supposed to be clad in copper but after the massive cost overruns  during the construction of the Arts Centre, no money was made available and a cheaper open weave spire was made. The original open weave spire was considerably shorter than this one installed in the 1990s. While I don't think much of it and it is hardly the Sydney Harbour Bridge, it is a Melbourne landmark and is often to be seen on postcards.

It was very pleasant as we munched and sipped away opposite the Queen Victoria Gardens.

Through the water wall, is this supposed to be a Christmas tree?

Whatever, I like it.

Here it is without the water wall.

We did not have to queue for tickets for long. We had only a short time to admire the Leonard French stained glass ceiling. I am usually worried when I pay to see a gallery exhibition but I had not need for concern at all. I loved the exhibition, like an excited child in a lolly shop.

But is it art? Of course it is, if it stops people in their tracks, they step forward, they step back, they stare, the sit and look, they are drawn to spinning one of the wheels, and just wonder what it is all about.

I should think many of us are familiar with the works of Warhol, perhaps to the point of them being a little ho-hum now. Nevertheless, it was good to see some up close, as we have in the past at the Jewish Museum of Australia in St Kilda. Warhol is a fascinating character.

Was this related to either artist? The helium balloons were a great touch, two areas of them. The kids loved them, as did a certain partner of mine who could not help himself and had to tap a few around.

Your guess about whose foot this would fit this shoe is as good as mine.

Whose work is what is a bit of a blur to me, but this very impressive piece made of tiny porcelain flowers is certainly Ai Weiwei's. While I became familiar with him as an activist after he was placed under house arrest for protests against the Chinese government, I did not know him as an artist at all.

This work called, 'Sprinkler Isolating Valve' interested me.

The 'merch'. And boy was there a lot of merchandise for sale.

While I did not just buy the box of postcards of the works of Warhol and Weiwei just for this photo to share with my Sydney friends, it may have been a deciding factor.

Across the road to the tram home, snapping the floral clock as we went. The clock was a gift to Melbourne from the watchmakers of Zurich. We've never had a gift from the Gnomes of Zurich.

Ah yes, I have not mentioned the Ai Weiwei Lego block controversy. You can read a brief rundown here.

But wait. After I finished writing this and hit publish, our friend Pants published her thoughts on the exhibition. Pants is like a proper writer and knows about subjective conjunctives, and she knows about artistic stuffs. Her brilliance as paparazzi is very open to question, having failed to capture an image of Weiwei when he walked past her.  Another friend, Victor, has also written about the exhibition.

Look, if you don't have an artistic bone in your body, you will still enjoy the exhibition.