Saturday, February 18, 2017

Jussy goes to Washington

It is hard to believe that two countries with a similar heritage could be so different as Canada and the United States are. Civilising French influence in Canada? I think not, and besides the US had its own French.

Correct me if I am wrong but the eastern side of Canada is kind of French and the western side, kind of British, with what is in the middle a bit of everything. While we only saw some west and central, there is no doubt in my mind that British Columbia is the province to live in......if you can afford it. Toronto is ok too, but oh the extremes of weather.

While I am hardly qualified to comment, that never stops me. Canada felt very calm, organised and civilised to me. The US felt chaotic and just hanging together by a thread. I expect it has been like that for a long time and will continue to be so, yet still remain the most important country in the world.

The leaders of the countries are very different too but hey, they did not come to fisticuffs when Jussy visited Washington. Misplaced perhaps, but I suspect Jussy might have felt a bit sad for Trump and the way his presidency is panning out. I bet Jussy also felt a bit superior.

I was brung up proper like, part of which was to never negatively comment about someone's appearance and generally I don't, but worse than Trump's hair is his mouth, tiny with pursed lips. He almost makes ole bluejaw Nixon look reasonably handsome.

Friday, February 17, 2017

How is your memory?

Did you know there are two hundred and seventy London Tube stations? This very clever group manages to mention every one of them in this 3:09 song.

And don't forget Marie also intends to visit everyone of them and while I was initially doubtful, she has made a very good start, having completed one line and well on her way to completing another. Ealing Broadway was quite an interesting recent exploration.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

The Visitor

I met our visitor from the country through our blog connection. She had lived in London for years when we first came across each other but was soon moving back to Australia, via a longish holiday in India.

Twice she has hosted us when we have travelled in country Victoria and it was now our turn to reciprocate. With some family she visited Heidi once in Melbourne and she arrived at The Highrise Friday evening, and after a moderate bottle or two glass or two of wine, we ate a nice meal prepared by R. I always worry that people don't sleep well when they stay, but it was not a problem and we all slept well.

After a relaxed Saturday morning breakfast at home, we headed to the National Gallery of Victoria to see a much looked forward to exhibition of the works of David Hockney. While I knew very little about him, I just loved his work.

The entrance to the gallery usually has an large piece of interactive art. This was a small spiral of mirrors. Oddly, the panels that looked like mirrors did not show your reflection and the ones you thought would not, did. I paused to take a photo as the other two went ahead and I briefly lost them. That is I could see them in mirrors but I could not find them.

It is a pity this photo did not come out very well. I just loved his series of 'The Arrival of Spring in Woldgate, East Yorkshire' series.

Hockney's portrait works are well done, but not of great interest to me. His still lifes of very mundane household objects were interesting.

But what I liked the most is that he was a pioneer of making his art work on an iPad, meaning that how the work was created is recorded and can be played back and many electronic screens displayed the creation of a work. Sorry, this video does not show it very well. The screens even show individual 'brush strokes'.

The finale was in a large room with a large central round seat. Four big screens had been placed around the room and each showed the same four minute film in synchronisation of a short drive through a wood in four different seasons of weather. It was wondrous and of one of the panels had snow and ice.

I have mentioned this water wall at the gallery entrance before and below the photo is a brief video of the wall in action. Kids always want to touch, and some very big kids at that.

Should we lunch in town or go home and drive to Altona Village for lunch? The latter won and we had a nice lunch at the cafe where we previously forgot to pay. I paid our debt, rounded down by a few dollars to $30 in recognition of our honesty. Not too many people would do this, the cafe owner opined. No, they wouldn't. We are fools, but honest fools. A VE Valiant passed by, 1967.

Parked in the street was this old banger, perhaps an Austin.

I forgot to take a hat, but R found one of Little Jo's caps in the boot of the car, so I put that upon my tĂȘte and we walked out along  the pier. This bloke was having a bit of a wobble on his board, obviously not so experienced. I kept the camera on to capture when he fell into the water, but he did not.

We really like Altona Village and Altona Beach and if we were thinking of living in a suburban area, it would be high on our list for consideration......and for an south of the Yarra River person, that is quite an admission.

The soft back David Hockney book was discounted from $50 to $30 at the obligatory gift shop exit. It looks so nice on our coffee table. Alas our visitor took it home with her.

Saturday night we dined at FOMO, a Thai restaurant in town. It was a little noisy but the food is always excellent, as is the service. Bookings were heavy, so we unbooked were put upstairs. Someone's Saturday evening was not panning out so well, having been clamped by the Sheriff. We sensibly use public transport to go to town, so no risk of clamping for us.

Sunday morning I drove our guest to So Cross Station in Spencer Street to catch an 8am replacement rail works bus back home, rather than the train, and then after some breakfast it was off to work for me after a lovely couple of evenings and a day of socialising. It is a good thing to get you out of yourself at times.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Happy Valentines Day

Is there not a law that Australians have a right to shoot incompetent car drivers dead? Such an action would certainly bring down our population explosion. There should be such an action.. Once home, my mood rose.

"Hello sweetheart, love of my life and my most dearest person in the world. How was your afternoon of alternating between napping and watching tv?"


"And what romantic dinner have you planned for us?"

"Bangers and mash, and be grateful you are getting that. I serve you carrots, but you are not eating them!"

"Aw, you do really love me. In the name of love, I will try to eat all of my carrot serve tonight". 

Back to my childhood where I would fill my pyjama pockets with cabbage and dispose of it later, I now just chuck carrot out. I don't mind some carrot, just not too much. 

Who is sleeping in our bed?

Our spare room bed that is.

There is a little updating to be done. I can't remember if I told you that Hippie Niece went into confinement at 24 weeks, as her twins within are large and ready to come. She is now at 26 weeks and the hospital won't even allow her to walk any further than from her hospital bed to he en suite bathroom. Otherwise, she must be pushed around in a chair. The doctors are desperately trying delay premature births. The longer the delay, the better.

It must be hard to be in hospital for so long. It is also a difficult location for much of her family to visit. We catch the train to Heidelberg Station, which while it takes a while to go into town and then catch the train, it is less stressful than driving to an area we don't know, getting caught in traffic jams and in the unlikely event we can find free parking, have to pay $8 parking to see Niece for an hour. So far, we have always managed to find an expensive and naughty treat to take her.

I wonder how she will go, coping with twins. I mentioned this to one of our Brother Friends. He reminded me that his mother, who I killed with my boiled fruit cake, (true, she came to our place for afternoon tea. I had made a boiled fruit cake and she ate some and said it was very nice. The next day she had a stroke and died). Right, I can't recover the grammar. Their mother lived on a farm with no electricity, no running water and had five children under seven years old. Pretty valid point. Times have changed, but if it comes down the crunch, you do what you have to do.

I noticed on Facebook that Niece thanked Sister for coming to visit her by train from Geelong. When we saw Sister last Sunday at Great Niece's first birthday, she said she would visit on the following Friday. I didn't know it would combined with an errand, to get travel visas for China for their forthcoming holiday, at the Chinese Embassy in Toorak Road, once the home of the famous or infamous Frank Thring. He must turn in his grave to know what his grand but now demolished home and land has become, complete with constant crank Falun Gong protesters outside.

I was at work and once home for lunch, I listened to a message Sister had left on the answer machine, probably directed at R. It took less time at the Chinese Embassy than I thought. Are you home for coffee? I might go into town or maybe you want to come and see Niece? It was Friday, so R was doing his volunteer job. Weirdly when he had a pick up of a regular at the former Chevron Hotel, now converted to apartments, he saw Sister on the street nearby. What was she doing down there? I asked R if I should mention it, and he said no.

I was up early this morning and work today, Sunday, and it was horrendous. Hippy Niece's dad, Tradie Brother sms'd me a photo of Father's grave plaque. TB must me visiting Step Mother in the north of Victoria and gone to pay his respects. Great idea Bro, go to where there are successive days of 40 degrees and it is stinking hot. I remember asking Step Mother why Father is buried in Nathalia, but I don't have a clear understanding. He never lived there and as far as I know, he had no connection to the town. Perhaps he just liked it. Tradie Brother idolises his father. I knew Father for much longer and better. I do not idolise him. He was extremely clever in practical and theoretical ways, far smarter than I am, and I did not dislike him. He was an ok father. But........who knows. One day I will try to analyse my relationship with my father. I really don't care much.

Well, this really went off on a tangent. I was going to tell you about a weekend with the person occupying our spare room bed, a friend from the country. Manana.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Mail service gone to the dogs

We all knew things were going bad for posted letters when the price of stamps increased so much and the stated level of service decreased so much. I fear it is not just a service reduction but a collapse of the service.

Postal fees are quite expensive in Asian countries for locals, but they seem cheap to us. However, the standard of service is low, with a letter taking a couple of weeks or more to be delivered to another country and from some countries you would not dare post anything of value or important.

While I cannot directly blame Australia Post as I don't know where the fault actually lies, but a parcel from Japan posted in September should not take nearly two months to arrive in Australia, in November. We are not talking about the mail services of third world countries now.

Christmas cards posted late November and early December in England should not arrive in our mail box after after Christmas.

Mother can write a long complaining letter to me and ABI Brother will post it and it might arrive in our mail box the next day, or it might arrive a week later.

There is something seriously wrong with out postal system. Given how little normal mail we receive now, the handling costs must be so much reduced and much of the handling is done by machines. So why has it all gone so bad?

This post was recently polished a bit. Now we learn the boss of Australia Post, Ahmed Fahour, is paid $5 million per year, as our mail service has falls apart. He is the highest paid postal boss in the world, yet our mail system is so bad.

Then there is the matter of not attempting to deliver parcels and just leaving a card in the letter box for the person to collect the parcel from the post office. It doesn't matter to us really, as the post office is just across the road, but R traded in some airline points that were about to expire for bottles of wine. We were most definitely home but no attempt was made to deliver them to us, just a card left. R was annoyed because the bottles of wine were heavy to carry when he collected them. Australia Post wanted feedback on his experience, so he let them have it.

Although, it wasn't actually Australia Post, but Star Track, an Australia Post subsidiary that is being nicely fattened up to be sold off to private enterprise. Star Track has certainly become omnipresent. I was standing outside R's optometrist in Bourke Street while he waited for something inside.

One double parked right where I was standing.

One up the street a bit, near the woman in the pink top.

And one across the road.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

When the doves cry

My, what an interesting pair of hot water heaters. You will probably have to embiggen the photo to see bird mess at the foot of the hot water heaters.

I never thought much about what I thought were white pigeons hanging around the former Albert Park Manor. They seem to be always hanging around, even during the rear demolition, renovations and extensions. It was very determinedly their home.

As they don't mix with pigeons, I guess they are doves. Neither are my favourite birds in the world. They must be admired for their adaptability though. They decided this pair of hot water units were an ideal place to live. It did not take long before the tops of the units turned white from their mess. 

Along came a man and put wire netting from the top of the hot water services to the ceiling above. I felt sad for the doves. They were hanging around, perhaps staring wistfully or even tearfully at their former home from which they had been banished.  

Not quite. They were plotting. Now they drop down into the glassed area and make their way in behind the hot water units. Perhaps they will have a family there. Warm, sheltered. How could it be any better.

I can see better using the photo than my naked eyes. I didn't notice anyone sitting in the flat when I took the photo. "There's Gladys Kravitz on her balcony again with her camera".