Wednesday, March 31, 2010


I love watching other people get hot and bothered in a kitchen.
I used to cook but now it's too hard to think about.
My 12 egg pavlovas were famous but what's the point of cooking a pavlova for one. I might as well buy those dry little shells and fill them with cream (double cream, no beating) and frozen berries.
I used to make my own curry powder now it's almost mind bending trying to get the lid off the supermarket jar.
Vegetables looking a bit tired get eaten for fibre if not vitamins.
I buy Gourmet Traveller to look at the pretty pictures.
Fusion Food around these parts consists of last night's tofu chilli cakes covered with tonight's Italian pasta sauce.
Dessert will be Mango yoghurt with Triple Chocolate ice-cream.
That's the kitchen speciality.
Drop in any time.
Leave your stomach at the gate.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


The windows shook and rattled.
Then the loud bang as the wave hit the concrete floor.
But 3kms away my sister thought a possum had jumped on the roof.
And put to rest the theory that animals rush around and give warning of an approaching tremor.
The cat never moved a whisker.
Of course I could be wrong.


This is Bagheera kiplingi, the first vegetarian spider known to science.

It was discovered in Central America and goes after plants as a primary food source.

Out of 40,000 known spider species, this is the only one who hunts plants.

Told it wasn't cute, fast, agile and it jumps.
The human body is estimated to be home to 100 trillion living microbes. We're a buffet of saliva, sweat, dead skin cells, food particles between our teeth and our digestive system.
I vote yes for phone sex.
Now for our lovely Kath, some vital infartmation. There are scientists who specialize in fart research (bet you didn't know that) and the world is divided into smellies and inflammables.
Smellies have sulphate reducing bacteria which produce hydrogen sulphide especially if they're diet is high in sulphurous foods such as eggs, white bread and red wine.
Inflammables have methane-making bacteria. Methane is odourless but this is the one that lights up the world if you put a match to it.
(Kath I'd love to be there when you tell your lovely daughter that you have a new party trick for parent/teacher night)
And now for something completely different. I received my order from the Chocolate Mill this morning, very early, so early I didn't have half my teeth in but remembered not to smile at the delivery man. I had to sign one of those dinky little electronic machines that makes your signature look like ants crawling away from a jumping spider.
It was a big box, goodie says big stomach. So I'm searching through crumpled newspaper like a child through cheval merde looking for the pony and find a minute box in the bottom. I swear it was so small it could have been sent in a CD package but I'd forgotten I'd ordered chocolate covered licorice as well. I did a quick check, yep, 16 truffles but so little. I looked at the hand made chocs at Southland which are selling for 2.95 each and calculated that what I spent was less than buying 16 of these. I haven't touched them, they're for Egg Sunday. Five days, I have five days to go.

Monday, March 29, 2010


An adult bear has 10 centimetres of blubber beneath its skin.

This is covered by a thick coat of dense fur.

Each hair of this fur is a hollow tube so that air is trapped inside as well as between them.

The hairy padded feet are also callused on the underside which gives a layer of dead tissue between the ice and any blood vessels.

As well as this the underside has dozens of papillae (tiny nipple like studs) which gives an additional cushion of insulating air between paw and ice and great grip on the ice for fast turns towards prey.

Unfortunately as all this insulation conserves heat efficiently any exertion in temperatures above 10 degrees Celcius could cause heat stroke and kill off the bear.

So if you get caught on the ice just ahead of a running bear, keep going until one of you drops.

My money's on the bear.

Sunday, March 28, 2010


He was a pretty good looking kid at 17. It was past the era of the graffiti artist and on to the bush and waterfall photographer. He still like wearing expensive French aftershave but there was always the rebel just below the surface.

The rebel part. High tops and no sides, that red colour belongs to his socks. The passive resistance to new shoes mostly extended to family parties where he could annoy the bejeebus out of his paternal Grandfather.

There were times I could have fitted him for concrete boots but now I just try to hold onto the funny parts of the brat.

Friday, March 26, 2010


The weight of bacteria in and around the human body is approximately 1.25 kg.

I presume that's a washed body.

Try not thinking about that when coming home through a mob of teenagers.

That's the final argument for not sharing a bed with another body.

On the other hand, it means that 1.25 of this flab isn't mine.

Triple chocolate ice-cream for dessert.

There's always a silver lining somewhere.

Monday, March 22, 2010


I should have had this tattooed on my eyelids before I got married and it has nothing whatsoever to do with this blog post. I just thought it might be a helpful tip to put in the spinster's Hope Chest, you know the one, it has a new toothbrush, shiny razor and 12 dozen condoms. Actually this post complete with cute photo was going to be about why Polar Bears feet don't freeze but condensing 3 pages of New Scientist to something that makes sense isn't possible after a day at the home for death's door mothers who suddenly slam it shut.

She dreamt she died last night and someone else was in her bed when she came back. And why did she come back? Because I was holding her hand and touching the rings on her finger and saying, "I know you're in there, come out." I haven't told my sister this, she'd probably break every bone in both my hands. There was a whole lot of layers to this dream and whatever they're putting in those pain patches is obviously better than a foot long spliff and I saw the effects of that at the last party.

So the old girl's back in form and up playing bingo and cheating like crazy. Bingo is very serious stuff down in the 'hood. Competition for the biggest pile of chocolate wins is ruthless and a dead heat yelling 'bingo' is the stuff of duelling straight from the Prisoner of Zenda. Every one today had won 2 games each, 2 chocolate bars each and the last game was on. My mother is caller and her method of throwing the numbers in the general direction of the board confused everyone except her. Method in the madness, she was stacking the deck, as it were. Sticking the numbers together so her rival at the opposite end of the table had no chance of winning a third chocolate.

When I pointed out the stuck together numbers, I got a clunk on the arm with the numbers box (I am bruised) and a warning stare. I've never seen a high stakes poker game at Crown Casino but it couldn't have been more intense than with these hovering claws ready to drop the last plastic bottle top on the winning number. They play with large plastic green tops so they aren't confused with chocolates and a mass choking takes place. Rival E was distracted by the arrival of a friend and quick as a flash Ma scanned the table and produced a winning number for Mr G who got a vicious look from Rival E as he pocketed the last of the KitKats. I got another clunk for nearly exposing her brilliant strategy.

Sunday, March 21, 2010


Before the beauty of Lady Diana Spencer there was
the beauty of Lady Diana Cooper .

For the first of the fabulous costume balls after the Second

World War which was held in Venice, she went dressed as

Cleopatra from Tiepolo's magnificent painting which is in

the National Gallery of Victoria.

She loved this costume so much that Cecil Beaton photographed
her in it and after that she used it as her passport image.
How great is that?

Friday, March 19, 2010


Now this is what I call a decent chunk of diamond. It's the centrepiece of the De Beers Millennium Collection and called appropriately the "Millennium Star", a D colour, flawless pear-shaped 54 facet stone weighing a whopping 203.04 carats. It weighed 777 carats in the rough and it took the Steinmetz Group three years to cut. It was first split in Belgium, polished in South Africa and finished in New York. Harry Oppenheimer remarked that it was the most beautiful diamond he'd ever seen and he's seen a lot of diamonds in his time.

Now we have the rest of the Millennium Collection. Eleven rare blue diamonds with a total weight of 118 carats including the little one (5.16 carats) at the bottom which is being auctioned at Southeby's in April. The lovely Heart of Eternity at 27.64 carats has been classified by the GIA as a Fancy Vivid Blue, a grade higher than Fancy Intense.

Blue diamonds are rare with red diamonds the rarest of all. The De Beers Premier mine is an important source of blue diamonds but they only make up 0.1 percent of diamonds mined there.
The Heart of Eternity is beautiful, more so than the Hope which is a Fancy Deep Grayish Blue and although larger at 45 carats, I'd prefer this Heart to be mine.

Thursday, March 18, 2010


Saturday night was good but I discovered too many months, had passed and I had lost the connection with people I was becoming familiar with.
I learnt about parties that I would have been invited to but because my letter writing had disintegrated into nothing but 'mother' and depression, I would tear them up and not trouble others with my trouble.
I retreated into the shadows and took up my people watching stance.

They were uninhibited, drinking, dancing, having fun without thinking about getting home in a taxi, what was the cat going or having knees that don't dance.
The first time I went to a party at that house, it was a major miracle. I hadn't been out alone for nearly ten years and it took a heap of backbone to get dressed and go. It was the same this time. I haven't been out alone at night for nearly two years, it felt like the first time and right up until I put my hand on the phone to call for a taxi, I didn't know if I could do it.
Perhaps it was too soon to be the life of the party. I'm still running on empty.
I aided in breaking the law by helping build the longest spliff I'd ever seen in my short party life but moved to the verandah before the big lighting up. I don't like the smell of the smoke, it makes me feel ill. How big? So big it had to be held in BBQ tongs for anyone to take a puff.
I've never been a huge party animal preferring a dinner table discussion and good food and that was part of the downhill turn.

At some stage, I realized that next day would have been my 40th wedding anniversary and only one of that mad, funny crowd I was watching had been there. Forty years and only one person beside my mother and sister was near me. I don't count the relo's but not one friend from those days has been seen for years. There was one but I was doing all the phoning and I could feel her moving in different directions especially since The Blight left and there were no more boozy barbie afternoons. I ripped up most of those photographs with great pleasure. So I thought I would let her have the next phone call and that was a year and a half ago, maybe more. And another one bites the dust.

So Sunday morning comes and I look at the shambles that is my home, the curtains are still shredded, the cat is sleeping in the washing basket and my mother's house is still scattered in every room. Also scattered and joyous on bare feet is crystal kitty litter in the laundry where I find most of the towells and clothes I've forgotten to wash, another chore. I am surprised that I haven't wept since I usually do.

Monday brings the call that mother has had an 'episode' and she doesn't remember what has gone wrong. I do, and tell them, explain what to do, tell her not to worry, it's all happened before and will again. Could I go through my diaries and tell them exactly when was the last time. Not a snowball's chance could I read about the last three years so I say it was about 2008. My sister doesn't remember it happening at all. She goes down Monday, says hello and comes home.
I have slept on and off for three days and going there yesterday was almost at bad as Saturday night but it was needed and she was in bed, the colour of the sheets. By the time I left, her colour was much better and I was happy to see that the nurses were in all the time to check her.
She called this morning, much better and looking forward to a shopping expedition in the morning but she'd noticed me.

I laugh it off but I'm in trouble with a knee that shouldn't be hurting, bruises I hadn't seen before I fell off the ladder. My life gauge is stuck on empty and there's nothing and no-one to help fill it.
But then why would anyone want to, according to my sister, I am so negative and unpleasant to be around. A remark made in the middle of my dealing with every bureaucracy in the universe.
I won't forget that remark. Over 40 years I have finely honed my secretive and untrusting nature into a suit of armour that lets nothing penetrate or if you like, I'm a giant Easter egg, full of gooey, luscious fruity centre but the chocolate shell is a right bastard to break.

Monday, March 15, 2010


Two massive icebergs drifted along the coast of East Antarctica in early March 2010. In mid-February 2010, the Rhode Island-sized Iceberg B-09B


with the protruding Mertz Glacier Tongue along the George V Coast. The Mertz Glacier was already in the process of calving an iceberg when the arrival of the B-09B accelerated the process, leaving two icebergs the size of small states off this part of Antarctica’s coast.

The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer

(MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua

satellite captured this true-color image of Iceberg B-09B and the newly created iceberg off the Mertz Glacier. Between each iceberg and the coast floats a mélange of smaller pieces of ice. Farther out to sea, delicate white swirls indicate a relatively thin layer of sea ice. Occasional clouds floating overhead cast shadows on the ice surfaces below.

NASA image by Jeff Schmaltz,

MODIS Rapid Response Team

at NASA GSFC. Caption by Michon Scott.

I couldn't have put that better myself so I didn't, just copied and paste.

Sunday, March 14, 2010


The duck family is back in the synchrotron dam

but to get to the water they have to cross the car park

so drive carefully around Monash Uni.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


Not rushing in and phoning the Tax office but seeing the bank first, that's slow overnight thinking.
When I originally opened mum's account in 2000, I hoped I'd used her tax file number and behold, tucked away in their files was the TFN. So now St. George are arranging for the withholding tax to be returned to her accounts.
I posted mum's letters.
I bought a new pretty tray for the cat's gingham food dish. This was for sanity's sake, she's taken to moving the old tin tray around the kitchen floor, just because she can and it makes a satisfying noise.
I bought Frontline Flea control for the cat.

Then I met Miss O'Dyne at the bus terminus.
I introduced her to San Churro and it's truffles.
We had lunch and red wine.
We went to Gold Class and saw Alice in Wonderland.

We had more drinkies and citrus tarts with coconut cream and (for GC) illegal truffles and enjoyed the film.

Then we took the bus to Mentone where Miss O'Dyne staggered off to the train and I staggered off to see mother and put more credits on her mobile phone.

She'd also been out to lunch and didn't want her tea so I ate it.

Some days just go well.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010


Okay so it's goodbye to broadband and welcome back to pre-paid dial-up.

Thank you Technicalities service man who cleaned up the desktop which was overheavy with anti-virus programs fighting like gladiators at the arena. He also upped the memory to 1GB (it's old and only had 256MB) and got rid of a load of processing stuff going on behind the scenes.
He was here for over an hour and explained a lot of what was going on and it cost $253.00 The best thing was I didn't have to leave the house.

I didn't feel right about the Optusnet deal so I rang and cancelled that. Mother will have $30 on her phone for emergencies and I will ring her. She said to add up the mobile costs on my phone and take it out of her bank account if I'm stretched. Good idea.

She's feeling a lot better because they're trying out pain patches on her arms instead of slow release morphine pills. Only a few weeks to go before the diamond encrusted wheelchair arrives and I write the big cheque. She is dreaming of me being able to wheel her to Mentone, to shop and have coffee.

Her dream, my nightmare.

Sunday, March 07, 2010


That's what this beauty is called and rightly so. It was discovered in Mbuji Mayi and its weight as a rough diamond was 890 carats.

After four years of studying the rock, it was cut into a 407.48 carat gem, and is the third largest diamond ever to be cut. The cutting was done by a team lead by Marvin Samuels, who was the co-owner of the stone together with Donald Zale of Zales Jewellers and Louis Glick.

It would have been the largest but it had internal flaws that needed to be removed to show its true glory.

Even its display stand is in a class of its own and would look nice wherever I wanted.

I'm still looking for the Millenium gems to take my mind off the fact I have more "mother work to do". Looking at the bank statements I didn't know what TFN meant, I know it meant money was taken out but not what the letters stood for. Tax File Number, if I don't have it then the bank takes out withholding tax. Centrelink tells me that when you first go on the pension the Tax Office sends out your TFN which is yours forever. Oh goody, mother hasn't a clue, I don't even know what mine is although I remember getting a tax notice about July. So now I have to do the search and I'm hoping there's a local tax office so I don't have to go into the city. Why didn't the bank ask me for the TFN when I opened the account?

I've signed up for broadband because it includes free calls to optusnet mobiles which will save me money ringing mother who has just gone through $50 in a week on her mobile. So she'll get $30 for emergencies and I'll ring her. I just have a few questions to ask, just to clarify some facts like being told 12 month plan and finding 24 months on the contract. I want a landline phone and my own number, nothing changed. $60 a month for 2GB and unlimited calls which is less than I'm paying now, thanks to ma.

And Optusnet, give some spelling lessons to staff, pensioner is that not pentioner. No wonder I'm wasting time looking at diamonds. It's golden, the colour of Leo and on the want list.

Thursday, March 04, 2010


Just look at this piece of yumyumgoodyallmine. 5.16 carats of rare flawless fancy blue diamond which was once part of De Beers Millenium Collection which was made up of 12 uniquely rare gems.
Sotheby's are putting it up for Auction in Hong Kong in April.
My birthday's in July.
I don't like waiting.
I want it now.
You can have the Prase.


I don't really like this gem. It's Prase opal, a variety of common opal but with nickel giving it the neon bluish-green hue. This and Chrysoprase are similar in appearance but distinguished by their varying Refractive Index and Specific Gravity and Prase opal tends to be more translucent.
This particular opal came from recently discovered veins on Mount Iyobo in central Tanzania where Chrysoprase and Prase opal have been mined for more than 20 years. The new discovery has some of the most intense bluish green material mined in this area.

They both form in discontinuous veins within metamorphosed ultramafic (iron rich) rocks with the dominant host rock being altered serpentine. The top gem weighs in at 11 carats but I don't like the green hue. What I covet is the specimen in the rough, I love this piece. I love the matrix stone above and below that gives a richer green to the Prase opal.
The picture also brought back a dream I once had, a very long time ago but one of those dreams that tend to stick in the mind. I was in a room entirely made of Chrysoprase but not smooth, the walls and floor were like this piece of matrix. I have no idea what it meant and it didn't give me any liking for the gem. My mind is full of little mysteries like that. It's probably full of holes like Swiss Cheese as well.
I'd put in a map to Mount Iyobo but I ditched goggle earth for taking up too much computer room.


And I've been doing such a lot of it today.

I'm downloading a new anti-spyware and I can't remember if it was the free version or the pay up or else we'll fry your hard drive. I wouldn't care but it's taken since 12.30 and dial-up cuts out after an hour so it's check all the time.

Which brings me to the next bitching thing. Why can't they say in English, PLAIN ENGLISH, what broadband plans they have without ditching this phone or that service and answer what exactly it will cost and how long it will take. Why doesn't someone do websites for dummies for broadband.

Which brings me to another bitching. When a large store has a website with all the bells and whistles in colour and ritzy things but I can't find where the curtains are, then shouldn't someone, like a computer robot, be there to direct internet dummies? Curtains are now imperative since the cat, instead of going under, decided to go through the voile this morning. And after I'd patiently cut out the shredded bits from the other day. Up yours Spotlight, I'm going to Lincraft in person.

I'm also diet bitching. I have a party to go to in 10 days. Ten days to lose at least 5kgs, a not impossible task for The Biggest Losers but for me, not so easy although I had one of those diet shakes for lunch, strawberry which tastes vile but I put instant coffee in it. I walked to the post box with the RSVP, bought a bottle of Coke Zero, (I'll be living on caffiene) but couldn't resist the apricot danish - Diet Fail. And then there's the birthday cake tomorrow, baked fresh sponge, fresh cream and jam filling and luscious icing - Diet Fail. Going to the movies on Wednesday, Gold Class in the middle of umpteen food places including San Churro chocolate delight - Diet Fail.

And now after all this time Spyware doctor is downloaded and oh noes, 70mb of updates which at my current speed will take 12 hours. So it's being installed without updates which I'll do some time later, much later. Fecking dial-up, no it's the fault of the internet thinking that everyone has enough loot to do broadband. #@%&*

Tuesday, March 02, 2010


This is the Wittelsbach-Graff Blue diamond which will be on display with the Hope diamond. I prefer this colour to that of the Hope and there is speculation that both diamonds came from the same Indian mine.
The diamond's history goes back to 1664 when it was given by Philip IV of Spain to his daughter, the Infanta Margarita Teresa on her engagement to Emperor Leopold I of Austria. In 1772, the diamond passed to the Wittelsbachs, the ruling House of Bavaria.

Laurence Graff bought the diamond in December 2008 and he decided to repolish the stone, in the process reducing its 35.56 carats to an internally flawless 31.06 (the Hope is 45.52 carats)
and putting his own name to the stone.

Here are the two stones, Wittelsbach-Graff on the right and the Hope on the left, fluorescing under UV light.

Even with the re-cutting and re-polishing of the stone, Graff took great care to retain its original features. It has a top certification of internally flawless, type Ilb (the rarest), Fancy Deep Blue from the Gemological Institute of America.

Nothing to do with large blue diamonds but if anyone has this 4.75 Fuschia pink sapphire rolling around in a drawer, I would be interested in taking great care of it. I'll even pay the postage.