Friday, April 30, 2010


You know, I can't remember which government decided it would be good for all of us to privatize public utilities. It could have been Lib or Lab but from now on I'm voting Green or a drover's dog, whichever looks more appealing.

Metro, a french company (small f, I know what I'm doing) has control of transport but I believe the government still supplies the infrastructure. HighRiser will tell me if I'm wrong. So why in the bloody hell did they sell anything at all? PUBLIC TRANSPORT FOR TRANSPORTING THE PUBLIC AND IN SOME SORT OF COMFORT. How hard could that be? More carriages, no delays, more seating (the moron that came up with the suggestion to take out the seats for more strap hanging should be tied to the front of a train for a week) keeping to the timetable and more about the seats, why should I have to sit with my knees in some blokes crotch because the seats are too close. If they're short of carriages, then just organise some cattle trucks, it couldn't possibly be more uncomfortable.

Have you guessed already that I travelled on a Metro train yesterday? I would have avoided that except that I was meeting with the lovely Muriels and their gorgeous daughter Charlotte and after exchanging emails for 5 years I wasn't going to miss that.
The 9.09 turned up at 9.18 and more and more people squashed into that train the closer we got to the city. I stood for 40 minutes, holding on, bent into a corner so that if the train lurched then I wouldn't smash my spine on the iron rail behind me.

The journey home wasn't much better. The carriage was full of MacKinnon High students and to their courtesy of offering me a seat, I thank them. Unfortunately by this time I needed to have a little more room to try and move my kneecaps back where they should be so I declined until there was a an aisle seat where I could collapse the legs.

My suggestion is that all government ministers be made to ride the rails at peak hour for the time of one week, every year they are in office.

My other suggestion is that Metro executives should be made to ride the rails underneath the train at all times.

As for Myki, they'll have to pay me to use it. After seeing the surging tide, I can't see where swiping a card is going to do anything except slow the whole system down. My only good report was that my all day concession ticket allowed me to ride two trains and three buses for $5.

As for the Muriels, a delight to meet them and they just love Melbourne but I don't think they rode on a train.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


Another lesson in the womanly art of housekeeping and family feeding.

The first thing one learns about cake making is that there are cake makers and cake fakers.
Cake fakers have Sara Lee in the freezer at all times.
Except for me who will eat the things frozen when I'm on a sweet bender.

Cake bakers turn out divine confections without putting on an apron. They open cook books just to do a quick refresh and then the brain does a re-boot and memory takes over. Scones rise, sponges rise, cupcakes are iced without the cat being splattered two rooms away and some even make bread.

I haven't baked a cake in five years but after reading the nutrition labels on so-called healthy options, I decided to be a cake maker again and here are my lessons in baking.

1. Don't be tempted to buy homebrand mixed fruit. You'll find it has 10 pieces of minute lemon peel and the rest of the fruit would have to be analysed by a CSI unit. Don't buy already chopped dates, you can't identify chopped fruit from chopped anything else that got in the way.

2. If you do buy the cheap crap, liberally douse it with as much sherry as it takes to make the fruit look like fruit and the smell creeping out of the kitchen is divine.

3. Read the recipe first. I know, just one of those silly rules that cake makers swear by but it does remind you to buy the ingredients that you actually will need. Trying to estimate how much liquid to put in to equate to a can of crushed pineapple which you knew you needed last shopping day but couldn't remember what for. Make sure you have flour. Mixing everything that's left in the jars might work or not. I'll let you know later.

4. Even if you never think you'll bake a cake ever again, buy a flour sifter, just in case. I know Nigella doesn't like sifting flour either but I'll be hanged if I'll get out the food processor to do it, not when I know she's got slaves to wash it and put it away after. She also uses it to get the lumps out of icing sugar but, but those lumps make the icing look so interesting.

5. So you have two bottles of vanilla extract. Make sure you tip the almost empty one into the mixture and not waste the full one. Make sure you have the spices. It's all very well to keep them in brown bottles away from sunlight but the bottles don't cry out in the wilderness of the pantry, "I'M EMPTY". You find that out the hard way but never mind the vanilla and sherry will make up for that. I did have sugar but it's been so long since I filled the sugar bowl I practically had to use the rolling pin to break it up. Dear old rolling pin, I've had it since my kitchen tea, we didn't have male strippers and hangovers before the wedding in my day.

6. Get out the proper sized cake tin. The recipe says an 8 inch round but it was too far back in the cupboard so I'm using a 10 inch square. It's okay, the cake will look flatter but bigger in the way guys stuff socks in their jocks except the cake will taste loads better.
Don't forget to line the tin with greased paper then a layer of baking paper or you can wing it and cut the paper out of the cake later.

7. Light the oven before you start all this, that way you won't forget and still be salivating at midnight when you finally check for a flame because something doesn't seem right. Don't take any notice of cooking times, remember you're using a 10 inch instead of an 8 inch tin and don't rely on the kitchen clock either, the battery dropped dead last week.

8. Never tell you mother at the nursing home that you're making a cake. She'll want a piece and a piece for all her friends and I won't be responsible for what happens after all those oldies ingest cake containing dates, booze and wholemeal flour. I'm sure Jane will agree with me.

I think I'll go over to Cake Wrecks and feel better about myself or I'll have an early meal and have warm cake with ice-cream on top. That's what I call nutritious.

Monday, April 26, 2010


Meanwhile back at the volcano which was joined by a brilliant display of the Northern Lights.
Already the papers are reporting that the ash cloud wasn't as bad and that flights should have continued and/or re-commenced much earlier.

If you want to know what happens when a jet flies through an ash cloud then go here
and decide whether it was better to be safe than sorry. This was only one jet but if flights had gone ahead regardless, think of how many planes would have been in the air and calculate the odds on how many would have been downed.

Saturday, April 24, 2010


Perhaps I should have said the year of spiders. I've noticed the absence of blowflies and mosquitos this year as well as being able to walk without those little bush flies going up one's nose. But the variety of spiders seen around the house is out of the ordinary.

The latest sighting of a black body and scuttling legs was on the top of the screen door at the front of the house. Unfortunately it was right where the slidey thing is to hold the door open but I was careful with the fingers.
It had grown quite big in the last week along with the web from which protruded the legs (no body) of its departed mate, eaten when his duty was done. Mrs. Black and getting larger had a familiar shape and on Thursday I had a good look at the big red stripe on her back.
Now I always thought that Redbacks liked to be under things, tiles, bricks, logs etc but never on the top of a screen door that opened umpteem times a day for the cat.

Well, she had a nice final meal and a couple of weeks in the sun but laying eggs at head height and maybe coming in the house was not on. Surface spray on the door and fly spray for a quick release. That was the plan but she wasn't going easily, more fight than a dog over a bone. The cat who never takes notice of anything unless it's in a dish started to pat at it with her paw.
That's all I needed a cat with a spider bite so she was locked in until the end.

So that's a total of five species seen, Golden Orbs, Daddy long legs, Redback, Huntsman and that big black brute still hiding behind the begonia. I tell you, I put my hand in the box for the mail very carefully these days.

Thursday, April 22, 2010


For Robbert because he just can't get enough of this volcano.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


It's a very serious business, this ironing of clothes and it has rules.

Rule number one:
Never, never buy clothes that need ironing.

Never buy a sheet set for $20 at a 'going out of business' sale without looking at the tab that says 100 per cent cotton. It doesn't matter if the sheets have pretty embroidery and match your white and mauve butterfly doona because if it's cotton, it has to be ironed for the next 10 years before it's beaten into submission and becomes soft enough to be called luxury. And don't be conned into thinking it's a European Brand because the name looks Swedish because it's made in China and you've just broken your self-imposed ban on anything Chinese.

If you have done a bad thing and shoved all and sundry into the dryer so that it looks like the cat has been sleeping on them for months then only iron the front. I mean if you sit or lay your head on something then no-one sees the other side.

Never iron tea towells, just fold them in half cover with a pillow case and sit on them until you've finished the other stuff. Creases gone and a neat fold in the middle.

Never marry, he'll expect you to iron his shirts and press trousers. If he does, then it means he had a mother who spoilt him rotten because she did it all and didn't teach him how to. No woman wants anybody that needy. Of course they can learn to do strange things all by themselves. The ex would roll up one sock, stuff it down the toe of the matching one. A complete waste of time but fascinating to watch the male mind at work. Being a woman, I simply bought the same kind and colour of sock and threw them all in the drawer.

Don't skimp on the iron. I bought a cheap one and it drinks water like a football club on a beer bender. Cheap irons don't bother with writing on the dial so it's a guess as to where the cotton or wool setting is. If you're lucky you get min and max. Get a teflon coated one, it's so easy to clean any melted lace off the bottom and good ones have grooves to go around buttons.

And now that we're going through autumn and it's getting chilly, ignore the plaintive whine from the bottom of the ironing basket. You won't need those cotton dresses until near Christmas and the cat needs something to sleep on.

Monday, April 19, 2010


I keep finding the most fantastic photographs but
Marco Fulle definitely has the best of the lot. So go over there and stop me posting more.
That lightning display is even better than the Chaiten photos of last year.


The Finnish Air Force has released images showing the effects of volcanic dust ingestion from inside the engines of a Boeing F-18 Hornet fighter, while it prepares to make inspections on several additional aircraft.

Five of the air force’s Hornets were involved in a training exercise on the morning of 15 April, just hours before the imposition of airspace restrictions due to the ash cloud spreading from a major volcanic eruption in Iceland.

One aircraft’s engines have been inspected so far using a boroscope, with melted ash clearly visible on its inside surface. The air force decided to release the images to show the potentially damaging effects of current flight activities, says chief information officer Joni Malkamäki

Now along with rock particles in the ash clouds, volcanic glass droplets are also forming. The airlines are asking why they can't fly beneath the ash cloud, well probably because the sky is falling. As usual it comes down to money. How much are they loosing by staying on the ground against how much extra in fuel costs to fly lower altitudes. I think I'll be like Jane and park the broom in the shed and walk.

If you want to know how big that glacier is just look at the planes going past. That blue at the top is cascading melt water from the eruption. There have been amazing photographs taken of this eruption and it hasn't stopped yet.

Sunday, April 18, 2010


This is the ash cloud on the 17th of April, 2010.

And now it's still going wild on the 18th April, 2010.

Photos are from the Daily Mail in Britain.

Saturday, April 17, 2010


This ash cloud fom Eyjafjallajokull volcano is streaming across the Atlantic towards Britain and Europe and it's the reason why all flights have been cancelled. The ash is not the kind of powdery grey stuff left over after a fire but it full of tiny pulverised particles of rock which can stop jet engines and strip the paint from the fuselage. The tan colour of the cloud indicates a fairly hight ash content.

The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA's Terra satellite captured this natural-colour image on April 15, 2010.

This eruption started on March 20, and comes from a stratovolcano which means alternating layers of ejected ash, lava and rocks. It is erupting underneath the ice of the glacier, melting the ice which is causing the violent explosions as water hits the molten lava. The original fissure was about 1000 metres long has joined two more fissures and is now a single erupting vent.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


See you start off looking at a frosty funny looking square piece of rough sapphire. You look through it, trying to see the heart of it. Turn it every which way and upside down. Study it again and talk to it. Dream about it until it starts to speak to you. Grind it down with diamond dust and polish it with love and then let it warm you with its fire.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


Are you reading Andrew ? After the Tax File Number comes a letter from the Electoral Office where mother's address has been put down as mine.
A little note asks if everyone at this address registered to vote?
No, clots because she doesn't live here and she doesn't want to vote because she hates both John and Ted.
Another phone call tomorrow to fix that.
The way things are going I swear if she falls off the twig the funeral home will lose the body and I'll be sent off to look for it.

So another day at the home for me. I had to pick up a registered letter and since I had to walk that far I might as well take down the cardigans she wanted and sneak in two caramello bears. I wasn't stupid enough to get there at lunch today and she wouldn't share her cupcake with me at afternoon tea. I should have taken the bears back.
Now just whisper this quietly, with some luck I won't have to go down until next week.

Monday, April 12, 2010


I was on the phone for 30 minutes on Friday before I got past the robots and spoke to a human at the Tax Office.
So for today, I topped up the mobile credits and wrote out a script for mother and prepared to wait.
5 minutes, that's all it took from go to whoa for the Tax File Number and my authority to be recorded.
Now I was trapped at a table full of craft diddly bits and 7 wheelchairs between me, the door and freedom.
"You'll stay for lunch" was an order not a question.
Fine since I was trapped anyway.
Not fine was being put next to little old lady who looks like she wouldn't hurt a fly but she has a mean trick of patting one's arm before she goes for the blood drawing pinch.
I wished I'd put my crowbar in the bag.
Then to the bank with the TFN and the papers went off this afternoon to stop the money grab.
28 days apparently before I see the dollars and the TO is getting the interest.
When I finally fell in the gate, I had a telephone bill for $94.
$57 worth of mobile calls in 30 days.
I'd rather pay the money than go down and sit beside 'The Claw' at lunch.

Saturday, April 10, 2010


At last I've finished the book by the word nerdy author who introduced me to:

Traducing: to misrepresent willfully the conduct or character of; defame; slander
All of which I've been doing to Sedgwick and Hughes for years.

Desuetude: a condition of disuse.
My brain for the last 3 years.

This is one of his paragraphs:

"William Waldorf Astor retired to his Brighton Villa, devoted himself to the prodigious consumption of food and drink and died on 18th October 1919, after a fine meal of roast mutton and macaroni. His body was found, slumped in the lavatory, replete and dead."

In the age of twitter:
Big Wig pigged out, bogged out and logged out.

Friday, April 09, 2010



June 17 2005 Update - After this photo was posted for 6 days, our reader

Adrian Round pointed out the sad truth -- this photo is a hoax!

As we are now told, "Global Marine Drilling does do work in the ocean off Newfoundland; there are Rig Managers involved; and icebergs really are towed in the offshore industry - but this 'photo' is really a composite of 4 separate images, put together in 1999 by underwater photographer

Ralph A. Clevenger. It's probably best known from its use on a motivational poster put out by Successories

, a company that produces posters and other materials with inspirational mottoes for use in business settings. Icebergs off Newfoundland may weigh as much as several million tons, but not 300 million tons as stated (though they do occasionally reach that weight in other parts of the world)."

According to the website, underwater photographer Ralph Clevenger

, who has written:

"I created the image as a way of illustrating the concept of what you get is not necessarily what you see. As a professional photographer I knew that I couldn't get an actual shot of an iceberg the way I envisioned it, so I created the final image by compositing several images I had taken. The two halves of the iceberg are 2 separate shots, one taken in Alaska and one taken in Antarctica (neither is underwater). The only underwater part is the background taken off the coast of California. The sky is the last component. It took a lot of research on lighting and scale to get the berg to look real."

See the original "photo" at



It's been a day but not as bad as our Andrew had.
The Tax Office makes Centrelink look like geniuses ? genii? whatever.
I ring the ATO this morning and get my Tax file number but no I can't have my mother's but if I pop along to Centrelink they'll print off a sheet for me with the number on it.
No they won't because they told me they can't but on the off chance Centrelink was wrong I headed up there.
I forgot, why did I need the TFN when the bank already has it? Because the ATO has encrypted it and won't let the bank have it to send it back to the ATO so they can send back the money they've grabbed because the bank haven't put a TFN on the bank account.
Get that.
Centrelink don't have a TFN either but they do have the paper work to fill out to get one. Jeebus martha and jeremiah, it requires everything but a pint of blood. New strategy, get to the home early on Monday with script in hand for mother to ring for her own tax number. This will probably use up the $30 credit I have on the mobile but worth it.
I took delivery of the full series of Babylon 5 this morning, delivered by courier so who was the other courier that left a note in the box for me to pick up a parcel at the agency? I was home all day until I left (sorry, licorice brain) so lazy swine couldn't walk to the front door for a signature?
Take taxi to Centrelink, stand on bung knee for 20 minutes listening to obnoxious individual behind me who whinges constantly that he has to wait. Walk up to the gem shop for update on divine ring that will enhance my loveliness then catch Berwick bus which stops outside pharmacy which is Australia post agency and pick up teeny tiny parcel from Bangkok. Halfway out of the shop and I'm confronted by Darrell Lea half price Easter eggs, I mean half price and Turkish Delight eggs. I had hand in purse and a sign called feedee on my forehead and walked home with egg - one egg.
Ring mother, wonderful day at the Botanical Gardens but she couldn't take jewell-encrusted velvet covered wheelchair so is now in pain and in bed. They should have bought a map to the gardens as taking 7 wheelchairs up a slight hill was hard but not as hard as not letting them go when they turned to go downhill. She'll be ready and lucid for Monday, my mother, lucid.

Thursday, April 08, 2010


River kindly sent this from Shambles Manor and it was too good not to steal.

"This came from a Rig Manager for Global Marine Drilling in St. Johns, Newfoundland. They actually have to divert the path of these things away from the rig by towing them with ships. In this particular case the water was calm and the sun was almost directly overhead so that the diver was able to get into the water and click this photograph. They estimated the weight at 300,000,000 tons."

This is one brilliant shot and I'll hate it if it turns out to be photo-shopped.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010


This photograph by Martin Rietze is of the Eyjafjallajokull volcano which erupted under the ice of the glacier of the same name.

It started erupting on March 21 and ripped a 1 kilometre long fissure in the ice with massive lava fountains shooting into the air. This lava flow is falling down a steep cliff only a few hundred metres from the main eruption.

The last volcanic eruption in this area which is about 75 miles east of the capital, Reykjavik was in 1821.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010


There was a full page article in The Age on Sunday which made me rattle the paper and mutter things like mad tarts, stupid bitches. A very bad thing to finger point and insult my fellow fatbums but If I can't do it, given my status as morbidly obese, then who can.

The article was about feedees and gainers who love nothing more than to gain weight, revel in it actually but do it in secret and go to websites where they can glory in their weight gain.
Every woman has the right to do exactly what she likes in regard to her figure, fat or thin.
But as a serial dieter/stress eater, I'm constantly struggling to do one and not the other, I felt uneasy about this. Now I don't care whether I go below 100kgs but I would like to get to 100kgs. I make my own clothes and I feel good wearing them. I'll never get rid of the funny fat legs and 'mary jane' shoes are my lot forever. I don't look in the mirror and admire my ever descending boobs and the only good thing about my gut is the fact that I'll never drown, the fat would float me upside.

So can I think that the woman who wants to be 1000 lbs and the fattest person in the world is a stupid bitch? She's already over 400 kgs and just loves it. Am I weird or is she?
I'm against discrimination of fat people for jobs, it doesn't have anything to do with their ability to work well, it's the perception of fat equals dumb of the employer.
It's also people like me who look and say stupid bitch but then I say that to the mirror as well.

I've never felt that I had control over my life or people who wanted me to change into their version of what type of person I should be. If I was told to slim down, I would immediately eat in a show of passive aggression which went on until I was divorced and miraculously lost 20 kgs in a few months. I was free to be myself but it didn't last and I was back on the treadmill of passive aggressive eating. For the last three years food and stress have been the main threads of my existance. If I didn't eat, I gambled. If I didn't gamble then I went on spending sprees. If I didn't spend, I ate. It's a good thing I didn't smoke or drink but then with all the other vices, I wouldn't have had the money.

So reading about women who love gaining weight for the feeling it gives them made me angry and you know I'm the most even tempered of females (I'll crush anyone who says different).
And after writing all that, I still don't know why I got so pissed off, maybe it's because they're thin enough to get fat. Damned if I know.

Monday, April 05, 2010


Exquisite, non?

A perfume bottle of purple and gold blown glass by Joanne Gowen. The stopper is an ametrine gem wrapped in gold wire.

Is this on the want list? Right at the top.

Saturday, April 03, 2010


24 carats of gold and green ametrine for $3.79 which was the lowest bid.
So what did I get?
No country of origin listed so possibly a synthetic Russian lab created stone.

The other gem I'm going for has Brazil listed as Country of Origin so that could be an amethyst heat treated for the golden part then irradiated for the purple to turn green. Amethyst and Topaz are the stones most often heat treated or irradiated.

The only place for real natural purple/gold Ametrines is the Anahi mine in Bolivia. The mine was a dowry for a conquistador named Don Luis Felipe when he married Princess Anahi from Bolivia's Ayoreos tribe in the 17th century.

The Russians have been producing synthetic (hydrothermal created) ametrines since the early 1990s. It has the same physical properties as the natural stone but any colour combination such as sky blue and golden yellow, green and yellow or orange with blue is suspect.

I'm happy as long as the colour is as depicted and the facets are sharp enough to make the bling sparkle. A lot can happen in front of a good photographer, like making a crumby stone look like a million dollars. I mean I've seen Easter Eggs that cost more than this.

Friday, April 02, 2010


This is a 507 carat diamond in the rough called the 'Cullinan Heritage' and the Chow Tai Fook jewellery company paid $35.3 million for it, the highest ever paid for a rough diamond.

The company plans to cut it into a fine round diamond of more than 120 carats.

This sweet little diamond is 20 carats and the chunk up above will be more than 5 times as large when it's cut and polished. Not quite as big as the Millennium Star, 203.04 carats, I blogged about last month.

I am currently in a bidding war on eBay for two stones, one for $20 and one for $7. They're listed as ametrines which to my mind is yellow citrine and purple amethyst but these are a golden to green oval and pear shape. $35 million against $27, but I know my limits even if eBay tell me I must bid up or I might loose the gems.

I've been trawling the web looking at jewellery and gems to calm down after an exciting week.
I mean, a second full moon of the month, an earth tremor, a plane crash on the ritzy golf course and the arrival of the new wheel chair which, thank the Goddess, is still too hard for me to push. She looked so comfortable in it yesterday that she'll probably live for another 50 years.

They had me draw the Easter Egg raffle and, trust me, I pulled out the name of the dear little lady who dropped off the twig last week. After a hurried consultation they decided to do a re-draw (like that wasn't a given) and it wasn't my ticket. I did win a bingo game but only after I checked that no-one else was anywhere near getting bingo. My mother told me to eat the marshmallow bunnies because she wanted the plastic bag so now I know what to buy her for Mothers Day, a box of plastic bags.

So now I'm relaxing between computer bids and reading a book. It's a social history book and I keep coming across words which I've no idea of the meaning. I've taken to writing them down for a dictionary marathon. One snippet I loved was about Duchess Lily, wife to the rotten 8th Duke of Marborough who obligingly croaked at the age of 48. Whistler had painted of portrait of the Duke's mistress, the voluptuous Lady Colin Campbell, but good ol Duchess Lily ripped it to shreds and posted the pieces to her ladyship. I love a good revenge. I didn't have to do that, since the Blonde has the ex sleeping, snoring and slobbering beside her every night.

Now if anybody knows the meaning of 'rascinating', just leave it in the comments.