Tuesday, January 29, 2008


Since our nomadic Bwca, horse whisperer, chicken wrangler and den mother to every other be-furred and feathered creature hasn't updated, I will do it for her. This house sit has been pleasant apart from bushfires, stray dogs, thunderstorms, stolen car dumped at the gate and the local hoons practising for the Melbourne GrandPrix.

And then there's these two.

This is a yellow-faced whip snake. Only a baby who could have up to 200 brothers and sisters since the adults are into communal egg laying. Our fearless boggart was going to pick him up with salad tongs and put him somewhere out of her way.

This one appeared today. Her description, dark grey on top, lovely peppermint green on the bottom. Her has an eye for the detail as she ran for the gumboots and shovel. A bit of a bad show to whop him with a shovel when I've told her they're protected. Anyway he slithered off before she got within range. A shovel weapon isn't what I'd go for, I'm more a '12 bore shotgun and stand a mile away' killer.
Probably they're only looking for a kind human and a place to rest after being driven out of the bush after the fires. It'll look good on her CV, "Oh yes, quite familiar with snakes, how many do I have to look after at this place?"
Jeebus, Woman, can't you get a house sit where all you have to do is the watch the paint dry?

Monday, January 28, 2008


This is a painting, by marine artist Jack Woods, of the "Patanela" sailing past Heard Island.

The Patanela was a 19 metre steel schooner, famous for her Antarctic voyages and circumnavigations of the globe. She was constructed of steel with four watertight bulkheads and carried the latest safety and navigational equipment, sailing for 30 years on the roughest of seas.

She disappeared on a calm November night in 1988 within sight of Botany Bay with no mayday call, no distress flares, no debris and no bodies. The only trace of her was a barnacle-encrusted lifebuoy found floating off Terrigal seven months later. That is until now. A bottle was found on a beach near Eucla on the southern coast of Western Australia on New Year's Eve.

Inside was a note written by John Blissett, 23, ofTaree, NSW. He was one of the three men and one woman sailing the Patanela from Fremantle across the great Australian Bight on October 26, 1988.
The note, in faded blue handwriting inside a Bacardi bottle, offered the finder a free holiday in the WhitSunday Islands, giving phone numbers to call to claim the prize. It also gave the schooner's position as 34 degrees, 26minutes, 20 seconds south, 129 degrees, 18 minutes, 54 seconds east in the Great Australian Bight.

An inquest in 1992 concluded that Patanela foundered in the early hours of November 8, 1988 some time after a final radio contact with Sydney Harbour. The coroner concluded the most likely explanation for such a sudden disappearance was that Patanela was run over by a large commercial vessel but there was a complete absence of any floating wreckage.

There were numerous conspiracy theories from piracy to drug running. Paul Whittaker and Robert Reid spent three years investigating Patanela's disappearance and wrote a book "The Patanela is Missing". I haven't read the book so I can't comment on their conclusions. If anyone has read it, please leave a comment.

Saturday, January 26, 2008


This moving furniture is not for crocked up, dodgy-kneed old broads. I am hurting in so many different places I couldn't go two rounds with a wet sponge without a TKO.

I have a second bedroom again, make that bedroom/sewing room because it's sharing with two huge boxes of beads and other boxes I haven't dared look in yet. I washed the windows and the curtain and vacuumed half the floor. I thought I might have gotten away with not washing the curtains but bunched together they weren't exactly white more into a silvery grey truckload of dust colour. It meant I had to go up the ladder to re-hang them, miracle, no bruises.

All I had to do then was move the photo albums, heavy so I turfed some of the ex's hideous features which didn't lighten the load but made me very happy. Then drag the cupboard out, move the chair, move the TV, move the other couch, move the dolls in the hall, shove the sewing machine out of the way and slide the sofa bed into its new home.

I can't remember how I originally got it out of the study and into the lounge since it practically has to go around an S-bend corner. I was four years younger then. It didn't slide straight through the door but I'm sure I'll get the feeling back in the hand in a couple of weeks. I had to tip it on its side and slide. It's in place but nothing else is.

The nothing else includes several vertebrae, my knees, hand and left foot which I whacked with the vacuum cleaner. I feel quite proud of myself if I don't look at the albums still on the floor or the detritus tucked around the corner out of sight. It'll right itself, all in good time.

I'll just go and get an ice pack and a handful of painkillers.

Friday, January 25, 2008


Last post was Tuesday, fifteenth crisis for the month was on Wednesday, Mummy's shopping was Thursday and Friday was 'collapsing in a heap' day.

The phone lines went out on Wednesday. Ma did everything bar standing in the yard and yelling for me. There was a waiting time for Telstra faults, half an hour of life I won't get back. They wanted to know if she had a life threatening illness and by the time I finished, including the Chicken Poxing nephew, there was an almost audible shuddering on the other end and a promise to get a technician there asap. Then I had to ring Mepac to tell them the panic button was out before they rang me to say she hadn't been in touch. So I dropped the furniture I was moving and walked round in case Telstra wanted to check the lines inside the house. It's not that she wouldn't let a stranger in, it was to let the poor man out if he did get in.

Thursday and I was out again. I've been cramming so many frozen meals in the small freezer because of the packaging that I thought of getting some zip lock freezer bags. So much better and what a waste of cardboard by the time I'd finished unpacking the boxes. After about 20 minutes, a voice from the bedroom enquired, "Can I come out now?". It's only taken 9 months of threats to keep her from underfoot when I drag the groceries in. I don't know why I thought I could walk the 3kms home after the shopping and the houseworking but it was coolish and I thought it might relax me. I don't think relaxed was quite the word to describe me sprawling over a seat in the park half way home.

Today was far more relaxed. I moved furniture. My work table from the sewing room which is going to be a bedroom again, almost a bedroom since only the sofa bed is going in there. The table is just a bit longer than the computer table but not enough for me to get too much junk on it. It means that when I use the printer I move the chair closer or I'll fall off. Thank you, no harm done, no bones broken but another whacking bruise. It matches the ones I got the other day when I couldn't find the fretsaw blades so I used the pruning saw to cut through chipboard which I rested on my knees. Bruises everywhere but the picture I framed looks great.

Tomorrow, I have to unload the photo album cupboard to move that out. Then after much measuring and finessing I should have the sofa bed in place. The computer table will go in front of that in case I ever take up craft work again. When I cleared the table I found a beaded Christmas ornament, half done and left in December 2003 which was the last time I sat in that room to work. Sewing machine stays up though, I have dresses to finish but it will be a bedroom again. That is after I hoover up the dessicated blowflies in the window sill. I thought they might have been there since 2003 but I did move bookcases in there about two years ago and I washed the curtains so I'm sure I would have moved the bodies out of the way. The dead spider swinging from the light fitting is a nice touch.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


Another long night in Casualty and in isolation. A nurse recognised the rash as Chicken Pox so I get an urgent message from sister to find out if he'd had it. Of course he had it, the two boys shared everything, from Lego to Lice and Chicken Pox.

They hooked him up to an IV drip full of anti-histamine and pain killers. The spotty bits were so far down his throat they were worried about them going into the lungs. Blood tests confirmed no Ross River Fever but he had anti-bodies to Glandular Fever. Damned if I know when he had that.

The internal pains will subside in their own good time and so will the rash. He mustn't scratch the itching spots in case of bacterial infection. It's good news in a way as he won't take as long to get well but he doesn't appreciate that yet. And we have no idea where he picked it up.

So I moved the furniture again. It was a case of stress eat or stress move the furniture. I moved the desk back to the other side of the room and the computer is back on what seems like a teeny tiny table and the monitor is an inch too low. Maybe the chair is too high. The table is better, give me a vast space and I'll fill it with rubbish in a week. Hopefully now I haven't got room to lean on a hard surface, the pain in my neck will ease up.

I've de-activated Facebook again and this time for good so I'm not blocking your emails or ignoring you.

Monday, January 21, 2008


One of the symptoms of the Ross River Virus is a rash. Not the usual spotty rash but purple-red raised lumps. They are covering our sick one from head to toe, underneath his eyelashes and extending into his mouth and down his throat as ulcers. He cannot stand up straight because of the pain in his liver. He had a shower this morning to cool the skin down but crawled to the phone to ring his mother because he had no strength to dry himself. He has an appointment with the doctor in the morning but because it's a virus, only the symptoms can be treated.

He wouldn't like having so much information put here but I'm doing it so I can rant about the nurses who saw him in emergency yesterday. Thank you to the one who sat on the bed and left him in agony in a wheelchair. And who, when he saw the rash, didn't want to touch him. A big thank you to the other nurse who insisted he sit up in the bed they finally let him have. A heartfelt thank you to the next nurse on duty who made him comfortable and let him lie down. I'm beginning to think that before a nurse can be registered they should be tested for compassion and commonsense.

Sunday, January 20, 2008


I might have new Blogger and links but for some reason I can't use the search bar at the top of the page. Still two out of three isn't bad.

It has distracted me from the one thought in my mind for last four days. How to commit Matricide and get away with it. Apparently I can't and couldn't.

So I did the next best thing I yelled, a lot. Threatened her with "meals on wheels" too.

The BrickOutHouse is extremely ill but there's only room in the house for one illness, her's but even she's twigged now how bad his situation is.

Ross River Fever. Note the name. The first thing our doctor asked him was "Have you been near the Murray River?" He was sitting in it playing mosquito bait, as one does when it's hot and near a river. According to the doctor we could be seeing an epidemic of this.

Chills, fever, pains in the joints, body rash, splitting headache, muscle cramps, enough sweating to break the drought and this morning, something new, abdominal pain which was diagnosed as an inflamed liver along with a few other inflamed internal organs. We are waiting on a long list of blood tests, hopefully tomorrow.

At the moment we have one sick puppy on our hands and it isn't mother.

Thursday, January 17, 2008


I really hate myself for giving blog room to this batch of mouldy crumpets but I think it's time the girls realised the truth of that old saying "You can't go back".
You might botox the face, diet the body until it cries 'uncle' or bolster up the boobs with a shot of silicone but you can't de-age boney knees or scraggy feet.
Posh has the right idea, cover it all up except for a discreetly peeping tit but once again she didn't go far enough and left the paper bag off her head.
Apparently this Hagfest is coming to Australia to sing. Bwahahaahaha!


Phytoplankton surround the Falkland Islands.

Millions of tiny ocean plants ring the Falkland Islands in this photo-like image taken by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite on January 13, 2008. The surface-dwelling plants (called phytoplankton) reflect light, coloring the ocean with whimsical swirls of blue and green.

The bloom traces the course of the Malvinas (Falkland) Current, which sweeps north around the Falkland Islands and along the east coast of South America. A branch of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current, the strong current is cold and laden with nutrients. Because the current brings nutrients into the sunlit surface waters where plants can grow, the Malvinas Current often feeds large blooms such as this one.

The phytoplankton blooms around this area of ocean are usually the coccolithophores.

I am getting to the bad blooms eventually and 'creeping dead zones' which could double for a quite a few religions not to mention political parties across the world but is all about anoxic water along coastal areas.


We have been having a not so good time with Mumzilla. We think that she tried so hard to appear normal and in control on Saturday during a sisterly visit that it threw her way off balance for every day since.

This woman will blame everyone up to God and the Devil for everything that she does wrong, anybody but her. I don't think God or the Devil had anything to do with taking apart the vacuum cleaner and not being able to put it back together again. I thought after the sewing machine incident before Christmas, which was, taking it apart and not being able to put it together again, that I had hidden all the screwdrivers in the house. You might remember that this is someone who can't get her pills out of a blister pack without using a pair of scissors.

And why was the vacuum cleaner needed? Because it's been chilly the last few mornings and she wanted the fire on. She couldn't put the fire on because the filter needed cleaning and she couldn't clean that without the vacuum but the vacuum needed cleaning first. This, in spite of the fact that I checked it on Monday and there was nothing wrong with it but Mrs. Neverwrong decided there was.

The BrickOutHouse came home to a gutted machine and demands that he do something about it immediately. After he fixed that (he didn't) he was to go and replace all the bathroom towells he's been stealing (he hasn't) and then go and buy her fresh milk and bread (I'd done that) as it's the only thing she asks of him (bullshit). Mrs Neverwrong refused to look in the fridge to see there wasn't any need to buy milk and bread. BrickOutHouse leaves for his girlfriend's place but not before he asks me to put Mrs. Neverwrong somewhere, anywhere so she can't hurt herself or burn the house down by leaving the fire going on a hot day. Back to why we wouldn't clean the space heater.

I have been stressed, my sister is stressed, more about her son than Mrs Neverwrong and he is stressed because of Mrs Neverwrong. I was so stressed I didn't want chocolate, ice-cream or cake. Seven years a vegetarian and what did I want, a pork roast with crackling and gravy, meat party pies, ham off the bone sandwich with apricot relish and, droolingly, sausages cooked over an open fire, put on a slab of fresh white bread and smothered in tomato sauce.
Since all or any of these would have me riding the porcelain bus for a week, I deduce they're subliminal suicidal thoughts and have Tofu instead. Sounds healthy but it wasn't. I layered it with Nicola potatoes, sundried tomato and basil pasta sauce and smothered the top with aged Parmesan cheese.

I can't even begin to tell you the rest of what she's done this week. I've been barred from going there until Monday so my sister can assess just how much the old girl can do without backup. Sis will cook her evening meal and that's it but because she couldn't get home to do that last night Mrs Neverwrong had a jam sandwich for tea but that was nourishing because it was strawberry jam and that's fruit and she's never wrong.

Sunday, January 13, 2008


This is me, looking for a cup at the tea party with my mother playing all the other looney creatures in the books.

Which Alice in Wonderland character are YOU?
created with QuizFarm.com
You scored as Alice

You scored Alice! You are kind-hearted and curious and give yourself very good advice, but seldom follow it, which leads you into trouble. You always try to be courteous and polite, but you become cross when people speak in nonsense to you and scold them sharply.





A Playing Card


Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum


March Hare


The Dormouse


Queen of Hearts




Cheshire Cat






Mad Hatter




The White Rabbit



As well as catching up with my science reading, I've also been catching up with favourite internet sites. This is one of the best on Tasmania and where I found Jelly the cat.

It was reported in The Mercury, Hobart last December. (I did say I was catching up)

Jelly the cat wandered back home with a deadly lowland Copperhead snake wrapped around her neck. Her smart owner snapped this shot through a glass door while waiting for wild life rescuers. Jelly ended up at the vet being pumped full of anti venom.

My mouth dropped when I saw this. I can't believe the cat walked around and didn't try to shake the snake off and I can't imagine what Jelly did to get the thing so tied up around her neck. The closest I've been to this is having the cat come in with a huntsman spider on top of his head and both got shot out the door with a large broom.


Yesterday I received a virtual slap across the face. I'm still hurting, pissed off and finding it hard to let it go.

So this is relevant - "Detachment is a form of objectivity that includes caring".

Marion Jones got a six months jail sentence for telling lies to Federal investigators. The Judge said he had to send a message that cheating isn't acceptable in sport.

George Bush told lies about weapons of mass destruction to the whole world and he's still President. What kind of message does that send?

I found an extremely large red-back spider under my bedroom window. I'm talking ten cent size spider. I've warned it to stay outside or it gets Morteined. I hope it knows enough Australian to get the message. I'm upset enough to kill it out of sheer bloody-mindedness.

Saturday, January 12, 2008


I did offer a few to the heavens when I could smell burning rubber. "Please, please don't let the fan belt break before I vac up the two dead cockroaches in the corner".

Mark this date on the calendar, vacuumed the lounge room, hovered up sundry dead things and enough crumbs to feed a small country but *sob* no cat hair. After a decent interval of mourning, I have moved the old sod's tennis balls.

My number one tip for vacuuming is not to try and put all the junk on the floor away before you start. Put it on every chair in the place so you can't sit down until you've finished.

And if you do see something flippy and grey coming towards you just make sure it isn't alive before you scream and run into the curtains. I panicked, it kept coming towards me. Who knew it was caught on a piece of cotton half way up the crevice tool which made it jump and jiggle and since I was still holding on to said tool, of course it followed me.

My final act was to put all the junk on the chairs back on the floor where I could find it.

My encore was to take off the dust bag and empty it by pulling all the rubbish out of the small attaching hole. Yes, it's a filthy job but someone's got to do it in the interests of economy. Those bags cost a fortune and I can get at least 5 vacs out of one, probably more now *sob* there's no cat shedding fur.

Friday, January 11, 2008


Pretty in the water but nasty up close. This is Pelagia noctiluca or the mauve stinger jellyfish which grows up to 10 centimetres wide. It's also sometimes called the nightlight jellyfish because it produces a blue-green luminescent mucus.

Last year, a swarm of baby stingers, 26 square kilometres in area and 10 metres deep drifted into a salmon farm in the Irish sea and killed all 100,000 fish. The babies were small enough to be swept into the cages by the currents. This jellyfish is a Mediterranean species but has been seen along the British coast as far north as Shetland.

Scientists are putting this down to the warming of the winter sea water. Overfishing is killing off the natural enemies such as sunfish, trigger fish and loggerhead turtles that eat the jellyfish. And the jellyfish don't make shells so no carbon dioxide is absorbed from the ocean.

I've blogged about fish farms before and these jellyfish are part of a vicious circle. To feed people, fish farms are needed, fish farms are needed because of overfishing to feed people, overfishing means more jellyfish. To make things worse, small plankton-eating fish which compete with jellyfish and keep the numbers down are also being over-fished.......to make fishmeal to feed the fish in fish farms.


No, not one resolution to be made and broken. I did have an intention which doesn't really count and that got ripped to shreds yesterday.

I was going to try and be very patient with Mother. I wasn't going to yell or be drawn into having words with her. I was going to be so relaxed and cool.

Yesterday was very hot so I was out early to do her shopping, no problems there until I got home. "Just leave the wire door open will you. I want to bring in the card tables and put them in the laundry".

These are card tables, fold up the legs tables, old type tables which weigh a tonne. This is a little old lady who can barely stagger around holding herself up. She intends to put both tables on top of the walker and take them to the laundry, negotiating four, that is FOUR doors through which they won't fit.

I'm not sure if asking if your mother is fecking batshit insane qualifies as yelling or being impatient. I'd hate to think I'd broken an intention so soon into the new year.

Thursday, January 10, 2008


I've been going through a mountain of paper trying to gather up all the information on algal blooms and put them in one folder but I keep getting distracted by other sea subjects. I don't know why I gathered so much on rogue waves in the first place but it's certainly interesting.

"Taken aboard the SS Spray (ex-Gulf Spray) in about February of 1986 (best recollection), in the Gulf Stream, off of Charleston.
Circumstances: A substantial gale was moving across Long Island, sending a very long swell down our way, metting the Gulf Stream. We saw several rogue waves during the late morning on the horizon, but thought they were whales jumping. It was actually a nice day with light breezes and no significant sea. Only the very long swell, of about 15 feet high and probably 600 to 1000 feet long. This one hit us at the change of the watch at about noon. The photographer was an engineer (name forgotten), and this was the last photo on his roll of film.
We were on the wing of the bridge, with a height of eye of 56 feet, and this wave broke over our heads. This shot was taken as we were diving down off the face of the second of a set of three waves, so the ship just kept falling into the trough, which just kept opening up under us. It bent the foremast (shown) back about 20 degrees, tore the foreword firefighting station (also shown) off the deck (rails, monitor, platform and all) and threw it against the face of the house. It also bent all the catwalks back severely. Later that night, about 1930, another wave hit the after house, hitting the stack and sending solid water down into the engine room through the forced draft blower intakes."

"It was actually a nice day with light breezes and no significant sea". Right, a cruise is off the holiday menu as of now.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008


Over at the slice blog they have a new review and it's fattening but delicious.

Maria has also been on the hunt for a perfect vanilla slice. She has photos which are even fattening to look at.

Now this pre-occupation with the perfect vanilla slice is all well and good but what about that other slice which has been corrupted from something fine and delicious, downgraded to a blob of fatty pastry and glueified (if it's not a word, it should be) spongieform apples from a tin.

Where is the search for the perfect Apple Slice?

The one with the tart Granny Smith apple puree. The crisp biscuit short pastry on the bottom and on the top, a soft cake pastry shining with glaze, cinnamon and sugar. The slice that can only be enjoyed with a dollop of King Island double cream, on a plate with a cake fork. Make that two dollops of double cream, I'm dreaming of a large slice.

I went back through myGrandmother's cake book, the one that has enough DNA from baking to qualify as a dessert by itself. I was struck by the simplicity of the ingredients. From white flour, eggs, dried fruit, spices and vanilla essence (not even extract) delicious cakes emerged from tiny gas or wood fired ovens with a minimum of effort. Not on my part, cakes take precision and I'm a 'chuck it all in and hope for the best' baker. These cakes didn't need emulsifiers, artificial colours (marble cake excepted) hydrolised whatevers, preservatives or several different kinds of sugar under various names which are on every supermarket shelf. They were made and consumed on the day. It was a real trip down the kitchen memory lane. I think I gained 2kgs.

When was the last time you saw a cream puff that could only be held with two hands? My Grandmother made those, with whipped cream, dusted with icing sugar and strawberries (in season, only in season). Now we get pissy little profiteroles with custard and chocolate icing, a mouthful not a handful. And puff pastry matches. My memory is fuzzy here, I'm sure they weren't really 12 inches long it just seemed they were. Once again, whipped cream, raspberry jam and pink icing (had to be pink) on fresh made puff pastry. The recipe for puff pastry is in the book and believe me, this is one time when the bought pastry is better if you want to live long enough to eat it. Making it takes time, time and more time.

The only cake I can make with any success is Gingerbread cake with lemon icing and I make that because it freezes well so I can't eat it in one go. I have been known to snarf it while still frozen so that trick is only half successful. It also uses Golden Syrup which is really hard to get off spoons and measuring jugs so there's a lot of 'licking before washing' involved in making this cake.

So I throw out a challenge, let all go forth and find the elusive Apple Slice, the one true Apple Slice of olden days.

Friday, January 04, 2008


Here is little Noctiluca Scintillans in all its bioluminescent glory and by being bioluminescent it's also know as the Sea Sparkle.

Here's a hunting party of Sea Sparkles and hunt they do. They're dinoflagellates, propelling themselves along by flagella and unlike other Df's they're carnivorous, capturing prey with their long tentacle.


Don't you just hate it when the real world catches up and overtakes you.

Here I am in the middle of my series of brilliant and insightful posts about algal blooms and the Gippsland Lakes break out in one.

Anyway I'm going to soldier on and show you the next image of a spectacular algal bloom which is non-toxic.
Noctiluca Scintillans turns the beach red in New Zealand and the photo was taken by M. Godfrey.
Gippsland Lakes' bloom is a sickly pea soup green. Don't watch it, look at Noctiluca instead.


Coccolithophores are among the smallest of the phytoplankton. This species is called Emiliania huxleyi and it's covered with calcite disks. It's common worldwide but does well in cool waters as long as the nutrients are plentiful. They live in the photic zone of the oceans using photosynthesis to multiply. They can explode into enormous blooms that can cover more than 100,000 square kilometres of ocean surface. The ocean takes on a milky turquoise colour which is reflected from the calcium carbonate of the shells scattering sunlight. Sailors used to call this colour "fairy glow" and it's easily seen in satellite photographs.

This MODIS image of a coccolithophore bloom of the coast of Brittany, France was taken on June 15, 2004.
This particular coccolithophore, when it blooms consumes, dissolved carbon dioxide, nitrate, and phosphate while producing oxygen, ammonia, dimethyl sulfide. They incorporate huge quantities of carbon which, as they die, falls to the bottom of the ocean floor and is buried.
A bloom like the one above can contain billions of cells per litre of water and generate tens of thousands of metric tons of calcium carbonate in the upper layer of the bloom.
Of course anything trapped under this bloom that requires photosynthesis is in trouble as the water becomes darker with the amount of reduced light penetrating through the layers of coccolithopores. As wind and tides change, the bloom is dispersed and it begins again in another part of the ocean.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008


This is another image taken by the Moderate-resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on September 29, 2000.
The marked upper right corner (my editing *clap*) is not the lovely green healthy colour but what is erroneously called a "red tide".
The algae blooms produce a toxin that paralyzes fish and crustaceans or turns the water anoxic (low oxygen).
Stay tuned, more to come.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008


I hate fireworks.

I hate drunks.

I hate making resolutions.

I hate January.

A special place in hell is reserved for people who friend me on flushbucket and make me re-sign to see what they're saying about me.