Wednesday, April 29, 2009


I blame Lord Sedgwick for goading me into gloating that my troubles were over with AGL while his weren't. HahahahabloodyfarnarklingHa!!!!!!!

Gas account arrives for mother yesterday........$693.
Ring AGL.
Roar at idiot who won't give me details because they don't have a record of my PofA. I sorted this mistake out in February and had the direct debit re-instated, apparently not. In mid rant the wuss hung up on me.

Ring AGL.
Roar again, then ask for supervisor. While I wait, I breathe deeply and think of kitties. I'm reasonably calm when she also tells me I can't have details. After going through records of last supervisor....Hello David, hope you're enjoying the padded cell.....she tells me that there is a record of the direct debits to be re-instated but it hasn't been done. No merde, Sherlock!

There's still no reason for the DD being cut off without authorisation but a lot of reasons for me not to be able to have information without the PofA which they have also no record of.
It cost me $6 to fax through three pages at the post office this morning.

Ring AGL.
Sorry, we can't give you any information because it could take a week for the PofA to come through on the records.
Die, AGL, die painfully, slowly choking on your own red tape.

Stress load number two.
The carer comes to assess mother for showering. Of course she doesn't want to have one right then. Carer demands to know of me, why mother hasn't been showering. Well she couldn't get her out of bed, then so question answered, because the old bat doesn't want to.
She watches mother walk and imediately says her carers can't do the shower in case she falls.
Well isn't that why I'm having professionals come in to do it?
The shower is inspected.
Just take the doors off. Put up a shower curtain. Buy a bench seat where she can slide across without having to step over the rim. Then with MY HELP, the carer shouldn't have any trouble with her falling. MYFARNARKLINGHELP.
Do you see all the 'I's? I have to put up a curtain, I have to buy the seat, I have to be there.
The only good part is that mother's regular house keeper would be available to do the showering.
Mother is happy, she can control the house keeper.
I'm farnarkling under my breath, a lot.

Third stress load. Mother says did I get her message. God knows who she rang but it wasn't me. A man called and he's coming to inspect the smoke alarms. Merde, what??? I ring the maintainence department at Kingston to make sure it's not someone who's trying to get into the house to sell her something. Yes, he is booked in for an inspection. Who booked him in? The temporary housekeeper of last week who did farnarkling all but dust cobwebs and take orders from mother who sent her up to buy a new mop which she didn't use because no one could find the bucket and no one thought to buy another. Where was I? Maintainence man was cancelled because stupid woman, after finding the old smoke alarm on the kitchen table didn't think to look for the brand new one on the wall. And no, why would anyone actually throw out a broken smoke alarm before 12 months were up.

The mystery of the wool doona was solved. She doesn't remember ever having one. She doesn't remember the thermal blanket I crawled into the wardrobe to grab from the far reaches of that black hole. When I asked why there were three bottles of Palmolive washing up detergent in the bathroom vanity, she says the BrickOutHouse washes his hair in it. Why are there 3 cans of airwick anti-bacterial? She's never seen them. What is in the box marked medications? She's never seen that before. In other words BAD MAN DID IT AND RAN AWAY. This was after I washed the towells and her clothes which she'd put in a plastic garbage bag instead of the washing basket because she couldn't find one. There are six washing baskets in the house. I found them all, fought the bad man for them and brought them back. I replaced the light bulb in the lounge. She says I'm good at that, do I carry around spares all the time?

And I got rained on.

Monday, April 27, 2009


Peter Wasilewski studies the magnetic properties of meteorites and rock from the moon and Earth. He's also an artist who creates images called Frizions, using polarised light and ice.
He takes a petri dish of ice in the process of freezing and sandwiches it between two polarising filters. As white light passes through the first filter it polarises, causing the rays to vibrate in the same plane.

Ice crystals split light into two rays which travel at different velocities through the ice in a phenomenon known as birefringence. When the rays are recombined at the second polarising filter there is a phase difference causing the interference needed to create these colours.

The colours are determined by the thickness and lattice structure of the ice. Varying the thickness will produce a variety of patterns.
Although water ice can be found throughout the solar system, the lattice structures vary due to the differing temperatures and pressures of their formation.
Only the ice found on Earth has the correct structure to produce a frizion.

See here for more of Wasilewski's images.

Friday, April 24, 2009


After waiting weeks for nephew to come and put new light globes in the ceiling, I decided to do it myself. Smoke alarm is still sitting on the floor, I'm not that good.

Choosing a light bulb is like choosing a toothbrush or toothpaste, too much choice.

So I remembered to change the old wattage into the new wattage, remembered the screw in type but who thought about bloody colour.

I am now sitting in the middle of Stalag Luft 17.

Never buy a 100w clear daylight bulb.

The lamps are going back on.


I love the ships, love the minerals, love the shape, love the little hoists going up from the harbour quay on both sides of the rock mountain.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


She spoke of Egypt, and a white
Temple, against night
She smiled with clicking teeth
and said
That the dead were never dead;
Said old emperors hung like bats..........
But empresses come back as cats!
William Rose Benet

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


That's a fine haul there but only a fraction of what has been recovered from the wreck of the Whydah. It's the only authentic pirate treasure found in the only documented pirate ship ever found. Evidence being the recovery of the ship's bell with the inscription, The Whydah Galley 1716.
The Captain of the Whydah was the l8th Century pirate Black Sam Bellamy, who was returning to collect his bride or visit his mistress according to who's telling the tale, when the ship was caught in a storm off Cape Cod and went ashore at Wellfleet, Massachusetts.
Underwater explorer Barry Clifford, a marine salvager on Martha's Vineyard and honorary member of the Boston Marine Society (the oldest association of sea captains in the world), discovered the remains of the wreck off Marconi Beach in 1984. He has been on expeditions to Madagascar where he and his team excavated several sites. One shipwreck might be the Adventure Galley, flagship of Captain Kidd. Another is believed to be the Fiery Dragon, once commanded by the pirate, William Condon.
One of the original members of the Whydah search team was John F. Kennedy Jnr. Two years ago, divers discovered his compass, inscribed with his initials, hanging from some wrecked cannons. Kennedy was with Clifford the day they picked up a signal from the seabed where they suspected the Whydah would be.
The importance of the Whydah in marine archeaology is in the range of artifacts found from all over the world. The ship was carrying the cargo of all the ships Bellamy had captured. Rare coins going back to Ferdinand & Isabella, silver pieces of eight and a pewter plate which has a sign etched on the rim which is thought to be one of the oldest authentic Freemasons' symbols known. Along with cannons, plates, silk stockings, there was found a pistol with a dragon engraved on the golden handle. The excavation is still going with the team hoping to find more treasure at the bottom of the wreck where the cannons crashed through the decks when the ship capsized.
You can see a video of the treasure or visit the home page.


It's by the jewellery firm of Buccellati. It's over the top, revolting and I'd rather have a fairy castle any time. Feel free to leave your usual well-informed comments on this lovely piece (upchuck) and don't spare the superlatives.

Sunday, April 19, 2009


These are snow bales formed in a few hours on the prairies of Southern Idaho and photographed by Tim Tevebaugh.

They're about 2 feet high and are a naturally occurring phenomenon requiring the right combination of temperature, humidity, wind speed, snow and flat or slight rolling open ground covered with a smooth layer of ice or crusty snow.

When the air temperature is slightly above freezing, with drifting snow and strong gusty winds of at least 25 mph the the bales begin to form by the wind rolling a bit of snow which clings because it's wet but rolls because the surface is icy.

The wind moves the snow continuously, picking up more snow as it rolls until it becomes too heavy for the wind to move or it comes up against an obstacle. They're very fragile, disintegrating if the temperature varies a degree up or down.


I watched 'Mad Men' on SBS last week to see if it lived up to the hype but I couldn't judge by one episode. What did shock me was the cigarette smoking. In the bars, workplace, home, everywhere and by everybody and why was I shocked, because I remember that. I'm so used to not seeing a smokey haze everywhere I go that I realize how far we've come in not tolerating a habit that's harmful to those who don't indulge. It also vividly reminded me of being kissed by a man who'd been drinking whisky and smoking all night. It was so vivid, I could taste and smell it by memory. Revolting. Perhaps one day, we'll have the same revulsion to drunken morons walking the streets.

I watched 'Hot Fuzz' last night. I think only the British could make a black comedy that ends up with so much gunplay and mayhem but was still funny. A lot of it was due to the editing in the cutting room. Also enjoyable was a film with a small amount of swearing instead of the writers being paid by the amount of 'f' words per minute.

I've been out in the garden again and it's not getting any better. The last of the bluestones are in place, never to be moved again, ever. I'm still getting the beds ready for all the faffing about before I plant although I have put the plants there in pots just to make it look like I'm a gardner. I did stuff the Jade Plant straight in with a bit of potting mix. It's an experiment, just to see what a survivor it is.

Now gardners out there, advice. My Camelia's leaves are turning yellow. Does it have too much water, not enough water, does it need food, should I talk to it, should I sing a gardening song? Help needed here.
Freesia bulbs. Which end is up? Pointy end or round end? I once lost a whole bag of mixed bulbs once because I didn't read the label and the damn things had to be planted all different ways. Goddess, I'd rather be inside cleaning the silver. I rock at cleaning silver, absolutely crap at gardening.

And what about the Mother, I hear you ask. As much as I try to be compassionate and ignore the gibes, it's getting more difficult. She rang my sister last week, sobbing, 'Come and talk to me. I have no-one'. She'd just had me but I'd slammed the phone down, sister followed suit. Aunt Patty turned up yesterday and wouldn't look at my sister or speak to her. Mother hardly mentioned her today. Bad sign. It means she's been bagging us again. She rattled on about the lovely young man next door who fixed the bathroom lights after I'd bought them and the new starters. BrickOutHouse took him in a 6-pack as a thank-you. When I mentioned this, she dismissed him and once again started on how lovely the neighbours are to her.
She loves the new heater and it was my fault it didn't work, I hadn't turned it on. Bullshit, I couldn't get the pins into the old plug and tried it on another powerpoint and it worked. BrickOutHouse fixed the plug, he has stronger hands.

The doctor's coming next week and I won't be there and she can fumble around in her own mind for her details. I'm seeing him the next day, that'll be interesting.

Friday, April 17, 2009


Another of William Tolliday's masterpieces. He created this castle in 1984 as a memorial to James "Chris" Lizzadro, a grandson of the founder of the Lizzadro Museum of Lapidary Art .

On a large slab of Brazilian agate, the 18ct gold castle rises from specimens of amethyst, malachite, azurite and vanadium. His signature diamonds are set as windows. The sculpture in in the museum rotates slowly to music and at the push of a button, the sound of preparations for battle are heard.

Thursday, April 16, 2009


This is William Tolliday working on one of his fairytale castles. He was born in 1915 and worked his entire career at Garrard & Co., London. In the late 1960s he began creating his fairytale castle of gold, sitting in, on and around the most beautiful mineral specimens.
He said he inspired by the look of the Houses of Parliament and the buildings of Venice with the golden light of sunset behind them.
He first paints a water colour of his design then selects a foundation mineral base to suit the 18ct golden towers and bridges he constructs piece by tiny piece. He blended red, yellow, soft white and oxidised white gold to develop depth and perspective.
The reflective properties of the minderals change the light of the gold as the towers are added and soldered into place.
He used diamonds for windows which gave a life-like flash in the high towers.
Everything is in miniature ith amazing detail from the flags flying on the turrets, the rigging on the ships or the tiny trees hidden in the crystals.
He signed each piece with his name as a fine sprinkling of gold dust.
As it takes, on average, 12 months to execute the planned sculpture, only three or four are completed each year from the first water colour sketch.
Below is the first version of Neuschwanstein Castle, Bavaria, made in 1969. It's crafted of 18ct and 22ct red, yellow and white gold. The courtyard is made of the mineral barite. The natural rock base is formed of tourmaline and lepidolite minerals. Several of the turret windows of the three towers are set with baguette diamonds. It measure 6 5/8 inches by 5 1/4 inches in width.
It has no flat base and the gold battlements seem to perch precariously on top of the specimen instead of blending into the rocks.

This 1980s version of the Royal Castle Neuschswantein has the golden towers fully part of the amethyst geode on which it sits. Once again, there are diamond insets in the windows and the agate base balances the whole structure. Nestled inside the geode are tiny golden fir trees.
The whole sculpture is 23 cms tall.

Monday, April 13, 2009


Just when I thought I had a handle on my fraying nerves, I have my mother and ex daughter-in-law on the same day and in the same room.

Pardon me while I slip into the next room and find a bigger bag and a lot more panic pills.

Ahhh, that's better and just so you lot know that I'm dealing with crazy here, really crazy.

She wanted her bed re-made because she didn't like the bed-making girl last Wednesday.

Mutter, swear, mutter and I'm in the wardrobe looking for a pillowcase and the wool doona which has mysteriously disappeared but that's a whole 'nother crazy. I pick up a pillowcase and it was heavy and dropped on my foot. So inside the pillowcase is a towell, wrapped in another towell which is wrapped around a 14 inch ceramic plate. By now, with the hurting foot and all, I'm not muttering I'm swearing loudly.

I'm trying to imagine what could be wrapped and hidden in a single bed woollen doona.

I'm going to need a bigger bag and a lot more pills.

Sunday, April 12, 2009


And I'm too tired to eat them.
I spent the day moving bluestones and believe me, I'm all blue-stoned out.
I will be so sore tomorrow I don't want to think about it.
So now I have three small garden plots instead of one long weed-infested bed.
I suppose there's something I have to do with the dry sand, like mulch or organic goodness that must be dug in before I can plant.
I'll think about it tomorrow, tomorrow is another day.

It's been a craptacular week. I have not had a nervous attack like this for twenty years. It's like the 'Clayton's heart attack', the one you only think you're having. If I was going to have one, it would have been today lugging around bluestones. Insomnia, heart beating so fast it felt like trying to jump out of my chest, nausea, dizziness and not wanting to eat. I knew I was bad but not wanting to eat.

This was a mother induced panic attack of monumental proportions. Easily fixed after I worked it out. Up the little green panic pills, place paper bag over head for hyperventilating and an hour later things were calming down. I still have the shakes but I also have chocolate eggs, I just don't feel like eating them.

I can't believe it took me a week to work out what was wrong and get back on track. I can't believe I didn't blog for a week either. I didn't even turn on the computer for three days, in fact I don't think I did anything except look at the inside of a paper bag and pop pills.

I'm feeling better now, mentally. Physically, some one has stolen all my leg muscles and replaced them with foam rubber.

Sunday, April 05, 2009


But the rain held off yesterday for the Sills Bend afternoon wedding.

Unfortunately it didn't hold off today and I was forced to abandon the gardening.
I moved two bluestones, potted 15 cuttings and half grubbed out the rotting stump of the walnut tree.
I hate gardening. There are crawling things in the dirt.

Weeds spring up like weeds. I went to all the trouble of putting down newspaper and mulch under the lime tree which is supposed to stop weeds but there's a fine crop just waiting to be pulled up....again.

My triumph is that the lemon geranium I filched from somebody's garden is flourishing.

My defeat was trying to dig a hole to put it in. I can't dig the spade into the ground so out with the bread knife to cut a square in the grass and see if that works. That's the thing with gardens, they expect you to go knee down and worship. Not with my knees.

Bluestones are a lot heavier than they were 8 years ago or my heart attack threshold is getting lower.

Keep raining Melbourne.

Saturday, April 04, 2009


Enlarge the map for a good view of the Tasman Fracture around the coasts of Victoria and Tasmania. This fracture is a trench that drops nearly 3 miles below the surface of the Southern Ocean. Up to now, it has only been explored to a depth of 5,900 feet but with the aid of the remotely operated vehicle Jason from the research vessel Thomas G. Thompson, researchers were able to see images down to 13,000 feet. The ship mapped the region, which has not been touched by fishing trawlers, during December 2008 and January 2009.

Jason captured images that showed this l.6 foot tall carnivorous sea squirt which uses its funnel-shaped head to capture prey in the same way that a Venus Fly Trap plant does.

And this newly discovered soft coral called a gorgon's head. (which looks rather like the love child of a witch and an archaeologist)


It's the Great Blue Hole on Lighthouse Reef Atoll off the coast of Belize and I've blogged about it here in one of my first posts. The image was taken by the Advanced Land Imager (ALI) on NASA's Earth Observing-1 satellite on March 24, 2009. It's one of the most popular and dangerous dive sites in the Carribbean. It's almost 1000 feet across and 400 feet deep and was once above ground during the ice age when stalactites formed inside the cave.
I still wouldn't go there. Deep dark water terrifies me. My past life catching up with me as I went down on the Titanic and tomorrow is the 97th anniversary of the big boat setting off from Southampton on its maiden voyage. Southampton is building a museum to be opened in 2012 (providing the Mayan Calendar is wrong about the "we're all going to die" prophecy) for the centenary of the collision with the iceberg. They plan to reconstruct part of the liner, a walk down memory lane without the ice.
I might be the only person in the world who loves the theme song from the film and you're all lucky I can't Youtube it. Even through Celine's mangled English, the words are great
(shut up, for me they are) but don't watch the movie in winter, you'll freeze your buns off.

Friday, April 03, 2009


This was Mount Redoubt's last big eruption.

This was also me, yesterday.

Is it psychologically sound to know one is half an inch from a complete mental breakdown?

Wednesday, April 01, 2009


I'm forced to get another set of steps instead of going up that stupid ladder. A dozen times today just to wash the curtains, well it has been mmm...mumble...mumble...two years since I had them down. They're 30 years old and fragile, too much washing takes away the holding power.

The operating procedure is to mark where the holes have appeared then cut that whole width out and pray that the upteen metres left don't shred in the washing machine. I was lucky, one tear and a small patch of shreddy bits that got a lace flower glued on to hold it all together. I think maybe another 12 months should see them out.

The thing was, the ladder. It's now making me very nervous to go higher than a foot off the ground. My knees are shouting abuse at me. Before the ladder, I had to move two tvs and a cupboard. My back is joining in with the knees. So, it's off to Bunnings for a two-step step and they cost $30 and I need an outside ladder as well, $60. I sat down and counted the ladder fund of 5c and 10c pieces, $13, running a bit short there. The Harry Potter fund has $21, not touching that.
The running away from home fund which I counted first after this morning's vicious, vitriolic, bitching Mother phone call, has zero. $15 in the Avon teapot but I really need that mascara, not touching that.

I think I'll steal it from Mother. I've just found that four of the Royal Albert 'Country Roses' mugs have disappeared from the glass Armoire, given to someone more deserving than I apparently. I bought those for her, they're mine, damn it and they were $50 each, way back then. I must have been flush because I bought six and I must have liked her or I'd have kept them. So I'll just be borrowing against my expectations.