31 03 2007

Footy starts today! (well, it started last night but today’s the day I start watching again)

But now I’m divided between two clubs… My nephew has left the Freo Dockers and is now playing for a Melbourne-based team (ptooi!) – the one that people either love or hate… there are no shades of grey with this team! (locals will get that reference)

So today I’ll watch two games – the one my nephew’s playing in (and that the family have flown over to Melbourne to watch), and the Freo Dockers. I’m no longer a member of the Dockers – moving down south, my nephew being traded to another club, and with the other nieces and nephews not renewing or going to the games as a result, it wasn’t worth it.

At least all the games are on TV – either free-to-air or Foxtel – so there’s no excuse for missing them. However, the temptation today is strong. It’s an absolutely BEAUTIFUL autumn day and it’s expected to be quite warm so the pull of the outdoors is pretty strong. But this is a BIG day for my nephew – it’s his first game with his new club and it’s his 100th AFL game and it’s the first game of the season. So I’ll watch it live.

Update: The Melbourne game isn’t shown until 8:00pm tonight, even though it started at noon. Darn. Meantime, the Dockers game is live on both free-to-air and Foxtel, so I’ll watch that. The weather¬† has turned so I’m not so fussed about being inside now.

Getting the message across

26 03 2007

Some people just have a knack of getting a not very nice message across in a very polite – even humorous – way. I was reminded of that when I received this email to all staff in a company from one of the long time staff members (I have permission to quote this, but I’ve removed any identifying information):

Hello fellow kitchen users

Over the last 2 years I have been taking the tea towels home every week to wash them (thanks go out to <name> who was doing the upstairs tea towels while <department> was in the downstairs office). Don’t get me wrong, this has been an enjoyable experience for me, but I feel like there is a limit to the amount of fun a person should allow themselves, so I have decided to step down as the Tea Towel Maintenance Officer. If anyone would like to take on the title, feel free, otherwise please don’t complain about there being no clean tea towels. By the way there is a stack of clean ones in the far right cupboard where the sink is – once they’re gone, they’re gone.

Foggy morning

26 03 2007

I wondered why I couldn’t see the stars this morning when I went out to get the paper. As daylight emerged, it was obvious – fog! We’re close to the top of a very large hill and it was foggy up here – I’d imagine that in the valley where the main street of town is, it was very foggy indeed.

The picture below is of part of the backyard, with some of the fruit trees, the old aviary on the left which is now my garden shed (note the shadecloth I put up over the weekend to deal with any excessive weather!), and the massive eucalyptus trees on the property behind ours. There’s a firebreak/track between us and those trees too, though you wouldn’t think it from this photo!

Fog through the eucalypts

Birds and stars

25 03 2007

One of the things about living in a country town and on a largish block of land with fruit trees (yes, fruit trees – lemon, orange, mandarin, apple, plum, and a grape vine are those I’ve discovered so far), is that birds come and visit regularly… and they chatter all day long! I’m not a bird person, but so far I’ve been able to identify these: Western Magpies, kookaburras, blue wrens, Western Rosellas, Australian Ringneck parrots (known as twenty-eights), New Holland Honeyeaters, Bronzewing Pigeons, and lots of other little flitty birds that I don’t know. We’ve also heard black cockatoos in the distance, but haven’t seen any yet. There’s a nice page of many of the birds we have in the garden here:

The other thing is the stars! Wandering out into the dark at 5am to collect the paper from the verge is an awesome experience – the Milky Way is just so bright against the black of the night, and some of the stars seem close enough to touch. I’d forgotten how bright stars can be – all those years of living in the glow of the city lights takes that away and you can only really see the very bright ones. Here, you can see them all. And they are an awe-inspiring sight.

“Tyson the Dyson”

25 03 2007

Wow! I never thought I’d write about a vacuum cleaner!

Our old vacuum cleaner was one of those cheap piddly little cockroach things that had very little suction and a short cord. Although it was a brand name (Hoover), it really didn’t do the job very well. And when it started cutting out because of overheating – like after about 2 minutes vacuuming time – that was it. Time for it to go to another home.

So when we were in Busselton the other day, one of our tasks was to see what we could find as a replacement vacuum cleaner. I’d heard about the Dysons (ugly beasts that they are), and when the girl in the shop raved about hers, we had to investigate further. Well, not really investigate – I held the end to test the suction and nearly had the palm of my hand taken off, it was that good! We bought the DC08TSY model (pics and details here) and I used it for the first time this morning.

Tyson the Dyson As I said earlier – wow! This thing has a really long cord – long enough so that I could do the whole house without unplugging it; a really long hose, and a telescopic wand with a handle. And the suction is unbelievable! It wanted to lift the loose rug in the living room, and when I had it on carpet mode instead of hard floor mode, it tried to lift the vinyl in the office. After vacuuming the whole house, the bagless barrel had HEAPS of very fine dust and other particles in it… and I only vacuumed the house last weekend with the old one. BTW, we don’t have children or pets, and we’re very meticulous about cleaning up after ourselves.


So amazing that I’ve even named it. In honour of the king hits that Mike Tyson did, I’ve named it “Tyson the Dyson”. I NEVER name things, so that’s a first. (BTW, I don’t like boxing, and I sure don’t condone Mike Tyson’s actions – it’s just that his name rhymes and this vacuum cleaner is a “knockout”.)

A month today since we moved

19 03 2007

There I was today, working away on client stuff, when I checked the date. It’s exactly a month today since we moved out of Perth! It all still feels very new, yet it all feels very familiar too.

ALL the boxes (those that aren’t in storage) are now unpacked and out of the house – I did the last one on Saturday after I cleaned out the old aviary and made it into a shed to store the gardening tools etc. Most of the boxes were done by the end of the first week, but there are always stragglers. I’m just glad we’re not living in “Box City” any more. The house is definitely looking like a home now.
I’ve been getting as much work done for my clients as when I was in the office – in some ways more, as I’m not distracted by water cooler chat, people dropping by your cube, the “just a quick question” situation etc. Of course, I miss some of that too, but as I’ve been working for one client for 5 years and the other for 2 years, I’ve found that many of the nuances of body language and voice can still be achieved via email and instant messaging with those I know well.

Some things I’ve ‘dropped’ since we’ve been here…

  • Office clothes – I now dress for comfort and the weather, so if that means shorts, T-shirts and thongs, or tracky dacks and uggs, then that’s what it is! Both clients were pretty casual about work clothes anyway, but not THIS casual! Oh, and no bra, but you really didn’t want to know that, did you??
  • Setting the alarm – no alarm buzzing at 5:10am like in Perth. I’m waking up naturally and finding that my typical waking hour is around 6-6:30am. That gives me time to read the paper, have a cuppa, check email, have a shower, have breakfast, etc. before starting my workday at 8:00am. I walk three steps from the kitchen to my new ‘office’.
  • Watch and jewellery – I’m only wearing my watch and jewellery occasionally, and never at home. So I have to reset and rewind the watch every time I put it on.

A couple of times a week we’ll pop into town when I take a lunch break to do the grocery shopping, go to the butcher, bank etc. Town is about 1 minute away, so it’s not a long trip!

I’ve already made one trip back to Perth to do face-to-face with my clients, and I have another 3-day trip planned for early April. That first trip worked well, except my intentions of catching the train from Bunbury were impossible as there is no secure parking at Bunbury train station. It’s out in the boonies these days, and the car park is wide open and unsupervised at night. With a 90 minute trip back to Bridgetown after the train trip, it just isn’t worth taking the risk that my car could be smashed, stolen, or just undriveable when I got back in at night. So it looks like I’ll be driving, which is a real shame. I had a good run on the first trip back to Perth – I left at 4:45am and was at the southern end of the freeway in Perth by 7:30am. And then I hit the biggest traffic jam! It took me 1.75 hours to get from the Anketell Rd exit to the Powis St exit! Unbelieveable – and unacceptable. I’ve told that client that in future I’ll leave a bit later so I can avoid that situation. Fortunately, I’d had a pitstop just before Mandurah, otherwise it could’ve been embarrassing! Getting home took just over 3 hours, but getting to Perth took 4.5 hours, all because of that freeway situation.

I’ll write more later about some of the things we’ve discovered about living in a country town. Don’t worry – it’s all good!

“Talk to the hand”

16 03 2007

I just finished reading “Talk to the hand” (by Lynne Truss; it follows her very successful book on punctuation, “Eats, shoots and leaves“).

The subtitle says it all really: Talk to the Hand: The Utter Bloody Rudeness of Everyday Life (or six good reasons to stay home and bolt the door). To quote from the blurb: “… Talk to the Hand is not a book about manners or etiquette. It is about the rudeness of the modern world, and the sense of outrage that infects us every day as we discover other people are – generally speaking – crass, selfish, and inconsiderate…”

While this is a quick read, and reasonably humorous for the most part, it’s also a bit depressing to realise that what she has to say about behaviour in her part of Great Britain is just as applicable to urban life in Australia (my experience) and likely elsewhere.

As I was reading it, I was reminded of the BBC TV series Grumpy Old Men and Grumpy Old Women – initially, I found the episodes in those two series very funny, then I stopped watching as I found I was relating too readily to the comments I was hearing. And that was depressing… to learn that I was rapidly becoming a grumpy old woman myself!

As far as this book is concerned, it’s a quick read and worth borrowing from the local library (which is what I did). Don’t be surprised to find yourself agreeing with a lot of what she has to say – and that’s sad. Sad, not for agreeing with her, but that personal interactions between humans – especially those who don’t know each other – have become much more unpleasant.

Great word: Omphaloskepsis

15 03 2007

Go on, look it up! Now I’ve just got to figure out how to insert it into everyday speech…

(Hint: try

Great signature line!

7 03 2007

It’s probably very politically incorrect, but I love this sig line copied from a colleague’s email:

Some people are like Slinkies… they’re not really good for anything, but they still bring a smile to your face when you push them down a flight of stairs.

Discovering new wineries

5 03 2007

The Blackwood Valley area of Western Australia has been a late bloomer as far as wineries goes, but they are rapidy on the move. I’ve heard that there are now some 20 wineries in the region, and we’ve made it our mission to visit them all and find out as much about the wines and the winemakers as we can! (For any West Aussies out there, this is reminsicent of the early days of the Margaret River region.)

To that end, we took some time out yesterday afternoon and drove out past Boyup Brook to a winery that appears to be in the middle of the wheat and sheep belt! We first had a Scotts Brook wine (2004 cabernet sauvignon) at the Bridgetown Hotel with a meal a week ago, and now were on the hunt for more. Unfortunately, they’ve sold out at the winery, and all the local outlets are also out of it (including Manjimup -yes, we went far afield looking for this superb wine!)

However, all was not lost as we got to meet one of the owners of the winery (Kerry) and spent an hour or so with her tasting their other wines (Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, cleanskin [an unwooded chardonnay], and Shiraz), talking about lifestyle changes (she and her husband are ex-teachers), and life in general. They have a lovely tasting area at their house, and with this winery being only a 30 minute drive from Bridgetown (going on the back roads) we can see us going there quite often!

We went through Boyup Brook on the way back to Bridgetown and called in to see Jenny Duncan at Chudacud winery (pron chew-da-cud). She only had a Cab Sav and a Shiraz for tasting, so we bought one of each and listened to her plans to add an eating area. We also checked out the local talent – some young emus and some gorgeous alpacas with eyes to die for! From there it was a quick 10 minute drive back to Bridgetown to open a bottle of the Scotts Brook shiraz and enjoy it with a roast pork dinner.

Picasso, an alpaca at Chudacud winery