31 05 2007

I’m a big fan of animated movies, though I think they’ve gone off a little since Finding Nemo. However, I just saw a trailer for a new Disney/Pixar movie “Ratatouille” being released on June 29 (US only?), and it made me smile! Here’s the trailer from YouTube:

If you can’t view it from this site, try: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c3sBBRxDAqk

Cute boots

26 05 2007

We took some time out yesterday to go to Manjimup to do some shopping and have lunch. One of our last stops was to see what the Manjimup Trading Company had in store (they were closed the last time we were in Manji). Amongst all the farm stuff were some wellington boots – and these highly cute rain boots! I would have bought the leopard print ones (really!) but they didn’t have my size. So I got the denim-look ones, and christened them today out in the wet grass and clay soil of the backyard so they’re not as pristine now!

Denim-look rain boot

Lemon time

26 05 2007

Lemon cut within 5 minutes of picking

We now have our own lemon tree in the backyard and it’s starting to get weighed down with lemons. Fortunately, they don’t all ripen at once! I picked a dozen or so this morning, and within 5 minutes of picking, they were being cut and juiced, ready to be frozen as lemon ice cubes.

Quilt 2: Finished

25 05 2007

When I attended the quilting workshop a month ago, I purchased one of Michelle’s kits. This was for a quilted tote bag to cart around all that awkward quilting gear, such as cutting mats, long rulers, roller cutters etc. Well, I finished it earlier this week! The front section has a long deep pocket in the centre for the ruler (behind the ‘quilting angel’), with two side pockets for tools, and the main bag takes a full 24″ cutting mat. I was quite pleased with it – especially as the stippling surrounding the angel is the first I’ve ever done. BTW, the little leaves are metallic gold maple leaves, which I thought matched the autumnal tones of this piece quite nicely.

Quilt tote bag

IE min-height issue solved

24 05 2007

I’m revamping one of my client’s websites, and had an issue with a banner bar (with graphics and text of various sizes and length) that rendered badly in IE6. Among other CSS standards, IE6 doesn’t recognise the min-height attribute. It’s been the last thing for me to figure out before completing this job, and I’ve put it off until today. I tried a couple of things, then went out Googling and found some reasonably convoluted solutions and hacks. Then I found Phil Ledgerwood’s blog (update Sept 2008: this blog appears to be offline) where he offers the quickest, most practical solution. It was all sorted in about 1 minute flat!

In case his blog post ever goes missing, here’s the solution:

If you use an underscore in front of normal CSS properties, IE will process them, but other browsers will not. In practice, this allows you to specify “alternate IE settings” for virtually any CSS property. This is known as the Underscore Hack.

So, to set a minimum height, first use the actual property:

min-height: 300px

then use the underscore hack to set the height property.

_height: 300px

All browsers but IE will ignore the hacked property, and since IE effectively treats height as min-height, you’ll get the effect that you want in all browsers.

Thanks Phil!

Measure twice

23 05 2007

(Edited title from “Measure once” to “Measure twice”)

Two months ago – not long after we’d moved – we realised that my old sofas were doing neither of our backs much good. And we didn’t have any spare beds, so I had a brainwave… as you do! Why not give away the old sofas to someone needing furniture, and replace them with two sofa beds? Great idea…

So when we were in Bunbury (90 mins away) back in March, we tried out various sofa beds at Harvey Norman’s and picked one that we liked for back support, back height, solid arm rests, choice of fabric colours, and that had an innerspring mattress (not a foam slab) for the bed part. Oh, and it was a one-touch operation to fold it out too – no leaning in and getting snapped up by the jaws of a sofa bed! We chose our colour, paid a deposit, ordered and paid for fabric protection, paid $88 for delivery to Bridgetown, and were told it would be about 2 months before delivery. That was OK as we had to get rid of the old sofas first.

After lots of phone calls (including one to get the dimensions of each sofa), FINALLY the sofas arrived this afternoon. They looked great – but they wouldn’t fit through the front door of the house!!! The back door is even narrower and the laundry door is the same width as the front door but with even less ‘wiggle room’ than the front door. The delivery guy suggested we get a glazier in to remove the front window – seriously! This in a town where it can two weeks for a tradesman to come, and that only after a few phone calls. We sure weren’t going to leave those sofas on the front porch – and nor did we entertain the idea of taking the window out! We’d have to do it all again when we left this house.

I made a call to Harvey Norman’s in Bunbury – fortunately it was before 5pm and they were still open. I spoke to the manager and he said they’d take them back and give us a refund – less another $88 freight as they had to be put back on the waiting truck and delivered back to the Bunbury store.

What a bummer! I was *so* looking forward to those sofas – and I was especially looking forward to being able to loll about and read a book in comfort flopped on a couch. And to have guests stay. Alas, it is not to be. I don’t know what we’ll do next. The current seating arrangements (dining room chairs) aren’t suitable for us or for guests, even just guests for the evening.

BTW, the problem wasn’t with the dimensions I had – the guy at the store happily called me and gave me the width and depth. It was the height of the back – the one measurement I didn’t have or ask for – that was the critical one. I guess if we decide on sofas again, we’ll make sure that the back height will fit through the door too!

Maybe we’ll just go to single lounge chairs… Beanbags, anyone?

Meantime, we’ve experienced one of the downsides of living in a country town. This little exercise has cost us $88 each way in freight ($176) + fabric protection we can’t use ($199), a total of $375 that’s just evaporated into thin air. Bugger!

Update (6 June 2007): I got the refund cheque from Harvey Norman’s in Bunbury today – and they only charged for the freight to and from. They refunded us the $199 for the fabric protection! That’s service.

It’s cold!

21 05 2007

It felt cold this morning so I put on the heating… Why? According to the official weather stats for Bridgetown, the overnight minimum was a chilly 0.3C and the temp at 9am was only 4.9C.

At 6am when I got up, the temp in the house was 5C, so that’s when I put the heater on! We turned it off at 8am. I popped in to the post office around 10am without realising how cold it still was outside – should’ve worn some gloves!

Magic mushroom time?

21 05 2007

Late yesterday afternoon we took a short drive to Balingup to play some pool (snooker) and have dinner at the Blackwood River Tavern. Near Greenbushes we got ‘flashed’ by a car heading south, so we figured that some police were up ahead. A couple of kms further on there they were – police car in a parking area, and two boys in blue with their fluoro jackets pulling over vehicles heading south, away from Balingup.

I guessed that this wasn’t a random breath test stop, or even a speeding driver stop – none of the things or behaviours you normally see with those offences were evident. I *thought* it might be because the forests around Balingup are reputed to have ‘magic mushrooms’ growing wild, and each year the police and the mushroom hunters bang heads over this substance. The dead giveaway was a slightly beat up car further up the road at the crest of a hill – the driver had stopped on the side of the road, probably because he could see the police in the road ahead (and they had seen him), and I guessed that he was contemplating what to do! Turn around and get chased by the police, drive on and hope they don’t stop him, get out of the car and run into the forest… Of course, my imagination assumed that all this was the case whereas maybe he’d just broken down (yeah, right!).

When we got to the tavern, we asked the barman if it was magic mushroom time (all sorts of other mushrooms are sprouting now, so I expected it was). He grinned and said it was and that there police stopping traffic on all roads leading out of Balingup – South West Highway heading north to Bunbury and south to Bridgetown, Balingup to Nannup road heading west, and Grimwade Rd heading east. And they would be doing so for some weeks.

Makes you wonder whether chasing hippies and other thrill seekers through a forest is the best use of police resources. Personally, I wouldn’t know one mushroom from another!

Doors close, doors open

17 05 2007

Finally, a long term 3-day-a-week technical writing contract that I’ve had for some five and a half years will be coming to an end towards the end of June. I’ve known this for ages, but it’s only recently that they found a full-time replacement for me. Since a date has been set for my replacement starting and me doing a handover week, it’s amazing how many other doors are opening without me actively looking.

I’ve had several phone calls this past week, all of which are potential contract opportunities. Of course, nothing may come of any of them, but as I haven’t had many work calls in the past few months, I’ve got to wonder if it’s the state of the economy at the moment, or … [cue “Twilight Zone” music here] … something more universal in that I’m *allowing* myself to be open to new possibilities. Oh well, whatever…

Country living

12 05 2007

… is SO much cheaper! I never thought so when we first moved out of the city as we had a lot of expenses getting the house set up (painting, plastering, electrical, plumbing etc. – nothing cosmetic like a kitchen makeover [I wish!], just making the house livable). And the price of groceries, newspapers, etc. is more.

However, after being here for nearly 3 months I can say that our daily living expenses have dropped considerably. I haven’t done an analysis using MYOB yet, but I can see it in my purse. For example, I took out $150 cash from the bank a month ago – and I still have over $50 left! That amount would last me two weeks when I lived in Perth – maybe.

We pay for lots of things on our credit card – but we always did, so that hasn’t changed. But the little things like using cash to buy lunch when you forget to make it to take to work really add up. Of course, working 3 steps from the kitchen means that ‘buying lunch’ is now a thing of the past, as are regular fuel bills. Assuming I don’t go to Perth, a tank of fuel is lasting me a month or more, instead of 2 weeks. And my husband’s gas usage is even less than that. Town is literally 2 minutes drive away – we could walk it easily, except for the enormous hills!

Some other unexpected things about country living:

  • No junk mail in the letterbox or the PO box either! Ever.
  • Wood smoke. I think EVERYBODY here has a wood-fuelled fire for heating, and they all have them going all day… So some days the smell of wood smoke is a little overpowering, and, even if the weather is fine, we have to have the doors and windows closed (not good for me as I’m a fresh air fiend who must have a window open at all times). The smell is not unpleasant (burning eucalyptus is quite nice, actually), but just not in the quantity we’re getting. Thank goodness we’re not asthmatic.
  • Fog. I didn’t realise how foggy it gets down here – even at the top of the hill where we’re living. I expected lots of fog over winter in the valley, but not up this far. Some mornings lately we’ve had some real ‘pea soupers’. Fortunately, they haven’t been days I’ve been driving to Perth.

Foggy morning