Packing in the heat

29 02 2008

It’s been bloody hot here the past couple of days—and I’m packing. Yuck. It’s not difficult and I use a great packing list that ensures I don’t miss anything, but ironing clothes is hot work. Actually, I don’t know why I bother. By the time I’ve packed, driven to Perth, put the bags on to a flight to the other side of Australia, dragged them into a taxi and then into the accommodation, they’ll all be creased again anyway! Futile. OK, that takes care of the ironing 😉

Of course, I have to pack for at least two seasons and at least two ‘occasions’. It’s hot and dry here in Western Australia, it’s hot and humid (likely) in Brisbane where I’ll be working for most of next week, then there’s southern California where it could be anything, then there’s San Francisco/Bay Area where it may be cool and wet. After that is Portland, Seattle and Vancouver Island, where it’s likely to be cold and wet. I haven’t even thought what the weather might be like in Hong Kong at the end of March when I’m on my way home.

Oh well, one polar fleece jacket, jeans, and a couple of T-shirts should cover most of the traveling time, but then there’s clothes and shoes suitable for work… Decisions, decisions.

The worst thing is that MOST of my suitcase space is already taken up with electronic stuff (power board, power adaptors, chargers for this and that—if someone made a universal charger that worked with EVERYTHING, I’d buy it like a shot!) and with a couple of bottles of wine in a solid hard foam pack. Somewhere in there I have to fit shoes, toiletries and clothes… No, the wine does NOT get taken out! It’s a gift for some wine industry friends in California.

The laptop and many of the papers (maps, copies of passport, insurance policies, hard copy of my presentation, Sudokus etc.) all go in the carry on laptop bag.

Already I feel like a pack rat and I won’t even be loading it into the car until early Sunday morning. Then there’s the stuff I’ll be buying in the US… So I’ve packed another bag that I can flatten until I need to use it.

Painted bathroom floor

26 02 2008

Forwarded by another friend.

Imagine you’re at a party on the tenth floor. You’ve been drinking… (not that you would) and then you have to visit the bathroom. You open the door….

 Painted bathroom floor

Now, remember, the floor is just a painted floor!

Kinda takes your breath away, doesn’t it?

For all the women…

26 02 2008

Sent to me by a friend—thanks Whitney!

This is an actual letter from an Austin woman sent to American company Proctor and Gamble regarding their feminine products. She really gets rolling after the first paragraph. It’s PC Magazine’s 2007 editors’ choice for best webmail-award-winning letter.

Dear Mr. Thatcher,

I have been a loyal user of your ‘Always’ maxi pads for over 20 years and I appreciate many of their features. Why, without the LeakGuard Core or Dri-Weave absorbency, I’d probably never go horseback riding or salsa dancing, and I’d certainly steer clear of running up and down the beach in tight, white shorts. But my favorite feature has to be your revolutionary Flexi-Wings. Kudos on being the only company smart enough to realize how crucial it is that maxi pads be aerodynamic. I can’t tell you how safe and secure I feel each month knowing there’s a little F-16 in my pants.

Have you ever had a menstrual period, Mr. Thatcher? Ever suffered from the curse’? I’m guessing you haven’t. Well, my time of the month is starting right now. As I type, I can already feel hormonal forces violently surging through my body. Just a few minutes from now, my body will adjust and I’ll be transformed into what my husband likes to call ‘an inbred hillbilly with knife skills.’ Isn’t the human body amazing?

As Brand Manager in the Feminine-Hygiene Division, you’ve no doubt seen quite a bit of research on what exactly happens during your customers monthly visits from ‘Aunt Flo’. Therefore, you must know about the bloating, puffiness, and cramping we endure, and about our intense mood swings, crying jags, and out-of-control behavior. You surely realize it’s a tough time for most women. In fact, only last week, my friend Jennifer fought the violent urge to shove her boyfriend’s testicles into a George Foreman Grill just because he told her he thought Grey’s Anatomy was written by a bunch of drunken chimps, Crazy!

The point is, sir, you of all people must realize that America is just crawling with homicidal maniacs in Capri pants… Which brings me to the reason for my letter. Last month, while in the throes of cramping so painful I wanted to reach inside my body and yank out my uterus, I opened an Always maxi-pad, and there, printed on the adhesive backing, were these words: ‘Have a Happy Period.’

Are you f**king kidding me? What I mean is, does any part of your tiny middle-manager brain really think happiness – actual smiling, laughing happiness is possible during a menstrual period? Did anything mentioned above sound the least bit pleasurable? Well, did it, James? FYI, unless you’re some kind of sick S&M freak girl, there will never be anything ‘happy’ about a day in which you have to jack yourself up on Motrin and Kahlua and lock yourself in your house just so you don’t march down to the local Walgreen’s armed with a hunting rifle and a sketchy plan to end your life in a blaze of glory.

For the love of God, pull your head out, man! If you just have to slap a moronic message on a maxi pad, wouldn’t it make more sense to say something that’s actually pertinent, like ‘Put down the Hammer’ or ‘Vehicular Manslaughter is Wrong’, or are you just picking on us?

Sir, please inform your Accounting Department that, effective immediately, there will be an $8 drop in monthly profits, for I have chosen to take my maxi-pad business elsewhere. And though I will certainly miss your Flex-Wings, I will not for one minute miss your brand of condescending bullsh*t. And that’s a promise I will keep. Always.


Wendi Aarons
Austin , TX

Mmmm… new fabric!

21 02 2008

Like I need more fabric! NOT. We have two fabric stores in our small town of less than 5000 people, but still I had to go online and look… I bought a whole heap of fabric for my stash from Busy Thimbles a week ago, and it arrived safe and sound early this week.

I lasted about a half day before succumbing to the lure of it, and washing and ironing it ready for whenever I need it.

Memo to self: DO NOT buy fabric unless you are ready to use it! ‘Topping up the stash’ is not a valid excuse.

Fabric flapping in the breeze

More fabric

I just counted them—35 fat quarters and 4 metre lengths (two are Aboriginal prints—one in blues and black, the other in ochres and purples). The browns and greens were in 10-fat quarter packs, but I chose the rest myself.


Blue and gold stars

20 02 2008

Back in 2001 I met this lovely technical writer—Gretchen—at a conference in Chicago, and we got reacquainted at some later conferences. We keep in occasional contact and we read each other’s blogs to see what’s going on in our respective lives—hers in upstate New York, mine in Western Australia. Gretchen is a wonderful and eloquent writer, and her blog posts often make me smile. Many make me cry too—tears of joy and of sadness.

Well, she’s done herself proud! Gretchen is also the mother of a Marine serving in Iraq and recently she volunteered to speak at a very special and heartbreaking ceremony…

My words cannot adequately describe this event and its significance, so I’ll introduce Gretchen to you and ask you to read her own words:

And after you’ve read that, read about her random acts of kindness:

I feel privileged to know such a kind and compassionate person. Thank you, Gretchen!

Weekend in Perth

18 02 2008

We travelled back to Perth last Thursday (Valentine’s Day) for a few days of work (for me) and a bit of time catching up with friends.

Thursday was travelling day, checking in to the accommodation, and getting my hair cut. We went to the Viet Royal in East Perth for dinner, which was just around the corner from where we were staying. The food was good but nothing startling. They were pretty full, and we were lucky to get a table seeing as though it was Valentine’s Day.

Friday I spent at my main client’s Perth office catching up with people and learning new stuff about one of the software products I write the user documentation for. Sad news—one of the main movers in the old company has been ‘relieved of his duties’. Such a shame. Brilliant brain, terrific worker, good guy. They’ll miss his talents for a while as he was the main driver for one of their new products.

My husband spent Friday with friends cruising the Swan Valley tasting wine, beer, chocolate and other goodies, eating at restaurants, and generally have a very relaxing day! Well, someone has to earn the money to pay for these pleasures…
Friday night we went with some friends to the Ten Ten Kitchen in East Victoria Park for one of their great meals. Usual fare: Satay Chicken, Beef Rendang, Salted Chilli Squid, Beef and Black Bean Sauce, Mongolian Lamb and Nasi Goreng. Yum. Yum. We really miss our friends—and the great Asian food we can’t get in Bridgetown. I can cook Asian, but it’s just not the same.

Saturday was spent at a Defensive Driver training course out in Wangara, paid for by my main client (they try to ‘keep’ their staff—and this is one way to do it!). We learnt a bit, but it was mostly reinforcement of driving practises we already did. The last part of the course was an on-road assessment with one of their trainers. My only fault was not looking over my shoulder to check the blind spot. otherwise, my husband and I both got a very good ‘grade’ on the assessment.

The course finished an hour or two earlier than we’d expected, so we headed over to Cannington to get some stuff from Dick Smith’s and to see if there were any decent movies on at Hoyts (we had two free vouchers that expired at the end of February). Nothing on. So we went to The Foundry pub and had a drink and a DELICIOUS gourmet pizza (roast chicken, pumpkin, pesto, chilli, ricotta cheese, capsicum) that was a wonderful combination of sweet, sour, hot and spicy. We gave the movie vouchers away to our waitress as she was very good and anticipated our needs as well as being just the right amount of friendly for a customer service person. After that we met my husband’s brother at his local pub, spent some time with him, then headed back to our accommodation from his place.

Sunday we headed home. There was LOTS of traffic on the Mandurah-Bunbury road heading back to Perth—and an exceptional number of expensive 4WDs (BMW, Volvo, Porsche, Lexus, Mercedes, etc.). I found out today that the Leeuwin Estate concert was on over the weekend, so that would account for them. And the country music festival was on at Boyup Brook too, so that accounts for the more scraggly and rural 4WDs with caravans, tents, and swags!

It was good to get home.

It’s a very small world

12 02 2008

A few weeks ago I wrote about degrees of separation. This next tale is not only about degrees of separation but also coincidences and timing, and how small the world really is.

Let’s step back a few years… Some 30-something years ago I lived downstairs from a guy called A1. Some 20 years ago I shared a house in Perth with an American girl from Minnesota called K. K married A1, though I wasn’t responsible for introducing them to each other. In fact, A1 introduced me to K when she needed somewhere to live and I needed help with the mortgage repayments (back in the heady days of 17% interest rates!). K and A1 have had a couple of kids, still live in Perth, and K and I still get together on occasion for celebrating birthdays etc. though we see each other much less often now that I don’t live in Perth.

So, that sets the scene… Moving on… I have an uncle in the US who lives very close to Newport Beach. I usually spend a few days with him when I go to the US before moving on to wherever I need to be. In fact, I’ll be landing at his place early next month.

Yesterday, K calls me to say “Hi”. In the course of that conversation I find out that K is on her way to the US in March too… and that she’s going to spend time with her work colleague A2 (also from Australia [Tasmania?]) and his family—who live in Newport Beach! Then she tells me that she thinks her step-Mom lives close to there too, which she does.

So, what are the chances? K, A2, and I will all be travelling independently to the US in early March 2008, and all staying with our respective relatives who live within 2 miles of each other! There are some 300 million people in the US, and 30m just in California, plus some 21 million in Australia. But three of us from Australia (Perth, southwest WA, and Tasmania) have connections with three in the US who all live in the same place! How freaky is that?

As it happens, K is arriving 4 days after me and I’ll be almost in San Francisco by then, but it’s pretty freaky nonetheless.

Oh, and as an aside, K has a family vacation house on Lake Champlain in Vermont, where she lives some 6 miles from the only other person I know in Vermont (R)!  The only thing R and K have in common is me. I’m seeing R at the conference I’m attending in Portland, OR…

More Twilight Zone music…

A day by the lake

12 02 2008

On Sunday we drove over to Lake Towerinning to see our friends race their very fast speed boat. Normally, they’d race at Burswood in Perth, but each year the Speed Boat Association comes to Lake Towerinning (about an hour’s drive from us) and races on this big inland lake in the middle of the wheatbelt. We hadn’t seen our friends for a couple of months, so it was an opportunity to have a day out and say hello. Other than getting sunburnt (I was in the shade ALL day!) it was a pleasant—though hot—day.

One of the neat things that happens on the day is the use of these BIG farm tractors to put the boats into the water and pull them out again. The lake’s banks are very muddy and the lake’s quite shallow, so using a standard 4WD vehicle is a problem. And this year a plane turned up to join the action!

Here are some photos:

Tractors and boats

Plane in wheat field

More photos… 

Community craft day

9 02 2008

So far there aren’t a lot of houses built on the estate where we have our land. As a result, the function centre sits unused for a lot of the time.

One of the ladies—who’s in the process of building with her husband—has kicked off what we hope will become a regular gathering at the function centre. She realised that a lot of the women residents and landowners do some form of craft, so she’s scheduled three Saturday afternoons over the next three months for the ladies to get together and do their craft. The aim is to start forming a community. I think it’s just an excuse to meet each other and have a natter!

The men and children are invited to join us later in the day for a BBQ, tennis, billiards, cards, or whatever, but the afternoon belongs to the women.

The first craft afternoon starts today—in about 20 minutes in fact! My car is loaded with my sewing machine, some of my fabric stash, cutting board and tools, etc. I hope to make some more progress on the dragonfly quilt (more leaves, possibly tendrils), and if I get that done, then I’ve got fabric to cut for the next project whirling away in my head!

Here’s hoping the afternoon is a success. Those of us who do turn up will have a great time anyway!

Update: Three turned up… a spinner and two quilters. When husbands joined us for the BBQ, there were five. Still, it’s a start. It did clash with the date of the monthly garden group gathering, which meant that some who may have attended didn’t because they were off with the garden group, so our organiser may change the date. I can’t make the next one anyway as I’ll be away.

Thelma and Louise

8 02 2008

I’m in the last stages of organising my trip to the US, and had firmed up some dates when I’d be driving from LA to Portland. Anyhow, I’d only JUST sent out a couple of emails to friends/family along the way when my good friend in Boston IMs me and asks when I’ll be in/near San Francisco.

Reason: She’s running a training course there from 10-13 March, and wondered if I wanted some driving company from SF to Portland! How cool is that!

As it happens I intended lobbing into SF on or around the 11th or 12th and leaving on the 13th. So we’ve got it all sorted—I’ll share her room in SF for one, maybe two, nights, we’ll go to the Berkeley STC Chapter meeting on the evening of the 12th, then hit the road after she finishes training on the 13th. We should have enough time to drive up the coast (and avoid I-5), arriving in Portland on the 15th.

How good a fit is that? Thelma and Louise—watch out!