Lucky 13th Etsy Treasury

24 01 2010

A fellow West Australian Etsy crafter just featured one of my red watermelon luggage tags in her Australian Red Treasury (, just in time for Australia Day (which is tomorrow, January 26). Update: Then I was featured in another one a few hours later (

Because Treasuries disappear after only a few days, here are the pictures:

New quilt shop in Midland

13 01 2010

My friend Michelle, officially opened her new quilt store in Midland, Western Australia yesterday! The store is called ‘Handcrafters House’ and it’s just down from the Centrepoint Shopping Centre and the railway station, almost opposite the Junction Ice Creamery (everyone knows where that is!!).

She had the store in another part of Midland, but it was not easy to find and was pretty cramped inside. Her new store is about three times bigger, and has two workshop spaces for classes.

I was lucky enough to visit the day before she officially opened, and the store is amazing. Everything is so well laid out, and there’s no more bumping past people as you negotiate the aisles.

Congratulations Michelle. You and your team have done a magnificent job. May every success come your way!

Part of Handcrafter's House -- Michelle's new shop

Grinding of teeth

12 01 2010

… with a diamond drill bit.

Yesterday I drove up to the city to go through stage 3 of the 4-stage process in getting my tooth replaced. This time it was for the preparation work for the bridge — and payment of the bill.

The preparation involved taking multiple impressions, removing the old crown on the adjacent tooth, and removing the enamel and some of the dentine from the tooth on the other side of the gap where the old tooth used to be.

I usually have dental work without any anaesthetic — that worked well for the removal of the old crown and removal of about 60% of the good tooth material on the other tooth, but then I jumped! My dentist gave me a jab and I felt nothing more while she continued to grind down that tooth.

More impressions, then she made some temporary teeth out of an acrylic that she glued on over the stumps and I was done, some 90 minutes or so after I lay down in the chair.

I get the proper bridge when I return in about 3 weeks time.

Oh, and I got the bill for these two stages too — some $4400, which, coupled with the around $1500 already spent, means that that damned ‘pitted’ date will have cost me about $6000. Arrggghhh!

See also:

I’m a granny! Sort of…

4 01 2010

I just got the news that the most recent healthy female cockroach I sent to Martyn at the Australian Museum in Sydney has laid at least one egg case! Here’s an excerpt from his email:

Good news – she WAS being sneaky. I noticed she had been getting surprisingly shy and was scurrying away and hiding whenever I went to check on her, while she had formerly been quite unconcerned. The local related species (Polyzosteria limbata – broad margined form) she is currently sharing a cage with is as docile as ever, so it was unlikely to be some recent disturbance.

On the weekend just past, she was a little slower off the mark than usual and I could see she was carrying an ootheca (egg case).

[The egg case was] smaller than I would have expected and of a relatively shiny hazelnut colour. I would think this is not her first so I will have to watch to try to see where she is hiding them but she is very alert to being watched – more so than I would have thought. The P. limbata simply dig a shallow hole and bury theirs and don’t seem to care if [they’re] being watched or not.

I don’t know if this makes you a granny for 2010? Just thought you’d like an update of good news!

I was surprised it took so long — I always thought cockroaches were prolific breeders and as she hadn’t laid an egg case some weeks ago, I suspected that she wasn’t pregnant when I sent her across in November. Looks like I was wrong!

Update later the same day: After asking Martyn about the gestation period and commenting that I thought it was a long time and maybe she’d been impregnated by her ‘roomie’, he wrote this:

She is in with about 20 of the P. limbata but most are still too young to breed and all have their own species present anyway – it’s usually only unmatched males that try to impregnate females of a different species and in invertebrates cross-breeding is either very rare or physically impossible due to the ‘key and lock’ systems of most invertebrate reproductive structures.

I’m pretty sure she was impregnated before she was caught but as to ‘gestation’ I suspect these are a bit of an unknown quantity as to both how long the eggs take to hatch (maybe not until next spring) or how long they take to develop within the female. The life histories of most of our native animals are poorly understood and even more so with insects and other invertebrates – we know far more about the pest species than any of the natives.

As mentioned though, she may have been hiding her earlier egg cases as the cage is about 50 cm square and has a number of pots filled with different soil types, a leaf-litter floor and some dead wood – all provided as potential egg laying sites. In most species kept you can see where activity has taken place but this one is certainly behaving in a different manner and so may be camouflaging either the site or (as occurs in some other species) ‘hiding’ the ootheca in plain view by glueing bits of detritus all over it. Unfortunately with their need for sunlight she is currently at [my] home on a deck until we are better set up here [museum] – so I only get to observe activity on the weekends and in the mornings and evenings. Mind you the others normally carry the ootheca for several days before stowing it away somewhere and are therefore easier to keep tabs on – this one doesn’t seem to do this – mind you it MAY just be this individual too!

I’ll keep you informed if I find any hatchlings. From the size of what I saw I’d guess about 10 hatchlings per ootheca.

Update October 2010: In late October, I got this email from Martin:

Just thought you’d like to know I saw your cockroach again yesterday and she was carrying yet another ootheca. I have now caught her out of the main cage and put her in a smaller one where I can better track the progress of the eggs. Anyway clearly P. cuprea is a very hardy long-lived species! They are also very good at escaping detection – I still haven’t noticed any babies but can’t discount them as the original female was so good at hiding that several times I assumed she was dead and started looking for her body, only to find her hale and hearty.

So I asked him what male she mated with, as he doesn’t have any other live specimens of this species. His reply:

Well that’s where it gets tricky. Most insects mate only once and store the sperm for the reproductive life of the female (this can be years). Some long-lived species mate several times over a long lifetime, and some, like certain beetles and certain cockroaches can mate with multiple partners and the eggs are either fertilised with a mix of sperm OR the next eggs laid get fertilised by the last male to mate with her – in the latter case, the earlier sperm are still viable but must now ‘wait their turn’. Needless to say this is what I am hoping is the case here as the other species in there with her – altho’ of the same genus – is of a different sub-set of that genus without the speckled legs. It is unlikely to be viable as a cross as a result OR maybe she’s laying blanks like a chicken does. The purpose of this segregation now is to see if the eggs hatch and what they look like.

Update November 2010: The babies from January have arrived! Here’s the latest update from Martyn:

Just thought you’d like to know that last year’s babies are starting to appear now in the cage. All look like perfectly normal P. cuprea, but all I have seen so far (about three, ranging from half grown to adult) seem to be females so it might be option 3 and the result of parthenogenesis, or it might be that this species throws more female offspring than males. Either way it is good news and the result is a success so far. If the colony can continue from here, that will be the next milestone.

Needless to say, I’m pleased. An unexpectedly overjoyed that she’s had healthy babies in the confines of an Australian Museum scientist who has a passion for these beasties!


For other related articles on this cockroach saga, see these articles (in the order listed):

More items added to Etsy store

2 01 2010

I had another creative spurt over the Christmas/New Year public holidays, and made some journal covers out of a landscape quilt I decided I’d never complete, as well as some other bits and pieces. Here are my latest Etsy store offerings: