Saturday, October 25, 2008

A surprise delivery..

"Do you think the cats pregnant?"

"Either that or it's got the biggest worm in history."

"How longs a cats gestation anyway?"


However long it is it just ended. I just found the cat with attitude with four very new kittens under number four's bed. This may not be the best place to raise your babies, what with the hidden power tools and smelly socks, so I've moved her to #2's bedroom. She is lurking protective of her brood under the chest of drawers.

Number three keeps going and staring at the chest of drawers and I keep telling him to leave the cat alone. I'm worried that she will make off with the kittens and hide them some where I can't find them.

I immediately rang the vet to make an appointment to get her fixed, as I have been meaning to do for about six months. Allowing a cat to breed in oz is a hanging offence. The veterinary assistant (snotty fifteen year old on work experience) sniffed loudly and told me I had to wait at least six weeks to get her fixed.

"Do you know how irresponsible it is to allow a cat to breed?" she sniffs again.

"Yes, that's why I'm ringing to make the appointment."

"Bit late now." Louder sniff from her.

"Have you got a cold?" I ask

"No, why?"

"Never mind, I'll make the appointment elsewhere."

Growing a pomegranate

I read that pomegranates would grow in my climate. I bought a pomegranate tree. It died. I bought another one. The first one reappeared. When it said in the books "dies back" it wasn't kidding. It disappeared. For three years I watched the area where the pomegranate was supposed to grow. Each year a few feeble leaves appeared and disappeared, leaving a dead twig like object poking forlornly from the ground.

I complained to Homer that my pomegranate wasn't doing anything and realised he had pulled the second plant up. It looked like a dead twig and acted like a dead twig, he assumed it was a dead twig. I went back to watching my original dead twig.

This year the dead twig has flowered. Pomegranate flowers are supposed to be carnation-like and spectacular, well it's neither of those. It stayed in the bud stage for a long long time but finally it has opened. I won't get a pomegranate from it as I think there should be male and female flowers, and this is it in flower terms, but it has made me smile. Gardening needs patience apparently, even in the tropics.

The eggplants are also in flower, it always surprises me how attractive the flowers are on some vegetables, and this is one of my favourites. Probably because of the colour.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The price of paradise

The price of living in paradise is clearly illustrated by this photo. It may indeed be a fake, but then I have seen one of these spiders up close, and it was as big as my husbands hand, and these birds are very small. Click here for more on this story. Of course there's always this gem as shown on the right. From this story.

I challenged Homer on the likelihood of the spider eating the bird thing. He insists that it is very likely.

"Don't you remember?" he asks, "We saw a spider as big as your head at Milla Milla?'

"No," I say. " If, and it is a very big if, I saw a spider that big I would remember running screaming from the area, and I don't."

"Oh," he replies helpfully, " Maybe you have repressed the memory."

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Can't blog...

Can't blog, arms tied to sides with invisible iron bands.

I blame the personal trainer. Sorry, personal dominatrix. My last session was at 6am on Wednesday (Did you know there is a six in the morning? I'd quite forgotten about it since the children learnt to turn the cartoon network on by themselves.)

I paid, yes paid, this woman to push me just past my limits. It was a clever ploy on her part. I felt great when I left , bouncing and full of the joys of the newly energised. Of course by the time I'd worked until eight Wednesday night and then got up again this morning I couldn't move my arms from my sides. Washing my hair hurt this morning. I've heard people say that following a gym session and thought, Pshaw, or something like that. But I have sunk that low, I am so unfit that the lateral raise jobbies or whatever have left my chest muscles so sore that my arms are effectively clamped to my sides. ( I looked like some sort of muppet as I hunched about at work, typing without moving my arms.)

Homer's stomach hurts, I thank my lucky stars that she hasn't started on my abs yet. I promise faithfully to myself to do some cardio before I see her again on Monday. I hope to bargain for a less tiring session by being able to say that I have done my cardio. I'll point at Homer meaningfully and say, "But he hasn't", thereby deflecting her attention to him and allowing me to skulk about at the back of our class of two. All's fair in love and avoiding punishment in an exercise class.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Self improvement

I went and did it, I went a joined a gym. It was the assessment today which I thought was great fun. I'd made Homer join with me because he's, well , very large and we did the assessment together.

I loved it and was ready to rock after half an hour. Homer was ready for someone to come and poke his lungs back up his nose with a stick. He is slightly, no actually he is a lot, more unfit than I am.

It is now six hours later and I'm feeling, I have to admit it a little stiff. I have told Homer so he can laugh at me, as I laughed at him before.

We mulched the entire garden at the week-end so we can't be that unfit! I also planted a fig tree in my jungle area and the pomegranate is flowering. We are doing quite well from the garden at the moment, eating beans, bok choy, silver beet and spinach from it. The problem is the quantities are not up there so I need to put more work in and plant more stuff.

Number four sends his love to his fans. He is at present building a racing car in the back yard from pieces of old timber and some chain he found. He was inspired by Scrap Heap Challenge. Number three disparagingly commented that there is no motor. Number four replied that the car was for going down hills, fast, very fast. Would number three like to be test pilot? Number three walked off in a huff, but now he's back and they are both building it together in the dark in the back-yard. I'm just nipping out to check that it's not my car wheels that they're using.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

What's this?

I have no idea what this growth on my rambutan is. Those are normal leaves growing out of it. I've posted this picture here in the hope that some-one out there does! Do I need to cut it off? leave it alone?

It looks like a part of the tree but what the?

Going on my experiences so far in this part of the world it is something that can bite you, actually my theory is that it is a form of scar tissue on the trunk, but I am unable to find anything like it elsewhere on the web, so here's hoping.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Accent trouble....again

This is a long-standing Philippino customer that I have known for a while.

Me : "Here's your prescription Mrs G. Is there anything else?"

Cust: " Yes. Have you got sink?"

M; "Yes, um , why , um, do you need to wash your hands, or a drink?"

C: " I want buy sink." (She looks at me as if I've lost my marbles.)

M: "You want to buy a sink?" (Thinking to myself, oh its sad when their marbles start to go.)

C: "Yes, want buy sink. Get here before, buy more sink. You sell sink, I buy sink." (Looking at me now as if I am a bit slow.)

M: " Ah, yes. Do you usually buy the zinc tablets or the zinc powder?" (Thinking to myself that it is indeed sad that my mind has started to go.)


Friday, October 10, 2008

My first tropical fruit tree

One of the first things we planted in our back yard when we finally moved into our house was a coconut palm. Well, what actually happened was that we were visiting a friend who has a friend who is a de-nutter.

He goes around the palm trees in the tourist areas a couple of times a year and de-nuts them. This leads to a pile of coconuts outside various peoples houses. We helped ourselves to a couple, ate a few and threw one into the garden "to grow", more in hope than expectation.

After all coconuts are seeds, right? They are, this is what we have four years later. I think our own de-nutting operation is a few years off though. I hope our tree will avoid the fate of a neighbours palm tree shown in the other picture, damaged in Cyclone Larry. The stake through the heart didn't kill the palm tree, but the council coming and cutting it down to make a display with sure slowed it down.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Strange but true...

I was reading an article about the little known MI8, the signals intelligence branch of MI5 during the war. One of their luminaries, Lord Tredegar, oversaw the monitoring of carrier pigeons. Really, he monitored the flights of carrier pigeons, to prevent their illicit use by the enemy. (It was also a Lord Tredegar that led the Charge of the Light Brigade.)

In order to do this he had a squadron of Peregrine Falcons which hunted down "suspect" pigeons. (I don't know if the falcons asked for ID first.)

Lord Tredegar came up with a plan to bewilder Abwher pigeons by dropping British pigeons from aircraft over Germany. ( Yes, yes, when I read it the obvious problem sprang immediately to mind, but wait.)

The first load of pigeons were unfortunately sucked into the plane's slipstream and "defeathered". For the second attempt the pigeons were dropped inside paper bags. Really. I didn't make this up, only Terry Pratchett could come up with this as fiction.

These pigeons apparently survived their rough treatment and invaded the German pigeon lofts. Of course after a few days R&R they returned to their home lofts in the UK, being homing pigeons and all. (Personally, having been dropped from a plane in a paper bag I think I'd have set up home where-ever I landed.) My source doesn't reveal how many of the returning pigeons were taken out by the friendly fire of the falcons.

Lord Tredegar complained about the failure of his plan to Lady Baden-Powell, who promptly had MI5 lock him up in the Tower of London for revealing top secret government business.

Don't believe me? This link has more information, including the fact that two enemy pigeons were captured and interned for the duration of the war.

Monday, October 6, 2008

More gardening

All this blogging about my garden must be getting a bit boring by now, but I couldn't resist these pictures. This is a Dainty Green Tree Frog, otherwise known as a Graceful Green Tree Frog, that I found while I was weeding. It took me about seventy shots with my camera to work out how to take a clear up close piccie because the camera kept focusing on the leaves the frog was sat on.

It really was very beautiful with a creamy white underbelly. It was also a bit of a poser it must be said, maintaining this position for a very long time until I managed to get a few good shots in. I hope this means I'm building an ecosystem in my garden, it does mean I need to get the water feature sorted out pronto with some anti-cane toad devices built in.

I live on the site where the first cane toads were released in Australia, the worlds first effort at biological pest control on a big scale. They proved an unmitigated disaster and have displaced much of the indigenous wild life, including tree frogs in many places. (Rabbits are illegal here as well, for similar reasons.)

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Red flowers in the garden

I was a little down this morning. My garden is a never ending task of monumental proportions that never seems to get anywhere. Then I stopped and smelt the coffee as they say. I considered what the site of our house looked like a bare four years ago.

In addition to it appearing like a barren wasteland it actually was a barren wasteland. There was not a single earthworm on the property, and the first cucumbers I planted all flowered and I got not a single cucumber due to the amazing lack of insects. Actually there were biting insects, just not pollinating ones

The first task was to introduce organic matter, which was easy , we just kept mowing. After the great famine of 2004, I realised that I had no insects and introduced some flowers. I have no idea what the top picture shows, except that it is a bulb.

The exotic hibiscus were the next to survive. Laurence Llewlyn-Bowen (get a shorter name) maintains that if you pour champagne over hibiscus flowers the flowers open for virgins. I maintain they look pretty and grow with no need for any maintenance whatsoever of any kind, except the occasional bout of homicidal pruning. Water poured over the fresh flowers make a sweet hibiscus tea that is very refreshing, hot or cold and apparently reduces blood pressure and cholesterol levels. You can make the tea from fresh or dried flowers, and I am lucky enough to have a totally organic fresh source in my back garden.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

The mojo returns....embarrassing moments...

I reboiled my jam and it set. The relief.

I had made six jars of jam, that ended up as syrup. By the time I went to reboil the jam there were four and a half jars left, so the syrup was all right then? I could have just left it alone, but I had something to prove, to myself at least.

Self worth as measured in ability to set jam? I am getting sad in my old age.

On a lighter note, I was showing the girls at work the picture of Dave Thomas on the previous post this morning when a very attractive lady came in. I served her, and it was obvious she had some sort of North American accent. She saw my computer screen and made some passing comment about the picture. " Oh, that's Dave Thomas ," I said, " We were discussing how hot he is."

The consult continued and then I needed to label something. "Your surname please?"


Yup that's right.

Friday, October 3, 2008


Tonight saw the Taipans (my team) soundly beaten by the Tigers. (Actually I don't think the score line reflected just how hard the Tigers had to work for the win.) The night brought a couple of good one liners from the commentary team as always, including, "The ref is checking to see if his balls are soft." And I thought I had some unpleasant tasks in my job!

We also got to see the Chris Anstey death stare. His is a face that can only be described as , well, rugged. He is 213cm tall (7 feet). He got called for his fourth foul in the first half and gave the referee what can only be called a laser death stare. I, a ninja master of the laser death stare, (also known as the Paddington hard stare after Paddington Bear) was impressed. This was a laser death stare with knobs on.

The referee, of course, has special anti-death-stare armour. The crowd behind the referee were not so fortunate and great swathes of them fell back in horror as Anstey glared at the ref. Frail old ladies had to be removed and smelling salts administered .

Of course one of the joys of watching the Tapians this year is Dave Thomas, who proves that good looking men do come from Canada. (I, of course, go for the sport.)

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Cardiac consultant day

Today was the day of the cardiac consultant appointment, so predictably I was tense and irritable all day. Homer said he'd pick me up from work at 12:30 to take me to the appointment, because I don't drive anywhere I haven't been before, and I hadn't been there before. Plus I would have panicked I was going to be late, and panicked that I wouldn't find a parking place, and panicked that I couldn't find the place, all in all probably inducing another heart attack.

He didn't pick me up until 12:45 and then went for petrol, by which time I was screaming at him, OK so I was reacting badly to the whole stress thing.

We did get there, only slightly late, and the doctor of course was running even later, so all in all I wasn't late, and it gave me time to calm down to a background level of hysteria rather than outright homicidal rage.

I get into the doctor and he looks at me, sprightly young thing that I am and asks why I am there. Uh? because I was sent, because apparently I had a heart attack, and my blood pressure is really high. He looks at my ECG and says , ooh yes, lets do another one, to compare.

"Are you active?"
"Do you smoke?"
"No, not for three weeks, one day and two hours, not that I'm counting."

He got me to lie on the bed, "Strip off to the waist, everything including the bra." Off everything comes, and I'm a little uncomfortable lying half naked on a bed without so much as a sheet to cover my modesty whilst he attaches electrodes here, there and everywhere. " MM MM , uh uh ..ooh, "

"What, what, is it beating ? what?"

"Oh sorry, yes oh, um yes, oh see, yes you did have small heart attack. Only a small one though."
I'm thinking, " What? before or just now whilst you were putting the fear of god into me tutting over my ECG?"
" I'll just check your BP." He does this as I'm lying on the bed, still naked. "OOH, that's high." No s**t Sherlock a complete stranger has me lying semi naked on a bed.

"When was the last time you had a mammogram?"
"I haven't, I am too young for the regular program."
"Oh. I'll just do an exam then."
??? " Go for it, knock yourself out." He missed my sarcasm and copped a feel. "Very good." I have got a good rack on me but puleese you're a cardiologist. That was just a free grope because I'm twenty-five years younger than your normal patients. (Homer says actually I'm only fifteen years younger than his normal patients and therefore I qualify as old, and the doctor is a different sort of pervert, so that's OK then!)

He rechecked my blood pressure, which surprisingly enough was still high. "Would you like to put some clothes on?"
"Well actually, if you let me put some clothes on and give me a minute my BP may come down." It didn't though.

"Do you snore?"
"I don't know, I'm asleep."
"I think you have sleep apnoea, maybe you should have a test for that."
"Actually in the last two weeks I have found out that I have had a heart attack, have very high blood pressure and may be a diabetic. I am also becoming psychotic, if you don't believe me ask my family. Do you think we could hold off on yet another diagnosis?"

So upshot of the day,
Yes I had a heart attack, but it was only a small one.
Yes my blood pressure is very high, here are some tablets.
My cholesterol is fine, but that doesn't mean I can start eating lard butties again.
My breast exam was good. (who for?)
I have to have the diabetes test as that is the only reason someone as young as me has a heart attack.
No, I can't start smoking again, and yes I did ask him, you never know, he might have said yes!!!!

I went to a friends gym and enquired about personal training on the basis that losing weight and getting fit will lower my blood pressure, relieve my stress, remove my borderline diabetes and probably cure any sleep apnoea that I have.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Three weeks

So its officially three weeks that I've stopped smoking, actually its two weeks, six days, twenty-two hours and forty minutes, not that I'm counting or anything. At the moment the picture to left is my porn and fantasy still.

On the plus side my health is better. Actually it isn't in any visible way. I wasn't coughing before so I haven't stopped coughing. My blood pressure was too high before and still is, although I am willing to believe the suggestion that it still too high due to the temporary stress of quitting smoking.

I probably smell better, but then I couldn't smell me before.

I have saved a lot of money, which I have spent mainly on chips and chocolate, thus removing the money, and adding to my weight problem.

The garden is looking better as I have been attacking the weeds each time I felt like attacking a family member. After some consideration I have decided that I should have started digging a hole and continued each time I felt like attacking a family member. Now I'd have a swimming pool, or at least a hole big enough for whichever family member had annoyed me the most. (That's probably why the shovel was hidden along with the knives and spoons.)

It would appear that my sense of humour is returning, although at the moment it is a distant speck on the horizon, laughing at me , not with me.

I did however have a breakthrough this morning. I was at the checkout behind someone who smelt of stale cigarettes. It smelt horrible. I tapped them on the shoulder and said, " You stink, thank-you." Well, no I didn't. I have always hated the smell of stale cigarettes, except for the past three weeks, for which time they have smelt like some strange exotic food dish enticing me onwards. Now I just have to conquer the smell of fresh smoke.