Sunday, March 23, 2014

No bakelite on the Block....

Summer's grinding to an end, the evenings are closing in, I'm considering wearing warmer clothes and eyeing off boots and jackets in the wardrobe. It's rained a couple of times, and that-which-used-to-be-lawn is slowly greening.

I want to move house in 5 months, and as I'm slowly
sorting and 
packing up I'm uncovering things I've put aside for a purpose. I decided to go ahead and finish them, rather than just sell them or give them away - or take them with me. I've planted the terrarium, and old canisters with no lids which have been kicking around in the bottom of various boxes for years. I like the cream of the bakelite, ideally they would probably be on a sunny window ledge. 
The afternoon sun is still a bit vicious at the moment for that.

We started garage saling again last weekend, more for a bit of a poke about than an acquisitional outing. The standard seems to have dropped, and the prices increased since last we ventured out.  Perhaps it's just that I'm in a downsizing sort of mood. There were a few tiny treasures and odds and sods to bring home. Next week, we're clearing the back veranda...that should be big.

Taking things to the local tip shop isn't really an option here - are we really the only municipality in Australia which hasn't grasped recycling?

The local council has contracted the collection of refuse to a multinational company.  As part of their contract they are obligated to operate a tip shop, but they don't appear happy about that.  We have an adequate building, although it's a great deal smaller than most others I've visited, all around Australia. It's spacious though - because it's generally pretty empty.

The staff do their best, but management insist on pristine - um...surfaces. It's a tip shop, not the Block, people. Meanwhile, because the 'responsibility' for recycling is delegated,landfill, and the scrap metal pile at the tip are full of re-usable items. Beds, chairs, tools, name it, all wasted. Some things are sifted out, and some people quite rightly choose to put usable items to the side in the hope that someone will find them. 

Everyone cares, but no-one wants to take responsibility.

There's still no serious commitment by the council to recycle and reuse, despite lip service to waste reduction, and supportive staff. More resourcing for the tip would provide enough people to separate and sort the stuff that comes in. Simple concrete bins, similar to those at landscape suppliers, would enable people to separate their waste, rather than using a massive loader to dump it all into a dump truck. Supervision and assistance for people using the facility would ensure that sensitive electronics are actually not just dumped on the metal pile. Usable building materials, such a sheets of metal, guttering, and so on could be recycled.

In the meantime, I made this...

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Artist Purgatory

Another month's slipped by.  I've been busy, no time to go to work, don't know how I ever fitted it in.  The weather has been perfect for reading on the veranda. I'm going to need more books.

If you ever wondered about the composition and techniques of a painting, I can recommend reconstructing it from 1000 pieces. Some call it a jigsaw, I tell myself it's study.

I've got some drawing and mixed media work done, and framed.  I also finally got around to framing some things I brought back from Paris last year. A French map of Scotland?  I think so.

I live in a sort of artist purgatory: I was married to a man who wouldn't hang things on the walls, and now I'm not supposed to hang things on the walls in this house. 

I've also had time to play with some of the photos I took on that trip. I'd frame them too, but...
(Not Disneyland - Tower Bridge)

Despite planning an interstate move later this year, there are just some things you can't leave behind when you see them laying about. And my lovely neighbour brought me a care parcel of bits left over from her house renovation.

I'll be flogging the Tupperware from the kitchen cupboards at a garage sale, but packing the jars of sunbleached bones. And my skull collection. Some things a girl just can't leave behind.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Real Estate, sales optional

It's been a while, I've been off wandering and it's far too hard to type on my tiny travel tablet.

I got home this week. The catches I'd installed on the cupboard doors had forestalled the invasion of mouse which greeted me last time I got home from a wander. The gas had been cut off in my absence, and because the real estate property person had also been off wandering, it was two days without hot water. Apparently some sort of gas leak had caused sudden interest from the gas company.  Luckily, it was in the high 30's and had been for some time, so a hot shower wasn't high on the list. This house has a fantastic outlook over the harbour, but lots and lots of quirks and foibles. In this case it was a gas bayonet, never used. The gas company was happy to identify that there was a leak, but offered no clues to the plumbers, it must be good for developing their investigative skills.

On part of my wanderings, I did come into contact with real estate agents in another state. The quirks and foibles of this house have led me to crave the relative serenity of home ownership again. I spotted something which fit the bill on the internet, and being in the vicinity, I contacted someone to have a look at the house.

I knew I'd reached a parallel universe when the conversation started with the alleged saleswoman (for she was a woman) sighing heavily and saying that she was awfully busy.  And she didn't work on Wednesdays. And Thursday wasn't really convenient.  I suggested Friday, perhaps first thing.  "What do you mean by 'first thing'?" she responded, somewhat warily. I was on the phone, but I could feel her eyes narrowing. After some negotiation, we settled on crack of dawn: 10-ish. 

Those of you on the big island with me may be surprised by this reticence. Usually, the scream of the german-engineered brakes roughly corresponds with the click signifying the end of the phone call, so eager are operatives to earn their commission. 

At the appointed time, we turned up, eager to view the property. We asked questions, admittedly difficult, such as 'Where is the boundary?' We established that she didn't know that, nor what the applicable planning scheme contained, whether there were any easements (turned out there were) - actually, she knew nothing about the place. She seemed to have found the kitchen by accident. The house generally fit the bill, the price was within the realms of reality, so I suggested that yes, I wanted to make an offer.  You know, to buy the house.

This was greeted with a barely suppressed moan, not, as one would expect, of happiness. Actually, it was more of a groan.  Well. If I could text her sometime next week perhaps she could get someone to type something up and maybe we could do something then.  My sister, always a believer in the work ethic, free enterprise, that sort of thing, suggested that if not later today, perhaps tomorrow, Saturday, we could do something.  The withering response, roughly paraphrased, indicated that work was not her whole life and she had to have some time at home.  And before we even asked, she had ironing to do on Sunday. (What does she do Wednesdays, we asked each other? Apparently not the ironing.)

This was just the start of 4 weeks of my life trying to buy a house in a place where only the owners apparently want to sell. I may have worked out why sales aren't high.

Because no-one there is prepared to share their commission, I had to ask different agents about each different property. One didn't want to show me a particular house because "someone might buy it". Riiiight. If they actually got to look at it. Because there seems to be a surreal, one at a time process in place which no-one explains to the buyers.  Or possibly the vendors.

Only one agent appeared to be operating in the real world.  She was the only one who actually suggested that she might have other houses listed which I might like to look at. This was a concept apparently not embraced by the others, she must not have let them in on the secret to her sales success. 

I still want to own a house there.  I may have to wait till it's my turn to look at something, or put an ad in the 'wanted to buy' column of the local paper, no agent need apply. 

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Ten, in the overcoat and the sandshoes.

Today is my sister's birthday. I made sure that I rang her in enough time that I could sit down to watch Dr Who.  She's my sister, she understands. My verdict was Ten, in the overcoat and the sandshoes, although Eleven's superb glasses do get an honorable mention.  

It's an indicator of my great age that I remember William Hartnell, back in the day, but  Patrick Troughton was really the Doctor I grew up with.  He was the one with the dark Beatles 'do and the baggie suit.  In those days, families were lucky to have one TV set, and the thought of children having their own set would have caused a parliamentary enquiry. Somehow, I was allowed to scare myself silly for 25 minutes a week, with cybermen and daleks, while my parents rolled their eyes.  I never did grow out of it, although even I was sorely tested by the McCoy regeneration. Dark days indeed. Thank you, Mr Eccleston.

I'm still a Who tragic, and even at this late stage Two and Ten remain fixed in my affections. Tonight, however, has raised most vexing questions - is Ten Ten, or Eleven? Does that make Eleven Twelve? The Twitterverse will be alive tonight.

While we ponder that, those who aren't keen on Doctors can chat amongst
themselves and have a look at some things I did this week, to do with cyber-dragonflies and an occasional fish.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

"Little pots of toasted death..."

On Saturday night, I stumbled across Dylan Moran on the television, recorded live in London.  I love his work, his humour, and his use of the language.  I particularly loved "Anyone who's given up on God or the devil has never been properly kissed, or travelled on RyanAir with a hangover." 

These days I guess you could substitute any Australian domestic carrier for 'RyanAir', since any of the possible fun which used to occur in flying has been sucked out by security checks, squishy small seats in cattle class, and restrictions on everything. I haven't flown with a hangover for eons, decades - last century.  I have been properly kissed: it didn't necessarily change my views on God or the devil, but I understand what he meant.

Sometimes the simplest things are the purest definitions of heaven or hell, perfection or putrefaction. Little things, going out to the garden and digging up some potatoes and picking some fresh beans.  Re-reading a favorite book, or finding a new favorite book. (No-one says you should only have one favorite book.) A big hug from a dear friend you haven't seen for a long time. Someone who makes you smile. A sunny morning after some rain. These would fall on the heaven equivalent side.

Maybe we should spend more time noticing those things, and less time wanting bigger, newer, better, more expensive. Coco Chanel said that the best things in life are free, it's the second best things which are really expensive.

Nice Mr Moran went on to do a very clever impression of a man in the morning: eyes closed, inequitable blood distribution, needing a pee. There was a Frankenstein's monster likeness, not sure which side that falls on. He made me laugh, though. 

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Bitchin' and whinin' about bangs

You may have read here that I have been known to spend an idle hour browsing Pinterest, one of the most wonderful timewasters known to woman.  I was idly scrolling through the 'history' section, when I noticed a picture of Maggie Thatcher. Apart from her usual cat's bum look, bad hair and frightening fashion sense, it was uninspiringly dull. I was set to scroll on, when I noticed the caption - which said 'Maggie Thatcher - controversial policies but her background and the fact that she still remains the only female Prime Minister makes her inspirational to all women, regardless of political opinion.'

Now those of you who know me would be aware that I am not a big fan of the lately departed Maggie. I remember her in power, and the harm she caused to so many, including close friends and their families. When I read that caption, the bit that stuck in my mind was 'inspirational to all women'. I don't know any women who are inspired by that wicked old woman. I know there must be some. Somewhere.

In the spirit of sisterly education, I thought that I'd share a brief note with the pinner, since she had obviously made a huge error of judgement. The exchange went like this.  (The name has been changed for reasons which will become blindingly obvious.)

Me: Not ALL women, there are a huge number of women who deplore her policies, her actions, and the economic disaster which she brought down on a large number of people in the United Kingdom, not to mention the deaths she caused in an avoidable war. She is by no means an inspiration to those who lived through her era. 

Her: You can't find one thing to learn from her? Lol, you must be a liberal.

Me:  You must not know much about English politics, economics, history or social history! She decimated the economy of her country, caused huge civil unrest, caused needless deaths, and left a lasting social legacy of poverty, unemployment, and economic downturn. Your point was that she was inspirational to all women. Mine is that she is not inspirational at all, even the Conservative party in the UK tries to forget.

Her: I'm sure she's to blame for global warming and cow flatulence too. Are you going to blame her for your bad haircut? Lol  

Me:  It's interesting that you haven't actually countered with any facts, and that you have taken the slippery path to personal insult, rather than attempt any sort of discussion about the points I've raised. 

Her: All you have done is insult me. If I find Thatcher inspiring, you just assume I'm stupid. I don't agree with any of your boring babble about her! I bet you are one of the scum that celebrated her death. Well over a hundred people have pinned this pin...but you're the only one who had to bitch and whine about it. I'm so sick of bitches and whiners! 

Me: All I have done is provided information regarding a figure in history, I note that you have offered no facts to disprove what I've said, only stooped to puerile and not even creative personal insults. Apparently facts are 'boring babble'. So much for world history. At least we are agreed that not so many find her inspirational, since only a handful of Pinteresters have repinned, perhaps because they agreed with my comments, and yes, the people she oppressed celebrated her death - hardly all women finding her inspirational. If you had written simply that you found her inspirational, that is one thing. But to say she inspires all women patently incorrect.  I find it telling that you consider anyone who doesn't agree with you a' bitcher and whiner', rather than simply offering a factual argument. In simple grammatical terms, 'all women' are not inspired by Thatcher, by simple definition of the term.

Her: I never once asked you for your opinion...and yet you're still bitching and whining. You are boring and predictable. Just because you hate Thatcher so much, makes me admire her even more. Stop taking your anger out on your bangs...unless you're going for the Harry Potter look. 

Me: So... you don't like Harry Potter either? Possibly because J.K. Rowling wasn't a Thatcher fan either. Now J.K. Rowling IS a woman who is admired by a lot of women. I don't 'hate' anyone, I merely pointed out that Thatcher is no role model for thinking women and that her policies did lasting harm to her country. It is, of course, amusing that you will now forever have a little niggling thought in the back of your mind whenever her name is mentioned, reminding you of the bad things she did. So at least you are absorbing information and learning, although it appears a slow process. You keep trying to insult me, because you know that I'm right and you still don't understand that ALL women do not find Thatcher an inspiration. You will no doubt be thrilled to know that Thatcher did not change the comprehensive British public health care system, whereby everybody, including the poor, the homeless and the uneducated, are entitled to free health care there. Why are you so fascinated by my hair? You are beginning to obsess on it. 

Her: You're clearly a mental case. I don't care what you think. Please find something better to do with your life, and leave me alone. Thanks!  

Me: Unfortunately, your skills in psychological diagnosis are as lacking as those in political argument. Nevertheless, I am not the one with an unhealthy obsession on someone else's hair. Provided you can control your urges in that direction we shall say no more on the matter. 

Her: Thank God. I thought you'd never shut up. Creepy! 

Me: Still with the insults? Now you've moved to simple child like name calling, which although puerile, at least shows that you've moved on from your hair obsession. Did no-one ever tell you that if you have nothing nice to say it's better to say nothing at all? Or have you simply no inner monologue? Disappointing, but not entirely unexpected, given your previous outbursts. Manners maketh the woman, and all that.

Her: I don't go around leaving ugly comments on other people's pins. I didn't even write the caption on this picture...but I completely agree with it. Funny though, Thatcher has been re-pinned with the same words, 13 times today. That must make you upset! Lol...better go grab the scissors. Please spare me any more of your psycho babble. Leave me alone!

Me:  Ugly comments? I simply made some factual comments on a public pin. You were the one who leapt to immediate vilification and hair obsession. You haven't worked out that people may be pinning it to view your growing (and apparently unstoppable) obsession with my hair. Your daily counting of repins is beginning to become somewhat obsessive also, I would only be upset because your obsessional behaviour seems to be growing. Your are a slave to your baser hair urges and your self control appears lacking, as I had thought you had agreed to try to move on with your life, perhaps to someone else's hair. I wonder is there some sort of self help group you could join? I shall see if I can find you one. Although the repeated use of the term 'psycho babble' does indicate some resistance, still, I am hopeful that you will eventually be able to move on.

At that stage, a third pinner recognised the humorous content in the exchange, something I suspect came as something of a surprise to the hair obsessed and grammatically challenged.  It certainly stopped the conversation.  

Ah, the interweb, it's an educational tool. For some. Lol (sic).

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Unemployed, but not homeless

I'm unemployed, for the first time since 1981.  Technically, I'm 'retired', but I've just given up the day job to concentrate on - oh, that's right, having a life.  I joined the public service first in 1978, it was my third full time job after being rejected for a job as a data processor (those were the days) in 1976 because I was only young, had a boyfriend and "was likely to get married and have children". I kid you not. 

My Dad was beside himself with joy when I said I had a permanent public service job.  He impressed upon me that the superannuation was wonderful and that I would retire on a good income.  As a 20 year old, I could really grasp the concept of being retirement age.  Damn it, he was right. 

The workplace was a different world back then.  People smoked at their desks and anywhere else they liked.  The cleaner used to regularly vacuum around another staff member who would crash on the floor behind his desk after a big night at the pub, he would emerge from his sleeping bag about 9ish and get on with the day. It had only been 12 years since married women were not allowed to work in the public service, up until 1966 you had to resign when you got married. ( I guess that made the whole maternity leave thing moot.)  We worked without a calculator, let alone a computer, and data went off to be 'input' into the computer.  There was no freedom of information, no equal opportunity, occupational health and safety was casual at best. Statistics happened somewhere else.

But there was a transparent selection process, a career structure, promotion prospects.  Training was
a new work in progress
delivered professionally in person BEFORE you were let loose on the public.  You had to know what you were doing, because there was no computer to say 'no'. I made friends who have been my friends for the rest of my life.  Loyalty and hard work were valued and rewarded.

There are some people who say that if they won Lotto they would keep working, because they wouldn't know what to do.  In my view those people should not be allowed to play, because wealth would be wasted on them.  I barely had time to go to work, so many things to do, places to go, people to see.  Work was seriously inhibiting my social life.  I didn't win Lotto, but I have a lot to do and enough to do it with.

And suddenly Mondays have been reinvented as a day worth getting up for.