Wednesday, March 28

Anyone for Nails?

I was in the city yesterday and had coffee and cake in a restaurant there with friends, - though not at this place.

There is quite a large sign (see below) in front of the food outlet in the city square, but we are amused at the offerings.  What do you think?

What a big family!!!

I saw them last week - perhaps a day or so old, a family of ducks - including about 15 ducklings.  I must say it is a large family - we don't often see such a large number of offspring, but clearly they are the same family and they live in bushland, in Manly West.

They venture out onto the grassy area from time to time with the parents on guard.  I have seen the parents on their own, though I guess that the ducklings are sleeping in the bush nearby as the parents would not leave them unatetnded.

They are growing very quickly.

Wednesday, March 14

What a Big Headache!!!

I am a lucky girl in that I seldom have aches and pains, such that even when I travel I don't remember to pack any tablets e.g. paracetamol.  I use them so rarely.  However, I have had a very worn out pack (I should have checked the use by date!) of ten, which at long last came to an end.  I had a sore throat two days ago, so gobbled the last two.

Yesterday, while at the discount pharmacy, I decided to get a new packet.  "Only a small pack" I suggested to the staff member who came to help me.

It seems that the best deal is a pack of 100 - now I reckon, unless something happens, this will keep me going for at least 10 years.  But, the expiry date is 2013!!!!  No way I will finish them all in that time!!!  Still, it was a bargain.  Less than $2!!!  Oh, well.  

Tuesday, March 13

Possible New House Sit

I had a call from a friend of some years recently.  She is considering getting me to look after her house while the family is overseas later this year.  I am available, so I went to have a look at the house and a chat with my friend.

It would be far the biggest house I have ever been in - and not far from where I am now.  Even get garage space as they have a four car garage.  Plus a huge back yard and no I don't have to mow the lawns - the gardener comes in to do that.

There's a huge outdoor kitchen too - not sure how I will use that as it will be during winter.  Mmm.  And a cute little poodle to look after.  Cute and cuddly.

I'll know in a week or so if I need to lock this one into my diary.  Looks good.

Monday, March 12

Long Term House Sitting

I'm betwixt and between on this.  I have done short house sitting 'contracts' and longer ones, and each have their pro's and con's.

Short ones are easy - more like a holiday in a way and I don't need to take much of my own belongings.  I do like my own bedlinen and bath towels, but generally can get by with using the owners things without any hassles.  Some things can be annoying - as clearly we do things differently.  I love using my stick mixer, but not all houses have them - but this item is easy to take.  I like using my bicycle - but I cannot carry it in/on my car, so for short term housesits I go without, but long term ones I like to have the use of it.  Sometimes it is challenging to store it - I don't like leaving it outside - would have to dismantle the battery etc.

And the longer one stays at a house the more 'stuff' one accumulates which has challenges on its own.  I no longer have a home base, so have more things with me - and others in a shipping container.  It is a pain, sometimes.

I recall after Christmas looking at all the things I had accumulated as gifts.  While I am happy and grateful for the gifts, I see it as another load for my car to the shipping container when I move from here, and to complicate matters my daughter is considering selling the property so I will have to consider other options for storage.

Today's annoyance is the washing machine which has been playing up for some time.  It either stops mid way through a cycle, or (and this is the most common issue) it does not spin, so all the washing has to be hand wrung.  It then clearly takes longer to dry, and with the constant inclement weather it adds further complications to my life.  I'm over it.  The owners were going to deal with it when they were home recently, but didn't do so.  So I am stuck with it for the next few months unless I can convince them to take action now.

If it was my own home I could have/would have dealt with it months ago - but as time goes on it is a constant annoyance.

One of the outside lights doesn't work.  I've tried to remove the outer - as I do not even know which globe needs to be purchased.  I will eventually sort it out - but it is annoying.

Thursday, March 8

Today is International Women's Day 2012

I can't recall when I first became aware of International Women's Day, but know that for quite a few years have attended functions on this day.  I also remember that once or twice (I really can't recall) I went in the International Women's Day Fun Run around South Brisbane - I doubt if I will ever do that again!

At this time though I recall two amazing events - in China.  First of all, recently I have become aware of  Qiu Jin (1875-1907) an I have the documentary about her extra ordinary life.  I wish I had known more when I was in China.

The first International Women's Day event I attended in China, was on March 8th (ofcourse) 2008.  I had been in China for only a few weeks, when a glamourous invitation arrived for me inviting me to an event to celebrate this day.  We were (all the foreign teachers were invited, though some were unable to attend) to meet in SPT Street on campus, where we were met by a row of huge buses.  

We boarded and first were taken to the Shaoxing Friendship Centre, where were shown the amazing collection of gifts from sister cities from around the world, and heard a few speeches before we boarded the buses again.  We were told we were going to a 'match' factory.  Curious. Wondering what excitement we would find there, but it turned out to be a "mattress" factory.  Far from being 'ho hum' it was extra ordinary.  This was the factory - and it was huge with an amazing 'campus' with gardens, staff quarters, and glamourous hall for events.  But first we were taken upstairs into the show room.  No cameras were allowed!  Darn!  

There was a row of display motel rooms - full of glitz, glamour and luxury.  It turns out that this factory provides beds, and other furniture for some of the 7 star accommodation places around the world.  We were in awe as we ventured into each room.

Then we went to the showroom floor to see hundreds of beds and mattresses all on display. 

We were ushered downstairs again, into the hall, where we were all seated in a semicircle.  Maybe 120 men and women, and we listened to a range of speeches.  All with English interpretation by Julian Zhu who was an official with the Shaoxing government.  One of our own teachers, Sherrol Tait from Canada, spoke on behalf of the foreign teachers.

Afterwards we were treated to an array of performances by traditional dancers and musicians.  At the end we were invited to 'dance' with one of the Chinese dancers, and I was a bit annoyed that none of the younger fitter girls would dance, so it was me, in the spirit of supporting the Chinese for such events, that joined the lone dancer and made a terrible attempt at dance.  I might add, that I was dressed in heavy laceup shoes, several layers of clothing including a heavy coat - hardly dance wear!  In the end I did my own version, and Julian, who I saw later on several occasions always referred to me as the "blonde disco dancer"!

The formal part of the day over we were ushered to one of the many dining rooms adjacent to the 'grand hall' where tables for 10 or so were set up.  Each room had a significant government official at the table.  We were treated to a right royal dinner of many courses!!!  And Shaoxing wine.  I was to learn here about "gunbei".  There is a protocol which I am unsure, but the senior people walk around the table and pour a drink for the person they are 'recognising' and they stand, raise their glass, and say "gunbei" before downing the contents of the glass.   One can imagine that at the end of the event, it would probably not be wise to drive a car!!!

At the end of the event we were given gifts to take home, so as we boarded the buses for the return journey we could peep in our 'goodie bag.'  

What a day!  (And I was told later by students that my 'performance' was on television.  Cringe.  Cringe.)

The next time I was in China for International Womens Day was 2010 - and this time it was an event at the Shaoxing International Hotel.  Again a lot of glitz and glamour and performances by comedians, dancers, singers and musicians playing traditional instruments.

One of the other Aussie teachers and I sang "I am Australian" - being such a poor performer and avoiding any such experience, I was limited.  In any case we did it!  Followed by a huge buffet lunch and more 'gunbei' with Shaoxing wine.

This year it will not be as glamourous  and I will have to pay my own way, and there will be no generous gifts, and no 'gunbei'.  Still I will enjoy morning tea at Wynnum State High, and dinner at the Waterloo Bay Hotel with friends.

Happy International Women's Day.

Friday, March 2

Killing the cane toad

As we in Queensland know, cane toads can be deadly to household pets.  The glands at the back of the head secrete a poisonous liquid - and when a dog, cat or any other animal chases, catches and tries to bite  the cane toad - its mouth fills with the dreaded poison and if not treated, it can die.  We nearly lost our beloved pet Kramer several times - he was a dachshund, a hunting dog and for him the jumping cane toad was fair game.

Last night as I was taking Marti outside for his last 'pee' I saw one jump away.  Marti didn't see it, so I pushed him inside the house, while I used that I think is an axe handle, and killed the toad.  Carefully I pushed it into a plastic bag, and sealed the top.  This morning I will put the carcase in the big rubbish bin, and tonight I will keep my eyes open to see if the toad had any rellies in the back yard.

And I will keep an eye on Marti.

Here's a video of one of the little blighters.

You can read more about them from the Australian Museum website here - where this video came from.