I can see clearly now…

It has taken *forever*, but at last I have new glasses.

I have my eyes tested every year, at the beginning of January. Ever since I turned 45 (quite some time ago!) I’ve had to have new lenses every year. I used to be very long-sighted. Now, I’m very VERY long-sighted and I simply can’t read anything without my specs. I have a wide face and grey hair and eyebrows, and I need large multifocal lenses and heavy frames or my face looks like a peeled boiled egg. For years, I had a lovely pair of huge navy blue Ray-Ban frames, but eventually they got too brittle and the optometrist told me it was time for something new. I progressed to something very similar, in red. They were sunglasses frames, and wonderfully comfortable, as they had a rubberised finish and they never slipped down my nose. I had new lenses in those for a couple of years, and then the company stopped making them and I couldn’t get lenses for them any more.

This time, I simply couldn’t find something I loved, which I think is important if you have to wear them all the time. There were lots of rather dull frames, some OK frames and a few nice ones, but they didn’t fit my wide head. I thought I’d found the perfect solution with a pair of fluorescent green huge sunglass frames, but after two separate unsuccessful attempts to get the lenses right, I abandoned that particular supplier. After that, I reluctantly bit the bullet and went for a large pair of men’s tortoiseshell frames. Comfy… but dull. By the time they were ready, we were already on holiday, so I arranged to collect them from the Cairns branch of the optical chain. I wore them for exactly 16 hours before I was handing them back over a counter again.

They work just fine. But in Cairns, there’s a fabulous workshop called Frame Care. It’s a big open space with 10 stations where techs give glasses of all kinds some love. You can get new lenses, scratches polished out, frames repaired and welded, hinges replaced and, get this, frames re-coloured. Whoopee! So my rather dull brown tortoiseshell frames got booked in to have metallic dark raspberry pink fronts. (I looked at fluoro orange, but my courage failed me). The inside of the frames and the arms remain tortoiseshell, but the part facing the world is funky.  The price was very reasonable, they took only 3 working days to do it, and their customer service is excellent. Sadly, as so often happens, the photo doesn’t do justice to the frame colour, which is gorgeous, and not a rather dull maroon colour as it appears here. Or maybe they’d just look better on a different face…

So, only 6 weeks after getting my eyes tested, I finally have stylish eyes again 🙂 And it’s made my holiday!


Lovely nubbly

I’m trying to do something about the amount of refuse we put in the bin each week.

We recycle hard plastics, aluminium, steel, glass and paper. We’ve just started recycling soft plastics by putting them in the Redcycle bin at our local Coles supermarket. I’ve bought two bokashi buckets for dealing with organic waste; we don’t have chickens or a worm farm (away too often for the first and too hot for the second), so I wanted a way to process the waste so that it could be dug into the garden. Apart from an infestation of fruit flies which has resulted in me exporting the bucket to the garage instead of the kitchen, that aspect is working well. I can put used paper towel into it, but I’d prefer not to. I don’t use much, but ideally, I’d like to stop using paper towel altogether, despite its handiness and multiple uses.

A number of friends have been knitting their own wipe-up cloths using cotton yarn. I don’t knit, but I can do basic crochet, so I found some bargain cotton yarn in 10ply and made myself a sample, using a 6mm/J/10 hook. It’s chunky, absorbent and has a pleasant nubbly surface that’ll be great for giving my benchtops a bit of a scrub and wiping up spills. Being 100% cotton, it’ll wash happily, and folded, it makes quite a decent heat pad. Best of all, once it’s knackered, I can bury it in the garden and it’ll rot down to nothing.

My sample is quite large, and subsequent cloths will be smaller. I’ll also probably buy 8ply for future cloths, once I’ve used up the yarn I have, and when the time comes to replace some of the microfibre cloths I’m currently using, so I have a range of sizes and textures.This size used the better part of one 100g ball, so smaller ones will also be more economical with yarn.

For the source of many of these ideas and some truly amazing lifestyle and cooking inspiration, head over to the lovely Celia’s blog at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Time to go and give my cloth a test drive 🙂

SAL 56: well, it was Christmas…

… which of course means I didn’t get a lot done.

Here’s the before:

And here’s the after:

A bit more pale lilac, a bit more pale green. I don’t feel too guilty about neglecting this piece; there was plenty of distraction and no deadline, so it’s not a drama. Plus, of course, this SAL fell due at the end of the month when other things were also due, so I’ve had to share the available time between projects.

Do go and take a look at what the others in the group are working on. We’re all over the world, so if their posts aren’t up yet, do go back later, they may be in a different time zone.

AvisClaireGunCaroleLucyAnn, JessSue,
CindyHelenStephLindaCatherineMary Margaret,
Timothy, Heidi, Connie, Jackie

See you next time, on 21 January.

Joy to the World

It’s that time of year again, when people all over the world wish each other happiness, joy and peace.

This is our local Christmas Tree, the tropical beauty that flowers at this time of year. It’s know as the Flamboyant Tree, or Poinciana (Delonix regia), and nothing says Christmas in the tropics to me like this graceful tree with its gorgeous mass of scarlet pompoms the size of your head. I hope you’re enjoying whatever the festive season is bringing you this year.

Wherever and whoever you are, and however and whether you celebrate at this time of year, I wish you joy.

So close….

It could have been the worst Christmas of my life.

The current holder of that title is when I received a cancer diagnosis on Christmas Eve five years ago. That would have paled into insignificance beside tonight’s narrowly-averted disaster.

This evening, I was talking to the Husband at 8.25pm, while he was at work. He has a totally hands-free phone set up, so I don’t worry about him touching the phone and getting distracted, and I wanted to let him know I was home safely from a family visit. While I was on the phone, we both heard a bang in the background. He assumed at first that he’d hit an animal, not uncommon on the deserted Peak Downs Highway at night. But nothing showed up in his mirrors. I suggested he might have blown a tyre, but he could see nothing in the lights along his two tanker trailers, and no shredded rubber appeared. He decided to find a place to pull over and check the tyres. While he was pulling his B-double fuel tanker, all 20+ metres  and 51,000 litres of it, into a parking bay, he glanced again in the mirror, and yelled “Fire!”

That’s a word a fuel tanker driver’s wife dreads. I’ve talked about this before, in one of my earliest posts:

The Husband is a good man, doing a mostly boring and occasionally dangerous job conscientiously, carefully and with goodwill. He has to haul his monster load on bad roads, up and down steep ranges, keeping a good look out for loose cattle, kangaroos, roadkill, carrion eaters, potholes and idiot drivers. He has to put to the back of his mind the fact that his load, if ignited, would burn at 1200C (2192F). And so do I. Yes, I know it’s harder to ignite diesel, but it can be done, as a recent tanker fire attests.  Both vehicles were completely consumed down to the engine block.  The metal burned.  The engine block melted. The drivers of all three vehicles involved in this crash all made it out alive. Neither of the tanker drivers was at fault. It was the driver of a third vehicle, crossing the centre line, who caused the whole thing.

9th September 2013. Peak Downs Highway, QLD. The smoke and flames could be seen for miles. Contributed to the Mackay Daily Mercury

9th September 2013. Peak Downs Highway, QLD.
The smoke and flames could be seen for miles.
Contributed to the Mackay Daily Mercury

So, when I kiss him goodbye in the morning, I ask him to drive carefully and come home safely.  I ask the Big Girl  to take good care of him on the road. I don’t grudge the time he spends giving her a bath at the end of the day

I rang off immediately and waited. And waited. It wasn’t really that long, but felt like half a lifetime till he called me back to tell me all was well, but he’d be home much, much later than the moderately late he had been expecting. He had indeed blown a tyre, but it had also taken out the suspension airbag on that side on the A-trailer (the first one behind the prime mover), front axle, inside wheel. There was a blowout the size of his forearm in the tyre, and the broken steel radial belts in the tyre had lashed the airbag as the wheel went round, causing it to explosively decompress, the noise we’d both heard. The heat caused by this had made the bearings overheat, lots of plastic got much too hot, and flames started pouring out.

See those two wheels just under the front of the first trailer? One of them, but the one on the inside – they’re pairs.

The drivers know what to do in these situations. Engine off. Helmet (with light for night time use) on. Grab fire extinguisher. See where the problem is, put out the flames if possible or retreat a safe distance if not. Call for help. Stop traffic at a safe distance if you’re not off the road. In this case, he was off the road, he put the fire out, and then called the mechanic to tell him what had happened and get him to bring out replacement wheel, airbag, bearing, etc. After the initial heart-stopping scare, it’s going to be a long, boring night for him.

As for me, I fervently and sincerely counted my many blessings. Some wives are not so lucky. It’ll be a good Christmas after all…

I need help…

Nothing much, just a few moments of thought and ticking a few boxes. And it would be so helpful if EVERYONE would respond, so I get a really large response sample.

Let me explain what I need. You all know by now that I and a wonderful team of generous supporters help Ovarian Cancer Australia by sending quilts to be auctioned. What you may not know is that I’m an accredited fundraiser for OCA, and now I am working with one of the medical oncologists here in Mackay on creating an information pack for cancer patients at both our Base Hospital and the Mater private hospital. Sadly, there’s a distinct lack of coherent information all in one place for cancer patients, within both the public and private health systems here in Queensland, and indeed in other parts of Australia. Sure, there’s information, but you have to know where it’s available, and go here, there and everywhere to access it. None of it really reads as if it’s written by someone who’s taken the journey and knows what a cancer patient feels and needs.

I’ve been in that position not so very long ago, and it still galls me that there were many, many things I didn’t know, I wasn’t told and had no idea how to access for help. I was in one of the worst positions you could be in while having cancer: I was alone, I was out of work and in financial difficulties, and all my friends and family were too far away to be of practical help. It would have made my life much easier if I’d known a few things which I aim to include in this information pack.

And this brings me to the help I need. I’m the kind of person who wants and needs to know everything about my illness, treatment and future prospects. To me, knowledge is power, and my body is my responsibility, not something to hand over to doctors and hope for the best. But is everyone the same, and do they want the same depth of knowledge?

So, I’m asking you please to fill in the survey form below, to express your own attitude towards this kind of information. There are only 4 questions, and it’ll take you 30 seconds tops. In case you’re wondering, results are completely anonymous, I just end up with statistics, which is what I want.


Thank you for participating, and for giving me some much-needed and meaningful data ❤

Just sayin’

Many Australians are outraged today.

The news of the shooting of an Australian woman in the US, outside the Minneapolis home she shared with her fiancé and future stepson is causing puzzlement, wrath, incomprehension, sadness, and yes, outrage is not too strong a word.

She’d called the police to report a potential sexual assault taking place near the house. When the police arrived, she approached the car, dressed in her night clothes and clutching her phone. She spoke through the driver’s window. And then the driver’s partner shot her. Twice. Past his partner’s face and through the open window, killing her.

Oh please. From all accounts she was not an aggressive, mouthy woman who would refuse to obey the police’s usual charming barked orders. She was 40, blonde, slight, and dressed in pyjamas. Not an obvious suspect in a potential sexual assault. She was holding a mobile phone. Not a gun. Not even vaguely like a gun, and certainly not like a gun if you’re sitting only a few feet away. And she approached the police, the so-called guardians of the community, for help, instead of running away, as a criminal would.

Attention, Minneapolis Police. This is NOT a gun…

Conveniently enough, the officers involved had not obeyed policy and switched on their body cameras. The dash cam wasn’t working/failed to record the incident. Funny, that.

Nobody is saying anything. The police force have not expressed regret at this incident, the officer in question has offered his condolences but not apologies, and asks us to respect his privacy. WTF? How hard is it to make an announcement that a terrible mistake has been made, that investigations will be carried out with all due haste and the results announced promptly?

Officer Noor, who has presumably received thorough training in telling the difference between helpful members of the public and criminals, appears to have committed criminally negligent homicide. He took out his gun and shot – twice – a woman who was not threatening him, who was trying to be a good citizen, and who had not attacked him. He made the decision to kill her rather than disable her by some other means. He had a professional duty to be sure of his facts and differentiate between the public and the perpetrator. Protect and serve, yes? This is what Wikipedia has to say on the subject:

Criminally negligent manslaughter occurs where there is an omission to act when there is a duty to do so, or a failure to perform a duty owed, which leads to a death. The existence of the duty is essential because the law does not impose criminal liability for a failure to act unless a specific duty is owed to the victim. It is most common in the case of professionals who are grossly negligent in the course of their employment. 

That sounds about right, doesn’t it?

Just sayin’…..


More reading on the subject of police culture in the US: