Lest we forget…

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To all the Diggers who have hung up their hats,
we say thank you.

To the men and women of our Armed Forces: thank you for the sacrifice you made, thank you for the freedom we take for granted, thank you for enduring the horror of war on our behalf. Thank you for showing us that mankind has its redeeming moments amidst ugliness and conflict.

Today is ANZAC Day.  All over Australia and New Zealand, in Gallipoli and northern France, at dawn today people stood in silence to remember and give thanks.

Gone but never forgotten.

At the going down of the sun, and in the morning,
We will remember them.

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Happy Easter!

I hope you all have a wonderful Easter/Spring Festival/Autumn Festival (depending on whether you’re northern or southern hemisphere), a restful break, and as much or as little creativity as suits you best ūüôā

This is about as close to Easter eggs as I’ll get this year, it’s getting too hard to find chocolate eggs that are safe for me to eat, but may there be lovely lashings of chocoliciousness for you all.

The Husband of Chiconia is working this entire Easter holiday weekend, so, being on my own, I shall seize the opportunity to try and get a bit closer to finishing TWX. Hopefully my next post will be to show the assembled, although still unbound quilt.

Joy and peace to you all.



“We wanted to get our customers to their destinations…”

I cannot be alone in feeling incredulity at the above statement. Not ALL passengers, apparently.

It was issued by a spokesman for United Airlines to justify the violent extraction and ejection of a passenger from one of their flights. This passenger had paid for his flight, had been boarded and seated, and was being bumped so that an airline employee could fly in his place. Setting aside any issue of whether he was selected for ejection on the basis of his race (not¬†impossible), and further setting aside the subsequent lurid revelations about his past (irrelevant to the case in point), let us compare the spokesman’s statement with what actually happened.¬†Saying they wanted to get ‘the passengers’ home was ludicrous. Clearly this passenger wasn’t going to make it home for quite a while. He was removed with totally¬†unnecessary violence by police, injured and made a public spectacle, denied the flight he had paid for, and as far as I can tell from the newsfeed I’ve seen, so far has been denied the grovelling public apology from the airline he so richly deserves, quite aside from¬†the fact that no compensation for his flight appears to be on the table any longer. The airline feels this action was justified in order to get its employees (oh, and the passengers) to their destination. No destination for Dr Dao…

He had committed no offence, he had not violated any rules of behaviour, he refused to get out of a seat he’d paid for because he needed to get home and see his patients the next morning. If correct airline procedure mandates the violent extraction and beating of an elderly man in this situation, I would not care to fly with this airline now or at any future time. And the police involved in his extraction from the aircraft are equally culpable for their quite excessive use of violence and their willingness to be used to serve the airline’s defective policy. Uploaded video footage shows quite clearly that the man was neither drunk, nor abusive, nor screaming (not until he was forcibly dragged from his seat), he offered no violence or threats of his own.

Other passengers were horrified and protested. Some went to the extent of staging a walk-out. In a vain attempt to manage the situation, United then evacuated the rest of the passengers so they could ‘tidy up’ the plane. Oh dear me, we can’t have it too obvious that the pax are unhappy with us, can we? Eventually, the plane¬†left 3 hours late, and without Dr Dao, now in hospital and not in very good shape.

If United was able to offer large incentives to encourage passengers to get off to make room for the 4 last-minute United employee-travellers, why couldn’t it simply book its own people onto another flight or carrier? So¬†they were a flight crew needed for another aircraft. Someone failed in the scheduling department, I think. And how is it that employees get priority over paying passengers? This has the stink of a company run for the benefit of employees rather than the paying customer. It seems the public is not entitled to what it has paid for, after all, and can look forward to being bullied if it dares protest… Another nail in the coffin of United’s already abysmal reputation.

United Airlines: Beating our competitors on price, and our passengers on non-compliance

This opinion is based on newsfeed currently available. Subsequent events may provide further information which renders the opinions I have expressed inappropriate. I reserve the right to my opinion based on the information to hand, but will retract any opinion subsequently shown by the facts to be at fault. 

Big Girl 3: the Husband’s new ‘office’

It’s always a red letter day when the boys get a new truck.

Meet Big Girl 3, the third of her lineage, all 26 metres/85 feet of her. Brand spanking new, still reeking of fresh plastic and leather, and all her chrome sparkly as anything.

The Husband of Chiconia and his two other team drivers work a 4 day, 4 night, 4 off shift. During the day shifts, they drive 1,000km/620 miles a day and 500km/310 miles at night, clocking up a total of 6,000km/ 3,728 miles a week. The truck is in motion for nearly the full 24 hours, only being off the road for fuelling and checks and handover for about 1 hour each day. That means the truck clocks up 547,500kms/340,200 miles a year. Their team has one of the longest working days and highest odometer readings in the company, which is why they get a new truck pretty regularly.

Back¬†in the early days of Big Girl 2, I made the boys a quilt for the truck, assembled from their recycled work shirts. Yesterday, we transferred that, his two matching pillows and a box of tools and cleaning equipment into Big Girl 3. ¬†She’s all clean and lovely and pristine, but with the days they put in and the hazards they face on the road, that probably won’t last too long.

The company names each truck as well as having personalised registration plates. ¬†Big Girl 1 was ‘Safely Home’. Big Girl 2 was ‘Always Safe II’, and Big Girl 3 is ‘Walala Wasala’, which apparently means ‘you snooze, you lose’ in Zulu. Don’t ask me why, the only clue I have is that the GM of the company is South African. If they had to have Zulu, I’d have thought something like ‘Phambili Ngesibonelo’ would work better, seeing that they pride themselves on their good drivers. Whatever the name, I hope safety is still high on the priority list.

It’s a potentially dangerous and occasionally demanding job, and I rather like getting the Husband home at the end of the day…

Let sleeping cats lie…

Yes, I know that should be ‘dogs’, but really, who’d disturb this?

The Dowager’s cat, imaginatively named Cat, has been staying with us for a month now. Only 2 more weeks to go, but I digress… She’s not hard to care for, but she is quite demanding, and exceptionally vocal. ¬†So it’s a rare pleasure to find her asleep, and not demanding food (“no, not that food, other food!”), endless strokies, a good brushing, to be let in or out, or the leftovers from our plates.

Fast asleep, bent backwards and all 4 paws in the air…

I just had to share this photo. If you or I went to sleep in that position, we’d be calling for an ambulance when we woke up. ¬†And you have to bear in mind that this cat is quite elderly as they go, and occasionally has trouble getting up the back door steps.

Now, I just have to tiptoe away to the sewing room to press¬†on with sewing blocks together. Keep it down out there, will you, or you’ll wake her up and it’ll be constant yowling again.

Celebrating four years

Our fourth wedding anniversary passed almost unacknowledged.

It’s not that either of us forgot, more that a certain recent weather event took over and did her best to make life beastly. We did toast each other wearily as we sat in the caravan after a horrible day, frugally showered and clean, wearing fresh¬†clothes and tucking into our just-cooked anniversary meal. But we didn’t make a special event of it.

Today I pointed this sad fact out to the Husband. I also pointed out to him that current thinking says the appropriate gift for 4 years is no¬†longer linen, silk, fruit or flowers¬†‚Äď these days it’s electrical appliances. I think you’ll find it’s¬†actually a Sidewinder portable battery operated bobbin winder. That’s right, isn’t it? I’m sure you’ll all back me up in this, especially the quilters, and most especially the ones who’ve run out of bobbin thread 30 inches ago without noticing. Gah! I also made him aware that luckily he’d be able to save the day because the LQS (local quilt shop) had some in stock. A fact I was sure about, because they’d emailed me to tell me so…

The poor chap has to go back to work today, because all the flooding is down, the landslips are cleared and the fuel terminals are open. But he’s on night shift, which means he’s free to take a little trip in the car this morning. There will be no escape…

Not that I have time to¬†sew yet; the power crew¬†got us back up and running about 6pm yesterday, but there’s a whole load of mud calling my name…


The heroes of the hour

Well, we’re through the worst and out the other side.

Overflowing gutters, gale force winds and total rain white-out

Yesterday was a horror. The Cyclone After-Party was worse than the main event from my point of view. All Tuesday night and all day Wednesday the rain was absolutely torrential, the wind was consistently stronger, and our gutters gave up on the job of carrying the water away. The downpipes basically exploded at ground level, and instead of the water running away into the land drains, it surged into the under-house soil and started seeping upwards. By mid morning we were almost ankle deep. Two hours of shifting and lifting had the worst crisis averted; after a flooding experience about 8 years ago, I store a lot of stuff in large plastic tubs which are of course waterproof and make excellent platforms for me to put the non-waterproof stuff on.

The dampness and smell in the house is pretty bad. So isn’t it a good thing that this morning the sun came out hot and strong? Initially, of course, the humidity was terrible, but then the wind picked up a bit and we could get some serious ventilation going. Most of the water is gone, the wet patches are drying, and despite the fact that every¬†hard surface outside ‚Äď and most of the floor at ground level inside ‚Äď is covered with a film of mud and the grassed areas sink ankle deep into silty mud, I’m beginning to feel a lot more cheerful.

Our glamorous heroine, who kept her cool when all around were losing theirs

Miz Lizzie has been a godsend. By the end of the day yesterday we were both at the end of our tethers. We’d been filthy and soaked to the skin three times, trying to sort out the gutters, we were exhausted, grumpy, hungry and dirty. I called a halt. We had super-speedy ‘army showers’ (wet down, turn water off, soap down, rinse off, maximum 2 minutes of water), got into clean clothes, I made us a nice supper and we took it into the cool, clean caravan and ate it and got into cool, clean beds and slept, abandoning our blacked out, dark, hot, damp and smelly house for a few hours of peace.

Ozito inverter generator, a sturdy lad with 3300w smooth sine wave output, suitable for sensitive equipment. What a guy!

The other hero of the hour has been Ozzie the generator, who has run enthusiastically and without trouble, keeping our fridge cool enough that we haven’t had to throw anything out. He’s not even that thirsty, being quite economical even on high draw. We’ve moved him from the garage down the length of the back yard to our very ramshackle shed, so that he can be noisy elsewhere. In case you’re worried we ran a generator in an enclosed space, one entire wall of the garage is made of those ornamental pierced blocks for air flow. The shed is so very dilapidated that ventilation is completely irrelevant; the entire structure is riddled with holes large and small. We were hoping the cyclone would take it away for us, so that the insurance would buy us a nice shiny new one. No such luck; it’s entirely unscathed. Bummer.

Today’s post is going to be the final TC Debbie report. I don’t know when power will be restored, probably some time next week, but in the meantime we’ll be working to restore order slowly. Obviously sewing’s out of the question but I’ll find something to tell you about ūüôā

This has been your WordPress Cyclone Field Reporter, bringing you the news hour by hour from the ‘Clone Zone. Until next time, Chiconia Out.