Swancon

Some time ago Mary Victoria was sending me some lovely signed bookplates, discovered I live in Perth and asked if she’d be meeting me at Swancon. I’d never considered going – up until then. For pretty much the same reasons Glenda Larke quoted in this post on her blog. My first thought was: what am I going to do at something like that? After all, I’m not an author, I’m just a fan. A reader. Not a fan who gets involved in that type of thing. Just an enthusiastic reader.

I’ve been to other types of conventions before and had a great time but they’ve been conferences for industries I’ve worked in.

I mumbled an excuse to Mary along the lines that we’ll have visitors at the time. But the truth is that the visitor at that time will be my mum and she wouldn’t mind at all if I went off for a day and did my own thing. After all, I won’t have had a day to myself ‘doing my own thing’ for a month at that stage due to her visit and an overlapping visit by my mother-in-law prior to that.

I mentioned Mary’s question to my husband and his response was, “you should go, you know you’ll enjoy meeting the people.” Wonderful husband that I have šŸ™‚

So, the thought has been there brewing and bubbling in the back of my mind. The bubbling became quite rapid when Glenda first made her post, but still I’ve done nothing about it. Now here I am with my thoughts and my conversations turning to Swancon; on full boil. It’s time I did something about it. So I ask you this: on which day should I plan to go?

Comings, goings and doings…

There’s plenty going on here at the moment.

I got back from spending a week in Nambucca Heads with mum on Tuesday night. Nambucca was hot and sticky. I did an inspection of our house in Woolgoolga and we had a very yummy lunch at the Beachouse Cafe afterwards. We’ve got great tenants at the moment; hopefully they’ll stay a few years, as they originally planned. We didn’t do much else while I was there, just had a nice relaxing time taken up with visiting family and friends. It went by very quickly.

We’re getting a new clothes line on Monday afternoon. I’m going for another rotary Hills Hoist. We’re sticking with some of the classics of the Aussie backyard! I do like a rotary clothesline that catches the wind; even if the amount of wind we have here makes it a challenge to get the clothes off the line!

I’m in the process of getting quotes for a new garage door. Ours is probably as old as the houseĀ  – over fifteen years and is looking the worse for wear. It has cracks in it, thanks to the almost continuous strong winds it’s subjected to, and there’s a lot of very unattractive rust as well.

We’ve decided to pull up the carpet in the lounge and in our bedroom and lay tiles. We were going to lay new carpet but have decided that tiling will be better. We’ve done the rounds of a few of the tile shops, though, and discovered, not unexpectedly, that we can’t match our current tiles. Not only can’t we match them but we can’t get anything that’s the same size and finish. Our tiles are as old as the house as well, so we’re not so surprised. It wouldn’t be such an issue except that there’s a strip about a metre wide (three tiles wide) along the side of the lounge room, running from the family room to the entry.

The tiled area that's causing the problem

The tiled area that's causing the problem

If we can’t get a suitable match, or matching contrast, we have to pull up about eight square metres of tiles and replace those as well. The rest of the house (family room, kitchen, etc.) is separated by a wall and doors so a change of tiles isn’t a problem from that point of view.

It’s that mulch time of year again so I put an order yesterday afternoon in with MulchNet.com. This is a fantastic website that hooks you up with local tree contractors. We’ve used the site to order our mulch for that past three years. I ordered 5 cubic metres of mulch for $140. The same volume of mulch from the local landscaping supplier is over $400 and is more compost than mulch; it looks like a rich black soil and breaks down into a soil-type compound very quickly – doesn’t stop the grass and weeds for long at all. What we get from MulchNet is tree mulch. It does it’s job fantastically and doesn’t beak down too quickly – we usually top up at this time each year.Ā  We got a call first thing this morning from Whitfords Tree Services and Paul delivered some beautiful mulch – nicely sized and smelling wonderful.

“Do you mind if it’s a bit more than five metres?” says he, “There’s about 12 metres on the truck and you can have the lot if you want. It’ll still only cost $140.”

“We’ll have as much as you want to give us,” says we. “We’ll be happy to take the lot.”

So we now have about 12 cubic metres of mulch to move and spread around the garden.

Beautiful Tree Mulch

Beautiful Tree Mulch

Tomorrow we’re off to tour the Swan Valley winery area with three of our neighbour couples. One of our neighbours runs Perth Luxury Tours and we’ll be going with them. We’ll be having morning tea and lunch along the way.

Oh, and I almost forgot…the ants have started to show up again around the yard and in the bathrooms so I’ll have to add ‘organise spraying for ants and spiders, etc.’ to my to do list.

And the beat goes on…

There’s been plenty going on in the last couple of weeks.

Last Saturday we went to see Sting with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra in his Symphonicity tour. The concert was held at Sandalford Winery in the Swan Valley and was fantastic. It was perfect weather and it’s a lovely venue for a concert. There was lots of music, there was even an intermission half way through the show. Sting sang everything you’d want him to sing andĀ  his rapport with the audience quickly got us involved. We had reserved seats and could have done with a small cushion to sit on, but that minor discomfort was well and truly made up for by the entertainment. The worst part of the night was the 45 minutes in the log-jam waiting to get out of the car park. We’ve been to a concert at the winery before but parked in a different area and got away very quickly. This time we ended up stuck in the traffic in the furthest corner. We won’t do that again. Santana is playing at Sandalford in March and we have been trying to decide whether or not to go, but Stephen’s work travel plans are still not confirmed so we don’t want to book anything else just yet.

I’ve been plodding along getting my tutorials made up. At this stage I’m focusing on what clients are asking for and will gradually build up. I’m concentrating on the tutoring for older adults at the moment and will probably follow up on training groups when I have my resources ready. I’m not totally happy with the computer room that’s available to me. It would be perfect except that the computers are running Windows XP with Office 2003.Ā  The price comparison that I’ve done so far makes the alternative less than palatable. The one alternative computer lab that I’ve investigated so far is at least five times the cost to rent.

The drawback to the type of tutoring I’m doingĀ  is that it’s almost impossible to prepare materials and session plan because the learners often don’t really know what it is that they want or need to know. I’ve found that I also need to allow time for a cuppa and a chat. That will restrict the number of clients I can see in a day (particularly as there’s also travel to allow for) but I think it’s an important part of what I’m doing if I want multiple booking with the one client and if I want my business to spread by word-of-mouth. It’s also a good way to find out exactly what they want to learn.

I’ve made good progress with my Cert IV TAA upgrade. I still have to do a presentation and deliver some training to a class. I should get it out of the way before the end of Feb, I don’t have too much to organise. Then it’s apparently quite easy to get RPL for the upgrade to the newest qualification, Cert IV TAE.

The weather hasn’t been too hot in Perth for the past week or so, but is heating up again now. We’re back into the high 30’s again (up around 100F). We’ve been seeing a bit of the resident blue-tongue lizards. I think the live between us and next door. Stephen was tidying up down the side of the house to prepare for the new fence and he found a shed blue-tongue skin. Speaking of the fence, we finally have our new fence down one side of the house. It looks great, so much better than the old fences. If only they’d fall down too and we could get them replaced! Though it has been quite a drama and I don’t want to deal with it again too soon. There were really no disputes and real issues getting it done, it just took quite a few phone calls to the contractor asking when it would be done. I was starting to think we should have selected a different contractor, but it’s all finished now and they did a good job, so we’re happy. Now when the wind is blowing we don’tĀ  listen to the sound of the fence moving and creaking and wondering if it will still be standing when next we go outside.

The garden is looking great, but we’re a bit worried about some of the holes the dogs have dug under them. On the hot days they like to dig a hole in the cool shaded dirt to lay in. The trouble with that is that we’re worried that some of the shrubs are being undermined. There’s some distinct damage caused by trampling when they chase each other through, but it’s their yard too and it really is a good garden for dogs. This weekend we’ll probably try to get some soil and top up some of the holes. I’ve also ordered some mulch from MulchNet so that should be here by the weekend. I got an email to say a contractor has picked up the job so I’m just waiting for a phone call.

Yesterday was Australia Day and a public holiday. We spent it quietly at home. Stephen did quite a bit around the yard, putting things back in place after the removal and installation of the fence. Kaz just laid around and dozed for most of the day, as she does, after an initial bout of vigourous play with Anzac. With Anzac you only need to add water and you’ve got fun!

Dog-paddling on Australia Day

Notice how he gets out to watch the water running along the grooves between the pavers!

Oh…and I almost forgot to mention the bread.

The sliced bread we like to buy was on sale so we bought a couple of loaves last week. We don’t eat much bread so when we get it home it usually goes straight into the freezer. This time we put one loaf in the freezer and left the other out so we’d have fresh bread for lunch. Then we decided to duck out to buy something at another shop. When we got home there was just a little piece of plastic bag on the floor – and no sign of the bread. The rest of the shredded bag was in the back yard. No sign of the bread. You’d think that after ten years of living with Kaz we’d know better than to leave food anywhere within her reach when we go out. She has a particular fondness for bread. She never takes anything when we’re home, but you have no idea how many loaves of bread we’ve lost in the last ten years!

Bang…oooh…ahhh…smile…

Okay… I have a little bit different take on this. And I’m still undecided. Let me know what your thoughts are.

Lots of people are posting this on their facebook status: “Fireworks costs millions. Let’s have a firework free Australia day and donate the money to the QLD families to rebuild their lives.”

First of all I think it’s a fantastic sentiment, except that I’d change it from QLD families to all Australian flood affected families. QLD, NSW, Vic, Tas, SA, WA have all been affected by floods (I don’t know about the NT and ACT).

My mum hates fireworks. Every New Year she complains about the money wasted on fireworks, specially in cities like Sydney. This year when she complained, my immediate response was…”yes, they could have donated that money to the flood affected families in QLD”. And that was before the Toowoomba/Brisbane and points south disasters. But the more I think about the whole fireworks thing, the more I see that there’s another side to the coin.

These big fireworks displays draw a huge number of people in to the cities that put them on. They make people feel good. And when people are drawn to one place and feel good, they spend money. I’m not so sure that the money would be spent on the fireworks if the return wasn’t there for the economy. Yes, donate to the flood appeals. Most definitely. Here’s a link to the Red Cross Australia website so you can easily donate to their Disaster Relief and Recovery – Australia appeal. But also keep your local economies thriving. There are a lot of local economies that need a great deal of help, a lot of business that need people to be spending, and a lot of people that need something to feel good about.

The flood affected families need our help and so do the flood affected businesses. Maybe in a few weeks these flood affected towns could do with some fireworks to draw people in, to get people spending, to give people something to feel good about, something that will make them point and say oooh…ahhh and smile

Business essentials and raindrops…

We’ve had some lovely rain today.Ā  It’s brought the temperature down and made the garden and the birds very happy! And most of the residents of the Perth area as well, I’m sure.

I spent this morning researching topics to put into my Intro to Computers course. I want to put together a set of modules so that I can easily tailor the course depending on the learners needs.I also looked into the Information and Communications Training package to see which units I think I’ll be able to incorporate into the course. There are a couple of options there.

Then I looked into options for business cards. I went to OfficeWorks and priced cards that I can print myself. $50 for 200 269gsm cards, plus the cost of ink and the time it would take to print them myself. And then would I end up with a professional looking product? I don’t think so. 260gsm seems to be the heaviest weight card you can get to go through the inkjet printer. A professional printer would probably print on 360gsm card. Quite a difference; and quite a difference in finished product. I priced having them done at a printer. I can get them done for $99 for 1000 cards, plus GST and the cost of artwork which will probably be about $50. All depending on how fancy I want to get – not so fancy at all.

I also emailed our accountant for some advice, and spent some time on the ATO website looking at information on starting a small business, paticularly on record keeping. There’s a good guide to record keeping that the ATO puts out for small business.

Still a lot of work to be done, but it’s keeping me busy and out of trouble.

Right click, left click…

My New Moon Eclipse horoscope, by Kim Falconer, today said:

The New Moon Eclipse is all about creating a powerful new intention for the upcoming year and you ‘eclipse’ is happening in your 10th house of career and public image. If you ever thought you could vision your dream-come-true occupation, now is the time. You could fly to the moon with this energy. Get up and go for it!

Wow!

I received an email from the Community Development Officer at one of the local councils. He wanted to discuss my ideas for hiring their computer lab and offering computer classes that would complement the basic classes that they already run. I went over and met with him. He was very enthusiastic and encouraging and is certain that there’s a big demand for the types of courses I want to offer. I’ve offered to do some volunteer training for them and he’s offered to work with me however he can to support my business. He sees it as part of his community development role to offer his community options that the council can’t actually provide by linking with a provider who can offer those options.

Their computer room is bright and airy and the hire is very reasonably priced.

Now I need to put together my bread-and-butter course. I’m going to start this slowly and make sure I get every stage as right as I can before moving on to the next. I also need to set up all my business stuff – business name, insurance, business cards and brochures. I also want to sit the MS Word exam that I’m eligible to sit thanks to the course that got me moving in this direction.

There’s learningĀ  to be found in every experience and there can be good outcomes from even negative experiences.

Happy New Year…

A combined New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day post.

Yesterday we had a fairly busy day. We went shopping to buy some gifts for a Chinese auction that was to be held at the neighbours New Year’s Eve party last night. We also did some other shopping and I’m now the proud owner of a 1 litre Bodum french press so if you come and visit us (or just me) I can now make you coffee!Ā  We also threw in some grocery shopping and a visit to Bunnings.

We weren’t familiar with what a Chinese (or gift exchange) auction was. Once it started, though, we realised it was the same game played on My Family the other night on the (replayed?) Christmas 2009 special. That’s the only other time we’ve heard of the game. It was a lot of fun and we enjoyed the game and the party. It was the first time we saw the New Year in for years.

We slept in this morning. Ha! some might say 8:30 isn’t much of a sleep in, but for me it is. It was warm enough to put water in the pool for Anzac. He splashed and paddled and went to town in it as usual. I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned the way Anzac likes to play with his water bowl, pushing it round the paving, tipping it over and running round with it tossing it in the air. Here’s a video to show you a little of what I mean:

You can probably guess why he has a plastic water bowl and not a stainless steel one. He pushes the stainless steel bowl around the pavers with just as much (if not more) vigour. I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned that he likes to do the same thing with buckets:

Well, this morning he decided he could drag the pool around. That’s a clamshell pool with water in it. He’s not interested in dragging the pool when it’s empty; there’s no water to splash over the sides. He grabbed hold with his teeth and did manage to move it several inches before I told him to stop. He made several attempts and moved it a bit each time.

This afternoon we watched the Hopman Cup tennis and I caught up on some ironing. I’m really not looking forward to Stephen’s new job where he has to wear a business shirt each day.

Tea for 2…

Not much happens in our life and I’m sure it gets a bit boring to read, but I’m continuing with my daily posts regardless.

It was hairdresser day for me today. Back to the hairdresser I thought I’d lost. He’s got a nice little setup now in his home. Still in the process of getting things completely set up, but it’s looking good. And I’m very happy to know I’m getting my hair cut in a way I like it.

It was another pretty warm day (with unpleasantly warmer to come) so Anzac got water in the pool again.Ā  As usual, much splashing was conducted.

After lunch we headed out to do some shopping – some new shirts for Stephen to wear to work, amongst other things. We did have a look at coffee plungers as well. We have a couple of 1 cup plungers; I want a 1litre plunger. Just comparing prices at this stage. Then we called in to the Post Office to pick up a parcel that they had tried to deliver this morning, but that we missed.

I love receiving my orders from T2. They always wrap each item separately in gorgeous wrapping. Even their most simple wrapping is a delight for the senses. It’s always like unpacking presents. It makes it worth it to order online rather than go into a store to buy the tea. There are a couple of places around Perth where T2 Tea can be bought but they have had free shipping this month so that’s an even better reason to buy online. They really did surpass themselves with the packaging this month; for Christmas. Beautiful gold and purple wrapping paper, tied with purple velvet ribbon and gold tassels. And settled into a nest of purple tissue paper. Remember this isn’t a gift-wrapped order,it’s always beautifully wrapped. This is just what T2 do!

T2 Tea Order

T2 Tea Order

FYI: The order contained a 250g tin of English Breakfast, a 250g tin of Russian Caravan and a 250g foil pack of Irish Breakfast (I already have a tin for that).

Housekeeping…

I do like it when the house is nice and clean. I only wish it would stay that way for a while. With the weather here being so dry and windy and the whole area being so sandy the dust is a real nuisance. You wipe a shelf clean at lunch time and by tea time you can see your finger trail as you wipe it across that same shelf. And with our hairy dogs, when you vacuum and wash the floor it looks lovely. But by the time you’ve rinsed the bucket and put the mop away there are new tumbleweeds of hair rolling across the floor.

Today was a housekeeping day. I worked inside and Stephen worked outside in the garden. Then this afternoon a trip to Bunnings.

The security screen installer cam and fitted the new screen in the bathroom. All of our windows and doors finally have security screens. It’s only taken me 3 years to get around to getting this last screen.

Still no word from the fencer. I guess he’s taking this week off. No word from the neighbour’s insurance company yet, either. Hopefully they’ll approve payment of his half for the entire length. There are strong wind warnings out for tonight.

And to finish up, a couple of pictures…

The veggie garden today

The veggie garden today

A dog and his man

A dog and his man

A little bit of this and a little bit of that…

The temperature was much more pleasant today. Down around 30Ā°C (86Ā°F). You feel like getting things done. And I felt like getting a little bit of housework done (just a little bit, mind you). This involved packing the Christmas tree and decorations away. I discovered that the knitted Santa that made had made us several years ago had gone AWOL. Over the Christmas season he usually sits on the bookcase with Mrs. Claus. This morning he was missing, I soon found him, though. He’d gone outside to play in the sandpit with Anzac. It was into the washing machine for a good bath for Santa. He came out as good as new!

Santa, washed and clean and none the worse for wear

Santa, washed and clean and none the worse for wear

While I was packing everything away I decided to give the reindeer antlers one last try on the dogs. They were less than impressed but I did get a few photos.

Kaz Reindeer

Kaz Reindeer

Anzac Reindeer

Anzac Reindeer

Last week when Stephen went to buy his seafood he also came home with a kilo basket of Casa Ricotta. Very nice, but when and how were we going to eat that much ricotta? Well, today he decided to bake some. After a bit of recipe research he added fresh herbs and packed it into a ramekin and into the oven it went. Oh my…

Ricotta ready to bake

Ricotta ready to bake

Finished freshly baked ricotta

Finished baked ricotta

In the meantime we had given the dogs a half marrowbone each. Kaz always buries hers almost straight away so that it can ‘ripen’ a bit. Trouble is, she forgets where she’s buried it. Anzac is top dog when it comes to bones and he won’t let Kaz out of his sight when there are bones around – in case she ends up with one and he can’t find the other – or, heaven forbid, she ends up with his bone! He spent quite a bit of time in one of the nests they’ve dug under the wattle and grevilleas either working on or protecting his bone.

Anzac in his nest

Anzac in his nest under the grevillea and wattle

Anzac with bone

Anzac under the bushes with a bone - taken from a different angle

We are pretty slack when it comes to inviting people over for a meal. We have great intentions but time tends to get away from us. And we do worry about Anzac jumping on people. It’s something we’re trying to tech him not to do but we don’t have very many visitors and the dogs get very excited when anyone does visit. Anyway, back to us not getting round to setting a date to invite friends for meals. It works about better sometimes if people just drop in. That happened today. Isaac and Karen called to check that we were home and then dropped in for a coffee. And we shared the delicious baked ricotta on some crackers. It was lovely to see them and they got to meet the pups.

The moral of this story is: if we’ve been saying that we’ll have to have you over for a meal but haven’t got round to setting a date, then just call us up and say “I’m on my way over, I’ll be there in half an hour”. Just so long as you’re not going to be upset if there’s a bit of dust and dog hair around the place, we’ll all be happy!

We managed to grab a couple of ripe passionfruit for ourselves (before the dogs got to them) and had them on ice cream tonight. They were only small but chock-full of pulp. Yummm Yummm

Passionfruit

Passionfruit