Tuesday, April 30, 2013


I seldom go out but now its been twice in five days.  This time we met our young friend Richard for lunch at the old Rockingham Hotel.  You can see it here in the background to the right of the large pine tree.

It is a real old style Aussie pub and unfortunately, although they have an excellent menu, it is no longer well patronised.  Perhaps it just doesn't attract the moderns who seem to want different exotic foods.  We three all had beer battered fish with well cooked chips and a nice normal salad of lettuce, tomato, cucumber and spinach leaves.  There was a nice Italian salad dressing and tartare sauce so what more could one want?  It was a truly enjoyable meal.

I guess we are just old fashioned and enjoy old fashioned food.  We know we really shouldn't eat fish and chips but as I've said before, we are all entitled to 'do the wrong thing' occasionally and I even had a lemon squash which I am sure was full of sugar!!  I remember the old saying "A little bit of what you fancy does you good".

After lunch we walked (me with my trusty walking frame) to the shops on the 'front' and found a nice little coffee shop and Richard shouted us to a coffee each and we sat and chatted a little longer.

Tonight we will be very good and have a bowl of the delicious tomato, lentil and vegetable soup we made yesterday.  This is not the soup we made but looks very much the same.  A little less curry powder next time perhaps!!

This is the grain terminal seen from Rockingham beach.  It's a great pity such a beautiful area has to have industry so close by but I guess it's called progress so we must be thankful to still have lots of lovely areas left to us and hope they will remain for future generations.

Perhaps it is old age but although I love these outings it always takes me a couple of hours with my feet up when I reach home to recuperate.  Now the weather is cooling down I am determined to get out and about more because I feel we need to do so even if we do both feel rather weary afterwards.  The aches and pains are still there and always will be so why just suffer them at home when there are so many nice places within 30-40 minutes drive from home to visit to take my mind off them for a while.

F is for FOSSA

The fossa (Cryptoprocta ferox) is a cat-like, carnivorous mammal that is endemic to Madasgascar.  It is a member of the Eupleridae, a family of carnivorans closely related to the mongoose family (Herpestidae).  Its classification has been controversial because its physical traits resemble those of cats, yet other traits suggest a close relationship with viverrids (most civets and their relatives).  Its classification, along with that of the other Malagasy carnivores. influenced hypotheses about how many times mammalian carnivores are most closely related to each other (forming a clade, recognised as the family Eupleridae).  Carnivores are how thought to have colonised the island once around 18 to 20 million years ago.

The fossa is the largest mammalian carnivore on the island of Madagascar and has been compared to a small cougar.  Adults have a head-body length of 70-80 cms (28-31 in) and weigh between 5.5-6.8 kg (12-19 lb), with males larger than the females.  It has semi-retractable claws and flexible ankles that allow it to climb up and down trees head-first, and also support jumping from tree to tree.  The fossa is unique within its family for the shape of its genitalia, which share traits with those of cats and hyenas.

The species is widespread, although population densities are usually low.  It is found solely in forested habitats, and actively hunts both by day and night.  Over 50% of its diet consists of lemurs, the endemic primates found on the island; tenrecs, rodents, lizards, birds and other animals are also documented as prey.  Mating usually occurs in trees on horizontal limbs and can last for several hours.  Litters range from one to six pups, which are born blind and toothless (altricial).  Infants wean after 4-5 months and are independent after a year.  Sexual maturity occurs around three to four years of age, and life expectancy in captivity is 20 years.  The fossa is listed as "vulnerable" by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).  It is generally feared by the Malagasy people and is often protected by their taboo, known as 'fady'.  The greatest threat to the species is habitat destruction.

The above shows the distribution of the fossa on the island od Madagascar.

An extinct relative of the fossa was described in 1902 from subfossil remains and recognised as a separate species, Cryptoprocta spelea, in 1935.  This species was larger than the living fossa (with a body mass estimated as twice as great), but otherwise similar.  Across Madagascar people distinguish two kinds of fossa - a large 'fosa mainty' (black fossa) and the 'fosa mena (reddish fossa) - and a white form has been reported in the southwest of the island.  It is unclear whether this is purely folklore or individual variation - related to sex, age or instances of melanism and leucism - or whether there is indeed more than one species of living fossa.

Melanism = the condition of having a high amount of dark or black pigment granules in the skin, hair, eyes etc.
Leucism = In zoology, whiteness resulting from lack of colouring; albinism, partial or complete; a technical term correlated with melanism and erythrism.

I was disappointed to learn that the lemur was one of the creatures that the fossa hunts as I am rather fond of lemurs but I guess it's all part of nature in the wild which one has to accept.

Monday, April 29, 2013

E is for ECHIDNA

Echidnas (pron. 'ikidna'), sometimes known as spiny anteaters, belong to the family Tachyglossidae in the monotreme order of egg-laying mammals.  The four extant species, together with the platypus, are the only surviving members of that order and are the only extant mammals that lay eggs.  Although their diet consists largely of ants and termites, they are no more closely related to the true anteaters of the Americas than to any other placental mammal.  They live in AUSTRALIA and NEW GUINEA.  The echidna is named after a monster in ancient Greek mythology.

Echidnas are small solitary mammals, covered with coarse hair and spines (see above picture).  Superficially, they resemble the anteaters of South America and other spiny mammals such as hedgehogs and porcupines.  They have elongated and slender snouts which function as both mouth and nose.  Like the platypus, they are equipped with electrosensors, but while the platypus has 40,000 electroreceptors on its bill, the long-billed echidna has only 2,000, and the short-billled echidna, which lives in a drier environment has no more than 400 located at the tip of the snout.

The western long-beaked echidna is pictured above.

They have very short, strong limbs with large claws, and are powerful diggers.  Echidnas have tiny mouths and toothless jaws.  The echidna feeds by tearing open soft logs, anthills and the like, and using its long, sticky tongue, which protrudes from its snout, to collect prey.  The short-beaked echidna's diet consists largely of ants and termites, while the Zaglossus species typically eats worms and insect larvae.
Long-beaked echidnas have sharp, tiny spines on their tongues that help capture their prey.

Echidnas and the platypus are the only egg-laying mammals, known as monotremes.  The female lays a single soft-shelled, leathery egg 22 days after mating and deposits it directly into her pouch.  Hatching takes place after 10 days; the young echidna then sucks milk from the pores of the two milk patches (monotremes have no nipples) and remains in the pouch for 45 to 55 days, at which time it develops spines.  The mother digs a nursery burrow and deposits the young, returning every five days to suckle it until it is weaned at seven months.

Three cute little babies complete with spines.  I really love this picture.

Neocortex makes up half the echidna's brain, compared to one-third of a human brain.  Due to their low metabolism and accompanying stress resistance, echidnas are long-lived for their size; the longest recorded lifespan for a captive echidna is 50 years, with anecdotal accounts of wild individuals reaching 45 years.  Contrary to previous research, the echidna does enter REM sleep, but only when the ambient temperature is around 25C (77F).  At temperatures of 21C (59F) and 28C (82F), REM sleep is suppressed.

Molecular clock and fossil dating suggest echidnas split from platypuses 112.5 million years ago.  Echidnas evolved from a water-foraging ancestor which returned to living completely on the land, even though this put them in competition with marsupials.  Consequently, oviparous reproduction in monotremes is suggested to confer advantages over marsupials, a view consistent with present ecological partitioning between monotremes and marsupials.

If you'd like to learn about their reproductive habits I'd suggest you look it up as it is rather a complicated procedure.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

D is for DIBATAG (or dibitag)

The dibatag (Ammodorcas clarkei), also known as Clarke's gazelle, is native to Somalia and Ethiopa.  Its range is significantly smaller than it once was and, in many areas, populations are fragmented.  In the region of Ogaden, where it was once abundant, the northern populations have dwindled due to human civilisations taking over.  In southern Ogaden, it is still present in presentable numbers, most likely due to the natural vegetation and habitat required to sustain it.  It prefers a habitat within arid and sandy grasslands.

The dibatag is actually an antelope, although it resembles a gazelle.  Its tail is striped, and will rise if it feels threatened.  This action grants it the local Somalia name meaning "erect tail".  Males can weigh an average of up to 77 pounds, while females weigh less at 63 pounds.

Many things, including war in its Somalia range, hunting, drought, and the habitat loss that these factors cause, threaten the dibatag.  There are currently no protected areas within its range, and no captive breeding populations.  Despite this, conservationists have proposed efforts to save this species, with Ogaden being the only viable location for these efforts to prove successful.  The dibatag appears n the IUCN Red List wit a conservation status of "Vulnerable".

We can only hope that progress will be made by conservationists to save this species.  It is so sad that such a beautiful animal should face extinction.  There are so many creatures that are threatened these days very often as a result of the actions of mankind.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

C is for CIVET

This is one cat like creature that has always fascinated me and I am not sure there is a lot known about it.
The civet (SIV-it) is a small, lithe-bodied, mostly nocturnal animal native to tropical Asia and Africa, especially the tropical forests.  The term civet applies to over a dozen different mammal species.  Most of the species diversity is found in southeast Asia.  The best-known civet species is the African Civet, Civettictis civetta, which historically has been the main species from which was obtained a musky scent used in perfumery.  The word civet may also refer to the distinctive musky scent produced by the animals.

Civets are called "toddycats" in English and "musang" in Malay.  The latter may lead to some confusion as 'musang' also refers to foxes, but civets are more commonly encountered by humans.

Civets have a broadly cat-like general appearance, though the muzzle is extended and often pointed, rather like an otter or a mongoose.  They range in length from about 17 to 28 inches (43 to 71 cm) (excluding their long tails) and in weight from about 3 to 10 lbs (1.4 to 4.5 kg).

The civet produces a musk (also called civet) highly valued as a fragrance and stabilising agent for perfume.  Both male and female civets produce this strong-smelling secretion, which is produced by the civet's perineal glands.  It is harvested by either killing the animal and removing the glands, or scraping the secretions from the glands of a live animal.  The latter is the preferred method today.

Animal rights group, such as the World Society for the Protection of Animals, express concern that harvesting musk is cruel to animals.  Between these ethical concerns and the availablability of synthetic substitutes, the practice of raising civets for musk is dying out.  Chanel, make of the popular Chanel No. 5 claims that the natural civet has been replaced with a synthetic substitute since 1998.


Palm civets often venture into urban and suburban environments, with people often complaining about civet faeces or noise from the animals climbing on roofs.  Some studies have been undertaken to examine and mitigate human-animal conflict in these cases.

The Raffles Museum of Diversity at the National University of Singapore has adopted the palm civet as its mascot and volunteers call themselves "Toddycats".

Some of the indigenous people in Peninsular Malaysia, the Orang Asli, may occasionally keep pet civets.

Friday, April 26, 2013

B is for BANDICOOT and for BILBY

These are two Australian marsupials that are endangered species.

The SOUTHERN BROWN BANDICOOT (Isoodon obesulus), also known as the quenda from the local Noongar (aboriginal) tongue from South Western Australia, is a short-nosed bandicoot found mostly in southern Australia.

It is always great to see our Australian wildlife featured on our stamps.  Decimal currency was introduced in Australia on 14 February, 1966 so you can see this is quite an old stamp as it shows a face value of 11 pence.

This bandicoot shows some sexual dimorphism with females being slightly smaller than the males.  The average male length is 330 mm (13 in) wit a tail of 120 mm (4.7 in).  Females are about 30mm (1.2 in) shorter than the male, with a 10 mm (0.39 in) shorter tail.  Males weigh an average of 0.9 kg (2.0 lb), females 0.7 kg (1.5 lb).  The fur of this marsupial is coarse and coloured a dark greyish to yellowish brown, with the undersides a creamy-white.  It has short round ears.

Reproduction is linked to local rainfall pattern and many brown bandicoots breed all year round.  A litter of up to 5 young is born after an 11-day gestation and is weaned at 2 months.

While some authorities list as many as five subspecies, the most recent edition of Mammal Species of the World only lists Isoodon obesulus nauticus as a valid subspecies, aside from the nominate; the others are given synonym status.

In many areas of its range, the species is threatened but may be locally common where rainfall is high enough and vegetation cover is thick enough.  Despite depredations from the introduced European Red Fox, in some regions it thrives, being reported anecdotally to be living on properties adjoining shooping and population centres.

Bandicoots live on the grounds of our are St John of God Hospital in Murdoch (not far from where we live) and there are signs around (designed by my daughter for the Dept of Environment and Conservation) telling people that the bandicoots are NOT rats and explaining that they are one of our native animals.  Phil also used to see them quite frequently when he played golf at the Armadale Gold Course.


The BILBY is a desert-living marsupial omonivore, that is a member of the order Peramelemorphia.  Before European colonisation of Australia, there were two species.  One became extinct in the 1950s; the other survives but remains endangered.

These bilby stamps are a much more recent addition to Australian stamps although out of date now.

The term Bilby is a loanword from the Yuwaalaraay Aboriginal language of northern New South Wales, meaning long-nosed rat.  It is known as Dalgite in Western Australia, and the nickname Pinkie is sometimes used in South Australia.  The Wiradjuri of New South Wales also call it bilby.

The bilby has the characteristic long bandicoot muzzle and very long ears.  They are about 29-55 cm in length.  Compared to bandicoots, they have a longer tail,  bigger ears, and softer, silky fur.  The size of their ears allows them to have better hearing as well.  They are nocturnal omnivores that do not need to drink water, as they get the moisture they need from their food, which includes insects and their larvae, seeds, spiders. bulbs, fruit, fungi, and very small animals.  Most food is found by digging or scratching in the soil, and using their very long tongues.

Unlike bandicoots, they are excellent burrowers and build extensive tunnel systems with their strong forelimbs and well-developed claws.  A bilby typically makes a number of burrows within its home range, up to about a dozen; and moves between them, using them for shelter both from predators and the heat of the day.  The female bilby's pouch faces backwards, which prevents her pouch from getting filled with dirt while she is digging.  Bilbies have a very short gestation period of about 12-14 days, one of the shortest among mammals.

Bilbies are slowly becoming endangered because of habitat loss and change as well as the competition with other animals.  There is a national recovery plan being developed for saving these animals: this programme includes breeding in captivity, monitoring populations, and re-establishing bilbies where they once lived.

There have been reasonably successful moves to popularise the bilby as a native alternative to the Easter Bunny by selling chocolate Easter Bilbies (sometimes with a portion of the profits going to bilby protection and research.  (I have bought Easter bilbies to give to grandchildren over the years.  They cost a little more but I feel it is worth it if it will help in any way to keep the little bilby safe).

Successful reintroduction efforts are being made in various parts of Australia one of which is a successful reintroduction in the Peron Peninsula, Western Australia as part of Western Shield.

Thursday, April 25, 2013


As I am very much restricted in my movements and seldom go out there so there is very little of interest in my life that I can write about.  I really enjoyed doing my own A-Z challenge and also the Zodiac.  What next I asked myself?   How about an A-Z of animals, the rarest or most unusual the better.   I am not sure of how much interest this will be to others but I may learn a little more about the wonderful world of nature than I previously knew.  Perhaps others will as well, or at least I hope so.

THE AARDVARK (Orycteropus afer) is a medium-sized burrowing, nocturnal mammal native to Africa.  It is the only living species of the order Tubulidentata, although other prehistoric species and genera of Tubulidetata are known.  It is sometimes colloquially called "African antbear" or the "Cape anteater" after the Cape of Good Hope.  The scientific name of the aardvark comes from the Greek (orykteropous) meaning "digging foot" and afer: from Africa.

It is vaguely pig-like in appearance.  Its body is stout with an arched back and is sparsely covered with coarse hairs.  The limbs are of moderate length.  The front feet have lost the pollex (or 'thumb'), resulting in four toes, while the rear feet have all five toes.  Each toe bears a large, robust nail which is somewhat flattened and shovel-like, and appears to be intermediate between a claw and a hoof.  The ears, which are very effective, are disproportionately long, and the tail is very thick at the base and gradually tapers. The greatly elongated head is set on a short, thick neck, and the end of the snout bears a disc, which houses it's nostrils.  The snout resembles an elongated pig snout.  The mouth is small and tubular, typical of species that feed on ants and termites.  The aardvark has a long, thin, snakelike, protruding tongue (as much as 30 cms (12") long and elaborate structures supporting a keen sense of smell.  It has short powerful legs and compact claws.

An aardvark's weight is typically between 40 and 65 kilograms (88 and 140 lb).  The length is usually between 1 and 1.3 metres (3.3 and 4.3 ft) and can reach lengths of 2.2 metres (7'3") when its tail (which can be up to 70 cms (28") is taken into account.  It is pale yellowish-gray in colour and often stained reddish-brown by soil.  The coat is thin, and the animal's primary protection is its tough skin.  It has been known to sleep in a recently excavated ant nest, which also serves as protection from its predators.

Genetically speaking, the aardvark is a living fossil, as its chromosomes are highly conserved, reflecting much of the early eutherian arrangement before the divergence of the major modern taxa.

Aardvarks live in sub-Saharan Africa, where there is suitable habitat for them to live, such as savannas, grasslands, woodlands and bushland, and available food (i.e. ants and termites).  The only major habitat  they are not present in is swamp forest.  They have been documented as high as 3,200 metres (10,500ft) in Ethopia.  They are known to live throughout sub-Saharan Africa all the way to South Africa with few exceptions.  These exceptions are coastal areas of Namibia, Ivory Coast and Ghana.  They are also not present in Madasgascar.

Fossils from the aardvark have been dated to 5 million years, and have been located throughout Europe and Asia.  A close relative lived in Madagascar during the last ice age.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013


SCORPIO....The Scorpion....23 October to 22 November.

Your element is Water and your quality is Fixed.  As a Scorpio you are the most intense and penetrating of the Water signs.  The Water element means you are a feeling type, emotionally driven, seeking financial security, emotional satisfaction and creative release.

Being the fixed Water sign means you specialise in holding patterns and fixed emotions  You are capable of intense devotion and intense dislikes, obsessions that help and sometimes harm you.  No shades of grey but plenty of white-hot passions and sometimes black moods, stir Scorpio's deep heart.  You are the eighth sign, the sign of the hidden mysteries, your key phrase "I transform".

Your Planetary Ruler is MARS : Planet of Vital Energy.

Your two ruling planets, the traditional Mars and the modern ruler Pluto both represent power and energy.  Intense emotional connections, psychological penetration and a strong sense of purpose are the direction that your Water flows.  In ancient Arabic astrology "scorpio is of cold and humid nature" and "its angel holds the keys of the creation of fire."  Your speciality is going beneath the surface, stoking the fires from a deep hidden place   In the body Scorpio rules the bladder, colon, prostate gland, urinary system and the male and female sexual organs.  You don't simply simmer - you positively steam!

Mars represents passion and vital energy.  Pluto represents the interlinked cycles of life and death.  The special message they carry for Scorpio is the secret of conserving and transmuting vital energy.

Well this is one star sign I find really fascinating and I am disappointed I can't think of anyone I know or have known who was born under this sign.  Perhaps this is your star sign....is this you?

As mentioned previously these are extracts from Astrology with Christine Broadbent and if anyone should want further information the website is http://astrologyspot.com.au.

I hope you have enjoyed finding out whether or not you, your family or friends are true to your star sign.  It's amazing how often the description seems spot on but there are so many millions born under each star sign it is improbable they would all be the same but perhaps just variations on a theme.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013


VIRGO...The Virgin...23 August to 22 September (my lifelong friend who passed away a few years ago was born under this sign.  I will be interested to see if this describes her although having been born on the cusp this may not be the case.).

Virgo your element is Earth and your quality is mutable.  You are the most mentally oriented Earth sign, ruled by messenger Mercury.  The Earth element means you are a sensate type, motivated by practical goals.

As the mutable Earth sign, you are able to juggle many different facts and details at once and usually manage them all.  Able to shift and change readily, 'mutability' is the basis of your management skills.  Virgo can be most neat and organised or chaotic and messy, but there will always be some corner of your home, which shows your obsession with order.  You are most happy when able to serve your ambitions and the people you love, but also able to keep time for yourself in your busy schedule.  Sixth sign of the zodiac, your key phrase is "I analyse".

Your Planetary Ruler is MERCURY : Planet of the Mind

Analysing details and making perfect sense of them, reaching goals through careful management of time and energy - these activities make you the sign of the earthy harvest.  In ancient Arabic astrology Virgo is "of cold and dry nature (terrestrial)" and your angel "rules the bodies...and in particular the human body".  Mercury is associated with short journeys, with intelligence, with the ability to reason and analyse.  Mercury rules both Virgo and Gemini and Virgo is the 'night sign' of Mercury.  In the body Virgo rules the intestines, digestive organs and bowels.  Your key to good health is developing the ability to put worries and concerns aside at the end of the day and listening to your digestion as an aid to appropriate diet.

Mercury represents the dexterity of the mind and the ability to read people.  His special message for Virgo is to serenely do your work in the world, while trusting that others too can carry the load.

Did this describe my friend?  Well, 'chaotic and messy' is spot on and she was always trying to decide what made other people tick but I'm not sure if she had the ability to accurately read people or not.  I do know that she had a wonderful sense of humour and we had so many good laughs together and I miss her.  How about you?  Were you born under this star sign?

Monday, April 22, 2013


I had previously considered putting this subject on my blog but it is not a very pleasant one and yet one that does exist and Delores on 'the feathered nest' used it in her aging A-Z series so instead of writing reams about it on her page I decided I'd use it here.

I contracted chicken pox in 1957 when my daughter was nearly two and I was pregnant with my son.  I could not go to bed as I had a husband (the first one who was no help at all but we won't go into that), a toddler and a house to look after but I recovered quite well and thought no more about it....until:

I contracted shingles in July, 2010.  It began with a few small blistery type lumps on my forehead from which my GP took a few swabs and sent them off to pathology.  He put me on antibiotics because he was uncertain what the problem was and I feel he may have been thinking of one of the golden staph infections.

I suggested shingles so on the 2nd day he put me on the medication to help prevent them progressing too far.  We may have left it a tad late because the rash spread down the right side of my face and although this photo is disgusting it will give you some idea of how bad I looked.

Sorry to do that to you and I made the picture as small as I could.  I may not be a raving beauty at the best of times but I was not a pretty sight at all and yet my wonderful other half treated me as though my face didn't look like something out of a horror move and he helped as much as he could to make me feel 'normal'.

The rash spread down the side of my face and there was even one spot just above my mouth. I didn't scratch and yet I have white scars on my forehead so now have to make sure I have a fringe to cover them.  My right eye fortunately didn't get an infection in it (the medication may have helped there) but that side of my face swelled so much the doctor put me on cortisone tablets to help take the swelling down.  It didn't go down completely so now one side of my face is permanently puffier than the other.

I am very fortunate that I don't have continuing neuralgia which apparently can go on being painful for years after the rash has gone.  I do have some strange little sensations at times on the right side of my forehead and there is a rough area where I think there should have been blisters which never eventuated.  That area sometimes feels a bit tight and uncomfortable but fortunately is not really painful.

Although I believe it is not 100% reliable, I am wondering should I suggest having the vaccine that is available as my dermatologist told me recently his mother had had shingles twice.  That is something I could well do without so I may mention the vaccine next time I visit my GP.  Perhaps I did ask him back in 2010 and was told 'no'?

Unfortunately the double lot of antibiotics caused other problems even though I didn't take the full course of either once the problem was confirmed as shingles.  I just needed an attack of thrush following on the above but that's what antibiotics can do to us.  I also had a bladder infection which seemed linked to the shingles as well so more antibiotics.  2010...a year to forget until 2011 when I dislocated my left shoulder.....another story there?  No.   I think I'll leave it for now.


CANCER...The Crab...22 June to 22 July (my lovely daughter-in-law was born under this sign).

 Cancer, your element is Water and your quality is 'cardinal'.  As the most driven Water sign, you take charge of heart matters, home matters and business matters with organic ease.  The Water element means you are a Feeling Type, physically attuned, sensitive by nature, with emotional insight and healing potential.

'Cardinal' means you are a mover and shakers, driven by a rush of feeling-oriented energy.  Your feelings are expansive and your awareness of people's needs, of moods and atmospheres, make it easy for you to take charge by giving people what they need.  Your way of pushing things to happen is a very subtle way, working on emotions.  Your sensitivity can also pull you away from people. sending you scuttling for a sea cave, beset by fears and worries or simply in a deep Moon-wane.  You are happiest when protecting the people and home you love, while using your natural gifts in a creatively satisfying way.  You are the 'mother' of the zodiac, the fourth sign and your key phrase "I nuture".

Your Planetary Ruler:  MOON : Planet of Feeling

Lavishing attention on those you love and obeying the impulses of your heart, keeps you on the move.  In ancient Arabic astrology Cancer is "of cold and humid nature" and "It's angel holds the keys of the creation of the world."  Being the moon's own sign you keep your psychic antenna in constant use and tend to wax and wane.  Emotionally absorbent around other people, and driven to achieve your goals, you need regular rest.  If like the Moon you could retreat every month as the Moon wanes until after the 'black' New Moon, your moods and general health would benefit greatly.  Since life's demands make this difficult, just easing off the pressure during those low energy Moon times and getting some solitude, will restore your creative spark.  Emotional insight is the Moon's gift and constant reponsiveness gets heavy, so never feel guilty about time out.  The parts of the body ruled by Cancer are the stomach, breasts, diaphragm, womb, ribs and abdominal organs.  Sometimes sensitive to food allergies and often sensitive to hormonal shifts, Cancer is happiest and healthiest with a simple well-planned diet and a gentle, supportive home atmosphere.

The Moon represnets the receptive flow of life, the mediator of the human heart.  Her special message for Caner is to honour your own truth and trust your organic wisdom.

My daughter-in-law is a wonderful home maker but also has a very important bank job so an all rounder.  She certainly protects her home and the people she loves.  She puts up with my son better than anyone else could and they've now been wed for 28 years.  If you were born under this star sign is this you?

Extracts from Astrology with Christine Broadbent.

Sunday, April 21, 2013


PISCES...The Fish 19 February to 20 March (my later brother was a Pisces)

Pisces you are the mystic of the Water signs, sometimes even a mystery to yourself - the frequently changing 'mutable ' Water sign.  The water element means you are a feeling type, motivated by strong emotions, visionary impulses and feeling attachments.

As the 'mutable' Water sign, you flow from feeling to feeling, plan to plan, vision to vision.  This makes you highly creative or gifted at working with other people and sometimes just predictably unpredictable.  You are the sign most likely to motivate yourself to do something by saying you will never do it again.  You are also very skilled in a helping capacity, naturally comfortable with service,  and yet you easily evoke the help of others by readily expressing vulnerability.  You are most happy when you can follow your dreams, while immediately linking with other people's dreams.  As the dreamer your key phrase is "I imagine".

Your Planetary Ruler is JUPITER : Planet of Wisdom

A rich imagination and an impulse to merge with others are the way your Water flows.  A caring sensitive nature, with the ability to 'tune-in' to others, ancient Arabic astrology describes you thus:  "Pisces are of cold and humid nature (aqueous).  Their angel rules...luminous bodies and the tenebrous bodies and in particular it holds the keys to the creation of animals".  Indeed just as animals pick up changes in the weather before humans, so Pisces tends to pick up changes in the emotional atmosphere before most other signs.  You are the 'night sign' of planet Jupiter, expressing Jupiter's wisdom quest in a more private introverted way than Jupiter's other sign - Sagittarius.  Faith, hope and optimism are some of the gifts Jupiter endows.  In the body Pisces rules the feet, the lymphatic and glandular systems and the synovial fluids.

The most receptive of the signs and often wildly sociable, Pisces is happiest when all the worldly activities are complimented by secrets and solitude.  Neptune endows an other-worldly quality that must be somehow integrated for Pisces to feel whole.  with Jupiter representing the quest for adventure and wisdom and Neptune the search for transcendence, their special message to Pisces is to follow your dreams with your feet on the ground.

Thinking back to my brother I am not sure this description fits him very well although he did like to socialise but I am not sure he was that able to tune into others.  He did follow his dream and joined the RAAF in 1939 prior to WW2.  He had a beautiful baritone voice and did take part in musical comedy stage shows (Gilbert and Sullivan) where his imagination would have helped a lot.  Are you a Pisces and is this you?

Once again this is an extract from "Astrology with Christine Broadbent".

Saturday, April 20, 2013


I am feeling down and badly let down too.  We have been with Telstra for well of 45 years and for some stupid reason one feels that loyalty to a company should  bring results if we have problems.  Unfortunately that is not the case these days.  I feel that some of these companies just want to make money for their shareholders and the people that spend that money with them can go jump in the lake.  Why do I feel like this?  Read on if you have the time and the patience to do so.

The telephone we are hoping to be able to use again S O O N if someone will just stop the bloody noise on it.  I am suffering from severe frustration that is verging on nervous exhaustion.  I can usually find something funny in everything but right now my sense of humour is wearing very thin.

Just over 2 weeks ago we reported to Telstra a noise on the line which appeared to be interfering with the internet connection.   The noise had been there for several weeks but was quite faint so no problem hearing or being heard so we had not bothered reporting such a minor problem.  The noise had increased to some extent but still didn't interfere very much with our hearing people or being heard.

We received a text message on our mobile (cell) phone that the problem would be fixed by 19.00 on 10 April and anther text on 10 April to say the problem had been fixed on that date.  The Telstra technician also arrived at our place to say he had found the fault 'up the road' and he 'thought' it should be OK which in itself was not all that reassuring.

During this time I discovered my ISP was having problems at our local telephone exchange and that appears to have been the problem with the internet connection which worked fine from then with a few hiccups along the way, reason for which is unknown but it seems fine now (touch wood).

Two days after the phone line was 'fixed' the noise returned but this time so loud that people cannot hear what I am saying nor I them.  Telephoned Telstra to report the fault again (of course we don't get to talk to anyone in Australia but rather in the Phillipines or some other overseas place).  Was told 'she' would ring back on my mobile so we could hear each other which I appreciated her doing.  Fault reported and another text message that from Telstra that they were committed that this fault would be fixed by 19.00 (love that time don't you?  always the same time) on 19 April.

I had explained that we were two elderly people in our 80s and couldn't afford to be using our mobile phone for everyday and sometimes lengthy calls and needed our landline to be in working order.  Was told it would be marked 'urgent' and the fault should be fixed before the 19 April.

At 12.45p.m. on 19 April I felt fully justified in asking how the work was progressing in fixing the fault so I telephoned Telstra and asked if the fault would definitely be fixed as per their commitment in their text message.  The young woman said "Yes it will be fixed OK.  A technician is currently working on your landline and the problem will be fixed before 7 p.m. tonight".  I now know that was a straight out lie.  (This is obviously part of their training....keep the customer happy by telling lies).  Nothing more I could do so said "thanks, that will be great" mean time keeping my fingers crossed.

19.00 on 19 April came and went and guess what?  You've got it right.   That damned loud noise was still on the line so I telephoned again and this time speak to a very polite (they are trained to be that way of course) young man who immediately called me back on our mobile and then told me that the fault had been corrected on 10 April (we knew about that and that it really hadn't solved the problem which was now so much worse) but no work had been done today (19 April) at all which proved what I had been told earlier in the day WAS a lie.  I mentioned this to him and said "so I was actually told a lie about the work being done" to which he reluctantly said "Yes it would seem so."

I explained once again that we could not afford to use our mobile phone for general use but needed our landline to be in good working order.  I also asked to be put through to either a supervisor or perhaps speak to somebody in Australia but that just sort of gets ignored.

Once again I was promised the work would be marked as 'urgent' to which I replied that I doubted anyone worked on the weekends in Australia so not much hope of immediate results.  I was then told he hoped to have this work done ASAP and would keep checking each time he was on duty to see what was happening.  There was nothing else I could do so had to accept that result.

He then gave me the date by which time this noise on the landline should be fixed and I couldn't really believe my ears when he said it should be repaired by 29 APRIL!!   We have of course received another text message saying 'REMINDER FROM TELSTRA.  COMMITMENT TO REPAIR FAULT ON (our number) BY 29/4/2013 by 19.00.  This after the text that said they were committed to remedy the fault by 19 April which commitment had not been fulfilled.

I have sent a polite but forceful email to Telstra in Australia (have received acknowledgement that they will attend to it within FIVE working days) so will be interested in seeing if anything comes from that. I have also written a long letter setting out all the above to Telstra Corporation in Melbourne.  That letter will probably be passed on to some underling who will pop it in the TOO HARD basket to be attended to when he gets around to doing it.  As you can see the faith I once had in human beings is wearing very thin.

There is a big contrast between the service one gets from a huge company like Telstra and a smaller one like Tap Doctor.  Yesterday I sent an email to Tap Doctor outlining the problem we were having with our bathroom toilet and we had a call back on our mobile within half an hour and an hour later the plumber arrived, fixed the faults and gave us a one year guarantee on the work.  No call out fee and what we considered a reasonable charge for the work done.  At least now we have the convenience of using our bathroom toilet when we get up in the night but are left wondering if we will have a usable landline come Christmas.

This is the toilet (or one very like this one) we will once again have access to overnight thanks to some very efficient people at Tap Doctor.....bless 'em.

If I don't get a result of some kind from somewhere in the next few days I will telephone Telstra's Melbourne head office in the hope of being able to talk to someone there who will listen to my concerns and take them seriously.


TAURUS....The Bull...21 April to 20 May  (My #4 granddaughter and late sister-in-law were born under this sign).

Taurus, is the Fixed Earth sign, and represents the fertile earth herself.   Taurus specialises in making people and things grow.  The Earth element means you are a Sensate Type, physical, sensuous and sensually driven, slow-moving.

Your Fixed quality means you have fixed attachments, favoured ways of doing things, regular habits by preference, earthy routines unlikely to vary.  It also means you seek depth of connection, take your time, display great patience, make things grow.  You can also get stuck in tender traps, hold in your feelings and close your minds to other people's values if they are too different from yours.  You are most happy when you feel an organic connection with your body and with nature, while putting your higher values into practice.  You are 'the utiliser' of the zodiac, the second sign, and your key phrase is "I have".

Planetary Ruler is VENUS: Planet of love and pleasure.

Substance, beauty, consumption and pleasure are your earthy concerns.  In ancient Arabic astrology Taurus is "of cold and dry nature" and "its angel holds the keys of the creation of paradise and of hell." As one of the signs linked to the desire nature, you are well aware that desires fulfilled can be heaven or hell.

Venus is associated with harmony, companionship, beauty, love, luxury, sensitivity and indulgence.  Venus rules both Taurus and Libra. and Taurus is 'the night sign' of Venus.  In the body Taurus rules the neck, throat, thyroid gland, larynx, vocal chords and shoulders.  Sufficient times of quiet and rest as well as regular rests from rich foods and drink make a healthy happy Bull.

Venus represents the bounty of balanced pleasures and also the harsh consequences if desires overpower love.  Her special message to Taurus is to enjoy the bounty of life guided by the light of love.

My sister-in-law always had a beautiful garden so obviously had a green thumb. She admired lovely things and her home was always well kept.  She certainly had to show patience as my late brother could be somewhat trying at times.   Not having seen my granddaughter for over 11 years I can't really say whether she is a true Taurus or not.  Were you or a member of your family born under this sign and, if so, do you run true to form?

Friday, April 19, 2013


ARIES...THE RAM....21 March to 20 April   (my adopted mother was born under this sign).

Element:  Fire  Quality: Cardinal

Aries, you are the most volatile and passionate of the Fire signs, eager and playful.  You are the 'cardinal' Fire sign.  The Fire element means you are an Intuitive Type, driven by enthusiasms, excitable, spontaneous.

'Cardinal' means you are a mover and shaker, action oriented, expansive and like to take charge.  It means you are one of the 'pushers' of the zodiac, first to leap in and have your say. Your spontaneity sometimes gets you into trouble, if for instance you lead with your mouth via a tactless statement.  Or you might leap into a project only to butt your head on all of the boring details you did not consider.   You are most happy when you discover your truly authentic self and share your enthusiasms with others, using your competitive energy constructively.  You are the 'child' of the zodiac, the first sign, your key phrase: "I Am".

Your Planetary Ruler:  MARS: Planet of Vital Energy

Spontaneous action and exuberant energy are typical ways your Fire manifests.  In ancient Arabic astrology Aries is "of hot and dry nature" and your "angel holds the key of the creation of qualities and of accidents."  Your ruler, Mars, is associated with sexual energy, with warfare, desire and conflict.  Energy and courage and a pioneering spirit are some of his gifts to Aries.  Since the red planet rules both Aries and Scorpio, you are called the 'day sign' of Mars.  In the body Aries rules the head, the brain, the pineal gland and the eyesight.  Head strong though you are, you are most happy when peacefully engaged in mentally stimulating activities.

Mars represents the sheer vitality of leaping into life shrinking from no challenge.  His special message for Aries is to leap high, reach wide and face challenges with courage.

I am rather gob smacked as this is such an accurate description of my fantastic mum.  I can't speak for her sexual energy as children don't think of their parents in that way but her pioneering spirit and sheer vitality and not shrinking from any challenge is mum to a tee.  She did leap high, reach wide and face challenges with courage.  I can never really remember her being tactless though. After this perhaps I am inclined to become more of a believer than I was previously....perhaps!!  If you come under the sign of Aries does this description fit you too?

Thursday, April 18, 2013


It was either March or April way back in the 1970s when I was working at the Forests Department that I remember one day talking to a colleague about the weather and when we could hopefully expect some cooler weather and rain.  He had worked in one of the country divisions of the department and said the old 'bushies' always used to say that "if it the weather doesn't break before Easter then it won't break until the second Sunday after Easter."

I don't think this has always been the case although in some years the weather has actually broken at Easter 'cos when we'd be holidaying in Mandurah I remember the camping area near the Estuary being inundated when it rained quite heavily.  This happened on several occasions so the weather definitely does sometimes break right on Easter.

Perhaps other years it has been difficult to define when this may have happened but I do know this year we began with an extremely hot April (we had a somewhat cooler than usual March) but as from the second Sunday after Easter our weather has begun to cool down somewhat.  We've not had the amount of rain we would like but at least the days have cooled down with no more temperatures in the 30Cs.

The temperatures in Perth since Easter had ranged from 27.3C to 37.3C with 9 days well above 30C.  Since Sunday 14th the temperatures have all been below 30C and we have days in the low 20s forecast from next Saturday onwards.  All we now need is for the nights to cool down and some of that rain we are being promised and most folk will be happy.

Obviously the moon has something to do with when Easter is set and it also affects the tides etc. on earth but it would seem the old chaps in the bush certainly did know what they were talking about.  It is a pity much of that bush knowledge has been lost to us.  As with old wives' tales of yore, people don't stop and listen to the old folk any more.


GEMINI...The Cosmic Twins...21 May to 21 June.  (My #3 granddaughter and my first husband were born under this sign).

You Gemini are the Mutable Air sign.  The Air element means you are a Thinking Type, mentally driven, communicative, fast-moving.

Your "Mutable" quality means you are versatile, flexible drawn to synthesise facts, put things together  It also means you are one of the "Dual" signs, double natured prone to mutate and change rapidly.  For example you easily swing between bright vivacious and dark withdrawn; or between cear simple logic and a chaos of unfinished ends.  You are most happy when, despite your busy life, your 'dark twin' is embraced via periods of solitary creative work and by relationships that encourage your emotional side to emerge.  You are the 'thinker' of the zodiac, the third sign, your key phrase: "I Connect".

Your Planetary Ruler:  MERCURY : Planet of the Mind.

Communication and a variety of life experiences are the Air you breathe  In ancient Arabic astrology Gemini is said to he "of hot and humid nature" and "your angel holds the key to the creation of metals".  Mercury is associated with short journeys, with brothers and sisters, and with intellect and the ability to reason.  Mercury rules both Gemini and Virgo, and Gemini is the 'day sign' of Mercury.  In the body Gemini rules the arms, hands, lungs, thymus gland, bronchial tubes and the faculty of speech. Talking is like breathing for some Geminis and multi-tasking with several sound and sight sources operating simultaneously, like computer, TV and telephone together, is easy for Gemini.  As a Twin, you are most happy when engaged in stimulating mental activities with a friend close by.

Mercury represents the magic of duality - the complementary pairing of opposites and the flexibility of an open mind.  His special message to Gemini is to let your ever curious mind be guided by the light of wisdom.

There are several aspects of this Gemini description that remind me very much of my #3 granddaughter, particularly her ability to multi-task....talk on the 'phone while using the computer with the TV going in the background.  She always says she is a true Gemini and is certainly a good communicator as was my first husband but in his case it is his habit to talk... mainly about himself.  (Miaow)

Wednesday, April 17, 2013


I have recently been sorting books to put them in bookcases I've inherited from my daughter and among them there's one called "The House Plant Expert" by Dr DG. Hessayon.  It is of course intended for use in the UK where it was published in 1980.  I bought it as I'd always hoped to grow house plants and some of the plants in this book are those available here.

The book had been put away for years because I realised I was just not meant to grow plants in my home even though I've had success in our garden over the years.  I even have garden plants that self propagate such as weeping peppermint, duranta, lavender, cotoneaster and the like so no problems.  Indoor plants?  No!

Having found the book again I was browsing through it and amusing myself smiling at the number of plants which we in Australia take for granted can be grown out of doors.  These included several species of eucalyptus and even Norfolk Island Pine.  It was recommended that these be discarded after several years as they tend to grow rather large.  Yes, you could certainly say that.

I do love this book as the illustrations are a delight and the descriptions of plants, their care, and various diseases are well set out.  Each section even has "Secrets of Success" and "Special Problems" so I am sure most people would find, if they followed the instructions, they would have some wonderful indoor plants growing.

It was when I came to page 92 that I saw the heading OXALIS!!!  Now in our garden oxalis is a dreadful weed that takes a lot of getting rid of.  Oh yes, it is an attractive plant with pretty pink or purplish flowers but it has these little tubers that break off when you pull the main plant from the ground resulting in lots more oxalis the following season.  You don't even always know it's there until those little pink flowers show themselves!!

Oxalis has been included in the "Jumping the Garden fence" report (WWF-Australia PDF-1.19mb) which examines the impact of invasive garden plants on Australian agricultural land and natural ecosystems.  It is a serious weed in this country.

I guess it is safe to grow indoors in pots but I hope anyone overseas that does so never thinks they'll just tip them out into the garden when they are finished or they could end up with the problem we have here unless of course they wouldn't grow in a cold climate.

I will still enjoy going through this book as much as ever and am wondering why over the years that I'd never noticed oxalis was included.


AQUARIUS...The Water Bearer.....21 January to 18 February  (My eldest granddaughter was born under this sign as was her daughter - my #2 great-granddaughter).

Aquarius you are the fixed thinker of the Air signs, determined and clever.  The Air element means you are a thinking type motivated by beliefs, strong opinions and interaction with other people.

As the 'fixed' air sign you put a lot of energy into forming opinions and hold to them strongly.  Driven by two planets, each representing opposite principles you frequently display a 'wild' side, linked to planet Uranus and prompting eccentric leanings, as well as a structured ambitious hard working Saturnian side.  You are most happy when you are doing something different in a big ambitious way.  You are the thinker of the zodiac, your key phrase: "I serve humanity."

Your planetary rulers are:
SATURN: Planet of Material Form and
URANUS: Planet of Intuitive Impulse

A strong desire to connect with groups of people, to express humanitarian principles and to explore social life, are what drive you forward.  The 'waters' that the Water Bearer carries are the waters of humanity and Aquarius serves humanity.  Ancient Arabic Astrology says Aquarius is "of hot and humid nature (aerial).  Its angel is generous and is under the terror of the Majesty; he holds the keys of the spirits."  Spirited and different are words frequently applied to Aquarius and this carries through to the powerful differences between your two ruling planets.  Traditional ruler, Saturn, endows structure and ambition and conservative values while your modern ruler, Uranus, endows intuition and inventive, restless spurts of energy.  As an Air sign you manifest these different sides of yourself in the way you think and communicate and in some of the quirky choices you make.  It is often your job to keep people guessing?  The aspects of the body ruled by Aquarius are the ankles, calves, tibia, fibula. shin bone and the breath.  "Spiritus" or breath is critical to your wellbeing and Aquarians benefit greatly from meditation techniques and deep slow breathing.  It stills the restless mind.

There is a recurrent theme in your Aquarian mythology which is about patriachal power, protecting that power and the earth matriarch rebelling against this divisive approach to community.  You are the sign of the community and you often find yourself in positions of power.  The correct use of your power and the ability to build effective group enterprises is a special Aquarian challenge.  This is one of your strongest character building lessons and your other big lesson has a similar theme.  This is learning to strike the right balance between your restless, inquiring mind and your often neglected body.  It is important to live in your body as well as your head!

Uranus represents the aspiring and inspired mind that leads you ever onward, while Saturn represents the reality of the material world and the need to nurture your body.  Their special message for Aquarius is following your mental aspirations and humanitarian goals while honouring body and soul needs.

Mmm, I can definitely see this granddaughter of mine in the above and I wish she would find the time in her busy, busy world to perhaps meditate a little and breath slowly and deeply for her body's sake.  Her little girl is only 5 so perhaps a wee bit soon to say whether she is a true Aquarian or not but she is certainly very inventive, has lots of energy and does enjoy being with groups of people.

Are you born under the Aquarius star sign and, if you are, is this a true description of you?