Friday, October 31, 2014

A Quick Update from Kakka

Just thought I would hijack Mum's blog and post this pic of her I took last night post op.

She is doing well, and should be home tomorrow morning (that's Saturday our time).

I am sure she will be back here soon and give you all the details, they removed the para-thyriod that had the adenoma and she still has her voice although her throat is quite sore when she swallows.

Cheers Kakka xxx

Wednesday, October 29, 2014


I saw my surgeon on Monday (gee, he's really great, answers any questions you ask and explains everything so well) and he told us (Phil always comes with me to medical appointments) that the CT scan showed I have what seems to be an adenoma on one of my parathyroid glands on the left side.  This is more or less what it would look like:

The glands themselves are tiny, about the size of a lentil seed and in some cases there can be less or more than four and they are not always where they are supposed to be.  I am hoping mine are where they belong.  I was told the 'spot' could actually be on the thyroid itself but hopefully this is not the case.  I don't really need any complications as I am hoping it will be quite a short operation.

We discussed the situation thoroughly and the surgeon's advice was that this adenoma should be removed or otherwise calcium will be leached from my bones etc. etc. etc. even though my bones last year showed they were then very solid when I had the bone density scan done.  We could of course continue to have more tests over the coming months/years but this condition does not cure itself so tomorrow I go Murdoch Hospital (have to be there at 7am which is not our time of day at all) and I was told I will be 'first cab off the rank" which is good news, particularly as I am diabetic.  Without knowing the full extent of what he will find the doctor has recommended a general anaesthetic as anything being done to the throat can cause coughing which would be rather dangerous when surgery is being undertaken.

I know this is risky at my age but there is little choice and I am sincerely hoping that if I have this operation I will begin to feel better in several ways, first of which is to feel less tired and 'washed out' every day and perhaps less bone pain and muscle cramps.  It seems this condition can also leach our phosphorus and magnesium and the lack of the latter can cause cramps.   The metformin I take for diabetes also leaches magnesium from the body so this could hopefully help that problem be resolved to some extent.

While I was at the surgery the doctor anaethetised my nose and throat and a camera was popped down to check my voice box which fortunately is OK (Phil confirmed that he had no doubt my voice box worked quite well) which I think was good news.    That only took less than 5 minutes and not all that uncomfortable although yesterday I was still feeling the after effects which gradually wore off during the day.

I have to go to the hospital to pre-admission this afternoon and have checked with Hospital Benefit Fund who tell me I am covered for a private room (after first paying a $200 excess) so ask for one (which I already did on the form) and that both the surgeon and anaesthetist are partly covered so hopefully the 'gap' won't be too huge.

Hopefully I will only be in hospital for a couple of days at most but I won't come home unless I feel confident I am OK as, apart from Phil, I have nobody to call on should anything go wrong.  Phil is wonderful but should I faint (I never have yet) or similar he'd have no chance of getting me up off the floor.

Wish me luck and hopefully I will be back here with you, hopefully feeling somewhat better, by next week if not earlier.   I have some more information about grandfather (PR) which you may find of interest.  Until then, au revoir.

P.S.  I just checked back to make sure this post appeared OK and couldn't believe it when it said I had posted it 20 minutes ago when, in fact, I posted it at least 4-5 hours back.  Where do these things go to in cyber pace before they appear here I wonder?

Friday, October 24, 2014


Hopefully before you'll actually realise I've been gone.

Just needed a break after this past week of medical tests.  It's always a bit scary when waiting for results, especially of our chests.   Phil's CT scan was clear and my x-ray was also clear so big sighs of relief from both of us.

I had a whole lot of blood tests done to do with this excess calcium business.  I have a copy of those tests but as I've never had them done before they are more or less double dutch to me although a couple look not quite right.  I'll find out about all that soon but doubt there's anything very serious showing up.

Of course I don't have the result of the CT scan of my parathyroid glands but have had a call from the surgeon's lovely receptionist who said 'something' has shown up so will definitely head over there for my appointment on Monday next.   Am hoping there may be an adenoma on just one of the four glands which can be removed reasonably easily.   Have to wait of course to see what the specialist has to say.

I've been reading up about it and if I do have an adenoma and it can be removed I can hope to feel lots better in many ways but I mustn't jump the gun as I may be told something entirely different to what I am anticipating.   I've always been a great believer in the old saying "Don't count your chicken until you come to them" or is "Don't cross your bridges until they're hatched"???  You know what I'm getting at don't you?

That CT scan was one of those where they take pics ('please do not swallow' was said several times) and after about 20 minutes they add something into the canulla which makes you just oh so hot all over for several seconds.  Even though you are expecting it, it still comes as quite a surprise.  My old back stood up to it quite well this time but the old shoulders suffered  a bit as the bench you lie on is so narrow there's nowhere to rest the poor old shoulders on. 

Mustn't complain as the gentleman who looked after me was just soooooo nice.  I couldn't have asked for anyone better.  I had to give him an idea of which vein to use to pop the canulla in and it worked OK and didn't hurt a bit which shows you how experienced he was at his work.  I told him I thought he was marvellous and I think he deserved every word of that praise.  I think he would have been  in his fifties and looked so much like my orthopaedic surgeon that they could have been brothers.  He said he'd have preferred it if I'd said he looked like Brad Pitt or someone like that and I was sorry to disappoint him.

My apologies for not visiting your blogs or replying to your comments this week but I will definitely do that over the weekend, even is I don't post anything myself.  Thanks for your patience.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014


A couple of days ago I spoke of my grandfather Percy Rockliff (1869-1958) (and always known as PR).  He was my adoptive mother's dad and in her book "Clock of Time' she writes quite a lot about him.  She said she felt he called himself PR as it is quite likely he did not like his given name of Percy and he had no second christian name.  Although she didn't see much of him when she was a child (that itself is another story) and never once she left the UK, I know she was very proud of him and the social work he had done.  In her book she included an extract from "Who's Who" as follows:

"ROCKLIFF, PERCY, O.B.E., F.S.S., F.F.I., F.C.I.I:  Past Chairman Insurance Committee for County of London; Past President Faculty of Insurance; Member of Consultative Council to Minister of Health; Vice-President Insurance Institute for London; Hon Secretary Joint Committee of Approved Societies; (Lloyd George's National Health Insurance); Member of Dental (Statutory) Council and Opthalmic Benefit Approved Committee; Executive Member Central Council for District Nursing; Joint Secretary National Insurance Benefit Society; Secretary of New Tabernacle and London & Country Approved Societies since 1912, until they were taken over by the State under the Beveridge Plan in about 1947/8; Secretary of the National Union of Holloway Friendly Societies Pooling Association and of the London & Counties Association of Approved Societies; Director of Dental Services Limited and Director of Supplies Limited; Parliamentary Agent National Union of Holloway Friendly Societies; Fellow of the Royal Statistical Society; First Worshipful Master of the House of Commons Freemasons Lodge - the "Welcome Lodge" in recognition of his work for the community.

CLUBS:  Royal Automobile & National Liberal.  He studied law, medicine and languages.  He dies in 1958 at the age of 89."

Apart from the OBE I have no idea what all the letters after his name stood for but were obviously important enough to be mentioned.   This is a picture of PR that was in mum's book and although it has not come out all that well I think it shows him quite clearly:

In more informal pictures he sent from England these shows PR enjoying himself at the beach on two different occasions, once alone and once with an acquaintance.  I love that first picture and don't you just love those stoney beaches they have in parts of the UK?  Unfortunately I have no idea just when these photographs were taken or sent to mum as I can't find the originals (these were also copied from her book):

These photographs were possibly taken at Eastbourne as that is where my grandfather's home was.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014


This is a little different today.   For the forty years we have lived in our present home, each year these flowers have appeared in our front garden.  They are a type of bulb and have spread quite a distance through the garden but have not become a nuisance.  I have no idea what they are and thought perhaps, if I showed a photo of them, someone well versed in flower nomenclature may give them a name.  They are very pretty and it would be nice next year to say "Oh look, the xxxxxx are in bloom again."  Can you help?

At first I pulled them up thinking they may be a flower that has become a weed similar to the Watsonia spp. in our southwest but they don't seem to spread enough to cause them to become a problem in the wild.  From the second year I just let them run free and am glad I have as they are cheerful companions in our garden.

Monday, October 20, 2014


Boy, am I running late today (blood test this morning and CT scan this afternoon so a very busy day, had to drink lots of water before and after CT scan).  Had to quickly find a photo that could possibly be of interest to people.

This is a snap I found taken ca 1940.  Grandfather had written on the back "The beehinve shelter at Dalbrack, Stanmore.

It was apparently a special air raid shelter in "Dalbrack" in Gordon Avenue, Stanmore, Middlesex, London, England which appears was the premises of The London and Colonial Bank Limited of which grandfather, Percy Rockliff, was a secretary.  He sent the photo to my mum many years ago (probably in the 1940s).  P.R. (as he was always known) actually lived at 7 Devonshire Place, Eastbourne in Sussex.  The shelter was built to house important documents to keep them safe in case of air raids.  I have found a list of 5 other persons also involved in this particular enterprise.  Seems I'll have to do some more 'digging' to find out exactly what it was all about.

There is a lot of interesting information about P.R. to be found on the internet.  His name appears in Who's Who.  I may try and find out some more information and do a post on this man whom I never met.  When I was a child he used to send me an English pound every Christmas and I so enjoyed going into the big Commonwealth Bank in Perth where I would go up to the foreign exchange counter and usually receive about twenty five shillings Australian.  The exchange rate these days rather works the other, how things have changed.

Sunday, October 19, 2014


This photo I think would have been taken in London in about 1909.  It is my paternal grandparents with their two little daughters Lilian and Winifred.  (They are the parents of my birth father). Don't you just love those hats?

I have told you how grandma 'dumped' her children 'cos she said she could no longer care for them and then went on to marry another chap a few years later.   The amazing thing to me is the fact that I could never find a record of grandfather's death, at least not until 1919, at which time grandma had married her second husband and had three children by him, one before they married.   Perhaps in those days they didn't ask many details when a person married.  Grandma's second marriage was in a Registry Office in 1916 and not a church.  Don't you just really enjoy these family mysteries.  Apart from Lilian (the older child here who ended up in a home and was sent to Canada where she did very well) they all (except poor old grandpa) emigrated to Australia.

Saturday, October 18, 2014


Yesterday I posted a photo of me taken when I was 17.   This is another studio photo and here I was two years and eight months.

Difficult to believe this was just over 80 (EIGHTY) years ago.  I don't think I'd changed all that much at age 17 but there's not much beauty left now.

I've kept up this photo a day now for two weeks.  I wonder should I keep going or have I proved enough that I can do it?

Friday, October 17, 2014


Running very late today (Phil had to have CT scan of his chest and later I had a chest x-ray) so scanned the first picture that came to hand.

This was taken by my photographer brother Len.  It is me dressed up in the gown I wore when I made my debut at the Pleiades Ball in 1949 when I was 17.  (I wish I still had that lovely slender neck).

I still love to see my brother's writing  "Gibbney Studios" and "Perth" below the photo.  He was manager of that photographic studio when after he was demobbed from the Royal Australian Air Force after WW2.

P.S.  When I was young several people said they thought I resembled Deanna Durbin.  I wonder if anyone who remembers that wonderful singer can see any likeness?

Thursday, October 16, 2014


This is a photograph of my maternal (my birth mother) grandmother and great-grandmother both of whom I never met (nor for that matter did I ever meet my birth mother but we did become friends by telephone during the last few years of her life).  I am not sure when this photograph was taken but my grandmother looks very young so possibly in her twenties so ca 1902  It is obviously taken in a photographic studio.

On the left is my grandmother (I can see a likeness to my daughter in her face).  She was born Eda Matilda Larsen in Bundaberg, Queensland on 19.12.1880.  She arrived in Fremantle on the "Wollowra" on 13.1.1898 with her mother and two siblings.  She married my grandfather in St George's Cathedral, Perth on 26.3.1906.  They went on to have six children, 3 girls and then 3 boys.  I did get to meet two uncles and an aunt and also some cousins several years ago.  Eda died on 15.7.1964 in St Luke's Hospital, Subiaco.  I have visited her grave in Karrakatta Cemetery.

On the right is my great-grandmother.  She was born Marie Christine Larsen in Holbaek, Denmark on 18.5.1852.  She arrived in Queensland n the "Shakespear" in 1871 when she was 18.  She met and married Niels Peter Larsen (yes the same surname which is apparently a common surname in Denmark) in Queensland on 15.10.1875.  It would seem her first husband died but I can find no record of that event.  Marie married Bruno Schultz in New South Wales on 19.7.1886 and then with her 3 children there is a record of her arriving in Fremantle in 1898 (see above).  Marie died in Royal Perth Hospital on 28.4.1924.  I have also visited her grave but it is very old and possibly by now it has been removed as so many old graves in Karrakatta Cemetery have been.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014


I mentioned a while back that I may do a series on vegetables.  Not sure I will be able to keep it up but hopefully each Wednesday I will post what I trust will be some interesting facts about vegies I know and perhaps don't know, and which may also be new to you as well.

AUBERGINE (also known as EGGPLANT):  It is a species of nightshade and its other names are melongene, garden egg or quinea squash.  It is known in South and Southeast Asia and South Africa as Brinjal.  It bears fruit of the same name that is widely used in cooking, most notably as an important ingredient in dishes such as moussaka and ratatouille.  As a member of the genus Solanum, it is related to both the tomato and potato.  It was originally domesticated in India and Bangladesh from the wild nightshade, the thorn or bitter apple, Solanum incanum.

Aubergine is low in fat, protein and carbohydrates, and also contains relatively low amounts of most important vitamins and minerals.   The nicotine content of aubergines, a concentration of 0.01mg per 100g, is low in absolute terms, but is higher than any other edible plant.  The amount of nicotine consumed by eating eggplant may be comparable to being in the presence of a smoker, depending on the cooking method.  On average, 9kg (20lbs) of eggplant contains about the same amount of nicotine as a cigarette.

I have never used aubergine in cooking but then I am not very adventurous in the kitchen.

ASPARAGUSAsparagus officinalis is a spring vegetable, a flowering perennial plant species in the genus Asparagus.  it was once classified in the lily family, like its Allium cousins, onions and garlic, but the Lilaceae have been split and the onion-like plants are now in the family Amarylildaceae and asparagus in the Asparagaceae.  It is native to most of Europe, northern Africa and western Asia, and is widely cultivated as a crop.

It is a herbaceous, perennial plant with stout stems with much-branched feathery foliage.  The flowers are bell shaped, greenish-white to yellowish and are produced singly or in clusters.  It is usually dioecious, with male and female flowers on separate plants, but sometimes hermaphrodite flowers are found.  The fruit is a small red berry which is poisonous to humans.

Asparagus has been used as a vegetable and medicine, owing to its delicate flavour, diuretic properties, and more.  It is pictured as an offering on an Egyptian frieze dating back to 3000BC.  In ancient times it was also known in Syria and Spain.  The finest texture and the strongest and yet most delicate taste is in the tips.  Asparagus became available to the New World around 1850, in the United States.

I have to admit I have never cooked asparagus but have eaten plenty of tinned asparagus with salads in summer.  I love the flavour.

ARTICHOKE: There are two types of artichoke that I know of:  Globe and Jerusalem.
The globe artichoke (Cynara cardunculus var. scolymus) is a variety of a species of thistle cultivated as a food.  The edible portion of the plant consists of the flower buds before the flowers come into bloom.  The budding artichoke flower-head is a cluster of many budding small flowers, an inflorescence (together with many bracts) on an edible base.

 Once the buds bloom the structure changes to a coarse, barely edible form.  The uncultivated or wild variety of the species is called a cardoon.  It is a perennial plant native to the Mediterranean region.

The naturally occurring variant of the artichoke, the cardoon (Cynara cardunculus) which is native to the Mediterranean areas, has records of use as  food among the ancient Greeks and Roman.

Apart from food use, the globe artichoke is also an attractive plant for its bright floral display, sometimes grown in herbaceous borders for its bold foliage and large purple flower heads.

The total antioxidant capacity of artichoke flower heads is one of the highest reported for vegetables.
Cynarine is a chemical constituent of Cynara.  Studies have shown artichoke to aid digestion, hepatic and gall bladder function and raise the ratio of HDL to LDL thus reducing cholesterol levels and diminishing the risk for arteriosclerosis and coronary heart disease.  Artichoke leaf extract has proded helpful for patients with functional dyspepsia. and may ameliorate symptoms of irritiable bowel syndrome (here I am only quoting what is written on Wikipedia so would seek medical advice before even considering any of this).

I have of course never cooked this vegetable but occasionally buy them tinned as I enjoy their flavour.  They are a little expensive but I think, if it is true about lowering cholesterol, I may place one tin on my weekly grocery order when Phil goes to do the shopping.  They are lovely to eat when having a salad meal.

The Jerusalem artichoke (Helianthus tuberosus), also called sunroot, sunchoke, earth apple or topinamboure, is a species of sunflower native to eastern North America, and found from eastern Canada and Maine west to North Dakota, and south to northern Florida and Texas.  It is also cultivated widely across the temperate zone for its tuber, which is used as  root vegetable.

The tubers are sometimes used as as substitute for potatoes:  they have a similar consistencym and in their raw form have a similar texture, but a sweeter. nuttier flavour; raw and sliced thinly, theya re fit for a salad.  The carbohydrates give the tubers a tendency to become soft and mush if boiled but they retain their texture better when steamed.

The inulin they contain cannot be broken down by the human digestive system, but is metabolized by bacteria in the colon.  This can cause flatulence and, in some case. gastric pain.  Gerard's Herbal, printed in 1921, quotes the English planter John Goodyer on Jerusalem artichokes:

"which way soever they be dressed and eaten they stir and cause a filthy loathsome stinking wind within the body, thereby causing the belly to be pained and tormented, and are a meat fit more for swine than men."

On a website called "Bon Appetit" I found reference to the effects of eating these artichokes where a cook was quoted as saying:

"recently, the Jerusalem artichoke has come to be known as another darker name" the Fartichoke.  For all its popularity, it is still known to some as a bowel-busting terror.  The vegetable is made of a carbohydrate called inulin, instead of a tuber's typical starch, and inulin has an Ex-Lax-like effect on the human digestive system - we can't digest it naturally. so our gut bacterias go to town.

Apart from that, Jerusalem artichokes have 650mg potassium per 1 cup (150g) serving.  They are also high in ironm and contain 10-12% of the US RDA of fibre, niacin, thiamine phosphorous and copper.

I was fascinated by the above as I new absolutely nothing about the Jerusalem artichoke although I had of course heard the name.  In another article it stated they were good for type 2 diabetics (such as Phil and myself) but I think we'll leave them alone as, at our age, one does have to be careful of what one puts in one's mouth and the side effects of these are not be considered.


This is a dreadful photograph but the only one I have (not sure where the purple came from).  It would have been taken in about 1912 and it is of my (birth) father and his two sisters Lilian and Winifred taken outside their home in London.  It seems their mother decided she couldn't keep the children (she said  her husband had left her but I have many doubts as have heard conflicting stories about what really happened).  Her eldest girl was sent to a Bernardo Home and the younger daughter and her son were cared for by a grandmother and an aunt respectfully.   Grandma went on to marry another man and have 3 more children (one died as an infant) and the four of them emigrated to Australia in ca 1920.

The children appear to be well dressed but I feel there is a tragic story behind it all.  Lilian was sent to Canada as a domestic but apparently was fortunate to work for some people that furthered her education and she married well.  Winifred and my father eventually emigrated to Western Australia under their own steam and then were reunited with their mother, their step-father and half brother and sister.

I have been in touch with my 3 cousins (children of Lilian) two of whom live in Vancouver, Canada and one in Napa, California.  I did have contact with the two daughters-in-law of Winifred and with help I found out a few years back I do have a half brother and a half sister (children of my birth father0 with whom I am now friends and have met their families as well.

I am not sure this is of much interest to anyone other than my family but I submit it here for your consideration.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

A PHOTO A DAY .... number TEN

Today you get three pictures for the price of one.  It is the 46th anniversary of the Meckering earthquake which occurred on this day in 1968.  At 10.59 a.m. the small town of Meckering was destroyed by an earthquake.  It was magnitude 6.9 on the Richter Scale making it one of the largest recorded in the seismic history of Australia.  It was felt throughout the southern half of the State and caused damage in the surrounding townships, particularly York and Northam and in the Perth Metropolitan area.

Meckering lies 130 km east from Perth.   Although this earthquake was not the largest in Western Australia's history, it was certainly the most significant in terms of damage done and cultural upheaval.  It caused ground rupturing nearly 40km long, some of which can still be seen today.  The maximum felt intensity on the Modified Mercalli Scale was 9.  The damage exceeded five million dollars (in 1968 dollars).  Meckering's population at the time was approximately 240.  Twenty people were injured but amazingly nobody was killed.

This is the Meckering hotel after the earthquake:

and this is a section of twisted railway line which gives an indication of how destructive this quake was:

Phil and I, with our two children and my mum, were away that long weekend and when the earthquake occurred we were in Pemberton, 329 km south of Perth.  Phil and Steve were half way up the big lookout tree and Mum, Karen and I heard what sounded like heavy rain and wind coming through the karri forest.  We called for Phil and Steve to come down and when they did they wondered why we had called them as nothing happened.  It was not until we arrived at Manjimup (295 south of Perth) we learned of the earthquake and realised that was the noise we had heard.  There were also a few bits and pieces (large potplants and the like) that had toppled over in the main street of that town.  We continued to get after shocks in Perth for some time afterwards.

Monday, October 13, 2014

A PHOTO A DAY.....number NINE (and some family history).

I found another delightful old photograph (emailed to us once again by Leslie McDonald).  Phil is quite sure it was taken a couple of years before he was born which would make it ca 1927. It is Phil's paternal grandparents Charles and Mary.  It is not in very good condition but considering when it was taken and the type of camera available then I think it amazing it is still as good as it is.

The photo was taken outside the the front door of the approximately 200 year old cottage in which they lived.   Charles was born in 1858 in Coventry and Mary in 1867 in Meriden (the village where this cottage is situated and where Phil and his parents eventually lived with his grandparents).

Charles had been widowed in the latter part of 1888 when his wife Elizabeth had died at the tender age of 23.  I do not have a copy of her death certificate but tend to think she may have died in child birth as a son was born at that time.  He (Robert Walter) appears to have only lived for about 6 months or less.  Charles was left with two sons Francis (aged 5) and Clarence (aged 2).

Charles married Mary in Coventry in 1894 and they had three sons and a daughter.  One son (Harold) died when he was one year of age.  The other sons were Charles (father of Mollie) and Cyril (Phil's dad) and the daughter who was named Elsie.

Charles' father, George, had died in 1881 when he was only 35 and left his widow, Esther, with five young children to bring up.  We know that George had been in the 10th Royal Hussars as in 1861 he was living in the Army Barracks in Ipswich, Suffolk while his wife and son Charles were living in private accommodation in Ipswich.

When aged 13, Charles was one of 609 people at the Royal Military Asylum for Children of Soldiers of the Regular Army (this would be because of the death of his father).   The Afghan War took place between 1878 and 1882 and Charles was stationed there with his regiment (the 10th Hussars).  He was wounded (a spear wound to his groin).  After being hospitalised in India Charles returned home and was discharged as "wounded".    When young he had been a trumpeter in the army.  In later years he was employed by the post office until he had to retire on medical grounds suffering with 'writer's cramp' (what we today would possible recognize as RSI).  You will have seen later photos of Phil's grandparents having tea on VE day in 1945.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

A PHOTO A DAY.....number EIGHT (ca 1927)

Found this delightful photo when delving through iPhoto and had to share it with you.  It would have been taken ca 1927 in Meriden, Warwickshire (now known as the West Midlands).

Enjoying a hay ride here are Cyril (Phil's dad, prior to his marriage in 1929) with his sister-in-law Hilda (wife of his brother Charles) and little Mollie aged perhaps 2.  Mollie was born in June 1925 and that's how I determined it possibly would be 1927.

This is another snap emailed to us by Mollie's husband Leslie and I just love it so much.  Many folk may have been quite poor back then but it was still a wonderful life.  Whoa!  I wasn't born then  ... not for another 5 or so years and the world had to wait a couple more years for Phil to make his appearance.  We were still none of us very well off as that then was the time of the Great Depression.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

A PHOTO A DAY......number SEVEN

Here is cousin Mollie walking on the arm of her new husband Leslie McDonald after their wedding in Allesley, Coventry, on 17th January, 1953.

Mollie looks very happy and Leslie as though he's just won first prize, which I think he did as Mollie is a lovely lady.  Mollie's dress is beautiful and Leslie looks so smart in his morning suit.

Friday, October 10, 2014


Some time in either the late 70s or early 80s mum gave me an agave.  I popped it into a side garden out the back and it just sort of grew and grew and kept having babies until there was quite a spread of them.

One day in 2007 I noticed something fuzzy emerging from the original plant:

Aha!!  Not seen this before.   Wonder what it is?   Soon after it had grown somewhat.  That's our little Hyundai Getz I can see lurking down the driveway.

 It continued to grow, ever upwards:

The old building in the background has since been demolished.  It had been a garage which we didn't use so we'd stripped off the roof and cladding and left the frame.  We grew vegetables and other plants in there for several years.

Eventually this spiky thing began to bend over as it got heavier and then dainty flowers began to appear along its entire length:

Up close these flowers were beautiful and the bees loved them too.  They are so delicate.  I was able to take such a good close up as it was pre-digital camera.  (I often miss my old camera with which I seemed to have more choices).

I took a photo of Phil standing underneath the spike to give an idea of how large it was but I took it at a bad angle as it makes poor Phil look rather dwarf-like.  He was about 168cms (5'6") at the time which gives a good idea of the size of this flowered spike.  (We both used to be 5'7" but have both shrunk and are now 5'5"... after my hip ops I actually grew a centremetre or so which was good).

You can see by the number of plants in the bed just how many 'babies' the original plant had.  Then the spike began to gradually die and with it the plant that had given it birth.  Apparently that happens when an agave flowers.   The plant gives it life to produce this wondrous flowery spike and then is no more.   A few tiny agave plants also had tiny slower spikes which only grew a few inches and died off.   You can see in this photo where the flowers are turning brown even though the tip of the spike still doesn't have flowers on it.  Difficult to see the end of the spike in this photo but it nearly reached the ground (in the shadowy area):

Eventually we had about 30 agave plants which were transplanted into the original bed with many being potted.   We have given several away over the years and recently gave a friend some plants to sell at a fete.   I have been told by our lovely house cleaner Jenny that the very large agave are worth up to $100 each in some nurseries.  Jenny has two of our 'baby' agave to plant in the garden of her new home she has just built.

This is the bed of agave now.  About a dozen plants (my how the babies have grown) and not a flower spike in sight.  Wonder how many years before another one appears?

The plant you can see on the left is one of those skeleton bushes.  I have no idea what they are called but they have a rather nasty milky substance in them.   Our hairdresser gave us a small piece a couple of years back and now it is nearly as tall as the 6' fence behind it.

A PHOTO A DAY........number SIX

On a happier note than the first three photos, this is Phil's cousin Mollie (the lass I hope you saw in photos 1 and 5) on her father's arm on her wedding day, 17th January, 1953.   Her dad was Phil's Uncle Charles (brother of Phil's father).

When I look at the photo of Phil's Uncle Charles I can see a strong family likeness.  I feel that Mollie more resembles her mother.  I am only sorry I never got to meet any of his family but we were never able to afford a trip to England.  I have, however, spoken to both Mollie and her husband Leslie on the telephone and it was great to hear their voices.  They are two wonderful people and still so happy together after 61 years.

Thursday, October 9, 2014


Is there anyone out there in blogging land that can help me?  Yesterday I posted on Dear Mum and Dad and it doesn't seem to be appearing anywhere and yet I can open it OK so it is sitting there somewhere but not showing up.  There have been no comments so I doubt it has been seen.

I have sent it back to draft and republished it but still nothing.

If there is anyone that does follow my blog and also Dear Mum and Dad would you kindly let me know if you have seen the 8 October edition.

This happened once before with Geriatricgrandmother and I couldn't find out why.

Any help would be appreciated.

A PHOTO A DAY...... number FIVE

This photo was taken on 8th May, 1945 which was VE (Victory in Europe) Day.  Phil with his parents and grandparents and other family members sat in the field outside their cottage enjoying a tea party to celebrate the cessation of hostilities in Europe.

You can see Phil's grandfather sitting at the head of the table with Phil sitting next to him.  Phil was 15 at the time.   Next to Phil is his Aunt Hilda with daughter Mollie standing behind her.  Standing next to Mollie is Phil's dad.  Mollie is the lass you could see in photo one in the crowd.  Then comes Phil's grandmother and his mother.  Phil is not sure who the man out of the picture is or who took the photo.   You have to remember this took place 69 years ago.  Phil thinks the partial man is a friend Charlie Busson and that Uncle Charles took the photo.

It was a great celebration after all that happened in Europe during the 6 years of the second world war.  Five of Phil's uncles and a cousin had been involved in various areas of the war including one uncle who had been rescued from Dunkirk.  Fortunately they all returned home safely and were able to get on with their lives.  His Uncle Fred died only last year at the grand old age of 95.

We were still having problems down our way until 15th August 1945 which was VJ or VP Day.  I think we always called it VP (Victory in the Pacific) Day.

I don't recall a lot about VE Day but I clearly remember VP Day as I was at school at Perth College that day and the teachers announced that the war with Japan had ended.  We were allowed to go to the newsagent, which was on the corner by the school, and buy the special newspaper printed that day.  If I remember correctly, we had to queue at the side gate of the school as only about a dozen girls could go to the shop at the time.   As a girl came back to the school another could then go to the newsagent to buy her copy of the paper.  In those days young ladies had to act like young ladies with no pushing and shoving....just politeness.  We may even have had to wear our hats to go to the shop.  I should still have a copy of that newspaper .. in that wonderful place "somewhere" and may even hopefully find it again one day.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

A PHOTO A DAY....number FOUR

This was Coventry Cathedral in 1839.....showing its magnificence, just over 100 years before it was almost completely destroyed.    No more needs to be said.

No, I am not showing the cathedral because I am religious but as an example of the beauty that can be destroyed because of man's inhumanity to man, not to mention human sacrifice as well.  When I see such wilful destruction my thoughts always return to John Lennon's wonderful song "Imagine".  What a great world it would then be if all his words came true.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014


This is the then British Prime Minister Winston Churchill inspecting the ruins of Coventry Cathedral after the raid that occurred on 14 November 1940  (from the National Archives website):

Next time on a happier note but these sad events during the war were so much part of Phil's life I wanted to present them here.

Monday, October 6, 2014

A PHOTO A DAY ...number TWO

Staying with the theme created in the first photo, this is the photo of Coventry Cathedral on 15th November, the day after that notorious air raid on the city of Coventry.

The caption says:  "The first incendiary bombs hit the Cathedral at about 7.40pm on November 14."

These photos also sent to us by Leslie McDonald.  He has sent many family photographs which we were very pleased to have as did another cousin (Ray Pinks) on Phil's mother's side of the family.  Through those photographs I have learned a lot about Phil's English family and much of its history as well.

Sunday, October 5, 2014


A couple of posts back Delores cheered me up no end and had a suggestion she thought I may like to follow up.  She had read of a blogger who had promised herself to show a photo a day with, I presume, just a few words to describe that photograph.

I have decided to see if I can keep that up and hopefully others may take up the challenge too and we can share photos we have that would otherwise not be shown, from somewhere in our archives.  It should only take a very few minutes, or one could cheat and do a few at a time and then pop in each day to publish them.

This photo was taken on 15th November, 1940, the day after the dreadful blitz that Coventry endured at the hand of the Luftwaffe.  It was by far the worst of all seventeen air raids on Coventry during World War 2.

If you enlarge this photo and look closely on the extreme left you will see a young woman walking towards the camera (threading her way through the column of men).  That young woman is Mollie McDonald, is now 89 and still living in the West Midlands.   She is my husband Phil's first cousin and we keep in touch via email and the occasional telephone call.  The above photo was emailed to me by Mollie's husband Leslie, who is now 93.

Phil, with his mum and dad, also ventured into the city after this raid to reassure themselves that friends and family had survived.  Fortunately everyone was OK.  Phil and his family lived 5 miles outside the city and Phil well remembers these air raids and the shrapnel bouncing off the roof of their cottage as well as bombs falling nearby.  He was nearly 11 at the time.

Saturday, October 4, 2014


In a comment on my previous post where I said I was feeling a little lost my Alaskan granddaughter-in-law suggested perhaps thinking back as far as possible and maybe talking a little about historical and other important world events I had some memory of.  I am not sure how this will go but am willing to try it out beginning with my earliest memories in 1936-1937.

England's King George V who was born on 3rd June, 1865 died on 20 January, 1936.

Now I was only 4 at that time but I can vaguely remember mum and dad talking seriously about an important man who had died and another who had taken his place.  At this time we were living on a farm in Narrikup so we didn't see a great number of people but I am sure it became a big talking point when neighbour met neighbour.

Edward, Prince of Wales, became King following his father's death.  Edward showed impatience with court protocol and politicians were concerned with his apparent disregard for established constitutional conventions.  Over several years Edward had had affairs with a number of women and only months into his reign, he caused a constitutional crisis by proposing marriage to an American socialite, Wallis Simpson, who had divorced her first husband and was seeking a divorce from her second.  There were many repercussions following this decision, one of which was the conflict caused by Edward's status as titular head of the Church of England, which at the time opposed the remarriage of divorced people.

Choosing not to end his relationship with Mrs Simpson, Edward signed an instrument of abdication on 10th December, 1936 and on the night of 11th December, 1936 he spoke on radio to the nation and the empire, advising of his decision.  He then left for Europe.  He married Mrs Simpson in France on 3rd June, 1937.  With a reign of 326 days, Edward was one of the shortest-reigning monarchs in British history.

One duty he did perform as King was the opening of the British Parliament on 3rd November, 1936, the only time he performed that ceremony.

After his abdication Edward was created Duke of Windsor by his brother.  He rarely returned to England and after spending many years travelling he spent the last years of his life in retirement in France.    He died on 27th May, 1972 at the age of 77.   His body was returned to Britain, lying in state at St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle.  The funeral service was held in the chapel on 5 June in the presence of the Queen, the Royal Family, and the Duchess of Windsor, who stayed at Buckingham Palace during her visit.  The coffin was buried in the Royal Burial Ground behind the Royal Mausoleum of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert at Frogmore.  Frail, and in ill health, the Duchess of Windsor died 14 years later, and was buried alongside her husband as "Wallis, Duchess of Windsor".

George VI had been born on 14th December, 1895 and as the second son of the monarh he was not expected to inherit the throne.  After the abdication of his brother Edward, George ascended the throne as the third monarch of the House of Windsor.

George had married Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon in 1923 and they had two daughters, Elizabeth and Margaret (I always recall that when she was young she was known as Princess Margaret Rose). 

George VI's coronation took place on 12th May, 1937 (I was then nearly five and a half) and it is this I may remember more than the two former events as I am sure I recall mum putting up some decorations and having a special meal to celebrate the coronation.  Mum was always a royalist and she would have been really excited by all these events.  The following pictures depict the Coronation, the Royal family (including the King's mother Queen Mary) on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, and King George and Queen Elizabeth and their daughters Elizabeth and Margaret Rose after the coronation.


I am not sure if any of the above is of interest to anyone as I feel everyone possibly knows it all anyway.  It is the first positive memory of any important event I can recall so I share it with you for what it is worth.  The next big event I remember is the declaration of war in 1939.  It is a huge story but, once again, I doubt there is little I can add to the knowledge most people already have of that historic event.

I did also wonder if I may do a series about vegetables.  Sound a bit bonkers?  There are lots of vegies out there that I know little about and perhaps I may find some interesting ones I've never tasted.  Just a thought.

Friday, October 3, 2014


Yes, it is two weeks and one day since my last post and I must apologize to everyone (that is if anyone is still following me) especially those whose posts I've not visited or, if I did, didn't leave a comment.

I appear to have fallen, no perhaps just collapsed, into a deep hole from which I am endeavouring to extract myself.   I made one attempt at Wednesday words last month but my mind is not working as it should, so putting words together has not been easy.  I'm down there somewhere in that hole:

No excuses except I am old and at times things get on top of me (perhaps I should just pull the cover over the hole I'm in and accept it) but I read a good piece of advice on WebMD today which may be part of my problem.  It said not to listen to news headlines which can depress one and I think, perhaps with all the dreadful things happening in the world today, that is excellent advice.

I hear of the fighting and hating that is going on and I fear for my grandchildren and great-grandchildren and wonder what the world will be like for them in 30-50 years time. I am thankful I shall be long gone before then as the world I once knew is rapidly coming to an end.  I know I lived through the years beginning with the Great Depression and then WW2 and subsequent smaller wars, but somehow people still cared about each other.  These days folk are often far to busy; their lives seem so much fuller than ours were way back then.  Of course we only had radio until television came along in about 1958 so not a lot of distractions but we certainly didn't have all the mod cons people have today.

Since the advent of computers, mobile phones etc. people seem to keep in touch with text messages, emails etc. but not the written word nor the spoken word.  I miss that dreadfully but was delighted yesterday when our friend Richard called via his mobile from Darwin (in our Northern Territory).  Now that was so thoughtful of him and it was much appreciated.  He left Perth in July and has now travelled 4,041 kilometres in his camper van to reach Darwin, plus of course all the extra mileage he did in between investigating places en route.   He is 50 years of age and this is a great adventure for him to undertake on his own.  He says he is still enjoying himself and isn't sure what his future movements will be or when he will return home.  Richard has also sent emails on his journey but it is always great when he takes time to make a phone call to us when he is within range of a mobile tower.  This is the route he would have taken:

Another reason I often feel really down is the fact that modern technology has left me way behind.  I have a computer which is great but no iPad nor an iPhone (we do have a simple mobile phone but even that is too much for us to fully understand although we can receive and make calls on it) and although I use Facebook to play Scrabble and keep in touch with what family are doing I have no idea how to use other social media and I'm not particularly sure I even want to.

I now find in brochures, magazines etc., these little black and white squares I am supposed to click on to find out MORE.  What and how do I do that?   Is there another way I can find out what they are trying to tell me or offering me?   What am I missing out on?  I have no idea but it too makes me feel left out and how do I find out about it all.

I have a feeling of being redundant (dictionary meaning: superfluous, no longer needed) as I really am of little use to anyone or anything except Phil and our cat.  I know Phil could manage without me if he had to although he doesn't want to have to do so, and Candy would miss me but would still get looked after.

It is truly awful to feel this way and I am doing my level best to try and climb out of that deep hole and get on with some sort of existence.  I am determined to give the news a big miss for a while as I can do nothing to ease the stress the world is having.   I will try very hard not to anticipate the heat our summer will surely bring; we had a taste of it last week and I didn't enjoy it one little bit.   I will once again try the power of positive thinking.  It's worked before so here's hoping.

One thing I enjoyed doing on my blog was researching different things such as flowers, animals etc. but I ran out of ideas.  I wonder if anyone has suggestions of a theme I could work on.  I think I need something to inspire me, to get the old brain into gear once again.   Can you perhaps help in this regard?  It would be much appreciated if you could and, if you do, thank you.