Keeping it all clean.

Sometimes, I forget how lucky I really am.  I take for granted the fact that I can turn on a tap, and clean drinkable water comes out.  I have cooling for when it’s hot, and heating for when it’s not. I have clean clothes, a place to sleep, and money to buy myself  a mocha-chocca-chai-skinny-fair trade-no animal tested-coffee if I wish to.


And I’m pretty happy with all that.  But………….(first world problem warning)…

……I want a dishwasher!

This is probably the strangest thing to desire. I mean, I’d also like to have nice skin, expensive clothing, and weigh something that didn’t make the dog bark every time he hears my screech when I get on the scales.

The dog doesn’t understand about dishwashers, but I’m sure if he did that he’d agree with me.

There are only 2 of us at home; Mr P and I; but I am convinced I could still find enough dishes to fill a dishwasher.

There are a few issues to sort out first though. You see, our kitchen is, to put it politely………dated.

The house itself was built in the early 1950’s, and the benches may have had an update in the early 70’s, but that’s the last time it’s been touched.  We have a dripping tap at present that cannot be fixed, because no plumbing fixtures fit any more.  It requires new pipes to connect to new fittings, and then we’d need a new sink too!

But oh, that dishwasher.

Why?  Well, for starters, I could make scrambled eggs without soaking the saucepan for the next 3 days.

The chopping boards wouldn’t have yucky bits on them any more  and the cutlery would be shiny, not dull and spotty like it is now.

And I would have the cleanest grill in Australia, because after Mr P has grilled chops, I would be able to just pop the grill plate in the dishwasher, instead of fighting to fit the damn thing in the sink so I can scrub it properly.

I might even have a pet name for my dishwasher. I think I’d call him “Mr Spic-and-span”.  I like the way that rolls off the tongue.

I have used a dishwasher once before.  Some years ago, I had a job in the kitchen of an aged-care facility for a short time.  That kitchen had a dishwasher.  Unfortunately, I didn’t know that you have to use a detergent specifically made for dishwashers, and you have to put it into a specific place in the dishwasher.

I’ll end that story just there!

Do you know; if we had a dishwasher, I am convinced that my bathroom would be cleaner!  Yes, it’s true.  I saw a video about it, you see!  The video showed me that  I could wash the toothbrush holder, the bath-plug, the hairbrushes and combs, the shower cap, the nail brush and even some of the light-fittings.  If Mr P wasn’t looking, I might even throw the toothbrushes themselves in!


The same video demonstrated that rubber thongs were ideal dishwasher items too, as well as dog toys. The jury is out on this- I don’t wear rubber thongs, and the dog would pine badly if his beloved ball were out of his sight for more than a minute.

Splinter for blog


The truth of the matter is, we don’t really need a dishwasher.  I just like the idea of having one. It’s quite possibly a reflection of a world where ‘wants’ and ‘needs’ are so easily confused.  That is after all one of the greatest marketing ploys of all time, isn’t it -to convert the customer so that a want becomes a need!

In retrospect, Mr Spic-and-span is not really as important as I think he is.  Not only that, I have no idea where he would fit in our kitchen; even the toaster fights for  some free space.

Maybe I’ll just have to find a different way to cook scrambled eggs.






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My mother is in her eighties, and she loves to make cards.

Birthday cards, Christmas cards, Baby cards – you name it, over the years we have been given some lovely hand-made cards by Mum.

I can’t remember the names of all the card-making styles she incorporated. Pergamano, Paper Tole, Scrolling, Stamping, so many other types as well.  They were beautifully made, and always a perfect fit for the recipient.

Now that she is in her eighties, and arthritis and many other ailments have caught up with her. Further to that, her eyesight is failing, so she can’t give the attention to detail that she used to.

However, she still loves to make the cards for me to send to my clients when they place an order with Platypus Yarn.  She makes the cards, and I hand-write- (rather scrappily, I must say) inside them.

I get so many positive comments about the cards (not so much about my messy writing) and Mum loves to know they are appreciated.

Mum makes the card using a gadget she owns called the cuttle-bug.  Of course, a gadget with a name like that, we all immediately called it the clutter-bug; and that is what it’s known as now.

The clutter-bug stamps the design onto the front of the card.

Mum takes clutterbug with her whenever she goes away for more than a day.  She buys little pieces to add to it, which makes different patterns on the cards.  Mum and clutterbug head off for a holiday to Melbourne, and when I drive down to pick her up – voila- there are 50 new cards, and a few more pieces added to clutterbug.  Forget packing clothes and other items to go away- pack sheets of coloured cardboard, and pieces of clutter for the clutterbug.

I introduced Mum to Pinterest about 12 months ago.  Whew, she’s addicted. She immediately made a board called cardmaking, and I believe she has now about 127 followers.

She loves to tell me about how this piece of paper will fit this part of the pattern in the clutterbug, but the final edge of the pattern won’t print, so she can’t let me send it to my customers- they wont like the missing centimetre.

I start to suggest she doesn’t have to worry about that so much.

Then I remember the attention to detail in all the cards we received when she was in full card-making mode, and I realise that the centimetre is, in fact, extremely important to her.

If you order a product from Platypus Yarn, and don’t receive a card with it, know that Mum’s arthritis might be playing up a bit, or she’s away in Melbourne- probably adding dies to her clutterbug!



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Steal Away – a true story.



Emerald pool


I’d like to tell you a story.  Unfortunately it’s a true story, and it happened to me.  I’m passing it on you so that my experience may hopefully serve you.  I have changed some of the story a little, but the basics remain exactly as they happened.


On 21st November last year I made initial inquiries as to the purchase of a fibre/yarn related product  through a very reputable maker.  This family company has been in business since the 1970’s, and supplies the product I was interested in to Europe, New Zealand, Australia, Canada and America. The product is highly regarded, and extremely reliable.  The woman I was writing to was very knowledgable, and I was very happy with what I learned.
We emailed back and forth and agreed on the style, and the price -$1200.

On 25th November I transferred the money to her account via bank transfer, and sent her a confirmation email.

One week later, I received an email from her, asking where the money was, as the product was ready to send.   I replied, showing details of the bank transfer.  2 days later another email from her asking where the money was. I tried to ring her, but the number she’d sent me must have been incorrect, and I couldn’t get through.

Once again, I copied the bank transfer information into the email.  I also asked her if the emails were going into her junk file.  Sure enough I received a response.  “Sorry, we checked the account and the money was there all the time.  We will send the product next week”.

On the 12th December I received another email “Could you please send the money, we have the product waiting to despatch to you”.   I tried a couple of times to ring the number on the website, but the number rang out.( At this point, I was starting to wonder if the lady had dementia or was unwell.  After all, the business was a family business, and had been going since the 70’s.)

I send a response back,copying and pasting all the email correspondence we’d had -just in case she really did have dementia and had forgotten everything.  In return, she said sorry,  that she had to wait for another extra part to be made – but because I had waited for so long she’d throw it in for nothing.  She would send it on the 18th and forward me a tracking number.

I still hadn’t received anything by 20th December, but I figured she’d closed for Christmas holidays.

On the 3rd January, I sent yet another email, outlining, once again, all correspondence, including the fact that I’d made payment more than a month before. When I came home from work the next day, there was an email from her- “please ring me urgently on this number”.


We finally got to speak, and she told me that  from the email I’d sent the day before, she realised that her email account had been hacked.

The hackers had inserted their own account details when she’d sent the bank transfer information to me- way  back on the 25th November, leaving the rest of her email intact.  I’d paid into their account, not hers -I had never seen her account details at all.

What was more scary was that each time we emailed each other, they were changing the words, so I thought she had dementia, and she thought I was not going to pay.

Quite a scary case of stolen identity and internet theft.




I immediately went to my bank and told them the story, asking if the payment could be reversed.  They rang their head office, but the following day, I was told that “because I had done the transaction myself, (the bank hadn’t done it) there was nothing they could do, and I should speak to the police instead”
I went to the local  police station and reported the matter.  Unfortunately, they could do nothing and suggested that I should report to ACORN, the federal government  cybercrime arm.  I raised a report online, and was given a reference number, but no time frame as to when action would be taken.

As you can maybe imagine, I was a bit frustrated.  My thoughts were as follows. “I know the bank account  of the hackers, because I have the bank record of transaction.  Surely someone, somewhere can just freeze that account and investigate it”.

A friend suggested I ring my local MP’s office.

I can  only wish our State and Federal Government were as efficient as the office of my local Member of Parliament, as I was given some very good advice, and a couple of different avenues to try.

The avenue I took was to contact the Financial Ombudsman, who said I should email the bank and ask for a “Final Decision Letter”, outlining why they felt they could take no further action.
So on 12th January  I sent an email to my bank, mentioning that I had spoken to the Financial Ombudsman service and that he had suggested I ask for that letter.

About an hour after I sent that email, I received a phone call from a rather agitated person at the head office of the bank.  “Why are you so impatient, these things take time, you can’t just rush  inquiries like this, why did you contact the ombudsman, we are doing all we can”, and really getting quite angry.

So angry, in fact, that I had to raise my voice and interupt him “Just hang on a minute!Your staff told me that I had to go to the police, that you couldn’t do anymore.  What are you saying about an inquiry?”
“Yes well” he muttered, “they told you wrong, there is an inquiry, you only had to wait”.

To be honest, I was a bit ticked off.  I didn’t know they were still investigating; his staff had  told me there was nothing more they could do and they had received guidance from their head office – his department!.

I swallowed my annoyance, and told him how wonderful it was that they were taking action. He calmed down but still kept trying to insist that I’d jumped the gun.
So now, I will wait.  I do not know if I will ever get my money back, nor do I know if I will ever find out whether they (hackers) will be caught and charged.
But my bank is trying to help, I’ve reported it to ACORN, and I’ve learned a few things.

Points to ponder.

  • I paid by bank transfer because I deliberately keep a low credit card limit (and thus limit what pay. Both I, and the lady running the business, preferred bank transfer. I do NOT intend to increase my credit card limit just because of this issue.  What would you do?
  • I was asked why I don’t have a telephone number on my website.  The idea has merit, but I am unable to take personal calls or respond to messages whilst  working my other jobs. Initially, I added phone details to the site, but received a large number of unusual messages. (The word Platypus does not only refer to an Australian mammal,  so I found out).  Email, therefore, is my preferred method of correspondence.  What’s your preferred method of correspondence?
  • I have set up the font in my email to a slightly unusual one.  If someone wants to change a sentence within, they will have to do a bit of extra work, eithermatch my font, or to change the whole of the email.  Would you notice a change in font part-way through an email? 
  • The lady I bought the product off suggested changing the colour of the font each email, when dealing with money.
  • I  can’t help wondering if the words ‘Financial Ombudsman’ were actually what got some response from the bank.   Have you had a similar experience?
  • I found that the office of my local Member of Parliament were extremely helpful.  I could only wish politicians at all levels were the same. I would suggest now, to anyone who is unsure of next steps in cases like this to talk to your local MP.
  • Will I change who I bank with?  Would you?

Please feel free to add any comments or ideas in the comments field at the bottom of the page.

It seems to me that the hackers made an awful lot of work for themselves.  They had to check every email sent between us, (and I was the only customer affected) and they had to change the wording in the email, yet still keep on subject,(and the subject matter is a little unique). Not only that, the account that I paid the money into (the hackers account) was a genuine Westpac account.  To open this account, they would have needed identity, including address, drivers licence etc.  Totally traceable.

If I had the knowledge to become a hacker, I reckon I’d try to find an easier way!!

And finally

I still wanted the machine I’d ordered, so I paid the lady (and she got the money this time) and I got my machine.  Over the next month or so, I will hone my skills, and then……..

That will be another story!

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Lost in Translation

Platypus yarn is back home, after a month spent in Thailand and Malaysia.  We’ve returned fresh, and ready to work harder at bringing regular updates to you.

In the next post, I will return to the interview format; today however, I’d like to share a couple of stories.

Blog pic 2 thailand

Whilst I know a couple of words of Thai, it is not the easiest language to learn.
Because intonations play an important part, the same word can mean many different things depending on whether you go up or down at the end of the word.

And the Thai’s obviously have similar problems working with the English language too.

Story 1.

In Krabi, Thailand we were out exploring the evening entertainment.

Mr Platypus is a guitar player, so when we heard a pretty mean sounding electric guitar happening, we were drawn to go inside.  The guitar player had been singing in Thai when we heard him, but when he saw us come in, he finished the song and started singing in English instead.

Unfortunately, he had seemingly not checked his word translation, so  “Hotel California” by the Eagles sounded something like this………to our ears anyway.

“Welcome to the Hotel California.

Such a lovely place,

Such a ugly face.

They live in a hut at the Hotel California

What a nice surprise.

Ring and advertise”

Quite funny really, but he was extremely soulful, so we didn’t laugh.  However, it was really hard to stop the giggles when, instead of the guitar solo (which I happen to think is the better part of this rather average song) he  put down his electric guitar and used a kazoo.

Story 2

Still in Krabi.  We were staying in a guest house on the 3rd floor.  Our room had a balcony which overlooked the river, and the street below.   Half a block away, on the same road, was a very big backpackers hostel, with (generally younger) people of all nationalities coming and going continually.  This hostel used to be a secondary school, so that gives an idea of the size.

Part of the view from our balcony which would have been beautiful except for the mist/smog from the peat fires in Indonesia.
Part of the view from our balcony which would have been beautiful except for the mist/smog from the peat fires in Indonesia.

One night, standing on our balcony, we saw a very weary group of 3 young female British backpackers taking their laundry to the  “motorbike rental/laundry express 2-4 hours (‘quick dry assured’)” shop across the road from us.  They were so tired they could hardly walk, but they were desperate to get the laundry done, they had a full day tomorrow but were leaving at 6.00am the following morning. From our balcony, we could see and hear all that was said.

“No problem, no problem” said Mr Laundry man, “You come back tomorrow, I have for you”.

The ladies took him at his word, and wearily headed back to the hostel, where we imagined they would not fall into bed, but rather stay up talking and drinking until the wee hours;  the hostel had a very healthy social life.

Mr Platypus and I had a chuckle.  This is Thailand after all, land of smile-and-slow-down, and we had made the mistake of taking our laundry to that very man on our first day.  Not only did it take us nearly 3 days to get it back, but we could see from our vantage point, that he was using the rental motorbikes as the clothesline for drying. For 2 days our clothing was advertisement for the wonderful motorbike rental. Every time we popped in to ask we got “You come back later”.  The only dryer happening at this shop was the sun. The ladies would not get their gear on time, especially given that the peat fires in Indonesia meant that for a week it was continually overcast.  The 2-4 hour laundry express was actually meant to be 24 hours!

Story 3.

We were now in Ao Nang, Thailand, and I was getting a bit adventurous with asking for things.  However, I did revert back to english when I asked for “chaa dam rom, mai sugar” (which should have been ‘hot black tea, no sugar’) I got, instead tea that had condensed milk in it twice in a row.

While some of the menus had been translated to English, it was far more sensible to just look at the pictures, and select that way. Especially for this one.

Deep Fried Duck Lips.
Deep Fried Duck Lips.


I didn’t order it. I ordered Chicken chop, which is actually chicken with fried rice……..or it was until the second last day, at a different place, when I ordered chicken chop again and got a schnitzel with gravy and chips.

Who knew.

Cheers, and I will continue the interview series in the next post.


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