Planet Claire

some say she's from Mars

Beautiful Mixed Media Art

by Claire 3/13/2008 1:59:00 AM

This is my Mum's art.

I remember as a child Mum used to draw quite a lot and my Uncle Alan used to paint sailing ships which I found endlessly fascinating.  Mum, like her brother is very talented artistically but bringing up a family & running a business came first for years, a familiar story!  She probably lacked confidence as well as time. 

Recently retired, she's started painting again.  She started out with acrylics, then took up watercolor, especially birds which she is very good at, and now has discovered a passion for the abstract.  She uses a lot of collage, mixed media, and really likes to experiment with pushing the boundaries.

I'm very proud of her - go check her out! 

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Chess partners wanted

by Claire 1/1/2008 6:20:00 AM

Want to play chess with me?

I've just recently started playing Ron, who's pretty decent at the game.  I know the rules but that's as far as it goes.  My goal is to beat Ron when he's sober (beat him 3 nights ago after a bottle of wine but that doesn't count). is a great site, I'd love to see you there!  (Send me a message if you add me as a friend because I won't get notified otherwise). 

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Fun ride around the river

by Claire 12/11/2007 4:55:00 AM

Yesterday we took the bikes & the dog down to Guildford with the intention of going for a half hour ride along the river & ending up cycling nearly 20km, it was great fun.  Very leisurely, perfect conditions (no hills, no flies, no blazing heat, no wind - what more could you ask for?)

Saffi ran most of the way (we discovered she can't bark at other dogs when she's running hard next to a bike!), and spent some of the time later riding in my basket.  The kids had the time of their lives, Owen peddling his too small bike (not ready to move up to the bigger one) like mad non stop.

Got onto Google Earth later & mapped our route, here it is.



What is LETS?

by Claire 11/29/2007 5:33:00 AM

A couple of people have asked me lately, what exactly is LETS?   Here's my take on it, in particular our local system here in the Perth Hills called "Swan Hills LETS".

We’ve been in LETS since our daughter was born in 1997.  I used to read about it in “Grass Roots” magazine which I used to subscribe to in our “self sufficient” days before life took over.  Then I met someone at the community learning centre who was in it & got into it then.

LETS systems are active all over the world, but they’re always community based.  It’s basically an alternative local currency – ours is gumnuts. 

The system prints its own virtual currency (gumnuts in our case) which circulate throughout the community.  We have access to a member directory of goods & services on offer, and there’s a strong social culture.

When we trade with each other, our transaction is recorded in a central database, in our case a website that all members have access to - members record their own transactions.  Every member has an account which starts at 0 and fluctuates into credit or debit, a credit representing work we’ve done for the community and value that we’re hoping to get back out of it.  A debit represents a debt we owe the community.  On leaving the system everyone’s supposed to return their account to zero so there’s no leakage of energy from the system.  (This doesn’t always work in practice).

The sorts of things our family have offered & used in the past are gardening busy bees, eggs, massage, herbs, babysitting, 2nd hand goods, excess home grown veggies, help building a straw bale structure, etc etc.

We get out of it as much as we put into it, so sometimes months go by when we’re not involved at all, and other times we’re trading frequently. 


  • Make new friends
  • Encourage healthier lifestyle
  • Extend purse strings
  • Strong community


  • Hard to get tradespeople to join, and hard to get blokes to do a lot, which is what a lot of people want, especially single women & older people.
  • You have to be pro-active to get the benefits.  Most members are busy people just like everyone else & need to be asked directly.  So sometimes people join LETS & then get disappointed that nothing happens, but the most successful members are those who attend social gatherings, busy bees & get actively involved, and more recently, those with email who use the member forum.
  • You have to try & spend & earn equally (over the long term) so you don’t end up with a big debit or credit.  This can sometimes mean being creative about what you spend your gumnuts on.
  • Our “community”, the Perth Hills is a huge area – Pickering Brook to Guildford to Toodjay.  I would like to see more LETS systems being much more local.
  • Sometimes members leave the system with debit balances (owing), which basically means that the energy they owe the community is lost.  This seems to happen more often than people leaving with credit balances, and is actually quite detrimental to the system, although happening much less frequently now that the committee has recognized it as a problem.  The best way to not be affected by this is to ensure that you never get too big a credit balance, and always try to spend what you earn.  It works well for us.

Does this interest you?  Are you in the Perth Hills?  We're always looking for new members! 

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And what have I got to show for it?

by Claire 6/5/2007 9:42:00 AM

Yesterday we had a bit of a cleanup & I chucked out most of the 2 boxes of uni notes that I'd been hording for years. I wasn't brave enough to throw the lot so I kept some projects & stuff from most of my 2nd, 3rd & honours year units. The rest went to the recycling, about 4/5ths by volume. Now that's brave don't you think!

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Walking in the Perth Hills, be wary of snakes

by Claire 12/31/2006 8:13:00 PM

In the hills here there are a lot of snakes but by luck we haven't run into any in the last few years. This year though, I've had 3 close encounters with snakes in a 3 week period at the beginning of the hot season, 2 just up the road from here in some bushland behind Kalamunda Glades Shopping Centre, the other in Jurien Bay on a path through some bush behind the beach.
The snakes near here were both juvenile dugites (I think), both times they were soaking up the sun on the path when I nearly stepped on them. Only after stepping over/around them did they move on, so sluggish were they. The first time it happened I started watching the path more closely as I walked along, but the 2nd snake I also failed to see despite watching, because I was watching the path a couple of meters ahead. I've now come to the conclusion that you need to watch where you are putting your feet, so look down, look down always. Ofcourse this puts a real downer on bushwalking.
We encountered the Jurien snake while riding bikes along the bush track next to the beach. The kids went through about 10 metres ahead of me. The snake crossed the path right infront of my bike and had I not braked I would have hit it with my front tyre. Our dog jumped out of the basket to have a closer look but luckily the snake had gotten across the path & into the bush by then, and I had a hold of the dog by her lead. The snake was long & almost black, either a Gwardar or Dugite probably, after talking to some locals about it. Very scary experience, almost put me off going outside!
Now 3 close encounters in 3 weeks has got to be the universe trying to tell me something, so I took notice & did some calling to CALM, read some books & internet sites and here's my advice to anyone who lives around here and isn't prepared.

My advice when bushwalking in summer - please be prepared.

Hey I'm no expert but here's my 2 cents.

  1. Snakes are out and about all summer but in my opinion the huge danger time is the first few weeks of heat when the snakes are coming out to warm up - they're everywhere & they're in the clearings (like paths) where it's sunny and you are walking. They are sluggish and do not get out of the way as quickly as you might think at this time of the year. Very easy to step on them even if you're alert because they look just like a stick! The colouring of dugites is very variable and they tend to take on the colour of the surrounding bush ofcourse.
  2. In midsummer it is also dangerous but atleast the snakes probably move away faster when they sense you coming. Now I'm talking mainly about dugites - they are shy snakes and will keep away if they can, on the other hand tiger snakes are agressive - I am very glad we don't generally get those around here (touching wood). Talking of other poisonous snakes I believe we also get a kind of death adder around here that likes to hide in mulch - sounds wonderful doesn't it - a good reason to stick to cleared paths.
  3. If you must walk in the bush in summer then take a backpack with a charged mobile phone, and a large compression bandage, (PUT A BANDAGE IN YOUR BACKPACK NOW!) just in case. Also wear closed in shoes and long pants, boring I know. I have taken to using the roads rather than the bush tracks to bring the kids home from school as they are in sandals and shorts & after my experiences this year I can't bear the thought of their little ankles exposed.
  4. Look down at your feet all the time, you must look ahead also ofcourse but believe me, it is very easy to miss a snake that is lounging in the sun so I reckon you've got to be super aware.
  5. If you encounter a snake, act non-threatening, back off calmly & wait for it to get away.
  6. If bitten, the correct treatment is to
    1. first wrap the limb from the site of the bite, then down the limb, then back up the limb if you have enough bandage. Firm but not tight enough to cut off circulation - the idea is to slow down the passage of the venom (through the lymph system I believe). Please keep in mind I'm no expert, but I believe that's the correct way to apply a bandage.
    2. Second, immoblize - don't walk. Sit or lie down & wait for help.
    3. Third, ring an ambulance and give them clear directions to find you - do not let the victim walk. Ofcourse if someone can carry the victim to the nearest road that might make sense. Do not wash the bite site - that might be needed for identification at hospital. Don't remove the bandage either, that would free up the circulation.
  7. Please read this article
  8. Snakes in WA are rightly protected by the Wildlife Conservation Act so don't try & kill one.
  9. Don't get paranoid. It will probably never happen, but for goodness sakes, go buy a bandage & put it in your backpack now! And if you have a mobile phone then take it with you when walking alone. Also remember that the European honeybee is more likely to kill than a dugite, and that only a small proportion of snakebites actually cause illness as the fangs often don't penetrate far enough. But for this reason too children & dogs are more vulnerable so you need to take snakes seriously if walking with little ones.

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