Saturday, July 31, 2010

Bacon, Eggs and Edits

An early start this morning as we'd been invited for breakfast - that involved a long walk doggy walk around the Bluff point before tomato, bacon and eggs on toast and more insights into the island.

I have slightly more idea how the locals set nets now. (we used to set on the high and caught on the outgoing, they set on the low, and catch on the incoming). Anyway, I'm hitting page 200 of 290 on this edit, and ever onwards. We have done little else but mince some wrasse for fishcakes and the cats. It's an acceptable fish for that.

Friday, July 30, 2010

The paranoids don't know the half of it

I'm being watched.

Besides secret agent batcat ('he'll never see me here') making sure I was working from his hide in the shelves above my computer, I also endured the indignity of a temp'ry sex change in that I was allowed to cook soup and chocolate bread for the CWA (Country Women's Association I think) soup and sandwiches fundraiser. The skirt was OK, after all the Scottish dancing (and if it was good enough for my Scots ancestors, it's good enough for me), but I draw the line at cooking in high heels. I'll do curlers in my hair (and beard) if I have to do it again instead - which I may seeing as B was invited to join today. I think that is a 'you're fitting in' compliment. I think it is rather like the WI in the UK, about which my knowledge stops at the movie'Calender girls'. Hmm. so.... Gardening, flower-arranging, pickles, jam-making and cooking... They got the wrong one of us :-). B's more inclined to chainsaws and brushcutters. Neither of us do flower arranging terribly well (although if I do say it myself I have a natural talent for the Japanese 'grabbed a bunch and shoved it in a vase' look that other people spend years trying to learn). But B is really good at fitting in and doing things that need doing quietly, and getting on with people, so I am sure it'll be fine. Besides, we give them something to talk about and laugh at. heh. I don't mind but just every now and then I find myself feeling like a giraffe making sorbet at a French cookery school. It's not so much the giraffe's cooking skills (which are not great) but the fact that it is doing so at all that causes everyone to marvel. Anyway, we made them 'boontjie sop' because it seemed appropriate. After all, that's boerekos, and this is farming country. It was popular, apparently. I've probably made more traditional Afrikaans food for functions here in six months than I had in twenty-six years back in the old country. People are curious and I suppose we're obliging that.
Anyway, back to editing.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Far too close for comfort.

That's what is left of a squid jig after Roland decided it smelled good (ie. stinky) and he'd chew it. The observant among you may note the keel is missing (lead, not good to eat, and the double row of barbless hooks at the back. The tackle box got fished out of the back of the ute and put on the ground in the garage, clearing it out the way for Clare's bag. This morning some bright dog scattered the contents in the hope of something tasty. And Roland decided to chew this. I went cold when I saw him and it - searched his mouth and throat - was terrified he'd swallowed it. (on the plus side - no barbs. On the down side a ring of sharp spikes, which would inflict damage and could easily obstruct, especially if it faced the wrong way.

You'll be relieved to know I found it in the silly bloody dog's paw, where, as it is barbless, minimal harm to remove. Total damage one squid jig and a few small holes in someone's idiotic paw.

There is now a shelf in the garage, too high for dogs. And the gear from the table outside (not above bad labrador reach) has been cleared.

In the meanwhile the cats are being most 'omgekrap' about Clare having left them. They treated her very well, and sometimes gave her as much as two minutes off. It's so HARD to get good staff these days

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The empty nest

The humankid nest is completely empty as Clare flew out at 3, (sniff. We miss her already) and I am very grateful for dogs and cats. The cats are very peeved - their lap and bed with compliant human just LEFT. Anyway, just us old birds now. I really need to get onto extending the vege garden, and sorting some more seeds. And a ton of writing work. Still, life continues. We're more-or-less OK with firewood and Abalone and squid. We're all out of the 'better' fish. Veggies are not really holding their own. Garlic and first red onions are growing, sage is dying, the rest survives. And we move slowly on.

It's a little hard not to be depressed -- a feeling I have with books and writing right now too. But we're battlers.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

How does the Echidna sit down?

They waited until we were out of the water - mouths too numb to speak properly having dived around the limestone bhommies and mushrooms and swum through the arch, and darn near frozen, before coming cruising within 20 yards of land. Dolphins - four of them moving in pairs in perfect synchronous lazy arcs through the crystal turquoise water... you think I could get a picture... I have about 30 of the water. One lousy one of a fin.

Anyway, we also saw my first ever Echidna. Forgive the picture of its spiky bum only, but I was not prepared to disturb it to get a frontal veiw. It has a curious mixture of hair and spikes looking like a dirty blond t' yoof of today having got a little ardent with the hair gel. I reckon you could go clubbing with an echidna on your head and the average club-bunny would think you were just soooo fashionable. Even better than a mullet (which I was set to make my fortune selling as head-fish before...) Oh dear. Have I doomed the entire species?

We also found a little scrap of different cliff - a piece of what I think is metamorphosed sandstone

It's never going to be a great climbing destination but it is another little plus for Fantastic Flinders.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Overdressed Kayaker's Weekly' Magazine Centerfold

It was fairly brisk today, but seeing as Clare's visit is drawing sadly to a close, we went off to kayak Patt's River at high tide. Ergo the picture above which I sending in as a possible centerfold to the popular 'Overdressed Kayaker's Weekly' Magazine (Actually I promised to send it to Paddy). The water is the color of slightly dodgy homebrew (possibly because of half frozen dead wallaby in it, or the tannic leaching of the forest floor in the montaine forest from whence it comes) and with stark flappy white of paperbark trunks set in the verdant green mosses that coat the icky mud banks is most picturesque - until you try to dismount your trusty inflate-a-galleon (I was on the inflate-a-galleon upstream) and discover that the mud is nearly the perfect frictionless surface, and you fall on your dignity (or in Clare's case alight your kayak with a startling involuntary acrobatic leap, that, contrary to all probability, doesn't dump you into the water).

Still, for something that takes less than 5 minutes to get to and has a good 2km of paddling without the sight of humans - it's pretty special. Upstream of the weir could be paddleable too - we did go perhaps 50 yards, but the dead trees and obstructions add a whole new dimension to paddling the inflatable galleon, and the water is icy (a lot colder than the sea) - which doesn't make sinking attractive.

In her quest to make Mike's day and experiment with food, Clare had some bacon and banana pancake with ginger icecream, chocolate sauce AND peanut-butter. It has now been proved beyond all reasonable doubt - bacon and banana pancake with ginger icecream, chocolate sauce AND peanut-butter sticks to the roof of your mouth, even when you are laughing. Oh and green sauce doesn't go with Icecream :-).

We're going to miss her.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Weather control

Now as it is fairly well established that the weather can be entirely different at the back of the house and in front of the house (with bright sunshine one side and cold rain the other, at times) here, and you can tell if the wind is blowing by whether the Rosellas are being knocked off their perches on tree-top twigs, we have decided that the answer may be to take advantage of the light construction methods prevalent here, and dis-assemble the house and turn the the good-weather side to wherever we want to go. As sort of inverse of Geomancy, I am calling the arcane science houseomancy. Also with superglue we should be able to stop the wind by affixing the Rosellas to the gum twigs. The paradisal weather status ofthe island now being assured, Clare took a walk in the Darling range through Houland's gap, where I believe it was howling. I stayed warm and added a chapter, Barbs drove up to the top and met her. I'm sorry that I didn't go along, but I really needed some quiet focus time. All the pics are the same day with an hour or so - and see the weather change. It's a very different vegetation up there.

with some grasslands and far more open

Saturday, July 24, 2010


Clare experimented with the chocolate sauce on a bacon and banana pancake this evening. Hmm. She weilds a mean chainsaw, before you make that hasty comment.

It seems to be a day of hearing about sad deaths - farm murders back in Rosetta near Mooi River (near where we used to live) -- the mother of a friend back there, and the the sudden death wife of a bloke we've been diving with here. She and B were part of the Saveloy selling team at the cattle sale at which they laughed themselves into aching sides and stomachs. My heart goes out to my friends back in South Africa, living around there, and the sadness, fear and anger they will have to deal with. Here the community was saddened and shocked too. The fragility of life is quite hard to deal with when it is suddenly thrust in your face. I guess the message is to get around to saying those things and telling people how much they mean to you, while you can.

The borrowed printer is working as a minor piece of good news.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Sardines on toast, flinders island style

We tried for flounder tonight, seeing as it was Clare's last real chance at it. No luck at all - we didn't see one. We saw any number of fat toby/puffer-fish (tetrodontidae) AKA 'fugu'. No I was not tempted. Not even slightly. However Clare proved a dab hand with tennis strokes and the 'girly net' (it's mine - sort of orangey pink. matches my eyes) and the garfish and so we ended up with six of those - sardines on toast, Flinders Island style, when we got home. It was still quite something to be out there in dark looking through the ripple.

We also hit our first wild animal - a wombat, that I had to kill. Rather grim, but I'm not a believer in just leaving anything to die in pain. We were going quite slowly about 40km/h and carefully, but it was so sudden and unlucky I think, as there appeared no damage to the Ute(and they're infamous for inflicting damage). We did see and avoid about 30 roos and another wombat.

We had lunch visitors - friends who have kindly lent us a printer so I can get this manuscript printed, seeing as so far I failed to get HP cartiges for my very basic everyone has one HP printer. And no, they say they can't refil either. So we'll have to get a cartridge out from SA. Anyway, we found some gluten free flour (friend is gluten intolerant) and made pumpkin fritters and flathead and squid and oysters for our guests. Oh and chocolate bread and for dessert ginger icecream Clare had made with Tasmanian Sauce Company chocolate sauce - seriously yum. Then Clare went to practice on the church piano and I did some work before our night jaunt. Someone was chatting at the Scottish dancing last night, and was taken aback by the fact that I spend most of my time working. They had the idea that we foraged and and tended veggies 24/7 just to stay alive. I guess we're lucky in that the sea is bountiful here and we have some idea what to harvest - not that I wouldn't like to spend more time doing it, but we actually do well out of an hour or two every two days. We're steadily meeting more people. It's odd, but in some ways we have more of a social life here than we did out Finnegan's Wake (and I can't say I felt that isolated there), where we spent nearly 8 years. I suppose we're nearer 'town' (well, Whitemark - pop. 170 IIRC)-- or maybe people are just more outgoing here. That was not what I was led to expect. In fact some South Africans said it would be 10 years before an Australian invited us into their home. Hmm. Maybe in big cities or with people who don't try to fit in?

Thursday, July 22, 2010

I have found it!

Yesterday we had a really busy day, starting with another dawn breakfast on the beach, followed by clamming, squiding and wood collecting.

Unfortunately the fields we cross to get to the wood were wet. So we were taken to a new area to cut some old fallen trees. We could not get our 'on road' ute to the trees, so John arrived in the cutest little off road golf cart 4 x 4, to show us where to go, and to carry the wood back for us. Wow, it is AWESOME. Top speed 40km, with no windows so you can hunt from it, but with a grid behind the seat, so if you overload the back the wood can't slide to join you on steep downhills, (which we proved). it is the one on the right side of the picture, if you want to see what I am raving about. Just perfect to take us to the beach, and we can load the catch on the back. Apparently we can licence them here, but only for 10kms from home in each direction. Never mind the boat, this is what we really need.

Today Dave and Clare are climbing the cliffs, and then we are off to Scottish dancing tonight. Certainly we have had no time to get bored here yet.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Robin (in tights) Freer

Hello lower life-forms. I thought I'd have a little chat with you as I am having such success with Clare-training. If you can send me more young staff of superior intellect and ability like that they may be adequate.

I am of course a cat, Felix superiourosa, now resident here in Australia on Flinders Island. I do a great many things for my staff. I help them with map reading by sitting on the map. I've shown them how to cat-walk along the fence while they clean nets. The difficulty they have in comparitively simple art of walking along a 2 inch wide plank gracefully takes some believing. I've of course done a lot of supervising in getting them to dress suitably for my kneads (a girl, even one as beautiful as me, has kneads. I like the fluffy jersey. Blue. It brings out the colour of my eyes.
I also do a great deal of typing with my feet, by walking up and down the keyboard. Here I am helping one of my humans to play some bizarre game that did not even involve cuddling me or giving me nice fish.

I occassionally also train dogs. Here i am teaching that blond labrador how to roll over, lick your furry breeches and then play dead. But Labradors are very slow on the uptake.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

'Morning in the bowl of night'

Out in the dark on the black, choppy water with the wind and tide pushing my little Kayak further out to sea (you may set nets one hour before sunup)... I was scared. Complete woos. I dropped the net anchor and bouy and streamed the net WAY too close to shore. Anyway, no problem paddling back and not even a major issue hauling (I missed the net-bouy as the kayak as I was moving too fast first pass, had to paddle back against the wind and tide to get there,) but it all worked OK, and my nerves were those of a wary old man. Well, I suppose I have reasons to be like that.

And I caught seaweed. Humph.

Anyway we had a great breakfast on the beach, watched the sunrise. B and Clare seemed to enjoy it. B had quite a different take on it on the blog. I guess I don't like failing. Ah well. By 8.30 I was back at my desk. Clare took a 20km cycle up near Pillingers peak - in the rain. For me: Editing continues. And a dawn like this is always a balm for the soul.

We all saw the sunrise!

This morning Dave had us up long before it was light, but the wallaby already knew that morning was breaking, so they tested our brakes several times on the way to the beach.

The sky was just starting to get lighter as Dave paddled out on the kayak and set the new net in the sea. Unfortunately in the dark he did not go out far enough, and so the net was not set in the best spot. But we made a fire on the beach, far away from anything that could possible catch, and using the kayak as a seat, we feasted on the egg and bacon Dave cooked.

After coffee/tea it was time to get the net in. We landed a lot of weed, but no fish. Next time we (Dave) will go deeper, further, and hopefully catch more. But it was a great start to a day.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Chirpy chirpy

These are the last of my midwinter peppers.
My early morning work session this morning was broken by a frantic chirping from the house. I went through to rescue or put out of misery the bird that a cat was plainly persecuting.

I found the cat. Picked it up...

I couldn't find the bird. And yes I hunted high and low, and typically as soon as I was around the corner, it chirped again. Much peering on chairs under the table and behind seat covers and even in the wood-burner followed. And it kept playing this
chirpy game.

Finally I went back to the intent cat. Still sitting intent...

Peering at a tiny tree frog like the one that toured our salad, that nearly got roasted. A chirping frog. Maybe even the same Evel-knievel type daredevil mini-froglet.

I took it outside to dare another day.

I was hoping to print today for B and Clare to start proof-reading that first draft. But I ran out of ink and paper. Paper... even here on the island, was cheaper than South Africa. An ink cartridge for my bog-standard HP printer...

Not in Australia. Gas stove circus mark 2.

I've been gradually pulling apart the boxes of fishing junk I bought for $15 at the garage sale. Aside from reels and sinkers - worth a bit, I think I got some winners there. The lures - and there are a whole bag of soft-plastics still new too, are little old fashioned, and grubby (but can be cleaned), and some need new hooks - but there are new hooks in the box.

We had a look at the set nets too - neither are perfect but both are in reasonable nick. We're going to go and try one tomorrow morning. Part of the 'lets show Clare how we live' programme. Throw-netting and chainsaw practice today. kayaking out in the pre-dawn to set nets tomorrow.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

how much is enough garlic?

I've heard an infestation of vampires is sweeping the world...

At this stage the garden and herbs are in 'holding pattern', barely coping with our winter cropping. Which as I am fairly busy (gee what else is new) editing etc. is just as well. I did however plant the new purple garlic, and the kindly birds grubbed it all up(as la Duchesse is dealing the mice and rats in the veg and garden I think it was the birds - none of the cats have ever been much interested in birds. Works for me, as far as I can work out the mice and rats around the house are introduced.) Which rather brings me to my next question. I really have to start thinking a little longer term, preparing and planting for summer. This is the first time I've lived where garlic co-operates. So how many plants am I looking at? Yes, we eat at least one fat clove a day, averaging it out, as an expensive necessity for cooking. Some things we use rather a lot more, and I suspect the amount would just increase until there were none that could stand us, unless we were down-wind. But as I have no idea on the success of the plants, and the level of predation... guessing is hard. After the great corgette (AKA Zucchini) glut I do realise overkill is possible :-) Barely with garlic though... it's just how much of the garden to devote to it. We're going to have to expand it, I think. I was wondering about converting old truck tyres into raised beds.

I did roo meat-balls (which I minced myself), broccoli side shoots and pasta with a reduced tomato and garlic sauce for supper. It was very good - although the fat content really probably needs adding to - flavour excellent though (better than Eland and similar to but more beef-like than Impala) I've got one of those old hand mincers and really it took about 4 minutes - and I knew EXACTLY what got minced.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Boys winging away, and onward

So... they really CAN get up at 4.30AM without a crowbar or me. The boys got up, caught the shuttle, and caught the plane to Melbourne and then dropped us an e-mail to say they were through customs an emigration and all they had to do is board(for which I am really grateful. I follow the ancient way of the worrier, which is a hard path to follow and concentrate on anything else.). My best mate Pete is picking them up in SA, so all should be well. Therefore, mind at rest, I've had a constructive morning editing while B vacuumed and Clare brush-cut. Then we nipped out to a sneak preveiw of the garage sale and I bought some fishing gear. Not really the tools I was hoping for, but several spare elderly reels, and a load of sinkers and a mold, and a strung gill-net (I have a licence. I also have a legal mesh and weights - just no floats, ropes or net needle. It's been another 'round tuit'. I'm not very keen on gill-nets, but they too have their place in self-sufficency foraging, and in some ways large mesh ones like this are a reasonable passive fishing methode which size-selects and does not damage the environment. Don't get me started on small-mesh drift nets, dredges or trawl netting. Beach seines on the other hand are sort of OK, if they're short) We stopped and had a cuppa with some friends and got given another roo, eggs, as well as a very tempting catalogue of seeds and some purple garlic from their garden. Does anyone out there have any experience with Cossack pineapple, Salsify, Scorzonera, sea-kale, strawberry spinach, tomatillo, tamarillo?

Friday, July 16, 2010

It all comes down to distances

Well, the boys flew out this evening, starting the long trek back to South Africa. They're young at Uni and have more to find in life than a remote island can offer at this stage. But I miss them. Savagely, already. That's the one down side about being here. We have moved far from all the aspects of SA I don't miss - from the taxis to the vuvus. But we're also far from many people I hold very dear. Anyway, we still have Clare for a bit. I'm really not used to having a semi-daughter (possibly) around the place, although I know fate if had given me a daughter she'd have been like those silly tittiping women in high-heels and impractical skirts with the flutes of champagne and the half-eaten salad, complete with inane giggling and the vapid discussion of fashion, shoes and their boyfriends' jobs in banking, from the next table up in Hobart. Shudder. I am sure the world needs them for something (and yes I eavesdrop, and watch people. Writers need to) but I am very very glad Pad's tastes run to someone who can climb, dive and weild a spear :-) and who doesn't run to impractical skirts - and to whom shoe shopping is not a thing of joy.

The boys took along a good solid loaf of my oat and ginger dwarf-bread, for fighting off muggers and clubbing rats with in big bad Lonnie. There was no room in their bags so it flew across on James's lap - which at the Island News dinner brought up the subject of various cakes - including a wedding cake that have flown across the same way -- It can be a bumpy flight... I had this mental image of several tiers of cake swaying their way through the turbulent cumulous, and was very sad to find it flew in sections. Where is their sense of adventure!?

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Late nights and Scottish dancing

We've been doing incomprehensible dances - well, possiblibly merely to me. We had a muttonbird barbie earlier - and James seeing as it was men coughing around some cremating meat in good South African style, fetched beer and got out his Notebook and played 'Delarey Delarey' - which is all quite funny - the brave sound of the DISTANT drum -- as you'd never have got me to do drink beer and cook wors and tjops and listen Bok van Blerk(?) back in South Africa. But Boags is nicer than Castle, and Clare enjoyed her pot-bread, green sauce and mutton-bird.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Dave is home!

The winter weather arrived again today. We had wind and rain, and a little hail, so we are topping up our water tanks nicely, which I am really pleased about.

One of the things I find bewildering here are the flowers. Gilbert and Sullivan said 'the flowers that bloom in the spring, tra la, have nothing to do with the case' in one of their operetta's but here the flowers are blooming and it is still mid winter, we are still getting frosts, for goodness sake. Yet the daffodils, roses, daisies, and many others are out in force! I just don't get it. Still, it certainly makes mid winter very beautiful.

I took the kids today to go and cut a friend's hedge. Mostly because I wanted to play with their electric hedge trimmer. Clare also enjoyed using it, so the boys were reduced to the chainsaw and the shears. Still I hope the owners feel that their hedge looks better, it is certainly shorter, but the comment made was 'the difference between a good and a bad cut is about a week!' so hopefully it will grow back.

Paddy had made us chocolate bread for lunch, which was delicious with blackcurrant jam, and gave us the energy to deal with the garden work. Then we went and met a young wombat, called Julia. She was really cute, and a lot heavier for her size than I had expected. She was determined to burrow into Clare's jersey with her head, really sweet!

Then Dave landed safely back on the island, and we heard all about the GPS taking him on a scenic route, while he was trying to rush back to be in time to catch his flight. Anyway he made it, and we have a final few days with the whole family together.

GPS games

It is entirely possible that the GPS is indulging in a cruel joke at my expense. Yes I'm back, but I am seriously considering reporting my GPS to the society for the prevention of cruelty to Daves and other lower-life forms.

I don't do cities terribly well, and Hobart is a small city. Yes it has some beautiful sandstone (I think?) buildings in the Harbour area, but there are still a whole lot of other people determined to drive on MY road even when I am worried about getting back to Lonnie in time to fly back to the island. It is really terribly inconsiderate of them. The talk went well (I think - these things are always a haze to me. I'm good with people in small groups but when there are lots of them, I put on my crowd persona and cope. It's part of the job of being a writer - fortunately a small part. I've been told I am very funny, but that could be because of minor dress idosyncracies when I have my mind on other things. After all, if it's good enough for Superman, surely the absent-minded author can be forgiven for putting on underwear after trousers?) Anyway I had an interesting visit to the big city -- including a tolerable pizza at Cargo - and some very nice Tassie pinot noir - Tigress 2008. Almost no shopping was done as the hotel was in the middle of town, where they keep all those delightful boutique clothes shops and cafes and jewellers and electronic and sound system shops that really have all the essentials we need for Island life ;-/. And I hate driving in town and didn't have a lot of spare time.

Anyway, I managed to get out of the workshop thingy and down to my car only about 6 minutes late, and set up the GPS which said I'd be safely there at 15.03. (I kind of needed to be there 15.15 or maybe at a push as late as 15.30).

Then the cruel thing sent me plodding traffic light to traffic light MILES inland of the Tasman bridge which it has decided is one way. Time estimate was 15.10 by the time I had escaped the city... But the worst was yet ahead. It could just take me onto the midlands Highway, which is not a great road but is fairly straight and 110Km speed limit most of the way. NOOOO. It had to take me the shortest way... over a mountain with hairpin bends max 60km/H speed limits and down to 35km/H on a fair number of corners. And of course a great time for cyclists to be using this road... Then as the minutes climbed and climbed and climbed... Into the Coal river valley and through picturesque windy roaded tourist driven hills with little towns - with their 50km/H signs so you can really appreaciate their nooky-nacky shops or nicky-nacky shops - I didn't have time to stop for fuel (which I was worried about) let alone food (and lunch had not happened, and breakfast was one croussant a long time ago.) By now I'm getting worried and we've got the rate increase in GPS arrival time to slow down... but I was eventually up to 15.17... which doesn't leave any leeway for fuel, or rain or traffic hassles or anything going wrong.

Anyway, I got to the Midlands Highway, up to 110 and stuck pretty close to it... and to my relief the minutes came down and down. The GPS got me to my destination at... 15..... 03. The original prediction - which had me without ulcers.

I'm so glad to be back here where I can put the evil-minded little device back in its drawer.

Back with the family the dogs and cats... It's a little bittersweet as we know the boys have to leave soon.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Dave and the dogs.

Dave is down in Hobart, and phoned to say he had arrived safely. I hope that his talk goes well.

The dogs have got really soft coats at the moment. We are feeding them Aus dog food, which may be better quality than they are used to, minced fish, and a broth made from whatever bones we have, chicken, muttonbird or fish. So something is doing a good job on their coats.

Maybe it is just that the food comes from the hardware shop, rather than the supermarket as I am used to.

The boys had a wonderful parent free day today, doing a tour of some of the less accessable island beach with some friends. It sounds as if they had a good day.

Off to Hobart

I'm off to Launceston, to drive to Hobart to take part in this digital publishing workshop, armed with a powerpoint presentation James helped me put together last night. I am not sure I am a powerpoint sort of bloke! Anyway, B will probably post, and I'll be back on Wednesday night, I hope.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Camping in the Woods

Paddy, James and Clare went off into the wilderness to camp and fish for 2 days. They left after lunch yesterday, and we fetched them in time to wash and eat before going off to sing with the choir today.

They camped at a wonderful site, close to the beach, but sheltered in the trees, with a well used fire pit. It is a half an hour walk from where I am prepared to drive the car to, so Dave and I went along with a fresh loaf of bread at lunch time today, to help them carry back.

It appears that they had a good time, had fun camping out and cooking 'roo' over the open fire.

Paddy and Clare did a lot of hiking, but did not find the routes they were planning to climb, but James caught 3 Wrasse, 2 of very good size, so he is happy.

He and I minced them up for the cats tonight, who let us know, in no uncertain terms, that they much prefer their fish freshly minced, and not bulk minced and then frozen.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Empty Nest (training) syndrome

The boys and Clare have all gone up to the Docks to camp the night and climb from early. We'll pick them up tomorrow afternoon. I've been trying to write my talk for the digital publishing thingy. I only have 15 minutes and the truth is I could talk on the subject for 3 hours. But the house is very quiet...

I'm not looking forward to them leaving. Actually half the island isn't. The other half doesn't know them.


Any readers who happen to be in Tassie and interested - I'm going to be at this workshop in Hobart Digital Publishing Primer Tuesday 13 July, 6pm - 8.30pm HOBART, and speaking the next day at Digital rights and licences: how would I get paid? Wednesday 14 July, 10am - 1pm Where I'll be talking about the Baen Webscriptions experience, about the Baen free library, about Jim Baen's Universe, and about the Save the Dragons venture. for bookings etc.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

The furry hot-waterbottle

Cats of course, want nothing more than to go into rooms they are not allowed into. Open the door to a cat-free zone and they're in faster than lightning that's been soaked in muttonbird oil for three weeks. If you leave the door open, belike they'll saunter out, leaving the hayfever/catfur allergy sufferer to cough and sneeze at the hair that doesn't follow them out.

Clare was all snuggly tucked up with a fur-covered hot-water bottle. Pink fur as it happens, but in the dark all fur is grey. She discovered that the door had been less than well closed and during the course of the night a kitty took a tour of her bed, letting her know that a certain cat was in who should be out (she's a great favorite with the cats, and usually seems to have at least one with her, but that room is a cat-free zone). So she sleepily put out the protesting pussy, and scrambled back into bed. And to her horror sat on a cat.

Which - if she'd had the light on, she'd have seen had pink fur :-)

Friday, July 9, 2010

The evil oven is dead, long live the oven

Or not. John's horrible old banger of a stove with which I have a hate-hate relationship has finally met its end, or at least the oven and one plate has, and one plate only works on hot. While fixing/replacing it is our landlord's problem, we still need a stove and as this is an expensive place to cook on electricity, I decided to sort out my too large for the kitchen gas stove, which has big good oven in which I could do bulk, and at least have an oven in the shed... Hmm. Our South African regulator doesn't fit. And we can't get one on island. So for now I have no oven. On the other hand we've just bought (but not collected) another deep freeze.

I cooked little wallaby and bacon kebabs with thyme, pepper and green sauce, and some crayfish for supper tonight.

Oh and Telstra, that wonderful company with the superb customer service and best store in the universe in Hobart's Eastland's mall... in some other very not-parallel Universe, decided to try threatening phone-calls today because, despite having my eventually got co-operation out of them by threatening them with the Telecoms Ombudsman (up to which point that had been the worst, least ethical and least helpful, least co-operative company in my experience of Australia, at which point they suddenly changed tune) and having made them refund me for the piece of non-working junk their bigpond arm had sold me, that I'd returned, been credited for... that they'd like to bill me for it (and I paid cash for it in first place!!!!!) So I quoted the relevant numbers of my current bill - which is up to date (it's the first one that I've not been in credit for - they got $8.10 - that's how badly they screwed up.) They're not exactly employing any rocket-scientists. They generously offered to continue the abusive phone-calls until I fixed their record-keeping problems for them (There are perhaps 20 pages of correspondence on this on their records, on file, linked to their account number available to them - but it's easier to make you look it up and explain it to them.) It took me a long time to get them to work out that they were re-opening a can of worms they'd created in first place. I do understand why everyone says 'telstra!' and rolls their eyes now.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Why am I picking up females?

There is a different season for male and female crays, and the female season has closed... So today my total catch was female (I caught 3). However James kept the honor of the family alive with his first Flinders cray. He swam back to the boat with it clutched tightly in both hands. It weighed 3.3kg.

That's the old South African KZN measure against it.

The guy we dived with kindly gave us one of his.

Only problem is our biggest pot - 12.5 litre

And B had a hard day cutting up two wallaby hindquarters we'd been given... So now the freezer is truely groaning. This is good... but I think we're going to need a bigger freezer.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Trying to do too much at once...

First the good news - all that B seems to have wrong with her is treatable with some more folate - I suspect it was more due to stress and the change in diet. We're all very relieved.

What with the kids here, good weather AND trying to do the first draft edit, and a rush on the proof-read of the short story in FANGS FOR THE MAMMARIES life has been a bit a bit too full. They all went off to Trousers Point and managed one more leatherjacket, and then squidding - and got 6, this evening without me, and without the camera. Sniff. Poor me. Still, we have done some other good things - the gate has real hinges, and while B doctored, and meals-on-wheels the wood shed has I think about a month's cut logs drying (just drying rain-wet off them - it's all old wood.) Clare did some morning brushcutter weilding, and we got the second carpet under the bookcases. The dogs enjoyed some roo (well, wallaby)-bones.

I've got a mint plant, finally, thanks to Rosemary (poor lady was rather bemused at us discussing the physics of the relative temperatures of heaven and hell. Um. Welcome to the Freer family and their idea of entertainment.) This, with the parsley makes for my simple version of salsa verde (there are as many recipes as there are pages in most novels) which is wonderful with fish and meat and for dipping fresh bread into.

And tomorrow some of us will go diving for crayfish. Maybe even me.

Monday, July 5, 2010

It's all a question of knowing enough!

Today we went up to 'the docks' so that Paddy, Clare and Dave could climb and I could fish. This is a very beautiful area, as are so many bays on this island, but the best climbing area is, of course, half an hour from the car. But it is soooo beautiful there, you will love it, I was told. So I walked down a well cleared track carrying all my fishing stuff, while the others carried climbing gear and lunch.

Well, it was worth the walk, the campsite is really super, just has no water at all, but otherwise a wonderful spot in the woods, close to the beach.

They set off to climb an easy route first, just to get into the hang of things, and I headed for the beach. I caught a big Wrasse on my very first cast, so I really felt I was in for a good day. Then it was several undersized Wrasse, until I caught a Trigger fish. Now, I was under the impression that Trigger fish were no good for anything human, and not much good as cat food, but it was about 40cm long, and the official size is 20cm, so I kept it, thinking the cats would eat it if they were hungry enough. Well my next catch was another even bigger Trigger fish, which I kept, but I then moved fishing spots looking for Wrasse.

But the tide was coming in, and the other side of the headland had actual waves, which splashed, so I returned to my original spot, away from any waves, but deep enough for fish. I caught another 2 Trigger fish, (keeping both) and then gave up in disgust and returned to the camp site for lunch. I had just unpacked all the food and drink and put it all ready for the others to eat, when they also arrived. Paddy was rather grazed on his arms and legs, but had completed the first pitch of his warm up route, finding it much harder than expected. Clare had caught her first leader fall while belaying with 2 ropes, and she and Dave had followed Paddy up the route. They were all tired and ready for some food, as it turned out to be after 3pm!

They went off to the rocks and threw a line, after eating, and Clare caught her first sea fish, but it was too small to keep.

Then it was a mad dash home, avoiding the wallabys who were out in force, (word had got out that Clare had not seen one that was alive since arriving here). Dave then cooked Trigger fish in double time so that Paddy and Clare wouldn't be late for the Sing Australia Choir that meets on Mondays at 7pm. It turns out that Trigger fish are hugely superior to Wrasse, as everyone knows, and they were absolutely the right fish to be catching. (At least I didn't throw them back!)

I think we will all sleep well tonight, even James who stayed home to study ready for next term.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

A door into summer

Petronius the arbiter (IIRC) was the Heinlein's cat-character in THE DOOR INTO SUMMER -- a cat that insisted on touring all the door s of the house to find the one that led to the place that had no snow.

Snow is rare here, but a door out of the rain has been possible. A couple of days ago, during breakfast it rained in the back yard... and not in the front. It was literally possible to walk out and get rained on in the back garden, and walk out onto dry grass in the front, with edge of the rain half way along the house. It went on like that for a good 15 minutes.

'Scattered showers' on Flinders is not just a weather-man cop out. When we were looking at the weather information about Flinders and looking at the numbers of sunny and overcast days... It becomes obvious that in winter about 10 days a month are either sunny or cloudy. The rest are both.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

The Isle of Daves.

Last time I counted I ran out fingers and toes twice before I'd even made a dent in the available Christian names starting with A out there, let alone all the rest of the alphabet (and that's without Moonunit and Snoopy - which come under the heading of cruel and unusal punishments to inflict on kids IMO - and all the Rainbows and Minnesota and other such adopted names). It is therefore statistically improabable that an Island with somewhere around 800 people, with a distinctly skew sex ratio (more women than men - women-islanders think 80 is begining to edge onto middle-aged. The men can't take the pace as well.)... so call it 350 males, would apparently have 32 Davids (Daves, Dave-o etc). When I was at Uni, I knew 3 David - and I knew everyone and his dog spot. Writing sf/fantasy the numbers go to 7. Here... 32. That's creeping toward 10% of the male population have one Christian name - which you could MAYBE understand if it was a family name in a traditional, conservative area.
But of the 7 I know personally... 3 are newcomers from across the world, like Victoria (far-off furrin parts) and the US and South Africa.

This is of course a conspiracy that all of you non-Davids aren't in on. Sorry and all that, but word is out on the Dave-web that the place that Davids can finally enjoy a davish lifestyle and the company of other Daves... is here.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Insanity is not just heriditary, it's infectious

Clare has caught it too. (cue the crowd screaming 'run away')

James has plainly passed this onto Clare who went diving at longpoint today.

No, I think there are only she-oaks, but to make up for it there are manferns (with Pads and Clare)

Yes, it is possible this is Middle Earth: I'm pretty sure there were hobbits up there. You need to come and look.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Strzelecki and Scottish dancing

We started the day with the collating shuffle for the Island news (which is enough excercise for most people.) We then cam home, went to Trousers Point (the photograph is of Trouser's Point bay, looking up at Mt. Strzelecki mountain) dropped James to fish, and walked up Mount Strzelecki(756 meters - and you start pretty close to sea level.

It's worth it, even if Paddy got attacked by the same tree going up and back and - when I pointed out he nettles said 'where' and fell into them. It's hereditary I suspect.

The veiw from the top is unbelievable - I took about 140 pics - Besides I got to stop, when taking them. The route is supposed to take 5 hours and we did it in 3 and 3/4 -including a long stop at the top. (BTW, Alison, note Clare in shorts and a T-shirt) The youths would have taken another 3/4 off that I reckon - but for my 'photographic' stops.

Then we came down, I cooked supper and then we went scottish dancing... (as much excercise again) now I am going to fall into bed.