Friday, May 31, 2013

Wet feet...

One day I will learn not to open the pig's grain bucket lid so it doesn't shower my feet with cold water. I know. cold water banishes impure thoughts. It also makes for wet socks if you have been stupid enough to walk out there in a pair of crocs. Fairy is of course a spoiled pig (there is a huge pot of boiled pig tucker made for her every days and kept in the fridge) but fears that I will become so attached she won't be be bacon are not that likely. She doesn't have any interest in me except as food bringer, and possibly food (yes, she tried a few tastes, just to check. You have to watch her.). She's even less sociable than Percy, who would come and be scratched. She's less of a digger than he was, but otherwise not quite as friendly, and he was not really the local charmer.

New chooks are still not laying - although they will now take grain and sunflower seeds out of my hand. I should have held off doing the old ones in.

Barbs is away in Lonnie for Synod, and I am being a batchelor. This involves dirtying as few pots as possible, and being mobbed by the cats every time they see me. Not that they need people or anything. They're just... not used to the lack of room service and lap space.

Peter's container arrived along with a lot of my stuff yestyerday, so it and I spent some time getting re-aquainted. That's what you call being stuck in tight corners and lifting heavy things isn't it? Anyway, it is a huge saving on many things, as well as getting us more bits towards being truly self-sufficient and independent. There is a second-hand spear-gun I can't wait to try (but the rubber has died, have ordered more). It's a bit like Aladin's cave only with more dust from the insulation. You never know what treasure is next to emerge...

Still harvesting a few tomatoes, and really really must uproot them... fennl seedlings are coming up furiouso, and so is the garlic.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Taking the cats for a walk

Now when anyone mentions the idea of taking a cat for a walk, I immediately think of Garfield and the genuine naugahide collar and lead. It did not end well. But Barbs is doing her 10 000 steps a day challenge, and I usually shut the dogs in, and open the gate so she can drive in from work... and the last few days she's gone for a quick walk over to the shearing shed to get her steps up, on coming home. Sans dogs (as we ALWAYS drive them to walk anywhere. Therefore break-outs are not nearly as obvious or tempting to dogs. Ours are old now, but we live on stock farm. Dogs do not roam.) I go along to hear about the day, and for company. We've noticed on the last two that we have even more company... three cats. Of course not doing anything lowering like walking with us. No, never! They just happened to be going the same direction, and if a sheep suddenly bleats... very close to us, in the same direction.

Both Barbs and I had severe insomnia on Monday night. It was weird - both still awake at three. I'm a fairly rotten sleeper, but Barbs is usually good at it. We got up at midnight, and found the supply of sardines and condensed milk was rather low. I am convinced that is why i couldn't get back to sleep.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Quizz kid

Well, bravely (because spending money takes courage... for me), I have put in the order for some cheese culture and rennet, and the mould for the crust. So... hopefully Camenbert- style cheese.

We went to a charity fundraiser quizz last night - before you start laughting I am absolutlely useless at this sort of quizz, as it restes quite a lot a knowledge of TV, Movies, media and sport, and recognising music (without words - eek) and Australian and Flinders facts... yeah. Colour me a loser, but it was still fun simply because to paraphrase Charis's veiws in Fredrica - it's nicer at a country ball where you know everyone (or nearly). I really need to read some Henry Lawson and Banjo Patterson. But I draw the line at learning about tennis. It's a racket...

Saturday, May 25, 2013

say cheese, please.

Hmm. Well, perhaps the great cheese making experiment is going to start soon. We have some new semi-neighbours, from WA, and they at great expense and difficulty imported their housecow, a Jersey (there is a disease that makes importing cows to the island very expensive. WA doesn't have it). And they gave us about 10 litres of milk today, with an offer of more at some future date. So Dave is frantically looking for his Yogurt culture, and his cheese-making book. Found the book. The little bottle of yogurt culture is somewhere in one of 3 freezers. I've done a search through the smallest (which was also the likeliest, but also small.) and discovered many many secrets of the orient... and other things besides fortune cookies, some of which I was pleased to see, and some of which I have NO idea what are (and yes, we do try to label stuff, and yes, there is a method of sorts.).

I'd be really pleased if we could make at least a fetta and camenbert/brie. (I've never been a huge fan of cream/cottage/soft cheese - will eat it but it's less useful than the rest). Hard cheeses (cheddar etc.)require lots more milk of the same batch, and are more complex, and need a long cool maturation. Blue, while I'm fond of it, will probably also have to wait...

But it's a start.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Weekend weather

So it's the weekend coming, and my two regular dive partners are available. And the weather looks like... weekend weather. Blowing a gale. I did go and dive for some Abalone today - but even being lazy and using an aqualung that only took 70 bars out of the tank. I worked harder carring the dratted thing and weightbelt to my spot than I did diving, which is wonderful, but then my concience said, get out and go and do some work. I am getting a bit stir crazy with too much writing, not enought sunlight :-). It is I am afraid creeping into the winter of discontent. The water in September is pure murder (It's at its coldest then, HURTS), but at least it means spring is coming. We have rather weird seasons, because of the Warm current that comes down the Australian coast. It takes a few months to get from warm parts to us, cooling as it comes, but still means everything is delayed as we're getting 2 months ago's warmth (or cold) into the big radiator (the sea) that surrounds us.

My garden is suffering neglect and winter - I left getting in the winter veg a bit late so we have carrots, parsnips, salsify and silverbeet, and still lots of spring onions, and no brassicas (I've got some struggling up). Beet seedling are still growing but very slowly. Have still been getting tomatoes, which is why the rest were late. There are a few capsicums and tomatoes in the makeshift greenhouse.

Of course we do have pumpkins, potatoes still, and quite a lot of frozen and dried stuff.

Garlic in meanwhile is desperate to get planted.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

I'm going hammer and tongs at the current book ATM, and trying to do a lot on that, work on two others, fiddle with with the self-publishing stuff (yes there is more coming, provided it kind of pays for itself and makes a little trickle, Thanks to those who bought THE FORLORN, A MANKIND WITCH, and SAVE THE DRAGONS (off the davefreer website) and the various BOLG PI and other stories. It all helps.)and trying to get more wood in to the store before rain makes driving close to the trees impossible (we don't have a 4x4 and it can get very boggy. There are thousands of dead trees - no shortage, but some are a long way from a decent track)

We've had some rain, but we're still a long way down on normal.

The pig got very upset at the cattle noises from the lane-way. Upset enough not to eat the apple I gave her, which if you knew Fairy you'd realize is very serious indeed. She knocked the food bowl out of my hand yesterday in her desperate haste to get to the goodies (she has plenty of grain, but I make her a boiled mash of pumpkin, apple lentils and a little wallaby, thickened with maize meal). However she has recovered her timbre of mind and is one again a food obsessed pig, growing fast.

The new chooks are settling... but not laying. The old ones were easier, but these will get there.

I went for a really anoying dive today - my friend had seen his erstwhile son-in-law dive the spot very successfully for greenlip Abs. All I could find were small blacklip -lots of those, but undersize. I did seem some very good fish - trvally and sweep, but hadn't taken a spear with me. Oh well. You learn.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

The town writer and the country writer

What's the difference between an urban writer and a remote rural one on Flinders Island? Well the urban one will get up at a civilized hour, have coffee, maybe put the cat out, have breakfast, go to their desk and start work. Maybe sometime between 8.30 and 9.00. He might answer post, or twitter knowledgably about the Great Gatsby. Later he might take a break and go shopping or be one these really odd people who can write on a laptop in a coffee shop. They exist. Really. I didn't believe it myself.

Back on Flinders island the extremely un-urban writer shivers out of bed at pitch-dark-o-thirty. He fumbles on his clothes gets his rifle and goes off to look for a wallaby. On his return, he will skin and gut the same, then go feed the pig, and then deal with the chickens (in this case that means a quick humane execution. The time had come. New egg-layers arrived last night, and I don't want any chicken-fights, and only one of the older ones was still laying. There were only two of them which is not happy for chooks.) Drawing and plucking followed. Then we got to coffee and putting the cats out. Making porrige and then to work - at about the same time as the Urban writer. All I can say about the Great Gatsby was I hated it as a set-book, and I have no intention of seeing the film, should it, in a few years, find its way to Flinders or DVD. Today we were actually going out to lunch, but I did not take a laptop. I need quiet and my environment to write. I did our shopping in garden, and with a knife and a rifle. And at the end of the day I have to earn a lot less than my urban friend did, which is just as well, because I don't seem very good at it:-).

Friday, May 17, 2013

A bird in the hand...

The little superb fairy wren flew into my study this morning. I saw it out of the perifery of my vision, and it fluttered about checking out my beard for bugs. It hadn't actually got frightened and panicky yet, when it settled on the top of the door and I was able to catch it without chasing it. I think it was quite a young bird, judging by the diapers and training wings. I took it outside opened my hands and it sat there. Me? leave. It's warm here, there's a padded perch... After a minute or two I decided to get my camera. Walked in with it, answered the 'phone, had a long conversation, and then took the bird and camera out again. It continued to sit through my inept pressing the on-off button, reseting the camera from dawn and dusk... all one handed. And then it flew off, quite happily. Most of the pics were rubbish, but it must have sat on my hand for at least 5 minutes.

Good thing I am not a cat.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013


I took the dogs for a walk at the beach at Patriararch's inlet this morning, to their delight (partly to delight them, partly to watch Wednesday, partly to get me out for a little bit.) Pugs has to walk on a lead, to stop him doing too much (cruciate problems) but he loves it, anyway. Wednesday runs around us, and does 4 times the distance, but stays very close. Grin, the sea was angry and noisy and Puggles did not like it (he loved the walk to it and back, just it looked like I might say... bath). The only bit of interesting flots They both love swimming but that was no sea for swimming. Anyway, they showed me that compared to dogs, humans are near blind to smells, needing 5X smello-noses. So why do they smell each other's nether ends so closely? - I can smell that product from 5 yards... They found a number of dead muttonbirds (a lot of the young ones just fail to make that first flight) all mostly fossilised and were very disappointed in the fact I would not let them bring the fruits of their beach-combing along. Wendnesday behaved pretty normally, and ate well this evening. She still doesn't want me to touch her back. It doesn't seem to worry her in any other way. I'm still watching it. My dogs are very precious and they're not young any more. I still miss my Roland terribly.

I got given some pork sausages this evening, and we will have them for tea tomorrow. We had quite a bit of rain - but probably only 5mm - the drought continues. It's a green drought so far, but the island fields are starting to look like clipped lawns. Time to get out the cricket kit and plan beach barbeques.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

The social whirl

I'm a little worried about Wednesday( the dog, not the day). She's got a tender spot on her back that she's not keen to have us touch. Still eating and running about as normal. This week looks to be another session quiet country week nights, with something on Tuesday night for B, Wednesday (RSL) Thursday (dancing) possibly Friday, and definately Saturday. So anyone wanting a booking for Monday better get in sharpish.

I was reading Sunrise to Evening Star (a biography of Marina King - I'm sure long out of print, and delightfully un PC) today and her second husband solved my farm gate problem completely. He just drove through them. Seriously a very different view to the currently available ones, on life, the British Empire, the slave trade (her father was stationed in Cape Town as an officer in the British Navy, charged with intercepting Malay dhows (her word not mine) transporting slaves to West Indies. It was a trade I never knew existed (I knew about, and saw broken slave trade beads from the Transkei coast from the trade going to Arabia. The beads were hand made, and go back a long time as a means of exchange. They're there, mute testimony to a trade in humans on east coast of Africa the world has forgotten) but I hadn't realised it. What brought up the comment is that they seemed to socialise a great deal, considering ox-wagons were often used for outings... I guess she just wrote about the bits that were memorable. I guess the one advantage of ox-wagons is that 'roo can get out the way.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

The foggy foggy dew

Well, the plan was to shoot some wallaby this evening - but the ground hugging mist was creeping by sundown, making that impossible.

It is very beautiful, but a little irritating. I imagine the wallaby don't see it that way, but well, I'd rather have my meat from a quick clean death they weren't expecting, rather than a confused and not very nice long trip to the abbatoir. That's my choice, and I don't expect anyone else to live by it, nor do I turn my nose up at a meal at the pub or a friend's house because of it. I was reading a newspaper piece on the fellow who lived a couple of years without any money. Admittedly he did it with the support of pre-bought caravan and solar panel, and by using a bunch of sites that let him take advantage of other's affluence, rather than our sort of gifting society. But it got me thinkng of how the state must hate the cashless transaction. Not that we can do without money - but the tiny bit of tax they collect from cartrige sales and seed sales and dive gear and fuel sales is so small compared to the transactional income they get on every stage of most of the rest of what we produce. Of course it has other knock ons - if no-one buys from the butcher he can't pay rent, or for meat... which may have not so good effects on others. Still, it lets me continue writing and we eat well, and live quite well, and we do not take anything out of the system, but pay our way, where we do spend. It's a balancing act though, and hard to store - unless it is good-will, words or preserved food - for a rainy day or a foggy one. Those preserves work well here, but I don't think they'd be much use in the city.

As you can gather by the waffley post all I did today was the usual chores, a little gardening, a bit of writing, making the week's rolls. Country life. There are much worse things.

Friday, May 10, 2013

I've been a bit off colour - not really sick, but not really well. Just tired. I've put it down to a low grade ear infection. It has made the last few days quite dull, work, research, writing. Cutting wood. The weather has been beautiful, but dry. Anyway,Hopefully things look up. Peter has ordered LED's for the flounder lights, and my hookah regulator has arrived. Barbs has her 10 000 step challenge pedometer. And now to cook our tea.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Only males need apply

Female crays are now protected. We had to return two. Three males (all 2.8-3.5 kg I reckon) did eventually come out, but Norm and I had to work hard for them. And one of them dern females took off with sunnies (that's my story and I'm sticking to it. Next season I'm looking for a girl-cray with shades.) Mind you we played tag with a few, that really worked well. (long holes - one diver on either side of the hole.

We've had frosts and now mild weather. Very strange. The cats dug some carrots again. I must look into Quilly's cat-off herb. I've made my little greenhouse again, and hopefully that will get some capsicums through the winter.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

The Forlorn

My first novel, that I now have the rights back for, is availble on Amazon. This means I get 70% of the cover price - 76% if you follow the link above, as opposed to the 6% I got from each paperback sale of the original. It has been available, for free, on the Baen Free Library for some years. I'm hoping there are a few readers out there who haven't got it yet, or who think giving Dave $3, for a story that gave them pleasure, is worth it.

I have included my original epilogue, which was cut from the earlier version.


Across the one human colony world, a place technologically regressed to near medieval, possibly the last place humans still survive, a desperate search continues. Scattered across the deserts, tangled jungles, and alien fortresses, lie the core sections of the matter transmitter.

These sections hold the key to vast wealth, power, or… the fulfilment of the colony’s purpose: to help humankind survive the rabidly xenophobic alien Morkth who will tolerate no other intelligent species. The Morkth managed to follow the colony ship, and, despite their mothership being shot down and their queen being killed, they continue their relentless struggle to destroy humankind… and to reconstruct that incredibly valuable matter transmitter. If they succeed, they’ll be able to return to the hive with the location of the colony of vile humans, and have a new world to occupy. If they fail, they’ll destroy the planet.

The search has gone on for centuries, and it is all reaching an end point. The future hangs in the balance.

The Morkth have lasers, aircraft, nukes. Those who want the core sections for their own ends… have vast armies. Against them are three unlikely reluctant heroes: A street child thief, a dispossessed spoiled brat of a princess, and a confused, amoral Morkth-raised human, armed only with 14th century weapons and their own wits.

It’s a lost cause, a forlorn hope.

But it’s all humans have.

Saturday, May 4, 2013


I'm going to '50's party tongight. Given my age, maybe I should recapture my youth and go in what I was wearing in the bit of the 50's I saw. Bloody cold for a nappy, though.

The pig continues piggish, destroying sty just because it can. She's a very voluble pig, of many and varied grunts, unlike her male predecessor. Are girl pigs more talkative than boys? I only have 3 grunts of pig so my contributions to the conversation are limited, but that does not stop her for an instant. Not even having her mouth full stops her. She's fond of her tucker, but not in the same league as her predecessor. Yet.

Some of the carrot seedlings are up, some of the beet seedlings are up, some of the garlic is up. Some parsnips might be. I cut wood, and hopefully finished prepping THE FORLORN for Amazon. Norm and I fixed a water-leak, getting our annual shower, and I only had one 4 months ago! It was warmer then! Seriously, probably saved the pressure pump.

And now I go to use some of that firewood, because it is turning cold and dark, which it does here at this time of year, nearly every night :-).


Wearing my sf/fantasy writer hat - a podcast

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Hmm. I should have stayed in bed.

It was the sort of day that common sense says that oought to return to bed ASAP. And then the bed would collapse, catch fire and the roof cave in... Not that it wasn't a beautiful day. It was - with our first frost this morning, clear and perfect for going to sea (and thank heavens I didn't. The SES would be out))... only I had some work to do, had to stop rotating the cat with writing, get the cover for THE FORLORN finished, get the last two strips on the roof of the little shed, get the capping on, cut another load of firewood, and dry some more apples, as well as the normal daily tasks of feeding Barbs feeding the chooks, feeding the new piglet (Fairy. She lives in the bottom of the garden and sh... sits on toadstools. Dances going umph.) etc etc. So - I went up and collected some grain for fairy, offloaded the wood I had in the ute alreadey from yesterday, and that was the last thing that went well. I needed one long narrow strips of corrugated iron to finish the roof. Only had one broad short one - but cut in half, it would add up to two of the right length. I found tinsnips and found it was impractical. So I went to grab angle-grinder, and discs I got from Peter. Couldn't find them. Tried again with tinsnips, swearing at my put-down syndrome. Went looking again. Found a disc bought for another purpose... Looked for the special spanner thingy. Searche high and low. Finally found it in the last place any sane person would look, ie. the the right place, the box I took the grinder out of. What kind of idiot puts it there!

So I start cutting. good thing I was wearing safety glasses because the blade lost it's metal hole piece half way. Bits all over. At this point I tear the corrugate sheet in half. It's not too straight but it's meant to tuck under. The bits are hoiked up onto the roof, and I climb up - and it's tricky because the ladder is kinda short, and the roof steep, and there is only a tiny gap left open in which there are beams to hold onto. I'm a fairly competent rock climber, and if I find it tricky, it's... awkward. I have a rope and a waist strap, because you actually can't stay on the roof. But now we're up there with the drill, power, roofscrews. What can possibly go wrong... job will be done in 10 minutes.

I break the drill bit within seconds. Climb down. More tricky now, with rooftile in the way. Return with last hex-headed drill bit - power drill only take hex-heads.Put it in drill, reach for the spot, and the bit falls out, slides down roof and lands in the long grass. I climb down swearing. hunt for drill-bit and cannot find it. Go get cordless, change battery, as it will take ordinary bits and I have lots. It's a cheap old cordless, and not too strong and the battery is worse. still we drill the hole - and realise it actually needs to go through the 4th sheet. Insert said 4th sheet too, removing place I had to stand. Realize that hammer, screws, and power drill are now unreachable inside the roof. Take off the tile, perch screw box and hammer on the open ridge. Wedge the in good-o so they don't fall off. They fall through instead. And off comes the roof tile and in I get again, and fish them out. Do not wedge them so tight. Drill hole... as I am starting to drill box of screws slithers off the roof and crashes onto walling tin below. Climb down, and put enough screws plus a few spares in my pocket, and sharp pointed screwdriver (to make a dimple so drill does not skitter), climb up awkward angle and scredriver falls out onto the ground below...Drill bloody hole anyway. Screw on tile. Start drilling the next hole... battery is dying... Take a screw and hammer hole through (you can do this without a lead hole, it's just much easier with one). Lower cordless down to get other battery (charging). The slip knot slips... and the drill falls the last 6 inches, with the battery falling off.

Climb down, bloody awkward now. The drill is fine, battery is fine, but... the bit is broken.

And the other battery is only half charged. Bugger it I'll make do with a hammer - only 3 more to go... and the cap - 4 at least. And I have 8 screws in my pocket. I put the cap where I can reach it, climb up, put in the other screws and put on the cap. 1 screw in fine. Best check the other end... oi. it's a little shorter than ideal, but stuff it.... (I am hot, tired, cross) hammer screw. Hit my thumb, the same one the lobster tenderised. And so I try to drill it in -and the bloody screw falls out and slithers off the roof.

And now I discover I have 2 left in my pocket and need 3

So I put the 2 in...

And get off the roof while I am still alive and sane.

I stuck to trying to work on the cover for THE FORLORN (which was as fraught, as slow but less damaging)

And I decided that anything involving chainsaws should best wait for another day. Even Scottish dancing could be life-threatening.