Thursday, June 30, 2011

The furniture mazurka and other dances

Well, with James and Alanna arriving tonight, we had the interesting moving of furniture dance, which was...hmm. You know, there is a lot to be said agaisnt living in a barn, but, unlike here there are no flimsy drywall/clapboard/prefab type stuff to try to avoid putting holes in. Actually, it has the plus side of making our brave young moveroos less gung ho than usual. Eh, nothing like being that age for lift-shift. The bad news is, of course that it will be no one other than yours truly and B doing the reverse shuffle.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Things are a little busy with the family here. We had a lovely weather day today, and went out floundering with Clare (M'lady backhand smash, as the terrified garfish respectfully call her tennis stroke harvesting style). We did get 8 of them and 5 flounder, and Clare speared her first two flounder. She's quite amazing. Just a few photos of the climbing at Emita, and the views and the bay.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Pads and Clare here

Clare and Paddy are safely here (See Dave and Barbs do happy dance, prance and leap in the air). Paddy has done time re-adjustment by sleep deprivation so some statements at present are meaningful to Gerbils. But we love Gerbils :-). They've both gone off to Sing Australia tonight, Clare driving. This is going to take some getting used to! Paddy hasn't got an international driver's licence (only an SA one) so he gets to be a passenge. Hee hee. I can already see people saying 'like father, like son', although he does the driving back in South Africa. (I actually quite enjoy driving these days. It's other people on MY road I detest. Have they no respect for my property? And Barbs hates other people driving her, and mine most of all. If she ever says 'drive me to the doctor' I'll know she thinks she's dying.)

I have planted some more garlic out, and am hoping to get some more on top of this. Yes, actually I do live in mortal fear of vampires. How ever did you guess. And it's the sparkly ones that really dislike garlic, I've heard.

Anyway, we're holding thumbs for a little decent weather, in the mad social whirl. Tomorrow looks half OK.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Glue-tin gluten stodge

We have a very dear friend who is modern wheat intolerant (actually I think I've met 4 friends on island who are either wheat or gluten intolerant. And I'd never met one before I came here) so I was trying my hand at making a cake with gluten free flour and xanthin gum. Do not try this in your own home unless you wish to come to a sticky end. Well, a sticky egg-beater, anyway. This is the stuff they use for special effects in horror movies. 'It came from... (suitable shrieky-squeaky music)the mixing bowl' I put the beater tines in and it surged up like some ameobic monster, slcurging its spinning way to the attack, growing as it did. "Today the beater and the hand, tomorrow Whitemark, maybe next week... Melbourne." I've a mind to turn it loose on an Aussie rules game, just to see if anyone realised what was happening, or if they all really are as confused as me, and thought players being doughed was just normal. I'm trying, but really it is very confusing game. I know now just how Americans feel about cricket.

And the end result was ghastly stodge. I've got some spelt flour coming over and I hope that's less evullll!

An e-mail in to say James has arrived in Perth with GF.:-) MUCH appreciated, as I am a worrier. So Perth, bring out your very best weather and fun, because I want them to love you.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Olives and Cat-and-mouse-astrophes.

Well we've been busy little self-suffiency-ites today. 34 bottles of Olives now bottled and ready for putting away. We picked a little later and cut all the way around this year, and the results are excellent. The olives just did their 3 weeks in strong brine and are little salty but edible already. They'll only get better.

For the record here is the method we used: cut a slit all the way around the olive, and then soak changing the water at least daily, in fresh water weighted down with a plate to keep them below the surface for 20 days. I was cautious and started adding a half a handful of salt every day afer the first week, just to muck the pH around for any bacteria. At 20 days I made a strong brine (1 cup of salt 4 liters of water, and this got changed weekly. They did 3 weeks in strong brine. At this point I bottled them, put a little wreath of herbs on top (to keep the Olives down) and filled each bottle with weak brine. The olives are eatable now, and ought to be fantastic in a few months. Before we eat them, I rinse the salt off, put them into Olive oil and rosemary and lemon juice to steep for at least a day. 34 bottles may sound a lot, but I use olives in an array of things (and you thought that was a sour cherry in your black forest cake?), and they're also very popular trading produce items.

We also did the first pine-nuts from the garden. We have 34 shelled nuts, or about 15 grammes! And it only took about an hour, one crushed finger and a blood-blister on my palm. These are NOT trading items. Don't even suggest it! Some things may be not really worth self sufficiency. I will never look on pesto lightly again. There has to be a better way of doing this... like a supermarket.

We also finally had the right tide for squid not intersecting with a howling gale. We got 34... only minus the thirty. Still 4 was a good haul and Barbs and I each got a big one, and I lost one through trying to be be clever, and got bitten by one for the same reason. I don't know why I keep doing that... The same experiment and hoping for a different result.

Of course the morning did see its own little bit cleverness. Robin cat in wee-small hours, with a mouse. MEEEEEAOW! Meeeow! (out of the side of the meowth, the front being kinda mouse occupied.) "Lookit Me! I got a mouse. I am the cleverestest! I am the bestestest!"

Whereupon Barbs opens on eye, and tells her to shut up and eat it. Of course, cat, being a cat pays no attention and lets mouse go. Squeak-squeak meeeow squeak squeak meeow, snore (the snore is from me, happily in the land of Nod during this saga.) The noise stops before I am prodded from this happy country, and Barbs returns to sleep, until I bring her her coffee, blissfully unaware that there is a mouse (a live trapped mouse) behind the door screen.

Barbs gets up and realises Robin is staring intently at this piece of wood. So she moves it. The cat, not your real-life athlete, misses her pounce, and mouse on a serious shrink dives into the hinge corner of door and part way through. Barbs yells for me (in the throes of ye culinary task of making porrige) and armed only with a stirring spoon I arrive, panting. "There's a mouse stuck under the door."

I contemplate suggesting offering it some porrige. Decide the suggestion not worth the risk of being force-fed the spoon sideways down an orifice not designed for spoons, and grab some Loo-paper instead (on account of having been bitten by mice before) Try to sieze mouse. Mouse makes herculean effort on seeing hairy man with loo-paper, lifts door on its hinges and darts past my foot, into the gap under Paddy's room door - in theory stuffed with cloth to stop this very thing as Pads is allergic to cats and thus his door is always closed, and the cats excluded. Only the cats have taken to catching mice and letting them go in the passage... and they run under the door.

So we block it up. Especially seeing as B has been vaccuuming it and airing curtains and changing linen on account of the Pads and Clare coming on Monday...

Except the smart alec cats have clawed it out, because they're quizzy. So we had three cats and moi crawling around mouse hunting in the new cleaned room.

Fiction is so relaxing after this!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Got the 3 month electric bill again. Usage is up (more freezers and maybe more cooking) and of course price is WAY up. Sigh. I dream of going off grid. I really really do.

Otherwise it's been a day of work on the book, and a hearty mutton stew for supper.

Thursday, June 23, 2011


Well, we cleared out all the pruned olive branches (there will be no sudden outbreaks of peace my garden. War to the weed!) from the pruning picking. Barbs also did some more gutter cleaning and I finished up planting the Chookabago track (I've dug over behind them assuming that a little chicken poo fresh will do no real harm. The 'bago is on a fresh piece of land every day.) I've had to take out the tussocks with a fork, but the rest is scratched over. I've put in peas, bulb-fennel brocolli, parsnips, silverbeet and even a few carrots and onions in a very long bed. It's all scrap seed collected from our own plants, so if it grows, a win, and if not - a bit of labour lost. This may be the case with the olives - if so we just won't do it again. Anyway, I can say we tried it.

The weather being better (slightly) we took the dogs to the beach for a walk. Puggle still has to stay on the lead to stop him running too much, but much joy by all. They do love the strange smells, especially the dead penguin and the news left on dog-gossip corner (a bush plainly favored for 'messages')

I got a new seed catalog. More weird things to try. It's plant porn I tell you!

And more writing...

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Karres books and more rain

wind and rain continuethetheth. and then some more eth's. The chooks gave me a long lecture about the inferior way I was seeing to the weather this morning, but still gave me 3 eggs. The cats really need it to improve too. They're eight years old, not kittens, but 3 days of miserable weather and they're bored (they normally go outside for a bit every day, via the kitty door) and turning into 3 month old hooligans. Attacking balls of socks, attacking each other, and demanding MORE warmth, more attention, more play (which with Batman means 'lie down, I think I want to savage you.' Poor boy, he never got to fully understanding lie down I think I love you, for which I suppose we might be grateful. But they want whatever they want and they want it NOW. Miaaaww.

We got the paperback copies of Sorceress of Karress today - too late for the con alas.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

This year seems set on proving that winter can indeed come to Flinders. It's wet and windy, good writing weather, good for staying in bed with a hot choc. As a natural result of this I have been making Ice-cream. We got given a batch of Yoghurt that was due to date-expire - and thus be tossed, and I have added it to various preserves and made Yoghurt ice-cream. Of course - assuming the rain was running into our tank was an error, as it turns out. Gum flower stamens and a high wind had made quite a matt on our screens - so we failed to catch some. Ah well. Live and learn. It's too cold and wet and windy to dive or fish, too cold and sunless for veggies to grow, and just doing a good imitation of winter. We were fooled last year, because it was very mild. I'm hoping this lets up for the boys and their lassies (we have a full house coming).

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Contuum 7

A few pictures from Continuum 7
My favorite view... er. Not. But the patch of sky is pretty good.

I had to speak in public. It was not a kind thing, for either me, or the public...

There is a great public transport system, but it can have quite an effect on you.

and you may need resident experts to get you back to the way you think you were...

The people in Melbourne are different. Interesting but different...

A friend and relation

coco Black hot choc

The best view of all

Friday, June 17, 2011

the wind through the tum...

Strangely enough, the wind is blowing! Isn't that odd for Flinders? The rumbling noises are the pines, and not me. Really. I promise. My tum is bemoaning the antibiotics, and very uneasy. Am eating replacement fauna. I've been alternately wading through post - down to 120 items now, and trying to get on with writing. My poor garden is suffering from winter and lack of input, but the freezers are full of food - fish, fowl and meat (we got 4 more wallaby for dog-tucker today) and some beautiful frozen prawns from Port Lincoln as a prezzie.

Puggle appears fine today.

We're dog sitting Molly (my Irish Wolfhound-Great Dane cross girlfriend) this weekend. Molly has a dog-house with her own window basket (with flowers), so I hope you all realise how special this is!

It's less than two weeks until the kids get here, and we're counting days.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Hmm. We returned to an injured Puggle (hurt himself running into Wednesday) and John-the-vet came to check him out, and pointed out we had a wombat with bad mange in the garden. Sick, slow, cross and likely to infect our dogs. So wombat had to be put down, and then buried and all contact sterilised. Today was island news, Dave to the dentist, (nose numb and dripping, all joy) and TWO packets of saltpetre (one in the post, one via friends :-)) so I will have to make bacon now. Then I had to dismember the sewing mamachine - it's still not fixed but I have established what is wrong - a thread lost in the lower works - I look on it with moderate terror, and will have to brave it tomorrow... and a spot of Scottish dancing. I haven't even begun to catch up on work and post.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


Ok. I am back... I may catch up in about a week's time. We had a great stay over at Peter and Helen's place and laughed a lot. Ate a lot of strange food in Melbourne, some of which was... interesting (the Japanese dessert) and some of which was terrific. Went to a Chinese Fish Market in Springvale. I don't buy fish but there were several things that really tempted me to try. If I ever have more money than sense and a 40 foot container to fill I could start in the chinese food stores, moving on to 'Hindustani industries' (a store in Melbourne that even had SA jam, and a lot of strange spices from everywhere).

The con I think was a success, with lots of new contacts, but it is very tiring.

It will take me a while to get through my post so replies may be slow.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Off to Continuum

I am flying off in the morning to Continuum 7 - sf and Fantasy Con. I am one the two GoH's. Any readers in Melbourne over the Queen's birthday weekend - I'll be at the Ether conference center which is at the Swanston Grand Mercure. The programme is on the con website, and I'm on a hell of a lot of the panels, readings, speeches etc.

I'm also feeling like death warmed over (and have a temp sore throat and sore tooth) with this tooth and hope that Dr Biren's treatment will have a positive effect.

Chaos reigns...

Monday, June 6, 2011

Red Bluff and tooth-ache.

Ouch. Sorry for missing a day, I have come down with what I think must be an abcess. I've got a temp, pressure pain on one tooth, and am not feeling very sharp. On top of this I am trying to prep fro this conference -I go to Melbourne on Wednesday and plunge headlong into this lot from friday. I've booked to see my fave island doctor tomorrow so hopefully we can get this infection sorted as I have a ton of work to do, and not much time to do it in.

We are having a lot of wind. it's the beans.... well, or the roaring 40's. Here are a couple of pics from red bluff on the east coast... supposedly sheltered!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Phew tired today, We had several friends for 'tea' yesterday... and they didn't leave until close to midnight. It's gratifying... and tiring. Among the thing I prepared was gravadlax with some of the Tassie lakes trout that Alan and Annie brought us. If anyone cares i'll write out the recipe. Very good, and quite a nice alternative to smoked salmon.
B was working at the market this morning and then down at Lady Barron this afternoon. I wrote (not well, too tired to think, undid a bunch, did it again, muttered a lot), deboned two wallaby, defrosted the fridge, and planted a bunch more in the new raised bed. I need to fill the next one... but like filling in the holes on the driveway it needs another me...

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Olives for oil

Well, we ended with 33kg of olives (I picked into the dark last night, and then got up at 6 - still dark this morning) which we drove up to oil-pressing folks. They can't just mix them in with theirs as they're certified organic, so have to do either a seperate run or add in at the of their run before they do the 2 hour cleaning the press thing(ie. their olives are 'contaminating' ours, not the other way around). I think at normal 5 gram average olives we'd have for the same effort picked a couple of hundred kg. Some of these were really tiny - the size of a raisin. Still we did 64kg all together, so now we see what sort of oil return we get. A 1/4 of that belongs to Bill and Maria, so I hope it's enough!

Anyway, sore backs... and more green olives to process for pickling. I picked a kg of those too, just for experiment. Sometimes I wonder why I am so stupid.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


Well, I was silly enough to go out last night and explore another place - I'd heard Fotheringate was good for Flathead spearing so I went down there. No cigar... I did follow one very large fish who was playing with me (move and stop move and stop) until the water was lapping at the edge of my waders-top. It was hoping for a wave. I noticed as I was getting there that the Ute was overheating badly and so I went out even though the tide was really to high for there, and the wind riffle too much. I did see some lovely big mullet, which as they move faster than an over-ripe fig through the digestive tract, involved a lot of frantic spear flailing and no success. Probably possible to throw-net, if I feel that keen on fresh mullet.

On my return to the ute, I checked the water in the radiator and filler... and found the problem. No water in refill radiator not dry but not full. No mobile comms either. And it was now nearly 11pm, dark and far from any habitation... No water with me. A rodent of some description had nibbled a hole in the top of the water-refiller which will apparently not help (note to cats, kitty fish on hold until you do a better job!!!). So I tried to find water (decided sea water would not be good), and failed, and then drove very cautiously - cold night and the temp didn't come up beyond half and I watched it carefully - the 1km to Trousers Point where I was able to get water. Only... what to carry it in? My boots!!! I thought radiator might throw up. Well I was saved by finding a biscuit tin, but I must put water in the vehicle.

Today I got up early and worked, and then I went with Bill to prune the olives from which our 30 000 came (turned out it was 31 000... estimated!) and then picked olives from the branches. We've got another 15 kg and sore backs. This oil better be worthwhile!