Friday, July 29, 2011


Ok I am trying frantically to finish my second draft of CUTTLEFISH. Normal posting will resume in a day or two, maybe Monday. Sorry, but the devil drives.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


Well, the currency seems dead set on making sure we get a good training in being little Ozzy Battlers. I'm a bit bleak at seeing the Aus$ has now increased 32% against the US$ since we emigrated, and I still earn in US$. Anyway, I have a book to finish, and hopefully get paid for before it gets any worse. Thank Heavens Barbs is working a bit and being paid in the local currency.

Barbs was selling Soup and sandwiches for I think Anglicare (or could be CWA.I lose track. Some good cause.) I made boontjie sop for them. More South African Afrikaans recipes I never cooked back in the old country. And now, to work... this is not going to stop me, but hell's teeth I am just damned tired of working my guts out, getting knocked to my knees by things totally beyond my control, publishers muck-ups, bookstore muck ups, late payments, exchange rates crippling me... and doing it all over again. I've been at this for 19 years now, and most of the progress - if you can call it that - has been by sheer bloody-minded obstinacy getting up from flat on my back, time and time again. I've had a couple of breaks - getting together with Eric, and getting our visa to come here. No really vast breaks, just small, hard-earned steps in the out of my control publishing and bookstore side. I guess i am not one of the cool kids, or maybe I am just a rubbish writer. Anyway, damned if I'll let it beat me. I've got the rights back to 2 books THE FORLORN and A MANKIND WITCH now, and just as soon as I have this book done I must look at putting them up on Kindle, and writing some stuff purely for that purpose. The Kindle collection I did with Eric - CRAWLSPACE AND OTHER STORIES has been the most encouraging thing to happen in the last year - because I see the money and results.
Nil carborundum illigitimi

Monday, July 25, 2011


Well, to help me with my work on CUTTLEFISH (the book) - I caught my first cuttlefish this evening. The beaches are full of literally 100s of thousands of washed up cuttle bones - (like one has in budgie cages) but these are huge here). We've caught hundreds of squid but never a cuttlefish... until tonight. The original Chthulhu was I suspect not a giant squid but a cuttlefish. They're rather like a half-way house between an Occy and a squid.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

In which Barbs learns Boring and I just am

Well, got a little better handle on how to quarter wallaby last night, and how to skin them. And a little sudden insight on the price of beef. I hadn't realized this would be affected by the very strong Aus $. The island is a major beef producer so... interesting times, possibly.

Today B went to her chainsaw course and is now a licensed chainsaw operator, having learned useful stuff like how to start a chainsaw between your legs, boring (which involves cutting with the tip - the bit of chainsaw you're never supposed to use- because it kicks back) apparently very useful for clearing fallen timber on the road that would trap your blade. I shall watch sometime and learn how to be boring in yet another way. It could be useful at sf cons.

We got a couple of squid this evening in gin-clear water. Because of the clarity they were very tentative tentacular beasties, except for the two that committed hari-kiri on Bill's - which he left dangling in the water, while he went to clean Maria's catch. Still the whole crew got some, and it was a pleasant sociable chilly evening, even if we saw a lot more squid than we caught. Poor B had a really bad night of it with 5 getting off her jig. She should have taken a chainsaw to them.

And now, nose to the grindstone. Deadline chase.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Well, all the kids - including my new daughter-in-law are back in South Africa. I miss them fiercely and of course have tons of work catch-up to do. And Flinders Island social life /other business continues relentlessly. Barbs is going on a chain-saw operator's course tomorrow. I am chasing deadlines. We are going along to some wallaby shooting tonight with the local professional. I don't have time, but the opportunity to learn is just too good to pass on.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Wedding pics 2 (and for now, final!)

I'm sure you've all had enough of these! Just some people shots. If I can manage I'll put up the Scottish dancing video, which is hilarious :-)

I like the tie!

My mate papparatsi(sp?)Bill, his wonderful banner-and-tapestry-making wife, and Mary (Lady McTier) our Scottish Dancing instructress (who is 97 and rules us all with a rod of iron)

James and the art of public speaking...

Jamie my dive partner, and our littlest dancer and her gran.

James's Alana and our own Rosie!

'Like a dark cloud the horror came down on me... I'm a mother-in-law!

Some wedding presents are really optimistic and ill-informed about our roles in this relationship, dear!

Here's to them! Plenty herrin' Plenty meal, Plenty bonnie bairns as weel!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Wedding pics 1

Some pictures (especially for Charlie).

And the sweetest dessert of all, obviously.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Moving swiftly on...

Well, after a genteel stagger-night (I was designated driver, TG. I'm a failure to the drinking classes, and so is Pads. It's a control freak thing, I think) we got in around midnight from Peter's last night (after the pub closed on us), and returned to our rather direly 'loo straightened circumstances. Which was hard for for a man in fairy-wings and a ball and chain. Today the honey-sucker came and at least provided us with relief, with many a disgusting glurpeling noises and delightful scents to help the washing (hastily removed from the line).

And now... frantic food preparation (Barbs saying that no, I CAN'T just feed all 70. Huh.)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Dearie me

Oh dearie dearie me. If you were in the midst of pre-wedding chaos- overflowing (a word well chosen) with guests and lots of food and innumerable cups of tea... what would be the most unsuitable disaster you could have happen?

Yes, it is indeed the overflowing septic tank.

Let joy (and festoons of loo-paper) be unbounded.


I hope we'll look back on it all and laugh.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Chaos, wind and weddings

Phew. Sorry, the blog has suffered from an influx of family and the chaos of organising the wedding. Medical disasters - Clare's mum is just post-op, and had the wound decidely got infected, and we had to turn to the our local Doctors for rescue from what could have been real catastrophe, sorting houses, feeding people (on cream. It's a Flinders island thing) endlessly, Clare washing up just as endlessly (it's her displacement activity, methinks. Very useful). Oh and a few power failures. Today we got the next influx of Longden-clan and had an interesting time in persuit of their hire cars (turns out they were booked for tomorrow) and dinner for 11 to be cooked...
And a little flower painting.

I believe this called 'watercolour'.

Anyway, tomorrow seems set to be running around like headless chickens and panicking... well, that or following a schedule, with impeccable precision. Which do YOU think is more likely?

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Paddy and Clare are getting married

You're all allowed to be informed now :-)

My eldest son, Paddy, is getting married to Clare, here on the island on the 14th. The weather has thus been the worst possible for 25 years, and is set to continue thus. None-the-less it will a very happy day.

I hope you'll all send me congratualtory messages to read out the wedding :-)

Thursday, July 7, 2011

A wond'rous bird is the pelican

One good tern deserves another...

Ok I now have B's cold in ernest and am off to bed. But the weather was only moderately bad today, so the kids got out - Pads and Clare climbing at Emita,

James and Alanna fishing at North-East River.

Alanna caught five salmon to James and I two each (Ok so mine were on a fly rod with a tiny spinner... which made things ... interesting. But she showed us up nicely)

We had quite a lot of close contact with the pelicans... who decided we were an aid to fishing.

Or an aide anyway.

and a passing wombat

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Looking at the flowers...

Well, the flours anyway - I've been browsing my favorite florist... flour supply, the Hindustan Imports site for some more interesting flour and other odd products to spice up our Island lives. The big trouble for me (as an adventurous cook) is they assume that their customers are all familiar with the products. So if they list Besan flour or Atta flour... I have to look them up. And not all of their products are even in Wikipedia (duruka, palusami, podi flour?). Then of course I have to start on just what do you use them for. So anyone wishing to advise me on which I need in my life and why, I'd be delighted.

It's been raining and blowing and cold and miserable - ideal for guests, and Barbs has been out of bed, showing just how effective I am at this husbandly foot down thing. Anyway, a noisy game of UNO is proceeding in the lounge, the fire is burning and I will proceed on supper shortly.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Planes in the night.

I walked out yesterday evening (in the dark about 6.30) in the howling wind and driving rain to open the gate for Barbs. In the sky was a plane - visible by the three questing spotlights on it's wings - it was flying very slowly, heading into the wind, turning left and right - obviously trying to see landmarks - such as the lights of Whitemark (not a big town, or that well-lit up). I stood and watched like a paralysed man at an impending train-wreck. They came lower and as a car came down the road straight towards them - they must have been 300 feet up by this time, seemed to gain confidence and flew on. Barbs arrived a little later, and was passed by the island ambulance, so I think it could have been the flying doctor. They took off again shortly after (in truly atrocious weather). I can't tell you how much we Islanders love and respect that service. That weather would have meant stay here and die, once. We're very isolated here, without the planes. The once a week ferry did not make it across last night, as the weather is too bad to sail. So long-life milk is the order of the day, but compared to not having a flying ambulance service, that's irrelevant. The weather is bad enough to give us our longest power failure since we've been here, about 3 hours. Barbs is in bed with a fevery cold so I'm being mum and dad, and so I'd better get back to it.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

If you can't take the heat...

Stay out of the car...

It's been a busy few days, and I've battled to find time for the blog, family, a little work, a lot of cooking. So the Blog has suffered. Anyway, there is a minor lull now so some catch-up. James and Alanna arrived, got whisked to Scottish dancing after a trivial 48 hours awake. It's a great help for dancing. I had pot-roasted some roo-shank which came out very well, tender and rather like a cross between an ostrich and a turkey drumstick in appearance. The next day as the weather had played ball with us, had me taking them some morning fishing at Fotheringate, with rather a lot of wrasse to carry back, a quick stop at Trousers point,

home, a very hurried roll, and kids and dive gear in ute and off to Cave beach for a low tide dive. This a was very disapointing as a dive (murky water) but wonderful as an excercise in bondage, or at least getting into wetsuits. Alanna had never used a snorkel before so it is plain that women are not trained how to be in trouble, as us men are, where we learn to use snorkels from a very early age, or perish miserably. I had not been aware, previously of this lack. (I guess I've been using a snorkel (both to dive and survive) for so long I'd forgotten how intimidating it is to breath face under water. She did get it though, although it was a cold and not very exciting learning curve. Still, clare discovered the joy of built-in hoods on wetsuits, so some good came of it. Then I had to rush about and make pizza, before the board-game evening. As Alanna comes from little land-locked Zimbabwe it was a chance to try her on some of the topping seafoods as well as a An opportunity to try (as an entrée) some of the large South Australia prawns we got from Alan and Annie. I'd rate them every bit as good as Mozambique prawns (in Moz, fresh), if not better. Our little tryer didn't like squide tentacle much but thought Abalone was quite nice, a bit like chicken ;-). Heh. Terry Pratchett is so right (everything tastes a bit like chicken if you are hungry enough). Then we went out into the wilds of Whitemark, clubbing... well, to play board-games at the CWA rooms. It's much the same thing really, just clubbing is quieter. We played Cranium. Some people do not know what country Mecca is in... ;-).

Then Saturday we went off fishing off East Kangaroo, and Alanna had her first experience of catching flathead and getting soaked. Us getting soaked and not the flathead, which were moderately recalcitrant, but we got a few.

So we had some tea on the beach admired the pelicans who were so much better at fishing than we were,

and we came home to do dinner for 13... Well, we only had to do starters. It was one of those quiet demure evenings, as you can imagine.

This morning we had to trundle the mob to church in Lady Barron, and Alanna started feeling sick (no, really, nothing to do with the sermon) so B ran her home in Peter's van... and turned around and had it overheat in great glurbering clouds of steam - in the cab as it's a van, and hence B had to stop and vacate.(Hence the title). So we had to mount a rescue, and later Bill and I went out to examine. With added water it drove fine, getting to mid-range on the gauge as we got home. Unfortunately it was gurgling when we got home and Bill opened it up... And despite the cloth... it erupted, a lot hotter than the gauge indicated And it's a van. ie inside the cab...

I think we have a head-gasket problem at best. And the way I work: you borrow it and break it, you fix it or replace it.

Heh. My life does seem to move from one expensive chaos and disaster to the next... Ah well. Onward!

Friday, July 1, 2011