Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Today... one visit to the dentist, one set of screens collected, one jig saw and one burner collected from Peter's place. No post. Anyway, the screen fitting proved less of an epic than I feared, bar one window which is skew. Words were said. The screen really looks better in a shade of blue. It is in though. And this evening I installed the doggy door. The hounds seem to be a lot quicker at learners than cats. I hope that screens and the water removal will reduce the mozzie problem.

I need to write a lot as we have the french cousins and some good friends arriving next week.

dog search

I had a very 'entertaining' morning of spending time I don't have hunting a lost Schipperkie (we're feeding dogs for some folk while they're away). It's a very small dog in very tall grass. Anyway, I found her,some 2km or so away from home, running down the main road (OK flinders main road. A car every 10 minutes even) and returned her home and fixed the fence I hope. It's in a shocking state. No, not electrified. I would recommend that to keep the little dog alive, long term!

This afternoon saw Dave standing with a hose and a toilet cistern... on the lawn, seeing if it leaked. The old pipe's inteface with the cistern does. The scene rapidly descends into farce, as I put the new pipe on and try to establish if that leaks or not... in the pouring rain.

I don't THINK it was leaking.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

so... this is summer.

After last night's total onslaught by the mozzies, the cistern project was shelved for now and i attacked the all possible watersources - meant bucketing out the fountain and terminating a lot of taddies and a few mozzie larvae. The water tank was next, and that may give us trouble next rains, but now has a mozzie mesh lined input. The little horrors were also breeding in in the septic - accessing it through a crack in the concrete. This too has been stoppered. So it took till this evening before I put the cistern on... and it leaks into the bowl just as badly. I now suspect the problem may be the pipe between the two (or the fit of the top of that pipe.) Will test it tomorrow. It was just too hot in the middle of the day to do anything. I should have gone diving.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

We went to a garage sale that happened last week this morning. Needless to say not much was bought. I did visit Bill and return with Carrots to show what an inept gardener I am. We've repaired screens and finished pressure hosing the house. One of the screens had too much energy expended on getting the mesh tight... and now will have to be redone, because the screen now bows inwards... Hey I thought I was being neat. Anyway tomorrow I tackle the cistern on the second 'loo. Cover me, I'm going in...

and talking of high maintenance vampires...

The next kindle is up...

Friday, January 27, 2012

Ripe bananas

We got a 'gift'of over-ripe bananas today - not quite bad but not nice to eat - nice to heat though - so we made a batch of loaves of banana-bread.

Hoping the screens arrive soon... the mozzies last night were as demanding as upper-class vampires. High maintenance mozzies... We killed 7 which is much less than the possum night, but still.

And onwards... I have the cystern from Bill to put in and some new rod tips to do some running repairs. We're preparing for 4 visitors at once...

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Australia day today, an we went along to the barbeque at Emita beach. So different now we know so many more people. It was lovely and relaxed, kids playing and not a worry in the world between them and their parents... Flinder Island :-)

We got the present of some Roe deer Venison (from Tassie) today. I don't know real 'venison'(deer meat as opposed to the antelope meat which I know quite well) so I cooked it quite briefly and simply on the ridged grill. I did do some buckwheat pancakes and a Shiitake mushroom, cream, muscadel, tassie mountain pepper and spring onion sauce. I was a little disappointed in the meat (tasted it without sauce), but it was an immortal sauce.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


Well, we got 10 flounder, 2 squid, and a lemon sole last night... and bed by 3 AM (and up late... 7 AM for me. I really need 5-6 hours sleep so I was not at my brightest today, and decided manual labour not thought was called for) which is why we fetched the ride on Dingerra at mid day and B and I spend hours in the blazing sun cutting - after I forked up about a ton of hay this morning. It's an intereseting experience with no steering wheel, and just levers controlling it. Now that I've used one, it does make other mowers pale into insignificance. Getting it up ramps (never having driven one of these) and onto the ute made ME pale.

And then there was letting Barbs loose on it.

And then we got the pressure hose and sprayed the dust and spiders off the house... well one wall.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

It was a steaming hot day today, and my friends Peter & Helen headed back to the wilds of Melbourne to hunt the savage train cleaner and lounge suite... We miss them already. That's part of island life - the farewells and welcomings. The big city may have its attractions but it is good out here.

And tonight looks very good for flounder. Tide is at 1 AM... not much sleeping will happen.

Monday, January 23, 2012

urchins and crays

Jamie and I got the chance to dive with the Maestro. We learned how he catches so many crayfish.

He works hard at it. We averaged 1 cray per half hour diving. We -4 of us spent a total of 6 hours in the water.


It helps as we're getting friends and cousins over in Feb.

I also got to try sea-urchin roes for the first time.

Not bad, but they deserved to be the korozhet.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

How to keep an octopus in a bucket

Answer: don't. We had the interesting experience yesterday of catching two large octopus while bottom-fishing for flathead. Jamie failed to quite get his on the boat, I called for a net the moment I saw mine... and it was easy to see, with tentacles more than yard long (at my chest, the tentacles still touched the ground). I then had to kill it -something I'd done often with the small occys we caught in SA. In the gills, grab,snap and it's over... only it wasn't. The Occy was LEAVING. Now. as fast as possible with eight arms in turbo... I grabbed it and dropped it in a tall bucket, assuming death had happened and this was just autonomous reaction. There followed a period of helpless laughter from my friends(and 'where is the video camera when you need one') as Dave tried to keep the Occy in the bucket... Tentacle with suckers the size of dollar coins comes schlurping up the side, Dave detaches it, plop, plop, plop, plop... and drops it into the bucket... As the next comes out. Plop, plop, plop, plop. repeat... faster and faster. It was like a sort of octopus game of whack a mole. Eventually Jamie came to my rescue and cut the entire head off, which worked a lot better and faster.

It seemed to be a cephalopod day. Our new fisherman was hauling up his second or so flathead... and found he had a squid clinging on to the flathead. Not hooked, just that determined to eat flathead... it came off into the fish-box and attacked a packet of nachos that someone had dropped in there in their haste. The photo-opportunity of a lifetime... 10 tentacles wrapped around the packet, and biting holes in it. Flathead and chips for an arrow-squid.

Anyway, a day of different seafood... finished with Peter turning Jamie green with a little squid sushi. (Peter ate a piece, I proved I could, so did our newcomer, and then Jamie thought well... if we could, he could. No, no-one was forcing him, or even saying go-on. I've done it before, Peter likes it, and the new fellow had made a foolish comment (If you eat it raw I will). heh. hasty eating of remaining nachos followed.)

The tide was too far out for us to come in easily, so we stopped, cleaned fish, and and then went in on the auxillary... which cooked :-(. Should have put the squid on it.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Don't get all hung up...

The pictures are on the walls. And the rogues gallery up in hall. And tomorrow I am going fishing... not moving, unpacking, replanting, fixing, mending, deciding, trying to fit writing in no time and stuff into no cupboards. Just fishing.

Actually, it's looking pretty good and even the garden is coming on a little. Of course there is still a lot to do...

But not tomorrow

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


We will fight them on the beaches, we will fight them in the garden, we will them in the kitchen we will fight them in the lounge, we will fight them in the dining room... etc...

It's the invading cardboard boxes to which I refer of course. We're beating them back, steadily. My study is now box free, and only the walk out closet (it's a closet with a door to outside) and the shed, and the kids rooms are still chaos of boxes. Barbs is not working tomorrow so we will get some done.

It's been very hot today and my transplanted plants have done it tough... still it looks about 70% of the tank, all of the repotted, and 20 of the rest may make it. I got some writing done, and life begins to assume a normal tenor.

Monday, January 16, 2012

How to assemble a wheelbarrow

Barbs went into Roberts today and asked if they had a wheelbarrow to sell her... They said... yes. In a manner of speaking. Sort of.

She said 'does that mean it's still on the boat? (we live in ferry-lands, at their whim)

'Noo... well, actually they're at Lees (the motor-repair workshop) waiting to be assembled.'

Now this is Flinders... that means it could happen in 10 minutes... or three months. So B asked if they'd trust her to buy it in pieces... and went along and collected them. Which meant that we had a fine new game this evening of three-D wheelbarrow assembly. There are a surprising number of ways the bits can go together.

But we did it! transported the bricks to office...

It was a bit of a balancing trick.

What do you mean, 'most people have the bucket part the other way up.'?

'All I am taking is your time...'

I've just posted this on my weekly blog at Mad Genius Club, and thought it worth repeating here.

Now, as some you may know I moved to Australia just over two years ago and settled on a magical little island off the coast -- between Victoria and Tasmania. It's a wild and wonderful spot, and I love it very much, and the people have been very kind and very welcoming. There are times when it's a bit like living a permanent Amish barn-raising -- it has a small population, there are lot of social activities, and the community finds willing and able hands, especially ones who want to help out not take over, are thinly spread. We're grateful to be here, and try to our bit and bit extra, especially Barbs, who is gregariously friendly, intelligent and easy to talk to (me, I am none of the above). Australia accepted us as special migrants with permanent residency heading for citizenship (which I'll apply for in 714 days time - the day I am eligible. Yes, I am counting the days.). Australian writers have been a lovely bunch to meet, with the exception of two who'd be right at home in the NY literati (both fanatically politically correct and one sees me as a ‘threat' because I'm competition in her state (which I'm not. I'm just a bloke who writes, and is more eager to support and build up other writers than compete. I'm really not interested. Nor do I think I'm the bees knees. I'm quite happy to be thought a hack who writes entertaining stories. She's welcome to be the towering literati figure. More than welcome, in fact.) Australian sf/fantasy awards and cons still seem caught up in the idealism about writing of the seventies -- where it's not so much about connections and the wealth it takes to attend these regularly, as an enthusiastic bunch of fans.

In short: for me it has been a great move. And, filled me - as Algis Budrys put it in Rogue Moon - with the fierce patriotism of the new Australian. (He was of course referring to Americans, but it was the same thing, where those born to this do not realize as easily how rare and wonderful their country is) I know what a precious thing they have here in the egalitarianism and tolerance of Australia. I know just how valuable a society where ‘a fair go' is central to people's philosophy is, and how great it is to have a society where ‘a little Aussie battler' (someone who gets up and tries again, and again no matter how often fire, or drought or the publishing industry or life in general knocks him down) is a term of liking and respect.

Like the descriptions of the 19th century US West and many colonial societies I think it is a place where you start afresh, make yourself and earn a living by hard work. And that is valued, especially here, where labor is pricy (the minimum wage is twice that of the US and for casual work about 3 times that). Incomers who get in and work hard at the kind of grotty jobs no one wants, can do well. Of course there are bogans and bludgers (among the new settlers too) who moan fiercely about these new settlers taking their jobs (which they don't want to do). But by in large if you work, try to fit in, learn to be Australian, it's a great place to be. My bit here, of course, is God's own country, and I wake up every day, ready to kill the ‘Joe Witty' bird for loudly beating up his reflection ... and realize that means I'm here on Flinders, and that makes me glad to be alive and here again.

What I do is write. It's why Australia took me and my family in. Given the way I feel about the place and the people, the obvious thing I want to do is give back. So: of course Australia has started coming out in my short stories, and CUTTLEFISH and THE STEAM MOLE. Anyone who does not realize the powerful and long lasting effect of writers and their books on the image of country is just is really, really dim. Movies and adverts may have far wider reach, but they tend to be short term phenomena. Books... books stick around for years, get passed around, and most people spend a lot more time in the world of a book than they do in a movie theater. The Australian publishing industry enjoys a trade barrier, which has both helped the local industry (in that, despite about 1/3 of the population of the UK, the writing scene is existent and even vibrant in patches, probably more so than the UK. South Africa, with about the same population as the UK, but no tariff barrier, has a publishing sector that could be favorably compared to a two week dead roadkill wombat, except for sf-fantasy, where it is worse.) and been very bad for it (like any monopoly this has inevitably been abused, and means local book prices are way way out of line with for example US book prices. Australians still read a lot, but there has been some killing of the golden goose for short term gain). Now, our migration -- a subject which has a huge shoo-in local market -- complete with three dogs and three cats and a 500 pound family rock, from a mountaintop in South Africa, to a remote island in the Bass Strait (one of the most dangerous pieces of water in the world) has been fraught with disaster, laughter, chaos, more laughter, and of course Telstra (another product of monopoly) and the rock. I thought I'd like to write a book about it. Now, this is mainstream non-fiction and really largely for an Australian audience, with of course some sf/fantasy readers and some South Africans. So I needed an Australian publisher of same. I spoke to some of my Australian author contacts, and rapidly found myself commended to one of Australia's largest and most prestigious agencies.

And here I found I was back in NY publishing-world. Slow, chaotic, needing repeated prodding and certainly not inspiring, let alone worth 15% of anyone's income. In other words much the same experience I and many authors in the US or elsewhere had had getting into the gate-keepers to the distribution monopoly - which is why, now the monopoly has been broken, they're up a certain creek without a paddle frantically offering to ‘assist' authors with e-publishing. The experience made me appreciate O'Mike all over again. And eventually the best they could do was a publisher's ‘maybe we'll consider it if you write the whole book first.' Well, at that stage, our finances were battered by the move, and the state of US publishing. I couldn't afford ‘on spec' books. So the project didn't go away, it just got back-burnered.

As time passed and I learned more about the island that we'd come to live on. I write fantasy which has a strong historical basis and there are few places in Australia with a wilder and more romantic and tragic history than Flinders. It's a place that was uninhabited since the land bridge drowned about twelve thousand years ago, and, as it was visible from Tasmania, but there were no fires (elsewhere, you could see the fire-smoke of other tribes), it was the land of the dead. The mythical islands, rather like those of Celtic mythology. And then the first white settlers came - sealers - as often as not Irish or Scots, taking wives from the Tasmanian Aboriginals, living a tough life out in a wild, lawless place. Even now the locals are rather like the occupants of Aran or the Hebrides in many ways, and belief in the second sight is more the norm than otherwise. There were shipwrecks a-plenty, and disasters and heroism too. It was a refuge-place, where you came if you wanted to be at the end of the earth, beyond the reach of anything. A perfect spot for a fantasy writer... and the perfect setting for an Australian fantasy with roots in both the old world and the new. I had the idea for CHANGELING'S ISLAND, got inspired, wrote up an outline and the 10-20% of what would be a YA fantasy, with an Australian lead character (it would be very easy to switch this for say an American lead character which would make it very sale-able... for a lot more than in Australia, to anywhere but Australia. But I want to write a book about here, for here). I sent it to the local agent... Who did nothing at all for six months. I was busy writing, so didn't chase. Eventually, I did. She promised to send it on to their YA/fantasy person. She didn't, until the next prod about 3 months later. This one sat on it for months too. Then yesterday I got the single most bizarre semi-rejection I've ever had. The agent is ‘not entirely sure it works for me' - and could I write a few more chapters so that she can make up her mind next week?

My jaw nearly hit my keyboard. This is Australia. Labor is valuable... except, it seems, from authors. I suppose you do still have the work once it is done, but this not a publisher out to make you an offer or not. This a gatekeeper to the gatekeeper. The assumption 1)that I could just drop whatever other work I had, to rush (after about a year of their doing nothing) and give her a few more chapters so she could make up her mind whether to try and sell the book, and 2)that I would be happy to donate, conservatively, at floor-sweeper rates (because I'm an author, and they're worth less than floor sweepers) 500 dollars worth of work-time when she isn't even enthusiastic about it... well, you can see the value put on an author with a third of a million copies sold, and a slew of books. Heaven help you if you're a noob. I'm no tall poppy, but this denigrates any author.

I politely wrote back and said, sorry I had a deadline and paid work took precedence. I would have to get to it, if and when I could. I've got four more books on contract. Once they're done, I want no more to do with this proposal-and-contract system. Fortunately, we're nearly self-sufficient, our living costs tiny, and I'm getting to a position where I no longer have to contract ahead, and hopefully with independent e-books, where I can tell them to pee (generously) or get off the pot very quickly.

I will be writing the Flinders Family Freer Migration saga. I will be writing CHANGELING'S ISLAND. I will not let these little obstacles stop me.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

mozzies and books

Books... did I mention we have a lot of books? None of us part willingly with one. And we did lose several bookshelves moving from the old country and the built-in ones at John's place. So it's been adapt... At the moment some bee-hive planks are doing bookshelf duty. And tomorrow we need to contrive more. Ah well, self inflicted injury. Unlike poor Barb's fingers cut by a piece of glass stuck to the tape of the box.

Last night we opened a bug-screenless window to get the possum out - and closed it at 2 AM by which time we'd been devoured by mozzies - and the local ones train on sheep and wallaby so they bite through hair, sheets, jeans... Normally the wind keeps them down, but it's very still. I should be out after prawns or flounder... too tired, too behind.

Friday, January 13, 2012

You shift 16 tons of number 1 horse dung...

and what do you get? My veggie tanks here... and another day older(more like a couple of tons, but sounds better) I am tired, sweaty, tired, sore, tired (did I mention tired?) but we're out. We have finished moving, now we only have to sort out the the stuff we've moved. The chooks are back in the Chookabago, we had supper, and I am going to bath and bed.

Playing possum

Somehow we had a possum inside the house yesterday (and the kitty door is the only access). Evidence of it being here, no sign of said possum... the mystery continueth.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Kitty doors and the blue smoke

The kitties have their double door to wider world thanks to Peter and his Jigsaw. So far Robin has rewarded me by digging up my new-planted plants and using my veg garden as public convenience. Or at least a kitty convenience. Yes, that's cat-gratitude for you.

The strawberry plants have developed a terrible infestation of metallic-looking beetles. I sometimes feel gardening is an uphill battle... on the good days. We had a torrential downpour this morning which had me out rescuing gutters (they get full of leaves, and overfill and peel off the house) and realizing part of the yard may be rather swampy in winter, when most of the rain falls. Ah well, so long as the house is dry.

It's been a day of glueing and screwing and clamping and fiddling and muttering and cursing - mostly by me looking for various things I know I have but can't find. Anyway, there is a handle on the dog-and-Dave closet door, and we got a long way with turning my moneterry cedar rough planks into planks proper and usable... only the magic blue smoke escaped from Peter's thicknesser, (fortunately while he was driving the beast) and left me just short of the final step. Anyway, the manky ones will do for a temporary bookcase, and the final stage to bee-boxes will just have to wait some more (I wanted to do them all so I could use them as temp shelves, to allow me to clear another area. It's move one to access the next.)

And on... tomorrow we go across to the other house to finish up with the cleanup there and hopefully that will be that. There is still a lot do here, but one house not two will make us less stretched. I HAVE to get some writing done.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Prices Slashed...

Mr Prices (well, actually not, but it sounds good) came and slashed with the trctor today. So now I have about half an acre of new-mown hay, instead of 3 foot high grass. This is a good thing but may take a powerful amount of raking. The slashing was... interesting. The garden is powerful full of anti tank traps, old septic tanks , strange concrete things, rocks, pipes (unburied) and taps with steel star poles and occasional holes for burying errant VW Beetles in (well, big). Still, our friend did a very patient and good job of not hitting things. It took him about two and half hours, and the time slash that sort of area would be about 10 minutes if it were straightforward.

I have the electric fence for keeping in dogs working (this is vital. We cannot have them getting out and possibly worrying sheep. They'd be shot) - testing at about 7 kilovolts. Neither of the dogs are showing any sign of going near it, not even when the sheepdogs were just outside it. It's a major job, and done now.

The boxes continue their unending open and unpack and the where the hell will we put this and why have we kept it so long process. Work has been in abeyance, and this cannot continue much longer :-(


Still, slowly, step by step, some sideways and some back things are getting done.

Monday, January 9, 2012

The shuffle, the polka, the mazurka... and their moving dances

Today was a good one for the famous shuffle-the-washing dance. Clothes out on the Hills Hoist (that's a windi-dry South Africans)... rain. Clothes in. Repeat as often as you have patience or sets of clothes you're prepared to get soaked while running around rescuing wet washing from another rain rinse.

I've finished another section of the electric fence. I truly hate wire work - your hands always end up sore. Unpacked some boxes. Carried stuff from A so I could get stuff out of B and then taken stuff from B to C and emptied stuff from C into A and put B stuff in C, and then repeat...

Mind you it was nothing to the shoe-horn and grease wiggle I had to do to get the thicknesser out of Peter's container. I thought I might be like Pooh-bear, stuck until I lost weight or the fireys came with the Jaws of Life. Never had to pack myself to get something out before.

I noticed something rather nice last night. We can't see a solitary light from here. :-).

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Steam and the woop woop

The proofs for DOG AND DRAGON are in, we've steam cleaned two sets of carpets in two houses (and these ones were infinitely worse) and almost everything is here now. Well barring my half-watertanks full of horse manure. It's absolute hell trying to work and move house and fix things and deal with the livestock and plants (none of which will wait). Anyway... slowly forwards.

We have the local woop woop critters to deal with too - a possum was in the carport -and left evidence of his passing on the car and a blue-tongue (skink - big lizard) ate two tomatoes (yes lizards that eat red fruit). There was a wallaby on the driveway (30 yards from the door) and the wombat has been digging up bulbs. And there is the dratted Joe Witty bird that is danger of becoming barbecue.

But things are getting there. Really they are. And we have a stud detector -which for a suitable fee I am sure my friend Bill will hire out to anyone looking for a stud. For a much larger fee I will teach the machine to lie and say you are one. (it's for detecting wood or metal behind drywalling -so we can put in picture hooks without them ripping and without electrocuting ourselves. And Peter has lent me a thicknesser - which means I can tell how thick the stud is for those who like their studs stupid (or not). Otherwise I believe I can use it for prepping some planks for a book-case.

We move on... out in the woop woop :-)

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Two forward, one back, half sideways...

Well, of the old house 5 rooms are done, and 3 still have varying level of boxes of smaller items - but we're definitely getting close now. The problems with being a book lover are illustrated by my sore back.

I cleaned my chip's vanes of dust and cobwebs and it's a much happier machine. Peter also showed up with a fan that woul probably be good enough for a labrador-size microlite - which I will keep quiet about as puggles met the electric fence with his puggly nose this afternoon. Flying over it would be very inconvenient for sheep, wallaby and other passing sheepdogs.

With ominous creaking sounds and a face turning puce and nearly giving myself various multiple hernias the Olive trees are moved. The bigger one took quite some wind-battering (although I crept back at 50km/h) and its branch-tip leaves are not looking good.

We have a phone - thanks to my wife having far more patience than me... and my office has A LOT more boxes of books than I have book cases (the old house had some built in and came with one, we left 4 behind in SA).

I've lost the key to the sideboard (a lot of plates need to go there.

On the other hand I have the piezo working on my stove, and did a delicious supper of scorzonera, patty pans and flathead.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012


Well my poor computer had an overheating shutdown today, and while it is worrying, I am not surprised. It was one of the hottest days we've had and I was close to heat fatigue myself, carrying stuff. The Chookabago - I will post a picture - but I got the entire thing on the back of the ute myself. It is... not light. I quietly did a dehydration faceplant a little later so have been drinking vile rehydrating gunk. I am needing to re-assemble the wheels so the chooks are still in durance vile ie the chook-yard. I'm going to try and buy a fan to blow on the computer as I have to have it working. The proofs for DOG AND DRAGON are due on the 9th, and I have another deadline looming.

On other news CUTTLEFISH is up on Amazon - Do tell me what you think of Paul Young's illustration.

and I had some lovely reviews on DOG AND DRAGON ARC http://pjmedia.com/lifestyle/2011/12/31/fantasy-author-dave-freer-emerges-as-major-talent/

and http://www.otherwheregazette.com/2011/12/30/dog-and-dragon-not-your-usual-big-fat-fantasy/

Monday, January 2, 2012

Back on line and the move of the fowls.

Well, the mystery of the non-working internet is solved. Loose connection in the cable-jack I think, because it worked fine with an alternative cable (which was at the other house).

The chooks have moved to temp'ry quarters - the chook house here, while the chookabago suffers disassembly and transportation for its crimes. Serve it right for being so big and heavy. It was suggested that the 'bago - and residents, toured the distance along the long paddock (the road margin), but at 5 yards a day, it was going to take more than ten years, and I reckon for our chookies that would be a whole new meaning on 'transportation for life'. I had considered harnessing the entire thing to a truck, but the chickens can't walk that fast (they line up at the front edge of the Chookabago, and walk as I pull it). And they're not great fliers... I thought they might arrive pre-plucked.

The house is starting to resemble a home. There is still a slew more work, and of course writing to do, but we have the basic items of survival:books on the shelf, and a kettle:-)