Friday, March 30, 2012

The quiet life

Oh it's a quiet life here in the country. Easy to focus on the books. rushed off and collected pipis with Norman at lunch time. Then I had the new copper come out to inspect the gun safe, and in the process picked his brains about stuff I hope to need for a book. Turns out he's a diver and involved in the SES, so we had a fair amount of common ground. Of course he is doing his homework, learning the about the district and the people, and he did it well. But that's what a country cop should do. So while he was at it Jamie dropped in to give us a notice about the power outage on Tuesday. And then the Dentist and his wife (also ex- south Africans) dropped in. And tonight was Yaga's art exibition, and then the variety show... in which Barbs was dancing.

The quiet life.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

crown him

I had a dentist visit this morning to have a crown stuck back on, and at the same time paid my licenses for wallaby and muttonbird for the season. I think I will pass on duck and quail. I'm still quite keen on merely farming quail, and dodging shot is something my teeth don't need. I found my 1600 lumen torch had arrived - tonight we'll see if it is any good. I am battling on with this book, but I am losing heart right now. The copy edits smack in the middle of the run don't help. Anyway, once more into the breach. I'm going to collect some pipis at lunch time tomorrow, first break for ages. It's only 15 minutes to the estuary. I bought some pork fat for our next sausage experiment, which I hope will be less strongly flavoured than lamb fat. And now... to work.

Oh. As a freebie from the 28th to the 1st -

and while the official release date for DOG & DRAGON is the 3rd of April, some folk are reporting having got their copies.

If you use these links I get a few cents from the deal :-)

Sunday, March 25, 2012

I did kate (well, wallaby) and sidney (wallaby sidney) pie tonight for our tea, with a scone dough crust. I must say, with lots of thyme, some sherry and onions, it was most yummy and I'd bet few folk would have guessed that it came from hopalong and not from a cow. This week is going to be a frantic one with me working at a deadline, and B dancing in the variety show on Friday. Scottish dancing, before your lurid imaginations take you further. It's our normal board games evening (we are gay to dissipation here on the island)so i suggested that they play charades while they dance and give prizes to audience member who guesses right first. First prize one of my books, second prize two...

It's decidedly chilling off here. Winter is sniffling away at us. We went and fed AWOL & Houdini (a pair of little dogs that take escaping to the fine art level) for Quenten - and they lived up to their nick-names, by being out. They're cute little things but they are amazingly good at finding yet another way out of the fence. I appreciate my work on our electric fence (which by now is ornamental it's got so many grass stalks touching, but the dogs won't go near it - meaning they are safe from being shot (this is sheep country)).

Friday, March 23, 2012

All hail the King

Well the Copy Edits for THE CUTTLEFISH are in. I'm quite old fashioned (and erratic) about capitalization, but the CE nearly drove me to drink. She wanted "stand in the name of King!" to be "stand in the name of the king" and the difference between Under-London (place) and under London (as in beneath) caused some erratic caps. Anyway, done now. Back to THE STEAM MOLE. I find this jumping between books terribly difficult.

We had hail this afternoon, which I hope will not do my poor tomatoes in. Sigh. Winter is rushing towards us at a terrific speed. I have so much writing work to do that other stuff - garden and preserving (we've got yet more apples) and I need to get more winter veggies in, and clear another bit of land, and put up wind-barriers (this is the roaring 40's)

Still, we had home-made bangers and mash, home made 'train-smash' (tomato and onion gravy - what did you think it was? I, of course added chili, olives, basil, garlic and suprise... zucchini to it.) mash from our own tatties...

One day I may have more time.

But I doubt it.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Fire in the (cake)hole!

Okay the mysterious pale yellow peppers are... Paprika. The flesh is not firey, but a single seed had my mouth burning with a slow heat for half an hour.

If you thought Paprika was red, you and I laboured under the same delusion. It turns out they can be yellow. But I'm mildly peeved with Phoenix seeds about that one, because I'm pretty sure the description said mild and red. The flesh is however usable as green pepper, the heat is so slight.

I mowed lawn again today, gradually we reduce the wilderness. Other than that I have been busy with the copy-edit of Cuttlefish. I wonder - how many of you poor benighted American readers (well, the CE obviously thinks you are) have some idea what 'po-faced' means? She seems to think it would be beyond you. But then she doesn't know hydrogen goes up either, and seems to think bullets are on fire. (Mutter. Mutter)

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Well, I've had a lamb roast (a present) in freezer for a while, and as some money come in to celebrate we had roast lamb with a saltbush crust, and roast potatoes and our first ever beetroot at this place, and surprise, Zucchini and green sauce. Life is hard in the Whoop-whoop, as it cost us a little cooking oil.

Took the doggins for a run on the beach so everyone got a treat.

Monday, March 19, 2012

God loves a drunk

Was listening to Norma Waterson's hard hitting 'God loves a Drunk' in my break-from-words (I allow myself to stop when I run dry - provided I have hit my 200 words since last time I stopped. I then play a game of Freecell and listen to a song. One of each. Or make coffee. Or have a wee. Choose, Bezonian (I AM more reasonable if I've done well that day. I hate my boss. He spies on me. Working for yourself has downsides)

"Does clerking and wage-slaving bring you God's love?"


"I pity you worms, with your semi's and pensions, if you that'll get you to the kingdom above."


I love the land. I love the water. I love working with both. Feeling myself a part of both, tied with blood to the earth and bound with salty chains of sea. The semi would kill me quite fast. The pension... yeah well. Not happening for writers, who have always been the those who prefered doing what they loved than getting properly paid for it (one of my publishers had a rant for my benefit about how they were struggling to survive... I didn't ask how if they and retail struggle on 92% of the income, they think those on the rest do. It's new to them.) I must admit I'm not rushing to be put out to pasture. Let me work until I die. I don't love it sometimes, but it's not precisely wage-slaving. More like plain slaving... Sometimes I have to 'clerk' though.

Returning to clerking...

Forever and ever, Amen

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Apple sauce

Owing to slight error of judgement on yours truly's part we now have about 2 kilos of apple sauce (which was intended to be pie-apple)

Required... quite a lot of pig (or something else useful to do with Apple sauce)

Saturday, March 17, 2012

The Giant Russian cucumber and other errors

I suspect planting giant Russian cucumbers was a mistake. I hope I live through it (even the chickens won't eat the stuff).
Today has been a good writing day and so a fairly bad for everything else. Someone was out spotlighting last night. I hope it was Richie getting dog-tucker, or we have poachers (I can see about 3 miles of the farm's land from my window - its about 6 by 4 I think.) There are lots of wallaby, but I still don't need either competition or incompetants wounding and making them wary.

I suspect i know what inspired snozzcumbers...

Friday, March 16, 2012

living off the land

We're out of dog-tucker again, and I will have to remedy the situation. Otherwise the poor things may have to catch the next wallaby in the garden and work on doggy self-sufficiency. Or I will have to buy dogfood. (The kitties still have lots of frozen wrasse). We really do try to buy in as little as possible -transport to the island does make stuff expensive. Yet there are loads of islanders who buy everything - from $4 loaves of bread to lettuces. We obviously swap a lot of stuff, but basically basics like flour, rice and oil we still buy (although potatoes make a lot of starch, and all our bread gets a little potato too). We haven't bought any form of protein for years. I had some store bought chicken the other day. Odd tasting stuff :-). Of course there is still a lot of bush tucker and seafood still to investigate. And I'm looking for a few nice fat wallaby for Barbs's plan to make soap. I finally got my hands on some sheep caul - going to try it on a roast wallaby.

But in the meanwhile I am going to write about a kid starving in the outback. I've been researching desert bush tucker and conclude that in most cases, ordinary city types would die in days. I'd give myself a few more, if there was water (there are yabbies and crabs, if not fish) but most of the plants besides saltbush and warringal I would not recognise or know what to do with.

Thursday, March 15, 2012


I did celebrate turning the Dog and dragon short by buying myself 1600 lumen Cree torch (the prices have come down so much, along with the size of these)which will hopefully help with keeping us in Wallaby (my shooting ability is not legendary, and good light helps. I'm not a 'sporting' shooter, just one with a family and dogs and cats to feed, in an area where wallaby are considered vermin and are very very very numerous). The change in lights -and prices - is just amazing. That's a better light than my old very expensive mag-light... and weighs nothing.

And so, onward.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

And so on...

Well the water mystery solved... You know all those gutters I cleaned and painstakingly made sure filled the water tank...

For the mosquitos.

Because it's nothing but a big ornament. It is not connected in any way to the house. The water comes right past it... from the shearing shed a hundred and fifty yards away. And as Richie had run out of water (on account of not switching a tap off by accident), and as they didn't realise it ran anything... they unplugged the pump and have been taking truck loads of water... Ah well, it's not hard to put ours on to the loop. And we have water.

I was doing a little research about life in the Northern territory for the book I so frantically busy with, and hit on this description of a family living in the remote outback there during the depression. It rang such a chord with me I had to quote it for you:

As described by Max Sargent, the tenth of fourteen children of the Sargent family: “We were possibly the best fed people in Australia right through the depression, with butter, cream and milk, cheese, dried fruits and fresh fruits, fresh vegetables the year round, more than what we could use, but no money!”

Boy, he could be writing about our lives. We have more food than we can eat. Cash can fluctuate, depending on how late the publishers are this time. Now with Barb working, and the low cost of being here, it's a little less scary. But I guess we have it lucky, and I do appreciate it.

I got sent a bunch of weird statutes... some of which I think should become international law.

All residents may be fined for not owning a boat.

New Jersey
It’s against the law for a man to knit during the fishing season.

and back to writing...

Tuesday, March 13, 2012


Dearie me. We seem to have a pump issue with our rainwater. I've been working at writing frantically (and this situation will not end for some time) at writing, and the last thing I need is go pump-fighting. And it is in the dark too, just where I encountered the snake.

Methinks we stay dry and unshowered until morning

Saturday, March 10, 2012


Ok so I have made some 30kg or so wallaby sausages today, and learned some very valuable life lessons. Principally, never stand in front of a hydraulic powered sausage machine unless you really LIKE being sprayed with sausage meat. It was... interesting. I'm not that much of a fan of commercial sausage mix and artificial casings but it was a lesson or three, and the snags really aren't bad. I still want to try doing it the old-fashioned way, and making boerewors, but this is edible.

Friday, March 9, 2012


"A highbrow is the kind of person who looks at a sausage, and thinks of Picasso"- Sir Alan Patrick Herbert.

I'm supposed to go up to Morman's place and make some Sausages tomorrow. So I have got out the Sausage book my bruv gave me. I have a recipe for woodchuck sausages, bear sausages and squirrel sausages...

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Grandpa's chook feeder and visits to the whoop-whoop

Well, in the gooti (fine rain, just the wrong side of mist) I had Bill visit this morning, and bring us some the fruit from his 8 foot + italian tree tomatoes (which are tomatoes, not tree-tomatoes. The fruit are pink and VERY large. Apparently the deprived sparrows who were stealing my chook food have closed in Bill - so I was telling him about this - - a chicken feeder that keeps out the pests. Norman has one (New Zealand invention, he tell me proudly) and it's very neat. Not sure it's $195 neat!

It was kind of fun getting visitors out here in back of beyond, although I am frantically trying to write. Tomorrow I need to do a short story. Sigh. Normally i take 3-5 days do them, making them less than worth while. Barbs was off at the CWA this morning, and then off to a sustainable energy meeting this afternoon. We're weighing the possibility of solar panels, which was interesting as my friend Peter was on the blower today, saying the price had come down to a dollar a Watt... Not too sure watt this means for us, and how practical all this is...

Tuesday, March 6, 2012


So Barbs got into the blue slug this morning to go off to work in Lady Barron. As usual, mild chaos, eggs for friends, lunch etc all hastily loaded. Husband opening gate having shut the loyal hounds in...

And I continue to hold the gate. See Barbs charge into the house... sprint across to Peter's truck that we're (thank heavens) baby-sitting, and reverse over to the blue slug. I arrive at a rapid stagger (you cannot call what I do 'run') as she is hefting the load of daily requirements from one ute to the other...

"It won't start. Just goes click." And with this she left me to feed chickens close the gate and apply my famous curative skillz to the ute. I am a truly gifted mechanic. A genius with the 4 pound hammer, and sometimes pretty good with baling wire. sigh. Te sad truth is I've never had the supposedly masculine interest in the infernal combustion engine. Circumstances have forced me to do some work on them over the years, but my fixit skill comes down to opening the bonnet and staring at the engine. I've seen other fellows do it and it works really well for them.

For me... it went click. try again nothing happens. Go and do the famous stare... Try again. Lights on dash.


And the interior light slowly faded... Okay... so the fuses I checked (which all seemed ok, were fine. Battery terminals attached fine. There is power but it goes away in spite of the stare.

Suck my teeth. Try the stare with added fencing pliers.

turn key

remove battery. By now horrible (ill-informed but horrible still, or maybe because of the lack of knowledge ideas of what expensive things could be wrong, are going through my mind. Our budget has zero fat. Expensive car problems are not required. I'm sure they'll come, but they really really aren't wanted. Is it Battery (not the worst). The Alternator... something else more expensive?

Put the battery on the charger... aha, it says not fully charged -which it ought to be. The whoop whoop is a long way out. Now... alternator or battery?

Worrying and not constructive enough to write i went and fussed about my plants for 10 minutes... came back and found the green fully charged light on the battery.

Hmm, The battery is charged after all. So it is probably not the alternator. Not knowing what else to do I cleaned the terminals with some sand-paper, put it back.

Give it my best long evil snake-eye stare. Wave fencing pliers suggestively...

get in. Turn key...


I really have to work on that stare! ;-) (and was I relieved. It took me ages to settle into writing though, and I'd wasted quite a lot of time on the stare-process)

Monday, March 5, 2012

ping tung and the Capsicums

I've been trying without much success to grow eggplant here for the last two season. Yes, I do suspect James of feeding the plants nasty substances... but I think poor soil and short warm period have been the problem - rather like my attempts with melons... next year! Still I keep trying, and with capsicums -seeing as I got 1 plant through winter and got about 8 small red bell peppers/capsicums off it. This year I tried Ping Tung eggplant - in theory with small fruits (which mature fast) and prolific to make up for it. I've also got over 30 Capsicums in pots (and some in the ground)determined to get more.
Well, I have my first ever eggplant... only... it's one fruit. Yep One. bite size. Ah well. Back to the planting board. And the the capsicums - well they got a bit muddled, so I no longer know what plant is what. I have 1)Peter peppers (Chile, hot) 2)Lipstick (chile mild?) 3)Paprika (mild) 4)'healthy'(bell pepper not hot) 5) F1 (bell pepper, not hot) and no idea what I'm growing...
any idea what the pale yellow one is, appreciated

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Adventure racing: salute to George Forder

My friend George Forder is dead, killed in a car crash. Back at uni George arrived when we just getting the mountain club organised - a club that ended up having the second biggest membership of any at Rhodes. I remember four of them showing up on the first trip of the year to Morgans Bay, sea cliff climbing - George, Andy, and two girls - George with a laugh like a harpoon through chenille... "This is Caz (Carol) and this is Fred." He never let any minor detail like forgetting a crucial name stop him for a microsecond. The poor lass was Fred thence forth... through years of trips into the nether regions of chaos in the mountains and sea cliffs, fueled by gluwein and optimism. And George was there in sliver underwear... or tights or whatever could provoke a good laugh at his insanity and crazy panache (yes I suppose it wasn't a crowd that was exactly worried by macho image. We DID stuff, didn't need to strut it.) After 'varsity we drifted separate ways and it wasn't until my kids got into post-matric at Treverton that they got involved in adventure racing - and we ran into George again. George had found the sport that really suited him - and his character. As a combination between orienteering and - depending on the race - just about anything else, from shooting to abseiling or mountain biking or kayaking, with a major teamwork element, it's a lot of fun and it separates the real from the talkers, the way any extreme sport does (but with variation and team work aspects), and is damned brilliant for kids (it's fun, it's not for the usual winners at the ordinary sports, the team work and variation knock them back, and teaches lifeskills like nothing else). I'd give long odds that 1)if things go wrong you'd never do better than to have a 'graduate' of these sports at your side, or probably in front of you, keeping cool and working it out 2)that there are few serious addicts to drugs or alcohol among people who are involved in these. Drugs are woosies who can't handle adrenalin, as we said. 3) for the SES and the army, or just having a population that can handle natural disasters as best as possible, it's hard to find anything better. I suggested doing some here on Flinders only to find that no-one had ever heard of them. I was informed that they wouldn't allow it in Oz (wrong) and that the insurance issue was just too much to even think about. Well, I know what my friend George would have said. It's not polite. And there was a man who did dozens of things that 'nanny' would have had kittens about most weekends... killed doing something as legal and approved as possible. When we met up again, we said we must get together for one of our own brand of adventures soon. Never quite did - life and work and emigration took us in different directions. If there's a lesson there, it's do it now. Go well into that beyond, you mad bugger. And to those who knew him, to his family and kids - it's absolutely tragic, but by God there was a man who LIVED, who got up and made things happen that had a vast effect on loads of kids. I'm glad that he was a friend. We'll not see his like again in a hurry.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

I'm still here

Ok sorry about the lack of posting - put it down to me feeling rotten and trying to give what I can to STEAM MOLE. Fortunately that has started coming good at last. The weather has turned vile. It seems however to be just perfect for my lettuces, which are coming up lovely. There is a rose in every set of briars.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

a small circle

Well my writer's circle turned into one... Quenten. Ah well, we had some lively arguments about divinity, the recognition of self as an entity, and the problems with Malaria in PNG (spreading to Australia in the North) and a dozen other asides from the practicalities of water-pipe repair to frontal lobotomies. Yeah, it is kind of fun for me to wander into this sort of turf for a while too. One of the joys of Flinders - and particularly of my set friends here - is there are a fair number (disproportionate for a remote rural area, drawn here by the place and the isolation of being on an island) a lot of readers, people who are way smarter than your average bear, some just smart people and others smart and with amazing tertiary educations too. Odd for woop-woop - but this Flinders.) In the meanwhile I'm not feeling a lot better, but we continue to batter away STEAM MOLE. I'm hoping illness and other issues don't colour my writing too much. But needs must... We're doing well on the tomatoes and zucchini front, the capsicums are slowly moving... and the ping tung eggplant (supposed to be small fruit and quite fast)... just aren't. Oh well. Another front in the war to feed ourselves...