Wednesday, 28 December 2011


Finally had a day in the garden,the weeds had all my carrots and onions by the throat and were choking them. Three weeds in (or should I say out)and Trev was by my side.
'What the hell?' he says. I look up and there's a frenzied cloud of bees or the Bohr Model (that symbol of atomic energy with the whizzing atoms) X 10,000. I had a swarm.

I'd been wanting to have a go at catching a swarm. Already hot, when suited up in three layers, gumboots, gloves and a hooded, netted hat I'm sweating and looking not unlike someone about to go into a radioactive area. Trev's made a beeline for town and left the property. Caleb has been winched away from the computer long enough to open gates for me and stand guard in case any 000 calls need to be made.

The bees have congregated in a two year old almond tree and inconveniently wound themselves between a main stem of the tree and the support post. Not good. I have my tree loppers, a large cardboard box, my smoker at the ready. But I soon realise three hands are required to lop the branch, and hold a kilo or so of bees on the branch with another. I try to use the side of my body as a left hand when I lop. But it's a fail. The branch hits the ground and there's a kilo of pissed off bees. I wait for them to reassemble around the queen and settle down before picking them up and depositing the branch into the box. A bit of pruning and it's in.

There are still heaps of bees on the ground, but they get the idea the queen is in the box and conveniently crawl in with her. I sit the box in the shade and place a wet sheet over it to keep them cool.

I go stick my head in a bucket of cold water and try to conert the colour of my face to something a little more becoming than puce.

Trev, my own personal carpenter arrives back and he quickly makes up a new hive base and lid. Soldering wax onto frames while I lug down a pallet and find a spot for the new hive.

The theory is, you lay down a sheet in front of the new hive and dump the box of bees at its doorstep and watch them crawl in. I dumped them, they crawled in. My doubts erased.

I now had one depleted hive and one new hive. I thought my beekeeping over for the day. Off I go with the whippersnipper. An hour or so later and I come within inches of whippersnipping a second swarm of bees. They're on the ground in long grass. This is not supposed to be the way it happens. What do you do with bees in the grass and bad weather coming? You decide, what the hell you'll drop a cardboard box over top of the lot and they can crawl in and out of the small slot at the top. They'll find their own way out and to safety when they're ready.

Two days later... There's still a lot of activity in the box. I lift up an edge and yep, they're making it a permanent home. There's an odd frass build up on the ground. They're eating the box. Keep it up and they will literally, 'eat themselves out of house and home'.

My own personal carpenter and Ehren (who thought he was coming to Tassie for a holiday) help me rig up a third hive body. I cut the top off the cardboard hive and lay the dangling wax comb they've made in between frames of the hive and only partially close the lid. They're going to have to get used to crawling through the entrance hole at the base before I close it.

Here's hoping it's early enough in the season for all three hives to thrive before winter.

Learnt alot this week in my beekeeping adventures.

Friday, 2 December 2011

One Rant Support

Trev and I have an agreement that we listen to each others rants and make supportive comments. But it tends to be a bit one sided. I rant, he listens. He rarely rants and when he does I, well... I tend to not support wild and exhausting rants about things like changes in sporting seasons and the lack of cricket on the radio. Sorry Trev.

However, Trev has gone for a new audience on Facebook where he posts some wild and woolley and entertaining raves. My rant support rates are way down. Hope this boosts them.

Some of you may have gotten the idea that I hate ducks and would prefer they were no longer the blight on my life they have until now been. This is true; what those of you who know me as a mild mannered fellow of little colour and few words may not realise is that this – let’s not call it hatred, more a malevolent indifference - applies to all animals, especially those we laughingly call domestic,... as well as certain select and pestilential birds, insects and other assorted life forms for which invective is inadequate but that I have not the time to name.

Trev in his longer haired days with Ehren, his gorgeous son

So in this humanitarian and far sighted vein, I move away from the duck and turn my eyes to chooks. There is a strong scriptural base to much of my ranting, and these thoughts on the chook are no different. Those of you familiar with Genesis (the book, not the band) will know that chapter 1 verse 32 says: “and on the eighth day, after having a bit of a spell, God created the chook and he saw that it was very good.” Now, some biblical commentators aver that on the seventh day, God rested the rest of a deity well pleased with his work, but I think that he was just totally stuffed after all that creating – I know creating tires me out – and that’s why the chook is missing a few vital parts, most notably the brain.

Genesis goes on to detail something of a falling out between God and man. Genesis 3 gives us the details:
And then the man, Adam, spake, saying, “Lord, that chook is everywhere in our garden; it scratcheth out the new seeds thou providest and crapeth over every surface and the light of intelligence shines not in its eyes.”
And God replied, saying, “ Speak not thus of my creations, thou into whose deplorable hide I blew breath but two days ago”
Then Adam (perhaps a trifle unwisely) said unto God “ Lord, if thou art too thick to realise that all this ‘on the second day god created’ business is a metaphor and that we’re really talking geological time scales here, that’s too bad; the fact remains the bird is an idiot and you stuffed it up”.
Then God waxed exceeding wroth and said unto Adam” Get thee gone from my garden; show thy face there no more and hereafter blame all thy woes on thy woman, who I created whilst thou weren’t looking.”

And so it happened. Where they got that far-fetched tale about the snake and the apple, I’ll never know.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Turdus Merula

The Latin name for this years main garden pest.

It's the blackbird. Last year we had one and it ate every last raspberry, seemingly on it's own. We killed it. It took several weeks with a small mesh box propped up on a stick with a string trailing through the shed window before I was able to pull it in time and catch the wee bugger. It felt terrible to kill him. He was just doing his thing. Not his fault that some dick-(ybird) decided he missed the sound of a blackbird in his English garden and voluntarily introduced them, all for the sound of it's cheerful note a couple of hundred years ago.

This year the garden is full of the sound of 'tok, tok.'
No doubt counting down their last seconds as we work out ways to stop their clocks - permanently. Gone were the cherries of last year, the strawberries too. This year forewarned is fore-armed. Though arming oneself against a sea of troublesome birds is illegal. It's not the culling of birds that's an issue but the owning of a firearm without appropriate cause and license. We don't live on the prerequisite number of acres and while there have been times I would gladly have bought a slug gun (and shot slugs with it too) it's simply not going to happen.

Instead we invested in six posts, heavy duty wire, star pickets, 100 metres of bird netting and a whole day digging holes, sewing netting and generally getting sun burnt. The raspberry cage looks great. It creates a kind of outdoor indoors that excludes birds of all sorts, hopefully any probing possums and the odd opportunistic Caleb-has-left-the-gate-open-again-Goat. It's been an expensive exercise. Onto strawberry saving measures next week.

Oh, the linocut was inspired by my garden 'friends'. I decided to have a go at lino-cutting and had thought to be inspired by native Tasmanian flora and fauna. Yet somehow this dark feathered, yellow beaked fiend eventuated. Insidious beast.

Who or what would you like to permanently eradicate from your garden?

Sunday, 20 November 2011

No Caleb, sanding has nothing to do with the beach

Caleb's still working hard to pay off a laptop we bought him some time back. It's virtually the only way we can get him off it.

He's recently moved what we dubbed 'Caleb's Mountain' 14 cubic metres of pine bark. It took him a fair while, and the goats didn't mind having a bit of a chew on it either. I think Caleb's ploy was to wait so long they ate it for him.

Trev sanded the floor back with a drum sander but between each coat of water based, low voc polyurthane (yes we compromised) it was lightly hand sanded.

Quotes to get it done professionally were exorbitant, or at least in our eyes, so as usual we (mostly Trev) did it ourselves and it cost just over 10% of the professional price and just over a week to complete.

It's getting so close to the point we start bringing in the small amount of furniture we have (most of it was sold in QLD rather than drag it down) Lucky we're into the minimalist look.

The plumbing is almost complete. Complete enough in the bathroom that we can start tiling with the recycled glass tiles.

The electrician will be back soon to light up the house now the ceiling lining is in and he can. Looking forward to walking through the house at night with the lights on - though we'll turn them off when we leave each room of course :-)

We will have been living in Tasmania for six years come the 1st of December.
It will be five years building in March 2012. Maybe I should write that book, 'Five years of slow building.' *grin*

But we keep coming back to the point that as much as it has been a drag at times it's also been very rewarding and there's always the size of our mortgage to feel good about too.

Next adventure... debt free in three years... what do you say Trev?

Monday, 7 November 2011

A great Blog

Stumbled on this great blog.
I recommend reading the list of things Julie and her family have done over the years to increase their sustainability - what a great list.
I'm definitely checking out the link to bamboo toothbrushes!
Towards Sustainability

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Direct Link to buy Who Killed Dave?

There's been more than one person who hasn't been able to find the link to purchase Who Killed Dave? I've put that down to my poor webpage design!

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Who Killed Dave? Cheap Copies

I've been contemplating where to put Trev's machinery and tools when we move into the house and realise there are still boxes of Who Killed Dave? taking up room in the shed. It seems self-publishing is the swear word of the literary world. Not that there is much literary about Who Killed Dave? It's goal is to make people giggle. And for those who've read it it appears to have succeeded well in that.

Google Who Killed Dave? for a diverse range of reviews.

Anyway, long story short. They were being sold for $24.95, now half that price $12.50 till Christmas time, free postage, a giggle guaranteed.

It's a good Christmas pressy for a friend, though I'm told that it's not the kind of book you'd give your mum. Having said that I have had a very positive review from an 82 year old. But then, she's contemplating setting up a floating brothel off the Tasmanian Coast...

Who Killed Dave?
100% recycled paper, vegetable inks, carbon offset - Australian sales only.
Amazon sell the e-book version.

The Iron Maiden

Nope, not a pig, goat, sheep or extraordinarily large chook. It's the slow combustion stove. We've cut lots of corners on expense and this time we went hard on the biggest Australian made wood fired stove available. Four ovens and a large fire central fire box. It arrived some time ago, and spent a month or so facing the wall and defying all attempt to photograph it. Now it's installed, hooked up to the hot water tank ready to heat the house, the water and our food. Trev's done a great job of removing timber floor boards and provided extra support for its 380kg weight, along with lots of fire proofing. It turned out that the pipes coming out of the wall meant the flu lined up with a roof batten so he then had to (much swearing) remove part of the roof and create a timber box to allow for the flu to go through. It's now almost ready to fire up. Still have a little plumbing to go and tiling around the outside.

Looking forward to seeing how it heats the house, thermometer all at the ready.

Paddy grown Sea Grass Matting

The ceiling lining had been decided some years back, but when it came time we decided against Solomit Straw panel lining and went for paddy grown sea grass matting. Not a local product, but one that will last through the years, look good, be up to a thorough upside down vacuum, doesn't require glues and is a natural product.

Trev's not so sure about the final look saying the house looks like it's wearing a tweed coat. It's not complete in the images as it still requires beading around the edges to keep the sides from the slight sag they have at the moment. But the final look is well established.

Trev tore a muscle in his side while putting this up and thwarted all (correction: most of) his attempts to complete the job quickly. Doing a self-build does take it out on you physically. I've buggared my shoulders with hauling too much mud around and spend more time than I like to think grimacing and trying to find a position that doesn't hurt. Some days there aren't any. Looking forward to lying in the sun reading books. If only I'd get to the point I can let myself. A very wise doctor once said to me when I told him how stressed I was and I'd come to Tassie for the quiet life 'Yes, well, it's true of life that you take yourself wherever you go'.

I think our next adventure might be an adventure in slowing down.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Two Fat Pigs

The two little piggy wiggy's are no longer, in their place we have two fat pigs who have recently been introduced to Trout. The two girls spend a fair bit of time tickling trout. They all lie together, top and toe and bicker aimably enough together. They eat prodigious amounts, have required purposed built, reinforced housing to handle the rigorous self-scratching regime.

They have now ploughed up three areas of land and it means re-fencing the electrics on a regular basis and taking advantage of their ploughing to re-seed the areas they've been in. I've written an article on pigs for the upcoming ABC Organic Gardener Magazine.

Trev is on close terms with the pigs, though he, like me, is very careful not to fall over at feed time! They are incredibly solid animals and single-mindedly hungry.

At this stage Pinky and Browny are both due around Christmas day, can't wait for piglets!

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Pot of Gold at the End

Actually the bank gets that, we get to live in a house in exchange. It's getting much closer, walls, floors, ceilings,windows and doors. Electricity - mostly complete, plumbing has started, our great steam engine of a slow combustion wood stove has arrived and challenged but not overcome Trev's ingenuity in manouevering it around the house and into place. Also removing floor boards and increasing the level of support for all its 380kg.

We're planning on having an Italian themed Christmas at our place and inviting around all the lovely people who've had us over at for dinner and we've not returned the favour. Quite a few over the past five or so years.

Looking forward to that...

Monday, 25 July 2011

Today, Tonight Tomorrow

I admit to being very slack on the update front in the last few months. Trev and I both have our heads down and bums up as we race towards the housing building finish line.

I could detail the progress but if you hook into tomorrow nights Today Tonight on Channel 7 you'll get to see us shivering on an icy Tasmanian morning, pretending not to look embarrassed about the state of our winter garden which is also suffering from neglect of the house obsessed variety. Also get to meet the pigs, the goats, the lambs and the chooks, and a quick squiz at the inside view of the house and hear us blather on a bit.

With a silly little embarrassed smile she hits publish post and shambles away.

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Recycled Glass Tiles

Trev and I searched for Tasmanian tiles for the bathroom and discovered there are none. Mostly due to the prohibitive cost of sending them to the mainland and the cheapness in which one can import tiles from overseas. But we wanted something local. So true to form we found a hard way to go about it. Making our own.

We'd said no concrete, but as this involves minimal amounts of cement and it creates a thermal mass and utilises a recycled product we finally compromised and gave it the green tick of approval.

Onto the scene comes one angsty pre-teen with a, before now, unfullfilled desire to smash and break things. The desire survives parental approval. Caleb donned safety gear and happily smashed around 30 blue bottles purchased at a tip shop. He's since gone onto shades of green which are easier to come by.

Trev made up moulds from a sheet of form ply. I consulted him on percentages of cement to glass and sand and then went and did something else anyway. Yes, he does get frustrated. I discovered that filling half the tile with a mix of white cement and roughly smashed glass with no sand provided the best quality tile, the second half of the mould is topped up with a mix comprising less cement and more sand. Both in shades of boring gray. It will never be seen. Between the two different mixes is laid a sheet of fibreglass mesh that provides an added degree of strength to the tile.

Once screeded off and tapped and vibrated level the tiles are left a couple of days before the moulds sides are removed and the tiles turned over and revealed. They look boring. The white cement covers all the glass. Out comes the angle grinder with a coarse grinding attachment. Dust mask, gloves and glasses donned and off I go. The blue glass peeps through, then grows as the first layer of cement is ground back. I keep going till it's liberally sprinkled with beautiful blue chunky glass.
Next I mix up a small amount of white cement (which should have PVA glue in but I've never remembered to put it in yet) and use a plaster spatula to thinly spread the mix over the tile to fill in any air bubbles or holes. It's left to dry and then out comes the...

Variable speed polisher with a diamond polishing pad attached. I start at 50 'grit' and move slowly down to 2000 - by the time I'm finished the concrete is smooth with a sheen on it. It looks beautiful, I can even see my reflection. I look disgruntled. I have sore shoulders and a murderous headache. My carpal tunnel syndrome has flared up and I'm wondering why the hell it is we always have to do things the hard way. But the tile looks beautiful.

Repeat this process every weekend till hospitalised.

This weekend I've started a new tile. I found a design online and used it as a template for a feature tile. I've stuck down the design inside a mould and siliconed between the pieces. Trev gave me a good tip, to dip my finger in detergent and press the silicone to a similar depth the whole way around. Once this is dry I'll trim it with a knife so the lines are all the same thickness and remove the paper. Into each of the segments will go a mix of either green or blue glass and white cement mix. When the tile is complete it will have premade grout lines and hopefully look gorgeous in either the bathroom or the sun room.

I had intended to make black tiles with green glass for the sunroom but quickly discovered that you need nineteen mountains of black oxide and even then it's not a good black.

I learnt how to do this from youtube. There's a much more anal bloke who can tell you how to do it much better than I at Day Creek

Saturday, 23 April 2011


Completing a uni assignment and needed to find five different psychological disorders for a character in a screenplay. Found this in Wikipedia and just loved it.

Solastalgia is a neologism coined by the Australian philosopher Glenn Albrecht in 2003 with the first article published on this concept in 2005.[2] It describes a form of psychic or existential distress caused by environmental change, such as mining or climate change.

As opposed to nostalgia - the melancholia or homesickness experienced by individuals when separated from a loved home - "solastalgia" is the distress that is produced by environmental change impacting on people while they are directly connected to their home environment. A paper published by Albrecht and collaborators focused on two contexts where collaborative research teams found solastalgia to be evident: the experiences of persistent drought in rural New South Wales (NSW) and the impact of large-scale open-cut coal mining on individuals in the Upper Hunter Valley of NSW. In both cases, people exposed to environmental change experienced negative effects exacerbated by a sense of powerlessness or lack of control over the unfolding change process

Friday, 22 April 2011

Lock Up! (your daughters?)

The house is a house with walls, floors, ceilings, doors and windows. Yes. We can lock it up and you'd need a crow bar to break your way in. A $30,000 mortgage to get us to this stage. Though of course most of our one income goes into paying for the house before it gets to the mortgage stage. I must catch up with just how much, probably more than the same again.

It's lovely to walk inside the house at the moment. The light is fantastic. There's almost a sense of reverence when we do. Because soon, at least not too far away, this will be our home and we'll no longer be the poor cousins living in the shanty town shed at the bottom of the block. The rooms aren't too hard to visualise in their finished form, and it's not going to take forever to get them to that state.

We're about to go shopping for a slow combustion stove and a solar hot water system and have them installed. (happy to hear suggestions on best brands for the stove) The laundry tub, the shower stall, the kitchen bench and sink, the ceiling Solomit lining, the power, which has all been run, 'lit up' as Trev says, a few more doors a fair lick of paint, the rest of the floors beeswaxed, oh heck, might stop the list making it's starting to get a tad long. Still, things that can be done pretty much in any weather and most of it while I'm at work :-)

N.B The photos are now old news, the floors are now complete as are the internal walls (thanks again to John Fibbens for his help). I'll have to get back out there for an update.

Friday, 25 February 2011

How my parent's are 'fearing'

Thanks to Net, who asked about my parents and how they are fearing in Christchurch. It was a great Freudian Slip. I was thinking yesterday that if we could have a global image of fear and grieving there would be hotspots in Christchurch, Yemen and Libiya.

My parents are OK. My mum had an adventure she'd rather have done without.
She volunteers in an op shop that was hit fairly hard with the quake. All I know is that the window imploded right where she normally sits. They got out onto the street and stood and watched the minister's church opposite disintegrate.

I probably shouldn't repeat this, because there are a million and one better stories to tell of selflessness. But the minister was most anxious about his cat and used his mobile phone to find out if it had survived. When he finished mum asked if she could use it to call Dad to find out if he was OK.
His response. 'No, it's a credit phone.'

Mum tried to drive home but soon realised that this wasn't going to happen and she was safer walking. She struggled through the liquifaction, sometimes unable to find the bottom she'd have to haul herself back out. It's a long way home.

Dad was OK, the house a little less so. Doors no longer close, a two metre long five row stretch of bricks fell away. TV's are smashed, the typical mess we're seeing on TV. But nothing compared to many of their friends.

Mum told me today of one friend who lost her husband last year and then sustained a lot of damage to her house in the first quake. Now she has a bundle of clothes and no house. All she wants is her husband.

It's hard to watch it on TV. I see the street names from my childhood. Years ago I climbed to the top of the cathedral just when they gave the bells a work out and leant back on the swaying spire and waited for it to crumble. I've stayed at the YMCA, have a wonderful pair of ampersands I bought at Ballantynes. It seems, at such a distance so unreal. But talking to mum, no less unreal her end either.

I've heard them say on TV, 'earthquakes are a fact of life for New Zealander's' as though they are a daily occurance. Nothing like this has ever happened. Newly demolished 1860s churches testify to this.

I can only recall about five earthquakes and I lived there till I was twenty three. The most remarkable one was leaning on a sliding door eating lunch with my family. I must have been nine or ten. The door began to rattle. I turned around to tell my bloody brothers off, no one there. I turned back to see them riding the wild barbeque table over the patio. It was the kind of thing where you went 'whoa!' and laughed over.

Nothing like watching some huge fellow throwing sandstone blocks off someone trapped beneath. Nor watch the agony of those waiting.

As for the minister. I've advised mum to tell him that it's a credit line to God he's got too and he's used his up.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

A computer Free Day

This is what every second day is supposed to be so that Caleb actually creeps out of his self-imposed computer hole and seeks daylight. Like a blind mole, or a particularly light sensitive worm. I'm sure there are other households with children suffering this same affliction. I'm concerned Caleb will look back at his childhood and only recall Earthworm Jim, Kratos and Prince of Persia as his friends, have a hunch back, vision permanently focussed at 30 centimetres and will only have computer geek language skills. He thinks he's L33T (elite) you n00b.

Once, when asked to do something else his response was he couldn't think of anything. Mine, 'Find your imagination'. He was silent for several moments before responding in a 'computer like' voice, 'Imagination - not found.'

This morning his computer free day resulted in this little spurt of humour that while we all appreciate is not going to earn him any online time.

The Fine art of Appreciating Apricots

You take one apricot, insert it into the appropriate facial aperture and make 'hmmmm, hmmmm' noises as you chew. A swipe or two as the juice runs down the chin.

My brother used to say that 'Linda eats apricots and spits out the box'. Too true. A good apricot is as good as any mango.

There will be apricot preserving coming up in the next couple of days so Caleb can eat his favourite pancakes with apricots for breakfast in the middle of winter.

Cal's room

Almost complete, just the Solomit (straw panel) ceiling lining to go. The beauty of his room has not resulted in any lowering of abandoned sock numbers. Found twelve unmatched pairs in there recently, seems statistically impossible but he managed it.

The blue wall is made from homemade goats cheese paint, a mix of quark, lime putty and blue pigment. It was a buggar to apply so Cal and I ended up getting creative with it. I thought it was quite angsty and teenage, but made the mistake of writing in a few words that came to mind and World, Love and Beautiful are definately way too hippy. I've obscured them some what, but he's still not quite sure. I've bought a white wall decal of a great big abstract twirly scroll thing that we can place over top to add to the overall effect.

Good to have another room close to completion.

The Life and Death of Baby Banjo

It was around 6pm, broad daylight, and would be for another three hours this time of year in Tassie, when we spotted a dead wallaby by the side of the road. Trev and both leaned forward at the same moment and yelled,
'Is that a rat?'
But we both agreed it might have been a baby wallaby. We did one of those dangerous manoeuvers not destined to help you make friends with your local copper and went back for a look. Sure enough it was a wallaby, she was out of the pouch and trying desperately to get back in.

Trev swooped her up and we bought it home and rang our local wildlife carer. But alas, not available for anything but advice. Despite feeding her recommended amounts of the right kind of food and keeping her warm and quiet she developed diarrhoea and died a couple of days later. It was only a slim chance she made it, but we had to give her that.


Heaps of them, enough to throw in a bath and bathe in them. Not that that's a likely event. Caleb's last duck bath some years back ended in howls of pain when Nibbler thought she spied a fat worm.

Our two females bought out eight ducklings each. We thought we might have had a rare double yolker twin set, but eventually the duckling managed to get its legs out of the egg and struggle around like Mr Bean with a Christmas turkey on his head. I helped it out, and it was just one same size duckling as the rest, just in a big bloody egg.

The first duck, Squeaker, quickly knocked her duckling numbers back to three by running around so much they dropped dead of exhaustion.

Duck breeding lesson number one. confine duck and ducklings in a 'duck house' for the first week or two till they've developed stamina to keep up.

We have 19 ducklings. Before they went on the duck cluck we had much discussion about the amount of poop on the door step and reducing duck numbers to nil by a process of trialing peking duck recipes and then... numbers kind of got away on us.

Caleb, who's not adverse to eating an animal after it's stopped being cute is looking forward to this event. Trev and I, older and less inclined to kill anything but slugs, (which the ducks were bought in to do and failed spectacularly at), look at each other sideways and wince.

Monday, 10 January 2011

Create a Buzz!

I've signed a few petitions in the past and it seems I get more arrive in my inbox daily. I was moved enough to add the one on South Africa and 'corrective rape' a couple of days ago.

Today I received one no less close to my heart but not humanitarian in this case. This one is about out lawing pesticides and chemicals in the EU and US that may be causing the demise of the bee population. Apart from honey they provide 90% of pollination services. I won't spray on too much about sprays - here's the link to reading more. Only takes 5 seconds to sign and I find it intriguing to watch the names and locations of the signers as they sign. 1 every second.
Online Petition

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Making Paint while the sun shines

Actually I do all my gardening in the morning and late afternoon when it's cooler. During the sunniest part of the day I either mud the house or paint it. I've had fun making more than food recently, experimenting in recipes of the non-edible kind.

I've painted Caleb's room with goat's cheese paint. A mix of quark and lime putty and clay pigments. I'll have to take a photo of his wall. We worked on it together and it got a bit wild. He now wants to tone it down a notch. Pity. I was happy with the wild stuff. But will comply.

The mud walls are being painted with lime wash, which is made from lime putty (we made from quicklime as lime putty is hard to get, and expensive due to the cost of getting it to Tassie) water and pigment. I've used sandstone coloured clay pigment for the wall in the photo, but have 2 kg of titanium dioxide coming next week which will be used on all the internal walls for a white finish.

Lime is dangerous stuff to work with, being very caustic, hence safety glasses, and usually gloves, though not for this mock up. Typically someone pulls out a camera and I can't help but smirk at the lens. My mother has the same affliction. Usually why I'm found behind the darn thing and not in front of it.

N-ice Cream

I'm on holidays, so cooking figures more highly, simply because there's more time to do it. No one is complaining. I was disgusted to see hot cross buns on sale in the supermarket recently. I enjoy being disgusted every year. The moment Christmas is over it's onto the next commercial seasonal event. It didn't stop me making spicey hot buns when I got home though. No wonder Trev has put all the weight back on and added some. He calls his paunch, his porch and is forever making it the focal point of conversation by pointing it out for us all to take note of. Anyway, the real point of this post was to add a recipe for homemade vanilla ice cream. A great way to use surplus eggs. We also used goats milk, but had to buy the cows cream. It tastes sublime.

Ours turned out strongly yellow, something to do with orange chook eggs I suspect. The image is all that's left of yesterday's ice-cream.

Italian Mummas must really love their Babies

I decided to make pasta, the make your own from scratch variety. Little knowing that three hours later I would still be rolling out pasta thinnly and making little parcels with goat cheese and herbs. One of the last jars of tomatoes from last year came out and became the basis for a sauce and grilled zucchini topped the dish. I learnt that you can't sit them on top of each other or they become one amorphous pasta blob and I needed to use less filling and have more of a compressed edge to keep the cheese inside. So, there I was, thinking it was the one and only time I dedicated myself to such a mascochistic cooking experience, now I will have to repeat it and get it completely right some time soon.

Caleb recently made Tagliatelle with a rich meat sauce for Trev and himself. Mastering more of the cooking basics that will hopefully see him well fed once he leaves home. He's almost taller than me now, his voice has broken and he has hormonal days, one's where a mummy cuddle is simply out of the question. Sigh.

The Last of the Windows

The last of the windows goes in. The house's eyes finally look less blank.
Just the doors to go in.

I was cooking dinner last night when Trev yelled 'Help!' Off we ran expecting to find him lying in the grass with various bits broken, but no, he was stuck at one of the top windows in a position he couldn't shift from holding up 15kg of window in one hand at an awkward angle. Caleb went to the rescue and the final end opening window went in.

Chick magnet

The house is a chick magnet every sparrow within coo-ee has taken to it's eaves, its corners and crevasses and stuffed every inch with nesting material and baby sparrows. Their nesting material is generally our insulation. It can't happen. It must stop and the books say they can be deterred if you remove their nests often enough. So Trev does. Usually it's only eggs, but this time, alas, it was wee chicks. Needless to say they didn't survive long out of the nest.

Building a house often inspires nesting instincts, how many times do we see young couples vowing and declaring not to reproduce while building, only to be found nailing up boards with a baby strapped to their back not long after. Just wish it wouldn't inspire the sparrows too.

Coffee ... with Love

For the past year or so Trev has made me a coffee (fairtrade, organic of course)most mornings, and fluffs up the milk and draws me a heart on the top with it. We're not a particularly demonstrative couple, gently ribbing each other is our form of verbal affection. No great protestations of undying love going on here. But when my coffee comes with its wee heart inscribed in the top, it kind of goes beyond words.