Monday, 28 October 2013

really? is that how it ends?

You know that I've been home, more or less with my hands tied, for over a week, right? Its been frustrating, boring, annoying, boring. Did I mention boring?

I don't do well when I'm not able to DO things.

So I've been reading. Lots.

I have now finished The Hunger Games trilogy and ... I am NOT happy.

Allow me to indulge myself in a little literary criticism. And a serious whine.

The books were great. Suspenseful, exciting. They reminded me of my favourite book of all time The Chrysalids, though they have nothing in common other than the fact that they're based on civilisations after a major world catastrophe.

Book one was the best. Book two was great, though by then Katniss' wishy-washy flip-flopping between Gale and Peeta were starting to grate on my nerves.

Book three was fine. It was ok.

If you didn't mind that the main character spent so much time unconscious or drugged out on pain meds and had to have events recounted to her rather than experiencing them.

Then things just come to an abrupt but conveniently tidy end.

Seriously. Its like the author got bored or ran into a deadline and hurried to finish the book, tying up as many loose ends as she could in the last few pages. Ends she'd spent books unravelling in the first two books. S

Gale becomes some kind of war specialist in the army. Haymitch goes back to drinking. Peeta, who had been brainwashed by the enemy into hating Katniss doesn't go through some heart wrenching re-discovery of his love for her. Katniss doesn't have any emotional scenes where she breaks down and admits her love for Peeta. In fact there are no scenes at all at the end of the book. Its just an epilogue.

It goes from Katniss shooting the new president in the chest with an arrow, her blanking out, waking up as a prisoner in her room for a long time, gong back to her home in district 12 and then she and Peeta eventually marry and after 15 years or so he convinces her to have children so they have two all in the space of the final few pages...


It was such a let down.

Ok. I'm over it now. I just had to complain about it to someone who cares (you care don't you?)

But I'm over it.

Its just such a dismissive ending!

Ok. I'm over it.


Friday, 25 October 2013

the view from the couch

I'm going crazy.

I could handle being stuck on the couch if I could sit up. I can sit for hours and do creative things.

What's killing me is not being able to sit. There's only so much you can do in 5-10min bursts of sitting or leaning over the keyboard (leaning is probably not recommended).

So, how did this happen?

Well, I had an unfortunate incident at work while packing for a move which included a slip, a fall and a jolt to my spine. The physio explained that its perfectly normal to be stiff and sore after something like that, but what I couldn't understand is how things could get worse a couple of days later... However he says its totally explainable and can easily happen.

See, after the slip, fall and jolt (doesn't have the same ring to it as 'flip, flop and fly' does it?) I was a bit stiff, had a headache, a kind of reflected pain down my left leg. 

Nothing too bad. Just another day at work, right?

We had a wedding to go to for the weekend so we went.

Have you been to a wedding? I'm sure you have. Its a whole lotta standing around, waiting for the bride to arrive, watching the ceremony, mingling with other guests, then a whole lotta sitting down waiting for courses, listening to speeches, etc.

I got through that without too much discomfort. I had to find spots to sit when I should have been standing, or places to stand when I should have been sitting, but I made it through.

Then on Sunday it was such a beautiful day. I walked around the garden taking photos of the flowers as they start to bloom and grow... and I sat on the cement pad which looks over the paddocks and hugged poodles for a while...

It was so beautiful.

Till I went to stand up.

I was in a world of pain. I could barely walk. I could barely move. I could barely stand up.

Since then I've seen the doc again and started seeing a physio. The instructions are: gentle walking, gentle exercises, horizontal or standing, avoid sitting.

Seems the sitting down low aggravated the already compromised area. Since I was ignoring my back it was going to give me something to listen to. A subtle warning to take it easy.


Ok. Not paralysis, but paralysing pain. Same result.

Zefi is incapacitated.


Its like a prison sentence!

On the positive side (he who always looks for the bright side soon gets sore eyes), I've finished Game of Thrones and am halfway through the Hunger Games Trilogy.

So, since I have no new creations to share I'll share some photos of my pitiful garden. I so want a gorgeous cottage garden but I don't think I'm meant to... for one thing with the rain we've had lately I think I need to grow water lilies (or rice), for another I missed out on the gardening gene. Totally.

Warning: these images can be very distressing to those who have an affinity with plants, an ability to garden or knowledge of landscaping.

My beautiful ornamental currant which broke in our gale force winds. This is my second attempt to grow one of these. The only one of 16 cuttings I planted that actually grew.
An almost blooming tiny mexican orange blossum, struggling in the weeds.

The margerite is blooming and seems to be doing well, though its probably in the wrong spot.
Ok. It did seem like a good idea at the time. I had a small bed with a tiny pom pom bush in it (viburnum) so I tossed in some columbines (granny bonnets, aquilegia). Now I think the pom pom bush is gasping for breath.... on the plus side, the columbines are doing well! :)

The potato vine is growing well despite the fact that the wind has caused major bedraggling and it has nothing to climb on cause I haven't finished painting the porch and can't put a trellis up for it!

The sage bushes are doing well. One better than the other...
The snap dragons are growing well, only lost 2 of those. Victory!
And a surprise! White columbines. Only three years after I put the seeds in the ground! Is that a record? I grew the purple columbines from seeds I collected myself, the white came from a packet in a hardware store. Compare the purple growth to the white.... interesting, n'est pas?
The lone surviving gaura. Its growing. That's something! (the old chairs are there to protect it from stampeding poodle feet which I believe is the reason the other gaura departed this earth.)
My pathetic clematis... I thought it was dead but it turns out it was just pretending. Still, at this rate it'll be 15 years before I have a trellis covered in flowers.

At least the rosemary (and mint) seem to like me. Can you base a garden on rosemary and mint?


Saturday, 12 October 2013

there must be a name for this...


I mean there's a name for everything these days: OCD, ADHD, Packratting... why not a name for an attraction to old, broken, rusty things.

Why is it that when I see places like this one that my pulse quickens and all I can think of is how I wish I was there, climbing over things, into things, digging around, getting dirty, finding the hidden treasures anyone in their right mind would see as junk?

The best presents I've ever gotten were from junk stores. 

An old tool caddy. Some rusty pliers. 

Really, I am a cheap date!

I have to practice serious self restraint to stop myself from visiting every garage sale, every op shop or tip shop. Street markets and country fairs are impossible to resist! Sometimes its only Wayne that stands between me and the uncontrollable desire to hunt through piles of rubbish to find some treasure. Physically. I mean he has to hold me tight and steer me away, while I crane my neck to look behind me at the missed opportunities...

I'm not quite as bad as that TV show, but if I don't get some intervention soon I might be.

Its been a couple of weeks since I saw the floor in my office. Today I sorted out piles of fabric and stashed it neatly in the cupboard. I have an excuse.

Of course.

I've been working on some sewing projects. And I'm planning for a workshop. So I had to have fabric everywhere and boxes full of stuff to take to the workshop.

Today my left brain kicked in and said "Ok right brain, enough with the creativity already. This place is a pit. Time to clear the clutter."

I didn't actually get rid of much (heaven forbid!), I'm just re-homing stuff. You know, moving it around so Wayne can't keep track of it....

Some will go to work for a project or three. Some will go to the workshop for other projects, some will just go sit in the casita till another day comes when I get around to doing something with it.

One of the good things about running workshops is that I'll be able to give some of the stuff I'll never 'get around to' to others to work on! Two birds with one stone. I still get to work on projects, but they get to go home with someone else.

Kinda like grandkids... You get the joy of spending time with them, but they go home to mom and dad at the end of the day.

Anyway, our week hasn't been without its dramas.

1. My computer is preparing to die. Not right now, but its coming. Its been coming for a couple of years now. I've called in the PC doctor and his prognosis was to make the most of our last moments together cause time is limited.

2. On Friday my netbook failed me. Its not the first time I had trouble booting it up. The PC doc said it was fine, he couldn't find anything wrong with it. But on Friday it took 30min to boot up.

Not good.

3. You already know the wood heater is on its last legs. The baffle plate has been replaced 3 times since we moved here and that doesn't stop it from crashing down occasionally. Then a few months ago the air vent jammed and wont unjam. Sure, we could probably have it serviced... but the actual box is cracked at the door. Seems silly to spend money on it. I've managed to keep it working properly by fixing it in a very high tech way...  I plugged the hole with aluminium foil.

So we'll be needing a new wood heater soon. Before next winter in fact.

Now, you'd be right to think that that was three. Bad things come in three's right? 

Well... maybe cause neither computer has actually turned its toes up yet, they don't count as 2 bad things. Maybe they count as one combined thing. Maybe. Especially since I'm planning to replace both with a laptop, portable AND faster than the dinosaur I have right now. 

The one that runs on coal.

Yeah. Turns out Murphy had another thing in store for us.... thus we come to #4 on the list of bad things that normally come in threes...

4. On Friday the oven stopped working. 

No warning. I just turned it on, put on the timer, came back to check my apple crumble and found it stone cold.

Yeah, we hate that free standing cooker. Its one of those builder type ones you find in rentals. Plain, small... ok but not great. And the hotplates (electric of course) don't work all that well. They're hard to control temperature-wise so you're either boiling things too hard or too slow. The oven didn't cook evenly either. I had to turn it on max to preheat, then turn it down or a 40min bake would take 1.5 hours.

Time for a new stove.

And a new wood heater.

And a new computer.

And a winning lottery ticket!

I'm going to go drown my sorrows in a nice hot shower.


Sunday, 6 October 2013

the new toothbrush holder

You know I hate our bathroom, right?

Its small. Its cramped. It has an unforgivably common vanity. A gold rimmed mirror. White and gold taps. (gag). A gold rimmed standard shower cubicle. A square edged clawfoot tub*. Ugly white and gold plastic towel 'knobs'. No storage space, and less space to move.

Oh, and not to mention laminate tile sheeting.


One of the worse culprits was the hideous toothbrush holder in mouldy gold and white plastic.


I can't afford to redo the bathroom right now. Though I'd dearly love to. In fact I was planning to, at the very least, remove the clawfoot tub* so there's room to put in a cute cabinet or two and turn around when you're drying your hair... but you can't even get the clawfoot tub out of there without ripping out the shower and vanity!


Meanwhile I do the tiny things which make it easier for me to go in there without throwing up.

Like getting rid of the ugly toothbrush holder and replacing it with something kinda nifty.

Like this spiritless spirit level I found at a tip shop. You can't really see it in the photos but the test tubes and the beaker are painted in cream and white - the bottom cream, the top a white stripe.

I had wanted to do a more dramatic ombre type of thing but in the end I didn't think I could get a nice effect on the plastic test tubes if I didn't use spray paint. As it was, I discovered that 'low tack' orange masking tape ain't low tack enough. You can just see the bits of orange pigment/glue left behind.

I figure once the paint has 'cured' long enough I can try wiping the residue off with some eucalyptus oil.

Can you guess why I wanted to paint the bottom of the jar and tubes? Yup. You got it. To hide the gunge that always accumulates at the bottom of a toothbrush holder.

And the reason I didn't paint up as high on the beaker? Cause I liked the numbers showing.

I also whitewashed the spirit level so it wasn't brown. Nothing I could do about the gold fitting though. I have to live with those. At least I painted the silver clamps white so it wouldn't clash too much.

One day, when I have a bathroom I actually like, I might change the colours on the test tubes. Till then, this is way better than the ugly thing I tossed unceremoniously in the bin.


* I am thinking the clawfoot tub might work nicely as a cooling outdoor bath in summer. Somewhere. Maybe... I've always thought it would be great but never had the guts to actually do it.

NOTE: This project turned out to be a fail. The test tubes gather water which becomes mucky and stagnant and stinks. I replaced them with large gauge syringes and it works much better!

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Saturday, 5 October 2013

paper storage

 Its been a while since I last made something for the house.

Well... I made the LP side table, but I made that a couple of weeks ago. I've just been so busy with other stuff. But yesterday I got a bee in my bonnet and started 4 projects. I've finished two of them but can only share one today as I don't have photos of the other one yet.

This is my new paper storage solution! I was inspired by this on Pinterest. I had an old stool with its top broken off and I've been meaning to make this little beauty for quite a while.

All I did was clean it up, I liked the chippy paint look. Then I got some burlap, some of the small cotton bags which came in the lot of flour bags I bought a while ago which I made cushions and kitchen curtains out of, my staple gun and got to work.

That's the manual staple gun... not the air powered one. Love that sucker, but really for a job this small 'Zefi powered' was enough.

Now, of course, I've got my left thumb all wrapped up again. In vet wrap. Yep. Love the stuff. Turns out its just as good for humans as for pets! I really was sick of the physio wrapping my thumb in sticky stuff that took the first five layers of skin with it when it came off.

I love this vet wrap stuff so much I've just bought 3 more rolls of it on ebay. I always used to have vet wrap for the dogs and for wrapping poodle ears on show days, but I'm down to the dregs of my last roll. A 10cm dark blue roll. Since I have to cut it in half to strap up my thumb I've ordered the 5cm rolls in pink, purple and red.


Meanwhile, back to the matter at hand....

I turned the stool upside down cause I liked the feet being on top. I sewed the cotton bags to the burlap, then stapled the burlap to the sides of the stool.

Lastly I put a bit of masonite underneath, fitted some small castors and voila.

I now have somewhere to put my rolls of paper instead of shoving them willy-nilly into a crate under the desk and scramble to catch them every time I knock the crate and they spill out, unravelling all over the floor.

And I didn't just make stuff. I did some tidying and sorting as well. I don't know if I mentioned this, but when the poodles went possum hunting while I was away, they did some major redecorating in the small shed I use for garden storage, the ride on mower, brushcutter and the overflow of stuff I will 'get to one day' and can't fit in my workshop.

Today I tackled that and cleaned it out. Threw out a couple of mouse infested suitcases. Sorted boxes and crates from wire baskets and metal boxes. Stacked my old frames neatly. Found things I'd forgotten I had. Re-acquainted myself with the amount of projects I have, waiting to be tackled.

I actually love having piles of stuff everywhere. When I'm looking for that 'something' for a particular project, I just go looking through the sheds. Its like going tip shopping but free!

I started looking for more chickens (since one hen ain't gonna provide the eggs we need) and geese for Wayne. I can find chickens on gumtree... but very few geese! Who knew they'd be so hard to find!

I've also started getting my gear ready for my first attempt at running a workshop on making stuff from found objects. My office looks, once again, like a herd of wildebeest lived in here for a week. Not harmoniously either.

However, I'm not feeling too bad about it. I heard on TV a week or so ago that the more creative a person is, the messier their desk is.

I am INCREDIBLY creative. My mess flows over my desk, pools on the floor and spreads out onto the coffee table in the living room. With splashes in the kitchen, on bookcases and even the deck.

In my 'bee in bonnet' mood today, I also got a haircut (short short short!), bought some embroidery thread and picked up my cow painting from the gallery. I love it but I seriously don't have enough room for that much work in this house. Not enough walls. I need to sell it... or...

I'm gonna need a bigger house!

Anyway, I feel great having actually done a few new things around here! I really am happiest when I'm doing stuff for the house.

Wayne is already dreading my upcoming living room makeover... first the living room... then the whole house!


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Friday, 4 October 2013

its a record!

I figured it was about time to share another project I made for the house instead of all the arty farty stuff I've been doing lately.

When Merrill moved to Victoria, she left behind a ton of vinyl LPs which belonged to her mother. As usual my reply to "Do you want these?" was "Yeah. I can do something with those."

I had no idea what, though I did have visions of melting LPs in the oven to make bowls, cutting them to make LP mosaic's... and tons of other things.

One thing I never considered was making a side table out of one! Then I saw this photo and I knew I had to do it!


I had the LPs, after all. (Thanks Merrill's mom).

I had the perfect little base. I think it was originally intented to hold a pot or something. When I found it it was just metal legs.


A bit lot of Liquid Nails and couple of wedges to level it later, here is my LP side table!

Ok. These photos are uninspiring, I just plonked it in front of the little bookcase I put burlap on and snapped away. I could have dressed it up, moved furniture to create a cosy corner, staged the shot... but hey. I was busy! Give me a break!

At least I vacuumed our disgusting carpet.

Which is going this summer!!! See, we need a new wood heater. That means we'll be needing a new (bigger) hearth so there'll be carpet lifting involved anyway. May as well go the whole hog and lift carpet from the entire room!

What we'll find is that about 1/3rd of the living room has old floorboards like the ones in the photos below (yeah, I was shamed into trying to take prettier photos) and that 2/3rds is chipboard flooring.

So, come summer holidays I have a huge job ahead of me. Not only do I have to find the right wood heater for us, but I have to remove a huge living room full of carpet (which will be recycled around the sheds and garden!), I also have to find a new flooring solution.

Ideas are welcome.

Naturally the best alternative is to put down proper floorboards where the chipboard is, remove the vinyl from the bathroom and kitchen and finish the lot.

That'd be nice but expensive.

I could put down more vinyl, good for a house with dogs, easy to clean, yada yada. There are some excellent designs around these days.

Or I could just go the cheap and labour intensive route and paint/stain the floors myself...

I guess I'll decide once I get the carpet lifted and the new heater in.

 Meanwhile my new LP side table's been holding paint brushes while I was working on my latest paintings. The plan is to move it next to my armchair so it can hold my coffee cup or my scissors while I work on sewing projects in front of the tv.

'Cause, doesn't everyone need a handy little side table to hold scissors?

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Thursday, 3 October 2013

romeo may not live much past four


I'm not impressed.

Romeo killed another of our ducks this morning.

See, Wayne has been taking the dogs out for a run in the paddocks every morning when he goes out to feed the chickens and ducks.

Normally the poodles have been really good with the feathered critters. They ignore them as they run around sniffing wildlife trails. They'll run through a flock of them, scattering them and ignoring all the flapping and squalking...

But one duck, acting differently... well, turns out that was too much for Romeo ('duck f@$ker' as Wayne affectionately calls him).

One duck has been nesting in the fallen tree branches in the top paddock. We only noticed it when Romeo chased her out of there a few weeks ago but didn't think much of it.

Till today that is.

When he not only chased her out but caught her.


And she was sitting on eggs.

Double sigh.

Wayne is up there now disposing of 'cover' to avert another such disaster.

We are now down to 8 ducks. Lately only 7 have been turning up for feedings, which means there's another one nesting somewhere.

Did I mention we're also down to one chicken and one rooster?

Not due to Romeo, he's innocent of that much at least.

Since our chickens are free range we don't always know whats going on number-wise. We had as many as 6 isa browns and 2 black hens at one time. One black hen was killed by *guess who* when she landed in the yard. One red hen was found dead, decapitated. Most likely by a quoll. They do that apparently. I found another dead in the hen house the other day... no injuries that I could see. The others have just disappeared. I know the rooster has been very rough on a couple of the hens, so I'm betting they ran away.

So now we need more chickens.

And I'm thinking I may buy a couple of geese for Wayne.

He loves geese. And geese can hold their own against dogs. That'll teach Romeo some respect.


Life on a farm ain't all rainbows.


Tuesday, 1 October 2013

a day in the life

Today is Romeo's birthday.

I'm a bad mother.

If his brother Merlin's owner hadn't mentioned it to me, I would have missed it.


Yesterday I groomed the kids, the poodles anyway. Barney always manages to find 'important work' to do on the other side of the property when its time for a clip, bath and blowdry.

Wayne's not impressed cause this time I left some slight bell bottom bracelets on their legs. I like them like that even if it is higher maintenance than clipping them off all over. But tomorrow the kids are having a visitor. A lady who wants to buy a standard poodle.

I'm like an ambassador for standard poodles in Tasmania. When someone is considering a standard poodle I invite them round to meet my two. If they can survive that, then they know a standard is for them. If they run screaming, well... they might consider a goldfish instead.

Things have been busy around here lately. On the positive side I've been on a roll regarding my art lately. Firstly I got a 2nd at the DVRA Art Competition. Then I got 1st Prize at the Salvaged Art Competition, and the project I worked on with some guys at work won 1st Prize in the amateur category. Plus I sold the painting of the quoll from the DVRA comp. I now have either half the price of a trip to Greece, most of the price of a new laptop, or a start towards a new bathroom or kitchen....

Other positives are: The lawn has been mowed. Some plants have been found amongst the weeds. The rain tanks are full. I caught up with the dish washing and the laundry.

On the negative side the dishes keep piling up, another load of washing appeared when I wasn't looking, the rain tanks are overflowing, I can actually hear the grass growing thanks to the rain we've had, I'm sure there is less lawn and more weeds than ever this year, and I was unable to locate some of the plants I put in last year, even once I'd cleared up the weeds around the place they were last spotted.

On Sunday I finally started a project I had planned to do last summer. I hate having birds nest in our roof but I hate the thought of baby birds in nests dying of starvation cause I locked out their parents. So the idea was to put bird wire around the eaves at the end of summer, once the nests were empty.

Of course the end of summer snuck up on me quite suddenly with rain and wind and I put off the wire thing till the weather was better.

Then, this year, spring snuck up on me and suddenly there were birds building nests in the roof again.

Time to try out that new air stapler Wayne got me a few months ago. I already had some bird wire (only 10 metres of it, but that was a blessing in disguise), I had staples, I had the air stapler... I had a friend to help. I had ladders. I was set.

We managed to do the short side of the house plus a bit around the corner. My friend cut the wire, then held it up for me on her ladder. I balanced precariously on my ladder, wielding the staple gun and missing two out of every three shots.

Serioulsy, those staples are SO narrow.

By the time we'd put up 10 metres we were done.

...I mean, we were done. The job wasn't. I had to get up on the ladder again on Monday and cut and staple bits where the vertical boards on the house left gaps. I had to add a bit of extra wire where I'd totally missed a gap, allowing our feathered friends to still get in an out and continue construction of their mansions in our roof. I also hung up some old cds on string from the wire to further discourage building without permits.

The cds looks kinda 'redneck' but I prefer to think of them as a cheap, practical and environmentally friendly way of discouraging birds from squatting in our roof. The downside is they make a lot of noise thumping on the house in the wind. I'll get used to it. Better than finding our insulation in the driveway, pulled out by birds extending to put in a pool room.

The birds aren't the only things I've evicted this week. Remember Ponsonby, the black possum who moved into the casita? I did love seeing his little pink nose and his tail hanging down as he watched me do stuff in there.

What I didn't enjoy was the full scale destruction the dogs caused trying to get him. Or the possum poop. Everywhere.

So, we bought a possum trap and trapped him. Then we released him in the bush.

Actually, Wayne released him in the bush.

First he gave me this long lecture about how FAR away I had to release him cause possums come back. Kind of like 'homing possums'. I was going to take him up the hills opposite our place. About 10-15 klms away.

But Wayne decided he'd do it. And he just drove up our road for about 3 klms and let him go.

If Ponsonby comes back I'll find it incredibly hard to not do the smugly superior thing...  

I told you so!

Man the weather's been wierd lately. Strong winds. And rain. Lots of rain. I was woken up last night by rain pelting down and thunder so long and loud the house shook!

Our creek is flowing like Niagara Falls again, and the paddocks have more than one river running through them. Poor Wayne was out there this afternoon with his bucket and spade trying to direct the flow.

Even the ducks are looking water-logged.