Saturday, September 28, 2013

Lilli's afternoon

Al, please...

Please stop working on the lounge room wall and take me for a walk.

Please, please...

Isn't this much more fun?

Thursday, September 26, 2013


Hot down this way again, also high winds.
Bushfires across the state, fortunately nothing near us.
 Now to yesterday’s WIIW.
Ann guessed: “Looks like a piece of some kind of corrugated metal. Magnified. Like maybe a tin can magnified.”
It is fairly magnified, but it isn’t metal.

Old Kitty, guessed: “Tin foil?”

Marcy also thought metal: “reflection off metal would be my ball park guess, but what kind of metal...?”
Sorry no points tonight :-(

John Gray guessed: “Tree bark?”
Well John that earns a good 90%; it isn’t bark on a trunk or branch, but it is absolutely the skin of part of a tree.
These are seed capsules of a Eucalyptus tree.  They are very hard and woody, adapted to protect the seeds from the harsh conditions here in Oz.
This particular species has very handsome flowers.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Spring? What spring? and WIIW

This part of Oz seems to have gone straight from Winter to Summer.

We are already getting 30C (86 F) day. Which is ridiculous for the mountains only a few days into spring.
The warm is predicted to continue for another few days and it is bone dry, so a Total Fire Ban has been declared because of the bushfire risk.
Which seems to always bring the firebugs out!

So now to WIIW, what on Earth do you think this might be?

Monday, September 23, 2013

On lights with no powerlines

On Friday I posted about our flash new gas fridge.
I said without much explanation that we couldn't have an electric fridge because we don't have mains power.
Which led Lisa to ask the sensible question of what we do for light?

The fuller picture is you can have electricity away from the mains courtesy of Solar Power, Wind Turbines or conventional fossil fuelled generators.

The catch is the amount of power a fridge uses, because they are on all the time. To have a  solar set up that would allow us to run our complete needs including a fridge would cost in excess of $30,000. We just don't have the budget for that (especially with the cost of rebuilding the house).

Hence the gas fridge, it will allow us to ultimately build a solar system that will meet our needs for around $10,000. Once we have that system with a little thought we will be able to run anything we wish. Oz is a sunny place after all! All it will mean is care not to run power hungry items like washing machines for long when we have had a lot of cloudy weather.

Anyway that is down the track...

For the moment we have one small 40 Watt solar panel (pictured on our bed before I put it up)

and a single 100 Amp hour battery to store energy.
 The system we are aiming for will have about 1200 Watts and 600 Ah, plus an inverter so we can run 240V items (the mains in Oz run at 240V not the 110V like in America)

Using low energy LED lights and lap top computers that basic system we have already gives us as much light as we need and a couple of hours of computer use a day. 

In the mean time we also have a petrol (gasoline) generator to run my powertools for the building. We also use it run things like a washing machine.  And a TV and DVD player when we just have to have a break from being hill-billies.

In the cold winter nights in an unlined house it also allowed us to run an electric heater so we didn't freeze to death!
With the wood stove and linings and insulation in place we won't need it next winter.

Before I forget I should answer the second half of of WIIW:

Was these delicate native pea flowers I shot last spring.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Mixed Feelings

This evening Deb and I took advantage of the lengthening days and spring weather to go for a stroll across our place and into our neighbours property.
The block next door is a bush block entirely covered by a mix of regrowth wet sclerophyll forest and temperate rainforest. The block is owned by family friends who I have known for ever.

R and M are former hippies who moved up into the area with a hippie wave in the 1970s. In the late 70s early 80s they set up a small scale timber milling business that initially specialised in salvaging fallen timber.

As time went by their business expanded and salvage timber just wasn't providing enough timer to keep them going.

So they bought the forest block next door to us to log.

Does that sound like a contradiction in terms?
A hippie run timber industry?

Well R and M argue that well run forestry is the most sustainable industry in the world.
I have to admit that I mostly agree with them.

As you walk along the track into their private forest you are surrounded by towering Blue-gums at least 30 metres (100 feet) tall.
To my knowledge this forest has been worked over by loggers five times since 1920, the last time was by R and M in the late 1990s.

Despite that, because of the methods the loggers use there is still plenty of habitat and teeming wildlife, both flora and fauna.

Yes, areas like this new trail cut in to get access look pretty stark, but eighteen months after the loggers stop using this trail in this high rainfall area the forest will be reclaiming it.

Yet, walking through the area you find ghosts of what was here a hundred years ago.

This chunk of a tree isn't a stump but a section cut of the base of a log to make it light enough to tow away using a bullock team some time before 1920. 
I have leant my walking pole (4 feet long) against it to give a scale. The forest that was here once must have been spectacular; the like of which we will not see again, at least not for generations.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Little Luxuries

First up let's look at the first part of this week's WIIW

Not surprisingly these piccies elicited responses that earn 100%

Old Kitty said it was “1) It's the neatest fridge I've ever seen!”
It is a fridge 100% (it is neat and tidy because it is brand new)

And Linda G  said: “LOL! Do I sense sarcasm in those first two pics? ;) Obviously (way too obviously), it's a fridge.
No sarcasm intended :-). It is a fridge! 100%

SO why is Al so excited by a new fridge?
Well I may have mentioned we have no mains electricity up here. And  given power lines would have to be brought through miles of forest it is far too expensive to ever put on.

So that means no electric fridge.

A problem solved by this, our brand new gas powered fridge. We ordered it just after we moved in (weeks ago now) and it has only just arrived.

In the mean time we have been using an Esky chest topped up with ice every couple of days to keep our food cold.

Inside toilets, hot showers and cool refrigerators are all things we didn't have just a fortnight ago.
One of the things you realise moving up to the bush is a lot of the little things in life are in fact BIG things.

 Speaking of the bush, it means clear skies and tonight I shot this.

Not it isn't some weird sunset, if I cut the camera's shutter speed right back, you can see it is in fact tonight's full moon.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Two X What is it Wednesday?

Well I have decided to post two WIIWs tonight.

Call it minor insanity brought on by too much excitement lately.

Here is the first: What on Earth do you think this might be?

I'm not sure that is plain enough so here is another piccie of the inside, what do you think?

Now for those of you who would like a more conventional WIIW What on Earth do you think this might be?

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Small Miracles

Big News!
We have a functioning bathroom, the plumber has connected the hotwater system to the stove and we have had our first showers!

As to what else has been happening, over the weekend I managed to:
Stuff insulation into the ceiling of the kitchen and bedroom.
 Boy is it hard to get it to stay up there! But I don't have time or inclination to take off the roof .
Line the kitchen ceiling
 And line and insulate the bedroom ceiling and walls

A lot of the house has yet to be done but instantly we have stopped shivering at night.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

An answer and an update

Well what with my late post of WIIW (or WIIT) there was only one guess.

Old Kitty guessed: "Algae! LOL!! A pattern on a rug?"

Well those are great guesses, the rug is closer because it is something on fabric.
Back to that in a moment.

Last weekend (as most weekends) we worked on our cottage.
We were quite productive with me doing much of the work and Deb acting in a support role and as budding Photo-Journalist (I keep my good camera and lenses as far away from things like tile glue as possible).
We finished grouting and sealing the bathroom tiles.

Then I began installing a...
 And beside that...
Tap (faucet?) fittings for the shower (still have to order a glass shower screen)

and a hand basin

So by the end of the weekend we had this...

Unfortunately, as you might notice there is still light coming up through the floor waste.
We are now waiting on a plumber to connect up the water and drainage (an obligation under NSW law).
We can't wait because we are currently washing everything including ourselves in water we heat on a gas stove!
And traipsing outside to the old "thunderbox" out the back.
AND once the hot water system is connected we can finally light the wood stove and be a whole lot warmer. The bathroom might be coming together but the rest of the house is still very much a building site.

After all that, I flopped in one of our camp chairs where Deb took this piccie of a very exhausted (and grimy) Al.

Finally the answer to WIIW can be found on my left knee...
It's a stain from the waterproof membrane that went under the tiles.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Al tries to out WIIT his readers

Well I  have had a busy, busy week and I was away from home last night and didn't have access to the interweb so no WIIW.

So tonight it will have to be "What is it Thursday".

With out further ado: What on Earth do you think this might be?

Saturday, September 7, 2013


Only two guesses for this week's WIIW.

I suppose that is what I get for posting about snakes...

It seems the image was more difficult to guess than I thought.
Put that down to my tricky nature.
Both guesses were kind of right - so both earn points.

Linda G thought: “Why, that is obviously bent...something. Metal, it looks like to me. Or possibly an old wire you removed from your house. (IOW, I haven't a clue. *grin*)”

Well it does look bent, and it is definitely metal, bronze in fact. 50%

While Old Kitty guessed: “It's a leather strap!”

As I said above it is bronze, but it is a representation of a leather strap so I guess that earns 70%!

This Amazonian figure is a memorial to the fallen soldiers of World War One.
She stands in Camperdown in Victoria, and her name is “Spirit of Empire”, which seems rather anachronistic in 2013 Oz.
Still I guess those who lost so many were looking for some kind of meaning and Oz in the 1920s was a very different place.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Snakes Alive! Or it must be spring

Well it has been unseasonably warm down this way over the past few weeks.

As proof of that as we were heading out a few days ago we saw our first snake of the season.

And she was a beauty!

Back before winter I snapped a few photos on my phone of a Carpet Python crossing our track.

This Diamond Python (Morelia spilota spilota) was in almost the same place but this time I had my camera.

She was on the track and went into this aggressive pose when I went to move her.

Pythons are non-venomous (they dispatch their prey by constriction) but they have a mouth full of needle sharp teeth. And at about six feet long a bite from her would hurt (a lot). It is mostly bluff though as they usually try to avoid confrontation.

I moved around her looking for nice shots but she kept swivelling around to face me.
And given her posture I wasn't entirely sure she wouldn't bite. The tight "S" curve of her body is basically like a coiled spring ready to strike.
 They are called "Diamond  Pythons" because of the rosettes that spangle their body.

I think she has moulted recently because although she was dusty from crossing our dry dirt track,  her scales glistened beautifully in the light.

Eventually she realised she wasn't going to bluff me and turned tail and glided away.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

A quick choice

Well it is after 11:00pm and I have only just now got time to look for a WIIW.

Bed is calling so here is a quick one.

I think it is easy peasy, do you?

So, what on Earth do you think this is?

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Al on his knees

Our bathroom continues to progress.
Despite our run to Yamba I have managed to get the tiles on the remaining two walls.

Now the tiles are set I have been down on my knees to begin grouting.
 The large hole in the back wall is a space to take a mirror fronted cabinet, it is a small room so I am setting the cabinet into the wall to minimise lost space .