Wednesday, November 30, 2011

(Mini) Ocean Views

Last Friday our area (the Devenport Area, I guess?) had a holiday for the Devenport Show. From the descriptions I got from different people, it kind of sounded like one of those carnivals from back home that drive around and you only take little kids to because you can't afford/don't want to go to an actual theme park. You know, the carney kind, with all the spiny rides, games that are near impossible to win, and lots and lots of junk food. The kind people joke about being death traps.

We never went, so all I can rely on until next year are my own impressions, so I could be mistaken. It could be quite an awesome experience.

But, instead of paying to go, we did grocery shopping and went to the beach instead. We got there just as the tide was going out, so we found plenty of fresh tide pools, the best being a massive one (a very big area then connected to several smaller pools by small "streams") absolutely full of star fish.

Yes, I would pick some out for a nicer photo, then gently place them back right where I'd found them

The pools also held some beautifully colored sponges, too

I found a sea urchin! My husband was quite surprised, and said it's hard to find them in these pools

Looking inside a tide pool. At least 4 different sea stars, plus the urchin

Phillip likes to flip rocks. The bigger the better. This one was quite a nice find of tens of crabs (though they scurry away fast), 4-legged star fish, a live abalone, sponges, and some things I don't yet know the name of

Yes! It DOES have 9 legs! And yes, I touched it! It was BOOKING it across the pool!

5-legged sea star

Hello Mr. Crab hiding in your little hole

We collected more things to put in my jars at home. Didn't take home this dried up dead Wobbegong, though

I have no idea.... some sort of sea weed perhaps?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Initiation: Bite Number One

I got bit today. By an Inchman.

I was transplanting seedlings and watering the garden while wearing my Crocs (yeah yeah yeah, SOOOO unfashionable, but mine are Disney ones, so automatically awesome, and also, I was gardening) and felt a sudden stinging jab. Like when you get a splinter stuck in your shoe. And then it quickly got exponentially worse and felt like burning stinging angry pain. Like a really really angry splinter.

I ripped off my shoe expecting a scorpion, even though I'd been outside for a good 30 minutes, and I shake my shoes out REALLY well before putting them on.


Out ran a little Inchman, all terrified and scurrying around.

I quickly hobbled into the house with my now swollen toe and half my foot, asking my husband, who was laying on the couch, what I should do. Because I couldn't remember if they were venomous or not, and my foot was swelling up a lot for an ant bite.

So I sat down as my husband Googled something about onions and how they help swelling go down, and he assured me he was almost positive that the ants weren't that bad. And that I looked cute in all my near panicking and was handling the pain better than he expected (still not sure if that was a compliment...), and then I started to cry. Because it HURT. And mostly because the possibility of stepping on a snake is constantly in the back of my mind, every time I step out of doors, so I think I was more panicked and stressed by that thought than the actual bite.

Which is a shame, because I adore being barefoot. Not as much as some people I know, but summer comes around, or warm spring, and I want nothing more than to take off my shoes and feel warm damp grass and cool earth beneath my feet.

I'm scared to do that here just yet.

And it really did hurt pretty bad. Still tingles now, hours later, though the swelling has gone down to almost nothing. My poor baby toe....

And, thank you, yet again, Wikipedia, for some information (some of which I knew) on the Inchman.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Our First: Thanksgiving

We celebrated our first Thanksgiving together.

My husband's first Thanksgiving ever. To quote him, "Oh Thanksgiving, where have you been all my life!" And, at this very moment, "Yes, and I meant it. And I want more turkey."

Not that this Thanksgiving was all about the food.... or was it?.... it was just the two of us, and without much pomp and circumstance, since we have no fancy serving dishes, no candles, no big beautiful table or table cloth. But oh, it was fun to introduce him to some of my traditions (in a watered-down way). And delicious.

I was a bit worried about the turkey, as I just borrowed a roasting pan from my mother-in-law, and had no wore rack to put under the bird, so it kind of just sat in the water and it's juices. That, and it's the first turkey I've ever done, and I constantly hear how hard it is to get it fully cooked and still juicy.

Ours was both. And so so good. 3.6 kg (just under 8lbs) of turkey cooked to near perfection. I'm rather proud of it, though there's still room for improvement. The carcass has been picked clean (for leftover turkey sandwiches, soup, or just picking through cold turkey) and is now simmering on the stove to make turkey stock (I'm thankful I have a dad and uncles who taught me to be resourceful and not let good things go to waste!).

Found a recipe for stuffing online (couldn't find bagged stuff anywhere). I can't leave a recipe well enough alone and added about twice the amount of sage it called for (since we have sage growing right outside our door), thyme (also growing outside our door) extra fresh eggs (from our chickens), and garlic. Lots of garlic. Because garlic makes things better.

Freshly stuffed bird

Fresh out of the oven

Our heavy-laden table: Turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, buttered peas, asparagus, cranberry sauce, and gravy, and a glass of wine we got at a craft fair.

My dad also taught me how to carve a bird. Phillip was observing this time, wants to practice on chicken.

As per family tradition: stuffing from inside the turkey and stuffing cooked outside the turkey. Stuffing from inside was so much better.

Finally space in our freezer to use our special ice cube trays we bought on our honeymoon!

To intent on food to do much else at this moment

It was a BEAUTIFUL day outside, so we took our pie and two chairs and ate in the setting sun.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving Prep

Food here can be different. For instance, since Thanksgiving isn't celebrated, it was hard for us to find a turkey. We almost just gave in and got a chicken to roast (which would probably be easier and just as tasty, or tastier if you don't particularly like turkey). But someone pointed us to a frozen foods store, that just happened to have whole frozen turkeys.

We bought one far too large for just the two of us, and plan on having tons of delicious Thanksgiving leftovers to share with visitors. And ourselves.

Pumpkin was another hard thing to find. PUMPKINS are easy. It's just a regular vegetable here. Like carrots. You buy them whole and cut them up and cook them however you want here. CANNED pumpkin though, I have not seen. Not has anyone we've asked about it. So, I roasted, scooped, and mashed my own pumpkin. Well, half of one, anyway. The pumpkins here are different to what you'd get in the States, too. Not the nice big (or small) round orange ones. Mostly the gray ones. So, different flavor (sweeter, I think).

Pie is my favorite. Especially pumpkin pie. I usually start making it in October, so this year I've felt somewhat deprived. No longer....
Cut n' gut. Need to use a different knife next time so I don't fear for my fingers.

Before. Gray peachy color and hard.
Apparently the longest way to roast... in the oven with some water. But it smells soooooo goooood.

After. Brown and mushy

Falling apart and HOT.

Half a pumpkin=3 jars (former 3 Brothers Spaghetti sauce)
The chickens and ducklings enjoyed the left-over skin and mush quite a bit.

Next day, pie making! Nice creamy light orange goodness.

Spicy goodness (photo is supposed to be horizontal. Blogger has failed me)

Finished pie to go into our bellies tomorrow. Home-made crust., Maybe it's snobbish of me, but store-bought tastes terrible by comparison so I pretty much always just make my own.

Thanksgiving Wishes

Thanksgiving is tomorrow.

Here, anyway. With the time difference, I think it's something like 2 days away. It gets confusing sometimes.

But anyway, Thanksgiving is tomorrow, and is not celebrated in Australia. And is also my favorite holiday.

So... I'll be celebrating with my husband, once he gets home from work. We considered inviting his family, and I think they almost expected us to celebrate it with them, but I don't think I could really handle it this year. Not that I don't want to share all the food and good feelings, it's more that, already, I can tell I'm going to be emotionally drained by the end of the day even without the extra people and all the questions about "what IS Thanksgiving?"

I cried over the pie I made this evening.

Thanksgiving with my family was, in a word, awesome. Most of my life, we've celebrated with my mom's side of the family, where there are 13 of us cousins, 3 aunts and uncles, and my grandma. Occasional guests. I've spent one Thanksgiving away since we started together, that I can remember, and I was mostly miserable for it.

We never did anything fancy (except for maybe the year I brought coloring books, crayons, and bubble wrap, and the next year a giant pack of crayons). Very very informal. Most of us kids end up eating on the ground, or sofas, or everyone just spread out, with plastic plates and glasses, and a kind of buffet style dinner set up in the kitchen, going in and grabbing what we like when we like. Lots and lots of noise.

But it was cozy. And warm. And loving. And FUN. And all it was was all of us together.

So this year, with just Phillip, even with the food we've planned, Australian Thanksgiving will be.... interesting. I think now, more than any other time these past three months, I would give almost ANYTHING to be at home. Even if it IS warmer and sunnier here.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Return to Childhood-ish

Last Friday I got to spend most of the day up the "hill" (it's more like climbing a small mountain, for someone raised in former prairie country) with a family of eight beautiful children. Mom is pregnant with number nine, so I went to help her out watching the kids while she got some rest, as well as catch up a bit with her.

Anywho, I got to spend time with them, not only getting some adult woman time to chat a bit, but then, when she was napping, I went off with the kids, playing battles with wooden swords, fixing "soup" and bandages for wounded soldiers, and just running flat out through the bush led by a nine-year-old who had "rescued" me from the team I didn't even know had taken me as a captive.

Myself, I'm still somewhat hesitant to run, or even slowly walk, through the bush by myself. These kids though, they've grown up with it, and just know where to go, what to avoid. Here I am, scared stiff of running into snakes. Not an illegitimate fear, mind you, but in all honesty, the chance of getting bit is very slim. Even when running flat out. Especially if it's a place frequently tramped down by small booted (and bare) feet.

So off I went, to enjoy playing pretend again with all the kids.

Beatles found on some peppermint gum trees on their property that the kids showed me. They come in just about every color imaginable (and I love the grubby little hand!).

Apparently, as she was searching for me she saw a snake head. But "it turned out just to be old Bluey." The lizard was used as a decoy as she "rescued" me.

Thursday, November 17, 2011


We really don't have many spiders in the house. With the exception of the little ones that live in dusty corners spinning haphazard webs and are more long thin legs than anything else. They call them daddy long legs here, though I've no idea what they really are. They're harmless, similar, if not the same, to what I had back home in the corners of my room, and they take care of the moths that get in the house.

So today, when I was getting up to take my plate of former apple and peanut butter to the kitchen and saw an evil looking thing run across the entry way, I made some weird noise that was somewhere between a shudder and a yelp. Then smashed it to bits with my plate. It was black, and all angles and points. The thing seriously looked horrendous and like it would eat your soul if you gave it half a chance. It was either a White Tip or a House Spider, both of which are venomous and can make you sick.

A kitten ate it's squashed remains.

Later in the day, after my husband came home, I started cleaning up the cupboards, reorganising them so that the kitchen is more efficient. I brought Phillip in to show him where everything now was, and after I 'd opened the second door on one of the cupboards and quickly moved on, my husband made a kind of annoyed noise. I asked repeatedly what was wrong, did something need to be moved, WHAT? He didn't tell me. I kept asking. He finally pulled me one step over and pointed up into the still-open cupboard.

I thought I was being dramatic, thinking it was nearly as big as my hand spread open. Phillip said I wasn't, and that it had quite a span on it. He shuddered then, too.

I screamed and ran to the other side of the kitchen. More like hopped, but still. Then, while nearly vomiting and making too many odd noises to describe, I asked Phillip take the photos. Then asked him to either move the Huntsman outside, or kill it. I guess it became all defensive, so he squashed it. They have bright blue blood.

As close up as Phillip would get. Ugh....

The ducks ate that one once it'd been tossed outside.

We're pretty sure that both the spiders made their way into the house via a box we brought home from his parent's place. It had a food processor and blender in it that had been given to him ages ago, but he had no use for. So his mother stored it in her work shed. They just found it and gave it to us. The box had been unsealed and full of sawdust, dead wood lice, and the husk of a huntsman spider.

And his parent's place has a white tip problem, and plenty of Huntsman, where as we have none of those things. Only the scorpions. Huntsman can be rather helpful spiders, keeping other worse types down in population (which is why I was ok with it being released outside instead of killed, it just had to go all psycho instead). Plus, we did the whole Baygon spraying thing, so we really just don't get much in the house because it's deterred (or dies) when it tries.

And I'd rather have the scorpions. I'm happy with just the scorpions. They don't hide and then fall out onto you, they're just there. Trying to live. Spiders... spiders are sneaky. I'm ok with them outside, in their own habitat, where I'm not surprised by them and usually wearing gloves if I see one (like my last visit to Tassi). Just not in my home. My skin is STILL shuddering.

Danella graciously put her hand next to one we found last year for a size comparison.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Heavy Machinery, Heavy Lifting

On various days of splitting wood at the in-laws...

The boys lifting the biggest log they could at the time to test the new log splitter

Laughing at the crrrracking of the enormous log finally splitting. The log splitter has some POWER. Using a block splitter (a type of ax-thing for those of you like me who don't know what that is), you would just bounce off this thing.

Beginning to stack the wood that was split the night before. And trying to catch up to what was being done this day. All up, I think in one and a half days (maybe 9 hours all up) we got 8 meters split and stacked. No photo of that as it's still a work in process and by the end of this day, I was too tired to think of taking a photo of what we'd gotten done.

Still early in the day, working on the pile from the day before.

I learned how to drive the tractor! No tipping, only got stuck once, and stalled it three times. Drove for about an hour. My father-in-law jokes that they're making me into a redneck. No... not so much...

Saturday, November 12, 2011

New Additions

The cat that I started feeding about a month ago has brought us kittens.

Our guess this whole time is that she was dumped by so
meone (as people do in the country) who didn't want her any more, or that she was just really not looked after by whoever owns her, as she was skinny as a rail (you could feel every individual vertebrae as you pet her, and every rib, though she had a swollen little belly).

She's been quite sweet the whole time she's been coming here, purring, begging to be pet, held, fed. But always skinny as anything. Then I noticed her teats were quite swollen and, well, it felt and looked like something was nursing from her. So I continued to feed her meat scraps, cream and milk. I finally convinced my husband to buy some cheap cat food so we could feed her that a few times a day. She was over constantly, and once the ducks were big enough, we let her back into the house, wormed her, and let her sleep on the couch, always kicking her out when we went to bed.

Two days ago, I walked home to hear high pitched meowing coming from our wood pile, and the cat running to greet me, and leading me to the wood pile. Inside was one tiny kitten. I eventually tempted the little thing out with some food and grabbed it by the scruff and brought it into the house with it's mama. She seemed somewhat indifferent to it, just wanted more food. So we got a box, filled it with dirt (make-shift litter box), and kept the cat and kitten in the house for the night (because you just can't kick a kitten out of your house).

The next morning, my husband woke up and let the cat out. She left her baby. And came back with three more.

So now we have 4 kittens and a cat. We're more sure now that she was dumped by someone, friendly as she is to people, and thin as she was until we started feeding her. She's gotten a bit plumper then, and she obviously trusts us enough to keep her babies with us. We're going to double-check with neighbours, make sure she belongs to no one, and then give the kittens away once they've stopped nursing. They're quite adorable. Though two are still seriously shy, one will crawl on your lap and sleep, and the other follows her a bit. And mama cat just checks on them, nurses a bit, and leaves to wander her own merry way, or sleep on the couch.

Box o' kittens. The calico is still terrified of us for the most part

Two of the more brave kittens, not afraid to be out among us

Second tabby, still too scared to some out and eat (while they're still nursing, they eat solid food already)

Brave adventurous little girl, the first (experimental) kitten "our" cat, Asparagus, brought to us

Our landlord doesn't know anyone around us that owns a grey tabby like our Asparagus, and rekons that cats like that choose their owners, anyway, and that she's chosen us.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


In my last post, Yellow Surprise, I wrote that what was pictured was a leech. A poisonous leech.

I was mistaken.

After hours (or hour) of looking through Google using every possible search phrase I could think of yesterday, I gave up and went with what I was told. Frustrated by the lack of information on poisonous leeches (the bites CAN get infected, but by no fault of the leech), I brought my husband in on the search today. We finally stumbled on something about worms in a photo someone posted on "Real Tasmania", but still didn't identify it, even in the comments. But we went with the worm thing and Googled "yellow worm".

Then we found this article. Scroll down to page 44 and there you have a photo of my "leeches".

It's a little canary worm. A friendly little flatworm, similar to the kind we used in 6th grade to examine regeneration when they were cut in half, and DNA and stuff. Other than other people's photos on the thing though, I can't find any other information on the canary worm.

Oh well, mistakes happen, and learning all these bits and pieces and separating fact from fiction comes with the territory of moving to a new place.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Yellow Surprise

**Please see Correction**
We started to help split more wood today. It involved a lot of moving logs around that have been sitting around since the working bee.

Plenty of time for those in the back of the property in the shade and grass to collect all sorts of grubs and things.

Like these little lovelies.

I think they're leeches. I'm almost positive they are, in fact, and have been told that they are leeches. Poisonous ones at that (but it's Australia, land of everything-has-some-sort-of-venom-or-a-pouch).

I've searched and searched and searched though, and can't find anything on poisonous leeches. So I don't know if they really are or not.

At the very least, they're shudder-inducing. And when they stick on you, they're gooey and REALLY don't want to come off. Flicking them off leaves a lovely little patch that needs to be scrubbed off the same way you would tree sap. And the leech goo doesn't come off your clothes easily, either.

Oh, and these leeches live on LAND. In moist dark places. Which is why we're finding them
under every single log we move. Apparently during heavy rain, you really need to watch yourself if you go walking through the grass because they start "swimming" through it.