Friday, 1 October 2021

Two cats ...

 When our old cat died just before Christmas last year, we decided that we would get a kitten.

Since she was a little girl Judi had always wanted a Siamese or Tonkinese cat, and, after a lot of to and froing, we managed to track down a local breeder, and that was how we ended up with Oscar a couple of months ago.

When we were picking up Oscar, we were chatting to the breeder, and we explained that this was the first time we'd had a pedigree kitten as all our previous cats had either been rescue cats, or cats in need of rehoming.

The upshot was that the breeder said that Lucy, who had been Oscar's foster mum - his own mum had got a nasty infection after giving birth and couldn't look after her kittens - and Oscar had been given to Lucy who had only had a very small litter, and Lucy was due to be retired and did we want to take her?

We said yes, and we should have been able to pick Lucy up a couple of weeks after she had been neutered.

Well, even though the breeder is only ten km inside NSW, covid lockdowns and restrictions on interstate travel meant that Lucy was spayed later than intended and we couldn't pick her up until yesterday.

(Incidentally, China, Oscar's real mum, has made a full recovery, and has had another litter and is now about to be retired.)

Less than ideal, as we were worried they might have forgotten each other, and certainly las night there was a lot of yowling, hissing and cat whacking, but when I woke up this morning there seemed to be an unusually large cat lump on the bed, and there were two cats cuddled up together.

They've since moved to the bed in the spare room and seem to be getting on well enough even if Lucy is still a little wary of being in a strange house with an annoying kitten ...

Thursday, 23 September 2021

An earthquake ...

 Yesterday, here in Victoria we had an earthquake, somewhere between magnitude 5.8 and 6.0.

Typically, I hardly noticed it. I was on my way down to Dow’s for a day’s documentation, and while I did notice the car bouncing about more than usual, thought nothing of it as it’s an old car which rattles a bit, and the road surface is not the best, uneven tarmac with potholes and patches, so I just thought there had been a bit more subsidence from big agricultural vehicles on the road.

When I got into Dow’s, I was first in, and there were about five or six items on the floor and an old cabinet door was hanging open.

My first thought was that we had had a break in, but no, the alarm had been on and all the doors and windows were secure. My second thought was a rat or a possum, but possums don’t (usually) open cabinets, and there was no poo to be seen.

Then Judi phoned me to say the power and internet was off at home which given we have an iptv cable service meant no news stations, and of course the internet radio was a $200 brick, and that there had been a great rumble and rattle as if someone’s LPG tank had blown.

So I put the items back on the shelves - yes I should have photographed them but didn’t, and came home, by which time the power was back on, as was the internet, which is how we found out there had been an earthquake.

Apart from the odd fallen plant pot outside, we seem to have escaped any damage - the pictures stayed on the walls, and no cracking - wooden houses have a certain flex to them meaning that while things rattled a bit everything stayed together.

We didn’t feel any of the aftershocks, so hopefully that’s it for now ...

Sunday, 12 September 2021

Gardening and a little research

 Well, regional Victoria came out of lockdown on Friday, meaning that hopefully I'll get a day's documentation work in at Dow's next week.

In the meantime, I've been plugging away planting seeds and potting up plants, but it's not been all gardening.

While I was working in the garden earlier this week I turned over a little bit of glass:

The bottle neck itself is not that impressive but the colouration of the bottle glass  makes me think it is nineteenth rather than twentieth century

having documented quite a few intact nineteenth century bottles at Dow's I'm reasonably happy with the dating.

Talking about dating bottles I'm also happy that I've finally run the reason for there being a Wm Docker bottle among the old bottles at Dow's. I'll leave you to read the post but in summary, I'm now hypothesising that the bottle originally held straw hat varnish rather than linseed oil as I previously thought.

I must admit I had quite a bit of fun with this - after all varnishing straw hats is a lost art but clearly this was something people did to make the hats last.

Marcus Clarke in a cabbage tree hat - public domain image from wikipedia

In the nineteenth century, locally made hats - called cabbage tree hats after the cabbage tree palm they were made from - were in common use, and obviously people needed to make them weatherproof - hence the development of hat varnish.

Fascinating how a simple bottle can give one a glimpse into a lost world, and perhaps an original excuse - "Not tonight darling, I'm varnishing my hat ..."

Friday, 27 August 2021

This week I did nothing ...

 Not quite true, but since we were slammed back into lockdown last Saturday with two hours  notice my options have been limited - further work on documenting the contents of Dow's is suspended for the moment, meaning I havn't had an opportunity to test my methodology with our travel modem.

However, when life gives you lemons make lemonade, or at least a decent gin and tonic.

Our local hardware store, while closed, is offering contactless delivery of garden supplies meaning I can get on with preparing the garden beds for spring, and while the nurseries are closed, I managed to get a couple of pretty tidy tree fern seedlings to grow on on ebay - I have a minor tree fern obsession and I have this idea that in time we'll have a couple big ferns in pots on the back deck for the cats to destroy.

I've also been getting on with making our front garden look respectable instead of looking like an abandoned builder's yard.

Because we have what is, in Australian terms, an old house in an old town I sometimes turn up old glass and bottle fragments when working outside.

However, this week produced nothing in the way of garden archaeology other than a contextless fragment of the base of a nineteenth century beer bottle which really wasn't worth documenting, and given a nineteenth century brewery in the next street, not altogether surprising. 

As far as I can work out, despite our house block being laid out in the mid nineteenth century, the block wasn't built on until later, sometime in the 1880's, and the land was used instead as an orchard and to stable the dray horses from the brewery.

Certainly I've found an old horseshoe and a broken pair of farriers' pincers which tends to support the idea of the land being used initially to stable the horses.

Other than that, not much. Cold days have alternated with wet days meaning that I havn't got as much done outside as I hoped, but next week promises to be better.

Elsewhere, the minimalist dogfood tablet continues to deliver as a e-reader for old digitised books, but there's been a little bit of creep - I've added twitter and the ABC news client, meaning that if I'm somewhere where there's no wifi, I can check the news headlines and my email via my phone in personal hotspot mode, as well as downloading additional material.

This has proved to be a useful enhancement when I'm out - not that I have been recently, and while it breaks the initial idea of a minimal distraction free device, turning off the hotspot capability on my phone switches it back to distraction free mode.

We've at least one more week of lockdown, but I'm not depressed about it, although I admit the off and on run of lockdowns this winter is a but harder to deal with than last winter where it was what it was.

In the meantime  I've got myself some gardening jobs to get on with, and being almost spring it's no longer bone achingly cold in the morning, meaning that hopefully I can get a reasonable amount of time out in the garden, and if the weather's against me, there's always family history ...

Friday, 13 August 2021

Second Covid Shot ...

Well, I've just had my second dose of AstraZeneca, and I must say that while I feel slightly weird, I also feel strangely relieved, given the way things are across the border in NSW at the moment.

Last time, I had it done at the mass vaccination centre in Wodonga as nowhere locally was offering the vaccination, but things have moved on and this time I was able not only to book online but had a choice of the local health service or the pharmacy in town.

I went for the local health service.

The whole vaccination process was pretty good, even if it wasn't quite as slick as the mass vaccination hub.

They were using a repurposed day care centre which didn't have quite enough space meaning that you had to sign in and then wait outside until they let you in to the reception area to confirm your details, after which it was a short wait, your jab, and then fifteen minutes in the post vaccination waiting area before they let you out.

No string quartets or any other distractions, but I'd brought the dogfood tablet with me so I read some more of Harry de Windt's journey across Mongolia and nineteenth century Siberia, which passed the time suitably.

Like the first time, I feel a bit weird and spacy, but I'm sure that will pass ...

Saturday, 31 July 2021


 We are back to being a cat owning household again - this is Oscar, who at three months  already has a nuanced view on cold war history...

Monday, 19 July 2021

Online groceries ...

 Well, today has brought the not unexpected news that we will be in lockdown for a few days more.

Problem that, because if you live in a rural community and are limited to a 5km radius of home you are limited to the (admittedly rather good) local supermarket.

The real problem is that while they have most things that we need they don't have everything, and when I went up this morning to buy some things that we had run out of over the weekend they were clearly having delivery problems, with some items not on the shelves.

The obvious answer is online grocery shopping with one of the majors.

It used to be that online grocery shopping was a bit of a pain - only one of the duopoly delivered and then only on certain days, but since the pandemic hit, things have improved with both of the usual suspects delivering most days.

Now, the last time we used online grocery shopping, we still lived in Canberra, and it might have been 2015, or possibly even earlier.

However, it was quite a tour de force - we were in Singapore on our way back from Europe, and we realised we'd be coming back to an empty fridge.

So while we were waiting, we sat down and made an online shopping order to be delivered the morning after we got back.

This worked really well, after all the online ordering system didn't care where on the planet we were, which meant we were able to get a pantry full of basics delivered without having to stagger round a supermarket in a jet lagged state on a Sunday morning.

We're not only fussy about fresh fruit and veg and like to have a good look at what we're buying, we also like to make things from scratch where possible, so once we were back in Canberra we found we didn't really use online ordering apart from the odd click and collect order in the run up to Christmas.

And, as I said, when we moved to the country, and where might think online ordering would be a natural - after all, it's how we buy a lot of things, even pre pandemic - it was let down by limited delivery options, meaning that every couple of weeks we would make the 80km round trip to a big Woollies or Coles to stock up.

And that is how it was until the current lockdown.

During the long lockdown last winter we could make the trip as we live in a rural area were not restricted (within reason) as to how far we could drive for shopping. 

In practice, we restricted ourselves to the small Coles in Myrtleford, as it was less busy, and didn't drive to one of the bigger, busier stores in Wodonga as we would normally. 

The other periods of restricted movement since last winter have been short enough to  manage with buying locally.

So, this afternoon, we sat down and logged into one of the majors online ordering systems.

As we hadn't used it for eek years it had of course forgotten all about us, which was probably fortunate, as we didn't want our shopping ending up at our previous address in Canberra, but we had the usual happy ten minutes sorting out a delivery address, payment method, linking our loyalty card etc, etc before doing battle with the beast.

Of course, some of the stuff that's usually available in the stores isn't available online, and we forgot some things, and of course there was the lunatic rule that we couldn't add a bottle of cheap cooking wine because if you ordered alcohol it could only be delivered when the bottle shops were open, despite ordering in the middle of the afternoon, but we got there.

We got most things, so now we await the appearance of a large refrigerated truck later this week ...

[Update 22/07/2021]

Well, the delivery process was really smooth.

The company sent a text about 0630 the morning of the delivery with a more accurate estimate of when we could expect our delivery, and the truck arrived bang in the middle of the new delivery window.

Everything, apart from broccolini, was there and they'd warned us about that, and everything was pretty well packed and in good order.

As always, there were a couple of stuff ups on my part - the wrong size of washing machine detergent, and only a single bag of coffee, but we can live with that.

In fact, lockdown or no lockdown, we might continue with the delivery service, on a rough calculation the cost of delivery is around the same as the cost of the petrol we'd use going to get the stuff ourselves ...