Sunday, October 30, 2011

tested time return

less than a week
a negative return

The Bowel cancer Kit I was going on about the other week- resulted in a negative result.

Yay me. Nothing on that account to worry aboot. For noo anyway.

I wold like to thank my wife, my self, the kids and ...... ....  ...

Friday, October 28, 2011

Still growing...

Show time
Dress ups

Looks like the boys and the gels are catching me up.

I mentioned to the twins in recent times that their mums' handbags are still in the wardrobe.
Like their mother, and elephants, the fact was regurgitated TO/AT me because it looks like the, or a, Point Of No Return has been reached.

"Dad? Dadda? Daddy! Can you get Mummy's old handbags out- so could we use them when we go to the local show/fair ground on the weegen...?"

In the MIDDLE of me cooking up steaks and vegetables for their dinner...

Okay Okay Okay. Not like the house is going to disappear!

The steaks were not rare but not medium or dry either, by the time I got back from the depths of the wardrobe.

There was one bag missing, like a little backpack type, all the rage when I was overseas on a job. Honkers I think, 1999.

I spilled the treasure out and they were both like rabbits or seagulls or cats and food, the prizes Disappeared.

Then they had to [prepare?] dress up, and paraded around with the new [shared!] belongings.

The little fashionistas were getting Ready for their first fairground outing with their friends without me.

I am not sure they want me to tag along or hang around at all! But their friends mum will be there. Haha! Should be no trouble... I will eventually return to the show grounds for the fireworks I said.

So now the little misses are getting kitted out. Even their mums' shoes fit them... However, the shoes were not worn to the showground.


We went for a walk around the show, the art gallery, the rides and showbags stalls and sideshows, and spent a relatively large amount of money on a small pack of hot chips and two cans of coke... I went straight past a small RC helicopter and leather-belt salesmen, and dragged the gels through the rides and to a gate to meet their friend. Thanks Trish.

And left them to spend a wonderful time there. Their grandfather, Poppy, had given them some money to spend. I had joked to him that that was a cheap way of getting out of walking around with them. Small mercies in fact, thanks Poppy. The money I gave them sort of was spent first, they actually came back with some. "Poppy's money". Obviously the sideshows were not that great after all, and the rides not what was expected! And no showbags?! Shock! When the boys had come back in the past- there was lolly/sweets bags and paper and crappy cheap plastic toys left over from showbags around the house for weeks after.

And Aftermath.

One ride left a memory for eldest gel- she banged her knee getting off it. Bugger!
The gossip was: one of their friends now had a boyfriend!
And and and   [in one ear and out the other, sorry gels]
The fireworks were nice. In the rain.
A beautiful warm day, evening and nightfall.
With a light rain to top it off after the sun went down.
And then a storm as the sky show was finishing.
Thunderbolts and lightning, very very exciting!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

While the cat's away

The mice will play?
OR...Try to Party in my Cellar...

Without a corkscrew, thank goodness!
BUT- spoiled [the appearance] of some of my most prized possessions, the little shits.
AND. Where was the cat? Sneaking around angling for easy food? Or cuddle. Hmph.

cap crumbs below...

some of my own, next to the three hundred dollar case...

Monday, October 24, 2011

Foxey Grape Vintage 2011 Harvest

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Foxey Grape Vintage 2011

Da Da...

Picked the Foxy Garage Grapes yesterday, 33 kg at 22 Baume. Not sweet enough, but certainly STICKY!
The ants, bees and birds thought it was time to harvest, so I did. Bugger them!

So in the end, today, crushed and pressed about 15 liters out at 1.080sg, and have some pomace to distill too! I could not press out the skins 100%. Plenty of flesh, so what the? Added 2kg sugar and 2 liters water. That worked last year, terrible tasting, but enough % to put through the still!

So PMSd the must so to put commercial yeast in for the fermentation, and will let the pomace ferment off the indigenous yeast. 

Stay tuned- I intend to try a sherry variety this year!

Reference to older Blogs on past Vintages

I established an online diary of attempts at  my first winemaking here

The Portable Vineyard 2010/2011 season

The Portable Vineyard 2010/2011 season

[a repost] from earlier in the year
The Portable Vineyard was finally weeded, tended, fixed, fertilized and mulched. There were new buds on the potted vines on 1 September, and now the established vines are budding too

The nursery plants were also fixed up, with some re-potted.
Chardonnay and Pinot 2010

What is it?
Last count was 29 Shiraz/Syrah vines in pots at various stages- 15 fruiting vines, the rest the nursery vines. There are also 6 chardonnay and 2 Pinot Noir vines along the veranda that are producing, the birds got last years chardonnay, and the liter of pinot wine turned to vinegar, but it was a great red wine vinegar! there was a real sense of achievement when spaghetti bolognaise tasted just fine with it added.

 In a addition to the potted vines are the original 6 vines planted in 1999 out along the back fence (4) and next to the shed/bungalow (2). These are the origins of the Portable Vines, cuttings propagation.

Production currently
Last year I managed to coax enough fruit for 5 liters, or nearly 6 bottles of shiraz, and the same this year.

The wine from last year was really nice, I don't think any is left to mature more than a year! I could be wrong... I will have to check the Micro Wine Cellar. I am pretty sure there is none in the Alcoholery*!
[ *That's the Beer/Wine/Spirit Making Shed, abbreviated from "Brewery/Winery/Distillery Ex-car Garage". ]

But Why?
When we bought the place (1998) there was a vine against the garage. After the first summer there was HEAPS of grapes. I asked a home brew shop owner what could I do with it. I had to buy a beer brewing kit, and also enough ingredients to make Milk Stout. 

So that is why I make wine at home.

From a book published in Australia, I learnt that about 50 wine grape vines would be a fine idea to make enough for a years consumption- up to 50 bottles a year I think was the idea, but when you only have a quarter acre, you have to compromise... So when pruning three year old vines, I kept them to make cuttings propgation, and that started it all.

Now I have a shelf full of wine making and beer brewing books.

A garage full of brewing equipment. And bottling stuff and Bottles...

I read about Canadian Ice Wine- a sweet wine made by letting the berries freeze, and squeezing the unfrozen juice out to ferment. The vines were grown in old barrels, cut in half and mounted on trolleys!  I guess that this was so that they could be wheeled in and out of the barn or green house for winter. 

So that is why it is a Portable Vineyard, if I have to sell up, it all comes with me!

Red Wine Vintage 2011 Harvest

Red Wine Vintage 2011

There was not much to pick this year- I do not know why. About 50% of the bunches were no good, and it was almost individual berry selection! Some had dried up or were mouldy or rotten, painful.
The Pinot Noir was so promising too, so it went in with the Shiraz, and I ended up with about eight liters- should make nearly 6 bottles!
Plan to make port this year, use some of the distilled ex-wine from last year, just have to watch that density carefully, and leave some sweetness!

If the crop was going to be excellent, did plan to get in some pickers, and have a barbie. Ah well.

Red Wine Vintage 2011 Pressing

Red Wine Vintage 2011 pressing

Today was wine pressing time.
After careful consideration- [tasting the must] it was decided, and all by myself, that there was not enough sweetness to pursue my goal of making some port. Bugger! I had some excess spirit to add as well.
People may like dry port, I do not.
So the next procedure was to choose to press now and separate the skins, or let it ferment out for a few more days.
Press it.
The homemade press was wrestled out of the [crowded] Alcoholery to the lawn and the hose readied to wash down everything after a bit of a scrub and sanitisation of containers and press.
Before the rain arrived. Again.
More time cleaning and preparing than pressing- what is it with pressed for time anyway- it was over and done with between job shifts!
Ended up with about 7 and a bit liters, with any luck about 6 bottles in the end. Again!
The taste at the moment is not lush and ‘thick’ like last years vintage, which had to be diluted and blended. This years vintage is lighter- I think because of the mix of Shiraz and Pinot Noir, at about 6 to 1.
It is not that pleasant as yet, after a few more days and some some more treatment with the bentonite, it may be nicer- fingers crossed- or to the Still It Goes.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Try Try try again

I was pointed on a new direction
credentials were not wanted

I am a oil&gas oilpatch specialist. My dear brother managed to find someone that could use a Met- a metallurgist, in his home town, the other side of the Big Smoke. Only by an hour. One guy is said to do a Mon-Fri type deal from this side of TBS. It is that or a daily 6 to 8 hour round trip...

This company really want new staff, and for reason, brother thought I could be available...
The reply was, "slightly off the mark! No worries"

Bugger, but I sent off a CV today, will see if something can be stirred up with someone else via that contact.

Fingers Crossed

testing times

This week was interesting.

I received a parcel for personal colon cancer testing, care of the federal government. A kit enclosed for sampling...things. That's nice of them- a freebie for my health.  Free test and free posting.

[What about DENTAL rebates as as well?']

So. Done it and posted it off. There is some tests I don't want to pass... Unless it is a negative for cancer.

And also got a letter from the brain-man about whether or not he thinks I have MS. Threee weekssss later... Well, he does think I have it.

So that's not a good thing. Either I do or I don't. And I do not really trust his listening and hearing- according to his notes I may be an overindulger in certain legal activities- one to wit- wine. I have cut down since 2007, may throw a few empty bottles in a week now. My own home made red wines actually tastes better after a night of breathing anyway. The Bundy mix lasts months instead of weeks now.

Well now I want to see my GP Anna, the doctor that seemed to know what I had was strange enough to get it checked. In three weeks... Boy Oh Boy, I can not wait. Hmph. But we'll see.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Knitting lessons

With Country Women
Of The CWA and The Gels

One night after school is usually Band Night- Gel#1a [or child #3] has an hour of School Band, then the three of us usually have another hour in the town's brass band hall training with the Bandmaster and others.

But this week the gels have joined in with some other young'uns to be taught some new skills.
Such Knitting and the fine art of a women's [conversation?] group- with mums and grandmothers. Only once a month, a small conflict, but what else can I do?

I think this will be a great experience for them in my opinion, and I am indebted to Gwen who lives around the corner, a grandmother to a gel that my gels go to school with.

[Gwen is a character too. She has a cockatoo, and the bird escaped from their yard once years ago, and it flew into our backyard. I was at once a little concerned about our cat and the bird having gladiatorial combat in front of the kids and tried to shoo the apparently tame bugger away. As I got up close to it, it SHRIEKED so LOUD that I JUMPED backwards in fright!
Anyway- the bird has never graced us with its presence again.]

A week or two later. Well, fortnight practically.

They have done as much practice knitting as they have with their brass instruments. Close to Zilch. As seen at right... The even got a DVD to help them out. So far I have not seen it being used, but they do have a busy schedule, see.

The next thing you will see me wearing I hope is a new pullover in the near future...

However, or But.. They have got the hang of it after a few goes. I hope it will be something that will last. Like my Mum, still churning out beautiful pullovers/gernseys/jerseys/jumpers for family members since I was a baby.

Alone for now

Weegen fun
Not as

As the kiddliewinks are growing older [or getting up in the social stakes?] and  "What Are We Going To Spend Dad's Money On This Weegen?" ideas come round, I am finding more time to ponder and Procrastinate. About them. Keeps my mind off other things.

Son#2 is off at the horse races today, the local Cup is on, and a bunch of young people are dressed to the 9s on a beautiful sunny day. He has been told to keep away from the stupid underage drinkers... HE has no money and I had no intention of funding it either. I hope he won't miss his sick GF, poor gel has a virus, "going around..." a lot!

The Gels on the other hand are off exploring the Mall with two of their BFs With spare change, they may buy some hot chips. MY spare change and a bit of theirs. One had a sleep over the other night, so it was just me and Gel#1b, then last night, a sleepover with a friend here. Not as loud as anticipated, but nice for them.
It's amazing how nearly independent they have become, I barely have to supervise activities anymore. Apart from the usual House Cleaning and Cat Chores, "Homework?!" and "When was the last time you bothered to have a shower?"

How come they can toilet, turn the TV on  and feed themselves first thing, but the Cat and Dishes are somewhat ignored...? Argh! And never accepting the idea of leaving used clothes by the door prior to sleeping, to be taken to the laundry basket at next morning room exit. Oh No.

And Son#1. Busy making fun at the moment, of the protesters in The Big Smoke I imagine.

Not a happy vibrant post, nor a sad one. Too critical, and probably repeatable the world over.

But as Iwas pondering, these loose bit and pieces may come in handy one day. Like the wood I am collecting for... what exactly?

Four. It may have been nice to have shared it all. That's what I was pissed off about eleven years ago.

A new reference point..

Well, It guarantees a good result
Looking after a backyard grape vine

Last week, mid October, and this week too, I was keen on keeping the vines growing up tall and strong, tending the baby ones carefully too. One to two liters every other day of tap water and a snail scan. Eggshells are good for that job, but we do not eat eggs more than once or twice a week at the moment, so that organic pesticide is low...

Looking for a reason to learn more about caring for them, I found by accident a site that wanted to sell me a great guide or at least a downloadable pdf file.

The Complete Grape growing Guide by Danie Wium "The Grape Guy" and based around an intersting concept of growing 45 pounds of grapes off a single vine...

Well, I have skimmed through and re-skimmed for relevancy to wine grape growing and found it somewhat useful. When I have an acre or two, I will look forward to 45 pounds of fruit off a vine-, that would make nearly 22 kg, or about 16 liters of wine, per plant. Wow, thirty plants now, means-- 500 bottles?!?

The other day, I went for a walk through the vines looking for faults and all, and saw that the wind during the week had kindly broken a few new canes off two of the vigorously growing Pinot! Bugger, as there was a couple of bunches-to-be, lost. In fact, the Pinot is wildly vigorous, so much so that I needed some pointers from the guide. I may cut down the watering to twice a week now, but still give the nursery plants water as soon as the top soil dries out. Soon as the caps fall off, in with some pest and mildew spraying.

The rest of the plants were looked at and from what I gather, any suckers, and, I gathered, non fruiting canes should be removed, so I did that to the Pinot and Shiraz.

Non of the year old plants showed any sign of fruiting this year- so that's good. The two year old plants are not so vigorous, one has some fruiting canes though, and will leave it be. The cuttings are coming along, any that were not leafing up were removed.

From the SBS television programme "The Wine Lovers Guide To Australia", I think I may have identified the Garage Foxy Grapes as Gerwurtz Traminer, red berries, large, perfumed, and it gives 30 pounds per bush! Currently, last years vintage is being fortified, and is not too bad as a sweet, nearly cloyingly sweet, aperitif. IMHO anyway.

Monday, October 17, 2011

In passing

As I followed I saw
A grownup waiting

Recently or... only yesterday?

As gel#1a went to her mirror in her own room, I saw,  to brush her hair- I thought- "OMG she is nearly grownup!" Not apparent to all maybe, but she is at my eye level to me now or more, and her sister not that different either. Mozzy bites too... Not looking forward to the miseries of the monthly cycle DOUBLED coming along soon- or am I being too anxious? Their mum was a little fragile once in a while, but I don't think she ever bit my head off. I was grumpier usually anyway. For both of us. Or sillier.

Want, Do not Want

Son#2 had a bit of a hangover over the weegen. A knock on the frontdoor at 3am by his friend from two doors down from us to say, "he has made a mess, is pretty smashed, but okay and we will look after him". Hmm. He tried to explain "wot 'appenned", but I really did not want to know. "I do not want you to do this sort of thing. I cannot stop you or keep you at home, but I will restrict privileges like the phone etc". Took me another year... He wants to leave school to make money and enjoy himself. I want him to enjoy another few years of relative freedom and pass some exams, which is pretty different to the outside circus we have to work in.

Duty Calls

Son#1 has made it to the Jury roster this week... He is coping with uni. Just. With his first year away nearly complete, he wants his own place, without 'friends' partying outside his room or next door. That is pretty serious for a first year, is it not?

Working away

I had on offer on a completely different type of professional job in a faraway town that I regretfully had to pass on. A geologist cannot be a metallurgist. Or why not? Travel time and time away may have been difficult unless we uproot. They did not ask for a resume... Comment please- should I shove my resume to them anyway?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Coastal Visit

A quick Weegen parental Visitation
Or Dragging Bad Weather to the Beach

I am remiss in a promise to try to see my folks more than a few times a year.
Once my mother was struck down with a paraplegic condition I was going to travel to see them more often.
It is far too far for me to expect them to travel my direction for a day's probably very uncomfortable ride, and that is fine by me- I get to travel out of my own hell hole [not!] for a day or two, and share the travails of parenthood with them, hoping that the gold mines of experience we now share have any common ground...

Of course there is, and now that the gels are tearing into the pre-teen stage, I need a bit of sage advice. The boys are... well, #2 is nearly out in the wild with the eldest, but both are pretty well prime conversation subjects anyway using a crystal ball to see what they will end up doing etc... ...

This last weegen, it was only three of us travelling away to The Beach, the other side of the Big Smoke, near Bells Beach. The gels and I.  #2son was "working" Fri and Sat nite, &  #1son was travelling down our way for a music festival held around the towns' pubs here- not really to see us... But it would have been nice, the girls have not seen him for a few months. So they both missed a weegen with their grandparents. But they had to look after the house- NO PARTIES, and #2 strictly to be home- no pubs or lose the phone/skateboard/bmx or all of them...

Travelling takes about four hours over 290 km, mostly freeway too. Maccas attack on the road, mainly to keep the peanut gallery QUIET.

My folks were well, and no big-bad-great-deary'me news, just usual catch up stuff.

My head hit the pillow later, and after some AngryBirds I drifted off, a dim sound of crashing waves in the background.

The next day- busy sort of.  Me an me gels took a seven kilometer walk along the ocean beach and river with me dad's doggy [Lockie, Lachie, Loki?]. Such a nice rambling walk that wore us all out in a nice way.

My lil sis took the gels away the next day for more proper photos than my phone camera snapshots, and hoping I am not breaking the law- here is a sample.

I did think 'what the?'
Etcetera forever?
Dumb daggy dad!

E+C 4 EVA!

So thanks dad, Mum and KT for a great weegen away. And specially for the pics KT. 

DIY? The DW Failed this time, RIP

Beaten by Time
Tarn's Favourite Kitchen Utensil, gone.

The Dishlex 300 Dishwasher [DW] that Tarn got us for a kind of Moving Into Our Own Hoose Gift, finally spluttered to a leaky halt the other day. Another thousand dollar household item bit the dust. For the last year I have been trying to ignore the fact that white-goods Do Not Last Forever.

For those that know, there are tricks into kludging a dishwasher back into life, With Out Resorting To A Repair Man, once he has let on His Secrets. Bwahahaha.... and- HAHA, it's an easy DIY!

In any case, for the hundreds of buckaroonies I have shelved out for the dishwasher' upkeep and good humour since 2007 or so [?], I suppose I should be thankful it has lasted so long.

True, since #1Son moved away, the thing was not much used- two days worth of crockery and cutlery used by four people only just fills up a 12-place dishwasher. Cooking gear aside. And hand washed.

And if I were back fulltime as a RigPigGeo, it would have been replaced about four years ago as a "may as well get another DW, what's a grand anyway...?"

But today, I bit the foolhardy unlucky tooth, gritted my worn out gums, cinched the belt and let the credit card fly. Because this week [do not smirk, dear reader], we had to wash the dishes by hand...

The DW had really worn out. To prove it to myself, I took it apart to discover that rust and leaky parts do not a happy DW make.

 In ten minutes I found: The hinge on one side was nearly rusted through. The seals had gone. The safety flood switch had been in constant use for a month. Could not track the fault. So I did not find out the real problem. For a call out fee of nearly a hundred bucks---- hmmmm. NO!

The poor old thing. The racks were definitely falling apart and the cutlery crate was a crappy 2nd hand thing, a replacement for a worn out original. The rack wheels had been replaced not that long ago as well!

 I could have kept it for parts, but being thirteen years old- for what? I am not a full blown hoarder, but the parts were not going to fit any new machine. Ever.

I have to keep on telling myself that there are "No Reusable Parts"... Anymore. Not even for the Still...

The white-good marketeers had me by the goolies nearly, but a bit of huntin' round found me a bargain I hope. Funnily enough, I must have had a premonition, because I had only looked around the other day... And it is a cheaper, less economical by water and power use than the last one, but the sales guy said that these days, it is hard to expect the things to last more than five or six years... WTF? Anyway, I was not gunna try the extended warranty shite he was trying to get me to buy for Another Sixty Bucks!?

Five hundred doubloons lighter later, and 30 minutes of bastardising around the kitchen, DADADAAAAA!

And then I had to find a way to get rid of the old machine. The hard rubbish collectors had done our street by last Friday, so I had to ask permission of a contact to leave the thing on the roadside at their place, a few blocks away, where the removal guys had not been...

Dear Dishlex 300, RIP.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

heater heating

Dang squeaky heater motor stopped...

The girls  have missed warming their behinds over the floor mounted central heating vents this week.

But now it is all fixed.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

FIGJAM- DIY heater done

Squeaking squashed.
Heater all done and Heating

The other week, towards the end of September, mid Spring here, there was an ominous sound coming from the central heating motor, built into a the wall of the other smallest room in the house.

Then later that night- there was a distinct burnt dust and almost a ozone smell like a burnt electrical motor...

Uh oh.

There was no warm air coming out... The motor had cut out.

Next day, I called around the local rural town for a sparky or gas fitter to give me a quick evaluation of the situation and a quote, and no one was available!

Another ring around mid week and finally a bloke was tracked down.

He was able to squeeze us into his tight schedule, and came around at the end of the week. I showed him the cretinous treasonous bstd thing hiding away in the closet.

"Well, you may be able to save yourself some money if you can get the motor out."
"why? How much do you think it may cost?"
"At eighty five dollars an hour..."

So I did it. 45 minutes. Remove covers.
Disassemble the fan unit
The size of the thing surprised me- about the size of a half pound coffee can.
That was all that was needed to heat the house up in less than ten minutes?!

At the the electrical motor rewinding shop, the  felllas looked at it yesterday and I picked up the dang thing today, and irt only needed to be fitted with new bearings. One of the old ones was close to siezed!

Back home with most of my money!
Half an hour later- whrrrrrrrrmmmmmmmm and warmth!

So thanks Matt for showing me how to save some dough.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Tony's Tiny Diggers

School Camp and the Gang
What they got up to
First night

to be continued as time goes on...

Quiz Night.
The kids in my group were called- Tony's Tiny Diggers. That was the decision after a  five minute Round Table discussion between themselves.

After all I am a geologist. They were my team. And we were after gold in Bendigo, or at least a gold medal in the quiz! Some of the other teams names were obvious suckups to their leader, or highly fun, or just plain.

The adults were sitting around the room, [wishing for various substances banned for a few days. I think. I was.]