Tuesday, 25 August 2015


 Something happened yesterday that is worthy of an update, but that I don't really want to dwell on too much. I and my dear Barry the Barina were involved in a minor car accident. I got out of this basically unscathed except for a bruise from the seatbelt, a jarred wrist, and the inevitable shock, but poor Barry fared a bit worse. I was headed to Latrobe to meet up with a couple of friends for some bushwalking in search of a platypus to photograph when a large tractor merged back onto the road from where it had obviously been driving along the edge of the road to let people past it, this caused a line of about 8 cars to all stop quite hurriedly. Unfortunately, my brakes locked up and I didn't stop in time. The car in front of me was towing a dog trailer and I hit the spare wheel mounted on the back of the trailer, doing no damage at all to his vehicle, trailer, or dogs. The driver of the vehicle was very understanding, having only just managed to stop in time to avoid the car in front of him, and was happy to declare that there was no damage to his vehicle and leave as soon as I said I would be ok. Being only a few minutes from Latrobe, I was able to call Rob to come and get me and was very well looked after by everyone. Unfortunately, Barry will need to be taken to the doctor for another round of plastic surgery to recover from the incident so I have very kindly been loaned one of Rob's cars for the next couple of days.

Now that is dealt with, on to pleasanter things.
I recently learned how to 'flood ice' biscuits with the help of a youtube tutorial and have now practiced the skill twice. I made a small batch of teapot biscuits for a friend's birthday (which I didn't photograph so you'll have to imagine) and then this batch of cutesy owls.
Its the first time I have used the owl biscuit cutter which I have actually had for quite a while, but now I think it will be one of my most used ones because the result is so darn cute.

Also in domestic diva news, I have been harvesting ridiculous quantities of lemons from Rob's lemon tree and turning them into lemon cordial. I have previously made 2 quite small batches, but on my last visit I picked a very large bag of lemons which after a considerable amount of effort yielded nearly 3 litres of juice. This in turn made 5 litres of cordial syrup and I have to say that it is very tasty and worth all the effort of juicing them. Rob's tree is still loaded with fruit and as soon as enough ripen, I'll do it all again.

In unrelated news, I have now joined the track pants and ugg boots brigade. Yes, that's right, I'm now on Centrelink. My Austudy claim has been approved which means I'll be able to keep paying rent and feeding myself while working on my diploma. I'm so glad that filling in all that paperwork didn't turn out to be fruitless.

And speaking of my diploma, I have made an attempt at starting it. The first thing I have had to do is convince my lecturer that the study site I have chosen will be suitable, by tromping around it and taking lots of photos to send her. That was actually quite fun. I always enjoy tromping through bushland and even found a couple of Tasmanian devil footprints which were quite fresh, indicating that a devil walked that track in the last couple of days.

Monday, 17 August 2015

The Break Ins

Over the last few weeks, I've had trouble with something breaking into my apartment by chewing holes in my flyscreens. The problem first started with something chewing through the flyscreen of my partially opened kitchen window overnight and evidently sticking its head through to eat the little coriander seedlings that I had been growing on the kitchen windowsill. There wasn't any clear evidence of exactly what kind of animal had broken in, but with all the problems I have had with possums coming into my garden and eating my seedlings, I was prepared to believe that it was one of the sneaky little blighters learning a new trick.

I patched the hole in the flyscreen, replanted the coriander and moved it to the other side of the windowsill away from the open area, and resolved to shut the window at bedtime every night to prevent further incursions. I also smeared some peanut butter on the window ledge outside and put my wildlife camera on it to see if I could find out what had been responsible for the break-in. After 3 nights, without any visitors to the windowsill, however, I decided that nothing was planning to visit the ledge again.

How wrong I was. One night, I got home late and surprised something making a large amount of noise in the vicinity of my bathroom windowsill. The problem was that by the time I had entered the bathroom, there was no sign of the intruder and I couldn't be sure exactly where it was. I have a custom installed (I have a very clever Dad) bathroom fan on my windowsill and my bathroom window is always open behind it, but it appeared that something small and agile had climbed up to the window ledge, chewed through the flyscreen and let itself into the space behind the fan surround. What I was unsure about was whether the invader had made it any further into the bathroom than that. There is only a very small gap around the fan surround, but there were two small scats on the bathroom floor that had either been flung there by the intruder thrashing around behind the fan, or the intruder had made it as far as the bathroom floor. The scats looked very much like rat poo, but several of the very small marsupials have similar looking scat so I still wasn't exactly sure what I was dealing with. If the intruder had made it into the bathroom, the only feasible place for it to be hiding was in the cupboard under the laundry sink where the door was sitting slightly open. So, being very tired and unwilling to search the cupboard that night, I shut the cupboard door and placed a chair against it incarcerate any visitors and shut the window in the hope that it had made it back outside. The next morning I searched the cupboard with my friend, Christie, as back-up (I really dislike rats in confined spaces), but there was no sign that there had ever been a rat or any other animal in there.

I patched the bathroom flyscreen and for the next week I dutifully shut all my windows at night. I also put a small live-capture trap in my garden to see if I could capture whatever the problem animal was. The only thing that the live capture trap managed to do was startle a very bewildered looking brushtail possum who was far too big to fit in the trap, but had evidently reached a paw inside to get at the peanut butter and chocolate. After a week of no sign of any would-be housebreaker, I decided I must have given the intruder enough of a fright that it had decided not to come back.

I went away for the weekend with my family, having left the window behind the bathroom fan open, and when I got home on the Sunday evening, Dad accompanied me up to my apartment. Once again, on coming home there was a noise in the vicinity of my bathroom windowsill, but this time Dad immediately went outside and was quick enough to see a rat escaping out of the hole it had chewed in the flyscreen and high-tail it across the garden.

So, I was back to making sure that all windows were shut at night. This annoyed me enough that I decided to fortify the window in the hope that it wouldn't be necessary. Now the window looks like this, with flyscreen to keep the insects out and wire mesh to (hopefully) keep the rats out.

I never thought that I would have rat problems in my apartment, as I didn't think there was any way for them to get inside what is really just a concrete box. Apparently, the temptation of tasty coriander seedlings and snowy weather was enough for them to prove me wrong. I really hate being outsmarted by rodents, so hopefully I have now managed to foil their dastardly invasion plans.

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Back to School

The last few months I've been mostly just filling in time, trying to fill it in in the most productive and enjoyable ways I could think of, waiting for the next opportunity to come along. Well finally, after a couple of false starts, I think I have found the next step. I've decided to go back to school!

I have been considering doing a qualification in Conservation Land Management  for a while now, but the last time I was going to enroll in a course while I was still working with the Devil Program it didn't work out. I didn't think I would be able to enroll in a course at the moment because in order to do the course I had been looking into last time you have to be working in the industry, but I decided to look into it anyway. I was very happily surprised to find that it is possible to do the Diploma of Conservation Land Management through Tafe NSW by distance, without needing to work in the industry, and completely self-paced.

So, after much paperwork, I am now enrolled in the Diploma. I haven't actually started working on the Diploma yet, but technically I could be working on it right now if I wanted to. I have glanced over the course work, but I have the excuse of major computer problems so I haven't done any more than that. I'm actually  looking forward to doing the project work in the course, but I love the fact that because the course is self-paced I can take time to do other things and fit the studying around the rest of my life.

So, now that I am a student again, you can expect me to go back to my old nocturnal habits and I suggest that if you are planning on visiting me in the morning and want me to be able to communicate,  you bring me a coffee :)