Sunday, June 27, 2010

A Communal Hug

Last weekend we re-visited the once beautiful country hamlet of Marysville, devastated by bushfire on 7th February last year.  Visit my previous post here and the one where we were about to evacuate, here.

Several groups, including the Australian Trout Foundation, Department of Sustainability and Environment, Flora & Fauna Scientific Division, representatives from the Murray Darling Basin Commission, Marysville Youth Incorporated and trout anglers had developed a joint project to re-vegetate the area around the fish barrier that had been severely damaged in the fire.

"The Victorian Government acted in the aftermath of the fires to protect the remaining Barred Galaxias by funding the capture of hundreds of fish at 8 sites and moving them to DSE's Arthur Rylah Institute research aquarium at Heidelberg.  We know there are still some Barred Galaxias in Leary's Creek but we need this type of re-vegetation work to occur to help it recover sufficiently to support the return of the fish we removed more than a year ago," said Fish Ecologist, Fern Hames.

Above is one of the fish barriers that have been put in place to protect the tiny native fish, Barred Galaxias (Galaxias fuscus).  It has been proven that they are prey to numerous species including redfin, trout, etc.

Steavenson River Barred Galaxias
On average they're about 7-9cm
but can grow to 15cm

300 trees were planted around Leary's Creek 
next to Gallipoli Park by about 30 volunteers

Removing burnt branches
from Gallipoli Lake

A rewarding sausage sizzle followed

After lunch, DMJ gave a young lad
a flyfishing lesson and he caught
his first fish on a fly.  The little trout
was released and DMJ presented the
fly to the boy to keep.

Marysville is slowly being rebuilt but it will be so unlike the heritage town it once was.

This little chap 
had a wonderful time
off the lead!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

It was a sad day yesterday...

Knocking on door, 17th June -
photo taken from another window

The sulphur-crested Cockatoo, 'Scruff', that we'd been favouring for many months, didn't show up yesterday morning, nor for the rest of the day.

We knew it was just a matter of time, as the mornings have been frosty and whenever he turned up he'd be shivering.  Two days ago he stayed around all day, sleeping most of the time.  Of course we had no idea whether it was male or female but we chose male.

We were told by our neighbour and vet that there was nothing could be done for the bird and this morning I looked around the net and found that the disease is called Psittacine Beak and Feather Disease, or PBFD.  They lose feathers and the beak and claws malform.  I also read that the virus is contagious.  The immune system goes into overdrive and they usually die of some unrelated viral or bacterial infection and not the PBFD itself.

We'll always remember 'Scruff', he was such a character and used to follow DMJ around like a little puppy.  What we found interesting was that the flock had not disowned him and didn't torment him, as is usually the case with a 'cripple'.  Just last week we saw another cocky preening him; I hope it doesn't get the disease.  Some of his feathers had grown back but they weren't enough to keep him warm on these cold mornings.  We're just thankful that we gave him some loving and sustenance in his last months.

Monday, June 21, 2010


I took this photo six days ago
just as we were leaving
for our morning walk.

It was 0C (32F) at 7:10am 
and an hour later only 2C.

If you enlarge it 
you can see that the flash
captured the ice in the atmosphere.

I love how the lemon tree is highlighted.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Herbes de Provence

Recently a recipe called for 2 tablespoons of Herbes de Provence.  It was the first time I'd heard of it and wanted to cook there and then, so I went to my laptop to learn more.

The name, of course, told me that it must be a mixture of herbs but which herbs in particular?  I found a few recipes and settled on the one below.  It didn't include Oregano, so I added a couple of tablespoons.  I might just leave it out next time but suspect I won't notice a great deal of difference.  One herb that does take over is the Thyme, so I'll cut back on that as well.

Naturally, the mixing of herbs is a time-worn addition to cuisine by discerning cooks, especially Provençal grandmothers.  It can also be mixed with oil and used as a marinade.

In the 1970s a blend was formulated by spice wholesalers.  I have never seen it on the shelves here but found a small packet of 20g online at a ridiculous price and it contained lavender, which, I believe, is not done in France.

I use it quite often now, rubbing it into the pork roast, sprinkling it on my Chicken Maryland (hubby likes cajun or chilli on his), and adding it to the roast vegies.

Do you have a favourite blend?

My little herb cupboard

Saturday, June 12, 2010

"An Almost Made Up Poem"

I see you drinking at the fountain with tiny
blue hands, no, your hands are not tiny
they are small, and the fountain is in France
where you wrote me that last letter and
I answered and never heard from you again.
you used to write insane poems about
ANGELS AND GOD, all in upper case, and you
knew famous artists and most of them
were your lovers, and I wrote back, it' all right,
go ahead, enter their lives, I' not jealous
because we' never met.  we got close once in
New Orleans, one half block, but never met, never
touched.  so you went with the famous and wrote
about the famous, and, of course, what you found out
is that the famous are worried about
their fame - not the beautiful young girl in bed
with them, who gives them that, and then awakens
in the morning to write upper case poems about
ANGELS AND GOD.  we know God is dead, they' told
us, but listening to you I wasn' sure.  maybe
it was the upper case.  you were one of the
editors, "her, print her, she' mad but she'
magic.  there' no lie in her fire."  I loved you
like a man loves a woman he never touches, only
writes to, keeps little photographs of.  I would have
loved you more if I had sat in a small room rolling a
cigarette and listened to you piss in the bathroom,
but that didn' happen.  your letters got sadder.
your lovers betrayed you.  kid, I wrote back, all
lovers betray.  it didn' help.  you said
you had a crying bench and it was by a bridge and
the bridge was over a river and you sat on the crying
bench every night and wept for the lovers who had
hurt and forgotten you.  I wrote back but never
heard again.  a friend wrote me of your suicide
3 or 4 months after it happened.  if I had met you
I would probably have been unfair to you or you
to me.  it was best like this.

I'd love to know who this woman was; or was she just a figment?

Sunday, June 6, 2010

The desk that sailed twice to Australia...

About four years ago, we inherited this desk from DMJ's uncle.  Uncle Len's still alive but wanted to pass on some valuable items before he re-married at the age of 88!

It has quite a history.  It came from the family of Len's first wife, Beryl, whose family lived in Kent, England.  In the mid 19th century it sailed with a family member all the way to Australia.  I don't know the full circumstances but it returned to England later that century.

DMJ's Grandparents sailed to Australia in the 1940s and, once settled, sent for and paid the passage of all nine children and their spouses to join them in this 'promised land'.  The desk sailed again, along with some other treasured pieces.

It still has all the original knobs but some of the little bone knobs on the drawers were missing.  We had a friend who had worked on the restoration of some old ships in England and could make wonderful things out of wood. When he saw the desk, he said that he could make replicas of the bone knobs and so we went looking in opp-shops for bone-handled knives (I wasn't going to use my Mother's set!).  Well, Peter set to and turned four perfect little knobs which only need to age a little!

Legend in the family has it that there is a secret compartment somewhere containing a ruby/diamond necklace.  Well, the family has been all over it and that compartment has not yet been found!  Two months ago, Michele at mynottinghill wrote about her craigslist bargain; a similar desk at USD350.00!!  A steal, considering that another desk I found on the Antiques Roadshow site would realise $25,000 to $35,000 at auction and, with contents, $100,000!!!!  Michele's desk is a little more elaborate than ours and she said that she actually found the secret compartment; hidden behind the middle door is a false floor, under which is a tiny drawer!  The floor behind our door is firmly attached.

I did some research and found that this 
particular desk would date to about 1760.  

"The many and various words that describe the glamorous members of the desk family are an obvious clue to their origins.  Escritoire, bureau, bureau plat, secretaire and bonheur du hour ... yes, the first furniture to be purpose-made for writing derived mainly from 16th century French styles. The Italians also had some influence and, indeed, the word 'desk' probably comes from desco or table.

There are subtle differences between the terms used to describe writing furniture.  'Escritoire' usually refers to a small, portable writing desk - a neat arrangement of drawers and pigeonholes, enclosed by a lid which folds down to double as a writing surface.  However, some early bureaux are also known as escritoires.

The bureau became popular during the 17th century and its basic design - a set of drawers with a desk area above - still gives us one of the most practical, space-saving work centres available.  A sloping hinged lid folds down to reveal the interior fitted with drawers and pigeonholes; sliding rails pull out to support the lid.  Bureaux were made in a huge variety of styles, from simple cottage pieces to those destined for sophisticated townhouses."

Excuse the mess of wires; 
I had to remove my computer for the pic!

When we brought it home, I reckon it was covered in nearly 250 years of grime!  Patina is the word!  Probably had never been polished, only dusted. 

I used a tepid water and methylated spirits mix and scrubbed with some old rags.  No sandpaper or steelwool touched it.  Then I gave it a couple of coats of Organoil, which has a strong, orange smell that disappears after about a week or two.

I love it, sit here every day and, yes, it is most practical for my needs; everything at my fingertips!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010