Saturday 20 June 2009

Je Ne Regrette Rien

I awoke at 2am this morning, went to the bathroom, slid back into bed to the comfort of the electric blanket (Number One Setting) and the steady breathing of the Machinist. And then I just lay there, - as an insomniac maniac. I had determined that I would NOT think about the snake, but many strange and unwanted thoughts come to you in the darkness of night. My mind kept wandering to what had transpired yesterday and I would consciously force myself to think of other things. Better things. Sweeter things. Sleep would still not come, so I arose and spent some three hours researching many things on the internet.

Oh, the grand ideas and plans for today!

Alas ... after pegging washing out, folding laundry, tea with Granny and cleaning and disinfecting items of furniture from the barn and organising their place in the house, numerous glasses of orange juice (with pulp), I found myself lolling around on the couch, with that tingly feeling in my ENT body area, which usually indicates the onset of a cold.

A cold and a case of The Guilts. For not having done more...

I'm my own martyr.

Friday 19 June 2009

Tresspassers Will Be Annihilated

There was some commotion early this morning and I soon learned that the Machinist had almost trodden on a mauled possum as he passed under the arbour on his way to the workshop. He put the cold, stiffened creature into a plastic bag and carted it off to the garbage bin... where yesterday's dead hen lay - also in a plastic bag. We weren't sure what caused the death of the hen, but the Machinist was certain that one (or both) of our cats had caused the demise of the possum. The cats prowess, followed by the Dutch courage of our puppies...

The girls and I spent the day on the continuation of Project Sort Barn. Uncovering, moving, carting rubbish to the utility, wheeling other items to their rightful places, establishing a 'U' shaped set of shelving within the barn - that we intend fitting out with containers of 'electrics', 'plumbing', 'hoses', 'motors', 'garden', 'hardware' etc, - seeing as we now have the two properties to upkeep. As the barn grew emptier, I would rake the 'moving out' mess and place it in the dustbins. The only thing left was to move a pack of corrugated iron sheets to another location in the garden.

Emma stood with the sturdy rake, lifting each sheet, while Sarah, with gloved hands, slid the sheets out of the barn, one by one. I went to ask the Machinist where exactly he would like us to put the galvanised sheets, and when I returned to the barn, the girls were excitedly debating about something Sarah had seen - which had retreated under the last sheet. Emma slammed the rake on to the metal, and several frogs jumped out from under it. Relieved that they were only frogs, Emma proceeded to lift using the rake.

Then we saw it - despite 'it' being in a state of semi-hibernation, a Tiger snake lifted its head and reared up. That's when the action began...

I just stood outside the barn, screaming. I surprised myself at the sheer fear in my voice. Sarah retreated down the garden path shouting "Dad! Dad!". When she got to the workshop door, she began doing a jig (later to be called "the Snake jig") while shouting "there's a snake in the barn. A snake!" Emma had moved swiftly backwards, in her calm manner, and stood ready for battle. I had screamed some more, and Emma was trying to calm me down. "It's all-right mum, I'm watching it..." I saw the Machinist slowly walking towards me. Slowly. Why was he walking so slowly?

"Where is it?" he asked.
"Over there, near the wall. Can't you see it?"
"Let me just get my eyes focussed.."

Why was he taking so long?

"Do you want me to pin it, Dad?", Emma asked.
"No, it's fine. You just stand back..."

"Have you killed it yet?", I asked hysterically

"Helen, calm down. I've got it."
"Why is it still moving then?"
"They always move like this when you whack them. It's a nerve reaction. I'm going to burn it. That's what they do in Africa. It sends off a scent and warns the others to keep away..."

And with that, the Tiger snake became Guy Fawkes.

That'll teach 'em to come on our property. Threatening my family and pets. Hummmph.

Thursday 18 June 2009

Six Days

I was peeping at a friend who follows me blog and according to her statistics, I hadn't posted in 6 days. So I got to thinking why I hadn't posted in so long and where had all the time gone? One day I had been running errands and shopping in town with one of my girls, preparing for her convalescence after wisdom teeth extraction; chick flicks, yoghurts, custards, puddings, cup-o-soups, new jim-jams to loll about in, cream soda and ice cream.

Then came extraction day. I'm convinced that mothers suffer so much more with sheer worry.

On the following day, I was scheduled to go to Cookery School, to learn more about shortcrust and puff pastry with chef Christoffe . While at the class, I learned about Harry De Wheels, - a pie vendor, (established 1938) and Sydney icon - from a fellow student (thanks for the tip-off, Di!). The Machinist took good care of our dental patient while I was away (oops, nearly said mental patient! She would be pleased... not).

During the course of my gadding around, I must have picked up a chill, which was a great reason to keep said DENTAL patient company - for a whole day. Then it was back to the road, as we travelled to Mulgoa to pick up cafe chairs and secure an order for crockery and cutlery and other cafe-needful things.

Finally, a day catching up with paperwork was well over-due. It settles the Machinist's mind, too, knowing that all is administratively in order.

Today was spent in the barn with daughter Emma. She is strong and is able to move things and she keeps me on track. I call her Hitler...smiles... and salute her, clipping my feet together, in a semi-Nazi, semi-Julie Andrews -in-the-sound-of-music kind of way. We've had to sort the barn to make room for product storage. It's dirty and dusty and the amount of stuff in there has us at our wits end. The puppies have enjoyed it tremendously, because they get to sniff and explore and jump up on us and get fussed. You have to really keep your eyes open whilst in the barn, because there are nests of all kinds - mice, rats, bugs, spiders and all manner of creepies and hairy marys. "I'm surprised we've had no sleepers, muv" said Emma, kicking a pile of leaves / dirt / carpet fluff. By 'sleepers', she means snakes. I reiterated that if anything along those lines moved, I would be out of there in a (jumping jack) flash.

A bale of hay that the Machinist had bought for the chickens had to be laid in their coop, and as I hauled it over there, and opened the coop door, one of the hens lay cold and hard and all screwed up in a corner. Poor girl. There were marks on the back of her head where her fellow sistas had attacked her. I sometimes think that humans are akin to chickens, by the saying 'kick a man while he's down' and this sure gives new meaning to being 'hen pecked'. I've scooped her up into a bucket, which currently hangs on the latch - a task for the Machinist when he gets home. Truth is, I don't know what to do with her, as he usually deals with this type of thing.

Femme fatale...

For now, though, it's back to sorting what I can before the rain arrives.

Friday 12 June 2009

Machine Shop Whimsy

Prior to leaving for the city today, I worked on the wording for one of our websites (the wed wabbit wan awound the wed woses). Sarah had taken many photos of various home and machine shop scenes and I was going through them to see which ones were suitable when I came across this:

See the leopard print item in the left hand top corner? It's my brolly. A girls' gotta add a touch of feminista to an all-male arena, yes?

Here's another cracker:

See the clear plastic container on top of the plasma cutter? That was the puppies' take-away milk container. Goodness knows why it was left there. Do you know?

And what do we have here?

Old methods and new ones. The anvil blast from the past...

And lest you think you can escape, think again...

Wednesday 10 June 2009


The meeting was to be held between 9.30am and 10.00am, but I was at the Shop before 9.30. A sheet of glass, which we had moved outside just yesterday had fallen and smashed, as a result of a stong, icy westerly wind. The shards of glass were strewn underneath the trailer and utility tyres, and needed to be swept up before anybody could drive away in the vehicle. I went to get the broom, but forgot the cow-hide gloves, and as I was gingerly picking up the fragile pieces, a car pulled in.

"Hello Helen, nice to meet you at last. This place looks terrific. I just know you will do well..."

What a greeting! There was more to come, however, as the hours slipped by - all so very encouraging and timely.

All this to say that our first ad for the Daily Pie will be in the August / September edition of High Life Magazine.

After the meeting, I raced home to tell the Machinist all that was discussed and - all is well. The grunt, the moxie, the determination, the excitement has returned, and we are now committed to a month.

Roll on August!

The Machine Shop

I thought I would show you some pictures of our primary business - the Machine Shop. This is where the Machinist and Number One Son hang out most days. They love this place. They love the smell, the feel, the look of it. They love the sounds in it, too. The girls and I prefer to have coffee indoors, so when it is brewed, we buzz the men on the intercom and they come inside and sit by the fire. We let all the dogs in, too, because otherwise they'll do crazy things because they get attention deficit.

Our children were raised in the Machine Shop. They know how to grind, drill, weld, cut, fold, notch and more of recent years - they can use the CAD system to transfer designs to the plasma cutter. Only the Machinist can machine, though. Number One Son is learning to machine, but as the Machinist says "...real skill takes time...", also adding the phrase "wax on, wax off, wax on, wax off..." (the Karate Kid).

These pieces of equipment are the backbone of our businesses (erm.. of course the Machinist is also the backbone...). They have made NUMEROUS trolleys for hospitals, laundries and hotels, as well as other ergonomically designed manual handling equipment. Now they are going to also create beautiful pieces of useful and needful metal art, under the Metalsmithery trade mark, which will be on display at The Daily Pie. Without further ado, let me introduce you to -

The Plasma Cutter:
The Guillotine:
Pedestal Drill:

One of the Machinist's Store Cupboards:

The Lathe:

Another shot of the Lathe. Note the window. The Machinist sometimes watches a variety of birdlife on the creek when things get a bit monotonous...

The Mill:

Tuesday 9 June 2009

Walls: Gone!

I often wonder what I should write on this blog. I meant it to be about homemaking, business life, starting a new, different business and how I attempt to do all three. Instead, I find I've ventured down a lot of rabbit warrens. The art of getting carried away, or going with the flow, whatever the flow is on any particular day. Thoughts, feelings, ponderings and facts. Maybe I should just stick to the facts.

Anyway, the facts....

Today was spent pulling down walls within the Shop, preparing for the commercial kitchen, which will be our bakery kitchen. The whole shop was built in the 50's and was formerly a Golden Fleece petrol station. I'm told that Golden Fleece memorabillia fetches in quite a lot now days. Not that we have any memorabillia. We were left with the chaff of a former-flourishing restaurant, situated on the side of a main highway. Our village has since been cut off from the highway, and anyone driving from A to B would have to exit to visit us. Fortunately, we are between the snow-fields and the city of Sydney, which still brings tourists in. Hungry tourists. Tourists needing petrol. Tourists who are running on the fumes of their last refill.

We've probably had around 25 cars pull into our parking lot over the past weekend, all wanting food, drink or petrol. The local corner shop has recently closed down, and there is only a cafe and a hotel to service them. I find it quite exciting to think that these could have been our customers, had we been ready.

Which drives me with more determination to do whatever I can so that we can open soon. For now, though, I need a bath, as I have a film of gyprock plaster on my face and my hair feels like a badger's brush.

Monday 1 June 2009


While we are waiting for the Machinist and Sam to put up walls and ceilings at the Shop, we are busying ourselves with chores at home, attempting to make life smoother for further down the track when we won't be at home as much as we are now. One of the most important things to organise is food for the family. My intention is to set up systems within the household that any one of us could use, at any time. We all have to be multi-skilled and flexible. I have plastic containers in my pantry, all labelled with the type of foodstuff contained therein. This way, I can see what is getting low, and it is easy for anyone else to 'grab 'n go'. This is the main pantry:

These are jars on the kitchen shelf, which I use mainly for cold cereal, sugar, rice and spaghetti storage:

This is my baking cupboard. Here's where I keep dried fruit, flours - including all purpose, tapioca, potato, buckwheat, corn, polenta, soy, and brown & white rice flour (for gluten free baking).

There is also Dutch chocolate, spices, custard powder, jellies, baking soda, baking powder etc.

I'm also working on the laundry room. More on that in following posts...


 Table talk amongst our children is and always has been, -  a rabbit warren . We start off in one hole and end up in another -  quick smart....