Town Fran


Hi All,



I feel like a guest poster on my own blog! I am sitting at my daughter’s house sitting the house and looking after their dog Qi and a pair of rabbits and an Indian Ringneck of indeterminate sex (who would know?) who likes watching television and threatens to blow if you attempt to turn it off when he/she is watching…a dangerous situation that I have so far managed to avoid by allowing him/her to watch television all day. I hope that the girls forgive me for their next electricity bill! Launceston is SO much colder than Sidmouth where we live! We are only 50km away but we are at the top of the Tamar river just around the corner from the sea and Bass Strait and “on the water” so our temperature doesn’t fluctuate as wildly as that of Launceston that is right at the end of the Tamar river and inland. The temperature plummets overnight and I have been having fires every night just to warm the house and prevent the condensation problem that Launceston is famous for. When we all lived here together we would have to get up and wipe down the windows with several towels because they were so damp they dripped! Now we both have large dehumidifiers courtesy of Steve’s knowledge about all things damp and his past life in good old cold Blighty. I dare say more people would buy them if they knew about them but they are something that isn’t talked about much and we actually had to order one from a local shop from the mainland as they don’t stock them. They suck the excess moisture out of the air and you can use the now purified water on your plants (starting the cycle all over again should you be foolish enough to choose to water your “indoor” plants rather than those outside the window begging to come in out of the cold…)


our neighbors sons alpacas

 These guys are so friendly and always come over to say hi

I started off minding our big black dog Bezial on Tuesday along with Qi. The idea was that I would look after Bezial and Qi the first night…I would then head back home to pick Steve, Earl and the trailer up and bring them back so that we could break down a set of bunk beds that Bethany no longer required and remove them while the girls were staying in their brother’s apartment in Melbourne while he is away on holidays in the U.S.A. and Ireland. I would then wave goodbye to Steve, Earl and Qi and remain here with Bezial. Qi doesn’t do “walk” on her own with me. She will walk with other dogs but not on her own and so she would have put on weight with me staying here and her not doing any exercise, so she headed off to our place, I would walk with Bezial who can be left on his own snoozing at any given moment and Earl would be safely away from the girls precious things as Earl likes to taste things…it seemed like a win-win situation but I completely forgot about how sensitive to change Bezial is. On Tuesday night he sulked and wouldn’t eat his food. Qi was fine…Bezial was not. After waving goodbye to Qi and Earl and Steve on Wednesday Bezial went into lockdown and avoided me studiously for the entire night. You would have thought that I spent my days thrashing him with rash abandon as he slunk about with his tail between his legs and wouldn’t let me even pat him! I worked out that he wouldn’t eat his food because Steve usually feeds him (Earl and Qi were NOT having this same sort of sensitive reaction to change and were scoffing their food with glee…). I tucked Bezial onto the sofa before I went to bed and the next morning he jumped into bed with me, slobbered my face and arms for about 10 minutes as if to say “sorry about last night…” and we had a sleep in for 30 minutes. We walked twice a day where we only walk once a day at home but Bezial kept laying next to the fire (that I am only lighting at night time to conserve the wood for the duration of my stay) and looking at me with seal eyes…or for those of you have enjoyed watching “The Dame Edna Shows” of yesteryear where she had her oldest friend and bridesmaid “Madge” sitting on a chair on the stage making “glum” look glamorous, you will know what Bezial was doing to me.



Steve phoned up today (Friday) and said that he was bored and wanted to visit so we took all of the dogs into town, where we fielded all sorts of people telling us that our dogs are pit bulls…apparently something happened in Victoria Australia where 2 pit bull terriers were put down by the council as they are now a banned breed.

  1. They are not banned here
  2. Our 2 dogs are American Staffordshire Terriers NOT Pit bulls
  3. Shut up and keep walking people…nothing to see here!


How rude? If I had the misfortune of giving birth to an unattractive baby (which I luckily did not have to bear) would these same rude people stare at my child and tell me so? Nope, it seems that everyone has an opinion when it comes to “pit bulls” and Tasmanians would appear to be split half and half. Lots of young men LOVE our dogs…our dogs love everyone but it’s a bit sad to see people picking up their smaller (usually yelping and barking) dogs and walking away from us when our dogs are being perfectly well behaved. I do understand how people would be afraid as the media has really been going to town about dog attacks and there is a serious dearth of information about the owners of the dogs that attack. Why are these owners not under the spotlight like the poor dogs that are bearing the brunt of their terrible training techniques? Earl bears most of the brunt of people’s angst. He is a solid boy and gets very excited whenever he goes to town. He is the quintessential “country boy”, big, rawboned and excited to see “The Big City” and can appear somewhat intense. An Indian lady told us “That dog is a pit bull! He will bite me!”. I said “No…he won’t…he will lick you”. She smiled after that, but poor Earl wasn’t even given a chance to show what a good dog he is…he was tarred with the “Pit bull” brush without even getting a fair trial. Hopefully we won’t be subject to the same media driven dog witch hunt that is going on in other areas of Australia and if we are, Earl and Bezial will not being going to town again. Once you start culling breeds of dog because they “might” bite…where does it stop? Fear and ignorant prejudice always results in rash decisions that someone ends up regretting. Are we going to remove entire breeds of dog from existence because they “might” bite someone? All dogs have the ability to bite and German Shepherds, Labradors etc. are all capable of doing some serious damage to you if they are taught to attack. We need to be punishing the owners with jail terms and enormous fines for training dogs to attack and maybe they will think twice before using their dogs as an extension of their angst against society.


Deadly Dog …

 Nope he wasnt posed for this shot lol

How was that for a rant? Not bad eh? Ranting from a distance is my specialty. I feel a bit strange staying at my daughter’s. I rarely spend time away from Steve and feel a bit cut adrift at the moment. Bezial ended up going home with Steve today and I got Qi again. She hasn’t got a problem with that as aside from not liking to walk alone when she is with me (I will just set her loose in the park next door when it is free of kiddies and will let her run wild and chase a ball for about 30 minutes, that will pretty much do the same thing as a walk (in her case drag…) once a day, she likes to hang out with me and see what I am doing. She inherited a large meaty bone that we bought for Bezial on Wednesday but that he has been waiting till it got to the right stage of decomposition to be doggy heaven and it hadn’t apparently gotten quite there yet so Qi has taken over the guarding of the bone and occasionally heads outside through the doggy door to inspect the bone on the deck to make sure that none of the neighborhood cats has sampled it or the blackbirds are leaving it alone. Three doves have taken up residence here and seem to want to scare me to death on a regular basis. They were on the peripherals of the property when we lived here and were occasionally seen on the roof in summer, but they appear to have decided to overwinter here and have taken to sitting in the large camellia bush that is directly outside the back door that Steve and I crown lifted so it was easier to get in and out of the door and flapping doves most definitely wake you up when you are heading out the back door in the dark to collect some more wood to put on the fire. Qi has 3 hot water bottles and the fire to keep her warm and after a few peanut butter (white chocolate so safe for dogs) choc chips that she shared with the parrot is sleeping soundly. The parrot has a reputation for being unstable and very VERY LOUD. So far he/she has been behaving but occasionally has a fit of screaming…usually when I am eating my evening meal and he/she thinks that they might like to sample a bit of it or when left alone for any length of time. Steve did a bit of research about them online and found out that they don’t like to be left alone and that they are social creatures. I didn’t need the internet to find out that they like peanut butter chocolate chips and that they DON’T like parsnip ends. In fact…parsnip ends result in a bout of screaming…best note that down for future reference!

more plants


The fire is having a somewhat soporific effect on me. I had a delicious dinner of steamed veggies. I can hear you thinking “yeh DELICIOUS steamed veggies” (you sarcastic lot you!) but my daughters have decided to travel the road of the gourmand and at Christmas time were the lucky recipients of an enormous hamper of luxury gourmet foodstuffs from their wonderful brother. The hamper excluded a container of Black truffle infused oil. At $35 for 200ml of this heady elixir They have been using it sparingly. I tested it on my steamed veggies tonight as who would want to go to their grave without finding an opportunity to sample the flavour of truffles? I added some strange Korean spiced salt mix (no idea what it contained should you be interested but when I learn Korean I will let you know!). The girls have all sorts of interesting ingredients, condiments and sauces from cuisines all over the world and I have been using some of them to enliven my steamed veggies at night. My porridge this morning was redolent with dates and maple syrup and a gingery sweet spice mix that again, I have no idea what it contained apart from ginger. I am glad that the girls have inherited my desire to explore other cuisines. Its just a pity that they have decided to follow this road AFTER we moved out and prior to this had severe problems with some of the ingredients that I used in their meals. Its really funny how things like tomatoes can divide a family isn’t it? My daughter who swore black and blue that she was allergic to tomatoes now eats them by choice. I am NOT going to say much about this…aside from the fact that it would seem that they are coming to many of the same conclusions about food, actors, musicians, life in general that I had previously delighted in much to their consternation. I dare say many parents watch bemused as their children proceed to embrace concepts and foods that prior to moving out were seen as “crap” to use polite terminology and are now suddenly “amazing” and “the new black”…yeh right kids…the last thing that I am going to say about that is that back when I was lusting after Robert Downey Junior as being a great actor and a sexy beast and you were telling me that I was lame and that he couldn’t act at ALL…how come he suddenly became the best thing since sliced bread in The Avengers? Surely if he was THAT bad an actor when I liked him he can’t have changed THAT much! I say this earnestly for all of the bemused parents out there who find themselves in this position and as hard as it is to remain contrite and not smug at all…I just have to say “HA!” to all of our children on the other side of the generation gap who just crossed over to the dark side! 😉


Our kitchen looking cool


Ok so who would know how many words I have typed here! The girls copy of Word doesn’t have a word count on the bottom. It also doesn’t appear to have spell check so sorry in advance about my spelling in this post! I am feeling decidedly surreal spending almost a week at a house other than my own. It’s not just that I have been forced to learn to use the remote control. I had a brief moment of panic yesterday when I accidentally pressed the “planner” button and couldn’t find the channel selector again but I managed to sort it out myself and didn’t have to suffer the ignominy of having to phone Steve up and get him to talk me through how to find the channel again. My resistance to learning how to use the remote control is most probably coming to an end in the near future. I have some serious gardening to do in the next couple of days and we will be digging up and taking home some of the more needy plants in the garden and replacing them with hardy plants that need no help to grow and thrive on a lack of water. We have discovered that certain plants do a whole lot better than others when deprived of regular water and when forced to live in the shelter of a large Liquidambar tree. Salvia’s have proven themselves again and again and various other shrubs seem to be doing quite well especially lavenders, rosemary, violets, Jerusalem artichokes (so happy to grow that they can become weeds!) and even the humble strawberry has the propensity to grow exponentially if given the right conditions and they seem to love it here. There are some grape vines that we planted along with currents and Josterberries that need to be moved out to Serendipity Farm where unlike town life they will have to adapt to being lusted after by all of the local wildlife. Our friends have found a way to protect their fruit trees and have paid a mate to shoot all of the wallabies that are eating everything on the property. We will attempt to minimise the damage to our own plants by being a little more accommodating to our native mates and a little less lethal. I guess we just have to think laterally and find a happy medium where we can both share our little patch of paradise (did I REALLY call it that?!) together. I am getting the feeling that this post is probably about as long as it should get. I appologise for it not being all that enlightening. I have spent most of my time clearing out spare rooms and seeing how very different my daughters actually are from each other and wondering how they can live together without killing each other! My eldest daughter likes to put everything in its correct place and everything is categorized, alphabetized, sorted and labeled…I have just awarded my youngest daughter (in absentia…) “The most likely to hoard”…after spending incredulous hours trying to work out why on EARTH she would want to collect some of the items that she has endeavored to collect. I dare say they are going to have something to say about how I myself have chosen to organize, categorize and collate their personal possessions…I have taken the liberty (a liberty that is automatically given to mothers who are given the right to clean up their children’s personal spaces mind you…) of finding homes for clothing that surely doesn’t belong on top of a turntable in the lounge room…I know that I am treading on dangerous ground but you know what? I am NOT treading anywhere that most mothers haven’t trodden before and far-be-it from me to buck the motherly tradition! Get over it girls…rearranging everything that I moved will give you something to do over the next few weeks…don’t say that I don’t give you anything to do! 😉 See you all on Wednesday when I may just have started to come down from my most surreal adventure in “The Big Smoke”.


sometime the phone takes amazing shots


Now here is Steve .. ok I will put some pics in here but I don’t know on what and you may have seen some before. I have spent the day playing Quake 4 on and off and playing guitar. I have realised that I’m not a bad bass player either and have also realised that I probably don’t need a bass. Bethany has 2 lovely ones we bought here that she never plays and I was thinking about offering her some cash but I haven’t got any so looks like we may not be able to deal lol, at least the bass is warm here. Ok I will post this now and wish you all a good week


PS sorry Fran if some words became an American version as I can’t spell either lol but I did fix most of them