For someone who has everything . . .

December 24, 2013

A tubemaster from Brix.

It’s a simple idea and it works, not just to get the most out of a tube but also to save arguments about who squeezes it how.

blix 2

blix 3


blix 1

It does not, however, solve the problem of people not putting the lid back on.

That will have to wait for another clever invention.

A pricey cut

July 11, 2013

On Sunday evening I stabbed myself with a carving knife.

I was taking a metal ring off a wine bottle at the time, the knife slipped and went into the gap between my thumb and forefinger. *

It bled a lot but I didn’t think it needed a stitch.

However, I couldn’t remember the last time I had a tetanus injection so phoned my doctor’s surgery next morning for an appointment.

The nurse, agreed the wound didn’t need a stitch but I did need a tetanus injection – the last one I’d had was in 1996.

She gave me the option of a double vaccine against tetanus and diphtheria or the triple vaccine one which also protected against whooping cough.

I opted for that – and a bill of $65 for the vaccine plus $30 for the consultation.

That made it a pricey cut but the protection will be worth the cost.

* This wasn’t an alcohol related accident. I hadn’t drunk any of the wine.

We’d bought it when in Argentina at least five years ago because we liked the painted bottle.

Our hosts warned us the wine wasn’t very good. When I came across it in the process of decluttering its colour indicated it hadn’t improved with age so I opened it and tipped the contents down the sink.

The smell as I did so confirmed that it wasn’t a good wine but the bottle will serve well for holding water to accompany meals.

If there’s a good time to lose power . . .

July 8, 2013

. . .it’s not when there’s three builders, a plumber, electrician and floor layer who all require it.

And when you have a bath full of sheets and pillow cases to be washed because there’s been mice in the linen cupboard.

And when you’re in the middle of baking for the Rotary auction tonight.

And when you have a media release to write which requires files on your computer.

Things I’ve learned #1

February 24, 2013

Sun bleaches scorch marks out of carpet.

In a fit of domestic rearrangement the mat which had been in front of the fire found a new home beside a French door. It’s basked there in sunlight all summer and the scorch marks have faded away.

I wasn’t responsible for the scorching nor even at home when it happened but I have grounds to suspect impatience during fire lighting and a bottle of maths meths were involved.

Plus ça change

November 25, 2012

A new study shows young people don’t become less of a burden on their parents domestically as they get older:

. . . The study from the University of NSW shows young adults are riding the gravy train at their parents’ homes and relying heavily on their mothers to do the housework.

Associate Professor Lyn Craig and Dr Abigail Powell used data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics to compare the domestic work done by 5512 people aged between 15 and 34 living at home with that of their parents.

It found 97 per cent of mothers did daily housework, compared with 81 per cent of fathers.

Young women, at 74 per cent, contributed far more than young males, with only 54 per cent of them helping out with household chores.

Young men did seem to start pulling a bit more of their weight once they turned 25.  . .

Plus ça change . . .

Although one difference with this generation of young people is that they are staying at home longer.

But the story doesn’t say whether the parents are working outside the home when doing the domestic work for an adult family would be far more demanding than if they weren’t.

Nor does it say whether the parents are willingly looking after their offspring while they study and get established in their careers or if they feel imposed upon.

However, for their own sakes and that of their offspring and the people they might live with in the future, parents have a responsibility to ensure their children are house trained.

The younger that starts the easier it is for everyone.

Letters and germs

November 20, 2012

Discussion with Jim Mora on Critical mass today was sparked by:

Letters to the Editor of the Telegrpah which didn’t get published.

I especially enjoyed:

SIR – One is, of course, delighted to hear that the Greek economy is to be saved –once again.

On a recent visit to Crete I asked for the recipe for a Greek salad. There came the not entirely ironic reply: “First, you borrow some feta…”

Christopher Rodda

Boscastle, Cornwall


SIR – My family home, Compton Castle, built in the 14th Century, is open to the public.

For the convenience of the visitors, my father had a sign saying “Lavatory” placed on a door. One day, my mother overheard a young man say to his companion, “What’s a lavatory, dear?” To which she replied, “That’s medieval for toilet.”

His Honour Judge Francis Gilbert, Q.C.

Bovey Tracey, Devon

The other link was hygiene hotspots wich shows how clean your house is – or more likely isn’t.

Hat tip for the latter to: Monday Micro at Infectious Thoughts which will lead you to is the toilet seat really the dirtiest place in the house.

Better to clean spouting before it rains

November 11, 2012

I was just thinking that if you’re got to have a rainy afternoon, Sunday isn’t a bad time to be having it when I heard my farmer say bother (or word to similar affect with a little more force).

I looked where he was looking and saw water pouring down the inside of the window.

This isn’t the first time we’ve had a reminder that it’s better to clear the spouting before it rains and fortunately someone has already been home when it’s happened.

Water woes

October 15, 2012

“We’ve got no water.”

I woke up to hear my farmer giving me that bad news this morning.

It used to be a regular occurrence when we had a really hard frost but that hasn’t happened since our water supply system was upgraded a few years ago.

This morning’s fault was not weather related but human – someone had turned off the line to the tank which feeds the house to solve a temporary problem with low pressure somewhere else and forgot to turn it back on.

That’s been sorted.

Water’s flowing through our taps again and I’m full of appreciation for something I normally take for granted.

Which whiteware?

July 30, 2012

Another kitchen renovation question: which whiteware do you recommend?

We’ve had a Fisher and Paykel double dishdrawer for years.

It’s good when there’s just the two of us because it gets full before we run out of dishes but it does take a long time to do a cycle.

It’s had a couple of malfunctions and is at an age where it probably isn’t worth repairing if it breaks down again.

Kitchen renovations which are in the planning stage could be an excuse for a replacement.

The question is, if we go for a new dishwasher do we go for a dishdrawer again or another make and/or model?

The oven is 21 years old, its seal is sagging and both it and the cook top will be replaced.

Everyone tells me to stick to electricity for the oven, but do I go for gas or stick with electricity for the cook top and if it’s the latter is conventional or convection better and which brand?

50 things to know and beating procrastination

July 17, 2012

Websites discussed on Critical Mass with Jim Mora today:

50 things everybody should know how to do


Kick procrastination’s ass: run a dash which I found via Barking Up the Wrong Tree where there’s a far-too-familiar procrastination loop.

Why change what works?

June 28, 2012

A survey found that 40% of people only ever use one cycle on their machine, no matter what’s being washed.

I’m surprised that number isn’t higher.

There’s little change to what gets put in our dishwasher and therefore very rarely a need to change its cycle when it works.

But ours is just used to wash dishes unlike some others:

Gen Ys are more likely than all other age groups to not understand dishwasher cycle options and are also less likely to be able to perform basic maintenance on their machines.

“They are also more likely to use their dishwasher to clean things other than dishes and cutlery; washing pans, baking trays, sponges and even toothbrushes or sports shoes,” says Bonnar.

Toothbrushes and sports shoes?

That raises a whole lot of questions but I’m not sure I want to know the answers.

How many is enough?

June 18, 2012

If I remember correctly, the kitchen in the house I grew up in had only four three-pin power points.

There was one for the fridge, another for the radio and two on the oven where the kettle, toaster, vitamiser (a predecessor of the food processor) and mixer were plugged in as needed.

This had to be done with care because a design fault left cords at risk of connecting with the elements.

My kitchen has at least 10 power points – for the fridge, microwave, two phones, radio, toaster, bread maker, food processor, mixer and dish washer.

There are occasions all are in use and there’s a need for more.

Plans for kitchen renovations are still on the drawing board and given the occasional shortage I’m wondering how many power points is enough and where to put them.

Half way down the wall behind the fridge isn’t a good place if you need to defrost the freezer without pulling the whole appliance right out.

I’m also wondering when the people who make power sockets will catch up with the fact that plugs for some appliances are too big to fit side by side in double sockets. They need to come up with a new design with more space between the holes.

Top idea

May 27, 2012

How’s this for a top idea?

It came via email from a friend:

Seal Plastic Bags with Old Bottle Caps

Cut up a disposable water bottle and keep the neck and top, as in photo.

Insert the plastic bag through the neck and screw the top to seal.

The bag is made air-tight, water will not leak, it is easy to open and the top and screw cap can be used over again.

On mice and moths

May 22, 2012

When we got home after five days away on Sunday I checked the mouse traps.

The ones in the laundry, kitchen and living room were empty but the three in the hall cupboard had all done what they’re designed to do.

I disposed of the bodies, reset the traps and within an hour had caught another mice.

Since then the traps have been untouched and there’s been no fresh signs of mice.

My war against unwanted visitors has opened on a new front though – I’ve discovered holes in a couple of woollen garments which point to the presence of moths in my wardrobe.

They seem to have a taste for merino and have chewed through in places it will be difficult to repair.

Where would you put the sink?

May 14, 2012

Our kitchen is showing its age and we’re contemplating major surgery to rejuvenate it.

The architect and builder keep telling me I should put the sink on the island facing the living or dining area but I’m not convinced.

In spite of my best intentions to have everything ready and be waiting, impeccably turned out and relaxed, when guests arrive for meals I am almost always still preparing food.

The men argue if the sink is on the island it will be easier to chat as I work.

But that also means the mess from preparation will be right in front of everybody and then there’s the issue of used plates and left over food from one course coming back to beside the sink possibly getting mixed up with the next course going out.

I’d appreciate advice – where’s your sink and does it work well there?

First mouse of autumn

April 24, 2012

Our house is supposed to be mouse-proof but it isn’t.

A neighbour’s advice to lay poison outside (where birds, cats, dogs and children can’t reach it) does help to reduce the rodent population but I can still hear mice – and sometimes something bigger – in the walls and every now and then come across evidence that at least one is inside.

It happens more often at this time of year as the weather cools and yesterday I came across the first mouse of autumn on the laundry floor.

It was far from healthy, probably because it had been poisoned, but was definitely still alive.

Had my farmer been near by I’d have declared dispatching it to be a blue job and left him to it, but he wasn’t and much as I dislike mice I couldn’t let it suffer.

How then to kill it quickly without having to touch it?

I swept it on to a shovel and dropped it into a bucket of water. But a dying mouse still floats so I had to push it under with the shovel.

Every creature might have its place in the cosmos but the mouse’s isn’t inside mine.

Today’s list of things-to-do includes relaying poison and lacing traps with fresh peanut butter.

Saving paper, straining eyes

February 14, 2012

Difficulty deciphering numbers in the phone book was the first sign my eyesight wasn’t as good as it had been.

My optometrist told me that many of his clients come to him with a similar complaint.

The problem will be striking more people sooner now because the print in the phone books published last year is considerably smaller than in the old ones.

A column in the ODT (not on-line) explained it was done to save paper. The pages are smaller and the print has been compressed to fit more names and numbers on the pages.

The new format might be a good way to save paper but it’s also a sure-fire way to strain eyes.

Given good light and fresh eyes I could usually read names in the old book and with a bit of a squint I could also get the numbers .

Even when the light is fine and I’m wide awake the names are difficult to decipher in the new book and the numbers are indistinct.

On-line directories and the 018 service are alright if you know the correct spelling, initials and exact address of the person whose number you’re seeking but if you don’t have those details you can’t always get the right number.

St Joseph’s primary school in Oamaru has done a regular fund-raiser selling local phone directories with bigger print. They were popular before and will be even more so now.

But until their new directory is printed the $2 pair of glasses I keep by the phone will be getting a lot more use.


Have you noticed . . .

January 28, 2012

. . .  that the mess you decided not to clean up last night always becomes far messier by morning?

12 days before Christmas . . .

December 20, 2011

I’ve posted this before but have had a request to re-post it

Twelve days before Christmas my farmer said to me, “If the wind keeps up the lucerne should be fit by mid-afternoon so we’ll start making hay and there could be a few extra men for tea. But if there’s time when we finish I’ll get the Christmas tree.”


Eleven days before Christmas my farmer said to me, “I’m going through to a sale in Central. I should be back in time for the school concert, though probably not in time to get the Christmas tree.”


Ten days before Christmas my farmer said to me, “When you go into town this morning could you see if the spare part for the tractor has turned up yet, pick up some drench, drop a fewchequesinto the bank then pay these bills, there’s only two or three. While you’re doing that I’ll get the Christmas tree”


Nine days before Christmas my farmer said to me, “We’ll be shearing today, one of the men will be in the shed so he’ll want lunch early, the other should be in at the usual time and I probably won’t be in ‘til after one. But if we get the irrigator fixed this afternoon there might be time to get the Christmas tree.”


Eight days before Christmas my farmer said to me, “One of the rousies didn’t turn up so I’ve had to get another at short notice. Would you mind giving her lunch and could you throw something together for her morning and afternoon tea? If there’s no problems getting the sheep in I should have time to get the Christmas tree”


Seven days before Christmas my farmer said to me, “The farm advisor’s coming for a look round this morning and I’ll be working with cattle all afternoon, but if the phone’s quiet after dinner I’ll go and get the Christmas tree.”


Six days before Christmas my farmer said to me, “I’m going to the sale this morning and it’ll take most of the afternoon to draft the lambs. But they shouldn’t need dagging so when we’ve loaded the truck I’ll have time to get the Christmas tree.”


Five days before Christmas my farmer said to me, “If the rain holds off we’ll make a start on the silage this afternoon but it’s almost mid-summer’s day so  if it’s still be light enough to see when we knock off  I should be able to get the Christmas tree.”


Four days before Christmas my farmers said to me, “We’ll be making silage again today. It would save time if you could bring lunch out to the paddock and we’ll probably want dinner too – but if we finish early then I’ll go and get the tree.”


Three days before Christmas my farmer said to me, “Could you pick up the irrigator hose from the carriers? I won’t have time to do any shopping now so when you’re in town why don’t you choose yourself something and charge it up to me? And while you’re away I’ll get the Christmas tree.”


Two days before Christmas my farmer said to me, “Are you all organised for the staff party? When I’ve finished drenching those lambs I’ll have to shift the irrigator but I’ll be able to give you a hand after that if I get everything done quickly, oh and of course I will get the Christmas tree.”


One day before Christmas my farmer said to me, “The motorbike ran out of petrol in the back paddock. Could come up in the ute to pick me up and if you bring the chain saw with you we could detour on the way back to get the Christmas tree.”

 For the record, my farmer delivered a tree yesterday.

My way is our way

October 13, 2011

Discussion on whether or not they should get had been settled but the decision on where to site it was still under debate until he said:

“It’s going to go where I want it to go but we have to agree on that site or we’re not going to have one at all.”

And some people think women are illogical!


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