When I was a kid and in later life, I used to be an avid reader of books and novels, especially science fiction as well as related non-fiction and such (I was always interested in science, technology and what the future might bring). But in my later years I haven’t been reading books much at all, as what I Iike to read is difficult to get hold of and my favourite authors no longer write (many having passed away). I now really enjoy my own writing (whether it’s good or bad) and reading and researching for things on the internet, which can take up a lot of time. On the other hand, my wife is an avid book worm and fills our book case (and other places) to overflowing, having to do a spring clean every so often to make space for new books, Most of what my wife reads comes from the local library, but she often picks up novels and books from the local market or op shop, which leads me to this story.
The veranda was finally coming together with the main features finished as told in Part 3. The semi-final finishes for the Veranda Project were the windows and Chiminea. The eastern end still needed closing, but the floorboards were a major issue, notably because they had been painted with some cheap, battleship-grey enamel paint that was far too difficult to remove because the floorboards were laid with the grooves uppermost. This was a real shame, as the floorboards were merbau and would have looked great the other way around with a natural timber finish, but there was no way that I was going to attempt removing 5000 nails (that’s what I calculated) and there was no guarantee that the floorboards would come off without breaking. And it was too late now anyway, as the removal of the floorboards should have happened before anything was started.
I’ve recently started to notice an amazing array of ‘crowdfunding‘ reports on news sites that, to me, appear no more than what I’d call modern-day begging. Begging has been with us for millennia and traditionally has been associated with the unfortunate and the poor, though it seems to have become a full-time occupation for some, even though begging is illegal in many places such as Melbourne. Traditionally, churches and other welfare organisations have been the main aid groups to assist those in need and still are, but a new group of beggars is emerging and using technology to enhance their begging opportunities. What’s really distasteful about this modern-day begging is that, in many instances, it’s not poor, homeless and underprivileged people doing this begging, but well-off Westerners wanting to enjoy a lifestyle without effort or personal responsibility and, dare I say, any semblance of ethics or morals.
In Part 2, the internal panelling was completed and now I had to build a base (hearth) for the Chiminea, as the floor couldn’t be left in its current manner. So I went about looking for some suitable tiles that I could lay in the corner and, as luck would have it, National Tiles in Traralgon had just what I needed on discount, so I ended up getting four 600mm2 ceramic tiles. Now the larger the tile the more difficult it can be to lay but, in this instance it was a simple situation so laying four tiles wasn’t a major issue. I was careful to sand down any unevenness in the floorboards before laying down the ceramic tile underlay, making sure that it was nailed down well and then giving it a coating of underlay primer/additive. I thought that 4kg of tile adhesive would have been enough (according to the instructions) but I had to get another 1kg tub to complete the job. I even surprised myself as to how level and even it turned out, though the grouting was a pain to apply.
Continuing on from Part 1, with the completion of the external panels, the internal panelling was another aspect that I dwelled on for some time before starting the project. My first thoughts were to use decorative corrugated iron (the small stuff), but it couldn’t be sourced in one metre width (or height depending on how you look at it), which meant buying two metre width and then cutting it but cutting corrugated iron is an utter pain. The second option was pine lining, but it only came in 4.8m lengths, which meant wasting 15m of lining for what I needed (72 x 1m lengths). So as things coalesced, I decided to use cement sheeting on the inside as well, as it was reasonably cheap, could be easily cut to fit the framework, there’d be minimal waste and we could paint it so that the interior would be as light as possible. Ensuring that we didn’t severely reduce the light was an important aspect of this build.
This post is somewhat out of left field for this blog and it came about because of a couple of videos that I recently viewed, which really resonated with me, considering many of the things that that I’ve experienced and what’s going on in today’s world, including Australia. Though not directly related to this story, but as a bit of an aside, from time to time a question is asked as to who you would like to meet, have lunch with or invite to a BBQ and, invariably, the responses or suggestions involve some lame celebrity, pop star, over-rated actor or the latest sports ‘personality’. Well if I had my druthers, I’d choose Mike Rowe. Some of you may have heard the name and can identify him immediately, others can’t quite pin it, while many others will likely give you a baffled look.
Following on from an earlier story about hammers, the other possibly most important tool ever devised by man, and one definitely found in every household, has to be the knife. Some suggest that the knife was the most significant tool; however, without a hammer (knapping), a knife may never have evolved or may have taken much longer to evolve; however, I’m not sure if anyone really knows how the knife came about. That said, I sometimes wonder whether one of our ancestors, wandering about a flint pile, cut their foot on a sharp rock and, on observing the result of stepping on a sharp piece of flint, perhaps a spark of an idea fomented and the knife was born. No one really knows when the first flint knife was created, but it most certainly was a long time ago.
Since moving into our country home close to five years ago, one of the most urgent tasks was to put a roof over the veranda, which we did a little while ago; however, there were still aspects that required attention. Firstly, while the veranda was well under one meter from ground level, I didn’t like the fact that it didn’t have a balustrade; as I preferred to err on the side of safety. Secondly, I also wanted to partially enclosure the veranda, because the prevailing weather blows cold wind and rain from one end (see photograph below), and when it’s not raining, leaves take over, producing a constant mess. In the long term, this isn’t good for the veranda and anything within. So with this in mind, we finally got moving on finishing off what we started some time ago.
I finally succumbed to the call of sous vide cooking and bought a sous vide cooker from Aldi, given the great price and warranty it offered. I’ve been fascinated by this cooking method for a long time, but the price of the sous vide cookers has held me at bay. However, like everything in this world, sooner or later products that at one time are very expensive and mainly used by specialists (in this case professional chefs), they eventually come down in price and effectively become commodity items. So it is with sous vide cookers and there are now a vast array of sous vide cookers available, starting from around the $120 mark, as for the Aldi cooker, and rising to prices in the thousands of dollars for commercial units, with the most highly regarded consumer ones around the $400-500 mark. But for a culinary hack like me, $119 is sufficient to try things out and learn about sous vide cooking.
In my story about The Good Old Days, I alluded to minority groups having a significant influence over societal changes and questioned whether that’s a good thing, but some of my comments appear to have been misconstrued as to who they were directed towards. So when another initiative by a group of Nanny State adherents, acting under the guise of ‘experts’ or do-gooders (well-meaning but unrealistic or interfering philanthropists or reformers) was announced, I thought I’d consolidate some of my views into a single story. I guess I’ve made it somewhat clear in a number of stories that government interference in our daily lives, to an extent that I’ve never experienced before, is one of my pet hates. Sanctimonious do-gooders, funded by taxpayers, need to have a reason for existence and thus keep coming up with more and more self-serving ideas to inflict upon everyone and it needs to stop.