Catching Up Again

Hi All
Once again it seems like ages since I wrote, I’m getting either lazy or busy!  Today I have been filling in forms for the Tasmanian Home Education Advisory Council who are sending a representative to meet with me on Friday.  They want to assess the school programme we have running for the kids so I had to write down what we do in various areas and what texts we use and where the kids are up to and so on and so forth.  It was not too bad because we tend to keep good records anyway as we had to report in WA as well, but it is a little different here.  Anyway it seemed to take me half the day to get it done, and then they want dated samples of work, which was a bit more difficult since a bunch of the work was done in Albany and is in boxes in the garage and also we have leaned towards less written proof of our learning as time has gone on, but hopefully I have enough to satisfy them.  Since a lot of folk over here seem to do unschooling I can’t see that they can complain too much about what we do.
We have slept over at our block 3 times now, twice it was quite pleasant and once we froze our butts off.  However on Saturday we bought a second hand but good condition built in wood heater with a fan and hopefully we can install that soon, it will be a lot more efficient than the open fire I am sure.  We also picked up a pot belly stove at an auction, originally thinking it would go into the second cabin, but Kim is now thinking of putting it into the kitchen instead.  We’ll have to see how we go.  We continue to clean up piles of tree offcuts from around the shack and do various other odd jobs whenever we are there.  Kim has to go over again on Wednesday to meet someone from Telstra to see if they can connect the phone using the old line that is there, he was supposed to come last Friday but never showed up.  Since it is an hour and a half drive from here to the block that was just a bit of a nuisance.  There has been all sorts of confusion over the phone connection between Telstra and various sub contractors and sub sub contractors.  At first they said we had to put in a new line from the junction to the shack, then we had to dig the trench for the new line to go in and they would provide the line, now it appears they can try to connect the old line after all, but the latest is that another sub contractor says we need to find someone else to locate the end of the line first, however Telstra didn’t indicate this themselves so we’ll just wait until the guy gets there and see what happens.  Either way since we are about 13km from the nearest exchange it would appear that broadband is not going to happen.  We’ll have to look into satellite I think, and if getting the phone itself connected is going to be a major headache we may research skype in and out instead, or check out all the satellite providers regarding VOIP.  Eventually I guess we will get there, one way or another.  We also have a neighbourhood rat on our block.  He ate the tops off the vegemite jar, peanut butter jar and soy sauce bottle and chewed numerous holes in the cordial container that I left at the shack last week.  We have left a trap there this week in the hope of stopping him dead.
On to local politics.  Things are heating up with the Deloraine/Mole Creek and surrounds community debate about the implementation of the Protection of Agricultural Land act by the local council – Meander Valley.  We went to a public meeting in Deloraine last Thursday night and quite enjoyed the feisty atmosphere of the evening where they voted through a number of resolutions to take back to council.  Unfortunately of course it was all a bit of a toothless tiger thing, but certainly there are a large number of people who are prepared to fight some of the ‘over the top’ regulations that the councils are bringing in which stop people from building on their own land, amongst other things.  The act itself never mentions a lot of what is being done.  This directly affects us as if the amendment that is proposed goes through it stops people from building on plots of land that are less than 40 hectares, even if they are not prime agricultural land.  It has been interesting to hear some suggestions that the RPDC, which is the body that liases with the councils to tell them how to formulate their amendments, is bringing in these rules that go against the PAL act itself in order to support the tax avoidance forestry plantations that are swallowing up lots of land over here.  We certainly have seen that most of the councils seem to have the implementation of the act in almost the same words so it is very interesting.  I certainly hope they do quash the 40 hectare limit, that will be helpful for us.  We were talking to the deputy mayor who has been quite a mover and shaker with this issue and who turns out to be a christian as well, and he was quite positive that at least this aspect will be removed.
Funnily enough it turns out that there are lots and lots of Howe’s in Mole Creek.  Someone said that out of 150 families there 149 were called Howe – an exaggeration of course but apparently half of them are spelt How and the other half Howe.  We met our neighbour on one side on Saturday, who only comes down on weekends, and his name is Bernie Howe.  We have yet to catch up with the other people in the street who live much closer.
I forgot to tell you that we recently experienced our first cracker night in Tassie.  They remind everyone though the papers to lock up their pets on a particular night in May and everyone can go out and get fireworks and set them off, just like some hazy memories I have from my distant childhood in WA before they outlawed it.  You can buy and use many fireworks without a permit, but do need a permit for some.  The church had a get together a couple of weeks after cracker night and had a fireworks night then.  They built a huge bonfire, invited the neighbours and set off lots of crackers while munching on sausages in buns and sipping soup.  They even had a wheat and milk free pumpkin soup which Sam could eat!  There were little fireworks that did little more than make a loud bang, to funny ones that spun around as they flew up throwing out sparks along the way, to various smaller rockets and finally they let off some that were just the same as we used to see at the Albany show.  It was a good time, if a little cold!
As of today they have closed off the bridge we usually use at the end of our road.  We now have to detour through Burns Creek to get into town.  They are replacing parts of the bridge apparently and should have it open again in 2 weeks.  It is not too bad in the daytime, adding about 10 minutes, but will slow us down even more in the evenings because there is so much wildlife out then.  I am sad to say we have spoilt our clean record of no roadkill by hitting a wombat and pademelon in the same night just recently, both of them on our gravel road.  Not a good event for an animal loving ex-vet nurse like me!  However on the good side I have added to my list of critters seen with an echidna (actually in the daytime) and a Tassie Devil as well.  We have seen lots of deer lately, they seem to hang around in the early mornings but are very nervous and flighty.  They can jump a fence well though.
Caleb is going to a TAFE enrolment day on Wednesday and will chat to the advisors there about what he can do.  I think he is tired of feeling unemployed and unwanted!  Sam’s health has taken a turn for the better this week, and he is happily reporting that he has felt pretty good for 3 days now.  Lydia is well as always and spends many hours drawing with her graphics tablet on the computer, 99% of the time her drawings are of ponies but I guess it is all good practice.  Somehow she manages to fit in a little schoolwork along the way.  Josiah is starting to come around to the idea that he really can read, even if he can’t read every single word he sees yet.  He continues to be a cheerful if time consuming fellow, and remains obsessed with computers.  However we recently picked up a trampoline at a garage sale and installed it at our block so he is pretty happy about that.  He can spend an amazing amount of time jumping on a trampoline.
Kim’s health continues to be quite good, apart from an attack of kidney stones which seemed to pass without any major intervention being required.  He is very busy researching everything and planning and organising things for us and our future, and I sometimes think he must be overloaded with responsibility, but he seems to manage okay.  I sometimes think he wishes there were more hours in the day, but that could be me just being my usual impatient self.  He is enjoying getting to know the church people I think, as they are a bit different from everyone else we know, most of them have quite a depth of similar theological understanding to ourselves and yet they come from a very different background.  He has taken our 71 VW wagon successfully over the pits now and so it is sporting new Tassie plates.  The beetle has been installed onto the block for the time being, until we have the time to do some restoration work on it too.
I am going fine.  I went through a bit of homesickness for a little while recently, just missing familiarity I think.  You know, there is a certain comfort to be found in the familiar, people that you know how they will react, gardens that you know what will grow in, churches where they sing songs the way you expect them to be sung, houses that you know all the warm and cold areas of, roads that you know where they go and what you will find along the way…  Anyway I am feeling back on track again now, most of the time anyway.  I am finding it a little hard to adjust to living out of town because it makes it more difficult to be involved in things, especially when I don’t like the night drives with all the wildlife out there trying to get themselves killed under my wheels.  Mole Creek will be better for that as there seems to be less wildlife about at night, probably because there is more farmland rather than so much bush where we are.  I also miss my vege gardens, I found it very peace inducing to plant things in my gardens and watch them grow, and I can’t really get started on more until we move onto the block so I’ll just have to learn to be content where I am.  However I did manage to pick up a worm farm last week, so I’ll have to see if worms can survive the freezing cold of inland Tassie in winter.  It has gone against the grain to throw food scraps out I must say so it will be nice to have worms again, even if I can’t have chooks yet.  I got the worm farm and a rug for the shack at second hand shop that is run by a member of our church as a fund raiser for missions.  The name of the shop is Goods in Remission, which I thought was cute.  Good prices too, and that from a hardened second hand shopper!
A week ago we went for another drive to Ben Lomond National Park.  We went as far as we could without snow chains.  We actually thought all the snow would have melted because we couldn’t see it anymore from the distance.  But to our delight there were small patches of snow still around so we got to touch our first sample.  It was actually just like what you get when you scrape out the frost in the freezer, just like my sister in Canada told me once, but we were still pretty chuffed.  Since then there has been more snow appear on that mountain top, as well as on the Western Tiers on the way to Mole Creek, so we really must get some snow chains to go and see some fresh stuff.  It’s all very new and exciting for West Australians who’ve never seen the cold stuff.  My relatives in Canada must think we are pretty silly.  I have decided that sub zero temperatures have a bit of a bite.  Down to near zero is not TOO bad, but once it gets to zero and below the cold really feels sharp against your skin.  How on earth do people manage in the sort of well below zero temperatures that are to be had in places like Canada?  Recently we have had a bit more misty rain and so the temperatures have been a bit milder which is nice, and we do need the rain.
Well, I am under pressure to finish up and pass the computer on to others now so I guess I better go.  Love to you all.
Cathy
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