Home Again

We haven’t been home long and we are able to get most of our meals from the garden. We start with a very fresh and crisp green garden salad. IMG_3713

We find that there are a few ripe avocados still on the tree, so we pick one and add it to the salad. It’s a special bonus. We wouldn’t have any left at all due to the birds and possums if it weren’t for Janine getting out there and bagging the last of the fruit before we left.

I manage to find some time to get out into the garden and pull out all the spent corn stalks and dead tomatoes vines. I have a few goes at it over a couple of days and eventually make a bit of a difference. I lime the soil with dolomite. A natural mixture of calcium carbonate and magnesium carbonate in about a 50/50 ratio. It sweetens the soil and negates some of the natural buildup of acidity through our use of a wide range of organic composts. We make compost from everything that we have on our place here, including pine needles and gum leaves. Everything that is organic and can rot is composted down to a black/brown peaty compost and used as mulch somewhere on the block. Pine needles and gum leaves tend to be acid, so are good for strawberries and blue berries, but bad for other plants that like a more neutral or alkaline pH.

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We also add a layer of composted chicken manure on top of the freshly exposed, weeded soil, then cover it all with more compost. I try not to dig unless I have to. The worms seem to do that for us, If left to their own devices.

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I pick a cabbage and make our first home made okonomiyaki at home here after our return. The cabbage is a whopper. It has grown well while we have been away. I only use a 1/4 for 4 pancakes. I add in some other vegetables that we have including a grated carrot and a finely sliced red capsicum;. These wouldn’t usually be included in such a dish in Japan, but we aren’t in Japan anymore. We are home and this is what we have. And after all, okonomiyaki actually translates as something like ‘add what you like’. So I do!

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The washing machine decides that it will only do one more wash and then burns out. It stops mid-wash and goes no-more. We have to drain out the water from the unit before we can open the door of the front loader. This machine has done well. Over twenty four years of continuous service. I can thoroughly recommend the ASCO ASEA brand for a quality, reliable, long lasting product. All you have to do is find a brand new and unused model from 20 years ago and you’ll have a good quality machine. God only knows what the current products are like in terms of long lasting quality. Anyway, I’m very pleased with our choice from two and a half decades ago. There is a lot of embodied energy in a thing like this and it really needs to have a long life to justify its existence, otherwise it just becomes more of the same old land fill junk that the big companies want us to cycle through endlessly at great expanse to the planet. Built in obsolescence is a crime against society. So good on you ASCO, for still stocking spare parts for this old model.

I knew that the water pump in the washing machine was wearing out for some time and I ordered a new one a few months ago. It took a couple of months to get here, as it had to come from Sweden. The new pump arrived just before we left on our travels, so we were lucky that it didn’t fail while we were away and cause Annabelle, our house-sitter, any problems. The local agent doesn’t carry spares for 24 year old products. I can understand. I’m pleased to get one at all after all this time.

I set to work to replace it, but like all these jobs, it turns out to be a bigger, longer, more complex job than I imagined. Firstly, the new pump isn’t complete, I have to take some parts off the old one to make it fit. Second, the old parts are quite well settled into place after 24 years in wet, humid conditions and take quite a bit of un-doing. I am forced to retreat from the laundry and go down to the workshop to get my hands on some serious tools. The Swiss army knife isn’t going to cut it on this job on its own.

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I manage to get all the parts swapped over including the fan on the pump motor. I’m amazed that this isn’t included. It’s only a simple plastic part worth just a few cents. it has the be prised off the old shaft and it’s a tight press-fit on the new one. I had to pay $250 for this little pump. I’m amazed that they can’t supply a mounting plate and plastic fan for that money!


The electrical cable is just long enough for the factory technician to fit the pump, while it is up-side-down in the factory, in good light and with the correct tools, and plenty of practice. When I’m working down in a dark corner, on my back, in a confined space, holding a torch in one hand, a pair of pliers in the other and then with my other 2 free hands I am able to manipulate the electrical clips in the correct order, otherwise the last one won’t fit!!!!! I question the logic of this thriftiness. This all has to be accomplished in just 100 x 300 mm. of access space. I’m finding it quite difficult to get both my arms in there at the same time, never mind to be able to see what I’m doing and work accurately.

The last minor annoyance is that the rubber hoses are all crimped on with single-use metal clamps that need to be broken to get them off. Luckily, I keep a lot of different sizes of adjustable hose clamps in stock here for other uses. Fortunately I have 50mm, 35mm and 25mm dia clamps in my tool box. Eventually it’s all done. The only real joy that I can take from this is that I didn’t have to pay a technician another $250 to come out here and do it for me and most importantly, I have forestalled waste by keeping this old appliance going for another few years. So this is self reliance.

While I’m in maintenance mode, I set about rebuilding a Venco potters wheel destined for an aid project in Cambodia. It arrived here completely disassembled and in a few different cardboard boxes of loose parts. it has a reconditioned motor and all new grommets as well as a new rubber drive wheel. Everything reconditioned for a long life ahead.

It takes me an hour or two just to figure out the order in which I must do the job to get it all to work out. I have one false start and then it goes smoothly. If I had taken it apart myself. I would have remembered the sequence, but as it has all been completely disassembled by someone else, I have no memories to call on. I have to work it out using only logic.

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It goes and it works OK, so I am happy with that. This old wheel will now have a new life ahead if it in Cambodia in a village pottery workshop for many years to come. More waste forestalled.