Thursday, January 28, 2010

A few months' worth of reading

I had planned to write a review of each book as I read it. Alas, I've been reading too much, and internet access has been too little. I have, however, been rating what I've been reading, so here is a list covering September 2009 - January 2010:

5 stars
"In Defense of Food" Michael Pollan
"This Accursed Land" by Lennard Bickel
"The Black Swan" Nassim Nicholas Taleb

4.5 stars
"Cooper's Creek" Alan Moorehead
"The Explorers" Tim Flannery
"Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" Barbara Kingsolver
"Fooled by Randomness" Nassim Nicholas Taleb

4 stars
"South" Ernest Shackleton
"True Grit" Charles Portis
"Papillon" Henri Charriere
"Real Dirt: How I Beat My Grid-Life Crisis" James Woodford
"Oryx and Crake" Margaret Atwood
"Going Solo" Roald Dahl
"The Mud House" Richard Glover
"Two Weeks with the Queen" Morris Gleitzmen
"Van Diemen's Land" James Boyce
"A Terrible Beauty" Richard Flanagan

3.5 stars
"Life is so Good" George Dawson
"Frog Call" Greg French
"The Last Grain Race" Eric Newby
"The Wee Free Men" Terry Pratchett
"The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents" Terry Pratchett
"Hat Full of Sky" Terry Pratchett
"The Secret Life of Wombats" James Woodford
"Eiger Dreams" Jon Krakeuer
"Handmaid's Tale" Margaret Atwood

3 stars
"Desert Solitaire" Edward Abbey
"Banco" Henri Charriere
"The Element" Ken Robinson
"Masquerade" Terry Pratchett
"Jaguars Ripped My Flesh" Tim Cahill
"Death of a River Guide" Richard Flanagan

2.5 stars
"Deep Survival" Laurence Gonzales
"My Uncle Oswald" Roald Dahl
"A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush" Eric Newby

2 stars
"Walden" Henry Thoreau

Interesting how the distribution is very Gaussian ...

The best shelf builder in the universe!

These have been three months in the making, and at last, they are done!

Since moving to Hobart, our bedroom has been full of piles of assorted stuff. Finally we have a place to organise it all.

The shelves are made from all-recycled timber - the uprights and joists bought from the local tip shop, the shelving I scavenged on hard waste day. The thing about cheap recycled wood is that it's rarely straight, which makes it hard to get things neat. But it's good enough, and pretty solid. It's not very easy to dismantle, though, so hopefully we don't need to move anywhere in a hurry ...

In all I reckon I spent $30 ($15 for timber, $15 for screws), and it took me 15 hours. By comparison I could have bought equivalent shelving from IKEA for say $150. But the over-blown sense satisfaction just wouldn't be there!

Next big project is perhaps a bed - I want a high-rise double bed with lots of space under it for a desk and hanging space.

Summer garden

Here is a photo of our garden down here in Tasmania. It's going great! (Click for a bigger version.)

The chickens are up in the back left. We have seven of them. Three are young chicks that hatched a couple of months ago. We still don't know if they are hens or roosters yet. If they are boys, then we'll be having a roast dinner! Our original chickens were all bantams, but the chicks came from non-bantam stock (I think) so they are rapidly out-growing the old guard. So many chickens makes for a fun feeding time.

The corn is in old chicken soil, so it is growing like crazy - pushing seven feet tall! Hopefully we'll get a good crop in another few weeks. We've a few pumpkins, one of which has its roots in under the chicken coop, and so is gradually taking over the yard. I've trained a couple of others up on the fence, and have some nice young pumpkins hanging there, rapidly expanding in size. Will be great to get a bunch of pumpkins and store them away for the winter.

We've about 30 tomato plants, most of them along the right hand fence. They haven't ripened yet, and some of them haven't even set fruit. So not sure what sort of a harvest we'll get. We're banking on a big one so we can do lots of preserving.

Down the front left are some Scarlet Runner beans, climbing up the fence. These are lush, but I suspect a possum has been getting at the beans, because there haven't been too many for us! Our bush butter beans have been more successful, and are wonderfully juicy. Also down the front is our small strawberry patch, which produces the occasional gem of a strawberry. Nothing like home-grown berries!

A bunch of things have gone to seed, so it's about time we pulled them out and thought about getting our autumn/winter crop in.