My veggie garden is Cursed … even when I just think about it!

Oddly, it seems that I have never blogged about my very own personal Curse.

Veggie gardens.

No, it’s not the kind of “sucks all my time, darn weeds, get off my lawn” kind of curse. It’s the honest-to-goodness, do-it-and-badness-comes, cost-us-over-quarter-of-a-million-bucks-so-far, make-sure-you-capitalised-it kind of Curse.

Veggie Abundance

It all started in 1996. Freshly engaged, planning a wedding, I had a brief moment of domestic excitement and planted a veggie garden in the garden beds at our old home. A couple of months later, flushed with the money that was going to buy our honeymoon, we were driving down the next street and there was a house open for inspection, and suddenly we were moving into our own TOGETHER home a month later and if the veggies grew we weren’t around to see them.

But that was OK. A couple of years later, having settled into our new home, we insulated the roof and settled in for some domestic bliss … with a veggie garden, of course. That’s what people do when they buy a home. But then the roof started leaking on the new insulation, which meant that the ceiling was at risk, so we replaced the roof … and the contractors threw all the old tin down on top of my just-about-ready-to-harvest veggie garden, and we had to start from scratch. Except we didn’t, because Fraser was rumbling about “how much your veggie gardens have cost us”.

Fast forward a year or two, and the Bigster was toddling around our lives. It’s sort of a parent’s duty to teach their children where food comes from, so we went and had a lovely day planting some tomatoes and basil and parsley. It wasn’t quite a veggie garden, so I thought it should be OK.

That was Melbourne Cup Day, 2001. My mum tells me you should always plant your tomatoes on Cup Day. Sadly, though, the ghost of Phar Lap did not protect me, because look what happened just a couple of weeks later.

Holy crap. By now, the Curse had cost us around quarter of a MILLION Aussie dollars. OK, we got a house out of it, and a nice bathroom, and a new roof, but no more.

It’s been 12 years. TWELVE. Surely, I figured, the Curse had worn itself out.

We’re having some fixer-up work done on the house. After 17 years, there were some weatherboards that had split or started to rot, and there were some other things that needed fixing. We’re even having the outside painted (pretty). We figure, we’re here for the long haul. And I figured, maybe, I might even start a – I can hardly say it – a v-e-g-g-i-e-g-a-r-d-e-n once the work was finished. I nearly bought some potatoes last week but held off, waiting for the work to be finished.

And now, the Curse has struck again. Instead of burning out in those 12 years, it’s clearly been biding its time and has only got stronger – because I HAVEN’T ACTUALLY DONE ANYTHING YET. Just had a little think and touched a plant pot. Bzzzz! (I was going to put HERBS in it! They’re not veggies!)

My builder came to me last week to point some stuff out. Long story short, there is the makings of a termite infestation at one end of the house. And the studs on that side are rotten, and a little termite damaged. It doesn’t sound like much … until you realise that THE STUDS ARE THE THINGS THAT STOP THE ROOF FROM BEING THE FLOOR.


We’re waiting to hear back from the structural engineer. I felt a little ill when I heard he’d asked whether we were planning on selling. Worst case, we will have to jack up the roof and replace all the walls, plaster and all. Best case, we might be able to put in parallel studs or something. Worst case? It doesn’t bear thinking about. If it’s much more than $100k, we might have to knock the house down and rebuild. Termite baits will cost us a couple of thousand – we’re going for the long term protection ones, rather than the heavy-chemicals-every-three-years ones. Mostly because report suggest that the chemicals don’t work.

Does anyone know a secular exorcist? I think it might take more than crystals and burnt sage to clear this … or maybe I just need to open an account with the Greengrocer.


Posted by on July 11, 2013 in grand plans, house, not your earth logic


A plea to game companies, designers, and gamers in general.

One of the highlights of our gaming year is BorderCon in Albury. It’s a small and intimate con, with around 100-120 people, that runs over the Queen’s Birthday Weekend in June in what must be one of the COLDEST lowland areas of the country, right in the depths of Winter. Seriously, it’s bitterly cold – which makes it the perfect time to play games.

I haven’t written much about this lately, mostly because there isn’t much to say about it except weep weep it’s awful, but our 14 year old Bigster is still extremely unwell with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. At the end of Term 1, she dropped all but her five core subjects (her peers are taking nine subjects) of English, Maths, Science, Latin and German. Her Latin teacher isn’t sure that she can pass with her current attendance – even with the timetable affordances, she is still only getting to about 30% of her classes – so it’s on the critical list at the moment. She even dropped the history of warfare subject that she has been looking forward to since before she started high school. She’s dropped out of Saturday German as well, because she just can’t get there. The German name for this condition is Chronisches Erschöpfungssyndrom which translates literally as “chronic exhaustion syndrome” which seems a much better name to me – when you can’t get out of bed AT ALL some days, when you are a bookworm who is too exhausted to read, when you can’t wash your hair because you can’t actually stand up for the time it would take – that’s more than just fatigue.

The specialist tells us that she still has hope that Biggie may start to recover towards the end of the year. This is critical for us and we cling to that hope. Sadly, she’s not gaming much – the days when she played all (then) 12 Power Grid maps over one epic BorderCon weekend are behind us, at least for now.

The ME/CFS society of Australia offers support for people with this severely life-limiting condition (the 80% recovery rate for young people is much higher than that for adults) and funds research into it. There is no cure and no known cause.

Every year, BorderCon runs a raffle to aid a charity group, often raising over $1000. Donations are received from game companies within Australia as well as from attendees. This year, Neil has kindly agreed that the profits from the raffle will be donated to the ME/CFS Society of Australia.

I have a personal interest in making this the Biggest BorderCon Raffle Yet. So I am going out to game companies and to game designers to ask for your support. Can you donate a game? Can you donate a signed sticker that someone could paste inside their game box (or just put in there if they are a bit fussy about their boxes)? Maybe you have a piece of game artwork that could be included in the raffle? BorderCon is a small con with a big heart and any donation is always appreciated, even more so this year.


Posted by on May 2, 2013 in children, games, health


Four Reasons

Speaking to Otto about the Boston Marathon Bombing today, because she’s 10 and it’s time to tell her all the bad stuff I’d rather tell her myself before her friends do, and get it wrong.

“I can’t even begin to understand what could bring someone to do that,” says I.

“I can,” says Otto, then proceeds to enumerate:

  • They must have had a lot of alcohol
  • Or drunk a lot of drugs
  • Or MAYBE they were hypnotised. By a crazy magician.

She thought for a while, then added one:

  • Or they could just have been BORN EVIL.

I’m not sure where to begin. But I like the crazy magician theory.

1 Comment

Posted by on April 16, 2013 in children


The Perils of Online Shopping

As regular readers will know, I have a small habit of online shopping. Some (coughFrasercough) might call it a problem, but there are many instances where it has brought joy into our lives. Well, my life.

Like OMG and WTF self-inking stamps, which maybe aren’t used terribly often, but are often in my thoughts. Sometimes. But now that they ARE in my thoughts, I realise that they apply to some of the articles I have been reading for Uni. Useful AND Fun – look at that!

And the many, MANY parcels from the Book Depository that arrive on my doorstep (often literally – the postie doesn’t usually put them in the mailbox, for some reason) singing their sweet songs of happiness and delight.

And the Digital USB Microscope. OK, it doesn’t get much use, but just those three words are beautiful together.

And various t-shirts.

And then there are the things I have SEEN online but bought in person. Like the Inspection Camera. And many pairs of shoes.

And then there are the duds.

Let’s start with that new “Pern” book. Or the series of Piers Anthony books that I thought was not bad, so I ordered the whole lot, and then read the first one and where is that OMG WTF stamp when I need it, the series is such a shocker I didn’t even finish the first book and am seriously contemplating ceremonial incineration.

And the electronic mozzie bite relief thing. In a 2-pack.

And a solar house number, which really is SUCH a good idea because it is ILLUMINATED AT NIGHT so people can see your house number. But Fraser gives it a week before it is stolen and refuses to have it hung outside for that reason. So instead, it is inside where most people know our house number already. Not so useful after all.

And the mince pies.

Actually, they were part of a bread order. You get this enormous box full of bread and bread products and in theory you sink happily into carbohydrate heaven. In practice, you end up throwing out moldy bread because there is just too much of it and it’s not terribly nice, but the kids like the slices and the doughnuts and the muffins.

And there is this delicious little pack of mince pies that they sneak in there … except that when you go to open it, you notice that they were use by some time in January. And this went on for three of the four weeks that we had the standing bread product order, so Fraser sent them a little email saying I know mince pies live for ever, but presumably you took that into account when you created the use by dates, so – just maybe – it would be a good idea to stick to them, and they apologised. Yay!

And today, we had a new delivery. With mince pies. Except, they had TAKEN THEM OUT OF THE PACKAGING (but left them in the same tray).

And I think my food shopping on the Internet might be stopping right there.


Posted by on March 14, 2013 in shopping



My baby (my smallest baby) turns ten tomorrow.


Because she’s in the German school system (at least a little bit), she has been proudly telling everyone that she is in HIGH SCHOOL this year. Because, Year 5.

That was hard enough.

But still.


Leave a comment

Posted by on March 10, 2013 in children, family, parenting


Conversations with my husband (from late last year)

Almost verbatim. But edited.

Me: You know how we can’t find our satnav? And I thought maybe we should get another one but you said OVER YOUR DEAD BODY? And we are driving to South Australia? Well there’s a TomTom app that runs on an iphone.

Fraser: Ah ha

me: so you would not crack the shits if I got it?

Fraser: No. But I might ban you from Ikea for 6 months

me: lol << (“as if”)
I’m going to buy this sucker so I can wear it in a bit

Several minutes later …

Me: omg

Fraser: wot?

me: you can buy a YODA VOICE
for the TomTom

Fraser: no

me: Turn left, you must.
A roundabout, there will be.

Fraser: NO

me: Follow the third path, you should
I am not going to
but I am cracking up thinking about it
there is a lot of fun to be had there for $6.49

and, as it turns out, there is a lot of fun to be had wondering about what else Yoda might say.

  • The urge to speed, resist, you must.
  • An accident, there has been.
  • USE the brakes.



Posted by on March 8, 2013 in movies, shopping, travel


Back to study

It’s week 1 of Semester 1, and I’m stupidly attempting not one but TWO subjects in each semester this year. The Grand Plan,  as it stands for now, is to finish my Grad Dip this year and then decide what to do about further study or not, etc etc. A lot may depend on what happens at work, too, as Victoria has now apparently gone into recession and my bank account knows it.

What I love about studying this course is that it puts a conceptual framework around stuff that I already know and do. Which is not to say that I’m not learning new knowledge and skills, because I am (omg academic writing I had almost forgotten you), but that it has meaning and context for me.

OK, what I really love about this course is that I can write about games in NEARLY EVERY SUBJECT. OMG.

Especially this semester’s subjects, which are “Internet Collaboration and Organisation” and “Internet Communities and Social Networks”. SO MUCH LOVE.


Posted by on March 8, 2013 in study