Like an old friend, that green couch and I go way back, and how it came into my life is an interesting story. The title of this week’s blog sounds a bit pervy, doesn’t it? However it is worth mentioning that the green couch in question is a very respectable couch you know!
The idea for purchasing the green couch arose way back in the mid 1990’s. And the idea for the purchase was at the repeated insistence of the local real estate agent. I was trying to sell a house in the middle of a recession and back in those days few people were actually buying houses. The real estate agent simply wanted his commission from the sale of the house and quite politely told me that the existing couch looked as if it had been only recently been removed from a landfill and should be replaced.
The agent was making a reasonable observation because the existing couch was propped up on bricks and additionally had to be covered over with a sheet so as to hide both those bricks and the many holes in the fabric coverings. House mates can be brutal on furniture and that existing couch had witnessed many house mates. Actually, if the couch could have talked, it may possibly have told many entertaining stories. Fortunately, the couch could not tell its story! That old couch was not new when I inherited it as it had lived with many different families over its life and was possibly between three and four decades old. Anyway, it would be a fair thing to say that the existing couch’s best days were behind it and it was probably beyond repair.
The real estate agent was very insistent that the old couch had to go because it did not look good and would discourage potential buyers from considering purchasing the house (the technical description for the old couch was: Eyesore).
So, one dark Friday evening, the editor and I drove my little 1 Litre (all 61 cubic inches) 4 speed Suzuki car the two suburbs over to Brooklyn (that is a suburb of Melbourne). Back then Brooklyn was very gritty as it contained a lot of heavy industries. Mind you, there were refineries and other such inexplicably large industries in the suburb that we were living in at the time, so I didn’t really notice any of that stuff.
One advantage of a suburb with heavy industry, is that there are usually a lot of very large sheds. And Brooklyn contained Sidney’s lounge discounters in one of those very large sheds. These days furniture stores look very flashy to me. However, back then it would be a massive stretch of the imagination to say that Sidney’s was a flashy furniture store. I mean the shop was in an industrial estate, in an over sized shed, in an out of the way suburb and that night we were the only people, other than the sales guy, in the shop. It was quiet, like a scene out of Alfred Hitchcock's film: Psycho.
Sidney’s did have a serious strategic advantage over other furniture shops though, and that was because they kept their costs down, they were cheap. And way back then, most of the furniture for sale was locally manufactured. Furniture was not cheap back then and that is why we had a couch that was propped up on bricks, covered over with a sheet and full of holes in the first place.
The sales guy at the shop eventually talked the editor and I into purchasing a locally manufactured green plaid two seater couch. And it cost us almost a month’s wages, which we could ill afford. But that real estate agent was very insistent…
And two decades later this is what the green plaid couch looks like:
|The green plaid couch two decades on, looking almost as good as new|
I keep an eye on the zeitgeist and I've noticed very recently that in some of the high end designer stores, plaid coverings seem to be making a return to favour. I cannot imagine that the sort of rubbish being sold as furniture today will look as good in two decades time as that locally manufactured green couch.
What I’ve also failed to mention is just how much abuse that green couch has had to suffer in the intervening years. Check this out:
|The green plaid and locally manufactured couch cushions are used on the raw dirt during the construction of the house here back in 2009|
Observant readers will note that on the very right hand side of the photo is a small grey vacuum cleaner that I was using at the time to suck dirt out of the holes. That vacuum cleaner was a hand me down from the editor’s mother and it is still in use today and I even use that vacuum cleaner to suck leaves out of the guttering which collects the rain water!
And I won’t even mention the cat which used to share the house (and green plaid couch). That cat had suffered from cat flu as a kitten and he used to blow snot bubbles which hardened into an almost epoxy resin like substance on any surface of the house and the fabric of that green couch was no exception. Or the dog that used to enjoy sleeping on the couch, but at one stage had some weird skin allergy which smelled like last weeks un-refrigrated casserole. In hindsight, I wish that I had purchased more of those green couches and I often wonder whether the demise of local manufacturing and the shoddy goods supplied to us these days has been a good thing. From my perspective, that doesn't seem to be the case.
Speaking of which, I have recently been searching for a supplier for skivvies (which are a long sleeved t-shirt with a turtle neck). It is very hard to maintain my winter style without skivvies! I used to work as an accountant in both the clothing and footwear manufacturing industries and all that I can observe is that recently the fit and finish of the clothing being supplied to us now is total rubbish. And because a few generations have passed since sewing was considered to be a necessary part of a family’s existence, no one seems to even notice the low quality!
This week, the editor and I finally decided to address the complete lack of storage and preparation space in the kitchen. The recent glut of zucchinis discussed in last week’s blog was the final straw (that broke the proverbial camel’s back). To that end the old stainless steel island bench was replaced with four flat pack cupboards which would make a new island bench.
|Four cupboards replaced the existing stainless steel island bench in the kitchen|
The funny thing was though, the cupboards just didn’t look right. There is a rule of thumb relating to aesthetics which says that in order for rectangular buildings to look correct to the untrained eye, the proportions must adhere to a one third / two thirds basis. Those four island bench cupboards proved that rule of thumb to be true because they just looked so very wrong!
|Two further cupboards were added to the existing island bench in the kitchen|
Two further cupboards were added to the island bench in the kitchen and then all was good, aesthetically speaking of course. It was fortunate that the two cupboards had to be added, because I’d completely stuffed up the location of the feet and in order to correct that problem the entire unit had to be disassembled anyway. Before too long (well, actually after many hours), the doors were added and a few scraps of plywood were included as a temporary benchtop. I use the word temporary because the suppliers of the flat pack cupboards no longer supply benchtops. This was an unexpected occurrence and the editor and I spent a few hours on Friday afternoon meeting benchtop suppliers in strange industrial like suburbs (everything old is new again! Sidney's benchtop discounters anyone!).
|The new island bench cupboards began to be filled with farm produce today|
The old stainless steel bench was not scrapped. That bench has been relocated outside undercover where it will become the outdoor summer kitchen. I may want to consume freshly baked bread on a 40’C+ (104’F+) degree day, but I seriously don’t want to be using an electric (solar powered) oven inside on such a day. Imagine dehydrating tomatoes on such a hot day too, in the house for 10 hours… And that is where an outdoor kitchen comes into play.
|The stainless steel bench has now been repurposed into an under-cover outdoor kitchen|
Speaking of bright ideas. Lewis, who is a regular commenter here, has spoken in the past about utilising a light in his chicken house. What a good idea. As the days are getting shorter here and winter is looming, I’ve noticed that at around dusk there is enough light from the setting sun to see the chickens heading off to bed. However, once inside the chicken house it is very dark, so I’ve added a magnetic LED battery light to the wall of the steel chicken house. That way the chickens can see what they are doing when they head off to bed. Before that LED light was used, there used to be quite a lot of fighting between the chickens, because in the dark, the late to bed chickens used to jump on top of other already settled-in-for-the-night chickens, who really didn’t seem to appreciate the inconvenience.
|A magnetic battery operated LED provides light to the chickens in their hen house when they go to bed at night|
It rained this week and it was nice to see that forgotten wet stuff falling from the sky. The rain has meant that I’ve been able to stop watering all of the recently installed plants – like the fern gully.
|Poopy inspects the newly planted rainforest gully after a recent rainfall|
The wildlife here is enjoying the moister and greener conditions and a few nights ago, this kangaroo bull decided to enjoy the herbage not 10m (33 feet) from where I was sitting. The chickens didn’t seem to care about the kangaroo.
|A bull kangaroo enjoys the green pick in the orchard whilst the chickens look on|
And speaking of marsupials, I noticed today that Scritchy the boss dog ventured into the old strawberry bed to investigate the damage that the wallabies have caused. The funny thing was that she became stuck in the netting and had to be extracted. Poopy clearly thought that the situation was very amusing!
|Dude, what are you doing? Poopy looks on whilst Scritchy the boss dog became entangled in the netting in the now destroyed strawberry bed|
The cooler conditions and recent rainfall has meant that the raised garden beds have rapidly filled with the many greens that we eat. There are all sorts of plants growing: various lettuces; mustards; rocket; celery; parsley; and onions. Those greens will continue to grow all winter.
|The recent cooler temperatures and rainfall has meant that the greens have grown in the raised garden beds|
Many of the citrus fruit trees will provide fruit over winter too and home grown mandarins are far superior tasting to the store purchased fruit. This poor fruit tree has recovered from a wallaby attack and is now producing a lot of fruit.
|A mandarin fruit tree which is recovering from a wallaby attack is now producing a lot of fruit which should be ripe in a month or two|
I used to feed the dogs toasted muesli which had pumpkin seeds in it. After being baked in the oven and then passing through a dog gut, one very hardy pumpkin seed established itself in the orchard and today it looks like this (and I have not watered the vine once this entire growing season). Given the market for civet coffee, the editor and I are rather excited about the potential new market for civet (poopy?) pumpkins:
|A pumpkin plant has taken hold in the orchard after having the seed consumed by a dog as toasted muesli and then being excreted in the orchard. Civet pumpkins anyone?|
As autumn continues and the daylight hours get shorter, the many deciduous trees are putting on a good display. In the orchard, this nashi (Asian) pear has turned a beautiful yellow colour.
|Autumn continues and the daylight hours slowly reduce. A nashi pear begins to turn colour to a beautiful yellow|
The temperature outside now at about 8.15pm is 11.0'C degrees Celsius (51.8'F). So far this year there has been 128.2mm (5.0 inches) of rainfall which is up from last week's total of 115.4mm (4.5 inches).