The Christmas Curse – update

If you’ve been following this blog, you’ll know about my kitchen sink. Well, after doing the dishes in a bucket last night, then needing the Offspring to lift the bucket out of the sink [coz I put too much water in it], I was not a happy camper. As soon as I woke this morning, I was on the phone to a plumbing company called H2Pro.

‘Is 8 am tomorrow okay?’

Oh god, yes! Babbling my thanks, I did a jig around the kitchen. I really did think I’d be without a working kitchen for Christmas.

I won’t know the cost until tomorrow, but I’ve used H2Pro before and found them to be reasonable in price. More importantly, they come when they say they will and always do a good job. To me, that’s even more important than price because I’ve had so many bad experiences with plumbers in the past.

If that sounds like a plug for the plumber, you’re right, it is. These guys do good work. If you’re in the general Warrandyte area, give them a try:

H2-Pro Plumbing

9844 1444

h2pro.com.au

Oh, and this is my kitchen ‘sink’ at the moment:

I had to race out to Bunnings yesterday to buy it. At least the colour is nice.

The end is in sight!

cheers

Meeks


The Christmas Curse strikes, again

For a number of years now, I’ve noticed that on or around Christmas, something major always goes wrong. Sometimes it’s to do with the cars, but mostly it’s to do with the house. One year it was a blocked toilet. Another year, my fire-fighting pumps stopped working because the idiots that did the servicing filled them up with 2-stroke petrol. That was a very bad year. This year, it seems the kitchen is taking its turn.

The Offspring and I had planned on doing some baking today – cupcakes and gingerbread men – for a pre-Christmas visit to family. Not gonna happen because the kitchen sink has sprung a leak, a big one. We found out when water started flowing from the cupboard under the sink.

Being the daughter of a mechanical engineer, I mopped up the water and started experimenting. Yup, the connection from the sink outlet to the pipe below isn’t just leaking, it’s spraying water. What’s worse, because of the way the two sinks are plumbed, we can’t use the smaller sink either. No sinks, no dishwasher, no baking or cooking. And it’s Sunday, less than 10 days before Christmas. I wonder how long it’ll take for a plumber to get out here…

I did consider calling an after-hours, emergency plumber…for all of about 5 seconds. Then I remembered the last time I’d had to do that. It was over twelve years ago and cost me $500 back then. Nope, definitely not gonna happen.

So here we are, up the creek without a sink. Sometimes I really wish I’d been born a plumber’s daughter.  😦

Meeks

 

 

 

 

 

Inevitably, this major something ends up costing a major amount of money.


3D printing research – here in Melbourne

My thanks to SV3DPRINTER for pointing me to this interesting article from Swinburne University, right here in Melbourne [Australia]:

https://www.swinburne.edu.au/news/latest-news/2018/08/pioneering-housing-construction-with-3d-concrete-printers-at-swinburne.php

Although Professor Jay Sanjayan wasn’t giving away any technical secrets about his new process, the prospect of new materials to use in the printing process is very exciting. Nevertheless, it’s his comments about disruption to the construction industry that really got me thinking. 3D printing in construction makes it possible to automate construction.

But then what happens to the brickies and steel workers and carpenters whose jobs will become redundant?

I’m excited by the possibilities brought about by 3D printing, but also a little apprehensive. I firmly believe that some form of Universal Basic Income [UBI] will become necessary, possibly even in my lifetime. Sobering thought.

cheers

Meeks

 


Ani’s Advent stories – my Christmas Roast

Apologies in advance but the timezone differences always trip me up. I hope I’m still in time to point you towards Sue Vincent’s blog where Ani [the 2nd cutest dog in the world] is hosting a different Christmas related story each day. Hence the ‘Advent’ theme. 🙂

Today, it’s my turn and Ani very kindly agreed to host my sci-fi short story – The Christmas Roast. You can find it here:

Ani’s Advent Calendar 2018! Just chilling with a story from A. C. Flory

Huge hugs to both Sue and Ani. I’ve enjoyed the Advent stories others have told and I hope everyone enjoys mine!

Meeks


I finally went and did it!

This one’s for Frank Prem who’s been hounding strenuously encouraging me to try and interest a bookshop in my books. Well, today I walked into the independent bookshop in Eltham and asked if I could leave a free sample of my work. 🙂

The sample is my tiny book of sci-fi short stories:

The paperback of The Egg is so thin, there’s no room on the spine for the title! But when I realised how cheaply I could print it on IngramSpark, I decided to use it as my ‘calling card’.

Getting back to that bookshop, I’ve been carrying a copy of The Egg around with me for weeks, but the moment was never right. It was too hot, too cold, I wasn’t dressed ‘appropriately’, I was too busy with other things…in short, I was a coward. I’m still a coward, but something clicked in my brain today, and I did the deed. I was dressed to do supermarket shopping so probably looked like a deranged bag lady, but I did it!

The owner of the shop was very nice and said she’d have to look at the book before offering it to her customers, even as a free sample. I reassured her that I expected nothing less. In reality, however, I don’t expect her to read it at all, and I don’t expect her to get in contact with me for another sample. Why? Because looking around the shop, I realised that sci-fi, even from big, traditional authors, is only a very small part of the books offered for sale. So the Egg is not exactly a good ‘fit’.

I also realised that dealing with a self-published author would inevitably cause a disruption to the normal processes of the shop. Why go to so much bother for a genre that probably doesn’t sell very well? Realistically, that is the truth, and I suspect I’d probably feel the same if the roles were reversed.

Nevertheless, I’m not disappointed. I overcame my nerves and gave it a shot, and that was the real purpose of the exercise. To prove to myself that I could. Next stop will be a second hand bookshop in Warrandyte and a cafe that leaves books lying around on the tables for customers to read.

If you guys have any suggestions for real world ‘marketing’, I’m all ears!

cheers

Meeks

 

 

 

 


Update to Miira is permafree on Amazon

December 5, 2018 Update….I am officially an idiot. I was so excited to have Miira permafree on Amazon, I totally forgot to include the link for the book. Can I plead old age as an excuse?

A huge thank you to Cage Dunn for giving me a gentle nudge in the right direction. As Bluebottle would say: ‘I feel a proper fool’. 😦

Okay, here are the urls for Miira I should have included in the post, all of them:

Amazon

BnN
https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/miira-acflory/1127308201;jsessionid=0BF6E77AA708B377617AE0D06A618016.prodny_store01-atgap03?ean=2940154886793

Kobo
https://www.kobo.com/au/en/ebook/miira

Angus & Robertson [au]
https://www.angusrobertson.com.au/ebooks/miira-acflory/p/9780648162728

Indigo
https://www.chapters.indigo.ca/en-ca/books/miira-innerscape/9780648162728-item.html?ikwid=Miira&ikwsec=Home&ikwidx=0

Now I can relax. -hugs to all-

Meeks

I’m so excited, I don’t know what to do with myself. I finally got up the courage to ask Amazon to make Miira [book 1 of Innerscape] permafree to match B&N, Kobo et al,… and it’s happening!

So far, I’ve checked amazon.com and amazon.com.au, and the ebook is $0.00 on both! Sadly, amazon.co.uk hasn’t gone to permafree yet, but I’m sure it’s on the way. This has literally just happened, or at least I’ve only just noticed. If anyone sees Miira going permafree somewhere else, please let me know.

It’s odd, this feels like an early Christmas present. At least now I have the hope that more people will give Innerscape a try. And to celebrate, we’re getting pizza tonight.

-thinks- I might just indulge in some Cabernet Sauvignon as well. 🙂

cheers

Meeks


Christmas in a Teapot. :)

As an antidote to all the marketing I did over the last few days, here’s something that’s just for fun:

Yes, it’s a bright, red teapot on wheels and it sells Mulled wine, Eggnog and something called a Maple Warmer. At those prices I doubt you’d want more than one, but the concept is so lovely I think I’d splash out on an Eggnog just for the fun of being able to say that I ‘bought it from a teapot’. 😀

I don’t have much information about the photo, but you can find it on http://www.jigsawplanet.com, under the category of ‘Christmas’. The puzzle creator is known as ‘puzzleaddict2’ and the photographer is on Instagram under the moniker of @nellcavallo.

Hope this brightened your day. 🙂

cheers

Meeks


Celebrate Nanowrimo 2018 with a free how-to ebook

Here in Australia it’s December 1 already, so Nanowrimo is over for another year. I didn’t even come close to winning Nano this year, but my heartfelt congratulations to all those who did. 50,000 words in 30 days is a great accomplishment, so well done. 🙂

For those of you in the Northern Hemisphere, Nano is still in its final hours, and I imagine a lot of you will be furiously writing to catch that November 30 deadline. I congratulate all of you as well. No one can ever take this achievement away from you, but memories fade, so I suggest that you print the page that contains your 50,000th word and frame it. I did that with my first Nano; the word was ‘gut’. Not exactly poetic but hey…-shrug-

And finally, a word for those who didn’t make it. I know you’re probably feeling pretty disappointed at the moment, but you have to remember that winning Nano is not the end, it’s just the beginning. Your writing doesn’t have to end on November 30. Use what you started as the jumping off point for the story you’ll write all through 2019.

Win or lose, this next bit is for everyone. When your Nano story is polished to perfection, you will probably want to publish it. If you decide to self-publish your work, you will have a number of options:

  1. publish as an ebook
  2. publish as a paperback
  3. publish as both an ebook and a paperback

If you decide to go with options 2 and 3, then I can help. ‘How to Print your Novel with Kindle Direct Publishing‘ is my step-by-step guide to publishing a paperback with KDP. In it you will find information about trim sizes, bleed, PDFs, formatting, Amazon distribution, royalties and heaps more. Each step is illustrated with screenshots and examples, close to 150 of them so even complete beginners can follow the instructions.

To celebrate the end of Nano 2018, I’ve made the ebook version of ‘How to Print your Novel with Kindle Direct Publishing’ free for one day on December 1, 2018. [Click the link to be taken to the Amazon page or click the image of the book on the sidebar].

Due to timezone differences, the guide will become free on Amazon at about 6:00 pm, Australian Eastern time. For Northern Hemisphere writers, it will be free from midnight.

This is what the guide looks like on the Kindle Fire 6:

 

Because the ebook is in colour, and fixed format [so the layout of each page is controlled], you will only be able to use it on the following devices:

If you need the free Kindle Reading app., you can get it from here:

Clicking that link will open the following popup:

From this popup, you can select the device on which you want to use the app. I’ve only done it for the PC, but I think it should be fairly easy for all devices.

So there you have it, my free guide to printing your finished Nano Novel. Even if you don’t intend to publish for some time, download the guide now and save yourself some money. 🙂

cheers

Meeks

 

 

 

 

 

 


Natural Flea control for Cats & Dogs

Be sure to get my good side

Twenty-eight years ago, I lived through a flea infestation, the likes of which I never want to see again.

I don’t know if it was that house [we’d only just moved in], or a flea plague generally,  but the cat had fleas, despite his flea collar, and the whole house was infested as well. I could literally see them jumping from the polished floor boards onto my legs. It was awful and took two lots of professional, whole-house, heavy-duty chemical flea treatments to get rid of them.

I’m not saying all this to try to scare people. I’m just trying to explain why I have a horror of fleas. But the flip side of that bad memory is that I also have a horror of the chemicals used in commercial pet treatments. I’ve read so many horror stories about cats, and dogs, dying from those treatments that I simply can’t do that to Mogi and the cats. But I still fear and loathe fleas…

Two years ago, I decided that I’d tackle the flea problem naturally. I went on a research binge and discovered that:

  1. fleas tend to stay on the animal that is their ‘home’,
  2. fleas lay eggs on the animal, but the eggs drop off after about 2 hours,
  3. flea eggs tend to accumulate in the areas where pets sleep and groom themselves. These areas include carpets, bedding and soft furnishings,
  4. flea eggs need fairly strict environmental conditions to hatch. Again, carpet, bedding and soft furnishings provide the perfect conditions for both eggs and flea larvae.

Clearly, just killing the adult fleas wasn’t going to keep my pets, and house, flea free. To break the cycle, I’d have to tackle both the pets and the surrounds at the same time. More research.

The natural solutions I found for the house centred on bi-carbonate of soda – plain old, cheap-as-chips bi-carb. Apparently, it kills fleas and their larvae. I also discovered that salt dehydrates the flea eggs, killing them. Salt can be a bit rough on the carpets though, and you wouldn’t want the pets eating it so a combination of bi-carb and salt is an option of last resort.

Bi-carb on carpets

To see if the bi-carb solution was real or simply an old-wives tale, I began sprinkling bi-carb on all my rugs and the few carpeted areas of the house [bedrooms]. Next, I’d brush the bi-carb deep into the carpet fibres [with a broom]. This pushes the bi-carb down to the base of the fibres where the fleas and eggs are located. It also stops the rugs/carpet from looking too awful while the bi-carb does its job. This can take from 14 hours up to a maximum of 48 hours.

Why the time limit? Because after 48 hours the bi-carb loses its effectiveness.

As well as keeping the carpets/rugs from becoming infested, I also wash all the animal bedding once a week. My washing machine includes a soak option, so I soak the bedding in hot water with Bositos washing powder [Bositos includes eucalyptus oil] for an hour or so. Then I rinse the bedding and hang it outside to dry.

So far so good. I haven’t had a single flea bite on my legs so I know the bi-carb is working, but what of the animals?

Fleas on pets

As it’s been so dry, I know I’ll have to do something about fleas on the cats. According to my research, you can put bi-carb directly onto a cat, especially around the neck area which is where fleas congregate, but…I’m a bit worried they may ingest too much of it as they groom themselves. Back to the research.

I found the following website just this morning:

http://theverybestcats.blogspot.com/2009/08/controlling-and-killing-fleas.html

It’s the most comprehensive site I’ve found to-date and mentions some options I’ve never come across before. These include apple cider vinegar and a home-made citrus oil. Apparently, fleas hate the acid of the vinegar and the smell? taste? of the citrus oil. As I’ve been a huge fan of vinegar for years, I’m going to get some apple cider vinegar today. I’ll wrestle the cats tonight and report back in a few days.

Now, the only pet left is Mogi, the dog. I bathe her regularly and wash all her bedding etc, but you should only wash a dog once a week, maximum, so I may try giving her a diluted vinegar ‘rinse’ as well, especially near the base of her tail. I’ll report back on the vinegar rinse as well.

Natural vs chemical

One last thing, I don’t suffer from extreme chemical sensitivities, but I have friends who do. I know it’s real, and potentially deadly. I also worry about the explosion of chemical cleaning products in the home. They all list ingredients that read like an alchemist’s cookbook. Each individual product ‘may’ be safe, but has anyone tested the effect of all those products added together? I think not, and that worries me. The cost worries me too, especially when so many of them don’t actually work all that well. What you see on the commercial doesn’t translate to a real home environment.

For all those reasons, I try and use natural cleaning products as much as possible. Apart from the bi-carb on the rugs, I also wash my polished wood floors with either hot water and vinegar or hot water and eucalyptus oil. Both do a fantastic job, and the vinegar at least, is ridiculously cheap, so I strongly recommend throwing all those expensive and potentially harmful chemical products away.

Seriously, you don’t need them, and neither do small children and pets. Remember, they’re closer to the floor than you are.

cheers

Meeks


Remember that Greenland Heatwave?

Climate Change is very much on my mind, and a part of my core motivation, but I don’t say much about it. My thanks to Bob for saying it so well.

Bobbing Around

Here is one of many reports as a reminder. For years now, Greenland and the sea to its north have experienced never-before high temperatures.

A research report, dated 10 October, 2018 offers an explanation.

Reduced temperature differential between the Arctic and the tropics has made the Arctic jet stream wander all over the place. In 2011, its convolutions caused a cyclonic storm over the Sahara, lifting huge quantities of dust into the stratosphere. Then the jet stream took that dust and warm air into the Arctic.

This is what that looks like:

Meandering polar jet stream visible in red colours, upper-level trough visible in blue (graph by ECMWF).

The warm air directly caused warmth as it settled down. What the dust is doing is even worse: it reduces the reflectance of the ice.

These kinds of unprecedented, subtle interactions are the reason that every prediction of the rate…

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