Ocean Olley

By now long term readers will know that Ollie the Australian cuddle dog (he is technically an Australian cattle dog) replaced the sadly departed Sir Poopy the Swedish Lapphund. Ollie’s duties are exactly the same as the much missed Sir Poopy. I took a quick look at Ollie’s job description and it included a number of activities, including:

  • be a presence in the kitchen whenever food of any description is being prepared;
  • chew upon objects outside of the house that are not crucial chunks of infrastructure;
  • destroy canine bedding at leisure;
  • play with the elderly, but rather sprightly, Scritchy the boss dog;
  • consume hapless parrots;
  • perform boundary patrol checks; and
  • chase off any surplus wildlife to the property boundary.

Ollie is a busy dog, and he works hard here. In the above photo you can easily see that the farm is surrounded by dense forest. All manner of animals live in that forest. And most of those animals head to the nearest clearing for a feed because there is not much for them to eat in the dense forest. There are no fences between the farm and the forest. Therefore, Ollie is a genuinely busy dog and he performs a useful function on the farm. He also just happens to be a very delightful canine personality.

It is winter here now and the skies are thick with cloud. The rain has been feral this week and the wind has occasionally audibly buffeted the house. The air temperature has not risen above 8’C / 46’F all week. And the chickens are going to bed at about 5.15pm as we are now under a week from the winter solstice. That’s winter.

Anyway, a few nights ago I’d just put the chickens to bed and locked their supposedly rodent proof enclosure. They’d been free roaming in the orchard whilst I was dressed up like the Michelin man with many layers of clothing largely derived from sheep. The sun was setting and it was getting quite dark.

Sometimes I take Ollie with me when I’m supervising the chickens whilst they free roam in the orchard. Chickens live a nervous life up here because there are just so many predators living in the surrounding forest that want to score some tasty chunks of chicken. In the past I’ve fended off fox attacks, but there are also the wedge tail eagles, powerful owls, feral dogs, feral cats etc. Chicken is clearly a tasty morsel, and I enjoy the occasional chicken schnitzel (off-farm chickens). That reminds me that there is an old joke about any unidentified meat will inevitably taste of chicken. Concerned readers can rest assured that this old joke may possibly have some truth because when I visited a crocodile farm in the remote Northern Territory of Australia, lunch consisted of a crocodile burger. And it really did taste like chicken but with the consistency of lamb. I have no doubts that the ferocious salt water crocodiles would like to sample a bite of the editor and I just to form a proper taste comparison! 😉 My guess is we would taste like chicken but with the texture of eagle.

However, Ollie was not with me that evening as the chickens headed off to the safety of their beds. Instead, Ollie was waiting for me at the door to the house. He looked unhappy that I had not taken him with me on chicken patrol duties, but like the gentleman that he is, he took it all with good grace. I was grateful to get back inside the warmth of the house.

Once inside the house, I proceeded to feed the dogs a couple of dog biscuits that I regularly make. The dogs love the biscuits, and Ollie has only ever once dared to steal them from the cooling tray that sat on the kitchen bench. He is quite an intelligent dog and now realises that biscuits that are cooked at 180’C / 360’F can be quite hot, and so now he leaves them well alone until they are dolled out. The lesson here is that exploring the world via one’s mouth can be both an exciting and somewhat dangerous experience!

After Ollie had munched his way through the dog biscuits he then told me that he needed to go to the toilet. Now the dogs have the run of the farm during the day, and the wildlife enjoys free access at night. In such an arrangement nobody is happy, but most of the animals enjoy a decent feed on the farm.

Unfortunately, that evening I walked back from the chicken enclosure, I had not noticed a wallaby in the old strawberry enclosure which is fenced off with heavy duty bird netting. The wallaby had broken through the bird netting and was happily munching on the strawberry plants – and I failed to notice it.

One of the many wallabies that live on the farm. They are between five and six feet tall

Ollie on the other hand is far more alert to these marsupial matters than I, because once outside, he took one look at the happy wallaby and thought to himself that he was having none of that. At full speed, Ollie crashed through the netting on the strawberry enclosure and the two combatants met and tangled with no conclusion. The wallaby punched another hole through the bird netting and was chased off the farm. Ollie then promptly returned with the happiest expression on his face because he knew who was boss here (dogs can be very self centered!)

Alas for Ollie’s hubris, because early the next morning, the wallaby was back again in the old strawberry enclosure happily munching away on the plants.

The netting on the old strawberry enclosure had to go. But before it went, Ollie took one good look inside the old enclosure to see whether any unwanted wildlife was hiding within…

Ollie takes one last sad look around from inside the strawberry enclosure

We plan over the next few months to convert that garden area into an enclosure that will produce pumpkins (squashes) and melons. In the meantime, the marsupials can gorge themselves silly (at night) on the strawberry plants!

Speaking of repairing things that don’t work, this week I replaced the gas strut that holds the back door open on the little dirt rat 3 door Suzuki. The old gas strut had long since given up working and it just never occurred to me to fix it. The major problem with the door was that it used to close of its own accord, often sandwiching me in there. Did I mention that the door is quite heavy? No, well it is!

The author gets sandwiched in the self closing door on the dirt rat Suzuki. Being a ham, that makes him a ham sandwich!

The replacement gas strut wasn’t a perfect fit and the eye holes had to be modified. Fortunately at Fernglade Farm, we know farm engineering! The drill came to the rescue as I bored out larger eye holes.

The eye holes were drilled out slightly larger so that they fitted the car

After about five minutes of installation, the door lost its self closing feature, and now remains open when that is what is required of it. Happy days!

The door now remains open with the new gas strut

With a lot of the projects here, I have to bring up supplies to the farm. That often takes a lot of time and I rarely mention it on the blog, but it does happen. This week I topped up my supplies of sand/aggregate mix with which I use to produce all of the cement work about the farm. Materials are usually neatly placed into areas set aside for them (i.e. I don’t leave materials in the trailer).

A load of sand/aggregate mix was brought up to the farm – and then stored

Despite the heavy rain of the past few days, we managed to construct another step and cover it before the rain could destroy the wet cement. There is actually a stair under all those protective layers…

Another step was constructed this week before heavy rain arrived. There is actually a stair under all that stuff!

We also spent a couple of hours dead heading the hundreds and hundreds of agapanthus seed heads and stalks.

The agapanthus seed heads and stalks were removed this week

Nothing goes to waste here and we dumped all of the organic matter into a depression in the orchard. We also dumped a whole lot of other prunings in the depression with them. Once the organic matter eventually breaks down, the depression disappears and become flat fertile land!

The prunings were placed into a depression in the orchard where they will break down

And the last of the deciduous trees is losing its leaves this week. The snow pear is usually the last tree to lose its leaves and also the first to regrow them.

The snow pear is the last to lose its leaves and the first to regrow them

There are still flowers around like this Tree Lucerne (Tagasaste)

A tree lucerne (Tagasaste) provides some nice winter flowers

But the fungi are the real show stoppers!

The temperature outside now at about 8.00am is 5’C (41’F). So far this year there has been 456.2mm (18.0 inches) which is higher than last week’s total of 364.2mm (14.3 inches). It has been a very wet week.

70 thoughts on “Ocean Olley”

  1. Hello Chris
    I have been struggling with this new site, but you will be delighted to know that, for the first time, I am actually thrilled with how your photos have come out.

    I forgot to mention that I also have rhubarb in plenty at present.

    Yes trees were taken out in vast numbers for the old ships. The squirrels here will use holes in old trees. The drey was an oval approx. 6 inches by 9 inches by over 1 foot. Son says that this doesn’t mean anything as they build to fill the space and wedge the drey.

    The shed has been re-roofed but we are still dealing with the damage within. I have actually had to chuck a number of the books and still haven’t finished checking.

    Daughter and friend have returned from Scotland and are here for another 2 weeks so I shall vanish again for the time. I already feel tired!


  2. Hi Chris,

    Ocean Alley are a great band aren’t they? The real question though is if Ollie appreciates them as much as we do! Your new blog home seems to be working out well. It does look a lot better, although it can be hard to pin exactly why, no doubt minor tweaks to font, white space and alignment makes all the difference. And, all the old posts have come across, pictures and all (but no comments)! Perhaps I am even a little inspired to move my blog across as well – although I would be cheating and still using a cloud hosted option – dependent on the good will of others for my free meal ticket 🙂

    Tomorrow I give a little presentation to the office. It is called a lunch and learn. I will speak on such interesting topics as ‘what a surveyor actually does’ and ‘what are those tools we sell?”. Many in the admin team have essentially no knowledge about these basics. An oversight of management that goes back years (imagine working for a company with no real idea what it does). I quite enjoy doing little presentations, I will even have props!


    PS basic emojis seem to work ok 🙂 🙁 😮

  3. Hi Lewis,

    Ooo! Speaking of Steve McQueen, I noticed that they’re selling some of the “Bullit” retro vehicles down here. I’m not much interested in cars nowadays, and I may tell that turnaround story one day, but I always keep a finger on the pulse of what the press is writing about in that regard because the machines are very telling about the human condition. Of late, I have noticed a leaning towards lots of electronic gee-gaws all sold as safety. I mean who doesn’t want to be safe? It seems like a good marketing ploy. But listening to friends I hear accounts of lots of electrical problems with such machines and I don’t trust the machines enough to decide when and where to perform an emergency braking procedure. I mean, they might get it right and that is a good thing, but then what if they get it wrong? It is interesting to me that many of the engineering advances in engines (most of which were around for a long time beforehand – I have owned a 1974 fuel injected vehicle for just one example), well they got chucked into making cars biggerer and fatterer. Just my opinion, but I don’t reckon it was a good call, but people love them. I have a hunch that the resiliency of the technology within cars peaked about a decade ago. What do you reckon about that?

    Thanks for the big in Japan interweb rabbit hole! Fun stuff. I recalled a song about being “big in Japan” from a decade and a bit ago, and then discovered that those lines have had quite the journey and have been used by lots of bands over the years. I think it was the bloke from Captain Beefheart (there is a blast from the past man!), but there were just so many… Don’t you reckon that we have so much data, and so little information? It gets confusing being confronted by the wall of data.

    Speaking of American actors playing scientists in movies, I reckon Christopher Lloyd did a good job in Back to the Future? And mentioning Delorean’s we thus have turned a full circle and arrive back where we started the discussion! Hehe! Someone around here owns one of those vehicles and I occasionally see it parked outside the local cafe. It would be nice to have enough money to be considered truly eccentric! No way, there looks set to be a part four to that film franchise. Fancy that.

    Not to put too fine a point on the matter – and one good bit of advice I got from my mum was never to mention a ladies age, and if uncertain deduct a decade or two just for good measure – but far out, German war bride. Yes, Maria would have been able to recount some fascinating stories. We miss opportunities all the time.

    Plenty of Australian war brides ended up with US servicemen too. There was a song about them from many years ago. Let’s see if I can recall (the memory gets foggier with the years): The Waifs – Bridal Train. Lovely song, full of emotion, plus you would rarely hear songs sung with an Australian accent.

    Top work with the deer fencing – and you may just have inspired this week’s story! Ah yes, we keep the hordes of nature at bay – for a brief intermission…

    Oooo! Yummo for fresh strawberries – such a bounty! I’m embarrassed to admit that I purchased a punnet of strawberries the other day that had been trucked down from Queensland. You know, sometimes the ideas are better than the reality… :-)!

    Very funny! Hehe! How cool would graffiti from the 7th century be? It is a shame that the inscriptions read “Tito and Budic were ‘ere”! I must say that the port at Tintagel looks eminently defendable, and I’d never previously looked at photographs of the site. The archaeologists look pretty chuffed with their find as they should be. Have you read any accounts as to why such a long populated and easily defended castle fell into ruins? There is mystery there.



  4. Hi Inge,

    I’m terribly sorry that you are struggling with the new website, but am also glad for your continuing presence here. I hope you can understand that I really did have to ditch the old website because trouble was looming on the horizon, the storm clouds were gathering, and I could even see the crows off in the distance circling for carrion. With all of those circumstances in the forefront of my mind I thought to myself the best thing to do to head off a plague of locusts was to replicate the Russian strategy of WWII (and of course the Napoleonic wars). It only seemed like the right thing to do given the circumstances. And thus we all live to enjoy another interweb day! Unfortunately, I can’t go into details, but the interweb is not the nice place that everyone suggests that it is!

    Thank you for saying that about the photos. I reckon they’re better here on this website too, plus I also feel that the text is easier to read – it looks larger to me.

    Go the rhubarb. Surely rhubarb is one of the most underrated of plants? It is indestructible and can be easily propagated by heavy handed root division. It doesn’t get much better than that!

    Interesting about the drey’s. Of course and I never would have considered that aspect of them. Has your son spotted them before?

    Ouch. So sorry to read about the loss of some of your books in the shed disaster. I do hope that the losses weren’t more extensive. And yes, first order of the day is always to reduce the risk of further losses. You may have noticed that four inches of rain fell here this past week.

    Now worries at all, and I hope that you all have an enjoyable visit!



  5. Hi Damo,

    Haha! Mate, you’ve earned the coveted Elephant Stamp for getting my little joke. I’m genuinely impressed. You know, how good was the “Ocean Alley – The Comedown” and also “Ocean Alley – Confidence”? Awesome stuff. Unfortunately when I hear the Confidence song, my mind inserts the words: “Calvinist”. Clearly the band is not singing about 16th century Protestants. Maybe? :-)! Anyway, how funny are misheard songs? Who can forget, The Go Go’s classic ode to watery mammalians in: “Alex the Seal”? Hehe! A long time ago I recall an Aussie band covering the same song and slipping in those very words into the chorus…

    I reckon Ollie enjoys the music. He seems like an intelligent canine after all! Hey, thanks very much for writing that and I appreciated your suggestions over the past few weeks. It was an epic job. But I reckon it does look better doesn’t it? And strangely enough, the photos are far lower resolution than blogger – I had to do something to save on server space and there are (and will be) a lot of photos. Mucking around with a media manager has been interesting…

    Actually I’m still in the process of bringing across the old posts and that job will continue for another month or so. It is a big job as there is something like half a million words in there… Far out! Hey, you may be interested to know that I imported the old entries directly from Word files using a really nifty importer addon. It has worked perfectly. Mammoth .docx converter. It is awesome. Importing the old xml blogger file may have used up too much server space because the image files are massive. I have to pay for that stuff now! Oh well.

    Nah, don’t sweat it out. Plenty of people opt for the freebie option and there is no harm in that. I’m keeping the costs down by doing all of it myself and avoiding the pay for use addons of which there are a huge number. Far out, the costs for that gear could add up quickly.

    Hey, that is a really good idea about the lunch and learn. You’d be surprised at how common that situation is! Oh mate, it pains me encountering such responses as there are real world consequences. Oh well, I’ll be interested to hear how it goes.

    Far out the last week has been wet here. Not quite 100mm, but you know it does feel as though the farm has mysetriously teleported to the west coast of Tassie… The storm looks like it is heading up the east coast and away from you, so fingers crossed.



  6. Hi Pam,

    So you didn’t know that grape jelly was only for the birds haha. A friend of ours said he’s buying stock in Welch’s and has ten jars of grape jelly inventory.


  7. Hi Chris,

    What a beautiful rainbow!! You have quite the view. We’ve been telling Leo and Salve of the bounty of chipmunks at the new place to prepare them for the job ahead.

    The new house has been tested for radon and has a much higher level than ours. We’ve (well mostly me) have been hauling stuff from everywhere for our sale coming up later this week. It’s been very hot and humid the last few days but after some thunderstorms late today it’s supposed to cool way down. The new house doesn’t have a dishwasher and people are quite aghast when they hear this as it’s a fairly new house. Funny what people think they can’t do without.

    On a somewhat similar vein my book club which doesn’t read many books discussed an article about wave-piloting, an ancient method of navigating the oceans. We got into a discussion of the pros and cons of using GPS. While everyone recognized that people are losing the skill of reading maps or even having a sense of where they are they still plan to rely on them. One member, the executive director of the land conservancy even admitted that when on a site she now becomes disoriented and has to rely on google maps to find her way out which was not the case before using GPS became so routine.


  8. Yo, Chris – Well, Ollie is fun. I’m sure, that like children (from what I’ve been told) you love all your dogs equally, but in different ways.

    46F? Short and sandal weather, here :-). Unless there’s a good breeze ripping. Yesterday, it hit 90F (32.22C), but there was a good breeze, so it felt quit comfortable.

    According to reports, we taste more like pork.

    I think it’s the way she holds her hands, but your wallaby reminds me of Mrs. Tiddle Widdle from Peter Rabbit. Just put her in a mob cap. Hmm. Did I mention I saw the new “Peter Rabbit” movie? A mix of live action and animation. Well worth a look. And, it’s a rom-com (kind of.)!

    The lucerne flowers are quit lovely. Do they have an odor? From you picture last week, I didn’t know the trees were so big. Cont.

  9. Cont. I am so confused (no news, there.) Yes, Steve McQueen did “The Blob”. But it was Nick Adams who did all the Japanese sci-fi. They looked similar. Short, blond and working in the same time period. I think it’s rough on actors who find themselves in that situation.

    Yeah, trucks seem to be getting bigger and more complicated. I think they discontinued my simple little Ford Ranger. I wonder if the banks, not giving auto loans for less than $22,000 (and, simple rangers being in the $12,000 range) had anything to do with it. Probably not. The Ford company was happy to finance me. And, not at a bad rate, either. But, remember. I don’t no anything about cars. Didn’t get the gene. Am lucky to tell the difference between VWs and Nash Ramblers :-).

    Well, here’s another rabbit hole. The War of 1812. Even we don’t pay much attention to it. I watched a documentary on it, last night. More about how it brought the flag to the forefront as a patriotic symbol. And, it’s when our national anthem was written. I mention it because of Inge’s comment about cutting the trees for the navy. They threw a huge fleet at us. Burned Washington, DC to the ground. The first lady at the time was Dolly Madison. She was quit the interesting lady. And, she heroically loaded up a wagon of bits and bobs out of the White House and escaped just two hours ahead of the advancing British troops. High drama. Lew

  10. Hi Chris,

    A happy winter solstice to you later this week!

    I am feeling very relieved that all of the summer planting has now been completed. In the past week I harvested the garlic and potato onions and then prepared the bed they had been in for the blackeyed peas. Luckily I completed all of that before our first excessive heat warning of the summer was called. I planted the seeds on the first day of the warning. Normally I would not plant any seeds during heat waves like this, but the blackeyed peas come from tropical areas so I reckoned that if anything could germinate and grow during an excessive heat warning, it would be blackeyed peas. And I am pleased to report that I was correct; I saw quite a few seedlings this morning.

    Meanwhile, the pole bean variety which I had to plant a fourth time early last week, after a “cold” (for summer) front came through, has finally produced a goodly number of seedlings. It’s possible that the seeds I had used for the first three plantings had died. For the latest planting I used newly purchased seeds. It’ll be August before the planting produces, but I will look forward to it as I planted the flat Italian-style beans I prefer to all other green beans.

    Besides being hot, it is quite dry. Lawns are looking heat-stressed. If it doesn’t rain this week I will need to water the persimmon tree saplings I planted during spring. I have been watering the vegetable garden regularly to get the plants through the dry spell. This is an in-between time; the spring greens are done and the summer harvest hasn’t quite started. I’m waiting for the first zucchinis to grow large enough to pick.

    I had thought we wouldn’t get any apricots, but as I mowed yesterday I looked up into the tree and to my surprise and delight I saw a considerable number of them! We ate a few this morning as part of breakfast.


  11. @ Margaret – congratulations on buying a place, and may all go well with the sale of the current place and the purchase of the new! I hope your yard sale also goes well (and if it’s outside, that the weather is favorable).


  12. To Chris and Lew

    Yes it tastes like pork. I knew an Italian who had been fed it during the second world war. He was only told what he had eaten afterwards.


  13. Hi Chris,

    Yeah, Ocean Alley are the bomb. I need to get the album I think, but the comedown is a really good one!

    Well, I did the migration for my blog. And yes, the import wizard is amazing. It took literally a minute. I then proceeded to waste an hour tinkering with different themes lol. And I added a little re-direct script so the old one zooms straight to the new.

    Lunch and Learn seemed to go well, various head nodding, positive comments, laughter at the correct moments and a couple of ah-ha moments. I also liberally scattered bright, colourful photos of the swiss alps to keep people awake so it could have been that as well! Anyway, I will do another session in a month or so on GNSS receivers and why your iphone can’t be used for survey applications. Everyone is looking forward to it, or the free pizza I am not sure!

    I know what you mean about the rain – it feels like it hasn’t stopped here for the past month , but looking at the website it says only 120mm for the past 30 days /shrug Mrs Damo keeps promising to make some beetroot/chocolate cake with the plants I pulled from the garden on the weekend but it hasn’t happened yet. I worry she might make it tomorrow when I am away for the night!


  14. Hi Lewis,

    You’re gonna love this… Au contraire my friend! Sir Scruffy is the favourite by a country mile due to his charming nature. Ollie is muscling in on Sir Scruffy’s perquisites and position, and interestingly he is observing the rest of the pack and duplicating whatever strategies provide good outcomes. He is a smart dog that one, but then Sir Scruffy is a smart dog too and he originally followed a similar strategy. Scritchy and Mr Toothy are nice in their own way, but they’re both reasonably self contained and are usually stolid individuals. Stories involving Scritchy are usually her being the boss, and generally bossing around the other dogs – and me too for some reason – because that is what she does. Mr Toothy has never had a story here, because he is grumpy and easily irritated and who wants to hear that story? Neither are warm characters, but you know, we all tolerate each others quirks, and more or less happily co-exist. Rather than family, we’re more like boon companions on the highway of life, and I’m cool with that. Sir Poopy would have taken a bullet for me, and he was the one I was closest too, the others not so much. Ollie is heading in that direction, but he’s not there yet. It is complex. Have you heard any updates on Beau? And did Nell ever re-appear?

    I honestly don’t know anything at all about children, and I only ever share positive thoughts with parents. I reckon the easiest way to become the most hated man in Melbourne or Chehalis for that matter is to share a candid and unfiltered thought to a parent about their child. A good example would be: “You know what? Your kid is a little brat.” That would be it, you or I would be persona non grata everywhere! Talk about uncomfortable. Best we don’t share such candid opinions!!!

    Hehe! The temperature is right back there tonight. Although fortunately today the sun shone and I could harvest some solar electricity. The batteries were getting to a low state of charge and I was a bit worried about that. So much rain and thick cloud last week. 4 inches…

    I dream about the sort of weather that you are enjoying. It sounds delightful. I hope the garden is jumping out of the ground and reaching towards the warm summer sun.

    Of course, I forgot about the description: Long Pig. Yeah, you and Inge are correct. I’ve read a fair bit about the convict histories down here and I always had this horrid memory that the cannibal convict (Peter Alexander?) who escaped across the high country of Tasmania (it is pretty rugged even today) by consuming his fellow escapees, that he recounted that the tastiest morsel was the chunk under the bicep. I mean how do you erase such a description? The weird thing about that bloke was that nobody believed him – and he escaped a second time around with more fellows, but was promptly hung when eventually caught. I bet he said something like: “I told you so” as he snuffed his second time around fellows out.

    It is uncanny, the wallaby really does look like: Mrs. Tiddle Widdle from Peter Rabbit. Thanks for the film nod. Can you believe that the wallaby was back there again this morning. I’ve written off those strawberries so it is not really that much of a drama. Go the rom-coms! They’re thin on the ground these days. I wonder what it means that so many films nowadays are based on comic superheroes. It just seems weird to me. I did enjoy the Invincibles when it was first released, but it appears there is now a second instalment. The depressed mental health issues of a superhero is not a topic that film makers touch upon, but Pixar did that back in the day. They really captured the emotion of futility in that film.

    Absolutely, the tree Lucerne flowers have an odour which is quite pleasant. I’m not sure why the flowers do because there are no insects out and about at this time. The honeyeaters that live here enjoy the nectar in the flowers and perhaps that is what the smell is all about? Dunno.

    I reckon it is rough on any actors or creative types that find themselves big in an alien culture. It is a hard path because how do you relate to the people from those cultures? At least you and I have a common heritage, but sometimes I look at the map of where people are reading the blog and I wonder what they get out of it. Dunno. Incidentally the most excellent actor Bill Murray had a really interesting film on that very topic called: “Lost in Translation”. Have you seen that film? It is good as it takes the viewer on a journey through that alien landscape.

    Yeah, I’m pretty sure that your Ranger is discontinued because the behemoths that ride the road nowadays are so massive and yours – not so much. I’m waiting for the right moment to say to somebody in a very big car that: “I don’t need to own a big car to make my phallus feel big”. Of course mayhem may ensue, but that is a chance that I’ll have to take. Honestly, I look at the height of the trays and the materials that the trays are made from on those beasts and I think to myself that they are so high off the ground that they are useless. I used to be a car nut, but then, well there is a story there – with a fix too.

    Hey, speaking of fixes, did you see that video game addiction has now been recognised as a ‘real thing’ by the WHO. Far out, I lost so many mates to that bunch of horse poo that you didn’t need to tell me that news. Have you ever met anyone addicted to video games? I haven’t asked you about club news recently, so how is it going? Do you find that the warmer weather reduces the numbers of attendees? I reckon that social activities occur in waves and I have this vague suspicion that it is all related to the weather.

    Speaking of the weather, there is a lot of sooking in Melbourne about how cold this winter is. I looked at the temperature gauge in Melbourne over the interweb this morning and saw that they were suffering from 37’F! I must say that I enjoyed a bit of a chuckle about that. I do wonder if anyone has bothered to consider that the cold weather may be correlated to the massive chunks of Antarctica that are falling off into the oceans. Things are accelerating there from what I have read recently. The cold weather here is arriving via very high southerly latitudes – I mean it is not as if there is anything between here and there.

    Thanks for the excellent rabbit hole. I love a good history. From the painting it looks like the British did a thoroughly tidy job on your capitol building. I notice scorch marks out of the tops of each window and that is a fairly accurate representation of a sacking. I’m heartened to see that the US attempted to expand their territory. And what a fascinating coincidence with the dates too (given yesterdays date). Oh, the continuing of blood shed after the treaty was signed reminds me of the Joe Haldeman sci-fi story the Forever War. Have you read that? It is also interesting to me that anti war sentiment rose in the UK because they were cut off from the US goodies. Aren’t we humans funny creatures! ;-)!



  15. @ Margaret:

    Best of luck with your moving sale. It has been so hot here, too. That GPS stuff is scary, though I know that it can have very useful applications. I’ve never used it.


  16. Hi, Chris!

    Hmm, that job description also sounds like someone else . . . No – Chris only eats parrot when in town . . .

    I have been thinking about all that rain that you have been having and your worries about more landslides. Have the mitigations that you made to your driveway held up? Maybe something of that nature could be used on the hill above your house?

    Gee, I thought wallabies were a lot smaller. That’s no groundhog!
    King of the Strawberries – I mean Ollie, as he got the last laugh, though if he liked strawberries it wouldn’t be so.

    Hee hee! Ham sandwich – so true! But that’s a nice strut fix. My son has just welded a bunch of steel supports to the frame (chassis?) of my truck as he has been riding it really hard with some logging and chainsaw milling, carrying back wood that is way too heavy for it. It’s a 1987 Toyota.

    Did you deadhead all of those agapanthae just to make them neat and tidy?

    It was 98F (36.7C) yesterday and it only cooled down to 80F (26.7C) last night. That is a pretty unusual occurrence for a night temperature here.

    Thanks so much for continuing to host us, especially since the expense is all on you.


    P.S. My comment to Margaret went through, but I am having trouble with the one to you, so you may get three . . .

  17. Hi Margaret,

    How cool was the rainbow – and it rained four inches over the past week too. I saw the sun shining through the murk and ran at a brief moment and grabbed the camera. Frost this morning. I tell ya what, the batteries have been going down hill because of all of the thick clouds and rain. The remote meter sits behind me as I type this and sometimes the low voltage alarm begins to flash…

    On a positive note, the large reserve water tank is almost full. Can you believe that? So much rain. The view goes on for about 40 miles towards the south west.

    Hehe! Leo and Salve will have an absolute blast in the new place. Dogs are very adaptable to change and if they spend most of their time pursuing agile chipmunks, well it will be party central for both of them.

    Oh my! I had a long look at radon. You know, it appears to be everywhere, but in some places it is more concentrated than others. I’d have to suggest that it is a background radiation that is impossible to avoid. Having said that I’m on the side of a several million year old volcano and there are granite rocks everywhere. Life is risky.

    Yeah, people can get a bit weird about not having a dishwasher. Whenever anyone asks about one here, I tell them that we do in fact have a dishwasher, it’s called Chris. But you know, in the past when I’ve sold houses that I’ve repaired I had to install a dishwasher and dryer because people expect it. I don’t use either machines, but few people want to muck around washing dishes by hand – which frankly isn’t that hard. And washing horses in front of the wood heater are probably considered unsightly, although I feel that they are an elegant technology. It would be nice if Ollie stopped chewing them – which he appears to have stopped – for now. Perhaps Leo and/or Salve may possibly chew upon a washing horse? :-)! Does the new place have a wood heater?

    It is nice to hear that the weather in your part of the world is cooling down a bit. Hot and humid is a tough combination especially when there is a lot of work to do in moving.

    Haha! Yeah, GPS is good, but I wouldn’t recommend relying upon it. I never use it and stick to paper maps and simply memorise the journey to be taken, but that is a bit old school. I read a book maybe last year about a particular Aboriginal tribe up north and their language differs from ours in that they include the general direction of an object relative to the speaker as part of the normal discourse. Pretty interesting.

    Have you plotted out a garden for the new place in your mind?



  18. Hi Claire,

    And a happy winter solstice to you too for later this week (Thursday here)! Today was a superb day as despite the early morning frost, the sun shone all day long, although the air was still very chilly and you could see your breath.

    It is great to read that your summer planting has now been completed. Hey the old timers used to say: “Plant garlic on the shortest day, and harvest on the longest day”. I like those old school sayings as they contain a fair bit of good advice, although down here you can plant garlic many weeks earlier than the winter solstice.

    Are you able to give the new seedlings regular watering? When you say ‘heat wave’, what sort of temperatures are you referring to? From our past discussions you can have some stonking hot summer weather. Do you still have the water tank set up? I’m planning to add another 1,050 gallon (4,000 litre) water tank soon. And they’re all nearing full and some are overflowing. I lack the electrical energy to pump the water around to where it is needed…

    Yeah, I hear you about planting for the fourth time. You have my sympathies and if anything I reckon the future is set for more variable weather. Yeah it is a good call as it is a possibility that your seeds for the pole beans were no longer viable. I regularly turn over my seed stocks because they just don’t keep for that long. Hey, we completely stuffed up the timing of the winter vegetables and they’re all really tiny now. I feel guilty picking leaves off the mustards… It was another hard lesson served up to me by the variable weather. You seem to be enjoying those lessons too.

    Wow, dry already. That is early even for down here. It is very wise to water the tree seedlings. You know the fruit trees get extremely hardy if water progressively stressed beyond their third and fourth years. Seedling fruit trees have to be watered though, otherwise they’ll unfortunately keel over. What sort of persimmons are you growing? It is a complicated fruit to purchase at the markets down here as they can be wildly variable in quality. I understand that the fruit has to mildly ferment before it becomes palatable. Is that your understanding of the fruit?

    In between times are hard – and historically they were much harder than today. Yikes! Don’t turn your back on the zucchini! Hehe! ;-)! We’re still eating the summer zucchini because they keep really well.

    Oh! Total 100% yummo! Ripe apricots that are grown for flavour are the best stone fruit of them all. Yum! Hope you enjoyed your breakfast? Hey, have I mentioned how ridiculously easy it is to make your own toasted muesli? It is good stuff. How old are your apricot trees?



  19. Hi Inge,

    Ah of course! Long pig. People are very adaptable. Did the person mention the circumstances for that story? Food shortages and starvation in Italy during WWII were no joke.

    The first frost of the season arrived this morning! It was chilly 35’F here… Brr!



  20. Hi Damo,

    Good call. Yeah, the comedown was an excellent song and they’re really great musicians. From all accounts they put on a good show. Are they playing them over there or are you enjoying triple j over the interweb?

    Mate, the new format is better than the old. Dare I say, I like the new page, better than the old page? Hehe! It is a good theme you’ve chosen. I’ve updated the links here too.

    Haha! That is a good technique with the images of the Swiss Alps. Cool, and it keeps peoples attentions. During one notably dull and boring topic that I had to present upon, I began pelting people with chocolates. Nobody gets upset about having chocolate thrown at their heads, and I then began asking questions and awarding chocolates for the correct answer. Mind you, management can get a bit weird about work safe issues and chocolate injuries. What the heck is a GNSS receiver?

    Only 120mm! Far out, that is wet as. Aren’t you on the east coast which should theoretically be drier than the west coast? Hope the beetroot cake gets made. Yum!



  21. Yo, Chris – Half The Inmates, here at The Home, seem to have nothing to talk about other than their kids and grandkids. I don’t talk to them, much :-).

    A couple of degrees cooler, yesterday. 88F (31.11C). I water in the morning, but have discovered the Brussels sprouts and Jerusalem artichoke need a little shot in the evening. They look a bit droopy. I got half the deer fence up. I also planted a few pole beans and some Chinese lantern, this morning.

    I don’t know about angst filled super heros complaining about their lot. I mean, come on. You have this cool super power. Almost as bad as the rich complaining about how onerous it is to be wealthy. Poor dears! More than happy to assume some of the burden.

    I never saw “Lost in Translation.” Plot didn’t grab me. Man and woman meet far from home. Have brief fling. Maybe, learn something. Ho-hum. Yawn.

    I guess China and, maybe Japan, have residential treatment centers for the game obsessed. Wonder if it’s made the DSM, yet. The DSM is the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. (My picture is in there. I have a whole page!) They update it from time to time. It’s for “Standard language by which clinicians, researchers and public health officials in the United States, communicate about mental disorders.” Also handy for insurance company billings codes. Cont.

  22. Cont. According to the documentary, it started because the English were fighting Napoleon and were suffering from a shortage of man power. And, still being a bit miffed about our little revolution. So, anytime they’d run across an American ship, they’d kidnap the sailors and impress them into the English navy. They also didn’t want us trading with the French. Free trade, and all that. And they incited the Native Americans out on the frontier to attack settlers who were moving into English territory. Not that we were lilly white. It was a good excuse to try a bit of a land grab in Canada and attack the tribes. I seem to remember that burning Washington was in retaliation for a bit of pyromania on our part up in Canada.

    Under the main entrance of the White House is another “service” door that still has scorch marks around it. And, when they did a massive renovation of the White House in the early 1950s (piano legs on the second floor began poking through to the first floor), several scorched beams were found, that are now in museums.

    Well, as far as real estate goes, it’s not just Australia. The banks and realtors here are back up to their old tricks, again. No interest loans, low interest until the ballon payment kicks in. Variable rates of interest. Etc.. Some investment fellow, who usually doesn’t speak in public (but predicted a couple of crashes in the past) made a statement the other day that we’re primed for another recession (or, depression), and, it’s going to be a corker. EVERYTHING is overvalued. There will be “adjustments.” Lew

  23. @Pam

    Thanks!! We had around 5 inches of rain last night which came very quickly and now there’s quite a bit of flooding but luckily no problems here. I have a GPS that Doug won somewhere but I always map out my way first. I do like that it shows the roads as they come up and warns you when a turn is coming. I think that’s a lot safer than trying to watch traffic and watch for roads. However, it often takes you crazy ways and sometimes just doesn’t work. I know so many people who just get in the car, put the address in and go.


  24. @Claire

    Thanks, Claire. Our sale is Friday and Saturday and rain is in the forecast Friday unfortunately. It will be in the garage but there’s so much stuff we would like to spread it out on the driveway. It’ll probably cut down on people as well.

    Did you get any of the rain we got last night? We received around 5 inches with most over just two hours. Now it’s cooled down considerably.


  25. Hi Chris,
    We received at least five inches of rain last night. Looks like it’ll be a cloudy week here with more chances of rain so won’t dry up much.

    Leo and Salve often work as a team. Leo finds the chipmunk and Salve catches it. Between the two of them they are pretty successful.

    Yeah radon isn’t really anything to fool around with though the highest levels are usually in the basement. Ours wasn’t that high but the new house has very high levels. This is very common in our area, unfortunately.

    What I’ll miss rather than a dishwasher is the big double stainless steel sink we have in our laundry/mudroom just off the kitchen. It’s great for washing pans and large items. That Doug can produce a ton of pans. We have a dishwasher but with just two of us only run it every 5-6 days. When we were kids we had to take turns washing and drying dishes and believe me with a family of ten there were a lot of dishes.

    Salve is the chewer around here though Leo enjoys chewing sticks and pine cones.

    As I said to Pam I find there are a few uses for the GPS but I always map out where I’m going and carry a full set up maps as well.

    I have some ideas where I’ll plant at the new place and I think I’ll be able to get some planting for fall crops.

    Well my break time for hauling stuff out to the garage is over.


  26. Hi Pam,

    That’s funny! What would Ollie possibly eat when he’s in town? Probably muffins and cappuccino’s based on your amusing observation! All this talk of pork made me feel mildly uncomfortable when consuming a pork pie for lunch today. :-)! It was a chance choice too, because being of a naturally parsimonious inclination I usually take lunch which will now become feed for the chickens. Nothing goes to waste here! Pork pie here is very rare, you never see it.

    It is interesting that you mention the heavy rainfall and its impact, but there is still much work to be done. I fully expect a very heavy rainfall event within the next twelve months – in the order that Margaret experienced yesterday. That volume and rate of rain would cause damage here. The work will happen over the next few months baring any disasters. You should be impressed with the drainage works.

    Yeah, wallabies fill the same niche as goats or deer – except they enjoy breaking branches rather than just stripping the leaves. Their little arms can reach up and grab and rip branches. I reckon that may be because their role in the forest is keeping the under-story open, but nobody really knows how the forests here used to work.

    Dogs love strawberries! Far out, everything eats strawberries. What do you other than construct an impervious cage? Even then I reckon the rats and mice would get in there. It is a losing game, but you know, the war is long. Hey, I found a dead mouse outside the chicken enclosure this morning and was wondering whether the neighbours cat got it. Not sure, but I’ve noticed that cats rarely eat their mice kills. It is not possible that it was poisoned, and anything else that would have killed the mouse would have eaten it. Very weird.

    Your son is pretty handy to have been able to perform that welding job. Nice work. Welding is a tough skill to learn and get good at. Overloading vehicles, tough, but been there too, but I suffer from mechanical sympathy and try not to push things too hard. A good year 1987, and they know how to make them. Those vehicles are advertised down here as unbreakable – and believe it or not, they are regularly the number one selling vehicle (the mining industry can’t be wrong).

    Hehe! Neat and tidy is a lifestyle choice… Hehe! You just reminded me that I have to run over the mound of organic matter with the little red Honda mower over the next few days. Then the microbes can do the hard yards.

    Oh my! Far out, that is one hot night. It wasn’t that many years ago that we never saw hotter than 22’C / 72’F over night during summer. But now, they look exactly like your sort of weather. Not good.

    Thank you. I enjoy it, and it is lovely speaking with people such as yourself! Not to worry, I can see what happened here with the comments and yeah, three was about it! Hehe!



  27. Hi Lewis,

    Mate, it isn’t just the inmates, that is an affliction of the population. One of my mates tells me that such discussions about kids and real estate is what most Australian’s talk about. I try to avoid discussions about either subjects too. When people persist – and some do – I tell them that my mum was a single mum and managed to purchase a house on a single parents income – then I ask them to consider what that means for today. It is uncomfortable when they face decline full on in their face, and it usually ends the discussion. I have a suspicion that like a dysfunctional family barely holding it together, people are pretty comfortable with the current arrangements! Oh well.

    Yeah, Jerusalem artichokes have a notorious reputation, but they ain’t so tough if they’re droopy. Are they weedy up in your part of the world? A bit of water is an assistance to the plants. We may have to disagree about Brussel sprouts – water is too good for the likes of them! Hehe! Maybe it is me, but I find them to be quite bitter tasting, even when fresh off the bush. What do you reckon about that, are your sprouts bitter?

    Hey, are your Chinese lanterns also known as Cape Gooseberries? They certainly look like they’re from the Solanum family of plants. Maybe? Are they sweet or savoury?

    No, they really did pull that ‘I’m feeling so low about my super powers’ shtick in the original film. It was quite well done too, but as you say, it is a dodgy premise. One of the characters had come down in the world and was working as an insurance salesmen. I had to laugh, but I went to a talk recently where I politely put my hand up and said: “Excuse me, but I fundamentally disagree with your primary premise”. They looked a bit shocked at that claim, and I went on to explain my point of view and gave examples that were right in front of their noses that they couldn’t ignore. People struggle getting their thoughts together these days – it is like shooting fish in a barrel! Far out, my profession exposes me to those other claims and it presents a conundrum to me. You know, I’ve began recently steering the topic away from that claim – which again is frankly dodgy. Unfortunately, the numbers tell me stories about finances and I read stories in the numbers. A few weeks ago I quoted Mr Gene Logsdon about the economics of farming and he was spot on. It all comes down to peoples expectations and the stories they have running in their heads.

    What is really weird was that last night I recalled the Big in Japan song which was from Tom Waits. A fascinating and gravelly voice. The memory surfaced without any bidding on my part. Does that happen to you?

    Fair enough, it was an implausible plot, but you know I enjoyed the cultural strangeness of it all. And the honesty that that was the path the actor had to take.

    Good for you about the inclusion in the DSM! A notable achievement! Hehe! Far out, I hope nobody is wondering why I’m cackling to myself – there is probably some entry in the DSM about that problem. Stop it! Hehe! My giggling brain was wondering not whether the DSM was updated from time to time (I understand that process), but whether it was your photo or entry that gets updated in there from time to time… We’ve descended into the land of silly again. On a serious note, the reports that I read and heard suggested that it was the World Health Organisation that recognised the gaming addiction. I’m not actually sure what that means for the DSM. Dunno. Oh, it looks as though the condition is a shoe in for DSM-V. Interesting. I wonder what prompted that inclusion?

    I got that impression with the war of 1812. Press ganging servicemen doesn’t usually end well, because sooner or later you have to arm them, and who knows how that could end up? Nobodies hands are clean despite the feelings that they may have about themselves. Yeah, free trade is good as long as you follow our rules and don’t compete. The length of global supply lines as they stand now is a total disaster. No getting around that one.

    The banks have been up to all sorts of mischief recently, and I recall a delightful quote from the Big Short book which went along the lines of: “an interest only mortgage is like a rental with debt”. That observation floored me, but down here, you may not be aware but apparently some banks were providing up to 40% of all loans in one recent year as interest only. They will eventually become interest and principle loans and then the proverbial poo will hit the fan. It is going to be ugly. My reason for suggesting that is because if the people could afford to pay the principle in the first place, they wouldn’t have opted for an interest only loan. Mind you, I am aware that financial planners tend to apparently push people in the direction of interest only loans. The code words they use to promote that choice go something like: “You need to make an active investment decision”, it sounds good, but I’m not entirely sure what it means…

    Who knows? Oh that’s right, some people know! Far out.

    Hey, I noticed that the cheeky scamps in Parliament were trying to slip through reforms to the defamation laws which meant that corporations could sue for defamation (which they can’t do now). Well done them and how could such a reform possibly be abused? Our defamation laws are some of the most stringent in the western world.



  28. Hi Margaret,

    Oh my, five inches of rain in under two hours. That is a nightmare fall. We call such storms: “Super Cells”. How did your place cope with the rain? Little chunks of the place would have slipped downhill here during that much rain. I’d see a storm like that once every two or three years, although the general claim is that it is a one in a hundred year storm – which is a technically correct description, but a poor use of the English language. Is such a storm normal in your part of the world?

    Yeah, it is amazing to see dogs work as a pack, because they don’t communicate in any way, they just know what to do. I’ve seen the fluffies chase a wallaby around and around a large wood pile, and they all follow the wallaby around and around, but soon one of the dogs will break free of the pack and run in the opposite direction. The wallaby gets a mild surprise, and then bounces off in another direction all together. And the chase begins all over again.

    Were the high radon levels found inside the house, or in the basement of the new place? Hey, when I was reading about radon yesterday, some of the articles mentioned that awareness of the risk was only a recent concern (1985 or so). The element has an incredibly long half life – and is constantly being renewed. I’d have to suggest that it is a common toxic gas that we have evolved with, but you never know what your personal susceptibility is. Can you install fans or reduce the risk easily and cheaply?

    Haha! I can see a plumbing job in Doug’s future! Well you can always install such a feature like the big double bowl sink. I’m not allowed to do domestic plumbing jobs here. The rural pumps and tanks are fine, but domestic plumbing, no way. The plumbers union will probably come and get me. Things are different in your part of the world aren’t they?

    We have a little trick to sort that ‘lot’s of pans problem’. It is easy too. Whoever creates the mess gets to clean it up. As you may expect, I’m a very neat cook and clean up as I go along. On the other hand I was housebroken as a youth. They got me when I was young and impressionable… Hehe! A family of ten would produce an epic amount of dishes. I can hear the voice over the loudspeaker in your early household commanding: “All hands on deck, all hands on deck” and gathering the troops in the kitchen. :-)!

    Naughty Salve. Yes, Salve and Ollie would have many hours of fascinating discussions about the dental experience of masticating different materials!

    Fair enough about the GPS, it is no judgement on my part. Dunno. It is a bit weird but Melbourne was laid out early on by a particular competent surveyor and most of the roads follow a grid pattern and fan out from the city. When I first moved up into the bush, I had to learn how to orient myself relative to the actual location because all of the mountain roads twist and turn in order to get anywhere around the topography. It was quite unsettling at first, but you adapt and now I keep the general direction of things in my mind, sort of like an internal compass – even in the city. I’ve read that dogs build up massive mental maps of their territory and I can sort of see that. Sir Poopy was mostly blind in his final few days, and he got around fine – with only the occasional fall.

    Good to hear that you’ll be able to get some fall crops in. We had a long fall this year, so I wonder if you’ll get that later this year? Dunno. I’ve read reports that we’re heading for an El Nino, but it is not a certainty yet.

    Hope you enjoyed your break time! Don’t work too hard and I hope the garage sale goes well and the rain holds off.



  29. @ Margaret – we didn’t get any rain till Tuesday evening; all the earlier rain, like what you got, stayed well north of us. This morning it’s rained off and on, with enough rain since last evening and this morning to cause the sump pump to turn on, but nothing like the 5 inches you got. Still, any rain we get is welcome; we were approaching flash drought territory before the rain.

    Mike had to get his mom’s basement tested for radon last year when she sold her place, and there was enough that she was required to have mitigation (an exhaust system to keep air moving through the basement) installed. I think radon must ooze in with air that moves through the earth into the basement. Bringing in fresh air from outside must dilute it sufficiently. We weren’t required to obtain an occupancy permit when we moved in 16 years ago, so I don’t know if we have a radon issue. It wouldn’t surprise me if we do, but it doesn’t come up as a concern to me. Driving is more likely to injure or kill me than radon is. But you know that, and we both know you have to do what the code requires to buy or sell a house.


  30. Yo, Chris – Taste (in your mouth. Not what you put on the walls :-). has a lot to do with genetics. You just didn’t get the Tasty Brussels Sprout gene. Yup. Jerusalem artichoke can be “weedy”. Or, invasive. That’s why I popped it in a tub. Chinese lanterns are not related to gooseberries. They’re used a lot for dried arrangements. Interesting. Immature berries are poison. Ripe berries are ok. But, not very tasty.


    Memory is a funny thing. Things pop into my head, from I know not where. I recently watched a film called “Rememory.” Kind of Sci-fi. Stars Peter Dinklidge. About a scientist that invents a machine that retrieves memory. Buried memories or, what really happened in the past, without all the alternation and embroidery the mind does. Worth a look. Stunner of an ending.

    The people at DSM are quit nice about requesting updated photos. But, given my photo phobia, I usually just send a pic of the back of my head.

    Habit + our brain’s reward system = addiction. I think. My take. There’s a criteria for addiction. 10 questions to figure out if something is a problem. Or, some such. “Does is interfere with the normal running of your life.” Etc..

    Well, if corporations are “People”, as is here, I suppose they can be defamed, against. Bet they’re pushing hard, for that. No more product or service ratings. Of course, you sometimes sign on for that, unknowingly, in the small print of whatever you do online.

    The Warden had a big announcement, yesterday. She’s retiring. Her last day will be July 3d. We knew it was coming, but not so soon. Sigh. Have to break in a new one. She’s been here for 30 years.

    Someone asked me today if I’d ever considered writing. Well, yeah, but the whole computer end of things, these days, is just beyond me. I don’t even want to begin. As an example (possible rant, ahead), I finally figured out how to take a picture with my little flip phone and send it to my e-mail. And, then forward it on. So, I sent a picture to my friends in Idaho, and another to a friend here in town. Oh, the joy!

    So, yesterday I attempted to send another pic. No dice. Tried 4 times. Nada. Zip. Works one day, doesn’t work the next. For No Apparent Reason. So, anger, frustration and high blood pressure. I could call the friendly folks at the help desk. EXCEPT THEY DON’T EXIST. None of my more computer savvy friends, have a clue. So it goes. Lew

  31. Hi Lewis,

    Hey, it’s just you and me today bro! :-)! Last night we ate at a new place in the big smoke that I hadn’t tried before. I’m not sure that the name of the place is cool, but here goes: Miss Katie’s Crab Shack. It was quite charming, and we enjoyed a New England clam chowder which was served in a hollowed out sour dough loaf. Total yummo! And being Chief Fluffy Officer here, I personally blame all of the recent discussions about New England Chowder versus the West Coast based lesser tomato varieties of the soup. Well, they are lesser and I feel that we adequately established that fact a few weeks ago.

    So, I assume that Brussels Sprout’s taste OK to you? Are you kidding me about the genetics in this situation? Sorry to doubt you, but I’m going to ask around with my foodie mates to see what they reckon about them. Interestingly, my mates of the big shed were growing those sprouts – and that was where I discovered that they taste as bitter fresh as if they were picked several days beforehand. Dunno. Still genetic heritage has an impact upon what people can and can’t digest and Jerusalem artichokes have such an impact in that some people have enzymes which can break (excuse the pun – I was going to add the word ‘wind’) down the starches and some don’t. Plus not to mention the affect that asparagus has on some people.

    The gooseberries I was referring too aren’t the traditional green gooseberries, they’re some sort of tomatillo looking variety and they’re sort of sweet. Let’s see… Physalis peruviana. They have a self-seeding volunteering habit here. I originally thought that you were referring to the same plant, but not so. Same, same, but different. Interestingly, the ones I grow are not known for their toxicity.

    Thanks for the film reference, and he is a great actor. He provided one of the best moments in Three Billboards. It was a bit of a sweary film, and some of the scenes were way over the top like the publisher getting thrown out the window.

    Fair enough, the editor likewise wishes to remain anonymous, despite being known to plenty of people. Maybe that condition could score a mention in the DSM-V? The desire to be unknown? Dunno, what possible afflictions could spring from that? Mind you, in the past I have worked in my professional role but for recruitment firms and there databases always are a bit frightening. The Europeans have decided that it is OK to forget the past. I can barely remember last week, but computers seem to hang on a bit too tight.

    Yeah, the thing is with corporations sometimes they have resources to pursue legal actions that are way out of the ordinary. And such inability to pursue those actions in the first place protect them as much as it protects citizens. Not that they’d understand that in the heat of the moment. There was a case down here a long while back… Gunns 20. I mean how do you fight that action – even if you are in the right.

    Sorry to hear that the Warden is leaving. And yes, it will be unsettling and hopefully you lot don’t have to break in the new Warden?

    Haha! We write every single day. Thus you write despite your protestations of innocence. I now rest my case! Hehe! Does the defendant have any reply?

    There is no trouble like computer trouble! Not good, and a real headache giver.



  32. Hi Chris,

    It is a bit wet here, but the west coast cops it a lot worse. A few places measure annual rainfall in the metres! Millimetres generally agreed to be faffing about and not worthing bothering with!

    A GNSS receiver is a fancy name for an expensive GPS unit. GPS of course, referring *only* to the US satellite system. A GNSS system can receive the Russians GLONASS, the Europeans Galileo, the Chinese BeiDou and sometimes even the Japanese QZSS system. The more satellites your receiver can track, the more robust your position solution can be. High end equipment can locate itself down to several cm, or less. This is compared to your phone or consumer device which can do no better than a metre or two, and often more like 10metres. /nerd explanation ends

    On the subject of genetics and food preferences, I remember someone telling me there was a genetic basis for Laos people enjoying bitter food (including such morsels as buffalo bile). However, I tried googling and came up empty, so I might have imagined it. Certainly Lao food can be very bitter, and even young children there loved it. Could be a cultural thing I guess.

    Just personally, the chowder in a bread trencher sounds pretty good! Better than bile or bitter cucumbers anyway.


  33. @Marg and SLClaire

    Radon testing sounds scary. I have never heard of that before, but then basements are not really a thing down this part of the world.

    The mine I used to work at was surrounded by granite. As a result, the deeper you went underground the hotter it got. The geologists called it a ‘thermal gradient’, a uncomfortable side effect of the slightly radioactive rock!


  34. @Claire

    Glad you got some rain. We’re supposed to get more today. Some of the flooding in Rockford was very severe. The largest hospital had some pretty serious flooding.

    The radon in our house was just over the limit which is 4. Ours tested 4.7 and only in the basement. If it were me I would have just sealed up the sump pump pit and be done with it. Now there is ugly piping past the gutters and a fan that runs 24/7. I think we should just turn it off once the house is re-tested and turn it back on when we leave. The new house, however, tests at over 20 so it’s a more serious issue. The guys who did the mitigation said there have been instances when houses tested high but people had lived there for 20 – 30 years without knowing it and ended up with lung cancer and hadn’t been smokers. Since I was a heavy smoker for about 15 years and lived with 2nd hand smoke from my mother before that I think I’d have to take high levels of radon seriously. I believe radon testing started in the mid 1980s. We were told that the guy who started all the testing had a house with levels of over 28,000. He worked in a nuclear power plant and was setting off the radiation monitors when he came in for work.


  35. @Lew & Chris

    Regarding conversations about children, grandchildren I’d like to add travel as a very common topic of conversation – especially in my age group. It was funny but my oldest daughter and I were having a conversation about just this the other day. She was not looking forward to the block party she had to attend. She lives in a very wealthy suburb (her husbands wish,not hers). Besides school (and she homeschools) and kids a big topic is various renovations being done to home – most of which are unnecessary. As she doesn’t have much in common with these neighbors she doesn’t really have anyone to talk to. The few neighbors she does like don’t attend.


  36. Hi Chris,

    I think levels are usually high in just the basement. The mitigation ran us $1300 here. It depends on what they have to do and access as well. When they have to get into cramped crawl spaces it can get pretty difficult. Things were pretty straight forward here. I have read that just having fans can help. I described more in my response to Claire.

    We’re supposed to get some more rain again today. Tom Skilling, a well known meteorologist around here said there have been four storms like the one the other night in the Chicago area in the last year – not usual at all. He takes climate change very seriously. As the Chicago metro area is quite large everyone isn’t usually impacted the same when one of these systems comes through. Areas not too far south of us didn’t have nearly as much rain as we did though their rivers will be over flood stage within a couple of days.

    We are close to being ready for the sale and I can’t wait until it’s over. Doug finally got moving and started pulling out all his stuff the last two days.


  37. Yo, Chris – Just us chickens? Can we scratch, swear and spit on the floor? :-).

    Happy solstice! It was 90F (32.22C) yesterday. We’re heading into a period of cooler temperatures (by 20 degrees) and maybe even a bit of rain. The rain totals Margaret mentioned would be impressive, even for here.

    I got the stats on my friend’s, daughter’s tiny house. Her rent and utilities were about $1,500 a month where she was living. She’ll save about $1,200 a month in the tiny house. She’s parked in a Forest Service campground, and will have to find another spot, in the fall. The little house cost her $47,000. But, as long as they’re “hot” they’ll probably hold their value better than a mobile home. Like mobile homes, banks won’t finance them.

    Ohhhh. The New England clam chowder sounds yummy. Given your current season, hits the spot. My friend Scott and I may go on our monthly lunch, next week, at a place that serves good old fashioned ‘Merican food. :-). Not a chain, so, more stuff sourced local and more made on site.

    Just read a book by A.J. (?) Jacobs. “Drop Dead Healthy.” He’s the guy that wrote the book on family histories. A very funny fellow. He has a whole chapter on taste and smell. Because, what we taste is all about smell. I didn’t like sprouts when I was a kid. Now I love sprouts and broccoli. Go figure. Yes, I suffer from asparagus syndrome :-). About 40 some percent of the population, do. New tastes and foods take some getting used to. (Proven scientific fact!) As an example, when I switched to almond milk, it took me about a half gallon to get used to it. Still rubbish with biscuits :-). Cont.

  38. Cont. Wow. Chinese lanterns are related to the gooseberries and tomatillos. Who knew? LOL. I guess their scientific family is “things that grown in husks.”

    The Gunns case is interesting. Rather than reputation, here, they would have prosecuted for actual damage or trespassing. But, we have cases of BNBs and restaurants suing for bad reviews. And, the beef industry did sue Oprah Winfrey for disparaging their product. Didn’t go anywhere. Nor the other cases. But, it cost a lot of legal fees.

    Yeah, a new warden is making everyone twitchy. Our present warden has been a bit slack on some of the “rules.” A new regime, who knows?

    Sure, I write (every day 🙂 but not for jingle. To write for jingle, the computer end of things seems insurmountable.

    I just read a book (stick with me. It relates :-). “The Year of Less” (Flanders, 2018) “How I stopped shopping, gave away my belongings, and discovered life is worth more than anything you can by in a store.” But, there’s a lot more to it. This young Canadian lady was a real mess. Besides the shopping and minimal hoarding, there were problems with consumer debt ($30,000 … which she managed to pay off in just over two years) alcohol and binge eating.

    It was a good read, to me. Some of the parts made me squirm a bit as it hit pretty close to home. Not a bad thing and stuff to think about, in a different way. But the point I was going to make (there is a point?) is, that her employment was pretty tech heavy. And, all though she didn’t dwell on the finer points, it’s all beyond me. Also, she did a bit of job hopping around. And, finally ended up as a free lance writer. But nowhere did health care coverage figure into her decisions. Canadian, remember?

    Just watered the crops 🙂 and everything appears to be banging along. Being neurotic, I’ll probably keep track of general weight I pull out of the garden. My two potatoes morphed into 5 plants. Russets. That ought to bump the poundage up, considerably. Lew

  39. Hi Damo,

    Out of curiosity, how does the climate compare to Zeehan? I’d imagine that you’d be reasonably used to the weather in your new spot given where you used to live. The past four days have been gloriously sunny here, with frosty nights – and the batteries are now almost, but not quite full. Batteries do not ever charge to 100% full in a single day.

    Hey, I appreciate the nerd speak, because I had no idea that there were all these other systems up there in low Earth orbit put up there by other countries. It makes sense. Weren’t the signals from the US system originally encoded, or scrambled somehow?

    The bitter food preference may have something to do with how people are brought up and what food they consumed during that time. I mean, I recall people eating tripe, brains, and tongue as normal everyday food stuffs. The smell of tripe cooking in the kitchen used to make me feel sort of queasy and I never touched the stuff. But then, I recall eating steak and kidney pies too as a kid and nobody used to think anything was unusual about it. I’m not sure that I enjoyed the taste of kidney which tastes like iron to me. Anyway, I recall reading a long time back that some European diets have an element of bitter food – particularly for starters.

    The chowder was very good. Bitter cucumbers are not part of my diet, and they look to me like a mutant cucumber with a seriously bad case of warts… Yuk!



  40. Hi Pam,

    And a happy solstice to you too! Thank you for the nice thoughts. The sun has shone strongly the past four days and the house batteries are now almost (but not quite) full. I hope your summer solstice is nice too? Down here, the air is cool to cold, but the sun, when it falls on your skin, has a mildly toothy feel to it. During the depths of winter it is nice to recall that the sun can also keep you warm. The nights have been cold, clear and frosty… I can see the sap rising in the fruit trees as many of them are sporting new growth (sans leaves). I just finished reading a book about “Backyard Sugarin” and I look at the various trees here and wonder about what treasures I’m missing out on. Have you ever tapped a maple tree for its sap?



  41. Hi Margaret,

    I rarely travel anywhere these days, but you hit the nail on the head. Yes, travel is a topic of conversation, and whenever a quiet moment slips into a discussion, I actually slip in the question: “So, have you got any travel plans?” It is an innocuous enough question, but people are usually pretty happy to oblige and fill in the quiet spaces. Conversation and small talk is an art form, after all! Some people have dubious skills in that area. Haven’t we all met a few of those…

    I’m sorry to say that I reckon your daughter is in a bind. To cut to the mince of the matter, it becomes a question of values. And it is confronting for everyone. I can’t offer any meaningful advice – and you weren’t asking for such anyway! I can only recount my own experience which is to listen to other people’s stories and then get to know the people. The editor and I have travelled in a few third world countries and most people there are pretty nice and they seem to want the sort of things that most people in first world countries want – and it is rarely the material things. I long since walked away from the concept that I could possibly change anyone’s perspective and instead I worked on the local environment that I was held accountable for. And when I speak with other folks who have different values, well, I just sort of own my quirks, have a laugh about them, and share stories of woe and triumph. Usually on the woe side of things just to make people feel more comfortable. Your daughter could try such a technique to lower their guard and she may find that the renovation folks are far more vulnerable and precarious than their talk would otherwise indicate. The talk is usually there to prop them up – I mean why else would they do it? And your daughter is possibly putting her own ego ahead of reality. I used to think that my sparkling personality would shine for all to see, but no, I had to work at being actively charming, whilst at the same time learn to open and conduct a dialogue with other people. Your daughter has fear because she feels that her values will make her an outcast, and so she plays that role. However, the role she chooses to play is really up to her.

    Where did all that come from? ;-)!

    Now, I have a question for you. The editor and I were in the big smoke this morning. To be honest we were mucking around doing nothing of any good purpose other than seeking out a good coffee and feed. Which we found. Anyway, I did notice that there seems to be quite a few younger folks who are pigeon toed, and their feet were tracking inwards. I wish I had better hobbies, but I do try to notice the people around me… Anyway, when I was a kid, teachers used to ensure that children learned and maintained good posture, and I was wondering whether teachers are no longer able to correct such things as posture?

    Thanks for explaining the Radon situation. I assume that the gas can enter the water in the sump pump? I would have thought that the further away from the ground level one gets, the less Radon that there would be? I’d chuck in fans, because it would be in the outside air in the immediate environment anyway given that it emanates from the soil?

    You know, the house here (which sits on the side of a dormant volcano and who knows what is off gassing – probably Radon) was built to withstand bushfires, except that the designers forgot that the underfloor required ventilation. The first winter the underfloor was damp as, and so I added cross flow vents with hugely strong stainless steel mesh, and that seems to have corrected the moisture build up problems. And the chemicals used to protect the timber holding the house up contains: Copper; Chrome, and Arsenic – which no doubts are leaking into the soil. We live on a poisoned planet.

    Go Doug, and he is a wise man to get a wriggle on and get moving! Hehe! It is the job that’s not started as takes the longest to complete (Tolkien)…

    It is really sunny and cold here. Brr!



  42. Chris:

    Thank you for the charming winter picture. It is funny you asked about maples as I was just reading a book about Vermont last night which had a part about making maple syrup and sugar. One of the photos showed them tapping a huge old maple. Our maple trees are all still quite small and none of them are sugar maples, just wild ones. I’d be afraid to tap them till they have at least a 4 inch diameter, and I’m just guessing about that. They grow really slowly here, which seems odd as there are actually commercial sugar maple stands (orchards?) in the mountains in the western part of Virginia.

    The weather the last few days has been rain – and more rain. I think we are getting Margaret’s and Claire’s leftovers. They sure had a lot of leftovers!


  43. Hi Lewis,

    Hehe! Yup, just you and me buddy! How cool are we given that we held the floor and entertained everybody? ;-)!

    And a happy solstice to you too! I have to admit that your summer solstice weather sounds quite nice. The solstice here was a bit under 50’F – but not a breath of air movement, it was dead still, and the sun shone. The usual winter solstice here is very cloudy and cold. The next week looks set to continue that run of weather. Mind you, it wasn’t quite as wet as Margaret’s part of the world last week, but it got close enough for my comfort. Heavy rain does a huge amount of damage, but then most climate extremes do.

    We mentioned bananas the other week and I spotted this article: Potential new Panama disease outbreak in Australia’s biggest banana region.

    This morning the editor and I were in the big smoke and enjoyed a delightful breakfast of a very large coffee and French toast with mascarpone cheese which is a cheese usually used in desserts. Yummo! Not the health food of a nation, sure, but one must make sacrifices sometimes. :-)!

    Good for her. From what I’ve seen of workers cottages from the late 19th century, tiny houses aren’t that dissimilar in size. And you know what, the big issue with tiny houses is where do you park one? That becomes the problem and the laws have not caught up yet with the realities. I read a story recently about a couple who dropped leaflets around with farmers in a rural area offering a set weekly rent for parking space for their ‘tiny house’ and they had a few takers. I also rather suspect that planning regulations haven’t caught up with the realities of the situation and in some cases they may be used against people. There is a guy up this way that has a plot of land with a productive garden and he lives in a yurt. It is sheer genius because the planning laws don’t know how to deal with a yurt, which is basically a very upmarket tent. Yurts also are very well equipped to deal with the sort of crazy cold winters we get down here. Anyway, we’ve lived in a house with only a single power point, one tap, and floors in only one room and the hallway, but you know, people are trained into a certain sort of helplessness these days and I don’t share that feeling. I actually wonder what it will take to chuck off that belief?

    Hey, the banks don’t offer finance to owner builders either – and we had to stump the cash for this place and just hope that we didn’t run out before the end of the build. I’m not a fan of the banks.

    That sounds like a really good feed. Food sourced local and prepared on site has a nice sound to it. And yeah, seafood chowder in hot weather is a big ask – that is a long term disagreement between the editor and I. Mmm, enjoy your lunch! Life is short, and there are only so many delightful lunches to enjoy!

    There is a cafe in Melbourne that has their own market garden and chicken flock on site and the food is good and I occasionally enjoy a lunch there. The buildings and gardens are on an old quarry site, which may also have been used as a tip in the past. And that comes with some problems, but all the same the food is good.

    Drop Dead Healthy is a great title! Hehe! Far out! Oh my. I began reading the book “Gene Everlasting” this morning. A clever play on words, and also a fascinating insight into Mr Logsdon’s embrace of the finality. I really enjoy the stories and description of his childhood. Almond milk is a great idea, and when ordering my large coffee this morning (served in porcelain – life is too short for take away coffee and anyway it doesn’t taste the same), I did note that another person was ordering a coffee with almond milk. I believe there have been some supply shortages with almonds of late. I don’t recall you mentioning cutting out dairy from your diet? What does Mr Jacobs recommend in the book?

    I’m with you about your larger point because I used to dislike the taste of unsweetened yoghurt, but now I really enjoy it. I must have killed a few taste buds along with the many brain cells… :-)!

    Hehe! Yah, that’s funny about the scientific name. I had quite the start when I observed the images because your berries are red, whilst the ones I grow are orange (and edible). I plant the local Solanum family plants for the parrots to consume, and the shrubs pop up in all sorts of unusual out of the way (and fertile) places about the farm.

    Yes, defamation is a serious problem down here. Here is an article about a food review defamation situation: $600,000 restaurant review: Fairfax loses 11-year defamation battle . Ouch. The final paragraph is interesting as it hints upon the personal impact upon the reviewer.

    A new warden. Hopefully you don’t get a martinet? It is a bit hard to chuck one overboard and feed them to the sharks… For some reason my mind always wanders back to Captain, and later Governor Bligh. Oh, hey, when we were in the big smoke today we stopped past Captain Cooks cottage which was relocated and reconstructed down here during the Great Depression. It is the oldest building on the continent.

    Fair enough about the writing! Back in the day people could make good money writing jingles!

    The interesting thing I reckon is that Canadian (and Australian) health care costs are pretty reasonable for the population, but housing, food and energy is pretty expensive. Same, same, but different I reckon. Mind you, I would not want to personally be involved in a health care situation in your country. Out of curiosity, did the author have any defining moments that may have pushed her in that direction? Job hopping seems to be the norm nowadays for plenty of people, although I don’t know how it is viewed by employers? Hey, I recall the very end of the ‘job for life’ days, and the subsequent introduction of instability into people’s lives. I’ll check that book out as it sounds interesting. Jobs have been a bit of a bait and switch trick.

    Oh, I’m really impressed that you measure the weight of the produce that you remove from the garden. Interesting. Have you noticed anything that increases yields over the years? I have no quantifiable basis for my beliefs, but I sort of feel that I yield about 1/10th of the ratio for edible produce to soil additions. But I never quite know what soil additions go towards long term soil productivity, and what gets converted into the edible parts of plants. Dunno, it is more of a gut feel thing.

    Go the early potatoes! Yummo!



  44. Hi Pam,

    Haha! I was wondering where winter had gone to recently. Winter rain is usually persistent and gentle, but rarely of the thumping variety of last week. That’s spring rain. Oh well. The water tanks are almost full now and that is the silver lining.

    You are lucky to be receiving decent rain at the time of year you are at. It is great news for the plants.

    What is not so great news, is that the backyard sugarin’ dude said ten inch diameter maple trees as a minimum (he also mentioned birch trees can be tapped). Phooey. That’ll be a few more years yet (here and at your place!) Fast growing trees, what are these? I reckon the grass here slows the growth of the trees, as the few that sit in well fed garden beds surrounded by flowering shrubs, well they grow like Triffids who’ve enjoyed a good feed! And we all know that Triffids enjoy a good feeding of blood and bone… Just don’t take too long looking at the feed source as you may, well, let’s not go there. Triffids are not friendly!

    That is funny! Enjoy your leftover rain and a happy solstice to you.



  45. Hello again

    I haven’t had time to read many comments being overwhelmed by the human race at present, but this should prove interesting ahem. I was telling Son about your problems with wallabies as he is having a terrible time with the local wild life. Son wants to know why you don’t eat the wallabies. I did try to give him your likely views on such but he was having none of it. So over to you.


  46. Yo, Chris – Well, it only hit 70 for a brief period, yesterday. Mostly in the 60sF. And, we’re getting a good “onshore flow” of cool air. That’s pretty much the forecast for the next week. Showers, here and there … maybe.

    That’s pretty tragic, about the bananas. And, as I eat one a day… concerning.

    Yes. Alternative housing and zoning. Always a problem. Try and be a bit thrifty and you get punished for it. All in the interest of your health and safety. Yeah, sure. Both you and I have lived a bit “rough”, from time to time. It’s all about flying under the radar and being adaptable. Thoughtful people (present company) asks “what’s most important to me.” In my case, staying warm, keeping me and my clothes clean. I must admit I still have moments of turning on the tap and just being grateful that I’m living somewhere where I have water and keeping everything humming is someone else’s responsibility. Cont.

  47. Cont. Well, I haven’t said too much about it, and I won’t say I’m on a “diet”, but I’ve had this project going. Year before last I hit 210, after the holidays. Last year, 195. When I weighed in, this week, I’m a solid 180. Goal by October 1st? 170. Maybe, 165. Then monitor weekly and if I start to creep toward 170, reign it in for a week.

    I won’t call it a diet (which is not advised, anyway) but more just making different food choices. Cut out all the dairy. Except 3 eggs, once a week. Plenty of fruit and veg. Oatmeal and brown rice. My homemade banana muffins, from time to time. Can’t say I’ve been hungry, even once. And still, the weight slowly rolls off. I think I’m going to have to punch another hole in my belt. Keeping my pants up is getting problematic. :-).

    I’ve been exercising twice a day. 20-25 minutes. The usual back things I’ve always done, and added in some things to work on my pot and love handles. Seems to be doing … something. I figure when I get down to where I want to be, I can throw in a bit of meat and dairy, from time to time.

    So. Why? Well, just once before I shuffle off this mortal coil, I’d like to be in really good shape. And, as I’ve often said before, I don’t expect to live forever, but would like to be healthy while I’m doing it. :-). My knees were bothering me, a bit. They WILL eventually wear out, but I thought if I could get some weight off, they wouldn’t bother me, as much. And, they have been improving.

    So, what kicked this all off? Well, I’m always reading or watching stuff on food and health. Right now I’m watching one of those Great Courses, from the library, called “Medical Myths, Lies, and Half-Truths: What We Think We Know May Be Hurting Us.” But I think it’s the Rip Esselstyn books and vids that really got me going. But, I really don’t buy in to any one particular set of information. I just take it all in, think about it. Adapt what makes the most sense for me. Seems to be working.

    So, how is one to get information, other than reviews, for what is good and what is so-so? Of course, reviews can be vindictive. Or, packed with reviews from one’s friends and relatives :-). If something I see has negative reviews of less than 5%, I discount them. I KNOW there are whack jobs out there and people who cannot be satisfied under any circumstances.

    I’ve never weighed produce, before. I thought you had mentioned it, or, someone else here. Or, maybe it was just a neurotic dream I had. But I am a bit curious to see how many pounds of tomatoes or potatoes I bring in. Pumpkins? Squash? Corn. Weight on or off the cob? :-). Lew

  48. @ Margaret – Storms seem to contain more water, are slower moving or even stall. We’re even seeing that, up here, from time to time.

    I smoked for 50 years. Now I just eat as healthy as I can and keep my fingers crossed. Still chewing the darned nicotine gum. Tapering off … I’ve already decided that if I get lung cancer, I’m not going to do anything about it. Given my age and lack of connections. But the first thing I’ll do is go out and buy a carton of smokes :-).

    Sigh. Those conversations about travel and education. Mostly, I think, all about trying to place one in the pecking order. Class based. Once in a rare while, it’s honest curiosity and an impulse to expand horizons. I’m old enough and cranky enough that I’m likely to say, “Raised by wolves.”

    Good luck with your sale! Lew

  49. Hi Inge,

    I do hope that the visit is going smoothly – and that you put the youngsters to some good work and they’re not spending idle days loafing around enjoying themselves in the summer sun! No worries at all, I get occasionally overwhelmed too. The past week or so I’ve been busy getting this website up to scratch and it is the things that you rarely consider that cause you to become unstuck – and that is the case here. I’ve barely had any time to visit any other websites.

    Your son has asked an astute question. The simple answer is that there are just not enough wallabies in the surrounding forest for me to consume them. The forests around here are too poorly managed to be able to harvest meat. Wallabies are quite tasty from a story that a local recounted to me a long time ago.

    And the stupid thing is that when a deer or kangaroo cull does happen, nobody eats the meat. I suspect that the landholders have not sought permission for the cull, and so they try to keep things on the quiet.

    The entire system is dysfunctional, and because of that the wallabies need all the help they can get, so I really don’t begrudge them a share of the produce. We’re in the process of learning how to live with them – and I’ve learned a lot over the past decade.

    I’m curious to learn your son’s opinion? I really don’t know which way is the correct way forward and just sort of go with my gut feel and interpret the historical accounts.



  50. Hi Lewis,

    Your weather sounds to me like a cool patch in the midst of summer potentialities. Last summer was cool here, which is really weird, but then autumn turned the heat on and the rain off. I’ll be very curious to hear how your autumn rolls.

    Oh yeah, eventually, bananas as we know them are done for. Whenever has a mono culture crop worked for a long time? It is like economic bubbles in that they all eventually burst. Mind you, I really enjoyed the taste of the red bananas that I picked up at the market many weeks ago. Honestly, do the bananas that you consume have any flavour? I can’t say that the yellow Cavendish variety have that much in the way of flavour – and I wonder whether that may be due to the soil that they’re grown in now being played out – or whether they’re just picked way too green these days. And I honestly do not know the answer. On the other hand, perhaps it is time I put some plans towards constructing a tropical green house? Some of the really cold tolerant bananas are within striking distance of the climate here. What do they say: Close, but no cigar?

    Exactly, yeah sure is the right answer about alternative housing and zoning. On the other hand I know areas where people are living on their own blocks of land in sheds and they don’t appear to be hassled by the authorities. You have to not annoy your neighbours in the process if you choose such a path. The main problem I have with that mode of living is that you’re always in an uncertain place, and it restricts the ability to act freely. It is just that we are all caught in the web of a system that appears to be pretty tightly stitched up to me. I’ve done my very best to distance myself, but even then, there is only so far that you are allowed to traverse away from the core, and there are consequences for going beyond that point. It is a bit like the old film: “Escape from New York” in that you could escape, but there were unpleasant consequences for those that did.

    Flying under the radar is the best approach I reckon. Living rough isn’t the end of the world, and you know we both enjoyed the adventure of it all. However, if such an existence affronted a person’s sensibilities, well, I reckon that might hurt big time. Your water situation was a bit precarious for my liking, water being important and all. Wells are really complex bits of technology and often two wells drilled only twenty feet apart can have very different resources. I also wonder whether the water table was much higher not all that long ago when pumps were expensive to own and operate.

    A notable goal and I reckon you’re onto something with your health. I mean people are really weird about food and your approach is very sensible in that you’re asking the hard question: “what works for you?” Everyone is different in that regard. Inge asked a hard question about me eating the marauding wallabies, and they are edible. As a mental exercise sometimes I imagine what it would take to produce a reliable source of meat here in this mountain range, and far out, it is not an easy problem to resolve. Basically even in optimal conditions, I’d have to get used to eating a largely plant based diet. And the work taken to ensure that the yields are sustainable is a truly epic job. White folks turned up here in about 1834, maybe a bit earlier along the coast with whalers and sealers. By 1851, near on a quarter of the state burned in only a few days. That’s only 17 years in which we’d completely mucked up the balance that the land was previously managed on. Equilibrium’s do change and I have noted that wild fires since then have been less in size – even though they are still reasonably epic and destructive. Plus soil organic matter has historically fallen from dizzy heights that I can only dream about. The quality of the animals in the mountain range reflect that lack. At least the animals here look reasonably healthy. Anyway, I reckon you are onto a worthwhile goal.

    I just had to take a quick break from replying to bleed the air out of the hydronic radiators. The new wood fire boils water, rather than producing much heat in the room, and the hot water then gets pumped around the house into radiators. It is a very effective and cheap system, and I do note that my primary school used such a system when I was a kid. A couple of days ago the pump began making water hammer sounds and that is a sure sign that air has gotten into the lines somewhere. The system is not sealed because that may turn the system into a steam boiler – like in a steam locomotive – and that may go pop at the weakest link. Better to keep an open ventilated system for such things.

    I’m heartened to read that your knees feel better with a little less weight. Hey, joints can also be inflamed too and that can be a result of what you are consuming. Plenty of greens contain anti-inflammatory compounds. It is really complex and I also reckon that food isn’t what it used to be – although few people would consider that aspect. But yeah, I fully expect to wear out too before the end. You may have noticed that we are trying to make this to be an easier place to live. We spent today creating a better path to the chicken enclosure and managed to complete that job. And maybe tomorrow we’ll begin the project of slowing the water and reducing the risk from really heavy rainfall which caused the sort of landslide that happened all those months ago.

    We then sat down and worked out a series of objectives for projects that are going to occur over the next few months before spring forces us to work on the various activities that spring demands.

    Thanks for the Rip Esselstyn books reference. Incidentally, I approve of such fact finding efforts on your part and I do the same here. There is a weird expectation that people can have all the answers even when it flies in the face of lived reality. It is just not possible, so best to cast your net wide and deep. Speaking of which, we had a little win today as we finally worked out how to resolve a particularly complex and difficult part of the farm. It had been causing us some headaches, but best to apply what has worked elsewhere in the past.

    I’m reading Gene Logsdon’s book: “Gene Everlasting”. In some ways it is a morbid book, but at the same time I appreciate his refreshingly honest outlook on life.

    Your system of discounting the idiot 5% element in reviews is one that I also use. I reckon idiot is the correct word too, because in some cases the words in the review are positive and the erstwhile reviewer has simply clicked on the wrong button. It happens. I’m not a fan of free for all reviews as someone who was not a customer got a bee in their bonnet and began publishing negative reviews about my business. And they weren’t even a customer. I pulled all of the internet advertising for the business down and tracked down the individual – they didn’t expect that.

    No, I don’t weigh produce, but Claire who comments here and has a very productive garden is very good at keeping tabs of yields. Things are a bit loose and sloppy here on that front. I ask the question: Have we got enough? On the other hand I applaud the goal and would be really fascinated to learn what you can harvest this summer. Have you got any fresh blueberries yet?



  51. Yo, Chris – I fogot to mention I think you’re spot on with 1/10 produce in ration to 9/10ths “stuff you add to the soil.” I paused a bit when I read that. Then thought of all the 50 bags of “stuff” I was hauling in, the many bags of leaves … the coffee grounds from the Club. What occurred to me, this morning, is that a lot of that weight is water. Just a data point.

    Let’s see. I’d have to have a greenhouse big enough to grow 365 bananas, a year :-). Self sustaining. The Holy Grail. :-). I’m thinking more about what I’m growing, and yearly supplies. Peas are kind of an indulgence, given the space they take. I’ll get a few handfuls. Space vs weight and density. I seem to have a lot of garlic, but will it be enough to last the year AND have seed left over? I grew a lot of basil, but ran out. Ditto, blueberries.

    Ah, it was Claire. I’ll have to get over to her site. Sigh. So many sites, so little time :-). LOL. If I get the neurotic bit in my teeth I’ll be weighing everything. And, figuring out the pound yield per square foot. Oh, bananas. Yeah. I detect flavor. But, I’ve noticed the organic one’s have a richer taste.

    About zoning. I think it was someone over at Ecosophia this week that mentioned something like god save you if you attract the attention of the CPS (Child Protection Services) and are a bit alternative and have a composting toilet.

    Yup. I think water tables, (sweeping generalization alert!) everywhere, are falling. Agriculture. Too many of us. Cont.

  52. Cont. Oh, I remember radiators. Great old ornate cast iron jobs. I had an apartment in Seattle, with them. The theatre I camped out in in Centralia had a few about. Not connected. I’m sure the boiler in the basement was long gone. I think there’s more lurking about, than we suspect. After awhile, they were just piping, and they’d slap a plane metal casing over them with vents. But the “convenience” of baseboard electric heat seems to have won the day.

    There was a commenter over at Kunstler who is fairly high up in the electrical business. He said expansion, load growth, has always been a goal. From an investment point of view. The for profits. What they’re actually saying out loud now, is that load growth has slowed or even declined. What to do? Nibble around the edges of transportation and … darn. What was the other one?

    Exercise helps the joints. And, I throw turmeric in a lot of things. Esselstyn’s comes from a long line of doctors, and his father (along with another doctor) did studies, all over the world. Exploring good health and longevity vs diet. There was a DVD I watched last year that had extensive interviews with his sidekick and him. Mostly plant based and steer away from processed foods seems to becoming more and more of a consensus.

    Looking at what I eat, I’d say I only really fall down when it comes to green leafy veg and beans. I’m also about to take a look at quinoa. Something caught my eye (ear?). I’d always written it off as a bit of gluten phobia fad. But there’s something about amino acids I want to check out. And, you can do muffins! :-).

    I’ll have to look into the Logsdon book. Given I’m getting on here :-). I read a bit about the mechanics of “end of life.” A bit of knowledge about all the mechanics, tends to take the fear out.

    “…weren’t even a customer.” I see the same thing here at the Home. Our weekly tempest in a teapot is usually someone who objects to something where they HAVE NO SKIN IN THE GAME!!! Get a life. Or, get cable tv for distraction.

    Off topic, but as long as I’m ranting. I pulled into the Automatic Teller at the bank, yesterday. One enormous SUV in front of me. Good, I thought, won’t take much time. Well 5 minutes later, nothing has happened. Then she hauls herself out with card in hand (apparently, all that time was spent searching for the card … and, she can’t reach the ATM from her chariot. Lots of fiddling around. More waiting until she pulls away. I’m thinking of a bumper sticker. “You’re disorganization wastes my time.”

    Your wise to think ahead to your ultimate decrepatude 🙂 in the arrangement of your place. There are books … Here at The Home, a lot of that is taken into consideration in the design. All the doors are wide enough for a wheel chair (now, motorized). Grab bars, everywhere in the bathrooms. There are many weak links, but overall, it works. Lew

  53. Hi, Chris

    I am so jealous of all the rain you’ve been having! We’ve had about 5mm over the last few weeks, and Canberra is just a tad dry. As a result of the low humidity, we’re having lovely sunny days (once the morning fog lifts!) but the nights have been feral cold. It was -6C at 7am this morning! This is mitigated by the sunny 13C we should have later, so, swings and roundabouts.
    There has been an official cull of grey kangaroos here recently. Apparently there are over 70 kangaroos per sq.km, and they are eating everything in sight, including threatened species of plants. I think they just bury the bodies, which seems like a waste to me. I must see if there is more information about that.
    Lew, re nutrition, I thought you might like to check out a website I found. It’s thepaleomom.com, and she is a research biochemist. She developed an autoimmune disease, and started looking at the science of nutrition, and how our bodies really use and react to foods. She looks at current research, and is both balanced and entertaining!
    A belated Happy Solstice to everyone, and may all your gardens grow!


  54. Hi Chris,

    I find the climate to be pretty similar to Zeehan, temperature and rainfall have a similar vibe. Today was pretty good for winter, 3 degrees in the morning and a top of 13 during the day with blue skies and sun. We have started putting a bit of fruit out for the silvereyes
    Some people say you shouldn’t feed the birds as it unbalances the population or something, but that assumes it was in balance to begin with!

    In true nerd speak, they are not actually in low earth orbit which is ~300km. Most of them are hanging at 23,000km, and a few are in geostationary at around 30,000km high. Although if one wanted to get truly pedantic you would need to clarify this further as no orbit is truly circular and there will be a low and high altitude for any orbiting body :-p

    The US did have a system called ‘selective availability’ which deliberately degraded GPS performance to around 100metres. Bill Clinton generously stopped that, allowing civilians (and foreign militaries) to get the same accuracy as the US military. Of course, it can be turned back on at any time, although with all the other systems in orbit the impact would be somewhat minimised.

    Just put some beetroot and chocolate brownies in the oven. Will they be a taste sensation? Mrs Damo is concerned I went off script adding some marsh-mellows. She could be right, but we will find out soon!


  55. Hi Lewis,

    50 bags of stuff is good. There is an old saying about not eating and poo-ing in the same spot, but we sort of have to (via composting) to complete the nutrient cycle. Any other option strip mines the soil. I came up with the 1/10th rule because I’ve brought in at least 500 to 600 trailer loads of stuff over the past decade or so and have observed what has become of it. It is not as much stuff as you’d think! And exactly, a lot is water – and other chunks off gas, so you have to reduce that risk as much as possible.

    Haha! Yeah, me too with the bananas! :-)! A greenhouse would be good, but they are high maintenance. The old timers down here used to heat them with some sort of oil, and I’ve met someone who uses a small wood heater in a massive greenhouse just to take off the edge with tropical plants. It can be done. Not much of anything outside of biological systems are self-sustaining. A bit of shame that. I often raise that point when speaking with true believers in renewable energies. Can enough energy be produced to replace any and all components in the system? So much for electric vehicles…

    I too find it hard to visit all of the various sites, and most free moments of the past fortnight have been consumed by setting up this website. The other night was interesting because since I ditched the Blogger, I have become persona non grata and had to organise an alternative version of digital identity. Go figure that one out.

    People are very weird about composting toilets and anything out of the ordinary. We really like to see ourselves as separate from nature. Just for a laugh sometimes, I mention to people that wombats and wallabies happily do their business on the edges of reservoirs which are used for drinking water.

    Every water table I’ve seen that is measured and used for agriculture is falling. Now, I haven’t seen all of them by a long shot, and would be happy to be proven wrong… Aquifers are hard to gauge and even harder to resist from over drawing. I see the immigration debate has been on for young and old over at Ecosophia. Few people frame the debate into an ecological perspective. It would be a useful exercise for them.

    The radiators and boiler combination works really well. However, it is not as convenient or as instant as electric (or gas) and unless you are full of money and can buy in whatever firewood you use, you have to plan your fuel source many years in advance. I recall as a kid that the boiler in the primary school would occasionally go out and then someone had to go down into the basement and get it going again. The teachers always looked pained by the experience. And yeah, I reckon there are a few radiators floating around the place which could be found for a song.

    Down here the electrical business looks as though they are tackling that problem by restricting supply – which is another option. Of course the large generators only have a finite lifespan and fair enough, and the coal fields that they are located next to can be dug clean out, but two large generators are done for (one has been shut and the other is in the process of being shut down over the next few years). Stability in the grid is possibly a thing of the past as a result. Incidentally, in the process the argument that renewables are to blame regularly pops up.

    Esselstyn appears to be on the money to me, and I follow that sort of diet (an awkward word) myself – not having read his books. In a low energy world, meat would be a rare treat, down here (that rhymes)! :-)!

    Green leafy veg is a tough one for you because of your winters and then the deprivations of the cabbage moth during the summer months. Have you ever considered a cold frame arrangement? I once saw a black and white photo from your part of the world showing beautiful hand made cold frames plonked over growing plants in the depths of winter.

    It ain’t just you that is getting on! It is a pleasure to enjoy the days, but the complexity is that once they’ve past, they’re gone, not to ever return. I did mention that a temporal anomaly could come in handy!

    Objections where there is no skin in the game drive me bonkers. Nuff said. Mate, your Home would be full of intrigue and dark politicking!

    No, feel free to rant. It is healthy for the spirit! :-)! Mate, I’ve never seen a drive in ATM machine – anywhere. No, seriously, they’re just not around down here. If you want to use an ATM, you have to park and get out of your car and walk to the ATM, and there are not that many of them. I read an article a long time ago where the banks were whingeing that they couldn’t make a profit from providing ATM’s, but they felt they had to roll them out all of the same. Of course, the banks may well have cut real world branches to make them feel better…

    Thank you! I think about decrepitude all of the time (and possible injury) because this would be one hard place to live otherwise. Both the editor and I are committed to making the place easier to live – and even then it is complex as.

    As to the weak links, well that is true, and you never know what is a weak link – until you need it… A bloke I know recently fell off his push bike and broke both his elbows. He is having a way hard time of it. I chucked a few dollars in his direction recently because he is unable to work. There but for the grace…



  56. Hi Hazel,

    Far out those are cold temperatures. Our daytime temperatures are about the same as yours, but in the past decade I have never seen it get that cold here (the lowest temperature was -1’C which is an annual low point). There have been reports about the ongoing drought in western NSW and Queensland, but I had not known that it was that bad. You have my sympathies. Are you on town water or tanks (or both)? As you can imagine it is incredibly humid here and most days are well above 90%.

    The sad thing about the culls both here and there is that tree starts would really appreciate the feed of blood and bone. You know, there are so many things that could be done better, but as a society we attempt to do them on the cheap. It rarely works that well.

    A happy solstice to you too! And the forecast for Wednesday and Thursday look set to bring you some much needed rain.



  57. Hi Damo,

    Your temperature is about what we’re getting here. Although your rainfall is much higher. As they say, same, same, but different! :-)!

    The silver-eyes are stunners. They look like little honey-eaters to me. We did a bit of digging today and the various small birds were all over it searching for grubs and worms. And some of those birds look like your silver-eyes.

    Haha! A fine point to raise. And I reckon you are correct. Equilibrium is a moving target from what I can tell. Although ecology is a somewhat daggy topic that few want to consider.

    Thanks for the info on GPS/GNSS. I had no idea that the system was that complex. It does make you wonder how long the satellites can remain operational given they would be constantly bombarded by the hard radiation of space given they are so far from the planet surface? Probably quite a while really, given that Voyager I and II are still sending some signals back after all this time. The electrical generators used in those machines are quite staggering in their simplicity (which is perhaps why they still work after almost four decades in space).

    Hey, you started this nerd fest! Hehe!!! Who doesn’t love a good nerd fest?

    Adding marsh mellows sounds like a NZ adaption based on the infamous lollie cake (which the editor made for a Waitangi Day BBQ once). Mrs Damo may well be right!



  58. Hi everyone,

    Just before I start writing for tomorrows blog I thought that you may enjoy a brief interlude into the competition that is the World’s ugliest dogs. I sort of feel that Chinese crested terriers are the sort of dogs that would come out of the reactors at Chernobyl or Fukushima (or even Three Mile Island for that matter): Zsa Zsa the English bulldog wins title of World’s Ugliest Dog.

    The competition this year was stiff.



  59. Chris:

    Thanks for the ugly! The pink toenails and collar and the name did not hurt that winner’s chances! There sure were a lot of tongues hanging out . . . The best thing is that not a one – not one – of the contestants has any idea that there is such a concept as “ugly”. Oh, to be a dog . . .


  60. Hi Pam,

    All the dogs were beautiful and you could see that their owners doted upon them. Dogs care little for such titles – and to be frank they simply enjoy tucking into a tasty wombat scat. Ollie rolled in something earlier today and whilst I washed him down with soap – he smells far from fresh. That is a dogs life!



  61. Hi Chris,

    It seems that tufts of hair on a mostly hairless body and tongues that don’t go back in the mouth are the two most common characteristics of an ugly dog. I’ll have to show this to Leo and Salve.

    The sale is over!! We made over $1,500 and did get rid of a lot of stuff but there’s still quite a bit left in the garage. We have pickups today though. It rained through the entire sale on Friday – not too hard though. People still came. Leo and Salve appointed themselves as official escorts up the driveway. We blocked it off as people would cluelessly drive over the lawn which would not be good after all the rain we’ve had. Our friend, Kathy, (one of the owners of the Retirement Home where Michael lived) came and helped both days. There was a point yesterday that there were so many people we knew looking and visiting I felt like we should have been serving snacks and drinks haha.

    The radon retest is now being done here and at the new house which means no open windows until they pick up the monitors Tuesday morning and no fans within 20 feet of the monitors. In fact they want the air conditioning on to keep the temperature constant. Of course this is over the two best days for open windows with low humidity and temperatures in the 70’s. However it’s the last thing to be done on our part before the closing.

    I’m doing a chicken workshop at the library on Thursday night. Our town is considering allowing chickens though from what I understand the mayor and one of the aldermen are opposed.

    Doug’s mother’s memorial is on Saturday and not close by either. She, understandably, wanted it at her old church that she had attended for decades.


  62. @Lew

    You are right about the storms stalling. That’s just what happened here the other night. The next two days you could watch the same system rotating around the Chicago area. There weren’t the downpours of the one night but over all another inch or so was added to the total. My tomato and broccoli plants were looking pretty droopy but have since recovered.

    Smoking is a terrible habit to break. It took me about five times before I was successful. One of my sisters got hooked on the gum for years too.


  63. Hello again

    Son very happy with what you wrote re the wallabies. He says that on the whole, he believes in live and let live.

    Would it be possible for the blogroll to be in date order rather than alphabetical? I have so little time at present that it would be nice to have some idea as to whether something is a new entry or not.


  64. Yo, Chris – Rip Esselstyn has a website. I haven’t checked it out, in great depth (I have the books). engine2.com .

    I picked up a copy of “Winter Gardening in the Maritime Northwest: Cool-Season Crops for the Year-Round Gardener (Colebrook, 2012, 5th Ed.). It’s got a chapter on cloches, frames and polytunnels. Looks like a good basic over view. I’ll give it a closer look when we get closer to winter.

    Well, we’re the land of the drive through. In some places, there are drive through wedding chapels and drive through viewing, at funeral homes. And, of course, our local drive through library branch.

    It’s supposed to be 82F, here, today. Then, maybe, a bit of rain and lower temperatures.

    Don’t those dog owners know that after awhile, owners begin to look like their dogs? Look closely at the pictures. You can see it in action :-).

    Ask, and it will appear. An article yesterday that states that the World Health Organization (WHO?) has declared Gaming Addiction Disorder an official condition. Just out of curiosity, I checked what the DSM thought. They’re not quit there, yet. “…condition for further study.” Not an “official” disorder. Darn. I meant to cut and paste what is considered an addiction. To follow.

    A sign from above! (or, somewhere). I picked up my Bob’s Red Mill cookbook and, the only recipe for Quinoa is … wait for it … quinoa pumpkin muffins :-).

    Our library system has the Logsdon book you mentioned. I put a hold on it. I should get it sometime, next week. Lew

  65. @ Margaret – Sounds like a really successful sale. Congrats!
    Haul whatever is left to a charity. Don’t move it :-). Lew

Comments are closed.