Sunday night is alright

Long term readers will recall that I was a mercenary little child, who during some years worked up to three jobs a day as well as attending school. What can I say, I liked the cash! And anyway, I had incentive to work hard because pocket money was as rarer than unicorns!

I’m always surprised at comments saying how hard we work because to me the various projects here progress along at a pretty relaxed pace from my perspective. The various tasks can be hard, true, but we take them at a relaxed pace.

I wasn’t always this relaxed though. And the other day I recalled the days of the mid 1990’s, during the recession that ‘we had to have’, that I worked far harder than I do today. Of course I was a much younger feller back then, and being younger you have an inbuilt combination of boundless energy and naïvety.

Way back then I did work hard. The editor and I had purchased our first home in a very undesirable industrial suburb, and not to put too fine a point on it, the house was a wreck of a place. Mind you, the combination of boundless energy and naïvety, enabled us to overlook the niceties of living in a dump, and we set ourselves the challenge of repairing the house using our own labour.

Saturdays were the day spent repairing the house. We did everything to that house from, re-blocking it (which is replacing the timber stumps that the house sat on and is an experience that has left me with a distaste for mud even to this very day), to rebuilding the rear extension (which was originally of dubious quality and falling down).

On late Saturday afternoon’s the editors mum would drop by for a visit, and they’d leave and go some place nicer for a few hours. Construction zones are rarely fun places to visit for people not intimately involved in the work.

Saturday night was usually a quiet affair, and in those days there was no internet and so friends may have organised something, or we’d enjoy a quiet night at home.

Repairs of the house weren’t limited to Saturday, and so on some weeknights I had to put in a few hours after work, especially if crucial facilities, such as the bathroom, were out of action. Although, I rarely if ever worked Monday nights. Monday night I usually headed off to see friends, who used to be my house mates in an even earlier time. Believe it or not, we all kept up that routine for about eighteen years until there was a falling out over vegetarian dogs, and World of Warcraft. Seriously. That incident was a very strange time in my life, and also a major turning point.

Did I mention that during those years I also studied towards an undergraduate business degree at University at night? No, well, two nights per week were taken up with attendance at University at lectures and then tutorials. Back in those days nobody had heard of the internet and you had to physically turn up to University – and conduct research for assignments at the library using microfiche, books and journals.

Most nights even after University, the editor and I used to walk the dogs around the very sleepy and gritty industrial suburb. The only business open at nights in the area was the local Railway Hotel, and in a strange coincidence, I eventually worked with a bloke that used to tend bar there at night for extra cash. He used to joke that it would be unwise to: “pick someone else’s fight at the Railway Hotel”. Wise words and neither the editor or I, or any of the dogs attempted to do that.

Week nights were always busy, but the editor and I used to religiously head out for dinner on a Friday night. We never went to high end restaurants. There was nothing fancy, we just stuck to places that served good food for a reasonable price, and we had a roster of those places to enjoy. Actually we still do this today, although on a different nights of the week.

Given both the editor and I worked full time, that left Sunday’s free. Although, I usually had to get up early and study on a Sunday (edit: as did the editor who was also studying), or prepare University assignments until about mid afternoon. So, I guess Sunday’s weren’t entirely free after all.

However, late Sunday afternoon the editor and I headed off to walk around either Ballarat, or Daylesford lake for a long walk. Both lakes were located in country towns about an hours drive north of Melbourne. Walking was our sport then, and it still is now. Sometimes when we were feeling a bit frazzled by all the work and stress, we would walk around the lake twice and maybe even three times. We’d pick up some take away food and munch on it as we walked. If we were lucky we would have made it to the start of the walk before the cafes closed and we could also enjoy a coffee and cake. I have particularly fond memories of chomping on hot chips as the cold winter winds blew hard and the rain drizzled. We were unfazed by the weather because we were too busy plotting out our plans of world domination. Actually, in reality we discussed how to escape the life that we had made for ourselves and possibly end up in the country.

We’d usually get back home from the long walks at hours at which most people had long since gone to bed. We didn’t much mind getting home late, because we passed out into the deep sleep of exhaustion.

And we kept up that pace for for many long years. Of all of the work, I particularly don’t miss the part time study because after my undergraduate degree, I was forced to take another five subjects as part of a post graduate that was demanded of my profession. People tell me that it takes six subjects nowadays.

We eventually lost almost $20,000, or 15% of the value of that house when we sold it. It was then that I discovered what the word ‘resilience’ actually means.

This week, the days have been sunny and cold and the nights have been hovering around freezing. This has produced the most spectacular sunrises. One minute the morning looks dark and mysterious, and then the sun pokes its head up from behind the mountain range:

The sun rises behind the mountain range and begins to illuminate the land before it

Within a couple of minutes, from this eagles eyrie, you can see that the frost has pooled into pockets in the valley below the farm.

Frosty air collects in pockets in the valley below the farm

We haven’t escaped the frost this week, although it is warmer at this altitude compared to the valley below. One morning, the grass was frozen:

One morning the very grass was frozen. Brr!

Frost can be useful in that it gives a visual indicator as to the water level stored in the water tanks. The recent rains have almost filled this large reserve water tank (in fact most of the water tanks are full or almost so).

The frost indicates the actual level of the water in this large reserve water tank. The water is warmer than the air temperature

Scritchy the boss dog has been hiding in her bean bag where she is keeping toasty warm!

Scritchy the boss dog hides in her bean bag and keeps toasty warm

Access paths and stairs are of importance when your farm is located on the side of an old dormant volcano. The land is steep and any projects that makes access easier, is time well spent. This week, we constructed a flat and wide path from the secondary woodshed path to the chicken enclosure.

Before – we cut a flat and wide path leading to the chicken enclosure through the orchard

The ground can get quite wet and damp in the orchard and it is sheer luxury having a nice flat path to walk upon!

During – once the excavations were completed, we placed the local crushed rock with lime over the soil

Soon, the entire path was lined with crushed rock (with lime) along the entire length.

After – the new path from the chicken enclosure was soon completed!

Soil nerd alert! How good does the soil in the excavated areas look? That chocolate soil is the result of about a decade of goodly additions of compost. There was no top soil at all when we first moved here and the ground surface was baked hard clay.

We also completed constructing the final concrete step near to the worm farm sewage system. Oh it is a true joy to be able to walk down solid stairs, as distinct from the slippery path that it used to be. Over the past few weeks we have constructed about 16 steps. The editor suggested that this blog should have been titled: “Sixteen steps to a new you”. I vetoed that for the genius that is the current title!

The author admires the newly constructed concrete staircase

From the point at which I’m standing and looking up towards the camera, I reckon it looks pretty good!

The same newly completed staircase from a different perspective. How professional!

Oh, we also had the self propelled mower out in the orchard assisting with flattening out the bumps in the new chicken path. And so we used the mower to chop up the huge pile of cuttings that was dumped in the orchard last week. It will soon break down into quality soil.

The self propelled mower was used to chop up the huge pile of cuttings which was dumped in the orchard last week

The editor broke the mower too! Hehe! It wasn’t me this time! At least the farm machine shop folks are reasonably friendly and won’t be too judgemental about the uses we put the mower too.

In breaking plant news:

The recently planted tree ferns look set to unfurl some fronds
The editor spotted the first bulbs poking through the ground
This fungi has pushed through about six inches of the local crushed rock with lime. Don’t mess with fungi as they’re tough as!

And onto the flower photos:

A local thorny shrub produces a delightful floral display, and seed pods
Another local plant in flower is this alpine heath
I know this plant is from the Salvia family, but for the life me, I forget its common name
Penstemon’s produce the most stunning tube shaped flowers
Rosemary is in flower too

The temperature outside now at about 8.00am is 3’C (37’F). So far this year there has been 459.4mm (18.1 inches) which is higher than last week’s total of 456.2mm (18.0 inches).

64 thoughts on “Sunday night is alright”

  1. Well, Chris, you seem to be a very busy bee, which is good as it probably keeps you off the streets, right? I really like the way you had a routine in your renovating days, which meant that you could achieve work, study, renovating and recreation without any one of those activities taking over. When my ex-husband and I were renovating for some years we really let the renovations take over to the exclusion of everything else, which was not a good outcome for family life. Do you still keep up a weekly routine?
    Your local thorny shrub is Hakea lissosperma, or Needle Bush. Also local to Tas:) .. although flowering quite early. There is a lot of that about this year..

  2. PS To the Editor – I liked your title better. I think Chris should always take your editing advice:)

  3. Hi Margaret,

    The only thing I wondered about the hairless dogs was whether they were bred for that purpose – or it has since become an undocumented features of the pooches breed? Anyway, what did Leo and Salve think about the images?

    Great news with the garage sale, and I’m amazed at the level of interest shown. Plus you have to admit that it feels good just getting the stuff back out into the public sphere. Sometimes when I have things that I reckon have a good bit of life left in them, but I don’t know what to do with them, I put them up on eBay for a one cent (plus postage) auction. Much better than landfill. Oh yeah, I’ve watched someone here almost crash their car off the driveway and into the orchard at a distracted moment…

    Yup, you just have to jump through the hoops and keep the windows closed. Sometimes in spring and autumn, the days are gloriously sunny and cool, and we open the windows. Then the neighbours set off a very smokey fire…

    Best of luck for the town meeting regarding chickens acceptance. Chickens are lovely. However, I’m not sure that I’d want roosters in urban areas. That is an awesome possibility and I hope that the laws get changed and passed. Fingers crossed.

    Yeah, fair enough, Doug’s mum would have been known there at that congregation and it gives them a chance to say goodbye too. Hope you two are doing OK? I assume Doug’s mum requested that congregation?



  4. Hi Inge,

    Live and let live is a wise guide for living and I approve of your sons thoughts and actions – although I note that it is hard to act without having consequences in a dynamic environment such as a farm or a forest.

    The thing that troubles me is that an old school form of conservatism has snuck into my thoughts and I have become wary of changes, because I never really know what the impact will be. Now of course having said that, I do have my own agenda here on the farm and it would be a complete untruth to suggest otherwise.

    But I simply don’t know enough about the stories of all of the different life forms that live here. I blunder along doing the best I can. Take the wallabies for one example – I really can see that they keep the understory in the forest clear, as do the wombats in their own manner, but exactly how and which plants is a question that I suspect that I’ll never get to the bottom of. It is always hints, observations, and guesses – and then simply try to do my best to fit it into my larger understanding of the forest and farm systems. The land is certainly one of the most complex things that I’ve turned my mind towards.

    I’d be curious as to your son’s opinion in relation to the above?

    Google handled the blog roll, listed in date order, much better than this new website system appears to be able to do. That annoys me too, as now I have to remember which blogs I have read. I’m pondering that matter and will have to investigate the subject a bit more. Sorry.



  5. Hi Lewis,

    Oh! I checked out the link for Rip Esselstyn (a cool name if ever there was one) and it was: Engine2diet. Well, the editor tells me that Australia’s best pie has been awarded to a local (well, in a town slightly to the north of the mountain range) bakery and it has a satay seafood filling. Intriguing and added the pie to the ‘to eat’ list!

    I dunno because I eat a mostly plant based diet because that is the easiest of things to produce. Meat is quite hard to farm as it takes one product – plants – and then converts it into another product, and we’re just not good enough here at producing a reliable surplus to be able to consume the animals. A year or two ago, I read that in order to feed my sixteen chickens on grain, I’d need to grow at least half an acre of grain plants. It is three acres for one horse. I’m not actually doing that at present. Instead I wander down to the local stock feed supplies (great people) and pick up the grains for the chickens whilst also feeding them regular supplies of greens and fruit grown here (they’re enjoying plentiful citrus at the moment). Now of course in this strategy the outputs from the chickens end up in the top soil here (via the chickens and ourselves through eggs) so it isn’t really that dissimilar a strategy from bringing in compost, although the feed stock is in a different format. For long term farming you have to balance the inputs and the outputs, or become a net importer of minerals. I can’t see any other way around that one.

    Yeah, hey you know you might be able to extend your growing season by a month or so on either side, plus amaze all of the ladies at the same time. A worthy goal, and I’ll be really interested to hear how it goes. I’ve observed greenhouses for a while now in all sorts of different settings and what I reckon goes on is that either end of the growing season gets extended, but the mid point of the season which is good outside, becomes a nuisance within the greenhouse. Either insect populations build up or disease eventually becomes rampant at that point in the year. Down here we have the additional problem of too much heat within the greenhouse and the interior needs to be cooled somehow. Far out, I’ve known some aquaponics folks that had to install coolers into their greenhouses or systems in order that the water temperature didn’t get too extreme. Greenhouses are complex and they can work really well, but there are costs to the benefits. When you get around to reading the chapter closer to winter, I’ll be really curious. The Nearings performed a similar trick by locating a remote garden bed that was in a slightly protected environment and thus they extended their growing season by about a month – in Vermont of all places.

    No!!! Drive through wedding chapels and viewings? Well that is a new one to me. Are you being serious or are you taking the piss? Some denominations have a funeral ritual which I don’t understand at all. After the service, everyone will get in their vehicles and then in a convoy (a trucking film reference blast from the past!) people will drive to the deceased’s home at slow speed and then off to the wake. Who can know the mind of a God, but I’ve always considered that ritual to be taking the human perspective a little bit too far for my liking. I wonder if the Romans took their much vaunted chariots on a slow moving parade past the deceased’s former dwelling?

    82’F is almost perfect and I am totally jealous with envy. It is quite cold here and I wore thick woolly socks today just to keep warm as it barely reached 46’F here. Brr! Although it is hardly deep winter weather, if I was being totally honest with yourself and myself.

    Haha! Naughty Lewis! But yeah, I noticed that too… Have you noticed that Ollie is all gangly legs and stuff. Just sayin… :-)!

    Yeah, I mentioned that it was the WHO who had recognised the gaming addiction plight. I can assure you that it is real. That story was woven into this week’s blog. Far out, I have no love for those massively multiplayer online games. Interestingly, I read that the game businesses want to move to hosting the actual computing of the game and send updated images to the user. Don’t you find it amazing that we once had dumb terminals hooked up to mainframe computers. Then the computing power was distributed. Now we’re back to businesses aiming to take charge of the complex processing operations again. I’d have to suggest that we are over and onto the downward slope of an inverted bell shape curve. Most processes follow that curve – even this blog. One day you’ll say to yourself: “It used to be so much better in the old days”. Hopefully we can steer clear of that awful outcome for a while to come. ;-)!

    Quinoa pumpkin muffins. Without any doubts whatsoever, it is a sign! Go ye forth and cook! Hehe! If you have been brave enough to cook them, how did they turn out?

    I’m really enjoying the Logsdon book as he has a delightful grasp of the written word, and also his impending doom. Did I mention that it is a morbid book? But at the same time it is a hopeful and enjoyable book full of charm and wit.

    Thanks for the link, I’ll check it out.



  6. Hi Jo,

    Hehe! It is busy isn’t it? Someone got into my head as a youngster and impressed upon both the editor and I that: ‘idle hands were the devil’s workshop’! So yeah, perhaps it does keep us off the streets and out of trouble. The question becomes though, what possible harm can come from a bit of relaxation? It seems like a fair question! Hehe!

    Not to worry, because I’ll share a little secret: when we’re working, we’re working, but when we’re not working, there is absolutely no way that we are working! Not everyone enjoys that state of mind! Rest assured, there is plenty of enjoyment in among all of the work. Back then in the early days, well, not so much…

    On the other hand, it is a really complex and difficult balance to achieve as you yourself have discovered. As you are hinting at, it was the routine that stopped us from going bananas – which is always a possibility.

    Nowadays, we maintain a modified form of a weekly routine. In those days as you quite rightly note, there were so many activities that there was only a very limited sort of flexibility – and that limitation comes with costs. On the other hand nowadays, we set weekly objectives, for example: We’d like to go to the local pub once per week and enjoy a feed and pint. But when such an objective happens is much looser because we maintain a lot more fat these days and so that any and all of these objectives can be accommodated. It is complex and it takes a delicate hand and some negotiation to ensure that we are both happy with the arrangements. I mentioned something over at Ecosophia about looking at your own demons in the eye – and that applies here too.

    Goal congruence is also one of the ways to get such a system going.

    Over the years, many friends have gotten stuck into us about the way we live and our lack of spontaneity, but I note that they rarely, if ever, achieve much of anything. I wonder who’s life it is that they are actually living?

    The questions you asked are not nearly as simple as they look!



  7. Yo, Chris – Well, our Sunday night was kind of wild. See Cliff Mass for a full report :-). It was 84F (28.88C) in the afternoon. But with a good breeze, so quit nice. Rain was forecast for after 11pm. I could see an ominous green mass moving our way on the radar. And, late in the afternoon, a storm front moving in in the distance.

    About 10pm we began to see lightening and hear thunder. It was quit a show. Usually, our lightening is pretty wimpy, light up the clouds. Ho-hum. And, because we always do things differently in Lewis County, unlike Cliff Mass’ video, the bolts were horizontal. From one end of the sky to the other. I’ve never seen anything quit like it, here. The storm didn’t pass directly overhead, but there were a couple of thunder bits that rattled the windows and my teeth. Then the rain came. About 3/4″ in an hour. Won’t have to water, today :-). It was a great show. Who needs 4th of July fireworks?

    To your post. All I can say is “the boundless energy of youth.” Been there, done that, got the t-shirt :-).

    Mountain range? What mountain range? :-). Those little hummocks? Pimples? Seriously, Australia is old (not a bad thing, from my point of view), worm and eroded. Comfy, like an old shoe. Not very geologically active, anymore. Something else that I think is not a bad thing.

    The staircases are quit nice. And the rock curbing really sets them off. Lots of work, there.

    The ferns do look like they’re about to do something. if the right variety, I hear the tender shots are pretty good sauteed. But given the care and expense you’ve put into them, I think you’re more likely to serve up a side of Ollie. 🙂 Cont.

  8. Cont. Paul Tudor Jones is the financial guy who has been on the Net, recently. Who thinks were due for a big fall, financially.

    Addictions can be substances or behaviors. It seems. one works directly on the reward centers of the brain. The other just set them off. Same results. I believe.

    I remembered to check the blueberries, yesterday. The bushes have a fair crop but they’re just little green nubbins. I’d say I’ll be picking, late July or early August.

    Someone has done hoop gardening here, in the past. A couple of the beds have the piping (to hold the rib part) screwed into the sides. Unfortunately, not mine. But at least, I can see exactly how it’s done. I might try an experiment at one end of my smaller bed.

    Here’s everything you would ever want to know about Roman funeral customs.

    You could throw your own! :-). It seems, given it a little thought, that the Romans liked the idea of ancestors, but, the physical remains, not so much. Bodies were polluting. Special priests had to be called in to observe rituals so no lingering bad vibes were left. Grand Dad was set up in the front parlor. The, since it was illegal to bury anyone within the city walls, there was a procession to a final resting place, outside the city. Cremation or internment, both seemed popular. The roads into towns were lined for miles with tombs. Rich and powerful, down front. Some provided really nice little courtyards and benches for travelers to take a load off.

    Oh, I don’t think it’s morbid, at all. End of life and all that. But, that’s kind of a … thing that everyone has a different take on. The Garden Goddess and I were out pottering around and talking about that very thing. Around here, you kind of approach the topic with care, and see how the land lies. Garden Goddess and I are pretty much on the same wave length, as far as that topic goes.

    I started mounding up two of my larger potato plants. The peas are putting out pods. Now, they just need to plump up. Lew

  9. PS: (I promise!) Check this out when you get the time. Especially the “film” part of the info bar, at top. Cast and crew. The library had this, and I watched it about a year ago. It’s what led me to the Engine 2 folks. Rip is there, and his Dad is down toward the bottom. Lew

  10. Also, good news. My beetroot and chocolate brownies turned out pretty good. And by pretty good, I mean excellent. Recipe is here for any interested:
    Unfortunately, my marshmellow innovation did not add much. Indeed, they were neither a bad nor good addition. Simply not worth it either way.

    I also bottled a batch of Australian pale ale tonight. My sisters and brother are visiting late July and it seemed prudent to have some extra alcohol ready to consume! It tasted good out of the barrel before bottling, an excellent sign!


  11. @Lew

    That forks over knifes mob is pretty good. I think they had some sort of documentary that I watched which was pretty good. Of course, I still eat meat, but try to be picky about it.


    Well, our silvereyes in NZ came from Australia in the last 500 years or so. The Maori name for them is translated as ‘stranger’ or ‘new arrival’. I don’t remember seeing them very often in Tasmania, but they are quite common here.

    Your picture of a lawnmower reminds me I should probably buy one. About half way through Summer I gave up on the manual rotary style unit. The neighbours started giving me stray comments as I was not home often enough to keep the lawn in check. I ended up borrowing neighbours lawnmowers 3-4 times. Now it is winter and the grass isn’t growing, but I feel peer pressure to obtain some sort of mowing contraption to call my own. Such is the peril of keeping up with the Jones! I may just snaffle something cheap 2nd hand, I don’t know about the Chinese $300 ones at Bunnings!


  12. Hi Lewis,

    I must say that I really enjoy a good storm. And from the Cliff Mass blog entry, your summer storm, looked exactly like the sort of summer storm that we get here. Isn’t that interesting? I assume that your climate may possibly be enjoying more extremes in weather? Lightning is pretty cool to watch (from a protected location) and the short video on the website was excellent. Hey, we even get the rapid drop in air pressure too. The similarities are uncanny. I noticed that fires appear to have broken out in California already. I hope your summer doesn’t get too hot and dry? I thought that they’d received plenty of winter rainfall in the state to the south of you?

    Haha! Yeah where did that boundless energy get too? This may be another fallen behind the couch situation… Best to take a peek and see if it is there…

    We do things smaller down here. No, really much smaller than you. Looking across to the south and west is an elevated plain with several pimples (which are also ex-volcanoes). A little bit to the north of those pimples, and also unable to be seen in the photograph is a plateau of some of the newest soils on the continent. It is hardly any surprise that they grow potatoes there. But again it is a relatively modest plateau.

    However, the mountain range that I’m on can’t really be seen in the photograph – for obvious reasons including that it is behind me and not in the camera lens frame – and the mountain range is like a thumb sticking up on the surface of the planet catching the moisture laden trade winds that roll in from the west and south west. There’s not much landmass in that direction until you reach South America. It was the rainfall that led me here, because it rains here when it rains nowhere else.

    I’ve felt earth tremors from time to time, but nothing too exciting. And yeah, your part of the world is a little bit too exciting on a geological front. Actually way off the scale exciting! I recall reading about Mount St Helens in the National Geographic way back in the day. That would have been too much excitement for my tastes! How did you cope being readily to hand to the event?

    The staircases really benefit from a curve or two, and rocks are precious commodities which are in short supply. Alas for peak rocks. I’ll be they didn’t have to put up with Peak Rocks on the Flintstones… I never realised that the cartoon was released in the 60’s. I grew up watching that stuff, which might explain a thing or two. I always recall that lodge business was the order of the day.

    The Maori were quite fond of the New Zealand variety of ferns, and I believe we have different species over here. Not sure, but I’ve never read that anyone ate fern here. Of course, over in New Zealand, food stuffs were uncomfortably in short supply for the locals at the time of the arrival of the English on the scene. Long pig was apparently on the menu – and wasn’t Captain Cook killed in the South Pacific? The introduction of new animals and crops by way of the English diversified the diet in that country. Ollie would make a tough and stringy roast. There are heaps of edible plants here (if you know what you are looking at). Have I ever mentioned the: cabbage-tree palm, Livistona australis? There may be one growing not too far from here, and it may be a worthy addition.

    A lot of people are trash talking the markets – and from my perspective I reckon quite a few of them are holding large short positions on the market. Marketing can be a very effective investment strategy in all directions. My mind tells me that such activities are all a sign that the markets are ignoring fundamentals – and as such they can make little to no sense.

    I can see that behaviours are as much a part of an addiction as substances. Do you reckon obsessive compulsive behaviour has elements of addiction? Dunno.

    It is nice that you don’t have to water the garden today. Hope your area scored some nice rainfall?

    Poly tunnels (hoop frames) are a strange item because I’ve always wondered where people got the huge sheets of plastic from? Dunno. And down here they use plastic pipes to hold up the sheets, but hot summer sun is tough on plastic…

    Thanks for the information on the Roman funeral practices. Don’t you find it amazing how many of those same practices are currently performed today, albeit in slightly modified form? Also I note that the Romans were a bit more hands on with the deceased when compared to our practices.

    I reckon you’re going to like the book. He’s a very pragmatic guy, and that shines through in his words.

    Hey, dunno, but I reckon mounding up the potatoes also helps them negotiate the summer weather. I have never watered potato plants, and they’re as hardy as. Do you usually water your potatoes?

    Thanks for the link – and I hope I’ll get to it tonight…



  13. Hi Damo,

    That is one long flight for such a small bird. The silvereye’s are meant to be around here: Zosterops lateralis. Just checked out the bird id book. What do you mean that everyone doesn’t own a bird id book? :-)!

    What a tough decision. And just to throw in some confusion, they have electric mowers too these days – although to be honest I have no idea how long a battery would stand up to such punishment. And the motor is not same same as a internal combustion engine. The question really is: How much grass can you possibly have to mow? It is a few acres here! Far out.

    The problem I have with machinery is the question as to whether the local farm machine repair shop will consider repairing the item. They’re pretty good people, but I dunno about taking down an el-cheapo item when they sell the more rugged varieties. Although they might not care about such things either way. But then they might care and I just don’t know and possibly don’t want to know the answer. Unless you’re really handy with repairing small machines, I’d probably go for a more rugged second hand machine. Having said that I have no idea as to the state of the NZ second hand machine market – I have access to Melbourne, and there are some silly folks down there off loading pretty good equipment second hand that they no longer have a need for. NZ may be culturally different. What is it like?

    If it is River Cottage, well you can hardly go too far wrong can ya?

    Marshmallow innovation, well, it still sounds to me like a lolly cake – which is a NZ dessert. The thing demands to be cooked and tested. Hehe!

    Nice work! Home brew is good stuff, and maybe it is just me, but I reckon home brewed alcohol gets better with time, so if it already tastes good…



  14. Yo, Chris – As far as California getting rain, it’s not necessarily a good thing. Or here. Or anywhere, and probably there :-). Wet springs cause an explosion of brush. Then, it gets hot and everything dries out. One little spark, a bit of wind. Blamo!

    When Mt. St. Helens blew, I had a ringside seat in Portland. Very awesome. I dreamed about it for years. Portland got ash, several times. A pain in the … ear, but directly down wind in Eastern Washington, they were shoveling it off roofs. There was enough ash (and, stuff flowing down the Tootle River) that the Columbia River shipping channel was plugged. It had to be re-dredged.

    We see an occasional palm, around here. But they’re more yard ornamentals. Nothing native this far north. The weekly botanical wonder, here at the home, is a (great or giant) gunnera plant. The leaves are 4-5′ wide. They’re prehistoric, and you might look into them for your fern gully. I was asking Master Gardener Dude about them, this morning. They are an annual, but when they die back, you just chuck a bit of dirt in their face and they provide a LOT of mulch. And come up the next year. They do flower.

    Big plastic comes from specialty firms. Some how or another, I got on the mailing list of a commercial greenhouse outfit. Not plants, the greenhouses. And, temporary and permenant out buildings, garages, etc.. In every size you could think off. Tarps big enough to wrap the Statue of Liberty. They carried lots of climate control gizmos and watering systems.

    Yup. I water the potatoes. Not heavily, but enough to keep them green and healthy looking.

    Stuff I missed. Which came first, the chicken or the grain? 🙂

    Thanks to the Dr. Blake Mysteries, I’m quit familiar with Ballarat Lake. But usually, they’re fishing a body out. Or, the Doc goes there to look pensive and think about things. :-).

    I may try the quinoa muffins, this coming weekend. There’s some supplies I need to buy. Like quinoa, whole wheat pastry flour. And, pumpkin. Lew

  15. @ Damo – Wasn’t that a great documentary? “Forks Over Knives.” I’m in a weight loss mode, right now, using some of their principles. Once I get where I want to go, I’ll go “Forks Over Knives”, lite. :-). Rip’s two books (“Engine 2 Diet” and “My Beef With Meat”) are, to me, a bit over the top. No eggs? No oils, at all, not even olive oil? But they’ve got some recipes I want to try.

    I’ve always been curious about “beetroot.” We have beets, they are roots. But we just call them “beets.” Another Down Under / British variation on the language? (But pumpkins must still be orange and round!) :-).

    Actually, the thinking behind brownies with beets makes sense, given the success of carrot cake. I still want to try an Anzac biscuit with really sweet onion, instead of coconut. I really don’t care for coconut, and, onions would be a lot cheaper. Lew

  16. I may be going against the rest of the commentators here, but I actually much prefer “Sunday night is alright” as a title.

    That picture of sunrise is absolutely spectacular, but it raises a question: is frost normal there?

    Speaking of weather, here in central Canada we’re sweltering under what’s shaping up to be one of the hottest summers on record. It’s not too bad though, in my opinion at least. The west coast is cooler, but still has problems: it looks like there’s already some fires raging. Everything is supposedly under control, but it seems like this year will be another bad one.

  17. Hi, Chris!

    You and the editor do work hard.

    When we were young my husband and I (we were in a big city) used to drive to the nicest part of town, park the car on the fringes, and walk all over, admiring the beautiful mansions. One could get quite a lot of walking in that way. We always made sure that we looked – at least nominally – like we fit in (thus the car left behind . . .). What we learned was that there was no way that we were willing to devote our lives to keeping up that kind of lifestyle, even on a smaller scale. We have relatives who have tried to do so, without having the vast amounts of money necessary and they are always desperate to find enough cash to keep up the image; it’s so sad. In fact, we decided that living in the country was what we wanted and after working towards it for about 10 years, that is where we ended up – where we are now.

    Up before the sun are you?! Oops – I have just remembered that it is winter where you are. My sun comes up at 5 am.

    There is something that we have to worry about that I don’t think you do – water frozen solid in the tanks. It still disconcerts me; I didn’t grow up with that kind of climate.

    Looking at your paths always makes me feel that I am on vacation, perhaps because it seems so easy and pleasant (if we don’t count the work that went into their construction) to get around your mountainside. Your pathways and stairs are truly works of art. And even the worm farm has stairs. The rocks lining it look really great. What’s that drain thingee at the foot?

    I ate our first pepper (banana) yesterday.

    Some of your flowers just won’t stop! You are up to 16 chickens? That’s a bunch! Are they all layers or are some retired?

    I loved “The Flintstones”.


  18. @ Margaret:

    Those are very nice sale proceeds!

    Chickens are allowed in Charlottesville – I love to see them when I am in town. I have never heard a rooster. I think they are outlawed. Here is an article from a town a very long stone’s throw over the Blue Ridge Mts. from us; they are having some chicken issues. The proposals sound very reasonable to me.


  19. Hi Lewis,

    What a tough situation with the spring rain and brush growth. It is a problem down here too. Does that mean that the problem is: here; there; and everywhere? Maybe not, some places enjoy reliable summer rainfall. I can’t speak for those areas, but down here summer rainfall is the best – unless it comes with multiple lightning strikes which can set off fires. I doubt many temperate or cool places handle such risk well. The Aboriginals used to conduct regular burns on the entire land mass, in varying time scales which were at a maximum of fifteen year cycle (from historical accounts) for forests. It is one way of reducing the risk of serious wildfires. And whilst I’m on my soapbox, the burn offs were rarely beyond 100 acres. It must have been an epic job and I’m a little bit in awe of the scale. Nowadays we do things on the cheap and so when we even get around to thinking about it, we try to conduct massive burn offs. I reckon it gets down to managing things on a human scale, which we fail to do these days. Do you reckon that is a big call? Dunno. The main problem I have with it is that the government wants to enjoy a monopoly on doing that job, but yet they can’t seem to get around to doing it, but then they stop me from doing it. Such are the ways of bureaucracy… You’re spot on too as it is the wind which is the main vector.

    Oh, I just spotted a kid walking with his mum and he was aimlessly yelling at the top of his lungs. He has an impressive set of vocal chords. What an unusual sight. I wonder if he has Tourette’s Syndrome? You don’t see that much.

    Really? Cool. Some people are sensitive to weather or geological activity and maybe that was the source of the dreams? Out of curiosity, where ever would you place the ash? I mean it would have been everywhere – and so where could you send it? Ash from bushfires can be a real drama (the least of the dramas, really) and it readily returns to the soil. Incidentally the grass from ash fed soil is usually very dark green for many years after the initial deposit of ash. Is volcanic ash any good for the garden? My pragmatic mindset is clearly showing in that question!!!

    People grow those plants down here too, and I spot them in damp corners of some of the old hill station gardens. My gut feeling tells me that the plants are a ‘thing’ but I don’t really understand the social aspects of that plant – but my gut feeling is indicative of it meaning something. Yes, triffids are part of my people – maybe that is what it is saying! The Giant Gunnera plants are apparently edible (or parts of them). What a salad those massive leaves would make! They’d probably grow quite well in the swale that the overflow from the water tanks feed into. Although I’m not sure that they’d play well with the willows… Gunnera in the Willows has a nice ring to it don’t you think? I do realise that you think, but the word believe has different connotations and I use the other word reckon a bit already, well that’s what I reckon… Hehe!

    Fair enough. Had to laugh, yes, you can end up on such mailing lists. I open the post box, peer inside, and then wonder to myself: “What is this rubbish”? Mostly they provide supplies of middling quality kindling (what is paper made from these days?), but sometimes gems turn up. I remember doing the rubbish routine and then discovering the local water pump shop catalogue. So many good things in there. I felt vaguely soiled by my feelings of desire whilst peering through the water pump goodies on offer! Hehe! ‘Tes not natural.

    Thanks for the info on the watering of your potatoes. Interesting. I’m trying to feel out how water hardy most of these crops are and so watering for some crops can be on an as needs basis. Dunno. I do try to select for low water requiring plants by the process of natural attrition as the plants encounter and respond to those conditions. They’re hardier than we all may think, but yields are lower.

    Mate, I can assure you that it wasn’t just the good Doctor who was hanging out at Ballarat Lake feeling pensive! It is a big walk all around the lake too. Never seen a lake being dragged, but it happens. Lakes are a rubbish place to dump bodies, I’ve watched and read Dexter…

    Hey, how cool are these values. You may not be aware of it, but the New Zealand Prime Minister just gave birth to a baby girl. The only reason I noticed was that the dad was wearing a cardigan which he’d picked up in an op-shop. Far out, op-shop’s have just gotten a huge thumbs up. Those two are smart as: New Zealand first bloke Clarke Gayford’s dad cardigan delights Kiwis. I’m a little bit in awe, and it is not a bad idea because I did note that Oil prices have surged slightly, and the Europeans have apparently slapped a tarrif on JD’s (the drink) in response to US tarrifs on other stuff.

    Never heard of whole wheat pastry flour. I’ll be curious to hear how the muffins turn out. At the very least it will be interesting and tasty.



  20. Hi Will,

    Will, you’re alright mate! I love a bit of polite intellectual biffo, especially when you agree with me! Hehe! The alternative title sounds like a marketing tagline to me. ;-)!

    Yeah, the frosts are the reason I can’t grow tropical and subtropical crops that are marginal. Some crops are much hardier than you’d imagine – Macadmia’s for example which have survived snowfall. How it all works is that the cold air falls away and off the mountain range and settles in the valley below, where it is much colder. It is warmer up here in the mountain range, but even so, light frosts are a regular winter morning friend. Not that anyone has noticed, but you could probably grow cold tolerant variety bananas in the big smoke of inner Melbourne as that is largely frost free these days. The coldest temperature that I see is -1’C / 30’F. Melbourne wouldn’t see much colder than about 3’C / 37’F.

    Ouch. I hope that you and yours are not at risk. Summer bushfires are a real risk. I note that California is also having some large bushfires too. Far out.



  21. Hi Pam,

    I’ve heard that said! Hehe! Thanks. It’s all good, we have fun too.

    The walk would have been good. Exactly too. So true. It costs a lot to live that way, and if you’re in any way marginal then the stress to maintain the appearances is exactly as you say. You know, I reckon it is a game that you can’t win, so it is best to go off and do something else that doesn’t consume the hours that you do actually have. Very few people make the choice that you and your hubby made and can plan that far ahead into the future. I salute your efforts – and you said we were the ones working hard! Hehe! It takes someone who works hard to know another! :-)!

    Oooo, dirty! No way, people aren’t really up at that time? Get out of town! Oh, you’re already out of town. 5am seems just a little bit wrong to me. The sun hasn’t risen here until about 7.30am. I’d much prefer to get up in the daylight.

    Well that is a different perspective. A frozen solid water tank would require a bit of flexibility because frozen water takes up more space. Have you ever heard of water tanks splitting in your part of the world? What a thing to worry about. Having water and not being able to access it because it is frozen. I assume the pumps would freeze solid too? I have no experience with that situation, but the mind boggles at the implications.

    It is funny that you mention that about growing up without a cold climate and being faced with those sorts of problems. Spare a thought for the poor folks of Melbourne who shudder in horror at the thought of living in a cold place like we do. It makes you wonder how they’d cope in your part of the world…

    Thanks, the paths and stairs make living here much easier than it would otherwise be. Not many people living around here think about such things and I wonder what they’ll end up doing as they get older. Dunno. It is not an easy or comfortable thought.

    The rocks are really good aren’t they? Peak rocks is such a sad state of affairs. There are plans for some new rock gabion cages to sort out the old strawberry bed which has recently been thrown open to the wolves, err, sorry, the wallabies.

    The drain thingee is an unnecessary access portal to the inlet pipe into the worm farm. There is so much fall in that pipe that it would be remarkable for it to clog up. But regulations are such that it needs to be installed.

    Yum! Fresh peppers! Nice one.

    Flowers all year around, of one sort or another. The native trees and shrubs will be flowering soon.

    Yah, it is a lot of chickens – and I suspect that in the past few days, the rats have finally broken into the chicken enclosure. There have been no eggs for the past few days and food has been consumed at an alarming rate. The rats will discover a response over the next few days which may involve Ollie who is already a proven rat bane. The oldest two chickens are over nine years old. I suspect they have not laid an egg in many years, but they are a calming influence on the chicken collective, and they all teach the others the various things needed to be a good chicken. Plus there is the manure. It’s good stuff.

    It was pretty fun that cartoon! Hehe!



  22. Hi Lew,

    I don’t know about onions in Anzac cookies, it is probably unpatriotic or something… :-p


  23. Hi Chris,

    One bird id book. Don’t you mean five? And somehow we got three Simpson and Days, which might be a bit many 🙂

    Yeah, mower selection can be overwhelming. I don’t trust the electric ones either, although perhaps I am biased and they could be worth checking them out. My yard is small and only just worth a push mower so an electric might not be a complete trap…

    I mean really, my landlord neighbour says it is no problem to use theirs. But I feel the obligation building every time I borrow it. Just seems a waste for there to be six different lawn mowers on the one street :-p


  24. Chris:

    I always make sure that there is a space of several inches left above the water in the tanks as we head into winter. In the summer I keep them topped off (2 power outages over the last weekend; that makes 4 in a month. I suspect that these are actually planned ones, for some kind of work). I’ve never heard of a tank splitting, but I’ve had it happen in smaller containers, like watering cans.

    I expect to get myself a pair of shoes with crampons when I get older. Seriously, I tried my son’s soccer cleats once and they were worse than worthless on this mountainside (think skiing).

    I, too, have been thinking of wolves lately – tiny, little insect wolves. They are relentless and I become quite fierce in my pursuit of them which hardly jives with my usual almost-vegan nature. Well, I know that I am indulging in a luxury there. C’est la vie.

    Not rats – not rats! Ollie has his work cut out, but he’ll love it. I teeter on the edge of my seat to hear the next episode.


  25. Chris:

    The cockatoo story is wonderful. What a busy world this has always been! The colors in those manuscripts always amazes me. Not an easy task that, to manufacture such things; I’ve worked with natural dyes, and a bit of inks, myself.


  26. Hi Damo,

    Hehe! Good one. I’m quite the fan of the bird id book as it is all photographs. Don’t you reckon the ones with plates are a bit open to interpretation? Purists may disagree and we could argue endlessly about the relative merits of each style. Hehe. I like your style with the three Simpson and Day’s – that is worth at least four nerd points, minus two for the plates rather than the photographs! Hehe! Told you, we could argue endlessly about that subject! But then in the photographic guide book, there are one or two plates so I lose a nerd point for that. Anyway, let’s not go there, and maybe the birds on the plates will turn up in the field sooner or later? It has actually happened in recent years.

    If it is only a small space, go electric with whatever brand has the best reliability for batteries. The motors will go for ever, but the batteries – not so much. How does that fit with your understanding?

    Had to laugh as you lose yet another nerd point for understanding that there you are incurring social debts with the mower. Incidentally, I reckon it is now neck and neck on the nerd point front! ;-)! Told you we could argue endlessly about that matter.

    I’ve been stirring up a mate of mine recently about that very matter, because he incurred a social debt to another person without realising it. He totally stumbled into the arrangement. I don’t worry about such debts and never call upon them, but other people actually do. It is fun from my perspective to watch it all happening because if anything we as a society run a mile from social obligations – that was the big selling point of the bright lights and big city experience in the first place. I’m always really curious about how long that situation can continue, but who really knows? I have absolutely no idea, but it is worth keeping an eye upon the subject.



  27. Hi Pam,

    The cockatoo story is genuinely amazing because it throws a lot of historical matters open to re-interpretation. It is possible that during the latter middle ages that the world became a much smaller place for the Europeans. Frederick II lived a tumultuous life, but cockatoos can be very delightful and highly intelligent birds and make excellent companion birds. I try not to annoy them because of their long lifespan, they’ll be around for a long time to come and may recount past hurts. They can also learn to speak human languages and some people teach them naughty words! Some cockatoos even have their own YouTube channels…

    Yeah, how good were the illustrations after all these years. It is quite amazing.

    Thanks for the explanation and that sounds like a good strategy with the water tank. It is not something that I would have considered as a possibility. I hope it was never a favourite watering can that split? Some of the plastic ones these days may be light weight and easy to handle, but the extreme UV in the summer sun kills them. They get brittle. I stick to galvanised metal watering cans because they seem able to take the conditions.

    Crampons! Far out. Well, if they work. It all gets down to mud, frost and snow don’t ya reckon? I’m not sure what the spikes are like on soccer shoes (hope he is into the World Cup at the moment? – Australia was dealt a harsh blow).

    Hehe! Insect wolves. Well, the war is long and I fully expect that we’ll all lose. The parrots have decided this year that they’d like to eat broccoli, and so they ate the plants – all of them. There are now only sad stalks sticking up out of the soil. I suspect that the parrots are winter hungry and are reaching the upper limit of their winter food supply. Dunno.

    Respect to the vegans! It is a tough road you’ve chosen, but the diet works well for plenty of people. I take samples of some of the produce from here to a lovely vegan that I know and it is always spirited away. Haven’t had any returns or complaints yet!

    Yeah, drats to the rats… I’m enlisting Ollie’s assistance for this job. he’ll enjoy the work. Dogs are like that.



  28. @Lew
    We (or should I say I) are finding places to donate the unsold sale items. I’ve got a load in the car to take to the resale shop today. Yesterday I found a home for all the vases we’ve collected over the years as we couldn’t give them away. The florist in town was happy to take them. The books will go to the library for their book sale and another organization that has a used book store. The place where my brother, Michael, lives has a large resale shop which primarily deals with furniture. They even come and pick up.

    I think much of the reason we did so well was that I posted pictures all week on the various “Buy and Sell” pages on facebook as well as our town’s page. I got tons of inquiries to the point that it became really annoying. However it did get people our here as we’re somewhat remote. I’ve been trying to sell some of the bigger items that hadn’t sold as well. Facebook is not my favorite but there are a few good points such as this. Used to be you could place an ad in the paper and that would get people out but not so much anymore.


  29. Hi Chris,

    Maybe the reason people think you work so hard is other than your trips to the pub and other restaurants it’s only once in a while that you write about taking an entire day off. Glad to hear that the editor and you have some down time.

    The sale and purchase of houses seems to be moving along on track. Both places pasted their radon retests yesterday. The new place has pretty awful wallpaper just about everywhere. We’ve decided that we’re not going to tackle that and use some of the profit from the sale of this house to have someone do it and paint as well. It’s the same people who painted all the high places in this house before we put it on the market. They did a good job, were fast and reasonable. We’ve scheduled in the week after we close which is before we actually move at the end of July. I went over to the new place with our realtor and the painter so she could get us an estimate. Of course it’s the wallpaper removal that’s the real expense.

    We got another 2 inches of rain yesterday – mostly in downpours which we sure didn’t need. That’s seven to nine inches of rain within a week. My garden plants weren’t looking great already and this just might do them in. Guess it was a good year for a small garden. The new place sits quite high so hopefully this won’t be so much of an issue. The garden I’m using here is kind of low – not the lowest spot on the road but still stays pretty wet.

    Yes, Doug’s mother had pretty specific requests for her memorial. Doug is stressing out about it so it’ll be good to have that behind us.


  30. @Pam

    We were very happy with the sale and hope we never do another one again.

    When towns have proposals to allow chickens they are for hens only which is understandable. Usually there’s a limit of six hens and rules about coops and set backs from property lines. It’ll be interesting to see what happens when the town council votes on it. If someone has chickens before there is any ordinance they are usually grandfathered in and can still keep their birds but can’t get more.

    Regarding looking at mansions, there’s a wealthy area in Wisconsin near my brother, Michael – Lake Geneva. It used to be referred to as the midwest Newport. There are many mansions right on the lake owned and/or built by some pretty famous people. There’s lots of boat tours to see and learn about them. There is also a walking path all around the lake – about 20 miles that is open to everyone giving even a closer view of the mansions and properties.

    Doug’s aunt and uncle lived in Newport and we visited them a few times. The mansions there were really over the top and you could tour the insides as well though there was a separate fee for each one.


  31. Yo, Chris – Yup. Always a lot of controversy about doing controlled burns. As to lightening strikes, I noticed this in yesterday’s newspaper.

    On the same page I noticed “Fireworks caused wildland fire burns 10 acres near Glenoma.” Which is out in the east part of our county. We’re coming up on our 4th of July and I heard the first fireworks the other night. Odd. I made the comment, during the lightening storm that “who needed fireworks when we had the lightening?”

    Probably not Tourette’s. Probably just poorly raised. One of my neighbors has a grandchild that visits from time to time and has a shriek that clears my sinus.

    Volcanic ash seems to be different, in different places. Here, it didn’t seem to be particularly “plant boosting”, but after an initial slightly smothering effect, didn’t seem to hurt, either. Might have had a few useful trace elements. Ours had a very high silica (microscopic glass) element to it.

    “Gunnera in the Willows?” Another children’s book in the offing? Or an inspirational saga?

    I don’t know about now, but the slick coating on paper used to be clay. Hard to beat good old paper pulp newspaper for fire starting. Or, a bit of good old untreated brown cardboard.

    Oh, no! Now the punters will be scooping up all the good bargins in the op-shops. :-(.

    Maybe Bob’s Red Mill is just trying to push their whole wheat pastry flour? :-). I’d guess it’s a finer grind for a more delicate “crumb.”

    Probably the cockatoos were traded along the silk route. Maybe. Or, by ship to Indian, and then onto Europe. I find that an 800 year old bird guide, in manuscript form, survived, is equally amazing. Silks from China were mentioned in Roman writing back to Augustus. The occasional delegation, the same. An ivory carving of an Indian goddess was found in Pompeii. Some Chinese genes were detected in the DNA of a few unfortunates in a slave cemetery outside of Rome.

    I noticed yesterday that the archaeological world is all atwitter (bad pun intended) over the identifying of a secretary bird on a wall carving in Egypt. There’s been some speculation on where the mythical land of Punt, was. This narrows it down to (perhaps) Sudan. Unless in three thousand years the range of the bird has changed :-). Or, it was traded from further afield. Lew

    PS: My green beans are coming up. There was a little stretch of fence that was going to waste …

  32. @ Damo – Yes, I’m probably falling down on the Anzac / patriotism front. :-). I think I read somewhere, that they were developed to ship well (over time and distance) to the WWI front. Hence, the dried coconut.

    I’ve made them with raisins and cranberries. I usually put them in the microwave with a bit of water for a few minutes, to “plump them up.” Makes for a chewy-er, more moist biscuit. Lew

  33. @ Margaret:

    Lake Geneva sounds like a delightful place to visit; I would like that. I had a quick Google glance – it’s a lovely place.


  34. @ Margaret – You’ve got the left overs from the sale, covered. It sounds like everything is moving onto a new, useful, life. That was very clever about the vases going to a florist. I’d never have thought of that.

    Newspapers do languish. It used to be rather run to read the classified ads. Not so much, anymore. Lew

  35. Yo, Chris – My friend Scott and I have put off our restaurant trip til tomorrow. My mouth was so set … :-).

    I started a new book, last night. “In the Land of Giants: A Journey Through the Dark Ages.” (Max Adams, 2016.) LOL. 400+ pages. He’s an archaeologist, I think. It looks like it’s going to be travels around mid and north England, into Scotland, looking at the period from the Roman collapse up to King Alfred. Quit a bit of his journeys are going to be walk about.

    He kicks off the book at Birdoswald, a Roman fort up on Hadrian’s Wall. He views it (in a general, representational way) as where the Dark Ages began. Due to some fine excavation work and a bit of not too much far fetched speculation, he describes in a few lyrical pages how in this one spot, probably (may have) slid from Roman fort commander to local war lord feasting in a hall ( a rebuilt old Roman grainery) with his mates. It’s a pattern that repeated over time, probably, in a number of places.

    He has some interesting ideas about how St. Patrick, and our old friend King Arthur, may be connected to this area. I had said awhile back, that St. Patricks birthplace was unknown. Maybe, not. The Romans called the fort at Birdoswald, “Banna.” St. Patrick, in his life story, says he was born in “Bannavem Taberniae”. Some modern scholars translate this as “settlement at Banna in the land of the high passes.” Birdoswald is in a high pass.

    Give it a few generations of scholars slugging it out, and this may become the accepted idea. Lew

  36. Hi Chris,

    You were working hard, but it seems you had a good mix of things to do while working hard. Mixing academic studies with real work with building renovations, exercise and socializing. My guess is it is easier to burn out quickly working not even as hard as you guys, but by doing essentially the same thing, such as working a day in the office, and coming home to play world of warcraft.

  37. Hi Chris,

    I have to be blunt, yet fair here. You do lose a couple of nerd points for preferring pictures over plates :-p Sometimes, in my weaker moments I do pine for a simple photograph when trying to id a particularly plain looking little brown bird, but only in a moment of weakness!


  38. Hi Margaret,

    It is nice to take a day off – and indeed we took today off, although we did have to drop the mower off at the farm machine repair business, purchase another month’s worth of grains from the feed store for the chickens, and pick up a trailer load of composted woody mulch. And given that the end of the financial year here is the 30th June, we also had to do some urgent accounting work. But after all that was done, it was slacker central! We headed off to a nearby town for a tasty lunch and stopped off at a remote nursery (which is frankly in the middle of nowhere, but not too far from that town) to pick up about 30 heritage variety strawberry runners. I’m a bit of a stickler for increasing the genetic diversity of the plants here and so grow all sorts of interesting varieties. I don’t generally discuss the other things that we do because of the pragmatic reason that I really don’t want people building up too much of a picture of our activities. Not everyone means well, and I am aware that even government departments such as the tax office are using social media to correlate expenditures and declared incomes. Crims are probably a bit smarter than government departments. I have nothing to worry about on that front as most of our stuff is unusual, old, or unappealing, but some people do.

    Oh my! The folks doing that wallpaper job have my sympathies – the stuff is often steamed off the walls… On the other hand, it sounds like money very well spent, so I applaud your decision. It will be interesting to see what is under the wallpaper. I’ve seen newspapers from fifty and sixty years ago plastered onto walls. Makes for interesting reading. Anyway, plaster and paint are cheap items.

    Far out, that is one lot of rain. It sure would be wet and humid in your part of the world. On the other hand, the trees will grow well in such conditions as long as the water eventually recedes. Drainage is a very complex matter and it is a good choice to purchase a property that sits higher than the surrounding area.

    Fair enough too about the specific requirements. You two have a lot going on and some of those things rate well up there in the top ten most stressful lists. I hope you recall to take it easy on each other, and yes it is good to have these things eventually sorted out.

    I’m reading Gene Logsdon’s book “Gene Everlasting” and the entire book is more or less his final thoughts on life and death. Was it your recommendation? In some ways the book is morbid, but in other ways Mr Logsdon grasps the essentials of life and the book is his legacy to his family which he has kindly allowed us all to enjoy if we so choose.



  39. Hi Lewis,

    Phew. Yesterday was tough as. Nine hours of intense bookkeeping with only about 15 minutes of breaks. And because the day went on for so long, we headed off to the pub for dinner. Unfortunately by the time we got there, the kitchen was closed except for pizzas. We enjoyed a nice pizza and pint. However, I then felt some sort of MSG type reaction and just crashed out when we got back home. A little bit of that stuff is good, but too much is a challenge for my system. I ended up waking up in the middle of the night and I consumed almost a litre (about a quarter of a gallon) of water just so that my sinuses felt less inflamed. A disturbed nights sleep was had…

    I spotted this alarming article today about bees: Varroa mite detected at Port of Melbourne on a ship from United States. It was fortunate that this hive arrived during the dead of winter when the bees are not active.

    The lightning strike that hit the tree and left a debris field in Lewis County must have been an impressive strike. The window of the Jeep was cactus… We’ve had a lightning strike hit a tree right at the bottom of the property in deep bush quite a few years ago now. The tree began smouldering and releasing a column of smoke. The interesting thing was that it was extraordinarily hard to find exactly where the tree was. The tree could be seen, but it was inordinately hard to get to. I assume that that was the recent storm that Cliff Mass was writing about?

    We picked up about 30 new runners of about three different varieties of strawberries today, and will plant them out tomorrow. It is very exciting to bring in new varieties and these lot are all heritage varieties.

    Fireworks are banned down here for those sorts of reasons. I used to be able to purchase them at the local milk bar when I was a kid. They were good fun to shoot off into the sky, but some people were seriously injured by them, although most of those stories were people doing strange things to the fireworks, like trying to hold onto them when they were ignited.

    I could use a bit of sinus cleaning today, but your method would probably elevate my blood pressure. And who wants that? I was in a cafe on Thursday morning enjoying a pre-work coffee and muffin and a lady had a baby that had clearly soiled its nappy, and she just sat there with it looking depressed. It is not as if food wasn’t being served in that space. Anyway, I often feel that the social arrangements that mothers find themselves in are very socially isolating, and that affects the parents mental health. I genuinely wonder why those social arrangements are maintained. My best guess is that it is only a moment in time.

    Oooo. I read that the recent flare up and lava flows in Hawaii also have a large quantity of silica (microscopic glass). And it becomes a real problem where the lava reaches the ocean. There is some sort of chemical reaction that goes on. Me, well, you’d find me running in the other direction from a lava flow, but I note that everyone seems to have different reactions.

    What a good idea about the Gunnera in the willows.

    I’m embarrassed to admit it, but I have absolutely no idea how paper is made. Clay? Well, if you’d left me for a hundred years to dwell upon that problem, I never would have discovered that solution. Hey, I find it amazing that an 800 year old bird guide survived when other more worthy texts did not. It has to be a bit of a gamble don’t you reckon as to what to save and what to let go? I reckon ending up as a slave anywhere is probably not a good thing. But then like all economic policies, slavery is subject to diminishing returns and eventually what can’t be sustained generally isn’t. The Romans ran out of wealth and top soil, and then that was that.

    What a fascinating history the land of Punt has. Cool. I’d never heard of it before. You know, just to add to the controversy, I suspect that from what I read about Punt, I reckon it is closer to Ethiopia, but who knows what South Sudan was like in those days? But yeah, the larger point remains that trade routes were clearly far longer, further, and wider than what we imagine they were. I wonder how such thoughts sit with the apocalyptically minded who walk among us?

    Go the green beans, and yes, who wants to waste any garden space? It is all precious. We’ve been having some serious soul searching over the past few days about that very issue because the naughty wallabies have eaten the broccoli right down to the root systems. This is not a good turn of events.

    Speaking of which I noticed today that three does are running around a patch of the forest (not far from here) and they appear to have lost their stag, who was impressive. However, it may be that the stag is out front and he has lost his antlers for the winter? Dunno, but he/she does seem to be leading the pack. Not sure. I don’t know enough about that variety of animal.

    How did the lunch outing go? And what was the cuisine du jour?

    Don’t you reckon that walking is such a nice pace for the person with an observational bent? A person can’t see much from the window of a moving vehicle, can they?

    I just had a flash of insight when reading your description of the exodus of the Romans from Britain. For some reason, I felt that the Romans would have ceded such forts to the friendly local war lords because they had a vested interest in keeping the wall fortified. But soon, the local war lords became the bosses because the Romans never came back, but due to the difficulties of maintaining a fort and bringing in the harvest so that they didn’t starve during the winter, the forts were abandoned and eventually over run. Dunno, but that is the story that popped into my head. How do you reckon that bit of speculation fits?

    Historians generally need a couple of generations of intellectual biffo in order to settle such matters. Is it generally accepted now that King Arthur was in fact a person and not a myth? I really don’t know the answer to that question.



  40. Hi crowandsheep,

    Yeah! Top point.

    I too have long suspected that repetitive strain injury can be as much of a problem for a person’s mind, as it is for a person’s body. I note that some folks who spend too long in their heads, tend to have either one eye open far wider than the other, or the internal tension expresses itself as one side of a persons face looking more taught and uplifted more than the other side.



  41. Hi Damo,

    Far out, you may well be right. Not fair at all! Hehe! We may have to reform the rules of this game, so that it is more advantageous to myself. Hehe! I’m sure Mr Orwell wrote something or other about that trick? I read it and thought to myself, that sounds like a good idea!

    Your boat is looking good!



  42. @ Damo – I think Little Brown Bird is an official designation for a species. :-). Or, should be. Making a definitive identification? Well, that way lies madness! I just try and think of them as cute and cheery. And, let it go at that. :-). Lew

  43. Yo, Chris – Well, when radio silence fell (Kerplunk!) I was momentarily concerned, but then remembered you sometimes take a well needed and deserved mid-week break.

    Good old sinuses. I’ve always had a kind of a nasal drip, that occasionally drives me to distraction. Seems to get worse as I get older. I tried and elimination diet, once, and nothing seemed amiss, there. I wonder if it’s some kind of genetic thing. I remember my Dad having the same problem. It’s maddening enough, now, that I’m going to bring it up with my Doc, next checkup.

    But I did find a bit of a remedy. Saline spray. The chemist, carries it. But steer clear of the stuff for adults. Ghastly! I head for the baby stuff aisle (a whole new world!) and buy the stuff made for the little nippers. I don’t use it every day, but use it when I’m driven to distraction.

    I also think fireworks should be left to the professionals. But, here in The Land Of The Free And The Home Of The Brave, there’s this whole attitude (to paraphrase) of “prying my fireworks out of my cold dead hand.” I think it’s enshrined in our Bill of Rights. Or, maybe the Constitution. Or, maybe, it’s just a bumper sticker. It’s the freedom to be an idiot. :-).

    Kind of related, I picked up Chuck Palahniuk’s newest book “Adjustment Day.” Other things to read first, but I read a bit. There was a quote I don’t think I had seen before. “Remember, Democracy never last long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself.” John Adams. If memory serves, he may have been one of our early presidents. I’ll have to check. The Adams family was a big tribe. Cont.

  44. Cont. Higher end magazines were called “slicks.” Somewhere along the way, I read the explanation of that term, and the factoid stuck. Perhaps because I did an art project in college. You take slightly opaque sheets of plastic with a sticky side. You can cut up colored pictures from the slicks. Once your design is in place, you can wash it. The paper and clay comes off and you have an instant, sort of, stained glass window.

    The apocalyptically minded. A quote I ran across last night in “In the Land of Giants.” “The two hundred years between the end of Roman rule in Britain and the revival of written history may be obscure, but they cannot have been centuries of unvarying chaos, starvation and anarchy. Society survived and evolved; kings ruled, warriors fought, monks prayed and peasants farmed.” (pg. 59). Some sites were continuously used for something or another. Wood, wattle and thatch don’t leave much behind, in the ground. It’s an art to tease out what was going on.

    King Arthur. Person or myth? Depends on who you talk to 🙂

    Re: Repetitive stress injury symptoms. Sounds like an oncoming stroke.

    Off to lunch in a few hours. Review to follow, tomorrow. Lew

  45. Hi Lewis,

    The radio silence was unplanned – and I crashed out that night. Apologies for that and to you especially, as it is not how things are ordinarily conducted around here. I’d be worried if you suddenly dropped off the radar too! No stress.

    That isn’t a bad idea about getting the sinuses checked out. Mine are better as I get older, but that is largely because I drink more water (and rainwater at that) and eat lots of leafy greens from the garden. A diversity of leafy greens in one’s diet does wonders for reducing inflammation.

    What the heck is saline spray? Sounds interesting. I thought that saline sprays and drops were pH neutral products? Years ago I thought they were basic like salty water? Dunno. Hey, the pizza may just have had a lot of salt on it which would have made me feel very thirsty. It’s possible. Do you use much salt in your cooking and food? I always add a teaspoon to bread dough as bread without salt tastes strange to me and there is some science to adding salt to a dough mix. And then for some reason salt just tastes good on tomatoes… It is probably a bit early for tomatoes in your part of the world? Maybe?

    I guess if people want to hold onto a lit fireworks rocket, then their future is not looking quite so bright (excuse the poor pun). A year or two back I met someone who proclaimed that they were a big believer in signage in order to protect people from themselves. For some reason I’ve felt that signs are often a legal response to a situation of risk, rather than a common sense response. It does make you wonder how anyone can instil a sense of care, responsibility, and consequences, without exposing them to the occasional risk? Dunno, but I have wondered about that.

    Chuck Palahniuk’s newest book Adjustment Day has received some mixed reviews. One comment I liked suggested that the author was an “equal opportunity offender”, which I assume means that he annoys everybody. That would make for a good job description. We need someone who can just piss everybody off! Hehe! Didn’t one of the early Greek philosophers look down their noses at democracy and if memory serves me correctly, they said something rather mean spirited along the lines of: “rule by the mob”. Of course, the said philosopher probably considered himself well suited to ruling that mob, all in their best interests of course. There seem to be a few of those types floating around these days…

    None of us will be able to tease what exactly was going on in the years after the Romans left Britain, but I sort of feel that the economy is an expression of the resources available in the natural environment. The Romans would have stripped the cupboards bare, because how the heck do you pay for all those armies, wars, and tribute? And if it was paying its way with a good surplus, they never would have left. After they left, the environment probably needed a century or so to recover before there was enough surplus to employ folks such as scribes. And the scribes would have considered the preceding years as hardship – mostly because they would have had to work on the land in order to be kept fed, and possibly not wanted to have written about it. The societies that were not stripped bare by the Romans most likely didn’t have much to take in the first place – and they may have caused the most trouble when the Romans left.

    Most of the country towns around here have avenues of honour leading into and/or out of the towns. The rows and rows of old trees lining the roads tell a story of depopulation of the towns during WWI and WWII. The retreat of the Roman forces I reckon would have consumed a lot of man power.

    What do you reckon about all that theorising?

    I reckon King Arthur was a historical character, but he was also a myth. Can a person be both?

    I look forward to reading an account of your lunch. I’m going to guess a cuisine: Mexican. No, no, Italian. Actually that’s two guesses! :-)!

    I was planning to get outside and work today, but it is raining…

    Mañana! I believe that roughly translates as ‘later’? Dunno, I probably shouldn’t use words that I’m not sure of the correct meanings of. I’ve heard someone once suggest that that word means something along the lines of: “always tomorrow”, referring to the task that is put off for a future date.


  46. Chris:

    Over at Ecosophia you brought up the topic of visualizing images in one’s mind. I have always been able to do that. I can pull up memories back to age 3 (I think I can see some from earlier, but am not sure) and watch them like a movie, at least clips, anyway. I can do this with quite a few dreams, too, even from way back. Yet my every-day memory (like, “Why am I standing in the pantry with no idea what I came in for” memory) is so-so. This ability is probably how I was able to ace all exams in school. I can’t decide if it is a curse or a blessing.


  47. Yo, Chris – I forgot to comment on the bee story. Yup. The parasites showing up is scary as. I thought it very commendable that the master of the ship didn’t just blow off his responsibility. Alerting the authorities probably cost him time and money. I thought the idea of sentinel hives was very interesting.

    I just happened to hear a story on NPR radio (Science Friday), yesterday, about bees. An English study comparing city hives with rural hives. Interesting stuff, there. Pesticide levels about the same. City hives had more honey. But there was a little bit about something I had never heard of. A “cokoo (sp?) bee.” A queen that slips into a nest, kills the queen and takes over.

    I’m sure the wombats will appreciate the wide varieties of strawberries. A veritable buffet! 🙂

    I’ve figured out a way to get more greens, into my diet. I picked up a bag of frozen chopped spinach. I’ve been chucking into a lot of things.

    The little bottle of “stuff” says “sterile saline mist.” The only ingredients are water and sodium chloride. I don’t use a lot of salt. Never have. I use a lot of other herbs and spices to jazz stuff up. I use salt if it’s called for in a recipe. If I buy canned veg, I go for the “no salt” or “low salt.” I really notice it if I get something that has a lot of salt in it.

    LOL. I’ve always liked “equal opportunity offender.” I don’t know where the term originated, but I first saw it years ago, applied to the writing of Sherman Alexi (who, I like very much.) But then, I’ve always like writers who “comfort the uncomfortable and discomfort the comfortable.” I’ve probably made a hash of that quote, but it’s been floating around for years. Cont.

  48. Hello Chris

    Daughter and friend left this morning. The weather here is phenomenal 80F outside this evening; there has been no rain for yonks.

    I noted that you don’t water your potatoes. How on earth do you get away with this when they are in containers? Mine are watered daily.

    China is offering mortgages to help with rent!! I wonder if that horrendous notion will come our way?

    @ Lew

    My eyes and nose have watered all my life, tissues keep me company at all times. Tears pour down my face when I laugh. When I was 8 years old, a teacher said ‘ You do that too!’ There is a benefit now. The elderly get dry eyes and have to use eye drops; not me thank goodness. It is not allergy in my case and I assume not in yours. Perhaps you shouldn’t worry.


  49. Cont. Oh, I think someone can be both man and myth. Sure. Why not. Probably depends on having a good PR department :-). The bit I read last night was where the author of “In the Land of Giants” visited Cadbury. He knows all the people involved in the excavations, and, in one of those coincidences also mentioned the excavation report I picked up a couple of months ago.

    We’re probably never going to know, definitively, if there was an actual Arthur. And, will just have to live with that. :-).

    The book is a good read, but I’m skimming some parts. The hiking parts. If he was wet or dry. Could he find a camp spot or did he have to opt for a room in a pub/inn. Where he stopped for a nosh and what he noshed on. That the hard won open hiking trails are falling into disrepair, as no one every walks, anymore. Ho-Hum.

    But some of his theories are really interesting. The whole idea that a lot of the Roman forts evolved into Beowulf-ian halls we know. Barn Halls. Barn conversions? :-). And last night I was reading his theory (speculation) that a lot of the Roman farm villas evolved into early monastic communities. A well off (for the time) Christian Roman acquires or inherits a villa farm and establishes a community of Christians. Quit a few of the later villas had traces of definite Christian occupants. May have been the early house churches. And, if you squint a bit at those villa farm pictures I linked to, a couple of week ago, I can see the possibility. They’ve got all the working parts of a monastery.

    Check into “tidal mills”. You’ll find those fascinating, too :-).

    Nope. We went with “Merican” food. I went with a sandwich called a “cranberry bog.” (Go ahead. Titter at the name.) A good 2″ of shredded turkey and cranberry sauce. Not to quibble, but it would have been better with less turkey and more cranberries. They make their own potato crisps. I had a side of cole slaw, because I wanted to see how they did it. Was very good but I added just a touch of salt and pepper. The desert I had was Peanut butter / chocolate cream pie. To die for. Lew

  50. Yo, Chris – You’ll have fun with this. Check out the “menu” and “gallery.” It’s a small picture gallery. The menu is a pretty typical independent owned restaurant or cafe menu, in America, at this time.


  51. Hi Chris,

    Mike and I were away from home for a few days, visiting friends. Less than 24 hours after we returned home, it was our turn for a severe thunderstorm with heavy rain (2.2 inches in about 2 hours) and high winds. High enough winds to break off a large limb of a silver maple in the yard next door that fell on our shared electric service line, cutting off electric service to both houses. A few houses down the street to the east, trees fell on the electric wires running along the street, cutting off electricity to everyone on the street. Service to our house and some others was not restored till about 40 hours later. And of course this was during a heat wave. Mike and I got some bags of ice and set up coolers full of the items in the refrigerator, thereby getting all the food through the outage. At least it wasn’t too hot to sleep last night. But I was quite glad to be able to turn on the air conditioner this afternoon as the rain has made it very humid as well as quite hot.

    I harvested the season’s first cucumbers, zucchini, and cabbage when we returned home. One of the broccoli plants has a small head on it. I am sorry to hear that a wallaby ate your broccoli plants. Wallabies sound like they are hard to keep away from what they want to eat.

    Male white-tailed deer, the species we have here, lose their antlers in winter, then regrow them starting sometime in the following spring. I understand that the antlers are used to spar with other males during the breeding season.


  52. Hi Pam,

    Lucky you, but then on the other hand, what were we talking about again? Hehe! It’s funny stuff, and wouldn’t it be boring as, if we all had the same interests and abilities. My short term memory is so-so, or at best mostly good. I hadn’t even realised that other people saw things differently until I heard a radio news show on the subject last week.

    Speaking of different interests and abilities, Scritchy has just given Ollie a definitive understanding of the meaning of: “what for” with teeth. She is one mean boss dog. They’re now both snuggled up together on the green couch behind me.



  53. Hi Elbows,

    Thanks for the great pumpkin tips. And just to be mildly controversial, I reckon that they’re all pumpkins, except for the little tiny yellow squashes, which are indeed squashes – as the name indicates! ;-)! Do you grow pumpkins in your part of the world?

    Glad to see that you are onto the ABC gardening Australia. Costa is pretty good isn’t he, and chock full of enthusiasm.



  54. Hi Lewis,

    The master of the ship did us a solid by alerting the authorities. Eventually, the mite and virus will arrive here, but it would be nice if it didn’t – like rabies has not arrived here. And yeah, I hadn’t considered that aspect of the problem as he had to put the public interest – for a country which he may or may not have had any relationship to – ahead of the private interests that pay his wage. And yeah, there are indicator hives at most ports and airports. We take quarantine quite seriously down here, although not everybody does and/or co-operates. It is a bit like the kid in the zombie film who endangers everyone by an act of selfish-dumbness. Oh by golly, let’s poke this dead zombie and see whether it can re-animate!

    I hadn’t heard about the Queen who may take over another colony and will take a look later tonight after writing. But when you think about it, it makes for a stronger hive. There are often more than one queen in a large hive. The secondary queen (and more) are possibly raised and fed as emergency replacements. But also it is a bit like Arthur having to bring down the stag as rite of initiation as sometimes the bees decide to let the two Queens punch it on to see who will prevail.

    Honey from cities is often more prolific because in the UK at least the cities will be warmer than the countryside and so more pollen and nectar is produced over a longer period of time. And strangely enough, due to the efforts of homeowners trying to create a delightful floral garden, there is a wide diversity of flowers for the city bees to consume from. Some of the best honey comes from city areas because of those two factors and I once got to experience that difference. I aim for a lot of flowers, but the bees can be picky.

    Yes, I’m certain that the wombats will enjoy the new strawberries! We’ve decided not to move the strawberries from the terrace enclosure, but just finish it over the next few weeks (i.e. put a roof over it). I am wondering whether I should transplant some of the older strawberry runners into the fern gully? Dunno. I reckon the plants would do well there, what do you reckon?

    Spinach is good. Do you grow much chard (or silver beet)?

    Well there you go, water and sodium chloride = salt water. That might help kill some bugs on the inside of your nose. Not many bugs like salt water.

    Ooo. Mr Alexi would really piss people off, and he walks a fine line where but he do anything wrong, as appears to be the case, but then at the same time this does not diminish what he has to say. A very interesting writer. Thanks for the referral. The thing is, our society is such that a person who is other than a member of the dominant class – for any reason – will get clobbered should they provide any easy reason to be clobbered. And I don’t generally support such folks should they break the law. If they want to play the game, they have to play the game as it stands, and not as they feel the rules should be structured and applied to them. That is putting ones ego to the fore. Best not to play the game methinks, and just go off and do your own thing. You can’t win that game anyway, despite the flashy gewgaws on offer.

    Sun Tzu had something to say about the comfortable which aligns with that thought!

    I can live with the lack of certain knowledge of the historical figure of Arthur. Anyway, I can’t name any Neanderthal’s either, but I’m sure some of them are in my family DNA – a guy or girl from ancient history gets kind of lonely on some ancient cold winter nights… ;-)!

    What did the author have to say about the digs? And did you take away the same thoughts about the report?

    Your comment about hard won walking paths with the author reminded me of a long several day hike I took once in the south west of the state. It was five days with no support. I got to one camping ground which was in the middle of nowhere, and which was only for walkers as there was no road access. I looked into the visitor book and wrote something once both poetic and an attempt at humour, and noticed an earlier entry from someone who was riding a motorised trail bike and was complaining about: “Can’t get my bike down da fracking trail”. Clearly the person had not considered that it was a boots only trail. Sorry for the detour, but walking trails have to be maintained…

    Cool. I like that theory, because why the heck would a perfectly good building be let go to wrack and ruin, when there are convivial celebrations (of the recent departure of the Romans) and beer to be enjoyed? It seems like common sense to me. I note that the local agricultural hall which is really in the middle of nowhere now hosts the annual art show, an annual local celebration, weddings, and local meetings etc.

    Now you just reminded me. Is it: Romanus Eunt Domus? Or is it: Romani Ite Domum? Curious minds would like to know exactly how to conjugate the verb… Hehe!

    Oooo. I like the theory about the conversion of the villa to the monastery. Good stuff.

    I spotted a hand turned stone mill on Friday and almost purchased it. The stones were adjustable and the entire contraption was made from very sturdy steel. Lead me not into temptation… The cars have recently eaten an inordinate amount of free funds with more soon set to wander out the door. Bad cars…

    Thanks for the laugh and I am tittering at the name of Cranberry Bog. ‘Tes not natural! Well, turkey is cheap and cranberries are expensive. Yummo! Thanks for the link and I am now salivating at the thought of Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie. Home delivery would be somewhat expensive… ;-)!

    Here is a little peek into one of my regular lunch haunts: Redbeard historic bakery. They have an original and working Scotch oven that used to bake all of the towns bread.



  55. Hi Inge,

    Someone was telling me recently that parts of the UK were having a heatwave. To be honest, your weather sounds delightful to my ears because 80’F is 26’C, and that is a superb summer’s day. The lack of rain would concern me though, but you didn’t have a very wet early spring and so I’m guessing that there would be heaps of groundwater? Maybe? Perhaps not for your vegetables though which have shallower root systems and are unable to access the groundwater?

    Are you observing any noticeable changes with the plant growth during such warm weather? I’ll bet the oaks in your forest are enjoying the heat? Down here, the English Oaks shrug off the hottest of hot days, whilst providing glorious shade. Such a hardy tree species.

    I have never watered the potatoes. And they’re prolific. A couple of thoughts spring to mind at your question. It may be hotter here, but we may get more rainfall overall than you? The potatoes happily grow right through the winter here despite the occasional light frost – or even thirty light frosts. The soil is exceptionally well drained, even in the wettest years, and being tubers, in dry summers, the plants go dormant and reappear when conditions are optimal. What are your thoughts on those observations?

    We already have that, but not in so many words. I read in the Big Short an interesting observation that: An interest only loan is like a rental with debt. It is interesting that you mention finances, but…



  56. Hi Claire,

    Oh my goodness, what a lot of rain to receive in such a short period of time. In some ways, if you have plentiful water, it is far easier to get through a drought than the sort of very destructive rain that fell at yours and Mikes place. I worry about those storms whenever they approach the farm. Was there much damage?

    And yup, trees fall onto power lines during such storms. That was some quick thinking too with the ice. Very quick. I mention to the neighbours here about having electricity during blackouts, and as yet not one has taken me up on the offer. They unfortunately fear the social debt. On the other hand they’re also happy to complain about the lack of electricity… It’s complex.

    I hope the storm did not diminish the experience of your visit to see friends.

    Yum! Oh, do you get cabbage moth? The wallaby has plans… Thanks, and wallabies are like having feral goats running around your garden. For the majority of the time they do little harm, but sometimes they get focus on a particular variety of plant…

    Thanks for the information on the deer. I’m not sure what variety of deer we have here because from what I can see, not only the tail is white, but the (how do I put this politely?) the backside also has a splash of white. For the life of me I have no idea why the deer love rubbing their antlers on the bark of apple trees… Ollie the cattle dog has his work cut out for him.



  57. Hello again

    The weather has been gorgeous but the humidity is returning now; that does become uncomfortable.The ground has dried out and the clay is cracking apart; undergrowth is drying out but the trees have done incredibly well and the woodland is very lush and green.

    I am failing to get to grips with how your potatoes function.

    We have a huge moorland fire in the North (I think) of England. It is on peat and the peat is now alight. I believe that underground peat can just keep burning.


  58. Chris:

    Thanks for adding Cliff Mass to the blog feeds. I rarely could remember to go look for him no matter how many enticing tales Lew told of him. Fun stuff.


  59. Yo, Chris – I forgot to mention that my tomatilla and tomatoes are flowering, but no green one’s yet. Some of the ladies who grow smaller varieties, are getting lots of little green one’s. Silly me. I’ve been waiting for the pea pods to fill out. I took another look at the seed pack. They’re snow peas! If I plant now, I can get a cool crop of regular peas.

    The strawberries would probably do well in the fern gully, in spots that get a little sun. I’m sure the local wildlife will appreciate your efforts!

    I think over the years, I’ve read most of Alexi’s books. Years ago, he also did two little indie films. “Smoke Signals” and “The Business of Fancy Dancing.” Based on characters from his books. They were really good and I wish he’d tackle film, again.

    The author of “In the Land of Giants” thought the excavations at Cadbury were a bit of wishful thinking. But noted that the excavator, later in life, took a bit more of a conservative view. News from Vindolanda. Six more shoes and a wax tablet. AND, a “hand of god.” Which is a big ol’ bronze hand, dedicated to a god in thanks for a successful military campaign, around 200 CE. Cont.

  60. Cont. Also on the King Arthur front … I stopped by the library, yesterday (the Logsdon book was in) and was poking around the perpetual library sale they have. Donated books and library discards. I found a novel, “Finding Camlann” (Pigeon, 2013) among the discards. About a British archaeologist hot on the trail of some solid evidence for a historic Arthur. I got quit swept up in it. Started it yesterday and should finish it today. There’s a bit of a love interest, but the mush is only ankle deep. :-).

    I’m afraid my two years of Latin have fallen down the memory hole. Other than the opening line of “Caesar’s Gallic Wars” and, strangely enough, some of the word endings for personal pronouns. Well, they kind of rhyme.

    The Redbeard bakery looks like a fascinating place. Lucky you. Under the history section I thought it quit interesting that the Scotch ovens were “…bought and destroyed by large flour millers…” Here, the auto, oil and tire companies bought up city trolly systems. Burnt the cars and pulled up the tracks. Sometimes when they’re doing street work in Centralia, they uncover a bit of rail that was just paved over. Lew

  61. @ Inge – I’d go broke on tissues. I use (and reuse) paper towels. On reflection, even in my small 500+ square foot apartment, I have four “stations” with a pile of the things. Oh, I don’t worry about the situation. It’s just that it’s such a nuisance. Lew

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