The editor and I visited a local dog shelter at the beginning of this year. As long term readers may recall, at that time Sir Poopy fox bane, suffered fatal renal failure. I really enjoyed Sir Poopy’s company, but renal failure is a tough thing to endure and he rapidly went blind, lost weight and began having serious seizures. Sir Poopy was very happy go lucky, if rather lazy dog, and the only time that I can ever recall him being unhappy was in his final two days.

The now deceased Sir Poopy was not called fox bane for no reason!

Sir Poopy was the muscle dog here, and it was his job to deal with the wildlife (if they ever got out of hand). The wildlife that lives in the surrounding forest enjoys free access to the garden beds and orchard, but sometimes they can take that entitlement a bit too far and cause a whole lot of damage. And that is when you need a Sir Poopy fox bane, because he would happily clear them all off the property for a while thus giving the garden and orchard a break.

Of course, the downside of that arrangement was that Sir Poopy felt rather justified in whiling away his days on the beanbag. I’ve often suspected that it was his aversion to physical activity that was his downfall.

Whatever maybe the case, after his ultimate downfall, the editor and I visited a local dog shelter at the beginning of this year. The shelter shook us down for some mad cash because just after New Years day there were very few, if any dogs available. The post Christmas animal dumping rush had not yet occurred, and so we had a choice between Ollie (not his name at that point in time) and some other dog that was much bigger and much older.

The shelter people informed us that Ollie was apparently a real handful, and had already been returned to the shelter. We were certainly a bit concerned upon hearing that information, but regardless we took Ollie out on a test walk to see what sort of dog he was. He seemed fine to me, but maybe I have low expectations?

Anyway, on the test walk, I took Ollie (not his name at that time) into a nearby park and said to him: “Listen mate. If you can keep your sh*t together, we’ll adopt you.” Ollie replied: “Yeah. I can do that.” And that was that – the deal was done.

Except, the editor and I were then more or less interviewed by the shelter staff who couldn’t believe that anyone would want that particular dog. Clearly they must have believed that we’d never encountered a dog before, and that possibly we were completely bonkers in choosing Ollie. They even offered free dog behavioural counselling, which was definitely a slight upon Ollie’s (and our) good character.

Anyway, we brought Ollie back to the farm and he’s fitted in well with the other dogs. Ollie, is very much like Sir Poopy who he replaced, as he has a delightfully upbeat personality. He is really quite a lovely dog. However, unlike Sir Poopy, Ollie has far more energy. And the thing that has freaked me out, is that I’m not exactly sure when he’ll stop growing. Ollie is big – and he’s getting bigger!

Ollie in his very early days is instructed by Scritchy the boss dog in the gentle art of sleeping on the green couch. Ollie is a fast learner

Ollie is now eating three times the combined amount of food that the other dogs eat. It is possible that he has worms which might explain his love of food, but far out, that dog eats a lot of food. Fortunately we make most of our dog food from raw materials, so the additional expense is not great, but we now have to make far more dog food.

And all that dog food is going into growing a very large dog! He has grown from a diminutive 17kilograms (37 pounds) to a mighty 30 kilograms (66 pounds) in only 10 months.

Ollie has now grown so much that he is several orders of magnitude larger than Scritchy the boss dog

Scritchy the boss dog now looks like a proper little mini-me! Anyway, I reckon Ollie will stop growing sooner or later.

The situation reminds me of an excellent bit of advice I received many years ago about chickens. A lady in the area who had been raising chickens for many years, told me that bantam chickens produce eggs that are three quarter sized , but they eat far less feed than larger chickens. I think about that bit of advice every day when I’m feeding Ollie, because it is not lost on me that he eats more than twice the amount of feed as Sir Poopy but performs sort-of the same function (having a delightful personality helps, but he is not yet a fox bane).

On a warm and sunny Thursday afternoon, the editor and I visited the local tip shop in order to obtain some materials with which to complete the new shed. And the local tip shop did not disappoint us as they had steel flashing in the same colour as the shed. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I spotted the steel flashing because it was the exact same colour as the shed.

Steel flashing was added to the front of the new shed to protect the timber from the weather

Observant readers will note that the local tip shop also managed to supply us with a short section of dark grey roof capping which was installed at the very peak and front of the roof.

The door jamb was also added to the door of the shed. A door jamb is a fancy name for the bits of timber that stop a door from swinging inwards which may break the door off its hinges. In the photo above you can see that we also added a tiny little chunk of aluminium angle above the door. I reckon it gives the corrugated steel sheeting above the door a nice neat finish.

At the bottom of the doorway, we cemented in four cement pavers. The cement pavers reduce the gap at the bottom of the door, which is good to keep rats out of the shed (edit: maybe). And the pavers are also angled outwards so that any rain that falls on them will flow away from the doorway.

Cement pavers were added to the doorway of the new shed

I connected up a 12V electricity supply to the shed. The electricity supply will be enough to power some LED flood lights as well as a water pump for the two water tanks that sit behind the new shed and will provide water to the plants on those two terraces.

A 12 Volt electricity supply was added to the new shed

Once the 12V electricity supply was connected up to the new shed, I was able to connect the low voltage water pump to the two water tanks that sit behind the new shed. We now have pressurised water!

We now have pressurised water on the terrace with the new shed

Whilst we were at the local tip shop, we discovered an old steel garden table base. The steel used in those old garden tables is enormously strong and unlikely to rust away any time soon. We cut up some timber pallets and used the timber to create a top for the table. A bit of oil was applied, and we now have another outdoor table. Toothy approves!

Toothy approves of the new outdoor table

We also finished filling another steel rock gabion cage with rocks – and then sewed the steel cage shut. Steel rock gabions are very, very strong and can hold back huge volumes of soil. You often see them used in road projects, but we use them here to hold back the soil on the potato terrace.

Another steel rock gabion cage is filled with rocks and now all sewn up

Spring is a lovely time to work, and whilst the sun is very hot because the UV is now rated as “Very High”, the air temperature is quite cool. In the past few weeks we’ve been busily getting things finished before we have to get onto summer activities. Fortunately, there is a little bit of time left before summer arrives, and so another project we have begun sorting out is the area in front of the house. For some reason, we originally created a huge area for unloading organic matter from the bright yellow trailer. The area did not need to be as large as it was, and so this week we have made it smaller.

The unloading area for organic matter such as mulch and compost was made smaller this week

The old strawberry bed has begun to be deconstructed. It looks very untidy, but has remarkably deep soil!

The old strawberry bed has begun to be dismantled

The warmer weather has meant that alcohol ferments at a much faster rate than during the cooler winter months.

Spring and Autumn are the time for producing home made fruit wines

The strawberry enclosure was weeded using a hand hoe. I’m really impressed with that particular tool.

The strawberry enclosure was weeded today using a hand hoe

And the strawberries are growing!

It might be an excellent season for strawberries

Like Ollie, the corn has recently doubled in size! Talk about megalocorn!

The corn has doubled in size in only a week

Fortunately, there are lots of greens in the paddock below the house for the wildlife to eat, so Ollie has not been called upon recently to do his job. The other night I spotted a kangaroo (with a joey in her pouch) and a wombat happily grazing away.

A kangaroo with a joey in its pouch and a wombat enjoy the largess of the farm

Most of the birds here are very brightly coloured like the male blue fairy wrens. Those birds in particular eat a huge number of insects in the garden beds.

A male blue fairy wren at the farm

Onto the flowers:

African daisies
Stunning lavender which is covered in bees
The garden beds contain diverse plants
The very first bearded iris of the season
It’s rhody time!
Leucadendrons are stunning plants
Daisies put on such a great show

The temperature outside now at about 8.00am is 5’C (41’F). So far this year there has been 763.8mm (30.1 inches) which is higher than last week’s total of 763.6mm (30.1 inches).

65 thoughts on “Megalodog”

  1. Hi Inge,

    Great to hear what happened! From my end it looked as if you’d simply dropped off the radar. I actually thought that maybe all of your recent rainfall had played havoc with the copper wires again. The wonders of modern technology. Glad to read that you’re OK.



  2. Hi Lewis,

    Your diplomacy skills do you proud. 🙂 I’ve been trolled once or twice on very un-moderated websites which was a surreal experience when first I began writing for the web. The print media by contrast was quite a pleasant and gentile affair, although I have read way back in the day that poison pen letters, and other acts of trolling were all the rage. One notable, and amusing act of trolling way back in the day against the author Robert E Howard from a fellow author who may have been Robert Bloch (of Psycho fame) stuck in my mind when I first read it a year or two back. It was an eloquent chunk of trolling if only because the fellow author had an excellent grasp of the language. Folks inclined to do such things these days are light weights. On the other hand I could imagine Robert E Howard reading the outrage and declaring something like: Let the lesser folk bray and howl. Their screeching noises soothes my nerves, bolsters my general sense of superiority, and I look upon them and their efforts with contempt. 🙂 Or something like that! Hehe! We can have fun with the language, can’t we… 🙂 Conan on the other hand would have simply smashed them.

    Oooo. The name Ezra Pound appears from time to time in my awareness. I’m uncomfortable with those that criticize from afar. And unfortunately, one of my favourite bands from the 90’s (or it may have been the late 80’s) wrote a song about him titled: Ezra Pound – Axe King. Clearly they were not fans, the cheeky scamps. And in a moment of sheer irreverence when first I read your comment this morning over breakfast, I thought you were referring to the 1990 sci-fi book by Greg Bear titled: Queen of Angels. I can’t explain why my mind interpreted your comment that way, but there you go. Reading comprehension occasionally fails me. I quite enjoyed Greg Bear as a sci-fi author, but I wasn’t as impressed with his latter foray into advanced biotechnology and/or human evolution, if only because the subject bored me to tears. I’d be quite disturbed to encounter a giant leap in either consciousness or human evolution, if only because I know that I’d be left behind, and they’d all go happily soaring off to some sort of boring and ultimately futile adventure. On the other hand I quite enjoy all of the various tangents and intellectual adventures that we go on here!

    You were very wise to have maintained some sort of control over which books you chose to review.

    Thanks. I was actually a bit uncertain whether the door over the books idea was a good one, and I appreciate your feedback. Have you ever noticed that natural materials are often used in the cleaning process for delicate items? We use soap nuts (and vinegar) when washing clothes and from what I’ve read those cleaners also get considerable use in museums and other restoration efforts.

    My pleasure! The archaeologists are under a fair bit of time pressure with that HS2 project. Matthew Flinders covered and mapped an extraordinary amount of the coastline down here. And yeah, the car park find comparison was not lost on me. The car park for the Queen Victoria market in Melbourne is known to be sited over an old early settlers cemetery. What I found interesting about the original cemetery under the proposed HS2 station was that little provision was made for the eventual number of bodies that ended up there and that the decomposition rate for the coffins was not even over the entire site.

    Exactly. I mean what do people expect when they move to a rural area? I find the general land use in the country to be a truly fascinating and baffling story. I mean, it is not as if this mountain range wasn’t once a major producer of timber, potatoes, and berries. Did the powers that be suddenly wake up one day and think to themselves: Well nobody is going to want any of that stuff anymore, and then breathe a collective sigh of relief. I hear some very strange theories being expounded. And they don’t stack up well against reality, but you know, good for them.

    There is truth in the old adage that the early bird gets the worm. 🙂 I’m not suggesting that you were smitten by the ‘blue’ on the water lilly on the Wedgewood plate but, you know, I’m just going with my gut feeling. Does that mean that you are now the proud owner of this plate? What is the condition of the plate? Ceramics are extraordinarily tough. We’ve spoken in the past about the loss of ceramic technology after the Romans departed the UK, but I would have thought that there still would have been a fair bit of the items in use for many long years until it all eventually disappeared from use. Maybe? Does that understanding stack up to the findings?

    I’m really fascinated that the auction attracted some dealers and collectors. Did you notice that any of the buyers had deliberate strategies, or is that hard to determine in the heat of the moment?

    The stone temple lions are amazing and in the more fashionable end of the mountain range, there is a house with two of those on each gate post. They even have the balls in their mouths. Now the fascinating thing about the balls is that they are carved in situ as it is impossible to remove them from the mouth of the stone lion as it has a smaller and flatter mouth. I can well understand why they attract the price, although you’d have to be careful as to exactly what material they were carved from.

    It is funny you mention that about the large Asian furniture, because there are a lot of reproductions made from very green timber – which inevitably dries and splits. A couple of decades back it was a bit of a ‘thing’, but now not so much. I have to confess that I own such a piece, but I had to modify the cupboard because it was simply too large and out of place in western buildings. I mentioned the work on the blog many years ago. It is now much more useful as a smaller cupboard.

    Top work getting the items that you were after. 🙂 But not the cat sculpture! Hehe! I wouldn’t know what to do with it either, and seeing a cat outside the house at night would freak me out. The mean turtle sounds much cooler! Although watch out for your leg! It seems like good advice given the turtle is physically closer…

    How does a person ‘run you up’? It sounds like some sort of auction strategy that I am unfamiliar with.

    Teeth chattering is the first stage of hypothermia and a good time to clear out and head home. Well, you can’t have everything, that happens. And I reckon that is a good thing too, if only because it makes us all appreciate what we do have. That is the theory anyway. I’d like more water tanks, and perhaps a fully dug well.

    Given the turn in your weather I hope the yearly Bazaar and rummage sale is out of the weather? Go the banana muffins, and I reckon you’ll sell out in no time at all!



  3. @Pam

    My daughter was also bullied particularly for two years during Jr. high. The school did try to help. I think this experience colored the rest of her life and probably influenced her decision to home school greatly. She does think one of her daughters would do ok in school while the other would not. Glad your son had a better time in his new school.


  4. Hi, Chris!

    Freckles and Ma Barker! They look like they have been disturbed in the midst of some underhanded conspiracy. And there’s that Yin/Yang face again – extraordinary. Sir Poopy in all his, umm, glory! I suspect that when Sir Poopy was adorned in his summer haircut the wildlife was so enthralled at what they beheld that he had quite the advantage. Oh, Sir Poopy – ye served thy master well.

    What gorgeous steel flushing and capping. Gorgeous is the appropriate word because it is the artist builder who has made that shed so impressive. Does it get very hot inside those steel sheds in the summer? Beautiful table – hi, Toothy!

    The fruit wines are such lovely colors. Do you leave them out in the sun? It doesn’t compromise production?

    It is so much fun to see the ‘roo and joey and if I hadn’t known that was a wombat I would have thought that it was a hippopotamus.

    The purple and blue flowers are especially beautiful right now.

    What are soap nuts?


  5. Hi Chris,

    Ollie is now as large as Salve and Leo. I forget, how old is he. Can’t believe your luck finding matching materials for the shed.


  6. Yo, Chris – “Ripped from today’s headlines…” :-). A rather disquieting article about plunging oxygen levels along our coast …

    LOL. I caught the title reference to the new-ish film, “Meg.” It’s due out on DVD any day. Not my usual cup of tea, but I’ve been checking the library catalog, to get on the hold list, early. Today’s ear worm? Cue ominous “Jaws” theme.

    Might be one of those folk tales, but dogs supposedly “grow into their feet.” A puppy with enormous feet might become a very large dog. Or, not.

    I see another children’s book in your future. “The Magic Tip Shop.” A little lesson in recycling. And, waste. The outdoor table is a winner. The Editor and you are too cleaver by half. A phrase I’ve never quit understood, but haven’t gotten around to looking up, yet. 🙂 So. Inquiring Minds Want to Know. Which came first. The pavers, or the width of the door? They look made to order. Lucky accident? Happens. They look quit smart.

    Your corn and strawberries look to be banging along. I envy you your iris. I asked the Master Gardener about a 3×3 patch to plant some iris. He did not commit.

    I’m reading Joe Queenan’s “One for the Books.” He has a chapter on book reviews. There’s a lot of literary mutual back scratching that goes on. You never know when someone you’ve reviewed or provided a blurb for, might be doing the same for (to?) you. And, the high end literary world is rather a hot house. Never know when you might end up at a cocktail party or lecture panel with an author you quietly loath. Maybe Berendt was never aware of my scathing review. Then again, if I ran into him at a literary party, there might be an uncomfortable silence. Maybe a drink dashed in my face. Beaten to the floor with a cane? All the above have happened, somewhere, sometime. Some authors subscribe to “clipping services”. That forward on to them any mention of them, in media. Cont.

  7. Cont. I finally got around to seeing if my book reviews are on line. My. There they all were, in the Olympian newspapers archives. But, you had to do all that folderol of signing up with user names and passwords. Another day. Maybe.

    Cemetery management is interesting. They evolve, over time. I’m sure there were cases of “Well, we can squeeze one more in.” And, before you know it, they’re up to triple occupancy. There was the ossuary. If you had an area of neglected or abandoned graves, they might be cleared and all the bones chucked in a room or tunnel. Some were arranged in rather artful displays of bones. Macabre to our modern eye, but no big deal in the past.

    I see the water lilly plate came in other color schemes. If it wasn’t blue, it probably wouldn’t have caught my eye. The condition is perfect, except for a bit of crazing on the back. To be expected in old pottery pieces. Tolerance to crazing varies from piece to piece, person to person. Even though I got it for half what the owner paid for it, she seemed happy that she didn’t have to repack it. And, that it was “going to a good home.” That it would be displayed on a wall.

    Oh, yeah. After the Romans left Britain, a lot of pottery shows up with repairs. I’m sure tears were shed when great grandma’s amphora or pitcher finally shattered beyond repair.

    Hmmm. Deliberate auction strategies. None that I detected. But, I was pretty close to the front and don’t tend to crane around. “Running up.” OK. Your bidding on something, and it’s gone beyond what your willing to pay. But one person is bidding against you, and you run a few more bids. Just so they won’t get something on the cheap. It can be a dangerous game. You’re libel to end up paying more for something than you had intended. Didn’t happen. Kind of mean? Yes. Guilty? Yes. I think my reputation in the sales rooms (if I have one) is that I’m an aggressive, but unpredictable bidder. I don’t do all that up and down nonsense with my bid card. I’m old. I get confused. I hold up my card until I win the item. Or, it hits a level I’m unwilling to pay. I don’t see many people doing that. Don’t know why.

    I’ve seen some jade (there was some in the auction) where there are freely moving handle rings. And it’s all carved out of one piece of jade. I’ve seen ivory balls within balls, all carved out of one piece of ivory. Jade is one of those areas that’s a mine field. Is it jade, soapstone or nephrite? Jade that’s been dyed another color to make it more desirable (and, expensive). A couple of times, the Asian art expert said of a piece, “Is it jade? You decide.” One person’s “jade” may not be another person’s jade.

    I introduced the new turtle to the other turtles (I now have four. Need one more) and told them to behave and get along.

    I don’t know about the banana muffins. General polling seems to think a buck a piece is too much to charge. But, given the time and quality of the ingredients… I’ll try a batch on the first day. Maybe. If they don’t sell for a buck per, I’ll just eat muffins for a few days.

    Is there anything better than the music of Abba? :-). I watched “Mama Mia, Here We Go Again”, last night. Shake that tambourine! There was tango! Though a rather sedate tango, given the age of Cher and Andy Garcia. With the subtitles on, I could sing along! There are reasons I live alone. Lew

  8. Hello Chris
    Like Lew I also thought that a puppy’s paws indicated its future size.
    Loved your photos and am so envious of your approaching Summer, it is freezing cold here at present with an icy wind.
    The neighbour who sorted my internet access , was promoted to ‘friend’ because he was so kind and helpful. My access is faster now as well as he cleared out a lot of stuff that I never use. He declined any reimbursement but was happy to have some homemade flapjacks to take away.


  9. @ Lew:

    You had a comment yesterday (last week’s post) about cleaning books. The other day I discovered that a hundred-year-old set of my son’s books had mildewed over the last horribly damp month or so. I felt a bit responsible as it was in my “territory” (a downstairs study). Luckily, the mildew had already dried. Youtube told me to brush it off and then clean what remained with alcohol. They look good as new. I wonder if the very fine quality covers and binding made it easier? Also, I wonder if they mildewed because they were right next to a window-unit air conditioner?


  10. Hi Chris,

    Here is hoping Grand Designs keeps coming on Youtube – it is by far the easiest way to watch it. But you do sometimes get tricked by spammers that put it in a tiny window, or try and embed a link to some (presumably) dodgy video streaming site.

    I must say, 80% of the builds on that show I feel could have accomplished much the same effect for half the price. Just knock the size back 20-30%, make those custom windows a little smaller and don’t assume council approval is immediately forthcoming would cover most of it! I also loved that woodsman cottage. I think he ended up spending less than $30k, but he did have access to unlimited timber and used mostly recycled materials. A great result. I also liked the beehive house. It had the polished trunk of a tree in the middle holding the roof up. Great stuff.

    Let me know if you hear more about the Auckland Green Wizards – I am up that way reasonably frequently.


  11. /cont

    Ollie does look huge! Did I understand you correctly that he eats 3x more than the rest of your dogs combined? 😮

    Our bearded irises came out last week too! I also put 1/2 a dozen tomato plants in the ground last week as well. So far going well, don’t know when they will fruit though. At the moment, they are maybe 20cm high and starting to settle in (I sprouted them indoors). Getting great growth out of the brassicas, they are all starting to heart and so far, no sign of the dreaded moths! If they can stay away for another two weeks we will be home free 🙂

    Lew – I think $1 for a banana muffin is a bargain, unless they are sold in packs of 6 or similar.

    Tried my hand at a basic butter cake this morning (one for work colleagues and one for Mrs Damo). I have never baked one until last week, which didn’t rise well. Todays two both had a good rise, but were slightly over-baked – still good with chocolate icing however. I thought they needed a bit more time in the oven, as the cake was still “singing” to me when I put my head next to it, perhaps the oven needed to be 10 degrees lower or something…


  12. My word, Ollie is a handsome lug. Clearly, your home made concoctions are suiting him very well, however large the quantities.

    Your place looks so tidy and organizied! Beautiful enclosures and terraces and plantings. I despair of ours, full of old dog bones, planting refuse, ramshackle tables and various projects strewn about, overgrown beds.

    A very elegant table, too. Wish we had a tip place we could visit. But then the project elements would just be strewn about for months.

    This weekend we had a plunge in temperatures and an accumulation of snow in the mountains. Unheard of in October. There was ice on the car, but I don´t think the garden had an actual frost. We lit the woodstove this weekend, and I´m now making ketchup with the green tomatoes.

    A very happy Samhain to all!

  13. Hi Pam,

    I believe that I may never look at Scritchy boss dog the same way again. And Boney M did a great song about that particular character!

    Alas for the loss of Sir Poopy. He had such a good way with the humans and the local wildlife that I mourn his passing. I occasionally mention to the editor that I shall not be content until we have managed to obtain at least five dogs of the Spitz family (all at once, mind you). Alas the collection will not be complete until then…

    It indeed gets quite hot inside those steel sheds (and any shed for that matter, other than the chicken enclosure which is very well ventilated) during the summer months. There is a reason I chose locally manufactured components for the solar power system! And many thanks. Gene Logsdon wrote that farms back in his very early days used to be beautiful and take aesthetics into consideration – and I see no reason why such an outcome does not deserve to be repeated!

    Toothy (and Gangle freckles) says hi!

    Haha! The brew mistress keeps her secrets. 🙂 As a lesser soul, my understanding is that brews from a mash have a lower alcohol percentage (sake and beer for example) and they do not tolerate the sun because acetobacteria takes over the brew and produces acetone (a notable fragrance). Sugar based wines with champagne yeast are much higher in alcohol percentage and as such the yeast is a bit more robust and can handle the additional energy from sunlight. A lot of science goes into this stuff! 😉

    Say hello to Fatso the wombat. It is akin to having a large sow running around the orchard grazing upon the grass… Don’t mess with her business…

    Thank you! Grow as big a diversity of plants as you can manage. It seems to work.

    Soap nuts. There are a few varieties of those, and one that you might be able to grow in your shady forest environment are horse chestnuts.



  14. Hi Margaret,

    You are an absolute saint for having two dogs the size of Ollie! 🙂 He’s a bit over one year old now – and growing fast. He was unfortunately bitten by a spider or ant this morning and has been a bit sooky. Sir Poopy in contrast was very stoic. I chucked an antihistamine into Ollie’s guts and he recovered within minutes, but looks a bit sleepy…



  15. Chris:

    May I never hear Boney M’s song . . .

    And 5 Spitz at once sounds like a hellish situation to me.

    The horse chestnut – if it’s Aesculus hippocastanum – is a beautiful tree and I would like to have one, but I don’t think that I am going to be able to find one. 🙂


  16. Hi Lewis,

    Oh my, your ocean ends up looking like the Dead Sea for a few weeks per year. Ouch. I wonder if the life in there has had enough time to adapt to those sorts of conditions? Probably not. Anyway, not to worry, the winds at surface level are slowing too, which may be a contributing factor to that matter: Stilling: The curious case of land wind speed decline. I should forward that onto Cliff Mass…

    Hehe! You got my little joke with the title. Funny stuff. Yeah, the film is not quite to my taste either, but you know I watched the trailer and it looked fun. Have you had a chance to watch Crazy Rich Asians yet?

    Inge mentioned that about dogs growing into their feet too. I’m having a very late dinner this evening (10pm) as I had to work late tonight and the Meg is sitting at my left hand side (my right hand dog is Sir Scruffy) and trying to plead for chunks of my dinner. Have the canines no shame at all? They were fed hours ago! And I gave them each a small chunk of my orange with chocolate muffin (it’s good, but maybe not as good as your banana muffin).

    I quite like the sound of that story: The Magic Tip Shop! The young lady who fronts the customers there is doing more for the environment than most people. We were shaking our heads in disbelief at the sheer waste of society. I reckon many kids get stressed out about climate change and all that gear but whilst I was there I saw a couple of teenagers eyeing off a push bike and making plans for its re-purposing. My gut feel is that waste is only possible because it is actually possible to be wasteful. And just because others are wasteful…

    The table came up a treat didn’t it! We were really happy with the outcome. I’ve met people with half a brain and I’m not sure that it did them any good. Well that was interesting, because I had no idea either what the saying meant. Apparently it is a 19th century exaggeration for effect but has older roots.

    The door came first, then the frame for the door was set into concrete. Then finally the pavers just fitted nicely, although I never really thought to check that in advance as I could have cut one of the pavers (using a diamond tipped blade) so that it was all a neat fit. In essence, it was a lucky accident that they all fitted nicely.

    Not good. How does the Garden Goddess stand on the matter of a small 3×3 bed for irises? You may need a political wedge? Delightful plants and very reliable.

    Joe Queenan. Well, what a fascinating concept. Imagine spending a year reading books that he knew he’d probably hate. I can’t imagine sitting down and reading fifty shades of dull text, but whatever gets him going. So go on, tell me just how obsessive is the author about books? Ooo. Ouch, I guess the whole rule of do unto others applies here as it does everywhere. Universal applicability might be a good way to describe that rule.

    Well, it is funny that you mention the clipping service because a commenter once arrived here out of the blue who smelled to me a little bit like a disgruntled author. I did raise some good points which were deftly ignored by said person…

    I just let Ollie out to go to the toilet, and I had to accompany him of course, as there are a few kangaroos down in the paddock below the house, and it smells like rain and dust to me outside. Later in the week the weather will turn warm and tropical… How weird is that?

    Not to stress, if I have to sign in, then I have to create an account and the whole thing would be public then, and we’d all sit around day after day reviewing your reviews, which sounds all a bit odd. Imagine if we posted a review, of your review. Our collective brains would surely all explode!

    I wonder about that too! Yeah, new release of sites in an old cemetery… It all sounds a bit dodgy to me, but then in a few centuries time will anybody care? Maybe, but probably not. Did you end up selecting the site in your green cemetery? It is a bit macabre to our perception isn’t it? I guess there is a sense of permanence in our psyche which is perhaps not backed up by reality… Why do you think that we feel that way?

    It was the blue colour that tipped me off to your acquisitive intentions. 🙂 But yeah, crazing happens on all porcelain. I guess it is a natural material and may shrink and expand over time given the conditions that it is stored in. I assume pottery recovered from archaeological digs have to be preserved from further damage somehow? Hey, I’d be in tears too about losing great grandma’s pitcher too if it was irreplaceable. I have a dark suspicion that that sense of loss will be known in the future. It would make for a good future story?

    I like your strategy of staying near to the front of the auction action. I’d be up the back and keeping an eye on the bids and the competition, not that you can really do anything about that. I bought a house once at an auction and it was a nerve wracking experience, and in the end I just had to outbid my competitor and that was an expensive strategy. The house was a total dump too as not one single room was usable in its state as presented at the auction.

    And yeah, there is no point selling something to a vendors dodgy bid. Hey, holding up the card and keeping it there is a great idea as it signals intention to those that know you, and the vendor can’t really predict when you’ll drop your card and miss out on the sale. Have you ever had a vendor try and talk you into buying something post auction that you’d previously given up on? Not a strong hand that…

    I frankly don’t know much about jade, other than seeing the green stone for sale about the traps. Your story makes me think that staying away from the stone is probably not a bad idea.

    Ha! Well, down here where food costs more, one dollar would be a bargain for a muffin. I pay about $4.50 for each muffin that I consume. They’re worth it. So no, go with your gut feeling as quality items speak for themselves, unless grandma’s cake stall a few tables down undercuts you. Then it is on for young and old! Take no prisoners!!!! Oh, where is this all coming from? The market will pay what the market will pay.

    Spandex! Yes, there was quite a bit of that in the 70’s and 80’s. Hehe! Hey, I remember when Abba landed down under way back in the day for a tour. They were massive. Great voices too.



  17. Hi Inge,

    I just had to go and check Ollie’s paws as I’ve begun to feel a little bit nervous that the canine might get bigger… There seems to be a bit of proportion there, but I’ve never known a dog this big before. He make up for his size with a delightful personality.

    Thank you and I shall do my best to keep you entertained with photos of distant summers, produce and flowers! 🙂 Brr! I feel cold just reading your description. Did I mention that this year, the days have been warmer, but the nights have been cold as… Last night was a three wool blanket night.

    Lucky you! Your neighbour sounds very handy, and I would appreciate the flapjacks too. 🙂 Unfortunately computer repair duties falls onto my shoulders here… The editor apparently used to work with computers for many years, but it is not her area at all. It has been something of a long running joke between us. 🙂



  18. Hi Damo,

    Yeah, many thanks for the suggestion as it never even occurred to me to check utube! And I wonder about the copyright issues with that too. Dunno.

    Exactly! Absolutely! And I totally agree with you! Most of the builds are too big – and the people setting that train wreck into motion think that they’ll manage to get a different outcome from everyone who has gone before them. Thus one of the enjoyable aspects of the show. And it is not like Kevin doesn’t call them out on their BS…

    Yeah, the woodsman did have access to a large forest with which to construct the house. Trees are a bit of an advantage. They do have Lucas Mills down here you know, and years ago I met a bloke in Tasmania (your old stomping ground) on Bruny Island who built several cottages using his own milled timber. It never even occurred to me that that was possible until then. It was a bit of a Doh! moment for me.

    The beehive house was very cool indeed, and using the tree trunk as a massive central support was pretty clever. The building surveyors down here might get a bit weirded out legally by that one and might require some sort of test certificate for the tree…

    Exactly, I’ll keep you posted on updates. I am certain you’d enjoy the group – if it gets off the ground which I’m fairly sure it will.

    Oh yeah. Him hungry! And yes, it is three times what the other dogs combined eat. I frankly wonder where it all goes. He was bitten by an ant or spider this morning…

    I reckon our areas are running more or less at about the same time. The altitude here makes up for the southerly latitude there. The tomatoes here have only just popped their heads out of the ground, but I did start them from seed outside. We’ve been putting some brain cells towards why we start tomatoes inside and I can’t give any good reason for it. The transplant shock really knocks the plants around.

    I’ll reckon you’ll be fine with the cabbage moths. I saw some very small white moths flying around, so who knows?

    And $1 for a muffin is very cheap indeed.

    Chocolate icing covers a multitude of baking sins (and imperfections). You can use a pin or needle to stab into the centre of the cake to see whether the guts of the thing are cooked. It is a difficult thing to achieve and baking is a real art. How did it taste though?



  19. Hi Coco,

    Ollie sends his fellow Fluffy Breo, cordial greetings and tail wags! He loves his food…

    Thank you, yeah we decided many years ago to be as neat as we possibly can here. And there are the bushfire considerations too, so things and systems have to work when they are called upon to do so. Your place looks beautiful and I love all the stone buildings. And your garden beds are huge and getting huger and more productive!

    Ah, we have an understanding about not bringing things back here that will not be used or useful in the future. There are some properties around here where people feel differently, and I can’t say that I’d enjoy that level of chaos, but you know everyone is different.

    Good to hear that you are using the green tomatoes. It is really quite a tasty sauce. Brr! All this talk of cold weather is making me feel cold! Brrr! Ouch frost… No good that stuff.



  20. Yo, Chris – Maybe Ollie brushed up against some radioactivity? We were talking a few weeks ago about all those cheesey black and white sci-fi movies from the 50’s. Where all kinds of animals and insects got VERY large. He’ll be having wombats for appetizers and woofing down kangaroos, whole. 🙂

    “The Stilling” Soon to be a trashy horror novel or straight to DVD movie. Still (pun intended), it is concerning. We depend a lot on our on shore flow to keep us cooler in summer.

    If I watch it, I’ll get “Crazy Rich Asians” from the library. They’ll probably get it in about 9 months.

    When I fall face first into lucky accidents, I’m the first to admit I’m not lucky by half. :-). That whatever worked out wasn’t through any forethought or planning on my part. Dumb luck, comes to mind. Just the kind of modest guy I am.

    Oh, Queenan is pretty obsessive about his books. Or, spends a lot of time thinking about what he reads and why. He’s witty, droll and caustic. Writes well. Of course, he makes his living off of books. He wrote a few other things that were well received, but I haven’t read them. He talks a lot about bookstores. And how books might mean something to you at one point in your life, but not at another. The pitfalls of recommending books … and having them recommended to you.

    I have most of the reviews in hard copy. Some of them I read and wonder “Did I write that?” People talk about authors having a “voice” or “finding a voice.” I became aware of that, doing the book reviews. It’s a bit different than the “voice” I have here. When I did the reviews, I’d sit up very straight at the keyboard, throw my head back like a concert grand pianist and expound from somewhere “up here.” Not talking down to people. Just percolating along from a different space. And, if the opportunity presented itself, throw in a bit of humor. Cont.

  21. Cont. Well, my cemetery plot is all picked out. Well, yes, it’s “green” as far as color goes. But not one of those places where they leave the corpses lying about to decompose. As far as permanence goes, well, let me lie in piece for 100 years or so. Beyond that, don’t care.

    There was something interesting in the auction. Three different porcelain shards that had been used as tops for metal boxes. Something that broke but had such value, monetary or sentimental, that they owner just couldn’t toss it out. Some quilts are kind of like that. Made out of wedding dresses or favorite shirts or pants.

    Buying jade (or, what passes for jade). I guess if you think the price is right, and like the item, it really doesn’t make much difference what it is. Besides, even “expert” opinions may vary.

    The muffins I make (more of a cup cake) are 2″ at the bottom and 3″ at the top. Plus, they swell. I bet the one’s you have are bigger. There’s also “minis”. Bite sized ones. Mine are 8 bite muffins :-). Cut the muffins in half, cut the halves in fourths. 8 bites.

    Ollie will become a legend in the Macedon Mountains. “The Hound of the Ferngladeians”. The game is afoot! Lew

  22. @ Pam – I’m surprised you were able to salvage the mildewed books. Usually, when they get that smell, there’s nothing but to toss them out. Wrinkled pages. Mold. What you smell is spores. If something is really valuable, they can be freeze dried and … something.

    Yeah, it was probably the air conditioner that created enough humidity near the books. There’s actually recommended temps and humidity for books. Lew

  23. @ Damo – Frosting hides a multitude of sins :-).

    When I moved in here, it seemed things out of the oven were either underdone or seemed to take a long time to bake. I got a few cheap oven thermometers. According to them, the oven is about 10 degrees cooler than the display. So, I just set it 10 degrees higher, when I bake.

    I also got a couple for the freezers, and one for the fridge. Just to keep an eye on things. Lew

  24. Hi Chris,
    Well we’ve mostly had large dogs though two would have been medium sized. Ollie could still grow for another year but it seems more like dogs fill out in their 2nd year. Both dogs get 1 cup of chow morning and evening along with their home cooked goodies i.e. bone broth, cooked and chopped organs – stuff like that. Of course Salve often supplements with mice or chipmunks. I applaud you and the editor actually making all their food. Sir Poopy looks so cute in that picture – also a little fox like. Good that Ollie is on the mend.

    Doug has gone on a very low carb diet due to some not so great bloodwork numbers. We went out for 1/2 price pizza last night and he just mostly ate the top off his pizza and brought all the crust home for the dogs. Pizza crust is one of Leo’s favorites. He’s been on such a diet before and short term it’s a pretty good thing. I wonder how long it’ll last this time…. Our furnace needs a major repair – and it’s only 5 years old.


  25. Chris,

    Yes, I plan on keeping you updated on the success of the Project of Planting Massive Quantities of Leaves.

    Ollie looks like he’s bound to be one big dog. Thor, the Irish wolfhound/yellow lab mix, was about 45 kg when we got him. Yes, he ate a lot.

    I’m with you on the Spitz idea. I would’ve enjoyed a combination of 5 Spitzes and Samoyeds. Although, they would likely run the place they’re so smart.

    You lucked out on the goods for the shed. Well done!


  26. Hello again
    Our icy wind has died down thank goodness.
    You are so lucky to have shops at your tips. We don’t and they won’t let you have anything. Son got a stunning sofa when he saw it about to be tipped. The owners were happy for him to have it; a few seconds later and there would have been nothing that he/they could do. The owners told him that they still had the cushions at home if he wanted them. So he got those as well. I do love it when the human race is nice.

    @ Pam and Lew
    Oh dear ‘mouldy books’ I have had a few of those. Okay if they aren’t too far gone.


  27. Hi Pam,

    I promise not to subject you to that particular earworm. Other earworms may prove my general lack of credibility as I may share them… Hehe!

    Five Spitz at one time is admittedly a bit dodgy, and can you imagine the chaos? Just in case you didn’t think that such a thing was possible… I give you: Litter of five rescued Pomeranians. I note that DJ was not as horrified as you, but still mildly horrified at the thought of so many free independent thinkers (FIT)!

    It is the same tree. I realise that you may not have enough room for such a large tree, but still I was wondering why they were unavailable in your part of the world? I see them used as street trees down here.



  28. Hi Lewis, Margaret, DJ, and Inge,

    Thanks for the lovely comments but it’s that time again for the mid week hiatus. I promise to reply tomorrow.

    Lewis – Went out to an old Greek restaurant this evening, in and older part of town. The food was good and I shall tease you by mentioning: spicy lamb sausages and another plate of spit roasted lamb with fetta, olives, lettuce, tomato, and onions. With a side of pita bread, and you may have really enjoyed the yoghurt and garlic mix. Talk about total yummo! It was probably a bit too much food from hindsight (a wonderful perspective to be sure), but the quality was superb and out of respect for the dead sheep, we ate the lot. We’re now full up to our eyeballs and feeling rather pleased with our culinary efforts. 🙂 Surely there must be awards for such efforts? No?

    Strange thoughts occasionally pop into my head every now and then. I was thinking about hot air balloon rides. Like what would you do if you had to go to the toilet high up in the air in a basket? That would be my fate. Or what about if everyone decided to move to one side of the basket to check out some fascinating landmark? It all sounds rather horrid, doesn’t it?

    It must have been because I read an article online today about toilets in remote and exotic places: The best, and worst, toilets all travellers with have to deal with

    I better go, will speak tomorrow.



  29. Chris:

    Aren’t those Pomeranians cute – all white except for that one in the middle who looks like a cartoon that I cannot think of.

    I just looked – I can buy horse chestnut seeds here. I guess I thought that maybe they were too, umm, foreign . . .


  30. Yo, Chris – Can’t say I’ve had a lot of Greek food, other than the odd bit, here and there. Feta cheese. I worked with a woman once who made stuffed grape leaves. That was decades ago. Must have been good as I still remember them. I think I have her recipe, somewhere.

    Halloween, today. Got the decorations up. Didn’t want to rush into anything. Oh, well. They can stay up til Thanksgiving.

    Thank you for “Bogs of the World.” For that you get … the Romans. :-). They had pissoir outside of fuller (cloth cleaning) establishments. Sometimes, the pissoir was a repurposed amphora. How’s that for recycling? Urine was used as part of the cleaning process. Usually in big vats. Stomped on by slaves. Pity the poor slave who was consigned to the urine pits. “You’ve been a very naughty slave, so it’s three days in the urine pits, for you!”

    I’ve always though bidets are oh, so civilized. When I entered the wash facilities at the retreat, I commented, “Are there bidets?” Luckily, there were a few blokes around who were well traveled enough to get the joke.

    The long-drop. Also used in reference to hangmen. At first I couldn’t figure out what they were talking about, as here we just call them “out houses.” I’ve also read that in pioneer times (or, at least, pre-indoor plumbing times) when they were full, you’d just dig another hole and move them. After a time, a fruit tree was planted in the old spot.

    Pity the poor castle dweller. Sometimes just a drafty wooden affair that clung to the battlements. “Results” just dripped down the exterior castle wall, into the moat. Hmm. I think there were also facilities built right into the stone walls. They have a name… what is it?

    The weather was quit nice, yesterday. I had to run to the library, and noticed earlier that there were quit a few leaves in the gutters. So, I threw my gloves and a couple of big plastic bags into the truck and scooped up leaves. They’ve been dumped in harvested areas, around the garden.

    Baked up two large squash, last night. They’ll be pureed, measured out, and bagged for the freezer.

    Over the next week we’re having three storm systems roll through. Maybe some wind. Warm temperatures. I watched a DVD, last night. “Rise of the Superstorms.” About the year Harvey, Irma and Maria rolled through. I can see a slow depopulation of the SE United States in our future. Lew

  31. Hello again
    I just read the toilet article. Have used most varieties except for the Japanese. However I found the one that I liked least, at a Finnish campsite. If one was walking behind the toilet block, one had a view of all the bottoms! There was a long open area. This made it essential, in my opinion, that one wasn’t seen to enter. I didn’t mind being viewed so long as the viewer didn’t know that it was me. We also had to wait and see who entered as we didn’t know the words for men or women, there were no little pictures on the doors.


  32. Hi Lewis, Margaret, DJ, Inge, and Pam,

    As sometimes happens work trumps fun – and this sad circumstance has occurred today. I promise to reply tomorrow when things will be quieter. But until then…

    Lewis – It was pretty hot here today and I got up early and just worked all day long (the paid stuff). Anyway, these things happen and I decided yesterday that both the editor and I will clear our plates of paid work next week and just have a quieter week. Of late it just has not slowed – although I’m not complaining, just as you near to the end of a very busy time, it is not a bad idea to take some time off. It’s complicated.

    It was very hot here today 33’C / 91’F which is not out of the ordinary for this time of year. But the thing is it feels very tropical and a thunderstorm may hit here tonight. I better get outside now and spread some of the coffee grounds around the farm so that the rain can wash them into the soil. The grass has gotten quite long in only the past fortnight…



  33. Chris:

    How do you do this: ” . . . the editor and I will clear our plates of paid work next week.”? If you take off doing your paid work for a week don’t your clients get rather frustrated?


  34. Hi Margaret,

    My experience has been the polar opposite to yours in that I’ve only ever had small to medium sized dogs. You’re definitely onto something though. Do you reckon in your experience that larger dogs have more pleasant personalities than their smaller to medium sized canine peers?

    We’ve got the process of making the dog food down to about half an hour per week for two people. As you would expect, it is a pretty intense half of work, but we can get the job done consistently in that time. I can see why country kitchens are big with lots of bench space. I’m considering getting another and slightly larger outdoor electric oven for baking things outside during the hot weather. It is very steamy and tropical feeling here today. About 1/5th of an inch of rain fell this morning – and then the sun came out… It’s a jungle out there…

    Sorry to hear about the blood work. Food can be a complex subject, although I sometimes try to encourage people to eat more leafy greens. I was reading in a book this morning about the introduction of kale to the US way back at the beginning of the twentieth century, and that stuff is awesome. On the other hand it is very hard to obtain fresh leafy greens for most people these days.

    Doug probably won himself some fans with the pizza crust! Dogs love pizza crust… Ollie gets a bit drooly…

    Diets are a cultural construct too, and I guess that is how things roll.

    Your furnace story reminds me a lot about the replacement of the wood box here. That little story cost me about $8k which I was not expecting. You’re only new to the house so you don’t really know how the last owners treated the furnace. Does it have a warranty of any sorts? And can it be repaired? We’d damaged the old wood box so badly that it was beyond repair. The damage was 100% our fault and that is something we share equally (both the editor and I did bad things to that poor original wood box). Mind you, the new wood box is as good as the day it was installed (after two winters). I like to think of that original device as a learner wood box…



  35. Hi DJ,

    Thank you, and definitely I am very interested in how your leaf experiment goes. In particular, I’ll be curious to know at what point in the year do the leaves break down? And I do wonder whether the leaves have some sort of blanketing effect on the soil over winter – if only because they capture air at the soil level underneath the snow. Dunno. Winters are warmer here, although comparatively to the rest of the continent, they’re considered quite cold. But what I note about the leaves that fall in late autumn is that by early winter, the fungi begin breaking down the leaves (from deciduous trees – as the forest is ever green, except when it is blackened after a fire) and you can see the mycelium hyphae attaching themselves to the underside of the leaves like little white root systems.

    Thor is a great name for an Irish wolf hound! Yes, what Thor says, goes… 🙂

    Hehe! Yeah, the place would be a complete barrel of silliness with five Spitz’s! A few years ago, the editor was reading a UK blog where she spotted a photo of a canal boat that had five of the beasts running around the decking. Yes, who was in control of that boat? And I recall that they were running at the camera!

    Thanks. I’ll hopefully finish off the work on the shed tomorrow. 🙂 And then it is done and onto the next project.



  36. Hi Inge,

    Did you get another blast of cold air from the north east? A year or two back, and I can’t remember where, but I recall that in your part of the world (and Cornwall from memory) had a really nasty blast of cold Arctic Siberian air which was accompanied by a huge snowfall. And then the supermarket shelves were rapidly depleted and were very difficult to refill due to the snow. I recall that you were quite nonplussed about it, but others were nowhere near as prepared as yourself. It constantly amazes me how little staple foods that people store. Mind you, I’ve now consumed the last of last summers preserved apricots and this year looks like a very poor apricot harvest, although peaches seem to be doing very well. One of the reasons I grow a huge diversity of plants.

    That unfortunately happens here too. And I’m fortunate to live near to that particular tip which is run by the council to the south of here. The local place is a completely different story and the occasionally very aggressive bloke that runs it refuses to let anybody scrounge through the waste metal and he cites insurance reasons. I guess that the waste metal is sold off to China, although I don’t really know. As to the bloke who runs it, well I’ve heard rumours, and I no longer go there -and once he approached me in a very threatening manner which I thought would end in blows over a fairly innocuous incident. Some people are best avoided.

    I like it too when the human race is nice. The editor recounted a story today that she heard on a podcast about trauma surgeons. Apparently, when asked about the human condition based on their experience, they largely avoid getting upset with others in that they witness some of the outcomes of that activity.



  37. Hi Pam,

    I am unsure of the cartoon that you referred to, but for some reason my mind is coming back to the Pepé Le Pew character of Warner Brothers cartoons…

    As to the provenance of plants, well that surely is a complete hornets’ nest of a discussion! 🙂 I am neither learned enough or ideologically driven enough to dive deep into those waters, and I’ll tell you a little secret: Whilst others are fighting about what should go where, I’m just busy planting out as great a diversity of plants as I can encourage – simply to see what works. The majority of most peoples diets are derived from plants and animals that evolved elsewhere, and I usually mention that from time to time. And anyway, I managed to discover a tiny little self seeded horse chestnut today!



  38. Hi Inge,

    Absolutely, the Japanese toilets would be quite frightening to behold and I wouldn’t know which button to push! The outcomes of that act might possibly be quite uncertain…

    The Finnish toilets certainly present some practical problems, and I agree with your observations and would feel likewise. I guess such an arrangement would be dictated by the culture? Dunno. Certainly little graphics indicating what is what and who goes where is a good idea.

    I recall rather vividly the exchange of money when I had to use toilets in India, or perhaps it may have been Nepal. The bank notes should probably have come with a health warning! I did become rather unwell in India, but soon recovered.



  39. Hi Pam,

    Absolutely! Not only is small business rather poorly remunerated and facing ever increasing costs, but people expect you to be available 24/7. Under such conditions, getting a holiday is not as easy a task to manage as you would believe. We had to work extra hard this week simply in order to have an uninterrupted week off next week.

    I can’t complain, if only because people used to work heaps less in the middle ages… 😉

    On the other hand, from some perspective it is nice to be wanted, although I’d have to suggest that very few accountants serve the market that we do, probably because they can’t afford to do so – and it is an area that needs the work done. Oh well, mine is not to grumble, but to accept my lot and be happy. 🙂

    I’m not sure much work around the farm here will be done this week! Hehe! You may have to provide some understanding and I shall make up for it in the following week. Yeah, maybe I will! Hehe!

    Hope it isn’t getting too cold yet in your corner of the world. It is hot here.



  40. Hi Chris,

    I think in general larger dogs are more laid back. That’s just my observation from our own dogs over the years as well as families and neighbors. Small dogs tend to bark more too. My sister’s dog is small and at ten is still a bundle of energy and has the most horrendous sharp bark. This is especially unfortunate as they live in a condo in the city.

    The furnace is repairable but will be expensive. Our repair guy believes it was installed incorrectly. There may be some warranty coverage. As our fireplace only heats one room we sure need it working.

    Enjoyed the toilet article. Hope you and the editor get that time off.


  41. Hi Lewis,

    Cool! The castle privies were fascinating – and it is good to read that local farmers made use of the fertiliser resource being dumped outside the castle walls. Of course the privies that emptied straight into the local waterways seems a little bit dodgy to my mind, but from a strategic point of view, it would have been extraordinarily hard to put a castle under siege when the local waterways were polluted with manure. Imagine just how many sick troops you’d have to deal with – and they’d all have to drink the water sooner or later. I wonder how many sieges were broken by that simple expedient? I did rather enjoy Henry III’s most eloquent demand for a less stinky privy! How would the privy council withstand the stench? I’m honestly not sure whether the whole privy council / toilet thing is some sort of historical joke? It certainly sounds that way to me.

    David Fairchild noted in his trip to China way back in the day that the orchards of China were replete with plentiful manure which offended his sensibilities. 🙂 Mind you, he appears to have become rather fond of the mangosteen and sourced Loquats (I have a few growing here) from that part of the world.

    Fetta cheese is remarkably easy to make and I gather that it has a similar background to that of cottage cheese which is milk or yoghurt cut with the acid of a lemon (or other such source). I quite like the taste and texture which is not that dissimilar from tofu but a little bit firmer with the fetta.

    Stuffed grape leaves sounds pretty nice. Last Christmas someone served up stuffed olives and I pigged out on those as they were really tasty and then struggled getting through lunch.

    Did you eventually source the pumpkin ice cream this Halloween?

    The slave had surely done something unpleasant to have ended up with that duty with the amphora? It may surprise you, but urine is or was used in the process of making pressed wool garments which is a form of felt, but far warmer. I’m not sure whether it is still done that way these days? If you’ve ever come across a pressed wool jacket, you’ll know true toastiness on a cold winters day.

    Which it isn’t here today. The weather has been a bit freaky here as the winds blew strongly this morning and about 1/5th of an inch of rain fell. But when the sun finally poked its head out behind the clouds, far out it was hot as. And steamy. I’ve been in the Amazon jungle and it was very steamy in there too, but on days like today I can smell the vegetation going through its cycle of life and death. The smell in tropical countries is really quite epic, but then after a while you fail to notice the smell as it fades into the background. I always thought that adjustment was quite unusual in that it happens slowly without notice – unless you happen to be a Vulcan.

    Mate. I’m really enjoying the book on David Fairchild. What a character and what an epic journey! Travel back in those days was a rough affair even for those with deep pockets. The accounts of the very common and epic facial sores from the sand flies in the middle east sort of makes it understandable that some people would react to that by wanting to cover up from head to toes – and the reasons get lost in time and taken out of their original context! I’ve been bitten by sand flies and it is not a nice thing – but epic facial sores is something else altogether.

    Believe it or not, I have never, ever encountered a bidet. In all my travels, I’ve seen some pretty strange toilets – one notable setup drained directly into a verdant looking vegetable patch (noted after consuming dinner). Another had the breath of piggies emanating from under the floor as they waited for an easy feed. But never a bidet. They are very uncommon down under. I like your sense of humour!

    Yes, the hangman’s noose is an unpleasant business. I’ve never really encountered a good argument either for or against capital punishment and I’ve often wondered whether putting an end to ongoing blood feuds form part of that story? Dunno.

    The inhabitants could only pull that trick of dumping their sewage into the moat because they lived in a temperate climate. I’ll bet typhoid and cholera were rife in castles? I did notice that a plague victim on the boat of one of David Fairchild’s trips encountered a “fall” which broke his neck and everyone went about their business. Thanks for the history lesson too – I often wonder about such practical niceties. Oh, I just recalled about the amphora: I read an article about the set designer for game of thrones who appeared to rather amusingly remark that she would prefer not to encounter another medieval barrel in her next gig! I’ve never been inclined to watch that show. The books were epic. Mind you, I might be a bit contrary too because I never got into the Harry Potter series either. Believe it or not, the cover art put me off reading it.

    Nice work with the leaves. Oh yeah, I reckon they’re very valuable soil fertility items. I’ll be interested to hear how they break down in the spring.

    Had grilled asparagus (from the garden) with our own potatoes cut into thick chips and grilled for dinner tonight

    As far as my reading of the history of the SE went, there weren’t that many people living down there originally. I read a few references to that situation in the Food Explorer book. The future may look an awful lot like the past.

    Hehe! How funny were those old films? Even the toxic avenger was pretty amusing. Toxic waste, the plot device that can explain all manner of mutations… 🙂

    I hadn’t heard much about the stilling before, but then the newspapers tend to concern themselves with dire predictions of the far off future, rather than the unfolding disasters of today.

    Your library system is a constant amazement to me. Has there been any further noise about the possibility of budget cuts?

    Hehe! Nice one. Hey, what annoys me is when I’ve been extraordinarily lucky with something – and it has worked first time – and I don’t know that I should be feeling lucky. Of course as time goes on, whatever system or process it was fails – and then I confront my earlier luck, by half? Then comes the hard job of learning the intricacies of whatever system or process it was.

    Now that you mention Queenan, we haven’t had any book recommendations in a while. 🙂 No! I’m still reading the Food Explorer, then I have the Fairy Faith in Celtic Countries, and then maybe I might read something a bit more fluffy to rest my mind. One can only stand so much seriousness. You may note that whilst I write about decline in general, sometimes I venture far and wide and occasionally dip into the fluffy realms for an enjoyable break!

    It is funny you mention that about sitting up straight in your chair when you wrote the reviews, but Michael Lewis mentioned the physical contortions he did when he was selling financial products. He apparently learned that gentle art via a workmate who initially took him under his wing.

    Nooo! They do not do that at green cemeteries, do they? Imagine the furore and stink of just dumping corpses about the place. Don’t they have bears in your part of the world? Surely they would turn up for an easy feed – and then imagine the outrage? People get grumpy enough when bears eat people and all the people want to do is take a selfie with the bears. 🙂

    The story of the three pieces of porcelain highlights the complexity of people attaching values to items and how price discovery in the market place can be a brutal experience. I do note that many folks hang onto items that they believe are valuable rather than risking their belief system in the face of the uncaring market. I’ve seen a lot of that in my time and have remarked to people that the thing is worth what someone will pay for it. People don’t really like hearing that story.

    But exactly, the opposite is also true as you quite rightly point out with the jade. If you like an item – then it is worth what you will pay for it and the owner agrees to let it go for.

    Actually, and you may be rather impressed with this. The muffins are made using old coffee cups that have become broken in some way – usually the handle has broken off. They’re probably a bit bigger than yours, but not much bigger. They use a cup, not a mug.

    I like your slicing strategy with muffins. On the other hand, I cut in half and then dice small chunks off. Yum! They rarely last long. A bit of a shame that.



  42. Hi Margaret,

    Ollie is sitting on the green couch right behind me as I type this. He’s pretending to be asleep, although if I make the slightest move he lifts his head to check out what is going on. But yeah, he probably is going to get more laid back as he gets older. Being a puppy, he has a lot of energy and loves to run. A lot. I’ve started a game with him and when he enters the house, rather than him exploding with energy, we run around the island bench in the kitchen. I can get around it five times before he catches me, but the other night he’d had enough and simply changed directions and went smack into each other. Smart dog. I recall that Old Fluffy the former boss dog Pomeranian used to sort of be asleep and she’d have her eyes half open and snoring which was a bit uncanny. But then nothing ever got past her notice.

    But yeah, that is becoming my experience too as the smaller dogs make a bit more noise than Ollie. When he barks I take notice of what is going on. And Sir Scruffy – the elder – puts up with no nonsense from Ollie. He’ll do this sort of ki-ya scream and then lunge and bite Ollie – who frankly treats Sir Scruffy with the respect he deserves.

    Mostly the smaller dogs here are pretty quiet and relaxed, but dogs in apartments – or in their own in backyards – probably get bored out of their brains.

    Isn’t it always the way? Yup, important systems – such as heating – fail just as the winter weather sets in. How cold is it in your part of the world now? That story was how I discovered the failures in the solar power system, which incidentally I did a patch repair during winter – and then had to confront the larger reality two weeks back. Mind you, it has been working flawlessly since then.

    The wood box is set to heat the entire house here, but it has taken a bit of mucking around to get that outcome. What sort of fireplace do you have?

    Thanks on both counts. I feel pretty frazzled tonight and have only just made a number of tight deadlines today and yesterday (through sheer force of personality!), but I can’t complain really. Next week has the Melbourne cup public holiday on the Tuesday so it is a good week to take off work.



  43. Chris:

    My husband’s one-man business has many of the problems you do – his clients always want something, right now, this minute, they should have told him 6 weeks ago, get on it right away. And the meme is, I think, that you don’t get rich working for someone else. You don’t necessarily get rich working for yourself either.

    That poor hen. Ouch.


  44. Yo, Chris – Late today. It was the yearly bazaar, today. So, I was up at 5, baking muffins. Sold out of the muffins, so, will probably make a double batch, for tomorrow. Sold some tat and excess books. You were talking about item values. Basically, I was flogging stuff pretty cheap, as, a lot of it’s going to the op-shop if it doesn’t move. So, anything I can get out of it. Sell a lot of items at a low price, and you can end up with a bit of jingle in your pocket. Some of the Ladies ask about value on some things. The news is seldom good. 🙁

    Commenting on other’s comments. So, it was a starter wood stove. :-). There’s still a bit of leaves from when I laid them down last year. Not much, but some. I was happy to see fungi growing in my beds, as I knew it was breaking them down. I go after the slugs, but, sometimes think that they also help break things down. If only they’d limit themselves. But, given the choice between tasty greens, and dry old leaves … My friends in Idaho have 5 small dogs. An excess, I think. I don’t think they’re very well trained. I took care of them, a few times. And, even though they were outside a lot, I was still cleaning up after them. I demanded (and got) a higher wage.

    As far as the “exposure” factor and Finn toilets. Well, being half Finn … Of course, they have the whole sauna culture. But in general, like a lot of European countries (and the Japanese) nudity is matter of fact. And, those cultures seem to (somehow) make a distinction between being naked as part of everyday life, and being naked for sexual purposes. Friends who have traveled in Europe (Holland, for example) always comment on how much “more” one sees on television, even the ads. They also add that after two or three days of exposure, it all gets to be rather ho-hum.

    Oh, yes. The pumpkin ice cream landed Friday before last. I’ve done my part to make sure they sell enough so they reorder it again, next year. They’ll probably keep it going through Thanksgiving, and then it will be gone for another year. :-(. Which is probably a good thing.

    I’ve never seen a bidet, either. Other than in the occasional movie. But I understand the concept.

    The library budget problems have been kicked down the road until next year. If nothing else, it gives everyone a bit of breathing room to mull over options.

    A good popcorn read is like a good popcorn movie. Let’s the mind rest a bit. Nothing wrong with that. I don’t think. As long as either those kinds of books and movies are not a steady diet.

    As far as I know, there are no “green” cemeteries around here. I have read about an interesting cemetery, somewhere back east. South Carolina? People donate their bodies “to science” and there’s a plot of well fenced land. People are basically “buried” in all kinds of conditions, mimicking body disposal in a criminal manner. Decomposition is studied in detail, and the purpose is to give pathologists an idea of different stages of decomposition at different times, under different conditions. So that more accurate “times of death” can be figured out. Often important in solving criminal cases.

    It’s nap time. We gain an extra hour of sleep, tomorrow night. Which will be welcome after two grueling days pulling off the bazaar. Lew

  45. Chris,

    I’m interested in when the leaves will break down also. I used to dig the leaves in sometime in November or even in April, and they were mostly broken down by the time I planted in late May or early June. That was a single digging, more on the surface, not the more in depth experiment I’m trying.

    I’m expecting them to break down well before I’m ready to plant. We hit 16C today, which is very warm for this time of year. We’ve only had frost 6 times, the latest being over 3 weeks ago. With the el nino forecast, it might be mid to late December before the ground really freezes, and then it should thaw sometime in February. I’d guess that we get less than 2/3 meter of snow this year, too.

    Oh yeah, Thor tried to rule everything. He knocked me down once and gummed my neck. The neighbor’s grandchildren were visiting and saw that. They all started screaming. Let’s just say Thor never did that again…no beatings, as there are other ways to, ummmm, dissuade dogs from unwanted behavior.

    Saw your comments in another conversation re: your clients calling at the last minute needing something NOW. I get the same type of thing from the private sector in my government job. I’ve even had that happen recently from another department in my organization. Sometimes it’s unavoidable, but often it is simply lack of planning. It’s not an enjoyable part of any job when that happens.

  46. Hi Pam,

    An astute observation! Hey, back in the day when the Flintstones were on repeat on TV it used to be that the path to wealth was running your own business. Nowadays, I reckon people follow that path to get a bit of flexibility in working hours and that as you point out is not always the case.

    The path to wealth nowadays is working in large corporate or with a government department. I’d have to suggest that those entities have used their muscle to gouge fees from the rest of the population. What are you meant to do?



  47. Hi Lewis,

    Top work with the muffins! Did you up the charge for the muffins or leave them at a dollar a muffin? Selling out of muffins is a great compliment. I assume you’ll be up early again to do more baking for the next day?

    Exactly, the news is never well received. I dunno, until people test the market they really don’t know what the item is worth from a monetary perspective. Have you ever advised someone to sell something and the item ended up with a lower than expected price? I don’t really advise anyone to do that in case it blows up, which it often does when that awful beastie (reality) is confronted full on in the flesh.

    Oh yeah, twas indeed a starter wood stove. Plus Claire (or maybe it was Margaret or your good self) mentioned an excellent book on all things related to burning firewood – and we treat the wood box with kid gloves and only feed it the best quality dry fuel – that seems to work.

    Slugs are your garden nemesis aren’t they? We get them here, but something must be eating them as they’ve been too much of a problem. The wood lice (slaters) were a problem last year with the transplanted tomato seedlings – but interestingly they don’t seem to be attracted to the tomato plants raised from seed sown into the bed. There must be something in there. Do you have any thoughts on that? It beats me, but there must be some sort of difference between the two.

    Ouch! The dogs are house trained here and only ever break that rule when they are ill. Fortunately there is little carpet in the house (only a few rugs). For some reason the dogs will tend to head towards the rugs when they’re ill…

    Hehe! Yes, we often make the joke about five dogs putting someone into crazy dog person category. I knew a person with twelve dogs, and that was a crazy collective of dogs all vying for attention.

    I forget, apologies, but now that you bring to mind your heritage – what is it with those toilets? Yeah, people look pretty similar all things considered. Perhaps that is why some fixate upon the detail – and get lost there…

    That clarifies things about the bidet, and I probably wouldn’t know how to use one should I be confronted by the device. Mind you, there is probably a utube how to video…

    Great news about the budget problems being kicked down the road. Can your local councils take on debt to pay for day to day services? I read once that the city of Detroit was considering filing for bankruptcy, but for some reason I never heard anything further on the matter. I wonder what happened?

    I’m a bit uncomfortable about donating my body to science, if only because I have heard rumours about disrespectful behaviour in times gone past, and who knows how things stand today. Donating organs is another subject altogether and I guess I probably don’t have much need for some bits after I’m gone. Would I miss them anyway after the final curtain on this life has been drawn? Probably not.

    Certainly, that sort of study has interesting and useful applications. I reckon a lot of science education being nowadays is a bit dodgy. I’ve known quite a number of PhD recipients and not one of them has ever been able to explain their thesis to me – let alone the benefits of the study. I’m not against study or science, but still there are diminishing returns and we have long since passed the peak of the low hanging fruit with research.

    Lucky you! Did they discover the lost hour behind the desk? 🙂

    It was a beautiful spring day today and I got the plumbing for the new shed all done. It was interesting that I had to sort out so many leaks on the joins – as this was a new experience. I wonder if the materials are not to the same quality as previously? Dunno.





  48. Hello again
    Nothing to say really. Last night was the third in succession when the temperature went below freezing but it is supposed to warm up again tonight.


  49. Hi Chris,

    We have just a regular fireplace though it has a fan to blow more heat into the room. It c was originally wood, the old owners converted it to gas I imagine because they were really getting up in years. We were easily able to convert it back to wood.

    Excuse if you got two comments. The screen was messed up and I couldn’t see all the text.

    Weather not too cold yet but will change later in the week with a couple chances of snow in the forecast.


  50. Yo, Chris – Up at 6am and baked 3 dozen cupcakes. Only 6 left when all was said and done. Had three for lunch and will take the rest to my friend, Julia. Not the crowds they had on Saturday, in previous years. But, I did a little more than yesterday. And, got rid of “stuff.” Probably 4 or 5 boxes, out the door. After the bazaar, I immediately took a box of books that hadn’t sold, to the library, to donate. I ended up selling 3 cupcakes for $2. Seemed about right.

    Usually, I’m in the situation of people wanting me to place a value on their stuff. I can usually come up with something, just off the cuff. Usually, I disappoint and they don’t believe me. <shrug). Not my lookout. If they flog it around, they'll find out that whatever it is, is not worth much. My favorite is "My brother-in-law told me it was worth (pick out some fabulous amount.) I always say, "Did he offer you cash money? If he does, take it and run." LOL. I just happened to think, perhaps next time that happens I should just say, "Has our brother-in-law been in the antiques business, long?" 🙂

    I have a book on my hold list I'm waiting to see. "Nobody Wants Your Stuff." Sounds edifying.

    Our library funding is kind of … complicated. Local councils don't really have too much to do with it. Timberland is called a "library taxing district." As to what that beast is, you got me. But proceeds come from property taxes. Mostly. We were neither fish, nor fowl. We weren't State, city or county employees. Yet we used the State retirement system (that was for a long while) and could use the State employees credit union (that's fairly recent.) I think it's a system, that grew organically, over time. Perhaps.

    Ah. Here you go. The Body Farm.

    Well, there is a nap in my immediate future. Lew

  51. @ Margaret – What do I think of Goodreads? Hmmm. Well, I’ve just used their site, casually, when checking on a few titles. Seems ok.

    But, to sign up for it? Well, they’re owned by Amazon. How much of my data do I want them to have?

    But as for just casual use, it’s ok, I guess. But, like all online reviews, they can be “gamed” a bit. Your friends and mother will write glowing reviews. You enemies will rip it to shreds. Usually, I’m just looking for plot synopsis, and will draw my own conclusions. Lew

  52. Hi Inge,
    No worries at all, occasionally I’m a bit guilty of banging on and talking on and on. When I moved out of home as a young adult I had the very good fortune of moving into a share house with some very entertaining people (who had exceptionally dubious histories) and I learned a lot from them. Funnily enough I was planning to write about that tonight.

    Brr! I’m feeling cold reading about your weather because as the sun is slowly setting towards the horizon it is a balmy 68’F. How do you experience the slow demise of the vegetation as the weather lurches ever closer to the depths of winter? To me, that event occurs against the backdrop of the evergreen forest and my senses interpret it as a mildly surreal observation.

    Visited a few open gardens today (one of which was very old) and spotted the largest and oldest poplar that I have ever encountered. If the multi trunked tree (bifurcated if a person is technically inclined) wa over 150 years old I would not have been surprised. A truly massive tree.



  53. Hi Margaret,

    Not to stress, I do read all of the comments before posting them. And you’d be amazed by the sheer number of people wanting to advertise here and/or provide content. If I disappear and am replaced it is because the site has been hacked! I do often wonder if they’ve checked to see if any of their past efforts got past the goal keeper, but probably that would be too much to expect, and perhaps they’re just robots trolling the wide and rocky seas of the interweb? Who cares anyway, they inevitably go elsewhere (surely a place full of unicorns!)…

    Your fireplace is fascinating to me, because I have never heard of such a conversion happening down here. Usually gas fireplaces that sit within a wood fuelled and brick lined fireplace are purpose built devices that have only the single use (the only conversion is between natural gas and propane which is a slightly different fuel). In an old Victorian era home I once removed the natural gas powered heater and restored the cast iron wood fuelled fireplace into the brick work. It looked beautiful, but to be honest, I was a bit dubious about where all of the carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide was ending up with the old gas heater, and old Victorian era homes are notable for their draughtiness and as I slowly sealed and insulated the house up, I couldn’t ignore the larger perspective…

    If I were in your situation, I would have moved across the supply of firewood upon the sale and purchase, but that maybe a sign of a bit of dodgyness on my part. 🙂 Most people fail to notice the really valuable things.

    It looks set to become tropical tomorrow in a very epic way with thunderstorms and rain. The funny thing about this particular mountain range is that the moist air arrives from a number of sources, but having said that I do hope that the rain continues throughout the summer months…



  54. Hi Lewis,

    Surely you jest? Nobody is up at 6am, are they? 😉 I’ll bet that at your time of year and in your part of the world, the sun has not even graced the horizon with its presence? Sacrebleu! My head is reeling at the thought of such an early morning. The other morning it was about 7.30am and my poor brain was midway through a very deep and complicated dream about water pumps and watering the plants here, and then that most awful of contraptions (the alarm) woke me up. I was rather disorientated for a little bit, but after some coffee I soon re-gained my composure. Truly horrid.

    I am a little bit confused because yesterday you wrote about muffins and today you are calling them by their more recently ‘jumped the shark’ name of ‘cup cakes’. To my mind, they are one and the same thing – maybe? Plus we must acknowledge our debt to the Fonz…

    Hehe! I’ve done that trick myself, and like you have consumed quite a number of Anzac biscuits when the need arises! If a person has to work through lunch, well that requires a bit of energy doesn’t it?

    Fair enough about the final sales being 3 for $2 as it does no good taking produce home. How did Julia receive the cupcakes? It is funny you mention that, but we had dinner last night with some friends and the remains of that dinner were placed into a container and fed to the fluffy collective this morning. Ollie in particular really enjoyed the fried rice. Dinner was a huge Chinese banquet which was really good, but I was full up to my eyeballs and had a quiet breakfast this morning of muesli, fruit and yoghurt.

    The culling of your book collection sounds almost as ruthless as the way we treat end of season vegetables… Sometimes you just have to draw a line in the sand!

    Exactly, in that instance people are seeking your opinion which could only validate their own. Does this work? Probably not. The brother-in-law discussion is a fanciful bit of talk, and this might make you laugh but sometimes I hear people telling me that they spoke to some taxi driver who told them that such and such a tax treatment was fine, when clearly it wasn’t! People try all sorts of gear on, and fully expect to get away with it. And the citing of another’s opinion as some sort of form of gospel truth is a neat rhetorical trick that rarely stands up in the light of day in a court of law when such niceties are politely ignored… Of course really clever folks will understand that the law pulls the same trick, although it has the advantage of having the weight of enforcement piled upon its back like King Kong, but you know…

    The book on hold sounds pretty funny! Who are these nobodies? There is certainly a story in there which hopefully will be revealed in the book?

    Your library system is a complicated system on that front, no doubts about it. Somebody is paying somewhere, but as to the details, well they sometimes get lost in time and tradition.

    Mate, if I’d been up at that ungodly hour of the morning, I’d need a nap too. Respect for taking the time to comment here.

    Far out, we have a body farm down here! Cool. Whatever will they think of next?

    A more together town to the north of here runs a series of open gardens over this weekend (and next weekend) every second year. The editor and I poked our noses around two gardens today, one of which was very old. The original owners of the second open garden had planted a number of quince and apple trees alongside the fertile river flats sometime back in the mid nineteenth century. I spent quite a while admiring the huge and old quince and apple trees growing there. All of the trees were full of fruit and the gardens were alive with flowers of all varieties and insects too. The current owners had restored and extended the old stone cottage, and so the place just sat well in its skin and was beautiful. The garden was described as a ‘potager’ garden which is a rarely heard term, although I didn’t see as many edible plants as I would have expected. It surprises me to see just how productive the gardens are here compared to other peoples.

    And they had the most enormous poplar that I have ever seen. The tree had at least five or six trunks, and was at least ten foot in diameter at the base. Far out!

    Oooo! I better get into doing some writing…



  55. Hi Chris,

    Do you remember a grand designs episode some years back where the guy was trying to build an enormous house from cob? Well, the last episode this season, seven years after he started, it is done! Great episode, but I couldn’t find it on youtube and had to impersonate someone in the UK to watch it on Channel 4’s service 🙁

    We start most seedlings inside. The transplant may indeed knock them about, but spring weather is so temperamental around these parts. The mountains got a load of snow two weeks ago, and this week was very windy. /shrug

    The cake tasted alright, but could be better. However, I think the next sponge, or maybe the one after I will have figured out. They are pretty simple, and as far I can tell, the only two tricky bits are creaming the butter enough, and then not over baking it. Time will tell!

    Made more progress on the boat today (some pics are now online). I am beginning to think it might even float!


  56. RE: toilets
    I quite enjoyed the Japanese style bidets. Lots of buttons to press which is fun (some models even played a little tune, or the sound of a waterfall) and the seat warm function was a nice touch in the middle of winter. From a practical point of view, I suspect a jet of water is far more hygienic than a bit of dry tissue paper. If I ever own my own place, I decided I would get one (you obviously need a power socket installed and minor plumbing modifications).

    Oven thermometers sound like a great idea. I shall obtain some I think, as our oven does not always seem consistent in its temperature.


  57. Hi DJ,

    Mate, apologies! I almost forgot your comment and was busy writing tomorrows blog when I recalled it…

    Yes, it is an interesting to observe when the leaves break down, what eats them, and also whether that varies from year to year. The most recent winter here was colder than previous winters and the leaves took a lot longer to break down than they usually would be expected to do so. You never know what your winter will bring.

    Getting the leaves into the depths is a good idea. Do you reckon it makes much difference if you do that task in November or April?

    Far out 16’C! That is warm for you – and not that dissimilar from here which was about 20’C. El Nino can be really dry here, but cool. But then every now and then a huge dump of rain falls, and then nothing. La Nina can be much tougher despite the frequent rain, because the soils get too damp and those are tough conditions for growing much, although some fruit trees like pears and quinces love very damp soil. But for shallow rooted vegetables, really wet soil is not good. On the other hand, I do need to ensure I have enough water stored to get through a dry El Nino year. Now that I think about it, I reckon only about one year in ten the weather is perfect! A bit like riding a motorcycle really in that it seems like a good idea until you are confronted by the realities of the weather!

    You were very lucky to have escaped unharmed from Thor’s gentle ministrations that time. Ollie rolled in a very funky wombat poo this morning, and looked very pleased with himself until I got to him with the fragrant soap and warm water – and then chucked him in purgatory for the rest of the day.

    Planning I’d have to suggest is a skill that is not widely learned or practiced these days…



  58. Hello again
    Autumn is coming very late this year. Some trees are changing colour but many haven’t started to do so. Thank goodness it warmed up a bit last night.
    When leaves fall here, they simply vanish into the clay as soon as the ground gets wet. They then seem to become pure clay which seems odd! The clay is all encompassing.
    The pipe outlet from my toilet has clearly moved up/down. Son is going to have to dig it up when he has time and relay it with the correct rate of drop which, I gather, has to be quite slight.


  59. @Lew

    Well I wasn’t aware that Goodreads is owned by Amazon – should have known.


  60. Hi Chris,
    Doug did move firewood from the old place – 3 1/2 trailer loads in fact. We do have a fair amount of downed wood here – left over from the tornado nine years ago.

    I’m not sure why it was so simple to convert the fireplace but am sure glad it was. Only propane is available here. We have a 500 gallon tank that gets filled as needed.

    In my quest to avoid getting sucked into the internet rabbit hole I’m using my small tablet most days to keep up with email and of course to read your fine blog. Being small it’s not as pleasant or easy to read/write on so I tend not to be online as long. My main computer is a 5 year old tower but with a very lovely big screen.


  61. Yo, Chris – Yup. 6am, around here, this time of the year is “full dark, no moon.” :-). That time of the day should come with a warning. “Do not operate heavy machinery or attempt to double recipes. :-). But, I managed to pull it off. Much to my surprise, I remembered how to add fractions, using a pencil and paper. But I also spent a long period of time, staring at the side of a large measuring cup, just to make sure I had it right.

    Cupcakes, muffins … oranges, apples. Actually, I’m in the midst of developing a highly scientific and technical scale (think earthquakes and tornados) so that there is no confusion. I got to thinking (always dangerous) that if I said “muffin”, people would think I was talking about those enormous things (some the size of half a loaf of bread) that pass for muffins, these days. There seems to be a muffin arms race, going on. So, I’m advancing the old word (seems to be falling into disuse) “cupcake” to indicate what one’s granny would have thought was a muffin, size wise. The International Standard will be, a cupcake must be baked in a pan, 2″ on the bottom and 3″ on the top, with a certain amount of rise. Then, just to confuse things, there’s the bite sized ones. Henceforth referred to as “minis”. Clear? 🙂

    A Chinese banquet sounds quit wonderful. Hmmm. My buddy Scott and I are talking about lunch, again. I think we’ll go for Chinese, this time. Somehow, the idea got put in my head :-).

    Opinions are like that. Shop around long enough and you’ll find someone to agree with your already preconceived idea. No matter how outlandish the opinion.

    Just to complicate matters, as the regional library system absorbed city and county library systems, different agreements were hammered out, over time. I think, at the most basic level, the ideal is that the city or county would provide land and building. The regional library system would take care of staff and materials. Some of the finer points to be hammered out are who pays utilities, and which utilities.

    The garden visit sound fun and informative. “Potager” garden sounds like an older version of “kitchen garden.” Rebuilding, restorations, extensions. They can either be done well, or very poorly. We used to have a magazine here (it may still be published?) called “Old House Journal.” Every month, the last page would be “worst re-muddling.” Subscribers would send them in. You never knew if you should wince or laugh.

    The best … a joy to behold … was our Hoquium library. It was before my time, but they needed to double the size of the library. Which was a little Arts and Crafts style gem. The extension is seamless, right down to the interior furnishing. The stained glass in the windows. They even found the old molds for some of the terricotta decorative bits.

    You mentioned the difference between your garden (variety, fertility) and the gardens you visited. Which reminded me I didn’t expound on your question about indoor started plants and in the ground, seed. I think there is a difference, and it’s probably on a microscopic level. A couple of years ago, I watched a film about some recent research into how plants “communicate”, both within their species and with other plants. All kinds of information. So, yeah, I think started plants would grow a bit differently, and it probably takes a bit of time to establish a web of information. Lew

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