Full of hot air

Hot days produce the most spectacular sunsets. As the sun sets below the horizon, the air burns with deep reds, oranges and yellows. The insects and frogs herald the warm summer nights with their myriad sounds. And the light from the setting sun highlights the little marsupial bats against the deepening sky as they dart here, there and everywhere in search of insects on their crazy flight paths. And as often as not, it is still hot.

Hot days produce the most spectacular sunsets

When I was a kid air conditioning was only ever provided as an option, and people had to pay extra to have installed in their vehicles. And nobody ever had air conditioning in their houses. If it was an option in vehicles, not seen in houses, then it sure wasn’t seen in schools either.

Way back in those days there used to be a common joke about air conditioning. Upon hearing a compliant about the heat, people would look you in the eye and say: “Yeah, we’ve got air conditioning”. Then they would do this sort of mime of a person winding down a car window. Then they’d ironically say: “Yeah, manual air conditioning”.

We don’t have air conditioning in the house here, although the off grid solar power system could power it. I can’t actually recall owning a house with air conditioning, although I do recall removing one of those old boxy units a couple of decades ago, and then repairing the hole in the wall. I’m not sure that the old machine even worked, and it was very possible that it didn’t.

40’C / 104’F outside and 27’C / 81’F inside on Thursday afternoon at 5.20pm

Over the years we’ve simply learned to adapt to the heat. And it helps that the house is heavily insulated with deep verandas, so it takes a few hours of the hot afternoon sun to heat up the inside. On such days, in the early evening we go all manual air conditioning, which means opening the windows and letting in the cooler evening air – which isn’t always cooler these days.

Years ago I had a mate who used to cheerily proclaim on very hot days that: “I love summer. The hot weather is so invigorating!” But then he’d invariably flop down on the couch, or whatever seat happened to be nearby, and look as if he was set to do nothing much at all. Ollie the cuddle dog (long term readers know that he is actually an Australian cattle dog) feels much the same about very hot weather as my old mate:

Ollie proclaims that the hot hot weather makes him feel so invigorated!

The Australian punk rock band Regurgitator observed in their song “Bong in my eye” – “How can I f@#k the system, when I’m sitting on the couch?” A profound question indeed, from an excellent band with an excellent song.

Like Ollie, we also have the occasional siesta during the hottest part of some days. But in the relatively cool mornings we work. Ollie runs boundary patrol checks and snuffles out choice wombat poos to consume. For all of us, the siesta is a form of adaption.

Much of our cooking now occurs outdoors in the shade. A few weeks ago we purchased a second hand electric hot water bath preserving unit. It is a good use of the solar power. And despite the hot weather, we’ve processed 36 bottles of 900ml (30.4 fluid ounces) apricots which we had to purchase from an organic orchard far to the north of here. The many recurring and late frosts earlier in spring destroyed most of the blossoms on our many apricot trees. So it is nice to have a plan B for obtaining tasty sun ripened summer fruit, which can then be preserved and enjoyed in the winter.

We ran three batches of preserved apricots through the electric hot water bath preserver
A dozen bottles of preserved apricots waiting to be opened next year

I still bake a small loaf of fresh bread every day. But at this time of year, the electric oven used is outside in the shade. Neither of these cooking activities heat the house up, and so it stays reasonably cool inside the kitchen.

Now that the hot weather is here in earnest, the watering systems for the various crops have been installed and tested. One of the water pumps, which doesn’t get used very often had failed. Various parts of the failed water pump are quite well made, but other parts are genuinely rubbish. I added in a non return valve into the water pipe system because the internal seals in the water pump are not good and water was flowing back into the water tanks through the pump. A non return valve is a fancy name for a simple device which forces the water to travel only in one direction in the water system, and in this instance that means out and away from the water pump. I also replaced the switch which turns the pump on and off again, with a much better quality switch.

A non return valve and pressure switch were added to make this water pump work properly again

As happens in Melbourne, the hot weather turned back into cooler and damper weather. As the storm moved in over the mountain range late one evening, the sunset looked even more spectacular.

The storm clouds rolled in late one evening and the weather turned briefly cooler again

Cooler weather meant that we could undertake some more strenuous outside work, despite the now incredible humidity. We decided to do some rock work. When we excavated the site for the new shed and corn enclosure earlier this year, we unearthed one of the largest rocks that we have been able to manually move. This week we decided to install the large and very heavy rock in a rock wall around a developing garden bed.

It doesn’t look much, but it’s a whopper! A large and heavy rock was maneuvered into place in a rock wall

The rock weighed far more than I do and it took a huge amount of effort to get it into that spot. And once the rock was in place, we completed the remaining section of that new rock wall:

The rock wall around the garden bed under the new shed was completed

A cubic metre (1.3 cubic yards) of a mix of compost and mushroom compost were placed onto the clay soil. We even planted a few hardy plants into that garden bed!

A mix of compost and mushroom compost was placed over the clay in the new garden bed and path leading up to the terrace

The garden beds are extraordinarily low stress once they are established. In the photo above, you can see a first, second and third year garden beds in the distance (the first year being closest to the camera). As the garden beds age, the plant growth gets progressively thicker. After six years the garden beds look feral:

A thickly planted garden bed after six years

Over two days we moved a huge amount of rocks. Some of those rocks were used to fill up another steel rock gabion cage:

Another steel rock gabion cage was filled up this week

And then we sewed the steel rock gabion cage closed:

Toothy looks on with approval as yet another steel rock gabion cage was completed

On Christmas day we took a couple of bottles of homemade sake (strong but sweet rice wine) as a present to friends. We made our own labels, and I reckon that has upped our wine making game! The sake was very well received and is in high demand.

We made our own labels for bottles of homemade sake we gifted to friends

The hot weather has brought out the Echidna’s. They are an unusual creature in that they are of the monotreme family, which includes only them and their cousins, the water dwelling Platypus. Monotreme animals lay eggs and then raise their young in a pouch. Echidna’s are quite common and they look like spiny ant eaters, and perform much the same function in the environment:

Ollie alerted me to the presence of an Echidna. The Echidna was escaping from Ollie by burying itself which is a very effective strategy

You’re never alone up in the forest, and the other day I spotted this wallaby just above the dogs enclosure.

A wallaby is munching on the garden just above the dogs enclosure

In produce news:

This blueberry is ripe enough to enjoy
We discovered this accidental brown onion and are determined to create a dedicated onion bed next year
Melons, squashes and pumpkins have all begun to grow in the heat this week
The corn has grown a lot in the heat, and now all bar three of the seeds have germinated. There are 71 corn plants in that enclosure as well as many varieties of bean
The first zucchini / courgette of the season

Onto the flowers:

These hydrangea’s are thriving in the shade of an elderberry and Japanese maple
The yellow rose is a shy and retiring rose who I hope that we’ll see more of
This pink bush rose is stunning and smells beautiful
Salvia’s are amazingly heat hardy and this blue / purple one is a stunner
The poppies continue to produce copious numbers of flowers
A tri-coloured sage

The temperature outside now at about 9.00am is 19’C (66’F). So far this year there has been 949.0mm (37.4 inches) which is higher than last week’s total of 945.6mm (37.2 inches).

89 thoughts on “Full of hot air”

  1. HI Chris, After the Archdruid blog ended. I lost track of your blog. It’s nice to find you again and to hear that you are doing well. So many things we discussed on the Archdruid blog a few years have come to pass, including the rise of Trump and other far-right governments, as well as worsening global warming. Here in Seattle, we’ve had three late summers of intense smoke from California, Oregon and British Columbia wildfires. Our city has been horribly mangled by Amazon. I’m finally abandoning Seattle, my home since 1980, to return to Minneapolis, Minnesota (American Upper Midwest), where I have family and friends. The super-rich are buying up houses everywhere as commodities, especially in Seattle, Vancouver, B.C, Sydney, Hong-Kong and London. So far, that scourge hasn’t hit Minneapolis.

    Thank you for continuing to report from Fernglade Farm, where you seem to be dealing well with the extreme heat. Happy 2019! Susan in Seattle.

  2. Hi Lewis,

    After all that work, I needed a day off today. I’m still feeling all those rocks in various odds and ends and corners of my body, and that is a sure sign that today should be a day off! So be it decreed that today is a day off! This morning I spent doing all of my admin. How people cope with the level of administration that is required of them just to get through this modern life is well beyond me! And being New Years Eve, a lot of businesses were shut. Mind you, I still managed to nab bones for the dogs, milk for my coffee, beef mince for the chickens, and more wire for the next steel rock gabion (among a whole lot of other minor tasks that needed doing).

    I spent so long doing all that stuff that I didn’t get to eat lunch until well past 2pm, which is fine by me as I enjoy later lunches anyway. And today I indulged in a purchased BLT (Bacon Lettuce and Tomato) toasted sandwich with a coffee and meringue based dessert. The dessert was a cake smothered in cream with lashings of fresh forest berries – mainly raspberries that weren’t quite as tasty as the ones I grow here, but it would be extraordinarily bad manners to complain about such things on New Years Eve. 😉

    I gave up on New Years Eve parties the year the very coolest of my friends threw a fizzer of a party. One has to acknowledge that time has moved beyond them, and I’m cool with that and accept my old duffer status. Us old duffers should rejoice that we are still here, that is what I reckon anyway! When I was even younger than the parties, I used to head into the city with friends, because at the count of midnight there was a lot of cheering and snogging (which is a colloquial for kissing) and it all seemed a bit forced to me.

    Early am’s at the five and dimes would be a problem for me! 😉 As an alternative I’d suggest that mid-afternoon would be a quieter time? It is funny that you mention traffic and congestion (and public transport congestion), but that has recently become more of an issue in the big smoke of late. I’ve known for quite a while that people want the economic benefits of the various political and economic options that are being pursued, but not many folks want to bear the costs of those either – so they are in some sort of complex bind and confronted with the diminishing returns from those policies. It has happened before and I guess it is happening now.

    It is nice to read that your five and dimes are better organised than the ones I’ve seen down here. Not to disparage them, as they’re good businesses, but it always seems to me that a lot of inventory is stuffed into as small a space as possible. They’re not usually chain stores down here, and to be honest I’ve seen their equivalent in Asian cities, and it is not dissimilar an outfit.

    Actually, I have seen reading glasses sold recently that were graded. What a good idea, although it also undercuts the local optometrist who makes finely tuned glasses. I do wonder about peoples eyesight because a lot of people prefer contact lenses to glasses, but back in the day people wore glasses. And I’ve often wondered if the desire for self driving vehicles was not some sort of misplaced ambition grown out of failing facilities? Dunno. I have good eyesight, but have damaged my hearing a bit through too much loud music as a yoof! A yoof is a foolish young adult, and haven’t we all been there? 🙂

    Mate, the claim about dollar stores and poor neighbourhoods is bunk because from what I can see, most people of all strata are so removed from their food supply that they have great difficulty understanding what they are actually eating. I’ve seen video footage of the celebrity chef, Gordon Ramsay unflatteringly telling people that they had the palate of a cow’s behind. Incidentally, kvetching is a great word, and I’ve encountered that. It is a force of nature and best to run away from! 😉

    I met somebody today who expressed interest in learning about bees and I have to think about that, because they’re young and female and so it is socially inappropriate for me to train them. I’m absolutely stumped on that one. Do you have any advice for me as to how to negotiate that path?

    Hey, I’m with you! The Ancient Greeks and Romans knew their stuff and if the thing is meant to be on the ground, I see absolutely no reason why it won’t end up there! Incidentally, in an exciting update: Sydney Opal Tower: crackdown on certifiers announced as three residents refuse to go . Fascinating.

    Well, “straight forward” has a different meaning from the word “easy”. I know a bloke who is all in favour of signage. To me, signage is a legal response to a complex situation. It can be a good thing, but it is not the end point. The paperwork behind constructing a one off house design is very complicated, but it is still on this side of possible. But you really want to ensure that not many folks get their fingers involved because they’ll ask for a fee. It reminded me that I had to get an energy rating for the house. I was so angry about that, because we collect our own rainwater, process sewage back into the soil, and generate our own electricity without connecting to the grid, and the house is super insulated, but the house was marked lower than a project house because those things were not measured. Anyway, nothing to see there, move on.

    Lyrebirds are amazing, and yes, they would live here on the farm and in the beautiful fern lined creek gully had they not all been wiped out in the 1983 Ash Wednesday fires. They are amazing mimics! But yeah, the forest bounces back really quickly. I grow a huge number of the local wild flowers and it all comes about because of the way the land is managed. The seeds are enormously hardy. Thanks for the mention and I’ll try and check it out.

    Hehe! It is just on the other side of the mountain range, and mate you can get around Hanging Rock in under half an hour. In much harsher times the girls may have been up for a Darwin award. Still, the film is meant to be a classic, so who am I to argue with the critics and I’ve always suspected that aliens were involved.



  3. Hi Susan,

    Welcome to the discussion!

    Mate, politics bores me to tears – and we rarely even speak about Trump here. You could call it a Trump free zone! 🙂 Anyway, if you lot manage to have 7 different leaders in 11 years like us, then I reckon you’ll know something about true dysfunction. Until then…

    Thanks! And yes, I have read about your smoke filled summer air for the past couple of years via way of Cliff Mass blog website. Not good and possibly not going to get better anytime soon.

    The fires down here are epic in size, but the one in 1851 burned almost a quarter of the state – which has the same land size as the entire UK! They did them big in those days: 1851 Black Thursday bushfires. That’s 5 million hectares or 12.35 million acres!

    Minneapolis looks like it will have a nice climate.

    It ain’t just the super rich buying, plenty of people are in over their heads. It happens and is a consequence of expansionary monetary policy.

    Happy 2019 to you too!



  4. Chris,

    You’d be surprised how many of the local roads are not paved. In the City of Spokane itself, there are about 1,600 kilometers of roadway, of which 11.5% is “gravel”, meaning dirt. The unincorporated portions of Spokane County has 4,000 km, of which 1,600 km are “gravel”. The County has a lot of rural, farming and semi-mountainous roads.

    “Gravel” to the layman means a lot of, well, gravel on top of packed dirt. To the government road community, “gravel” means a mix of dirt and small rocks. These small rocks quickly disappear due to sinking into wet ground and repeated road grading and plowing removing the small rocks. Many of the County gravel roads are really nothing more than packed earth at this point.

    Mate, that is ONE BIG ROCK you moved. I’ve moved a few rocks that size, and we always referred to them as small boulders. If I moved that thing and then finished the rock wall, as you did, I would need multiple days away from using those particular muscles. One day wouldn’t do it; such is a hazard of being unyoung.

    I wholly agree: protecting people from small risks does end up with people being ignorant and taking on bigger risks. And often failing because of lack of planning. I’ve witnessed too many wilderness rescues because people had all the fancy equipment in the world with no knowledge or experience about when and how to use it.

    When younger, I used to do a lot of back country excursions year round. But, I grew up that way, and slowly added to my knowledge and abilities so that I COULD survive most things, except getting mauled and gutted by a cougar or grizzly bear or something. But small risks and knowledge gleaned led to bigger risks that were within my ability to cope with. The way things are today? Nobody would’ve migrated from Europe to the Americas or Australia with today’s “Spare me from risk” mentality.

    That echidna looks a lot like a sea urchin. Didn’t know echidnae are monotremes. Thanks for the education.

    Those are wondrous sunset photos. I’ve enjoyed them for several minutes each. Yes, I’m a sucker for a good sunrise or sunset. I’m very fortunate that my work schedule has me viewing the sunrise while awaiting the bus or soon after arriving in my office during much of the year. Other times, I’m viewing the sunset on the way home. It’s important to stop and enjoy such things.


  5. Yo, Chris – Here, air conditioning is usually referred to as A/C or, just “air.” I think it’s become kind of a status, thing, as you find it in so many places where it’s unnecessary. It was pretty ubiquitous when I lived in S. California. The people I just want to slap are the one’s who excuse high temperatures with the phrase, “Oh, it’s not so bad. It’s a dry heat.” 110F in the shade, you’re sweating your socks off, and they come up with that little observational fact. Did I mention that it’s a scientific fact that heat makes people crankier? 🙂

    When I was helping my friends with a bit of canning (and, chicken processing) they set up a propane stove on the shady side of the house, outside. Made the whole process a lot more tolerable. The apricots look lovely. Made my mouth water.

    That is a big rock. Tip of the iceberg, thing. When you were uncovering it, did you have a moment of “How far is this thing going to go?” The rock gabions are nicely shaping up. The Echidna are interesting little creatures. There was a rescued one in the film on the brush fire. He had hunkered down, but the quills were singed right off his back. But with a bit of care, they were growing back.

    That’s quit a tree stump, behind the wallaby. Part of the original forest? Or, as original as it gets at any given point in time. You veg are really banging along. The yellow rose is a real standout. I understand that rose “slips” are pretty easy to take. You could spread a few around. Or, just go with luck-of-the-draw.

    Oh, days off are nice, but it always seems like there are maintenance things that crop up. But you can magnify them, given that it was a day off :-). “Yesterday was nice, but I HAD to make oat meal, even though it was my day off.” Our health “care” system generates huge amounts of paper. Paper, paper and more paper.

    I don’t feel to bad for the local optometrist, or dentist for that matter. There is very little insurance available for those two specialties. And, what is available has high deductibles and a byzantine maze of what’s covered, and what isn’t. And, even if you have a valid claim, squeezing payment out of them can be an ordeal. Hours on the phone, talking to people who’s second (or third) language is English. But I rant. Cont.

  6. Hi, Chris!

    That is one hot sunset, your first photo.

    When I was growing up we were privileged – my well-to-do grandparents saw to it – to have air conditioning in our home (with window units, as I have now). My school was also air conditioned and all shops that I remember. With a climate that runs in the 90s to 100s F for 6 months of the year, with always very high humidity, I can’t imagine how people managed without it.

    I think the reason that your mate loved the summer heat was because it gave him an excuse to do exactly what he did – lie on the couch.

    I am so glad to see a photo of the new old hot water bath. It looks like brand new.

    Those are beautiful bottled apricots. Those bottles are way different from what you usually use, aren’t they?

    We replaced a switch, too, when the well pump was replaced, but I think that it was a switch for the pressure tank. I don”t know if the pump down in the well has a switch.

    The Parrish blue and yellow sunset is like none I have ever seen.

    Egads! That is one BIG rock! What I wouldn’t have given to watch you all (note the “watch”) move that thing.

    Hi, Toothy, among the incredibly impressive rock gabions. You look rather warm, Toothy . . .

    I wondered about the wine labels when I saw the photo at the beginning of this post and I was going to comment on how striking they are, and so they are.

    That echidna is really weird. Can those spines harm a dog?


  7. Chris:

    Now there is a novel thought of yours: “And I’ve often wondered if the desire for self driving vehicles was not some sort of misplaced ambition grown out of failing facilities?” There could certainly be some truth to that.

    And thanks for the new word: Yoof!

    Did lyrebirds almost become extinct? I think I heard that when I was growing up in the 1960s.


  8. Cont. Oh, as one gets older, more holidays become “just another day.” It’s New Years Eve, here, and I’ve got nothing special planned. I guess the Ladies are having a little get together, around 8PM. But I hear not many of them make it to midnight.

    We’ve got two areas of bad traffic congestion. Around the concentrations of big box stores and strip malls. They’re always fiddling with the traffic patterns, trying to make things better. But, nothing seems to improve things. Yes, getting up early is quit the sacrifice, but when I need something that’s only available in those outlets, it’s go early or loose one’s mind. 🙂

    If you feel uncomfortable taking on a female apprentice, stick to your guns. Come up with something. Time and work restraints? Maybe there’s a woman beekeeper you could refer her to? It’s probably not politically correct to say so, but I also think that women approach animal husbandry in a different (not better or worse) manner. But I don’t know how you’d approach that and not get lynched by the SJWs. You might, however, steer her to Sue Hubbel’s books “A Book of Bees and How to Keep Them” or, “A Country Year.” When I think about it, Hubbel’s books remind me, a bit, of Annie Hawes books.

    Dodgy building certifiers. Here, we call them “building inspectors.” I really think our over the top (and expensive) septic system laws were put in place because some inspectors brother-in-law installed septic systems, for a living. But that’s changing. The building owners can rattle on all they want about the high quality building / builders. The place is still falling apart. As far as people not leaving, well, in any disaster there’s always a certain percentage of people who won’t leave. Their look out.

    Oh, I think your lyrebirds will be back. Given time. I wonder if there’s any kind of a reestablishment program?

    I watched the first two hour long episodes (of six) of “Picnic at Hanging Rock.” Of course, I saw the film decades ago. And, don’t think I ever read the book. But I gather that the book had an extra end chapter, which took care of some of the mystery. Spoilers Ahead! The chapter was added back in, in later editions of the book, after the author’s death.

    We may be dealing with some form of our old friend, the temporal anomaly. Or, sometimes I think Australia has more of those “thin spots” we were talking about. Another way of looking at it is that the girls slipped into the Dreamtime.

    I’m quit enjoying the mini-series. The Gothic atmosphere is laid on with a trowel. Everyone is hiding a secret and are not what they seem. But then, Australia was a frontier, and frontiers are places to leave sordid pasts behind and remake one’s self. Don’t watch the first episode if you don’t want to be sucked in! :-). The sets are real knock outs, and Wikipedia had links to the places in and around Melbourne where they were filmed.

    I found a newspaper article that discusses the author, the book and the Peter Weir film. Long, but interesting.



  9. Chris,

    I forgot to mention…we got another 7.5 cm of snow Friday night into Saturday. It was wet and heavy stuff. I slaved on removing it, but got it done. Then the chinook wind hit. We warmed up to 8C with sustained 40kph winds. There was 15cm of snow on the ground when the warming started. By late Saturday afternoon it was all gone and the streets and sidewalks were all dry. Very typical for an el Nino winter. Now its cool and dry.


  10. Hi DJ,

    It does make you wonder how long those gravel (we call them dirt) roads would survive the absence of graders and rollers? They’re packed clay here too. Grading down here is like your part of the world in that the local shire council does the work, and the main dirt road gets graded, perhaps twice a year. The road I’m on, which is frankly a very minor road, has been graded perhaps once every two or three years. Once they did the job and before they started I asked them not to do it because it was unnecessary and at a time of year that was very wet. The road almost became un-passable for the dirt mouse. A long time back I recall someone who lived in the US commenting on the old Arch Druid Report and complaining that their dirt road was only graded once every two months… I did mention that that was a pretty good outcome really, and as is part of life: things can always be worse! 🙂

    As a comparison for your I dunno, interest?, the local shire council here is responsible for something like about 1,700km of roads over a council area of 1,747 square kilometres (675 sq mi), and at a rough guess I reckon there are about 20,000 properties in that area from which they draw taxes.

    That rock = huge! Yeah, I tell ya, I was feeling a wee bit tired and sore after that day of work with the rocks, because we also filled up the rock gabion cage as well. I didn’t make it through replying to all of the lovely comments that night before crashing and heading off to bed… It is funny though because we have continued working hard over the past few days, but I never really stopped doing that level of activity from when I was a wee little youngster. You’d be surprised at the depths of energy that a person can draw down upon, and I sometimes wonder whether long distance running taught me that. Dunno. The thing is when I did that sport I met a whole lot of people who were much older than I, and they kept running long after they should have stopped due to accumulated injuries, and that was an important lesson to learn. Every work day here, we do different activities, which use different muscles and put different strains on the old skeleton. Of course it isn’t lost on me that nobody wins that particular game. Dunno.

    Yeah, exactly: Three tourists and toddler’s lucky escape after suffering heatstroke while hiking in 45C outback. I don’t head off on long walks when the temperature is forecast beyond 26’C / 79’F.

    Back in those days, heading from Europe to the Americas or Australia would have been like travelling to Mars (without the hard radiation that would most definitely kill anyone stupid enough to want to attempt that interplanetary journey).

    The Echidna’s are like little fortresses on legs. They’re quite common, although the dogs harass them, and then I put the dogs inside the house and let the Echidna’s go about their ant business. All I must add is that the enemy of my enemy is my friend (I would have liked to have made that saying up, but it predates me by several millennia).

    Thanks! Oooo, my mind shudders at the thought of such an early hour… But glad that you enjoy the sunrise in your part of the world.

    When it warms up during winter in your part of the world with the Chinook winds, it really sounds a lot like winter down here, minus the serious snow though!



  11. Hi Lewis,

    We’ve picked up a lot of US vernacular over the years and nowadays we call four wheel drives: Sports Utility Vehicles. Although I honestly can’t say that I know for sure what could be sporty about a 2.8 tonne vehicle that may not even drive all four wheels? It smells of a branding exercise to me and wasn’t always that way.

    You lived in S. California? Not saying anything, but you have drifted north over the years. Did climate play a part of that story, or was it chance? And did you ever stop off in San Francisco, which to my mind is some sort of half way point? I can’t in all honesty say that I’d make friends with the hippies there (or those further north for that matter)…

    Hehe! I hear that comment about “dry heat” from people who live further north than here, and I have no idea what they are talking about. When it is over 100’F in the shade, like you correctly point out, your body is doing everything it can to shed excess heat into an already hot environment. But it gains heat, whether you like it or not. Hear Hear! I concur with your scientific fact regarding heat. We get grumpy too when the air temperature exceeds body temperature. 🙂

    A comedian from your part of the world: Dennis Leary, sang a song years ago (1993 in fact) which had a line which always amused me: “I walk around in the summer time saying “how about this heat?”. Anyway it was an amusing piece of social commentary as perhaps only a comedian can get away with:Denis Leary – Asshole. It got a lot of air play down here at the time and it is very wrong!

    Your friends are onto something doing the canning outside. The fruit needs the heat of summer to grow and produce sugars, so this is the time of year for canning. Is it convenient? Nope, but sweet fruit does not grow during the winter. Mind you, winter is my citrus time, so mustn’t grumble and all that. The sort of preserving gear that is heated by propane will also adapt very simply to wood heat.

    Thanks! The apricots are really good on a cold winters morning. I don’t mention to the orchardist that I haven’t come across any other grower that picks and sells based on taste. I sort of feel sorry for orchardists because they are paid based on the weight of the fruit, and taste never enters that equation. A lot of orchards are flooded with water prior to picking because the water increases the weight of the fruit, but then the fruit has to be picked slightly green. The fruit I grow is usually of a smaller size than what orchards produce, but then so are the fruits of wild fruit trees.

    Absolutely, I get that feeling every time I uncover a giant rock when we are trying to construct something like a new terrace in the side of the slope. Generally I can hear how large a rock is by tapping it with a metal hand tool, and the ring indicates just how large the monster is. And generally if the rock can be moved, even if only slightly, I have a good chance of recovering it using hand tools. And when the soil surrounding the rock is drier it is easier to move.

    Oh yeah, that big stump was a tree that was a true nightmare. Because of the proximity to the house I have ‘as of’ right of felling it. A local advised me to fell it and had the equipment on hand to do the job. I was a bit undecided, and so got an arbourist in to climb the tree and tell me about its condition. The arbourist said that the tree was all good, so we left it in place. But as we built the house, chunks of the tree began falling onto the house. Then a huge chunk fell onto the frame of the house. The tree had to go, but for all sorts of reasons the local could no longer fell the tree as their equipment couldn’t get into location to do the job. Then every man and their dog refused to fell the tree because they were scared of where it would land (i.e. on the house). Eventually I found a bloke who was the ultimate alpha male and earned a pretty penny by tackling such trees – his card had the word “champion” on it. He earned more in ten minutes than I get in a couple of days work, but he remarked that: “you might think that is a lot of money, but that tree kept me up half the night”. And he was as good as his word. When we cut the tree up for firewood, we discovered a termite nest about half to two thirds of the way up the tree and everything above that point was held on by cellulose that was no thicker than paper. Seeing that I knew that the tree would have squashed the house, and of that I have no doubt. And just to add insult to injury, I was so stressed up to that point that after the tree was safely on the ground, that I fell very sick for about a week with a very nasty flu. That was an incredibly hard and early lesson to learn for me. I did get a lot of firewood from the tree.

    You know, I do have a couple of trees that pre-date white settlement and they are amazing to behold. The loggers moved in from about 1860 for about a hundred years, and the tree I wrote about in the previous paragraph was early regrowth from those days.

    Last night I watched the documentary, and I have to admit that I was a bit teary about the animals. Pretty much all of those birds and animals (other than the fish, lyrebirds and the falcons) are regular visitors here. In some ways the documentary was very inspiring at the resiliency of nature, but in other ways I thought to myself how unnecessary the sheer level of destruction is. Humans have been modifying these forests for tens of millennia, and we’re now as much a part of the forest as all the plants, birds and animals. One of the things that wasn’t lost on me was that many of species they referred to in the documentary being transient in nature and only appearing every couple of decades or so – are regular guests and visitors here (and that includes all of the so called rare plants). Many thanks for the recommendation as despite all that I did enjoy watching how other people see the place that I call home.

    Hehe! Yeah, you betcha. Hey, I worked this morning and quit out of the sun for lunch about 2pm (made a new steel rock gabion cage and moved half a cubic metre of crushed rock with lime). But after lunch I thought I’d give the self propelled mower a service. As I was cleaning the air filter for that machine using a 12 volt powered air compressor, the compressor failed. Then I had to spend about an hour and half pulling the air compressor apart to find out what went wrong. Turns out the device pulls 40amps of electricity at low voltage, but the on/off switch was rated for 10amps and so it had eventually melted inside its guts which caused the failure. I get so grumpy about this sort of stuff because the motor and all of the air connectors are really high quality, but they saved less than a buck and put in a cheap switch – which also was never designed to be removed. Then I had to work out how to do a McIvor or A-Team and bypass the switch and put in a much larger capacity switch. And my afternoon disappeared in a cloud of ikea hacking! I do wonder how much stuff gets thrown out because it has failed and there is only a minor thing wrong with it. It is a bonkers situation and needn’t be that way.

    Out of curiosity, what do you mean by ‘high deductibles’? I’m not sure that I understand that concept but it is mentioned a lot.

    Me neither. New Years eve used to be a big party time, but I grew out of that after the parties became fizzers. Your ladies partied on later than the local pub which closed at 6pm yesterday! Those ladies sure know how to party!

    I’d be very uncomfortable if you’d lost your mind. All I can suggest if it happens is that perhaps you should first check behind the couch as it may have fallen there? I look forward to your report on this most important matter! Hehe!

    Well, I am uncomfortable. As a society we spend very little time providing structure and guidance as to how males and females should interact, and then when it inevitably goes wrong people get upset. Even the rules that are in place and have legal force are not discussed and explored with young adults. There is an expectation that people assimilate the ‘rules’ by way of osmosis from all sorts of cultures and all I can see is that it doesn’t work that well. Expectations exceed reality, and there is a point to the act of courtship. Anyway, time will sort this whole mess out as I suspect that us humans will swing from one extreme to another, and hopefully one day we’ll find some sort of middle ground. I grew up as the only male in an otherwise female household and so have a complicated and complex view on all of this stuff. I reckon you’re spot on too as there is something different in animal husbandry methods between males and females, and my mates of the big shed fame are full on, even up to the butchering process. I’ll despatch chickens and whilst I can maintain a sense of detachment from the process, there is no joy there.

    Don’t laugh but I read an article today suggesting that the fourth floor now displays structural concerns. Mate, I’d leave. Apparently some of the residents are without a place to sleep because the hotels were pre-booked for New Years Eve…

    The lyrebirds will probably come back in time, but I’ll be long dead by then. No, those sorts of relocation programs don’t really happen down here. I suspect foxes have made it hard for the lyrebirds here.

    Glad that you are enjoying the series, and yes, I too suspect that Hanging Rock is one of those ‘thin places’. No spoilers please!!! Hehe! I wonder if the author posthumously decided to add in the additional explanatory chapter? Stranger things have happened in the publishing world. As I read the final few stories in Robert E Howard’s collected stories of Sailor Steve Costigan, I had the feeling that I couldn’t shake, that someone else had completed the last couple of stories.

    Thanks for the link!



  12. Hi Pam,

    Happy 2019 New Years to you and yours! Where did that last year get to? Have you seen it anywhere? No doubt it will turn up somewhere sooner or later. Maybe…

    Thanks! It was very toasty warm that week, and this week the weather has been quite nice, but by Friday I’ll be back to such weather, before another cool change.

    Thanks for sharing your experiences growing up. Fascinating. Yeah it gets pretty hot down here too. From memory, the schools had very high ceilings and there was no air conditioning at all. In latter years some of my mates had air conditioning in their houses, but they were considered relatively wealthy. When I was at the more English than the English grammar school, when the weather exceeded 38’C / 100’F we were allowed to remove our ties and jackets. At least I know how to tie a tie and wear a suit jacket with casual aplomb. Some people look very uncomfortable in suits and you can tell.

    Hehe! Yeah, my mate was very slack! You picked that one. I had little sympathy for his rubbish which is perhaps why we are no longer friends… Probably a character flaw on my part!

    Yeah, the preserving unit is amazing and absolutely not all steel is what you’d expect it to be! The device dates from about the mid eighties but it is in perfect condition. Ah yes, I recall those days and John Hughes films etc! The bottles are the same ones I usually use and I try to keep all of them standard sizes so that the rings and lids fit regardless. We do smaller bottles for jams – and we’re getting very close to making a batch of raspberry jam. I’m slightly in love with the raspberry plants because they’ve produced so many berries this year and continue to do so – it’s complicated!

    I don’t know how well pumps work, but there’d be a switch in there somewhere for sure, but it needn’t be at the pump. It is a good idea to replace the switch and they should get a hugely long lifespan – but the occasional squirt of lubricant and insecticide might assist that matter.

    The sunsets are pretty spectacular here. A consequence of facing south west and having a good view! The air is mostly clear and clean down here.

    The rock was massive, and we made another steel rock gabion cage and put it into place this morning. By lunchtime (2pm) I was done in.

    Toothy says “Hi!” to you, and he loves summer. So does Scritchy but she has to be monitored as she cooks her head… And only zombies want cooked brains!

    Thank you! Sticky labels are pretty cool aren’t they?

    The Echidna is safe from the dogs as they bury themselves, and the dog has no idea what to do. They don’t interact with cars though as hunkering down in that instance does not work. I shoo them off roads whenever I see them – and keep a towel in the car so I can grab them if needs be.

    We were all Yoof’s once! 🙂

    I’m not entirely sure about the lyrebirds, but the big fires are not good for them. They certainly are no longer in this mountain range due to the 1983 fires, but then neither are quolls (native marsupial cats). I’d like both of them here.



  13. Hi Chris,

    RE: bogging the Jimny. Mrs Damo and I both bogged the Jimny on separate occasions and required towing out with snatch cables. It was all good fun, and in the town we were living in at the time I think the residents appreciated the chance to rescue us 🙂 I could say something about pushing boundaries, go hard or go home, but in all probability it is just that we are not very good 4wd’ers 🙂 Lots of fun was had though.


  14. Lew,

    RE: heat

    I have distinct memories of living in Perth, Western Australia. On boxing day, it was 44 C (112 F) with pretty much zero humidity. It was more or less tolerable if the fluids are kept up. On the other extreme, when working underground, it was sometimes *only* 32-35 C (95 F) but with near 100% humidity. Apparently this exceeds a dew point or some such technicality and the human body cannot shed heat. Whatever it was – I was short of breath and felt light headed after just 10 minutes of walking around the flat tunnel. Now I am much more sensible, and live in places that keep summer averages below 22 C – it is much more civilised 🙂


  15. Chris, those sake labels really look the business! I hope to make a batch in a few weeks (December was not quite warm enough if you could believe that) after we move house. Yep, we are moving house again (15 months in current house) after a request and persuasion from work to send me up to the north island. The move promises to be exciting, it will be a 3 day drive and we get to take a large car ferry to cross Cook Strait.

    I also have exciting news to report, the boats I am building have successfully completed their maiden voyage 🙂 They are so basic, but I must admit to being pretty chuffed. I put up some photos and a little video of the floating here if anyone wants to check it out:
    Also, for anyone who wants to see the Tesla autopilot in action, my USA road trip video is on the same page – but please note there are not-kid friendly words in the first few seconds!

    RE: Lyrebirds
    They are pretty common in the rainforests around where I grew up:
    They reminded me of not very bright chooks, didn’t come across as particularly smart. One I was watching got spooked by the noise of a rock moving – but it had moved the rock. Very pretty though 🙂


  16. @ DJSpo:

    Our “gravel” roads are just like yours, I think. We have this dense red clay here and, after decades of having small rocks with rock dust poured on them, they are really lovely when mostly left alone as those rocks get so packed down into the clay that it becomes smooth, but durable. At the moment we do have some potholes as those haven’t been touched up in a while and there is one narrow downhill section that is pretty much a ford now as it runs completely across the road and is about 6 inches (15cm) deep. There is no way that I can see to put in a drainage pipe there as there is no detour possible (it’s a one-lane, dead end road). The state is responsible for it, but I think they are sleeping behind the couch . . .


  17. Chris:

    The tree-felling story that you told Lew gave me the heebie jeebies. We have several of those trees looming over the house and there is no telling what grim processes are going on inside of those trees. And it is pricey, as you mentioned, to have an expert take them down. But better than a squashed house – possibly even a squashed person in a house. When those things decide to fall, they fall fast and there is only a matter of about 3 seconds – if you hear them.

    Thank you for your thoughts on the pump switch. If there is one, I suspect that it is down in the well now and nobody wants to haul that thing out again any time soon.

    I will let Lew explain high deductibles as it is he you have asked – and he will do it so much better anyway – but my husband’s and my health insurance has a deductible of $5,000.00 each.

    Some day I hope to see you in a tie and suit jacket, with casual aplomb.

    2018 is behind the couch . . . with the dust and old dog hair.


  18. Hi Chris,
    Happy New Year. We spent the evening with our friends who owned the retirement home. It was their turn to come to our house (we switch each year) and we actually made it up past midnight this year. My parents used to have epic New Year’s Eve parties when we were children and I remember watching from the top of the stairs. New Years Day was big as all the kids got up early to play with all the noise makers and look for unused streamers and confetti.

    Those are great labels!! I’ll have to show them to Doug and maybe he’ll design some for his mead.

    The picture of the sunset is just stunning!!

    Do the dogs ever get a mouthful of echidna quills? You certainly make use of everything – that is some rock!

    We’ve usually had central AC but use it sparingly by employing the same method as you – closing up windows in the morning and opening in the evening. Sometimes we’ll just turn on the AC for a bit to bring down the humidity. There are many more extremely humid days of late though. Drawers and cabinets become difficult to open and food like crackers gets all limp. There was never AC in any of the schools I taught in except after an addition was put on the Jr. High. Only a few rooms, the office and the library were had AC though so it was almost worse going in and out of AC. There were no fans provided so teachers brought their own. As school started in mid August there were quite a few stifling days the first month. Being surrounded by 800 sweaty students is not a pleasant experience especially since many had not yet learn the finer points of hygiene.

    The weather has remained quite nice for winter (knocking on wood). We’ve missed all the big storms and most days have been above average.


  19. Yo, Chris – You’ve got to keep up! With American slang. Sports Utility Vehicles have been referred to as SUVs, for quit awhile, now. Yeah, it’s all marketing. “Sports” for those who want to be considered sporty, and “Utility” for those who have allusions of some kind of usefulness. :-). Then there’s ATVs. All Terrain Vehicles. Known for their mortality among small children and old guys who should know better. “Off Road Vehicles?” Over 90% never leave the pavement. “Not what we are but what we aspire to be.”

    Well, I picked up a bit of Australian slang, reading that article about “Picnic at Hanging Rock.” “Ocker”. Apparently safe to use in a FFB (Family Friendly Blog) as several definitions referred to it as a sometimes affectionate term. And, it was in the staid old Sydney Herald. :-). I see there’s even a film genre of Ocker movies.

    Oh, I moved to S. California when I was about 22, in the early 1970s. Lived there for about 3 1/2 years. Thought I had a job waiting. It was, as I remember, to “see the world”, “experience life” and there was also probably some notion of re-inventing myself and California romanticism. California dreamin’, surf city, etc. etc.. I didn’t like the weather, from the start. And, the gas shortages in the early 1970s, really spooked me. The things I saw in those gas lines…

    I’ve been to San Francisco, twice, on 4 or 5 day visits. Again, in the early 70s. The hippies were long gone, by then.

    That was a very funny, very naughty and very true song, by Denis Leary. He looked very familiar, but looking at his CV, I couldn’t figure out where I’d seen him, before. Most of his movies and TV work had no appeal. Then I noticed he was in a fireman series called “Rescue Me.” I watched two or three episodes and decided it wasn’t for me. As I remember, he was a pretty unpleasant character. Cont.

  20. Cont. That’s quit a story about your tree. At least the roots will help hold the slope, together, for a good long time.

    Oh, I think you’ll see the lyrebirds, back on your place, again. And, I have a feeling, sooner, rather than later. Check out their call and keep a sharp ear out. Think of the day you spot one. That will be something you’ll remember for the rest of your life. I quit admire people who try and take care of wild animals. I think it’s a talent, and a “calling.” One of the things I found most interesting in the documentary, was that they observed your Mountain Ash, reproducing in ways that had never been seen, before. Here, we have several plants that only grow after a wild fire.

    Insurance deductibles are attached to just about every kind of insurance you can buy, here. Health, cars, home. Say you have a $100,000 medical bill. Your insurance has a $50,000 deductible. You pay the first $50,000 on the bill, and the insurance company (in theory) pays everything over that. Usually, the higher the deductible, the lower the yearly rates.

    Relations are pretty tense, between men and women, right now. A real mine field. The Dudes are pretty twitchy. We have a situation at The Club right now. And, older man, just the sweetest guy in the world, has been accused of making a woman’s daughter feel “uncomfortable.” No one else sees it, but, given the present climate, it must be addressed. If one says “You and your daughter are nuts”, then we’re trying to “gas light” them. Something I had to look up. From an old movie, “Gaslight.” Making a woman think she’s crazy, to cover up some nefarious scheme.

    “Picnic at Hanging Rock” was submitted to the publisher, with the last chapter. The publisher wanted to cut it, as, they though ambiguity would make for a better book. If you want to get your book published, you go along with what the publisher wants.

    When I took Princess out for her walk at 9PM, last night, it was already frosty. There were all kinds of warnings out for freezing fog. And, on New Years Eve. It was 30F (-1.11C) most of the night, and dipped down to 28F (-2.22C) a couple of times. I’m sure the carnage on the roads were considerable. Haven’t seen the reports, yet. We’re to have another cold one, tonight. Then the rain’s coming back and the overnight lows will be a comfortable 40F (4.44C). 🙂 Lew

  21. @ Damo:

    Best of luck to you on the move. It sounds quite exciting. Now I will go look at your boats.


  22. @ Pam and Chris,

    I wish the dirt roads hereabouts contained more clay, as they would hold up a lot better. The roads with mostly clay can last moderately well, and would likely get more potholes than the normal washboards that we get here. The rule of thumb for the gravel/dirt roads here is that they should have no more than about 100 vehicles per day on them. However, I think that number is too high: 60 per day would probably be more ideal. Also, due to extensive rural development into 10 acre parcels, these roads typically have 175 to 275 vehicles per day. The roads wear out rapidly as a result, obtaining severe washboards days after being graded.

    This stuff, as well as the miles of roads and gravel roads, isn’t really an interest I ever thought I’d have. It’s all part of my job for one of the local governments. We advertise that the gravel will be graded twice per year, and the snow plowed eventually. (None of the gravel roads are arterials.) Grading cannot occur when the roads are too dry, as it just digs up the base or breaks the grader blades. Once it’s too hot and dry, a moratorium is put on grading due to fire danger. One blade hitting a rock and creating a spark and…


  23. Chris,

    Years and years of building strength and aerobic capacity (fancy ways of saying “staying active”) do give people more reserves than they think. I’ve had some injuries that prevent me from doing any high impact things like running, so I do a lot of more gentle things, like walking and Taiji. Combined with yardwork, they seem to do the job, especially with a few higher intensity things added 2 or 3 days a week. I’ve found similarly to you: it’s amazing what CAN be done as a result.

    I once got lost during a winter storm that turned to rain when cross country skiing. I finally found an area sheltered from the wind, put on dry wool clothes, draped my rain poncho over me, and sat. And ate. And drank water. I was warm, dry and out of the elements. Preparation. Yes, I made some mistakes. (the biggest being that I should’ve turned back as soon as I knew it was warming up before I was lost!) But at least knew what to do, what not to do, and had proper gear.

    Heat stroke, even heat exhaustion, is scary. Another chap and I went for a lengthy bicycle ride one early September day in southern New Mexico. It was about 30C and we planned a 3 hour ride. I had 2 water bottles, he had none and refused my offer of water when he began to struggle. We found a patch of ripe prickly pear cactus. I peeled some with my knife, but he just bit through the skins. Now he had cactus spines in his mouth and tongue as well as the beginning stages of heat exhaustion.

    We got back to campus, where another guy and I decided to go out to dinner at a local Mexican eatery. The other bicyclist went with us, and ordered the hottest, spiciest thing on the menu. He had no history of anything other than a bland diet. That spiciness couldn’t have felt good on where the cactus spines had been! The only thing that calms that spicy heat down is alcohol or milk. He wouldn’t drink either, but did down two pitchers of water. We were laughing at the steam that was literally pouring out of his hair and off of his face. We did warn him, after all. He’s really lucky, what with the dehydration and the heat exhaustion.

    I shudder at the early hour too! Much too early to be out and about, especially this time of year. One of those idiocies brought about by “running from nature”. Sigh.


  24. Hi Damo,

    Oh yeah, the locals would have loved having a good laugh at how they had to rescue yourself and Mrs Damo in a Jimny! Sometimes small towns can be very welcoming. Not suggesting that you are correct in your assertions, but to be candid, it does look that way to me!!!! Hehe!

    I used to have an old 1L Suzuki Sierra 4 speed, and that thing was so light it never ended up being bogged anywhere. Your story (and Lewis’s earlier suggestions) started me (and the editor) thinking today about some sort of winch system to bring things back up the hill. I hauled up the electric log splitter by hand today in the hot afternoon sun and the 90kg weight was weighing down upon my soul by the time I made it back up the hill to the house. Can you offer any suggestions as to how I could sort something like that out? I could easily weld up a trolley of some sort. Dunno.

    I appreciate the fact that you recognise artisan work with those labels, but my mates got to appreciate that as well as the contents. As a funny side story, the editor and I were at a party about two years ago, and by sheer chance we were cornered by a genuine sake master who had worked in Japan, and the editor and the sake master were deep into the finer points of sake making for many hours. All I can add to your effort is to not let the batch exceed 23’C otherwise acetobacterium may take over the batch. You now may consider yourself as having been ‘told’! 🙂

    Cold December’s are bonkers. Friday looks set to reach 42’C in Melbourne, so it will be quite unpleasant up this way, but a cool change is in store for Saturday.

    Enjoy the move, and ginger is quite a good sea sickness remedy. Who doesn’t like ginger?

    Well done you! And I enjoyed your joke about the Tesla. 🙂 By the way, loved the music score. Yes, who could forget both the Team America and Top Gun sound tracks? Incidentally, the humour in Team America was completely lost on me, but then I thought the same thing about Spinal Tap because that was how they were meant to be wasn’t it? And an Ass Blaster sounds like an extraordinarily unpleasant experience! Hehe! Two words: Good luck! You and Mrs Damo look like fair dinkum bad asses with those guns (the editor and I partook of a solid comparison of the AK47 versus the M16 south of Saigon and our general consensus was that the M16 was the better piece). Thanks for putting the video together. Loved it and the scenery was epic! 🙂

    I’ve heard that about lyrebirds and there could be a case to be made that the foxes got them here rather than the 1983 fires taking the birds out, but you never know…



  25. Hi Pam,

    Not to worry, there are some big rocks up there above the house still… The story made me physically sick (I wasn’t joking about that), and I was so relieved when the tree was eventually dropped, and the bloke was no expert, he was a champion axeman (his card said so – and I do not doubt the claim). Champions are better than experts – as there seem to be rather a lot of experts nowadays…

    Yeah, gravity sucks, and actually it does suck things in a downward direction. Although to be honest, trees fall in all sorts of directions and often branches fall rather than the entire tree coming down. Trees are amazingly hardy and they want to survive, and that generally does not involve falling over onto your house in their entirety. But it is a possibility.

    I hear you about the well pump. That would have been an epic job and the pump would have been of no small weight. Like you probably feel, with the water systems here I just want them to work.

    No problems at all, and I note that Lewis has indeed provided an answer. I’m not sure how many of those sorts of bills (the deductibles) that most folks could survive. A true horror story.

    I’ll see what I can do!

    A person has to be careful looking behind the couch because with all of the dogs (and ex-dogs in your case) there are sure to be plenty of dust bunnies (do you call them that?) I’m not entirely sure how that name came to be…

    Spent most of the day cutting and splitting firewood, which hopefully tomorrow, we’ll bring back up the hill and stack in the shed. Me tired…



  26. Hi Margaret,

    Happy New Year to you too! 🙂 A delightful New Years, and to be candid, you managed to stay up far later than the editor and I who fell fast asleep by about 11pm after a day of work. I have a suspicion that people were more social in years gone by, and I too recall parties held by adults like the one you wrote about. The noise makers early on the 1st of January would have been heaps of fun for kids! A lot of people tend to head off to festivals these days – and my mates and I years ago used to head off to a big hippie festival (which I’m not sure that I actually enjoyed).

    Have sticky labels and a colour inkjet printer, and the world may be yours for the taking. Most commercial sake bottles are quite simple looking for some reason, and Google translator does a fine job.

    Thanks and nope. Echidna’s are like little defensive islands and they can simply hunker down and bury themselves. The quills seem very strong to me, but I’ve never gone out of my way to poke an Echidna. I keep a towel and blanket in the back of the car and that has been useful to remove wildlife from the road – as not everyone is nice. And the wildlife can often scratch and bite, but towels and blankets seem to sort that trick out.

    The rock was huge, and was seriously at the limit of what we could handle. Heavy machinery would make such a mess of the soil that I’ve spent years growing, so we make do with hand tools.

    Exactly, close up in the morning and open up again in the evening. Winters here are the seriously humid time of year and it can be over 90% humidity for well over half the year. For your interest, we put ceiling fans in each room as they use between 50W and 75W per hour, which is not much energy at all from the batteries, but the ceilings are high and they range from 10ft to 12ft. The 12ft ceilings were a bad idea as they are just too high. 10ft is just right.

    Oh yeah, it doesn’t take too many people to have forgotten the finer points of hygiene before a room gets a bit funky smelling. Back in the days when I was a boss, I had to occasionally tell a staff member off and suggest they attend to their personal hygiene and grooming. You wouldn’t think that would be necessary, but no.



  27. Hi Lewis,

    Mate, a few years ago, the vehicles that look like SUV’s were referred to as “four wheel drives” and it was expected that they actually were constructed for that purpose and could head off road. Frankly they were a bit agricultural, but the little Dirt Rat has four wheel drive with low and high range gearing, but the newer models may not be supplied with those tools. It all changed a few years back, but who am I to argue with people as SUV’s appear to sell like hot cakes? It is all a bit of a mystery to me. Mind you the finance payments (never borrowed for a car myself) and fuel bills would be crippling. Plus because they’re more expensive, so insurance costs more, and just to add insult to injury, maintenance costs heaps because they’re heavier. I don’t get the love affair for the things at all. But like everything, time will sort that mess out.

    As another difference, you do hear the term ATV used down here, but they’re also known as quad bikes. And they scare the daylights out of me because the centre of gravity is just too high for my happiness. I used to know a lady who lived on the other side of hanging rock, who had a quad bike accident, and it took her a few years to recover from it.

    Have you ever noticed how advertisements for those vehicles are either in outlandish and improbable locations – or they show no other vehicles on the road? Still, marketing works, until reality kicks in. I’ve seen someone suffering ‘buyers remorse’ upon purchasing a new vehicle and they were in their mid 60’s and I wondered how they got financing for the machine, but then I have read of some dark rumours about that industry. Have you ever seen a person with buyers remorse?

    Ocker is not often heard these days, but when I was younger you used to hear it – Paul Hogan would have been a good example. I feel that the Ocker maybe an endangered species, much like the often spoke about, but rarely seen Bogan. There was an amusing website years ago called: Things Bogan’s like. It may still be kicking around?

    Moving offers that opportunity, although someone wiser than I once told me that a person must first review their inner dimensions. Hey, was that suitably Californian? Probably not, but I always have this sort of suspicion that such talk goes on over there? Maybe not. Moving on. Mate, I am totally intrigued by what you saw in the gas lines during those days? We avoided that fate because the Bass Strait oil fields off the coast came online during that time. I recall as a kid standing on the beach at 90 Mile Beach (which has scenery reminiscent of the most excellent 1976 film, Storm Boy) and seeing the glow from the off shore oil rigs. I still don’t know what I was doing in that part of the country, but I was very young and so events swept me along.

    I can see that, but I do wonder where they went? Dunno. I saw hippies disappear once at a hippy festival. All it took was some serious rain. I may have mentioned to you long ago that a poignant moment for me, was visiting a hippy museum up in Nimbin (which is like a sub tropical Ashland) and it just made me feel sad, more for the dashed hopes and the lost potential (no doubt because it rained on them).

    He did a bit of TV work I noted too, but that song got to number one down here that year. It says a bit about our cultural tastes! 🙂 It is very naughty and not very family friendly at all. Hehe!

    Exactly. I’m usually pretty relaxed, but the tree situation left me with a nasty case of the flu. Big chunks of tree were dropping onto the frame of the house. An old timer remarked to me that it was wise not to have trees within dropping distance of a house. Mind you, Eucalyptus trees are worse than Elms for dropping branches. Did I mention that there was a society set up long ago to protect the ancient Elm trees that were planted down here? Well there you go, Elms are apparently of an Italian origin and they were introduced to Britain via the Romans. Who knew?

    Yeah, I noticed that too about the Mountain Ash regrowing after the fire (and it was a hot fire too). Eucalyptus trees readily hybridise so that tree may have been a hybrid, which is much better adapted to the fires than its peers. They’re amazing trees that particular species. I do hope that I eventually see a lyrebird here, you never know. As the forest recovers from the 1983 fires, a lot of different species are increasing their range, and today this farm is a different place than it was even only a decade ago. It is a very dynamic process, and yes I would rather enjoy that moment.

    Far freaking out! Seriously, why would you have a policy at all when you have to come up with the first $50,000? That sounds completely bonkers to me. Not many folks could afford such a bill. Thanks for the startling explanation. Incidentally, is that an aspect of hyper inflation much like our house prices down here?

    Out of curiosity, is the woman’s daughter a member of the club (as I presume the mother is)? If the daughter is not a member of the club, whatever would she be doing there in the first place? Sometimes people fixate on an issue, and it is like what I was writing to you about arguments, in that often what people are arguing about is not what they actually want to discuss but for some reason they are unable to, so instead they fixate on another issue altogether because it allows them to at least vent their internal pressures. But the pressure still builds for them. As a wild guess, that is what I see, but you know I’d actually explore what the daughter means by the word: “uncomfortable”, as it maybe something that is within the realms of acceptability and that may need to be discussed, if anyone ever took the time to consider what is meant by that anyway. Part of your culture stresses the individual, but in reality we are part of a community and sometimes the needs of the group outweigh that of an individual – and the legal system reflects that. But the culture pulls in different directions. Never heard of the term ‘gaslight’ before, but I do recall seeing remaining parts of the old town gasworks way back in the day before it was all dismantled.

    Publishers sound like a complex lot, and so it is perhaps best not to annoy them! 🙂

    Brrr! Princess is made of tougher stuff than me. Believe it or not, I’ve become summer soft and inside the house it is 68’F and I’m thinking to myself that it is a little bit chilly (seriously!) Friday looks set to reach 108’F in Melbourne… Yuk.



  28. Hello Chris
    Gorgeous sunsets and I like the bottle labels too.
    Don’t like air conditioning which I have never encountered in a house here but assume that that is what causes me to shiver in supermarkets. I have encountered it in Australia and it just makes it difficult to adapt to the climate.
    A small model of an echidna is within my view. I don’t remember but assume that one of my daughters gave it to me.
    The weather turned colder last night but still very pleasant.

    @ Pam
    Finally getting around to saying how much I enjoy your outstanding sense of humour.


  29. @ DJSpo

    I had noticed that they only grade our gravel roads (thank goodness) shortly after a rain, so I think that takes care of any problems that could otherwise occur when working over a dry road. I am not sure that we need to worry – except during the brief burn ban period, usually mid-spring – about sparks. It rains here at least once a week.


  30. Chris:

    They are dust bunnies here, and they breed like rabbits . . .

    Our ceilings are 8 feet (2.4m) high, which surprised me when I measured it as I had thought they were 9. I guess that makes sense though, with the budget we had when building and possibly there is a load bearing issue as this is a two-story house and the log beams of the ground floor ceiling hold up the upper story.

    I would dearly love to have a dirt rat. I don’t know if they are sold in this country. I would be in the market for a used one and nobody is going to let one go unless – as you had to – it has become too expensive to repair any more.

    People die in quad bike (ATV) accidents here all the time. On one sad occasion I remember when the Dave Matthews Band member LeRoi Moore was injured, and later died from the injuries, while riding one on his farm in the western part of my county. I can’t believe that it has been 10 years.


  31. Yo, Chris – Another big selling point with the SUVs, is that, in a crash, given their larger size and weight, they’re more survivable. Supposeidly. So if you love and care for your family, you should buy an SUV. Otherwise, what’s wrong with you? :-).

    Sure, I’ve seen buyer’s remorse. Occasionally, in the bathroom mirror.

    One of the definitions of “ocker” was, “A dude in thongs (here, occasionally called flip flops) and shorts, holding up a bar with a tinnie in his hand.” I had to look up tinnie. A can of beer. Australian slang is an endless rabbit hole :-).

    Where did the hippies go? Well, much harder and more exotic drugs than the etherial mara-hockie appeared on the scene, so a lot of them ended up in mental wards or shallow graves. The rest? Why, Back To The Land!, of course.Not kidding. Several of the books I’ve read about that mention that aspect. The “scene” in the cities just got to crazy and a lot of people, of that ilk, just bailed.

    I noticed that Denis Leary also has a number of books. And, in a bit of serendipity, my local branch has one on the shelf. “Why We Suck. A Feel Good Guide to Staying Fat, Loud, Lazy and Stupid.” (2008). I do like a good social commentary, on the American scene.

    Well, the nice insurance companies are giving you a CHOICE! The higher the deductible you pay, the lower your outrageous rates! When I hit the deer, Frank the Mechanic fixed it for less than $500. Which, is my deductible. I also didn’t report it to my insurance company. Even though I haven’t had a claim in decades, my rates probably would have gone up. Insurance companies hedge their bets.

    The daughter, is 20. Also, “in the program.” But, yes, there are often kids about the Club. Which is why I generally don’t go to Club functions. I mean, other than that I don’t like crowds, having kids, usually hyped up on sugar, larking about, isn’t my idea of a good time. I also think we’ve lost the fine art of saying “No thank you,” to unwanted attention. The subtle art of deflection. Sure, some keep pushing, but then you take other steps.

    When I took the dog out at 9PM, last night, the grass was already crunchy with frost. It was a steady 30F (-1.11) all night. Which I always find a bit odd. A steady temperature for long periods of time. But, the rain is coming back, this evening, and temperatures will climb.

    I spent a few hours in the garden, yesterday. Flinging about poo and leaves. As we’ve had such a mild winter, I planted a bit more garlic. Worked on a bit more fencing. Harvested the first of the Jerusalem artichokes, but haven’t done anything with them, yet. And, SCORE! I went looking for a small bag of garden lime, the other day. It’s early for the garden stuff, so I had laid out 4 stops to make … In Search of … garden lime. The first place I stopped (Sunbirds, a kind of locally owned, multi purpose store) the guys were just putting out the first of the garden stuff. So, I asked The Old Garden Guy about lime. He had 3 bags left from last year BUT they were 40 pound bags. Far more than I needed. BUT they were only $5 per bag. So, I have a 40 pound bag of dolomite lime, sitting on the floorboards of my truck. I figure I can save some for next year, share a bit with the Garden Goddesses, and donate the rest to the Master Gardeners.

    I finished “Picnic at Hanging Rock”, last night. Still a bit of a murky ending, but, overall, pretty satisfying. Worth a look.

    I have many dust bunnies. They have names. Lew

  32. Hi Lewis,

    Just had a brain flash of an idea: There is some truth to the old adage that – Idle hands are the devils play ground. And that adage is as true of the situation in your Club, as it is in the larger sphere of your politics. 😉



  33. Hi DJ,

    Mate, there aren’t too many old fella’s that can keep up running – although that doesn’t stop them from trying! Hey, I gave up that sport upon the first hint of knee troubles, as I’d seen where that business could go, and it is not a pretty place full of unicorns… And walking, as a species that is our specialty, well, at least that is what I reckon.

    Exactly too, preparation is everything. Have you noticed that a lot of folks try and pretend that the conditions are other than what they actually are? We hauled in firewood for about five hours this morning in 30’C heat and that was about the extent of what we could do. And I probably could get up again tomorrow and do it all over again, except that it is meant to be 42’C in the shade tomorrow. Not good. Your mate with the bike ride in those sorts of conditions was probably not in a good way, and a person can do really serious damage to their brain, not to mention the rest of their body.

    Prickly pear is to be found at lower elevations and a bit closer to Melbourne. It was a bit of a thing to grow it. Oh yeah, the very fine hairs / spikes are rotten. I used to work for a bloke who told me that his uncle fed him one as a kid (as some sort of malicious joke) and he ended up in hospital. Given I was hearing about it almost two decades after it happened, it must have been traumatic. What a revolting thing to do. I was stupid enough to place a small paddle into a pocket once. As they say, once bitten, twice shy.

    Ah, the foolishness of being a yoof! 🙂 Heat exhaustion makes a person do strange things, and they can become aggressive or act out of character, as your mate appears to have done. No good at all. Incidentally he is probably lucky he didn’t have an alcoholic drink as that would have worsened the situation – quite a bit actually.

    Far out, those roads don’t sound as if they last very long at all. And I’m surprised by the volume of traffic, as rural areas down here are usually quite quiet. As a comparison, the road here would get less than five vehicle trips per day, but the main road might be perhaps more than 50 but less than a hundred.

    Is there any history to the 10 acre parcel? It is a useful amount of land, but I’m curious about how many of those are run as productive small holdings – or are they simply space buffers from the neighbours?



  34. Hi Lewis,

    Travels in India and Nepal taught me the harsh lesson that ‘might is right’, as trucks generally had right of way (in any direction), next buses, cars, scooters, chickens… There were some truly terrifying moments, but strangely enough the drivers seemed bizarrely cheerful about the encounters and the front of all of the Tata trucks were adorned with lashings of tinsel and were brightly painted. The roads were bonkers and I for one was glad not to have had the responsibility for driving. I see that a tourist bus was targeted in Egypt recently.

    Yeah, don’t you reckon that the sheer resources, pollution and international politics required to run an SUV pose more actual problems – that are actually happening – than families feeling safer behind the wheel of one of those vehicles? I mean the drivers very acts and choices make them less safe. It is a bit bonkers.

    Hehe! Mirrors can be a bit unforgiving. Best not to get lost in the detail though. Mate, you’re probably doing far better than Sir Scruffy who appears to have declined in his health recently. He’s still reasonably happy and chipper though, so who knows?

    That’s about right for an ocker. You don’t see them around much these days, although I’m sure they haven’t disappeared anywhere. Although maybe, they might be a dying breed? An unbelievably high percentage of the population down here live in urban areas. I was wondering about your part of the world, but in the past in rural areas you used to encounter a sort of laconic bloke, and whilst they were short on words, the words proffered often carried a sting or an astute observation? And yeah, tinnie is another name for a stubbie. 🙂 I’ve enjoyed a few stubbies in my time. Connoisseurs of stubbies often place the beverage container in a foam (a wet suit material) covering that helps to keep the beverage cool. Mind you, no respectable pub would ever allow stubbies to be consumed at the public bar, let alone allow foam coverings on their premises that they weren’t themselves selling (but those items you do see in private residences). The things people do in private these days…

    Hehe! How good would it have been if the hippies had gone back to the land and stuck with it? I can see how the scene ended up a bit crazy. And with the ‘back to the land’ folks I often wonder if expectations were high and skills were not commensurate? It has taken me a decade to get my head around firewood and that is just one example of a system here, let alone all the rest of them. Anyone setting off into the wilderness would get very cold indeed during the long winters. Speaking of which, we spent another five hours hauling in the firewood we cut and split yesterday. By the time 1pm rolled around the 87’F heat was beginning to do me in. We had to get up at 6am too – and I for one am not friends with that hour of the day. 108’F tomorrow and I am not excited by that prospect at all.

    I assume that you put an order in for the book by Dennis Leary? He has an acerbic style, so it should be entertaining, and the title promises much. My summer reading is the “World Made by Hand” series by Mr Kunstler, and I’m thoroughly enjoying the re-read.

    That was a very cheap fix on the Ranger. With the damage to the Dirt Mouse several months ago that my mate accidentally backed into, I wanted to just fix that without going through the insurance, but they chucked me into the system, and so I was in the system and just went with the process. Yes, there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch. Because the accident wasn’t my fault the nice insurance company chucked all sorts of free goodies in front of me, like loan cars and taxi’s and all that stuff. I just wanted the car fixed, and I must be bonkers because I declined all that stuff on the basis that if everyone indulges in those bells and whistles then the very product becomes unaffordable (which it is heading in that direction).

    Yeah, I don’t attend functions where there are a large number of kids skylarking around. Just don’t. Years ago when I was more naive, a mate asked me to attend his kids first birthday party. It was an horrendous experience and my other mates who didn’t have kids all huddled in the garage and talked rubbish and wondered whatever where we doing there. The most outrageous thing that gets said to me about not having kids is that we are: selfish. Of course such comments are usually about the insecurities of the people spouting them, but still it is a rough thing to accuse someone of. Have you ever heard that drivel?

    The gentle art of saying “no” is a skill that is generally not well developed in western societies. I have a dark suspicion that there are many reasons why this is so. Other cultures, particularly some Asian cultures also have a trouble with this word, but you know there are plenty that can say it. What do you reckon about that?

    Hey, is your next month colder again? Or is January the coldest for you? I’m hoping the summer heat is done by mid February…

    The editor enjoyed a soup recently with Jerusalem artichokes and I didn’t partake of it. Some people have the, is it enzymes? to break the starches down. I fear that I am not one such. The agricultural lime is a real bargain at such a price. Nice one! The stuff makes a great deal of difference for the plants. The donation is a nice idea too and hopefully it is well received.

    Thank you for the series reference and recommendation. 🙂

    Dust bunnies should have proper names, perhaps of Latin origin. The first time I encountered dust bunnies was in a rental property that was an old Victorian weatherboard house which had no carpet. So the dust bunnies used to accumulate in odd corners of the house, and for some strange reason I got it into my head that surely these dust bunnies were oozing from the accumulated century or so of dust in the walls? There were a lot of cracks in the plaster and poorly fitting skirting boards and architraves and I had convinced myself that no it wasn’t dog and human hair and dust… No, it was the dog and human hair and dust. Oh well.



  35. Hi Inge and Pam,

    I’m having the mid-week hiatus, otherwise known as going to the pub for a pint and a feed. Thanks for the lovely comments and I promise to reply tomorrow. I’ll probably spend a lot of time indoors tomorrow because it is meant to reach 108’F…



  36. Hello again
    Notayesman 3rd Jan. while chiefly about Japan, gave a mention to Australia.


  37. Hi Chris,
    Doug does make labels for his honey. He sells these 2 oz bears with personalized labels. People often buy a bunch for office gifts, wedding and shower favors.

    Hope you’re able to lay low during the heat and the fluffy collective as well.


  38. @Damo,

    Loved the boats and the trip video. 4000 miles in 15 days – did you ever sleep. Btw my daughter was president of her school’s FFA chapter.


  39. Yo, Chris – Re: Hands and devil’s. Often described as having “too much time on their hands.” As in, not enough to occupy them to keep them out of mistchif. (sp? Oh, well. Just sound it out, consider the context and you’ll get what I mean.)

    Hadn’t heard about the tourist bus, in Egypt. Just about any archaeological report I see (like the recent big tomb find) usually mentions that Egypt hopes such and such find will “bring the tourists, back.” That always seems to be the “easy” fix for economic problems. Tourists. Dying small towns here, also trot out the tourist card.

    Perceived traffic safety is right here and right now. At least, so the advertisers would like you to think. Any other problems are “out there”. Somewhere. Sometime.

    Urban and rural. The rise of humongous cities, and all that. In my more paranoid moments, I think that it’s all a plot to drive us into the cities, so we’re more manageable. But it’s more economics. Here, more and more, if you want dependable (for now) what used to be called “goods and services”, you headed for urban areas. Some people called them “opportunities.” :-).

    To me, those sound like ghastly temperatures. Last night and today, we’ve had a storm, moving through. Warmer temperatures, but wind. Gusts to 32 mph. And, I just laid down all those leaves! So, yesterday, I threw some disused netting over some of it. Scattered a few tomato cages on their sides to hold it down. Haven’t been out to do a survey, yet, to see how that’s working. Is January or February the coldest month? Got me. Depends on the year. I haven’t really paid much attention. Either are just cold. But February puts us one month closer to spring :-).

    Not having kids? Sounds more sensible, than selfish. You could work up a come-back around that. Hmmm. I don’t hear much of that. I don’t think my … attitude invites such comments. I’d be likely to just say. “Yes.” When the topic of children come up, I usually say something like, “If I had children, I’d still be in jail.” I seem to remember some bleeding heart, somewhere along the way, saying “But who will take care of you in your old age?” (Me) “I’ll take care of myself.” (Them) “But what if you can’t take care of yourself?”
    (Me) “Well, I suppose I’ll die.” I think I’ve also heard, “You’ll die alone!” My response? “That’s the plan.”

    The art of saying “no.” Something I’ve practiced, and have, often, advised other people to practice.

    Oh, I got lucky with the Leary book. It was one of those rare instances where it was sitting on the shelf of my local branch. I also picked up two that I had ordered in. “Hadrian’s Wall” (Goldsworthy, 2018) and “What She Ate: Six Remarkable Women: The Food That Tells Their Stories” (Shapiro, 2017). I spent last evening reading a bit in all three. Lew

  40. Chris and DJ,

    I have been telling people for years the reason I don’t run is that it will mess up my knees :-p


  41. Chris & Lew,

    RE: Children, being selfish

    Recently, a friend of mine (who has two kids and was a little drunk) was trying to argue that Mrs Damo and I should have kids as the world needs better people, which presumably, we would raise. I guess it is the Idiocracy argument (see entertaining movie of the far future featuring only the descendants of stupid people).


  42. Hi Marg,

    I am glad you liked the video. After uploading, I reflected and figured it was actually 2000 miles. We got a trip report from the owner afterwards which said 4000, but I looked at the journey and only got to about 2500. By that stage I had enough of video editing so didn’t bother to change it 🙂

    The song was great wasn’t it – I thought it took the line between parody and celebration quite well! I had no idea what FFA was until I just googled it 🙂


  43. Pam,

    Thanks, moving is something we do a bit too much of, although it has advantages as well. Yesterday we did a run to the Op-Shop to donate a few bags of things we don’t plan on taking with us. Seems to make sense, most of the items came from there anyway 🙂

    Glad you enjoyed the videos!


  44. Hi Chris,

    I reckon for a winch solution you should be looking at either the 4WD or boat world. Hand winches are simple, robust and can pull up very heavy boats. The electric units are not very expensive either (and can easily do 1200kg+). And they have clever ratchets for unwinding as well – so you can safely roll heavy stuff down. A 4wd winch could be an option as well – although I am not sure if they uwind with a brake or ratchet like the boat trailer winches do. The other wildcard could be a caravan “motor mover” unit (not sure what they are called). Any way, they let you drive a caravan around without a car. Maybe one of those with a 12v battery on a small custom trailer?

    I find your seasickness cure suggestions concerning! I for one hope they are not necessary 🙂

    RE: Spinal Tap
    Remember the old show current affairs mockumentary, “FrontLine” with Mike Moore? Apparently, Ray Martin, who hosted A Current Affair at the time (and which was mercilessly mocked in FrontLine) said he didn’t find it funny either.

    Glad you liked the video and the soundtrack – they all seemed appropriate. I am not sure to what degree the main song, International Harvester, is meant to be a parody. I think it is both making fun of and celebrating country music. Good song at any rate!

    I would like to try out the M16 and AK47. The guns we used were smaller calibre, but still very fun. Mrs Damo and I both agreed we definitely see the appeal in firearms.

    Good luck with the heat. We just finished our heatwave here – 2 days of 28 degrees. Was not pleasant, now at a more sensible 21 degrees and blue sky!


  45. Hi all,

    Just spent over 3 hours making my own filo pastry. Not sure if it will be worth it :-p Guess you have to do these sorts of crazy things at least once!


  46. Hi Inge,

    Thanks for the heads up about the notayesmaneconomics mention of Australian – Yen interactions, and of course the implied flow of funds from Japan into the country seeking yield. Fascinating and the update cycle with the blog is beyond me, so I appreciate the heads up.

    There have been some very unusual claims made by our Reserve Bank recently: Reserve Bank says rate cuts and QE possible as Australian housing enters ‘uncharted territory’. And I had been hearing anecdotal accounts that people were fleeing into the shadow banking sector, or becoming financially distressed, as they have been unable to renegotiate their interest only loans (which generally have a fixed period and are coming due about now-ish), and which if house prices fall has the potential of creating a margin call situation similar to 1929. Well, fear not: APRA to remove banks’ interest-only lending restrictions. APRA is the banking regulator down here.

    Anyway, it all looks pretty bonkers to me and I have a vague feeling where this will all end. However, I am genuinely astonished to see the policy levers being chucked at this here Titanic. You have to admit that it is quite an impressive feat? Although I frankly wonder whether long term goals are even getting a look in? Dunno.

    You’ve got Brexit coming up shortly and I will be very interested to hear your views on the ground. Although, I doubt very much whether the forest and the critters (other than us humans) living in them will concern themselves overly much about such things. The forest critters here seem to view me with the vaguely hostile actions that befit a competitor. I feel a bit bad as after the pub, I’d accidentally forgotten to fill up the wombats water bowl last night and so the local wombat proceeded to wake me up by stomping around outside the bedroom window, only to head off into the orchard in a huff!

    Thank you about the sunsets and the bottle labels. 🙂

    Exactly, it got to 108’F here today outside in the shade and 84’F inside, and I just ran the ceiling fans in whatever room I was in. But mostly, I just did accounting work that had to be done at some stage, so why not today. In a strange twist, the heavens opened at about 6pm and a for a few minutes a good, but minor dump of rain fell over the farm. It is much cooler now at only 80’F. Best to adapt to the climate, whatever that may be, knowing that it is easier to keep yourself warm than it is to cool things down.

    Greetings to your model Echidna, and they are lovely, but also shy creatures.



  47. Hi Pam,

    Dust bunnies truly take on a life of their own. Now, consider Ollie the cattle dog. He’s a massive gangle chunk with numerous freckles to be sure, but also he packs a robust surface area of short hairs, which not to put too fine a point upon the embarrassing matter, recede. However, Ollie has this uniquely adapted mechanism that unlike adult human males he can simply regrow those short hairs, and in doing so he creates more dust bunnies. It is an impressive feat is it not? Hehe!

    Incidentally, because of the heat today, the fluffy collective have whiled away the daytime hours in various states of fast asleep position number five. They’re very good at it, but what else does one do in such weather? Fortunately the temperature has plummeted in the past hour and it is now only 70’F outside! Yay!

    Do you get the extremes of summer heat that sometimes turn up down here? And to be honest the shade from the trees surrounding your house would make summer heat more bearable.

    Exactly! Therein lies the problem of the second hand vehicle. You could possibly score something that has been lovingly tended too for all of its existence. Or, you could end up with a horror story of a purchase. It is a complicated matter, and I have had my fair share of lemons. What do they say: Once bitten, twice shy! It seems somehow appropriate don’t you reckon?

    Ouch. Yes, surviving the accident can be a far worse experience than the accident itself, sorry to say. That band were quite big, although they didn’t make a great splash down here. Another famous one was Rik Mayall may have died after fit in wake of bike accident. Who can argue with the line: “I beat Jesus Christ. He was dead for three days at Easter. When I crashed it was the day before Good Friday – Crap Thursday – and I was technically dead until Easter Monday – that’s five days. I beat him 5-3.” I just don’t do quad (ATV) bikes.



  48. Hi Margaret,

    Doug making his own labels for the honey is a nice touch. Have I mentioned before that the honey that we buy that is without doubt the best I have encountered, and it comes from a house that is, not quite, but almost, in the middle of nowhere? They have a hand made sign on the side of the road and sell from their front door. I once offered to wash the containers and return them, and they were aghast at the suggestion because of the crazy food safety handling procedures legislated in place… Bonkers, if only because not much can actually live in honey.

    Thankfully it is cooling down now. Yay! And the house is opened up to let in the cooler evening air. Today was a very risky day from fires, and fortunately there were none to speak of (in this area). Other parts of the state were not so lucky. Bushfire threatens homes and lives near Rosedale as Victoria sweats through hot, windy weather.

    The bears are a top marketing idea too. Nice one. People love that stuff.



  49. A Happy Healthy New Year to all! Here the tradition is to eat 12 grapes with the striking of the clock at midnight. So staying up until then is kind of required, and then there is a flurry of phone calls to various far-flung members of family. I was in bed by 12:30.

    Looks like peak rocks was, dare I say it, a hoax.

    Regarding being child-free – the puppy has only reinforced our opinion that it was the correct decision. We´re still exhausted.

    Regarding your potential mentoring of a bee-keeping student – do you have reason to think she´s a nutter? It would be a great shame if young people were limited to half the population to learn from. Would it be difficult to hammer out some rules in advance? I can´t believe most people don´t know how to behave anymore. But it´s possible.

    What a stunning sunset! Lately, it´s been clear and cold, -2C/28F this morning, so no spectacular sunrises. I spent an hour trying to fill a hole in the old, hideous hedge where the puppy gets into the neighbor´s yard yesterday, and when finished it took her about 5 minutes to get out again. I´m going to have to re-think fencing off the garden in a cheap, effective manner.


  50. Hi Lewis,

    Hold onto your hat as it looks like you may be in for some repeated storms. The prognosis from Cliff Mass seems quite good – if you like storms, and despite what people may say, storms fill dams – and that is certainly better than droughts and water shortages. The cool change swept through here not that long ago and the outside temperature dropped from a high of 108’F to a much more enjoyable 64’F. A few minutes ago I was sporting goose bumps and looked like a chicken that had just been freshly plucked! But it is nice to feel cooler… There was even a bit of rain which the garden and orchard would have appreciated.

    We spent the day inside today doing accounting work, as there seemed little point heading out into that sort of a day. The fluffy collective likewise huddled inside out of the heat and spent most of the day dozing – despite the inside of the house getting to 84’F (far better than outside, I can assure you!). The fluffies have since woken up and spent an hour or so running around like the canines that they are, but I suspect the heat has taken the wind out of their sails.

    Earlier today I noticed that the first couple of corn stalks have generated their male and female flowers! The saved seed has worked remarkably well, so far, but one must not count their cobs before they’re harvested.

    Ah yes, I have noticed that some folks throw their weight around. It is unpleasant to be on the receiving end of that. Mate, I hope that the situation at the Club gets sorted, but sometimes you just have to stand back and what will be, will be. Incidentally, aren’t there a few Clubs that the people in question can enjoy without feeling put upon?

    We now interrupt this reply to let the chickens roam through the orchard. 🙂


  51. Hi Lewis (cont)…

    The tourists may also present easy targets for nefarious folks, and any area that relies on tourists, can also become unstuck by that reliance. I haven’t travelled far from these shores for quite a long while now, and part of that reluctance has been that the experience of being a tourist is now possibly a rather difficult thing. And the crowds would not be to my liking at all.

    You’re not wrong, as a lot of cities look a bit same, same, but different to me. Sure the underlying culture can be remarkably different, but the practical realities of housing and feeding so many people in such a small area tends to produce a rather homogenous response to the myriad problems. It all gets back to the Ewoks in the Star Wars – Return of the Jedi of course. You know the film where the little teddy bears took on the might of the Empire and won. Well, those little teddy bears were living in what looked to me like a proto-city, albeit a rather charming version of one. I wondered where they grew their food and harvested their water. And then what about the wastes? Even teddy bears that can take on the might of the Empire and win, still have to go to the toilet. And did you see a teddy bear toilet in that film? Nope. At least in Star Trek, you kind of had the awful feeling that all of those elements required by the replicators had to come from somewhere on board the ship. 😉 Ah yes, Fernglade Farm, a weekly blog about organic poo! Hehe!

    The safety thing with vehicles appears to be getting pushed front and centre. I have a dark suspicion that the affordable engineering advances are done and we’re well into diminishing returns. Some of the safety technology might work and it could be very useful, but what happens if the cars computer gets it wrong? Autonomous emergency braking was something that was offered as an option on the Dirt Mouse and it might be good, but I can’t shake the uncertain feeling about what happens when the computer stuffs up and brakes with a truck on your tail. A few months back I drove a vehicle that had all of the safety latest bells and whistles, and mate, did the thing whistle at me or what? Every few seconds the computer made a noise to alert me to something like – there is a car ahead of me – like that doesn’t happen in traffic from time to time. It was a dubious and distracting experience.

    The temperatures were ghastly! I feel a bit like a wilted plant right now, but you know, you sort of adapt to the heat. Ouch! I hope you didn’t lose too many leaves from your garden in the wind? And watch out for those successive storms… Yup, and February puts me one month closer to fall. 🙂

    I sort of wonder whether the not having kids thing is a little bit like calling people out over taking on a huge student debt? Dunno, but it really seems to upset some people. I’m curious about your opinion though, in that I have wondered whether some people double down and become quite emotionally charged when it brings their past choices into question? Certainly my mum was someone who possibly shouldn’t have had kids as my take was that she appeared to struggle, despite doing the best she could.

    And yeah, I’ve heard that story too about what happens when you get older. It is a story that doesn’t stack up too well against many peoples experience. I took a subject or two of corporate law and that cured me of any pretensions about the sort of things that family members can do to each other in the name of a dollar. And sometimes the experience of having kids brings massive dramas and difficulties into a persons life because sometimes things go horribly wrong on a medical front. Mate, I’ve never encountered a belief system that suggests that life’s final journey is taken with others anyway? What is your take on that? Although cults like the Jonestown Kool-Aid folks may have thought that way…

    Me too, it is useful word – a firm but emphatic “no”. Occasionally works wonders.

    The food book sounds very interesting, and it reminded me of a book that the editor read recently and rather enjoyed (if that is the correct word to use in this instance). Marlene De Blasi’s book “The Umbrian Thursday Night Supper Club”, where a number of Italian women regularly meet for food which they themselves cool, and they discuss their lives. Some of the social commentary and relationships that sprang off the back of WWII in Italy are quite harrowing and they also stand a lot of beliefs on their head – especially in relation to families and how things operated after that time.



  52. Hi Damo,

    How awesome is that and hope you enjoy it? I look forward to your report and also hope that they serve a tiramisu… You never know? 🙂

    That’s funny! And you might even be believed about the running! It is a sport for yoofs.

    Good luck with that. It’s a big call on your mates part, but it could also have been the heady brew talking. I dunno, you know I reckon people sell big on the upsides, but rarely do they talk about the downsides. And unless you have a massive family backing you up to support you when the downsides hit in the fan… Ouch. Like can be a bit of a crapshoot this life thing, and you never know in advance where the cards will fall. Incidentally, I haven’t seen that film, did you just slip in a film recommendation?

    Thanks for the thoughts about the winch. I can see that I might have to put some brain cells towards all of the different possibilities. It is the length that is the difficult part of the system as I have to pull stuff up the hill from over 100m away. There is a lot of space here… Never heard of or encountered a caravan motor mover before. Fascinating. Maybe some sort of walk behind machine might work too? Dunno.

    Nah, you’ll probably be fine with the Picton ferry. The editor recommends that you go to the toilet before you get on board if the weather looks like it will be rough seas. She said that the toilets were very unappealing looking before passing out on one of the chairs. Ginger does actually work for sea sickness, but I’ve never experienced that feeling myself. Anyway the ferry from Kangaroo Island to the mainland was a far worse experience. Mate, those seas were rough as and I thought to myself that this was it and I was soon to be shark bait. It was exhilarating to arrive alive on the South Australian coast. Nah, don’t worry about it, we were probably very unlucky on both occasions. Maybe…

    The video and soundtrack were fun as – and I’d never seen a frozen lake before (outside of the Damien Omen film – a notable and memorable scene not involving sharks!) It is a good song too, and very appropriate for the clip.

    It was a bit of a strange day that one, and the range was south of Saigon near to the Cu Chi tunnels – which I found to be a very uncomfortable experience due to a combination of the humidity and heat below the ground, and would take either ferry rides any day in preference.

    Haha! You are teasing me mercilessly. 🙂 It got to 42’C here today and it was hot as, and by 6pm it was 29’C inside the house. I can’t even imagine how houses with lesser insulation were coping. Fortunately it rained a bit and just because the weather here is totally bonkers, it is now 14’C outside. And I’m starting to feel a bit chilly.



  53. Hi Coco,

    You’re made of tougher stuff than ourselves as we were in bed and sound asleep by 11pm. It’s a bit dodgy isn’t it? Hey, I really liked the idea of 12 grapes with the striking of the clock at midnight.

    Speaking of which the first grape vine has just managed to grab hold of the stainless steel cable! And out of three kiwi fruit vines, there is a single kiwi fruit that appears to have taken. Today, the earliest of the corn produced their first male and female flowers. Despite the heat it is an exciting time of year (and the water tanks are still well over 90% full).

    Oh no! That sort of talk tempts the rock gods and may lead from hubris to nemesis – although another rock gabion cage was constructed a few days ago, so fingers crossed.

    Hehe! Yeah, puppies are hard work. How’s Breo coping with his new mate?

    Thank you for the suggestions and I’ll have to ponder the subject further, but you are correct. I just don’t know the way forward, and I do not want any misunderstandings. This is the society that we have sort of allowed to come to pass, unfortunately.

    The sunset is pretty spectacular isn’t it and the colours are amazing. -2’C is so cold that my mind boggles and it is as cold as I’ve ever seen it here! Mind you, I’ve become very summer soft and today it was 42’C – which is frankly too hot for my tastes, but you know…

    Steel works well for fencing. Even Ollie who has considerable muscle and bulk can’t work his way through a steel fence. But a sapling fence is also pretty good and it looks better than a steel fence, and is much cheaper too. I’ve tested sapling fences against wombats and they can’t get through them and they’re like little tanks.



  54. @ Lew
    I am known to say that ‘(They?) want us all corralled in high rises in cities’.


  55. Hello Chris
    27F here last night but a gorgeous sunny day today.
    We have the same problem here with interest only mortgage loans reaching their end date. Actually I have a vague idea that they have had to stop issuing them but I am not sure. Our housing market is completely insane but collapse would be a disaster I guess.
    I have been trying to avoid discussing Brexit. The whole thing is a ghastly mess as far as I can see. I wanted and voted for ‘out’. We should have come out and let the EU do the pleading. But here we are doing the pleading. The problems from coming out could have been dealt with as they arose.
    I have a friend who drives me nuts because she rings up regularly to ask whether I have changed my mind yet. ‘No I haven’t’.
    Actually the votes from the Island were a majority for Out.

    Just had a visit from a friend who wants to buy some land from me, shall discuss with Son.


  56. Hi Chris,
    Ollie’s picture reminds me how Leo stretches out on a hot day. I did not show him the picture as after eating his main goal in life is to figure out how to relax on furniture which is not allowed here.

    Regarding frozen lakes, quite a few people go ice fishing on local lakes or travel a bit further north into Wisconsin or Minnesota. Up north people have pretty elaborate houses complete with beds and satellite for TV. As winters are getting warmer though the local lakes aren’t freezing to a safe depth very much anymore.


  57. Hi Damo,

    Only 2500 miles – slacker. Did you get a chance to stop into a country western bar?

    This was quite the farming area in the past and still has quite a few. Many of the kids in FFA were from farming families. Unfortunately they were usually directed towards more agribusiness. I had this fantasy that my daughter and I would have a goat farm but obviously that didn’t happen which is OK. I probably never would have thought of raising goats if it hadn’t been her interest and main 4H project.


  58. Hi Chris,
    I was pondering the conversation here about having or not having children while on my morning walk. I wonder if people who say couples who choose to remain childless are selfish aren’t in reality a bit jealous. I know when I read about Damo’s, for example travels and freedom to move around I’m a bit envious. I really enjoy my daughters’ company especially now that they’re grown and there is a sense of security knowing I can count on them if needed. However I know I’m lucky in that regard as not all kids are like that. I often wonder how much thought couples really put into the decision or is it just the “next thing to do” after college, getting married … My youngest daughter isn’t going to have kids I’m pretty sure and several of my nieces and nephews aren’t either.


  59. @ Damo – I quit like your ships :-). So, in your bid for World Domination, where are you planning your first amphibious assault? Tasmania? Norfolk Island? I’d steer clear of the Isle of Wight. I here they’re a tough lot, there. 🙂 Diplomacy might work better.

    I quit liked your American travelogue. I’m going to have to watch it again, to pick out the finer points. To quote “The Wizard of Oz”, “People come and go so quickly, here!”

    When I was half way through high school we moved from the city, to the country. So, I went from an urban high school of 2,500 students (32% African American) to a rural high school of 500 students (lilly white). Talk about culture shock! The new school had an FFA. The distaff side, by the way, was FHA. Future Homemakers of America. Once a week (month?) was FFA day. All the boys would show up in their very smart, FFA jackets. Short, well tailored, dark blue cord jackets. I doubt they still have an FFA. I hear that school district now has TWO high schools, each with over 2,000 students. The farm lands are now all housing tracts. We also have 4H, which is another agrarian group for young folks.

    Your filo dough story reminded me … When I first moved here, during the Dark Ages (1982) things were very primitive. Somehow or another, I got it into my head that I was going to take won-ton to a party. Howling wilderness that it was, there was not a won-ton wrapper to be had, in any of the stores. There was not time enough to import them, via stage coach and Pony Express. So, I made my own. They went over, well. Sometimes, we make these things, just to see if we can. A recent book I read had an interesting theory. Some of the things we make and eat, well, we add them to our Foodie CV. Something we can trot out to flash the proles. :-). Lew

  60. Yo, Chris – To riff off of Coco, I guess the rumors of peak rocks was greatly over reported. Fake news? 🙂

    I think the film “Idiocracy” is becoming a bit of a cult classic. I notice my library still has a couple of copies of it. And, there are holds on it. I may have to go back and watch it again. I thought it was (as I remember it) quit funny. And, more than a bit true.

    I remember a case from a few years ago. Some old guy was on his ATV and managed to end up in a ditch with his ATV pining him down. He managed to stay alive by drinking water out of the ditch. His faithful dog stayed by his side. (Apparently, the dog hadn’t got the “Go Get Help, Lassie” memo.) When found, he was surrounded by cougar tracks. Apparently, the dog was good for something. He had to go into care, and I think, died about 6 months later. A cautionary tale.

    The Chinook wind that DJ mentioned, are quit something. We’ve had the, over here, but not for years. The temperature shots up 40 degrees, in a hour. Any snow, disappears. Yes, I saw Prof. Mass’s report. One storm after another. My leaves are pretty much staying in place, except one small patch I didn’t have anything to weight it with. When I took Her Majesty, out for her walk last night, the trees in the park behind The Institution were really whipping around. Weather station reported gusts of 32mph. We’ve quit a bit higher, and I think the wind was stronger. Quit exhilarating.

    So, you’re getting corn tassels and silks? One of the Garden Goddesses, also put in corn. It didn’t even grow waist high, tasseled, and that was the end of it. Don’t know why. Could have been a number of things. Mostly having to do with fertilizer. Or, watering. Maybe weather …

    Cities also have a sameness about them due to chain stores. Seems to be (or, was) the same mix, where ever you go. It was like that in malls. I worked in something like 7, during my life. Well, people like the predictable. For awhile, they really were “the new town squares.”

    Oh, yeah, people get a bit twitchy when they think your putting their past choices into question. Or, maybe, they just want you to be as miserable as they are :-). I think there’s also a certain amount of envy, involved. I hear horrendous family stories, sitting around The Club. I usually comment, “I’m SO glad I’m an orphan.” :-).

    I finished the book on Hadrian’s Wall. It really wasn’t all that big. But, interesting. A pretty much up to present look at what we know (not all that much) and what we don’t know (a lot). There were several places where he said something like, “And from (insert long period of time), there was little news out of Britain.”

    I read a couple of the bios in the food book. Interesting stuff. Lew

  61. @ Pam,
    If I’ve pieced things together correctly, you’re somewhat westerly of Richmond, VA? I’ve got a distant cousin in Richmond, who keeps me updated about the rains, typical and atypical. We were texting today, as I was teasing her that in one storm she got more twice as much snow as we’ve had all season. We’re that warm in the lower elevations.

  62. @ Damo,
    I’ve seen too many runners that ruined their knees. I turned to bicycling and other low impact exercises before running could ruin my knew. Naturally, I then went out and tore the heck out of a knew downhill skiing. My outdoor adventurous days are over!


  63. Chris,

    When we heated with wood, the best time to get the wood was in late August. It never failed that it was always over 30C. The very last load that we got delivered (meaning dumped in the driveway), well, it started out 23C and quickly soared over 35C. It all had to be moved and stacked that day. As my wife was ill at the time, I had to move and stack the entire 2 cords by myself. It took me 12 hours. That was brutal. I took a lot of breaks, kept my shirt wet and a wet bandana on my head and drank lots of Gatorade. The recovery time was several days.

    There was another time that my wife’s family had a huge gathering in the mountains near the Central Washington desert. It was 44C where we were (which was beyond abnormally hot), and we’d advertised a huge feed. (I found out later that it had gotten to 48C in the nearest town.) I was the outdoor cook, and to avoid fire danger the grills were in the full sun away from anything burnable. My wife would come outside and dump a large pitcher of water on my chest and another on my head every 5 minutes. She made sure I was properly hydrating and replacing electrolytes. I felt fine. After eating I went to the swimming hole in the nearby creek and lay down. The water felt warm, but I did notice that the creek was steaming around me. The next morning the water temperature was 7C, so I guess I had gotten hotter than I’d thought. I was quite fine, however, and required no recovery time from the day before, thanks to my wife’s ministrations while I was cooking dinner and my cool down in the creek.

    Our rural roads…Well, once upon a time, they were truly rural, with nothing but a few farms on each road. Traffic might literally be 5 or 10 cars per day except during harvest. The roads never really got worn out. Then the farms were divided up and developed. Although still considered “rural”, many of these are more suburban.

    The 10 acre minimum parcel size is something that the State of Washington implemented in about 1980 or so: to avoid a formal platting process, some animal called “Certificates of Exemption” could be used instead, if and only if the new parcels were 10 acres or larger. This, of course, saved the developers gobs of money versus what the costs would have been in a formal platting process. The developers were also able to bypass adding any infrastructure, so that the vast majority of these parcels are on the old gravel “farm to market” roads and have septic systems rather than hookups to the sewer systems.

    So now, people carve up their land into 10 acre pieces, sell them as part of their retirement planning. Then people build on them, getting a taste of “country living” and a buffer from their neighbors. Then people complain about how cruddy their gravel roads are. They don’t like it when I say that the road was gravel 100 or more years ago and that you get what you pay for. I’m especially unpopular when I say that if they want urban services, they should’ve stayed in the urban area. Additionally, these new “country folk” liberally complain about any farming activities going on in “Their” neighborhood!

    The State has also mandated all counties and cities to formally map out “urban growth areas”. Within these areas, any development requires formal platting and that infrastructure be put in place, meaning sewer connections and paved roads, at least within the platted developments.

  64. Hi Chris,

    The film is pretty good, made by Mike Judge who also did Office Space from the late 90s. Fingers crossed the weather is OK on our crossing 🙂


  65. Hi Marg,

    RE: Children
    I feel a little trapped when friends try to convince us on the benefits of children. I can’t really make a good case back because they have already had children. It would be an awkward situation if I managed to carry the argument that not having children is a good decision, they can’t exactly return them to Walmart for a refund! So I more or less just nod and mumble something slightly incoherent.

    I suspect you may be right though, and they are coming from a place tinged with slight regrets, or at least curious about the path not taken.

    Mrs Damo and I sometimes talk about providing foster care, or even one day adopting, but we would not do that unless in a more stable situation (sadly which the economy has more or less excluded us from). And of course, our friends and family find that even weirder than not having kids!


  66. Hi Marg again,

    We didn’t get into a country bar – although we made sure to visit lots of roadside diners! A real novelty for us 🙂


  67. Hi Inge,

    Today was much cooler and there was even a tiny bit of rain (0.1 inch), but nowhere near as cool as your part of the world! And yes, cold, still, and sunny winter days are a real delight. The air itself feels crisp and new, and you can almost sense the first few tentative hints of the coming spring with all the promise that that holds. 🙂

    One of the side notes in the Big Short was that interest only loans were likened to a: ‘rental with debt’. It is a brutal summary of the situation and that was the crux of the minor side story with Steve Carrel and the exotic dancer. Of course the underlying implication of that particular story is that the flow of funds that the loan generates is considered of a higher value than the initial capital. And that is a fascinating story itself and I believe it is very telling about the initial capital. Exactly, the situation is insane, but few if anyone can elicit a coherent alternative vision, and therein lies the conundrum.

    You know, it takes a huge amount of time to learn how to be more self-reliant, and I’ve been at that task for more than a decade. A lovely lady that I know who owns an orchard far to the north of here asked me today if we were self-sufficient for fruit. And despite having so many fruit trees, I felt that I had to honestly reply with a ‘no’. We’re getting closer all the time though. I tasted the first ripe Gooseberries today! Yummo. But then part of a heavy bearing Anzac peach had split in the heavy and hot winds of yesterday. Mind you, the peaches are now easier to harvest given they are on the ground…

    I would have voted out too, so not to worry and the fascinating experiment is slowly unfolding regardless, so I applaud the foresight of your country to abandon ship before the dreaded iceberg hits and takes all of the passengers to the bottom of the ocean (an unpleasant place to be sure). You know it is the same story as the interest only loans because while the party is raging on everyone is having a good time, but best to depart before the house needs to be given a proper cleaning and you get roped into the task.

    Yeah, I have wondered about the pleading too, and there is a strong case to be made that the situation is back to front. Still, the deadline is looming and something will happen. It is nice to live in interesting times. But also why show your hand ahead of the deadline?

    A lot of people have a lot to lose from the situation, but then if they took the long view, they were going to lose anyway. Of course acquiring a long view is not something that we humans are very good at…

    The question that comes to my mind with such a request is: will the sale benefit you and your son?



  68. Hi Margaret,

    Thankfully it is far cooler here today, and there was even about 0.1 inch of rain. It isn’t much rain, but it beats the heck out of yesterdays heatwave!

    Margaret, please skip this next paragraph as it is intended for Leo. Incidentally Ollie forced me to type the following message to his canine companion in arms:

    Leo my good friend. Hear me. I suggest that you wait until Margaret’s back is turned and then settle yourself onto a couch – any couch in the house or perhaps even a bed – for a well-deserved kip. It’s yours for the taking. My friend, remember this one thing: Keep an ear out for movement in the house as this signals danger for you. Then I suggest you decamp to another location and proceed with ‘Innocent face number seven’ and look meaningfully at your good friend Salve who surely is to blame for the situation, somehow, maybe. Go forth, Leo and conquer the furniture and may the fluffy be with you.

    Thanks for skipping the paragraph as I have no idea what Ollie is on about. He’s big that dog and getting bigger. And he cornered another Echidna this afternoon. I was there and called him off the spiny creature, and he then ran around and around in ever bigger circles before coming to heel. He was basically pretending to be doing something else, but I grabbed his collar and took him inside the house so that the Echidna could proceed about its business. Echidna’s can rapidly bury themselves so Ollie doesn’t achieve anything more than annoying me and the creature.

    It would be such a fascinating part of the world to travel to and see the frozen lakes. Do you mean that those elaborate houses in that part of the world are some sort of upmarket cabin for recreational purposes when people head there over the winter time to fish? Cool.

    The heaviest bearing peach tree split yesterday in the hot strong winds. What a pain, as the tree was growing very strongly and producing well this year. Oh well. Have you ever used an orchard ladder? I’m thinking about getting one of those tripod style ladders. The peaches are easier to pick now that they are on the ground… The first gooseberries are ripe today.



  69. Hi Margaret,

    Well it is really hard to know what peoples motivations actually are. Taking a wild guess, I reckon there is something in what you say, and I have thought that that was the case. But you never know. What do they say about walk a mile in my shoes, or something like that?

    It is a really difficult subject, because from a very early age everyone is presented with a narrative to follow for their life. And it is repeated ad nauseam . There are no prizes for achieving the goals as presented in the narrative, and there is little support should you step foot outside that narrative. It is a really complicated subject and often it gets down into the core themes of why do we do what we do?

    Dunno, because it is really hard to know what to choose to do with your life, and how many choices can you act upon anyway.


  70. Hi Damo,

    Thanks for the review! As a funny side story about Office Space: The editor received free tickets to see the film when from her employer at the time. We really enjoyed the film too, but at the end of it I turned to her and said: Do you think they’re trying to tell you something (and then promptly laughed)? 🙂 No doubt they hadn’t watched it and were just offloading the tickets.

    I’ll see whether I can track down the film as Office Space was slightly bonkers but also entertaining.

    You’ll both be fine with the crossing.



  71. Hi Lewis,

    Hope you’re OK and the storms didn’t take you and your computer out?

    I was grateful when the cool change came through yesterday and I could open the house to the now cool outside air. The temperature dropped a huge amount in only half an hour or so. This morning I woke up to 52’F and my internal system was a little bit rattled. Had to have a nap this afternoon and that made me feel much better than this morning.

    Earlier this evening I discovered that a large branch off the prolific Anzac peach tree had split away from the trunk and fallen. This did make it easier to pick the dozens of slightly under ripe fruit. They should ripen up just fine in the house and we may make peach jam as there is so much fruit.

    Which is quite funny actually, because I was speaking earlier today with an orchardist up north of here and she asked me whether we were yet self-sufficient for fruit, to which I replied: “Not yet”. She did seem a bit disappointed by that response, but there are extenuating circumstances such as wallabies and deer… 🙂

    Anyway, you can smell the peaches in the house now, so hopefully they have all of their sugars although I reckon they have. Been thinking about getting one of those three legged orchard ladders as that might be useful as the trees are getting bigger. Do any of your garden masters and goddesses use them? Got any tips about them, other than don’t tip them over? Sorry for the dodgy pun. Actually I am serious about the tips.

    Also picked a huge tub of black currants and ripe gooseberries, and made plans to expand the number of red currants that we grow next season. They propagate so easily from semi hardwood cuttings poked into the ground in late autumn.

    I’ve been re-reading the “World Made by Hand” series of books and they are an excellent read. A splinter got lodged under my fingernail and once I dislodged it – and frankly removing it was not an easy task as it was under the nail – and post home surgery, I dipped the finger into spirits which we keep readily to hand for such moments. I mention this because a lot of the characters in the book do the same, even after minor incidents. And I’d call that a prudent act, but mileage may vary. It is a relevant topic because I mentioned to you about the rise in the number of cases of flesh eating bacteria down here, and someone had the good idea to apparently investigate in detail the houses of the sufferers to see what commonalities can be found there. I have a hunch that the houses in question use too many heavy duty cleaning products or processes (like steam mopping – far out!) and also that they are not careful enough with basic first aid procedures for minor matters. Of course, I could be entirely off the mark, but something is going on for sure.

    Had a very tasty gourmet pie for lunch and picked up a piece of Lumberjack Cake. It was very good, although it does sound a bit Monty Python doesn’t it? Do they have such cakes in your part of the world?

    And Sir Scruffy is feeling a bit better today which is nice – especially for him, as I was beginning to wonder if he was soon to be converted into a fruit tree. And I’m really fond of the dog as he has quite a charming nature.



  72. Hi Lewis (cont)…

    Took a break so as to allow the chickens to free roam in the orchard. They’re out late at this time of year and are heading off to bed at about 9.05pm now.

    I felt cold out in the orchard tonight, but the fruit trees are growing very strongly this year so it is a pleasure to be in there. You mentioned garden lime last night, and I have noticed that the fruit trees near to the paths of crushed rock with lime all seem to be growing at a remarkable rate this year. Hmm, how is this for a book title: The trees that ate the paths? I can see a future dystopian book in there. Our fortunes are made! Should the protagonist be a human, an animal or a tree (trees might be a bit alien really)?

    Mate, I can smell peak rocks from here! We’re using technology (i.e. the jackhammer and 6 foot steel wrecking bar) to remove rocks from their resting places. The returns on energy are not good, but still… Hehe! Actually, the rocks are easier to remove now that the soil is drier as it is less sticky.

    That makes for a second film recommendation. The signs are pointing in the direction of the film.

    Oh my. Yeah, spinal injuries are apparently quite common from ATV accidents, especially where the driver is pinned. Cougar tracks. Do you recall what happened to the dog? It deserves a medal or a hug or something like that. My lot would probably lick my face whilst I was immobile, and there wouldn’t be a thing I could do about it. Nope I am very uncomfortable with those machines.

    Good luck with StormFest (TM Pending) and stay safe. Has Princess had an upgrade in her rank as she now appears to be known as Her Majesty? A worthy title for a clever dog. Although I tend to steer the dogs away from large trees in heavy winds as there seems no need to test ones luck in such weather.

    Yeah, it is still early days with the corn, but some have produced tassels and silks, whilst others have produced just tassels, but most are still without either. The plants love the heat combined with water and they can’t seem to get enough of either, and germination is seriously better in really hot weather. All bar three seeds germinated. Dunno really but the soil preparation was more complex for corn than any other plant that I grow – they really like a good feed. And that should ring alarm bells for folks who don’t practice crop rotation and can’t bring in the sort of bulk manures that I still have easy access too. It is a bit bonkers really. You don’t see them grown much down here, and there is probably a good reason for that due to the old soils. They get about five to ten minutes of water per day and I wouldn’t want to overdo that, but all of the plants here are on water rations. Spotted the first unripe green tomatoes today too.

    I can see the promise of the malls. I’ve heard some stories suggesting that the owners of the malls demand the financials from the stores and then may or may not move them about the complex depending on those. But more importantly, if they had those numbers they’d probably know how much to squeeze. But try getting out of a lease with them… I’ve heard anecdotal reports that patronage is down with those buildings too.

    Hey, I also hear horrendous family stories, and it reminds me how little tolerance I have for dramas (neither does the editor for that matter). It would be nice if people sort of considered that there are costs and benefits to all of those sorts of social arrangements, but maybe I’m asking too much by that? Dunno.

    Really? I would have thought that Hadrian’s Wall is so huge that it would have left a monster sized foot stomp on the local population and culture, but I guess not as it has been a long time. I have not read widely on the Roman occupation of Britain, and had not realised the extent to which records of events were simply no longer there. I guess it was at the far end of the Empire and they made little attempts to explore further west. I suppose the Roman’s hadn’t developed long distance ship technology? A while back I read about the Greenland Vikings in Jared Diamond’s book, Collapse (and I note he cherry picked his examples nicely and basically ignored the decline and fall of Rome or even Chinese dynasties) but they were there for hundreds of years and records of the colony dropped off the radar. They had a thing against fish which was a bit bonkers given the fragility of the environment there. I read a report that they are currently experiencing regular droughts in Greenland which also seems very bonkers given how much fresh water is inland from the coast.

    The book was good stuff!



  73. Hi DJ,

    I had to look up the metric conversion, and 2 cords = about 7 cubic metres of firewood. I would have been knocked out by that exertion, but we maybe moving the firewood a bit further than you may have done so. Why did all the firewood have to get packed away on a single day? Yup, Gatorade would bring you back for a while on such a day, as drinking too much water can be a problem in those conditions. But after a while, I’d get sick of the taste of the stuff. About six hours with minimal breaks is my upper limit comfort level for very hard manual labour. Not bad for an old fella. 12 hours would have been extraordinarily hard.

    Yes, cooling off in the swimming hole was a very good idea and you were lucky to have such an astute and alert assistant given the conditions! The comedown in the water would have been quite nice, but did you have a good day that day?

    I wonder about the division of farms up into suburban sprawl too. Not sure that I’m a fan, and I’m not at all convinced that there is any planning behind it all.

    Will continue tomorrow. Bed is calling!



  74. Yo, Chris – Always good to slop around a bit of antiseptic, if one has small injuries. Thoreau’s brother nicked himself shaving and died of lockjaw. Anthrax is pretty common in soil. Even a good wash up with soap and water, helps.

    Re: Lumberjack cake. Do they use real lumberjacks? Not the artificial kind? :-). Looks like a pretty standard apple / date loaf. Not that I’ve ever encountered one, that I remember. But then, I don’t care for dates, or coconut. There’s no accounting for taste (mine.)

    I didn’t know Sir Scruffy was under the weather. I suppose there are worse fates, than aspiring to be a fruit tree. :-). I’m trying to make light of a serious situation.

    Your fruit trees and paths comment had a slight whiff, a slight odor of menace. Which, of course, put me in mind of Edward Gorey’s illustrations. I’m waiting for the library to get the new bio. There have been reviews. And, I ran across quit a few illustrations from his “The Pornographic Sofa.” Which has no bad language and not much flesh. It’s all done by inference. Family friendly? You decide.


    I take my cheap thrills, where I can. :-). Cont.

  75. Cont. Rocks. Well, in figuring out the ROI, you’ve got to take in the pleasure of contemplating them. That “ain’t it cool!” factor. Hard to quantify. I was going to toss in something here about Chinese scholar rocks, but forgot to look it up. There were several in the Asian art auction.

    I put the film “Idiocracy” on hole at the library. I should get it in a week or two. I haven’t seen it in a couple of years. wonder if it holds up? Sometimes, a film I thought was pretty cool, at first look, falls flat on a second viewing. Same with books.

    When my corn was producing a lot of foliage, and not much else, the Master Gardener suggested I lay on a bit more nitrogen. So, I scattered around a bit of blood meal. Maybe I just wasn’t patient enough, but soon after that, it began to tassel and produce cobs. I’ve started planning next years garden, and the corn will be in a slightly different position. I’m already laying on the nitrogen in those areas. Expecially where there will be overlap from last year.

    We’ve got quit a stock of “ghost malls” (Google for articles and pictures). There was a lot of overbuilding and then the internet coming along really impacted any kind of brick and mortar business. “Dawn of the Dead” was filmed in a Ghost Mall. Some have been repurposed. There was a chapter in “Nobody Wants Your Stuff” about malls. The author has a comic book store. His local mall was half empty (he charts the rise and fall) and he wanted to put his store there. Lots of small, privately owned businesses would like to go in. But, even half empty, the rates and leases are onerous. He ended up in a strip mall across the street.

    Our local mall (which brought me here in 1982) has fallen on sad times. Compared to the past. It used to be a mix of national chains and local business. Not much there, anymore. The Sears, which closed about a year ago, well, that space, as far as I know is still empty. It looks like the K-Mart (which was free standing and closer to the freeway) is not a U-Haul truck rental, depot.

    I quit liked “Collapse” though it’s been awhile since I read it. Did the Romans do long distance ocean travel? Did they come to the Americas? Outside their own little bathtub of the Med, they were pretty skittish. Just getting them across the Channel to invade Britain was a major feat. There was a near mutiny, and they basically had to be shamed into embarking. But, what looks like some amphora and Roman coins do turn up in South America, from time to time. Lost by collectors? Planted? It all falls under the area called “pseudo archaeology.” I suppose a drifting Roman wreck, or three, could have ended up in South America.

    For hundreds of years, the story of Hadrian’s wall was lost. It took several centuries to put it back together, again. In places, the stone robbing was so bad you couldn’t even trace it. Another aspect of the Wall, according to the author, is not so much that it might have kept people out, but that it kept looters in. A raider might manage to make it south of the wall, but then getting back, loaded down with “stuff” was a bit more difficult.

    I ran across an interesting bit of a story, recently. There’s been some pretty intensive DNA studies done in Britain. Not much Italian DNA about. But, in several areas they found concentrations of a DNA quirk, usually found among men in Eastern Europe. Bulgaria, Romania, etc.. And, usually found, in Britain, around large military sites. Given the make up of the Roman army, all those auxiliary from other parts of the Empire, they, apparently “got around.”

    Figuring out the chronology of the wall has been complicated. The Romans built the wall, occupied it, abandoned it, re-occupied it, built mile castles, tore down mile castles, opened gateways, closed gateways. It’s all rather a muddle. Lew

  76. Hi Ollie,
    I am sorry to say that I have tried waiting until my people are out of the room but they and especially Margaret catch me every time. I have to wait until they go out to even attempt a comfortable few hours on the furniture or even better, a bed. Now all bedroom doors are closed and barriers are put on the furniture as well. Occasionally they don’t close a door tightly and as I check each one every time they go out I’ve managed to snatch a nap on a bed from time to time. Of course the dog hair or ruffled blankets do give me away. I can’t blame any of this on Salve as she is black and I am tan and also she is usually crated because she foolishly has chewed things like oriental rugs, legs of tables and even stairs. Right now they are testing leaving her out since it appears she no longer is chewing the rug in the crate.

    I’ve heard stories of one of my peoples’ prior dogs, the legendary Ubu. Nothing deterred him from furniture. If they put a stool on the couch he just knocked it off. They even tried a mat that gave off static sparks but he just pushed it aside.

    Once Doug was very naughty and let me in the bed with him while Margaret was away for the weekend. Believe me she was not pleased!! I managed to be able to sleep with them (Doug’s family always let their dogs sleep with them) for awhile but I did like to sneak up and sleep between them. When summer came it got to warm for Doug too so that was the end of sleeping in a bed for me.

    I have to say that they provide both me and Salve beds in the living room and the bedroom. When we moved we got new beds with memory foam. Also believe it or not Doug covers us up in the winter as well. Does Chris ever do that for you?


  77. Hi Chris,
    I hope Leo hasn’t given Ollie any ideas.

    The houses are right out on the lake so are temporary. There is a hole or holes in the floor and ice underneath to catch fish. My daughter got married in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin and we stayed overnight the night before the wedding. That particular winter it was quite cold (she got married on Feb 14th) so the lake was frozen enough that trucks could drive out on it. It was great fun to watch from the hotel window all the people fishing from their huts and trucks on the lake.

    Don’t know if that pic will show up.

    A couple of years ago a bunch of trucks sank through the ice.



  78. Hi Damo,

    If you had gotten to a country western bar you might have had the opportunity to do some line dancing. I have tried to talk Doug into learning to line dance but no luck there. Sadly the only line dance I know is “Boot Scootin Boogie” which is often requested at weddings around here along with that perennial favorite, “She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy”.



  79. Late to the party as usual. Haven’t even read the comments yet.

    Air conditioning- One of the first things we did when we bought this place, even before we moved here, was to have the two (!! one for upstairs, one for downstairs !!) air conditioners removed. We are still on the grid, but there are usually just a few nights during hot spells when we run a fan at night. Other than that, we get along fine.

    Sake- Wow, I”m impressed. I assume there is some suppler of koji you can buy from? And do you use sake rice, or just plain rice from the store? And finally, what alcohol % do you get up to?

    It’s winter here, but we had a brief warm spell ( up to 45F, 7C), so we were out working on our trail system. Nice to get out and moving. Until the warm spell, I had been catching up on reading a lot, but one can only do so much of that before you get all stiff and restless.

  80. Hi Lewis,

    It’s writing night tonight. What is on my mind? Hmm, well that should be an interesting story. Maybe? 🙂 Ah, the dark crawl spaces of my mind where this stuff comes from! I better get a wriggle on and start banging away on the keyboard.

    You never hear of tetanus infections these days, but the jab only lasts for ten years I believe, and then you require a booster. It sounds like a revolting way to go. And Thoreau’s brother? Well you learn something new every day. Oh, and Thoreau himself contracted TB. Ouch. And a smart bloke to have come up with some catchy one liners on his death bed. I’d probably say something stupid like: I’m really thirsty can you get me a glass of water? And then that would be that. Would it be recorded for posterity to analyse? Maybe I need to have a handy, and yet vaguely obscure and mystical line involving walruses. Do you have any recommendations?

    The cake is a standard apple / date muffin like cake with a topping of coconut. You probably wouldn’t like it much, given that you dislike dates and coconut.

    Sir Scruffy has been up and down this past week. He seems to be recovering, but has become a bit leaky as a result of the illness, which in dogs I have noticed comes towards the end of their lifespan. He’s had, and still enjoys an excellent life, especially compared to what he endured before turning up here. I may tell his story after he has departed to retire to the farm. Oops, he’s already there, I mean several feet under the ground – I have to dig them deep here because several animals like nothing better than digging. A few decades ago the dogs at the time dug up a recently deceased cat and I knew why graves were so deep. Anyway, I have no idea why adults tell kids that lie about pets retiring to the farm. It seems a bit cruel to me.

    Thanks for the Edward Gorey story. Very amusing and I quite enjoyed the understated innuendo, because the text said nothing, but somehow the story was full of intrigue. All tastefully done of course, but I must say that those folks have far more competency in such matters than I. Hehe!

    Don’t we all? 🙂

    The Gongshi are really seriously cool. I’d like to unearth one of those, but so far the rocks look a lot like worn out granite. To the north of here they get rocks that were laid down in sediments and they produce the most excellent square edged rocks. I am envious and the possibilities are endless.

    The film sounds cool and I’ll try and track a copy down. And yeah, sometimes you can’t go back, but then sometimes you can. I’m not on Facebook for good reasons as someone tried to stalk me down through that medium via a friend. Shocking! I sometimes re-watch favourite films, but I am a hopeless romantic at heart despite all the crusty and rough outer coatings. Most roms are the same story told over and over again in all sorts of different permutations, and I certainly don’t like all of them. They can’t be too sugary sweet, because I know (and you may agree or disagree) that life doesn’t not indeed work that way.

    You advised me to put down bone meal before planting the corn! It does seem to work, but I also chucked in manure, ash, fine woody compost, and aged soil. They are really heavy feeders those plants. The beans are beginning to grow around the outer edges of the enclosure too. I’ll chuck in a photo. Good call, and I don’t reckon you can start too early with soil preparation (unless the ground freezes solid and I have no experience of that). Why are you moving your corn? You did mention previously about the wind.

    I’ve seen the photos of the abandoned malls and they’re really eerie. But yeah, commercial real estate appears bonkers to me, and malls are doubly bonkers. It reminds me a little bit of the: Latifundium due to the scale and also the absentee landlord aspects.

    Empty shops in malls are sort of like a cancer as they spread. There is a half empty mall that I occasionally have to visit to use the car park, and it has all sorts of social issues surrounding the area, but all of the empty spaces just looks creepy to me.

    Imagine if a Roman crew got swept west. I doubt they would have taken enough food and water to survive. It would be really weird encountering a Mary Celeste type situation, and yeah if the ship hadn’t sunk, then sooner or later it would hit North or South America. It is funny, but even today people understand what is meant when the name of that ship is invoked. I’ve sometimes remarked to people working in businesses that were devoid of staff that it was like walking onto the Mary Celeste! Which possibility do you prefer for the mystery?



  81. Hi Margaret and Leo,

    Many thanks for the laughs. I really enjoyed the Leo story, it was so much fun.

    When I had the flu last year, and the editor had not yet gone down like a sack of spuds (potatoes) with the same virus, I slept on the fold out couch / bed, which is actually very nice, although a little bit on the firm side. Every night one of the Fluffy’s took turns in keeping me company in my hour of need, and they loved it. It was a tough time, but we all endured it.

    The house is quite warm during the winter nights due to the wood heater and the hydronic radiators, so the fluffy’s don’t generally want anything covering them. Mind you, Scritchy, who is the smallest of the collective, enjoys being covered the most, until she overheats and then she’ll make a big show of kicking off any blankets. Ollie has been a real pest with destroying his bedding which is something puppies do – except for the green couch, which is there for the dogs. They all tend to respect that particular item of furniture, and I have to vacuum it once per week. They can shed some serious hair.

    The towns around Lake Geneva are really attractive. And, far out, the houses are for rental too. The pics showed up, and the cars were a bit of a write off! Oh well. What a lovely place to get married too in the winter. Very romantic.

    I have never seen a frozen lake, let alone fished on one. Cool (excuse the dodgy pun).



  82. @ DJSpo:

    I am in Albemarle County, 8 miles outside of Charlottesville, so you are right – about an hour’s drive west of Richmond.


  83. Chris:

    You have been doing it really hard with the excessive heat lately. I am glad to hear that it has cooled off a touch. No – we don’t get the extremes here that you do, thank goodness. Still, I have several neighbors who have built their homes in the middle of pastures and then only planted short varieties of trees, so that they get almost no shade. I can’t imagine what their electric bills must be as they would literally have to have air conditioning. Some of these people don’t have fireplaces either.

    I don’t know of Rick Mayall, but how sad to think that 16 years later he may have succumbed to his ATV injuries. At least he had the 16 years.

    Congratulations on the corn flowers and how wonderful – and amazing – that your water tanks are full in midsummer.

    Perhaps you could use your self-propelled mower for moving rocks uphill, if you can figure out how not to get squashed in the process?


  84. Yo, Chris – Here, it seems like we just got a glancing blow, from the storm. The wind started picking up, about 11:30pm. Lasted for three hours. According to our local weather station, the top gust in our area was 40mph. The lights flickered a few times, but the power held. During the storm, the temperature bumped up about 5 degrees. Then it settled into a steady 41F (5C) for the rest of the night, and into this morning.

    The sketchy news I see looks like they got hit a lot harder, further north. Even in Olympia, there were trees down. Thousands of power outages around Puget Sound. Bring on the next one!

    When I moved out to the boonies, I made it a point to get a tetanus shot. I got the booster, recently. I’ve seen whole books of “famous last words.” One of the emperors was reported to have wryly said, “I feel I’m becoming a god.” Always best to pile a few rocks on a grave.

    I think Gongshi are one of those things you could spend your whole life studying. One of the ones in the Asian art auction went for $85. I heard the “expert” lean over to Mary Garrison and say that it would have brought at least $600 in New York. I also wonder if they accrued “virtue” based on who they had belonged to?

    I discovered last night, quit by accident, that a small glass tropical fish I picked up about a year ago, in an op-shop, for $1.35 is French Lalique glass. Yup. There’s the signature in microscopic script on the base. They sell for around $95 on E-Bay. I never would have picked it up, if it weren’t blue :-). And, I knew exactly where I was going to put it.

    If I look at a video case or see a review, and the term “heart warming” appears anywhere, I pass it by. It’s code for “attempts to manipulate your emotions.” :-).

    Oh, I did all that before I planted the corn. Bone meal, ash, organic stuff. Even a few gallons of, ahem, self produced liquid nitrogen. But it still looked like it needed a boost of something. Hence, the blood meal. I’m thinking of mixing up the placement a bit, as I had it marching about halfway down one side of the plot. I think if I cluster it in back (after the peas are done) that I’ll maybe get better pollination. And, yes, there are more convenient supports back there to rope it in from the wind.

    Latifundium sure sounds about like the state of our agriculture, right now. Only not so many people about, due to all our mechanization. A lot of the time, the archaeological record is pretty unclear as to if a huge villa estate belonged to an individual, or was an Imperial estate. And, it could shift back and forth. A “generation” is usually considered to be 20 years. So, in one hundred years, you have 5 generations. Many of the big villa farms lasted far longer than that. A lot can happen in 100 years.

    Just an odd bit of something I ran across the other day. A marble table, from Pompeii (fancy, with lions feet and heads) was clearly marked with the name of one of Julius Caesar’s assassins. Family piece? Picked up at auction as a curiosity? To come to rest in Pompeii, 150 years later.

    A Roman in a drifting wreck would have to be awfully lucky to make it alive all the way to South America. Lucky at fishing. Lucky in occasional rainfall. Here, there’s been stories of drifting Chinese junks or Japanese fishing boats washing up on our shores. After the big earthquake in Japan, about a year and a half later, all kinds of stuff started turning up. The Mary Celeste? My best guess is … aliens! :-). Temporal anomaly? They probably went the same place as the girls from Hanging Rock.

    I made cheesy muffins, yesterday. Never had before, but I got a craving. If you can crave something you’ve never had before. They turned out pretty good. Good sharp cheddar. Lew

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