The Show Must Go On

Trees shift and sag with the hot wind. Brown and yellow leaves fall from high up in the canopy, almost as if they were imitating snow. The heat is surprising, and the only escape from the scorching sun and forceful wind is inside the house. Despite the heavy insulation, inside the house just gets warmer, and then as the day lengthens, it gets warmer inside again.

Ceiling fans continuously rotate as they provide some relief from the perspiration. Dogs have collapsed in a stupor on the floor. Their mouths are open as they pant, and perhaps they are dreaming of shedding their coats for the day?

Double glazed windows are hot to touch, despite them being shaded by a verandah. They would be even worse without the heavy duty stainless steel mesh shutters that filters the strong sunlight. Through the windows we see the plants in the garden beds wilt in the hot afternoon sun.

The previous day was beyond hot. At night the air normally cools to something reasonable. We are surrounded by tall forest, after all. But this particular day was far beyond what would considered to be normal weather. The morning began warmer than I can ever recall, except that this time the hot wind was also driven by a strong wind which blowing furnace like air from the arid centre of this hot continent.

With nothing better to do, we went to the local cafe for a coffee and a feed for breakfast. It was quiet there, and the roads were also quiet. People were tense. It wasn’t the heat that had people on edge, in fact we deal with hot days all of the time down here. No, it was the similarity to the extreme weather that occurred on Black Saturday, or the 7th February 2009. There was so much widespread destruction and loss of life due to wildfires that day. And here we were with the same conditions all over again, as it was both extremely hot and very windy.

On that sort of day, there is not much chance of stopping a fire once it gets started. During the day you try to get on with your life, but the heat saps energy, and the need to routinely check the updates on local fires in the area, simply leaves you with a background level of mild anxiety.

If there is a fire in the local area, will the winds blow the fire in your direction? What is the topography between you and the fire? Do you stay and defend your house if a fire threatens? Or, do you leave and not risk your life for something that can be replaced? Can you even understand what it means to defend a house against a wildfire? If you do leave, what do you take with you? And in what condition do you leave the property? And lastly, are you prepared to be possibly homeless?

Friday was a bad day, and all those questions were discussed, existing plans reviewed, and choices were made. It’s an ugly business, but it is part of living in rural areas in this corner of the continent. However, each year seems to bring some new and outrageous weather record. The past week has seen some very long held weather records smashed.

After two days of 44’C / 111’F (in the shade) and an overnight low of 26’C / 79’F in between them, by late on the second day, the inside of the house reached 31’C / 88’F. Even so, it still felt far cooler inside the house than the outside in the scorching heat.

Fortunately, by early evening a cool change swept in from the Southern Ocean and the outside temperature slowly dropped.

Cool change 6pm 31’C / 88’F inside the house 32’C / 90’F outside the house

The dusty, smoky, hot summer air has produced some amazing sunsets this year, and this week was no exception:

Another glorious summer sunset

Sometimes pictures can tell a better story than words, so here are some photos from that day:

Hot Dawg! Scritchy in a heat induced stupor
This patch of green is where the worm farm sewage system seeps. The wildlife enjoys fresh green pick every day of the year
This well established garden bed is wilting in the 44’C heat, but it still puts on a good show. And the trees below it have not skipped a beat
Despite the heatwaves and lack of rain since the start of the year there is still some green ground cover in the orchard. Neither these trees nor the ground cover are watered. This green is indicative of underground water and deep top soils (both of which are a result of our soil and water management efforts over the past decade)
Zucchini succumbs to the heat of the day but readily bounces back with a bit of water after the sun has gone below the horizon
Some of the corn leaves shrivelled during the hottest part of the day, but they also quickly recovered with a bit of water
The cool change brought some rain to the local area, but it completely bypassed the farm

The cool change brought no rain to the farm, although Saturday was a very cool day and that was a relief. To celebrate having survived the horror day, we took the day off any work, and simply enjoyed ourselves. We even took a short trip to a nearby bakery to purchase a lemon tart and a gourmet pie, both of which were very tasty.

Whilst on our bakery adventure, we passed many local farms. Around these parts, farmers normally run sheep or cattle in their paddocks, and the recent hot weather has not been kind to those paddocks. And often there is little in the way of shade trees for the livestock to shelter under on hot days.  And if the livestock have trouble finding shelter on a hot day, then the wildlife will be almost non-existent. In stark contrast, this place is buzzing with wildlife:

A Southern Brown Tree Frog sits on the verandah at night consuming insects attracted to the lights of the house
All year around we leave water out for the birds, kangaroos, wombats and wallabies – and they leave their calling cards in appreciation
A close up of one of the water dishes shows that the insects also enjoy a regular drink of fresh water
This is some sort of moth or butterfly that has attached itself to a timber post. When I was a kid these were seen quite regularly in the city, but now I doubt that people see them anywhere in the city
The bees love the many flowers in the garden, like this hardy oregano which is of the mint family of plants
Grasshoppers and cicadas live here, and the other day I spotted a large locus,t which was no doubt promptly consumed by one of the many birds that live here. Many years ago a plague of locusts swept through the farm, and the birds ate every single one of them. There was much rejoicing in the avian world that week
There are plenty of moths and butterflies that zip through the garden beds even in the hottest weather

Despite the heat, the show has to go on, and this week we finally finished filling up the primary firewood shed. In case anyone was wondering, it is indeed hard working bringing in the firewood for the coming winter when you are in the midst of a heatwave. But that is the time of year that the job needs to be done.

The author looks well pleased with a full shed of dry and seasoned firewood for use during the winter

In breaking produce news:

Triffid alert! This happened over only a few days
The tomato enclosure in 44’C / 111’F weather
A very tasty Santa Rosa plum
Eggplant flowers!
Are these chilli’s or capsicum’s (peppers)? We’re not sure.
Corn cobs are developing very fast
Wild rocket, fresh tomatoes and a small zucchini. A perfect addition to a lunch
The passion-fruit vines have loved the heat this summer
Beans are beginning to grow up the sapling fence around the tomato enclosure
We get a lot of olives, but are yet to work out a good recipe for their preserving. Any suggestions or recommendations?

Onto the flowers:

A beautiful bush rose which climbs through one of the garden beds
Salvia’s and geraniums make great hot weather companions
Soap wort is enjoying the heat
It is impolite to take a photo of a ladies rear, but this bee was perhaps in the wrong place at the wrong time. We grow hundreds of agapanthus flowers and they are a hardy summer staple for the bees. And they love them
A well established garden bed with a diversity of plants shakes off the heat and still produces flowers

The temperature outside now at about 9.00am is 15’C (59’F). So far this year there has been 5.4mm (0.2 inches) which is slightly higher than last weeks total of 5.0mm (0.2 inches).

88 thoughts on “The Show Must Go On”

  1. Hi Inge,

    Adelaide did it very tough that day, and I salute your daughter’s stoicism in the face of that day. You know, I tried to spend as much time outside during that day too, if only because it made re-entering the house a more pleasant experience than it otherwise would have been. There is something to be said about acclimatising. I tried as much as possible to recall my own experience of that day in today’s blog. What I didn’t mention was that by around 6pm, I just sat in a cold bath with the window open – the bath looks into the forest and off to the far distant horizon.

    Based on our experiences this year, we are considering making a few changes, and maybe even adding a new and large water tank, plus we could do better at managing the forest in the surrounding area. Still, one learns as they experience this here thing called life. 🙂

    How is the replacement deck coming along? Has the weather co-operated with the work? I often note that winter in your part of the world can bring construction sites to a halt in Grand Designs.

    Yeah, I’ve seen changes here too, and usually they mean that things that were once straightforward and simple, have become overly complicated… As a general rule, I tend to feel that simple works!



  2. Hi Lewis,

    Thanks for the suggestion and it is a goodie. As far as I understand the statistics and despite the history, I believe about only a third of households down this way actually have a written plan (go on ask me?) I guess it is hard for some people to contemplate worst case scenarios, but I must be wired wrong because I reckon if they’re realistic risks and they don’t eventuate, then I reckon that is a good thing! 🙂 Hey, what do you reckon about this hypothesis? Perhaps folks don’t have enough ‘spare capacity’ in their life to be able to assess realistic risks and then do something about them? Dunno, I’d be curious to read your thoughts in the matter. Anyway, it is all very complicated.

    Actually a lot of people forget to take even basic identification during such a crisis. The banks and insurance companies were quite good with people affected by the Black Saturday bushfires, and the government was kicking anyone really hard that wasn’t good to the affected people. Add a couple of years and things were a little bit different: Banking royal commission: Insurance claims in disaster zones remain the focus. I can see both sides of that story. People get sold an insurance policy which states that it will provide for replacement, but if construction costs go up, and the house is deemed a bit rubbish, then it becomes a process of negotiation where one party has no leverage. We ended up insuring with an expensive provider that had a very good response to just getting on with the job. Insurance is not the homogeneous product that people think that it is, although people tend to feel that it ‘should’ be – whatever that misused word means. Do you get insurance horror stories in your part of the world? I hear a lot of people using the word: “should”!

    I started thinking ahead to: after summer. The editor had a look at accommodation costs for a night in a town by the sea during autumn, in the town along the coast that I’ve liked to visit since I was a teenager, only to find that prices had doubled, and now I can’t consider that option. It was over $500 per night, and that is an outrageous ask. I see what people get paid, because I get to see a lot of different businesses, and I’m absolutely stuffed if I know who is paying that much for what is pretty basic accommodation. And people tell me with a straight face that there is no such thing as inflation. Yes, as the ocean reaches ever closer to the town, they’re not retreating from the ocean, I am.

    Thanks for the summary of the identification process. But the thing I was wondering was, how the heck did they even suspect that Richard III was buried in the vicinity? Hey, what is your take on the rumour that Richard III offed his nephews? To me it smells like the sort of story circulated about Nero, in that he: Fiddled whilst Rome burnt; or even Marie Antoinette, who suggested that the commoners should: Let them eat cake. The claims are too exaggerated for my tastes, but I wasn’t there and all that, and it is only pure speculation on my part. Whatever the case is, the dead bloke got hit in the head with a Halberd and that would be one fatal blow, although I noticed that time was spent inflicting a few more injuries – just to be sure.

    You raise an interesting thought as there are caves in the higher reaches of the mountain range that were the reputed haunt of the infamous bushrangers. I would expect that they’ve been thoroughly explored, but you never know. The view of coach traffic along the road from the goldfields to Melbourne, would have been quite good in those days… Some of the bushrangers held up and robbed isolated farms, which would have won them no friends or support from the local population. Other bushrangers acted differently, and had vast support from the local population. I guess some folks can’t think very long term, but how do you know who is who? That is the real question.

    Hehe! Yeah, the diversity trainer would have provided amusement. Did he take himself seriously? That’s what I want to know? And how did you end up knowing somebody that devoted time to learning that field of knowledge?

    Rats are easily taken care of these days – although I don’t poison them, unlike a lot of other people, because the owls may unfortunately consume the poisoned carcasses and that may lead to poisoning for them – and they hunt the rats anyway – for free. 🙂 There are plenty of owls up here at night. But I see what you mean, and the lighting and packed in shelves would really lend that feeling a bit of extra oomph! I reckon it sounds like a good find.

    Yeah, I know about the sugar maples and the freezing. They’re more of a long shot thing. Hey, I have tried sugar beets – which grow like weeds here. Seriously! But the flavour of the sugar beet syrup has a bit of an earthy after taste much like silver beet or rainbow chard, although it is far better than nothing. You might notice that I grow corn. But over the next year or so, I’m sort of hoping to trial sweet sorghum and see how that goes. I have the gear to crush the juice in the stalks, so it doesn’t seem like too difficult a task, plus they prefer drier weather than bread wheat. But, there is also the honey, but productivity is low if you want resilience to be high for the colony – a true conundrum. The sugar gums don’t grow here at this altitude, but they do grow lower in the valley where water accumulates and along creek sides. Interesting – and they are apparently a favourite haunt of koala bears. Salt is the really difficult one. Where the heck do you get that when you are miles from the coast, other than trading? What do you reckon about that?

    Hey, that is what I use for baking. And it releases no fumes or smoke during the baking process. I became a bit concerned when first I mentioned using such paper because I received several comments about added silicone in the product – and that was all a bit unsettling. I use the paper until it can no longer be used… Your banana blueberry muffins sound very tasty, and I feel that I missing out on the experience being so far away… Yum!

    Far out! I watched the trailer for Call Girl of Cthulhu, and it looked like they’d enjoyed a day or thirty making up batches of blood and guts. It looked quite silly, and the actors looked as though they were having a fun time of it. Oh my God! I don’t know what to say other than: “The rain in Spain stays mainly in the … brain! Hehe! Thanks for the zombie laughs! Good stuff.

    There is a tiny bit of rain in the coming forecast for the week, but we’re considering plans to add in another large water tank. Certainly we catch enough rain to fill it, but like everything it will be a complex and difficult job. I pumped the large reserve water tank almost dry today. We’ve used a lot of water in the past month and bit of extraordinarily hot weather – and I have no idea what the future months hold. We’ll be fine for water as is, but with most systems that rely on nature, you want to have more than you can ever imagine that you might need, and only then you can breathe a sigh of relief (for a brief moment in time).

    Hey, I added a bit of extra soil to the corn today because – like you said – three of them lodged. I could see their root systems so clearly I might not have planted the seed deeply enough, but I’m not really sure.



  3. My 25yo son texted me from Melbourne that morning, dumbfounded that it was 35C at 8.30 in the morning. What’s going on? he asked. I replied that it was a sign that he ought to move back to Tasmania. Thankfully, our highest temp this year has been 32C.
    Well done you two for all the hard work you have put into the farm over the years. Now it is paying off – shade, water, resilient gardens. Nice one:)

  4. Hi, Chris!

    The second that your blog page came up and I saw the little froggie, I just laughed and laughed. Our printer is doing very well, but I am going to see if he will print out anyway.

    To tell you the truth, reading about your excessive heat and the incredibly dangerous conditions made me feel kind of sick. I’m pretty sure that I would be sick under those conditions. I don’t know how you and the Editor stand it.

    Poor Scritchy and Ollie and everyone else – except the worms. And the happy froggie. I feel quite sure our garden would be about as dead as a doornail under those conditions. Hope I never find out.

    I am glad that you leave water out for the wildlife. We do that, too, though right now I am just doing my best to keep it thawed out. When it is hot, I also see insects drinking at our water bowls. We have locusts; I used to feed them to our bearded dragons, and cicadas, too, though they were harder to catch, being way up in the trees. In fact, we had a dog that loved to eat cicadas. He liked how they buzzed when he caught the.

    You can hardly close the door of the firewood shed. Well done!

    That is one handsome ear of corn, and I reckon that you will know if you have chilies or peppers as soon as you taste one! I love the yellow tomatoes. Do they taste a bit lemony? I once grew a large yellow type that really did. What a drop in temperature – thank goodness.

    Thanks for all of the not-fried flower photos. It certainly would have been sad if you just had dried flower arrangements to show.


  5. Hi Chris,

    What a day!! You paint quite the picture. Of course one can never know what it’s like unless you live through it.

    It’s really something when zucchini and other squashes wilt so badly but just pop right back as soon as the sun goes down. When the weather is extremely dry the leaves of conventional hybrid and GMO corn curl up and point upwards. They kind of look like a very large pineapple.

    I like the way the beans are climbing up the fence. I’m planning to plant cukes and snow peas around the deck to utilize the railing.

    We keep a birdbath filled all summer and the entire edge is filled with bees. There’s also a few rocks for them as well. They also hang out at the pig waterer.

    The young man was a member of our 4H club so yes, I know the entire family. In fact three of our youngest daughter’s peers have died in the last six month – all in their mid 30’s.

    Records may be broken on Wednesday. It’s Tuesday night through Thursday morning that the really extreme cold will occur. In fact the latest forecast is now a low of -30F (-34.4C) for Wednesday night/Thursday morning. We received at least another six inches of snow last night. It’s a bit hard to tell as it was windy and it drifted. By Saturday the temps recover to the mid 30’s F and it may even rain a bit. All the schools are closed today due to snow and I’m sure they will be on Wednesday and maybe Thursday due to cold. All I can do is keep an eye on the propane and hope they get here in time though I’m sure the weather impacts their delivery as well. It was just bad timing for the tank to reach the level when it’s time to call right now. The other concern is frozen water pipes which then can burst. To prevent that you leave a trickle of warm water running in any faucets where the pipes are on an outside wall and be sure to open cabinets underneath to allow maximum heat to reach them. We’ll be doing that Tuesday night through Thursday morning. As long as the water pump works all should be ok there.


  6. Hi Chris,

    The rolled corn leaves are a sign of high drought stress in corn, as you noticed. In 2012, when we endured a severe summer drought, the corn leaves looked like that through most of the US Corn Belt during most of the growing season. Some farmers who had never irrigated before put in irrigation systems. Same idea as you, I think: even if they don’t need it most years (except for farms bordering large rivers, most of the US Corn Belt farms grow on summer rainfall alone), it would be good to have it available in the worst years. It’s why we have a wood stove and barrels of stored rainwater, and why I grow a garden and fruiting shrubs and trees.

    I’m glad it has cooled off for you and hope you get some rain soon. We are on the brink of some brutally cold winter weather. Because we have no snow cover, and because we are farther south, our temperatures won’t be as cold as Margaret will experience. But a low temperature below 0F / -18 C, as predicted for Wednesday morning, achieved without extra radiational cooling from snow cover and this far south means one impressive cold wave. The high temperature is only to be about 6F / -14C on Wednesday, near or at the record cold high temperature for that date. And it’s supposed to be windy on top of that, to produce dangerous wind chill values even here, and much more so for Margaret and places north of her. It’s hard to remember that spring should be here in about 6 weeks or so. Maybe. Not last year. But most years, and I hope this year!


  7. Hello Chris
    That tree frog combines ugliness with sweetness in an amazing mix. I was absolutely loving him and then read on. Your weather is far far too hot and worrying with it. I would definitely leave my home when fire was in the offing. If I lived in such an area, I would also have an essential always packed and ready. No doubt Son would consider that I was over anxious! Odd that homelessness doesn’t particularly worry me.

    My deck is not progressing as Son has a lot of work on. This doesn’t really matter as at least visitors are no longer in danger now that the decking has gone.

    I was surprised that you were able to have a cold bath; doesn’t your water get warm in the tanks in such weather?
    I put out water for birds and animals even though it is not usually necessary. They seem to love it and I can observe them from the window. Birds also come to bathe in the pond.

    I like Lew’s notion of caches in your area. In this country one looks near old oak trees as the pedlars of yore would bury money ahead of going into a new village and they used the oaks as markers.

    A supermarket in town was selling bags of coal. They were labelled as ‘Traditional household coal’!

    Inflation here is rising at quite a rate, although this seems to be denied. Son says that he is finding it very hard to price jobs sufficiently highly. Do you have this problem with your earning jobs?

    Very cold and we are being threatened with snow tomorrow evening,


  8. Yo, Chris – I’m glad your heat finally broke, and maybe that’s the worst of it for this year? Water for poo? Sounds like a good trade. Gotta keep that fertilizer coming in!

    That moth (or butterfly) has made a marvelous adaptation. Looks like a bundle of twigs. A plague of locusts? Sounds positively biblical. I hear they taste like chicken :-).

    The Great Wall of Wood. Soon to be a major tourist attraction. Build holiday housing. Charge astronomical prices. Keeps out the riffraff. :-).

    It is startling how fast your zucchini has grown, from the last photo. Egg plant doesn’t grow very well, here. But, Her Royal Highness’s mother (The Queen Mum?) had one in a container, that produced one egg plant, that she babied along. And, someone stole it! Your corn look about ready to harvest. Cont.

  9. Cont. Well, it’s been pretty well proved, that humans, as a species, aren’t very good at assessing long term risk. If it’s not in our face, or biting our bums, it’s out of sight, out of mind. One can puzzle over it, but, there it is.

    It’s pretty amazing how many people don’t carry around any kind of basic ID. Found that out when I worked at the library. Our library card application rules were pretty minimal, and it was pretty amazing (to me) how many people carry nothing. After Hurricane Katrina, we got a memo, to waive any ID requirements, if people were from New Orleans. We did have one family come into the Centralia Branch.

    We have a new tenant, here at The Institution. All I know about her is that she’s “…from California and has nothing.” I wondered if she was a fire refugee? There’s also a new fellow in the building. But, I’m not encouraging any new friendships, so, am rather incurious about his story.

    Most of the insurance horror stories I hear, have to do with health insurance. Occasionally, car insurance. Nothing on the home front.

    Yes, hotel and motel rates are rather startling, these days. But as I said earlier, keeps the riffraff out. :-).

    Well, it was a pretty well established fact that Richard III had been buried in the Greyfriars friary, close to Bosworth Field battle site. The place was leveled (thank you, Henry VIII), but the friary wall existed into the 1920s. But there was a story floating around that his bones had been tossed in a nearby river. So, they pretty much had the possible site, narrowed down to a city block. There’s a whole book on finding Richard III, and it was pretty interesting. The Princes in the Tower? We’ll probably never know. But, a box with two sets of small remains, were discovered, buried in a box under a stairway in the Tower of London. In the 1600s. They were reburied, in Westminster Abbey.

    “Nero fiddled, as Rome burned.” Sounds better than “Nero played the lyre, as Rome burned.” :-). According to some reports, Nero was at his lavish villa, in Antium (south of Ostia, north of Naples) when the fire started. The villa included a theatre (ocean views!) and he may have been throwing a musical competition, at the time. He probably beat it back to Rome, and “may” have, at some point, sung his self composed “The Burning of Troy.” Which (probably luckily) hasn’t come down to us.

    As far as the “Let them eat Cake” quote goes, it wasn’t ascribed to Marie Antoinette until 1843. Long after she died. It was first recorded by Rousseau, long before Marie Antoinette was even IN France. He ascribed the quote to “some great princess.” So, maybe, some princess, sometime, somewhere (probably in France), put her foot in it.

    Getting back to our Congress Critters, every time one of them makes a similar remark, I think, “More grease for the tumbril wheels.”

    “Call Girl of Cthulhu” was wall to wall young ladies with their pulchritude on display. Besides the buckets of blood. I found the DVD extras, more interesting. An insight into what certain groups of young folk are up to, these days.

    While looking up the correct spelling of “pulchritude” I ran across the statement “…in more common writing to achieve a witty effect.” Which in a nutshell, get across the idea I was trying to formulate in relation to the use of “ain’t.” Lew

  10. @ Marg,

    Gadzooks! That is totally BRUTAL weather. As much as Chris sympathizes with me over some of the extremes in Spokane, what you’re getting is colder than anything I’ve experienced. Best wishes with the propane and with the pipes!


  11. Chris,

    I’ve been getting lost in the shuffle my entire life. Why should it be different on the internet? 😉

    Summer here will likely be hot and dry, but shouldn’t get as extremely hot as your weather. Rain (my guess) will come in hard spurts in March and April and May, meaning most of the monthly total will fall in 3 to 5 days, then dry up for several weeks. Then shut off for half of June through late September. At least that has been the pattern for several years. I should also get the pleasure of breathing in massive amounts of wildfire smoke in July and August.

    The competition thing really got to the basic question: am I doing this for me, or am I doing it for the judges? If for the judges, then I might as well quit, as doing artwork to please a judge dries up my motivation. But doing the work for me, based on my interests, means maybe I can improve my skills, be happy with the work I’ve done, which is why I picked up the hobby to begin with. If the judges don’t like my topics and style, well, I do, and then I’m happy. Seriously, getting to that point to some major thinking and a lot of change. Which is a major breakthrough for me.

    About 10 years ago, my wife said that, since I was hoping to retire by now (not even close yet), I’d better find a hobby, as she wasn’t gonna put up with me drooling on the sofa in front of the tv. So we went to many shows featuring different types of crafts and hobbies and art. Carving and woodburning grabbed me. Did I ever mention how smart and wise my wife is?

    Some of your plants were looking a bout ragged from the heat. Glad it cooled down. I’ve always been amazed by the entire squash and pumpkin type of plant. They droop and look like they’re about to give their last gasp, then the sun gets near the horizon, it cools down a bit, and with a bit of water they’re smiling and perky and happy again.

    Not so much the poor pooches though. At least they’re mostly smart enough to find a relatively cool spot out of the sun and try to sleep it out.

    The biodiversity you’ve toiled to introduce sure helps all the insects and birds and animals, doesn’t it? On rare occasions I get asked how I have birds in my yard nearly all the time. Plants. Lots of plants and trees all over the yards. So there are bugs and insects, so there’s food for the birds. (And the wasps and hornets, ugh.) And I keep water available for the birds (and bees and wasps and hornets and…) throughout the dry seasons. They all KNOW where they can get a drink and have places to roost. Important stuff, so it is.


  12. Hi Pam,

    Little froggie says hi! to you and yours. And he sends a wish to you that this week’s weather is not too severe in your corner of the planet.

    Then I had to slightly edit the very ungentlemanly language from the world of frog. Apparently, the frogs are annoyed with me, because I disturbed a small cluster of frogs. I had to relocate a hose today that I’d been using to pump water from the large reserve water tank into the main house water tanks. And unbeknownst to me the frogs had been living in the pipes which connect the drains from the roof of the house to the water tanks. I can vouchsafe that they leaped about in sheer annoyance!

    Honestly, I don’t know how we stand it either. My mind keeps telling me to treat it like you’re sitting an exam that you haven’t properly studied for, but you also have no option to leave the exam early. And you have to pass the exam. How’s that explanation? Probably as clear as mud. 🙂

    I hope that you never find out either. But you can adapt. It just takes a lot of top soil building and shade (which you already have plenty of). The top soil holds water below the soil surface where the plants can access it, but the sun struggles to evaporate it. The tree canopy is doing just fine as they have deep root systems.

    You are very nice to consider the wildlife during your frozen winter. Dehydration can be just as bad in winter as it is in summer. Hey the cicada’s here live in the ground, but they do emerge to shed their skin. When I was a kid you used to see the little discarded exo-skeletons all over the place. I can’t recall the last time I saw one of them in the city.

    Thanks. Firewood is an insane job at this time of year, but it is more insanerest (sic) to harvest it when conditions are humid and damp.

    I reckon some of the corn is almost ready to harvest. Dunno. Yes, I suspect that the difference between chili’s and peppers will be obvious upon tasting, but until then… No, the tomatoes taste like tomatoes but the yellow ones are lower in sugars than the red, green and black ones that ripen over the next month or so.

    Hey, the solanum family of plants is vast and they readily hybridise, so you may have developed a unique variety. I assume that this variety no longer reproduces?

    The drop in temperature is nice, but it does your head in for sure. My body is starting to acclimatise to warmer weather, winter will be a shock for me for sure.



  13. Hi Margaret,

    Thanks for saying that as I really tried hard this week to put into words what the day felt like. Of course it is not lost on me that there are plenty of folks down here that experienced the same day but were oblivious to the harsh realities – or lived in a mechanised bubble. I believe about 200,000 homes lost their power that afternoon. Fingers were pointed for sure about that, but few people brought out their wallets and purses into the daylight and cried: “This shall not happen again!” Nope, didn’t hear that at all although there was a lot of whingeing.

    Yeah, the plants that really worry me are the ones that show no signs of heat fatigue, and then they go toes up without any warning or explanation. Zucchini are the true survivors, and the cucumbers in the bed to the right of them did not even wilt during that day (and still produced cucumbers). Scary triffid like things…

    I hope I don’t regret that experiment with the beans, and they do look cool don’t they? I’m hoping that I didn’t get them in the ground a few weeks too late? Dunno. I’ll certainly save seed from any of them that do well. Snow peas are great aren’t they? And I’ve noticed in earlier seasons that they are among the very first peas to fill out their pods. Plus they’re tasty straight off the vine.

    Doug would be onto the water for the bees. A colony can drink a surprising amount of water. But everything benefits from having fresh water available all year around.

    So sorry to hear that, and I can only but express my condolences and also express my sympathy for their loss. Death is always hard, but it is especially hard when the youth are called upon to give. Given your profession you would have encountered so many people from all walks of life and a huge cross section of the community. There are so many stories there, and life has a tinge of tragedy mixed in that is basically unavoidable.

    Far freakin’ out! The weather is extreme here, but I have to suggest that things are more extreme in your corner of the planet – and may get worse before they get better. I read Cliff Mass’s blog today about the deep low pressure system in your corner of the world. You know, last year I saw both the hottest and coldest temperatures in this location that I had ever experienced. Of course this year is on average far hotter, but that is a moot point. Global warming means that the extremes are becoming more extreme and that means both cold and heat. Fingers crossed for your propane delivery, but keep a load of firewood ready to hand just in case.

    Cheers (I think?)


  14. Hi Chris,

    I really feel for you with that heat, but your work building topsoil in the gardens has really paid off. Here in NZ at the moment we are getting the tail end of your heatwave; the media are making a big deal of it but really it is nothing by comparison, around 30-33 degrees. I do notice a big difference though between being out in the open and being in the shade of my forest garden – it seems like several degrees difference, and the breeze is cooled as well. The only downside is that the mozzies like my shady garden too!

    I am mainly here to answer your call for olive-preserving recipes. I have to confess to not having tried this recipe myself, but my source clearly has, and describes it all in detail. If you can get hold of this book: “Moon over Martinborough” by Jared Gulian. It has an alternative title (for the non-NZ market) of “An olive grove at the edge of the world”, with slightly different content from the original. Hopefully your public library will have it. It is the story of how a couple of townies buy a lifestyle block that includes an olive orchard, and how they come to grips with it. An easy and enjoyable read.

    Anyway he includes this recipe for pickled olives, and has a longer description of the process which I won’t include here.

    Wash the olives and put them in a lidded bucket.

    Fill the bucket with plain water, i.e. tap water or rainwater.

    Pour off and replace the water with fresh water every two days for forty days. Do this gently to avoid bruising the fruit. During this time the olives will darken, and sink rather than float.

    After 40 days, drain the olives and cover them with rock salt. Leave for two days.

    Wash the olives well with cold water and pack them into sterilised jars. Add to the jars slices of washed lemon, fresh thyme washed in boiling water, and whole peeled cloves of garlic. Use sterile utensils and clean technique.

    Fill the jars with 1/3 vinegar and 2/3 olive oil (I see in the longer description that Jared boiled the lemon, garlic, and thyme in the vinegar to ensure sterility).

    Seal and leave for at least 2 weeks before eating. Consume within 6 months.

    Jared Gulian has a blog but his world view is, let’s say, a lot more benign than that of most of the readers of your blog 😉



  15. Hi Claire,

    Thanks for the information about the corn-belt. I was genuinely surprised to read that about the corn relying on summer rainfall alone. From my perspective that is an amazing thing, because this year the corn would have surely died here without the 10 minutes a day (or less) of watering that we provide them with. And the water pump there delivers about 20 litres (a bit over 5 gallons) of water per minute, which is also spread among the many melons, squashes, pumpkins, strawberries, blackberries and raspberries, so it is no rain substitute that’s for sure. A quick bit of math on the back of an envelope shows that I burn through about 6,000 litres a month up on those three terraces. I have to add more water reserves up there this year as well as ensuring that the top soil gets deeper – and quickly. But there is never such a thing as quick in organic agriculture as I reckon it takes about three years to get really resilient organic top soil going. Did you ever get any further soil tests done at your place? Most of the trees in the orchard here are doing just fine without any watering, which I’m reasonably happy with. Only the smaller trees are suffering and I’m inclined not to offer them any assistance.

    The weather here is all over the shop. Tomorrow is 37’C, but Thursday will be 21’C, only for summer to return with full force on Sunday at 38’C. My brain is strained…

    I feel for both you and Margaret with those horrendous cold temperatures, and have absolutely no idea how either of you cope. I’m not entirely sure that I’d want to put this house to that sort of test. Incidentally, it takes a lot of hot water to stop solar hot water panels from popping in below zero temperatures, so the hot water from the wood heater here would be leaking out through those panels. That happens here every single year and it is a drain on the hot water supply, but the system is now good enough to cope with that – although it has taken a lot of years to get there.

    Honestly, I doubt autumn will be here in 6 weeks. At this rate, it will cool down in late April, and I expect that things will be no different in your part of the world – but in reverse. Global warming means that the extremes will get more extreme. I suspect that this might be bad for the winter wheat crops in your part of the world.

    Cheers (again, I’m not sure that is the right thing to say, but…) Anyway, the frogs are chirruping outside, so that is surely a good sign? Maybe?


  16. Hi Inge,

    Thank you and the frog was really sweet – and your words were spot on. The poor little fella was covered in dirt because he’d obviously buried himself somewhere in the garden during the heat of the day, only to then jump onto the verandah at night for some insect hunting. Frogs are amazing creatures aren’t they? I assume you get them in your forest? Toads live in the soil here and I have never been able to identify the variety living here.

    Yes, we are prepared to bail if a fire threatens. There seems little point in risking your life for a structure that can be rebuilt. Of course if insurance was no longer available, I’d be inclined to burn a defensive perimeter around the property each spring. The plants would love the release of phosphorus from that activity. It distresses me that the government lands around the property are so poorly managed, but it is a risk I’ve chosen to live with. Your son might be understating the seriousness of the risk in this particular circumstance. In the Black Saturday fires, 173 people died and almost 2,000 structures were destroyed or seriously damaged. There was little that could be done to stop the fire given the condition of the forest at that time. And little has been done in the meantime, although they do appear to be much better funded and prepared with water bombing aircraft.

    Anyway, worst comes to worse, we’ll live on site in the aftermath – despite opposition to that. Renting is a mugs game these days.

    Hehe! I get that. You acknowledge the risk of the deck, but visitors completely miss the risk. Do you know, I’ve noticed that when people from the city visit here, they rarely look to see where they are placing their feet, and I’m amazed at that lack of awareness. But you know, it happens. Have you ever noticed that?

    Well, 50,000 litres of water is the equivalent of 50,000 kilograms (about 110,000 pounds) and that has quite a lot of thermal mass. It takes a lot of energy to heat that volume of mass up. The hottest town in Australia is I believe Marble Bar in Western Australia. I’m not sure I could live there, but I freely acknowledge that they make them tough as up that way. I once read an account of a person living there and they claimed that it was so epic-ly hot, and for so long, that the water coming out of the hot water tap was colder than that coming out of the cold water tap. I have occasionally experienced the water getting to a tepid temperature, but that was because I let the level in the water tank get too low (a long story involving the editor who made a bad call one summer).

    Yeah, the birds, insects, and every other animal really rely on a stable water supply, and yes the payback is that they will entertain you with their antics. I watched a Kookaburra raid a black birds nest the other day. I have a fondness for the laughing Kookaburra’s that I don’t have for the blackbirds (which attack the fairy wrens and red breasted robins) so it was no business of mine to get involved in.

    An intriguing concept about the caches. Did you know in gold country to the north of here where the land is much older, nuggets can be found around the roots of old trees? Trees here usually wrap their root systems around chunks of granite and I’ve always wondered if they are consuming the rock somehow with the help of fungi? It is possible.

    That’s funny. I recall seeing coal used for heating as a kid. Everything old will be new again. But coal won’t be burned for long as it has become uneconomic to mine by hand (and has been that way since about WWI).

    Inflation is denied down here too, it is a problem. The thing is incomes appear stagnant to me, but costs are rising. That is about what I’d expect too.

    Good luck and I hope that you don’t get to experience any sort of weather like Claire or Margaret are going to have to face?



  17. Hi Lewis,

    Thanks, and I’m about done, but the summer has a ways to go yet. Tomorrow will reach 99’F, and Sunday it will pass that mark. I suspect that people feel that the War on Climate means that we’ll have the same weather, but it will just be two degrees (centigrade) hotter. And they say to themselves, this here War on Climate is grouse as, because winters will be so much warmer – and there is always the air conditioner over summer. But it doesn’t work that way at all – the extremes just get more extreme – in either direction. Last year I saw both the hottest and coldest day that I’ve ever experienced here and it wasn’t lost on me what that meant. Is that your understanding of the situation? Sorry, I’m ranting, possibly the heat got to my brain and cooked it. Do you reckon zombies would prefer cooked, or raw brains? They don’t look like the sort to be any good in the kitchen, so my money is on raw brains. 🙂 Has there ever been a zombie kitchen film? The ideas are endless…

    I agree with you about the poo. Yes, absolutely, it has to keep rollin’ on in. I’m gobsmacked at the volumes of poo that the old timers used to have to get back into the soil simply in order not to run down the soil minerals. It was a truly astounding feat, and I must read Farmers of Forty Centuries. They knew a thing or two about trade in produce for poo.

    Yeah, the moth or butterfly in the little stick coated cocoon was something else wasn’t it? I’m not joking either when I wrote that they were much more common when I was a kid, and like the Christmas beetles which are still found here, these things have become rare elsewhere.

    Don’t you reckon it is hard when you wake up one day only to discover that you are: the riff-raff! It is a bit like being the weakest link! My how we’ve come down in the world. But then, the view is more enjoyable down here. 🙂 The accommodation asking price was a real horror story, and you could see that there were plenty of people willing to pay the asking price. It is bonkers. During the recession in the early 90’s one notable thing attracted my attention and it was that house prices declined from the periphery first, and that meant rural prices fell as people tried to unload holiday houses in a falling market. I read an article the other day about a couple of baby boomers that had moved to a rural area to retire, only to then realise they wanted to move back into the city where they could get more health care – only to find that it was very difficult to sell their property. What did they expect? I dunno?

    Triffids. Yes, I believe that zucchini’s would provide good starter genetic base for triffids! Hey, the eggplant does really well here, but we have to get them in at the right time otherwise the growing season is not quite long enough. I’m hoping this year that we can use them in the massive passata (tomato) sauce mix which we preserve every year. Certainly we get enough capsicums and tomatoes for that job.

    I wish it were not so. But the climate shenanigans here this year (and in your part of the world) certainly seem to agree with your supposition.

    Having basic ID can make a major difference after such a disaster. Mate, people don’t even think to have copies of basic documents such as who were they insured with again? Far out. I saw a lot of unnecessary strangeness after that big fire in 2009.

    Ouch, that might well mean that the new resident came from the fire affected areas. When I read about the demographics of that area I did wonder at how resilient the population would be. And why they actively resisted common sense management of the land in their area is a mystery to me – but then plenty of folks do that here too. I need to ask your advice about an Agony Aunt problem in relation to friends…

    I can see why with the health insurance, and I guess we have the similar problem but with housing inserted into that story instead of health care. Societies pick and choose, but basic reality is what it is and consequences and resources and energy actually do actually matter. I suspect both situations may rectify themselves in time, but plenty of people are not going to like the outcome.

    Yes, I did read that the Tudors levelled the old friary. I’d suggest they had a larger beef that they wanted to settle in that regard. 🙂 It does sound like an interesting story, and by all accounts the folks did their homework well because they discovered the body very quickly in the dig. An impressive achievement for a motivated and learned group. Yeah, that is an ugly business on so many levels. Do you feel that it is an example of history being re-written by the victors? In between the lines I got the sense that many historical people who wanted to pen a fair account – or did so, became very pressured after that act as the retractions were painful to read!

    It is a bit like some Australian citizen of Chinese background who was very vocally negative about that particular government. And then just to prove that he has poor judgement, he went over there recently – and disappeared… Not good, and not a mistake I’d make. I’ll make new and interesting mistakes instead!

    Don’t believe that I’ve ever heard a lyre, so Nero might have been onto something. I have no idea where the idea evolved that our leaders should be seen in disaster zones. They probably are at best a distraction and at worst a redirection of energy at a time that is unnecessary. Do they not have lieutenants to organise such matters? Was that always the case for leaders? It seems like something that has arisen out of the cult of personality that has gripped western culture back in the 80’s and not let go, but I don’t really know.

    I’m still slightly in awe that your congress critters would pay themselves whilst not paying their employees. You do realise that is a sign of a failing business? I’ve always noted that owners that fail to pay suppliers, the government and/or employees and whilst at the same time not stinting themselves are on a one way train to, I dunno, off a cliff or somewhere horrid like that. It isn’t a good sign or look.

    Well yes, as every good and morally flexible marketing agent knows: sex sells. So pulchritude it is! Thanks for the new word, it’s a goodie!

    It is interesting to keep abreast (no pun intended) of what the young folk are up to. I always listen to the youth radio news as it is fascinating. This might not interest you, but there is a suggestion that the tempo of current music has slowed over the past few years: The changing sound of the Hottest 100. Go Ocean Alley and well done to them!



  18. Hi DJ and Steve E,

    I’ll try and get to both of you tomorrow, but it is the dreaded mid-week hiatus after all… INTERMISSION… Yep, that sounds like the curtain is closing for a short break in transmission and we’ll return to the main program in no at all folks! 🙂



  19. Wow that´s hot! As much as I complain about our damp, chilly conditions, I deal with that much better than heat.

    Congratulations on creating such a lush environment despite the climate. I´m sure your wildlife appreciates it.

    Amazing how those courgettes grow literally overnight, isn´t it? And your corn looks impressive too. Jealous, mine never germinated. I always thought corn was a water hog.


  20. Hello again
    I spoke too soon. Son has been working here all morning and the decking is safely done. Some bits need tweaking but it is fine for visitors now.
    Frogs and toads are here but I rarely see one. Realise that I know nothing about varieties and am guessing that we only have one of each. Shall have to do a bit of research.
    Visitors are not only oblivious to careful foot placement, they actually notice nothing at all. I sometimes say ‘Did you notice….?’ No, absolutely nothing is observed. I am always extremely conscious of my surroundings, every movement, every sound. Am sure that this arises from my adolescent love of solitude and the countryside and also the fact that I used to sleep out in the woods (not on the Island as I didn’t live here then). I am very conscious of survival under such circumstances. My view of the modern woman’s demand to be treated in a certain way, is not a kindly one. I believe that things happen, better to know how to avoid or how to deal with it.

    Renting is a mug’s game here as well; it is horrendously expensive.

    Weather dry and cold; we keep being told that snow is on the way, even here but it hasn’t arrived yet. I am quite sure that my weather will never compete with what Claire and Margaret are dealing with.


  21. Hello yet again
    Good grief! It appears that Australia has 230 varieties of frog while we have only 2. We also have 2 varieties of toad.


  22. We have propane!! Both Doug and I noticed a slight smell of gas when we opened the tank cover to check the percentage so I called the company. Turns out that is normal they said when snow is covering the cover and you open it. They showed up not 15 minutes after I called as a truck was in the area (maybe they would have come anyway) so checked to see if there was a leak and filled the tank. The worse of the weather will be from 6 PM tonight (Tuesday) until noon on Thursday and then will warm up significantly. One really does acclimate though as it’s been well below normal for the last ten days. On Sunday we stopped to get gas. The temperature was 2F (-16.7C) and I didn’t feel particularly cold even with my hood off. There was no wind which makes a huge difference.

    Even the Chicago Public Schools will be closed on Wednesday and that just about never happens. Many smaller business have decided to close on Wednesday too while others are allowing those that can to work from home.

    While this may be record breaking cold by a degree or so this type of weather used to be much more frequent and longer lasting. I remember maybe 20 years ago or so not even batting an eye if the temperature was -10F (-23.3C) when I got up to go off to work.

    I am a bit tired of having all the blinds closed all day for days as you start to feel like you’re in a cave after awhile.


  23. Yo, Chris – Well, the weather is going to get wilder, weirder, and more extreme extremes, world wide. Take what comes and try not to get to bonkers, about it.

    My friend Julia mentioned the other day, that there’s alpaca poo for the taking. Enough that they were moving it around with a small tractor. She’s got a young(er) fellow at her place now. The fellow I mentioned who had his building sold and rent doubled. He’s very handy, and I hope he stays at her place a good long while.

    The lack of insects is a worry. Even the bothersome ones, seem in decline. This year is going to be interesting, watching the insects, birds, weather.

    Oh, I’m sure a lot of those folks don’t “pay the price” for the accommodations. They just “put it on the card.” Hmmm. I just thought of a bumper sticker. “Riff-Raff and Proud of It.” It really depends on your take on the situation. Not buying into all that “stuff” puts you (collective you) firmly among the “collapse early and avoid the rush” crowd. But I’m sorry you (the you, you 🙂 can’t get to your favorite beach. You might check off season rates. Or, stay inland where it’s more reasonable, and day trip to the beach.

    I’ve told you of my other idea for a bumper sticker. “Your Disorganization, Wastes My Time (And, I Don’t Have a Lot of It Left.)” I see it at the bank, I see it in the grocery stores. Cont.

  24. Chris:

    Our trees wrap their roots around rocks, too, and that is where I go first when looking for rocks, to the foot of a large tree to see what they have broken up and has migrated to the surface.

    I thought that the moth with sticks on it was actually the moth itself, with stick-like wings.

    Poor froggies. You have busted up a happy home.

    I see this: “like you’re sitting an exam that you haven’t properly studied for, but you also have no option to leave the exam early”, the same way, I think. To me it is a matter of pain. One endures the pain while there is no option, hoping that it is only temporary and will eventually end.

    We did accidentally develope the lemony tomato, but it eventually hybridized some more and lost that flavor.


  25. @ Margaret:

    We, too, have lost young people. Over the last couple of years, there have been 9 deaths among the thirtyish age group of our sons’ friends and past schoolmates. All but one were young men. A couple of them were pretty close friends of mine. Sometimes I feel like I walk among ghosts. I wonder if this is a bit of what war feels like?


  26. Cont. Rebuilding after a disaster, etc.. Paradise, California still pops up in the news, occasionally. Some have decided to rebuild, some to move on … somewhere. It was a big retirement area, and, a lot of the oldsters, well, either it was all they had, or they just don’t feel “up” to the challenge. There were a few mentions of how “private” the place felt, even on small lots, due to all the trees … I must say, I understand the impulse. There was another article about a town in Louisiana, that is really struggling. They can’t even afford the clean-up, let alone any rebuilding. And, now, their small tax base is pretty much gone.

    “Leaders” showing up at disaster scenes can be pretty disruptive. On the other hand, if they don’t show up and do a walk around, and pat a few “victims” on the shoulder, they come under tremendous pressure from the opposition and media. Occasionally, rulers rise to the occasion. During the Great Fire of London, Charles the II and his brother (the Duke of something-or-other) waded in, directed evacuations and safe areas for refugees and organized fire fighting efforts.

    There was a bit of woo-woo element to finding Richard III. I can’t remember all the details, now, but one woman felt drawn to one particular spot, fought hard to get it excavated. And, there he was.

    Oh, history is always re-written, or, at least slanted toward the victors. Historians are a bunch of old gossips who are always up for a juicy story. Writers (even Shakespear) had to keep an eye on which way the political wind was blowing.

    There were several interesting articles on NPR, yesterday, but I haven’t linked to any of them. One was a medical / insurance horror story. There was another on training out of work coal miners to be bee keepers. A third that I forget.

    Mid week intermission. What, no dancing pop corn tubs, candy bars or soft drinks, urging us to “go on up to the lobby, and have yourself a treat.” :-). Lew

  27. I don’t get over to your blog every week, so I wonder if I missed news about your chickens. You don’t mention them in the heat, but these temps are very dangerous for chickens, so wondered how they fared.

    Yes, the show must go on, and daily duties can’t be skipped, especially when you are raising animals. Gotta feed and water them every single day, no matter what. Bad weather, feeling sick, needing to travel, all must not keep one from being a humane owner/steward.

    What a coincidence, we are getting record cold temps right now in Wisconsin. I worry for our critters in the barn.

  28. Chris, if we don’t get 4mm of rain tonight (unlikely) we will have experienced Launceston’s driest January on record. Sigh.
    You posted a question on my blog last week about leaf curl in plums – check inside the curls for black aphids, as that can cause plum leaf curl. You can spray with pyrethrum, spray them off with a hose, or just feed and water and see if that does the trick. If no aphids I would suspect heat stress.

  29. Hi Lewis,

    Absolutely about the weather, although I genuinely worry when worry is called for, other thanthat I take advice from Mad Magazine and say: “What? Me Worry?” Seems like good advice to me. Anyway, the monsoon weather from up north over the tropics (which was two months late in turning up and made a special guest appearance up there only to drop 11 inches in 24 hours in some places) touched down here late today and dumped a bit of rain over the big smoke and surrounding areas. The storms looked pretty cool, lots of lightning and thunder ,and way out west on the outskirts of the city they even had a dust storm with some minor flooding. We got 7mm, which is about 1/4 of an inch. And frankly that is a relief. The weather was very warm and humid – and still is, and actually it feels a lot like tropical Asia. Your polar vortex (which is missing you) looks epic.

    Alpaca poo has a good reputation, and they’re very neat creatures as they do their business in the same spot, which is kind of thoughtful for yourself and Julia really. That is an outstanding relationship – and possibly an indication of the future. I can see that happening here, although I’ve got to get a more diverse garden in and do some other stuff.

    Yes, well it is not as if insects don’t perform useful functions other than pollination – like being food, converting plant material into manure + spreading genetic diversity. A colony of bees can produce a fair quantity of fertiliser, plus they all move fertility around the environment. We may find that if they stop doing that job, we’ll have to do it. I suspect the Aboriginals discovered that dilemma way back in the day after consuming the last of the megafauna. Probably a pattern that was repeated in other continents such as yours too.

    Far out, I wish it weren’t so. People, businesses and governments are addicted to debt. I know plenty of people who avoid it like the plague, but they are in the minority. Yes, ain’t it fun this here Hill-billy heights gig? 🙂 I might check again off season for the accommodation, but the window of opportunity is getting less and less all of the time. The inland there is mainly dense and very hilly forest, so it is not dissimilar from here, but with far more rainfall. There just ain’t any accommodation up in them thar hills.

    I like the saying about disorganisation. I can’t think of a bumper sticker to describe my annoyance at having to log on to a businesses systems in order to manage their admin, just because I need something from that business. So much admin gets shunted off onto people that I often wonder how other people keep on top of things. And recently, the vehicle registration department did not send us a renewal bill, and then we got a shirty letter saying that if we didn’t pay it within a week or two they’d cancel the registration. It was outrageous. And I’ve seen worse recently, one case was a complete stuff up in the processes of a large government department. Nowadays instead of fixing the problem for them, I lodge a complaint which for the moment is effective, but I also pay whatever needs paying.

    Rebuilding is a complex thing involving lots of different people. I heard some outrageous bureaucratic issues after the big fire, as nowadays people are unable to rebuild what they had in place. If you had say a log cabin and then it gets burned to the ground, you are not allowed to rebuild the same structure. No way…

    Hey, I understand the impulse to retain all of the vegetation, but it doesn’t work, and they have to do something different to ensure a different outcome. But with a bit of work and time, it could get much better for all the things that live there. But it won’t be the same as it was because it doesn’t work.

    Hey, a New Zealand mate was telling me a story about how they trained ex-convicts to manage bees down there. And apparently thefts of hives went up afterwards… But the bees could use the help.

    I’m off to bed. It got to 40’C here today 104’F, and it is now about 19’C / 66’F outside but still hot in the house. The heat is making me feel tired. Had a nice burger and chips in the big smoke! Yum! No beetroot though. A shame that. It was mustard and pickles instead.



  30. Hi Chris,
    Well it got down to -26F (-32.2C) and at 11 AM it’s still -23 (-30.5C). It’s also been quite windy which makes it much worse. Our furnace is running non stop and not quite keeping up but the winds will die down tonight so things should improve though we won’t get any warmer than -14 (-25.5C) We’ll be out of the woods around noon tomorrow – still a high around zero F but that’ll be a huge improvement. Temps in the low 40’s (5C) on the weekend. Doug was supposed to leave early this morning to drive to his friend’s house which about as far south as Claire but he wisely postponed until tomorrow morning.

    Just to cool you down check out this picture and article from the Chicago Tribune. It’s always colder here than there too.


  31. Yo, Chris – Well, I’m glad you got a bit of rain. Maybe a harbinger of more to come. Given the extremes, at both end of the scale, that everyone is experiencing, here, I hesitate to mention that it got down to 28F (-2.22C), here, last night. We’ve had a few nice days, but that ends, tonight. Between now and Monday, we’re having two storm fronts roll through.

    Yeah, I get pretty irritated, when I have to figure out a user ID and password, just to make a small purchase. And then put up with daily, weekly, monthly “newsletters,” unless I unsubscribe. And, if they sell my e-mail address on, loads more spam. And, on the odd chance I might order something from them again, I’ve got to record all that information in the tattered little book I call “my brains.” When the passwords don’t work, later on, I’m usually left puzzling over my handwriting. Was that a lower case “q” or “g”? Was that a “one” or a lower case “L?”

    Somehow or another, I seem to have lost an entire week, this month. And, yes, I checked behind the sofa. No dice. A few days ago, we had a memo that we’re having an apartment inspection. On the 31st. Which I thought was next week. Nope. Yesterday morning, it dawned on me, that that’s, tomorrow. So, I’ve been doing a lot of running round in circles. Not such a big deal. Just cosmetics and shooing the dust bunnies, into the closets.

    No beet for your burger? That’s criminal! Anyone you can report them to? :-). Lew

  32. Hi DJ,

    Hey, don’t you reckon the good thing about getting lost, is that sometimes you never know where you might end up? 🙂 I was thinking about just that this morning, because when there is a position vacant sign out for a new dog here, I’m not very fussy (as long as they are not aggressive in any way) about the sort of dog it is. And I have met some delightful and surprisingly colourful canine personalities over the years. If I was too picky, I never would have enjoyed the company of a feisty but very loyal larger sized Pomeranian (former boss dog). And that dog kicked sand in the face of all other dogs – regardless of the size or disposition of the dog. It was awesome to behold, and who ever knew whether she was courageous or just plain old foolhardy? And does it even matter? She always went for the eyes and then straight for the throat and fortunately for all the other surprised dogs in the world, she had rubbish teeth. I regularly feed bones to the dogs these days (when they’re not self-sourcing bones) and they have great looking teeth and no plaque or gum disease – like a lot of city dogs.

    Glad to hear that you believe that you won’t see the sort of weather that I’m currently experiencing. I wouldn’t wish this weather upon anyone. And up in the north of the country, some parts have had over one metre (yup, that’s 3 foot 3 inches) of rain over the past few days… Yeah, the wildfire smoke has been pretty awful for you the past couple of summers (from what I’ve been reading). I’ve experienced those conditions too, so you have my sympathy and understanding. It kills my sinuses after a few weeks of it, but you know life goes on and all that business.

    You are a wise man to have married a wife who is smarter than yourself! I get that. 😉 I know a lot of people who appear to have no hobbies outside of their family or jobs, and I’m completely stuffed if I know what to make of that situation. And you have clearly come to know yourself, which is something that not everyone gets to experience. Mate, you know I reckon much of the training and expectations of guys, creates the sort of complications that you described. And then you have wonder just who’s story are you following, and are you doing the work for yourself or the approval of others, and what is of more value to yourself and the woodcarving group?

    Yeah, those plants bounce back readily at night. It is a bit uncanny really, but I guess that is why they’re true garden survivors.

    Please keep those hornets to your garden thanks very much! But even those little pesky critters add to the mix, and something eats them for sure, so they become food for other critters. Hey, the other thing I might not have mentioned before, is something that really works well in these hot conditions in the garden, and that is to leave no soil free from plant life (of any form). Exposed soil dries out really quickly and the sun’s wicked strong UV sterilises the top layers of soil life. It happens pretty fast too.



  33. Hi Stephen E,

    Welcome to the discussion!

    Hehe! Yeah, I get that about the NZ weather reports. From my perspective it sounds like quite nice weather, really! Hey, even Hobart down in Tasmania has been getting in on the heatwave act: Hobart’s hottest calendar month on record. Yup, Hobart’s 6th day at or above 30 degrees so far this month. It is all relative though as they are having some massive bushfires in Tasmania, especially in the World Heritage Wilderness Area. It is not good.

    Thanks for the recipe and the link to the blog. Your challenge will be to test the recipe out! I’m frankly unsure how the recipe will end up, and without a firsthand account of that outcome, I’m a bit reluctant to put my olive crop to the test. I’ve tried a few recipes over the past few years and the result is that they’re too salty, and they over power the other ingredients when used in cooking. I’ll try and track down the book. My original question on the blog was probably poorly written, but I was hoping to hear from someone who has preserved their own olives for years and years and swears by the recipe.

    Speaking of benign worldviews, did you realise that you unwittingly alluded to one of the great problems of our age? Seriously, and please hang with me, and this is not a criticism of your good self as I appreciated your comment.

    We are awash with data. Data is everywhere, it is all over the place. But data of its own is not much good. Your recipe – just for one example – could be considered a point of data. Information on the other hand is what becomes of data, when that data is put to use. And after reading the recipe, I’m left not knowing the outcome of the recipe – in layman’s terms: what the heck do the preserved olives taste like?

    Anyway, it is a complicated conundrum, and hopefully you consider the point, or provide an alternative considered response? Unfortunately, I waste a huge amount of time and resources on trial and error with a lot of things, and sometimes I just need some seriously knowledgeable and experienced help.



  34. Hi Coco,

    Hey, I’m with you, and I prefer cooler and damper conditions too, but here is unfortunately where I’ve ended up. And I just try to make the best of the circumstances. There appears to be plenty of water in the ground for the well established trees – and they are growing very strongly, but I have noticed in the past week that the smaller and more delicate shrub layer (up to 1m / 3.3ft) appears to be wilting a bit so the ground water level is receeding.

    Most nights, the wildlife that lives in the surrounding forest, turns up here for a feed and a drink of water. It is feral out there, and I have no great desire to trip over a grumpy wombat in the dark. I have no doubts at all that the wombat would try and take a chunk out of my leg! In the local township a few days back I saw two women hand feeding a rescued and possibly orphaned baby wombat. It was very sweet.

    Thanks, and it looks like a good season for courgettes. The cucumbers are starting to fill out too over the past few days. But no summer crop is more extensive than the tomatoes. Yum! By the end of the season we will probably bring in about 100kg, which we’ll have to process in March sometime.

    Yeah, corn is a water hungry crop. The ones here don’t get a lot of water, but more of a little bit of water for a couple of minutes each day (we don’t have the water reserves to mollycoddle any plants). And the orchard gets no watering.

    With the corn, I’ve found the cobs set well when the corn is planted closely together in blocks. Plus I’ve tracked down open pollinated heritage varieties, plus saved seed from last year. The growth pattern is a bit all over the place as they are not all of the same size or development, but that might extend the growing season too, although I’m not really sure. I intend to save seed from all of the best cobs this year. Hopefully, we’ll also double the size of the corn crop for next year, but more on that in spring!

    Hey, as a friendly suggestion, you might want to consider saving some seed from your flowering plants, given their origins. It might prove to be a good business? Most of the open pollinated heritage seeds I obtain are locally grown and supplied and so I was really surprised to read of your experience, as that possibility would never have occurred to me.



  35. Hi Inge,

    I had no idea that there were that many frogs down here either! A nice group have even put together a guide to the various frogs in the nation, and one page was specific to my area. It is amazing! My lot is found at the link here: The frogs of The Goldfields. The frog that I thought was a toad looks from memory to be a: Eastern Banjo Frog or Pobblebonk. Pobblebonk is the noise the frogs make at night, and I can hear them calling in the forest most nights. It is a good name for a frog! 🙂 And I always thought that it was a toad of some sort. Well there you go, you learn something new each day. I should get around to recording the audio of the frog calls at night here.

    Good to read that your son sorted out your decking that quickly – especially given the awful and cold weather that you are experiencing.

    I hit my limits with heat yesterday as it was 40’C / 104’F here, and the air did cool down when it rained in earlier in the evening. However, in the middle of the night I woke up to feel warm air blowing into the house from outside. I’m taking today much easier, and simply sitting around and reading and relaxing. It is now a much cooler day today, but I wasn’t up for working outside. It is nice to know ones limits.

    I’d be interested to read what you discover about the frogs and toads of your corner of the world. For your interest, I have no idea how the frogs reproduce here because there is usually no standing water above ground. Years ago I left some ever so slowly leaking buckets (which were initially full of water) in the orchard for the fruit trees. And the frogs and huntsman spiders immediately moved into the bucket.

    Hehe! I do the same thing too and try and draw attention to the little details that visitors are entirely oblivious too. Far out. And a lot of the time, visitor feet squash plants and reptiles and all sorts of other weird and unexpected items. I have no idea what to make of that, but it is consistent! Oh well.

    I agree with you. A few months ago I was at a friend’s place, where a teenager was complaining about how difficult public transport had become, because for some reason that person attracted the attentions of nefarious individuals. I made the suggestion that perhaps it wouldn’t be a bad idea for the young lady to attend some martial arts training so that she carried herself more confidently. And everyone was aghast at the suggestion, as I suspected I offended their worldview. But you know, it is impossible to control others, and there are a small minority of very dodgy people around – and they’re bad news. Sometimes you have to run, sometimes you have to make them look elsewhere and ignore you, sometimes you have to hide, and yet other times you have to fight them. But the only thing you can only ever control is your response to the situation, but beliefs don’t make the situation disappear. I dunno, like you, I did my own thing when young and learned about risk and consequences. Not an easy lesson to learn that one.

    I do wonder about the whole housing game and where it will all end up. It has been a long time since it made much sense to me.

    Did you end up getting any snow? 68’F here today which is a relief.



  36. Hi Margaret,

    Yay for your propane delivery and a working heater! The news reports are suggesting that parts of your country are currently colder than Antarctica (which admittedly is enjoying its summer weather – whatever that means): US polar vortex: What does -50 degrees Celsius feel like?. The photos are impressive. Thanks for the link to the Tribune article too. The images look brutal cold – and one of the photos from our news shows some guy walking without a hat. How does that work? My brain would surely freeze. The report in the Tribune suggested that you were near to an all-time low temperature record. Did the record get equalled or broken?

    Cancelling the drive was a good call on Doug’s part. The Tribune article suggested that there had been a number of car crashes and also some vehicle breakdowns. Not a day to be stranded by a broken down car, as that would go rapidly from mildly unpleasant to serious with a touch of hypothermia very quickly… What does a person even do when their vehicle breaks down in the sort of conditions you’re currently experiencing? I can’t imagine there would be too many vehicles on the roads?

    Cliff Mass wrote about how such weather that you are experiencing is becoming less frequent. The thing is though, you acclimatise to the warmer on average weather, and when the cold returns with full force – it just feels worse, even though you might have previously experienced that sort of weather before.

    Just to lighten your spirits a bit, yesterday was 40’C / 104’F here, and today it is 20’C / 68’F both outside and inside the house. I’m feeling cold and so put on a woollen jumper about an hour ago, although I’ve warmed up now. At one stage I even chucked Toothy onto my lap just so as to warm up a bit! It is a bit bonkers really and my internal body temperature feels a bit out of whack…

    Stay warm, and are you considering making any changes to your new digs to accommodate this sort of weather in future? I see in the article that some people in Chicago lost their power, and that would be an ugly situation. And least the contents of the refrigerator wouldn’t spoil.

    The heatwave hit the city of Sydney yesterday (which is the capital of the state to the north of here) and plenty of people lost their power there too: Mass power outages across Sydney restored after affecting 45,000 customers. And the state premier (the equivalent of your Governor) had apparently earlier that day been talking up how stable the electricity grid was in that state. Hmm, don’t speak too soon is good advice!

    Stay warm!


  37. Chris,

    Getting lost can be interesting. The only time I was TRULY lost was when I was in Chicago one Christmas. Those TALL buildings and the clouds , well, it was almost like being underground. I got totally turned around. Fortunately, the people were friendly and gave me good directions. Normally when I get “lost”, I just don’t bother with maps, have a general idea where I’m going, and I get where I need to be, which might be different than the originally intended location. It’s sorta fun that way.

    Dogs can be funny – strange funny. One summer I had a job that had me working nights. On my nights off, I’d take the Samoyed for long walks, often at 2:00 a.m. A pack of dogs came at us once, so I dropped the leash and prepared for the worst. Rakhi the Samoyed didn’t slow down a bit. She just jumped on the largest dog’s throat and chomped down. The entire pack ran away lickity split, so she let the big dog follow suit.

    I always gave my dogs plenty of bones and hard things to chew, too. They always had healthy mouths. One family whose dog I tended at times only gave the dog canned “wet” food. The dog lost all of its teeth, due to the resultant gum disease.

    When it gets too smoky here, and the air quality gets too bad, I have to stay inside except for watering things. I need to get a good air cleaner, so at least the indoor air can stay decent in the house.

    2015 was the worst year for smoke on this side of the Cascade Mountains. A gadzillion acres burned up near here. Several small towns were partially burned to the ground. Some of my wife’s relatives had their homes totally destroyed. The smoke got so thick that I took a picture of the sun at 5:00 p.m. It was a little pin-sized dark red point in the black smoke. I hope I never experience that again! 2 of my wife’s brothers and a sister lived within 1.5 km of the 2 worst fires and were given evacuation orders. They, and other friends and relatives in that area, lost their homes in a fire 35 years earlier and decided to go with their houses. Losing everything once was enough, apparently. The weather cooled severely and there was just enough rain that the firefighters got control of the fires and those homes were saved. It was quite scary.

    Know myself? Between not knowing myself and listening to others’ drummers for most of my life gave me nothing but trouble. Fortunately, I found Mr. Greer’s Archdruid Report 9 years ago, which got me curious enough to buy his “Druidry Handbook”. The meditation systems he teaches there got hold of me and were total game changers. Somehow, I’d previously been smart enough to know that I had little common sense and my wife had common sense oozing from her pores, so I tended to listen to her, which I do more of now. And yes, as you surmised, doing the work for others’ approval rather than what’s best for me (and the group) is really a self-defeating exercise.

    Thanks for the comments about the sunlight sterilizing bare ground. Thinking about it, I realize that the bare ground I’ve got is hard to start plants in. Your pictures have shown a different, and better, way of growing things. I always try to learn from others, so appreciate the comments and pictures.

    Weather. Well, as soon as it looked like things would be warm and wet, we went the opposite direction, so, except for Friday, it’s cool and dry until late next week. Cold, dry spells between overly warm and wet stretches are the norm for el nino winters. I’ve seen enough of these to know that the “polar vortex” that crushes the Midwest and points east is also normal for the typical el nino scenario. It’s just that the climate change thing IS clearly making it colder than “normal” for the people stuck in the polar vortex part of the winter, such as Marg and Claire. The change here has been that, for over 10 years now, when it gets “cold” (I can’t say negative 12C is cold when others are -25C and colder), it gets cloudy, which keeps the temperatures from settling into that -20C and colder range. Not that I’m complaining, just observing.


  38. Hi Pam,

    Hope the weather in your neck of the woods is not too unpleasantly cold? Other parts of your country are getting some wickedly cold weather. The local newspapers were pointing out that it was warmer in Antarctica than in some parts of your country – and I suspect that it would be worse at altitude.

    Yeah, a tree’s root systems can break rocks up can’t they? It is uncanny. Hey, I notice that the frost also seems to eventually break up the rocks as well, and many of the rocks that are exposed to the cold surface air over winter tend to start forming hairline cracks. I look for those tiny hairline fractures if ever I have to hit a rock with the jackhammer (hard work that), so I suspect that the trees are far stronger than I am. All a good reason not to go around giving the trees any cause to take offense at my actions!

    Do you get floater rocks appearing at the soil surface?

    Hehe! The stick cocoon might actually contain a beautiful butterfly, so suggestions of looking like a stick covered moth might not be so well received! Who knows what is actually in there? I keep an eye on that area, but all sorts of things go on here that I’m largely unaware of.

    Yeah, the froggies were rather annoyed at me. I’ll bet the froggies at your place occasionally get annoyed at you too. 🙂 Lots of the wildlife here appear quite grumpy and surly, although I’m unsure what they’re complaining about.

    Exactly, pain is an excellent metaphor. Today I needed a quiet day off, and so didn’t consider doing anything at all. My batteries need recharging.

    That is a shame about the tomato, but they do hybridise readily don’t they? We originally used to grow cherry tomatoes, but somehow over the years, we’ve unwittingly been selecting for mid-sized tomatoes, so that is what grows nowadays. I just don’t have enough land to separate out all of the different varieties and instead just sort of grow whatever happens to survive…



  39. Hi Jo,

    Did you get the rain down your way last night? Incidentally, your last blog entry was lovely!

    7mm fell here yesterday evening which was very well received. After midnight the temperature rose again to 23’C, but then today is much cooler at only 20’C. Yay! It looks like a bit more rain will fall on Sunday, but not before it reaches 38’C again… I feel tired today, but things could be worse. The east coast of Tasmania is doing it tough too, and the fires down in the south are not much good either.

    Thanks for the information about the black aphids and I’ll have a look. Hmm, the ants have used the aphids in the past, and I didn’t think to check for them. Thanks very much for the tip! The ants love the hot and dry weather, and I’m not a fan of them.



  40. Hi Lewis,

    Yeah, the rain last night was beyond nice, and I feel a bit relieved today at the cooler weather, although I’m bizarrely tired and disinclined to do anything strenuous at all.

    Mate, the sort of weather you are enjoying is as cold as I’ve ever experienced here, so you have my understanding! Cliff Mass wrote a good blog essay about extreme weather. It is nice to live in a temperate climate, as long the rains don’t fail. The photos of the extreme cold weather to the east of you are, impressive. There was even a photo in our news of some dude walking outside on his way to work without a hat. How is that even possible in such weather? My brain would freeze for sure, and I’m unsure how good I’d be when I eventually got to work. Do you reckon zombies would enjoy frozen brains – or are they more of the fresh food type of entity?

    Just remembered today to post a link to an interesting article about crows eating cane toads which I thought you might be interested in. There are also photos of the crow in action: These Crows Have Figured Out How to Safely Eat Poisonous Toads . I recall that we were discussing this matter a few weeks ago, but back then I may have been unable to find photos. Anyway by sheer chance I came across that article and it jolted my – not as good as it once was – memory. Aren’t they clever birds? And they also get a major food boost from learning that trick – and they can teach other ravens. The cane toad is spreading southwards…

    Well having a second brain is a useful idea. I had to laugh about that mention of the second brain, but I was in a workplace the other week and the Windows 10 computer requires not only a password, but also a PIN number nowadays – like we don’t have enough to remember already? Anyway, a couple of people use that computer, so we decided to put the login details on a sticker on the computer. How good is that system – simple often works well I feel?

    Mate, since you mention it… I have a suspicion that my professional body sold off our email address. Nothing has ever been said about it, but I started getting a lot of targeted professional emails from companies that I wanted nothing at all to do with. I was pretty annoyed by that. There have been some rumblings over there too in that professional body, and apparently the ex-celebrity CEO, who was enjoying a seven figure pay packet at members expense, is apparently in the process of having his life membership revoked, as well as perhaps a few of his buddies. Sometimes it is healthy to do a bit of house cleaning (I was trying to keep on theme for your pre-inspection clean up although you probably have far less to worry about).

    And newsletters are a pain. Did either you or I ask for these to fill up our inbox? Hey, do you ever get newsletters delivered to your inbox that are penned using very poor grammar? I can’t say that I’ve encountered such a beast before, but then people read far less today than in earlier years, and I am noticing that grammar standards are slipping. Just for fun, I should have written ‘is slipping’ in the previous sentence! It wouldn’t be at all fun for me to write a blog essay with deliberate grammatical mistakes. I do make them though, and sometimes I add minor ones in because it suits my style of writing, but to write the entire essay that way? Ouch. It would be like the day that you replied using the pseudo writing voice of David Foster Wallace. And you may well note that I have never – ever – brought that particular author up again in conversation as your point was so well taken. Now, interestingly Damo began reading his book ‘Infinite Jest’ and has never mentioned that he finished the book. There is a story there! I feel that the author who shall not be named, may have been taking the mickey out of his readership, and after subjecting myself to your version of his prose, well all I can add is that Vogon poetry was starting to look pretty good by way of comparison! 🙂

    OOOO!!! OOOO!!! Mr Penumbra’s book was in the mail this morning. The text on the cover has me utterly intrigued. No spoilers please – well maybe just a few… Hehe!

    Time does march onward and if our attention is misdirected elsewhere, well it passes us by and is lost. It was a worthy effort to seek for it behind the couch (or desk in your case). I tell ya what, time passed by me today as I feel a little bit deflated due to the heat. It was 24’C / 75’F inside the house at midnight and the air only began to cool down at about 4am. Ask me how I know this? Hehe! Usually I sleep like the dead, but I’ve had so many hot nights in a row now, that my brain is fried. I can well understand why people are a bit sluggish in hot countries, because down here it is generally temperate and people don’t know how to slow down when it does get seriously hot. I sat on the couch today and enjoyed reading a good book. That is one way to slow down in style.

    Good luck with the inspection, and I do hope that no dust bunnies (or anything out of place) is discovered. Hope also that the clean-up and setting to order was not too onerous on you? I also hope that the new administration is a bit relaxed about such things, as you wouldn’t want to have to deal with a martinet, and I reckon that behind the couch is no place to hide a body! Hehe!

    It is truly awful indeed. Sugar beets have begun to grow here like weeds. They’re frankly not as tasty as beetroot, which is really good fresh from the garden. I used to think that they added vinegar to canned beetroot, but the fresh from the garden beets actually taste like they do when canned. It is quite nice really.



  41. Hi Chris,
    Thanks for the welcome, though I have been here before. A few months ago I was involved in the discussion about David Holmgren’s book “Retrosuburbia”. But then we had a massive storm here, trees and power lines down all over the city, and it was two weeks before our street got the power back, and by then your blog had moved on …
    That was an interesting two weeks! I would have been OK with it if I could have stayed home and had the daylight to organise things, but instead I had to go to work as usual and look as presentable as everyone else, without having 21st century levels of supplementary energy available to keep myself tidy.
    I hear what you say about looking for someone with plenty of experience with preserving olives. I don’t have a ready source of raw olives, so you might be waiting a while for me to get back to you. Jared Gulian has a whole chapter in his book about this recipe and I’m sure he says that he first served them at a dinner party and everyone gobbled them up. I only photocopied the basic recipe out of the book, so can’t give you the rest of the details. He also has a really excellent recipe for carrot cake which I have tried and can recommend, except for the icing which is far too sweet.
    If I ever pickle some olives I will let you know! As it is, with all the time taken up by a full time job, I already have difficulty making the most of all the produce that grows here, which is quite frustrating.


  42. Hello again
    No snow yet. A hard white frost this morning but it has now melted.
    The name ‘pobblebonk’ is wonderful. When I had a swimming pool, I often found a toad in a corner at the bottom. I used to remove them and they were perfectly healthy. This used to puzzle me, don’t they need to breathe!
    Luckily, I have never had to deal with anyone high on drugs but I did encounter drunks. I found that I survived difficult situations by the varied methods of dominance, humour, friendliness and lying through my teeth (i.e. ‘I would love to meet you tomorrow etc etc’). The skill lay in choosing the right one.

    I have tried to compliment Jason on his superb Brexit article but have failed in my attempts so am using your blog to recommend it.


  43. @ Margaret:

    You – and Claire – have been in my thoughts all week; -26F, and that doesn’t even include the windchill! We were a balmy 7.5F this morning, which was no problem (it’s sunny and we’ve had no snow) except for the fact that She Who Starts the Fire every morning thought she had opened the damper, and turned out to be wrong, and set off the 3 smoke alarms and woke everybody up. Then She had to open 4 windows for rather awhile, at 7.5F. Her name should be mud, but luckily it’s not. Just call me “Smokey”.


  44. Yo, Chris – I read that blog post of Prof. Mass’s, from the 26th. I looked at it again, yesterday, and something caught my attention that I’m very curious about. There’s a spot in the Pacific, off the coast, just about at the California / Mexico border. Judging from the color scale, it’s just as cold as Chicago. I wonder what’s up with that? He very seldom responds to comments, so, I’ll probably never know.

    What you were saying to Stephen about the internet and data? I think it’s interesting, that sometimes I’ll look something up, and they’ll be about 15 articles on a topic. “Oh, good”, I think, “plenty of information.” And then I discover that there’s a sameness to the articles, and, they’re all basically quoting each other. Vast echo chamber, indeed.

    Zombies probably prefer frozen brains. So convenient, ya know. Maybe the processed food will do them in, instead of a well placed machete?

    Corvids are smart as. The scientist didn’t think it would do much to help control the cane toads, but, I suppose every little bit helps.

    Well, I don’t read any “newsletters” from companies, so, I haven’t noticed the decline in grammar. But, I’d guess some of it is outsourced to people who use English as a second (or third) language. I especially notice it in the misuse of pronouns and articles. I’d also guess that some of it is depending on spell checks evil twin, grammar check. Instead of a real live editor who knows what they’re doing.

    Well, I’ll have to get cracking on Mr. Prenumbra’s. The Gorey biography has me quit engrossed. And, I’ve been caught up in apartment inspection prep. If you get beyond page 82, you’ll be well beyond any spoiler I could throw at you :-).

    Oh, you’re probably feeling a bit exhausted, not only due to the heat stress, but also a slight lifting of the mental stress of worrying about possible brush fires. Keeping a high level of alert wears one down.

    I’m just hanging around, waiting for the inspection. I’ve heard that the Martinet won’t be participating. Given her level of management, I’d guess she wants to have as little to do with the “great unwashed,” as possible. I also “hear” that the building manager from Centralia, will be conducting the inspections on the third floor. I know her, and she’s easy to get on with.

    It also occurred to me, yesterday morning, (while trying to beat out the flames in what’s left of my hair) that if they have a concern, they tell me about it, and I take care of it. No big deal. And this is pretty much just a check of the physical plant. (Bog flushes? Check. Fridge not leaking on the floor? Check.) I just hope they get to me early. I’ve got things to do, people to see and places to go!

    I fell down the stairs, yesterday. A combination of inattention, semi new shoes without all the edges worn off and the d___ new carpet. I was carrying a box, approaching the landing between floors, and down about four steps I went. Ended up in a heap on the landing. I made a grab for the rail, but my momentum was too great. A skinned knee and hand, a couple of nails ripped down to the quick, but, as near as I can tell, that’s about it. Nothing in the box was broken :-). Lew

  45. Good morning from NZ, in case anyone was concerned I am still alive!

    And no, I never did say how I went with Infinite Jest. Read into that what you will 🙂 In my defense, I finished and actually enjoyed a Gore Vidal book. With my snobbish literary credentials re-established, I can hold my head high again.

    Chris – those heatwaves sound awful. Seriously, they were one of the reasons we moved to NZ. By contrast, the local kiwis got all excited about a few days at 30 degrees, but all things are relative I suppose. I saw Tasmania was doing it tough again. When we lived there Mrs Damo got evacuated during a bush fire from the area around Port Arthur. It was freaky stuff, and Hobart itself is at risk as well. Mt Wellington and surrounds is covered by dry eucalyptus forest that last went up decades ago. No one does any significant burn offs or vegetation management…..


  46. Hi Chris,
    Did those pictures make you feel cooler haha? The flames on the train tracks are a bit disconcerting. I’ve heard from family members in the city that they’ve never seen so few people out. My sister who lives in an old vintage condo building said today the warmest they could get was 58F. They have radiator heat and other then adjusting the valve they don’t have much control over their heat. She’s never seen it like this. Most people that could stayed home so the roads were quite empty as well. Doug was well equipped for his drive with lots of extra clothes, water and blanket. He made it down there a short while ago. The weather, while still extremely cold has moderated and the winds have died down considerably as well. We are now at a balmy -8F/-22C right now and the furnace has finally gotten up to temp and actually turned off for a short while. With temps well above freezing Saturday through Sunday the snow will melt quickly causing flooding – ah the joys of winter.

    I found we have 23 species of frogs in Illinois though most are in the southern part of the state.

    We will be doing a closer assessment of our house after this and probably making at least a few changes.

    Yep, any weather extremes cause power outages. There were quite a few around here as well but happily not for us. From all reports though the power company was well prepared so no one was without heat for too terribly long. However, we do have some friends who were without power for 4 hours and the temp in their house dropped 5 degrees an hour.

    Looking at the forecast for Melbourne it seems your temps will be moderating some as well.


  47. Hi Chris,

    Yesterday (Wednesday) was the coldest day of the ongoing arctic weather outbreak for the St. Louis area. The official low temperature was -6F / -21C, not even breaking the day’s record, but that was because there was no snow on the ground to improve radiational cooling. On the other hand, the high was only 8F / -13C, which did set a new record low high temperature for the day, plus it was windy here as elsewhere in the Midwest, leading to dangerously low wind chill values and closings of most schools and some events. Some US Postal Service workers, those who have walking routes, were off for the day due to the wind chills.

    As Margaret noted above, we will experience weather whiplash over the next few days, beginning here already today as the current temperature is 21F / -6C and it’s actually supposed to go up a little instead of down overnight. Tomorrow the high is supposed to be about 41F / 5C (average for the day), on Saturday 57F / 14C, and on Sunday and Monday 61F / 16C. While not near the record highs for those dates, which are in the 70sF, a high of 61F is average for the beginning of April! But after that it will cool down to close to normal temperatures by the middle of next week.

    @ Margaret, I’m relieved to learn that you got more propane in time for the extreme cold you experienced! I saw that Rockford set a new all-time record low this morning (Thursday) and I know you live close to there, so most likely you have just lived through the coldest air of your life.


  48. Hi Stephen E,

    Thank you for the gracious reply.

    I recall our discussion regarding ‘Retrosuburbia’. Two weeks without the power is akin to a test run for some troubled times. I’m really curious to hear how you felt when the power eventually returned and has it changed your perspective in any way?

    Thanks again for the book reference and I will put it on the ‘to get’ list. You live in a remarkably fertile country with a very pleasant and adaptable climate. Do you have well established fruit trees?



  49. Hi Inge,

    Somebody mentioned to me that in your part of the world, there was a forecast for a ‘beast from the East’ cold snap. Where they talking rubbish or is your hard frost part of that forecast? It looks set to heat up again here tomorrow and Sunday – and there is a fire to the west of here in dense forest. It looks as though it may have started from lightning strikes on Wednesday evening when it rained. The winds usually blow from that direction, but for the next week, they are coming from the north and east.

    Hehe! The toads would have taken advantage of the swimming pool for sure if the water was safe for them. I don’t really understand their life-cycle that well, and how the tree frogs over winter here is beyond me as I’ve never discovered the mechanism by which they do that.

    Most swimming pools in this mountain range tend to be neglected because despite the hot weather, the water in the pool is usually very cold. I assume that you taught your children how to swim? That used to be a big thing when I was a kid, but nowadays people don’t tend to teach their kids how to swim. There are a lot of drowning’s and people don’t tend to know what to do when they get into trouble – like when a rip sucks them out and they panic.

    I’ve seen some folks on drugs that were overly aggressive, and we usually melt away and avoid them – they make a lot of noise and can often be seen attacking street trees, fences and cars. That is some good advice. You know I reckon the aggressive culture I encountered at the grammar school taught me some of the warning signs. In some ways it was a strange place full of extreme behaviour.



  50. Hi Lewis,

    I have noticed that about the Cliff Mass blog, but he churns out detailed and thoughtful essays on a regular basis and so I’m guessing it would be complicated to respond and write at the same time. I do hope things have settled down for him with the silliness of the Social Juggernaut Whatever’s? I hope never to meet one, as I may serve them up some refreshingly candid opinions – and it may not go well, for them.

    He did write recently that you are about to enjoy some low land snow, but I couldn’t tell on the map whether that snow was forecast to affect your corner of the state. It sure made me feel cold reading about the snow.

    I may have mentioned the dust storm that hit an outer-lying suburb of Melbourne on Wednesday night along with the rain? Well looking at the fire map today, and tracing a line back from that suburb and in the direction that the wind blew from that day, there are now a couple of fires to the north west of that suburb. When I looked at the photos in the news reports showing the clouds from that dust storm it looked like a small tornado to me, and the damage was very localised. I’m guessing that the storm built up and had lightning strikes along its path which set off fires in thick and inaccessible forest. We woke up this morning to the smell of smoke. Ordinarily the prevailing winds blow from that direction, but it looks like that for the next week that they’re blowing from elsewhere. Unfortunately, it is not good for people who live near to the fires. Earlier today I could see the helicopters operating off in the far distance.

    Speaking of bushfires, I spotted an article about a family who lost their parents during the 2009 fires. The forest there is eerily similar to here (although it is a lot steeper there): Reclaiming the mountain . The re-building permit process is an interesting side story in the article, and I suspect that like most people, they’ve designed a house that is way too large and complicated. The thing is the very complicated building standards involving fire resistance (Flamezone – which we had to adhere too) means that I’m guessing that they probably can’t afford to rebuild. You may notice that the house here is very small relative to what most people consider to be a normal house these days. The building standard is one of those times when layers of complexity get added over an already complicated system – and people have a great deal of difficulty living up to. I can do complex, but the impossible might take a little bit longer… Interestingly, people living in areas subjected to flooding are not required to build to respond to that threat. I guess death from bushfire is a worse outcome than death by drowning?

    Oooo! Yeah, vast echo chamber is a great way to describe the interweb arrangement. I’d never considered that aspect of it. But don’t you reckon that the reinforcement of the same idea over and over again – whether it is relevant, works, or is even factual – suits the way we as a species like to take in new information? There is a certain comfort to be had from seeing a whole bunch of other people doing the same thing – even if it is a risky venture? I’ll tell ya, there are few people that are excited by my back country ways, and I have a suspicion that the authorities would love to move us into a town.

    Hehe! I reckon zombies might be smart enough to avoid the processed food in the freezer section of the supermarket, and instead stick to the frozen brains fridges instead!

    The cane toads have a massive reproduction cycle, and the crows probably won’t make too much of a dent in the population, but inevitably the toads may be a victim of their own success. Inevitably selection pressures will evolve something that will happily consume them without incident. It is what nature does best.

    Thank you very much for the grammar lesson. I was aware of both rules but unaware of how the rules were formally described. My English language education was sadly lacking in describing the rules and structure of the language. It was honestly never taught. However, I learned the grammatical rules through extensive reading of the works of others. By doing that act, I developed an ‘ear’ for the language, and so in my mind I can ‘hear’ when the sentences have a certain sort of grammatical correctness within a certain tolerance or bandwidth, all based on experience. Is this a good way to learn – I have no idea at all, but structure was barely touched upon in my formal education. I have no idea what goes on nowadays, but my gut feeling tells me that it is not good.

    I also have a belief that the English written language is different to that which is spoken. And (!) I do wonder what is in store for the future of the written language given people’s general reluctance to read lengthy books and/or essays containing complicated ideas.

    Did the reclusive author and artist Edward Gorey ever give any talks that you had the opportunity of attending?

    Yup, you’re probably right about the background level of concern. No matter how small, it slowly eats away at your reserves. Even so, I keep good reserves as it is not a nice thing to operate on the edge of what one can do.

    That’s very good news that the head honcho has little to do with the great unwashed masses in your domicile. As far as I can read that situation, I feel that it is best to be an unknown – an enigma, so to speak. 🙂

    Surely you were provided with a rough estimate for the timing of your inspection? No? Oh well. One of the things I hated when renting was the regular six monthly inspections. Surely the real estate agents had better things to do with their time? And how did I know they weren’t going through my stuff? Whatever the case may be, I felt it was an affront to my ‘quiet enjoyment’ of the property.

    Glad to read that you were largely unscathed from your fall down the stairs. You may have used up one of your nine lives. And skinning nails to the quick hurts, but as you wrote, it could have been much worse. And how was nothing in the box broken by the fall? You were very lucky as the fall could have ended up far worse for you!

    I’m heading off outside to do a couple of hours work. It is yet another attempt to thwart the unrelenting naughtiness of the rats. In the chicken enclosure, the rats recently widened the tunnel that the field mice had made. I’m truly in awe of the rats – and they are a potent force to be reckoned with. The rats are now consuming about two cups of grain per day! It is an extraordinary effort on their part. We’re attempting a new strategy to thwart the rats as we are not sure whether they can tunnel in a downwards direction for very far. Dunno. And we have a plan B to implement in a few week’s time, if they breach these new defences…



  51. Hello again
    I really don’t know about ‘the beast from the east’. The snow that the country is enduring came in from the west. I pay little attention to the weather forecasts as they tend to be on a par with astrology (sorry Mr Greer).
    The local paper claims that the island had snow last night and there are plenty of photos but I haven’t had even one flake of snow.
    Children should certainly be taught to swim. We only had the sea when the children were young and they didn’t like the waves . Elder daughter swam the first time that the school took the pupils to a swimming pool at a local holiday camp. The second time they took her (the following week) she learnt to dive. The other 2 didn’t learn so still didn’t swim when we left the Island. The town gave children free lessons one summer so I enrolled them. Son learnt immediately and younger daughter learnt on the last day. She told me that she loved the man teaching her and he said ‘Swim’ to her so she swam. I think that she was aged 7.


  52. Hey Chris,
    As you might expect of someone who reads your blog, and other blogs like it, I was not too fazed by the extended power cut. I had some alternative systems in place despite living in a city and had thought things through long before. The thing that particularly struck me though, was how terrible artificial lighting is at night if you don’t have normal electric light. We are used to flooding our homes with light, but if you only have propane gas lanterns, LED lamps with batteries, etc, you just get this little pool of light and most of the room remains dark. I’m still not sure how to improve that situation – I’m thinking of getting a couple of those Aladdin-brand mantle lamps that run on kerosene but don’t need to be pressurised. They’re expensive though. Any suggestions?
    Yes I have a lot of fruit trees. I can grow a wide variety of things in Auckland as we rarely get frosts. Apples, pears, plums, guavas, oranges, grapes, figs, bananas, mountain pawpaws, the list goes on. Too many things really, as I only have about 200 sqm available for growing. It’s OK in a small garden when the plants are young, but as time goes on you have to spend a lot of time just keeping things from getting too big, while still trying to maintain some productivity. You are fortunate in being able to space your trees out in your orchard.
    Good luck with those rats in the chicken house!


  53. Hi Damo,

    Glad to read that you and Mrs Damo survived the dreaded ferry trip across Cook Strait. The editor passed and the waves were washing over the front of the ship. It was an awesome boating adventure. Hey, what happened to your boats in the move?

    What does prevaricate mean again? 😉 I suspect Mr Wallace was practicing a jest on all of his readers. Who would dare say that they just couldn’t follow the story and the extensive appendix? I never doubted your literary prowess as your works of fiction surpassed my own efforts in that direction.

    Zeehan has been under threat maybe in the last week or so. It isn’t good down there. Well, I guess it is all relative isn’t it? The locals in Dubai would probably feel that I am some sort of softie for complaining about successive days over 40’C!

    Far out, it would be nice if they actually did some sort of vegetation management that didn’t involve benign neglect, because nature seems to do rather a large and extensive job of it if given the chance.

    Hope you’ve settled in to your new town?



  54. Hi Margaret,

    Hehe! Yeah, I have to admit that the photos from your part of the world did put my own climate troubles into perspective. Honestly, I doff my hat to you, as I wouldn’t have the foggiest clue as to how to get by in the sort of extreme cold weather that you are experiencing.

    The flames on the train tracks was a neat innovation, and I’m amazed that the trains were even capable of running in such weather. The last time I’d heard of flames on train tracks, it was a bushfire burning the timber sleepers on the local country line a few years back. The sleepers have now all been replaced by concrete, and it was so hot the previous week, that buses replaced the trains because the steel tracks expand in the heat. When the trains do run in such conditions they’re slowed to about 50 miles/hour rather than the usual 81 miles/hour.

    58’F is 14’C and yeah that is pretty cold inside, but survivable given plenty of thick winter clothing. Some mornings here over winter it is 11’C / 52’F or 12’C / 54’F inside the house, but the wood heater brings the house up to a comfortable temperature pretty quickly. I’ll bet they had troubles with their hot water system too? Nice to read that Doug was OK with the drive. No doubt he would have enjoyed the adventure, and was well prepared for worst case scenarios. -22’C is an horrific and extremely cold day. Has it been warmer in the past few winters?

    23 frogs is a goodly number. I only get a few different varieties here, and for some reason the more colourful varieties are located further east than here. Dunno why?

    To take your mind off the cold, the rats broke into the chicken enclosure again a few weeks ago. Not only have they been stealing eggs, I reckon they eat about two cups of grain per day. Anyway, their tunnel leads under two concrete slabs! It is an impressive effort. So at the exit inside the chicken enclosure, we dug a deep trench – about 10 inches, but maybe more – and back filled it with rocks and cement this evening. We have a theory that the rats and mice can only produce horizontal tunnels, and we’ve based that theory on what they’ve done so far to get inside the enclosure. It will be interesting to see what their next move will be. The outside walls of the enclosure also have deeper trenches filled with concrete, and the rats have never managed to burrow under them. Dunno.

    Yes, temperatures here are moderating which is a relief, although Sunday looks set to get up around 39’C / 102’F. Incidentally, this year, Melbourne has enjoyed cooler air from off shore breezes. If you want to get a better idea of what we’re experiencing with the forecast check out the forecasts that are about 40 to 50 miles north of Melbourne. It is a whole different story, and most years it is normally cooler up here – but not this year for some unknown reason. The weather this summer is bonkers.

    Oh my. Losing power and that sort of temperature sounds a bit scary. We were just looking at some more of the photos and the inside of someone’s house became so cold that the water in their toilet froze – and it was full of ice crystals… Plus, I’d have to suggest that zombies could walk across the frozen Chicago River!

    Cheers and stay warm!


  55. Hi Claire,

    Those are brutal cold temperatures! As I mentioned to Margaret, I doff my hat to both of you as I wouldn’t have the first clue as to how to deal with such weather. Your weather is impressive in its epic-ness! I just made that word up because it seemed somehow appropriate as we’ve been looking at the impressive photos, and there seems to be a lot of frozen food and clothes, and one young lady appears to have ventured outside with wet hair – which froze solid! I hope it doesn’t break.

    Oh no, your Saturday through Sunday weather sounds quite horrid after such brutal cold weather. It would be quite the shock to experience. Remember to look after yourself during such abrupt and extreme temperature changes. A lot of that snow will surely melt – and rapidly in such warm weather. Ouch.

    Sunday looks set to reach 39’C / 102’F here…

    Average weather indeed! Hey, what is normal these days anyway? 🙂



  56. Hi Lewis,

    Thanks for mentioning the finding. Awesome stuff huh? The article mentioned that the text was going to be investigated a bit further to see what secrets the papers held. Has any of the text been released? It is a fascinating find to discover source documents from those times.

    You’ve got me reading about Tintagel. It would be a fools errand to attack such a castle…



  57. and yet again
    Son has just brought me the local paper. He says that the Island is indeed snowbound. The snow came within half a mile of me.


  58. @ Lew:

    I hope you are alright after your fall? Perhaps you will end up with a map of the United States on your rear, as I did once after doing that.


  59. @ Stephen – Mirrors. Or, even tin reflectors. Behind your light sources.

    Now. I’ve never used an Aladdin lamp, but people swear by them. And, they sure move in the tat trade and auctions. Both old and new ones. If you invest in one, best stock up on parts. Burners, chimneys, mantels. Sometimes, parts are hard to find. And, the prices are only going to go up. Van Dyke Restoration used to carry a full line of lamps and parts.

    Hmmm. Something nagging at the back of what passes for my brain. I seem to remember that some “barn lanterns” had magnifying lenses in them, to throw more light. Lew

  60. @ Damo – Glad you’re back among the Land of the Living.

    I finished watching season two of “Westworld”, last night. Very satisfying. One of those things that can either be enjoyed for pure entertainment value, or, reflected on for Deeper Thoughts. :-). Lew

  61. @ Pam – Thanks for the kind thoughts. I was surprised, I wasn’t even too sore, the next day. I can only think that I got really lucky, and keeping myself in “fair” shape, probably helped. No grating bones, just rug burns from that awful indoor/outdoor carpeting they put in. Lew

  62. Yo, Chris – Well, as long as we’re taking a frog / toad census. In Washington State, we have 10 species of frog, and 3 of toad. 14 species of salamanders and newts. More or less. Counts vary, a bit. I actually thought there would be far more, given our variety of ecosystems.

    I actually saw a little snow flurry, last night. It was about 2:45am, and the systems had just started to change over. Clear to rain. Every once in awhile, in the street light, there would be this little flurry of flakes. Only lasted about 15 minutes. I was surprised, as when I went back in, the local weather station was reporting a temp of 46F. But, they are forecasting possible snow, Sunday night through Tuesday. Flurries. Not much on the ground. We’ll see.

    That was quit an article about the 2009 brush fires. Take your eye off the ball (re-uping the permits) and you’ll never be able to build there, again. I suppose the State doesn’t want to have to pay compensation, again. Reading between the lines, it appeared to be rather lavish. But, what is a human life worth?

    I was amused a bit about the kids puzzling over why they’re father would want to live in the bush. Well, he’s an American, that explains it all :-). I think, some people (in the minority) really like their privacy and “alone” time. It’s odd (I’m odd) that I spend vast amounts of time in my apartment. But sometimes I go out for a breath of fresh air, and if someone else shows up, I think to myself “I can’t even get ten minutes to myself.”

    What gets me about the internet is not that I get more information on a topic, but that the articles quote each other word for word. Not more information, but the same information, over and over. Well, when I was a wee small lad, we had a great deal of grammar pounded into our heads. Not that I can remember any of the fine points. Or even the broad points. I’m with you. How things sound indicates if I’m heading in the right direction, or not.

    No, I never heard Gorey speak. He didn’t expound, much. He did teach a class or two, on book design. There were interviews. Which didn’t reveal much. He hardly traveled at all. Other than New York to Cape Cod. When his parents were alive, an occasional trip back to Chicago. He made one trip to the Shetland Islands, but never set food in England, other than a lay over at Heathrow. Since a lot of his work tapped Victorian and Edwardian England, it is speculated (and, with Gorey, it’s all speculation) that he didn’t want to spoil his “vision” of England. (Cont.)

  63. Cont. Oh, the inspection was ok. The possible time period was 10 to 5. But, according to Administration, “You don’t have to be there.” Mmm. No. In a pig’s eye? When pigs fly? There were a few minor, and a couple of major things. I’ve got to move a bit of furniture (so they can get the gurney in, to haul the body out.) Another thing to add to my “do before next inspection. Then put it back to rights when it’s over.” The most distressing thing is, I’ve got a light set of wooden open shelving, in front of my window. So the sun shines through some of my colored glass. That has to go. So the firemen can throw me through my third floor window.

    As far as the fall goes, I suppose I know how to pack a box?

    You think the rats would stuff themselves so full, they couldn’t make it back through the tunnel. Then you could smack them with a shovel. :-). That would be most satisfying.

    When you mentioned the lightening, I wondered about it starting fires. But didn’t want to say it out loud, and tempt fate. That’s what happens here. Lightening strikes in isolated areas, with impossible terrain. And, we’re off to the races.

    One article referred to the Arthur texts as “fragments.” So, I don’t know how much we’re going to get out of them. Time will tell. The story will probably sink like a stone. And, yest, Tintagel is fascinating. Arthur’s father had to resort to magic to breach the defenses. :-). That’s where they found that bit of graffiti, on a stone window sill, a few years back. “Arthur + Ginny”, or some such. :-). Lew

  64. Hi Inge,

    You are naughty for that little pot shot at Mr Greer. He once remarked that millionaires don’t use astrology, billionaires do, so he might be onto something! Humans, I reckon love their patterns, and I have always felt that auguries are important as they add in a much needed random element. And that would be especially important in a stable society where resources would be necessarily limited. What do you reckon about that?

    The weather forecasts are reasonably accurate down here, and I tend to pour over them at this time of year – and they are much discussed in the household. Of course we have the element of fire and flooding downpours to consider. Looking at the reports of the nearby fire, they’ve had bulldozers in the forest creating containment lines, so here’s hoping. Mind you, and this is not to disparage their efforts, however it would have been a less risky situation if the forest was managed better in the first place. I haven’t seen much patchwork burning going on anywhere around here in the past few years.

    Given you had no snow whilst the rest of the island did, I’d have to suggest that your house and forest is probably in a really good position! 🙂 Although you may possibly have wanted to have seen some snow? Has the snow ever been heavy enough to settle on the beach?

    I’m amazed that people can’t (or haven’t learned how to) swim. If I was in your part of the world, I’d be down at the ocean every hot day that I could over summer (possibly wearing a wet suit though). Even over the hottest days down here, the ocean is still quite, err, bracing! 🙂 I assume that the ocean would be that much colder again in your part of the world?

    Yeah, I can sort of understand the concern about the waves. Years ago I was in a competitive ocean swim (you probably wouldn’t call 300m / 1,000ft a long swim, but it was long enough for me) as part of a short triathlon, and the waves were so huge that I was getting dumped on the sand when the waves troughed. I have no idea why that part of the event wasn’t cancelled, and towards the end I was so battered that I walked on the sand in the troughs and duck dived through the peaks. It was an overly long swim that one. Another time I swam through a school of jellyfish and was left wondering whether they were toxic – I certainly enjoyed a rash from the exposed parts of me that connected with them.

    Your daughter’s story was very sweet! 🙂

    Despite the heat today, we got up early and dug soil and began work on a new concrete staircase leading up to the yet to be constructed highest terrace. The cement dried rapidly…



  65. Hi Stephen E,

    Top work. 🙂 Don’t you reckon the unstated challenge of our times is to learn to live with less stuff?

    Suggestions? Well, most of the year we only illuminate the rooms that we are using. Incidentally most appliances that are not in use, get switched off at the wall, and the house consumes 25Wh when idling. And the inverter uses 60% of that energy just doing not much at all. Your challenge should you be brave enough…

    Hmm. I have two off grid solar power systems here. The house system is 24V and the other system is 12V. As a suggestion, I’d rig up a little 12V 80W to 200W solar panel with a 12V lead-acid gel battery with a quality charge controller. AGM batteries are good but the internals can be damaged if knocked around which is why I suggested gel. If you want to really experiment go Nickel Iron! Good luck with those, they will be around long after you and I are feeding the worms. I’ve heard mixed reports about lithium batteries, and they can be very unforgiving if something goes wrong. With 12V power you can have normal lighting, albeit in 12V format, 12V water pumps, and a 12V fridge. None of which require an inverter. It’s simple and it works without much in the way of any day to day oversight. Hashtag, just sayin…

    Well done you and I grow those trees here too. Isn’t it fun trying to stuff as many trees into as small a space as possible? And yes, I get that about hacking the plants back so that there is enough available sunlight. Do you know I have the exact opposite problem to you, because I want the fruit trees to grow truly massive. Some people may be daunted by a 10m lemon tree, I am not one such! The thing is, the larger the fruit tree, the deeper the root system for the tree is, and they become more resilient in hot and dry weather. The wallabies keep the under-story open free of charge.

    I hope that you have a worm farm for all of your organic scraps that freely drains into your garden – but has a mesh that stops the rats from devouring the worm farm contents? Even your rich soils are not inexhaustible.

    The rats and I have had many battles and sometimes I am ahead, and sometimes they are ahead. The war will be long, and sacrifices may be called upon…



  66. Hi Lewis,

    Yeah, I would have thought that you might have a more diverse population of frogs and toads too. But then after an interweb rabbit hole, I discovered that your tectonic plates are moving: “Pacific Plate, to the west of the fault, is moving in a northwest direction while the North American Plate to the east is moving toward the southwest”. So perhaps there is not as much in the way of new land formation as I previously thought that there might be. Whilst your area is uplifted, it might also be quite old but with regular volcanic activity which is a form of geological resetting. Dunno? What is your understanding of that situation? My understanding – and please correct me if I’m wrong – is that land has to be relatively stable and for quite a long time for biological diversity to come to the fore. And whilst your area may be old, it has also been smashed by the regular volcanic activity – and also the recent ice age. A few years ago I learned that the greatest diversity of wildflowers in my state was found in the – way off in the distance at my horizon – Brisbane Ranges, that are very low, very old, and very geologically undisturbed. I was quite surprised to discover that. But Western Australia that has rocks on the surface that are apparently 3 billion years old (which I visited many long years ago), is even more diverse again when it comes to wildflowers. The site of the very old rocks was something of a letdown because it looked very semi-arid to me and was most uninteresting.

    Who knows what the immediate snow potential future holds for you? Cliff Mass is rarely wrong, but you may be in a warmer micro-climate? Mate, I’ve been experiencing the inland weather of this hot dry continent this summer and I can’t say that I’m enjoying it. Mustn’t grumble and all that…

    The process for the building permit down here is a legal process which defies common sense, but if a person was to approach it with the mindset that it was a legal process in the first place, they’d achieve much better outcomes. Unfortunately most people tend to feel that it is a common sense process, and they are wrong. In the past I have tried to assist several people up here, but each time they ignore my advice, and stick to the story that they’ve learned somewhere about the permit process being really difficult. And the people in the story followed that same weary path. And all their talk of concrete and steel being the only way forward is basically untrue, but they are comfortable with that story.

    Part Two of the story has now been published: Defying disaster .

    Oh my. My mates of the big shed fame have a fire very near to their place right now. We checked in with them and they are doing OK, and there are a lot of fire fighting resources chucked at that area. Their place is much clearer than here, but grass fires can run fast.

    Me too. I am totally 100% with you. Both the editor and I enjoy the quiet of the bush. The noise of the city drove me bonkers, so yeah I hear you. Mate, I try to spread the social activities so that there are not too many at once. I enjoy them, but at the same time they wear me out.

    Yeah exactly too about the interweb. Because of the repetition, errors are repeated as often as factual information. And originality can be spread quite thinly indeed.

    I came across another article which may be of interest to you: Why do fit people have heart attacks? Maybe it’s the immune system. Between you and I, I’m starting to notice that many people appear to be suffering from unusual symptoms, and I have a dark suspicion that it may be due to misuse of heavy duty cleaners in their homes combined with industrial food, which is often quite devoid of life. As you previously mentioned, we operate as a symphony of life forms, but as a society we over use the tool of killing a lot of them off all over the place. And like everything else, there are some serious gains to be made using that tool, but it is ultimately subject to diminishing returns. It is a bit of a worry – not that anyone appears to be taking much notice of that situation.

    OK, there must have been a story there as to why Gorey visited the Shetland Islands and not the mainland (but I hear you about his convictions which fuelled his creativity)? Well, at least I’m curious about his choice. 🙂 Strangely enough when it comes to horses, I could probably be happy with a few Shetland ponies and they might make useful small carting horses. From what I understand of them is that they have very complicated personalities as they have very large brains in very small bodies… That might possibly make them suitable to be part of the ‘fluffy collective’! 😉

    Sure you don’t have to be there during the inspection. But I do understand their concerns as it is a form of planning for the worst case scenario. Always wise to consider possibly horrid consequences that maybe likely to occur, without going overboard of course. But you clearly have a flexible disposition and are happy to learn and modify your own behaviour so that the next inspection goes smoothly. Hey, sometimes I leave simple things for inspectors to pick up upon so that they have something minor to complain and whinge about… It smooths the social wheels. 🙂

    Well, I’m glad to read that you were largely unharmed from the fall. The packing of the box was also a notable achievement! 🙂 Speaking of incidents, I hope my mates are OK as there are now 43 vehicles fighting that fire. Not good.

    Mate, I’d like to thumb my nose at the rats, but you know what? I reckon they display more persistence than I can bring to bear upon that particular problem, and I have to admit that I’m slightly in awe of their efforts. No doubt that I truly annoy the rats too, and the cement had set quite nicely this morning. Hey, speaking of which we began a new concrete staircase today leading up to the next – yet to be constructed – terrace. I have visions for another terrace beyond that one, but the editor is yet to be convinced of the merits of that idea. Time…

    Well, it happened and lightning strikes set off a fire in a remote forested spot with very difficult terrain to the south west of here. Today, the authorities have gotten bulldozers into the area and hopefully they can produce some useful containment lines before it heats up again tomorrow, with a late wind change. Oook. It would be nice if the forests were managed better in the first place.

    Tintagel is a fascinating place and I’d love to visit it, but probably will never get the chance. That does not mean that I won’t get to enjoy its stories from afar! 🙂



  67. Hello again
    I agree that human beings are pattern makers they also need reasons; an arbitrary universe is unnerving. However I regard trust in auguries as dangerous. But of course we live with danger so why not have a few more!

    It is waves coming into ones face which makes it harder for children to learn to swim in the sea. Here the sea only really warms up by September, so that doesn’t last long. I have certainly seen snow on the beach and in the dreadful winter of (1962?) the sea froze and then broke up in huge lumps of ice as the tide went in and out.
    With regard to your thoughts to Lew on heart attacks, I have always liked ‘fit but not healthy’ which I think describes a lot of fitness fanatics. I absolutely agree about our over use of chemicals and rubbish food. People have their houses sealed up from any fresh air as well. The term auto-immune both interests and irritates me. I would prefer ‘inflammation’ for reasons unknown.


  68. Thanks Lew and Chris,
    Mirrors! A great idea! And not expensive. Will definitely try. Aladdin lamps have never been a thing in NZ, though they had a phase in outback Australia, and there is still a shop there that sells them. Old models in working order are collectible and quite expensive, so I think for my purposes I might as well go for brand new. The current model is supposed to be pretty good.
    Thanks Chris for your advice based on lots of experience. I have considered getting a backup solar system but is seems like overkill when living in a major city. That said, there have been two big power failures while I have been living here – the one I mentioned before, plus another in which all but one of the main supply cables to the city failed. So maybe a solar backup is not such a silly idea. We have had several water shortages too, so I have several rainwater tanks now.
    Yeah it’s been fun fitting in all the trees, quite a few are espaliered against fences. No worm farm, but I do have 4 compost bins plus plenty of mulch. It’s amazing how much biomass is produced even in a small garden.

  69. @Pam
    Well 7F is nothing to sneeze at. I worry a bit that we’ll forget to open the damper on the fireplace but so far so good. Our dogs, especially Leo, go absolutely crazy if a smoke alarm goes off or even if one is just beeping due to low battery.

    Yes I do live about 30 minutes east of Rockford. It didn’t get quite as cold as originally forecast,-30 but who can quibble about a few degrees. I’ve lived through some pretty awful cold snaps/snow storms but I don’t recall so many places being closed before.

    You were lucky coming through that fall mostly unscathed. We had a friend who missed a step and fell down a flight of stairs at work. He broke his knee badly and ended up needing surgery, months of physical therapy and was unable to drive as well.

    I was never taught to swim but when I was 16 my parents put in an in ground pool instead of air conditioning. I basically taught myself but never developed the skill to feel confident swimming in open water. My MIL who was a teacher and had summers off took both of my kids to park district swimming classes so they both are pretty good swimmers. I was’t teaching at that time but rather working in accounting so couldn’t take them myself. My mother loved horses so I did get riding lessons and became quite a good rider. My parents raised horses so some of us rode all the time. I don’t know how she developed the interest as she lived in an apartment in the city for her entire life. They did offer lessons as a class at the college she attended and there were several stables in the city where one could ride.


  70. Hi Chris,
    Well it seems we’ve made it through the polar vortex though there is still a danger of pipes bursting as they thaw out. I ventured out yesterday for the first time in five days. It felt quite wonder at 14F/-10C as there was no wind and it was sunny. Town was crazy busy as many had the same idea as me. The large piles of snow plowed up from all the recent storms can be an issue in some places as you can’t see to pull out on the highway until you’re dangerously far out onto the road. Of course all vehicles are just covered in road salt as well yuk.

    I’ve heard that soon there won’t be snow days but rather E-days and students will work on their computers at home. I think I’ve mentioned before that schools have removed most books from libraries and textbooks from classrooms. I have to wonder what happens with students that don’t have internet access at home. We have quite a few low income students and internet access isn’t cheap.

    I am sorry you are dealing with those rats again. I do not miss dealing with pests and predators and neither did I miss doing chores during this awful weather.

    You are certainly in my thoughts dealing with the prospects of fires. While what we’ve gone through was certainly trying it isn’t life threatening as long as one takes precautions and uses common sense.

    I figured the weather is different from Melbourne than by you at the higher elevation but looking at that forecast gives me some idea of what’s it’s like near you.

    As Doug is out of town until Tuesday I’m having a ladies’ overnight with both daughters, one sister and my aunt tonight. In the old house I had enough room for up to a dozen which I did once a year. I’m kind of glad I can’t accommodate as a couple of family members provided too much drama last year.


  71. Yo, Chris – Bits of pop, psycho-babble … There’s a couple of scenes in season two of Westworld that I thought might have been filmed in a California Frank Lloyd Wright house. Yup. Here it is ..

    The movie “Idiocracy” moves off the screen and into the real world. I noticed in our library catalog, a new books. “At Our Wits’ End: Why We’re Becoming Less Intelligent and What it Means for the Future” (Dutton & Woodley.) I put a hold on it.

    Take a look at the trailer for a new film, “Velvet Buzzsaw.” That I got to see. A film that sends up the Modern Art Establishment / Horror film. Reviews are mixed.

    I finished the Gorey biography, last night. It mentioned that Gorey was on the “Dick Cavett Show” in the 1980s, I think. Yup, there it was on You Tube. About 30 minutes long. I also discovered that there’s supposed to be a documentary out on Gorey, this September. We’ll see …

    Up to page 138 in “Mr. Penumbra’s”. Not a spoiler, but a teaser. Dungeons and Dragons.

    But, to your missive … Yes, that’s the Cascadia Fault Line. The one that’s going to shake for 5 minutes and hit plus 9, on the Richter Scale. Any day now, or, long after I’m dead. Perhaps even the reason for my demise. :-). I have no idea if land stability has anything to do with biodiversity. Sounds good.

    I don’t know if we’re in a micro climate, but our weather is odd at times. Horrible weather to the north or south, but we’re fine. Other times, we get dumped on, but everywhere else if fine. I should take another look at the regional planting maps.

    So, if building permits are a legal process, perhaps just get a lawyer who specializes in that sort of thing, and turn him loose? The articles (and pictures) are really interesting. Please link to part three, if you think of it. I’ll keep my fingers crossed for your mates in the shed. Which reminds me, I need to get back to that episode of “Grand Designs.”

    Years ago, there was a fellow named Jim Fixx, who set off the whole jogging craze. Had books, etc.. Jog a lot and live forever. Outrun death. Then he was out jogging and keeled over and died from a massive heart attach. Immune system makes sense … in some people. But, happily, I see they are developing drugs to throw at it :-). I agree that over doing cleaners can be bad. Why I pretty much only use white vinegar, soap and water. When they put in new carpet in our stair wells, the stench was quit remarkable. And held on for a long time. Sometimes, I think there’s something in my apartment that bothers me. But I can’t figure out what it is. I’ll often be stuffy, while inside, but if I leave, whatever it is, clears up. Maybe it’s the two carpets I bought for the place. Off gassing.

    No one knows why Gorey went to the Shetland Islands. Not a family thing. His ancestors weren’t from there. Even his cousins, who were as close to him as anyone, didn’t have a clue. They speculated that perhaps it was just the wild and bleak landscape that attracted him. I’ve developed a different theory. He really liked knit jumpers. Maybe he thought he could get a better price if he went to the source?

    A shetland pony? Really? Well, you’ll never want for manure. Maybe, start with one? Lew

  72. @ Lew:

    Well, let’s face it – once the firemen through you through your 3rd floor window, you won’t care about colored glass.


  73. @ Inge:

    I have long wondered whether inflammation is behind most autoimmune diseases, or whether it is just a reaction to the disease, as they usually say. I don’t think anyone knows for sure.


  74. @ Pam and Inge,

    Autoimmune and inflammation. In my experience, they tend to go hand in hand. If I remember some Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) principles correctly, stress is the big, nasty enemy. Stress can often cause inflammation, as (in Western terms), muscles are too swollen, nerve flow is compromised, blood flow is impeded and eventually illness of some type will occur. This would include such things as Type 2 diabetes and arthritis.

    When the typical industrial society inflammatory diet (read much too low in vegetables) is added in, inflammation can be a cause, rather than a symptom. When the normal exercise methods of heavy weights and too much cardiovascular exercise gets added to the equation, more inflammation results.

    I would tend to concur with the TCM ideas based on too many years of excessive cardio combined with the typical inflammatory American diet. Especially when my gluten issues are added, I find that I’ve gotten much healthier loosely following a TCM style diet high in vegetables. Changing my exercise program to a few short bursts each week of intense exercise complementing a large amount of qigong and Taiji has helped also. The result? Less stiffness, less inflammation and a healthier me.


  75. Hey Chris, just checking in to make sure your place is not too near the fires. I know it’s your part of the world, but hoping all is well further up the mountain. I am sure your place is prepared as it can be for fire; keep safe.

  76. Hi Inge,

    The ancient master strategist Sun Tzu, introduced randomness into his actions through the use of auguries. 🙂 I reckon ‘risky’ might be a better choice of word than ‘dangerous’? Dunno. There is a difference between the two words and my mind is not entirely certain one way or the other.

    Oh my, I’ve never seen the sea frozen, and so the weather that year must have been truly horrific!

    Don’t you reckon ocean swimming is a different skill than swimming in a pool? Strangely enough I found that I floated better in the ocean than in pools, but that may also have been a factor of wearing a wetsuit. Dunno. Which do you reckon is easier?

    A great term, and yeah, I’ve met a few of those fitness fanatics. People don’t really want to understand that the high protein diets they enjoy tend to inflame a person’s system. A bit of balance wouldn’t be a bad idea for them. It is not lost on me that leafy green vegetables contain potent anti-inflammatories – but try encouraging people to eat them… And I agree with you that ‘inflammation’ is an excellent choice of word.



  77. Hi Stephen E,

    Well, petrol and diesel generators are an option too, and some of the ones around these days have pure sine wave inverters and they start easily. But if you’ve ever had to pour fuel into the tank of one of those beasts, you’ll know exactly how thirsty they can truly be. Solar maybe underwhelming, but it has the advantage of being quieter. Honestly, people have become far to accustomed to using massive quantities of electricity – and they rarely give the matter a second thought.

    It is fun isn’t it? And watching all of the plants interact with one another throughout the seasons is quite the eye opening experience. I read that the Tāne Mahuta is under threat from fungi…



  78. Hi Margaret,

    Nice to read that you survived the polar vortex, and that you are now able to leave the property. Good luck with the thawing pipes. Someone once told me that with heavy frosts, it was not the freezing that did so much damage to plants, it was the thawing process. Fortunately most of your plants would be deciduous at this time of year- other than I’m guessing some hardy pines? My camellias are struggling with the heat and there have been a few casualties.

    Oook! Every time you mention the salt on roads, I do wonder where all that salt ends up? It would be a major disaster here and probably end up poisoning our water table. Up north in the next state, the drought has been so bad – and one particular lake was drained for other purposes – that there have been epic fish die-offs. I hope at least the dead fish were used as fertiliser for the local soils, but probably not.

    Hey, when I went to Uni, I had to physically attend lectures and tutorials. Nowadays, I understand that many lectures are now provided by video, but have no actual experience with how that works. I’m honestly not sure what to make of the situation, because part of what is being taught is to become self-motivated and physically turn up to a lecture at an arbitrary time. I have heard accounts that the video lectures can be taken by students at their leisure. Dunno.

    Photos of the latest daring raid in the ongoing War on Rats should be up tomorrow morning. 🙂

    Thanks. My mates with the big shed had the fire almost to their property line. I’ll post an article for everyone to stare at in horror in another comment. It has been quiet so far in this part of the world, but there is a fire in thick forest off to the south west of us. I’ll put in a map of it all up on the next blog.

    No worries, Melbourne’s weather gives an indication of what it might be like up here, but this year they’ve been enjoying off shore breezes that we have entirely missed out upon.

    Enjoy your ladies overnight gathering!



  79. Hi Lewis,

    I loved the look of the Millard House, it is very cool. And the courtyard garden was a particularly nice touch. The house is entirely unique and would have provided an amazing house for a reasonable price in that era. I hope the winters are not too cold in that part of California because the cold winter air would radiate cold into the inside of the house from the exposed cement blocks. I am nothing if not pragmatic. 🙂

    Forgive me as I’m a bit hot and bothered tonight. Today was again more than a bit warm. There has been little threat of fire around these parts, but a fire went right to the edge of my mates property. I spoke to them last night and they seemed to be doing OK, and weren’t as worried as I was about it so I thought better than hassling them about it today. And the wind was blowing the fire away from them – but it was blowing the fire up the gorge towards the township. A lot of resources were thrown at that fire today and also last night, and the authorities have done a commendable effort.

    The cynic in me suggests that it is probably a better look for the authorities to suppress fire than actually manage the forests with fire, but you know. I sort of suspect that it is cheaper to do so too.

    It sure will be interesting to hear what the good authors have to say on the subject of lower intelligence. I do hope that they explore the current ‘yard sticks’ that are used to measure such things, because from my perspective people appear to be quite bonkers about such things. I hear a lot of stories from people about parents pushing their kids academically, and then there are other stories about the sort of anxiety that such strategies are creating in the kids. When I was a wee youngster, nobody was anxious about anything at all!

    Velvet Buzzsaw has some seriously big name actors. It looks like the sort of thing that would give me nightmares, so I shall rely upon your opinion and review. 🙂

    I’m old enough to recall that the moral crusaders once took an interest in young blokes playing Dungeons and Dragons. Heaven help us all should anyone enjoy themselves and have some fun. Thanks for the teaser, you have certainly piqued my interest with this book. I’m about half way through the third book of the World made by hand series – and I’m enjoying it. I hope the moral crusaders don’t come and get me…

    It is a good theory about diversity flourishing in old and stable lands and that is what I observe down here. You may have noticed that we have more frogs down here than where you are. The diversity of life would be greater if we got off our backsides and managed the land, but I may be asking too much of my fellow humans.

    Yeah, you never know. Years ago, I read an authoritative pronouncement from a learned individual who suggested that it was not possible to grow citrus in this mountain range, but then there are a few varieties happily growing just outside my front door. So the whole micro-climate thing is worthwhile putting to the test. The little tea camellia is doing quite well, although the other camellias which get far less water are not doing so well this year…

    There are people who go into bat for property owners in an attempt to secure a planning permit. They cost a pretty penny, and I have no experience with them so I can’t vouch for the outcomes. All I know is that nobody is going to take more interest in that process than the land owner…

    Hehe! Yeah, the throwing drugs at the condition bit, was not lost on me at all. Some of the high protein diets I read (or hear) about leave me feeling cold. A bit of balance and compromise would be nice, but humans are not too good at that from what I can see. I do my best to tempt people into eating leafy greens, and most of the time I hear complaints. Go figure that one out. 🙂 White vinegar is an excellent cleaner – and we make our own soap too, which is a crazy easy process.

    Yes, the carpet may have been off gassing ‘volatile organic compounds’. It happens. I tend to prefer natural floor coverings, like wool rugs over the timber hardwood floors here. Other people want the floor coverings that are cheap and cover a huge area. Yes, yes, ignore the quality look at the width, my friend! A few long years ago I recall synthetic carpets in a rental property breaking down where the sun hit them. That particular carpet was in for a good time, not a long time.

    Hehe! Edward Gorey sounds like quite the interesting character to me! And perhaps for all we know, he may have tossed a dice and made his choice. I feel that I too would enjoy such an island. 🙂



  80. Hi DJ and Jo (and everyone else),

    Many thanks for your thoughts. As far as I’m aware my mates are doing OK. But the fire was on their very property boundary (you can see what it looks like in a photo on the link), and they keep cows, pigs, ducks, chickens etc. which may not have fared so well if the worst case scenario had occurred. I haven’t called them today because I haven’t wanted to hassle them and they probably have their hands full with dealing with the situation. The news reports look not to good, especially now a late cool change has swung the wind in a different direction.

    Bushfires in Hepburn, Timbarra and Grantville threaten Victorian homes and lives

    Up in the far north of the continent, the monsoon has returned with serious force, so spare a thought for the poor folks up there: Townsville flood zone faces further inundation as council moves to fully open dam spillway gates

    And let’s not forget the island state of Tasmania that has had some epic and out of control fires going in the wilderness areas for several weeks now: Tasmanian communities in the firing line again with hot and windy conditions

    Some years are just really bad down here.


  81. Hi Chris,
    I agree, most people have no awareness of the amount of energy they consume, not just electricity.
    On the radio today I heard mention of the bushfires near Hepburn Springs, and immediately thought of David Holmgren and the property he has built up there over more than 30 years. I hope everything works out OK for him and everyone else in the area.
    Yes, kauri dieback disease has already killed many kauri trees, and has been detected in the soil just a few hundred metres from Tane Mahuta. It is very sad, and the prospects of stopping it are not good. It is a variety of Phyophthora, a fungus-like organism, and Phytophthoras are generally very hard to kill. So far there is no sign of a cure. It spreads through the soil in water films, and also by animal disturbance (humans, pigs). I’m afraid I am quite pessimistic about this, just because Phytophthora species have always been so aggressive and hard to control. It was a Phyophthora that caused the potato blight catastrophe in Ireland in the 1800s.

  82. @ Margaret
    Oh dear, horse riding. I had riding lessons as a young child, they absolutely terrified me. This came to a stop, thank goodness, when my father died and we descended into poverty. I have never been near a horse since. My sister however took up riding again in adolescence and loved it.

    @ Pam

    Seeing autoimmune/inflammation as a chicken or egg situation is interesting, I am thinking about it.


    Your comment is very interesting and I agree about stress being a top ingredient. So far as diet goes, I believe in a varied diet eaten in moderation.


  83. Hello again

    The Townsville flooding made it onto our news. I have been there on a number of occasions and hadn’t realised that this could happen/be caused.
    Easier to float in the sea because it is salty water. I understand that one can just float/lie on the Red sea.
    I reckon that risky is a less definite word than dangerous.
    Coldest night so far 20F but now the sun is shining and it is supposed to start warming up this evening.


  84. Yo, Chris – I love those cement block houses that Frank Lloyd Wright did in the teens and 1920s. They look so … “Mayan Temple.” I don’t think heating is much of a problem in balmy S. California. At least, it wasn’t when I lived down there. Probably even warmer, now. The Millard House is (or was) for sale, for a mere $4 million, plus. :-). You could probably pay it off, fairly handily, given the number of commercials and movies that use it for a set.

    I’ll be glad when your fire season is over, so you can relax. As much as you ever relax :-). I see California is being hit with torrential rain. Mudslides, flooding and high winds. I see the major electrical utility in California is declaring bankruptcy, due to the suits involved in the Santa Rosa Fire, last year, and the Paradise Fire, this year.

    We’re waiting on the blizzard :-). There’s a map, on the National Weather Service site of where it will snow (maybe) and how much. The line between snow / no snow, runs right through Chehalis. But, even if we don’t get snow, our temperatures are going to be very low, for awhile. Nothing like the midwest, but still, low for us.

    Well, I’m looking forward to “Velvet Buzzsaw”, just because it’s a send up of the modern art market. More than one review said if would be a better movie, if they’d stuck with that and skipped the horror.

    I’ve always been skeptical of high protein diets. Rip Esselstyn’s (he’s the plant based diet guy) book, “My Beef with Meat” is about half responses to people’s objections to more plant based diets. One of the objections he frequently gets is, “You won’t get enough protein!” (In a hysterical tone.) At the beginning of the chapter, he asks if you (the reader) can name the medical condition name for lack of protein. He’ll give you the answer at the end of the chapter. It’s kwashiorkor. Ever heard of it? Me either. Nor has anyone else. Maybe it can become the new disease, du jour?

    I have two, not to large rugs I bought when I moved in here. Made from materials not found in nature. Sure, wool would have been nice, but, out of my budget range. But, I think you’re right. When it comes time to replace the, I’ll look for a good used wool rug.

    Hmmm. I had another theory about why Gorey went to the islands. Besides cheaper wool jumpers. To say he was quit the reader, is an under statement. According to the Cavett interview, and the bio I read, he self taught himself to read at about 3. When they cleared out his house, when he died, he had over 20,000 books. I wouldn’t be surprised if he had copies of Dr. Johnson’s and James Boswell’s books, “Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland (1775).

    Well, it’s a theory. But, as with so much else about Gorey, we’ll probably never know. Most of his “stuff” is still in storage, in New York. Lew

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