Some weeks you’re on top of the world. And other weeks you’d rather not have to revisit. Friday, was Sir Scruffy’s, final day. He was a charming old fella but he’d reached the end of his lifespan.

Sir Scruffy the charming in better days hanging out with his mate Toothy

Sir Scruffy came into my life one day as a boon companion. The traffic was heavy and acting strangely. That may have been because it was near to school drop off time, and as everyone knows 3 out of 4 children choose to be driven to school these days.

When you are stuck in heavy traffic, like the posters for the 1979 sci-fi film ‘Alien’ proclaimed: “nobody can hear you scream”. In the immediate distance I spotted a dog running backwards and forwards across the road. It was a miracle that the dog had not been run over. Backwards and forwards the agile dog ran through the traffic. I stopped the car in the middle of the road, opened the door and yelled to the dog: “Get in”, and he did exactly that. And that was how Sir Scruffy entered my life.

Of course he had no identification tag or collar, and as I later found out, no microchip either. How are the robots in Amazon warehouses meant to find him, if he doesn’t have a microchip? Anyway, I looked at the poor dog who’d clearly been on the streets a few days and said to him: “Mate, you wanna come back to the farm?” And he turned to me on the floor of the car and replied: “It sure sounds to me like it beats the crap out of playing survival in the city”.

I had no idea what sort of life Sir Scruffy lead before turning up here. One thing I know for sure, his only previous company had been a cat. When he first arrived, he used to roll around on his back trying to nip my fingers, whilst also attempting to enjoy a tummy rub, which is typical cat behaviour. You could tell that he’d never had canine friends before because he had no idea what to make of the other fluffies. But he was a smart dog, and he copied every move the other dogs made that earned them praise or affection. It wasn’t long before he was more charming than the other dogs.

Eventually he worked his way into sleeping in the bedroom. Initially it used to drive me bonkers because he’d happily snore and/or fart. I’d kick him out of the bedroom and the sneaky little blighter would just wait until we were asleep and he’d return. He was unrelenting and just wanted what he wanted. Soon he had his own woollen blanket, and as he got older, he had a small flat pillow for his head to lay upon.

He was an old dog already when he turned up here. I’ve long wondered whether he’d just had enough of his old life with only a cat to talk to, and then one day he saw his chance to escape and have an adventure. I’ll never know what happened, but he sure was lucky enough to have a nice adventure.

However, old dogs don’t get any younger. Last week an internal organ clearly failed and he couldn’t keep down food (even his favourite beef jerky strips), and after two days he could barely move from his bedding. It was pretty clear he wasn’t going to recover, and as he was our good mate, we took him to the veterinary practice to have him put down. Both the editor and I miss our little Scruffy matey and I’m so glad to have had the chance to have known him.

We placed a deep pink Crepe Myrtle (otherwise known as a Scruff Myrtle – thanks Pam) over his grave. His grave was not far from the grave of his good mate Sir Poopy and hopefully the charming and sociable canine doesn’t feel so lonesome up there.

A Scruff Myrtle

It has been a week of death here. I once heard an old timer quip that: If you have livestock, you’ll soon have dead stock. I can’t argue with that either. The previous Monday, I’d had to kill the Grey Silky chicken. She’d been sick for a while and I gave her plenty of time to recover. She was a very attractive chicken, but she was just so mind numbingly dumb. However, when she decided unwisely in her sick state to defecate in the chickens water trough as a lifestyle choice, I had had enough.

The Grey Silky – so dumb it was not funny

Good things happen in threes, well, bad things also happen in threes. Two days after despatching the Grey Silky, Liz the Araucana chicken promptly dropped dead. I liked Liz as she had a lot of pluck, and the high point of her almost decade long career here was that she was once the Enforcer (second in command) of the chicken collective.

Liz the Enforcer can be seen as the brown chicken closest to the door of the firewood shed

What a rubbish week! I have not recovered from the grief from losing Sir Scruffy, but as they say time heals all wounds. Needless to say, not much work went on here. Unfortunately winter is rapidly approaching. There has even been a bit of rain.

A bit of rain rolls far inland from the Southern Ocean

The increase in humidity has meant that the Portuguese millipedes are again making a nuisance of themselves. They are everywhere at night.

Portuguese millipedes intend to dine upon the 90 minute fire rated walls of the house. Good luck with that ambition!

Despite having just lost my Scruffy mate, I had to climb onto the roof of the house and clean out the flue for the wood heater before the rain arrived.

The flue for the wood heater had to be cleaned urgently as storm clouds can be seen rolling in from the south

Not much creosote (the fancy name for toxic soot) fell into the combustion chamber of the wood heater during the cleaning process. This is probably because we burn aged hardwood that has a moisture content of about 13% to 14% and it burns very cleanly.

Inside the combustion chamber after the flue cleaning shows only a small bit of the black creosote which is extraordinary given the last cleaning occurred a year ago

It is now cold enough outside that we’ve run the wood heater twice this week.

The wood heater has been run twice this week

The tomato harvest is drawing to a rapid close. Regardless of our feelings, we had to process another batch of passata (tomato sauce used for cooking throughout the year) in the electric hot water bath.

Another round of passata was made this week

Of course using the electric hot water bath is not without its perils at this time of year. It probably wasn’t a smart idea to run it, plus the electrical kettle and the coffee machine all at the same time. Solar power is good, but sometimes it is not good enough. As I heard the electric kettle boiling away, it dawned on me that we were running three electric heating elements simultaneously from the batteries and sun. I was curious as to what was happening with the solar power system and discovered to my absolute horror that we were drawing 290Amps (about 7.5kW) from the batteries.

We had friends over, so I quietly sauntered back into the kitchen and rapidly switched off the electric kettle and also  finished up making the coffee. I didn’t think anymore about the matter until I said to one of the visitors, do you want to check out the battery room, as I felt that they would have an interest in such things? Well far out!

The top of the battery connector used to be blue

The stink from the burnt plastic was epic and made for an exciting visit to the battery room.

What I believe happened was that the electricity going into and out of the batteries had caused the bolts holding the cables onto the batteries to loosen off over the past year. And today the epic amount of electricity that we drew from the batteries in such a short period of time caused an arc to form in the small amount of space between the slightly loose bolt and the metal lug that holds the cable onto the bolt. And the heat from the arc burnt the plastic.

It takes a lot of heat to damage these heavy duty battery inter-connectors

Fortunately the battery seems unharmed. Also fortunately I had a spare connector and was able to replace the damaged one. All of the metal connectors involved in the debacle were cleaned up with a wire brush and soon everything was working again. I’ve added the task of regularly checking the tightness of the battery bolts to the ongoing maintenance list. This renewable energy stuff is simple in theory, and extraordinarily complicated in detail.

The battery seems unharmed by the latest thrilling and unpredictable episode of living with renewable energy systems

The now cooler weather has meant that some of the mandarins have ripened.

Some of the mandarins have ripened

It is certainly getting more humid here because I noticed a dung beetle happily walking around. The insect shouldn’t have to go far to find poo around here.

A successful dung beetle searching for more chunks of manure

Onto the flowers:

The garden bed behind the dog enclosure looks good and is enjoying the extra watering from the recent rain
Geraniums form the backbone of the flower gardens
Nasturtium and sugar beet flowers compete for garden space
A curious and rare Ollie flower sprouts next to a mass of lambs ears
How delightful is this miniscule bush rose?
The moisture from the recent rains has caused the many mint family of plants to flower

The temperature outside now at about 8.00am is 5’C (41’F). So far this year there has been 58.6mm (2.3 inches) which is the slightly higher than last weeks total of 48.0mm (1.9 inches).

80 thoughts on “Threes”

  1. Hi Pam,

    You betcha! It was the nut that caused the meltdown. How did you know? 🙂 Hehe! Hope you like the photos. I’m just glad that nothing else burned other than the plastic.

    Have you got any spring weather yet?



  2. Hi Lewis,

    Yeah, nah. You figured me out all wrong and stuff. I wasn’t at all interested in who was sleeping with whom in the story – it is a bit like discussing other peoples finances, in that it makes for a dull topic of conversation, although plenty of other people seem to be titillated by such news – I was just interested in how the story played out for the characters social standing within the community of the larger story and how it was all dealt with. And I only just read the chapter where Sayward resolves the problem in her mind. You know, I grew up surrounded by dramas and so I eschew them, and instead set my own moral standards which I abide by. I’ve observed that plenty of people say one thing, and promptly go and do another.

    The snake bite was epic, and Guerdon had the quick wit to lop off the finger before the poison spread. It was a crude but very effective strategy because snake venom is a nerve toxin and the key to surviving a bite is slowing the spread of the toxin within the body. I have read that the Aboriginals if bitten by a snake traditionally used to sit still on their hands (just to further reduce the bodies movements) leaning against a tree, and that process could take upwards of two days. Snakes often don’t provide a huge load of toxin, but you never know your luck in the bush. No doubts it takes a lot of effort for snakes to produce the toxins in the first place and they don’t waste it unnecessarily.

    The young lady (Sarah) who died from tetanus in the World Made by Hand series of books displayed a different understanding of the situation than Guerdon did, in that whilst he immediately acknowledged the dreadful reality of his situation, she tried to hide it and ignore it. Whatever may be the case, the tetanus story got me up to date with my tetanus booster shot. I reckon Guerdon’s alright too you know, and he is beginning to feature more in the book as Resolve has headed off into the newly minted little smoke of Tateville with his wayward father. The character of Resolve reminds me a lot of the horse character, in George Orwell’s book Animal farm.

    Yeah, even down here we heard about the arm bloke. An epic decision that not everyone might make. I wouldn’t watch the film or read the book either, if only because the story line would be so short. I hope he has cleaned up on the speaking circuit as the epic medical bills in your country leave me quaking in my boots and fearful of your system?

    Life can be confusing, and I too get easily confused. I’ve noticed that other people are confused as well, and sometimes their confusion is so great that they (not you, my friend) like to blame me for things that they themselves have stuffed up. I’m with the Bard and the Klingon’s in such matters and believe that ‘Revenge is a dish best served cold’. I do recall that one Klingon protagonist in a Star Trek film suggested that you’ve never heard Shakespeare until his works have been recited in Klingon. A fascinating concept. Oh through the magic of the internet… Star Trek VI The Undiscovered Country – Enterprise Battle With The Bird Of Prey. Certainly one of my favourite films of the franchise – and I even recall heading to the cinema way back in the day with my dorky mates to watch it.

    Talk about getting confused: The book was Cities in Flight! There used to be a series of books published under the title Sci Fi Masterworks (or something like that) and I nab them whenever I see them and that was one such. The book shelves are groaning! What do you do in such a circumstance?

    Mate, I recall at the time that you were on a huge raft on antibiotics for your jaw and I did worry a bit about you, but you always displayed the gumption and good grace that Sayward would have been proud of.

    I have heard of the faecal transplants, and I don’t doubt their efficacy, but really the same effect could be achieved by just eating better quality food on a longer term basis. But we do live in an age where people seek to take the right pill, rather than do the hard yards. Electric cars are a bit like that too. And speaking of such things, the dogs can smell home made pizza baking in the electric oven right now and they are feral…

    The topic sounds fascinating, but two deeply unhappy people is a bit too much for my brain at this time too. Despite it all over the past week, I’m fairly upbeat. The tragedies and dramas remind me that it is most important to live whilst you are alive – for we are a long time dead.

    Cutting out the mid-list but profitable authors is a thing that I have seen too. But then, the thing is people seem to have forgotten that it makes no sense that a fast food company can be listed on the stock exchange with all of the costs that that entails.

    I did mention to you the Three Billboards film a while ago! I enjoyed the film which we saw at the cinema, but watched it as a black comedy, but with huge doses of potty mouth. In some ways it was a sad film too because the story had to be enacted at such extremes. I did enjoy Woody who proved that he was far smarter than the protagonist despite appearances, and he even attempted on a few occasions to extend an olive branch, which was rejected. Peter Dinklage also shone and was one of the few characters to display good grace when all others were in a state of high emotion and looking for simplistic endings. Yes, a thoroughly good film viewed from that lens.

    I just read the synopsis of the Herve film and yeah Peter Dinklage is da man. It is on the to watch list.

    Well caterpillars can be good and they’re just munching away on your plant material and converting it into manure which will benefit your soil in the long run. Of course, you may have had other plans!!!

    Well done us! A fine thing to celebrate was the: warmest March on record. Yay for us!!!



  3. Hi, Chris!

    What a perfect photo of Sir Scruffy and his Toothy mate. When one of our pets dies we always pick out our favorite photo of him or her and have it framed. We have had many pets, so we have a regular shrine of photos. As for you and the editor – your natural industriousness will serve you well in overcoming your grief.

    That silky LOOKS dumb – but cute! C’est la vie. Did Liz have a lot of pluck, or a lot of cluck?

    Boy, you do have a lot of millipedes. Ours mostly just hide under logs or wet leaves.

    I am impressed that you had so little creosote. You are obviously drying your firewood very well before burning it.

    The dreaded arc – every now and then I hear my husband or son warn each other to be sure and not let an arc occur. I am not sure what that means, but I can tell that it is very bad from your experience. It’s funny how farm life is supposed to be a case of going back to a simpler life and yet it is SO much harder than just buying what ever one needs as in a city.

    I am still looking forward to buying some exciting geraniums. They can’t stay outside yet (our last frost date is the third week of April) so I haven’t visited the nursery yet for that.

    I love Ollie flowers. Unfortunately, they seem to be a rare species only found in the Macedons. Not in a nursery near me!

    Spring weather has been here for about 3 weeks.


  4. Hi Chris – sorry to hear about Sir Scruffy. It’s amazing how dogs and other animals can wiggle their way into our hearts. May he RIP.

    On a different note entirely, at the weekend I cut the first sod from the ground where I plan on building a construction that will start off as a large shed and end up as a small house (if all goes to plan). A friend, who has done something similar (and lives in it), asked me what I was planning on using for the roof and I informed him that I had some (pie in the sky) plan to learn thatching and give it a thatched roof.

    My friend, who is actually a renowned ‘green builder’ who has patronage of high and mighty people including Price Charles, shook his head sadly and told me I’d be far better off with steel roofing. He then went on to list numerous reasons why, in this instance, cheap and functional beats ecological and somewhat less functional.

    Two of the main benefits, apart from cost, are the ease of fixing solar panels to it, as well as its water collecting capabilities.

    Anyway, I only mention it because I’ve been costing them this morning and I see you have them on your roof 🙂



  5. Chris,

    What a nice tribute to Sir Scruffy! He was indeed fortunate to have the farm adventure for the last years of his life. It’s really the kind of life dogs are meant to have, I reckon.

    Millipedes? We get some variety of them here, but without the type of infestation you’re getting. Centipedes and especially earwigs are more than plentiful. The latter are so plentiful that there are some vegetables I can’t grow, as the earwigs get all of the food. Corn is one of those things.

    So one bad nut and you’ve invented arc welding? How many inventions came about in a similar manner?

    Beautiful miniature rose. We have several of those in a rock garden. The flowers are so delicate.

    So, do grapes grow here? Yup. My parents had a grape arbor. The grapes were for eating and juicing.

    My mead/pale ale brew fermented so rapidly that, by the time it was done fermenting, I had barely 14 liters, compared with the normal 20 liters per batch. I called it Cheyenne’s Volcanic Ale, named after the Finnish Spitz.

    The difference in brewing the pale ales vs the stouts has mostly to do with the malted grain and any syrup made from malted grain that is also added to the cooking process. IIRC, the longer the malting process, the darker the malt, which can add a richness to the flavor. Add in some peat, or even some medium malt that was malted with peat added into the grain, and you’ve added an earthy flavor characteristic of Scottish Ale. Fermenting usually took 3 to 7 days. Aging after bottling could be as few as 6 weeks for a low alcohol pale ale, to about 4 or 5 months for the darker and richer stouts. Cheyenne’s Volcanic Ale aged for 5 months before it was at its best.

    My neighbor grew up on a farm. One year he and his brothers cleaned up a trough, filled it with all of the unmarketable potatoes after thinly slicing the potatoes, added a lot of yeast and water. After proper mixing, they covered the trough and waited for a few weeks. When in his 80s, he remembered the resulting brew as pure ambrosia.

    Dogs are sneaky, right? Thor the Wondrous Wolfhound liked to sleep on the sofa. We didn’t want him on the sofa, so he and Cheyenne the Finnish Spitz would sleep at the place of honor: the floor at the foot of our bed. Well, Cheyenne would. Thor would sneak onto the sofa as soon as we were properly asleep.

    After he died, Cheyenne tried to take his place on the sofa as the new Boss Dog. She growled at me once when I was trying to get her off the sofa. Not wise. The next day, she growled at my wife. That was a Very Bad Idea. Cheyenne did NOT enjoy being dragged off the sofa, carried outside and plopped down on the wet grass in front of an active water sprinkler. (She detested getting wet.) She never got on the sofa after that. The moral of the story: Even the Boss Dog does not get to growl at Mama, because then Papa gets mad and Papa doesn’t play fair.


  6. @ Pam,

    Sometimes the gluten intolerance just plain bites. Sometimes I’ll eat something with gluten and it has no apparent bad effect. Other times, one nibble and I’m ailing for 3 to 5 days. And I NEVER know which result will occur.

    I’ve also recently read that, even if there is no immediate reaction, the damage to the intestinal tract due to ingesting gluten can last for 6 months or longer. That’s a huge price to pay for a doughnut or a beer or something.

    Then there’s the gluten-free diets. Oh yeah, I felt better within weeks after getting the gluten out of the diet, yet could recover only to point. Why? Current research is showing that after getting gluten out of the diet, one must still try to heal the gut. In other words, gluten has the same effect on the gut biome as do antibiotics. So the gut biome has to be rebuilt. Simply cutting gluten from the diet doesn’t add in the proper items to rebuild and heal. It’s really a never ending battle.

    Some of the gluten free beers are pretty good. The distillation process allegedly gets all of the gluten out of the brew for any grain -based liquor. However, I know a few people who are so sensitive to gluten that they cannot even have a sip of gluten grain-based liquor without having a reaction.


  7. Hello Chris
    The story of how you acquired Sir Scruffy is great or perhaps it should be called the story of how he found you.
    The Portuguese millipedes made me shiver, I didn’t like them at all.

    I am still trying to finalise selling a piece of my land, hopefully I’ll get the paperwork tomorrow. This sort of thing is always stressful, be it buying or selling. The buyer keeps ringing me up as he and his wife are getting equally stressed.

    I saw a programme on television some evenings ago, about the drying up of the Darling river. Drought yes, but manmade too.


  8. Yo, Chris – Well, to wrap it all up in a package, and put a bow on it, you’ve had a helluva week. Your tale of meeting Sir Scruffy was, delightful. Talk about meet/cute. It was “meant to be”, “written in the stars”, etc. etc.. :-). It’s why I’ve been holding off on “going out and getting a dog / cat.” I figure if it’s meant to be, the universe will wash up, something.

    As to chickens checking out, I really wonder if the change of seasons has anything to do with it all? And, I think, given my really brief go-around with chickens, is that once they get a behavior (usually bad) imprinted in their tiny little brains, it’s just about impossible to divert them to another course.

    The plague of millipedes looks ghastly. Kudos on the flue. Not much feels better than scrubbing out the chimney, and not getting much out.

    As to the battery. Probably, some minor detail, mentioned somewhere, that should have been spelled out in BIG BOLD LETTERS! Hmm. Maybe it’s kind of like some cooks and recipes. The meaner, more selfish ones, always leave out some little ingredient or bit of business, just so you don’t get the exact same, super wonderful result.

    Somehow or another, that also relates to the exchange you had with DJSpo about electricity and gravity. That we really don’t know quit how they work. Maybe they (gravity, electricity, etc.) all run on belief. So, if we stopped believing in electricity or gravity, they’d stop working? LOL. Metaphysics.

    It’s interesting you’d throw up a picture of a dung beetle, at this time. What the Egyptians called a scarab. The symbol of immortality, resurrection, transformation and protection. When I was a wee small lad, running about the Portland Art Museum, down in the basement on the way to the bogs was an enormous case, filled with hundreds of Egyptian scarabs, made of all kinds of materials. They were mounted on pins, with a mirrored back of the case, so you could see both sides. They were shoved away, in this dark corridor, and had probably stood there since the pyramids, were built. :-). Hmm. I have no scarabs. Perhaps I need to get some. Three? Or five? Or seven?

    Mandarins are showing up in our markets, about now. In great quantities. Usually, pretty cheap, as I think they’re a loss leader.

    The small rose is really pretty. Is it a true mini, or just a very young rose? (Cont.)

  9. Cont. No, it wasn’t the gossiping aspect that drew my attention. I think, the best way to deal with gossip is, “So what?” “Who cares” (shrug.) When any perceived value is taken out of gossip, it dies. And, I agree that where Sayward fits into the community, is pretty interesting. I think by the end of “The Fields”, she is getting an inkling of how much clout, she has. But none of that is quit what I was driving at. Oh, well. Moving on ….

    Same advice for snake bite (at least, our rattle snakes), here. Sit still and don’t run around like a crazy person. General thought is, a bit from a rattle snake won’t often kill a healthy adult. Make you sick as heck, sure. But, perhaps not kill you. When my Dad went hunting or fishing in snake country, he always carried a “snake bite kit” with him. It had a sharp pointing bit of metal to get the bite to bleed, and was packed in a rather clever rubber suction device. Saves all that oral sucking and spitting :-).

    Yup. You haven’t lived until you’ve heard Shakespeare recited in Klingon :-). I remember, clearly, going to see the first Star Trek movie. I went with a friend, who had more than a decided resemblance to a Vulcan. When Spock threw the Vulcan death grip on someone, he swooned in his seat. It was quit a performance … on screen and off.

    I had never heard of the Sci-Fi Masterworks series. That’s quit a line up. Collect the whole set? :-). Wikipedia has quit an entry, on the series. The only thing I didn’t see (might be there. I just gave it a quick look) was “Pilgrimage: Book of the People” by Zenna Henderson. I think that’s about the only book, close to my heart, that I didn’t see on the list. I’m sure others would come to mind.

    What to do when you’re shelves are groaning? Sort and donate. I usually give mine to the public library, for their book sales. A recent trick I’ve discovered, in evaluating a book is to ask myself, “Is this a book that has value to me now? Or is it a book that I value because it’s who I want to be?” Or, if they’ve got some value, flog on Amazon. You can always “spin off” subject areas to smaller cases in other parts of the house.

    I guess the reason I originally passed on “Three Billboards” is that it’s very similar to a case we had here in this county. Ann Rule, who made a very tidy living writing true crime books, took up the case. It played out in our local newspaper for YEARS.

    Final slug count for the month of March? 298. Weather? We’re in for a good round of rain. Lew

  10. @ DJSpo
    Interesting; I also had to give up growing corn because of earwigs, here in the UK.


  11. Hi Pam,

    That’s a really lovely memorial to all of the little characters that come and go in your life. 🙂 As a bloke it is a bit of a trap to fall into over working to submerge grief, but I’m wary of that trap having fallen into it once long ago. It does nobody any favours, does it?

    Yup, high expectations and extraordinarily low delivery was the story with that amazingly attractive silky chicken. Most chickens are reasonably switched on and interested in self-preservation – but not that chicken. Liz had pluck, she was the enforcer after all!

    They’re there too. The millipedes are attracted to the light, and survive drought by laying eggs in the soil and then reappearing when the moisture returns.

    The original Ghostbusters film used that joke too. 🙂 I am not sure exactly what they’re talking about either? No way, it is way complex out here in the boonies. City life by comparison is simple which I reckon might be why people convince themselves that life is meant to be simple. Well, it ain’t! Hehe!

    Best wishes for the geranium hunt – and you never know when you’ll encounter the rare Ollie flower.

    Nice. Hopefully it is not flooding anywhere near you (nice to be on a slope during such events)?



  12. Hi Jason,

    Thanks mate, and I should add that it is a great thing to be able to read your words again. Good luck with the next few weeks – for sure, it will be exciting. 🙂

    Your friend displays outstanding common sense. I realise that it is an unlikely occurrence in your part of the world, but I do recall that a thatched roof building to the south east of Melbourne did not survive a bushfire (it was a building of a gardening club that I’m a member of). It did look good though – before the fire. As a funny side story, the head honcho of the gardening club – a top bloke – appears to have had a road to Damascus moment about forestry practices and tree selection after the building disaster…

    Roof space is such valuable real estate. I collect water from all of the roof spaces and harvest solar electric and thermal power. Given how far south you are, a small solar setup would provide useful electricity – but during winter it might be nothing like you are used to enjoying. But low voltage water pumps, fridges and lights are some of the most amazing technologies that we have access too.

    Incidentally, we started our journey exactly that way, although I had a lot of prior building experience. But if you can build an insulated and water proof shed, a house is not that much more complicated.



  13. Hi DJ,

    Sir Scruffy enjoyed a life less ordinary, and unlike countless unfortunate other creatures, he really did end up on the farm. I reckon that meme began with the Animal Farm book with the sad tale of the horse? Dunno.

    There are local millipedes here too, and I don’t worry about such things because they are sent to break down organic matter into fertile soil – even plant diseases share that common but worthy goal – although we might not appreciate the negative feedback loop that it generates.

    Hehe! Probably more than a few inventions! A long time back when I first got into off grid solar electricity, I knew a bloke who gave me plenty of helpful advice and he said that he’d used his batteries in that fashion as a stick welder.

    Your parents sounded as if they had quite the garden. I’m thinking grapes would do well in your area too given the cold winters and hot summers.

    I do hope that you saluted the spirit of Cheyenne the wise Finnish Spitz, whenever you enjoyed a tot of the tasty beverage?

    Thanks for providing a detailed account of your brewing adventures. It has given me much to consider. For your info, we age the country wines here for at least 12 months, but at a slightly higher alcohol content they’re probably less prone to having the batch taken over by mysterious bacteria and fungi.

    Your neighbour was onto something. Nature just takes care of us, don’t you reckon? That was a traditional indigenous drink too, but swap potatoes for volumes of flowers – and you get the same outcome, albeit slightly sweeter.

    Naughty Cheyenne! It always amazes me that people and animals do what I call “trying it on” when they seek for an edge… What do you do? Stomping the idea is a good strategy.



  14. Hi Inge,

    Don’t you reckon it is interesting that animals can make their own decisions in these matters? A very long time ago (almost 25 years now) I once encountered a black cat – who was very sick with the cat flu – and I looked at him and said: “If you can walk through this gate, the place will be yours.” And he did just that, and I had to take him down to the vet where he stayed for a few days. The staff at the vet were loathed to give him up after his stay. He bonded to the old boss dog, “The Fat” and used to follow her around and snuggle up with her at night. He died about a week after she did of a broken heart. I’d never encountered such a strong bond before.

    Do you get the Portuguese millipedes too? It is an infestation out there, but they are speeding up the recycling of organic matter into soil, so I must not grumble.

    Legal things make me stressed out too! Did the settlement go OK?

    We’ve discussed the massive fish kills in this part of the world. It is not good. From my understanding it appears that the water was over allocated for irrigation purposes up there. Water is the limiting factor down here – Liebig’s law of the minimum rules the roost.



  15. @ DJSpo:

    I have been hitting the probiotics (pill and liquid) big time since that episode I recently had with trying gluten again. I feel a huge difference. I have certainly tried probiotics before, but was unsure of the results. The one that helps the most (and costs a fortune) is a plant-based probiotic “shake” by Forager (@ Whole Foods). I am not eating the wonderful fermented things I like (also a source of probiotics) as I am on a special diet right now to find out if anything else is causing me problems.


  16. Hi Lewis,

    Thanks for understanding, as it has been a rubbish week. Sometimes animals choose you, and not the other way around. I mentioned to Inge the story of the last cat that lived in the household. He was very sick with the cat flu when I first met him on the street outside my home – and I looked at him and said: “If you can walk through this gate, the place will be yours.” And to my complete surprise he did just that, and I had to take him down to the vet where he stayed for a few days to recover. Incidentally, the vet bill was epic and that was back in about 1995 when things were substantially cheaper. He was worth the time and energy though as he had a fascinating feline personality and for most of his life he believed he was a dog, and hung with the dogs all day long. He loved the boss dog, and I recall he used to sit incongruously in the hallway and wait for her to pass by. But as the boss dog got closer to the sitting feline, he’d stick his front paw out and try to grab her (claws extended). But despite that, the love was mutual and they slept huddled up together most nights.

    You could tell that Sir Scruffy had spent most of his time with a cat for his only friend, so it is hardly surprising that he eventually threw the dice and ran away from wherever he used to live. Some people keep dogs stuck in the backyard all day and all night long, and I wonder what the people get out of that. Dogs are social creatures and they would go bonkers in such conditions.

    That’s a great point about the change of seasons doing the chickens in. Absolutely, and I am more used to death with the chickens because despite having really good conditions for them, I still lose one or two chickens per year. I don’t relish being the instrument of their end though, but the grey silky was just infuriating.

    Millipedes, they’re a bit like zombies – who needs them? 🙂

    I was pretty chuffed about the lack of gunk in the flue. Someone mentioned to me that the cleanliness of the glass was also an indicator of clean combustion gasses. I do wonder about the longevity of the wood heater though, because despite this unit not showing the sort of damage that the older unit did, I still feel that it won’t go the distance for a couple of decades. Do you have any suggestions regarding this matter?

    Actually, I feel like writing to the nice people that produce the solar charge controllers in the big smoke, and providing some useful tips that I’ve learned about what not to do in these installations. If I’d known up front, I may not have done as I did… Fortunately it seems that little to no harm was done to the battery.

    Exactly. Exactly. Exactly. Exactly. Exactly! I can’t say it enough, well maybe five times is a bit overly dramatic, but I don’t believe that many people at all understand how these renewable energy systems work in reality. When they got off the ground in the mid 1970’s I suspect that there were a lot of people tinkering with them, but then they stopped tinkering. Nowadays most people are discouraged from experimenting with this stuff for some strange reason. What really worries me is the talk of people waiting for the stuff to become cheaper – and then someone else installs it for them at an exorbitant expense and the people have no idea what they are looking at in their systems. It ain’t gonna happen on either score, but still the call of the true faithful believers of a bright green future gets repeated like a useless mantra.

    How good are the dung beetles? And I was unaware of their most excellent ancestry and lineage. Have I ever mentioned that they were deliberately released around these parts as an effort to recycle the organic matter and build top soils? There are a lot of them living here, and it would be very unfair to expect Ollie the cattle dog to deal with all of the poo himself.

    I dunno about store or market purchased mandarins because they just don’t taste nice to me. The tree picked citrus fruit is an entirely different experience. Are the mandarins in your part of the world tasty?

    Definitely, the rose is a miniature variety. I can’t honestly recall planting it either. Over the next few months, you should see the beginnings of a rose garden here. There is just a huge amount of digging before that time is reached.

    I’m outraged! I just had another spam comment. The war is long brother Lewis…

    No it wasn’t the gossiping either for me. I was curious as to how the community accommodated (if that is the correct word) such matters, and how Sayward’s social standing was effected. I’m right at the end of the book and Sayward is probably about to encounter the School mistress (now wife of Jake Tench and old friend of Sayward’s). In some ways to my mind, nowadays people are more open about such topics, but then there is less support given for the outcome, and in other ways we’re far more judgemental as a result. I was sort of reaching for a contrast between now and then, and the understanding is fleeting and hard to grasp.

    Funnily enough, the snake bite folks down here don’t recommend the bleeding. They suggest tourniquet’s applied firmly, but not too tightly and of course sitting still and keeping quiet has never gone out of fashion in such circumstances.

    That is hysterical about your friend and the on and off screen Vulcan performance. I’m still chuckling to myself about it. No doubts the editor believes that I have gone completely insane! 🙂 An old mate of mine suggested that only the even numbered original Star Trek films were any good.

    Thanks for the good advice regarding the groaning book shelves. Yes, but it means letting go… A fraught subject. Although it occurs to me that I should have ejected Stephen Donaldson’s ‘White Gold Wielder’ books long before now. Spare me the introspection!!!!

    Detectives usually point the finger firstly at the husband in such cases. Things never look good for them. The editor loves true crime stuff, but I tend to avoid it all because life is complex enough…

    298 and not out, and you still have to continue to bat all through April ol’ chap (a cricket reference)! 🙂



  17. Hello again
    A cat tried very hard to take up residence with me aeons ago. It pulled every trick in the book. Right up to getting in and hiding beneath a blanket on my settee, from where it peeped out at me. It was out of luck; I have never had a dog or cat and don’t want the responsibility of one, though they do seem to take to me. I have found responsibility for humans quite sufficient!

    I don’t think that we have Portuguese millipedes but I don’t really know.

    I am still waiting for the paperwork in the post and am getting really stressed. If it doesn’t arrive tomorrow I shall have to ring the solicitor again.


  18. @ Lew
    I wish to second you about the Zenna Henderson books. I have been spending the last few years getting rid of books. Those to be kept are reference books, books connected or by family and friends, poetry and anything that I re-read. Zenna Henderson’s will be kept.


  19. Hello yet again
    Notayesman has dealt with Australian finance in his 2nd April write.


  20. Good evening

    Not only did Sir Scruffy have the god luck to find you and move to the country, he rests for good in a beautiful place, near an old chum.

    I watch in horror here as every newly-purchased house gets hugely extended, and the gardens are totally wrecked by diggers; so will have to go for ashes in an urn when the time comes, as the thought of one’s old friend getting dug up in that way is too horrible! Despite the garden being very large, I can’t think of a single place that would be 100% safe from ‘improvers’ and oafs.

    No one moves gently into their new home, it’s odd. Move to the country and kill every living thing in your garden: why?! I suspect only the boundary hedges I made will survive: yew, hawthorn, blackthorn and laurel. Power tools are to blame: it’s all too easy.

    I am working on some lead tablets to go under all the fruit trees: ‘If thou should dig up this Fruitful Tree/ Cursed shall your Life be’. Can’t stop them, but maybe give them the creeps for their sins! No real curses of course, as my gypsy cousins say they bounce back.

    This place was actually haunted when I moved in, until I took some placatory and defensive action (horse shoe over the door and old iron, among other things) or maybe the ghost just moved on, bored?

    There is still a bit of random activity – oil paintings being moved, clothing moved around, things disappearing and coming back just where I could never have put them,etc – not exactly poltergeist, and suggesting an impish spirit more than anything else. One just lives with it, and it’s a lovely sunny place despite the previous owners having what is called ‘a reputation’ for all kinds of naughtiness.

    Your intuitions about the stove may be right, as I’ve read something about a decline in the quality of steel used in the water-boilers -a story which has come up in other areas (naughty Japanese and others!) : I had one of those, but it was so badly manufactured (although ‘top of the range’) that I got my money back quickly and bought a cast-iron SAEY Belgian stove, which doesn’t heat water, but does have a big flat top for cooking and drying out wood on. It’s so well-made that MY ghost could use it!

    The rich earth I’m digging up to move to the new raised beds made me think of delicious chocolate, today in the rain for some reason: real wealth, let’s hope with a good yield.

    All the best

  21. Hi Chris,
    What a week you’ve just had. Lovely picture of Scruffy and Toothy. I’ve always found it a bit difficult to get good dog pictures as they tend to turn or lick just as you take the picture. But then I’m not much of a photographer. Your story reminded me a bit of how we ended up with Salve. You may recall she was abandoned on our road in the dead of winter and not in good shape. She appeared by our door just after we got in from our morning walk. His skills and persistence getting into the bedroom are impressive.

    You can keep your millipedes thank you very much.

    How lucky there was no battery damage. Doug is pretty handy and is game to fix most things except electrical problems.

    Spring is taking its good time getting here though at least all the snow has melted. March was 3.5 degrees F below normal the coldest since 2014 which was the last year with a polar vortex similar to this year.

    I really enjoy the fire during cold weather. Doug scored a lot of wood from an old neighbor so we should be good for awhile. He ended up losing all the two hives and one of those is quite weak. The packages are arriving on Thursday which is going to be rainy and only in the mid 40’s.

    Hope you keep getting rain. Do you feel like the threat of fires as abated somewhat?


  22. @Lew

    I was picturing you trying to avoid the strollers. When my kids were at that age we usually used an umbroller stroller which was quite compact, easily folded and didn’t take up much space either in the car or when being used. I see they are still around but one usually sees all the big fancy ones. I am attending my niece’s baby shower in a few weeks – not one of my favorite things to do. I can only imagine all the equipment she’ll receive – they’ll probably need to put an addition on their house. If the person hosting it starts some of the awful shower games I will truly vomit.


  23. Yo, Chris – I’d guess Sir Sruffy might have belonged to an oldster who died, or went into care. And the relatives or who ever was “in charge” just dumped the dog. That sceneario, happens a lot.

    I just had a flight of fancy. “Sir Scruffy. The Origin Story.” Then there can be the prequel, sequel and multiverse. Spin offs of other characters. Graphic novels. License to merchandise tat.

    I have my own similar cat story. This happened decades ago, and I can’t even tell you the name of the cat, or, what eventually became of it. One very hot day, I went to the grocery store. I had been vaguely thinking about getting a cat, but it was still in the idle speculation stage. Now I always park a good way away from the door (get a bit of exercise, and all that) and when I went in, there was a kitten, seemingly at loose ends. I had the vague thought of “Well, if it’s still here when I leave, maybe I’ll take it home.” When I left the store, I looked around and didn’t see the cat. So, I hiked back to my truck. There, waiting for me under my truck, was the kitten. Home it went, and to the vet, that afternoon, for a good check over. Those years were a bit of a blur, so, no details beyond that.

    Well, the only thing I can think of, about wood stoves and longevity, is salt. But, I really couldn’t find much conclusive, about that. Because I had read it, somewhere, in a Ye Olde Book of Ancient Knowledge (probably, a tip from the old Mother Earth News, magazine) I’d throw a small handful of rock salt, on a hot fire, every now and again. And, it did glaze the inside of my chimney. I found this …

    But a concern one of the commenters brought up (which I hadn’t considered) was salt corrosion and metal. I mean, my chimney was brick, but what would be the effect on metal chimney liners? The concern was not answered. I found another article, that I’ll link to, later.

    “Secret Knowledge of….” (solar, growing turnips, launching your on-line business) sells a lot of books, or provides a lot of click bait. But useful? Hmmm. Very few people seem to do the research when it comes to solar. Or, anything else. I have never been in a position to “go solar”, but just in case, I read pretty extensively. My first big wake up was, you can’t really heat with the stuff. My second was, 12v systems are the way to go. So, I explored that. I also had two people I knew, in passing, who lived with solar as you do. Had I taken the plunge, I would have probably harassed them, no end. :-).

    So, you’re dung beetles were “deliberately introduced.” Of course, the question is, by who? You don’t have to answer that :-). I told you the story of my landlord, at my old place, introducing the cinebar moths, to his land. To fight the tansy ragwort. It worked out, well.

    Are the mandarins tasty? A bit sharper than an orange. Easier to peel. Not something I buy, but someone gave me a couple, recently. A nice bit of desert.

    LOL. We’ll talk about Sayward later, when you’ve finished the book.

    Marc, the fellow with the Vulcan cast to his features? We worked in a pub, together. I always thought of him as “Marc, the horse faced boy”, to myself, of course. Black straight hair, pale complexion, “interesting” eyebrows. There was also a fellow, in my high school, who had a very Vulcan look about him. Interesting that some facial types …. are or become “types.” Of course, I lost track of Marc, but years later, heard, quit by chance, he had survived the 80s, had gone back to school and became a successful lawyer. He was a nice fellow, and I wish him well.

    Seems like every five years or so, I go on a true crime reading jag. Knock of 4 or 5 in a row. Right now, I’m reading “Selling Dead People’s Things: Inexplicably True Tales, Vintage Fails & Objects of Objectionable Estates.” (Cerny, 2018). I’m quit enjoying it, but, I think you have to have some interest in the “tat” trade, to “get” it. He’s quit a well known Chicago dealer. What’s interesting is that, to my surprise, some of the stories are downright ghost stories.

    I also watched “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald”. Good, but perhaps not quit as good as the first movie. Probably because I kind of know where it’s going. I also watched “Keeping Mum” (2005). A delightful romp with Maggie Smith, about a little old lady ax murderer. :-). Lew

  24. Addendum: Here’s the article about sodium vapor. What I want to know is, how did I manage to glaze the inside of my chimney, when I don’t think my fires every reached the temperatures indicated? And, what’s that with using kiln wood soaked in salt brine?

    Hmmm. Someone, somewhere, needs to do a lot of research. There is, I think, some kind of a connection between salt glazed pottery, kilns and home wood stoves. Lew

  25. Good morning

    I just recalled this rather crazy wood stove story.

    When I had mine installed it was done by a Pole named Wittold who told me that in Polish villages they had a simple method of getting rid of nasty stuff in the flue (they burn coal, wood, anything combustible at hand):

    ‘You climb up, pour some little bit of petrol in and then a match. Boom! No trouble for years after that! What’s a ‘chimney sweep’? ‘

    Life is probably quite exciting at times in Polish villages….

  26. Hi Inge,

    Thanks for mentioning the excellent blog post. Talk about return to surplus sounds an awful lot like what our politicians call a ‘non core promise’. Other less polite people would describe such talk with the naughty moniker: “Lie” We’re just about to head into an election for the Federal Government thus the big talk.

    The other thing I note that the government is doing is that they are spending big, but expecting the money to be repaid in the form of loans, which sits on the governments balance sheet as an asset. I suspect that such spending is not counted in the deficit or surplus calculation but am only guessing.

    The blog was an excellent summary of the situation.



  27. Hi Margaret,

    It sure has been a tough week, and I feel a bit worn out by it. But you know, life goes on, stiff upper lip and all that. Thanks, the dogs love being in photos, but they’re probably thinking to themselves that co-operation equals food!

    Salve was very lucky to have arrived at your door, sort of like an un-looked for, but much appreciated present. From memory, Salve is also very OCD about sleeping on the bed? Has time put an end to the canine ambition?

    Fair enough as the personal risk with electrical mains is quite high. The batteries are extra low voltage, otherwise I wouldn’t be able to legally wire up any of it. So far the batteries are doing OK for their age, but nobody really knows how long their lifespan will be.

    Oh my! I guess winter was hard enough in your part of the world that it tends to have some authority and wants to hang around. I do hope that it warms up for you soon.

    Ouch with the bees. I hear you and one of my hives up and vanished a few months back. I suspect that the nearby very strong bee hive killed them all off once the colony split – as they’d rapidly outgrown the frames early in the season – and there is no trace of any bees in the box. It is like the Mary Celeste in there. But the other hive is very strong.

    Well it is raining tonight, so hopefully the fire threat will be off the table by next month. I’m considering my winter responses at the moment – as that is when the work has to be done.



  28. Hi Lewis,

    Oh! That story about Scruffy belonging to an oldster had never occurred to me. It is a tough call for the family to do and extraordinarily harsh, but hmmm. I suspect that was Scritchy’s story because when we got her from the Lost Dogs Home, she’d clearly never been inside a house before (you just know) and I suspect that she was kept outside by herself in a backyard. A dog would go bonkers like that. And she was certainly not used to being handled and has a very self-contained personality.

    I do like this sound of licensing, and also the revenue streams from merchandising. It sounds like some mad cash. 🙂 I reckon the kid’s edition of the book would do really well. Your cat story would stand up just as well as the Scruffy story, but you may have to embellish a few further details. Maybe a compendium of pet origin stories, but written for kids with lots of colourful illustrations? I vote that you do the author tour. 🙂 We could tell parents that the book is good for the kid’s education. I smell money!

    The steel in the flue seems to be standing up to the test of time and it is a triple skin stainless steel flue. It is the insides of the combustion chamber that I wonder about. The wet back is stainless steel, so that should be OK long term, but the door and roof, dunno. I need to order the replacement baffles which sit just inside the combustion chamber…

    Thanks for the article and I’ll have a read of it later – it is the dreaded mid-week hiatus tonight!

    Absolutely, 12V or 24V systems are the simplest arrangements when it comes to batteries and solar electricity. And there are a huge amount of extra low voltage devices these days. Lot’s and lot’s. And I suspect that simple is what provides for longevity with this stuff. Since I tightened the battery bolts, the batteries have been sucking in a large charge, but today they seem to have caught up with themselves. Large batteries like these can’t be charged in a single day.

    I believe that it was the authorities that introduced the dung beetles into the environment down this way. I reckon the beetles do a good job, and the manure from the wildlife rarely hangs around for long one way or another. I take that rapid cycling as a good sign indicating the health of the land.

    Haha! I just finished ‘The Fields’ today and will begin ‘The Town’ tomorrow. I assume that you mean at the end of the third book? Incidentally, I have made a book error, as I already had James Blish’s book, ‘Cities in Flight’ in my bookshelves. I’d just never read it. What do you think about this situation: Is it a sure sign that the contents of the bookshelves need a solid review? The heartache of sending the unwanted books packing is a sad thing…

    Yeah, people get treated differently based on their appearance, and so I’d have to agree with you that people become types. Strangely enough, I’ve had this ongoing discussion with the editor and we sort of agree that if I had my height, but a heavier set build, people would find me more reassuring. Bankers often look tall, fat and heavy set and for some reason people find that appearance to be a reassuring figure – even if they’re getting ripped off by them. Go figure. Have you noticed such things? And what do you believe that it means?

    Gotta head off to bed. I feel a bit fatigued this week. Will talk tomorrow.



  29. Yo, Chris – Dogs come with their own stories, and unless you get a puppy (with all that piddling about the place) you never know. I think HRH was through a place or two, before settling in with my neighbor. She’s the most loving dog, but don’t touch her front feet! Makes for minor problems when I bring her in off of wet grass. Who knows what that’s all about?

    More than happy to take up an author tour. Just remember, the contract for the tour will have a clause for only train travel, no planes. Given my phobia. And the train must have heat and a working bog. I’ll try and think up some impossible food and drink requests, too. Pumpkin ice cream at every stop, year ’round? :-). Hmmm. Maybe a private car? Like royalty and politicians?

    Since the explosion of pleasure boat craft and RV’s, the number of pretty useless and silly low voltage appliances has proliferated. For a giggle, I’ll have to find some outlandish examples.

    The dreaded duplicate book? Never happens to me :-). And, if you believe that, I’ve got some swamp land in Florida, that I could get you very good terms on. I’m surprised it doesn’t happen more often. So, it onto “The Town?” I’ll have to get a hold on it, from the library. Well, you can always gift a book, or donate it to a worthy op-shop or for a charity auction. One more copy of “Cities in Flight”, kicking around Australia, probably isn’t a bad thing.

    Physical types in people is an interesting thing. I don’t know if it’s still true, but years ago, some studies were done and fellows with beards were seen as less trustworthy. And, gingers are thought to be a shifty lot :-). The Pre Raphaelite artists picked models (men and women) with a decided “look.” There’s a fellow at the Club who has that “look.” He could step right into one of their paintings, and not be out of place.

    I think I saw a mason bee, yesterday. Last night, I also saw an ear wig going at one of the nests. RIP, ear wig. Lew

  30. @ Inge – How odd. I don’t think I’ve ever ran across another Zenna Henderson fan.

    Decades ago, there was even a made for TV movie, or mini-series based on the books. I don’t remember it as being very good, but if it helped keep the books in print a few more years, probably worth the effort.

    Hollywood goes begging for good properties. Someone should get onto her books. Lew

  31. @ Margaret – Re: Baby strollers. It’s like an ever escalating arms race. I think you could safely shoot one of those things into space.

    Of course there will be games at the shower. It’s a chick thing :-).

    I just finished a book by one of the co-owners of the Broadway Antique Mart (BAM) in Chicago. Ever been? I see they have quit a website. They’ve also provided quit a few props for TV and films. And, Oprah! Lew

  32. Hi Lewis,

    The mid-week hiatus continues…

    It is warm and very humid here today. The small quantity of rain received recently has really picked up the humidity. As well as the leaf change tourists, I’m also noting that there are the people looking to score firewood as there seems to be a lot of utility vehicles driving aimlessly around the mountain side with empty trailers. They’re not here for anything else, unless of course they’re indulging in a bit of rubbish dumping? If they had half a brain, they’d ask, but at the sight of me, they scuttle off like frightened rabbits.

    The editor likewise enjoys true crime books and podcasts. I never really got into them, if only because I can see that some folks have very dark souls and I have no need to poke further. I went to see a show that a comedian had put on a few years back. The comedian had fallen right off the rails and went through a dark place, but anyway a story from that gig that I recall was that many years ago he was putting on a gig and the gangster that owned the establishment (which later became a bookshop and cinema) mentioned that there had been an incident in the club the previous night. Apparently a patron fell off a balcony. The gangster mentioned to the assembled comedians that there was nothing to worry about, but he wasn’t sure whether the victim had been pushed, or ‘stabbed off’ the balcony. I mean far out… The gangster is now deceased and was part of the gangland wars a decade or so ago. He was apparently quite a bad apple.

    Cool! I guess the ghosts would attach themselves to the items? Spooky huh? Any stories that pricked you ears and interest?

    How did a little old lady become an axe murderer? There is definitely a story there – and it is no feather weight feat to wield an axe in that way. Sweeping generalisation alert: Women are usually poisoners.

    Thanks for the link to the article and I’ll check it out tomorrow. It is an intriguing concept, although I’m unsure about glazing on steel and how that would all work? Dunno.

    Exactly, you just never know what background a dog has had, and even Ollie – who frankly was much younger than the six months that we were told – exhibits traits gained at the hands of previous owners. I guess no matter what you do, you’ll get some sort of strangeness in their behaviour whether you like it or not. I can’t say that I ever encountered a dog that had an exact replication of another dog’s personality. Traits, yeah for sure, but never a facsimile of another dog.

    There is mystery in there with the front feet for HRH. You never know what strange things someone may have done to her.

    Well given Boeing’s recent record with the new 737 MAX aircraft, sticking to trains is not a bad idea. 🙂 I’d hope that the train had a sleeper carriage and that you didn’t have to share the cabin with complete strangers which happened to someone I know recently. As to the rider, well, I must say that the costs are mounting up here. Hehe! Actually I recall the author’s tour in the film: End of the Tour, about the tour for author David Foster Wallace. He didn’t seem to be getting much money from the experience, despite the time put into it, and it looked to me as if it was a bit of a pain for him.

    Please do find some outlandish examples! On a serious note, the very useful items for extra low voltage – are extraordinarily useful. And a decade or so ago, they were very thin on the ground. And there is no reason that a house couldn’t be wired up for extra low voltage wiring. The cables would be very expensive though because the voltage is low and the amount of current required would be quite high.

    Hehe! It is a bit like that, and I have to go through the bookshelves and put together a box for donation. Someone, somewhere will enjoy the additional copy of the book. Who would have thought that it was sitting right there up in the bookshelf, unread and unloved. I’ll have to rectify that. Incidentally, I can’t recall whether I’d mentioned before but the shelves are made from laminated particle board – and they are slowly bowing. A sad thing and I could have done better in their construction in the first place.

    Have you got space on your hold list for “The Town”? It is such an easy and enjoyable read.

    Yes, that thing about beards is something that I heard recounted to me many years ago when I was a young bloke and there is an argument that people were more honest and forthright in their opinions (despite being much the same as they are now), instead of relying on weasel words. Mind you, the hipsters have taken the thick beard to new levels. I think my face was only free of facial hair for about a week within the past three decades! Speaking of Vulcan’s and beards, I recall that in the original Star Trek series, the Vulcan’s were distinguished by their goatees. You don’t see them around much anymore (goatees – not Klingons), but no doubts they’ll make a come back! I read somewhere or other that some people have taken to learning the Klingon language.

    I like the works of The Pre Raphaelite artists. Good stuff.



  33. @ Lew:

    Maybe Princess has arthritis? It can be worse in the extremities, especially where weight is put on them. I have known dogs who have suffered a great deal at the hands of someone who does not cut their toenails properly, and often cuts the quick and they are “foot shy”.

    Or perhaps it’s a simple case of carpal tunnel syndrome?


  34. Yo, Chris – About the fleeing leaf peepers. Probably two many cinematic visions of cannibal hill people, dancing in their heads. Lose the banjo.

    Weird haunted items. A desk that had weird glyphs burned into the backs and bottoms of all the drawers. It threw balls of light. That’s from the book, not my experience. The bible that appeared in the middle of the floor, in an estate clean out, in a room that had been cleaned out, already. The scrapper, who was pulling wire in an abandoned hospital (he had permission) and was told he was fired, for smoking, by a dapper looking gentleman. Who was the founder of the hospital. Who had died 20 years previous.

    Well, you become an elderly ax murderer by, when you are a very young pregnant bride, discover your new husband in fligrante delicto, with his mistress. Then you stuff them in a trunk, which leaks. As she stated, “Seemed like the right thing to do, at the time.”

    Maybe HRH had strange things done to her feet, when she was very young. A pedicure that went terribly wrong? Over zealous toe nail painting?

    I looked into weird 12v appliances. Actually, I suppose most of them would be useful to someone. Sometime. Somewhere. The portable pizza oven seemed a bit over the top. Ditto the sandwich grill. Heated coffee mugs? But, I suppose all would come in handy if you were stuck in traffic.

    I put “The Town” on hold, and then called the branch to ask them to pull if off the shelf and throw it in a courier box. I noticed it went “into transit”, minutes later. So, with luck, I’ll have it by Saturday.

    I watched “The Favorite”, last night. Pretty good. I thought it drug, in a few spots. Without giving too much away, I’d say court dances of the time were very silly. And, being at war with France, the English had clearly lost any sense of fashion guidance. After watching the movie, I went down the Wikipedia rabbit hole, just to see what became of everyone.

    Oh, I still see a lot of goatees on urban hipsters. And, even a few in this backwater.

    I’ve always liked the Pre Raphaelites. (Raphael, lite?). They thoroughly pillaged all aspects of Arthurian legend, for subject matter.

    More ear wigs at my mason bees. Going on the theory, that maybe they follow scent trails (I have nothing to base that on) I sprayed down all the trails to the hive with ammonia. THEN doing the research, I discover, perhaps, the best way to handle them is to place a trap near the bottom of the post. Loosely rolled moist newspaper. Dispose of the whole thing every couple of days. I’ll give it a whirl. Lew

  35. Hi Chris,

    Condolences for the loss of Sir Scruffy; he was our favourite.

    I have been thinking about the nature of the complexity of your PV system. Is it true that the more complex a non-biological system gets, the harder it is to manage, and conversely, the more complex a biological system gets, the easier it becomes to “manage”? For the latter, I am thinking about some of your rich garden beds where you say you must do very little for their upkeep.

    On the other hand, does a simple non-biological system, an “object”, become easier to manage than a simple biological system. Take Jason’s new roof for example, just a simple steel roof with no moving parts, and contrast it with a thatched roof? Pot plants can also be quite temperamental.

  36. @ Margaret – I feel exactly the same way about those awful shower games!


  37. @ Inge,
    The earwigs here are nasty. They even eat marigolds, which are supposed to keep them away from the garden. And potato plants. Diatomacious earth slows them down, but needs to be applied every time I water. So, it’s more study and figure out what I can grow that they won’t eat.


  38. @ Pam,

    I hear you on the probiotics. I was having problems in December, so started on some fermented vegetables. Ugh, did that make the problems worse or what? Even the tip of a fork with some fermented veggie was enough to make my innards explode. So back to the Greek yogurt, which had the same effect.

    I’ve finally found the right brand of Greek yogurt, which is really helping as long as I eat no more than 2 tablespoons a day. A month ago it was one teaspoon a day maximum.

    I remember growing up, I had many illnesses that required antibiotics. And being of that generation in which antibiotics were overprescribed, well, too many such things were taken. Of course, nobody knew anything about the gut biome, so nothing in the probiotic range was ever eaten to bring back the good bacteria.

    Add to that the way that wheat has been bred to vastly increase the amount of gluten so as to maximize the number of loaves of bread per bushel of wheat, and some of us are sunk. I really don’t know if I was born with a gluten sensitivity or not, but the damage has been done and there’s no more gluten in my future. Just trying to heal the damage that 58 years has wrought will probably last the rest of my lifetime.


  39. Hi Chris,
    Actually it’s Leo who is obsessed with getting on beds or furniture of any kind (as long as its soft). Salve likes to chew wood furniture.

    I read the same trilogy of books you and Lew are reading maybe a year ago. Really enjoyed them. I believe they were recommended by someone here.

    Got all my asparagus crowns planted yesterday on one of the few warmish days. I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to work the ground as it hadn’t been used as a garden for sometime. The soil was at a perfect level of moistness too.


  40. @Pam
    Sounds like you really have an issue with gluten. I also intolerant but not like you it appears. My sister, the pharmacist is really interested in gut micro biome and has done quite a bit of research on the topic.

    Gut issues seem to run in my family. I’ve another sister with Crohn’s disease, an aunt with inflammatory bowel disease that popped up just a few years ago and all of my brothers have/had some issues – particularly Marty and Patrick.


  41. @Lew

    I have never been to the Broadway Antique Mart. Maybe a visit there is in order during one of my visits to Chicago.

    If the shower wasn’t all women there wouldn’t be any of those awful games. I think men need to be subjected to this ritual though it is happening more now.


  42. Chris,

    I really do like the millipedes and even the centipedes. They do marvelous work creating fertile soil. Even the dreaded earwigs and plant diseases have their purpose. The trick is to minimize the damage or even find what crops I can grow that the nasties don’t like.

    I grew up about 5km from my current home. The soil was much better where I grew up. But the grapes were great. Hmmmm, that gets me thinking about the mixes of vegetables and flowers we had. More additions to the “experiment with that” list. Which also gets back to your suggestion to not have any portion of the growing soil exposed to the sun…Plants, yes, but save those good soil critters!

    Yes, the potent honey ale always was used to toast Cheyenne the Finnish Spitz, who loved to nose around when ale was fermenting, but knew enough not to interfere. No warnings from Papa were needed. Thordog, on the other hand, well, he caused a spill of the sediments from the finished ferment once, and quickly scarfed them down and wanted more. Cheyenne ran for cover, not wanting to get involved.

    I saw you had an almost doglike cat once. The only cat I ever liked was named Harry S. Truman, after the president. Big and black, Harry weighed over 35 pounds. I took care of him, 2 house cats, 2 dogs and various turkeys and chickens for several weeks each fall for some friends. One time only did Harry ever want human companionship when I was there: I was carrying a 20 kg bag of chicken feed when Harry leaped at me, claws extended. I dropped the bag, he retracted his claws; I caught him and he settled in my arms. He enjoyed the attention, but at the first hint of him maybe purring, he jumped to the ground and ran off. He couldn’t act like those wimpy indoor cats! And it was Harry, not the dogs, that always chased the coyotes away from the chickens. He never got hurt, but there often were tufts of coyote fur lying about. I like Harry.

    I used to know someone who brewed his own wine. Wine needs a longer aging process than ale does, so it seems. Patience is required with any of these brewing ventures.


  43. Hello again
    Finally got all the paperwork signed and witnessed for the land sale today, thank goodness. My solicitor says that the land registry is running 4 months behind now. Everything is becoming more and more inefficient.
    When I went to check my postbox this afternoon, I noticed papers stapled to my gate. They informed me that a tree preservation order has been placed on all the trees on my land and the surrounding land. This appears to be a side effect of my sale. Fascinating as all the major tree cutting on my land is done at the behest of English Nature. I wonder which has supremacy, they or the council tree man who has put up this notice. I actually don’t mind one way or the other but there are going to be some very unhappy neighbours. Actually the whole thing is most discourteous, surely they should have written to me!


    @ Lew
    I was a sci fi addict but an awful lot of it has not worn well. I must recommend ‘Apeman, spaceman’ ed. by Leon Stover and Harry Harrison. It contains one of the most clever and entertaining short stories that I have ever read. ‘A medal for Horatius’ by Brig. Gen. William C. Hall.


  44. Hi Xabier,

    A beautiful resting place and next to an old mate is all anyone could ask for.

    It is funny that you mention that, but a few months back someone mentioned a book about re-fitting the suburbs. And me, being me, I had to chime in and suggest that the houses in the suburbs that I’ve seen had indeed consumed the suburbs. I see suburbs now where the houses pretty much take up the entire block with nothing left for a garden. I’m pretty sure that houses are demolished in Detroit, the materials scavenged, and then the land is put to use.

    Hand tools can only do so much work and do so much damage, but an electric chainsaw if wielded in the name of usefulness can have a good impact. I have a large chainsaw for serious work, but for everything else there is the solar electricity. Humans have wielded tools for so long, that is what we do. The trick becomes knowing how to wield the tools so that they do some good. And then considering what does the word ‘good’ actually mean?

    Yes, curse not or suffer the blow back. Your gypsy informants were correct. Good luck!

    A long time ago I read an old story: “The Mabinogion” which mentioned the condition of living with a household sprite (or imp).

    Chocolate is indeed a good colour for the Earth. 🙂 May it grow a sustenance.

    Hehe! Yeah, I don’t feel that I want to attempt that ‘chimney fire’ trick anytime soon. We had a robust discussion about such things many years ago. I recall a few years back when I took more interest in such things, that there are one or maybe two locals where such incidents get out of hand. But exactly! Too exciting is the least of that minor experiment. 🙂



  45. Hi Pam,

    Far out! Have these people nothing better to do with their time? 🙂 Yup, you guessed it correctly, and leaf change tourism is upon us. I sort of feel a bit put upon by it all… Mind you, the Canadian red maple as well as some of the pears are putting on a good show.

    Scritchy is getting older, but tonight she is snuggled up with her champion Ollie, the defender of the Fluffies. Unfortunately Ollie is having a bad dream, so I might just wake him up. I miss my Scruffy mate, but it is how things are and the show must go on and all that.



  46. Hi crowandsheep,

    Thank you for the kind words, and he was my favourite canine too. I was informed earlier in the week that it was impolite to have favourites, but all the same, that was what he was.

    I am completely blown away by your astute observation. Yes, I absolutely agree with you. And now that I consider the matter a little bit further, complexity must surely be the natural state of things. Do you know, I’ve observed that idea in action with systems as simple as the making of yoghurt? Hmm, I’m going to have to consider your observation a bit more. Thanks for mentioning it!

    I tend to agree with Jason’s friends observation that steel is the best material for a roof if a person wishes to obtain multiple uses from a roof space (as I do). As a long term – and sadly addicted fan – of Grand Designs UK, my interest is always pricked up by the many flat roofs which support plant communities (a completely bonkers idea down here!) in dwelling constructions in your part of the world. As well as that I’m interested in the ground that is broken during excavations as it is very telling as to the soil fertility. The materials used in flat roofs may not last as long as a person would believe, but then how could a person thatch a flat roof? Nope, best to maintain some incline so that water, which falls from the sky, can drain away leaving the occupants of the dwelling dry. Mileage may vary…



  47. Hi Margaret,

    Apologies, I mixed up your dogs and have no real desire to besmirch the good name of Salve with the unrelenting (like Scritchy) attempts to snooze upon beds and other soft furnishing. Although I’d be very annoyed with attempts to chew upon timber items in the house! 🙂

    Someone once advised me many long years ago to never feed the Sulphur Crested Cockatoo’s that are occasional visitors here. If ever you stop feeding them, then they begin chewing upon the house. A number of years ago, I believe one of those birds chewed through a 12V solar cable and I’ll bet it got a surprise (zap!) – because those birds are only active during the day. All cables are now in conduit, so they have to get through that tough stuff first.

    I defer to your better memory regarding the book recommendation. I have trouble putting the book down as the story really sings to me. Book recommendations are always a temptation! 🙂

    You may have very excellent drainage in your new place? And I reckon that if the soil is retaining moisture in the right amounts, then it also might have a tidy layer of top soil! Lucky you, and best of luck with the asparagus crowns. Have you ever tried the purple variety? They don’t do as well here as the regular green variety of asparagus for some unknown reason.

    There is a little bit of moisture holding in the top soil now, and in the shady orchard, there is even a bit of green on the ground. Yay!



  48. Hi Inge,

    Congratulations on getting the paperwork all signed and in tidy order. 🙂 4 months behind!!!! Not good at all. I don’t know whether I should mention it, but there was some talk about making all of those systems electronic down here. What could possibly go wrong? Anyway, within the first week, nefarious folks appeared to have discovered the holes in the system.

    Who can fathom the intricacies of a local council order? I don’t know at all what will happen, but if it does happen about the trees, but it is probably not your fight. The local council once complained to me of the tree works that the power company did on my property boundary, and I just told them to take up their problems with the relevant authority and don’t bother me about it. And that was that. I have noticed that the local council here seems to be very literal in their interpretation of the laws, when a sort of engage and discuss the issues might be a better strategy, but then they also forget who pays their wages so I guess I shouldn’t expect too much from them.

    It is discourteous not to advise you in writing. The letter was a public notice, and in rural areas such things are noticed and discussed.



  49. Hi DJ,

    Yeah, outwitting them all in their unrelenting efforts whilst trying to get some produce is a worthy goal, but not as easy as a layperson would believe that it might be! In Exhibit A: I cite the rats and mice…

    Soil is such a complex and funny stuff that even one metre away can produce different results, although I have noticed that if allowed enough time, soil flora and fauna does migrate to new and fertile sites. We often unknowingly move fungal spores around the landscape on our shoes, so I assume bacteria also hitches a free ride on us? Dunno. I look forward to reading about your garden successes with new and interesting varieties of plants! 🙂 Woody mulch also does a good job of keeping the soil critters cooler over summer. Picked up a lot of winter seedlings today.

    Cheyenne the Finnish Spitz has clearly proven his or her mettle! Yes, don’t get involved shows a really good understanding of the situation. I haven’t had to face that problem yet, but it is worth noting that the glass on the demijohns doesn’t feel as strong as I’m comfortable with…

    Harry sounds like quite the character! And he also understood his duties in the household. Domestic cats get bigger too! Oh no…

    What do they say about patience being a virtue?



  50. Hi Lewis,

    I always read Mr Kunstler’s most excellent blog on Tuesday and Saturday mornings (please note that it is intense living in the future!) After you mentioned the blog again here, I read a number of articles about the mid-west flooding, and it hadn’t even made the merest blip on the media radar down here. The flooding is not good at all, and would certainly destroy winter wheat crops, no doubts about that, not to mention setting spring planting back. Some crops have only just enough time to grow, so planting delays are never good. Some of the localities appeared to be getting flooded on a regular basis and it was good to read that the authorities were at least a little bit shocked and dismayed by the regularity of the events. But yeah, disease spreads during such events, no doubts about that. Yup, climate weirding is a real bummer, and we play around with the biosphere at our peril.

    Speaking of which: Record dry start to 2019 in Melbourne. Thought that it was bad this year, but record breaking always has such an unpleasant sound to it, don’t you reckon? It was forecast to rain here tonight, but maybe not now looking at the latest forecast update.

    At least the shady orchard is beginning to show signs that the grass is starting to re-grow. The moisture doesn’t extend terribly deeply into the top soil, but some is better than none.

    I picked up a couple of punnets of seedlings today for winter greens. The weird weather this year has meant that germination rates are low for those plants, and despite my distaste for greenhouses, I may have to construct a small germination building for seedlings. It seems foolhardy to rely upon seedlings grown elsewhere.

    And interestingly, I picked up another 44 pound bag of organic rolled oats. Did I mention previously, that I’d tried to substitute cheaper ‘stabilised’ oats in some recipes? Well, the results are not good and the taste of the stabilised oats sort of tasted like some sort of weird fish oil to my palate. And interestingly the organic oats retain their natural bran, so it is hardly any wonder that they tasted better. The difference in price is now about 500% between the two fairly substitutable products! Far out! From what I’ve read, it is almost impossible to roll oats on a home scale. Do you reckon I’m wrong in that regard?

    Lose the banjo! Hehe! Very funny, ever since the film Deliverance, it was probably a bit of an over done meme. I enjoyed that scene and it wasn’t hard to see that the kid with the banjo had the best of the guitar player, although there was no common ground shared between them. As far as I can tell, the zombies are to be found not in the hills, but in the malls… Just re-watched the scene from the movie – thanks to the wonders of the internet. You know if the characters in that movie hadn’t been such tools and were less forthright about their disparaging opinions of the locals, they probably wouldn’t have gotten into any trouble.

    Your retelling of the plot lines of ghost stories gives me the shivers, you have a gift for such things. The ‘tat’ bloke had clearly seen and learned a thing or two over the years. Telling a good ghost story is a real skill.

    Yeah, that will do it. A moment of rage at an indecent act, then the protagonist discovers that they have a unique flair and enjoyment of the use of axes and the outcome. A cheeky person might suggest that: ‘The road to hell is paved with good intentions’, and they might well be right. It seems like a good aphorism for industrial civilisation.

    No. But then again, maybe? Every time you think to yourself that something like painting a dogs toenails would never happen, there you go, somebody probably has done just that. I have heard of people dyeing Pomeranians coats with food grade dyes. I’m not sure HRH would enjoy that although I believe dogs are colour blind. There were some good suggestions in other comments, but if you’ve ever cut a dogs nails too short, then you’ll notice that they bleed. Did that helpful trick once, with the old boss dog ‘The Fat’ and she never forgave me. Nowadays I just make sure the canines grind their toe nails down by getting enough exercise.

    Portable pizza oven… If you’d left me to consider the matter for a hundred or more years, it never would have occurred to me to produce a 12V version of such a machine. It would drain a battery really quickly. Bonkers! Best not to be stuck in traffic seems to be the best option given the circumstances.

    We saw the film: ‘The Favourite’, at the cinema a few weeks ago. Yes, they did look a little silly, but then the entertainments also appeared quite juvenile to my mind. One thing that struck me about the maid was that her personality deteriorated along with the length of time and her journey in the court. Yes, I too went down an interweb rabbit hole to see what happened to them all.

    Speaking of entertainment, I was considering going to the comedy festival in the big smoke to see a few shows. There are so many to choose from that my mind boggles. One was a musical (yes, yes, I hear you) called the: The Aspie Hour, which I thought might be quite interesting. But we’ll see how it goes with timing (patterns and all that!), but I’ll try and get in a few different shows over the next couple of weeks.

    Well it is a rich cultural source with which to work from, but yeah I can see that the Raphael, lite, artists took inspiration from.

    Dunno how it would work in your part of the world, but sometimes the naughty ants can climb fruit trees. They’re really clever the ants, and they can farm aphids which consume the leaves and produce sugars for the ants to harvest. I’m in awe of the ants and we live in an uneasy state of truce. Of course, the ants hate my guts and will happily bite me without warning. But I have learned that a band of petroleum jelly smeared around the trunk of a fruit tree, will thwart the ants plans to climb the tree. Of course things like that, are probably why the ants don’t like me much – the vicious little tykes. I reckon it would stop earwigs climbing up poles too.



  51. @ Inge:

    How wonderful that you have finally, presumably, gotten through all the sale mess, and with your sanity intact.

    I am astonished at not only the grab for your trees – not withstanding that they are just going to sit there – but at the manner in which they informed you. Add that to the processing of your sale papers and my thought is: Bolshies, anyone?


  52. @ DJSpo:

    Being of the same generation as you, as a youngster I was giving an antibiotic – penicillin – for anything and everything. I soon became allergic to it and neither doctor nor parents ever realized why I got so much sicker after my doctor visits than I had been before I went. Luckily, by the time I got to “junior high” I wasn’t catching stuff anymore and didn’t have to face the antibiotics. I am still allergic to penicillin.


  53. Chris:

    Thanks for this: “But I have learned that a band of petroleum jelly smeared around the trunk of a fruit tree, will thwart the ants plans to climb the tree.” Ants and I have a love hate relationship. They sneak in my house and bite me, too. I can’t help but admire them, though.


  54. Chris and Pam
    It is so weird, the notice has gone from my gate. No longer there when Son went to read it. I believe that it should be left there for 30 days. I doubt that anyone but me has read it.

    Phonecall from my solicitor asking for the birth date of my buyer!
    The world continues to get ever madder.

    Thank goodness I have sold the land. The neighbour is the one who is building the insane mansion on the too small site. A for sale notice has gone up this morning. We and everyone else reckon that it is unsaleable. The site is a complete mess and the property nowhere near finished eg. no staircase yet.

    Son says that if we still owned the land, he would be down there right now throwing all the rubbish that they placed on our land, back over and erecting a fence. I have told the buyer to get his 2 giant sons down there.


  55. Hi Chris,

    Members of the fluff patrol probably have their favourite between you and the editor so fair is fair.

    How far may we extrapolate and use this principle in daily life? Your yoghurt may be another good example, so I was thinking about the industrial food system as an attempt to simplify a biological system leading to, apparently, unexpected complexities through the poor health of individuals.

    I think it is common knowledge that mechanical systems should be kept as simple as possible to ensure reliability and functionality. Have we then got our wires crossed by applying that same principle to biological systems and expecting the same result?

  56. @ Pam – Maybe she’s just ticklish? :-). Might be arthritis. Her owner has been careful to keep the weight off of her, so that’s not a problem. Carpal tunnel? Might be a problem. I think she spends entirely to much time on Face Plant and Twitter. Lew

  57. @ Margaret – Hmmm. As men are partially responsible for the reason for baby showers, yes, I think they should be subjected to them. Might develop into a wonderfully low-tech form of birth control. Probably not. People are not prone to consider that far in the future. Lew

  58. @ Inge – I’ll see if I can hunt up the short story. Your right. Some fiction (films, too) don’t hold up well. We change, our outlook changes. It’s the rare book I want to reread, every few years. Or, film to re-watch.

    I’ve been watching a new genre, of book, develop. Cli-fi. (Climate fiction.) It’s enough of a “thing” now that it shows up in Amazon searches. It’s even a subject classification in our local libraries catalog. I think I even saw a web site, devoted to the genre. Some interesting stuff, there. Lew

  59. Yo, Chris – The flooding has pretty much dropped out of the news, here, too. Even though it’s still on-going. Locally, we finally got a good wet down, last night. The slug hunting tonight, ought to be good. :-).

    Given the ever escalating cost of seed and plants, it might not be such a bad idea to set up some kind of a small green house. There are plenty of plans for smaller, against a wall, kind of outfits.

    I’d meant to look into if there’s any method of small scale home milling of rolled oats. I’ll check into it. I doubt it. I’d guess that’s more a product of the industrial revolution. Plenty of recipes and methods of cooking the whole oats. Some even palatable :-). How do you manage to store that quantity of oats? I’ve been contemplating picking up a 25 pound bag of Bob’s Red Mill, but just thought storing that much might be a problem. Vermin, etc.. I’d guess 25 pounds would last me about half a year.

    Hard to tell at this distance in time, but looking at the “real” life of Abigail and Sarah, I think Abigail had less of an “agenda” and was more of a true friend to Queen Anne. As near as historians can tell, the rift between Queen Anne and Sarah, came more from the fact that Sarah Churchill didn’t spend much time at court, and when she did, was always hectoring Queen Anne over one bit or politics or another. It would wear. Abigail, on the other hand, seems pretty apolitical. After exile, the Churchills came back, big time, under the next monarch. Abigail’s husband did pretty well, but it looks like she retired quietly, to the country. Abigail’s husband always said it was a love match, so, apparently, they got on well. As far as I can tell, they had no surviving children. Another reason she may have got on well with Queen Anne. Maybe.

    But, yes, for the purposes of the film, I did notice that her personality did seem to deteriorate, a bit. Sarah had no shame (guilt), but Abigail appeared to be effected by all the maneuvering. Not far into the film, the thought occurred to me that court life was a real snake pit. Right back to Roman times, being to close to the seat of power could be dangerous. I think “retiring quietly to the country” was a good course of action.

    Yes, the entertainments were pretty silly. And, sometimes a bit mean. I read a book, not long ago, about the court around Queen Victoria. In their private diaries, there was endless complaining about the crashing boredom. And, most “palaces” at that time were not very uncomfortable. Crowding, abysmal food, freezing in winter, sweltering in summer. LOL. Rather than a lot of political maneuvering, it was plotting to get away from the court.

    The petroleum jelly sounds like a good idea. But the amonia, may be working. I’m also going to set newspaper traps at the base of the pole. I’ve just seen two mason bees, coming and going, so the hive hasn’t been wiped out. Lew

  60. PS: You CAN roll your own oats at home! All you need to do is find a grain flaker. :-). Apparently, they’re either manual or electric. Maybe a 12v model? Or, is that too much to hope for?

    Oh, the Aspie Hour sounds like fun. And, in my favorite little Australian town, Ballarat. I have season 5 of the Doctor Blake Mysteries, on my hold list. So, I’ll soon be making an extended trip, Down Under. From my armchair. Lew

  61. @ Lew
    I shouldn’t have said that the short story is funny. That was very insensitive of me, tragic would be more accurate but oh it is clever. The fact that it is written by a Brig. Gen. suggests to me that he is cleverly making a wider comment.


  62. Hi Pam,

    Only those that have been bitten and sprayed with formic acid just for good measure, understand the pain! Strangely enough the ants avoid the insides of the house here, but out in the drier parts of the garden they are ever vigilant and ready to take me on. Not nice, but then I favour the worms, so the ants probably have a fair issue with me.



  63. Hi Inge,

    Whatever became of the sign? I’m not of the school of thought that suggests that the sign was put there in error. Dunno. It most certainly is a mystery, and I’d probably suggest contacting the council in writing to clarify the matter.

    Why ever would you know the date of birth of the buyer? Surely that is a problem for the solicitor and not yourself. It is worth noting that under common law, I believe that people under the age of 18 are considered minors and thus unable to legally be a party to a contract.

    Oh my! An unfinished house is a nightmare of a property problem. What did the Roman’s suggest about caveat emptor, which still even applies today? The paperwork for such a situation would be a nightmare. We can’t really speculate upon their unfinished business, but if it looks like a banshee, it probably is a banshee! 🙂

    What? No! If my neighbours tried that rubbish trick, you’d probably hear the reaction up in your part of the world. I’d never dare do such a thing and neither would they. I’d have to suggest that was a bit of a dog act, but my canine friends would not do such a thing either.

    Incidentally, I knew someone many years ago who had a farm near to a large urban area. The urban area had caught up with the rural area. And the bloke told me that the neighbours used to dump rubbish over the fence and into his farm. Outrageous.



  64. Hi crowandsheep,

    So true, and the Fluffies do have their favourites, although it would be ungentlemanly of me to talk about such things in polite company! 😉 Have no doubts though, it is all known and commented upon.

    You’ve blown my mind with the observation – and yeah, I reckon we can take it pretty far indeed. The gut is a complicated organ, and for a while now I’ve suspected that we muck around with it at our peril. Most food that I consume at home is prepared from the raw ingredients – but even those have been subjected to some processing to increase the shelf life. And with every process, there is loss.

    Absolutely, one cannot apply a maxim to all situations. Life rarely works that way, thus the need for guiding principles and the rarely seen beastie (like a Bunyip) – common sense.



  65. Hi Lewis,

    Thanks for the link to the lovely website of the young couple heading off into the wilderness and rolling their own oats. I’m impressed, and have added them as a permanent link to the blog roll and RSS feeds on this website. I look forward to their continuing adventures. De-hulling the oats looks like the next problem, but inedible hulls is also an excellent seed survival strategy for the plant, and it is only polite to salute such an excellent adaption.

    I won’t mention that it took my nigh on about twenty minutes to recall how to add another blog to the feed on the website here. Computer things do my head in. I can’t with any honesty suggest that I actually had twenty minutes to spare today. Woke up at 7.30am and worked until almost 7.30pm, with a short break for a coffee and hot cross bun at the local cafe (I had to pick up the Saturday newspaper which is on a regular order for me). Today was warm-ish and in the mid 60’F’s so we removed one of the sliding glass doors and replaced the rollers that it slid upon. The roller was damaged and no longer rolled. Of course, removing the window allowed us to remove the damaged roller unit but then I had to head off into an industrial estate near to the airport to pick up replacements because the supplier had to match them up by sight. The rollers were then re-fitted and I re-installed the door.

    Of course nothing is ever simple and the door was extraordinarily heavy because the glass is toughened glass at almost half an inch thick (due to the bushfire regulations). Did I mention that I had to cut the door out of the aluminium frame in the first place? No, well I did, and then I had to repair the damage to the frame and reinstall the repaired door. I suspect I averted what would be an awful fate for many, many sliding glass doors in the distant future. I picked up quite a few replacement rollers too. 😉 No sense leaving the supplier with just a single replacement…

    Incidentally, the roller failed due to a single broken piece of plastic in the door mechanism. It was quite the surprise to find that something so simple could damage another separate component in door, but it did.

    Hope you are enjoying the town of Ballarat? I do so enjoy the Victorian era architecture there, and also the huge lake (which was originally a swamp). It even has a beautiful old lake house refreshment building. When I was a really young bloke, after seven days of constant grind, the editor and I used to head up there on a Sunday evening and walk around the lake – even in the depths of winter. We plotted our plans and fortified ourselves for the long walk with a packet of freshly fried thick cut chips. I have only fond memories of the place. Sometimes when it was necessary, we walked around it twice in the dark.

    Yeah, the deep snow pack this year would seriously cause the flooding to continue for weeks. I often wonder about the short attention span of our media, for it seems a bit deficient to me.

    How did the slugs fare? 🙂

    It is interesting that you mention the rodents, but it appears as if mice managed to work their way into a bag of dried dog food here. It is a complex problem and the rodents are quite clever really. I place large bags of produce out of their reach and/or in cupboards where they can’t seem to break into. There is a huge 44 pound bag of rolled oats sitting behind me as I type this, but it is also well off the ground. The rodents will win in the end, you know.

    That makes sense about the historical characters in the film, and yes it is very hard to determine their motivations at this distance. Sarah Churchill as a character in the film appeared to be quite the shark to me, and I’d always be uncertain of her motivations which were probably in her and her families benefit. I can’t say that I’d feel comfortable around one such.

    I’m not sure that it is a humourous matter, but a lot of women fall out of the profession of accounting in order to raise children. There are times that the practicing the profession is just not that nice. That has the same ring to it as: ‘retiring to the country’, to my ears. Court life would probably be a real vipers pit where only the toughest and most thick-skinned prevailed. To be honest it doesn’t sound that different to the top end of town. Is it wise to be only one mistake away from being banished?

    Mate, I would have been so bored by such a historical life that I too probably would have signed up to fight French just to escape the tediousness of court! Meh.

    I’m about a quarter of the way through “The Town”, and I can’t shake the feeling that the author inserted himself into the story, but as the character: “Chancey”. Chancey lives in a world that is thin, and he sees otherly things and events.



  66. @ Inge:

    I think I remember that – while still wishing your new mansion-building neighbors well – you predicted that sort of debacle.


  67. Hello again
    We know of no-one who would have removed the notice, who could have seen it during the few hours that it was there. I actually think that the tree man may have jumped the gun and had to remove it himself. Have no intention of finding out. Much better no nothing at all about the edict.

    Solicitor knows that I have been a close friend of the buyer for about 30 years and therefore either knew birth date or could quickly ask.

    We had spoken to the neighbour about the building rubbish on our land previously and he had had it promptly removed. Then he brought in a new team and it started again at which point I knew that I was selling. Buyer wanted a caravan from the seller and could use this to get the caravan for nothing. The story has since moved on and gets ever more complicated. I am out of it.
    I think that the neighbour whose grand design has become a complete disaster is at the end of his tether.


  68. And again
    Things move on. I received all the tree preservation paperwork in the post today. So I reckon that I was correct in thinking that the paperwork stapled to my gate was jumping the gun.


  69. @ Inge – Sounds like a Nancy Drew mystery. “The Case of the Missing Sign.” Or, Miss Marple?

    When I was poking about refreshing my memory about Zenna Henderson, I ran across this ….

    Both books, all the stray short stories and a couple of essays, all in one hard cover book. Prices were pretty high, but I found one with an auction ending tomorrow. But then, another copy popped up for just under $20. Free shipping. Seller has a good rating and I could tell by the description that they had actually examined the book. So, I jumped on it. I should have it in a week or two. Lew

  70. Yo, Chris – LOL. So, your trip to the local cafe was all about picking up the newspaper, and had nothing to do with the coffee and hot cross buns, on offer? O.K. If you say so. :-).

    Computers do your head in? To use and old turn of phrase, your preaching to the choir. I still haven’t activated my new phone. I’m sure it will be an ordeal.

    It’s a wise move to pick up extra door rollers. Somewhere, along the way, they’ll stop making them for “that model.” Now all you have to do is a.) remember that you have them and b.) remember where you stored them.

    I think the lake house refreshment building in Ballarat has played a part in many of the episodes. At least once or twice a season, a body is found floating off the small dock. It’s becoming a theme.

    After a very dry period, the weather has become rubbish. Rained most of yesterday, all of last night, and it’s coming down so hard this morning, I can’t even see the nearby hills. I thought last night would be good for slug hunting. But, I only found 19. The ammonia may have worked. I have seen no ear wigs near the mason bees, the past couple of days. During a brief clearing period, yesterday, I saw two mason bees, out and about. So, the whole hive wasn’t destroyed.

    With luck, “The Town” should be waiting for me at the library, today. Also, maybe, “Aquaman.” Might be worth a bowl of popcorn. We’ll see. Lew

  71. @ Pam,

    Penicillin allergy? You’re fortunate that didn’t kill you. After one bout with painkillers after getting my wisdom (teeth) removed at age 18, I’ve been very quick to notice problems with any medication for my wife or myself.

    Hope your latest round of probiotics works.


  72. Chris,

    Outwit them? No, not the goal. They’re smarter than I am and knowing that puts me at less of a disadvantage. It’s attempt to minimize their impact. That way, maybe I get a crop. They will, regardless…

    Ah yes, woody mulch. I’ll experiment with all of the plant and tree clippings, maybe chop them up with the electric lawn mower. That should give me a woody mulch. I’ve been watching how you use this stuff.

    Cheyenne the Finnish Spitz was very intelligent. She displayed very early that she had a goal of trying to get along with her humans and Thordog Irish Wolfhound. She learned to take care of herself and keep Thordog at bay when needed, but one of her big goals seemed to be to get along and not cause trouble. And if she got in trouble for something once, she never got in trouble for that again. Other than the Sofa Incident, it only took a word or a glare to get the point across to her.

    W.R.T systems, I remember something my dad the physicist, engineer and tinkerer always believed and often stated: “Keep it simple. The more complex the system, the greater the chance for something to go wrong.” Much of his tinkering involved not only inventing something that worked, but then refining and simplifying it. Less could go wrong, and any repairs were relatively easy to make.

    That appears to be true with food, also. The time honored means of preserving food, such as fermenting, salting, drying, canning, have a long history and have minimal processing. Our bodies work well with these relatively simple inputs. The very modern methods of milling and otherwise overly processing grains, large batch commercial canning and the addition of various chemical preservatives, well, our bodies didn’t evolve to properly handle these complexities. Again, the time honored methods are simpler, only a small step or two from eating the foods fresh. Again, the system works better with the more simple inputs.

    Well, at least those are my observations and opinions, which are subject to change…



  73. Hi Lewis,

    Hehe! Yeah never for moment did I believe that I was pulling the wool over your eyes! Of course, hot cross buns (toasted with butter) was the primary reason for the visit, the rest was all excuses. 🙂 It would be a bit remiss of me to muck around with the newspaper ordering system though, so I keep my side of that arrangement too.

    Had to write tonight for tomorrow morning. Good stuff. I spent most of the morning and into early afternoon feeding, weeding and pruning another chunk of trees in the orchard. I reckon there is about three days more work in there. I’ve been trying to get to every single tree this year because I have noticed that: Feed them and they shall grow (a bit like Ollie the cattle dog, really). It is funny that I mention weeding, but…

    Oh yeah, problems with these mobile communication devices are as much a pain in the backside as problems with computers. With that lot, I just keep hoping that they’ll continue working. What else do you do? The internet modems I use to keep up a link with the interweb have a very short lifespan and I’m lucky to get two years from a device. I wish it were not so.

    Hehe! We have systems for such things as the rollers for the doors, although stuff does get forgotten from time to time. I was amazed that the manufacturer had the replacements in stock given the windows were made almost a decade ago. That part of the story all seemed too easy somehow and I was reluctant to push my luck. Getting the window out of the frame was not easy at all and I eventually had to resort to the angle grinder. Ouch, at least I can easily repair aluminium items – it is a nice material. I stuffed up the original installation of that door, and typical it was the door that had the problem – which was probably of my doing. Well, I now know what caused it all… People sometimes look astounded at the house and ask me why I didn’t put in more windows to take advantage of the view. Because they are massively expensive – that’s why. One of the big gripes with people in bushfire areas is that the windows are so gosh darn expensive. Well duh! Cheap windows with thin glass will not survive a bushfire. It seems obvious to me.

    It is a very scenic place to dump a body, especially if the nefarious perpetrator was looking for a Victorian era setting. You may have noticed the electric tram operating in the background? The city of Ballarat used to have a huge network of electric trams, but nowadays it is run for tourists. On the other hand the tram system in Melbourne is massive, and massively useful. It is an elegant way to get around the city. Way back in the day, the developers used to install the lines and then sell off the properties along the routes. Pretty clever huh? Nowadays developers expect the government to pick up the tab for such things, and so very little actually happens. I sort of suspect that it is a sign that things are not as profitable as they seem. What do you reckon about that? Incidentally I did notice in the book that Sayward sold off a chunk of her land for $400 and then some nice person flipped it and sold it off for $750. She was miffed, but took it all in her natural state of good grace and then as The Who sang: “We won’t get fooled again”. Until the next time, of course.

    The weather is glorious here at about 70’F and cool and sunny. I read the Cliff Mass blog about the light poles crashing down in your part of the world. Wouldn’t have wanted to have been there at that time!

    I’ll be interested to read what you have to say about ‘Aquaman’ after you’ve viewed it. I don’t know where to start and stop with the super hero movies, so I guess I haven’t started. I’m probably missing out on some goodies.



  74. Chris:

    I am enjoying so much reading the new blog that you have added to your blogroll: Hope For Better Living. A young couple who scrimped and saved and worked hard to be able to achieve their dream of a homestead in the country. Which sounds like Chris and the editor!


  75. Yo, Chris – Ah, yes. Mobile devices. Yesterday I finally unpacked my new mobile device (the simplest flip phone I could get), to discover that the promised “you can keep your old number” had not apparently happened. So, I spent about 45 minutes on the phone with a delightful lady named Darlene, in Reno, Nevada. She was competent.

    Apparently, we had to pull of something called “port to port.” One fly in the ointment was that I needed my old carriers account number, and had no idea what it was. As I had never been sent any kind of a paper statement. Any phone tree or internet site was loath to give up the number. Finally, Darlene pulled off an internet chat with someone deep in the bowels of my old carrier. Sometime in the next three days, both phones old and new will do some odd things, and I will do some odd things (to the phones), and perhaps I’ll have my old number on my new phone. Maybe.

    Well, our ancestors had the good sense to realize that you lost a lot less heat through small windows, than large. Some folks comment in wonder that older houses have very few, or no windows on the north side. (In this hemisphere.) Also, at different times in history, taxes were slapped on glass, or number of windows.

    Odd. The Ballarat mysteries have never had a shot of the tram, as I recall. The mysteries take place in the early and mid 1950s. Oh, yeah. Developers developed housing districts along their lines. The beginning of the suburbs. The stops developed small clusters of shops, and those became neighborhoods.

    I didn’t get out to slug hunt, last night, as it was still pouring down rain. I hadn’t seen that Prof. Mass post. I love it when he says, “Let’s do the meteorological detective work.” The game is afoot! :-). His supposition about failing infrastructure was echoed by the first comment. Then there was this, a few days ago on NPR …

    Yup. Our world is falling apart around our ears. Most of it was built when we were awash with cheap oil, and all that went along with that. And, the truly filthy rich were taxed at staggering rates. Not that it put much of a dent in their lifestyles.

    Yeah, I never know where to pick up the thread when it comes to super hero movies. So, I generally don’t unless a particular trailer catches my attention. I see “Shazaam!” is still getting pretty good reviews.

    I postponed “Aquaman” and watched a film last night called “The Last Mimzy.” (2007). Another one of those “message” movies, that I’m now sensitized to, after one of Mr. Greer’s recent posts. But, it was filmed in and around Seattle, so, the scenery was nice. I also watched a “documentary” titled “Sherlock Holmes: The Occult World of Arthur Conan Doyle.” (2018). It was truly awful. Watched about 20 minutes of it, started fast forwarding, and tossed in the towel about half way through. Maybe I can find a trailer.

    I’m up to chapter seven, in “The Town.” “Yon Thorn Hedge.” By the way, in Richter’s introduction to both of the editions I’ve read, he bangs on a bit about dialect. He had his theories, based on his experience and dialect study, as it was in the 1940s. There’s a bit of a different “take”, now. More Scotch Irish, than anything, and it tended to fade out, the further west, or southwest you went. Lew

  76. @ Lew
    I only have the 2 Zenna Henderson books, not the extras. Have never seen any tv or film related to her.
    @ Pam also and anyone else
    While on the subject of books. How about Elizabeth Peters? A series of 19 mysteries which incorporate Egyptology in which she had a PhD and considerable humour. They should be read in order. Number 20 was finished by someone else after her death and is not as good. She has written lesser books under a pseudonym.


Comments are closed.