Hero of the Day

Ollie the Australian cuddle dog, is actually a fearsome Bull Arab. The particular variety of dogs was bred in the far northern tropical parts of this country, for the purpose of chasing down and detaining feral pigs. Alas for poor Ollie, there are no feral pigs roaming the colder southern forests of the Central Highlands of Victoria, so he gets to enjoy hanging around the farm and submitting manfully to the occasional cuddle and pat.

Ollie likes being patted and attended to, and he is without doubt the most gentlemanly dog that I have yet encountered. His two side kicks, the girlie Kelpie sheep dog puppies are right little terrors when compared to Ollie, but they’re also really young and as such can be forgiven the occasional outburst of youthful exuberance and high jinx. Anyway, from time to time, I’ll see the puppies hanging off Ollie’s ears or jowls. His skin stretches under the puppy weight and I do wonder whether Ollie will be permanently disfigured. But then a dog that is bred to chase down and detain feral pigs could probably stand a few scars. That look never hurt Al Pacino.

The other night, Ollie was standing in front of his bedding and he refused to settle on it. As Ollie is a true gentleman he rarely complains about misfortunes, tragic circumstances, or even inconveniences. Upon closer inspection of the bedding, it became apparent that one of the sheep dog puppies had urinated on the sheepskin covering – possibly out of malice. Who did this Ollie, became the most important question. And without hesitating, Ollie moved closer to Plum, sniffed her rear end and proceeded to bite her face. Plum looked surprised but resilient to his remonstration. Punishment was swift. Oh they’re wilful those two pups.

Since the former boss dog Scritchy, departed this mortal life, we’ve been busy training the two young sheep dogs. It has been an interesting ride and the two dogs have their own opinions about the world and how things should be. Fortunately for them expectations are low and they have no option but to accommodate themselves to becoming socialised and accepting a few boundaries and limits. They’ll get there, but right now the word ‘wilful’ keeps coming to mind.

The author trains Plum to the lead whilst Plum yodels: “Mama, they try and break me”!

Some folks take a very stern approach to training sheep dogs. Sometimes that training involves breaking the dogs spirit. It’s an option, and usually involves chaining the dogs up for hours and hours each day. Middle ground can be found though, and that involves ensuring that the dogs understand what is required of them, and that they accept limits on their behaviour. The flip side is that unthinking obedience is not a perquisite to life on this farm and the dogs can enjoy unstructured time where they pursue their own doggie interests. Most of the dogs here get to that middle ground sooner or later.

Socialising is an important skill that needs to be taught. During the grunge era of the mid 90’s when chronic unemployment was the name of the game, garage bands roared away angrily on the ‘down with the kids’ airwaves. Lack of decorum was part of that story and an angry youth could get away with wearing stomping boots, jeans and flannel shirts to the local cafe to get a proper coffee. Even the editor wore such attire, to good effect too. Anyway, nobody back then had coffee machines at home because they were too broke to afford one, and so cafes it was, albeit in full flannel shirt outrage.

Except there was that one time, where an older lady who was probably more decorously attired, was also enjoying a proper coffee at the cafe, wasn’t scared of our flannel shirts, arrogant youthful expressions and our mouthy Dorgie ‘The Fat’ (a Dorgi is a cross between a Dachshund and a Corgi). The older lady approached us and she appeared even more angry than we were pretending to be, and she complained: Your dog ruined my cafe experience. How as an angry youth are you meant to reply to such forthrightness?

Back then The Fat was the boss dog (of four iterations ago) and had been chained up outside the cafe and had been kicking up a righteous sook. The canine sooking clearly had dismayed the older lady and possibly ruined her proper coffee, and rightly so she went straight to the source of the problem (the editor and I) and remonstrated with us.

The critique was accompanied with mild feelings of consternation. Had we done wrong by the older lady? After a brief moment of introspection, turns out we had done wrong. Still, old dogs can learn new tricks and so the sooking dog incident was never repeated. That doesn’t mean that we didn’t make new and interesting mistakes, just not that one again!

In the early stages of the lock down due to the health subject which dare not be named, we used to regularly encounter a guy I nicknamed: ‘Laptop guy’. He used to frequent the local general store where I’m guessing he was using the free wi-fi service from the nearby telephone booth. When table service was stopped and the store became take away only, there was this out of the way park bench which became highly sought after hot property, and all the locals knew about it. And laptop guy was all over that park bench like a bad smell which had outstayed its welcome.

The thing is he had his routines and so we decided to get to the park bench first before laptop guy. It really was, and still is hot property that park bench. Laptop guy observed us enjoying our proper coffees in the freezing cold winter morning whilst seated at the park bench, and for some reason he allowed his large dog to enter our personal space and threaten our proper coffees. ‘Get rid of it’ spoken menacingly from one who once wore a flannel shirt and listened to angry garage bands at slightly above normal volume, was all that it took for for the guy to withdraw his dog. Haven’t seen him recently, so he might not have been local, but after that experience, he began attempting to make a better impression. He had learned a bit of socialising skills right there.

My grandfather, who candidly could also have used some socialising skills, would have called ‘laptop guy’ a rather naughty and family unfriendly name to his face before any interactions took place, thus preventing the possibility of any potential social problems ever cropping up. After all he was fond of calling people such names, even the grand-kids. He may have been right with that policy of social domination, but I don’t really know and instead just try and discover and reach the neglected middle ground.

What the… A herd of about a dozen deer visited the farm this week

Last Wednesday a herd of about a dozen deer visited the farm. The deer are now well established in the forest and I doubt they could be eliminated without a lot of effort. Local legend has it that they apparently escaped years ago from a deer farm in the valley which went out of business.

Ollie serves an important function on the farm, and being a large and powerful dog he has absolutely no problems at all chasing a herd of deer off the property. Like Dirty Harry, I enjoyed telling the herd exactly just who’s gonna stop ’em: Me and Ollie! Noting that much like Smith and Wesson, Ollie does most of the work.

Go Ollie, go!

The weather this week has been warmer, but also far wetter. The continent is getting a drenching, and this always happens after the sort of epic scaled bushfires the east cost of Australia experienced earlier in the year. The fires put an enormous amount of particles into the atmosphere and there are consequences for that. As the poem says about this continent: A land of droughts and flooding rains… Indeed.

The afternoon sun produces a rainbow on a rain shower over the valley
More rain sweeping from the west and along the valley

The widening and extension of the path which runs up above the house from the driveway all the way over to the far side of the property is now complete.

Earlier in the week I spent hours and hours with a rotary hammer drill and electric jackhammer breaking up the Moby (body) rock which was sticking up in the middle of the path.

The author drills and then breaks up granite sticking up in the middle of a path

That rock must be the hardest granite on the planet, and the work extended over two days. It was a relief to get the job done.

The original intention was to construct a steel rock gabion cage over the rocks on the edge of the path, but that seemed like a whole bunch of seriously hard work. Instead we spent laborious hours recovering very large rocks and then rolling them into position in a new rock wall on the upper edge of the path. After half way, the path looked pretty good (although unfinished):

Ollie admires the much reduced rock sticking into the path and the new rock wall

Observant readers will note in the above photo that a black dotted line has been painted onto the rock sticking out into the path.

Yet more work broke that section of rock off the monstrous rock shelf that it was attached to. Then even more large rocks were recovered and rolled into position. You can also see in the above image that fresh soil has been placed behind the large rocks.

You never know what lies beneath the surface of these paths…

A thick coating of woody mulch supplied by the nice electricity company was applied over the soil which sits behind the large rocks.

The relocated soil was recovered from further along the path where the editor and I had decided to remove an unnecessary (and also mildly dangerous) curve in the path. The path realignment provided an enormous amount of soil which fortunately could be placed behind the large rocks. And being on the same path it was all moved on contour using wheelbarrows.

An unnecessary and mildly dangerous curve was taken out of the path up above the house

A few trailer loads of the locally quarried crushed rock with lime were placed over the surface of the path, and it is now a true all weather path and looks great.

The path up above the house is now mostly complete

A huge amount of small rocks were created and also excavated this week, and the second last steel rock gabion cage is rapidly filling up.

The second last steel rock gabion cage is rapidly filling up with rocks

In our very local travels we managed to score a huge box of seconds Pink Lady apples, and have eaten many of them and also produced a 25L (about 6.25 gallons) batch of apple wine. It is good stuff and should be ready to drink in another year.

The author presses juice from a whole lot of seconds apples

Onto the flowers:

Daffodils gather around this storm water pipe
The Leucodendron leaves have finally produced flowers
Salvia’s are always tough, hardy and beautiful
Hellebores produce delightful late winter colour in dark spots in the garden
Some of the fruit trees have begun the slow process of breaking dormancy

The temperature outside now at about 10.00am is 6’C (43’F). So far this year there has been 760.6mm (29.9 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 732.2mm (28.8 inches).

60 thoughts on “Hero of the Day”

  1. Hi Pam,

    Your black bear is a very interesting local inhabitant. Far more interesting than ‘laptop guy’. I went on a bit of a rabbit hole and the only reasonable perspective gained was: Be alert, but perhaps not alarmed. Also there may be undocumented downsides to providing an easy feed to such an intelligent creature.

    Antipathy indeed! Good luck.

    I see the deer as competitors for the produce on the farm, and so they have no reason being here. The depredations from all of the other critters combined is far less than a herd of deer. Most of the other critters do not arrive with such numbers and therein lies the nub of the problem.



  2. Hi Inge,

    Good to hear, and unfortunately I haven’t yet had a chance to read Simon’s words so I appreciate your words. In order to get the path job completed before this week’s truly atrocious weather arrives, we had to pull out all stops, and today the price was paid and I had to spend hours and hours just working on the everyday things that keep the household going. I finished that work at about 6pm having begun in the early 9’s this morning. The editor worked on paid work, so all was left at my feet. Not sure how I felt about that, but sometimes things go askew and off the rails. Oh well. It is impossible to reach for the stars without getting occasionally burned – as Icarus proved.

    Simon is a good guy and also a mate of mine who I’ve known for years. He has a background in linguistics and so has a good command of the language.

    It surprises me that given there has been such a heavy handed response to the health subject which dares not be named, that alternative perspectives and approaches are not aired or debated. To my mind that is a red flag warning, but others may feel differently and I’m totally cool with that as I could be wrong.

    UV here is now rated as Moderate, and this morning the sun felt as if it was brushing the skin on my face with some force.



  3. Hi Al,

    Hehe! It ain’t just you. 🙂 Imagine my surprise at discovering high value merchandise just sitting at the front door all unattended and stuff! Fortunately, few if any people realise just what was in those boxes… And even less people in these locked down days would have reason to travel past the house. It’s quiet.

    Heading into tech geek territory (which I’ve got this gut feel you might enjoy!), lead acid batteries suffer terrible voltage drop for large loads below about 60% state of charge. It is a problem which I hope these LiFePO4 cells address. I’d read that the max could get up to about 3.65V to 3.7V per cell without any undue issues? Not sure really, which is a bit of a bummer because I have to program the charge controllers… Oh well, something will work out and I may err on the conservative side and watch, observe and wait before ramping up the electrons.

    Exactly! 16 cells it is (over four batteries). Just to chuck in a bit of specifications there are 4 batteries at 306Ah at about 51V which isn’t anywhere near the capacity of the lead acid batteries at 600Ah at 48V, but then if you can’t access the lower 60% easily due to voltage drop with the lead acid chemistry, well how much energy do they actually store? In my case the inverter switches off at 44V so as to protect the batteries from over discharge – and we have seen such low voltages after 11 years of constant use.

    Between you and I, I’ll nab a few spare battery management system boards so as to have them ready to hand as ready replacements should the ones inside the batteries fail. Best to be prepared.

    A good idea with the bio-diesel, but diesel powered small engines cost an arm and a leg. Years ago I looked at the Listeroid engines and they are machines from a more elegant age. They could run bio-diesel and also be easily repaired. But the expense is an aspect I have not yet produced a work around for.

    Yes, I have such a system with a 3.4kW (0.8PF so 2.7kW RMS potential) petrol (gas) generator connected to a 48V charger and that works fine on seriously cloudy days, but it is a very manual system. Automation is not a path I wish to travel and the system is heavily monitored. I know a local bloke who has a very automated system and he refuses to discuss why his system fails.

    That sure is a lot of edjakation (sic) cash! An undergraduate business degree down here from a reputable University is about that price. Tell ya what, over supplied degrees have had their fees raised just recently to discourage students. If I had my time again I’d probably do something very practical such as electrician, welding, boiler making or fitting and turning. We need more of such folks.

    Respect to both you and your son. It is a good trade. 🙂



  4. Hi Lewis,

    Did it end up getting to 100’F? Now on the other side of the planet, things were a bit cooler than that today, but earlier this morning it almost felt like the sun was gently brushing my skin with its now UV moderate energy. And I was enjoying the warmth of the sun and also the proper coffee. Didn’t see laptop guy either!!!

    80’F sounds lovely to me right now! Hehe! I hear you about the blankets though 🙂 and some nights get as cold as a four blanket night, but then other nights are a single blanket. Years ago I used to have a doona (European comforter – which now I think about it the words sound a bit dodgy really) and those duck feathered filled things are just too hot for down here. A person’s brains could be cooked under such a covering, and would any right thinking zombie want scrambled and overcooked brains for dinner?

    Phooey to cultural appropriation – never heard anything stupider than that concept. Honestly the best ideas are other peoples and if someone has a better idea than yours or mine, well why not give it a bash? And every different environment that us humans find ourselves in demands a certain approach, so the environment shapes us as much as current and other cultures. Why ignore such knowledge and practices? It makes no sense to me to approach life that ideologically driven way. No culture has all of the answers, that way of thinking is either arrogance or hubris, or maybe even both. Anyway it stinks to high heaven of an ideological concept. Imagine the Roman’s saying to newly conquered folks, hey, yeah I know your local God looks like Diana, but what the heck if you talk about your God anymore we’ll put you to the stake. In their early days of their Empire, they just adapted what they found and everyone was more or less happy.

    Good to hear about the frozen dairy products freezer reserves. Who knew that they were a favourite food stuff of certain dictators? Best to keep stocked up just in case. I’ll keep the hooch cupboards filled, and maybe who knows, we might both be wrong! Perhaps your dark chocolate stash may become hot property?

    Wow! The Iowa storm photos were quite shocking and I noted the 10 million acres estimate. Not good for the harvest. Not good at all.

    Between you and I, it is a sign of intelligence to see patterns in interconnected but occasionally unrelated events and circumstances. I would have enjoyed working as a spook or a detective, although I’d occasionally be very wrong and read too much into a situation. It would be difficult to know where to stop applying worst case scenarios to people’s motivations.

    Yes, I was astounded that the Lionel Shriver story went as far as it did. Well, mate sorry to say but you and your story idea is a (naughty word beginning with the letter F and sounding sort of like mucked, as in mucked up). Yeah, not good. Well that is the thing isn’t it? It is as crazy as suggesting that good actors should not evince a compelling version of someone who they weren’t. Imagine having to play the Batman character, The Joker and not be a psychopath. How hard would that be, and yet good actors can be compelling in their acting. Writers are like that too, and it would be like someone suggesting that I shouldn’t write a story from the perspective of a dog because I’ve never been a dog. Stupid, dumb and all part of the wider cancel culture. Well J.K. Rowling and Lionel Shriver have something in common and as a culture we do not protect the female gender from such trolling nor do we set and enforce reasonable standards of behaviour on this here interweb thing, outside a few well run corners. I see that J.K. Rowling has had to pen an explanation. As a guy few people would ask me for an explanation and certainly not to my face – imagine that! But then I run my own independent platform and seek neither funds, attention nor adoration.

    There has been a shift in our common culture whereby it has somehow become OK for argument and emotion to be the opening moves, where dialogue would perhaps resolve differences if that was what was genuinely sought. I suspect resolution has a different end game for cancel culture folks than I would seek in correcting any misunderstanding.

    I had no idea that there were discussion boards on e-swamp. I can see that such communication methods would be discouraged.

    The editor has a very expensive background and basically unused education in industrial food microbiology, so I always joke that hooch in all its forms is a good use to put it to. A box of seconds Pink Lady apples – no problem, a couple of hours later and whole bunch of apple wine is bubbling away.

    Today I spent all day doing chores around the house and house work – almost every daylight minute. That stuff is hard work and I’m feeling tired tonight. Anyway, getting the path up above the house project done took every spare bit of time we had over the past couple of weeks, and the house and food systems were looking a bit threadbare, ratty and in need of attention. All now rectified.

    Oh, I wasn’t aware of that. How bonkers is this: I grow several varieties of Elm, Ash and Chestnut trees here. No doubts plant imports from elsewhere for these varieties have been severely restricted down here. Very old and most excellent Elm trees line rural towns avenues of honour which commemorate the fallen from those towns during WWI and WII. Hey not far from here is a large chestnut orchard on what looks like a hobby farm. I sometimes take a sneaky look through the openings in their boundary hedge and it is a beautiful property and the trees look healthy and productive. The trees here haven’t yet produced many chestnuts, but it is early days so you never know.

    Ruby rolled in some sort of unknown excrement today and she was rather fragrant. She got to enjoy a soapy bath, which although she was slightly shaking with fear, I also suspect she was also enjoying. Ollie is a much more robust personality and I hose him off when he makes such smelly errors.

    And yes, we live in such a modified ecology that adding any additional plant species diversity at this stage of the game is probably fine. The plants will duke it out with each other. What was the main argument against doing that planting species further north business?

    Some of the older inner urban areas of Melbourne could pass for gloomy old London. 🙂 I believe the Monty Python crew filmed Life of Brian in Morocco as well. We haven’t had any Monty Python jokes for a while. Here goes: Blessed are the yoghurt makers. 😉 Speaking of which is the noisy parrot still making noise at all hours of the night?

    Yup, evening watering is the way to go with such hot weather. It is funny to watch the plants bounce back from such hot weather after a solid watering. Plants are amazingly adaptive. Did your book indicate whether the trees could move around the landscape given the rate of Climate Change?



  5. Hi, Chris!

    I guess the chance of you and the editor raising pigs has just plummeted. How funny to see one of your dogs on a leash. Plum’s markings are so lovely.

    I have noticed that dogs trained by harsh methods can turn out to be unpredictable, and there is no loyalty there. It seems a dangerous thing to me.

    That is an awful lot of deer; they look bigger than ours. You may be in for a lot of trouble, even with Ollie the Avenger on board. What a great action shot!

    My, a white spider just came down on a thread and landed on my laptop. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen an all-white spider. I live with a lot of spiders. They love the beams and wood and nooks and crannies of a log house and I love to see when, in the winter, they catch stink bugs in their webs. Take that you wretched stink bugs.

    My parents have wildfires in their area in Colorado. Nowhere near their house, but way up in the mountains, though the smoke is drifting down on them. They have had one rain in the past 6 months or so. Should they be encouraged to hope that the wildfires may stimulate rain?

    I am surprised that you can grow anything with all those rocks under – and above – the surface. How nice – for once, while straightening that path – to be able to work on a flat surface, though I’ll grant you, you made that surface. I envy your paths as much as your flora. I do not envy some of your fauna!

    It is so lovely to see your daffodils. What could be more cheery?

    Your words of caution with bears is noted. All downsides are well documented. I don’t even like bears . . .


  6. Hi Pam,

    Ollie is a true gentleman of the finest breeding and I’m pretty certain he wouldn’t have the foggiest as to what to do with a feral pig. 🙂 On a serious note I never feed the dogs pork off cut bones as the few times I’ve done that they end up being a bit ill due to the richness of the meat. Softies.

    Well, there is a story there and Plum and Ruby have to accommodate themselves to the leads because if they need to go to the vet, leads are sort of necessary and also if we have to abandon ship due to a bushfire, well imagine having those two sheep pups acting like whirling dervishes on strings. First leads, then car. Such tough sheep dogs hurl their breakfast up due to stress when in the car – this is an unpleasant circumstance… 🙂 Some dogs re-consume their sick up, but not these two, they get stressed and it gets caked onto their coats. Yes, very tough dogs. Hehe! It’s actually quite sweet as they love living here, but does it need to be that way? Nope.

    True, the unthinking obedience can produce some strange reactions from dogs, and I don’t trust such dogs either. They have to want to fit in and they have to understand that it is in their interests to do so. I used to run the graduate program that way too. The dogs are easier to teach though, despite the wilfulness. How did you go about training your dogs?

    The deer are huge and the stag has large antlers. Ollie has to be careful and he was thoughtfully attacking from the rear. And err, yes it was Ollie shepherding the herd and not brave Sir I. 🙂

    Spiders can be pretty handy, although I tend to not allow (willingly) the poisonous ones into the house. They can be pretty deadly as you’d expect. But like you, the daddy long legs hover around the ceilings and munch upon insects foolish enough to seek residence or feed in the house. From time to time I’ll suck up webs with the vacuum cleaner when they reach critical mass. Usually they’re not even noticed as they go about their business.

    Well the thing is, the rain comes after the fires put the smoke into the atmosphere and so the particles attract clouds. Water droplets in clouds form around particles in the atmosphere, I believe. I’m not mucking around, the reduction of industrial activity and aerial pollutants due to the economic consequences of the health subject that dare not be named will do very strange things to the atmosphere. So who knows? I always thought that Colorado with all its tall mountains would capture lots of moisture?

    Haha! As a little secret, the rocks congregate in ancient weathered down lava flows and a person need but use their powers of observation to determine the likely possibility of rocks near or below the soil surface. However, floaters (rocks) are found all over the place although we have harvested the easy to obtain ones and cleared the paddock and orchard.

    And yes, the path is a real pleasure and the idea is that the low centre of gravity mower can utilise it with ease. There is a plan in the pipeline…

    When the chickens were out in the orchard tonight I saw a magpie and a currawong bird have a Mexican stand off. The smaller magpie won the day.

    Thank you, and I love the bulbs too. 🙂 There are more of them each year.

    Even our much smaller Koala bears are to be treated with caution. Chompy mouths, sharp claws and bad attitudes. And everyone thinks they are so cute, which they are, but still tread warily.



  7. Hello Chris
    Your paths become ever more impressive. I am also impressed at Ollie seeing off the deer. I have always preferred large dogs as I have found them much nicer than the little yappie things.
    You say that Simon is a mate of yours; in that case I must congratulate you on your friends. He has written the best stuff that I have read on the virus and is very erudite and interesting.
    A donna/dunna (how does one spell it) is called a duvet in the UK.
    My fridge freezer has final given out, it was 25 years old. Son has just removed all my freezer stuff as he has a spare freezer which we will organise getting to me in a few days when his current gout is better. I rang a neighbour who had a lot of spare frigs when he was banned from letting out caravans. Drat! The whole lot finally went to the dump when he couldn’t find anyone who wanted any.
    A fair bit of rain here. Extraordinary how much difference it has made to the ground here. It has already moved up. My front doors bolts suddenly fit nicely. Water coming from my leaking kettle is flowing in a different direction. Utterly weird!


  8. @ Pam – Did the white spider look like a crab? You might have missed it, but a month or two ago I was banging on about an all white spider. I found it on a bachelor’s button, and thought it was so cool. Until it caught a pollinator. And, we have few to spare. The next day, it got another one. So, with heavy heart, the spider had to go. A few days later I saw another one … which I dispatched.

    I had never seen such spiders, before. But, a quick search on Gargle, and there it was. A search for “Pacific Northwest white spiders,” yielded “White crab spider.” Interesting. They really don’t spin webs, as, their eyesight is so good, they don’t need to. You might try a search for “Virginia white spiders.” Lew

  9. Yo, Chris – How odd. When I get the edit screen, the paragraph breaks are missing, and it’s all in one block. But, when it appears / gets posted on your blog, the paragraph breaks are all in place. (Cue ominous music,) Mysteries of Cyberspace!!! 🙂 .

    Well, it hit 102F (38.88C) yesterday. Could be worse. Death Valley, California, hit 130F. Might be a record for the continental U.S.. I pretty much hunkered down, with the A/C and two fans blasting. If my funky little thermometer is correct, it got up to 80F in the bathroom. Usually, the coolest room in the house.

    But, we’re supposed to be onto a cooling, trend, now. Just before sunset, last night, clouds rolled in. Some looked like quit threatening thunderheads, but there was no action. What was strange was rainbows, very high up. Rain that evaporated before it got anywhere near the ground. The sunset was pretty spectacular. I ran across an article about a weather phenomenon I had never heard of, before. “Red sprite lightening.” Take a look. I think it’s a UFO mother ship.

    Well, I don’t run with a crowd (anymore) where cultural appropriation is a point of contention. But, if confronted, I’m fully ready to declare, “I don’t care.” There was an old saying back in the hippy days. “Guilt tripping.” I refuse to be guilt tripped. I’d think twice and maybe apologize, if confronted by an actual member of a minority group, if I’d put my foot in, but otherwise … no. There are times around the Institution where I say (and, I can’t think of specific topics), “I don’t care,” or “No.” And then I’m told that, deep down inside, I really don’t feel that way. Well, yes I do.

    Well, the E-Swamp discussion boards did serve a purpose. The general ones. How to post a picture, how to pack and mail a package. Stuff E-Swamp didn’t have to go to the trouble of explaining. After all, they’re “only a platform.” 🙂 . But then there were a lot of interest boards. Booksellers, book buyers, glass, pottery, postage stamps, comic books, etc. etc.. They were / are pretty good sources of information. You can get stuff identified, sometimes. Or, maybe get tips on how to make your listings more effective. What’s selling and what’s not. Still there, I think, but hard to find. Also, there’s more rigmarole when it comes to doing a post.

    Pink Ladies are a pretty good apple, and your press is really nice. I made a five bean salad, yesterday. Five cans of whatever beans I had on hand, a diced onion, olive oil and lemon juice. Simple, cool, and I’ll be eating off it for three or four days.

    Elms and chestnuts used to line the streets of America, too. Now they’ve been replaced by other varieties. Some of the objections to planting trees further north is that they’ll disturb whatever ecological suite, is going on. Become invasive. As if forests are never changing. But, the climate is changing so fast that a lot of trees probably won’t be able to move north fast enough, or upslope fast enough, to survive. In the past, forests moved around, a lot. But now, that becomes harder as we live in such a built environment. How are trees going to make it across Iowa’s twenty million acres of corn?

    One thought I had was, the author talked to a lot of people who are involved in this program or that, State and Federal. Private. Studies, experiments. I wondered where all the money is coming from, to support these programs, and, given decline, how much longer they’ll be able to keep on?

    H cowers in a corner when I go at her to give her a bath. But her happily wagging tale gives her true feelings away. Lew

  10. @ Chris and Lew
    I have also been puzzled by the very odd edit screen that I am getting. Is it teasing one for fun?


  11. Hi Inge and Lewis,

    There was a recent software update that may explain the weird edit screens that you are getting (but I’m not seeing, sad to say). I spent quite a bit of time this evening poking around the guts of the WordPress installation and have deleted a few extraneous plugins and hope that your screens so get back to normal. Please keep me informed on this matter, and I’ll keep plugging away at the problem.

    Sorry, no teasing just software updates. I took things back to basics.



  12. Hi Inge,

    Larger dogs are a new thing for me, however I feel I must agree with your thoughts – although my sample size is by necessity limited. Ollie does a great job around the farm, and he is happily enjoying the perquisites of his hard work as he is currently sound asleep on the green couch behind me.

    Thanks. The paths will make it easier to get around as I get older. A very good friend recently asked me a searching question about how long I could keep up the current pace of work. Hmm.

    Simon is a good guy and he will appreciate the words. I’m very selective about the people I count as friends.

    Ah, duvet, of course – hadn’t heard that word for many years. We tend to call them doona’s down here. I’m not a fan as I prefer to be cooler when I sleep and my body often generates a lot of excess heat after a hard day’s work and too thick a bed covering can lead to very disturbed sleep. I put the excess internal heat down to going into some sort of repair mode, as I’ve observed if I sit on my backside and work for the day, I don’t generate similar amounts of heat. I don’t really know how other people feel about that, and the editor sticks to her own blankets and also adjusts them as the need arises as we run at different temperatures.

    Sorry to hear about the refrigerator/freezer. Actually that isn’t a bad life span for such a machine. When I was a kid those machines used to be repairable, but nowadays I have my doubts about them. It is interesting that you mention caravans, but I noted the other week that the council area to the north of this one has moved against people placing caravans on private land where there is no dwelling. A curious change out of the blue…

    Hehe! All houses move and shift with the moisture content of the construction materials and the soil the building sits upon. We get that happening too with the timber frame in the house. After a decade, there are now a few hairline cracks in the plaster which I might repair when it gets warm enough to do so. But until then…

    Good news to hear that the rain has returned. 🙂 It seriously bucketed down here this afternoon. At times the rain was torrential.



  13. Hi Lewis,

    Ah yes, software updates causing mayhem and possibly there are now chunks of code not playing nicely with each other. Perhaps it is too much to expect for them and their code peers to all get along nicely? We can but hope.

    I spent an hour looking into the editing website problem and am no further enlightened, however I did use the investigation as a good opportunity to pare things back a bit. There was code in the blog website and I couldn’t recall why I’d even put it there… Best to get rid of it and hope for the best. So far, so good. It looks OK from my view here. What seems to be the nature of the medical emergency (just quoting the doctor from Star Trek Voyager)?

    Have you seen photos of Death Valley? Why would anyone want to visit a place called Death Valley with a creek – possibly not running right now, called Furnace Creek? Oh yeah, I read about that record and it is an impressive achievement.

    80’F is not too bad, but you did mention that the bathroom is the coolest room, so how did the rest of the place feel temperature wise to you?

    Who knew that sprites were active in the upper atmosphere? And the jellyfish sprite surely looks like the mothership to me and any other right thinking person. 🙂 But oh yeah, a hot high pressure air mass colliding with a cooler low pressure air mass will make for some interesting weather. I love a good storm, and it ain’t just you, the rain here today was torrential and the thunder boomed across the sky. Almost 3/4 of an inch of rain fell today, and this is meant to be the less exciting day of the next week. I doubt very much whether much work will get done around here this coming week due to the persistent rain.

    However, the editor came up with a genius idea this evening for getting the greenhouse project under way. My cool outer exterior and naturally relaxed demeanour belied the reality that err, time was rapidly running out here (as usual) and we might not get to excavating the terrace extension project – which I may not have mentioned previously. And then that itself presents all manner of difficulties. What to do, what to do – and then the editor came up with an elegant solution. Glad someone’s brain around here is working and up to scratch. 🙂 I’ll check for my brain behind the couch – the zombies might have eaten it whilst I wasn’t looking. Oh, and needed some light reading and began Hollow Kingdom today. Lovin’ it!

    Your mention of red sprites has brought back 70’s film memories to my mind of Devil’s Tower. An appropriate place for an alien landing, and a really nifty use for what looked like a Moog synthesizer to me.

    I don’t run with such a crowd either, and down here it isn’t really an issue. Anyway, the Universities down here look like they have a bunch of other problems to possibly deal to, like this one: University underpayment so rampant tutors ‘instructed to do a poor job’ to avoid unpaid hours, former staff say. As a wild comparison I’ve noted that in small business I have never been advised to do a poor job, in fact people would get rather angry if I did. Some folks have all the fun.

    Oooo, what a memory you just brought back. Yes, I’d heard that word description when I was a youngster. You definitely don’t hear people saying that they are ‘guilt tripping’ somebody nowadays. A dodgy use of words, but it happened. Grifters I note sometimes pull on those grammatical emotional levers.

    It is hard enough for people to understand their own motivations, let alone other peoples motivations. I’m with you, and would ignore such talk about ‘yes, you do deep down inside’. And like you, nope, I don’t – if I did I would offer assistance. I help plenty of people, I just get to pick and choose whom I help. Nobody could withstand a free-for-all demand on their time, energy and resources. The demands would overwhelm them rapidly.

    ‘No’ is a very useful word, although some people seem rather surprised when it is wheeled out to good effect. Not sure what they expect, but clearly a ‘no’ response was probably not it. You’d think that foot stomping and stamping didn’t occur in the top end of town, but try saying ‘no’ to a meeting of the board. Oh yeah, thwarted often is responded to with sullness and then machinations. The argy-bargy was never to my taste.

    Speaking of e-swamp, I got my peanut seed supply from a normal online seed supplier up north. They were very lovely and responsive and so received a polite thank you email. The e-swamp folks have never replied to the lack of supply – which is unusual for a well established online seller. Might have to lodge a complaint which is such a waste of time, but… Silence in some situations is most definitely not golden – I’m not even sure what that arrangement of words means. Why would silence be golden? Gold is golden, silence is peaceful everyone knows that.

    Thanks about the fruit press, it is a beautiful machine and works a treat. Hope your five bean salad gets even nicer over the next few days. Bean salads need at least overnight in order to begin fermenting and the salad just gets tastier – until it doesn’t and then it is probably chicken feed or compost feed. And yeah, hot weather brings out the salads. Has it cooled at all as predicted?

    Iowa seems like rather a flat but undulating state. That sure is a lot of intensive agriculture. Hope them fellas know what they’re doing… But yes, the southern trees would have a rough time crossing such a barrier in a short period of time. Still trees have survived far worse conditions than what we are throwing at them. I’m amazed that the swamps appear to have been so heavily drained in that particular state. Again, I hope they know what they’re doing…

    Well that is the thing isn’t it? Mate, it is an economic bloodbath down here. I noted that Prince Charles sent a message of support today. He’s OK that guy and has a fondness for organic agriculture. I never understood what all the fuss was about his now deceased former wife. Just didn’t see the appeal myself, but I admit that I’m in the minority with that view. Possibly I have an intolerance of whining – and that is a personal weakness.

    Happy bath day H! 🙂 Ruby scored a bath too yesterday so I could wash off some unmentionable excrement. Revolting habits. H is a true lady and would never stoop to such sordid lows.

    Thought you might enjoy this: Young grazier thrown in deep end after father’s death.



  14. Deer- maybe you’ve discussed it and I missed it ( I admit I don’t get to all the comments, sorry!) but what is the policy towards the deer management in the Macedons?

    Here in Wisconsin, the white tail deer is native, but in our wisdom, we killed all the apex predators, so deer have overrun the terrain and become a problem. State resource management allows hunting to encourage tourism but also to try to limit herd size. As a landowner, I feel it is one more added task, so I also take part in the fall hunt, which is coming up.

    We like venison, so it’s a partial return to ecological balance.

    Societal etiquette- Yes, we all need to get along, and so knowing where the line is and what is considered polite and convivial is necessary, but I have no idea what a dog is doing when “sooking”. Must be horrid.

    Apples- funny that your climate is providing apples now in your late winter, were we are just getting ready to press apples in our late summer. The grandkids are here this week, so they will be experiencing foods that are home grown, and learn that grocery stores are a weak replacement that suppresses self sufficiency.

  15. Yo, Chris – Well, the edit screen is not a problem, but, it was just startling. And, first time around, you wonder, “Is that what it’s going to look like, when posted?” A minor quirk.

    Well, Death Valley. Some people are “desert people.” I’ve never understood the appeal, but, to each their own. Well, the rest of my place felt pretty toasty, but as long as I remained fairly inert, tolerable. I noticed the heat inertia seemed to hit a high, early last evening. No sense opening a window, until the temperature outside, was lower than the temperature inside. Then I propped open the front door a bit (a rare occurrence) and got a good flow going through the place. Supposed to be cooler, today, and when I took H out this morning, noticed we’re getting a cool, onshore flow. Maybe rain by the weekend?

    Continuing the “weather report”, we had 25 new cases, Friday through Sunday. And, another 6 yesterday.

    Well, as they say (whoever “they” are), two heads are better than one. Though you’re likely to get odd looks. Zombies quit like two headed people. Twice the nosh for the same amount of effort. True efficiency. :-). I’m glad you’re liking “The Hollow Kingdom.”

    I think tutors are called Teaching Assistants, here. Years ago, I read something about Teaching Assistants working two or three part time jobs, at two or three Institutions of Higher Learning. Colleges on the east coast are so close together, it can be cobbled together. Two or three jobs, to create one living wage. But, being part time, no benefits. It was really the first time I trigged to the new reality of low paid, part time work, with no benefits. I started looking around and realized it wasn’t just teaching, but was creeping into all manner of employment. Sometimes, I’m just slow on the uptake.

    Well, if the E-Swamp is like here, if you look at your buying history, there ought to be a link to “contact seller.” You could always drop them a polite e-mail (to start) asking what’s become of your order. Also, when you do the rating, afterwards, I think there’s a question about “good seller communication?”

    Iowa is so flat, as it was once part of the prehistoric Inland Sea, we talked about, awhile back.

    That was quit an article about the young grazier, taking over the place from his father. But, I’m afraid I went down the rabbit hole, a bit, on some of the sidebars. “Marianne Was Convinced to Spend $9,000 on solar panels…” I thought it was going to be about, you know, sometimes the sun doesn’t shine. But, no. It was about high pressure sales tactics of some solar installers. Another link lead to a story about solar not working very well (or saving money) because of some arcane grid load problems. Which brings me to …

    Last month, it was the problems of recycling wind generators. This month, it’s solar panels.


    But, on a more pleasant note, archaeologists found the oldest olive oil soap works. About 1,200 years old …


    Maybe you can pick up a few tips for your own soap making efforts? 🙂 Lew

  16. Hi Chris,
    What kind of deer are those? Around here we only have white tailed deer. Yours look larger. Is there a buck in the group? A word of caution. They can get really nasty during the rut. A friend of ours was almost killed by a buck some years ago.

    You have been busy. During winter here it’s just too darn cold and frozen to do nearly what you’ve accomplished.

    We’ve found most of our dogs love the pigs and pig poop. Leo especially enjoys playing with them from the other side of the fence and when they are small Doug lets the dogs in with the pigs if it’s not too muddy. Btw our pigs are getting a daily treat of marshmallows. Back when one of them was ill she had to get pain medication in the form of a pill. The vet suggested putting it in a marshmallow. Well all the pigs felt they wanted them as well and who will argue with a 200+ lb pig. So now they line up each morning for the daily marshmallow though they get an extra sometimes when company comes.

    How did Plum do with the leash? Ours aren’t good at all as they only time they are on one is when they go to the vet.

    Very much enjoyed your friend, Simon’s, blog. (Thanks Inge for bringing it up.) It took awhile but I did get through it but not the links. I’m rather conflicted regarding that which cannot be mentioned as to how serious it is and reading his blog gave me much to think about.

    We been having refugees from the city. My sister and BIL were here over the weekend and my aunt who has been watching all the looting from her window has decided that we aren’t so contaminated that she can come out and even stay over Friday night. My BIL, who has not always been my favorite, was so appreciative of the opportunity to get out in the country. They both took great interest in the birds, plants and insects here – much more so than ever before. For the last couple of weeks we’ve had a blended family of wild turkeys wandering the property everyday. The family consists of two hens each with their own clutch of poults – one has four small poults and the other has six much older ones.

    We’ve decided to get all our windows replaced as many are getting towards the end of their life. Apparently the window and siding industry is going gang busters. It’ll be at least 4 months before we can get them done. The owner of the business said that due to the pandemic people who have the funds and aren’t spending on trips and the like are instead fixing up their homes. He said they can’t keep up with the business. This got me to thinking just how the economy might change as people change their spending habits.

    No rain since our fast 3.5 inches and nothing in the forecast for at least 10 days so it’s back to watering. The elderberry collection continues.


  17. Chris,

    It was +40C Sunday, 39.5C Monday, 39C today. The AC is working fine, but other things not so much. And the delayed fire season is now adding to the mix. In other words, things have gotten very complicated and I’m running on fumes. Will catch up when I’m able.


  18. Hi Chris
    Sunday,Monday,Today 100, 103, 103, degrees F. Last evening; a storm swept in which was predicted. I watched it all the way from its appearance in central Oregon. By the time it started for us it was showing on radar as a long narrow very turbulent strong lightning , rainy thing that took about an hour to pass through with lots of rapid fire lightning and about .3 to .4 inches of rain. Very welcome for us. But the heat restarted anew this morning. Suppose to be a little cooler soon.?

    Your paths with the rock work.The earth work, gabions , all are stunning! Always brightens my day !thank you.

    Thanks for the details on the solar system. From my research on the battery field the suppliers all seem to make sure the lithium ion products are ready to go when delivered. The 12 volt blocks are shipped fully charged and charge equalized. The cells hold their charge way better than the LA systems. The the usage discharge curve is very slow and constant. Also the LiFePO4 type looks to be the new standard. The fact that the operating points are in the same range as as the the charge controller parameter capability should make the programming easier.

    My approach to cutting over to the new battery would be to pick one solar array and it’s charge controller and isolate them from the system. Then connect them to the new battery. Then power them up to operation un loaded . Leaving the remainder of the old system in operation for the house power. You should be able to work through the programming. When you get things going with that one section you should be able to disconnect the old system from the inverter power input and connect the inverter to the new battery and then be running on the fully charged new battery with only that one section of solar charging working From that point, the other solar nodes and charge controllers could be added in and set up.
    A couple of assumptions are made in this arm chair long distant scenario of mine. The communication from your laptop pc is by a system wide port system is the main one. The other is your present interconnection dc wiring is easily accessible and passes through terminal points making connection simple.

    Twelve deer is a fruit grower nightmare. Go get them Dogs!!
    Ollie seems to have good instincts as a deer chaser,
    In the Northwest there are a lot of areas that deer fencing is a requirement. Mainly in the forested areas.

    In our area the the Hanford Reservation has over a thousand deer also 700 to 1000 est. Very large Elk that wander in and out and cause a lot of losses for the farmers of all types.

    Cheers Al

  19. Hi Steve,

    The deer are an invasive species, and I have mixed feelings about them. Mostly because they have no place being here, but then they do keep the forest tracks open and at least reduce some of the undergrowth. Plus the days of the megafauna 3 tonne wombats doing that job are long since gone – and mankind right now turns their noses up at the hard work, so why not let the deer do it? Dunno.

    But you made me curious about what are the restrictions in relation to deer. There have been culls, and you can see how effective they are in that the photo of Ollie chasing the deer tells me all I need to know. i.e. Not effective. Game deer species. That is a state gubarmint website which will tell you more than I can. I believe the species is Red Deer – Cervus elaphus. Big.

    Hehe! Yes, your supposition is most correct about sooking dogs. Nobody wants to hear a sooking dog.

    A sorry, the mainlands largest apple growing area is not very far from here, and I picked up the box at a cool store adjacent to the orchards. The apples had probably travelled further to get to the house than from orchard to cool store and so are very high quality for this out of season time of the year.



  20. Hi Lewis,

    Ah thank you for the explanation. You have to appreciate software updates for their unique undocumented features. I tell ya, maybe a year or two back after a software update, things in the back end of the system no longer looked like they once did, and accommodating that change was a drama. And I did lose functionality, in that previously I could just add ten photos at once to the blog, but now it is one at a time. Very exciting changes, but I’m not paying for the software either as it is all open sourced.

    The facts speak for themselves about your good self and not being a desert person just due to where you live. You may notice that things are reasonably green and damp here too, but make no bones about it large swaths of this continent are arid lands. It was nice to travel through those landscapes, but I’ve always been happiest in the cooler southerly mountains. Up north of the continent, the coastal facing mountainous areas are unpleasantly hot and humid and downright tropical. I can understand the appeal of all of those different places, but to live in such places is too much of a challenge for my senses.

    You do get to that point on a stonking hot day – just let some fresh air in – and when you feel the cooler air (or even just fresh air) flowing in from outside, well it is a true pleasure. So I hear you about opening the door a bit. We have very heavy duty mesh screens over the doors and windows and so can open them when the outside air temperature cools and the air flows through the house. Actually, if we knew more about the way the land works here, we would have placed the bedroom in a different location up against the cutting. On hot summer nights, the soil radiates cooler and moister air towards the house, and at the moment the dogs get to benefit from that cooler air. It doesn’t seem right somehow. 🙂

    Hope none of your associates became curious that you had your front door open and decided to drop by for a little hello and shooting of the breeze. Drop ins are rarely encouraged here because we usually have stacks of work and goals and whilst visitors are welcome, it is usually at a more convenient (for us) time. Other people have different ideas about what exactly is meant by the word ‘convenient’. Oh well..

    Tried a local pizza joint for dinner tonight, pick up and take away of course. It was quite a good pizza and I had a chat to the boss man who seems very convivial. They’re local enough but don’t do deliveries up to the forest – probably scare the delivery drivers! Hehe! Nah, I can well understand why they don’t deliver here as it would be hard to do so and make any money on the sale. I get that story. Thought we needed to expand our horizons a bit with the local facilities and see what they are all about. Things are getting more local, and Melbourne is candidly a very strange city right now. Oh, and we ate the pizza whilst watching the show about our mates of the big shed fame. Their place is amazing and really productive. I hope they inspire others to start a hobby farm.

    Funnily enough I’ve noticed even around here, I see signs… Raised vegetable beds being constructed close to a house (always a sign that it will be used and well tended). Chicken coops are being constructed. And there even a few fruit cages going up. I’m guessing: city slicker is out, and country bumpkin is in. Yup, you heard it here first: Bumpkin is the new Black! 🙂

    And I believe the deer species here may be: Red deer. I see that Sir Edwin Landseer painted an epic stag in the painting: The Monarch of the Glen. It is a big call, but I wouldn’t mess with that stag.

    Hey I noticed that a very long running allegedly dodgy land sale saga down here is nearing finalisation: Ninety Mile Beach blocks to be compulsorily acquired by Wellington Shire Council ending decades-long dispute. It really is beautiful and wild land over there in the eastern part of the state. We had a similar looking dodgy land sale down in the lower parts of this mountain range. A mate was looking at one of the parcels of land and I warned him off it.

    In breaking weather news from down here, the very final temperatures were about half your number, and new cases were about 10 times the number you mentioned.

    I’m left wondering who these ‘they’ people are too? Possibly lizards of alien derivation are involved. And is the word ‘they’ a pronoun?

    Hehe! Zombies and two heads – yeah watch out Zaphod Beeblebrox! Hollow Kingdom is really a truly fun book and I kind of like ST. Bizarrely enough ST has a similar worldview and voice to the dogs whenever they get a chance to pen a blog. However, imagine the rubbish that the dogs would write nowadays: Ruby bit me (says Plum). You started it (says Ruby). What are you two idiots doing? (says Ollie). I can’t say that at this stage of their development that they’d tell an engaging story. Maybe Ollie might first at some stage in the future as he is the oldest. I was going to title this week’s blog: Wild Colonial Dogs! It has a nice ring to it and is kind of snappy, yet old worlde sounding. Nope, Metallica instead guided me through sheer fate. They’re quite melodic when backed by a full orchestra.

    Yes, the no benefits, self employed thing is part of my world too, but I did choose that path and am not complaining, and fortunately even now most accountants don’t want to do the work I do. Too hands on and low status or something like that. More fool them. But yes, you are quite correct and this has somehow become the new norm for many people. Funnily enough some of the current health subject that dare not be named changes are reversing that casualness. I read an interesting article in the news this morning that middle managers are getting the axe. The good thing about small business is that you work directly with the owners and they see value in what I do. Too many layers was never sustainable, and I don’t know why people didn’t grok (is that the correct word to use) that risk?

    Thanks for the advice, and yes I had contacted the seller about the order and yeah no response. It is possible that they may have died. I once worked at a business that indirectly occasionally had to deal with people’s motor vehicles once the owners were dead. Such a strange business, and you’d be amazed what bureaucratic processes are in the background for bizarre events. Dead people I have noted don’t tend to want their vehicles any more. Not sure why that would be, but it is how it is. Such a really strange business that one, and I had to take a good hard look at myself after getting out of it. It was not as easy a question to answer as to why I was working there. A good lesson to learn, but it is worth mentioning that the film Repo Man was a classic. It’s intense…

    Of course, the inland sea. Hope they don’t run out of soil minerals there… Been thinking about The Grapes of Wrath, and many of the decisions the characters made would not have been the decisions I would have made given the same circumstances. I’m unsure for a start why the characters weren’t diversifying a bit through poaching and foraging. The author was always banging on about the wildlife, well why not eat some of it?

    Hehe! I saw that click bait article and was sorely tempted. Yes, why did Marianne do as she did? So many mysteries… Grid load problems, yeah I have noticed that there is load on the grid at night and no sun generating PV energy… It’s a problem for sure. 🙂 Apparently the sheer uptake of solar power is making for an unstable grid – which is what I note happens in miniature here. Plans are afoot to throttle or switch off remotely all that grid tied solar power. Yes, and I’ve spent an enormous sum of money on creating a system and living with it which deals with such issues – and the sun still doesn’t shine at night.

    Ah yes, you will note that the first solar panel I purchased was $750 each for about an 180W solar panel. The last 16 solar panels of 200W each cost me $400 all up, for all them. Yeah, they are really hard to get rid of. I’ve noticed this. There is one company I believe on this continent that disassembles them and then possibly reassembles all the working bits to make new panels. Why not? Other than that they’re very toxic.

    I’m gutted about the soap factory in Israel. The cheeky scamps put the article behind a paywall. But I got to see images before the dreaded demand pooped up and stole the screen. Ah, fux news had the article. Yes, I would use a similar list of ingredients – proving that everything old is new again! I’ll show the editor that article.



  21. Hi Margaret, DJ and Al,

    Thanks for the lovely comments and I promise to reply tomorrow. Went out tonight to road test a local pizza joint. Yes, I am irresponsible, it’s true and it cannot be denied!



  22. Yo, Chris – Software updates are always a hassle. Typically, as you know, “they” stop supporting old software, so “they” can squeeze a few more bucks out of the consumer. But, I suppose that’s what business is all about. They’re never tested out very well, in the real world, and always seem to be glitchy. The library seems to have updated it’s catalog software, just recently. There are minor mysteries. Just seems to have a few more razzamatazz “functions” and a lot of new graphics. Which just take longer to load. At least it’s not an entirely new catalog, which is always a big bump in the road.
    When things were grim, I decided to try out the library streaming movie service. So, after signing up, pass words and all that, I discover that my software won’t support their streaming service. Too old. Funny. No problems with U – Tub. Everything on there streams just fine, though I occasionally get a warning that my software is out of date. But, more than a year on, everything perks along just fine.

    Our apartments have poor air circulation and are always a bit stuffy. Sometimes, I just crack open a window and turn on my stove fan, to air the place out. I prop open my door with a handy tin of veg, so, it’s not open very far. And, only late at night, when there’s no one about. But, if someone took that as an invitation, I’d very firmly tell them that I wasn’t receiving. Just leave our calling card in the convenient calling card tray, and I’ll get back to you … someday. Actually, my phone serves that purpose. Since I leave it off, most of the time. Occasionally, there are voice mails to wade through, but I don’t think I’ve ever returned a call from one of the other Inmates. No message of import has ever been left.

    Well, in about a year you’ll have at least 23 red deer. Maybe more, as they sometimes have twins. I see the original red deer were gifted to Australia by Prince Albert. All the way from Windsor Castle park! 🙂

    For decades there was a running joke about buying “swampland in Florida.” These days, the land scam seems to be land in Arizona. Mostly, god forsaken patches of desert. But, some solitary souls do take advantage of their patch. I knew a fellow once, who I chatted with from time to time on the internet, who had big plans to move to such a patch and go underground, to beat the heat. Well, it worked for the Romans in North Africa.

    Here, the sale of land usually involves a “title search.” There are title companies, scattered about. They investigate the titles to make sure their are no liens on the property (back taxes, court judgements, etc.). No “clouded titles.” Then there is “title insurance.” Covers the lenders back side, if something surfaces later. It’s all very complicated. Costs are usually assumed by the buyer. But, sometimes buyer and seller split the coasts, or, if a seller is motivated, they’ll assume all costs. My friends in Idaho’s place just went “live,” on-line, day before yesterday.

    “Their” is a pronoun. Mostly. Pronouns are very complicated.


    Who knew?

    Ollie could tell a saga about chasing deer. While swigging ale.

    Well, that’s odd. No pay wall on this end, for the soap article. I just tested out the link I sent you, and, again, no pay wall. LOL. Maybe my outdated software side steps some pay walls?

    Speaking of odd, last night I went down about 1:30am to retrieve some laundry, out of the dryer. As I headed down the stairwell, well, it has windows overlooking our veg patches, I could hear water. There was the Garden Goddess, in her bathrobe, watering various patches. Now, this year, she has no patches, as her health got so bad. When I went out to pitch some garbage, I asked her what she was about. “Everything looks so dry (it doesn’t) and I was feeling guilty about not watering.” I told her I watered, every evening. It was all rather erie and I don’t know if I should mention it to anyone, or not. I’m afraid she’s losing her marbles. There have been signs … I’ll run it by Eleanor, tonight, and see what she thinks. My peas broke ground, yesterday.

    I finished reading “The Journeys of Trees.” There was quit a bit toward the end about “assisted migration,” of plants. I was going to quote a bit, but it goes on for pages. So, taking the path of least resistance, here’s the bit from W-Pedia …


    I guess there’s a movement to establish our redwoods and giant sequoia in Australia and New Zealand. The only place mentioned was New Zealand’s, Whakarewarewa Forest. I guess a grove of redwoods were planted there, about a hundred years ago. They’re already 4′ in diameter and 200′ tall. Maybe you should plant a few redwoods or sequoia, at Fern Glade? 🙂 . Lew

  23. Hi Margaret,

    That’s a good question about the deer. Now, me being me, I hadn’t previously considered that there were more varieties of deer than you could poke a stick at, if only because I have no idea about the species. Turns out the deer here are as big as you’d get and are Red Deer. Little wonder they look like mid sized horses to my eyes. And how small was the heroic Ollie as he chased the herd off the property? I’m beginning to feel as if Ollie has his work cut out for him. I had a chat with a neighbour about the deer and we might be able to come to some sort of arrangement. Word on the block is that the deer are residing in the heavily forested gully and have been enjoying the fern fronds.

    And yes, there was a young buck in the herd, and Ollie has to be careful – which he mostly is. What you can’t see in the image is that I’m chasing Ollie and yelling at the top of my lungs. A bit of backup is not a bad idea for a dog even one as large and powerful as Ollie.

    Thank you very much, and yes your winters do sound rather unpleasant, and somewhat frozen to my summer soft ears. I should not speak too soon though as another chunk of Antarctic air has drifted north and looks set to wreak havoc over the south eastern corner of the continent tomorrow and for the next few days. It is pretty cold outside right now and talk on the street is that snow is forecast down to a lower in altitude than where the farm is located at. Looking at the forecast I don’t see the snow, but more learned heads than mine have voiced their predictions.

    Hehe! Yup, pigs and pig poop would be like lollies (candy) to the average canine. Both Plum and Ruby are on heat right now and they have both rolled in rather unmentionable aromatic disgusting stuff. Both have been washed with strong soap outside today and yeah. Dogs. And the local veterinarian won’t do desexing due to the various virus related rules. A mate was telling me that this situation could end badly for me and the girls. Oh well.

    Marshmallows. Who knew? Next time I’m at my mates of the big shed fame I’m going to take a bag of marshmallow’s and test their pigs. Lovely creatures. Incidentally, my mates had to completely re-do all of their fencing for the pigs recently as they managed at one stage to break out of their paddocks and get into the vegetable gardens…

    Neither Plum nor Ruby are good with the lead. It is a personal affront to them. And I’m taking over that aspect of the dogs training from the editor. Recall the word: “wilful”. Well, I’m going to work out how to make more of a game out of the leash training.

    Me too, I have no idea what to think about the health subject that dare not be named and so have appreciated Simon’s words.

    Lucky you with your refugees. With my contacts in the big smoke, there is talk, but with a combined ‘papers’ and ‘identification’ road check leading out of the big smoke it is hard to travel from there to here. Anyway, dunno about you, but Country Bumpkin is the new Black. That works for me. 🙂

    Great news about the wild turkeys. How do Leo and Salve interact with the birds? Many years ago we had wild mountain ducks breeding here and Sir Poopy ate their progeny. It was brutal.

    Yes, people still want to spend their notes of exchange and so renovations and energy conservation is a wise option. you may note that for the greenhouse I purchased seconds and second-hand windows.

    Hopefully the 3.5 inches of fast rain (a frightening and destructive experience) didn’t all roll away from your land?



  24. Hi DJ,

    Thanks for the heads up and no worries at all. Such weather is very handy for cooking eggs using sunlight alone, and the act can occasionally be done on steel plate left out in the sunshine.

    Sorry to hear that things have suddenly gone awry for you and your lady. Take care, and remember to take some quiet time out to recover from your ordeals and refresh yourself. Tragedy stalks among the living and lest we forget that.

    Hope it cools down for you soon.

    Another Antarctic blast looks set to arrive tomorrow. Brr! There is talk of snow, but we’ll see.



  25. Chris:

    I don’t believe I’d ever heard the story of Sir Poopy and the baby ducks. Right then and there one could have told that a knighthood was in his future.

    You asked how we trained our dogs. Ha! What training they had was always accomplished with food, if I remember correctly. And spending time with them – just everyday stuff, as you do – constantly. They pick up an awful lot just just taking cues from the boss. Unless they are a Rex. Rex felt that time was too precious to waste on anything resembling work. Better to lie on the couch, or stand behind a tree. Rex was a very big dog.

    Once we had to walk one of our cats on a lead, something to do with surgery, I think. That only “worked” once. Talk about a whirling dervish on a string! With talons, yet.

    My son has sold one of the dump truck beds, the one that wasn’t so good. I didn’t think anybody would buy that rusty, monstrous, heavy thing.


  26. @ Lew:

    I missed your previous comment about white spiders. I see that Virginia has a White-Banded Crab Spider (you said yours was crablike, too). I don’t know if it was the same kind that I saw. Yours was eating pollinators and that reminded me of Praying Mantises. Supposedly they will eat just about any kind of insect, not just “bad” ones. So, I guess there are trade-offs.

    Are you still as hot there? My parents are scorching in Ft. Collins, CO; never, never any rain. And wildfires have turned the air yellow.


  27. Hi Al,

    Hope the lightning strikes from the ‘narrow band of rainy thing’ didn’t start any fires. Such storms can be real problems down here during hot and dry summers. Your weather is pretty hot right now, but it will begin cooling very soon as it does here at this time of year if the seasons were suddenly turned upside down. And um, you’d kind of hope that the storm didn’t introduce too much humidity combined with extreme heat to your part of the world?

    A blast of Antarctic air looks set to arrive here tomorrow, and there is even some talk of snow down to 400m above sea level (the farm is closer to 700m ASL). Not sure how much work we’ll get done this week – possibly not that much.

    Thank you for the kind words about the paths and rock walls and it is a pleasure to share them with you.

    Your reading into the LiFePO4 batteries and understanding matches my own, although until I connect them up to the solar panels and inverter and observe how they work, I have absolutely no idea how the batteries will actually perform. There is an old saying about investment products which suggests that if the sales blurb is too good to be true, it might be too good to be true. Dunno, but I hope that doesn’t apply. As you note the charge controllers are very programmable and so they’ll have no troubles at all with the new battery chemistry. I am left wondering though: How long (i.e. hours) to keep the batteries at the maximum voltage before they are fully charged? My guess based on the reading is that the number is somewhere between two and three hours – maybe. Anyway, with the low internal resistance, they’ll recharge quick smart, that’s for sure. But I’d better not trickle charge them.

    Your idea is sound however the battery room does not have the physical space with which to connect up both the old and new batteries. This is something of an architectural error which might otherwise be described as: Obvious from hindsight, but at the time of planning – not so obvious.

    The whole system will be shut down, batteries relocated and then slowly reconnected. If there was another way…

    The deer could well be a problem here sooner or later. Some of the local farmers cull the herds and I’m grateful for that. Not sure what happens to the carcasses and am not in a position to ask.

    Your area is a pretty harsh climate and I’m amazed to learn that there is a large population of Deer and Elk, but I well understand the losses that such populations could cause to farmers in your area.



  28. Good afternoon

    The mention of the possibility of frying eggs on a steel plate in very hot weather called to mind the only ‘war injury’ sustained by my great-uncle Jimmy during the whole of WW2.

    They did indeed do that on their tanks in the Western Desert, although Italy where he went next could be rather wetter than people tend to suppose.

    Anyway, his only unfortunate incident was actually at the hands of Aussies, not the enemy: they offered him, with deceptive friendliness, a suck on a hose attached to a barrel of something potent. Unwise to accept, perhaps, but rather rude not too. So he took a deep draught…..

    So potent, that he immediately passed out, to their great and probably not well-concealed amusement. What can that moonshine have been?

    He was a small, rather hairy and ape-like man, of the rubber-ball variety, so didn’t have far to fall on to that stony ground. Lived to 91, despite Hitler and Mussolini’s best efforts.

    I have some deer-and-dog-and-pig related news too, which may throw light on Ollie’s ancestry, but no time to write more just now.

    All the best to everyone


  29. Hi Lewis,

    Thanks for the photos and to my inexperienced eyes it looks plenty dry up in them thar hills. Not sure what to make of that, and in the hills the predominance of pine is a dead giveaway to the sort of climate enjoyed there. The house was interesting as it is similar to houses down here, but somehow different as well. For one difference, there is no discernible preference down here for timber cupboards. There is a lot of vinyl wrap doors out there…

    Not sure whether the software has lost a comment yet. It is possible that such a thing has happened and I never learned of it – I mean how would you know? The text word software check thing is occasionally over zealous and that is how yours and others comments end up in the trash. Never fear I check the trash each day to see what new things are in there that will make me blush. 🙂 You’d be amazed…

    I hear you bro (or crow if I utilised the Hidden Kingdom language 🙂 ) about the software upgrades. How many extra features and gewgaws does a person need? Probably not as much as the folks selling the software believe, but then if they’re getting an income stream from the code, well they can hardly be expected to be without inherent conflicts. I’m still using the old version of Windows because it works and it is frankly faster than the newer version. But how long can I get away with these. ‘They’ forced me to take up a smart phone around Christmas time, and ‘they’ gave me little choice in the matter, which just goes to prove that I get kicked around.

    Hang in there with the old software, and you never know how long you can eek it out for. Think of it as a personal challenge, but have a plan B in place just in case. 🙂 Dunno, I’m wary of updates, but this here website thing is like a target for all manner of folks and so I best keep it up to date. Incidentally, since I upped the security and forked over some mad cash, a lot of the nefarious folks have gone elsewhere to easier interweb pickin’s. Hmm. At least they are not pestering me anymore.

    Modern buildings seem to have an aversion to windows which open widely. Dunno why, but the economist John Kenneth Galbraith wrote that during the great crash of 1929, the reality was that very few if any stockbrokers took a deliberate flight without wings via open windows. It may have been a story cooked up to make people feel better about the aftermath of that episode?

    What a lovely way to put it: Not receiving. Like it! 🙂 Are you entirely sure that your Finnish blood doesn’t contain some long distant relative who was once a part of royalty, but only several bloodlines removed? Your words are fit for a King!

    Well there is no landline phone connection here as I’m way up in the boonies, so there is no receiver to leave off the hook. Sometimes the smart phone device does a similar trick unintentionally as my ear knocks the settings menu and chucks the confounded machine into ‘do not disturb’ mode and thenceforth the thing is blissfully quiet.

    Oh no! It is the red deer that have the royal lineage… There is a suburb on sort of this end of town with the name ‘Deer Park’. An observant person would note that the arts and crafts community building was once a swanky hunt club for the wealthy. Anyway, the name of the suburb is a dead giveaway, although I doubt that there is a single deer in that area – they’ve all moved further north. Apparently deer are a bit of a problem in the forests in the state of Victoria.

    Arizona, well it’s an option, but the water and heat situation would seriously trouble me. We have a few towns down under that are underground, and in my travels we’ve stayed at two underground motels, one at Coober Peddy in South Australia (a fascinating town) and another at White Cliffs in New South Wales. Both towns are established for opal mining and so the underground residences are often constructed in ex-mines. I was told a story there about people gambling whether to pay for excavations and mine works for a house, or hand over the opals found during the process. Not sure how true that is, but it sure was a good story.

    Oh my! The land title system in your country sounds a bit wild west to me. We have a state gobarmint department which looks after that system, and anyone can do a land title search over the interweb for a small fee.

    However, mortgages attach to a person and also the title down under and are registered interests, and the unpaid council rates are usually settled at settlement of the title exchange (an electronic system now which frightens me a bit) at the conclusion of the sale process. I read that the local council is going to take possession of a house for unpaid council rates. A rarely exercised power, but it is there…

    Really, wasn’t it an adjective? 🙂 Mate, I read the words ‘antecedent noun’ and my mind unfortunately began glazing over at the introduction of even more words to describe the group of words being used. My mind has limits you know, and they were reached then and there… Kapowey was the sound my mind made as it hit that wall of learning. Terrible stuff.

    Possibly the alien lizards know, that’s who. 🙂

    Ooo, that’s a good story line about Ollie, deer and beer (and it rhymes). There was that one time I fed old Fluffy the former boss dog a small quantity of port, and well the subsequent events cannot be described here on this family friendly forum. I blushed at old Fluffy’s behaviour, but fortunately she was soon happily snoring and sound (and more importantly safely) asleep.

    Hehe! Like it, yes your software is so old that it will not accept interweb cookies. Makes sense. Damo had some ingenious way to defeat all these advertisements and he began describing it to me and my mind struggled to comprehend the details, but by all accounts it seems effective.

    Sorry to hear that about the Garden Goddess, although it is possible that she might have partook of some of Old Fluffy’s medicine and was likewise a bit off her game? Her meds might also be messing with her mind. I’d definitely mention it to Eleanor to get her perspective and also alert another person to the situation. Then everyone can look out for her.

    Nice to hear about the peas. Two pea plants here are still hanging on despite the winter conditions. Worked out more details as to how to speed up the greenhouse project today.

    Oh, and last week we discovered another mothballed train station. Had the phone camera ready to hand too.

    Thanks for the article on assisted colonisation. Had to laugh as I was reading the article because people spent so long arguing about the pros and cons, few people seem to have gotten around to testing out the theory in practice. That story sounds sort of familiar. You may note that there is indeed a redwood growing here, and it is growing reasonably fast. In the old hill station gardens over to the western part of the mountain range, there are more than a few of the trees and some are quite large. The old hill station gardens are collections of exotic trees planted out in an aesthetically pleasing manner – so perhaps the folks who did that work were just ahead of their time?



  30. Hi Pam,

    Yes, Sir Poopy was a dog of true discernment. It is a truth universally acknowledged that Sir Poopy would never be in want of food under any circumstances. That was his special gift, unfortunate for the ducklings though.

    Good stuff and thank you very much for the suggestions regarding food and attention in relation to dog training. I’m not sure how to make training with the lead fun for the dogs, but I’ll hopefully come up with something. Ollie loves being on the lead, if only because he gains more attention. Plum and Ruby have resistant personalities who see only affront in restriction. Oh well.

    Rex sounds like a fine specimen of a dog, albeit a touch on the lazy side. Some dogs are like that, and they all have very unique and individual personalities. Sir Poopy was sadly lazy too and like your good Rex (I note no title was earned) he would happily spend all day long lazing around the place. Even when outside Sir Poopy would find a convenient and out of the way spot to have a quick nap. Relaxation was a lifestyle choice for Sir Poopy and Rex.

    Oh no! Cat on a string. Yes, good luck and only for the very bravest of souls. Cats barely tolerate our presence at the very best of times – and frankly a string connection is not one such. Possibly your cat was working on advanced ‘string theory’? 🙂 Hehe! Never tried that trick myself and always stuffed the obstreperous felines into a box or crate to get them to the vet – and even then they were not happy about the situation. If they were royal, which they were most certainly not (common as muck they were) they might quip: We are not amused.

    Who knew that an old dump truck bed even had any value? Top work with the sale. And hope that the two into one conversion is going well.



  31. Hi Xabier,

    Your great uncle Jimmy learned a fine lesson that day: Don’t accept mysterious gifts from mischievous Aussies who fail to dissemble and can barely restrain their mirth. Still, the yanks may have likewise befuddled him too with their mysterious and unidentified spirits, but he may not have been injured in the process. Can’t for the life of me imagine what it would have been, but possibly it was very potent stuff. Stills can get alcohol up to 93% ethanol before watering the stuff down to a more reasonable just under 40%-ish. It takes a strong constitution to down 93% stuff and few people could do so without passing out.

    Anyway, another good lesson to learn would be that a person could quip that it is always hospitable and good manners for the person so offering mysterious and unidentified liquids to first partake of said concoction. Avoids a multitude of problems don’t you reckon? Of course getting that idea across the line might take a bit of arguing.

    Some people go through rough territory full of danger and lead charmed lives. The mountainous areas of Italy in winter could be quite a bleak place to fight a war.

    I look forward to learning your news. It sounds intriguing!



  32. Yo, Chris – I meant to comment on the leash conversation. Outside her apartment, H is never off a leash. Given motive (any passing distraction) and opportunity, she’s likely to do a runner. But that’s only happened twice, since I’ve known her. I’ll have to ask Eleanor, how she trained her to the leash. She’s quit ok with it. Maybe it’s because she knows that the leash means she’s going interesting places and will meet interesting people?

    Windows that open. Some liability lawyer, probably in league with builders, may have pointed out that a building owner may have been libel for someone jumping or falling out a window. Or, closed windows allow building owners to completely control the heating, in a building. A cost saving measure? Unsealed windows also probably take more maintenance. Another cost.

    Well, actually, I have an old school notebook of my mother’s that claims some relationship to some Finnish royalty. I’ve never been able to find the name, anywhere. There’s also a story kicking around that side of the family, about some farm equipment that a great grandfather invented, whose idea was stolen and patented by some nefarious person. Cyrus McCormick? 🙂 . I haven’t poked around much in my mother’s family, back beyond when they immigrated. Seems like a lot of families have stories of lost glory or treasure. Actually, I find the small, quirky stories a lot more interesting.

    I don’t have a land line. Just my wi-fi and a little flip phone. There is a phenomenon, here, called “butt dialing.” Shove a phone in a pocket, and it’s likely to do anything.

    Selling houses for back taxes on the court house steps is a fine old American tradition. There’s still an occasional notice in the newspaper that that’s going to happen. Back in the “old” days, you could actually get properties for the tax amount. Now they hold out for full (or slightly less than) market value. And market value is nuts. No bargains to be had, anymore. You may have noticed my friends have their place listed for north of $400,000. I think if it’s on the market for any amount of time, they’d probably tumble for $395,000. Which is more than double what they paid for it, less than 10 years ago. Of course, it’s been kept up, and there were a number of improvements made.

    Eyes glaze over, mind shuts down. Happens a lot in my world. Sometimes the Ladies ask me what the current count is. Number of new cases. Total number of cases. Then they want to know the age spread and which districts they’re in. I tell them I’m lucky to remember the number of daily new cases, let alone all the rest of it. They’ve finally stopped asking. According to news reports, we’ve had an outbreak in our county jail.

    Eleanor thinks the Garden Goddess may be having problems with her meds. As you suspected. It’s happened before. We’ll probably keep it between the two of us. The GG wears a medic alert device. And, Suzanne is her next door neighbor, and keeps pretty close tabs on her.

    The monthly Magic Food Boxes, come tomorrow. Wonder what will appear?

    Well, I made a trip to Safeway, last night, and my TP supply is now at the optimum 42. 53 actually. 🙂 . I’m going to keep it topped up, at least for awhile. I may be being silly, but I think we’re going to have a much worse, second wave of the virus, in the fall. Also, with the election coming up, we may see a bit of civil unrest. Oh, I don’t think in our little corner of the world. But, supply lines may be disrupted.

    I started watching a series called “The Bletchley Circle”, last night. During WWII, Bletchley Park, in Britain, was where they did all the code breaking. A lot of the people involved were very sharp women. After the war, they all had to sign State Secrets documents, and not even their husbands knew what they had done during the war. So, they went back to being housewives and librarians. About 9 years on, one of the women notices a “pattern” in the movements of a serial killer, in London. So, four of the women get together to try and crack the case. Of course, the police (not knowing of their wartime work) just blow them off. None of this is a true story, but, interesting, anyway.

    There are trains. Lots of trains and train stations. The thing about Britain in the early 1950s is something the set designers mentioned in the DVD “extras.” Due to the war and rationing, everything still had a very 1940s look to it. I’m having a lot of fun looking at the furniture, in the backgrounds. Seems like every domestic space has at least one of the small, Art Deco display cabinets. I have three of them. 🙂 . Caught myself, last night, looking around my place and thinking, “If I moved that book case, there, I could squeeze in another cabinet.” I’ve seen a few nice one’s at auction in the last year. They usually go for less than $100. If you Gargle “art deco display cabinets” and check “images”, you’ll get an eyeful of what I’m banging on about. Lew

  33. @ Pam – I also looked into dragon flies. We don’t have many pollinators around, this year, but plenty of dragon flies. Like you, I see they eat anything smaller than themselves. But both the good and the bad insects.

    Well, our heat was pretty bad for a couple of days. 102F. But now, we’re more in the upper 70s to 80s range. Even when it’s warmer, as long as there’s a good breeze, it’s not too bad. We’re getting off pretty light, compared to a lot of the rest of the country. Lew

  34. Hi Chris,

    Those Red deer are quite impressive. I hope they don’t decimate the fern gully. Steve described the White Deer problem which is the same here. They often eat all the native forbs and do much damage to young trees as well.

    I’m surprised the vet won’t spay your pups. There’s such a push here to neuter animals whose purpose isn’t breeding. People can’t go in with their pets but any vet work that is necessary is still being done.

    Open the bag of marshmallows and let them go a bit stale as they become quite chewy and it takes the pigs some time to finish them off. It’s also quite amusing to watch. Pigs in a garden is a recipe for disaster. They’re so smart it’s really difficult to get them back in if they’ve escaped.

    There never has been restriction on travel that’s been enforced so people can go where they please.

    Leo and Salve don’t bother the turkeys probably because they’ve been trained not to bother poultry over the years we had chickens and turkeys. They sometimes need a bit of a reminder but overall they leave them be.

    I don’t think we got too much benefit from all that rain but it helped. Things aren’t all brown yet so there’s still moisture in the ground. The crops look OK as well and as they’ve pretty much done all their growing they should be ok. It’s helped that we haven’t had the relentless hot winds as in the past.


  35. Hi Chris
    We got through the storm without many ground strikes and the rain was concurrent with the lightning so no fires ?
    95 today that’s ook .

    The equipment room space is what it is. It will work out.

    On the upper charge voltage rating one source stated that from 3.6 vdc to 4.1 only gains 1% greater charge. Setting end charge at the lower value for charge end should be fine.

    If the charge controllers are are all connected in parallel on the control wall there should be only one conductor for each polarity ( + and. -) to move from old to new battery input. Similar for the inverter input. The Plasmatronics folks have probably already given you the programming info. Leave a proper size glass of your fine wine for the little people of the forest nearby before you start ?
    As for the generator powered Battery charger the supplier should have info for connecting and using with the new LiFePO4 Battery. Hopefully!
    Good Luck,
    Your power wheel barrow might have possibilities for being modified to carry old batteries to future use locations. Your metal work skills may be be applied for fabricating means for lifting and holding one battery off the surface and moving wherever. You da man mate! Go for it. HeHe.

  36. Hi Margaret,

    I’m a bit concerned about the ferns growing along the creek at the bottom of the property. But on the other hand I’m not doing anything about the deer problem, when I probably could.

    Of late, I’ve been wondering if it were the deer who ate the fern fronds in the newly established fern gully. I tell ya what, the ferns have been receiving a solid drink this year. The other day there was so much water flowing into the fern gully from off the road that it began oozing out of the ground lower down the hill where the new path is. Today we had to add another large rock to the rock wall above that path (on the uphill side) in order to slow this flow of water. And behind the large rock we placed a few wheelbarrows of the woody mulch. Only time will get all that water into the ground – where it belongs. The rock wall on the path isn’t yet completed, and how does it work out that the water was oozing out end of the mostly completed rock wall put in last week. What is the chances of that happening??? Turns out the probability was quite high.

    Ah, I had not explained. I live in a stage 3 lock down area, and the vet is in a stage 4 lock down area (more severe). The journey between here and there straddles the boundary of lock down restrictions (and curfew). And they are apparently only able to perform emergency services (it is an animal hospital). Apparently desexing Plum and Ruby is not considered necessary work.

    Thanks for the marshmallow tip with the pigs. 🙂 That sounds like fun, and the pigs would certainly enjoy the chew challenge. I forgot to ask my mates how they recovered their pigs out of the garden, but the words I heard as it happened may have included the word ‘nightmare’. I noticed the last time I was there that the electric wires for the fences have been lowered, and they said that stopped the pigs from trashing the fencing. They’re getting help a day or two a week from a local farmer and have learned heaps in the process.

    Your country has freedoms which down here we don’t currently enjoy, such as the unrestricted travel. And don’t forget the 8pm curfew in Melbourne. Oh my, your fellow countrymen would bristle and push at the restrictions. I don’t enjoy free speech and you may note that occasionally my replies are peppered with all sorts of legal weasel words, but you gotta do, what ya gotta do.

    Leo and Salve are to be commended for their behaviour and you for your training of them. I tried throwing chickens at Ruby when she was young and she will probably make the best chicken dog.

    If the grasses are not brown at this stage of the year, it is possible they may not get there. However, does your winter weather kill off the grasses? The grasses are emerald coloured here due to a combination of warmer winter, plentiful rain and now moderate UV. A heady combination.



  37. Hi Al,

    Good to hear that no trees were ignited during your thunderstorm. And yes, 95’F is a bit ook, but things could always be worse on that front. 😉

    Yeah, I have to wait for a sunny and warm day to do the battery swap over. The wood heater has a wet back (25kW!) and that system utilises convection energy to move water from the wet back to the hot water tank. However, the hydronic heating system uses a small hot water pump to circulate the water around the radiators in the house and it is direct connected to the wet back. Yeah, can’t cut the power off for a few hours as the pressure in the wet back may exceed what the convection system can draw off it and the water in the wet back can do a good impression of a steam boiler – i.e. not good. It’s complicated…

    A number of sources are quoting those sorts of voltages too, and I see no reason to push the batteries. Interestingly the batteries do not require temperature compensation for the charging program which seems odd to me, but then the chemistry is new to me.

    Hehe! Yeah, everything will connect into a positive and negative 250A bus bar, so the process will take time, but it shouldn’t be too difficult. What was difficult was tracking down such a pair of high current bus bars in the first place. Talk about heavy metal.

    Nope, the battery charger has its own inbuilt program, but from what I understand it will work with the batteries. This chemistry is not a drop in replacement for lead acid, but it’s close to that.

    Hehe! The old batteries are 50kg each (110 pounds) and they’re no light weights, but a manual wheelbarrow will be good enough for them. And fear not, I shall put them to good use in the not too distant future.



  38. Chris:

    Rex never even acquired the prefix “Mr.” I read this amusing bit recently; it describes Rex’s mother – though I never met the lady – to a T, I imagine:

    ” He was a fine dog, though of uncertain breed. His mother had been a popular local belle with a good deal of sex appeal, and the question of his paternity was one that would have set a Genealogical College pursing its lips perplexedly.”


  39. Hi Lewis,

    I’d be curious for any pointers with the leash training. Incidentally Plum and Ruby are the only dogs who continue to push back over the leash training. I don’t muck around either and use a choker collar and the dogs can make their own choice about whether to push things, and the pups continue to do so. Every other dog I’ve known has gotten the message straight away, so there is something a bit different about these two. Still, they have to learn the lead as I might need to take them to the vet, or we might just have a bushfire and have to abandon ship – so they have to suck it up whether they like it or no. H is clearly the superior dog in this matter. Mind you, Ollie loves the lead as he enjoys the attention and knows he’s off for an adventure.

    You wouldn’t think that anyone would fall from a window accidentally or otherwise, but then didn’t Eric Clapton’s 4 year old do just that? 53rd floor too… And the song Tears In Heaven was written out of that tragedy. I’m no fan of oversized buildings, and they give me the creeps although I’ve worked in a few of them over the years. One of them I swear I could feel movement in the floor as the building shifted.

    I’d never considered that sealed windows would be cheaper than unsealed windows, but it makes sense.

    Cyrus McCormick! It’s a big call, but we’ll never know the truth of the matter, and it does make for a good story. Mind you, the people who invent and develop useful machines are not necessarily the same as those who can produce and market the concept – and there is a difference. There are times I’d like to get to see a ‘sliding doors’ concept with businesses that fail, which I know deep down are otherwise ok, but for…

    The satellite images of the mass of Antarctic air which has broken away from the south pole and headed north are very impressive: Satellites tracking Antarctic air spreading over Australia. And it sure is cold here tonight. In a town to the north of here I saw what looked like sleet and some snow settling on the ground. And tonight we went to the pub for take away pizzas and dark ale and it most certainly was a fully dead sheep clothing night. And the dark ale certainly didn’t need to be refrigerated, but alas woe was us.

    But here is the thing, during the day the weather alternated between sunny blue skies and dark as thick clouds which dumped rain and whatever else they brought. In the morning we began creating a new garden terrace (yes, yes, all will be explained soon) for the three raised potato beds. Had to wear a woollen hat which covered my ears because they felt like they going to drop off due to the cold weather. Anyway, several hours of digging soil and hauling large rocks warmed us up.

    Yes, butt dialling is a real thing. The screens are so touch sensitive that they do this neat trick. I’ve now gotten in the habit of shutting down all of the phones applications so that this doesn’t happen. And as a general policy I don’t call back missed calls with no message – which is what a ‘butt dial’ looks like to me.

    The Killdozer bloke appears to have taken advantage of one of those el-cheapo land sales for his muffler shop. There are few bargains to be had down here either, and the high price of real property is at the bottom of many failing aspects of our society. It is a narrative eater.

    As a bit of an explanation it was not that my mind shut down, I just hit my limits of comprehension in that particular area of thought. It is a bit like the health subject that dare not be named in that we share different views on it. I am totally cool with that, and sort of suspect that time will reveal the full story. I have no motivation to force anyone to my point of view and am more than happy if they believe differently. It makes little to no difference to my life, and events I have noted have a way of just, err happening.

    Hey, in your country it appears to me that trying to convince other people to a way of thinking has become something of a spectator sport. We’re mostly apathetic down here for who knows what reason? It is a cultural difference which I’m unsure of the source of.

    Ah, GG is lucky to have Suzanne for a concerned neighbour. With costs come benefits, I guess.

    Oh yes, what was in the magic food boxes? They’re a right mystery those boxes. And it is good that you are getting more fresh produce.

    You may feel sad for me – now. So, we worked too long this morning, but dodged the Antarctic derived rain which began arriving just after lunch. Managed to score a gourmet pie, but I was trying hard to do a follow up with the most excellent coffee scroll, but alas the bakery was only just closed. Missed by minutes. Sometimes that is how the cookie crumbles… And I’ll feed my leftover pizza from tonight to the dogs in their breakfast – the editor refuses to donate her two remaining pieces to the good cause. 🙂 Something about eating them tomorrow. Tes not natural.

    Well done with the TP haul and it is always a wise strategy. What? Haven’t you guys already been seeing civil unrest? I’d hate to think what worse than that would look like. Of course, I feel that supply lines is at the bottom of this story.

    Oh, I’d heard about the war efforts of those ladies. Very impressive. Yes, some people can see meaning in patterns. Sounds like a good series.

    Frankly it makes me wonder what other people see or don’t see? You may think that I’m joking around when I amusingly quip that the ‘patterns’ aren’t right, but sometimes I’m only partially joking around. The editor pulls this long suffering look when I make that quip.

    Well after WWII, the UK had to work out how to get by on far less than they had previously been used to enjoying from their very large Empire. Mate, I’ve travelled that journey and whilst it is complicated, it is not impossible. But try telling people that and you get to see real fear.



  40. Hi Pam,

    Hehe!!!! Thank you for the funniest description that I have read for quite a while. I’m happily chuckling away!

    Yes, the poor dear was clearly blessed with classic good looks, a sense of fun and adventure, and an accommodating attitude. 🙂



  41. Yo, Chris – Well, Eleanor wasn’t very helpful about H and the leash. Just put it on her, and walked her alongside her walker. Hmmm? Maybe H just has a slave mentality? Apparently, there was also a pink tutu, involved. So, there might have been a bit of bribery.

    Well, we got rain, overnight, and it’s still pretty cloudy. Our first autumn rain? Probably, not. Looks like your in for it, for awhile. When I went down to check the plums the other night, I noticed something odd. We have some trees around, that flower in the spring. Maybe some kind of cherry or hawthorne. Any-who, I noticed on the street side, there’s one limb on one tree that has burst into bloom! What’s that all about? I’ve put around the rumor that it’s an omen of the apocalypse. 🙂 .

    Well, the good Rev brought the first round of food boxes, this morning. A pouch of shelf stable chili. A quart of shelf stable milk. Truly horrible margarin. Some zucchini and a loaf of garlic bread. A pound and a half of frozen bacon. A tin of chicken, a tin of tuna and a jar of peanut butter. A bag of macaroni. One packet of ramen. One box of corn flakes. One box of mac & cheese. A squeeze bottle of “creamy horseradish sauce.” Various tins of fruit and veg. A dozen large eggs. No diced tomatoes (though there is tomato sauce). No garbanzo beans.

    The second round of boxes, from another source will come, this afternoon. That’s where the bulk of the produce is. Report to follow 🙂 .

    I will feel sad for you … there, that’s out of the way. Well, you got a full 30 seconds! Wonderful pizza and gourmet pies and you moan about no coffee scrolls. Review the earlier part of your day and identify the “sliding doors” moment, which if you had avoided, would have insured coffee scrolls. Don’t let it happen, again. 🙂 .

    Well, civil insurrection could be far, far worse. The madness of crowds, and all that. I noticed a comment that all the goings on, in Seattle, it effected just as small part of the city. The rest of it just perked along.

    Well, more odd developments on the garden front. I did my weekly check of my phone messages, and, I had three. Two were from the Garden Goddess. Both of which ran out their recording time. I really couldn’t quit figure out what she was on about. Then a call from Ruthie.

    I don’t think there’s something quit right, about Ruthie. She’s always quick to offend, and is generally bonkers in other small ways. She’s got a 4×6 plot, a barrel and a couple of 4 x 4s. Everything is pretty much banging along. In the 4×6 she’s got cabbage, beets, carrots and peas. There are tomatoes, other places. Anyway, she said in her message that she hasn’t “been up to gardening” in a week, and is abandoning the whole lot. Anything I want, I can take. I think she did the same thing, last year.

    Also, Ruth (not to be confused with Ruthie) is one of our old time gardeners. But, over the last couple of years, she’s cut back to a patch of rhubarb and two current bushes. In age, she’s not far behind Eleanor. Rumor is, she’s moving in with her kids. So, I suppose the rhubarb and currents will fall to me. You know, this is all getting a bit overwhelming. It’s beginning to look like I’m the only one doing any serious gardening. I think when we have the Master Gardeners meeting, in the spring, some of these issues are going to have to be addressed. I’m not getting any younger, either. Lew

  42. hello again Chris
    We are 92 F 15 mph SE wind and 30% Humid. Slight smell of fire smoke on the wind. Could be from near or far it’s ok. Poor Cali
    They are in trouble down there their Burning up☹️

    I looked at the Himawari 8 sat full disk loop in the water vapor view. Twice in about 6hrs apart. Looks to me like you may have some more winter stuff right through your area. There is a stalled rotational mass that’s pulling in Antarctic air from the south east and moisture from the jet steam in your NW and moving some where near you . When we have similar patterns in winter the arctic air brings in our worst cold. Winter is near end for you . At least by the calendar

    The house powered circulator outage will as you mentioned require some bit of warm weather for the battery change over.
    The chemistry between the Li ions and the dielectric characteristics of the polymer membrane probably influence the temperature effects of the cells. ( the mathematics of such matters usually generally invokes long formulas with integrals and differential equations which far exceed my math education level which hit a wall some time in Early teenage for me similar to that of your experiences).
    The constant output until near the end of discharge is one of the great features of Li cells. Apple devices all seem to have good battery charge consistency and they have used Li technology for a long time. Hope it’s true for solar storage also.

    I have usedTin plated Cu high current bolted buss bars in the past from Blue Seas Systems 30 to 660 amps 48 volt dc. all fasteners included mounted in plastic protective covers available Excellent quality, though expensive.
    Also shop fabricated from copper buss bars stocked at electrical supply stores. Ready made look really good.

  43. Hi Al,

    Oh my! The news of the Californian fires have reached here. California requests support from Australia to fight hundreds of bushfires. 38’C / 100’F heatwaves don’t sound that hot to my ears, but of course the heatwave may have been on the back of a very dry summer – the article did not say anything about the recent climate experienced in that part of the world. It sure does sound like a huge area burnt.

    That Japanese satellite produces some stunning real colour photographs and videos of the planet down this way. Yup, Antarctica has most certainly arrived today with full force. I kicked the wood heater off about lunchtime today. A bit of snow fell earlier at this elevation but little settled on the ground, but higher up the mountain range was like a winter wonderland.

    Exactly, this is winters last hurrah, and next Thursday looks set to reach 62’F. And coincidentally may be the day I swap the batteries over.

    Your talk of integers and differential equations also far exceeds my math education level. Chunks of brain just oozed out my ears at such talk and this could be a problem should any wandering zombie happen to pass by.

    Well there’s the thing isn’t it? Will the reality live up to the marketing hype in relation to the batteries? Not really sure, but hopefully I’ll know better in two decades time. Incidentally, the smaller consumable devices may have a different battery chemistry again involving the use of Cobalt. Same, same but different and possibly not as long lasting. 🙂

    Top guess, and also an excellent suggestion, as Blue Sea were the manufacturers of the heavy duty high current bus bar. And back in the day when I used to converse with the off grid folks down here, they too spoke about various bus bars which they’d constructed over the years. The main requirement seems to be lots of thick metal. 🙂



  44. Chris:

    Who’s chuckling now – Hee hee!

    “Yes, the poor dear was clearly blessed with classic good looks, a sense of fun and adventure, and an accommodating attitude. ?”


  45. Hi Lewis,

    In breaking wombat news… Sensible wombats of all sizes and persuasions have remained in their burrows today snugly asleep whilst waiting out the blast of cold Antarctic air. This station contacted Fatso the wombat who resides in Cherokee for an on the ground view. Over to you, Fatso the wombat.

    Fatso: Mate, cold. Why did you wake me up to ask such stupid questions? I’m going back to bed. Now piss off!

    Thanks for that view on the ground, Fatso. Well, you heard it here first, and there you have it: All sensible wombats are now residing in their burrows sound asleep and they refuse to go out foraging if there is even a hint of snow.

    Wombats can be forgiven for occasionally breaking the code of conduct on this blog. 😉

    Fatso’s right and conditions were sub-fluffy optimal today! It snowed this morning and has been nothing other than cold and wet outside today. Brr! The snow didn’t settle on the ground here, but higher up in the mountain range was like a winter wonderland. The editor threw the first snowball at my head, and yeah that was how the snow fight began.

    And the sad lack of coffee scroll yesterday situation was rectified. I mean we were out and about in the car this morning looking at snow, and so why not rectify the lack? After exhausting testing, I can report that the coffee scroll was up to their usual excellence, so that concern can be ticked off the ‘too worry about list’. Phew! It is nice to have one less thing to worry about. 🙂

    Thank you very much for asking Eleanor, and her experiences matches my own previous experience (minus the walking frame of course). There is something a bit different about these two dogs, but they’ll get there on the basis that they’ll have to get there.

    Did your garden plot smell nice after the late summer rain? Incidentally it may be the first autumn rain for you? It is possible. The good Professor Cliff Mass blogged about just how much moisture laden air was streaming into your part of the world at the moment. I assume that the moisture is missing the southern and western parts of your country? The news of the fires from that part of the world sounds horrific.

    Ah yes, for the past few years the autumn production of blossoms way out of season has been a thing here too. I’m honestly not sure what to make of it, and some of the trees have had the blossoms pollinated and then they produced tiny fruit. That was weird, but every year for the past four or maybe five years that has now happened to a few fruit trees. Recently, I have been wondering if the climate slowly shifted to a warmer and wetter environment, whether the fruit trees might produce a double crop (or a crop of fruit and then production of wood)? Not sure, but I’m watching them. Chilling hours might be a bit of a problem for proper fruit set (i.e. the number of hours below 7’C / 45’F) if things warmed up, but I suspect that trees have a number of tricks up their sleeves and we ain’t seen nuffin’ yet.

    I like your style with the rumour mongering. You might begin trending on the interweb – whatever that means! Such a good line, I might just pinch that if the appropriate circumstance presents itself.

    Ooo! What the heck is shelf stable chili? I get fresh chili, and dried chili, but shelf stable has an ominous tone to it. And as to the margarine, all I can say is that at this stage palm oil is cheap and apparently high yielding. I don’t actually like the taste of the stuff, but plenty of people can tolerate it, so I maybe a food snob? Maybe with the packet of ramen (which can be very variable in taste) you could pretend that you had been transmuted into a scene from the cult classic: Blade Runner? Haven’t gotten around to watching the second instalment of Blade Runner yet. The other stuff seemed pretty useful to me. And I look forward to your next report. Mate, I’d be like Pavlov’s Dogs and my mouth would begin watering whenever the magic food boxes arrived. Of course such high hopes are not necessarily sated, and you may recall that I crashed and burned in relation to expectations of a coffee scroll on Friday. Sometimes the forces of the world array themselves against your best wishes…

    You know, I’m just going with my gut instinct and your words kind of hinted that you felt otherwise at my coffee scroll loss. Hehe! Life is short and there are only so many limited opportunities to test out the quality of bakery products. Alas, you are onto my game and the good pizza’s evened out the score and settled my shattered nerves. 🙂 Thanks for the words of wisdom and I’ll take them on board and incorporate them into my worldview.

    Statistics are a funny thing. So the greater Seattle area has a population of somewhere around 4 million people. Three quarters of a million of those people live in the metro area. I just checked a news report on the rioting, and apparently 2,000 people were involved. That hardly seems anywhere close to a majority of the population. In fact you could easily infer that the malcontents were part of an obstreperous minority. When a quarter of the population turns out to loot and destroy, well, then I’ll change my views. Your gobarment has laws in place and resources to deal with such criminal acts – all they have to do is enforce the laws. Or maybe find out what the rioters are unhappy about and open a dialogue. Gubarmints are particularly well practiced in dealing with violent threats – that is their stock in trade after all and best not poke them.

    The risk that controlling group in Seattle runs is that they look ineffectual. Having just finished the Grapes of Wrath, I can see that the basic motivations are: Roof over head; Food on the table; and a Job. It really is that simple and allowing rioting to get between people and those outcomes is an unwise strategy because the people might just vote for some group that puts a decisive end to the nonsense. And the group might just have cute armbands, jackboots and odd notions about the world. It is not like such things haven’t happened before in turbulent times.

    It ain’t just you. The GG, Ruth and Ruthie problem is emblematic of a wider malaise which I can see in action down here too. Maybe it isn’t either of our problems? Sometimes I wonder if people aren’t hungry enough right now to wise up and begin learning about food. Dunno, but I’m pondering and cogitating upon that story too. And I can see that I have to chuck energy into a few different areas right now. Blessed are the competent for they get drained… Hehe! Oh well. If I had an answer for you, I’d suggest something, but this one beats me too. And at the end of the day if people aren’t interested, well it is not like they don’t have opportunities to learn whilst mistakes can be blithely worked around.

    I am so enjoying Hollow Kingdom. The author is to be congratulated, and thanks for the book referral as it is the right book for the times. Uther is next I promise, I just needed something a bit more lighter. I’m recharging my batteries right now.



  46. Hi Pam,

    You’ve probably never heard of the comic: Footrot Flats, as it is a New Zealand comic, but you might enjoy the adventures of the farming dog (The Dog) and his farmer mate: About Footrot Flats.

    The Dog is the main character and he is a fine looking sheep dog. Of course New Zealand was also the land where sheep dog trails used to be aired on television so maybe it is a thing over there. Anyway, The dog’s girlfriend was Jess, of which if you poke around the website you’ll see the words:

    “Sultry canine charm and the scent of hays-sheds in her pelt, Cooch’s sheep-dog Jess is everything a male dog could want. Unfortunately for THE Dog, he is not the only canine within coo-ee. Who is the father of those puppies anyway?”

    Aren’t dogs lovely! There are lots of strip comics in the archives of the dogs activities. Very enjoyable stuff – and so true of dogs and farms.



  47. Hello again
    New frig. installed okay and now Son’s extra freezer has been bought down and is also installed. Do you have those dratted permanently fixed plugs in Oz? Son had to cut it off the freezer so that the wire could be got through to a socket. Then he put another plug on. This keeps on happening and I have known other people to complain.
    Very windy here and some heavy showers but the ground is still hard and dry.


  48. Hi Chris,

    Just wanted to catch you up on what is happening here. It’s been a month.

    I had mentioned a few weeks back that my mother was hospitalized twice and then was diagnosed with Covid-19. We eventually learned that the reason her blood cell count went so low was that her bone marrow was functioning poorly, as a result of the leukemia she had lived with for several years. Without a properly functioning bone marrow, she didn’t have much time left even before she contracted COVID. And she did not recover from COVID. Eventually she was sent to the hospital a third time, continued to deteriorate, and died two days ago. My siblings and I did not allow her to be put on a ventilator; there was no point to it. She died peacefully, but none of us could be there because of the COVID diagnosis.

    It feels a bit surreal to me; a month ago she was still living independently, though barely so, in her apartment. She had been slowly declining for the past few years, something I could readily see during my yearly visits. When she was sent to the hospital the first time and my youngest brother, who had her medical POA and talked with her most days, and I discussed the situation, he said that it was time for her to move to assisted living, that she needed on-site help beyond what he could provide by phone and she could get while living independently. She would not have been at all happy about an assisted living situation; losing her independence was her biggest fear, and avoiding that her biggest motivator. Her rapid decline and death over the past few weeks kept us from having to move her to assisted living. As the saying goes, it really is an ill wind that brings no good at all.


  49. Yo, Chris – Thank Fatso for the Wombat Weather Report. As far as his salty delivery goes, well, it IS a direct quote 🙂 . Here we have Poughkeepsie Phil, a groundhog … the official weather groundhog, who forecasts every year if spring will arrive early, or not. It’s if he sees his shadow, or not, but I can never remember which way it goes. There is also Punxsutawney Phil, who is, apparently, also in competition to be Official Groundhog Weather Reporter.

    I’m glad you got to see a bit of snow, this year. Always a bit of magic. (Psst! Editor! If you secrete a rock, inside the snowball, they are much more effective.) The rain was nice, and it was a pretty steady light drizzle, all day. And, yes, it did smell quit nice. I think that odor would make a great men’s cologne 🙂 . First fall rain? Well, maybe. For the next week the forecast is for no rain, but moderate temperatures. Pretty much a steady 80F, all week.

    Yup. California is burning to the ground, and the pictures are horrific. I notice the death toll is a lot lower, than most of these events. I think the Paradise disaster, is still in everyone’s minds. A grove of redwoods has burned. In the oldest California state park.

    We have quit the chili culture, here. Maybe not so much down there, or, you call it something else.


    The Wiki-whos-it calls it Chili con carne, but, at least in this part of the country, it’s never called anything other than “chili.” There are cook offs and competitions. I think there was even a TV reality series. As you can see from the entry, there are all kinds of versions. The companies that make canned chili, can have as many as 10 or 15 different varieties in their “line.” With beef, without beef. Turkey chili. Vegetarian chili. Chili with cheese. etc. etc.. By the way. We very seldom hear anything referred to as “tinned.” It’s usually, “canned.” Just another language quirk. Seems like there’s more and more “shelf stable” foods, on the market. They generally last longer, are lighter and take up less space. Hermetically sealed, maybe irradiated. Even milk is produced in shelf stable packages. There seems to be all kinds of new food preservation processes, but, most of them you can’t do at home.

    Civil insurrection can gain critical mass, given enough disruption and numbers. Looking at history a bit, it seems like a tipping point is reached if the police or military go over to the demonstrator’s side. Then you get regime change, for good or bad. What’s interesting is that a lot of insurance policies have a clause where loses from civil insurrection, rioting or revolution, are not covered.

    The basics. Food, a roof over your head and a job. I’d add, keep me and my clothes clean. But, that’s just me. In past, I have gone to great lengths to achieve the last two.

    The second food box, well, actually two in the afternoon, was “interesting.” Usually, one the boxes has a lot of produce. Yesterday, it had a gallon of milk, a pound of real butter, a pound of swiss cheese and a bag of chopped up chicken. Also, two five pound bags of potatoes and a five pound bag of onions. A two pound bag of white rice. The other box was pretty much taken up by a gallon of cranberry apple juice, two large boxes of cereal, two quarts of shelf stable milk and lots and lots of canned goods. Mostly, green beans, corn, carrots and potatoes. Most of those go on the swap table. Sometimes, stuff shows up on the weekend swap table, that I don’t think comes in the boxes. Things that people have bought, and then thought better of. Yesterday’s score was a 5 pound bag of long grain, brown rice.

    It’s odd, but I was just thinking yesterday, looking at the orphan cans, that I guess they’re not hungry enough. When we had our community room open (which has a small kitchen) one of our Ladies who does a lot of cooking, used to make up a huge pot of soup, once or twice a week. Free to all comers. A lot of that canned stuff, went in.

    I can see that I may have a problem, when the produce starts coming in from the garden. We used to be able to put it in the lobby, which is expressly forbidden, now. I suppose I could put a box on the patio, but I’d have to ask permission. Probably, refused. I suppose I can take it to the Club, where it will at least be used. I picked up a nice cucumber, there, today.

    I watched a documentary last night, on the Sultana. The Sultana was a side wheeled river boat. At the end of the Civil War, the prison camps were being emptied out. And, fellows were returning to northern camps, to be mustered out. Lincoln had just been assassinated. They crammed over 2,000, mostly soldiers on the ship. Up the Mississippi it went. The river was in flood tide, and the water very cold due to snow melt. At 2 in the morning, the boilers blew. It was the worst maritime disaster, in American history. No one was ever brought to justice. Lew

  50. Hi Inge,

    Hot summer days sans refrigerator is not good at all, so glad to hear that both a replacement refrigerator and freezer have been sorted out for you by your son.

    I’ve never seen such a thing with household mains electrical powered appliances down here. If they were expected to last longer than the wiring in the house I could then understand why the appliances would be hard wired, but other than that reason, it seems bit over the top in relation to what I’m guessing must be some sort of safety concerns. All appliances can be unplugged. Fittings such as overhead ceiling fans and lights are all hardwired but they’re items that are not intended to be removed or moved in the first place.

    Windy here too today. And showers – some quite heavy. As a comparison, the ground here is quite soft and moist. The earthworms are having a grand old time of it in the ideal conditions. Some of the photos you’ll see tomorrow show a fair bit of mud on my overalls… We were moving large rocks around. The season should be turning for you soon, don’t you reckon?



  51. Hi Claire,

    Oh, what a terrible month you have had. I’m so sorry for you and your family for the loss of your mum. And her departure from this world without family by her side is a tough thing to bear. The times are quite hard now, unfortunately.

    It is an ill wind indeed. What else can you do? Remember to look out for yourself and take it easy and take time to recover, although things are always different in the aftermath and loss leaves us with holes and longing for what can no longer be.

    With Sympathy,


  52. Hi Lewis,

    🙂 I doubt Fatso the wombat will be gracing the orchard with his presence this evening. Today was way cold again, although it only rained in frequent waves and there was no snow at this elevation. Late this afternoon the rain eased off a bit and so in between rain storms we moved rocks. Whilst the rain pelted down (often quite heavily), we huddled under the large trees which gave quite good protection from the rain (lightning strikes were not a risk as the air was uniformly cold AF). Unfortunately, unlike Fatso the wombat, despite huddling for shelter, we were out in the rain and got quite soaked and muddy. Not a fan of mud, but the rocks had to be moved… Oh well, stoicism and all that.

    Ground hog day is one of my fave film picks. 🙂 Who would have thunk it that the ground hog day event was a real thing?

    No. The editor is not getting that particular memo about rocks. There seems little reason to encourage such mischief. She’s a good shot, and I copped a few snowballs in the head.

    Your weather sounds really enjoyable. Those sorts of temperatures would be early autumn conditions.

    Interestingly, the same thing happened down here too with last summers horrific bushfires, and that because the possibility of getting killed was on people’s minds, they evacuated to safety. To my mind there seems little point getting killed for a house – if the house is insured and can be allowed to be replaced. All things are subject to change though on that front. There is always a bit of talk in the media after such events about planning controls to stop people living in such fire prone areas in the first place – but who talks about toppling houses into the ocean? The insurance industry must be copping some body blows as last summers fires are apparently in the top 5 list of natural disasters based on payouts. Apparently many people discover they are under-insured after the fires, but then they gained an advantage by having cheaper premiums. A mate of mine suggested that historically very few, if any things were insured…

    Ah, thank you for the explanation. When you typed out the words ‘chili’ I had no idea you were referring to ‘chili con carne’. As a fellow food buff, the real deal ‘chili’ is a superb tasting meal. Slow cooked cheap cuts of meat in a tomato, chili, vegetable gravy is a superb combination of flavours. 100% Yummo!

    Some of the food preservation techniques are not natural. So the wife of a mate who moved back to New Zealand went on some sort of diet a few years ago where all the meals were supplied pre-packaged. And she proudly displayed a cut tomato slice in a plastic container which was hermetically sealed (no hermits were injured in the production process, thank goodness) with a nitrogen atmosphere. The sliced tomato just looked so weird to my eyes, but you know if people want to eat that stuff, bully for them. I just don’t get it…

    Well that is true about civil insurrection, and nobody really knows where the tipping point is. I do recall the occupy movement from way back, and all they seemed to want was a nice well paying middle management job. What are the rioters demands this time around, or are they just venting their spleen? Or possibly motivated to create tension? The thing is, at the moment the police and military enjoy a decent and regular pay – why would they side with the rioters? The rioters at the moment are lending a sense of purpose.

    It is funny you mention the bit about keeping ones clothes clean and I’m with you, and you can chuck in appearance as well. However, standards of decorum have dropped from what I can see. Of course I suspect that this outcome is an expected response. Trackie dacks are not proper work wear, but you know I’m old fashioned. No need to feed the monster, well that’s my take on things.

    The first magic food box would have appealed to me with all of the fresh produce. Did I mention that farm produce must have been ‘cliffed’ recently so badly that I picked up a 22 pound bag of brown onions for $5? I can’t grow that many onions for such a price as the soil compost would cost more. Things that make you go hmm. Yes, the brown rice was an excellent score – you clearly have a nose for such things, and people ignoring the score might have wondered why the rice was not Antarctic white?

    Exactly! They’re not hungry enough. Historically it was not always thus. The huge pot of soup is a lovely idea, and for you to have recalled it means that the impression made by the act was memorable. I’ll bet the lady who made the pot of soup may now be struggling with a lack of a sense of purpose? I hope that she is OK?

    There is an old adage about seek forgiveness and not permission. Who knows the folks spouting such platitudes may have known what they were talking about? But I’d take the stuff down to the Club where things are less controlled and the consequences are fewer.

    Picking up a large cucumber. Yes, I too would revel in such a score. A few years ago I happened to travel past a local small holding which has an extensive chestnut orchard. Anyway, the folks dumped a huge number of zucchini fruit on the street with a ‘free to a good home’ sign. Well we’re a good home and whenever I pass that property I now have fond recollections of the score.

    Quartermaster Hatch appears to have been as slippery as that Epstein guy who to me looks as though he was volunteered in his final demise. Clearly, he was probably talented at various subterfuges and the accounts suggest patronage at the highest levels. The maritime disaster was truly awful to read about.

    Well, who was brought to justice over the 2008 misdeeds? Thus also proving that everything old is new again!

    Ooo. I better get writing.



  53. @ Claire:

    I am so sorry that your mother has passed away. I am sure that you are right about the circumstances being for the best, with her dislike (and probably fear) of a change in her way of living. It is a hard thing, in hard times, and my thoughts and prayers are with you.


  54. Chris:

    Thanks so much for Footrot Flats. What a hoot! And how familiar some of those folks seem . . . I love the dogs.


  55. @ Claire
    I am so sorry to hear of your mother’s death and not being able to be with her at the time is the worst aspect of current life. At least she avoided assisted living. I wish you all the best.


    @ Chris again
    I didn’t mean that the plug could not be removed from the socket. I meant that the wires could not be removed from the plug, hence the need to cut it off. All part of modern improvements in technology!!


  56. Claire
    So sorry about your mom. The death by leukemia with COVID was rapid. We have had experience with the leukemia in one of our parents 30 some years ago. Hope that time heals the loss for you and your family .

  57. @ Claire – I’m sorry to hear of your loss. I live in independent senior housing. The Ladies here fight hard, to stay out of assisted living. Lew

  58. Yo, Chris – I saw a headline that some part of Australia had three feet of snow. There was also footage of kangaroos (wallabies?) frolicking in the white stuff.

    Well, mud. Just read an article on the Atlantic web site, something like, “The World Before Mud.” Before mud was invented (?), everything just washed into the ocean. Then mud started to stick together, and provided a place for plants to develop. And, hold more mud on the land.

    I might have my history wrong, but I think the first “insurance” companies were for ships and cargoes. 17th century London? Started in a coffee house called Lloyd’s which became … ta-da! Lloyd’s of London.

    Well, you know us Americans. Always in a hurry. So, we pretty much dropped the “con carne” part. Dad made up a pretty mean pot of chili. Back in those unenlightened days, there was a mysterious tin just labeled “chili powder.”

    Speaking of alternative forms of preservation, I’ve got a strainer full of cherry tomatoes, drying out. I’m going to cut them in half, pop them in the dehydrator, and see how it goes. Also on the preservation front, I bit the bullet and ordered Katz’s book, last night. Pricey, but I found a copy at $10 off. I picked another gallon of blueberries, last night. There on trays, in the freezer. I got that gallon off the backs of just three blueberry bushes!

    Who knows what civil insurrection is all about. You’d have to ask each and every member. Of course, there are themes. Some are out to right perceived wrongs. Other’s for a lark. Then there seems to be groups looking to stir things up to make one side, or the other look bad. Got an e-mail from Joel, this morning, promising the eminent arrival of the last “Into the Ruins.” He really didn’t mention anything, but, you know, he lives in Portland. Between the riots and the pandemic, I think we can cut him a bit of slack. 🙂 .

    Well, ya know, gotta wear your trackie dacks, 24/7 to be a fully credentialed scally. 🙂 . Why am I reminded of off road vehicles that have never leave the pavement?

    A few weeks ago, Suzanne was banging on about how brown rice cuts up your guts, or some such nonsense. Look long enough on the internet, and you can find something to support your preconceived idea. Some people do have a problem, digesting brown rice, but they’re usually people who have problems digesting lots of things due to other issues. White rice, white bread … work of the devil 🙂 . Of course, in my mind, that carries over to cauliflower. Silly me. On reflection, I wonder how I should feel about potatoes? I’ll have to think about that. But not too hard.

    I think lots of people around the Institution have lost a bit of their sense of purpose. Little Janet, whose family parked her here and always thought she was a bit dim, blossomed. When the community room was open, she was pretty much keeper of the morning coffee. But, when I see her, she seems pretty cheery. The soup lady, who makes lots of other things, passes stuff around, individually.

    A lot of the military who were responsible for the Sultana disaster were graduates of West Point. They pretty much covered for each other. When they were totally inept, they just shuffled them around. E. A. Poe, was a West Point, just as an off the wall mention. One of the most interesting stories from the Sultana was, there was a crate with a live, six foot alligator, in it. Being shipped north, who knows why. People were ripping any piece of the boat off, to try and float to shore. One fellow ran the alligator through with his sword (must have been an officer), tipped the dead alligator out, threw the crate overboard, got on it and paddled to shore. Needs must. 🙂 .

    I figure we’ll be seeing vast amounts of zucchini, any day now. I took a last look at the swap table, last night, and discovered four cans of organic garbanzo beans!

    Season one of “Picard” showed up in the library new list, on Friday night. I just couldn’t get myself to pull the trigger. There are other things I would rather watch.

    Saw an interesting article, last night, on California and renewable energy.


    Working out the kinks. Well, better get a move on. Time and tomatoes wait for no man. H gets her bath, this afternoon. Full day. Lew

  59. @Claire
    I’m so sorry to hear of your mother’s passing. It’s awful how people can’t be with their loved ones during this time.


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