Road to snow-where

My worst fears were suddenly realised, for the editor was in the kitchen. The editor is not normally in the kitchen at this early time of the day. I hadn’t even had the chance to absorb the caffeine from the first coffee. It is of course a truth universally acknowledged that I should never be allowed out in public before the first coffee – it being hazardous and all. At the very least it would be a public outrage to do so.

But there the editor was standing in front of the kitchen sink happily chatting away with me as if nothing at all was unusual. In between chatting, she was busy cleaning up, having just prepared the first coffee. We were up early so that the greenhouse project got completed. I was not happy about this intrusion into my early morning kitchen world. It is hard enough on my bleary morning addled senses, that the kitchen also contained the two Kelpie pups who were naturally fighting over which puppy should hang off the reluctant jowls of Ollie the delightfully natured Bull Arab. The complications were piling up along faster than were the dishes.

Over the many long years of our relationship, I have deduced many workable strategies to keep the editor out of the kitchen in the wee hours of the candidly unfocused mornings. One such excellent and proven strategy is to bribe the editor with a Lindt chocolate ball plus a proper coffee brought to her in the bedroom. The editor enjoys these treats whilst she reads a book. And is also out of the kitchen. It’s a win-win as far as I’m concerned.

Since the unexpected death of my old mate whom I wrote about last week, I haven’t quite been feeling my normal upbeat self. For example, usually during the occasional time where the editor intrudes into the kitchen of an early morning, I can usually gloss over the unfocused reality that belies the actual workings of my morning brain. This week has been a bit harder than usual.

The editor is sympathetic to my distress, and has been very gentle with me this week – despite making the unfortunate error of an early morning appearance in the kitchen. The editor has suggested that some retail therapy may help, and whilst I now feel a bit cheap, it might just work. I’ve long lusted after a wood chipper. Some people dream of overseas holidays to exotic destinations. I dream of wood chippers.

The farm is entirely surrounded by forest. There is no end to the quantity of branches and leaves on the ground. A wood chipper would increase the surface area of those branches and leaves through the mechanical act of chipping. The outcome would be that the now smaller organic matter would convert back into rich soil more readily. Another alternative option is to burn all of the material off, and then spread the ashes around the farm. Burning the material off is often not possible for six months of the year due to the fire restrictions. It’s hard work doing that job too but the ash is great fertiliser. Another alternative is to leave the leaves and branches where they fall.

Unfortunately, simply leaving branches and leaves where they fall is not a bright idea. You may have heard of the epic scaled bushfires down here last summer? 46 million acres burned, and let’s not also forget the recent epic US west coast forest fires. The intensity of such fires are often fuelled by the fine dry fuels, those being the dead branches and leaves all over the place. So yeah leaving the fine fuels hanging around is a really bad idea which has been proven wrong so many times now you’d think that our society would do something about it. Anyway, best not to have such fine fuels hanging around is my thoughts. So, yeah a wood chipper.

Large scale fires are a bit of a concern. A few weeks ago we paid for the home insurance. Over the previous 5 years the policy premium has increased at an average rate of 15.7%. This year the policy increased by a solid 20% over the previous year. It’s an impressive effort, and left me wondering at what point in the future I’ll not be able to afford to pay for the policy. Fast maths displayed the compounding effects of such an increase, and fortunately such techniques are easy to calculate, even for someone as challenged with mathematics as I am. The answer makes me squirm a bit.

Fans of Modern Monetary Theory would do well to look long and thoughtfully at the above graph, because it tells the slow story of hyper-inflation.

It is also a truism that poverty can be determined by the difference between income and costs. And economists have long been pondering the present predicament where incomes are stagnant yet costs continue to rise. It is not a hard story to understand when you have to pay the bills. Even the economically illiterate will soon understand that story. Other less flattering words can be used to describe the predicament, and one such might be: decline.

But anyway, with all the continual forest cleaning up going on, well, it’s left me with a hankering for a wood chipper. Unfortunately adding a new machine to the collection of machines on the farm adds to the maintenance burden. I can do basic maintenance and repairs on many of the machines, but the reality is that they eventually wear out and/or break down. That’s where the local farm machine repair guys step into the story. Those guys require my income in order to perform the repairs on the various machines I own. So, adding a new machine to the collection simply raises the overall basic costs of the farm. Lets ignore the other unmentioned costs such as storing the machines in the shedding!

Earlier in the week I heard a discussion on the radio where politicians and academics were discussing and advocating for the future of the hugely complicated electricity system that operates in this country. It’s an epic sized and seriously complicated machine. The farm has it’s own micro-sized electricity grid, so I have some insight into the general concerns that the operators (who are usually not the policy makers) of those machines have to face on a day to day basis.

The basic stances of the various parties are actually quite simple. The population wants things to continue as they are, where they do what they do. Politicians want to retire the current coal fired power plants, whilst they struggle with the dilemma posed by removing their output. Recently the politicians have been suggesting constructing natural gas power plants as an alternative. The academics in the discussion know two words only: Renewable energy. And it may be a moral judgement on my part, but to my ears the academics sound rather smug about their positions. I’m a practical guy who is primarily concerned for how these things are going to work, so I have my own biases. However, I just worry that the hugely complicated machine will soon become so complicated that it will fail or worse become unstable, possibly needing more attention than even the local farm machine repair guys can provide!

I love renewable energy systems and have used them on the farm for the past decade, and that’s despite them making no economic sense whatsoever. The thing is, nobody ever asks the really hard questions about renewable energy systems. One total clunker of a question is: what happens at night (no solar), when the wind is not blowing (no wind turbine movement), and during a drought (no water for hydro)? It seems like an obvious question, but there you go – nobody is asking it. What happens next then becomes a very important question. It seems to me that the politicians and academics are hell bent on finding out. I have my own ideas on how it will work out, and they could simply just ask me. It’s not hard to do that.

Anyway, the farm uses solar panels to charge the house batteries which supply power to the house and farm. Extreme weather I have noted produces very little solar electricity. A few days ago, the afternoon sky darkened with thick clouds.

Thick clouds built up in the skies over the farm

Despite being days past the spring equinox, and also a month into the official season of spring, snow soon began lightly falling over the farm.

The two sheep dog pups frolicked in the snow

Then the snow soon began to fall in earnest.

The snow was at first a light dusting

Before too long, there was snow everywhere and I began fretting for the many stone fruits and blossoms which had only recently began forming on the fruit trees.

The light dusting soon became a true winter wonderland

Soon, the entire farm was covered in a layer of spring snow.

Sheep dogs love snow. So do I, despite the crazy face.

Spare a thought for the over wintered vegetables on the many garden terraces. I hope those plants are cold hardy.

Snow blankets the over wintered vegetables on the various garden terraces

The collection of ferns in the fern gully looked really lovely all covered in snow.

Ferns in the fern gully were covered in snow

The many solar panels which supply electricity for charging the batteries, produce no power at all in these conditions. None at all.

A lot of solar panels producing nothing at all
More solar panels producing nothing at all

The smart money on the day was to camp oneself in front of the wood heater, and that was where Ollie was when Ruby went to dry herself off.

Ruby and Ollie enjoy the warmth of the wood heater on a very cold and snowy day

Unlike theoreticians and politicians I tend to work with the world as it presents itself. Other people can believe what they want. I tend to observe how things are, and how they work, and then formulate practical responses. Last spring was the coldest and shortest spring that I can ever recall. Summer was then extraordinarily hot, albeit very brief. Autumn was at least more or less what I would expect. Those climactic conditions make for horrendous growing conditions. Some plants were OK last growing season, but many weren’t. When plants fail I know a few places which sell quality seedlings.

There is plant nursery in Melbourne which supplies excellent heritage open-pollinated seedlings, but it is now out of reach due to the extraordinary lock-down and curfew related to the health subject which dares not be named. With all those conditions and restrictions in mind, we decided earlier in the year to construct a greenhouse so as to propagate seedlings from our own saved seeds. It seems like a prudent response to circumstances.

The greenhouse project continues

The day before the snow fell, the roof sheeting was installed, as was the drainage guttering and pipes. The collected water is all directed into a garden bed. The door was also attached and painted.

The greenhouse project nearing completion

Another day’s work on the building completed it. For such a small building, the greenhouse was extraordinarily complicated.

The greenhouse project is now completed. Ollie approves.

Most greenhouses are copies of buildings which have origins in very cold climates. Despite the occasional snowfall, the climate here is not really that cold. In fact the climate here can get quite hot, and plants inside a more traditional fully sealed greenhouse can cook and die. With that in mind, it is worth noting that plentiful ventilation around the entire upper part of the building was incorporated into the design. Additionally the windows are also openable if required. This allows for further ventilation. Will the building work as it needs to? I don’t really know, I’ve simply observed other structures that have similar arrangements and noted what worked and what didn’t.

The water collected from the roof of the greenhouse is directed into a nearby garden bed

Inside the greenhouse we have allowed for two rows for seedlings as well as a storage area to the rear of the building. If required we can add a further two rows for seedlings.

Inside the greenhouse are two rows for seedlings as well as a storage area at the rear

Fingers crossed the building works, and hopefully next week we get to plant out trays of seedlings.

Onto the snow-flowers:

Leucodendron’s are in there somewhere
Pineapple Sage with chunks of snow
This weeping Flowering Tree looks even more beautiful in the snow
Two Tulips which the rats and rabbits have failed to notice
Yellow Rhododendron’s are the earliest of all Rhodies here
Beautiful Geranium’s covered in snow
Lavender in snow

The temperature outside now at about 10.00am is 7’C (45’F). So far this year there has been 874.4mm (34.4 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 836.8mm (32.9 inches).

54 thoughts on “Road to snow-where”

  1. @ Pam – (From last week.) I have “How to Be A Victorian.” A good read, full of useful advice.

    If you search “Ruth Goodman” on U-Tub, all the series she did, are available. There’s even a few my library, didn’t get. A useful way to wile away our upcoming long winter evenings.

    I really like watching Ms. Goodman. She’s got a great sense of humor, and, the nastiest laugh, in media 🙂 . You may even pick up some useful skills. Or, at least a few useful skills that you might want to delve into, a bit deeper. What I like about her is, she doesn’t just try this stuff once. She gets in there and lives it, for great chunks of time. Lew

  2. Yo, Chris – Re: The Editor’s early morning forays into the kitchen. It’s called, being MARRIED!!! 🙂 . You may have noticed, I’m not. Your a better man than me, McDuff. I don’t think I could pull off civility. Do you run through a list of all the compensations, in your mind? 🙂 .

    Well, the wood chipper sounds like a very useful piece of kit. Retail therapy is just a fringe benefit. I needed a bit of that, myself. Just … because. So, I bought myself a nice vintage bacon dripping jar. Has a great Art Deco design on the outside, in blue and green.

    That’s quit a frightening graph. Hmm. I could probably come up with a rough figure, as to a lump some, over a period of time.

    Maintenance. Well, the book I’m reading, “The Innovation Delusion” is finally getting down to brass tacks. 1.) Maintenance sustains success. 2.) Maintenance depends on culture and management. 3.) Maintenance requires constant care. And, actually, there is quit a movement afoot to bring about those outcomes, in corners of our society. One interesting thing they point out, to get companies interested in maintenance is, if you spend $8,000 to maintain a machine, that will cost $235,000 to replace, how much can you add to your bottom line? The only thing that bothers me a bit is that maintenance seems to depend a lot on monitoring software.

    Well, I wouldn’t worry too much about Australia’s energy situation. Blue Ammonia, is on the horizon! I saw an article about Saudi Arabia making it’s first shipment of blue ammonia, to Japan. It linked to another article about blue ammonia and Australia. The video is less than 3 minutes long.

    See? Nothing to worry about! Sounds to good to be true! What could possible go wrong? 🙂 .

    Your snowfall was really quit beautiful. I hope it was gone in a short time, due to concerns over your fruit and veg. Animals in snow are always fun to watch. My chickens always went through all sorts of antics, when I opened the coop in the morning, and there was snow. And, be sure and check for tracks, of wildlife around the farm. It’s always interesting to see what was out and about, while your back was turned.

    Solar panels producing nothing. Sigh. They don’t even make good door stops or paperweights! 🙂 .

    I’m sure your greenhouse will require a little fine tuning, but, it sure turned out well. A neat, beautiful little building.

    Hard to believe, but snow on flowers just enhances their beauty. Makes them really stand out, and intensified their colors. Once when I was out, today, the sky was perfectly cloudless. From horizon to horizon. Haven’t seen that, in awhile. Our next week is supposed to be overcast in the morning, burning off to bright sun in the afternoon. We may even hit the 80s, a time or two. Over the last three days, we got close to 8 inches of rain. Lew

  3. Hi, Chris!

    Another great title! And the heading photo of your new greenhouse in the snow shows an interesting start to your spring. That has got to be the most carefully thought out greenhouse ever and it is as beautiful as a church.

    My son bought a wood chipper not long before the Great Dump Truck Project. We have not used it yet as the GDTP gets all priority. The project is coming along beautifully, but is taking way longer than expected as most of the spare parts have external rust and have to be carefully cleaned (my husband’s job) and there is much welding (my son’s job) to be done. But the engine is looking great and the body improves.

    Our home insurance graph would be much like yours; up, up, up. There certainly is hyperinflation in some areas.

    Oh, what clouds! What pink! Gorgeous! I love the lamp post and the path in the snow. Plum and Ruby are thrilled with snow, but Ollie is by the stove . . . Was it Mr. Toothy that loved to be by the stove in winter?

    The photos of the not-producing-at-all solar panels are the best illustration that I have seen for the dilemma of being able to count on solar power as a reliable energy source.

    The flowers do look extra beautiful with the snowy contrast. Funny-faced Chris, too.


  4. @ Lew:

    Thanks for more Ruth Goodman information. And thanks for mentioning blue ammonia. I had never heard of of it. What next? I will believe it works when Saudi Arabia is running their whole country on it.


  5. Hi Lewis,

    Yes, I too have read stories of the artisan metalworker or forestry worker living alone in the forest and producing charcoal. A Scottish author, Michael Scott Rohan penned a delightful fantasy series which I read many long years ago with the series title of The Winter of the World. The story was similar in some fleeting respects to the epic Camulod series with a genius lone metal worker forging ahead with new weapons. If it means anything, the Camulod characters imprinted meaning in my mind as to the various players and actors in the much larger Arthurian stories. Before reading the series the characters in other Arthurian stories lacked a sort of solidity, but that might just be me reflecting my pragmatic take on the world.

    But the larger point is that getting some carbon into iron produces the wicked material of steel. It’s a very useful material after all. I had absolutely no idea that briquettes were produced from such a wide variety of organic materials. What a rabbit hole and I had to walk away from the murky depths when I’d read Captain Lawrence Edward Grace “Titus” Oates final parting words: “I am just going outside and may be some time”. Whilst the snow day was cold here, it wasn’t that cold – although if caught unprepared outdoors that day the results would have been the same.

    Lewis, it disturbs me to consider that people burned peat as a fuel, although we have discussed peat fires before, and there was one in this part of the world not too long ago as a side effect of a bushfire. A true devil of thing to put out.

    Your memories of the old diesel heaters sort of matches mine. Although, and I’m relying on childhood memories, the heater had some sort of ceramic inserts which retained and radiated the heat. Getting the thing started was a bit of a drama as you rightly note. And I too would be a bit leery of such a machine. Hmm. I heard an odd news report a while back that in the island state to the south of this one, there had been an apparent incident of household carbon monoxide poisoning due to the use of: Eleven people leave hospital after carbon monoxide poisoning due to grill used inside home. This was not the case, but it is not lost on me that flues in wood heaters are quite important components and require, dare I say it, maintenance…

    Rosalind Russell was an exceptionally clever lady to have negotiated the downsides of her profession and thus ensured that she had a long career as a character actor. Looks fade, but talent, well that’s something else. And it may get better as the years go on. I’d never heard of the term ‘screwball’ before. Oddball, yes, but not screwball.

    At several points during the day I tested the greenhouse using the old fashioned method of just opening the door and sampling the air. And it was warm, but not too hot. Like the three little bears, it was just right. I better get the seedlings started next weekend. It was a real pleasure to see the building working as expected. I’ve lost count of the number of months and side projects required to get this building done, but on both counts it was a lot.

    And the building works in the reverse of all of the other buildings that we’ve constructed here. This building demanded to have its bones shown to all the world, and that idea originated due to the simple fact that the only requirement for the building was to have the four sturdy corner posts on show. The rest of the building fitted around that outcome. A really strange way to construct a small building, but there you go. Something about old dogs and new tricks.

    Your mention of Blum and comics lead me to the author: Toni Blum. An elusive and highly intelligent individual.

    Funky stuff. Get funked! I rather enjoyed Mr Brown’s work, and I noted that he paid his dues on the good foot. Don’t we all! 🙂 For some reason I was reminded of: ZZ Top – La Grange. It’s like rockabilly meets John Lee Hooker.

    Your skills in that regard exceed my own by several magnitudes of awesomeness. I don’t have any great skill in visual recall, but I like your style. I note that my mate Marcu has only just recently published his graphic novel based on Mr Greer’s story The Next “10 Billion Year”s. It was a chilling story to read originally, and I’ll nab a copy of the novel. My talents also are elsewhere! 🙂 It’s a fine place to be, and also full of lovely people.

    You’re quite right about the relationship and thanks for the correction of my thinking. I hadn’t thought of preparing a list of pro’s and con’s, and then weighing up the awful matter of the editor in the kitchen of an early morning. 😉 The patterns were very wrong… Hehe! I note that whilst I labour under few restrictions, saying that the patterns are wrong is one of them. It’s a small price to pay for the benefits, I guess. 🙂 I chucked the side story in for colour and background, and because it just amused me.

    As a kid I did so many early mornings working for mad cash, that I’d had enough of them for one life. I get that story and am no longer an early morning person despite fighting against the currents of the dominant narrative. My mate Mike who I mentioned last week, grew up on a farm, and he loathed mushrooms because he had eaten more than he could of them as a kid. A similar story.

    When we constructed the house up here in the hills, we rented a house in a nearby project housing estate. A lot of construction and early morning activity went on in such a place, and it was not unknown to be woken by brick deliveries at 5am, or people just going to work at 6am summer or winter. The nights were eerily quiet and it was as if the editor and I and also we noted the local baggie drop off guy, were the only people awake in that housing estate. Talk about being out of step. Bet you’ve experienced that feeling too?

    Ooo! My mum used to actually collect the dripping in such a ceramic jar for use in later cooking. Chips cooked from actual dripping taste like nothing else. Yum, but so bad. But so yum too. A nice score and I note the blue colour. 🙂 The wood chipper will probably be fine. We’re going to test it out next weekend – well that’s the plan at this stage. The machine needs some work first. It’s a funny technology and I suspect that we’ll just have to accept a good enough machine – which is fine.

    Mate the graph is frightening, try stumping the mad cash for the bill. I was trying to work out the point at which we abandon the coverage, and it’s a complicated decision.

    Points 1, 2 and 3 regarding maintenance point to cultural issues. If the culture has built in flaws, then the flaws might enable initial success, but all policies and strategies are subject to diminishing returns. So much of what we have around us was never intended to be maintained that it is something of a cultural embarrassment. And possibly we’d never be able to have achieved the crazy heights that as a society we have done if we’d have to pay for the ongoing maintenance. The Oroville Dam incident comes to mind.

    I read the full article on ammonia which is currently sourced from natural gas. I must say that I was very impressed with the artists impression of all of those wind turbines sitting on the edge of what is probably the south coast of the continent. Have they not heard of coastal erosion? Anyway, the article skipped over niceties of what the anodes and cathodes in the fuel cells were actually made from. Other fuel cells use some interesting and exotic materials, but you know I’d like to be wrong. The gushing tones of the article made me feel very uncomfortable.

    The snow hung around for most of the night, but a very heavy rainstorm in the middle of the night may strangely have saved the fruit crop. Not sure yet. You’re so right about the animal tracks in the snow. Like what the heck was walking over the bonnet of the dirt rat Suzuki? So many questions…

    The solar panels might make for a good roof over a chicken run? I’m still amazed that the second hand ones have so little value that I could nab 16 of them for $400. Such a strange world.

    Thanks, and yes like most projects here, a few tweaks are required with the greenhouse in order to get it working just that bit better. Never used one before, so who knows how it will all work out.

    Cloudless skies are a thing of beauty and you may have noticed that the blue colour of the atmosphere changes throughout the day. It was likewise a beautiful day here too. Unfortunately I was inside working and left looking longingly outside. 🙂



  6. Hi Inge,

    Thanks for continuing. 🙂

    Interesting. The scholarships I’d heard of were written exams, not actual interviews.

    Please excuse the commentary on your story, but it put in me mind of when I ran a graduate program for a large corporate. I told the graduates that I’d never shot anyone for making a mistake, but I sure had for lying to me. It’s just that your supposition reflects the fact that it takes a level of maturity to admit that you’d gotten something wrong or that you simply don’t know. I learned that lesson as an adult, and would not have had your maturity at a similar age. I’m impressed at your personal drive.

    Tested the greenhouse today and it worked well and the air was much warmer inside the building than outside in the cool but sunny day.

    Did you do well academically once you got your foot in the door?



  7. Hello Chris
    My husband was a morning person and I am the reverse. By the time that I dragged myself out of bed, he was long up and gone. This worked out very well; he even dealt with early rising infants.
    Sheds and greenhouse look wonderful though you may find yourself wishing that the greenhouse was larger. That would certainly be the case in this climate.
    Yes, snow is not good for flowering fruit trees but your ground flowers looked interesting in the snow. There are usually no flowers in bloom when it snows here.

    House insurance is an horrendous thing and insurance companies try very hard to find reasons not to pay out. I don’t bother with insurance and not having a vehicle, I don’t have an obligatory one. My wooden dwelling is small and Son could re-build, so it’s not worth paying out ever increasing sums for years.

    The scholarship was a written exam but it covered a number of schools and the interview was with the best one. I did just enough work subsequently to prevent myself being chucked out as I knew that my mother wanted me out early and there was little point in doing particularly well. However I fought her to get that extra year and decided to show them what I was really capable of. All hell blew up as I came way top in every exam and my mother was summoned to the school. I assume that she was her ghastly self and screamed and wept at them. They offered to help financially to keep me there. Nothing doing. She came home and figuratively tore strips off me. I left at the end of that year and really enjoyed working in the local public library.


  8. Hi Chris,

    First, I appreciated your story about your mate who died. It helped me to get a sense of what he was like and, via the comments, to better understand what drove the wedge between the two of you.

    Second, the greenhouse is very handsome! I see no reason that buildings cannot be beautiful as well as functional. May it work as beautifully as it looks!

    Spring snow is not at all uncommon here, and far deeper and colder snow than you received. The fruit trees here would not suffer any ill effects from the level of snow and cold that you experienced, but your varieties may be less cold-hardy than the ones I grow.

    Were we not half a world apart, I would happily sell you Mike’s and my wood chipper for a very reasonable price. Neither of us likes using it – too loud and too dangerous – and our property isn’t large enough to generate enough downed wood to make enough wood chips to justify getting used to the wood chipper. When I make it through the backlog of items on the current project list, we will ask our local farm equipment store if they will sell it for us on consignment.

    Finally we got a little rain last night. Only about a half inch, but it doubled the total for the month, which is still less than half of the usual monthly rainfall. A cold spell is upon us for the next week at least, and any cold spell in October brings the threat of frost. Hence I moved all the potted citrus and other subtropical trees back onto the glassed-in sun-facing front porch until next spring. Some leaf color change is just beginning, but we are still a few weeks short of peak color. We might have a good color year for a change.


  9. Chris,

    I feel your early morning woes. I, too, need a slow start with minimal human interaction until the caffeine kicks in. 9Start the process at 6 a.m.on work days and I might be civil at 10.) Fortunately, the Princess is much the same way, so on those occasions when we both arise at about the same time, we stay out of one another’s way until we are both able to cope with more than trying to wake up. Like you, at that time of day the kitchen is mine, and anyone entering the kitchen too early threatens to throw off my entire day.

    Good job on the greenhouse. From your comments, it seems you’ve tried to design it correctly: warmer in than out but not hot to the cooking point. Hope it works that way.

    Favorite pictures from this week: First, Ollie approving of the greenhouse. He looks so calm, likely because he’s with you and no youngsters are hanging from his jowls. Second is the snow on the ferns. The real reasons I liked archery hunting in December and cross country skiing were so that I could be in the snow and see fresh snow on ferns, a beautiful sight indeed. Oh, and being able to see and learn to identify the tracks left by various animals and birds. Third favorite photo is the series of snow-covered solar panels, sitting idle, unable to perform. There’s theory, and then there’s reality. Reality always wins in the end. Your reminders of that are always welcome.

    May the chipper work out. I’d vote for burning and ash, but as you noted, you can’t burn during the fire season.

    The Princess is becoming better with our new phones than I am. Which is a good thing. At least one of us needs to be smarter than a smart thing. She, being smart, also echoed a question you asked last week: when am I gonna purchase a pole saw?

    A bit of continuation from last week, which I’ll call The Public, Journos and Polls. I regularly read Nate Silver’s polls AND discussion at IMO he was unfairly pilloried for his final predictions of the 2016 election. The numbers said 60% chance Hillary would win. That is the only thing that most people and the journos looked at. His discussion, however, also noted the trend of the final 3 weeks: Hilary’s 83% chance had diminished rapidly, so despite the numbers, he verbally stated that he was calling it a virtual 50-50 toss up. He was correct in that.

    In fact, looking at that dread branch of maths called probability and statistics, even his numbers at 60% were correct. Why? Under the conditions in play at the time of the election, it meant that Hillary would likely win 3 times out of 5 elections, Trump winning the other 2. In other words, 60% is NOT a lock. It’s like flipping a coin: 50% chance of heads, 50% chance of tails. Yet, I ‘ve seen 6 consecutive heads tossed, which has a 1 in 32 chance, or about 3%. It happens.

    So the problem then gets to be journos and the public. NEITHER group generally have a clue about prob and stats. They just see a 60% number and think it’s a done deal. Even in today’s numbers, with Biden 77%, that means there’s nearly 1 chance in 4 that Trump will win IF the election were today. Definitely not a lock for either person. Disappointingly, does not show it’s margin of error typically. Margin of error is a huge data point. It turns out that in 2016, Trump was within’s margin of error, which Nate Silver mentioned sometime later.

    So in my view the kicker gets to be that the pollsters need to release the proper amount of disclaimers and stress the margin of error as heavily as the actual poll number. At this stage of the contest, I think the polls are rather meaningless other than as background for any polling trends as the election nears.

    Arg! Our electric clothes dryer broke again. Same problem as before. Bleeping computerized stuff. This time, rather than going to the place where we purchased it, I’ve set an appointment with a highly rated appliance repair company. They’ll be here next week. At least we’re having late summer weather again, so I can always rig a line and hang outdoors.


  10. Yo, Chris – This just in from Archaeology Land, on ancient steel …

    Scroll down the right hand side and look for the article under “Ancient Ruins – Akrotiri” . Saves me having to do a link. I may reach peak links, with this post! 🙂 . It’s about Thera. Possible origin place of the Atlantis legend.

    I’d never thought about peat fires, but was aware of coal seam fires. Check this out ..

    When I was a kid, on vacation, somewhere in the Black Hills of the Dakotas (see the Beatles: Rocky Raccoon), I remember a lookout where you could view a coal seam fire, off in the distance. A black smudge on the horizon. According to the reader board, it had been burning for hundreds of years. Also check out under the US section, “Centralia, Pennsylvania. I stumbled on that story, years ago, when Gargling around for some info on my Centralia.

    When there’s any disaster here, that may disrupt the electric, there’s always all kinds of warnings about using grills in the house, or even, gas generators in an attached garage. Even though it’s kind of general knowledge, it seems like there’s always a tragedy or two. Darwin Awards, at work?

    Ohhhhh! Thank you for the link to Toni Blum’s work. I had never heard of her. Interesting that there’s a link from her listing to her father’s, but not one from his to hers. I like to put artist information on the back of my lithographs, so they may generate more interest when it comes time for them to hit the auction block. IE: when I shuffle off the mortal coil 🙂 . I especially liked one of her pseudonyms. “Bjorn Tagens.” Wonder where she came up with that?

    It’s a sad thing that even up until the early 1960s, some women authors and artists felt they had to use a male pseudonym to get published or noticed. Louisa May Alcott (Little Women) used a number of male pseudonyms, to write real pot-boilers. She made no bones about doing it, purely for the money. As she was pretty much the sole support of her family. This wasn’t known until fairly recently. Two New York women book dealers, ferreted out the alternate names she used. It was quit a detective story, and I read an account of their hunt, years ago. Those books have since been republished under the Alcott name.

    I wasn’t a big ZZ Top fan, but did like several of their songs. And those beards! Something to aspire to. 🙂 .

    I looked around for the graphic novel, you mentioned. Neither The River, nor EBuy, carry it. There was a link to purchase, but something called lulu wouldn’t load on my computer. Might be due to my old software. I wonder if it’s “print on demand?” I was going to ask my library to order a copy, but …

    Yup. After long years of being forced to be an early riser, when I was an adult, I often took jobs that were evenings and nights. Even when I worked for the library, one of the other reasons I got so much work is that I was more than happy to work evening shifts. When I worked in bookstores, it was the same. I’ve often mentioned how noisy it can be, around here. Most times, I can just roll over, and go back to sleep. I must say that during the course of my life, some people have tried to “guilt trip” me, for not being a morning person. Not that I ever took much notice. 🙂 .

    I’m to the point now where these articles on civilization saving forms of whacked out energy, just get an eye roll, from me. I’d say I’m more amused, than anything, that people can be so gullible. Lew

  11. Hi Pam,

    Thank you about the snappy title, and Talking Heads may have been involved in there somewhere or other! And the greenhouse really did design itself, as the only stipulation for the design was that the four chunky corner posts were to be seen. The posts are Cypress Pine (a native timber) and when cut it has a lovely soapy smell. I once laid an entire house with timber floorboards cut from the same species. Really beautiful timber.

    Ah, updates on the wood chipper maybe for next week. Maybe. Glad to hear that your son is getting the GDTP into, dare I say it, gear. 🙂 He’ll learn a lot about the machine doing the project the way that they’re doing it, plus it is good to work together on such a project.

    Yes, it’s quite awful the ever escalating bill story. I’m not into it, but what can you do when Modern Monetary Theorists have their grubby hands on the control levers? It is a bit sad that they do not realise that the easy path, is actually the hard path in disguise. But I dunno, they’ll learn in time. The eventual fall out from the policies may not be good, but at the same time it will be survivable.

    The two girls loved the snow, particularly Ruby who is more adventurous than Plum. It was the sadly missed, but remarkably sedentary Sir Poopy, who to be fair earned his title for services rendered to the farm, who enjoyed the snow the most. I often wondered if he was looking for reindeer?

    People are bonkers about renewable energy sources and so it is an important recurring theme, and probably will be again in the future. They’re good, they’re just not good enough.




  12. Hi Inge,

    Your husband was clearly a pragmatist to have so arranged the morning routine to your satisfaction. Neither the editor nor I are morning people, and it is probably a good corner stone of the relationship. Dunno about you, but I tend to defer to the realities of a person’s foibles. If I had a mind to do so, I could actually ensure that the outcomes were otherwise, but I don’t seek control over others as there is a deep understanding that this would eventually become a burden. Better to work with the world as it is, rather than fight for an ideal world. It is not a popular perspective, but on the other hand it works.

    Your climate is different from here, and the greenhouse is at this stage only intended to be used for raising seedlings. The climate here is on a knifes edge for some plant species and so the building will push the story ever so slightly in our favour. That’s the theory anyway. There are plans to add an additional layer of seedling racks and we have the materials with which to do so. It’s the time that is in short supply, and so the building becomes good enough for this season.

    It is remarkable the difference that latitude can make. With global warming, you can’t really know what is in store for your land. If I recall my history correctly, the Roman’s used to grow grapes in your fine country? The kiwi fruit vines have broken their dormancy in the past few days.

    All of that is true about insurance. However, after large disasters, the state government tends to outsource major clean-ups of damaged properties to commercial interests. If that did not happen, I could easily rebuild this place too and nobody would be the wiser. It just isn’t the case, and due to the oversight I have to weigh up the risk versus the rebuild costs.

    There is a skill known as ‘reading the room’. In other times it was known as ‘cold reading’. It takes a lot of skill to know where the wind will blow. A lot. As a comparison story, my mother once casually remarked to me at a similar age that I was not as smart as my older sister (whom she favoured), and I tell you truly that academically I blitzed my sister, and whilst not achieving your heady results, was still an academic colours-man. Good enough for me, but probably went unnoticed at home. Oh well, it is a truism that you’re not responsible as a child for where you find yourself. Anyway, how did you end up working at the library? Were you able to obtain a letter of recommendation?

    I still have the hand written letter of recommendation from the headmaster, and he seemed genuinely pleased to provide it. Having a touch of gumption, following the conclusion of school I arranged an appointment, had an enjoyable discussion and obtained the letter. To be frank it was amazing that he gave me his time, and the letter opened doors.



  13. Hi Claire,

    Mike was an interesting person who cared not a whit for social norms. He certainly lived the life he wanted to live, and he could be a lot of fun. I feel pleased to have encountered him and became good friends. He had a sharp and possibly amusingly acerbic tongue, but I tend to feel that this was because he had clear eyesight and was a straight talker. You’ve probably met such folks in your travels?

    The yoko problem was a real pain. But what do you do? It’s not for me to challenge that story, it just is what it was.

    Thank you for saying the lovely words about the greenhouse. The building actually designed itself and began with the only design criteria that the four chunky timber corners were visible. It tends to look slightly Japanese inspired to my eyes, but I might be kidding myself. My friends of the big shed fame describe this place as like a little village due to all of the small sheds dotted about the property. One can never have too many sheds. 🙂

    Happy autumnal equinox! 🙂

    Hehe! Well, in this warm old continent of down under, we are a bit summer soft and used to warmer than average weather!!! Hehe! Spring snow is a real pain with the fruit trees here, and each day I’ve been walking the orchards and checking out how the fruit trees are responding.

    As I know you to be a fine upstanding citizen I would happily purchase your wood chipper. However the freight costs would do my head in! Hehe! Far out. A good idea to sell the unused machine. In fact if I dare make a friendly suggestion: If you have anything useful but unused, sell it off whilst it still has value. And as a comparison, there are probably ten thousand trees on the property. The supply of fallen branches and leaves is not infinite, but it might as well be.

    Brr. Fingers crossed that you do not suffer from an early frost. I saw icicles outside last evening, but they were gone this morning. And really good to hear that you have potted citrus. 🙂 Happy days is a large and fruitful lemon tree. Leaf change is very variable here too. I wish it were not a tourist thing though.



  14. Hi DJ,

    Mate, what is it about early mornings that are such a pain? Usually I sleep like the dead and require heaps of sleep in order to function well. I must say that it is wise to have ended up with a lady who shares your dislike of early mornings. As a comparison, the editor does not enjoy early mornings either, however she does seem more perky first thing in the morning. This of course may be because it is I who gets the house going at such hours and not her. Is it wise to inquire as to the veracity of that belief though? Possibly not.

    As someone who is self employed, few people require me to be on site at ungodly hours of the morning. There might be a special charge on their bills for that dreadful possibility if it was so requested. 🙂

    Thank you for the nice words about the greenhouse, and yes time will tell. I have an old school alcohol (red liquid) thermometer which I’ll hang off one of the walls inside the greenhouse over the next few days.

    Ollie sends cordial tail wags for having so noticed his general cool and pleasant demeanour. The snow on the ferns is really lovely to see, and the fronds are arched in such a way that they direct falling organic matter so that it falls around the trunks. Clever plants, but they’ve been around the planet for a very long time. A good point too as the forest tells all sorts of stories for those with eyes, ears and nose to see. Discovered a new wombat burrow the other day and I was unsure whether it was a wombat burrow or a fox den, but soon discovered the nearby wombat scats of a large marsupial marking its territory.

    The solar panels under snow is a gentle reminder for people not to bet the farm on this technology. Although between you and I, plenty of folks are pushing for that outcome. I do hope that they won’t be disappointed when the lights go out? Anyway, from time to time I’ll bang on about that story.

    Burning is an easier way to do the job that’s for sure. The chipper will be a pain and I have no doubts about it. On the other hand, another way to look at the matter is that the chipper will be in a round-about way using fossil fuels to store energy in the soil for later on.

    Yes, a functional household does require at least one person to be able to make heads or tails of any given technology. In some ways, you’ve dodged a bullet that it is your lady rather than your good self. 🙂 I have the other side of that problem and am fond of reminding the editor that she once worked for a large tech company. The reaction is not good to the reminder! Living on the edge…

    Mate, DJ, mate, your grasp of the maths is far beyond my ken and I will defer to your better understanding of the subject. Although for the record, I did obtain High Distinctions in the subjects Statistics I and II so am no sluggard. That maths just made sense to me. You’re right about the disclaimers, but it is a bit like our old mates Vroomfondel and Majikthise, if the folks supplying the numbers don’t correct the misunderstandings and also don’t publicly denounce the use of the numbers, well their motivations become muddied and it is just possible that maybe seeking notoriety and/or a pay cheque. Whatever the case, it introduces a possible conflict of interest to the analysis. And to maintain integrity, a person must not simply maintain integrity, they must be perceived to have done so.

    Then there is the serious credibility problem in that if the media reports that major events will go one way, when they in fact go another opposite way then people simply start switching off and disengaging with the media. I tell you, this is happening right now.

    Ah yes, rigging a line is a wise option – just avoid windy and/or smoky days. For winter there is always the washing horse which I’ve used for decades.



  15. Chris:

    I forgot to thank you for being so bold as to tell you Editor-in-the-morning story. I am the early bird here, sometimes up hours before the others, and am all fired up and chipper (not wood chips) by the time they straggle in. I have to remember that I would not like it if they were that way when I got up.

    How wonderful to have cypress pine posts.

    Ah – Sir Poopy, with his Northern coat . . .


  16. Hi Lewis,

    Ancient steel! Good stuff and thanks for the link. I noticed that in the meteorite crater on private land in your country which we discussed a while back, there was a good component of nickel in the meteor, and of course this would make it a skystone! 🙂 What a rabbit hole you lead me down and it also gave me an appreciation for just how complicated the various mixes of minerals are in the average chunk of steel. It amazes me to think that such a genuinely useful production method could be lost for almost a millennia, only to be rediscovered again.

    The Akrotiri article caught my eye before I read your words. I noticed that volcanoes are a mixed blessing in that the mineral rich soils attract civilisations, but the explosive nature of the volcanoes also can destroy said civilisation. It is a bit like our uber reliance on natural gas for fertiliser. With the fossil fuels freely available we can rely on so few folks producing a heck of a lot of stuff for the rest of the population to eat. But any break in the supply side of that story will eventually produce hungry mouths. I do wonder about the soil fertility story, and I have discovered no way to speed up the soil fertility process. It just takes three years minimum using organic fertilisers like composts and mulches, and that’s what it takes.

    Oh my! Turns out that the oldest known coal seam fire is down under. Burning Mountain. The indigenous story reminded me of some post apocalyptic nuclear reactor stories. The fire has been burning for 6,000 years! I noted a few images of actively mined coal mines with active fires in them. I recall that a fire began in a large open cut coal mine about a decade ago: Hazelwood mine fire: Looking back at the blaze that threatened Morwell. It is of note that the power plant has since been decommissioned.

    The Black Hills are a fascinating place with a sad history. It sure looked like rough living and I had not realised the history and also the Deadwood connection. The area looks wild, which I quite like, but also somewhat forbidding.

    The Lewis and Clark Expedition encountered coal fires in your part of the world. The Centralia fire was in Pennsylvania which rather unfortunately has 45 of the things ongoing. Talk about the gift that keeps on giving.

    You never hear such official warnings down here, although I have noted warnings on the generators not to use them inside a house or shed. Not that you’d want the noisy machine going on about its business anywhere near where your ears could be offended by the cacophony. Not sure what was going on with the carbon monoxide poisoning in the article the other day, but the suggestion was some sort of home heating device, although admittedly the report was not at all clear on the matter.

    Very thoughtful about providing artist information details and you’d hope that they were made use of. This dying thing is really a bit of a nuisance, ol’ chap. Yes, happens to the best of us I’m afraid. 😉 Hopefully later though… It was good to read that Toni Blum received support from her co-workers despite the difficulties revealed in the article. Bjorn Tagens. Hmm. Possibly Bjorn Agents? Although this word game is a not a strong suit of mine. Reminds me of the name of an Abba cover band I went to see decades ago with an amusing name: Bjorn Again. Very droll.

    Things were tough for women, and I recall that my grandfather had to guarantee the mortgage for my mother back in the 70’s. My mum was super annoyed about it, and I can still recall the stink. When the editor and I combined our finances back in the 90’s and purchased a house, the bank put us through the ringer and the lawyer remarked to us youngsters in a very condescending and morally judgemental manner, that property was not a short term decision to be taken lightly. He could have all the thoughts he wanted, and was in a position to share them with us. We ignored him. He may have meant well, but then again he may have just been a …… Ah, “Fraulein Dummkopf”, yes it is amazing that more people aren’t murdered.

    Maybe it is just me, but the idea of a “Holmes and Watson” rare book duo sort of has appeal. Great characters. 🙂

    Yes, lulu – not even sure what the heck it is, but it does sound like a print-on-demand outfit.

    It is a waste of a good guilt-trip I’m afraid. Anyway, it takes one to know one!!! Good moves on your part too. By way of comparison, my late starts are often considered a quirky trait, but by and large most people don’t want to see me early for work anyway. Self employment and small business comes with few if any benefits, but dictating time is possibly the best of the lot.

    Yeah, it is possibly best for all concerned that people with a bent to save the planet, just get on with the job at hand. You never know they might surprise us all, but I doubt it. One of the things I took away from the Limits to Growth models and book was that no matter what variables you played around with, if the trajectory was the same, well the story stays the same. It gets down to timing really, and that’s about it. Oh well.



  17. Hi Pam,

    Ah yes, you are clearly made of sterner stuff than I. And the editor looked disapprovingly at the story as she prefers to remain anonymous. She has remarked that I am a ‘sharer’, but I do not recall shearing any sheep, so have no real idea what she meant – and didn’t want to ask.

    Dare I be so bold as to mention that your ingenious strategy negates the entire situation in the first place. It’s an impressive achievement and I salute your general level of cleverness. Of course it is also far more likely that you are a much nicer morning person than all of us combined.

    How is the timber supply situation going?

    If you want to see a relative of Sir Poopy chasing reindeer, well here’s your chance: Dogs 101 – Swedish Lapphund. Despite his generally lazy ways, he really loved herding up the wildlife. Never had deer, fox, rabbit problems with him around.



  18. Hi Chris,
    The greenhouse looks great. I wish you much success with the seedlings. I don’t know if I ever mentioned that I had a greenhouse at my old place. I had a thermostatically controlled exhaust fan which was very helpful. However it still got too hot sometimes so I also had a shade cover. At least your temperatures won’t go so low at night to damage the seedlings. That was another issue I had. When plants aren’t in it during the summer it’s great for drying things if needed.

    Like Pam I’m a very early riser. Doug gets up early too but later than me which is good as he interrupts my reading with questions and also starts playing You Tubes too loud IMHO.

    Our area of the state has rising cases enough that we may have more restrictions put in place.

    One of the Land Conservancy’s staff came out for a site evaluation of our property and gave us realistic ideas regarding how to add more native plants to our property.

    Went to Chicago to bring plants to younger daughter over the weekend. We had some pleasant walks through the neighborhood viewing all the different landscaping and backyard set ups people had. The lots where she lives are quite small but some people have been very creative. Several are growing veggies among flowers in the front yard as is my daughter.

    What was the dogs’ reaction to snow. The first time dogs usually look kind of shocked but general love romping around in it. Of course it usually measures inches.


  19. Hello again
    Yes indeed, neither seek to control another or permit them to control you.
    We have vineyards in the UK though possibly only in the south.
    Like you I had a letter of recommendation from my head teacher. We all received one when we left school. My best friend was most upset when she compared hers with mine. The two were identical except for one passage left out of hers. No way could she have presented it to an employer at the same time as mine was presented.
    I don’t remember whether or not I ever used it. I left school on the Friday and started work the following Monday. I am sure that I only received the letter along with my final school report. Memory is vague but I think that I simply went to the library and asked for a job. I do remember a very taxing interview but I made them laugh.
    Back in those days one acquired ones qualifications while working instead of arriving as a fully fledged academic. I reckon that it was far better then and the other staff were incredibly varied and interesting.


  20. Chris,

    I dunno why, but some of us just start slowly in the mornings. Period. As to you and the Editor…Some questions are best left unasked, as that leads to overthinking, which always gums up the works. So says one guilty of a lifetime of overthinking.

    I like the old red alcohol thermometers. I grew up with those. They work just fine.

    Ah yes, when in doubt, look at the scat. That method works nearly every time.

    Oh, I may have neglected to mention the 2nd “Atmospheric River” from last week. Ha! More like an atmospheric trickle. Although the 2 storms combined did grace us with about 8mm of well needed rain. The plants and lawns all appreciated it, too.

    The “renewable energy only” crowd? All I can say to them is to be careful what you wish for. And who do you think will scream the loudest when the lights go out?

    Nice point of view on the chipper! I like it – use fossil fuels to return carbon to the ground. Nice one, that.

    Oh, the technology thing in this house is interesting. For our computer, I am the expert. We get new phones and I struggle to learn the basics, teach them to the Princess when we are both in the “what the bleep is this and how the dickens can I make it work” mode. Then she figures out the fine tuning and the best parts of the features. Again, the smart one has me do the nasty bits…

    Vroomfondel and Majicthise? I know of them extremely well. After all, I am the head of the local chapter of the Amalgamated Union of Philosophers, Seers, Luminaries and Other Thinking Persons”. 😉

    Your points about the integrity are spot on. Many years ago, the local public transport folks floated a bond issue for public vote. (They’re sort of, but not quite completely, part of the government sector.) At the time, I had 2 nearby bus routes I could ride, with 6 options per hour during peak travel times. Their advertising agency, among other things, advertised that if the issue passed, there would be “no decrease in services”. It passed. 6 weeks later, 1 of my routes was discontinued and the other had its frequency cut in half, resulting in a 2/3 cut in services. I contacted the bus company’s PR person, who was a very nice person. I explained what had happened and did make the point that it was false advertising. The response? “WE never said that, it was the advertising people who said that.” I replied that THEY had hired the advertisers, and by NOT correcting the falsehood were giving it tacit approval, which amounted to lying to the public. Unbeknownst to me, she was a close friend of one of our organization’s managers. Said manager asked to talk to me a few weeks later. The bus PR gal, based on my conversation (and a few similar ones), had left the bus company and found another job because she couldn’t stand the fact that her integrity had been smeared by management decisions.

    Criminy, the media has no credibility left on predicting stuff. Some bloke in this country is starting a new news program called “The News”. He promises not to have talking heads, editorialists, or opinions, but to only report facts like “Today such and such happened.” Nice idea, but…who determines what is news and what isn’t? And how do you report, say Custer at the Little Big Horn? Do you report it as “Custer Massacred” or “Indigenous People Fight to Protect Their Homeland and Treaties”? How the barebones “news” is presented can still be very biased.

    I like the wash horses. We’ve got 1 or 2 in the basement. We’ve used them in the past and refuse to get rid of them. Great things to place in front of the fireplace – gas fireplace or wood fireplace.

    Thank Ollie for the tail wags. Any dog that is as good natured as Ollie is to be prized and pampered.


  21. Yo, Chris – Early mornings are a problem, because, well, they’re early. So I’ve been told 🙂 .

    All this talk about wood chippers reminded me of a film I watched about a year ago. “Tucker and Dale vs Evil.” A very funny comedy / horror film, if you have a certain sense of humor. Not family friendly, due to buckets of blood.

    Less than 3 minutes.

    The Burning Mountain article was very interesting. And also, the Hazelwood fire. That one picture from Hazelwood looks like the Gates of Hell have opened. Hmmm. I wonder if early mankind discovered fire, due to a lightening struck coal seam?

    Besides gas generators, and grills used indoors, candles are often the source of tragedy, when the lights go out. An overactive Moogie, or small child, and, away you go!

    Well, that’s one of the reasons I like collecting tat. Teasing out all the facts about a particular piece. The social currents that contributed to a form, or the materials used. As an example, EAPG (Early American Pattern Glass) was known as “poor man’s cut glass.” And, when you wash it in ammonia, and polish it up, it does sparkle like cut glass. Carnival Glass, was sometimes known as “poor man’s Tiffany glass.” Mass produced instead of blown one at a time, by a pressing process. Iridescence sprayed on, and fired.

    And, I must admit that knowing something, that others may not know, is a bit of a high. Sometimes, when I see something at auction, I wonder if anyone else has noticed … whatever. Or know whatever, which enhances value.

    It is my secret shame, that I quit like Abba. (I’d give it an 8, Dick, cause it’s got a good beat and you can dance to it. And, sing along at the top of your lungs.) A cover band named “Bjorn Again”, is quit funny. Wonder how many people are deeply disappointed, when they discover it’s not a Christian rock band? 🙂 .

    People talk all kinds of rubbish, and sometimes you have to sit there and take it. But there’s a certain sweet pleasure, in proving them wrong.

    I managed to pick a Ukrainian tomato, today, that has just began to turn color, and isn’t damaged. At least to my eye. I’ll let it ripen up on the counter for a day or two, and explore. Lew

    PS: If you’ve got the room, you might give tea or coffee, another whirl, in your greenhouse.

  22. Hi Chris,

    The greenhouse looks great, although like others, I wonder if you will be wishing for more space soon. No matter, what is another shed to build 🙂 All these pictures of snow, and talk of wood chippers brings to mind a certain scene in Fargo. No further comment needed 🙂


  23. Hi Margaret,

    Thank you and the thermostatically controlled exhaust fan is a great idea. It is funny you mention the shade cloth, but most of the greenhouses I’ve seen in this mountain range and nearby surrounds also had to place shade cloth on the outside of the roof.

    With that in mind, I thought of that and used dark brown and dark grey polycarbonate sheets and they do slow some of the suns natural radiation from entering through the roof and walls. There is also serious ventilation all around the upper parts of the building. But honestly I really don’t know how the building will perform and am just taking a wild stab in the dark and will see how it goes.

    But yes, you are correct and it would be an extraordinary night to produce occasional temperatures that would harm the seedlings busily growing away in the greenhouse. That does not rule it out as a possibility. I’ve experienced 28’F and seedlings would not like that at all.

    Hehe! Like with Pam I salute your stoicism and good nature in the face of the early mornings. 🙂 The editor would have an opinion about overly loud utoob videos, especially with my dodgy taste in music!!! Two words – good luck! Hehe!

    Margaret, the restrictions here are as crazy and stringent as you could possibly imagine. It’s a bit extreme.

    What good stuff with the plants, and people who dig up their front yards and outrage the neighbourhood by growing edible plants, are my kind of people. The neighbourhood after all could use a bit of shaking up. 🙂 There have been seed shortages of one form or another of late down here, and fortunately I’m well practised in the gentle art of seed saving. Your daughter has the right of it with such an arrangement of plants. Do you know where she got that idea? It is not commonly seen or heard.

    Ollie kept to indoors during the snow. He’s no snow bunny, or anyone’s fool. The heater was the place to be on that day for him. The two girls on the other hand loved the snow. Did you notice the photo of Plum jumping for joy in the frigid air? They had a ball in the snow. Which of Salve and Leo likes the snow the best?



  24. Hi Inge,

    Wise words. And your point about control going two ways in relationships is not lost on me. The concept and the state of free will has been something that I’ve been cogitating upon for many years. It is not as easy a state to obtain as most people would imagine. There is a weight carried by most people just through day to day living and it derives from the dominant culture…

    Thank you for the correction about the grape vines in the UK. It makes sense that they would grow in the south of your country.

    As a comparison, the letter of recommendation was not provided, it had to be asked for. And also the possibility of that was not even hinted at. However, I could not tell you where the idea originated to obtain it, certainly not my mother. After High School completed, I needed a job and so necessity may have been the mother of invention as they say. Dunno.

    Yes, identical letters of recommendation possibly lose merit with duplicated words. And the lost paragraph which you hinted at sounds intriguing. Did the lack of the paragraph in anyway affect your friendship?

    Necessity is a driving force ain’t it? An enjoyable week after my final exam found me on a production line which produced computer disks. The work was dull but hardly demanding and was quite pleasant really.

    You made an interesting choice with the library, and I’m guessing was it because you were familiar with the environs of the library? It is handy to bring mirth to a place as you mentioned and I wield that tool too when I’m at businesses. But I tell you truly, I’ve made some folks cry too when I believed that it was a desirable outcome so that fundamentals could change. There is no joy in doing that, but some folks avoid pain and in doing so thus create larger problems.

    Hehe! Yes, too true and I could tell you some stories of graduates that have reported to me. I worked from day dot and studied part time at night due to financial considerations. But if it means anything, I believe that what was once old will probably be new again at some point in the future.



  25. Hi Damo,

    Carl had it coming. And the memorable scene also depicts the foolishness of asking a small wood chipper to do the job of a much larger and better powered wood chipper. Still, pigs would be easier againand provide better environmental outcomes. 😉 Saw that in action on the series Deadwood and um, yeah, some things ya can’t unsee. Like the dreadful fight scene with Dan and the eyeball.

    Thanks for the nice words on the greenhouse. To tell the truth there are plans to add a further two shelves over the next few days. The steel in the shelves was originally from a much larger sheet of ARC fencing which used to be used on road works back in the day before the hug plastic brightly coloured tubs of water. A local earthwork mob was selling the sheets off years ago. Wished I’d bought more of them at the time… Regrets, well I’ve had a few.

    How are you and Mrs Damo going?



  26. Hi DJ,

    Ah, of course your explanation as to over-thinking explains everything. So, I was thinking about your explanation as to over-thinking and had some additional thoughts, but then I realised I’d over thunk things further and now, what were we talking about again? 🙂 It’s a problem, and where to stop thinking and start acting becomes a dare I suggest it: Problem! And around and around we go and where we stop, nobody knows. Over thinking is perhaps a value judgement? Some problems I’ve noted need deep thinking time, whilst others do not. And some heights would never be scaled if people thought about things too much – or even at all…

    The red alcohol thermometer shows every possibility that it will continue to work far after I’m gone. An old school barometer wouldn’t be a bad idea. Ever owned one of those?

    8mm is a bit of a fizzer, and that quantity of rain fell here today. Now add a zero and the number becomes 80mm which is a far more dastardly quantity of rain with side potential of washing things away, like cars and buildings and stuff. We’re heading for a La Nina summer and already there are voices raised which suggest that whilst it is still early days, the spectre of the summer of 2010/2011 was raised. Not good.

    Oh they’ll whinge at full volume if their current noise is anything to go by. I’ve started finishing such discussions by asking people whether they’ve installed solar panels and batteries and then what was their experience like? An old chestnut which gets wheeled out far too often is when people tell me that their system generates more than they use every year. So I ask them where they get their electricity from at night and how that is generated, and then the defensive mode number three comes into play (Shields! Shields! Klingon’s on the starboard bow and all that).

    I’d be curious to hear your view, but what interested me about smart phones was that their interface was not particularly intuitive and requires options that are not indicated anywhere on the display but all the same are expected to be known.

    Respects to the local chapter, and best regards for the next philosophical cage fight. The smart money is on Majicthise due to the strong and unforseen left hook argument. Yes, many a challenger has gone down hard to that argument. 🙂

    People forget that perceptions can sometimes become reality. Thus the propensity for some folks to chuck mud and continue to chuck mud like that is the only tool in their tool box. Unfortunately some of the mud sticks. But after a while of overuse people tend to tune out to the mud throwing escapades and hopefully go and do something more practical with their time.

    Exactly. And you raise an important point. And it may well be that in the past, biases were well known in advance. So there is an argument that objectivity is perhaps only possible from a particular stand point which is compromised at best? Dunno, what do you reckon?

    Wise. Keep those washing horses safe and well maintained, although as a wood carver you’d probably be able to make quite an ornate and working example?

    Ollie thanks you for the kind words. 🙂 He really is a very pleasant natured dog.



  27. Hi Lewis,

    Hehe! Very funny, and doubly so. 🙂 Hey, another iteration is: Early mornings, yeah, I’ve heard of those…

    Tucker and Dale versus Evil and the wood chipper was so very wrong. But the clueless bloke asked the young college kid: Are you OK? after the dreadful wood chipper experience had gone on for a while. Well, let’s just say that things were not going well for the hapless kid and possibly he might not get to graduate. What do they teach young folks these days? Far out!

    That sort of makes a weird sort of sense about the coal seam fires and human interactions, but then there would have been plenty of forest fires too. Hey, you got me wondering about civilian radioactive accidents and it’s a whopper list. Pray you are never in the wrong place at the wrong time. Wow.

    Kitchens were a risky room in older house due to the fire risk, and I’ve known older houses to have the kitchen as a separate and detached building. One place like that was in an old suburb in inner Melbourne (South Melbourne to be precise) and the old kitchen had been converted into a large bathroom. Winters were interesting as you’d have to navigate the cold and damp backyard to get to the bathroom. And the toilet was in a little timber outhouse at the rear of the property. I’ll bet that house doesn’t look anything like it used to. Thanks to Gargle Urth I can see that someone chucked on a huge extension at the rear of the house. Oh well, houses that ate up the land and all that. A shame that. Makes you wonder where people will eventually plant their victory gardens?

    Do you reckon your keen sense of history also derives from the teasing out the facts of time? Out of curiosity did you notice anecdotally that the mass produced glass outlasted the more artisan produced items? It is possible that the mass produced items are more available now due to the simple fact that they have numbers on their side.

    There is that element to the story. And also in your former trade it would have been handy to have intuitively known the gems that are the overlooked valuable item. That would have been the fun side of your trade.

    Well, the shame is not so secret now that everyone knows. They produced some amazing music. Makes life easier huh? I grew up listening to that band on the down under famous show: Countdown (Australian TV series). Even as a kid I recognised that the presenters were possibly indulging and generally having a fun old time of it. It was enormously influential for many bands and the influence spread far beyond these shores.

    It would be an awesome name for a Christian rock band. Hehe!

    It is a fine line don’t you reckon? The bit about proving others to be incorrect in their beliefs? I try to enjoy such moments quietly if only because peoples reactions can be way over the top when their belief systems are poked too hard.

    I’ll be curious to hear what you have to say about the Black Russian tomato. I think they’re quite tasty fruits, but last growing season was so weird for tomatoes that I’ve sort of forgotten their joys. Incidentally the editor says: Double the number of shelves in the greenhouse.

    And it is quite nice and toasty warm in the greenhouse.



  28. Late to the party again…..Have been rushing around doing harvest and other outside projects before winter sets in. Some things are no fun to do in the cold. Mother nature’s cycles care not what our plans are, we get in step with her or suffer.

    woodchippers: I have a BCS walk behind tractor which has all kinds of attachments available. I have the BIO-100 chipper, which can shred and chip, but the max. size branch is a consideration for you. The specs for mine say 3″ (75mm) max., but this is questionable. I find 2″ (50mm) a more realistic size. Dry dead wood is harder to chip than green wood, so factors also.

    An increase in the size they will accommodate jumps the price, engine size and fuel use considerably. I use mine for everything I can shove through it, and everything larger either becomes firewood, or if poor quality firewood, I rent a big chipper every couple years, and make a big pile of chips. Most of my chip go to mulch around all the young trees I have planted. You can never get enough organic matter.

    Sorry to hear of the loss of a friend from the past. Some things take a while to digest, and then there are the what ifs and could have dones that are no fun to confront.

    greenhouses- Yes! I want to build one too, but the design conditions are a bit different here. I am thinking of doing one that is insulated on the north (equal to your south) side, and maybe partly earth sheltered, to handle the colder temps we get.

  29. Chris:

    Thanks for the Swedish Lapphund video; it was a lot of fun. I noticed they mentioned “a very dense coat” – hello, Sir Poopy, what were you doing by the stove? One remembers the summer haircuts – hee, hee! And “may challenge trainers” – ha!

    I don’t know about the timber situation as we have not needed any more yet.


  30. Yo, Chris – Detached kitchens. Summer kitchens. Sometimes used seasonally, and, sometimes year around. I suppose it depended on how much the owner worried about fire, or, the amount of space in the main house. Probably more of a chance of keeping flies, and other vermin, away from the main house. Cooking odors. Cook enough cabbage or onions, and the smell gets into the upholstery! 🙂 .

    I’d guess mass produced things have numbers on their side. Because, they’re, you know, mass produced. 🙂 . I think, maybe, “one-offs” tended to be more brittle. The formula for blow glass being different. But, those things cost a lot more, so, more care was taken, in preserving them. At least that’s my theory.

    I thought I had another good Ukrainian tomato, this morning. But when I plucked it, there was the big split down the underside with a good amount of rot 🙁 . But, last night I had enough garlic, tomatoes, one tomatillo, and parsley for a pretty good salad.

    Well, the weather here, yesterday was “interesting.” The sun was red, the moon was red, and the light was murky. But so far, the smoke has stayed aloft, so the breathing is easy. Lew

  31. Hello again
    I would be interested on your further thoughts on free will. I started to think about it and rapidly realised that it is one heck of a complicated concept.

    I knew why there was a gap in my friends letter of recommendation though I would never have said so to her. She had been exiled from school for a week at one time because of some bullying on her part; she could be nasty. I just ignored it when she was unpleasant and we remained friends until she died last year.
    I have never deliberately made anyone cry and can’t think of any reason why one would do such a thing!


  32. Hey Chris,

    Greenhouse is looking good. One thing that I think you might come across is big temperature swings given that the cladding and roof won’t hold any heat overnight but will allow a lot of sunlight in during the day. That may or may not be a problem. If it is, one way smooth out the differential is adding thermal mass. I used 44 gallons drums filled with water to good effect in my greenhouse. They make a nice stand for tabletops to hold the seedlings.

    Have had a magpie family move into the tree over my back fence this week. In a way that’s good because I do love to hear the magpie song. But, of course, they have a couple of young ones at this time of the year and so I’m having to keep an eye over my shoulder at the moment. So far, they seem pretty relaxed about my presence but there have been a couple of wide warning swoops just to let me know the situation. Is there a more annoying sound in nature than the begging cry of a young magpie? I feel like just going outside and slapping some sense into them 🙂


  33. @ again
    More shelves in a greenhouse are probably okay if you are only raising seeds but I have found them to be useless if one wants to keep plants there as plants dislike being underneath others.


  34. Hi everyone,

    Thanks for the lovely comments, however this evening for the first time in a long time I am knocked out and heading to bed early. Promise to reply tomorrow.

    Until then…



  35. Hi Lewis,

    Interestingly, when the editor and I visited the Werribee Manor mansion earlier in the year, the kitchen was very much part of the house, yet what I noticed was that the kitchen contained very large cast iron wood burning stoves and that the many surfaces in the room were of non flammable surfaces such as brick and cement / mortar finishes. Of course the many work tables were all timber. Also the ceiling height was quite high for such a room. I’d hate to think what would happen should a fire get hold in the structural timbers of such a place. Most certainly they would have had many hands for bucket brigades from the ornamental lake which apparently leaked. The lake was filled from the nearby Werribee River for the benefit of visitors (as you do)… I guess large truck loads of bentonite clay were not easily obtained in those days?

    Always wise to valiantly battle the sands of time when you have numbers on your side. 😉 I tend to agree with your theory in that the one-off items would have had to have been handled with care given the underlying inherent value of the item. But still.

    Hey, my radio project turned up in the mail today. It amazes me that your postal service can get something here from your fine country quicker than some items from within this country which haven’t travelled nearly as far… I’ll open the guts of the machine up over the next few weeks and take stock.

    Onto the greenhouse project tomorrow. Yay! Am really tired tonight as due to lack of sleep last evening from a truly awful problem which eventually turned out OK this morning. I’m not usually easily rattled, but sometimes things get the better of me – and this problem was a doozy.

    Yes, the rain would have caused the tomato skins to split. So few people are involved in agriculture that they don’t realise how easily shifts in climate can produce all manner of harvest problems. We are going to have some big rains on Sunday and um, yeah, not good. But yes, adapt to learn to eat what is there is the watchword.

    Thank gawd your smoke issues have settled. What a year you’ve had with those fires.



  36. Yo, Chris – Well, high ceilings made sense, because, as you know, heat rises. If there were windows in the kitchen, I bet there were transoms, at the top, to let the heat out.

    Well, our postal system is under siege, and has been for quit some time.

    And, by the way, the money put in those treasury bonds, goes to fund the National Debt, not held in reserve for the P.O.. It’s always been a dream (of a particular type) to privatize the P.O.. Along with Social Security, and anything else loose, left lying around. It’s been a slow creep, over the past few years. Privatization, in small chunks, usually in an obscure rider to a bill, that has nothing to do with the rider.

    Nothing major on my end, but this morning I went to the Dollar Store, the cheap grocery store, and the pet store, all before my first cup of tea. They all front on one parking lot. A strip mall, in other words. Just one minor irritation, after another. But taken together … Some cherry old soul, while we were standing in line at the grocery store inquired how my day was going. Clearly, one of those “morning” people, who should be put down. I told him it was much too early to tell, and that my day, could go either way.” That shut him up, and I hope it spread a little joy, in his life, too. 🙂 . Then when I got home, it was time to walk H. She was almost out in the hall way …. and then ran back deep into the apartment. I beat her soundly with a large stick, and fed her remains to the squirrels.

    I ran across an interesting collective noun, last night. “An eclipse of moths.” I guess if enough of them gather around a light source, that’s what you get.

    Last night I watched some of “Monty Python Live (mostly), One Down and Five to Go.” It was a farewell tour (“we hope”) and was recorded in 2014, in London. A reunion, for the first time in over 30 years. Not family friendly, very naughty and funny as heck. Some old sketches, and some new. Performed before a live audience, in the O2 arena. With lavish accoutrements. Full orchestra, choir, laser lights, Jumbo Tron screens, and a plethora of male and female singers and dancers.

    Well, this article will just really cheer up your day …

    There’s quit a bit about Australia, in it.

    We’re really socked in this morning, but it appears (and smells) to be fog. Not so bad. Lew

  37. Hi Chris,
    I did notice the darker color of the roof. Hope it works well. You can leave the door open during the heat of the day for ventilation. The door on my greenhouse had a screen on the bottom portion so the glass bottom could be pushed up for ventilation.

    It’s official there are now more restrictions in our county and those west of us all the way to the Mississippi River. Of course the county to the east is only five miles away so I imagine they’ll get the business.

    I was the one who suggested the possibility to my daughter though she had seen a few examples in her neighborhood. In the suburbs this arrangement could be frowned upon or one could even be fined especially growing vegetables in the front yard. She also has some chickens in her neighborhood as well – even a rooster.

    I did see Plum’s picture. I think younger dogs love snow much more. Salve just used to bound through it but not so much as she’s gotten older though it doesn’t faze her.

    I ordered some seeds for spring from my usual seed source already this fall as who knows what spring will be like.

    We have a frost warning the next two nights and then it gets warmer again – a bit early this year.


  38. @Lew

    We went on our monthly/bi-monthly trip to Costco today and for the first time since the pandemic they were well stocked with all tomato products. They even have started up their famous samples but you can’t eat them in the store but rather have to take them with you. Now who wants to drag samples around while you shop and check out. It would have to be something pretty amazing.

    Glad your smoke has eased.


  39. Chris,

    True, how much thought to give something seems to be a value judgement learned by experience. Like you, I’ve found that some things need to be properly digested and really not thought about directly once I’ve done a “proper” amount of thinking and the ideas are sorta there but not coming together. I can go days sorta mulling like that. Is that what you’d call Deep Thought? 😉

    I’ve still got my old school barometer. Actually, it was my father’s and it was oldish when I was born.

    You need rain in summer, but NOT at those levels from a decade ago! Hard for things to grow if it’s too wet and too cloudy. A repeat of that is not a good thing.

    Hehehe. Nice questions to ask. Real conversation stoppers. I’ve gotten similar reactions on the rare occasions when I’ve asked how well someone’s solar was doing during endless December clouds. Warp Factor 7 describes one hasty retreat to “a previous engagement”.

    I liked Windows 95 because it was so intuitive and logical. Smart phones? Bah! No amount of logic or intuition seems to make them any easier. So I agree with your observation. On one of my repeat trips to the store for help, I asked the chap, about age 27, if what I heard is true: the younger set intrinsically knows how to make this stuff work. He laughed and told me that he’d just figured out his first smart phone when he left this area for a job that gave him a dumb phone. 2 years later he returned and got a job at the Verizon store where he had to learn how to make a smart phone work again. He said he hates them because nothing is logical, it’s just a hodgepodge of $#@^@ slapped together at random.

    The Princess touched something wrong on hers an hour ago and handed the thing to me, told me what she wanted, and said “Fix it!” Fortunately, I had run into a nearly identical problem and they’d showed me the fix at the store. Even better luck, I remembered what they’d shown me! Still took some time to make it look the way she wanted, as nothing is straightforward.

    Hey, I ran into this article this week when browsing…It’s an article about traditional Native American forest management with selected burning.

    So I’ve been working at home since March 20. Suddenly, this week the Boss decided that we’re going to be doing our meetings, and apparently pretty much the entire division’s meetings, via video conferencing. My camera and microphone don’t work on my computer, so I was hoping to just figure out a way to phone it in. That worked for one meeting, but they’re requiring that I get one of their webcams and bring it home. I’m hoping that the camera shows no more than the appropriately upraised finger. (No, I won’t do that, but I sure feel like it. Maybe tape a picture of a finger over the camera.) At least I can unplug it when not using it.

    Ah yes, the philosophical discussions can get heated at times. A good left hook can be a very persuasive argument. It can also be called the “Five Good Reasons Argument”.

    It is hard to be objective, truly objective. It takes a lot of work of any of the various types so that one is master of one’s own mind to perhaps have a chance at objectivity. Even then, we’ve got our own experiences and biases that will never be completely out of the picture. Figuring out what the point of view of the writer, reporter, or whatever is a lost art but something that is necessary. Unfortunately, I know several people who used to be fairly objective but who seem to have become enchanted to a degree and who have lost any semblance of looking at things from other than their predisposed points of view.

    Ohhhh, bring up decorative carving, will you? Never thought of that with the washing horse, but ya know, that’s a good idea. Pyrography would work very well. Thanks for the idea.


  40. Hi Steve,

    There never seems to be quite enough time so as to get everything done. Some things like that are a constant, no matter where you are! 🙂

    I’d never seen nor heard of a walk behind tractor before, but it seems like a very clever and useful machine. Your point about wood chipping machines is true for the purpose built ones too. Take the specifications for the machine and deduct at least an inch. Didn’t manage to pick-up the second hand wood chipper machine today, but I’ll swing past tomorrow morning some time and see how they’re going with it.

    What a good idea about hiring a larger wood chipper. Most of the timber species here produce excellent firewood, so we recover everything from about two inches diameter upwards. The small stuff is great for getting the fires started. The really termite riddled rotten stuff we burn off and spread the ash.

    Thank you for your kind words and thoughts.

    Seedling raising has become a very important thing after last years disastrously cold spring and crazy hot but short summer combined with this seasons lock down due to the health subject that dare not be named, and you never know what hurdles you have to face, so we had to up our game and construct the greenhouse.

    Mate, I’m not mucking around, but if I had to face those sorts of winter conditions, I’d construct a similar arrangement too. Your winters sort of scare me a bit. 🙂



  41. Hi Pam,

    Whatever was Sir Poopy even doing down under? That is the real question! You’re not wrong and he had a double coat of fur, and on hot days he was knocked out and just hid in the shade. Every few weeks he visited the local dog grooming lady who kept his coat short and trim. Sir Poopy loved the attention of the groomer, and I once noticed that Sir Poopy was enjoying a delightful dog-kiss from the grooming lady. One must not interrupt true love is how I see these things, and I quietly pretended I did not notice the interaction

    Pam, Sir Poopy really did have his thoughts and opinions on how the world should be and he was not afraid of sharing them.

    Me neither with the timber situation. In order to obtain enough timber and steel with which to finish the greenhouse project, we dismantled the old firewood bay which sat next to the house. It is hard to keep ones eye open for things and projects sitting around all unused and stuff which could be repurposed. We’re having something of a proper old school spring clean at the moment. A sort of airing out of stuff.



  42. Hi Inge,

    It is a very complicated subject, and I have been contemplating that particular subject for many years. As a thought experiment, imagine you live in a society where there is a dominant narrative, and you as an individual are subject to constant pressure to conform with the narrative. How does a person objectively depart from that larger narrative and to put it roughly: Do their own thing and forge a different path?

    My experience has been that time and time again you get drawn back into the narrative, and so I believe that free will is something that you can exercise every now and then, but pretending that it is possible to do so of all the time is a fools errand.

    It is a most fascinating subject, and of late I have been telling people that in a time of decline you have to get up and fight. Then you have to fight again the next day. And the day after that too, ad nauseam. To exercise ones free will is akin to that, and I’d be curious as to your perspective.

    You have my condolences and sympathy for the loss of your friend last year. I have known some folks to externalise their internal tensions and that has led to the sort of behaviours which you mentioned in your friend. As an old fella, I now realise that such outbursts are more about them than the focus of their behaviour.

    As to the crying. I tell you truly that the person was attempting to steal from me, and I am no fan of sob stories as a way for them to slip out of that little bit of unpleasantness. You may not approve of my actions, but the person involved did wrong by me.

    Two new shelves were added to the greenhouse today. It was hard work as I had to cut and weld up the steel, and the drilling of the stainless steel brackets was very hard for some reason.



  43. Hi Simon,

    Thanks and you have a good point about thermal mass evening out the day-night temperature differential in the greenhouse. As an explanation, I’m not really looking to grow plants out of this cold climate zone, I more just want to ensure that summer seedlings are started and ready to go in the ground by Melbourne Cup day as the old sayings suggest.

    I don’t really know how the building will work out, but it is possible that the lack of thermal mass and the day-night temperature swings will assist with the seedlings in their process of hardening off. But I really have no idea and am just experimenting to see what happens. All I do know is that getting to my usual organic open pollinated seedling suppliers in Melbourne is not so easy nowadays, so I more or less had to do something.

    I hear you about that. The younger magpies whine and whine and whine. The parents of the birds have a brutal philosophy in relation to their young and you wouldn’t want to be one and hang around the nest beyond the use by date. When the birds do get up to singing, their song is stunning. Actually I’ve made peace with the magpies here, and they come and tell me when there is a fox around and then expect me to do something about it. What amazes me about that, is that they know exactly where I am at all times. Magpies live for about two decades and have quite good memories and recognition, so yeah it would be unwise to annoy them overly… Good luck! 🙂



  44. Hi Margaret,

    The polycarbonate in the greenhouse is actually quite a dark shade and it might help reduce some of the solar radiation from getting into the building and cooking the seedlings. I might not have mentioned it, but the windows on either side of the building are openable (awning windows) and they’ll be able to let in a good cross flow ventilation so it is possible that I won’t have to leave the door open on stonking hot days. Of course I also just might have no idea about what is in store for the greenhouse…

    Once the seedlings are raised and planted out, I might try germinating some tree seedlings in the greenhouse and see what happens. In the outdoor nursery bed there are actually four American paw-paw’s now happily growing as well as two horse chestnuts and they all seem to be doing just fine. I was a bit iffy about the American paw-paw’s as to whether they’d survive the winters here.

    There were so many opinions about adding in a second shelf into the greenhouse that we spent most of the day doing just that and added in a second shelf. The shelf was cut and welded up out of scrap metal we have to hand. I’m feeling it tonight as drilling into hardened steel is very tiring. Anyway, the job is all done now and hopefully we’ll plant out all of the many seedlings tomorrow.

    Sorry to hear about the restrictions and I hope that things don’t get as crazy as they are down here.

    Your daughter is clearly living in an area where there is a modicum of flexibility. A home owners group telling me off about planting vegetables in the front yard would be a personal nightmare. In the inner urban suburb we used to live in before moving up here, the neighbours were outraged by the vegetables in the front garden. However, there was not a damn thing they could do about it.

    Mind you, they would have taken issue with roosters. Oh yeah, things would not have gone well for the rooster. Don’t know whether I mentioned this to you before, but we may begin breeding chickens over the next year. You know how much that involves and for mostly vegetarians too. 🙂 What else can you do?

    Dunno much, but I do know that just like Salve, we’re all getting older! Let’s just hope that we are like a good bottle of wine and only get better as we age. Yes, I’d like to think this was the case. 🙂 Other people turn to vinegar and haven’t we all met a few of those…

    Wise. Very wise to have done so with the seeds. I did no less, and there are no shortages as a consequence.

    Brr! Time to get the firewood ready to go for you. It was really nice and warm today although crazy windy.



  45. Hi DJ,

    Sorry to sound like I’m dodging your answer, but the best answer I can provide is: It depends. Not very good huh? But the thing is depending on the complexity and depth of the problem, consideration can go on from minutes to days. Although admittedly when problems get to days length, well it becomes a background concern. Of course there is sometimes nothing that you can do about things, and then I do what is known as absorbing new information into my worldview. But really a less polite way of saying this is: Sucking it up.

    Out of curiosity, does your barometer require any winding up, external energy, or regular adjustments?

    Exactly, that dreaded wet year, 55 inches of rain fell, the place stayed green all summer, and nary a blue sky was seen, for they were mostly grey and cloudy, and water was everywhere. Not good growing conditions, and fingers crossed we don’t see a repeat of that. Already rivers and creeks look higher than what I’d usually expect to see at this time of year.

    I really wish that the solar power story was not so. But it is, and the average person is totally and utterly bonkers about the stuff. Say, what does prevarication mean? 😉 Far out. It really does work well for modest needs, but our cities and towns are very immodest in their needs.

    Thanks for the blast from the past. One of the things that annoys me about the smart phones is that you can’t employ what is a technical and very secret computer trick known as ‘The Commodore 64 users trick”. Arcane knowledge from an earlier and more civilised technology base. In the interests of friendship I shall share this secret technique with you: Just keep pushing buttons – any buttons – until something happens. And if nothing happens, switch the thing off.

    I’ve been resorting to interweb searches so as to work out how the devices work. When I use the smart phone, my ear knocks the screen and then things happen in the background. A few times my ear chose to put the phone into ‘do not disturb’. Who knows the way of the ear?

    Thank you for the link and I will check it out after replying. It is a topic of special interest to me, and your folks will see their techniques put into action again. For sure. As far as I understand the situation at some point in the future there will be no alternative than to do so.

    Well yes the first video meeting I used the camera on my phone. Spare a thought for the poor folks who got a good look up the inside of my nose. Technology! Pah!

    Lucy was a little terror! I loved Peanuts. Thanks for that.

    Enchanted is the correct word to use from more ways than one. To have objectivity is also a factor in being able to exercise free will. That particular subject I have been cogitating upon for years and only now and then I get to see insights. As a general observation, we are not really trained any more to examine the origins of our thoughts, and I tend to believe that this is a deliberate strategy. However, the unfortunate side effect of attempting that strategy is that the people promoting the story are just as likely – if not more likely – to get caught up in the webs of their making. It is a real problem, that’s for sure.

    Not only would the carving be most excellent, it would also be most practical. 🙂



  46. Hi Lewis,

    Actually, the other thing about ceiling heights is that really low ceiling heights can be somewhat oppressive. As a young bloke I lived in a flat (an apartment without a lift) and the ceiling heights were 8 foot. When I first moved there the low ceilings didn’t intrude into my awareness, but after a while they sort of started to grate upon my senses. I’d heard of sick buildings before, but that low ceiling height was really irksome on my senses. And the ceiling had spray-crete sprayed onto what I’m guessing was the underside of a concrete slab holding the next floor up. The spray-crete was a very chunky and textural surface and it managed to neatly catch chunks of dust.

    There probably were transoms in the kitchen windows but I was a bit overawed by the entire building and had not looked for one. One neat idea they used to keep the internal rooms in the building cool was that at the very highest point of the building was a tower which drew hot air out of the building during hot summers days.

    I know such things work because in the last house when I lived in the big smoke, there was a single room which had been tacked on in maybe the 1920’s or 1930’s. The room was the only second story construction in the house, and on hot days that room was revoltingly hot (four double brick walls all exposed to the summer sun). Yet the room below that was cool and very pleasant. You could feel the temperature increasing as you climbed the staircase.

    Um, maybe I’m reading too much into your postal story, but if retirement and health care benefits are being brought to account, and day to day operations are not enough to fund them well that kind of hints to me that there are future crises yet to happen. On the hand, it surprises that Modern Monetary Theorists would allow for such budget balancing to go on just for that one service? It does seem weird.

    Maybe it is me but it seems imprudent to ignore future liabilities which can be more or less accurately predicted. But then a lot of our culture does just that.

    However, down here our postal services have actually reduced services of late – permanently, so it might be part of a larger theory / strategy thing? Given most of our interweb purchased stuff goes through the postal system, well slowing that movement of stuff does assist bricks and mortar retailers.

    Purchasing treasury bonds is not a bad idea if the money had to be invested somewhere. During the GFC it came to light that some councils in New South Wales had allegedly purchased Collaterialised Debt Obligations with ratepayers money, i.e. bonds of mortgages from your country. So as a rule I’m uncomfortable that organisations hold onto large sums of other peoples money. Some folks should not have temptation so thrust upon them as we might get to watch them fail.

    Selling off government services has been going on down here too. I’m genuinely surprised that anyone cares about national debt in your country.

    Finished the greenhouse today. After the votes were in from this fine readership, it was unanimously suggested that a second set of shelves would be the way to go. So I cut and welded up another set of shelves and installed them in the greenhouse late this afternoon. Another day of working until the sun went down. It was a long day of work. Honestly, I’m amazed that I making as much sense in the replies as I appear to be. These things are of course subject to change and without notice.

    Hopefully tomorrow, we get to plant out all of the many seeds that can’t be direct sown. There is quite a lot of plants, and it will be interesting to observe how the greenhouse works. We also did a few minor aesthetic adjustments to the building so that it looks nicer.

    Your line is good. Really good, says he taking down notes. Sometimes you need a good show stopper ready to hand to wheel out when required.

    Well H probably had it coming, for something you hadn’t caught her out on yet! Fluffies… Hope H eventually enjoyed her walk. 🙂 There is a website where a person is having conversations with a dog whom they’ve trained to push buttons so as to respond to verbal questions. It’s a complicated process, and the dog certainly appears to be responding to questions, but I’m not really sure I want to know exactly what thoughts are going on in a canines mind. Oh, and the dog is a Kelpie too… H would probably play with the squirrels!

    Ooo, I like that collective noun and it is very self evident. I do rather wonder what a gang of crows is known as a murder of crows? It doesn’t seem right somehow.

    Oh my! The dreaded daylight savings is this weekend. Please look after my lost hour, and remember to return it in six months time in the condition that you found it. 🙂

    The Monty Python show sounds like fun. It is funny you mention the O2 arena and shows, but maybe a month or two back I watched some recent ELO songs performed there with Jeff Lynne at the helm. The light show would make my head swim, but it sure was impressive to see.

    Yeah. The Phytophthora cinnamomi has apparently been in this part of the world since 1935 and is most likely present in this mountain range. What do you do? The article was alarming, but forests change and that’s life, and our activities as a species are not helping that particular problem. Forests are most certainly not set in concrete and the Eucalyptus Trees which now dominate our forests, once weren’t that widespread, so you can be on top for a while. I do often wonder whether our forest management practices (or lack thereof) are part of the problem. Hungry and thirsty trees are more likely to succumb to disease. Dunno, the article didn’t really touch upon that subject. But I know from the orchards here that if I don’t keep the vegetation down from around the trunks of some of the trees, they do suffer. I lost the Eureka Lemon because of that.

    Thankfully the smoke has not returned.

    It was rather warm here today, but the wind blew and blew. Last night it woke me several times due to the sound of the house being buffeted by particularly strong gusts.



  47. Hello again
    The first thing that I considered was the difference between freewill of thought and freewill of action. That already became too complicated. I finally decided that we had neither except in very small ways. We are indoctrinated from birth both by family and society. It helps if they disagree with each other as one might then learn to think for oneself earlier than otherwise. That’s the thought bit but action is far less free, anything can happen to prevent ones wishes. I reckon that we probably have very little free will but we need to keep the illusion that we have it.

    My friends parents always struck me as very cold and she had had a term at boarding school when only 5 years old. None of that would have helped her personality.

    There has been mention of watercore in apples. I had never heard of it before but it has now surfaced in our local paper. It occurs when the ratio of nitrogen to calcium is too high. They are sought after in Japan where they are called honeyed apples as they are made sweeter by the retention of water and sorbitol.
    Huge storm last night and branches are down all over the place. Two trees down across the road and the bin lorry couldn’t come through.


  48. Yo, Chris – Well, October is the end of the Roman campaign season. But, given our respective reversals of fortune, the campaign season is kicking off for you. Smash those barbarian hordes! 🙂 .

    This just in! The Global Ocean Conveyor Belt (AKA Thermohaline Circulation) is now to be known as … the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation. No paper trail could be found, as to who and why this change was made. NEW! IMPROVED!? Maybe there are e-mails? Secretly recorded conversations? Live mics? Murky cam footage? I suppose one will be hopelessly out of date, and not “hip and with it”, if one does not take up the new nomenclature.

    It’s easy to overlook the details, when one is confronted by a glut of interesting space. One misses, this or that. Or, better yet, constructs things that aren’t there. 🙂 . I once looked at a rental, in behalf of several potential housemates. Students, all. We didn’t party, either. 🙂 . Later, I waxed enthusiastic at the fireplace in a corner of the living room. Except … there was no fireplace. I had constructed it in my mind. We did rent the place, and found out later that there had been a fireplace, in that position. But, it had long since been boarded over. Or, maybe, when I was looking at the house, it showed me a ghost of it’s former self?

    Tell me about heat and living on a south facing third floor. 🙂 . Every night when I see Eleanor, I get a 10 minute report on the A/C wars. Our long hallway (running east and west) has two windows at the ends. And, an A/C or heating unit, under them. There seems to be an ongoing battle between the open window / closed window factions, and the A/C on or off factions. And, she JUST DOESN’T UNDERSTAND why the other combatants don’t see things her way. Then there’s the open or closed stairwell doors. Are the denizens of the second floor, sneaking up to open the doors, to dump their heat onto our floor? I have refused to engage in the battle. Other than knocking off a few people, I don’t see a solution. Besides, we’re getting a new tenant at the end of the hall, which will throw in another wild card, into the mix.

    Well, until they started fiddling with it, our postal service was making a tidy profit, and funding their obligations. Although what was left over at the end of the accounting year, had to be dumped into the general fund.

    Monty Python had a sketch about a “chartered accountant” who wanted to be a lion tamer. I think that was an older sketch.Thought of you. 🙂 .

    Well, I see your hour will be in transit and won’t be received here, until the first of November. We’ll see, supply lines being what they are, these days. We may refuse delivery. There are a lot of us who would rather.

    Speaking of supply line screw-ups, or screw-ups in general. My friends in Idaho made a longish trip to pick up some dog fencing … that wasn’t in when it was promised. But the real corker was, they finally picked up the kitchen cabinets, for their rebuild. Which has been delayed, something like 7 or 8 weeks. Well, they got them home to discover … they’re not the cabinets they ordered. But, rather than hauling them back, and waiting another 7 or 8 weeks, they think they can live with them. Which is probably what the manufacturer was hoping for, all along. But, perhaps, it was just not people doing their jobs and paying attention to detail.

    Morning fog and sun in the afternoons. Seems to be our lot, for awhile. But then, on this date last year, we had a hard frost. Lew

  49. Hi Inge,

    Yes, it is a very complex matter, and I too have noticed that there is a great deal of difference between thoughts and actions.

    Inge, I see so much thought, and so little action. And yes, like you aver we can exercise free will in actions in only the most limited sense of our understanding of that word. It is excruciatingly hard to break away from our history, what we know about the world, and also and just as importantly, the culture. I’m cogitating upon this matter as it is important in so many ways.

    I’m very curious about the matter you raised regarding parents not agreeing with each other, and thus you as the child could possibly be alerted to the situation where not all that you were told glitters like gold. Bizarrely, what is considered a social disadvantage thus becomes an advantage in this realm. 🙂 Hmm. The possibility that adults lied and/or spoke untruths was something that I cottoned onto at an early age, and thus had plenty of time to absorb it into my world-view.

    As to actions, one thing I have learned in relation to that, is that to even act consciously in a minor manner is a difficult thing. That is not lost on me. Take for example the sheer weight of culture that I have to fend off in what should otherwise be the simple matter of forest management. It is really hard to deflect that current and at one unfortunate point I was the most hated person in this area for having acted as I saw fit (and had authority to do so) in that regard. But then it gets really weird because having deflected the awful weight of opinion, the tide turned and there became a sort of grudging acknowledgement of being in the right. So weird to have set such forces in motion, but then others in the area began adjusting and trialling their own practices based on what they observed. It was as if they were set free somehow, and then something new took hold. Hmm.

    As to the maintaining the illusion, well I read a lot of books on that subject many years ago, and you only need to look at advertising for oversized and over priced four wheel drive vehicles heading down the road to debt to see how that story rolls. It is bonkers, but people want what they want and respond to the narrative. I have no dog in that fight – it is too big and is best left to work itself out which it will in the natural course of events.

    Apologies, but I really had to laugh about your reference to your friend in boarding school. By way of explanation, my old mate Mike who recently passed spent many years at boarding school. The first time I met his mum she called me (and this is a direct quote): “A jumped up little shit”. I liked his mum, but I made the mistake of telling her the truth on that first interaction and she didn’t like it at all. My visual memory is not good, but I can still recall that day.

    Exactly, the orchardists appear to be applying too much nitrogen to the soils. I do not like it one iota. Asian fruit I have noticed has a very low sugar content and so no wonder such attributes are prized. Yuk.

    Ah yes, one of the perils of living in a heavily forested area I’m afraid to say. Another name for fallen timber is free firewood, but that is an unpalatable perspective.



  50. Hi Lewis,

    Thank you my good Sir, and I shall take up the sharp and long sword and deal to the dastardly barbarians! There does seem to be an awful lot of them in these days of heightened tensions, so hopefully the fates are kind and Mithras looks well upon our combined ventures. 😉 Take that ya barbarian mongrels, and consider the smiting from my sword to be more pleasant than the other alternatives!

    I feel much better now having dusted off a horde of rampaging barbarians. Conan was a philosopher and thinker, but when the sword needed to be brought to bear on his enemies, well he set the fictional gold standard.

    Oh my, did I just read that “This upwelling comprises the majority of upwelling normally associated with AMOC, and links it with the global circulation.[1] On a global scale, observations suggest 80% of deepwater upwells in the Southern Ocean.”? Anyway, things are heating up down under so this may also indicate that the Southern Ocean is getting toastier (that is the technical term for getting warmer). So, I’m guessing the whole shebang is not as stable as previously considered. Not good and best not messed with. It is not lost on me that from memory I may have experienced four bouts of cold and moist Antarctic air that had been unceremoniously cut off that air current in as many months. You may recall that last week it snowed here, and quite heavily for this locale, however today the air temperature in the shade was 78’F. We mess with such huge life supporting systems at our peril. Few people would want to experience the variability in climate that I experience.

    So yeah, I’m a pragmatic bloke and all and so constructed an all weather greenhouse with which to get a slight edge on the crazily variable climate that I live in. Today, we potted out all of the various plant seeds that we had to hand, and discovered that due to the two extra shelves, we could expand the seed raising systems by another 50%. So tomorrow I’m onto that opportunity and like the balding captain in Star Trek ‘will make it so’. I was going to direct sow the corn seedlings, but why the heck not use the greenhouse? I mean it’s there for that purpose after all.

    Hehe! Another way to consider the memory of the misplaced fireplace is that the house was decrying to you and your cohort of student housemates (a truly fun and enterprising bunch to be sure) to re-establish the older patterns of the house. Well that’s my take on the world anyway. So as you suggested the ghost of the house spoke to you and said that this is how things should be and that unfortunately might not have been as it was! I’ve restored a number of fireplaces over the years. The experience was a bit of a mixed bag really. One memorable fireplace had a European wasp nest (your yellow jackets) in the chimney. The nest of vipers in that instance had deceased, but the smell of fermenting honey was err, pungent. Another notable fireplace some previous owner had installed a gas fireplace into the brick cavity. The chimney sweep / chimney repair bloke took a look at the asbestos lined flue at the chimneys outlet and was very nonplussed about the risk. He suggested that cutting the material produced the greatest risk to health. In both cases I installed beautiful old cast iron inserts into the bricks and mortar chimneys and they worked really well. I’d like to think that they have continued to do so, but you know people do strange things to houses.

    Everybody who is anybody knows that there are Star Wars and then there are A/C wars. You’ve neatly dodged picking a side and I’m left wondering if you are with the Empire or the Resistance? But after considering your words I’m now thinking that you are running your own game and like Scritchy are waiting to see who can land the heaviest blow? The possibility is real. 🙂 Bad Chris! Mate I tell you I was working on Tuesday and had a heater blowing onto my face. By late afternoon a lovely lady took pity on me and switched the thing off. You have a deep understanding from your own experiences that swashbuckling on the high accountant-seas is not for the faint of heart due to the horrid environmental conditions so encountered on that journey. The main take away from this dreaded affair is that those who do not control the A/C controls, have no control. Sorry, mate and I feel your pain.

    Accountancy does this to people!!!! So true. Work towards it via insurance or banking is a nice and tidy suggestion. He only wanted to see his name in lights. A bit of a shame really. Hehe! Ah Monty Python. Thanks for that! One has to deftly dodge the inherent difficulties of the profession ol’ chap, all the while not taking on too much of an emotional load. Dare I suggest that The Monty Python chaps may have known less economically complicated times when emotions were not quite as high as they appear to be today. Things can now be rather exciting, I’m afraid to say.

    Hehe! You nailed that one. This is so weird, but I have questioned so many people about the supply line issue, and by and large they profess that there is nothing wrong. It’s a bit Monty Python really. But then I hear, oh, that is on a six week back order. And I’ve heard a lot of such talk of late, when not that long ago it would have been truly remarkable talk. Just goes to prove how adaptive we are as a species.

    Mate, your friends in Idaho story would have been funny had I not heard it spoken to me in other circumstances and only just recently. People forget that supply lines are not just the distribution of goods from factory to consumer, but there are many points of storage in between. And all of those points can be drawn down upon in order to cover up the underlying reality.

    As another point in the road, my order for a spare house battery was placed on a six weeks back order. Hmm.

    Dunno, but fog has always felt to me like an in-between season sort of weather event. I don’t mind fog at all and the trees get a tidy free drink of water from the 100% humidity.



  51. @ Margaret – Yes, the smoke we had for a few days stayed aloft. But, the sun & moon sure were funny looking. But, last night, the full moon shown the way it’s supposed to. Clear and white. We either had rain, or a really, really heavy due, last night. Of course! After a week and a half, I watered, as a few things were looking stressed.

    I picked a large bowl of tomatoes, yesterday. They’re heading for the dehydrator. Even though tomato products were a bit thin, I could usually scrape up the diced tomatoes, from somewhere. And, I still had a pretty good backlog in the pantry. Lew

  52. Yo, Chris – Your mention of Mithras jogged something out of the old memory swamp. There’s a new sci-fi series, on tap, called “Raised by Wolves.” An allusion to the Romulus and Remus story. In the future world, the cult of Mithras has been revived, and pretty much rules. They’re apparently, the bad guys. They go to the time and trouble of chasing across the galaxy, to stamp out non-believers. Or, something like that.

    I thought of you when I mentioned global ocean circulations. But, like our hemisphere, an out welling of fresh water from Antarctica, would also effect you end of the circulation. A penny that didn’t drop until you mentioned it. So, the whole global circulation will be stressed at both ends. Even though the film “The Day After”, was over the top as to effects, it might have not been too far off the beam. So, I figure frigid winters with frequent arctic or antarctic outbreaks and scorching summers. I see they’ve finally settled on a La Nina forecast for the Pacific Northwest. Colder than average and wet. So, probably, snow. And maybe a lot of it.

    You might want to rethink that transplanted corn. Somewhere, I read or head that corn (and some other veg) do not transplant, very well. But, what the heck. Give it a whirl and see if it works. I see the library is getting a new book called “Fearless Gardening.” Which pretty much supports that idea.

    “Beautiful old cast iron inserts.” That you couldn’t see, once installed? Sounds like the Romans. I was just reading about their hypocaust systems. They recently discovered that some of the clay or tile wall flues, part of the system, were molded or impressed with nice patterns or scenes. On a part of the system that was hidden behind walls. Why? More mysteries. A few years back, I saw a documentary of some blokes trying to build a small Roman bathhouse (in Turkey, I think). An exercise in re-creating a bit of technology. Apparently, there was a knack to it, and they had a devil of a time getting it to work, properly.

    I figure a “chartered accountant” is a hoity toity accountant, who if called on, can balance The Queen’s checkbook 🙂 . The Monty Python show had several guest stars, including Stephen Hawking (!).

    The Idaho Kitchen Cabinet Sage (bards will sing of it) continues. Turns out a major keystone cabinet component, is missing. I told them they might have been better off using bricks and boards. And, maybe a apple crate, or two.

    At 8:15 this morning, someone came tapping on my door, bearing news. Never mind the “Asleep! Go Away! note I have on it. It seems the ex father-in-law of the Providence Centralia Institution building manager, was in one of the care facilities in which the virus is burning through, and died of it. Not that that leaves a big hole in my social schedule. Can’t remember the old duffer taking me out to lunch, or even coffee and a biscuit. So once the bearer of sad tidings had finally run down, I looked at her bare face and said, “Where’s your mask!” And gently, but firmly closed the door.

    I have decided to engage in the A/C wars. Yesterday, I turned it on, 6 times, while coming and going. And, six times it was turned off. Which really kind of tickles me. I figure I’m irritating, someone, somewhere. Lew

  53. Hi Lewis,

    Fortunately I’m not as late tonight as I was at this time last week. Ah, however the high standards of yore are slipping, but in my defence I note that we worked until 6.30pm tonight – and due to Daylight Savings Time it was still very bright although somewhat cloudy.

    Here’s the kicker though. The smart phone was genuinely too smart for its own good. So I set the alarm this morning so as to have a bit of a Sunday sleep in session. Always a worthwhile experience. The smart phone had other ideas, and during the wee hours of the morning, the phone dropped an hour – due to the dastardly daylight savings time. So instead of having a well deserved sleep in, I actually ended up getting up far earlier than I usually do. Imagine the horror that ensued when realisation finally dawned that this awful state of affairs was really happening! And I had a mild headache all morning, until the fog cleared.

    Fortunately we had to head off to the local hardware store – which is actually a really good business set up for locals and their needs, and along the way we stopped off for a sausage roll and a lamington at the nearby bakery, although the editor enjoyed a pink iced donught (with hole) with speckles which are known down here as hundreds and thousands. I suspect the pink icing contains ingredients which are not ordinarily found in nature, but it sure looked good. The lamington was pretty good too. After a solid fat and sugar hit, I felt much better and far more focused.

    Oh yeah, we’d actually run out of seed raising mixture which is why the trip was necessary, and we didn’t have anywhere near enough plastic tubs which we are using like seed raising flats as they are known in your country.

    Ah Raised by Wolves has the notable scary director Ridley Scott who was responsible for scaring the daylights out of me in the original Alien film. Note to self, if on a deep space mission and a formidable alien has intruded the living confines of the ship – get the heck off that boat. Don’t worry about the whole captain going down with the ship thing, just-abandon-ship-ASAP.

    Anyway, it seems like a lot of trouble for a God to go to just to stamp out non-believers. You’d imagine that other Gods would upon hearing never ending task, eventually intervene possibly in a God-pack and sooner or later and stomp the living daylights out of the unruly and possibly egomaniac Mithras?

    La Nina has been called – we called it earlier than you guys. Yeah, drought is tough, but crazy amounts of rain can be a far tougher experience. Oh well, keep your chin up and just deal with the world as it is and not as you’d like it to be. Only a week ago it snowed, and today was toasty hot and humid. My brain hurts.

    You summed up my general feelings as to the subject. Yes, Fearless gardening is the new black. If I’d listened to knowledgeable locals I never would have planted any citrus, let alone right out there plants like Macadamia’s. You have to be in it to win it. Last year the seedling transplanted corn produced far better results than the direct sown corn so I’m hearing what you are saying and sort of suggesting that things might be a bit different down here.

    It interests me that the hypocaust systems mimic a current house design which sits on stumps with an outer layer of strip footings. If I had to rebuild this house I’d use such a system, mostly because it would work well. The concept has been at the back of my mind for a while just slowly bubbling away. Hopefully I don’t have to rebuild the house, but you never really know what the future entails. Did you check out the Calefactory reference for monasteries? When I was a kid it was not unusual to have only the single room heated.

    Pah! The Chartered accountants are so exclusive that their head office was apparently sold off and they retired to New Zealand. Mind you, there are plenty of them around. I’m with the other lot, who didn’t retreat to the west when the going got tough…

    Ooo, I do like your suggestion for your Idaho friends and intend to talk about that same subject this evening.

    I salute your common sense response. Ex-father in law sounds a bit remote to be woken up at some gawdforsaken hour of the day to be told of the loss.

    The rain, it has begun… I’m attuned to such things and it sounds as if the weather may have derived from the tropics.

    Lewis, you are super bad. 🙂 So do you have any hunches as to who is the A/C operator? Mate, been there and done that game. Emotions can escalate.



  54. Yo, Chris – So, the phone very cleverly updated it’s own internal time, but the software left off updating the alarm function. No surprise there. Other than the surprise of being woken, an hour earlier. I’d also be fried. And, by the time your head is clear enough to reset the alarm, your alert enough to have a hard time getting back to sleep.

    Don’t all donughts have holes? I wondered at the spelling, and thought it might be an Australian thing, but I see it’s a Chris thing. 🙂 . Of course, here, being the Land of All Things Speedy, we generally spell it “donut.” As apposed to “doughnut.” Keep those solid fat and sugar hits, coming. Makes life worth living. 🙂 .

    We’re supposed to be socked in, all day. Last night I could see the birds on the radar. There certainly are a lot of them, of many different kinds, foraging about, this morning. I guess they’re tanking up for the next leg of their journey. I saw a hummingbird, busily at my pea blossoms, this morning. Wonder if the peas will produce, before the first frost? Heck, I planted them in July.

    Current home design. Post and block, or pier and block. Sometimes, there are insurance or bank quibbles, over those systems. Probably due to the overactive imagination of some liability lawyer. Come the Revolution, those people will be hunted down, and their remains fed to the squirrels.

    If I were a monk, I’d spend a lot of time hanging out in winter, in the calefactory. I think it’s interesting that they stashed records, in a room above, to keep out the damp. A liability lawyer probably wouldn’t stand for it. 🙂 .

    Well, down at the A/C end of the hall, we have Tweedle Dee and Tweedle-dumber. Brenda and Patty. The Terrible Twosome. I caught them lurking around the unit, yesterday. Shoed them off.

    I watched last year’s adaptation of “Little Women.” Depending on who you believe, it’s either the sixth or seventh film version. There have also been many television adaptations. It’s sometimes referred to as the “feminist” version. But as the director pointed out (she also wrote the script), some of the most up to date bits of dialogue, came right from the text. I think it’s one of those works that has a lot of layers, that can be adapted to whatever time period it’s filmed in. Or whatever slant the director wants to put on it.

    Visually, it’s a lovely film. Victorian, New England. The DVD extras were quit interesting. “Orchard House” was where the Alcott family mostly lived, in Concord, Massachusetts. The house was built in the 1600s, and everyone thought Mr. Alcott would tear it down, and rebuild. But, he didn’t. He renovated and expanded. The set designer spent a lot of time there, getting the set just right, for the film. It underwent major renovation in 1910 and, circa 2000. The author Hawthorne was a neighbor, and Emerson also lived near by. Thoreau was a frequent guest. Quit a heady mix.

    While I was watching the film, I thought that the composition of the shots, and the color palate were very reminiscent of the artist Winslow Homer. Yup. As the extras mentioned, they spent a lot of time looking at Homer paintings. A lovely film worth watching.

    Also, on my library hold list, is another old chestnut, “The Secret Garden.” This will be the fourth film. Will be interesting to see how it compares. It should show up, any day.

    Well, it’s bath day, for H. Always an adventure. Lew

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