What we do when the power’s off

Late Spring turns to Summer. The weather is warm, other times hot. To place your nose outside the well sealed house is to be confronted by the smell of heat. Fortunately the farm is located on a quiet back road. When the rare car travels past on the dirt road, a cloud of dust travels in its wake. You can smell, and even see the cloud of yellow-orange dry clay from the road as it lifts into the air in the vehicles wake, only to descend over the house in slow motion. Mixed into the dust is the scent of wild honey courtesy of all of the farms flowers and surrounding forest, and always there is the background aroma of eucalyptus. The heat has an elusive smell, borne of all these things and then some. But mostly, late afternoons are just hot.

The house may be well sealed and heavily insulated, but a hot day is a hot day after all, and there is only so far that sealing and insulation can protect the occupants. Earlier in the week after a hot day, the overnight low temperature was 23’C / 73’F. This week was a foretaste of even hotter summer nights yet to come.

We don’t have air conditioning in the house. Instead we utilise the cooler outside nighttime air and expel the warm air which builds up during the day. The house generally cools down overnight. It’s an old technique, and it mostly works, except when the nighttime temperatures are unpleasantly hot, as occasionally happens.

Air conditioning in a house has never really been part of my life. Instead I prefer to adapt to the conditions and try and make the best of them. Unfortunately, in recent years, the night time temperatures seem to be getting warmer. A decade ago it would have been rare to see a night as warm as 23’C / 73’F. Last summer one notable night was 29’C / 84’F, which candidly was a bit sweaty. With those potential hot summer nights in mind, we purchased a new set of sheets for the bed.

The sheets were made from fibre sourced from bamboo, and down here that fibre is generally known for its performance in hot climactic conditions. I was pretty excited about the purchase and wanted to wax lyrical, but at the same time it is hard nowadays to extol the virtues of such a simple adaption, without sounding like an advertisement. And unlike a lot of websites, we don’t do advertisements here, mainly because I don’t have to.

As a general rule, adaption to circumstances is usually the smart way to go. Having constructed this house ourselves and with our own labour, the editor and I have a fairly good understanding of how houses are put together. It is a fair observation that most houses constructed these days usually require mechanical heating and cooling. It is not lost on me that this situation is historically unprecedented. It is nice that some segments of the population appear to be concerned about the perils of climate change. And of late the concern has escalated to the point where society seems hell bent on shutting down large scale electric power plants. Maybe it is just me, but I do wonder how it will be possible to continue mechanically heating and cooling houses at scale, whilst closing down large electric power plants. The two mutually exclusive concepts just don’t make much sense to me. Makes me wonder how people will fare when the power’s off, or the energy becomes super expensive due to supply and demand issues?

Adaption to circumstances is usually easier. The editor and I were married in the midst of the recession that ‘we had to have’ back in the mid 90’s. It was a brutal economic time, and we were as broke as everyone else. The wedding ceremony was held in a park, and the reception was held for a small gathering of family and friends in a restaurant. It was a fun night.

The honeymoon was squeezed in between semesters at University. Studying at night is a tough row to hoe, and after a full day of work, well, sometimes in lectures your mind just drifted off. Fortunately I can do hard work, and so the higher education experience was survivable. Two weeks leave from work was granted, and the editor and I spent the weeks in the island state of Tasmania. Being winter, it sure was quiet down there in those days. Accommodation was very affordable. We had a blast, and stayed in old colonial and convict era buildings, including a former jail (with cells – very creepy).

One memorable evening near to the city of Launceston we decided to enjoy a late dinner, and so set out around 8pm in search of food. Now, that city is the second largest city in the island state (with around 106,000 people now), but frankly wasn’t much larger at the time than a suburb of Melbourne (our home city with a population of around 5 million now). We asked a local for advice, and sharp as a tack the lady queried where we were from and offered: “You’re not in Melbourne now”. Yes, very amusing, but whatever, and we did find somewhere to feed us at that supposedly too-late for dinner hour. And it was good.

You do learn how to adapt, however sometimes you just need some incentive to do so. Another time we were meant to be staying in Hobart, which is the capital city of the island state. Unfortunately we’d booked the wrong accommodation (but with a very similar name) and ended up about 40km / 25miles north of the city. I guess it pays to read brochures more carefully.

We were annoyed by the unexpected turn of events. The accommodation however, was a lovely old convict era barracks comprising of a one room up, and one down arrangement. It really was a beautiful old building in a quiet location, and the house even came with a black cat, who from memory was a very friendly moggie and happily just hung around doing its cat like thing. The cat may have even slept on the bed.

That first evening we decided that in the morning we’d change our arrangements and move to accommodation closer to the city of Hobart. A late dinner was booked in Hobart, so it only made sense to stay in the city. However that next morning, breakfast was supplied, and in among all the tasty food was a freshly baked and still hot small loaf of bread along with a pot of superb raspberry jam. It was bakery perfection, and so we immediately adapted and stayed there a further two nights.

Yup, we can adapt to circumstances, you better believe it!

Ibis fly over the valley seeking nighttime refuge as the sun sets

The hot weather has been good this week. The plants are growing fast and a hot afternoon was the perfect time to be out of the sun and upgrade the computer system here. The modem was failing, and so was the device replaced with a more complicated, but hopefully far more robust device. But then one thing leads to another and I spent almost a day trying to fault find problems in the antenna system. All very necessary if you want a connection to the internet. I’ll spare you the details, if only because they are rather dull, but the system is now working well.

Ruby approves of the removal of plant growth from some of the paths and staircases

The farm activities at this time of year involves maintenance. The hot weather causes the plants to grow fast and sometimes in the course of only a week or two, the plants will have taken over paths and staircases. It is possible that a Triffid or two maybe lurking in the garden beds?

Paths are kept open by hacking back vegetative growth

It isn’t only the garden beds which grow fast at this time of year, but the grass in the orchards and paddock also needs to be mowed. The job of mowing the farm is nearing completion. However, the task may be a bit like painting the Sydney Harbour Bridge, whereby you start at one end, work the entire length of the bridge, get to the end, and begin back where you previously started. It is possible that we’ll have to mow the grass three times this year.

Ollie frolics in the freshly cut grass in the sunny orchard

The newly completed greenhouse has worked far better than we ever imagined. The seedlings grown in the greenhouse are possibly a month ahead of the directly sown seeds.

The recently completed greenhouse has proven its worth

The last of the tomato seedlings were planted into the ground this week. We’re growing about 100 tomato plants this year, and hopefully it will be a good harvest when late January / February rolls around. So far this year we haven’t had to purchase any seedlings as all the plants were grown from saved and purchased seed.

Plum approves of the hundred or so tomato seedlings planted out over the past fortnight

The farm relies exclusively on rainwater collected off the house and shed roof spaces and is stored in large tanks. Water is a precious resource and so we have installed drip line irrigation on the garden terraces. A water robot controls the watering regime. Candidly, the water robot works really well as the system supplies water to the plants far better than I could. A close up of the drip lines in action can be seen in the next photo.

Drip line irrigation in action

Observant readers will note in the above photo that some of the water from the drip line has rolled away. The photo was taken prior to planting of the tomato seedlings and the soil surface was baked hard by the hot sun. However, under the protective soil surface crust, the soil was damp. In order to plant the seedlings, the soil surface was worked a bit and now the water from the drip lines penetrates much further into the soil. Newly planted out seedlings receive 40 minutes of drip irrigation per day, and that time will be reduced as the seedlings become better established. Eventually, the plants will enjoy 10 minutes of watering per day through the drip lines.

I thought readers might enjoy the view from the eastern side of the farm looking back towards the western end. At least five sheds can be seen, as well as part of the garden terraces and the house.

The view from the eastern edge of the part of the farm and looking to the west

Late Spring Produce Update:

In the past few days, strawberries have began to ripen.

Strawberries are beginning to ripen in the heat

Hopefully this year will be a good strawberry harvest, and the berries will be consumed fresh for breakfast as well as being used to make an excellent jam.

Strawberries are looking good

It may also be a very good year for apricots, and hopefully we harvest enough fruit to preserve for the following year.

It may be a good apricot harvest this year

Nashi Pears (Asian Pears) are forming on the many trees. The local parrots are a nuisance as they enjoy this fruit unripe.

Nashi Pears are forming on the trees

This summer may be the best apple season yet.

Apples form on the trees

If the birds leave the cherry trees alone, we might even get some fruit!

Yummy cherries! Birds are a problem with this fruit

The oldest and fastest growing grape vine looks as though it may produce a few clusters of grapes. The vines are now around two years old.

It is possible that this vine might produce one or two clusters of grapes

Onto the flowers:

Last season this Daisy was thought to be dead – not so!
Californian Poppies appear to be hybridising and producing new colours
Geraniums are loving the weather conditions this year
And the bees love the sun and heat hardy flowers
Roses love the hot weather too
Native wildflowers are making a comeback at the farm like this Blue Bottle-daisy (Lagenophora Stipitata)
Another native wildflower is this Hairy Speedwell (Veronica Calycina)
The other flowers are nice and all, but the Roses are producing stunning flowers

The temperature outside now at about 9.00am is 14’C (57’F). So far this year there has been 1092.2mm (43.0 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 1058.8mm (41.7 inches).

64 thoughts on “What we do when the power’s off”

  1. Yo, Chris – The bamboo sheets sound really interesting. I went down the rabbit hole, a bit, to check them out. I probably have enough sheets to last me the rest of my life (inherited a lot from Uncle Larry), but, I’m filing it away for future reference. Eleanor always seems to be wrangling sheets. I’ll mention them, to her.

    When energy becomes to expensive, the rich will do just fine. The rest of us will muddle through. You may end up fighting the Editor, for the tub. All that nice, cool porcelain.

    Your wedding sounds very nice, and also sensible. About the scale that my friends in Idaho’s daughter, is planning. Your honeymoon sounds delightful. Have you been back to Tasmania, since? And the hotel mix-up, turned out, just fine. “An adventure is a disaster that turns out, just fine.” (™ Lew). But it also occurred to me, that should I ever find myself in a hard bargain, with you, all I need do is distract with good baked goods. 🙂 .

    I did not know a variety of ibis, was native to Australia. I think of them as Egyptian birds. Due to their penchant for rummaging through garbage, I see they’re knick named, tip turkeys or bin chickens. Only in Australia … They also have several collective noun names. Congregation, stand or wedge.

    Ollie frolics due to the lack of long grass tickling his tush when he … you know. H is at her best right after the lawn has been mowed.

    Before I read about your drip line, I thought, “Oh, no! Chris’s hose has a leak in it! But I see it is by plan.

    The strawberries are sure banging along. And, given no unforeseen problems, it looks like your going to have a very good year, for fruit.

    Resurrection daisies. Wow, what color. Keep an eye on those hybrid poppy colors. Might have a little money maker, there. Any in blue? 🙂 . You know, there are blue poppies, that are native to Tibet or Nepal. Did you see any on your trip? Considering the simple structure, that rose is a very old variety. Positively prehistoric.

    I watched the Ruth Goodman questions about “Victorian Farm.” Interesting. But I swear, You Tub is dangerous. Found another series called “Wartime Kitchen and Garden.” I watched the first episode. Pretty darned interesting. I don’t know how long ago is was made, but it’s a cook and a gardener, from some English stately home. Although you never see the stately home. It’s all about the gardens and greenhouses (also called, glass house) and the cooks little cottage, down the lane. She sulphurs and dries apples. So they don’t change color. An interesting process. Also lays down extra eggs in water glass. But where would one find sulphur candles or water glass, these days? Not anything your going to find at the local Stop N Go.

    One thing I hadn’t thought about. The gardener was still quit sad, even after all this time, that most of the flowers in the greenhouse and gardens had to be pulled out. Burned or composted. To make room for food production. What I also found interesting was, they had a Land Army Girl, to help out. She was bunked with a family, a good bicycle ride away. What? They couldn’t find room for her in the “big house?” I’m going to have to get back and watch more of that series.

    You may have heard the news that they found two more victims, in Pompeii. Casts have been made. They were in an underground passage, at a villa just outside the walls of the town. On very little evidence, they’re referring to them as the master, and his slave. What’s really interesting is that it’s the same villa, where they excavated the stables, a couple of years ago, and discovered three horses. Two of which were harnessed up, and ready to go. One of the articles mentioned “articles found with the two men”, but not a clue as to what they were. They’re going to do DNA investigation. I wouldn’t be surprised if they turn out to be father and son, or uncle and nephew. Lew

  2. Hi Pam,

    Hehe! Thanks for the added special fluffy vote of recommendation. 🙂 Your neighbour is most lucky to have your copy of the book. Recommendations reached a certain critical mass yesterday. Hehe!

    Hope everything is good.

    Far out it rained a lot in the past 24 hours. An inch and half, and I’m almost certain I spotted that sun thing way up there in the sky earlier this morning, but where did it go for the rest of the day is a true mystery. Oh well, nature has put the water robot out of work today – this of course is a good thing!



  3. Hi Chris,

    By coincidence, I learned just today that I’m probably going to have to buy aircon for my house as I just picked up a job which will be work from home over the summer. Normally on really hot days, I just turn the appliances off and read a book. I actually quite like to let mother nature dictate that it’s too hot to work sometimes. That’s what the original inhabitants of this land did. As they said “only mad dogs and Englishmen go out into the midday sun”.

    Sadly, that’s not an option when you’re getting paid. Although it seems our globalist overlords are aiming for a world where nobody has a job so maybe the problem will solve itself.

    Had 60mm of rain here in the last 24 hours. It came just in time as some of my fairly recently planted couch grass was turning brown. Apparently most of northern NSW is looking at its driest November on record. Obviously La Nina’s malfunctioning in that part of the world.

  4. Hi Lewis,

    The Boo-bok owls are the most frequent visitors to the farm and most nights you can hear them. Strangely enough they call and respond to each other, so I suspect that particular owl hunts as an err, flock and they roam less than the other owl species. The other owl species visit as individuals, and I’m guessing they’re warning off other owls. I’ve heard the awesome Powerful owl often enough, but am yet to see it. They do horrid things to possums.

    The dogs dietary predilections do kind of shock the more delicate sensibilities. The reason I kind of figured out the gut flora and fauna issue, is that I know a number of people who’s dogs have gut issues and I’ve observed or heard about their households. And when Ruby turned up here, she also had gut issues, but nowadays she eats like a proper old timer campaigner, and poops like a trooper. So exposure to the environment here actually assisted her guts. I’d never encountered a dog with gut issues before, but I’ve heard the stories… The concept of the old timer campaigner who always made time for proper meals struck me as being a sensible approach to life from the first I heard of the concept.

    Actually the bedroom window, or whatever window, would work just as well as a greenhouse. The greenhouse here is not the usual construction as it was designed and built with the conditions in mind, and so far the seedlings are showing little if any transplant shock. Mind you, it is early days and who knows how the season will roll. In another month or so, you can expect a proper comparison report (greenhouse versus direct sown). But eggplants and chili’s have zero chance of germinating from direct sown seeds in the current conditions at the farm. My mates of the big shed fame have also recounted to me their stories of peppers and they get more sunlight than here, but it is not enough to produce proper taste in their peppers. Chili’s being smaller and hotter peppers do fine in these conditions.

    It is kind of eerie to learn that you are being stalked by the ghost of Mrs. Siddons. The young lady surely had a surfeit of tragedy in her life, and thus was able to channel the emotion at will. Dodge the ghost I say…

    Eleanor’s care giver perhaps has other concerns on her mind right now sorry to say. Life can rudely intrude at times, and we can only do our best. Despite the cracked tooth of a few weeks ago, I still made time to reply here because it is has become part of my life, and I always respected your stoic nature when you suffered the jaw situation. It could be said that you lead by example?

    Demonic possession is an apt reminder to be on high alert so as to not invite unwanted guests into a household. They would make very dull and possibly jerky and repetitive visitors – and who the heck wants that? Possibly the situation is akin to burglars and all ya can do is to ensure that there are easier targets elsewhere. Mind you, I’ve only just completed Mr Kunstler’s delightful quadrilogy of books (pah, the stupid interweb dictionary does not know this word! Should we teach the robots is a more important question than it first appears to be?) had a young lady who had boned up on gender studies in earlier times, but then in the fictional narrative suffered from encephalitis which could produce such an outcome as demonic possession. A salient lesson to be more careful as to what one studies.

    The cult of progress is nice and all, but any dogmatic theology can become rather tiresome, and very quickly. Of course my perspective may be challenged by having to have spent a day inspecting each element of the antenna system which usually provides excellent access to this here interweb thing. That’s hardly progress now, is it?

    Thanks and I’ll check out the Q+A with Ruth Goodman after responding to your good self.

    Ha! Good luck with that, and I do hope the fine folks don’t descend upon your county.

    The rodent contingent are outrageous in their antics – and that appears to have been the case for a very long while. Just for one example, one of their compatriots has died under the house and so I get this faint whiff of decomposition stink. Have the rodents no proper sensibilities? The mice on the Helmet of Weisenau were really quite delightful, and kind of playful to my eyes. They’re OK those rodents and it is worthy noting that whilst rats have been excluded from the chicken house and enclosure, their much smaller field mice buddies are almost impossible to exclude.

    Mate, you were on a roll (please excuse the bakery pun in this instance) with those cookies. Actually for your info, during the most awful recent and very prolonged lock down, we ran out of peanuts. I mean we did have the seeds, but they were for planting in the greenhouse, so yeah fair crack of the whip. Anyway, I baked a batch of Anzac biscuits without the peanuts and to be candid, we could taste both the butter and sugar as the flavours came to the fore. The biscuits were good, but a solid argument could be raised that they were a bit too good, and that maybe a bad thing. So yes, be careful as to shortages and your adaptions to them.

    Uncle Larry did you a solid with all of the linen bequeathed to you. Some of the woollen blankets we use are now well over forty years old, and they are as good today as they were back then. It is perhaps a fair thing to say that quality might last a lifetime. 😉 If Eleanor runs hot, bamboo sheets might work a treat.

    It is possible that rationing by price will become the norm. Honestly I don’t know, as the recent lock down alerted folks in the outer suburbs as to the paucity of their amenities – and if it was reported upon, I’d have to suggest that more than a few were unhappy about the situation, so you never know.

    Your friend’s daughter in Idaho sounds remarkably sensible – and I note that she has some understanding of the forests. You go girl! 🙂 Long ago before the start of the turn of the century I almost burned out at a job, and the editors mum died unexpectedly. I let my ego go too far with work and learned the definition of limits, and as a result we travelled around this large country of ours poking our noses into various nooks and crannies. A month was spent in that island state again in the depths of winter. A beautiful land.

    Hey, I’m cheap and can be bought! Hehe! It is just that quality, and I mean the really good stuff bakery treats are so rarely found these days. Whyeverthang should it be thus? But it is. And so the search must continue. It is a hardship that I can endure.

    Bin chickens is the colloquial moniker for the poor birds. It is not the birds fault that our society is so wasteful. Never seen the birds up this way before, so it was notable.

    Both Ollie and H are of course sensible dogs. This is known. The two rapscallions who decided to dig up one of the vegetable beds today are not sensible dogs.

    We made a bean salad from the many broad beans and it was pretty good. Probably wouldn’t serve it to visitors, but I like it. Would I serve such and such a food to visitors is the gold standard test for a dish.

    Thanks for the advice regarding the poppies. Ya never know!

    Nope, we visited Nepal during their dry season, which was around Christmas time from memory. We missed the blooming Rhododendron forests as well , but from what I’ve heard there are a lot of leeches and seriously damp weather at that time of year. Unpleasant critters despite what the middle ages medics might have thought.

    The rose does look like a seriously way back machine variety of rose and we now grabbed two of such varieties. I’ll bet as you suggest they are of a very old lineage.

    In slightly warmer climes lemons and citrus can be used to stop apples from browning during the preserving process. Also reminds me that yoghurt can be started with lemons – forgot to mention that I was looking into that story about a week ago now. By way of comparison, I’ll bet down under we are short of sulphur give the state of soils here. Hmm. But yup, none of the important stuff is found at the Quick-Stop (had to chuck in a Jay and Silent Bob reference just because).

    Like the gardener, I’d be sad about removing all of the ornamental plants too, but food on the table should get first priority, although walking around the inner city I see nary a vegetable or tree with edible stuff anywhere, thus proving that perhaps some ideologies can be taken too far and to opposite extremes.

    I’d never heard of the Land Army Girl’s before. It was notable that most of the young ladies were smiling in the many images, and that represented a shift from the sort of dour expressions people chose to wear in earlier photographs. I noted that what began with volunteers so turned to conscripts. Oh wow, they also had a Women’s timber corps. All very wise options. The editor is no slouch with the forestry work here. The series sounds fascinating.

    Makes you wonder whether the articles found with the two Pompeii victims were a bit more on the precious metals side of the story?



  5. Hi Simon,

    Top work with the job, and I hope that you’ll find time to continue to write? Your stories have provided plenty of amusement, and I still chuckle about the use of the town name of Tittybong just south of Swan Hill. The train here probably passes not too far away to the east of that one horse town. Like, I mean who calls a town that name? But then yeah I hear you about the work and bills which have to be paid and that is a bit of a bummer.

    Well, as you know we have a slight advantage over where you are in terms of temperature, but even still I’ve enjoyed a 45’C summer day and that was not good. Inside the house reached 29’C, or maybe even 30’C that day and once the sun was getting closer to the horizon we just opened the house up to let in the less stuffy air. I hear you about the air conditioning, and all we can do is adapt to the circumstances which we find ourselves in.

    Your strategy of taking it easy, staying out of the sun and reading a book does you credit. We’ve got a hammock out in the dog enclosure, but the insects can sometimes be a nuisance. Sometimes on really hot days I just head out into the sun so that when I come back inside the house it feels like walking into a refrigerator despite how warm it is. Like that saying about mad dogs and Englishmen being the only fools out in the midday sun. Yup, so true.

    Simon, I never thought you were that cynical, 😉 but yeah unemployment is most certainly on the rise. Did you by any chance see the article in the papers the other week suggesting that economists believe that this is a good outcome?

    How weird is that? It was wetter in the big smoke than up here! It is a very rare occurrence: Rare rainfall double as Victoria drenched. A very focused storm cell also hit Ballarat this morning too. Ouch. Tis the season for such things. The heavy rain sure did wake me up early this morning.

    I believe the NSW rain will return with force during summer, and I fully expect to see plenty of flooding this year and into Queensland – although I could be wrong.



  6. Hello Chris
    I loved the photos. For some unknown reason I had an emotional reaction to the flying ibises; a really gorgeous photo.
    Son has a thing about what he calls malignant Mondays. This is why he usually takes me shopping then as any work he tries to do will go wrong. He had to go to a job today so did my food shopping for me on Sunday. This morning as he glanced from his kitchen window, he saw a pig looking in on him. The pig had trashed the gate to her enclosure. Then he tried to deal with an external dripping tap and it came off in his hands. He never got to the intended job. Fortunately his clients always seem to love him.
    Grey, dank and cold here.


  7. Chris,

    I enjoyed the superb photos this week. As always, I’m partial to a photo with a bee in it. 🙂

    Good work on the router, etc. Technology…gotta have it but it can be a real pain in the watusi. WD40 is my best friend for a lot of routine maintenance things. With the current over reliance on technology, I’m finding that people don’t act like people. The car bingle situation with the other guy’s insurance is a data point. I don’t have a name, I’m “Party B”. Can’t talk to live voices at a lot of places, just leave a message and hope they deign to call back. The unmentionable has only made this worse.

    42 is a universal rule. Toilet paper rolls, dog food kg, how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, how much wood could a wood chuck chuck if a wood chuck could chuck wood…42 is the answer to all of that and much, much more.

    I think I’ve come to an accommodation with the officer. It’s a fine line to walk. And, as is true with most clubs, the same small group of people do most of the stuff. The other person is suffering from burnout, which I quite understand.

    Will give a car bingle update in a few days. One last attempt to be more than “Party B”, and then it’s turn it over to my company to deal with. The other company is trying to dictate that I can have a rental car for $25 per day, including tax, for the expected 2 days of work on my car. It is impossible to rent a Fred Flintstone car for that price! If I were starting this over, I would’ve just turned it over to my people from the start, but because it is a clear case of their fault and zero fault on me, this is typically unnecessary. Times change…

    Another skiff of snow overnight, about 1.5cm, but the main roads are already bare and wet. It’s above freezing. I have errands to run. The last time we had this scenario, I got rear ended.


  8. Yo, Chris – At first, I thought a horrid end to possums was a good thing. But then remembered that your possums are more benign than our horrid possums, which deserve a horrid end. Beau, the Mighty Possum Killer never messed about with the bodies, once he’d done them in. Other than to want to play a rousing game of keep away, when it became time for me to remove the corpses.

    Eleanor’s caregiver, is back today. Husbands still alive, but barely. I ran into her in the hall, and we had a short chat. I’ll get a full report, tonight. Oh, Eleanor runs hot. A standard part of the nightly whinge is the state of climate control, in our hallway. She’s always complaining that she can’t get out and exercise in the hall, as it’s too warm. What with people turning on hall heaters, full blast. And leaving stairwell doors open, so that the heat rises from the second floor. It does get a bit toasty, up here, but doesn’t bother me to the extent it does her.

    Well, I don’t think we have to worry much about development in our county, at the present time. There’s a certain element of the Old Guard, that likes things exactly as they are, and discourages any kind of change. I think our two, new young county counselors will find themselves beating their heads against a wall.

    Peanuts in your Anzac biscuits? Are you sure your Australian? 🙂 . I mean, I substitute dried cranberries for coconut, but then, I’m a clueless American. I obviously don’t know any better.

    I wonder if the Ibis are moving into your area because of the wonky climate? Maybe because the north is heating up too much for them?

    There are rose fossils that are 35 million years old. At least, the leaves look like rose leaves and there are stray thorns, here and there. The earliest depictions in art, come from our old friends, the Minoans. On Create there are wall paintings of roses from around 1,600 BCE.

    I’d guess before WWII, lemons were probably too expensive for common folk to use it to slop around on apples, to prevent browning. And, during WWII, well, supply lines, and all.

    Back in 2009 the BBC ran a series called “Land Girls,” for three seasons. I watched it. Quit good, I thought. Fiction.

    I had to laugh when I read they tried to explain the mice on the helmet as serving a possible “devotional function.” There’s been quit a bit of fun poked at archaeologists who claim that any mystery or unidentifiable object served some kind of obscure religious function. It’s kind of a grab bag.

    I found it interesting that one of the saddles on the horse in Pompeii was described as being a “military” saddle. Quit fancy with lots of bronze trim. The older man might have been an old campaigner. I wonder if they’ll find anything to give him a name. Or, more military kit to indicate where he served?

    And, just for fun … an older man wrestles his puppy away from an alligator, down in Florida.


    Some of the comments are pretty funny. Didn’t even drop his cigar! Lew

  9. Hi Inge,

    The photo of the Ibises in particular was quite stirring to me also, although I can’t speak for your emotions. The birds to me represented a species not usually seen here, but known for their generalist natures. It was an extraordinary event and utter change seeing the birds here, but with the backdrop of the setting sun, well if you were of the inclination to look for signs, omens and portents, as the ancient Roman folks were so inclined, a sensitive person could see the story of decline with something new on the horizon arriving. Not sure really. But whatever the case maybe, sometimes nature really puts on a show here – as I guess she does in other parts of this wondrous planet.

    Malignant Monday’s. Love the description, but would be uncomfortable with the experience, and your son is right to go with his gut feel in this matter. Some days for me just feel a ‘bit off’ and I generally listen to my gut in this matter and go and do something else with my time. There have been occasional times when I have ignored this intuition – usually due to scheduling and deadline concerns – and have become injured during the day.

    People are pretty understanding. I guess possibly like your son, I’m a quirky individual, although fun to have around (it is a tough thing to make accounting fun, but it can be done), so people are pretty forgiving. But yeah being reliable and cheap also probably helps. 🙂

    Pigs are total escape artists. Did your son manage to constrain the sow? And I hate to be the one to say it, but plumbing works, for a while… The definition of ‘a while’ can vary from decades to days, and you never really know in advance which it will be. I did not stint the plumber and paid him properly to ensure that he did a good job which will last. Not everyone follows that route, and it is a choice for individuals to make, I guess. And even then I stuffed some things up, which was usually my doing and not the plumbers.



  10. Hi DJ,

    Years ago somebody on the blog mentioned that bird song is lacking down under, and so I took the computer and microphone out, recorded some audio and hopefully proved that this was not in fact the case. The bees! Wow, the overall hum of the European honey bees and other native bees in the garden most warm sunny days is something else to be confronted with, and when in the big smoke the sheer background quiet of nature becomes a rather unsettling thing for me that most folks there don’t really notice the lack thereof.

    A new page has been added to the blog and you can listen to the bird song, and if you’re really alert you’ll hear me early on telling off the chickens: “out of there, you lot!” It’s feral out there and the microphone was not moved during the entire recording…

    WD40 is an amazing material, and about once a year I’ll spray the various solar power electrical connections and also mechanical pump controllers, just to stop the time-worm of entropy from eating them all. It is possible that ‘dry electrical connections’ means exactly that, if only because I’ve seen it in action.

    Greetings and salutations Mr Party B, and I hope that you are comfortable and at your ease and enjoying the party? The bar is over there and you can get a drink. Try not to annoy the other people at the bar (a tidy legal pun to boot!) 😉

    My brain is spinning around and around at your more advanced word-play, and now I’m wondering what exactly is a wood chuck? Mind you my brain is telling me that it is a key used in drill heads, but no, apparently not. Oh, well I never. Please keep your wood chucks in your part of the world.

    Well yeah, you already know about how things work in small clubs. There is an allowance I’d make for officers which also has to be made for the very strange times that we now find ourselves in. There is a mental health cost in the population to all of the current goings on. I spoke this morning with a lovely young lady who I’ve known for many years and we spoke about just how weird this year has been. I remarked by way of observation that the mid 1990’s were a weird time, but this year has taken the cake. Which only goes to prove the old adage that things can always get worse.

    Times change indeed. The main problem that you have is that you are in a position of reduced leverage – and they know it, and they have an inherent conflict of interest in reducing their costs.

    Hope the weather warms slightly for you.



  11. Hi Chris,

    I started the new novel this week actually. Will try and get as much writing in as I can before next Monday. Oh man, it’s going to be hard to re-adapt back to the world of paid employment. Still, I should be grateful. A lot of people are not so lucky at the moment.

    What was that article about unemployment being good? Good for who exactly?

    Actually, unemployment is great when it’s done on purpose and awful when it’s not.

    By the way, what do you do with the tomatos from 100 tomato plants? I assume you must be making pasta sauce?

  12. Hi, Chris!

    Ahhh . . . the smell of heat is just a memory, but I can smell it in your photos and writing. I have the smell of woodsmoke.

    I think you must be right about your greenhouse-grown seedlings being a month ahead of the outdoor-sown ones. That seems to be the case with our started-inside-the-house ones.

    To adapt – I’d like to jus coast for awhile. Just for a bit.

    Fernglade Village, east to west. What a stirring place to live.

    Lucky you to have strawberries coming in. Ours were so-so last year, but I have one very old Alpine Strawberry plant that is still, even now in almost-winter, reliably producing berries. No-one else likes their taste, which is rather more like wild strawberries (which I like). I have tried to grow another Alpine from its seeds, but to no avail. This coming spring has got to be the one where I buy more of those plants.

    Wow – a new California poppy! Will you save the seed?

    The flowers are stupendous. I don’t think we have any left except for a few dandelions. We have that wild Speedwell, or its cousin. It’s not blooming now, but a carpet of them – kept from deer – is a gorgeous blue when in bloom.

    I have a copy of Ruth Goodman’s “Edwardian Farm” headed to me (from London!). I have been reading a lot of Victorian stuff lately and decided to move up a bit in time to a period that I know less of.


  13. Hi Lewis,

    Mate, it is a possums life here to be nervous. Time is short for them and we get two varieties of the herbivores. The brush tail variety is quite large, but even so, the owls are efficient and deadly – thus why the birds have to continually move and search out new territory. The owls don’t seem to be able to take out the sugar gliders or bats. Even down in the old established parks in the big smoke, the largest of all owls: The Powerful Owl, would regularly sweep through the parks dining upon the possums. The aftermath of discovering possum remains the following day of the owls presence was an interesting experience for the me back in the day, and possibly also for the nice folks who have access to such old established parks. I do wonder why new housing estates aren’t forced to set aside regular spaces for parks? It’s a bit wrong that.

    I recall walking the dogs near to the old inner big smoke parks back in the day on occasions such as Valentine’s Day, and the park would be full of couples with picnic baskets all doing their very best to distance themselves one couple from the other. Viewed from a distance there was a remarkably coherent checkerboard pattern to the spacing, which I guess the folks in the park might not have been able to discern when in the midst of the festivities.

    Respect to Beau the mighty slayer of opossums (not to be confused with our herbivores of a similar, yet slightly different spelling). Do you miss having Beau and Nell around?

    After the inch and a half of rain Sunday/Monday, I placed down a small load of the locally quarried crushed rock with lime over the dogs enclosure. Some of their area had become a bit muddy which is not good for the dogs health. And what amazed me today (Tuesday) was that the two young pups simply respected the job I did whilst out in the rain on Monday morning. Their enclosure is now a whole bunch nicer than it was only just prior to that. I was fully expecting the two rapscallions to have dug holes in the crushed rock, but no.

    Oh my! I do hope that both Eleanor, and her care giver are both OK. I run hot too, and would prefer that the air temperature is cooler, but I especially that circumstance at night. Dunno about you, but I reckon you get better sleep when the air is cooler at night. I don’t really know how people in perpetually hot climates deal with the hot night time temperatures. I guess they’d acclimate, thus the old saying about mad dogs and Englishmen.

    It is funny you say that, but years and years ago an old timer recounted a similar story about the stymieing of development in this mountain range. He seemed quite certain about the goings on, and he’d been in the area for decades, so who knows? It didn’t sound like just talk to my ears, but I could be wrong too. Planning laws can be very strange and rather arbitrary – and usually they accommodate interests that a person would be unaware of.

    The British produced a very clever series years and years ago which played on the machinations in relation to the interactions of the politicians and the public servants. It was titled: “Yes, Minister”. Later to be changed to “Yes, Prime Minister”. Young energy, or any energy for that matter, can be readily absorbed by such a system – until the system collapses under its own bloated weight of a carcass.

    Mate, I can adapt, and I note that history informs me that the good people of your fine country rescued our backsides from the Japanese during WWII, and so peanuts in Anzac biscuits isn’t really that big of a leap when considered from such shared history. 🙂

    I substitute black currants for cranberries, and I can tell ya which of the two plants are lower stress! 😉 Oops, my actions possibly tell the truth of that tale.

    Actually, the Ibis were an entirely new experience for me to see in this mountain range. It is possible that the birds have an intuition that this La Nina year means that the massive inland Lake Eyre might be getting a filling, and so the birds are heading up that way? The good folks living up in the more northerly east coast might want to take note of that avian weather forecast. The Brisbane floods of 2010 were of an epic scale.

    That doesn’t surprise me about roses dating back to that time and that era (and possibly much earlier again).

    My grandmother had a lemon tree growing in her backyard which was huge enough that us kids could climb high up into its canopy. I do wonder whether the anaemic things grown these days are somehow a sad reflection of what once was with such plants? Dunno. But I guess a 60ft lemon tree could be a touch confronting.

    I noted the ‘Land Girls’ series.

    It is pretty funny to just chuck out into the media devotional theories of mice from ancient Roman days. It is possible that the late author Douglas Adams knew the truth when it came to these rodents? I expect the mice were on the helmet as some sort of trophy or even some odd form of humour, but that is a guess. But devotional iconography seems like a big call to me.

    Ah, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels versus Alligator. Need I point out that at one point in recent times there were only six of the dogs remaining, and all others have been bred from those six dogs? There is a story in there about genetic diversity. I see your spaniel and raise you a Kelpie sheep dog attacking a shark – now that job is done proper like by the courageous (but possibly also very foolhardy dog): Paws v Jaws: Dog Jumps Into Water as Shark Swims Within Meters of Queensland Shore. The dog appeared to be fine.



  14. Hello Chris
    I haven’t seen Son since but am sure that he dealt with the sow okay. He does his own plumbing (and mine) so had his hands full that Monday.
    I noted the mention of land army girls. I had a friend who was a conscientious objector during WW2. He was sent to work on the land and was the only male amongst the girls. He said that he had a wonderful time and acquired his first wife there.


  15. Hi Chris,

    I am jealous of the variety of birds you have. So exciting when some unexpected species shows up. I’ve read that we may have more species come this far south than normal. I have already seen one.

    We had just the opposite experience with bamboo sheets. Even in winter we were hot. We ended up with low count percale sheets and so far so good.

    Thanks for sharing the story of your wedding. As I was divorced I had two weddings. The first which only lasted five years was very fancy. My father was still alive at that time and my parents had their idea of how a wedding should be. It was held at their home in September just before I was to start my senior year of college. The wedding ceremony was in a church and the reception was at outside at home. The planning really stressed them and it was the only time that I ever remember them arguing. Fortunately they were not stuffy people and by the end people were getting thrown in the pool and my mother was drying guests clothes in the dryer. Doug and I planned and payed for our wedding some years later. It was held at my in-laws church with an Italian buffet and self serve beer and wine. We were the last to leave.

    Our neighbors with the many children have sold their house and will be moving in January. I hear that the new neighbors have three children. Another neighbor saw them and reported that those three were much noisier than the current family of seven children. I also found out that the entire family as well many extended family members and some friends have that which shall not be mentioned. Apparently only the grandfather got quite ill and spent a night in the hospital. It took 3 weeks but he’s fine now. He’s over 80. The family next door had mild or no symptoms though they are all young.

    We are planning a small Thanksgiving with younger daughter and fiance, my aunt and sister and BIL in Chicago. We have all been pretty much quarantining for the two weeks prior so we can safely (hopefully) pull this off.

    I have decided to plants some raspberries and blackberries this spring. Had some snow this morning – just a little. Still have greens in the garden. The varieties I have survive temps in the low to mid 20’s (F).

    Loved the pictures this week. The fluffies look like they’re having a great time.


  16. Yo, Chris – Yikes! When I took H out for her walk, last night, I stopped in our dumpster room, to drop of a small bag of garbage. And, saw a rat. You may remember, I thought I saw one, a few days ago. Yup. It’s a rat. Still keeping it to myself, but I did leave a message with the office, this morning.

    Speaking of critters, I think I linked to this video (3 minutes) awhile back. But it’s so cool … And I also found out that wood chucks and ground hogs are the same animal.


    Some housing developments, here, by zoning, have to have so much “greenbelt.” But, I suppose it all boils down to maintenance costs.

    I remember the “Yes, Minister” series. But I never watched them. Just couldn’t work up much enthusiasm. I finished off the “History of Horror” series, last night. Over the course of the series, Stephen King and his son Joe Hill, were two of the talking heads. Also, quit a few appearances by the fellow who wrote and directed “Shaun of the Dead.” I was going to see if the library still had copies of “Land Girls,” but the library catalog was down for “Maintenance,” last night. Somethings up.

    I watched another episode of “Wartime Kitchen and Garden”, last night, on You Tub. They’re not very long. Less than half an hour. It’s interesting how they mix in footage, from the Home Front. My, they did make a lot of puddings! 🙂 . The old duffer gardener showed you how to catch moles. And, how to construct a cloche out of panes of glass and some wire contraption. Looked pretty dicey, and I think you could lose a finger, if you didn’t know what you were about.

    Owls are so cool. I have a small clutch made of glass or ceramic. I trot them out at Halloween. Do you remember Bubo, the mechanical owl, from “Clash of the Titans?” Clearly a spin off from R2-D2.

    Of course I miss Beau and Nell. But, H fills the gap.

    Maybe the guy who owned the mouse helmet, was teased by his mates, and was nicknamed “Mouse?” And he just decided to own it. 🙂 . It becomes yours, and takes the sting out. Another detail from a Roman mosaic “unswept floor.” Amazing how the artist even managed to capture the shadows of the objects.


    I keep sidling up to working on the truck. After I walked the dog, early evening, I was online poking about. Errr … becoming informed. I discovered there’s this new invention called a “fuse tester.” 🙂 . So I don’t have to go blind, pulling every fuse and taking a look at it. It’s got two adjustable prongs, and you just touch it to the fuse end, and if it lights up, it’s a good one. Good to know, as I also discovered there’s probably another box of fuses under the hood.

    So, I thought I’d order one, on-line, but the remembered there’s a auto supply, down the hill about 6 blocks away. Checked their hours, and they were open til 8. As I had not taken my daily walk, yet, so down I went. It’s run by a very nice couple. Speaking of WD40, I decided I needed some. Well, there’s rack of about 20 kinds of the stuff. When did that happen? But the nice man steered me to another place, where there were cans of the regular old, tried and true. So, I am the proud possessor of a fuse tester. Not that I’ve done anything with it, yet. Probably won’t until I get the holiday, out of the way. The weather is supposed to be nice. Wind and rain, today.

    I’ve got the dehydrator, running. Cut up those tomatoes, and the two green peppers. My gosh, the green peppers dry down to nothing! Working through the produce from the boxes, to preserve as much as possible. Lew

  17. Much to comment on, but I’ll start with 100 tomato plants.
    That takes up a lot of room in the garden! But they, we don’t train or prune. We grow around that many also. Mostly Roma type, for sauce, but a few slicers for eating out of hand or in sandwiches, and a few cherry or plum tomatoes to just snack on. I binge on Sungolds while they are on, and just don’t get tired of them, knowing it will be most of a year before I get them again.

    I remember you describing your style of preservation, (passata?) and realizing here in the U.S. we are maybe a bit too careful about microbes, since your simpler method is common elsewhere, and of course, you are still alive.

    We can ( the term for bottling, go figure) sauce, whole tomatoes, pasta sauce ( with onion, garlic, peppers, etc) barbQ sauce, and even ketchup. Occasionally we’ll cook down to paste, but that is a chore.

    Often, the 100 plants helps make up for the fact that blight often affects yield.

    Our friends and relatives that just dabble in gardening and growing their own food are usually shocked to hear 100 plants, but they store well and we know what went in to them, so that’s a big plus.

    Adaptation- funny how we tropical origin primates got along fine without air-conditioning for millennia. I find that since I’m outdoors a lot, seasonal changes are much easier than for those that just dart between the climate controlled office to car, and car to house.

    Although I have noticed that I can’t push it as hard in hot weather now that I’m older.

    A late comment on last weeks post- The mirror shows us reality, but can we see it?
    There is a saying that “when the student is ready, the teacher will appear” meaning that knowledge was always there for the taking, but the mind was not ready, and could not take it in.

    In a similar fashion, our society would profit from a hard look in the mirror, but I fear we are not ready. I shudder to think what must transpire before the collective we can see ourselves in the mirror.

    To finish on less of a downer, I’ve been processing hazelnuts from our plantings. They are yummy for straight eating after a brief toasting, but I bought a small hand crank oil press from Piteba, and have started making our own hazelnut oil. It takes some learning to get the settings right, but works fine.

    One more piece of the puzzle. I will see how the chicken like the press cake next.

  18. @ Lew,

    Thanks for your comments from last week. It HAS been a very rough couple of years. Unfortunately, no end in sight yet, as more bad news has rolled in, related to the unmentionable. Not family members, thankfully, but people we consider friends…

    So I spend time being grateful for what we have, for our health, and for the support I get from various places and people. And keep slogging along. “Chop wood, carry water”, i.e. doing chores, is therapeutic sometimes.



  19. Hi Inge,

    Plumbing is a good skill to be handy in, and incidentally I have the belief that one of the more amazing things we as a society can do nowadays is to move water around precisely using the energy of electricity. The Ancients would have begged for such suites of technology for use with their agriculture. It makes life easy, that’s for sure.

    Just went outside to watch the glorious sunset, and you can see the bats flitting around the sky whilst they carry on dining upon late spring insects.

    It’s not a bad option especially given how it worked out, although I have heard stories that the bloke may have been socially isolated for his choice. People were pretty mean about it, with anonymous white feathers in the mail and all. It is quite amusing to me that people believe that trolls, and trolling are a new thing. What did they used to call such letters, was it poison pen letters?

    Thus proving that there aren’t that many new ideas in today’s society. It wasn’t always thus.



  20. Hi Margaret,

    The chorus of bird calls here is really pleasant to listen too, and yup there is a lot of diversity in the species. I worked on accounting stuff today and had the door open letting the hot fresh air in and the constant bird calls was a soothing tonic.

    It is a real pleasure to spot new bird species anywhere, and there is always a story behind how the bird ended up where it was spotted. I hear you about that, and with the warming of the climate, we can and possibly should expect all manner of changes. You never know, one day it may be likely that citrus grows and survives even in your cold winters?

    Thanks for the feedback on the bamboo sheets. For your info, I believe the thread count is about 500 threads per inch. Anymore than that for me, and it doesn’t matter what material the sheets are made of, because the airflow will be reduced. My experience suggests that 1,000 thread count sheets, which I freely acknowledge people hold in high esteem, but that stuff doesn’t really allow for reasonable air circulation for my tastes. Dunno, it is hot down here.

    Ah, well yes I agree and would likewise prefer the weaving process which results in percale, which it should be noted is based on an older weaving process and can be as low as 180 threads per inch. Yeah, little wonder your replacement sheets breathed better. 🙂

    It is curious isn’t it, that being higher in social status produces demands of higher social status displays? I hear you about that. Had to laugh (apologies) about the planning really stressing your folks out, but I dunno and have formulated a rough rule of thumb which suggests to me that – it is a truth universally acknowledged that weddings and funerals bring out both the best and worst in people. It would be nice if there was some middle ground in there, but I tell ya we too had more than our fair share of drama – and it didn’t involve either the editor or I. Just for a laugh, we were a bit like wedding roadkill! Far out, the drama tired us both out.

    Your wedding ceremony with Doug sounded lovely. 🙂

    Your neighbours might be going through the puppy phase of excitement at the prospect of moving in, and thus the excitement colour and lots of noise. They’ll settle down sooner or later. Hopefully.

    Our government keeps pretty good records of the virus. Coronavirus (COVID-19) current situation and case numbers . Scroll down to the section ‘Cases and deaths by age and sex’ and it becomes abundantly clear who are the highest risk group. Of course as a caveat, you could be unlucky, but then with age comes increased risk of death – all other considerations to the side, sorry to say as that state of affairs is creeping up on me too. All we can do is be thankful for everyday that we are alive and more or less in robust good health.

    Raspberries and Blackberries! It’s exciting!!!! Some of the tastiest berries around. Yum. I tend to enjoy the raspberries more than the strawberries as the berries have a higher sugar and flavour content. But Blackberry jam is da best!

    Good to hear about your greens, and for your interest I’m going to trial some Vietnamese mint in the greenhouse during next winter. Yum!

    The two Kelpie girls and especially Ollie the gentleman sends you and Leo and Salve cordial tail wags. 🙂



  21. Hi Simon,

    Good luck, and you’ll be fine. How do they say such things… Oh yeah, it’s like riding a bike in that somehow you never forget. 🙂

    Your profession is in demand, and especially for folks with runs on the board.

    Beats me why increased unemployment is a good sign, but I can’t make this stuff up: The unemployment rate has increased, so why do economists say it’s a positive sign?. A cheeky scamp might suggest that the economists are perhaps employed!

    100 plants ain’t so much, and we’re used to processing 100kg of tomatoes per year, so I’m hoping that this year tops up our wiped out passata stocks. Last year the climate was so appalling that we harvested maybe 20kg. Shocking.



  22. Hi Pam,

    Ah yes of course, wood smoke is the other winter version of that particular story. You might laugh, but we’ve swapped fine wood ash winter dust for dry road summer dust. There is a commonality in there somewhere, but beats me, and just sounds like a lot of cleaning.

    Yes, seedlings grown that way indoors or in a greenhouse seem to be extending our season by about four weeks at this cooler end. It is a sobering lesson to learn.

    Pam, oooo, I soooo hear you. The rate of change is abominable, and coasting for a while would be nice. It is a shame that it is not our lot to enjoy such a pleasant state of affairs. What do you? Oops, I almost swore and broke my own rule there…

    Alpine strawberries grow wild up in the more fashionable western part of the mountain range, and there was that one time a berry had real flavour. They’re super low stress plants. But I tell ya, I’ve attempted to recapture the moment, and it is elusive. The Diggers Gardening Club sells named varieties of alpine strawberries so a quick search on that subject might yield some results for you to reach for. The Club has a thing for varieties with taste and they conduct annual (or used to do so) taste tests.

    No, the Californian poppies look after themselves and so I’ll just let them do their thing and who knows what next year might produce?

    The Speedwell is a Veronica, and I’m assuming with such a name it had some sort of traditional botanical use, although I do understand that you might not be able to comment upon such things? I actually had a poke around the interweb myself to no avail, so things in your country might be a bit weird right now on that medicinal herb front, and I might have to go back to my herbal texts.

    I do hope that you will grace us with a brief review of the book once you’ve read it? Or at least hint whether the book is OK?



  23. Hi Lewis,

    Rats are everywhere, and I suspect that perhaps the current events unfolding in your country, are perhaps giving the rats a bit of a leg up. After all it does take considerable energy to poison rats and/or exclude them from our food sources. Oh yeah, they are one tough competitor to humans, and only steel and concrete here seem to be impervious to their twitchy nosed little rodent like activities and concerns.

    At the moment, denying the rodents access to winter food sources and winter shelter seems to be the most effective way to reduce their number to a reasonable ecological balance. I can’t poison the rats, because then the poison will work its way into the owl (or canine) population, and that ain’t good from a long term strategy.

    Poisoning works just fine though, you just have to keep expending energy reapplying the stuff. Owls do the same job, but for free. And the dogs are brutal with rats nests. Mind you, the chickens won’t look twice at consuming field mice, and if you’ve ever seen a bunch of chickens destroying a nest of mice, well let’s just say them birds ain’t vegetarians.

    Thanks for the video of Chunk, Jeff and Nibbles. Yeah, the wildlife can be good fun and also a worthy challenge. I’m working out ways to out-produce the various wildlife populations, and they in turn keep each other in check as does the hungry season every year. It’s pretty brutal out there and each of the enclosures has different fencing. Strawberries were the hardest berry to grow, as everything seemed to like eating them.

    Mate, greenbelts can be a mixed bag. When we rented in a nearby town in a project house, the local recreation reserve was the place we first used to walk the dogs. It was mainly grass and due to a lack of shade trees, the grass would die back over the summer. And because there were few trees strange things used to happen – like people walking their dogs with the lead hanging out the vehicle window from their oversized pickup trucks in the park. Yeah, that was weird, but not a one-off. So yeah, we stopped walking the dogs there, and just used to walk the dogs around the streets at night. Because it was a commuter town, the nights were bizarrely quiet. But then most of the folks got up bright and early in the mornings thus disturbing our sleep. It was such a strange experience to be living at odds to the rest of the community living there. Can’t say that I enjoyed the time, but it was very educational, and plenty of people like the place, otherwise they wouldn’t be living there.

    Fair enough about the Yes, Minister series. It was very British after all, and the narrative bubble the characters circulated in was very perhaps self-reverential? Dunno, but I was a young bloke at the time and had other concerns.

    The editor tells me that people have penned some two-sentence horror stories. One of them was quite amusing. And it is an impressive effort which speaks to an audience used to being captured, rather than wooed. I heard a radio program the other day which suggested that the algorithms employed in music servers was actually changing the way popular music is written, as musicians try to scrape a living and get paid for their creations by gaming those revenue avenues. Never had that problem with vinyl albums or merchandise.

    Did the library system pop back up into existence again?

    Yup, don’t mess with the Kraken. They’ll do you up a right treat, they will.

    H is a proper fluffy, and possibly a very big personality. The Kelpie girls and Ollie send cordial tail wags to H. 🙂

    Exactly, that was my thought to, as the mice on the helmet were front and centre (albeit slightly off centre, but you get the metaphor). The details of the mice, with its meal and the shadows is amazing. I’m lost for words as the colour choices used in the mouse fur is pretty much what you’d expect to see. Astounding detail and artistry with the tiles.

    Hehe! A fuse tester with a couple of probes is a handy bit of kit for such purposes. And car blade fuses usually have little tabs which the probes can err, probe without having to remove the fuse from the holder. Incidentally, I won’t go into the details as I sometimes like to geek it up, but the antenna system here for the interweb modem / router was tested with a similar (but far more complicated) testing device. But you know, same, same, but different – and your device would have done the antenna fault detection job just fine. Do I really need accuracy to three decimal places?

    What 20 kinds of WD40? Well that is news to me, and it might be that you are spoilt for choice with such things in your country. The old stuff is as you say, tried and true – and this is a good thing.

    Pam, raised the observation that the pace of change is a bit too fast at the moment. And I tend to agree as I had this awful realisation earlier this morning that I’ll have to continue to keep working straight after Christmas with only a few days break… Oh well. I’m interested that there are some people absolutely flat chat (like my good self) whilst others seem to be doing OK work wise and just sort of cruising along and getting all paid and stuff. It seems weird to me, and there is something in there that is plucking at my brain for attention, but I am a bit tired.

    A fine idea to preserve the fruit and vegetables in the dehydrator. That is an old timer method which just works – and can you imagine how tasty your pasta sauces will be come late spring of the six weeks want?



  24. Hi Steve,

    You know I feel that people are a bit frightened when they encounter the sheer scale of production required in order to fully supply even one particular area for a calendar year and then have enough seed production as well. We get that a lot with say the drinks production, and people often remark off handedly, not through malice, but more because they just don’t understand: You must drink a lot. Well yeah, nah not at all, this is what it takes to produce a small and reliable supply. And that’s just one area, and it’s all like that.

    Plus there is the need for built in redundancy and duplication in the systems. Like if you want apricots, don’t plant just one tree, plant a dozen if you have the space for it. That’s kind of what resilience looks like to me – very inefficient, but reliable.

    With a 100 plants you can’t train and prune, although some commercial producers under poly tunnels do that. But you know, we couldn’t manage such intense labour requirements. And it’s all subject to diminishing returns. Best to go like you do and just plant 100 plants.

    We also dehydrate tomatoes and then store them in oil and people were freaking out about the risks. Sure. You just have to dry the tomatoes enough.

    Respect. Never cooked tomatoes down to a paste. Wow. Mostly we dehydrate them and bottle (your canning) the fruits.

    Well that’s interesting as there are no blights here with any of the tomato varieties I’ve grown over the past decade. Yeah, don’t know anything about that at all. Not good.

    Mate, I’ve changed work habits too and over the hot weather I start earlier and finish earlier and spread the tasks out. No point knocking yourself out is my take on that matter.

    Thanks for the saying. And yes we’re probably not ready and will probably have to go through some growing pains first. We’ll be fine as we’re an equally hardy species like the rats, who have challenged me here over the years.

    Hmm, a top idea with the hazelnuts. Hope the chickens enjoy the mash, and I’d feed them that too, but maybe not all at once.



  25. Chris,

    Bird song is lacking down under??? I listened to too many old Radio Australia and Australian Broadcasting Corporation shortwave broadcasts back in the day to believe that. Not to mention the pictures of the birds on your blog and many other places. Methinks either somebody was pulling your leg or they never got out of sterile settings. Maybe if there are no visible bugs in the big city, there aren’t any birds either? I’m glad my yard has both bugs and birds.

    Ummm, maybehaps that chap oughta listen to your new page. I’m listening to it as I’m writing this. Sounds like a lot of birds singing. One even sounded like a human saying “out of there, you lot!” 😉 What a wonderfully musical place where you live!

    Dry electrical connections can lead to that nasty bugaboo called “corroded connections”. WD 40 is wonderful stuff to avoid that. In fact, I recently got lectured about that due to the corrosive build up a mechanic found on my Subaru’s battery terminals.

    Nice legal pun! It looks like things will go fairly smoothly from here. I’ve got contact information for the people who can pull strings from the other insurance company, and they seem willing to help.

    Woodchuck is a type of groundhog. The local version of this rodent is called “hoary marmot”.

    You called it with the club. The officer in question is a friend, I now the circumstances, so a lot of allowance is in play. It turns out we get our official mail sent to many places, so I’m trying to rectify that situation. That fact, plus the unmentionable, and normal life’s mischances have all added to the fray. Or is it fraying, as it seems many people are fraying around the edges nowadays?

    Oh, things can ALWAYS get worse! I thought 2020 was bad enough, but the past 4 months have been impossible. 2 more friends now have the unmentionable, a friend from work died (of something else) 10 days before his scheduled retirement date. That’s just this week’s lowlights. (Since it’s not a highlight, I figure it must be a lowlight.) So I am totally enjoying listening to the birds. Ooops, I heard human-like footsteps and the recording ended. Was that an emu, or maybe the Australian version of Sasquatch turning off the recorder? 😉

    Weather has been normal for November. We had some freezing fog Tuesday morning. Freezing fog scheduled Wednesday night. That is treacherous stuff, icing the roads and the windshield and reducing visibility too. Oh, I just saw the snow “averages” for here. I knew we average about 120cm of snowfall per year snow season. I had figured for a “normal” el nino year, maybe about 90cm, and for an “average” la nina maybe about 150cm. According to the Federal weather people, I was almost exactly right in my guesses. So I can expect maybe about 150 cm of snow for this season, give or take. We’ve already had 25cm about. Good year to be telecommuting and retiring.


  26. Yo, Chris – Seems like you can control rats, but not eliminate them. Our building manager (oh! excuse me … assistant director) was just at my door. More on that later, but she told me she got my message and has called the exterminator. I suppose there will be poison scattered about, and I’ll have to keep an eye on H. Hopefully, the squirrels won’t get into it. Their population is just bouncing back.

    I have never seen anyone walking their dog, out an oversized pick up truck window. I’m sure it happens. I bet the oversized pick ups are driven by oversized people. Exercise much? H keeps me running up and down the stairs, several times a day. I recently tried taking her for a longer walk, but she wants to stop every three feet to smell something. Doesn’t really contribute much to my fitness! 🙂 . So, I just go out for a brisk walk, at least once a day.

    Speaking of horror, Alex Winter (aka: Bill, of Bill & Ted) was one of the talking heads on “Eli Roth’s History of Horror.” He did his time travel bit, in “Bill & Ted” and was a vampire in “Lost Boys.”

    The library system seems to be back up and running. Next time I’m down there (probably Saturday) I’ll see if I can squeeze any news out of them.

    There is just too much choice, out there. Ever try replacing a cheap ball point pen that you’re fond of? The office supply store has a whole aisle, of just pens. Sticking with your preferred brand of toothpaste, is a mine field.

    The folks getting “all paid and stuff” shouldn’t get too comfortable. I’m sure the economy and fall out will continue for quit awhile. “We ain’t seen nuthin’ yet.” I have a hold at the library, for one of the Great Courses. It’s about the history of financial collapses, panics, etc.. As it’s a “new” item, don’t know when I’ll see it.

    Spent a lot of time puttering in the kitchen, yesterday. Got the dried tomatoes and green peppers into bags. Blanched some snow peas, and their on a tray in the freezer, getting ready to be bagged. I fried up a pound and a half of bacon. It was frozen, and there’s no way I could use that much, and not have it go bad. So, I fried it and froze it. That way I can pick at it over a much longer period of time. In fact, last night for dinner, I diced up two slices, and mixed it in with rice, frozen chopped broccoli, and garlic. Simple. Tasty.

    Well, I had intended to spend today making dressing and a pumpkin pie, for the holiday, tomorrow. Thanksgiving. But, the reason the Building Manager was at my door, is that she had a cart full of medium pumpkin pies, to distribute to the Inmates. I don’t think you can freeze them, so, I won’t make a pumpkin pie. I’ve got some bananas heading south, so I think I’ll make either banana bread or muffins. Those, I can freeze. I had one more thing to tell you, but my computer is playing up. More, later. Lew

  27. Yo, Chris – Nothing too serious. When I write, to you, I sometimes open another window and bounce around. Looking up spelling of words. Checking if Alex Winter was Bill or Ted 🙂 . I went to the library website, to get the exact title of that Great Course, and … everything slowed down, and nothing wanted to load. Happens. So, I copied and pasted what I’d already written into a document, closed down the computer, re-started the computer, retrieved the document, copied and pasted it here … and I’m good to go. Happens from time to time. Some website won’t load, but keeps running in the background, and nothing can be done unless it finally loads, or, you wipe the slate clean and start again. But anyway … to the last bit.

    A bit of Roman technology, to geek out on 🙂 . I know I mentioned the Roman water wheel complex in France (Roman Gaul.) Well, there’s a looted mosaic of a Roman water wheel. The only mosaic representation, known.


    Unfortunately, for gosh knows why, Heritage Daily always darkens the header photos and puts titles over it. Every good photo I could find just leads back to this article. Wonder if Interpol will be able to track it down. Probably hanging on the den wall of some oligarch.

    But this article reminded me that there’s been more work done on the Gaul waterwheel. And they’ve recently found that the Roman’s figured out a way to fool with the flumes, to get more bang for the buck.

    Oh! There’s a small photo of the missing mosaic, at the top of this article.


    You’ve got the slope, now if you just had the water … 🙂 . Lew

  28. Hello Chris
    Yes ‘poison pen letters’.
    I thought that the giving of a white feather for cowardice was only during WW1 but I could be wrong.
    Rats are causing trouble in places here because the restaurants are closed down and they are missing out on the food remains from them.


  29. Greetings Chris
    From Al’s wife’s home made pumpkin pie and home made Walnut pie ( same recipe as Pecan just different nuts) pre Thanks Giving baking fest.
    Also running at the same time as Al’s 12 volt solar powered Christmas lighting controller development project for deployment at the daughter’s and Sil’s yard. Of course ongoing in Al’s’ basement area.
    The Christmas lighting grew out of a Halloween electronic blinkey eyed jack o lantern Provided by Al for the Grandsons front yard display last month.
    The the solar panel is a 20 watt amorphous panel that was on hand. It runs to a 45 watt real charge controller that charges a SLA 10 AH 12 volt bat. The Christmas lights are 20 light 5 color strings that are surprisingly bright at .061 Amp per string . The Sil’s project is 10 strings on a remote tree in their backyard. Total current draw will be .61 Amps.

    I diverge into geek mode here for day / night control I use a 12 volt coil relay. coil connected across the solar panel energized when the sun shines. The relay normally closed contact open during day time the contact connects the battery to lighting load when the sun goes to bed . This may be of use to you and the editor for that night time remote star light controllable video you’ve been wanting for all these years on the farm . Hee Hee 😁Al

  30. Hey Chris,

    Wow. That article is going to need its own edition in my propaganda series. Working title: “The desperate search for a silver lining.”

    Funnily enough, a company I used to work at once hired an economist. As far as I could tell, her entire job was to come up with reasons why the property market was going great.

  31. Hi Pam,

    Thanks for the information on the plant. And also for linking to the interesting website. It is hard not to notice that many references were made to the Rodale book (which sits in the bookshelf).

    Yeah, the books should be interesting and Victorian Farm will not doubt also be good value. Hopefully the book arrives this side of Christmas…



  32. Hi Lewis,

    Well that’s the thing isn’t it? Elimination of rats is a very difficult and perhaps impossible goal. I tend to simply make life hard for the rats, and then just hope for the best and possibly some sort of ecological balance establishes itself – it’s not like there aren’t huge numbers of critters living in the forest and dining here, and the rats would make a meal for plenty of those. A lot of systems in nature follow the rat population’s rise and fall, and each system is ultimately limited by the very worst conditions. When things are good, it probably doesn’t matter about the size of the particular population, but when conditions are bad… The solar power system is ultimately limited by the worst winter weather, and most years I’ve been adapting the system to deal with that time of year. The locally made components can handle the high ambient temperatures, so summer is not too much of a drama. When the sun is shining and everything is solar-sweet, well it doesn’t matter so much though. I have a belief that the bird predation in the orchard may work that way too, and the upper limit on the bird population will ultimately be established by the winter available feed, and the summer available water. The birds that live here all year around will work very hard to keep the newcomers away from their resources. It’s complicated, and very brutal.

    Assistant director has such a very fancy title! Some businesses are like that and everyone has a fancy title. Yeah, but ‘so who is doing the work’, is a good retort for such situations.

    Oversized vehicles were not a thing down here until very recently, and people have taken to them like pigs to a mud bath (although to be fair that was an metaphor, and pigs are actually very clean forest dwelling creatures). Actually it wasn’t always the case with large vehicles, and older vehicles now look positively tiny next to today’s behemoths. Sometimes I see a huge 3 tonne vehicle moving a single person and, you have to ask the hard questions. Anyway, the upkeep of such machines will eventually become too great a burden – especially with the way the economy is going.

    To be honest, I can never recall which actor was Bill and which was Ted. Of course they do look different, but for some reason it didn’t seem that important to the plot-line to learn the names. And yes, I recall ‘The Lost Boys’. There were quite a number of vampire stories and films around in those days, and who can forget the terrifying: ‘Salem’s Lot’? I assume the authors covered that story in the documentary?

    Anecdotal accounts of supply shortages keep piling up in my awareness, but few people seem to be interested – dunno why that would be. The latest was when the dirt rat required a set of new tyres (you call them tires) and um, yeah, the story behind that was super-weird.

    But yes, one outcome of all of these flows and movements is that choice may get reduced for the consumer. And toothpaste is a classic product in that regard. I tend to deliberately reduce my choices as it is less jarring on the senses.

    That’s my gut feeling too about ‘ain’t seen nothin’ yet’. I’ll be interested to hear your account of the Great Course. The Great Depression played out over a number of years, so it was no quick affair. And the recession in the 1990’s ran for almost seven years from memory, so there’s a ways to go yet.

    Ooo! Never thought of blanching and freezing peas (and snow peas are a fave). Interesting, although the freezer is tiny, and mostly contains odd things such as: yeasts. Mmm, bacon is tasty. Yum! Hey, the first broccoli florets are now forming. We saved seed from last seasons plants, and now have about 10 of them growing. The florets are rather small, unlike the huge things people see in the shops – but they’re very tasty. The small florets are usually labelled as broccolini.

    Yes, but was the pumpkin pie any good – that is the question? 🙂

    Glad to hear that your computer hiccup wasn’t too loud or unpleasant feeling. Mate, if you’d experienced the computer craziness down here last week with the router / antenna’s then yeah, not good… But all good now, as your computer also seems to be. The comments weren’t lost, and I’m guessing the software here is a bit more stable than the old blogger platform. What a nightmare that was, and it didn’t take too many lost replies before I’d had a gut-full of the thing – but then it was free so I can hardly complain, can I? And other lovely people were also enjoying the lost comment instability there. Oh well, computer dramas are in the rear view mirror, for now. 😉

    Thanks for mentioning the Roman water wheel. What an ingenious and clever machine, and all very elegant. Yes, I noted that the engineers had improved and modified their design for the exact conditions found at the location. Very sensible. And I hadn’t before quite understood that the legions were also responsible for the engineering efforts. No wonder they advanced across Europe and Africa. The water driven sawmills were good to see, and so elegant in their design, although someone would be keeping the cutting teeth sharp. A rabbit hole lead me to Caesar’s Rhine bridges which were ingenious, and I really liked the images of the old timber pile drivers. Very clever.

    Yes, the latest image of the waterwheel was very good indeed. And yeah, that does look like a water slide to me too… The similarities are a bit eerie.



  33. Hi DJ,

    Yup, the old Radio Australia is now off the air, and the transmission distances of the old shortwave bands were astounding, although the quality could vary a bit. I used to like scrolling through the frequencies to hear what could be heard. Did you ever have a ham radio or license?

    The bird song down here comment thing was probably a mix up, and the recording kind of dare I say it, set the tone! 😉

    And just for your info, the big smoke is very quiet on a bird and insect front. I have an odd hunch that this is due to the over use of herbicides and insecticides by people who know not what they do. Anyway it is not because of any shortage of gardens and flowers. People from there might be positively frightened to be confronted by the sheer number of insects buzzing around the garden beds on the farm, and you may note that I plant flowering plants in among the vegetables. There is a reason the roses are where they are.

    Thank you, and there is rarely a dull moment here.

    Very wise, don’t go it alone against the other party for their resources outweigh yours by a more than considerable margin. One must recall not to become a gnat against the machine. And there is only upside for them to seriously waste your time. It costs them nothing to do so.

    Maybe it is just me, but groundhog sounds much nicer than “hoary marmot”, which candidly sounds like a very unpleasant tasting and chunky marmalade served on cold toast.

    My inclination is leaning towards the use of the word: ‘Fraying’. People are stressed, no doubts about it.

    10 days before retirement, firstly you have my sympathy and condolences, but secondly, your friend was short changed. Although, my granddad rested his sense of his self worth on his work life, and struggled to find meaning once that aspect of his life was over. It was his fear and also lived experience, although I’m not suggesting that was the case with your work friend. And getting out into nature helps me through rough spots too.

    It may have been a Bunyip. 🙂

    By way of comparison, the weather here has been pretty nice of late. Hot, but not too hot, interspersed with cooler but still sunny days. The garden is enjoying the weather (so far) this year, although all things are subject to change at short notice and without warning.



  34. Hi Inge,

    Ooo, I’m not sure now either about the white feathers. I am aware that conscientious objectors were written up in the local newspapers, and so there was no hiding. That occurred to an old uncle of the editors – the editors mum being the youngest of eight I believe, and also her dad being much older when they had her. Surprisingly, all of the editors uncles returned intact from WWII, although there were health problems for some, and malaria was one of those.

    That makes sense about the rats who are opportunists after all. I haven’t encountered rats in that industrial environment so don’t really know much about that side of their story, but they sure do like domestic arrangements such as compost bins, chickens and other small scale home systems such as garbage bins. I saw rats pour out of a local gardening groups compost pile one evening – the local community was encouraged to place food scraps there. A polite way to look at the arrangement was that the rats were predigesting the food scraps, and thus speeding up the compost making. 🙂 It was a bit of a shock having rats leap out of the compost pile.



  35. Hi Simon,

    🙂 Glad to be of service! Hehe! I’m enjoying your ongoing series.

    The article was super weird, and it all sounded a bit bright-sided to my poor addled and over worked brain. Hehe! It makes you wonder what future historians would have to say about the article when compared to the events of the day.

    Interestingly, I once heard an interview with the ‘scumbag’ naming and most eloquent Prime Muppet who casually may have remarked during the interview that the policy makers took things further than they needed too with interest rates during the recession that we had to have way back in the day. Hmm.

    Hehe! What a great job to have. I would struggle with such a propaganda job if only because my inner workings would not be quite that flexible. Interestingly the newspapers appear to be making the claims recently that both sides of the property story are true.

    The truth is out there… 🙂



  36. Greetings Al,

    Hope you are doing well.

    Happy Thanksgiving and your pie sounds very tasty. Walnuts are delightful. I can tell you this, in the ongoing effort to grow a walnut tree, I have killed several known cultivars. But one walnut tree seems to have survived and thrived. My only wish was that I planted the tree slightly further away from the vegetable beds, but it is probably far enough away… Maybe…

    Hehe! A solar project after my own heart. Those LED light strings are amazingly low current aren’t they? My professional opinion is that the panel will probably generate maybe 1-3Ah per day if you are lucky, and not much at all if the winter weather is gloomy. However, with such a low current draw, well, all the same that’s plenty of hours of good cheer I reckon. 🙂

    By the way, with any project I always start small, test, modify / enhance, and then go back for further real world testing. You are in the unique position to be able to compare the 5 strings versus the 10 strings. Happy days, and I love a good experiment like that.

    The coil is a great idea and a worthy geekery item of considerable note. The solar controllers I use have that function built in so I’ve never thought about such a clever idea before (good stuff!) and they can also set a timer to run for x number of hours after the sun has gone down (i.e. the open circuit voltage from the solar panels is < 1V). Geeks of the world unite!!! 🙂 And, respect. Cheers Chris

  37. Chris:

    Thank you for the Happy Thanksgiving and I wish the same to other Americans out there. I’ve been reading about the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag tribe. It’s interesting stuff.


  38. Chris:

    ” a gnat against the machine” – I like that!

    I have a curious problem with the left side of your blog page where the links and things are. It starts with September 2015 (long ago, that!) and runs down to June 2014 (longer ago!) and I can access nothing above that, no links or anything. I was going to listen to your bird songs again (heard them when you first recorded them).


  39. @ Margaret – I was never a “Fawlty Towers” fan, but that sketch is very funny. Yup. What I saw was a Siberian hamster. Maybe I should trap it in a cage, and show it around to the other Inmates? 🙂 . Lew

  40. Yo, Chris – It’s a Siberian hamster! Maybe I’ll name it Ben, or something. 🙂 . Walk it along with H on a little leash? Speaking of animals wild and domestic, I ran across this heartwarming (?) Thanksgiving story.


    One of the ways the behemoth vehicles were sold here, was that tons of rolling metal would keep your precious snowflakes (watching in-vehicle movies, in the back seat) safe. You’d be a bad parent, if you didn’t buy one. What’s been noticed is that their sales, rise and fall with the price of gas.

    Yes, there was a whole episode on vampires in the “History of Horror.” So sexy, so lethal. Some of the forms of horror (creatures from outer space, vampires, demon possession) were laid to the disquiet over teenage angst vs parental concerns over “Who is this stranger, living under my roof?” 🙂 .

    There have been articles about supply line shortages, but the rank and file seems to shrug them off. It doesn’t have a unified narrative. It irritates, here and there, and not all the time.

    The Great Course is: “Crashes and Crises: Lessons from a History of Financial Disasters.” “From Tulip Mania up to the Great Recession of 2007-2009.” “Each of the 24 lectures covers a notable incident of financial misfortune or folly.” Break out the popcorn. I’m particularly interested in the Panic of 1873. I keep running across references to it, and, I know it severely impacted our State.

    The pumpkin pie was pretty ho-hum. I tried a slice, last night. The usual. A little too much sugar, a little too few spices. The crust not quit cardboard, but close. But, as it freed up some time, I baked 2 dozen banana (etc.) muffins. Best batch, so far. I think I finally hit on the best mix of flours. 2 cups all purpose, 2/3 bread flour and 2/3 5 grain cereal. I got a great rise, and even detected a bit of gluten, in the batter.

    I made the stuffing, last night. Not quit like the usual, but the second day will tell the tale. I’ll freeze up a bunch of it, for later. Haven’t decided if to have a sit down, proper meal, or just nibble at stuff, all day. Probably a wiser course.

    I had to laugh, at the water slides. Lately, in Archaeology Land, there’s been all these articles about ramps around buildings. How forward thinking the Romans were, to make places “handicapped accessible.” The SJW’s were positively glowing. The idea that some of them may have been water slides, kind of takes the glow off. 🙂 .

    I’m deep into Goodman’s “The Domestic Revolution” and we haven’t even gotten to coal, yet. She talks about all kinds of fuels. Peat and different manure fuels. Our American buffalo chips, even make a brief appearance. 🙂 . And, wood. I now know the difference between coppicing and pollarding. I also now know how to burn charcoal and build a proper faggot bundle, and manage a peat fire. By the way, best practices for hedgerows were to include a mix of oak, ash and elm, with some pollard of any species.

    No matter the fuel (peat, manure or wood), land management was heavily regulated, either by the Crown, or local governments. Pressure to produce more food, and less fuel … the development of basket grates and chimneys, led to the widespread adoption of coal. So, it’s onto coal. Finally! 🙂 .

    I forgot to mention “The Lady of the Lake” is paddling her way to me. What with the holiday, and all, gosh knows when she’ll land. Shall I quarantine her for 14 days? Speaking of the holiday, looking at the freeway, from where I sit, the traffic is rather light. Even a bit lighter than a normal day.

    So many interesting articles. Simon & Schuster publishing may be sold to Penguin Random House. So the big five, will become the big four. They’ll publish something like 1/3 the books, on offer. Is this a good thing? Maybe not. I see some Australian planes are having problems with some invasive variety of wasp, which stuffs up the instruments. Our State has applied for Federal relief, due to the wildfires. Pretty standard. It hasn’t been approved … or declined. Just, zip, nada. All political, of course.

    There was an interesting article on sumpweed. A relative of the sunflower, that was cultivated, but has fallen out of use. Along with several other previously cultivated plants.


    But you may find this one, “Rebuilding After a Wild Fire”, particularly interesting.


    So, that’s the round-up, for today. All the news that’s fit to print. Lew

  41. Hi Pam,

    Dunno about your part of the world, but down here there were a lot of pre-settlement, settlements before the official settlements. Ooo, my brain is melting and not just due to the heat today (other parts of this continent are in the grip of an epic heatwave, but it is only just hot here) but mostly because I used the word ‘settle’ and its derivatives three times in one sentence. Four times might have been messy…

    The whalers (not Bob Marley’s most excellent support lot) and sealers (can’t think of anything funny to say there, although the folks back in those days may not have sealed the arrangements? OK, that wasn’t even remotely amusing) often formed makeshift camps along the coastline before the more official settlements were recognised. Even the Vikings apparently gave it a go up your way, only to be rebuffed. Softies. History is an odd thing that’s for sure and people have been on the move, for like forever.

    I tried the links on a couple of devices and they seem to work, and it may be that you have to clear the cache memory on your browser, but don’t worry here is a direct link to the bird song: MP3 Bird song of Cherokee.

    The rest as they say, is merely history! 😉



  42. Hello Chris
    Oh dear, I am about to be unkind. I started listening to your bird song and had to give up because it hurt my ears. Should admit that I have a condition ( whose name I always forget) which means that I can hear higher pitches than humans normally do.
    I want to say that sound is not singing. I was astonished when visiting Australia at the lack of beautiful bird song. Am curious as to whether you heard more beautiful sounds in your travels to places where I have never been?


  43. Hi Lewis,

    Oh no, your Siberian hamster is possibly someone’s escaped pet! Hope the hamster is OK, and from my perspective hamsters look nothing at all like rats, as they are more like the marsupial Antechinus. Years ago I had a mate named Ben, and yeah naming a hamster after him is probably quite apt. To cut a very long story short, and Ben’s OK as a person, but I helped him out of a messy spot if only he could abide by certain conditions, which he failed to do so, and the lesson I took away from the experience was that some folks can’t look after their own interests, so it was unwise of me to expect that they’d look after my interests. An interesting lesson learned, which I have long wondered whether your Club has anything to say about?

    Gerald the turkey’s story went from amusing to very sour, rather rapidly. Some of those city folks might not understand what it means to live up front and personal with nature. Nature can kill you as easily as a person squashing a gnat (whatever they are). I treat the huge deer (of course they’d just have to be the biggest of the big species wouldn’t they?) and also the 7 foot tall grey forest kangaroos with a level of respect and space that they deserve. Of course I’m also best mates with a very large dog who has my back in these matters as I have his. Yup, at the core of the story is the difficulty which humans have of accepting that they are part of a larger sphere and that to dominate the sphere is a poisoned chalice of a choice.

    I’m not sure that the rise and fall in gas (petrol) prices down here has impacted upon sales that greatly, which is an odd thing, but it should be the case. It is also worth mentioning that such vehicles are far more expensive to maintain than smaller and cheaper vehicles, i.e. wear and tear on consumables such as brakes, tires etc. Incidentally, the nice local tire folks scratched up a new set of tires for the dirt rat today, and I am grateful to them. Supply issues are real…

    The safety story with big vehicles kind of speaks to peoples darkest and deepest fears. They don’t seem to understand that driving such a vehicle makes them less safe. Adaption on the other hand is the safest and surest approach during the bargaining phase. Beats me why people don’t see that, but I guess they’d be invested in previous choices, beliefs and fears. Incidentally, I’ve often observed that people become depressed after going through the anger phase, and the official bargaining comes after that, but what do I know.

    Anyway, if Bill and Ted could make friends with the grim reaper, well why not give Cerebus a little tickle behind the many ears and thus perhaps promote a feeling of fellowship? Those ancient Greeks were all about dominance. Phooey to that. And Cerebus clearly serves a purpose, and from time to time, might need the odd friendly tickle behind the ears. Those ancients had too much fear.

    It’s a solid argument, and having been a difficult late teenager myself, well let’s just say that the facts speak for themselves. Although being labelled a vampire or other such monster does seem to be akin to drawing a long bow, don’t you reckon?

    I can assure you that the supply shortages are real. There are times where I come to the understanding that this current state of affairs is a form of geo-political punishment for being too naughty or perhaps attempting that which is now in the past and impossible to achieve, but all the same wouldn’t hurt and be a wise goal. I used to work at a big corporate that did in fact produce tires locally, and um yeah nowadays when I see the site from the window of a passing train I notice that it looks like a housing estate. A very unwise move, and to quote Yoda: “When you look at the dark side, careful you must be. For the dark side looks back.” Old timers may have said ‘for what we sowed we reaped’, and they’d be right.

    It interested me that the Panic of 1873 began with losses in the capital of a fading Empire and spread like a contagion from there. As an interesting side note, if anything really and truly odd is going to happen, it often surfaces in that country, and that has played out a few times in history. Must be something in the water.

    A true shame about the pumpkin pie. Your banana muffins sound delightful!

    Is the stuffing part of a Thanksgiving meal?

    I laughed at the water slides too, as they looked like fun to me. It’s nice to see that the ancient Romans could let their guard down and just enjoy themselves for a bit in between all of the ongoing campaigns. Never met an SJW in the flesh, and that’s probably a good thing for them. I’d be polite, but I don’t deal to kindly to attempts to impose ideologies upon this here messy thang called reality.

    Regulation of land management has been a hallmark of our culture, and that is no bad thing. Unfortunately down here land management doesn’t accord too well with the realities, but you know, if we select for fuel, we’ll get fires. Of course there is middle ground, but you don’t have to be too bright to see from the satellite imagery of the UK that they’re at the other opposite end of the story, and where I’m at is at the exact polar opposite end. I much do prefer the middle ground with all its unpleasant comprises, but I dunno, what will be, will be.

    So what have you learned about the use of coal in domestic situations? And I ask that having never directly used coal myself. It always amazes me that the ancient Roman’s knew of it, but somehow missed its applications.

    Go the lady of the lake! 🙂 And may she arrive sooner rather than later as long as her arrival bodes pleasant tides.

    That’s interesting because the local general store also sells a small selection of books and there must be a few bookworms up this way because the turnover is pretty good. I always look over the collection to see whether anything piques my interest, but ah do they lead me into temptation or what with that collection for sale? Today I noticed that there were a number of Penguin Classics available.

    I doubt that air travel will be getting back to where it was until only very recently. And I can’t say that is a bad thing. One of the big chiefs from that industry down here (there is only really one player now) was in the media earlier in the week talking about requiring vaccination before travel. Possibly he was talking out of his area of authority. When we went to Peru we had to get Yellow Fever vaccination and then show the documentation to our official people upon return.

    Yes, increasing the diversity of plants which are eaten is a wise idea. Thanks for the link to the fascinating article and I’m impressed that people are even studying this subject.

    Thanks for the article on fire resistant building codes. Mate, they can’t afford it. Unfortunately it really is that simple. I had some experience with fire resistant construction techniques due to having worked on buildings in the inner big smoke. After the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires down here, the government mandated improved building codes – and the whining about the cost involved in that was pretty epic. You may note that I live in a small house, and we had to construct it ourselves otherwise the cost would have destroyed us. A bigger house would be a fine joke. A long time local once asked me the hard question: do we get a discount on our insurance due to the work done in making this home more fire resistant?

    And then, people living in flood prone regions, which candidly get much harder hit, don’t seem to have the same level of building requirements. There is something about fire which really scares people.



  44. Hi Inge,

    No worries at all, and I wasn’t going to say nuffin’!!!! Truly, I was being super mysterious about it all.

    I wouldn’t worry about it, my ears are attuned to the local bird life, and that sounds like song to me. Your experience is different, and either is valid.

    As a wild comparison, I have had some older folks over the years tell me with no sense of irony that they’d love to cut government funding to the national youth music broadcaster which I’ve been very a long time fan of. Of course the same folks wanted the classical and talk back government funded national programs to continue.

    I guess what I’m attempting in my own way to say is that what sounds like music to my ears, might not sound like music to your ears.

    With the bird calls, I know each of the birds and their habits, and so enjoy their antics and their presence soothes me. Their absence would be alarming.

    The editor and I had a complicated discussion yesterday as to what exactly was rational. She presented a group of people as being somehow more rational than another group of people, and I posited the theory that being rational is only one tool in the toolbox, and sometimes rational outcomes can also be very poor outcomes. The discussion was not concluded, but we departed from the field so as to allow time for the ideas to settle on in, and perhaps even ferment! Ferments are good.



  45. Chris:

    Thanks so much for the bird song link, I much enjoyed hearing that again. There was some loud, screechy fellow trying to take the limelight all the way through it. Parrot? Magpie? In a coincidence, our own many species of birds are just starting up as the sun is rising right now.

    I will try to clear the cache memory, except maybe I won’t as I don’t know what that is (hello, Youtube?) and the page with the MP3 on it has the full serving of choices on the left side. I have saved that page.

    I laughed at your “sealers” anyway. You get points for trying!

    Yesterday was a perfect April day – except for it not being April. I worked out in the garden most of the day cleaning up and fiddling around. I found a wild grapevine climbing through the pyracantha and tied it to the 8 foot fence next to it. Our wild grapevines climb to the tops of the forest trees to reach the sun and produce all their grapes up on top. I see flocks of birds up there sometimes. Some of those grapevines must be a hundred feet long (30m).

    I also found where a sickly antique climbing rose had flopped partly to the ground and appears to be trying to take root, so I have encouraged and protected that spot. That rose grew from cuttings I took 30 years ago from the Victorian house in town where my husband had his office at one time. It was planted when the house was young. I did have permission from the owner.


  46. Yo, Chris – And, today’s leading story is … zombie minks. 🙂


    Well, as far as words of wisdom, from The Club, as far as the interpersonal relationship you mentioned, only one thing comes to mind. “What do you get, when you sober up a horse thief? A sober horse thief.” I think what that’s trying to say is that some personality traits are so ingrained, that they survive other vast rearrangements of the psyche. Maybe.

    That was quit a tale of Gerald the Turkey. There’s been all kinds of stories about wildlife making a return, to developed areas. Due to you know what, and the lockdown. I think “Earth Abides” touched on that. Wildlife expands (at great speed) into any available niche.

    Interesting you should mention Ceberus. Awhile back I read a story, that I meant to mention, and then forgot. Heracles last labor (of twelve) was to drag Ceberus out of Hades. When he hit the sunlight, his droll fell on the ground, and Aconite sprung up. The Aconitum family of plants, are mostly poisonous. They have cheery names like Wolf’s Bane, Monk’s Hood, Mouse Bane … the list goes on. It’s handy if you want to poison tip a dart or arrow.

    And, just to throw more coincidences onto the pile, last night I was at Eleanor’s and caught a bit of a travelogue of Rome. There’s a sculpture of Hades carrying off Persephone with Cerebus snapping at their heels. The travelogue had a very good shot of Cerebus’s face(s).


    Oh, I’m well aware of supply shortages. “Out of stock” has always been a time to time thing, but they’re getting to be an all the time thing. I need to go to the chemist and get some cotton batting (for Christmas tat). And, I wonder if they’ll be any on the shelf? I think that’s why there hasn’t been to much coverage. You notice it when it’s something you don’t buy to often.

    I did a quick check of Wiki-watz-it, about the Panic of 1873. Seems like lots of things contributed, to it. A perfect storm? A few years ago, I watched a very good TV series, called “Hell on Wheels.” About the building of our transcontinental railroad. There was quit a bit about the Panic of 1873. As railroad over speculation was a contributing factor.

    Stuffing. Traditionally, turkeys were stuffed with all kinds of things, and then baked. But the basic ingredient seems to be, dried bread cubes (croutons.) And you get inventive, from there. A few years back, there was a panic about dressing being a petri dish for all kinds of horrible things. So, now, a lot of people do their dressing, outside the turkey. I simmer up some water, butter and sage with some turkey meat bits. In a bowl I put the bread cubes, diced celery, a chopped fried onion, dried cranberries and mushrooms. I pour the pot mixture, over the bowl mixture, give it a good toss and nuke it until it’s done. People put all kinds of things in their dressing. Chestnuts … apples. Tasty, but always tastes better, the second day.

    I haven’t meet many SWJ’s, either. They’re tedious. Other than the guy who got his PHD in Diversity Training. He was tedious. Also, odious? But he always left himself wide open for a great deal of teasing, on my part. He was pretty easily sent up. The latest bit of nonsense is, you shouldn’t watch (or subject your precious snowflakes to) “Charlie Brown’s Thanksgiving.” Apparently, there’s a scene where two of the characters are arguing over the merits of dark or light meat. Apparently, it offended (or would offend), someone.

    I didn’t get back to Ruth Goodman’s book, last night. Turkey coma was part of the problem. 🙂 . I had turkey, dressing and banana muffins to bag up and freeze. I also watched a film, that, much to my surprise turned out to be Australian. “Never Too Late.” About a group of old duffers, who were commandos in Viet Nam. For one reason and another, they’re plotting to break out of their nursing home. Just a bit of entertaining fluff. And, along with all the above, the lump on my back decided that last night was the night to start draining. So, it was a couple of hours of hot wash-rag packs and blot, blot, blot.

    Speaking of entertainment, Mr. Greer is pretty interesting, this week. Though I thought all the antipathy towards Star Trek, is a bit over the top. But then, I always just saw it as entertainment, rather than a blue print for the future. “The Daily Impact” also has some new posts.

    The history of Penguin Books is pretty interesting. They were one of the first to develop the paperback, as we know it. In 1935. They were created as one of the founders was miffed that there was no good reading material, in railway stations 🙂 . Wiki-watsit has the origin story (see: “Penguin Books.”)

    I’ve notice a disturbing trend, in what passes for news reporting, these days. They’ll be an opening paragraph. Usually, very poorly written and edited. And then just a long string of screen shots of tweets. This is what passes for reporting, these days? Lew

  47. Chris,

    I miss the days the old shortwave broadcaster days. Radio Australia was always a favorite. I liked the start of their broadcasts: a laughing kookaburra for one minute, a station identification, then Waltzing Matilda. Then the actual broadcast would start. Classic stuff. And yes, I did the ham radio thing in high school as well. Kept up with my Morse code and with scrolling through the frequencies for a long time.

    I knew from your comments that the big smoke is short on insects. I sorta guessed from there about birds. I was raking a last batch of leaves today while enjoying the serenade from some chickadees.

    A flowering plant and vegetable mix in the garden? I just started experimenting with that. It makes sense, but I noticed that is what you do: I can recognize a good idea when I see one. This next year, the garden area will NOT feature the raised beds, rather a flatter layout. Dig leaves in the next couple days, then repeat twice in the spring. That’s how I used to do that area and the soil was better than what I’ve got in the raised beds. Flowering plants will be mixed in with the vegetables. Will mix flowers and veggies in some of the containers also.

    Thanks for the comments about my friend. Life sometimes is neither nice nor fair, not that there’s a guarantee about niceness and fairness.

    Bunyip? Looked it up. Cool.

    I noticed with interest a bit about you and the editor discussing rationality, or maybe having a rational discussion. Ahhh, logic. Faulty premise, faulty conclusion. Or, just because it happened to me means that it’s a universal truth. Etc. Ever thought about this? “Opening your eyes is all that is needing. The heart lies and the head plays tricks on us, but the eyes see true. Look with your eyes. Hear with your ears. Taste with your tongue. Smell with your nose. Feel with your skin. Then comes the thinking, afterward, and in that way knowing the truth.” I’ve been trying to work with that for awhile now, and just found that this week in the first “Game of Thrones” book, of all places.

    I think rationality works just fine, but sometimes we don’t notice everything, or sometimes discard some things, that we need to include in the rational discussion.


  48. Hi Pam,

    Ah, the website problems hit me today too. It has to do with the stupid Cookie consent thingo required by the EU laws. We’re a bit more loose down here in relation to such matters and it is not actually required, and so I should just delete the stupid thing. Anyway to fix the website issues you have to clear the cookie cache in your interweb browser just for this website, but then that isn’t really necessary as you have a good work around. Out of a scale of 10, where the 10 rating is if you don’t do something about this problem then the entire planet will be eaten by a solar flare and we’ll all surely die, let’s just say this problem rates as a 0 on the scale of things to worry about. Phew, there is enough of those other things already, don’t you reckon?

    The loud screechy fellow lives for up to eighty years, and then some. Those particular birds are so super-clever that they can speak English, although I have noted that people have a penchant for teaching them naughty words. People who feed such birds inevitably have their houses eaten the day they stop feeding said birds. And they screech like proper hounds from the very depths of Hell. And thankfully the local magpies send those birds packing.

    Thank you, one does ones best to entertain. 🙂

    Pyracantha are an interesting plant which I have not encountered before. And hey, I’m doing the exact same thing in the garden with the Issai Kiwi fruit vines as well as the beans and the grapes. Some plants just need a helping hand. The larger Kiwi fruit vines are feral this year, and I’m wondering if I should just hack them back as the path is disappearing under the Triffid like tendrils, but the fruit was soooo good. Such a conundrum.

    Your local birds would appreciate the fruit way up high where they can enjoy them without being hassled, although the delightful Charlene may have something to say to the birds. Vine layers are meant to climb that high, although it is always something of a shock to see such a massive vine way up out of reach. The vine layer here in the forest is only just getting around to climbing some of the trees due to the continual and repeated bushfires and lack of general care for the forest. Although it should be said that the local forest trees don’t play nicely with others, and as such should be chastised. Yes, chastised they should be, reformed they shall become (Doing my best Yoda voice!)

    Out of curiosity do you recall what time of year it was that you planted the rose cutting? Never tried that myself. I have to fess up to sometimes as to not asking for permission… There was that one time a local vineyard was removing the vines due to a land sale, and I asked permission for some of the removed vines (a few out of the hundreds) and was rebuffed. Some people are idiots. Nuff said.



  49. Hi Inge,

    Oh no! I’ll tell ya a funny story. Today the editor and I had a lovely long and leisurely chat over lunch with a great bunch of people who I’ve known for years. We don’t all agree upon the various topics raised during the course of the chat-fest, and very occasionally some truly inappropriate things are said. However, the group has learned to accommodate and discuss differing points of view with a level of panache which is rarely encountered these days.

    So yeah, I accept your perspective and see absolutely no need to dominate the conversation. It often troubles me that many official points of view are not allowed to be discussed and dissected, and thus I feel that their hands are not as strong as the official talking heads might believe.

    The editor has the polar opposite ear condition and can somehow hear bass notes which astound me. We installed a sub woofer speaker in the dirt mouse for a lark, and the speaker only reproduces really low bass notes and she loves the sound of the audio. You learn something new all of the time.



  50. Hi DJ,

    I’ve heard that start up score too. Waltzing Matilda is such an odd choice of song given the subject matter. The song I believe was first performed ironically at a banquet for the Premier of the state of Queensland near to where mischief occurred, and which provided the background for the song to take place! Imagine that, but sometimes the fool or the story teller can recount allegories which need airing, but cannot be told in any other way, lest heads begin to roll.

    Never did the ham radio thing myself, as everything was 27MHz CB AM and SSB radio down here back in the day. The shortwave radio was an enduring mystery which I enjoyed. It is funny to have seen the end of many things like radio shows such as The Goon Show, the repeats of which were aired late at night in my youth (much as the Star Trek repeats somehow landed at 11pm on a Tuesday night for no particular reason that I could determine).

    The flowering plants in the vegetables can be hacked back too and the loss of those plants root systems following the hacking back will give some great feed for the soil critters. Maybe it is just me, but nature rarely plants only a single variety of plant over a great swath. It just doesn’t happen, but somehow us humans expect it to all work out just fine. Dunno about that myself.

    Nice and fair would be nice and fair and all, but most of the times things might work out OK, but who really knows, and life can be tragic. It’s hard, but what do you do other than keep on living, learning and connecting.

    Yes, imagine being confronted by a 3 tonne wombat? For they used to exist, and not all that long ago. Such a beast would frighten the daylights out of me if encountered in the forest, and even Ollie would treat the behemoth with the respect it was due (and Ollie would studiously find something else to do with his time!) Brave Sir Ollie, ran away, bravely ran away, away! 🙂 But then I’d be right behind him – he’s just faster by a considerable margin!

    Ah, so you have delved into the book? Respect, it is deep and convoluted that’s for sure. And possibly in need of one of those relationship charts which would probably blow all of our collective minds, but what the heck I’ll bet someone has developed one… … Far out, fans… Nuff said, and some people have put some epic work into those charts. My mind rapidly began glazing over at the sight of them! It is perhaps a limitation upon the number of relationships which my mind can handle. Far out, but possibly necessary. How the author kept up all the threads is something that is beyond my understanding. Hope you enjoy the books.

    A good call, and yes I agree we do need to keep our senses open to new input. The thing with rationality is that it can be taken too far: I’m sure the fictional character Dexter possibly believes he is rational, but there are dimensions to experience than simply rational interpretations.



  51. Hi Lewis,

    Thanks for the mink article, and if the folks do burial on the cheap at only 1 metre (3.3 feet), well is this 6 feet deep I ask you? I think not. Unfortunately, I left the article open on the screen and the editor read it over breakfast. Oops! 🙂 Oh well, these things happen.

    I heard an odd story years ago and it relates to chickens. So apparently the large commercial egg farms maybe controlled by two families. There was a rumour which circulated, and I have no idea as to its veracity, but the rumour went that during one avian flu outbreak where many many birds were culled, it had the side benefit of reducing costs, restricting supply and forcing up margins. I’ve heard that the virus in question can possibly get into cats and other animals although I’m no expert, but I haven’t heard any calls to cull our feline friends. Possibly I misunderstood the entire episode.

    Thank you very much for the horse thief analogy. I laughed so hard at that one, and it’s just a good saying and so very true.

    Actually, yeah Earth Abides covered the return of wildlife into normally human dominated settings, but so then did Mr Kunstler’s World Made by Hand series. Mountain lions and hungry Bears are gratefully a very long way from here. I’ll bet those animals take a few pets every year, and they would make for a nervous night time walk in the forest, that’s for sure. Even a Ned Kelly Moon would not provide enough warning to prevent a person from being taken.

    Aconitum, hmm interesting. Some species grow here such as the Hellebores. The plant names are rather cheery and baleful! Might have come across the plant foxbane sometime back, but it did not thrive in the dry summers. I’ll keep my eyes peeled for these plants.

    Hades is super naughty to have acted so, and the young sculptor captured the moment for future millennia in stunning detail. Wow, to see the sculpture is to feel goose bumps. Surely Cerebus would enjoy a special treat (or three) of beef jerky, with a tickle under each chin in order? Who’s a good doggy?

    The out of stock story is an odd one that’s for sure. A bloke the other day told me that his brother is a fabricator (i.e. welder and all round metal worker) and that he’s having trouble sourcing steel. I also hear that there are changes soon to be afoot with your postal service.

    You are in my natural territory with the railroads and other crazy goings on in 1873 as it was of special interest to me due to the accounting theory subject I mentioned a few weeks ago (or maybe months now, I forget). So the railroads were constructed and run at enormous profits. Speculators piled in, whilst the original folks baled on the investments and went onto other ventures. Sounds like some oilfields huh? 😉 Anyway, the speculators piling on in had to face increased capital costs due to increased maintenance and replacement of rolling stock reducing latter profits compared to how it was earlier. People lost their shirts. Some folks in my profession came up with the idea for book entries for depreciation – or spreading the capital costs over their lifespan, thus reducing the possibility of over stating the profits, whilst at the same time as over stating the valuation of the enterprise in the first place. Well done them, although it took some time to get the process more or less right. But in between the hang time there may have been a whole bunch of economic carnage.

    Your stuffing recipe sounds pretty nice to me. Yum! People used to stuff roast chickens back in the day, but it is less commonly done now. And lots of cooking tastes better the second day – I’m sure there is a lot of science to that story.

    Mate, I don’t even understand what diversity training is. Now bear in mind I work in small business and we have to as they may say in the Appalachian’s ‘get ‘er done’ as in get the job done. Diversity training sounds a lot like mucking around to me. Clearly I am not smart enough to even understand the sort of thesis which could produce such a PhD – hope there’s a job for the bloke after all that effort. I’ve heard some outrageous claims about children’s literature over the years, and I just ignore all that stuff. After all I was subjected to the trials and tribulations of the dubiously unhappy Holden Caulfield and the book 50 shades of whinge. Clearly this has impacted the workings of my frontal lobe and I am now lesser.

    A food baby is often followed by a food coma. All signs of an epic feed! 🙂 The film sounds like fun, but the back lump is most certainly not fun. Keep a watch on that one, and I assume you can now go and get it looked at?

    Mr Greer is always interesting, and yes me as well, and I penned a very brief note of support for our Federation friends – although I never took the stories too seriously. It’s all space opera to me! And yes, I have read both posts at the Daily Impact – an excellent name and outstanding writing.

    Had the green wizards catch up today at a compost making facility. Such a lovely day and after poking at the black stuff and also biochar (never seen the stuff before) we all sat around had lunch and enjoyed a convivial chat-fest.

    Yes, unfortunately that is happening down here too with peoples briefest of brief opinions about some rubbish being reported as news. At least reporters listening to police scanners way back in the day, might have heard some interesting stuff. What have we become? Anyway, I usually write a 2,000 word essay each week and it keeps away folks who can only comprehend a message, in what is it now, 140 characters? Anyway, I dunno – and you can quote me there on that subject.



  52. Chris:

    That particular rose 30 years ago I just stuck in a vase in the house and it amazingly grew roots. I am not sure of the time of the year, though I think the mother bush was blooming when I took the cutting. I did stick a cutting, with a bloom on it, of another variety in the ground (in the shade) a few years ago and it also rooted. That one was in mid-spring.

    The one that I am watching and helping right now happens to be in the shade also, no blooms, just a very long branch lying on the ground with a few leaves. It is late fall or early winter here, though it has for a long stretch felt like April. And that is a stretch of many weeks.

    I never use rooting hormone as I have never had it work. Will give it another go someday, though, just because we have some.


  53. Chris:

    I love our pyracantha. It is a large shrub, grows about 10 feet (3m) in every direction, including up, has beautiful white flowers in spring and lots of red berries in late summer and fall for the birds, and has lovely thorns all over it. I planted it for the thorns to keep Bob the Tailless Wonder from climbing over the fence at that spot.

    And it can take a fair amount of shade.


  54. Yo, Chris – I’ve seen odd reports of the virus leaping to animals … but, other than the mink, not from reputable sources. Which brought to mind, The Great Cat Massacre of the 1730’s.


    You can get the gist of the story, from about the first 5 paragraphs. The rest is analysis. Though you might find the bit about burying a live cat in your field, to clear it of weeds, interesting. 🙂 Might not want to leave this one open, on the breakfast table.

    Cougars, Bob-cats, and eagles take pets. Bears, not so much.

    Well, think of it this way. If Hades hadn’t been super naughty, we wouldn’t have seasons. 🙂 . I saw a funny cartoon, the other day. There’s a very thick book labeled “Greek Mythology.” Right next to it is a very thin book labeled, “Greek Mythology if Zeus Hadn’t Been Such a Randy B_______.

    The railway scam sounds like a Ponzi Scheme or Pyramid Marketing. Well, you’re a cleaver lot to figure out depreciation. Now get off your laurels, and figure out how to work in maintenance. 🙂 .

    Naw, I probably won’t get the back thing looked at. Given it’s the fourth (fifth?), go around. After they determined it wasn’t a cell gone crazy, about all they do is take a look and send me home with big bandaids and antibiotic cream. With instructions to hot pack it, for a few days. I can do that, myself. Funny, it always happens about this time of the year. And, after the first go-around, I went out and bought myself a proper long handled back scrubber. Which I use consistently. Also, I got a letter from my clinic the other day. My primary care physician, has moved on. Darn. She was good. Wonder if it was virus burn-out. Happening a lot, over here. But, next time I’m in, I’ll have to pick a new provider. I wish they’d line them up, so I could get a good look at them. 🙂 .

    So, the Green Wizards had a meet up? A field trip? Been so long since a get together. Had people visibly aged? 🙂 . Maybe I should define “field trip.” Back when I was in grade school, once or twice a year, we took field trips. Two teachers, 60 kids and parent wranglers. Generally, we visited industries, to see where stuff came from. Dairy, wood products, bread, wool. A trip to the historic society. Those are the ones I can think of, without straining my brain, too much. But we never looked in at the dump. 🙂 .

    Susanne Who Always Has A Better Idea has two police scanners mounted on her flying chair. I suppose one is police, and the other fire? Just plane irritating, the noise.

    And, this just in. Well, just in, two years ago. But then, archaeology deals with old things.


    Read some more of Ruth Goodman’s book. We’re finally to coal. Hmmm. I don’t know what you want to know? There’s a lot that’s unknown. But coal was adopted fairly rapidly. The earliest coal was mostly “sea coal”, due to transportation problems. It was nasty stuff and smoked a lot. And coal smoke “hangs lower” (the smoke horizon) in a room. So people tended to sit on stools a lot, and sleep on the floor. At the same time, chimneys were developing through several iterations. But chimneys whisked 70% of the heat, out of the room. Coal burned hotter. But, chimneys created drafts, so there was a revolution in furniture. Beds and chairs were lifted up, off the floor. What’s interesting is that, looking at inventories and such, coal was used mostly to heat service areas and servants quarters. Lime burners and blacksmiths were early adaptors, and coal use might have spread from them. Early on, wood was still a status item, and coal was for the poor. Lew

  55. Hi Pam,

    Ah, thank you for the rose story. Propagating cuttings is a real skill which I lack, and I too have had little luck with my experiments years ago with rooting hormones and cuttings, and now don’t bother. Somewhere or other I recall that willows can provide a source of the plant hormones, but it has been a while since I read that. And people down here are super-crazy about willows so I won’t tell you that I grow a number of different varieties of the plant.

    It’s possible, and just as a crazy idea, that your rose branch might produce aerial roots along the long branch which is lying on the ground, and they use such easy propagation techniques for Rhododendron species. Might be worth looking the techniques up as they really are super-easy techniques and much easier than getting a cutting to strike.

    Of course, you raise very interesting gardening problems that my mind is considering given I now have a green-house (of the modified design, which is working really well – even on hot days).

    Your pyracantha look lovely, and thanks for another good idea – natural fences. Hmm.

    Do you know what happened to Bob’s tail?

    Planted a punnet of mixed foxgloves in the fern gully today. Such a beautiful flower, and whilst the instructions suggested direct sun, the existing plants are doing well in the very shady fern gully. A yellow evening primrose has popped up there too. It needed a splash of colour in there.



  56. Hi Lewis,

    The article on the cat massacre was beautifully written, and I read every word from the first to the last. Then I absorbed the underlying meanings and context, and the erudite commentary might just have influenced the words that are now bouncing around in my brain this evening and seriously need to get put into some sort of coherent text and narrative. Although I could just as easily stuff the whole thing up… 🙂 If at first you don’t succeed… Anyway, if I stuff it up, at least I gave it a go. But some rubbish just needs being turned on its head.

    No editor was harmed in the reading of the most erudite commentary on what appears to have been an historic err, thing with felines.

    It is funny what a difference half a world away makes, but I know of an old timer sheep farmer who recounted a story which suggested that hunters sometimes lose their hunting dogs, and then they head off home again leaving a lost dog skulking around sheep farms. His thoughts were that both the dogs and the humans were a bit of a pain. Other than humans we don’t have many higher order predators down here. What we do have is unfortunate encounters with smaller and very deadly critters just ask Steve Irwin how that story turns out. Late last century I actually met a real time crocodile hunter in Coober Pedy, for a minute or two anyway. It was a bit sad really because when I met him, the bloke was in the final year or so of his life and um yeah, there was like an air which hung over him which I was unable to ignore, and it was almost as if he decried that this should be the fate of lesser humans, but not so. I had a similar dislocating experience the day I ventured into a hippy museum way up on the mid-east coast of the continent. All I got from those experiences was pain and loss, and can’t say I went back for seconds. Far out, imagine that circumstance?

    I guess Hades did us all a favour then, and the same climactic conditions day after day would soon become rather tiresome and possibly an ecological dead end. The constant change forces species to learn, adapt and grow, or not as the case may be. Many years ago I read a number of sci-fi books where sameness seemed to be some sort of desired outcome usually via way of virtual reality. Honestly it all sounded very boring and dreadfully dull.

    Don’t know much about Zeus, but he does sound like a bit of a randy shagrat. Unfortunately the nymph Echo is still hanging around, and you can hear the sounds even today on this here interweb thingee. I’m chatty by my very nature and so must now write a note, don’t annoy the boss! 🙂

    I see your challenge to factor in maintenance, and present you with: utter failure. On a personal level, and you may have noticed this, but I maintain the systems here so that they work 24 / 7 like Kanye’s thoughts on certain topics. Other folks have other ideals and the natural course of events will see who has the right of it.

    Fair enough and you know your business well. It is your business after all, and also both your option and your choice with your back. I hear that there is a bit of virus burn out, but the medical profession have been known to restrict numbers. Now with supply and demand working the way it does, reduced supply, restricts demand and means increased prices. Plus there are times I do wonder if their intern process is a bizarre hazing process. There were a spate of public suicides not all that long ago, which may possibly hint that some processes can be taken too far.

    Hehe! Well, we like to know people in low places, and a dump seems pretty appropriate to me. 🙂 Actually, it was a really fun day.

    It could be quite instructive for people to peer into the workings of a dump. I take the metal scraps from here to the local tip, and I am always very polite and cordial with the people who work there. It is an important function after all. And the last time I went, I discovered the tip recycling shop was open whilst the interweb said that it was closed. Just goes to prove you can’t take what is on the interweb as being the truth. Business websites here aren’t regularly updated from my experience.

    Suzanne might one day discover that the authoritas go digital (like happened here many years ago) and the usual scanners became useless overnight. The problem as I see it is that analogue signals are easier to hear and discern in poor reception areas. The digital signals in such locations can sound quite choppy to my ears, but what do I know.

    Ooo! It looks like the preserved gunk in the bottle actually was olive oil.

    You learn something new each day! I’d never heard of sea coal, but here is a great short tale on the impact that such a fuel had: Scottish Heritage – Sea Coal. Well, I never.

    We’re still a bit in that conundrum phase with coal or wood heating losing heat up the chimney for that matter. The outcome is perhaps built into the design which seeks to please all people. The wood heater here puts out very little direct heat. You have to get right up close to it to feel the warmth. What it does, is inside the fire chamber there is a large boiler, and that boiler uses convection to send hot water up to a header tank in the ceiling, and also around the house (via a controlled electric pump) to radiators in other rooms. I treat the system with kid gloves nowadays and burn only the finest dry timber in there, but even so like all systems the demon of entropy eats away at it. I keep spares, but who really knows how long this stuff will last. But does it work, far out, you betcha it does. Mind you, it took at least five years and a lot of damage to understand the entire firewood process from start to finish. But yeah, I could now geek on about such a subject with the best of them.

    Better get writing, and hope I don’t piss anyone off. 🙂 Bear in mind I am trying somehow to poke fun like the erudite essay suggested as a possible route.



  57. Chris:

    Somehow I never realized that you had this system: “What it does, is inside the fire chamber there is a large boiler, and that boiler uses convection to send hot water up to a header tank in the ceiling, and also around the house (via a controlled electric pump) to radiators in other rooms.” That’s really neat.

    We acquired Bob when he was a year old, and completely nuts. It took him years to settle down. He appeared to be an Australian Shepherd/Whippet cross (fastest dog I ever saw in my life) and I think that when he was a puppy his tail was docked to make him look more like an Australian Shepherd. They only left about 15mm of it and it was kind of funny to see it wag.


  58. Yo, Chris – Yeah, as you get older pain, loss and lost opportunities, pile up. You can let it drag you under (how you feel is really a choice), or, shrug it off, as best you can, and muddle through. I know my outlook on life, is rather on the rare side. That’s become pretty apparent, now that I’m living around a bunch of old people 🙂 . Sometimes, I wonder if I’m a touch “on the spectrum.” I think a key thing is to be interested in the world around you. Develop some interests beyond home and immediate family. Of course, the old alligator dude might have had some bad news. Like a pretty fixed expiration date. What was that Australian film, where the cab driver way out in West Australia, gets his “use by” date, and sets out on a drive trek, across your continent, for, I don’t remember what. It was a great film.

    Oh, that’s good. Echo has moved out of nature and onto this interweb thingee. 🙂 . Zeus probably got tired of hearing about her family. And, nothing else. A bunch of people he’s never met, doesn’t care a fig for, and would need a flow chart to follow all the relationships. Wonder if she ever got tired of her own voice?

    Oh, a field trip to the dump! How exciting! I think it’s a generational thing. Back in the 50’s, it would never have crossed an “educators” mind. That was pre ecological awareness, and all that.

    What? Not everything is correct and up to date, on this interweb thingee? No! I may (or may not) have told you of my stay in Bend, Oregon, when I took my trip to Idaho. I had an afternoon and night there. So, I got on the web and found about 10 antique and junk stores. Op shops. Only one was still in business.

    I read some more of Goodman’s book, last night. I really liked the sea coal story, you linked to. Especially the bit about building a “fort.” The cave. Seems to be what young boys do. Or did. Goodman’s reference to sea coal, is the stuff that was mined around the beaches. Not as good as the stuff collected on the shore (but there wasn’t really enough of that to be commercial), but better than what was coming out of other parts of the country.

    She talked a lot about early mine technology. And also how coal use spread from domestic to industry. And that the iron industry discovered how to get better iron, by using coke. And innovative casting methods. Which led to better cooking pots and grates, that made cooking easier. Which led to more coal use.

    I read your post, over on Mr. Greer’s blog. I’m going to have to take exception to his thought that working remotely is being encouraged. Well, it is, but the infrastructure, in many cases, just isn’t there. And given we’re in decline, I doubt that it will be. In many areas.

    I took a walk down to the chemist, before walking the dog, this morning. I only go every two or three months. It occurred to me that the chemist’s (aka drugstore) here, have taken the place of the old variety stores. Besides the usual chemist stuff, I also picked up freezer bags, a half gallon of almond milk and a string of Christmas lights. What drives me crazy about our local chemist is, it’s pretty obvious that they use a “just in time” inventory system. I don’t know how often they have a “buy one, get one” or “buy one, get 50% off a second,” and there is only one of the items on the shelf. The shelves are very wide, and very empty toward the back.

    And, our interesting (?) link for the day is about … biscuits. An older article, but, I suppose what with the holiday …


    Just goes to show how important the right kind of flour is. Lew

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