No win, no way

Captain Kirk of the Starship Enterprise in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, famously stated that: “I don’t believe in the no-win scenario”. After all, he’d managed to survive the infamous Kobayashi Maru training exercise, so perhaps he was right? The training exercise was designed as a no-win scenario in order to test the mettle of a commander. The crafty old Captain Kirk hacked the simulator instead and changed the scenario so that he could turn certain defeat, into a certain win – for him.

You have to give credit to the wily fictional character, he displayed verve and talent. On the other hand he might have been displaying arrogance or hubris. And as everyone knows excessive pride leads to nemesis – the inescapable agent of a persons downfall. Who wants that? Sounds horrid to me.

Nowadays I can barely stand to read the news of the day. In fact, I don’t read the news of the day. Instead I skim the headlines so as to get a feel for the general flavour of the sort of issues being reported upon. It works for me and saves me the distress of observing some of the stranger events of our time too closely. Exhibit A: Recently Australia began the process of purchasing a nuclear submarine. Cool, toys. Such a vessel can project force, I’m guessing, right up to the Straits of Malacca. Coincidentally most of China’s oil has to travel through those same Straits. And now the Solomon Islands, which is alarmingly close to our shores, has signed a security pact with China. All very exciting and also goes to prove that hubris does indeed lead to nemesis.

Anyway, hubris is always there to be feared. Sometimes I consider what I may have overlooked, or whom of consequence I’ve annoyed. Probably lot’s of both now that I think about it! But seriously, I try not to worry about such things, and simply do the best I can. If I come unstuck and face the no-win scenario, I probably wouldn’t have failed due to lack of trying.

Other people though, I don’t know. Motivations are cloudy and obscure to me, and all a person can do is observe actions, listen to intuitions and then make a best guess. Those acts provide useful insights into why things are the way they are, because right now, there are a whole bunch of crazy things going on that I don’t believe will end well.

Maybe the crazy things are going on because few people can now recall the five year long recession which ended a quarter of a century ago? I recall those days. Being told by my boss, don’t come Monday, here’s some mad cash, now get lost – that was an exciting experience. And unfortunately it meant the next four years of work involved contacting customers and asking them to pay their bills. If ever you want a view into the darker sides of the human psyche, I recommend working in debt collection. The work was easy, but with 10% unemployment, the pay was not so great. Who can now forget the bill heavy couple of months where I needed to buy a new pair of socks, and could not afford them. It was either that, or put food on the table and keep a roof over my head. Poverty is an instructive experience. On the other hand, once faced, the fear is diminished.

Speaking of poverty. Last week I wrote about housing affordability and the economy, and how things were different back in the day, because you know, they were different. The policy choices which lead to this current state of affairs where a median house in Melbourne costs $1.12m were deliberately introduced. You don’t double the supply of mad cash over a decade, and then double it again over the next decade, by sheer accident. And at the same time, I recall hearing serious economists suggesting that it doesn’t matter. Those words sound like hubris to me, and everyone knows where that leads.

Housing is expensive and in short supply in Melbourne, but there would be worse places. I reckon that there would be a shortage of houses on the eastern coastal part of the continent nowadays. The area has suffered some horrific disasters over the past few years. The Black Summer Bushfires of 2019-2020 destroyed something crazy like 3,500 homes and almost 6,000 outbuildings, with the total damage estimated around $103bn. The following two summers then produced too much rain, leading to flooding right up the east coast, and some towns were flooded several times.

Because of all of the destruction of houses in that part of the country, you see stories in the news reporting upon the housing shortage there. And those were not cheap places to live in the first place. So not only are the remaining houses expensive, but they’re also in even shorter supply. And I’m sure the majority of people would have been uninsured, and that means that those people might not even have the mad cash to rebuild.

What to do? Step back and away from the current policies which makes houses – you know, the thing which keeps rain off a persons head – so expensive. That after all is the genius of the wily Captain Kirk’s move, he didn’t challenge the system, he changed the rules. But fear not, change is coming.

Speaking of flooding rains, on Friday night a thumper of a downpour delivered more than an inch and half of rain in under an hour. I’d been aware that this rain was in the forecast, and so I relocated an additional three empty water tanks down to the new large shed site. The original four water tanks already in place were almost full to overflowing.

The three empty water tanks were rolled down the hill. The trick with that job is making sure that the water tanks don’t roll too fast otherwise they’ll escape control and end up in the forest way down below the new large shed.

Three water tanks were rolled down the hill and are waiting to be cleaned

A high pressure water jet cleaner was used to clean the insides of the water tanks. They were then lifted and pushed into place where they sit on a bed of rock crusher dust.

Seven water tanks all nicely lined up

One water tank was connected up to the original tank pipe system which links them all. The job was completed about two hours before the rain deluge. I’m still yet to connect up the other two water tanks, but will have to do so soon, because after the recent rain, the tanks are again almost full.

We’ve been working recently towards building a larger greenhouse. This week we dismantled the existing small greenhouse, recovering most of the materials. There was a little bit of waste in the dismantling as I accidentally destroyed a few stainless steel bugle headed screws. The rest of the materials however, will be used in the new larger greenhouse.

Polycarbonate sheets are removed from the existing` greenhouse

In order to dismantle a building and recover the materials, you have to be aware how the thing was constructed in the first place – and then remove materials in the reverse order. In this case the building was dismantled from the roof downwards. It is far quicker to dismantle a building than construct it in the first place.

Dismantling continues and the frame can be now clearly seen

By the end of a days work, the greenhouse had been dismantled and the site was cleaned up.

You’d never even know that there had been a building there

As an amusing side story: During the process of dismantling the greenhouse I’d spotted what I thought was a rather large dead spider hiding in a window channel. I thought to myself: I wonder if you’re dead? So as you do, I gave the spider a poke with my finger. Did I mention before that it was rather large? Oh yes, the spider was massive and most definitely alive. My finger depressed into the soft abdomen. The spider took umbrage at my actions and rapidly scuttled away from me, and unfortunately towards the Editor, who rather courageously squealed and stepped away. It was a big and very fast moving spider. Anyway, we survived the incident unscathed, except I now have this recurring memory of what it felt like to prod the spider. Ook!

Regular readers will recall that last week we began burning off a very large tree stump thoughtfully left over by the loggers. A few more hours were put towards continuing the burning off, and the tree stump is now a more manageable size (about a third of the original size). And the soil around the fire pit is still warm a week on.

The tree stump left over by the loggers has been burnt to about a third its original size

Autumn is coming to a close, and winter is becoming all too real a possibility. The persimmons are near to ripe.

The very tasty Fuyu Persimmons are almost ripe

Despite winter being just around the corner and the awful growing season we’ve had this year, there is still a lot of fruit to be consumed during the darkest months of the year. The kiwi fruit vines are prolific.

Kiwi fruit vines are prolific

And instead of showing flower photos this week, I thought to include some random images from late autumn around the farm. The leaf change is very pretty, although the hordes of tourists are far from pretty.

The shady orchard
It’s fungi time (fun!)
Lot’s of fun(gi) all of which are probably very deadly
Apple and pear leaves
Blueberries produce stunning leaf displays in autumn
A Manchurian Pear enjoys the bright but cool autumn sunshine
The succulents have enjoyed the cooler conditions this year

The temperature outside now at about 9.00am is 12’C (54’F). So far this year there has been 361.2mm (14.2 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 306.8mm (12.1 inches)

68 thoughts on “No win, no way”

  1. Yo, Chris – The economy. Can’t do a darned thing about it, except stew. I choose not to. As far as the headlines go, I suppose I could get enamoured by the ups and downs of Johnny Depp’s personal life. Or who looks good in a bikini at an advanced age, or just a few days into postpartum. I glance at the headlines, but there’s very little of substance, to read.

    I think it would be rather exciting to see you loose control of a water tank, and chase it into the forest 🙂 . Exciting for the observers, but not so much, for you.

    Well, given the construction of the old greenhouse was so recent, and fresh in your mind, I suppose reversing the process wasn’t all that much of a puzzle. But that was quit a feat, to get most of the components out in a useable condition. Kudos. So what will you put in the old greenhouse site?

    Big hairy spiders. I gave H a bath, and cut a bit off her tail. So the trimmings were sitting in the garbage can, and every time I glanced that way, I thought there was a big hairy spider sitting there. I finally covered it up.

    See? The loggers were thinking of you. They knew someone would sooner or later need a bunch of fresh wood ash, to spread around. Thoughtful. 🙂

    The “probably deadly fungi” picture? Is that a small slug, on the fungi to the left? Looks like.

    The picture of the apple and pear leaves is quite lovely. Really calendar worthy. There’s a slight blue tint to the light, that really makes it special.

    Looks like you’ll have a nice crop of Manchurian pears. Are they tasty? Lew

  2. Hi Chris,

    On the topic of hiding items in pictures (that you were discussing with Lewis) You must have seen those colour blindness test pictures where the colour blind see one number and normal sighted see another. I had a friend who was severely colour blind and he said that he would like to make a printed t-shirt that had similarly differing messages. Since then I cannot see a complex or busy design without wondering what it is that other people are seeing.

    Well the weather has been trying to kill us and heavy rain has caused a lot of damage, death and sadness in our region. Also that other cause of death is waving at us again. I know I have mentioned the regularity of our waves before but I don’t think you appreciated just how regular and predictable.
    As with the drum beat in scary films, there is very little uncertainty here.

    Onions have done well. Pecan nuts are small and not so good. If it is wet in the month after solstice they get a fungus/blight.

    All your work with the new shed, green house and future sunny vegetable bed looks good and right and sensible.

    Take care and kind regards

  3. Hello Chris
    My goodness, all those water tanks look amazing. I do admire your considerable ability at organisation and the incredible amount of work that you do.
    One criticism:- What is the difference between ‘deadly’ and ‘very deadly’? I see ‘very’ constantly in the newspapers and hear it on the news, all used unnecessarily.
    I do read the news, more fool me. Son complains that I worry. I don’t actually. Keeping informed about insanity doesn’t mean that I am worrying about it.
    Son wrecked my day by pointing out that if we were nuked, Harry and Megan would become king and queen. Actually they wouldn’t unless he managed to become crowned.
    Some friends who run a very successful business, started up another one and then had to close it down because they were unable to get staff even though they pay well.


  4. G’day Chris,
    Thanks for your thoughts about the batteries. it’s a bit of a long story.
    we’ve got nearly 8 kW of grid connected solar, but a couple of years ago I decided I wanted to experiment with a small off-grid system. I got a couple of second-hand panels, a small charge controller and a 0.2 kWh battery. It’s been a real success, and I’ve really enjoyed mucking around with a 12V system.
    But I want to upgrade it, and I want to (mostly) take our fridge off-grid. It uses just over 1 kWh per day, so that’s a harder task (especially in the middle of winter). What I’ve done is buy a 1.2 kWh 12V battery by pylontech, and I’ll install 6 PV panels. This may not be enough for the fridge (and other uses) in mid-winter so I may need to move the fridge to mains power around the winter solstice. Will be a bit of an experiment.
    Regarding the walnut tree, I think it’s about 8 years old, maybe 9. We’ve got an almond about the same age, which fruits but not heavily — I’d really like a bit more out of that one… I’ve also planted a pecan which has grown very very little (it’s at least 5 years old and no thicker than my thumb, not sure why.
    I like your reusing the parts from the greenhouse. It’s very satisfying using materials multiple times. Nice timing with the tanks too!
    Cheers, Angus

  5. Hi Inge,

    Thank you, and there is indeed a plan with the farm which we are following. This afternoon I visited the local timber merchant and picked up enough timber to construct the greenhouse. It’s a sizeable construction, so the timber quickly piled up. Fortunately I was purchasing treated structural pine, because they would not sell me untreated structural pine. And the interesting part of it was that I just had to take the sizes that were available. This is not optimal, but I had a wish list and modified my needs and the design in my head to suit what was available. I do joke around about being poor at mathematics, but long ago I made the decision to continue using my brains facilities to perform basic mathematical calculations and the ability serves me well when confronted with such circumstances as today at the timber yard.

    What a question – and my mind is now blown! There are perhaps deadly things which may or may not kill you. Then there are the very deadly things which will be more than likely to kill you. So, take snakes for example. Apparently the black snake is less deadly than the brown snake. You may survive either bite, but you are more likely to survive a bite from a black snake than a brown snake. So conceivably you could say that a bite from a brown snake is very deadly, whereas a bite from a black snake is deadly. Hope the distinction is clarified? 🙂 In this instance I would suggest that the word ‘very’ is a qualifier word in that it denotes a more serious level of whatever it is, that whomever was talking or writing about.

    Plum had a seizure late this afternoon as I was unloading the timber from the trailer. Given this is her first seizure, I rushed her off to the veterinarian. I do not attend that business for frivolous reasons, and it is possible that she has epilepsy, or ate one of the many mushrooms (directly or indirectly). Otherwise she is in perfect health and has recovered but is rather tired.

    Exactly, and I also have such discussions with the Editor. What does the news possibly mean is a topic of discussion here. But like you, this does not imply that I worry about the subjects presented and the possible hypotheses gleaned. Far from it actually. Before worrying about the news, stick to the farm plan, after worrying about the news, stick to the farm plan. And that’s how stuff gets done here.

    Inge, Harry seems alright to me, after all ,and here I am biased, ginger. Nuff said. 🙂 Those folks are there to provide spectacle to the commoners. And for all you know, Harry may have been an invited guest in the old school meaning of that description.

    Hmm. There are lot’s of staff shortages here. I’d have to suggest that globalisation is winding down. All things that go up, eventually come down again.



  6. Hi Elbows,

    Oooo, it’s like those stereogram 3D images which became popular a dozen or so years back. My brain struggles comprehending anything from those images, but people say there are hidden images in them. If they say so… It does make you wonder doesn’t it? We might never know though and simply have to live with the mystery. Just for a lark, I sat a colour blindness test, and who knew the interweb provided these things for free?

    You know, I’ve never known anyone to be colour blind. It is possible that they are not aware of it?

    Elbows, I’m so sorry to hear that. La Nina has been brutal here too and has caused a lot of mayhem and hardship on the east coast of this continent. The harvest this year from the orchards here which is south of the troubles has been awful, about the worst that I can recall. I might not starve, but it would be a close call.

    As the availability of chemical and mineral fertilisers decline or they become unaffordable, my understanding is that so will the quality of the food being produced in terms of minerals, proteins, vitamins – you name it, they’re all going to decline. The food will still look much the same, but you’d have to suggest that peoples health will be negatively impacted. And here we are today.

    Onions are good aren’t they? I haven’t yet found a variety which does really well in this short growing season, and so am concentrating on leeks and chives instead. They’re like weeds those plants. 🙂 The nut crop here was wiped out in a very late frost, so I hear you about climate troubles. On the other hand, the pecan tree here has managed to tap into the output from the worm farm sewage system and it is growing fast. I suspect those trees require a lot of feeding as do many fruit and nut trees, although some are lower stress, but they are the exceptions to the rule: Feed your fruit trees. 🙂

    Thank you for saying so, and I wish you continued good health and a productive garden.



  7. Hi Angus,

    Thanks mate. Honestly, I have no idea how long any of this stuff will last. All I have to go on is the advertising blurbs and other peoples reviews of the technology. And sometimes it may surprise you. I have a Fullriver AGM 12V 200Ah battery which has been in constant use since 2007 and it still works well.

    Interestingly, for the main house system we’re running about the same amount of panels at 8kW. Glad to hear that you’ve enjoyed mucking around with a 12V system, I got my start with one of those and simply observed: How does this thing work?

    That sounds about right for a refrigerator to me, and mirrors my experience. I applaud your experiment. Refrigerators now come with soft start compressors which means they don’t draw huge loads on start up like they used to do so. In your circumstance with that goal in mind I’d be careful as to the inverter selection. A refrigerator needs power 24/7 for the electronics and so: A) pure sine wave is required; B) you need to consider the draw current of the refrigerator when the compressor is operating and match the battery and inverter to that. The refrigerator here draws about 300Wh, which is pretty good; and C) Good luck! 🙂 There was actually a C), but I’ve now forgotten what it was as I stopped replying so as to consume dinner.

    Oh yeah, quality inverters usually don’t use much electricity at idle. About 0.6Ah at 12V would be about right for a good inverter. Others may surprise you by using heaps more electricity. I’ve had good experiences with Latronics, but I have it from people who depend on this stuff that Selectronics is the biz too. They’re sometimes for sale second hand on ebuy. Hmm.

    Ah, thank you for the information on the walnut tree. Hmm. The pecan tree here is going off like a frog in a sock this year but was slow to grow before that time. I suspect that it has tapped into the output from the worm farm sewage system. It is possible that the trees enjoy a really good feed. I’ve noticed with many varieties of fruit trees that they grow very little, and then one year something happens and they grow heaps. I’ve assisted that this year by changing the feeding and providing about a tonne of Calcium Carbonate to the soils in the orchard. It might seem like a lot, but over a year it doesn’t work out to be all that much per week.

    Thanks! Why waste things is my motto. 🙂



  8. Hello Chris
    No. I suggest ‘deadly’ or ‘might be deadly’.
    Hmm. Harry. I think that ginger or not ginger is an irrelevance.
    I am sorry to hear about Plum’s fit and hope that it was a one off.
    My stepfather was completely colour blind, hr could only see yellow. I had a boyfriend once with the common variety. I forget now but think that it deals with an inability to distinguish between red and green. This surfaced when we had an argument as to whose bowl was whose in a game. He finally admitted that he couldn’t tell the difference.


  9. Hi Chris,

    The good economics professor Michael Hudson tells us that housing prices are whatever the amount the banks are willing lend. What is the usual deposit one has to put down over there? 40%? If that were to be increased to 80% would that halve the price of housing? Since demand is high and prices are now so suddenly so very very low, would that solve the problem or have I just done crashed the economy?

    This recession you speak of, was this the very same recession we had to have and what happens if we get a recession that we didn’t have to have? But that we have anyway? Is that even possible?

    Have you ever discussed your hot water arrangements? Do you have a big black tank somewhere on the roof to supply all your passive hot water needs?

    Reading the headlines is enough to get my head spinning these days. Say no more! We are in the enviable position over here of having a Green party energy minister (repeat GREEN party) scrambling around trying to source an alternate supply of fossil fuel. The very fuel they wish to reduce cause of global warming and all that stuff. Do you think the world leader who shall not be named is secretly a climate activist? They’re all laughing at us Chris.

    During the last couple of wet summers has there been vigorous controlled burning going on in case the next summer is a real stinker?

    Kiwi fruits are great eh?

  10. Hi Lewis,

    🙂 We must be looking at the same news, or maybe that is all that us Plebeians are allowed for entertainment? Your understanding of the news of the day shows a proper and righteous grasp of the various topics of importance.

    It’s always risky moving water tanks down a hill, them being round and all and polyethylene being a very slippery material. Had I unfortunately lost one of the water tanks down the hill and off and away into the forest, there may have been some very ungentlemanly language used. The Neanderthal part of my genetic make up might come to the fore and what would the neighbours possibly think?

    Speaking of which, I was happily fertilising a tree today and looked over and spotted the neighbours car in a locale they’d never previously parked it before – and on a work day when they’d not previously been there. Well, there goes the neighbourhood. And note to self: Expect the unexpected.

    Today I ran a huge amount of errands. Went to the bank and the lovely lady there and I had a little uncomfortable laugh about the fecklessness of economic policy choices. Also I picked up a supply of the timber for the new greenhouse project. The timber was slowly unloaded and carried down to the worksite by hand. It was then that I noticed:

    Plum was having a seizure. I’d never seen that before. Fortunately the seizure was brief, but in her moment of pain she did look and act a bit like Cujo. I calmed her down and she passed out. At that point I was thinking that she’d been bitten by a snake (in May that would be unlikely, not impossible, just very unlikely). When she passed out, it looked as though she had died as her breathing slowed right down as did her pulse. Crazy stuff and frightening to experience. We dropped everything and took her to the veterinarian (which I don’t go to for frivolous reasons). The dog may have epilepsy, and there is not a lot we can do about that if future seizures are reasonably infrequent. At least I know what to do now, but what we did do wasn’t far off what needed doing for the dog. And at least she wasn’t bitten by a snake.

    I’m not yet sure about the old greenhouse site, and it is possible that we’ll return it to a garden bed. We’re removing and reusing the steel gabion rock cages on that old site and so it will probably be better as a garden bed with a smaller rock retaining wall.

    I’m of the opinion that if the materials can be salvaged and re-used, well that’s gotta be cheaper than buying new materials. 🙂 There’s a lot of talk about a salvage economy, but to carefully dismantle something requires an understanding of how the thing was built in the first place.

    The H hair was taunting you from the garbage can for sure. Who knows, the stuff might have a life of its own, like The Hand! Who can forget that creepy film?

    Hey, the other fertiliser I mentioned earlier would mix quite well with the now abundant wood ash, and produce a very good soil. One does what one can, when the neighbours are out of sight. Who knew they’d be there? Super creepy. Might have to grow a hedge along that boundary.

    Top spotting! Twas indeed a slug on the ‘shroom. Well done, and I was wondering if anyone noticed that, of course you have a professional interest in such critters – and for good reason. How does the slug war go Brother Lewis (spoken in best Newspeak)? Pesky critters.

    Thank you and I have passed on your thoughts of appreciation to the Editor who takes most of the photos. It’s a pretty time of year with great colour contrasts. That’s the light in the shady orchard.

    Hehe! I don’t think so about the pears. Lovely trees. On a serious note, some of the ornamental pears do produce tiny fruit. As time has gone on, I am noticing that there are more volunteer fruit trees. The plums are the best fruit trees at that trick.

    Hey, good to hear that things have settled down. How much excitement does anyone need? Not much excitement, is my thinking.

    You’re on fire, yeah anonymous superhero, I can see that. Would H make a proper vampire Pomeranian, like that one on the Blade series? A vampire Pomeranian would get some serious respect.

    SOL amusingly means many things, some of which are rather serious like: He who prevails, and also Gift of God. Standards of Learning was another interpretation. Mate that acronym is seriously useful. In Spanish it refers to the sun. Damn, I’m now SOL when it comes to understanding which acronym you were referring to. 😉

    Youch, that’s a pretty cold response. Man, staff shortages are real, so I dunno, that is a tough situation. Be prepared for people to ask. It’s such a big job that if you do help out, there has to be something in it for you. But far out, negotiating for that something with a large number of people would be like my nightmare.

    It’s very bucolic that part of the council area. It’s a bit warmer and drier than here and the rolling hills are very easy on the eye. We had a walk around the orchard there, and they’re doing some really good work and everything looks really neat and healthy to me. It was a pleasure to visit. And the pork pie was very tasty.

    Ah, steel cut oats are like lentils in that they need to be soaked overnight, but they are apparently good for things like meatloaf. I have not come across this variety often, mostly what I see is rolled oats. I applaud your plans for the oats. Such is the stuff of experiments.

    Nope, the quality has gone down. My gut feeling is that more care and skill was used in the preparation of the food than what I’m experiencing these days in the big smoke. Interestingly, things are pretty much the same in these parts, although I make an exception when the area gets smashed by the leaf change hordes. But then I try not to head out and about at such times. I believe that Mothers Day will be the next smashering.

    I like the cauliflower, cheese and curry pie, so yeah it was good enough to feed to guests. 🙂

    Exactly, as part of the leaf change autumn festival, the local council also promoted a ‘pie and tart trail’. Now that is a program I could get behind, we just missed that one due to the horror of all things leaf change. Oh well. I assumed that the cidery were continuing the pie option due to previous market testing? Dunno.



  11. Hi Inge,

    Your suggestions do have the merit of being grammatically correct. What about: ‘bad’; and super bad’? 🙂

    Thanks to your recent book recommendation of: “Straight and Crooked Thinking” (which I thoroughly enjoyed), I could amusingly respond to your most clear sighted observation with the counter argument: What have you got against gingers? Alas, I’m joking around, but people really do use such crazy techniques. Anyway, for all we know, he’d probably do just fine, although I believe his older brother William would do a better job than he.

    Thank you for the kind thoughts, and Plum is tired but now mostly recovered. It was an ordeal, and I’ll watch her closely over the next few weeks and months – and also keep a written journal as to what occurred. That way we can gauge if the condition worsens. Apparently it may not significantly affect her lifespan, but I have no experience with such health matters.

    Your powers of observation are good to have discerned the colour blindness. Out of curiosity did you have an earlier hunch, or was his inability to discern the difference when you gleaned the insight?



  12. Hi Crow,

    The usual deposit is 20%, but a person must also display the ability to repay. However, it depends. From time to time, responsible lending standards are apparently sometimes ignored, and then all bets are off. My understanding is that again there is a bubble of honeymoon rates which will revert to higher variable rates at some point soon. Hmm. Always was it thus…

    And I tend to agree with the good professor. I forget exactly where I read the admonition, but it may have been in a Michael Lewis book either ‘Liars Poker’ or ‘The Big Short’. Both worthy of reading, although I enjoyed The Big Short book much more. But somewhere in that wall of text was the suggestion that it was the lenders who have to exercise restraint.

    Yo, my brain is exploding! 40% of $1.12m works out to be: $448,000. Few first home buyers can accumulate so much capital through savings.

    Possibly you’ve just crashed the economy. There’s this thing called negative equity, and it was the same trigger in the Great Depression of 1929 onwards. What that refers to is that the loans are greater than the value of the assets, and with lending on shares – they require the person with the debt to make up the difference (from memory a bank will only loan 80% of the value of shares). So the person has to sell shares to get the mad cash, which further drives down asset prices, then they have to sell more shares. It’s a very unpleasant feedback loop. I don’t know if such things happen to home mortgages. Dunno.

    My brain is really starting to hurt. 🙂 We get the ones we don’t want or need as readily as we get the ones we need but don’t want. What about the ones we want, but don’t need? There’s an appearance of control, but my experience of the 1990’s was that they stuffed up the interest rate rises and took things too far. My best guess is that the people making the decisions don’t really have a good grasp of things at the street level. The treasurer and later prime muppet at the time had a penchant for Ferrari’s and old clocks. Hmm.

    Not explicitly. There is a 400L header tank which acts as a heat exchanger. That header tank is fed by two solar hot water panels (requires a small pump) and also the wood heater but by convection. Hot water is taken from the tank by a huge copper coil which sits inside the hot water – it’s a heat exchanger, not a hot water storage. Hope that makes sense. Feel free to ask questions – it’s complicated.

    Well, I dunno, there’s a lot of big talk coming out of your part of the world. But you know as much as I hate to admit it, fossil fuels power pretty much everything, including renewables. I have this awful hunch that truly long term sustainable means getting by on the 2% sunlight captured and stored by plants. But in this particular case, I’d like to be proven wrong.

    I could tell you some funny stories about the greens. Yeah, and that is one of them. How many years of abject failure does it take to change tack, quite a lot apparently! 🙂

    Kiwi Fruits are awesome vines, and so productive. Tasty fruit too, I just have to time the harvesting right. Do you have any suggestions in relation to that activity as I’ve been a bit hit and miss over the past few years?



  13. screws for the frugal- I am a complete convert to the screws with the relatively new head design, called torx here, but they have a six sided drive design that does not strip out, and can be reused easily, very handy for temporary structures or modifications. I hope to never buy another Phillips head screw. (And cordless impact drivers are the bomb)

    seven tanks- Awesome photo. I’m on a well, but a plan to install a big cistern is in the works. It’ll be underground, as it gets very cold here, so will be a bit pricey.

    feeding the trees- Yeah, I’ve been trying to see how low input management of perennials can work, and some plants do fine, others seem to need a boost. Might be genetics, might be bad luck in the soil conditions where planted, but I think I’ll try some of the composted chicken manure on a few and see how it goes.

    past cycles- Some of the books I’ve read lately ( nope, not going to give a recommendation!) have led me to think that past cycles of empires and centralized power and subsequent decline were also seen coming by a certain portion of the participants, but they were no more able to grab the tiller than we are. Folks back then were just as smart as us, and I don’t think it was an out of the blue surprise to many, but it seems we are simply predisposed to ( and being the ultimate top predator) expand in an area till we do a “St. Matthew Island” all over again.

    Working on acceptance and mental health can be an ongoing thing, as it a huge event to grasp, and this will be the mother of all declines as we’ve tapped in to the supercharge juice with our cleverness. Maybe that’s it? We are just clever, but have just not quite developed species wisdom?

    In the past, I’ve thought of us as the rogue keystone species, but maybe we are the immature and still evolving keystone species? One wonders if the banishment from Eden and fall from grace myths are some dimly understood message from the Jungian collective unconscious.

  14. Yo, Chris – All this talk about color blindness. I think I have a slight color blindness in the brown / green range. My mum and I would go round and round, as to if a particular pair of pants was olive or brown. Ron, one of my friends in Idaho, is very color blind. That may be why his wife does most of the driving. Some artists outputs were effected by various eye problems. Monet had cataracts, and that’s why some of his later paintings are so big and so “impressionistic.” El Greco may have had severe astigmatism. And there’s always been a lot of speculation over Homer’s “…wine dark sea.” Did the ancients, as a people, perceive colors differently than we do? Of course, according to reports, Homer was blind. 🙂

    News: The Pap People Apparently Prefer. Or some people, that is.

    The neighbor may have had a perfectly legitimate reason, for lurking around, just beyond your borders. Or, not. Maybe they needed a little quiet time, away from whatever domestic drama was going on at home. Or they were trying on a quiet spot to off themselves. Was there a hose running from the exhaust pipe, to the window?

    That’s concerning about Plum’s seizure. Maybe the rats slipped her something? Or she ate something, she shouldn’t. The list of what dogs shouldn’t eat, is long. Anything from the onion family, chocolate, avocados, etc. etc.. But it could be epilepsy. There is medication, for that. But your right. Wait and watch. And at least if it happens again, it won’t be so startling and you’ll know what to do.

    Oh, I’m all for salvage and reuse. Saves money and keeps the earth green, or something. 🙂 Going up or coming down, there’s a wonderful logic to well made buildings. As with furniture.

    The slug wars continue. I still haven’t had to break out the big guns (ammonia spray), but am getting by with Woody Harrelson’s patented double tap method. With my foot.

    Plums and prunes do freely expand their range. You can have thickets of the stuff. They also seem to end up sprouting along fence lines. At least they tend to breed true, unlike apples.

    I don’t think H would make a very good vampire dog. She’s not very nippy. Other than when I give her her twice daily dental chew. I just about loose a finger. She always grabs it and races into my living room, as if I’m about to steal it from her. Speaking of vampires, I saw a trailer for a movie, “Only Lover’s Left Alive.” Looks pretty “artsy.” I’ll probably give it a whirl, tomorrow night.

    Oh, I think you very well know which acronym I was referring to, with SOL. You just want to see if I can explain it, and still maintain a family friendly atmosphere. Horse apples and luck. So, there. Want to tackle Snafu? 🙂

    I’ve cultivated a reputation for easily saying “no.” And I’m certainly not going to volunteer.

    Maybe your dealing with novice chefs? One would think since it’s harvest time there, the quality of the food would be pretty good.

    The pie and tart trail is a great idea. But perhaps the Council might want to consider moving it to a more slack time. To balance out the yearly income, a bit more. And, the traffic. Lew

  15. Hi Steve,

    Mate, I have not yet seen a torx head on any screws down here, but it would work for sure. The hex head design I prefer works just as well for timber to timber, or with special hardening and a cutting head for metal to timber. And yeah I’m with you about the Phillips head screws, but hey, they were a significant progression on the older style blade screws. 🙂 Far out, things were actually bad on that front back in the day.

    Far out, I’m knocked out tonight. Today I moved all of the timber for the new greenhouse down to the site, did about an hour of excavation by hand and then cemented in the four corner posts for the new greenhouse. A long day of work, and I dug the holes and mixed the cement by hand. Only another eight holes and posts to go. Tired…

    I’ve seen a very old school well around these parts, but it was dry. I enjoyed looking into the depths of the hand dug and laid rock lined well and peering at the wet mud at the bottom. A lot of water bores (smaller and deeper holes requiring intense electric pumps to lift the water) tend to drain the water table around these parts. I’m not a fan, but nature will sort the problem out.

    Is a cistern the same thing as a water tank?

    Cool, chicken manure is a good feed. But my understanding from soil chemistry is that the mineral Calcium Carbonate allows plants to access far more minerals than they otherwise would. Of course, I may be strip mining the soil minerals by doing so, but the trees sure have grown. The difference was marked. And I’m continuing every week to add more minerals of various sorts. The soil is pretty good in some parts of the farm.

    Respect! And many thanks for not burdening my book shelves with further sneaky book recommendations. 🙂 That’s possible, but then the Indigenous folks down here lived for tens of millennia, although I’m pretty sure they ate their way through the megafauna before realising their error and then having to do the hard work to redress their sins. We don’t always do a boom and bust like those deer you mentioned. It just doesn’t look like today’s civilisation.

    That’s a good point, but our species has learned wisdom in the past, we can do it again – of this I have no doubts. The future may not be so bright that we need shades, but it ain’t all that bleak either.

    I tend to view those stories as a historical transition between hunter gatherer societies and agriculture. We can do a mix of both, and our species has done just that. Or we’ll adapt in place. It won’t look like today, but I’m not all that troubled by the future. Maybe it’s naivety, but I don’t think so.



  16. Hello Chris
    Difference between ‘bad’ and ‘super bad’ too ill defined.
    I had a fit once as a small child. It appears that this can happen when one has a high temperature and I have never had another one. I wonder if that could apply to a dog as well.
    No, I had never seen any sign previously of colour blindness in the boyfriend.
    Re: fertilising the tree. My children used to laugh and say ‘There’s dad marking out his territory again’.


  17. Hi Lewis,

    I see images of the Eildon Hill North hill and can well understand why the early Scottish settlers headed to this particular mountain range. The sudden increase in elevation, the spectacular views to the horizon, the ability to see ones enemies and force them to climb up hill before smoting them at the end of their climb – I get that. 🙂 Even the colour of the soil looks pretty much the same. Far out. But you’re spot on, why spend the winter in an inadequate Roman leather tent when you could easily build a more weather resilient locals roundhouse and at least be protected from the worst of the elements. Thanks for the link which I enjoyed. What I did notice was that in the photos most of the digging was done by the younger folks!

    Man, I did a whole bunch of digging myself today. I can report truthfully that no bodies were found, today. I did the final bit of excavations on the new greenhouse site. That was hard work, but I also dug the holes for the corner posts, and then cemented them in, and that was not easy either. What wonders I’m leaving behind for future archaeologists to cogitate upon. I do hope that they believe that I was purely interested in the constellations from this dark and remote locale. You do get a great view of the stars and one of the Magellanic clouds here, but no it’s a greenhouse – because the last two growing seasons have been utterly crazy bonkers cold. Despite dozens of plants, we’ve had only a handful or two of ripe tomatoes. It’s a worry and I’m hearing similar stories from around the wider area. We have the technology to overcome this, but it’s hard work… Some years we harvest a couple of hundred pounds of fruit, but not this year.

    Ook! I was about 0.2 of an inch out with the posts in either direction, but hopefully nobody notices! 🙂 It won’t make any difference to the building and visually it looks spot on.

    And a little bit of good came out of Plum’s seizure yesterday. I was intending to walk all of the timber down to the construction site a few chunks of timber at a time. Of course, we went to the veterinarian instead and so I hadn’t unloaded the trailer. Last night I came up with a genius idea for moving the timber – I’d wrap a dog chain around all of it and drag it down the hill using the four wheel drive mower. Worked a treat and I had the whole job done in under fifteen minutes. Of course, that meant that there was then other work to do… Oh well, life wasn’t meant to be easy.

    Mate, I go around and around with the Editor about colours too. Except that she pulls out a colour book and puts the matter to rest. Such precision is perhaps beyond my present capacities. And you’re right, the Editors perspective is also driven by fashion and clothes colours in which she has an interest. Once you’re aware of the sheer diversity of colours, it’s bonkers. I tend to wear similarly styled clothes from day to day as it saves my overloaded brain from having to consider the issue. That’s my excuse anyway, and hopefully socially appropriate choices have been made, although nobody seems to complain – the gold standard perhaps? 🙂

    I’ve heard that about earlier artists in that they viewed the world differently than we do. Dare I mention the colour blue and the sky? I tend to believe that what you suggest was more likely than less likely.

    My tired mind is spinning over who the Pap People may be? It sounds like a good name for a cult. 🙂

    The neighbour was back there again today. I wonder what is going on? You might possibly be more correct than you know. The evidence suggests an unexpected ‘nother in the household. Although after two, you’d reckon they knew how it works? It is possible that with such a situation, they may have their hands full for the immediate future and nothing will happen with the land. A person can only do so much and we all make our choices. Amusingly they asked me the other day how I knew they were there. I told them truthfully that the dogs came and told me, but they didn’t believe it.

    A high school mate of mine did exactly that trick with the hose way back in the day. It was effective, that’s for sure, but was it necessary? I don’t think so, although his dad was a real piece of work so you could kind of see the story playing out in slow motion. The dad was one of those self made larger than life guys who liked to kick the poop out of everyone else.

    It’s funny you say that about Plum’s seizure, because one theory the vet was chucking around that was she ate something which she shouldn’t have. And it is mushroom season… Which may have transferred into wombat and wallaby poop. Interestingly the vet remarked that dogs have a capacity to recover from such things far easier than people do, and true to form, Plum has been running around like a proper Kelpie today. I’ve been working towards keeping her calmer today, although I do not zing dogs up – it’s no good for them, even when conditions are optimal.

    Yeah, the vet mentioned that there are downsides to the medication, so wait and watch it is – and time the seizures as that is indicative apparently. Odd enough, I did roughly time the seizure yesterday. Humans with such health issues are apparently having success with wacky tabaccy oils, which is legal down here for people with such issues. The medication mentioned by the vet sounded as if it had that basis due to the name.

    🙂 We only do well made buildings here! 🙂 Well anyway, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. On a serious note I really try to consider the longer term and prevailing conditions with all of this stuff. And exactly, furniture is exactly the same. Like you, we’ve restored a fair bit of that too – the house is full of second hand high quality furniture. It troubles me that the second hand market has gone up in recent times due to supply shortages. That might be a future problem, oh well.

    Good shot ol’ chap, and take that ya pesky slugs! You’re in good company there.

    For some reason the cherry trees seem to have gone feral more than any other fruit tree, and of course they are related to plums, so yeah. I’ve let the odd seedling plum tree grow here and there. The seedling trees grow much faster than the grafted variety – and will probably be huge. Discovered one of my apple trees has a burr knot (don’t mention that to DJ as he might want to turn or carve the wood).

    You’re right too, apples are all over the shop. But you know all apples have their individual uses whether it be: cooking, cider, preserving and fresh eating.

    H is good, and did you know that Sir Poopy used to do that trick too. Hmm. He did it due to poor eyesight, not that it made much of a difference to him and his astounding abilities. But when his canines connected with my finger, wow, that hurt.

    Vampires are artsy aren’t they? Oops, I originally typed arsty, and that might be something different altogether.

    Earlier this evening I read Maragaret Atwood’s essay: ‘We Are Double-Plus Unfree’. The author knocked it out of the park. I was going to write about the topic of freedom next week too, so hopefully I am not influenced, but one can only do their best. It seems strange to me how my fellow citizens seem untroubled by the lessening of freedoms. I guess that comes from the penal colony origins. We do what we are told. Except we’re not all individuals in the Monty Python sense of that word!

    I’m so busted, it’s a total snafu. 🙂 Hehe! Thanks for the laughs.

    Respect. Yes, I have had convictions which had to be over turned. That sounds weird…

    Yeah, I do respect your faith in the novice chef, harvest time explanation. But the quality is lesser. I cannot explain it.

    That’s a great idea about spreading out the tourist deluge. It’s not right what is happening, but then official interest rates were lifted today. And I expect more to come.



  18. Hi Chris,

    Ma brain asplode. I am trying to imagine your set-up. This 400 L tank doubles as a heat exchanger? Which means the hot water from the solar heaters is circulated through the tank and back to the heaters to be, er, heated and back again. You draw hot water from the 400 L tank when required. The 400 L tank is then fed separately from another supply – a tank presumably – which itself can be fed from another tank if required. It’s tanks all the way down baby.

    The long-gamers have probably wanted a proper recession since 2008 but the economy was instead papered over like the openings of your chicken enclosure. I imagine the people pulling the strings have yet to realize those strings are no longer attached to anything.

    What happens if some critical mass of people own X houses all paid for with borrowed money and then the interest rate rises by even a meager 0.X%? Could that trigger the dreaded positive feedback?

    You remind me of the quote attributed to the greatest footballer of all time, Northern Ireland’s playboy genius George Best, who is reported to have said that he spent all his money on Ferraris and old clocks, and the rest of it he wasted.

    Would you agree that (industry scale) renewables can only ever be a fossil fuel extender or do you take a more pessimistic view and that they are a burden on the fossil fuel economy? Say, on average, as an extender for every barrel of oil used, renewables add another barrel again, or, are we using a portion of that one barrel of oil just to keep renewables going as in a subsidy?

    I have no experience with kiwi plants but the fruit I notice tends to keep a long time. Could they work on high latitudinal balconies?

    Tell us the funnies about the greenies!

  19. Hi Inge,

    I must say that I rather enjoyed your slippery dodge response, which displays pure logic! I defer to your intelligence and greater command of the English language and will not extend the examples any further.

    Speaking of language, I have noticed recently that the kids have reduced the word ‘probably’ to ‘probs’, and the word ‘definitely’ to ‘defs’. Language is such an interesting and shifting construct.

    Yes, the veterinarian suggested that the seizure may like your experience, be a one off. For your interest, what happened just prior to Plum’s seizure was that she was highly agitated because she clearly believed that Ruby was getting special treatment – which she wasn’t. Of course, dogs tend to be rather narcissistic even under optimal conditions, but yesterday for some reason Plum was highly agitated. So yes, it is very possible that her core body temperature was elevated – which it wasn’t by the time we got to the vet. We now have a strict no zinged-up policy with her, and should she not be able to restrain herself and calm down, we’ll chuck her in her enclosure so that she can cool off. After the seizure Plum passed out which marked the end of the incident – that was when I thought she’d died as she slowed right down, breathing, pulse you name it. Very strange. Bizarrely, today Plum has been her normal self.

    I assume that you made a quick and full recovery?

    Top work with the observation skills with your boyfriend. Some people would miss those cues.

    Hehe! We get Sambar deer, so it is best if I mark the territory. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it. 🙂 It is good phosphates for the trees.



  20. Hi Crow,

    It ain’t just your brain that is about to explode!!!! Boom! I feel better now.

    OK. On hot sunny days, the water inside the 400L header tank gets heated. A controller tests the temperature at the solar hot water panels and also the water in the header tank and then decides when the pump circulates water from the solar hot water panels to the header tank (and also it can operate in reverse if there is a severe frost).

    The wood heater has a 30kW wet jacket which circulates hot water into the header tank by convection (hot water rises naturally and cold water falls back into the wet jacket by two separate pipes). This is an unregulated heat source for the header tank, because you can’t stop such a system. It can get very hot if the wood heater is run too hard.

    Except, excess heat from the wood heater can be directed into the hydronic radiators in each room, with heat still going into the header tank. The solar part of the system cannot be used for that purpose. The upshot is that the whole house is toasty warm in winter with one wood heater operating, but it is a small house.

    Hot water for use in sinks, baths, showers etc. is taken from the copper pipes which sit inside the header tank. That’s why it is a heat exchanger as the hot water is not used directly. That stored water is probably too hot for domestic uses anyway and would probably burn skin. Domestic hot water usually isn’t all that hot – around the early to mid 40’C.

    Hope that all makes sense. It’s a complicated system, but it works.

    You’re probably right there about the strings. I suspect they’ll be stuck between a rock and hard place with the interest rate rises. Official interest rates were officially lifted today in order to address inflation. Boom! It begins.

    Speaking of chicken enclosures I did discover the rat tunnel today and squeezed an entire tube of engineering grade silicone into the tunnel earlier. By now, the stuff is well on it’s way to curing, and will no doubts perplex the rats. Mind you, I’m coming around to the idea that they are indeed hyper intelligent critters from another dimension. That was about the ninth modification to the chicken enclosure, but I do seem to be winning the war.

    It’s more complicated than that. Some people are on fixed rate interest only loans, which sooner or later will convert to variable loans. Such loans are usually only provided for a set period like three years and there was a time when the reversion to variable wasn’t guaranteed. A fixed interest loan means that no principal is repaid, only interest. When it switches to variable (usually a higher rate to boot) well, it won’t be good.

    Here is a text book example from the news today: With interest rates about to start rising, experts estimate almost 300,000 mortgage borrowers are at serious risk of default.

    The question that I want to understand is why were they given an interest only loan in the first place. Such a thing is akin to a rental with debt. Makes no sense to me.

    Haha! That’s funny about the famous footballer. I wasn’t joking though, that really was the guys hobbies, allegedly.

    Nah, my view is a bit different again. It’s just another use of fossil fuels. It’s a use which provides a flow of lesser energy over a longer period of time, if that makes sense. The thing to note with renewables is that they don’t produce enough concentrated energy so that they can reproduce themselves. If you don’t believe me, have a look sometime at how concentrated pure silicon is made. Far out.

    My gut feeling is that the vines would eventually take over the balcony. Do you have any roof coverage over the balcony? That might make it a frost free zone and you could have marginal plants in pots – like what I’m doing in the greenhouse with plants a zone out of the usual cold and heat zones here. Like pawpaws, they’d die outside unprotected, and the snow got the coffee shrub many years ago. It was growing well before the snow incident…



  21. Hello Chris
    Notayesman covered your interest rise today.
    My fit is not remembered by me as I was very young so assume that I recovered okay. My stepfather was a very severe epileptic and he passed out completely when he had a fit.
    ‘Wine dark sea’ I was told that they didn’t have a word for the colour blue then. Don’t know whether that is true or not. We have a serious lack of words for quite different colours apart from the ridiculous advertising of paints etc. I remember an unresolved argument with someone as to whether something was black or navy blue. Of course we have no idea as to what someone else is seeing!


  22. Hi Chris,
    Poor Plum. Must have been scary for all of you. Hoping this is just a one time thing.

    Looking at those water tanks you moved I’m thinking it must be awfully challenging at your place.

    We were thinking the same thing about the vinyl – that it would wear the best especially with the dogs. The fact that it’s cheaper helped too. We’re not in the midst of the installation and the dogs are not happy. The weather is too awful for them to be out. We are still 20 degrees F below normal many days though it does look like things will finally start turning this weekend. On a good note we’ve gotten a decent amount of much needed rain (it’s raining now). I’ll finally move my seedlings outside to harden in a few days.

    I found the new Margaret Atwood book at the library yesterday. Thanks for recommending it! She’s always been a favorite of mine.

    There’s always more I want to say but by the time I’ve gotten online I’ve forgotten much of it. Old age or it wasn’t that important.


  23. Hi Chris,

    I don’t understand why you think that pawpaws would not be winter-hardy in your area. They are winter-hardy in my area and my winter is much colder than yours. Unless we are talking two different species? I grow Asimina triloba, which is the only member of the Annonaceae family that can grow in most of the eastern US, including where I live. It grows into parts of the Deep South (USDA zone 8), but no farther. It’s not adapted to warmer winters than that. I think your winter is too warm for this species, not too cold.


  24. Hello Chris,

    Indeed, there are lots of lose-lose scenarios. War is only one of many.

    Thanks for sharing your hot-water-storage-tank solution. In our new house, I want to do something similar. Today, there is a ground-heat-pump that pushes heat into a water storage tank. I want to add coils for solar hot water and for a wood furnace. As you say, the temperature can rise too much for domestic use, so I was brooding on how to get “just enough” heat out of the system.
    Is it difficult for you to modulate flux/temperature to get a comfy temperature if you e.g. take a shower? Or is this the reason why a bath is preferred? Or just personal taste?
    Do you add something to increase the enthalpy of the heat storage liquid?

    Regarding lending and taking risk: the cheeky banks in Europe have managed to offload much of their mortgage risks to the central bank. All the risk is socialized! How very convenient!
    Especially in Sweden, one part of the “corona-stimulus” package was that the central bank “purchased” mortgage obligations equivalent to 15% of the GDP.
    What could possibly go wrong?

    Regarding the current situation and the future, I often feel like you do. Of course there will be consequences and lots of people will be disappointed, but it was never the task of the Universe to make everybody’s delusion come true.
    Unfortunately, the just deserts will not come to the ones responsible for the situation. That makes me sad. I would prefer if the Universe were more fair… 😉 (That is probably my delusion?)

    Our task is to perceive reality as best as we can, and act accordingly.

    @SteveC – torx rocks. In my last house, I did everything with the Pozidrive (PZ2 and PZ3) which is better than Phillips. The last year, I got inspired by my brother who has been a torx fan for many years. Now I am also switching to torx for our new place. My only complaint is that they are too similar. T20 and T25 differ by 0.55mm which is too little for my current eye sight. I often take the wrong bit.


  25. Yo, Chris – I saw a couple of headlines, last night, that foreclosures in the US are way up. Hmmmm.

    I think we’re going to find out some very interesting things, about the boarder lands, in the post Roman period. Or, Early Medieval, as it’s referred to, these days. There was that one Roman wall fort (I forget the name), where a small community seemed to carry on for a few hundred years. A hall where the grainaries used to be. Some light industry and trade.

    Does your greenhouse door line up with one of the solstices? 🙂 . If not, they’ll probably not identify it as an astronomical observation building. Future archaeologists may just slap the label on it, that they slap on anything they can’t figure out. “Possible cult item.” “Possible cult building.” 🙂 But it sounds like you made a lot of progress, yesterday.

    I was telling Elinor about Plum’s seizure, and mentioned you had done the right things. Of course, she wants to know what the right things are. Heck, I already know how to perform the Heinrich Maneuver on a small dog.

    When it comes to wardrobe, I stick to blue, black, gray and white.

    Pap: Bland, worthless or trivial.

    Ah, a new screaming baby in the house. Adults are getting away for a quick nap. Makes sense. Now if you’d told them the magpies let you know they were there, they’d really wonder about you. 🙂 I bought a couple of plants, today, and the clerk asked if I wanted them bagged. I said I’d just juggle them. “If I told you I’d worked in the circus, I’d be lying.” Said I. Turns out she DID work for a circus. Ringling. But, in PR. The most interesting people wash up, here.

    I don’t think I’ve seen an ill made building, on your place. Sometimes in architecture, a curved line is included, because then the eye perceives it as straight. See: The Parthenon. Or, the sea horses on the keyed instrument, in “Tim’s Vermeer.” Which I re-watched, the other night. There were a few pieces of furniture I refinished, that were so loose in the joints, and had such poor finish, that I had to knock them apart with my handy rubber mallet, refinish each piece, and then reassemble them with cloth joints. In a weird way, it made me feel close to the original maker.

    People will trade liberty for a feeling of safety. As the Powers That Be discovered, and now play like a cheap fiddle. We’ve got avian flu, here, now. Thousands of birds slaughtered. My Idaho friend sent me a picture of her local store. Not an egg to be found. Empty shelves. No chicken, either, except she found some canned.

    SNAFU: Situation normal, all fouled up. 🙂

    I was planting my tomatillo, last night, and discovered that what I thought was two tomatillos (’cause you need two tomatillos to tango) was a tomatillo and an Anaheim green pepper. So, back to the plant nursery I went, to pick up a friend for my lone tomatillo.

    So, you chained the dogs to the timber, and hauled it down the hill? The animal protection people will be after you! 🙂

    A couple of nights ago, I watched a film, “Last Survivors.” Which is about a man and his son living out in the woods after WWIII. But there’s a twist. I also watched Ken Burns new documentary, about Benjamin Franklin. Fascinating guy. And last night I watched “The King’s Daughter.” Which is a fairly tale, about King Louis XIV and a mermaid. That’s the bare bones outline. All worth a look, if you have a little time on your hands. Which you don’t. So, never mind. 🙂 Lew

  26. Hello Chris
    Forgot to say re your comment about the current shortening of words, that my pet hate is the use of initials instead of words. WTO, WEF. One learns them eventually but they continue to increase. I wonder how long a sentence one could make with them, only adding ‘and’ and ‘the’ or similar tiny words?


  27. Hi Inge,

    Yes, have you noticed that the shortening of words also correlates to the decline in general social discourse? Fear not, Newspeak is only but around the corner, defs. 🙂

    I’m not a great fan either of the over use of acronyms without an introduction, footnote and/or glossary. That is how things were done back in the day when words were used to convey ideas. Nowadays people emote first as a form of blocking further dialogue. It won’t end well you know!

    Thank you for mentioning the most excellent economics blog. I read the essay this morning and largely agree with the sentiment and conclusions. One minor quibble is that the left leaning states in Australia appear to be more open to the concept of locking down the population due to the health subject which dare not be named, and so the assumption as to allegiance was correct in that instance. Other states have taken different paths, and the joke is that the outcome was reasonably consistent. The significance of being in a Federation has been drummed home recently, before the recent events I had not noticed this aspect of our society.

    A Margaret Atwood essay mentioned the colour issue with the description of a ‘wine dark sea’, and I was intrigued by the concept. It certainly is possible in that our language becomes a mode of interpreting our culture, but I have no expertise in such areas.

    The Editor has a book on colours and could resolve the issue within minutes.



  28. Hi Margaret,

    Plum appears to have fully recovered, but yes it was very scary and when she passed out you could see her life signs slowing right down. The she did a reset, but was very lethargic. I genuinely believed that she was drawing her final breaths. Thanks for the kind words, but my gut feeling suggests that this will be the way with her every couple of months or so, but I’d like to be proven wrong. Have you ever had a dog which had a seizure? I’ve never experienced such a thing before, but now it may be a less stressful experience for everyone.

    Truth to tell, sometimes the climate is perfect here. The infrastructure has been set up to deal with the worst of the conditions, not the best, or even the average. You may have noticed that society tends to lean towards the average conditions and when things are good, lots of back slapping, but when times are bad… The climate here is a bit like riding a motorbike in that the weather co-operates some of the time.

    Exactly, dogs claws are pretty hard on any flooring. Even the hardwood floors here get scratched occasionally by dog mischief, but we’re not fussed about such things. Imagine trying to keep a house showroom perfect, but with dogs? Yikes! 🙂 It’s a bit of a nightmare isn’t it, and cleaning to such an extent is over rated.

    🙂 I hope you enjoy the book. I’m about two thirds of the way through it and am enjoying the words. I’ve never read anything by the author before, and may check out some other titles, although truth to tell, I am genuinely flat out at the moment between work and the infrastructure here.

    Hehe! Stop making me laugh! 🙂 There are times where I get great ideas for the next essay, but I’m on the road driving or otherwise unable to commit the ideas to paper. Then they get lost. Now what was that idea again? I so hear you, and try to write down ideas whenever they seem like worthy of being committed to paper. The old brain ain’t the sharp tool it used to be!



  29. Hi Claire,

    Several years ago, you may have mentioned (or someone here did) that particular variety of cold tolerant pawpaw. Believe it or not, that set me on a quest to track down some seed, which I sourced from a warmer state than this one. Go figure that out? I didn’t understand that at all. Anyway, the seeds took and I now have four of those plants growing, so no worries about them.

    No, the pawpaws I was referring to in this instance were more sub tropical – which I’d have no chance of growing outside. We might have our first frost tonight. The plants interestingly are similar climate zone wise to the Babaco I mentioned a few weeks ago which is currently under the car port due to the lack of a greenhouse. Fingers crossed it survives the cold weather…

    How are you going?



  30. Hi Goran,

    That’s it isn’t it? The other worrying ones are where by someone winning they then lose. I tend to believe that the current economic troubles are like that. The crazy house price situation has popular support, despite the obvious disadvantages. But the thing is, the longer the policies continue, the harder will be the eventual fall. So people both win and then lose. It makes little sense to me.

    It’s a good system, and works for us because we have strong sunlight in summer (being physically closer to the sun than your part of the world at that time of the year) and lots of firewood for winter. Honestly, I have no experience with ground heat pumps, but once watched a Grand Designs UK episode where a bloke installed such a system and winters seemed cold from my perspective. From memory the inside of the house was 15’C.

    Domestic hot water is not a drama as there are simple devices which can introduce cold water as required so that the temperature in any of the pipes never exceeds a certain temperature. Most new houses have such a device.

    The trick with winter is to insulate yourself from the conditions, but there is a cultural preference for thermal mass – even down here.

    It is a preference thing. To soak in a hot bath and look out the window into the forest and the distant horizon is a moment of sheer enjoyment for me. Of course there are less people in this part of the world than where you are! 🙂

    Nope. Some systems use a liquid which I believe is called glycol. You probably don’t want that getting into your water supply, but maybe I’m over reacting.

    Ah yes, the banks are very clever at offloading risk. I have noted that the ones here seem to be making good profits, they’re now increasing interest rates on borrowing, and the cheeky scamps have not upped deposit rates. Hmm. I’d be certain the story is that they themselves have to borrow from international sources blah, blah, blah. Historically the banks were not this large a chunk of the economy, I mean after all, what products do they actually produce?

    Last I checked, you’re right and the Universe owes us nothing. It’s a scary thought. I doubt that there will be an accounting for all of this, after all that did not take place in 2008, despite the hardships.

    Yes, of course, but we can only but do our best with that task. It’s not easy…



  31. Hi Lewis,

    The signs are there for anyone to see, but yeah, behind those statistics is a lot of pain. A whole lot of pain, and as interest rates increase, things will get worse on that front. Mate, with the increase in official interest rates yesterday for debt as distinct from deposits (which somehow remained the same), there was a lot of noise in the media and some of it sounded like a bit of a hopium dream. One article which has now disappeared claimed that inflation was now done and dusted and so please don’t raise interest rates any further. Me thinks that this is but early days in that story.

    Like you, I am of the opinion that just because the post Roman period was not well recorded (or the records didn’t survive for whatever reason), doesn’t necessarily imply that events both great and small were not going on. If you see any articles of interest I would most certainly enjoy reading them.

    Thanks for the laughs. Yes, very amusing, and possibly a ‘cult building’ growing pawpaws and chili’s used for sacrifices, err, sorry gifts to the kitchen Gods! I must say that the chili we grew in the previous growing season (recalling that the last growing season was a total disaster for such heat enjoying plants) is a far superior product to dried chili purchased from the spice dudes. They’re stuff is good, it is just the homegrown and dried variety is far better. And yes, there are spice dudes, and they’re good fun as I get to talk zombies and other trashy sci-fi stuff with them. Always a good laugh.

    The right things:
    – Well, during the seizure, if you can time how long it goes for and recall that (under two minutes is meant to be a good sign), and watch out for biting. Even a dog like Plum who knows me well was out of her mind and I was very careful and just let her be during the worst of it.
    – Once she comes to and the worst of the pain seems to have abated (and if you can, time it in your head) get the dog cool. I moved Plum to the cold tiles on the veranda, without understanding why. I believe Inge is onto something with the temperature.
    – Then all you can do is sit with the dog, talk soothingly and try not to get in the dogs face – as some people might want to do.
    – Clean up the mess. Froth at mouth, poop or wee at rear (they lose control – hardly dignified).
    – Plum passed out, and then came to and was very tired. I’ve read that dogs can drink a bit of water afterwards, or even get hungry. She did eat dinner last night, but was low key for the rest of the day.

    Hope that helps. There isn’t much you can do really. The regularity is apparently where things can get a bit dodgy as to the underlying reasons, and I heard the interval thrown around of under two months bad, over two months OK-ish.

    I’ve never had to perform a Heinrich Maneuver on a small dog. Have you? Mind you, I’ve had to stick my fingers into a dogs mouth and retrieve a stuck bone. A slimy and revolting job.

    All good colour choices. I wonder if you could have managed to wear the deep blue hat? So cool it was, and it was too cool for me. The grey rabbit pelt hat is much more me. At least the hat went to a good home.

    Thank you for the explanation. I’d not encountered the word before.

    No! No! But soon perhaps – not far from what I observed. Anyway, they’ll work it out, they seem alright. But in the meantime, they will be busy, perhaps too busy to concern themselves with the bush. I have observed that parents are rather socially isolated on that journey nowadays, and it is not good for their mental health. Although I would not dare say that to someone exhibiting such distress – talk about making things worse. Usually I ask people in such a state if they are OK? That question seems to get through without the emotional roller coaster explosion-arama! Far out.

    Hey, we might get our first frost of the season tonight. It sure is cold out there. Brr. The plants which were in the greenhouse are now sheltering under the car port, hopefully safe from frost (which they won’t enjoy).

    Thank you for saying that. And it is funny that you mention curved lines because many long years ago I had an ill mannered, but otherwise enjoyable, friend who pointed out that the Editor and I always made our buildings and landscape with straight lines. Hmm, it is always interesting to see your world through other peoples eyes (I’m sure Scott provides the occasional amusing insight into your good self?) Now we mix and match and try to produce a more pleasing organic effect with landscaping. Buildings as a general rule are easier to construct with straight lines, and also they are easier to live in as the wall space is not wasted. Mind you, we were discussing Roman era round houses the other day, and they are of a different aesthetic.

    Yeah, you did well improving upon the joins in the furniture. It’s like giving something to the future. Mate, I felt that way too when repairing the older Victorian era housing. A lot of people go for purely cosmetic fixes, and the problems never go away. The original maker would have approved of your extra bit of care and attention for sure.

    I know and that is becoming abundantly clear. One bright note is that most of the techniques involve clever little machines, and who knows what the future holds in store for such things, especially if the land of stuff annexes Taiwan. It may happen.

    Yikes about the avian flu, and please keep it to yourselves! As I mentioned before, such flu’s do run through flocks from time to time. Especially commercial scaled arrangements. Not so great for the health of the birds.

    🙂 It’s a great word, and believe it or not, I had not heard what the definition actually referred to, although you get a feel for the general vibe of the word.

    Ah, did you score another tomatillo?

    Very funny, but yeah – nah mate. The dogs aren’t strong enough for such work. I felt like a proper rigger when I did that job. Worked a treat too.

    I get a little bit of free time, but not much and worked late this evening too. Now bed is calling. Me tired. Done something bad in a past life for sure and are now having to make up for it.



  32. Hi Chris,

    Colour blindness can have advantages. My friend used to tell a story about when he was a conscript in the army. He said he could easily spot camouflaged bases.  

    All the onion seed available here is suitable for our latitude and number of sunlight hours. I like to grow red onions. They are expensive in the shops and so the seem to impress people. I also have Egyptian walking onions. They are a clumping variety that doesn’t set seed. Instead they have a tiny little bunch of onions in place of a flower. Garlic chives have pretty flowers. I am not partial to their taste.

    I have been meaning to pass on this link about getting your tomatoes to ripen.
    I have cherry tomato volunteers that come up in March in places that will be a sheltered from frost but still get the lower winter sun. If I am lucky they bear fruit all winter until the really mean frosts in spring. 

    I grew up on a 1200 acre farm but we lived right next to the boundary. We kept our pets close for a few days if the neighbour had been spotted. He would put down poison “for the jackals”. The everything slowing down thing that you mentioned brought back memories. 

    Cheers Elbows.

  33. Yo, Chris – Since I’m an equal opportunity recommender (a serial recommender? A drive-by recommender?), I watched a new documentary, last night, that The Editor might find interesting. “Riveted: The History of Jeans.” It’s the history of denim, indigo and jeans. They larded on the political correctness, in spots, but overall, it was really good. A social and industrial history.

    I think I saw a headline that there is an entire astroid, out there, made of Hopium. There are plans to mine it. I think Mars Boy is involved. 🙂

    I think the best send-up on how archaeologists can go terribly wrong, is Macaulay’s book, “Motel of the Mysteries.” What a hoot.

    Thanks for the info on seizures and pups. I’ll commit it to memory and pass it along. I think I’ve only had to use the doggie Heinrich Maneuver on H, once. She wolfed down her dental doggie chew, a bit too fast. I got down on my knees, gave her a firm grip, from behind, and gave a couple of good sharp squeezes. Being careful to place my hands behind her rib cage. Sometimes, it works.

    Congratulations on your first frost. Is there a holiday or festival? 🙂 Looks like our last frost was the 16th of April. We did have a few nights after that, that didn’t hit freezing, but was still a bit nippy. The tomatoes showed it, but no lasting harm done.

    I think buildings and landscapes need “bones.” So everything kind of hangs together. Once that’s in place, you can embroider, a bit.

    There was a 3,000 year old Bronze Age village, in the Cambridgeshire fens (England), that burned and fell into a lake. It was a collection of round houses, built on pilings. Everything was intact, and well preserved. It gave the archaeologists a real feel for what areas were used for what purposes. Such as, whatever was kind of industrial and needed good light, was placed close to the door. It’s sometimes referred to as “Britain’s Pompeii.” Which is a bit over the top. There are a few documentaries, about it.

    Yes, I was able to pick up a friend for my lone tomatillo. 🙂 “Go forth and multiply.” Elinor has finally settled on which tomatoes she wants. One, I already have. So, I’ll go in search of the other.

    I wondered where the saying “Karma is a b—h” came from. That was an interesting trip down the rabbit hole. There are many interesting variations. But the original might have come from an old Hollywood movie.

    I watched “Only Lovers Left Alive,” last night. It’s directed by Derek Jarman. So, for a vampire movie, it’s a little more thoughtful, than most. A little slow moving, in spots, but overall, a good film. This will give you a laugh. The vampires refer to humans as “zombies.” 🙂 Lew

  34. Thanks Chris
    Believe it or not, while I knew the word acronym, I didn’t know what it meant. Oh ignorant me!


  35. Hi Chris,

    Ok, let me get this straight … hang on … I feel an explosion coming on … oh … noooo … “KA-RUUUUUMMMSSFELD”

    The copper pipe sitting in the header tank is the source of your individual hot water needs. This is fed by an outside tank? But the first blast of hot water from this pipe is probably mega hot or is it calibrated such that the header water temperature yields the correct copper pipe water temperature at the delivery point of the sinks, showers and jacuzzis? The copper pipe has additionally the correct length so that cold water from a tank has sufficient travel within the header tank to heat up to the required temperature upon ejection from the taps?

    Are they really going to address inflation and not just let the debt convect away like the water from your wood heater?

    Go the silicon. I have a rat problem in at least one raised bed. Is there some plant/tree/other that one could put in the box that will annoy them enough for them to go away? A silicon tree?

    Home loans are a pretty good deal for the lenders who act as absentee landlords who you still have to pay but take none of the responsibility for the upkeep. What a scam. How do I get involved?

    That is a haunting article you linked to. Does that chart of residential property and wage rate rise look realistic to you? I am questioning steepness of the wage rates curve.

    Interest rates are to rise:
    Lenders: “And that’s going to lead to a number of borrowers, potentially more than we would have hoped, left in a really difficult position when interest rates do eventually rise.”
    Borrowers: “I’m up sh*t creek”

    Is that not the same thing or have I misinterpreted you? Allowing fossil fuels to be used over a longer period of time means less fuels are consumed during the period which the renewable plant is operational. You may of course use more fuel during construction and maintenance to negate this, which if is the case, then renewables need not get out of bed in the morning.

  36. Chris,

    How scary the Plum event was! I’m glad this one turned out okay. It looks as if your list of the Right Things ToDo is spot on. Let’s hope it was simply a case of too much excitement and getting too hot.

    From last week, your math on rainfall equivalent of 38 inches of snow. Your calculation is close enough. I figure about 1 inch of rain per 10 inches of snow as a default. However, there are a lot of variables to throw into that. Air temperature at ground level is one, as is air temperature at cloud level, which can have a big impact on the water content of each snowflake. Fortunately, we had a fair amount of actual rainfall during the winter in addition to the snow, although we are behind normal rainfall for the season.

    Avalanche’s “winning personality” was put to the test Tuesday. It is time for the first lawn mowing of the year, so Tuesday I mowed the front. I then had a few other tasks in the front, so I hooked her up to a long lead so she couldn’t run off, but still have room to explore. Between when I had mowed near the neighbor’s garage and when I brought Avalanche out front with me, another dog had left a deposit, which Avalanche promptly rolled in. She stank to high heaven. So, after finishing the other chores, it was time for her first bath, aka Spring Cleaning. The water is rather cold right now, so it took 2 of us to get her cleaned up, one to hold her, one to clean her. I suffered 2 nasty scratches anyhow and let out with some rather loud and ungentlemanly phrases after one of them. We toweled her off and brought her inside. She smells much better now!

    Spiders…”So as you do, I gave the spider a poke with my finger.” No. I do NOT do that. Ever. Never once in my life. By definition, ALL spiders are large, faster than I am and potentially poisonous, regardless of their actual size. All such critters either get poked and squished by a long stick, or else bashed by a club-like object. That’s what I do.

    That’s good work on the greenhouse project. And moving the water tanks. Congrats on NOT getting smooshed by the rolling tanks. It’s important not to get smooshed.

    I noticed a rather large fungus growing in the yard. I dug it up and disposed of it before Avalanche could sample it. That was the same day that Plum had her misadventure. There are so many things that are not good for dogs; unfortunately, the dogs are so fast to scarf things down that we can’t monitor everything, just hope for the best.

    Your blueberry leaves are gorgeous. My parents had a plant they called a “burning bush”. It sported bright red leaves throughout the entire growing season, looking quite similar to the red blueberry leaves.

    Meanwhile, the heather is blooming, as are dandelions, of course. The cherry tree is in full bloom with white blossoms, which nicely set off the purple lupines that volunteer in the grass.


  37. Hi, Chris!

    Star Trek was worth watching, that’s for sure. How interesting that we never actually got there. I, too, only skim headlines, and not very often. Same news, year after year, only the names change.

    An awful lot of young people around here, some not all that young – my son is 38, live with their parents like my son (he has lived other places, including Europe for 3 years). When my son and his fiancee get married they plan to build an addition onto our house. To buy land and build on it would incur so much debt – and a large downpayment would have to be made – that all their income would go just toward funding the debt. He prefers to build up his businesses, which require rural land like we already have. He will inherit our property anyway, let him make use of it now. I keep reading about the price of farmland, all over the world, shooting up. In this country, the U.S.A., about 40 percent of those buyers are investors, not farmers – hedge funds, etc. Not a pretty picture.

    That’s one tricky trick rolling tanks that size down to where you want them. They look so impressive and orderly. How delightful that they are now full.

    I sort of know there was a greenhouse there – look at all that lumber and parts lying right there!

    Goodness, that’s a lot of kiwis! Thanks for the leaves and fungi and cacti – they’re neat.


  38. Chris:

    I am sorry to hear about Plum. I will try to keep up with the comments to see how she is doing.


  39. Hi Chris,

    OK, I stand corrected, and I send warmth to all your plants that are shivering! I hope they survive the potential frost!

    The trees have leafed out, which means everything is growing rapidly. Which in turn means lots of gardening and yard work to do. I planted the tomato, pepper, and eggplant seedlings in the past week along with some annual flower and annual and perennial herb seedlings. Today I dug the bed in which the squash-family seeds will be planted. Meanwhile, I pulled weedy plants out of some flower beds and am girding myself to mow an area I haven’t mowed for a few years because too many weedy trees are growing there. I might not be able to get much gardening done the next couple of days as it’s supposed to be rainy, as spring often is here.


  40. Hello Chris,

    Thanks for sharing you water heating solution. Indeed, insulation is the most important thing, but some additional heating is nice and reduces indoor humidity.

    I guess you are seeding American Pawpaw (Asimina triloba) and not the subtropical Papaya kind (Carica papaya).
    These beautiful, slow-growing trees are hardy to grow even in cold climates. I saw a bunch of those trees in a garden in Massachussetts, where they have lots of coldth in the winter. There are some enthousiasts growing pawpaws in Sweden and Netherlands too.
    I love the fruit.
    Here is a tip: Choose a shadow/moist spot when you plant them out. They can easily die in the full sun and if the roots dry out during the first year. (I killed ten trees before I learned…)

    A question regarding your beautiful rainwater tanks: Do you empty them in the winter to avoid freeze damage? How many days of freezing can they stand without starting to freeze? I imagine that they also have quite a thermal mass that takes long a few weeks to freeze? What is your winter procedure?
    And, it seems counter-intuitive to place the water storage tanks on what seems to be a low point in your landscape. I would love a post about your water-infrastructure and why you chose the layout as you did?
    I am looking into rainwater harvesting, even though our new place is connected to municipal fresh water and we have two wells on the property. I think rainwater has different properties. Not two drops of water are alike?!

    Have a good day,

  41. Hi Goran, Claire, Pam, DJ, Crow, Inge, Lewis and Elbows,

    Thanks for the lovely comments, and I promise to reply tomorrow evening. We went to the pub for dinner this evening, and it was a lovely experience to sit near to the open fire and partake of a pint and a meal. The pub is a lovely old end-of-the-art-deco-era building which is very cosy. The ceilings are pressed metal which is surprising to see how intact they are after all these years. Just in case you are curious, there is a very short article on the pub here: The Crafty Pint. The photos are genuinely what the place looks like. It’s very charming.



  42. Hi Lewis,

    A solid drive by recommendation if ever I’ve seen one. And I passed on the recommendation to the Editor. It is a subject which is of interest to her, so I’ll let you know how it goes. There didn’t seem to be the full length doco on utoob, just teasers and trailers, so we’ll have to a huntin’! Got any suggestions as to where to find the doco? I tend to ignore the whole political correctness thing, and wokeness gets even shorter shrift. All very dull. The do-unto-others rule is probably a more workable guide, but you know, people want what they want and new is not necessarily the same thing as better.

    We got the rest of the timber posts in the ground today for the new greenhouse project. It really is zipping along now. Depending on the weather over the next few days, we may begin to get some of the roof trusses on. It’s exciting, and there was some talk about frivolous fairy lighting inside the greenhouse. What can I say other than, it’ll look cool.

    Unfortunately, we worked right up until it became too dark to work any more, and fortunately by that time we were cleaning up and putting things away. And far out, it was cold. 42’F, but at least there was no wind – the occasional drop of icy rain was not an appealing prospect. In another month or two, that sort of rain might be snow. It was 35’F outside when we woke up this morning and there was ice on the roof of the car. The plants from the ex-greenhouse now sit under the carport (which has never been used by cars but is more of an undercover outdoors utility area) were slightly better protected at 39’F.

    Well indeedy yes, hopium is out there. And it might as well be outer space. Hope those guys know what they’re doing! 🙂

    Oh no! A second cheeky book recommendation. I’m sorely tempted… I must stay strong… Maybe…

    I do hope that you never get a chance to put the doggie seizure knowledge to the test. Plum has been fine these past few days and looks as though she made a full recovery. It’s weird, but we can deal with it just fine as it’s not the end of the world. Worse things happen at sea, you know! Good stuff, and thanks for the notes with H (he says whilst committing the knowledge to memory).

    Haven’t you heard of the celebration of frostivus? The good citizens know that this is the day to celebrate the good works of the ancient ones who lurk around the forests and other wild places. They play pranks on naughty children, just for good measure. Those old school deities were one part beneficial, another part mischievous, and yet another part wrathful. All these do-gooder ones people expect nowadays – pah! Expectations these days…

    Tomatoes are pretty hardy, and you no doubt harden the seedlings off more properly (yes, I believe this is the correct word) than I. We’re getting ready to pull all of the tomato plants. Most of the fruit tastes mouldy, we’re not into it and I hold strong doubts that they won’t get better.

    Ah ha! Yes, building the bones is exactly the stage which we are currently in. At the moment, the farm is a bit all skin and bones, but without quite the right level of cohesiveness. Hopefully one day the farm takes its ultimate form – although that sounds a little bit scary don’t you reckon?

    Oh yeah, I recall reading about the Bronze Age village which burned and sank. You wouldn’t imagine such a thing was possible given the location over water, but admittedly the inhabitants were probably more surprised.

    Tomatillo’s get lonely out there in the garden, and what goes on in the garden should perhaps stay there – the tomatillo’s may become embarrassed? Mate you are a saint to sally forth on the hunter gatherer expedition for the tomato variety. I might be discouraged by such precision and return with something of the same size and shape.

    🙂 Of course, and sometimes I do wonder why I’ve ended up working so hard. No other reason seems to fit the facts on the ground, so yeah it is! Bizarrely enough reading the news of the day, Holden Caulfield bounced into my mind this morning. Reading that book was torture, and I feel really bad because so many people love the book. I just don’t like anything about the book. Maybe it is just me? The protagonist seemed a bit whiny to me and secretly I was hoping he’d get caught up in the draft, and possibly then later killed by his own troops just because the self absorption didn’t stop. But the book just kind of just, you know, ended…

    That is funny about the vampires! 🙂 Derek Jarman was clearly a sensitive soul, and his garden and cottage are amazing. I was quite taken with the idea of no-fences, and one of the things which people do when they come up here from the city, they tend to want fences. It’s an insecurity, you know and it is no good for the wildlife.



  43. Yo, Chris – I thought the Editor might be interested, given her interest in fabric and fiber. The documentary is new, so, it might take a few months to show up on U Tub. I did a search for “Where can I watch…” and showed up. Also, a few streaming services. The River has the DVDs for sale. But I’d watch the region, if you go that route. You may get different search results, in Australia.

    Feast or famine. I picked up two books and 7 DVDs, from the library yesterday. Documentaries, feature films and TV series. Last night I watched a Nova documentary. “Alaskan Dinosaurs.” Yup, there were a lot of different species of dinosaur, in Alaska, north of the Arctic Circle. Where it’s dark a good chunk of the year. They were trying to figure out how they survived up there. There are theories.

    I also watched an interesting documentary about architecture. “Built Beautiful: An Architecture & Neuroscience Love Story.” Interesting stuff coming out, about how people really respond to built places. And how architects should take that into consideration, when designing things. And some are taking notice. Maybe, novel and ego driven projects, will fall out of favor? About time.

    I don’t see why frivolous fairy lights would be out of place in your greenhouse. At least, they’re not likely to be stolen, as happened to you in the city. It will be interesting to see your progress, this week.

    The weather was pretty good, yesterday. A bit of an overcast, so, muggy. But not like today, when it is bucketing down. And the national weather site, is down. 🙁 . I went in search of Elinor’s tomato, last night. They had dozens of varieties, but not the one she wanted. I needed some of those wire tomato cages. I picked up four. They cost me $35! I told her I’d check a smaller, local nursery, this morning. But that she’d better start thinking of a plan B. No dice at the small local nursery. To me, they’re inventory looked really thin, for this time of the year. I wonder if they’re falling on hard times?
    That would be sad, as they’re family owned and have been around for three generations.

    I filled Elinor in about doggie seizures. I also suggested that maybe if H didn’t lug around so much hair, she’d be less likely to have them. Elinor is not buying it. Because H’s fur and skin is “different.” Whatever. Not my dog, not my circus, not my monkey 🙂

    I see Frostivus is a real thing, in the gaming world. I thought you’d sworn off. Have you fallen off the wagon? Back slid? Do we need to perform an intervention? 🙂 I’ll stick with Festivus (for the rest of us.)

    It’s time to let Holden, go, and move on. You may have to seek professional help 🙂

    I tried to check out the link to your local, but it had slipped into a temporal anomaly. So I did a search, to hit it from another angle. Is it part of a kind of chain?

    I think it’s going to be a popcorn night. The library picked up some copies of the first Dr. Strange movie, probably in anticipation of the new one. He played a big part in “Spider Man: No Way Home”, so I can fill in some of the blanks. Lew

  44. Hi Lewis,

    Yes, who would have thought it? We do have to return minerals back into the soil, which is the same stuff which grows the plants which we eat – not to mention the plants that the animals eat, which we then eat. It’s not really that complex a story, but most people don’t get it, and would be horrified by the ick factor of returning their wee (not to mention poop) back into the soils. The mere fact that we send this stuff out into the oceans is the primary reason that I believe that our civilisation is on borrowed time. And chuck in export bans from primary mineral sources, and mate, it ain’t good. However, in the meantime given this stuff is considered waste products by most right thinking people, why not get any or all of it that we can back into the soils which produce at least some of our food? Seems only sensible to me, although mileage may vary.

    Speaking of which, the war on rats continues. Here I must confess that the rats are rather clever creatures and whilst they have taken a beating, they are still twitching their little noses and whiskers at my best efforts to defeat them. Anyway, we’re down to two rats, and one has access to the tunnel under the steel and cement and into the chicken enclosure. So, I spent a few hours today undertaking an epic clean of the chicken enclosure and discovered the tunnel exit. It was too late in the day to squeeze a tube of silicone into the tunnel, but tomorrow will provide plenty of opportunity to do so. And I removed about six or seven wheelbarrow loads of lovely soiled chicken deep litter and replaced it with fresh sugar cane mulch. There was little smell to the mixture, and more generally I rarely smell ammonia because the enclosure is very aerated (and turned over) to begin with as there is no point wasting mineral fertility. I dropped the six or seven wheelbarrows into the area of the farm where hopefully at some future point we’ll have an expanded vegetable patch. It’ll be a big vegetable patch, but that is a job for the future. Best to get the soil started early.

    Other than that, I had a quiet and low key day. Picked up some more agricultural lime for the orchard. Even had time for a brief nap this afternoon. The activity refreshes the brain! Except that I went to sleep on the couch by myself and awoke to discover that two Kelpies and a Bull Arab had climbed aboard in my moment of weakness and they were doing their best to push me off the couch. Generally they’re not allowed on the furniture so they were taking advantage for sure, but it was a cold day so allowances must be made, and it sure kept me toasty warm – dare I say it: a three dog afternoon!

    I spoke with the Editor today about the doco and she certainly is interested. It might have to wait for a bit until it is made available for wider release. The interweb used to be a wild west freebie thing, but I’ve always considered it to be a giant bait and switch arrangement, and that is playing out as freebie content becomes harder to access. The good thing about utoob as a streaming service is that there’s no sign up and they’re happy to take your mad cash. That seems to have been a fairly recent development and I’ve never understood why they hadn’t taken that path in the past, but then calculating and distributing royalties can be problematic I guess.

    You’re in the library version of the land of milk and honey at the moment. It’s a bit scary that milk and honey can be historically seen as luxury goods… Ook! Those far north (and far south) dinosaurs were pretty awesome. Mate, they even had them in Antarctica. Crazy stuff, but superbly adaptive. Did you get a feel for the most likely theory as to how they adapted to such a complicated and difficult environment?

    Ah yes, Mr Kunstler had a very interesting podcast on that particular subject quite a while ago. It interested me that a lot of the brutalist architecture could trace its origins to the World Wars. The bunker-esque style of unadorned concrete walls with gun turrets, err, sorry horizontal windows, kind of matches the suggestions. It’s a bit eerie, really. It interests me that some people around these parts have replicated the architecture as a design response to the bushfire threat. It’s one way to go, but is it attractive to live in? And dunno about your part of the world, but such heavy reliance on thermal mass is only possible with a goodly supply of fuels for heating. Thermal mass and cold environments take a huge amount of energy to keep warm, and always the weather outside is stealing the heat bit by bit. Mate, you can only hope so, the Victorian era buildings I’ve lived in and worked on were very easy on the eye, and they’ve withstood the test of time as there are plenty of them still around. Project houses on the other hand, whether they’ll last that long is a subject which is open to debate.

    🙂 I’d seriously hope that nobody thiefs off with the fairy lights in the new greenhouse! Fancy that, although I’m not ruling out the possibility. All things being well weather wise, we’ll try to start getting some of the roof timber structure up on Sunday. The project is banging along much faster than I’d anticipated, but much depends upon the weather.

    That’s no good about the interweb site. At least you can look out the window and take an assessment of the weather conditions. Such things happen down here too. I have to have an application on my phone so that I can log into the interweb gubarmont services. Today the stupid thing forced me to do an update, and then it was stuck in a loop where it kept asking to be updated. I eventually deleted the application (which will cause me massive headaches next week), and it still wanted to be updated. Yep, there be problems there at that department. I tried to ring up the support line: ‘Due to high call volumes, please call back later’. Then the robot hung up on me. Hmm, progress! Just dandy. Nothin’ to see here, move along. No wonder these numpties can’t win a war and/or address issues that matter.

    Yeah, that is pretty pricey for the tomato cages. Tell ya an interesting story in relation to such matters. The Editor was out and about running errands (and there was a kebab-flation situation of a 35% increase in price) and she stopped off to a much loved big box hardware store to pick up some items for the greenhouse. Well turns out we stripped their supplies of some really basic items. And we didn’t get that many either. Crazy stuff, and nobody seems to notice. Anyway, that story is weirder than I can get my head around. Despite shortages in supermarkets, shops and long delays in orders, people are just merrily going along as if everything is OK and there’s nothing to see here. So weird… But in the meantime, I’m thinking further ahead.

    Yeah man, that’s why I said that about substituting a similar variety of tomato. Mate, that isn’t my normal inclination or response either, it’s just what dealing with reality these days looks like. Maybe a middle ground is getting some seed of that variety for next season, and then going with whatever you can get which is in the ballpark for this season as seedlings? The future I may have suggested before, belongs to the flexible. 😉

    Nice strategy with H and Elinor. I applaud your excellence and would not have considered that approach myself – he says whilst taking notes for any similar future situation. Ah, but you were thwarted. Back to the drawing board!

    Lewis, I’m starting to get a bit jittery! I made that Frostivus word up on the spur of the moment and had not realised it lead to that dark realm… Yikes! I now run for the hills to safety. 🙂 No, definitely no intervention as I am self-monitoring these days and can exercise this thing called restraint.

    On the other hand the Holden thing may be obsessive, but is that necessarily a bad thing? What if I have something interesting to say about the bore? And the character did bore me in three dimensions, possibly the elusive fourth dimension too.

    Nope it is an independent pub from what I understand. Someone mentioned a rumour to me that it is owned by some wealthy dude over in Damo’s part of the continent, but I have no sure knowledge of that story. Whatever the case may be, it’s a charming place and the regular locals are what keeps such businesses open during the winter season when the tourists are elsewhere.

    Ah, the Dr Strange movie only opened yesterday at the cinemas. Right, back story. Hmm. My brain struggles to comprehend the multiverse. Hope the popcorn and movie was enjoyable and that there were some cool explosions.



  45. Hi Elbows,

    Bizarrely, on Thursday I heard that same colour blindness story recounted on the radio during the science hour. And isn’t that the thing with any difference of perception in that there are always costs, but there are benefits too. And that one would be particularly handy in such a situation.

    Red Onions are tasty, and aren’t they great in salads where they have the extra zing? Incidentally, it isn’t just your part of the world, the red onions are more expensive than the more commonly grown brown onion (which may be better suited to this latitude and day length). I don’t actually know, but it is possible that due to the elevation above sea level here, I should probably grow onions from a latitude which is further to the south? Dunno.

    Yes, I too grow the Egyptian walking onions, and they’re fun plants, but the chives I grow here most certainly taste like spring onions rather than garlic. I wonder if there are other varieties of chives?

    Thank you for the link. I am aware of this possibility with tomatoes, however, just like Inge’s previous harvest, the tomatoes here have a mouldy taste and ripening will not improve the situation. The rain has been feral this year, but combined with the cold summer. I would not wish such conditions upon anyone and we’re just trying to do our best. The tomatoes are a write off.

    Yup, you’re only ever as good as your neighbours. There is truth to that. Fortunately all of the neighbours have dogs and so may not be inclined to lay baits, but you never know what other things they’ll do – like spraying the blackberries which you and others are harvesting with herbicide without telling you until later. Hmm.



  46. Hi Claire,

    Oh my goodness, it was 2’C that morning out in the open, and fortunately a warmer 4’C under the carport where the plants are waiting for their new digs to be constructed. Hopefully they’re OK?

    Spring and Autumn are often the busiest times of the year in the garden. And cleaning up and getting beds ready for planting is always less fun than the actual planting out. I hear you about that. But with the area you’re about to clean up, well, think about the good soil which will be found there. 🙂 That sort of arrangement, we can chip, burn or mulch up with the mower, but whatever path you take, it’s all hard work. Out of curiosity, are you expanding your vegetable beds given that part hasn’t been used for a while?

    Interestingly, here the weather forecast looked dire, but has in fact been very pleasant of late. But cold in the heading into winter kind of cold!



  47. Hi Pam,

    No stress about keeping up, and Plum is doing fine and has made a full recovery. Thank you for the concern. It might be something that she just has to live with. Now I know what it is all about with Plum it isn’t that much of an issue to me.

    Star Trek was fun wasn’t it? And I rather enjoyed the movies, but of late they do seem to have gotten too caught up in the save us from X threat story. It is rather tiresome to have the same story repeated over and over again and there are plenty of other narrative choices.

    You have to laugh because the investors are probably purchasing the land for speculative purposes. What they might not understand is just how hard it is to make money off the land given the prices for produce that people have become accustomed to paying. The investor story will unwind sooner or later. But when is anyone’s guess. Your son is pretty clever to have avoided the debt trap, and best wishes for his business endeavours.

    Thank you, we love those water tanks. Yup, a super useful use of petrochemicals. And in a dry summer, full water reserves are a thing of beauty!

    Hehe! The new greenhouse is progressing faster than I’d anticipated, and may continue to do so – if the weather holds.

    Kiwis are super tasty fruits, I just have no idea when to harvest them, but probably will do so in June, we’ll see. Some of the citrus looks as though it will produce a decent winter harvest too. There are plans to relocate many of those fruit trees which aren’t doing so well right now due to lack of sunlight. You of all people would understand the issues with too much shade. What a drama!



  48. Hi Goran,

    Yes, EXACTLY! Insulation is good, but no matter how insulated, no matter how ingenious the winter sunlight capturing arrangements are, you still need some heat source. I’ve heard some impossible sounding claims over the years about houses which require no heating and/or cooling, but they sound impossible to me. And no house design can respond equally to both heat or cold extremes. The house here does pretty well in winter, but it does far better in the summer weather at protecting us. And we’ve seen 45’C outside in the shade… That’s what I call a seriously hot day.

    Both pawpaws! The Asimina triloba seeds germinated about two years ago and they seem hardy and are in a moist spot, but they get full sun. Given what you wrote, I might try moving one to the fern gully which is very moist and shady. Dunno.

    The subtropical Papaya kind (Carica papaya), will live in the greenhouse. 😉 They’ll probably do well in there as the insides of the building should be frost free. I do not know how this experiment will work, but my friends of the big shed fame have a healthy looking and fruiting Babaco growing inside their shed.

    I see. The rainwater tanks are our only source of water – there is no other source. They have more than enough thermal mass and so do not freeze even in the coldest weather here. The smallest water tank is 2,000L and the largest is 33,500L. The pipes don’t seem to freeze either.

    The winter procedure is easier than the summer procedure. In summer, heavy downpours originating from the tropics tend to challenge the inlet filters on the water tanks. But on the other hand, they flush the roof guttering and pipe system.

    Really? Gravity is the reason why water tanks are located down hill of the collection roof. Very efficient water pumps send the water back up hill – they use very little electricity.

    Now some people do things differently and have their main water tanks higher above the collection roof. That means every single drop of water has to be pumped up hill. And people tend to place such water tanks high enough that they can rely on gravity instead of a water pump when sending water back down the hill again. Except you need 70m of drop to reproduce household water pressure. You need large water pipes over that 70m of drop so that friction inside the pipe doesn’t reduce the water flow. And when the water tank overflows, as it will do sooner or later, the water rushes down onto presumably the house. And that usually happens in an emergency when you least need it to happen.

    Bare in mind that there is very little industrial air pollution here, and I cannot say how things would be at your place. If say you had a zinc smelter (just picking that industry randomly) then perhaps particulate matter would be on your roof and get washed into your rainwater tanks. But then, such things are probably getting into the municipal supply anyway.



  49. Hi DJ,

    Thank you for saying that, and yeah the Plum incident was a real worry. We don’t take the dogs to the vet for frivolous reasons so I was glad they were able to check up on her straight away. Incidentally, they took a blood sample and couldn’t find anything obviously wrong. I don’t try and zing the dogs up anyway, but that day Plum was self-zinging as she had a massive sads cracking reaction because she thought Ruby was getting some advantage over her. Whenever I see her doing that now, I chuck her immediately out in the dog enclosure where she can cool off. Does anyone really want a zinged up dog?

    On an unrelated canine note, the King Stingray guys have released a new song: King Stingray – Camp Dog. Ah, the travails of dealing with a dog with a bad attitude who wants to take a nip of a stranger. 🙂 I remember doing paper rounds and being chased by angry small dogs with bigger than life bad attitudes. It took me a few days before I took a rolled up newspaper to the cheeky toothy scamp, and then after that we had a sort of grudging respect for the other. I’d be able to ride past unmolested, and he woke up the neighbourhood with a solid imitation of the baying of the Hounds of Baskervilles. Rotten dog, it was probably unhappy it was outside in the dark of the cold winter morning, and made the fair assumption that I was equally low status. 🙂

    Ah, what exactly does behind in rainfall mean? I never quite understood that you usually received winter rainfall. For some reason I had the notion in my head that the precipitation would more than likely fall as snow and rain would be rare. Shows how much I know! Here in winter rain and high humidity is very common. In fact it can stay over 90% humidity for over six months of the year and only really drops to very low levels during high summer. Snow is rare here now, although not that long ago it used to be more common, but it depends on the year and direction the storm arrives from. Not so much the north west (or north east for that matter), but more likely from the frozen south of the planet. It’s cold down there.

    Oh Avalanche, such perfume is not for the dog whom wants to enter the household. I’m sure that Avalanche wondered what all the fuss was about? 🙂 And the soap we use for that purpose gives me eczema, so I’m no fan of the dogs doing that trick.

    Mind you, they have other tricks along such lines. The ongoing war against the rats is going well Brother DJ (said in best Newspeak). I did a massive cleanup of the deep litter inside the chicken enclosure today to find the rodent tunnel entrance under the steel and concrete. Found it, but in the process I moved many wheelbarrows of soiled deep litter into the paddock (plans are to put a larger vegetable bed there). The dogs were happily surfing the deep litter for tasty morsels, and I noted earlier this evening that Ollie has the runs. Nice.

    Mate, the spider was huge and I genuinely did wonder if it was dead. I’m glad it didn’t bite me, but instead it went the Editor. Far out, and there was a second large spider there. Leather riggers gloves are very useful for such situations. Incidentally, often non venomous spiders can carry a sting to their bites because their fangs carry who knows what bacteria and other unpleasant things.

    Yes, I’d like to think so too. There’s always a chance to end up smooshed and flatter than what you started off the day like. Never a good thing, sorry to say, but the risk is real. Keeps your mind focused on enjoying life and celebrating every day you’re not smooshed.

    Obviously the vet won’t know every circumstance, and yours may differ, but I posited that theory to the vet. She told me that dogs have an ability to recover which is better than humans, but do you want to put that to the test? Anyway, there are so many mushrooms here, that it would be impossible to remove them all, so the dogs just have to chance it. Their olfactory senses are far more impressive than ours, so you never know what they sense of the world?

    Shhhh! The leaf change is lovely, but let’s tell all the tourists how rubbish it is, but yeah I hear ya. 🙂

    Oooo! Hey people grow stands of those flowering Lupinus plants here and they are really delightful, and a total riot of colour. Plus I believe that they capture nitrogen from the atmosphere. Clever plants.



  50. Hi Crow,

    Watch out for those kind of explosions! And I tell you truly, nothing will clear a table faster than one of those these days. 🙂 Standing too long in a queue, here’s an idea…

    Yes, the copper pipe inside the 400L header tank is where the domestic hot water comes from (and not the hot water in the header tank). Now just to confuse matters, the hydronic radiators get their water from the header tank. The radiators act like a heat dump for when the water going from the wet back to the header tank exceeds 45’C. I mean if you’re running the wood heater it is cold, and a 30kW wet back inside the wood heater collects far more heat than the header tank would ever need – the radiators ensure the system doesn’t pop.

    And yes again. The water inside the copper pipe sitting inside the header tank began its journey there from the water tanks outside the house. So that water is pretty cold during winter (and summer for that matter), but soon warms up as it travels through the header tank and then into the house where it can be used.

    Exactly, the system is such that the water delivered at the tap is hot, but not too hot. The last thing you want is to be burned by your hot water system. Someone, somewhere must have done the calculation, but it wasn’t me and it wasn’t the plumber – it was probably the manufacturer and the length of the copper pipe inside the header tank would determine how much energy the water took up.

    It’s a simple system, but at the same time it is very complicated. But so far it has worked flawlessly. How long it all lasts is anybodies guess. I have upgraded the wood heater to the much larger device that is used now, but the rest of the system is pretty much the same.

    Well, inflation is inevitably self limiting in that it disappears the real value of monetary wealth, so from one perspective it is a reaction which causes the system to revert to a new equilibrium. We might have liked the earlier equilibrium better, but preferences are like that. Wishes!

    Hehe! A silicone tree indeed. Rats you may find are very adept at climbing trees. Oh yeah, they can do that alright. I suspect that a portion of my fruit harvest has been going to the rats.

    It does sound like a fine scam. Bank bonds perhaps? Seriously, historically banks were only a tiny percentage of the economy. The fact they’re so huge nowadays is perhaps indicative that other sectors are now not so huge. There may be a paradox there?

    None of it is good. But what we are seeing is the pointy end of the ‘this stuff doesn’t matter’ policies, except that the fundamental do matter. They’ve always mattered. From a geopolitical point of view other countries are frothing at the bit to get a piece of the action, and if we can’t keep them at bay, which I doubt that we can, they’ll get a chunk. Except we’ll lose that chunk, and that seems to be what is going on right now.

    Renewables are good, and they will produce more energy than what goes into making them. But if they can’t reproduce themselves, they’re not good enough – and it is that simple.



  51. Yo, Chris – I thought it interesting that the French were one culture where there was a low ick factor to dousing crops with urine. I credit the French pissoirs. My Dad didn’t remember much about being in Paris after WWII, being totally blotto, and all, but he did remember the pissoirs. 🙂 .

    A lot of work to clean out the chicken enclosure, but a win-win situation. Nice organic material for your new garden bed and a clean and tidy chicken enclosure, for the winter. Never mind thwarting the rats. So, it’s a triple play!

    Who needs a blankie, when you have three dogs? Thrifty, that 🙂 .

    I’ll have to check U Tub, again. Due to “technical problems” I couldn’t get signed up. Seems to be a lot of that, going around. Across multiple sites. Payment has been a problem, in a lot of places. And, it’s not just my old computer. Same, when I use a more up to date machine. Or, another browser.

    The dinosaurs in Alaska, were of many species. And some of them, quit large. They thought maybe they migrated south, out of the winter shadow of the pole. But, they seemed to have had their young up there, and the little ones never would have survived the trek. Those were the duck billed ones. What did they eat? Maybe, rotted wood. Some species, it turns out, burrowed. Hibernation? Maybe. They also speculate that they may have had feathers, that looked more like fur or hair. To keep them warm. There was also an apex predator, that was related to the southern Rex. But a slightly smaller version. To retain heat, better.

    Brutalist architecture (by that, I mean a lot of concrete) doesn’t have to be so bad. If you tart it up, a little 🙂 . Frank Lloyd Wright did his concrete houses in S. California, that were quit nice (and, I recently discovered his son, carried on that kind of house.) I once visited Simon Frazier university, in British Columbia. Although quit a pile, it gave you the feeling that you were approaching a temple complex. With all the awe that that inspires. But there were also all kinds of little nooks and crannies, where small groups of people could gather, and take in the views. But I know what you mean by bunker architecture. Really off-putting, nasty stuff. There also using some new technology, to track where the eye lands, when encountering architecture. They even used it in Pompeii.

    I meant to mention that our chain grocery, had veg on sale, this week. Broccoli, zucchini, yellow squash … and cauliflower for .99 cents a pound. Probably from California or Mexico. They had plenty of eggs. I forgot to check the chicken meat case. As far as the eggs go, that chain has it’s own poultry farms, down in California. So far, the bird flu has been an east coast thing. I saw a headline that there’s been one human infection.

    I went to one of the “cheap” food stores, last night. Like the nursery I visited yesterday morning, the inventory seemed very thin. And prices were up.

    I was getting a bit low on dried cranberries. When I ordered them over a year ago, 25 lbs cost me either $100 or $125, including shipping. Last night I found them for $90, including shipping. And, it was the best brand, too. Jumped on that.

    Elinor’s given me a pretty free hand, to pick out a tomato. Short season, good slicing and doesn’t grow too tall. That I can figure out. New shipment comes in on Tuesday, so I’ll check it out Wednesday morning.

    The Doctor Strange film I watched, last night, was the origin story. He made quit an appearance in “Spider Man: No Way Home.” I think the one coming to your theaters, continues his story. The one I watched last night, was pretty good. The special effects were a bit over the top, and could have been trimmed back a bit. But over all, worth a bowl of popcorn.

    Speaking of dogs and fungi, one of the documentaries I picked up, was “The Truffle Hunters.” I might watch it, tonight. When it hit the new library list, the hold list, was long. It finally winnowed down. Lew

  52. Chris,

    Thanks for the link to the pub you visited the other night. Nice looking place. Looks like they have a good beer selection, too.

    A zinged-up dog leads to trouble. Avalanche tries to get zinged up in the evenings now. I take her for a short walk and bring her into the house on the leash. She thinks that’s really fun, but then I have to sit with her for several minutes or else she zings up again. Dogs.

    An update on the recently removed stately maple tree: the entire stump was dug up and fed into the chipper. Then all of the sod was removed from the entire yard. Now it’s level dirt. I’m guessing they place fresh sod there soon. Time will tell.

    I got bitten by a little ankle nibbler when riding my bicycle when 8 years old. It often ran loose. My dream was to smoosh it with the car after I learned how to drive. Bleeping dog died first. So much for revenge. Actually, it wasn’t really a dog. Twas a rat that barked. 😉

    12mm of rain fell on Thursday. The “rain season” runs from October 1 to September 30. We are again suffering from having received less than “normal” rainfall. (I should’ve written “below” rather than “behind” normal.) Supposed to rain off and on into Sunday morning. Maybe that will help catch up.

    Anyhow, Avalanche didn’t want to come inside during the Thursday downpour. She preferred running around in the rain. It didn’t replace the “perfume” she had rolled in, but it did get rid of most of the soap odor, which wasn’t much to begin with. She DID enjoy running errands with me in the car, though.

    She chased something all over the yard this morning before it eventually flew across the alley and alit on a vertical garage wall. I thought it might have been a bat. Nope. It was a black swallowtail butterfly. Female, judging by the pictures. Wikipedia indicates that they are rare in this area. There have been local newspaper articles for several years talking about their prevalence here.

    I make our winters sound dreadfully and uniformly cold and snowy. We get a lot of days where it’s above freezing and raining. We get a good mix of the two, some years a higher percentage of snow, other years more rain than snow.

    Hehehe. Yup, if the dog doesn’t roll in the stink, it eats the stink and then has problems when it comes out. One way or another, dogs and smells team up regularly. Dog lesson # 5: If you can’t roll in the smelly thing, eat the smelly thing.

    On our walks, we pass near an animal that started the day as a common, 3-dimensional skunk. It ended the day flatter than flat, having been run over repeatedly. A smoosh of skunk is not something on my favorite list of doggy chew toys. The smoosh of skunk was gone today. Perhaps the crows finally cleaned it up. I wouldn’t have served it even at the famed Roadkill Cafe. Scroll down for the menu.

    Our lupins are all purple. This is fine with the Princess, as she likes purple. She wants me to keep the lupins when they grow in the lawns and not mow them down when I mow the grass. I like having wildflowers in the grass.


  53. Hi DJ,

    They have a beer board which is a four by four matrix of different craft beers. That was what The Matrix film franchise was really all about, they’d sampled too many in one setting. 🙂 We had a chocolate orange stout the other evening which sounds strange but was quite good. It reminded me of Jaffa chocolates, which you may not have in your country. They’re good and I’ve associated them with cinemas because they were the preferable option when I was a kid. And some cheeky scamps used to roll them down the aisle.

    Dare I make a suggestion as to your routine? Dogs expect to be fed at the end of a walk, as that is what the pack leader apparently does – takes the pack to a location where they feed and then recline at their leisure. Slip her a biscuit at the conclusion of the walk, and there’ll be no need to de-zing her, she’ll do the hard yards herself. Now of course if you enjoy spending a few minutes with her de-zinging her, then don’t worry about it. Carry on! 🙂

    They make dogs smart down here. Video of dog driving ute shows Jack Russell Lexie helping on south-west Victorian farm. I used to have a Jack Russell, we found him on the side of a country road, and so named him: Denver. He was near the end at that point and grateful for the feed and care and extra couple of years he scored. A lovely personality that dog, just happy to be around. Those dogs have the happy gene.

    Oh my! Digging up a tree stump sounds like hard work to me. We have a stump grinder which ensures that any tree stumps do not become trip or mow hazards, and that machine is way hard work – not for everyone, that’s for sure. You have to be strong, careful and patient, and that may be asking too much from most people. But digging out the stump is a crazy amount of work when nature will do the job for free. My best guess is that they’re looking for the perfect lawn. Why, then becomes the question?

    What is the legal age for driving in your part of the world? A downwards well timed slash from a rolled up newspaper is an easier prospect.

    Half an inch of rain is a true gift. Very amusing too! 🙂 Mate, it’s really hard to even understand what is normal rainfall here in any given month. The climate is highly variable and storm fronts bearing rain can come from all manner of directions. We’re not far off the latitude of Las Vegas, but as you’re by now aware, things are different here. Actually I’ve got about 140 years of continuous rainfall records, and if anything a linear progression plotted over that data shows that rainfall is increasing, here at least. Too much rain I have noted brings its own dramas.

    That’s the thing isn’t it? We used to clean the dogs up and hit them hard with perfume, but then we paid the price for the new perfume stink, and so now they just get cleaned up – and life goes on. The rain and fresh grass works wonders on our canine friends coats. The dogs here are reasonably neutral smelling anyway, and they aren’t bathed – unless they roll in something nasty. But they get access to a lot of environment here. I dunno, it’s different everywhere for our canine friends all over the world.

    Lovely butterflies and clever enough to have thwarted Avalanches good intentions. They have eyes on their tail! Interestingly I spot chrysalis constructions in various places on the farm. When I was a kid you used to see such things in the city, but nowadays there are very few insects in the big smoke.

    Yes, that a fair comment. My impression was that Spokane was rather snowy during the winter months. 🙂 Ah, a shandy, of course.

    Hehe! Dog rule number five sounds right to me. Fortunately, Ollie’s guts seemed to have stabilised today. And in the ongoing war on rats, two tubes of silicone were squirted into the tunnels I’d discovered leading into the chicken enclosure. Given the exit tunnel I knew about has been sealed up for weeks, and I can’t discover a new exit, it may well be possible that the last rat hold outs are living under the concrete slab of the hen house? What did old (and rather obnoxious and dislikeable, but at the same time highly effective) Sherlock Holmes have to say about eliminate all which is impossible, then whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth? He might have been onto something there.

    Thanks for the laughs, and I’m intrigued by the chicken that almost crossed the road.

    Exactly. Your lady is spot on correct there. Grass is meant to have wildflowers, the the two work in combination. Take the lupins (and we have clover, alfalfa and vetch growing here), they capture nitrogen which feeds the annual grasses and those plants boom. When the annual grasses consume too much nitrogen they fall back and the flowering meadow plants take over, until they make the soil good enough for the grasses again. And backwards and forwards it goes. 🙂 And then it gets even more complicated. Imagine the outrage the lawn purists would have if they knew the natural progression of such ecosystems?



  54. Hi Lewis,

    Thanks for the review, which was penned by a real fan of the director. Mate, you have to feel for them what with all of the shut downs and it seems that interference was coming down from on high. Sometimes that’s a good thing, but most often it may be from folks who are concerned with the enterprise making mad cash. Art occasionally has to bravely ignore such concerns, I mean who knew Star Wars would have been as massive as it was when released back in 1977? I was astounded by the film at the time, although of the franchise I thought that The Empire Strikes Back was the best of the bunch. And you probably are aware of my thoughts on the teddy bears taking on the evil empire and winning…

    A very necessary thing for your father to have recalled from time to time. Makes you wonder how the ladies coped? Cast iron toilets are still found on Melbourne’s streets, although they are more screened and private than the French pissoirs. I’d probably get stage fright being out in public like that! Incidentally reading about that subject lead me to read about the 1967 James Bond spoof film Casino Royale. What a cast, and bizarrely the critics mostly universally slammed the film, yet it was a financial success. As a former reviewer yourself, I’m sure you’ve been confronted by such complexities between the tastes of the public who foot the bill and that of the critics?

    Of course, the alert person realises that historically long skirts must have provided modesty for the ladies when conducting such an act? And the things I’ve seen in my travels to distant lands. Oh yeah.

    Well that’s the thing isn’t it? Farm animals convert plants we can’t eat into manure which is useful for the plants we can eat. It’s a win-win I reckon too. And it may have been a Ruth Goodman book, but animals were often kept on small holdings for that very purpose. Anyway, I’ll head out later tonight and see what the rats have to say about the two tubes of silicone sealant I poured into their tunnels earlier this morning. They might have more tunnel exits than I’ve discovered, is how it is likely to work out. But I don’t believe they’ll be very happy about my response. On an interesting side note, I am updating the chicken enclosure with many ideas I’d been pondering, so the entire system is getting better all of the time.

    Hehe! Yes, blankies need not apply, and the dogs don’t wish to be made redundant by the likes of mere wool. 🙂 For the record, they were very warm, although Ruby was cutting off the blood supply in my arm, and would occasionally kick me in the neck. Who knows, I might have been snoring, and she took offence at the noise?

    With all of the goings on in the world, I’m surprised that there are not more interweb dramas. Sorry to hear that you are having computer troubles too. I fixed the dratted phone application today. All up half an hour of my life was taken from me without any recompense other than the sense of relief when the application was working again. I didn’t need to feel that.

    It’s Mother’s Day tomorrow, and so we’ve been keeping a low profile this weekend and not venturing forth. Although we did hit a local bakery this morning and picked up a sausage roll and sauce, plus a lamington which we ate with coffee later in the day. The sausage roll was best consumed hot in the morning as I’m not sure that I’d want to see it later in the day – probably not wise. It sure was tasty though. Things looked fairly normal in the nearby town and it was good to see things look sort of normal.

    We’re in the midst of a Federal election campaign and these are quite short affairs down here, which is a pleasant side effect due to forcing the adult population to vote. Voting gets a good turnout too, so nobody can complain about the outcome. My belief is that the population simply wants them to shut up, keep out of mischief and just get on with their jobs. It’s not too much to ask is it? Probably is.

    It is possible that the distant poles were warmer back in the day? I’d heard some theory that the dinosaurs in the higher latitudes had specific adaptations for the colder climates, although I now forget where I read that. And you’d imagine that there would have been much more plant material for them to consume than what appears at such latitudes today? Otherwise the dinosaurs would soon consume one another and the last one left standing would die from starvation.

    Ol’ Frankie Wright the architect hey? Well you may be interested in this home which is not too far from me. It was commissioned and built by a guy I’d describe as a polymath: The Robin Boyd Baker House – History. It’s an enjoyable tale.

    Good to hear that stocks have resurfaced at your local supermarket, and those are very cheap prices. Yup. The supermarkets here look well stocked too, with occasional unexplained absences, but things are getting pricey. Food seems well catered for, it’s the other stuff which you either have to wait months for and/or can’t be but on back order. Top score with the dried cranberries. Out of curiosity (as they’re not usually seen down here) what do you add them into?

    You’re winning when even Elinor submits to the realities of shortages of stuff. 🙂 I’m sure you can always still get the seeds for the particular variety from somewhere. ‘Short season, good slicing and doesn’t grow too tall’ sounds very much like the indeterminate varieties we spoke of a while ago. I’d be very interested to hear if you travel that particular path.

    Just had a 70% cacao choccie and it’s kicking in! 🙂

    For some weird reason, around these parts, truffles seem to be growing well. Now that surprises me because the soils are quite acidic, but who knows what farmers are doing on that front, and I too apply a bit of agricultural lime to the orchards. They’re evening finding summer truffles these days: Summer truffles a sweet surprise for Victorian growers after years of COVID business disruption.



  55. Chris:

    Thanks so much for the link to Lexie the Driving Dog. How incredible is that? I had a half Jack Russell/half Shetland Sheepdog and the two halves were always competing whether to heard something, or to fight something.

    I hope they have car insurance.


  56. Hello Chris
    Sorry about the following. I am currently reading ‘The Fat of the Land’ by John Seymour and cannot recommend it highly enough. Have read and enjoyed other books by him long ago but don’t remember which. You can look him up on Wiki… an interesting life but self sufficiency is the main thing.


  57. Hi Chris,

    Well that probably sums up the basics or have we missed something. There are probably many intricacies this layman on the other side of the world fails to grasp. I imagine during particularly cloudy summer days that the passive side of the system does not get enough solar heating and only warm water comes out or is there enough thermal inertia to stay hot for a while? If not, do you just throw a log onto the fire?

    With regard to the active heating from the wood heater, I suppose it is hard to overheat because of the negative feedback in the sense that the place would get too hot and you would cease to keep throwing wood on the fire. It would probably be very hard to overdo it?

    I suppose that old mantra “discipline yourself or someone else will do it for you” applies to the geopolitical scale as it does the individual scale.

    For arguments against renewables driving an industrial society one probably doesn’t even need to invoke energy arguments since mass itself is an issue–if you can’t even get plastic then that makes things very tricky.

  58. Yo, Chris – I think I remember you mentioning you liked the band, Foo Fighters. Maybe. They have a new movie, coming out.

    The next “This is Spinal Tap?” 🙂 Looks like fun, even if I don’t care for their music.

    Watching the extras on DVD series and films, it’s interesting how they’ve managed to navigate around You Know What. Pretty soon, we’ll see disclaimers. “No Person was Infected During the filming of this movie.” 🙂 Well, there’s no accounting for public taste. I’m always cheered when a “little” neglected film becomes a cult classic. There’s a well known “men’s” magazine, that, back in the day, I could always depend on the reviews to steer me right. If they favorably reviewed a film, I knew I wouldn’t like it. If they panned a film, I knew it was a must-see, for me 🙂 . Never failed.

    Chicken enclosure / fortress upgrades, after the greenhouse. Unless you just need a days break from the greenhouse, here and there.

    What’s worse is if you drool in your sleep, and they lick it off.

    Yeah, it’s Mother’s Day tomorrow, here, too. Here at the Institution, it can be a weepy day. Neglected mums, and all that. The elections here, are bonkers. It’s well known that when someone wins an election, they immediately start raising money for the next go-around. I ignore as much of it as I can, until we get closer to the actual vote. So much can happen in the meantime, and I don’t need to follow every twist and turn. And every speculation.

    The Alaskan dinosaurs had many adaptations. Some are pretty firmly nailed down, others, mostly speculation. I’m reading a book, right now. “Origin: A Genetic History of the Americas.” (Raff, 2022). Genetic investigation along with archaeology is making the peopling of this continent, a bit more clear. It’s a pretty good read, once you get past all the tip-toeing around the politically correct mine field.

    Dr. Baker knew his maths. 🙂 . The Boyd Baker house looks very “Mid-Century Modern”, to me. Kind of ranch style. See: Sunset Magazine, 1950s. With echoes of Wright’s Midwestern prairie architecture. A very nice house, but not one I’d like to live in.

    I have dried cranberries, in my daily oatmeal. Along with blueberries and apples. They can be used (plumped up, or not) just about anywhere that raisins can be used. Baked goods, etc.. You could even reconstitute them into sauce, or jelly. I’ve plumped them up and added them to muffins and biscuits.

    Indeterminate tomatoes are the vine like ones, that grow all over the place. The determinate are more bush like. Which is what Elinor wants. Oh, and also a short growing season. I did a bit of research, last night, and have a workable list of possibilities. Which, between last night and this morning, I promptly lost. 🙁

    “The Truffle Hunters” was a very good documentary. All these old northern Italian quirky guys, and their dogs. The scenery is spectacular. Village life. A bit of grape harvest and tomato processing. Things are changing, but it still looks like a nice life.

    It’s the 37th birthday, for the Club, today. Big doings planned. The potluck starts at 4. I’ll drop in about 4:45-5:00, and pick through the leavings, after the ravening hoards have done their worst. Lew

  59. Hi Pam,

    Jack Russell’s are lovely dogs, and did you notice how in the video the dog was always engaged in top gear with a happy expression on the face and tail wagging? Your dog sounds as if it was a ball of fun and mischief. 🙂

    I have strong doubts that Lexi is a listed driver on the insurance policy.



  60. Hi Inge,

    Thank you for the book recommendation, and I always appreciate your suggestions. I’d heard of John Seymour, but had not realised he’d written earlier than the Complete Book of Self Sufficiency, and it sounds like a very interesting story.

    As you might imagine, we worked very late this evening on the new greenhouse and managed to construct and then erect all of the roof trusses. You should be able to get an idea as to the size of the construction in tomorrow’s blog, but I seriously better get writing and can only but hope that I make at least some semblance or coherence in the essay?



  61. Hi Lewis,

    Studio 666 seems like a lot of fun. They make some very good music. Unfortunately the drummer for the band passed away and that might have err, over shadowed the film. It wasn’t all that long after the band played a one-off fly-in-fly-out gig on 4th March in Geelong of all places. Geelong is a sort of a satellite city of Melbourne along the coastline. You may develop an appreciation for their music? Probably not though.

    Hehe! Yeah, bizarrely I can see that disclaimer being used. Far out. I didn’t mention it yesterday, but when we went to the bakery the staff were no longer wearing masks, and that was good because the masks freak me out. As a fully fledged Cro-Magnon dude, or maybe even a bit Neanderthal, the masks obscure my peripheral senses and I constantly feel that I’m about to be leaped upon by very angry megafauna – possibly a three tonne wombat looking for an easy meal.

    Cult classics are what I call slow burners – nobody really understands the genius when it’s first released. The director doesn’t get any further work due to the financial disaster, and then slowly bit by bit people ‘get’ the vision. But then they kind of get a bit obsessive, and that’s probably no good for the directors either. I see that Simon has written this week about a very old TV show: Monkey Magic. Now I used to watch that show when I was a kid, and really loved it. All the wacky stuff combined with martial arts was like catnip for a teenager. I hadn’t realised that the show was based on ancient history. Who knew?

    And I had that same problem with a footy tipping competition once. I focused exclusively on the statistics (as per the film Moneyball) and continually excelled. My downfall came when I began listening to a radio program hosted by a bloke who came up with cogent arguments, but he was always wrong. I hear you, never failed is about how it rolled.

    The chicken rat wars are an ongoing pogrom, and I’m now down to one rat which is stuck inside and can’t (and won’t) get out.

    Dogs are filthy creatures, but also lovely, and yeah that would be a problem. What was in the transfer is my question.

    Neglected mums. Boo Hoo! What about neglected kids? That’s my angle, and I’m sticking to it.

    Well yeah, the population down here has little truck for the politicians and their surprising antics, and so if they prove too mettlesome, we chuck them out on their backsides. We don’t have freedom of speech (you may have noticed?) but in the quiet privacy of the voting booth we can stab hard upon numpties.

    My gut feeling is that your official history is incorrect and humans have been traversing your continent for far longer than is generally politely accepted. Mate, if they got down here in this remote corner of the planet tens of millennia ago, they would have easily made it to your part of the world. My thinking is that decomposition is slower here due to climactic reasons, and so the facts are harder to ignore.

    Hehe! Dr Baker did seem like the kind of guy that it would be unwise to challenge in a maths quiz. Expect defeat is my thinking too! 😉 Your unspoken words are correct. That part of the forest is off to the west (although not all that far) and is quite dry due to topography. The Editor grew up not far from there.

    Thank you for the information as to your usage of dried cranberries. We might use sultanas in a similar way (dried grapes).

    Ah yes, I had the story back to front with the tomatoes. I’d try them and see how it goes. Honestly, after this cold and wet growing season I’m considering trialling the determinate varieties.

    One chunk of advice: Don’t get involved in other folks truffle business. 😉

    Happy birthday to your Club and may the celebrations be pleasant and fun. Hope you scored some top notch nosh whilst enjoying a good yak with the folks there. 🙂

    Got the roof trusses up today for the new greenhouse project, but we finished late and I seriously better get writing… Given the super late start, I do hope that I don’t talk too much rubbish.



  62. Yo, Chris – Well, we’ll see about the Foo Fighters music. That film is on my library hold list. Speaking of which, “Dexter: New Blood” is in transit, to me. I’ll probably get it Wednesday, or so. This week’s library new list, was rich pickings. Target rich. A couple of documentaries on Australia, some new Brit mystery series. A feature film or two. Last night, I watched the new “Cyrano.” Great acting, fine costumes, lush sets. Now if they just would have dispensed with the music 🙂 . I’d forgotten it was a musical. Oh, well. Fast forwarded, through those parts.

    So, the bakery staff wearing masks affects your peripheral vision? 🙂 Wombats are herbivores. They might run you down, but I doubt they’d nibble on you.

    I read some interviews with some Brit folks. Seems as though Boris has lost his luster. Some were quit funny. A couple had just noticed he’s rather poorly groomed … 🙂

    I don’t know if I mentioned the White Sands footprints.

    They were discussed in the book I finished, last night. Seems like a slam dunk, for earliest solid dates. But there are still a few academic holdouts, for a later date. I started reading “The Last Days of the Dinosaurs: An Asteroid, Extinction, and the Beginning of Our World.” (Black, 2022). Good read. Couldn’t put it down until I couldn’t keep my eyes open, any more.

    Found my tomato list. In the garbage. Now how … Next plant shipment will be in Tuesday, so I’ll head down Wednesday morning and see what’s on offer. If the weather gods cooperate, I’m fertilizing the blueberries, this afternoon.

    I stopped into the Club festivities, late in the potluck. My, their were a lot of people, about. And as predicted, lots of screaming children being yelled at, by adults. Didn’t seem to be as much food, as usual. But enough so everyone got fed and, though late, I got a nice piece of ham, some great potato salad and a slice of homemade apple pie. I’ll head down this morning, to put the pantry back together.

    Sounds like your making great progress, on the greenhouse. If your totally incoherent, we’ll let you know. 🙂 Lew

  63. PS: There were a couple of tornados, over DJ’s way. Some building damage. Lew

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