An arm restrained my forehead, whilst the cold sharp blade of a hunting knife pressed at my throat. Was this to be the end? It was embarrassing how easily I was over powered, and was glad that Sensei was not there to see it. It was an unexpected move, and only my step father would have a hunting knife ready to hand. A few weeks later, I moved out.

He was even tempered most of the time. He used to show me how to fix machines and construct things, so it wasn’t all bad. But on that occasion he felt the need to make an extreme statement, which he did. He also had a lot of guns.

At the age of eighteen a decision was made. Leave. Leave now, and don’t look back. Making a decision like that, you get a lot of judgement. A whole lot of judgement. People hailing from happy and supportive families, can’t even begin to imagine why anyone would willingly choose such a path. What, have you met them? I ask in jest. Except that it isn’t funny.

Drifting away from them all was the easiest path. About a week before the cancer got my grandfather, he asked me to fix the family problems. It seemed like a big call to me, and I guess it did no harm asking. That request aside, we spoke as adults about the character of the people he was trying to burden me with. The conversation wound itself out, he fell silent. A few days later, he was dead.

Prior to our wedding, Sandra got to know my mother. At first the family were very warm and welcoming with her. It looks bad to say to someone else, you see that nice old lady over there, she’s a right nasty piece of work. A persons inner workings are hard to conceal for very long, and slowly bit by bit, they turned on Sandra. It was brutal, because for her it was so unexpected. And there was no comfort to be had in ‘I told you so’ when the very same people were going all out to mess up the wedding day. After the day my mother phoned to say: “Come and pick up the cat, or I’ll get her put down”. It would have happened too, and so we went and got the cat. That was the last bit of leverage, after that no more was allowed.

Not long afterwards, my mother and step father moved to far north Queensland (Australia’s version of Florida). It was something of a relief. There’s a lot of miles between here and there. But mostly the explanations became easier. “Nah, my mum moved to Queensland” is an easier explanation than “My folks have got a bit of a temper and a lot of guns”. Nobody wants to hear that story, and even despite that story, a lot of blame still gets heaped at your feet. Surely they can’t be that bad? What, have you met them? – is the inevitable reply.

Over the years, and despite all of the written words, both here on the blog and in published media, I’ve kept something of a low profile. You won’t find me on social media, and unless you know where to look, or are invited, you won’t find me at all on the interweb. About maybe a dozen or more years ago, an old mate contacted me. My mother had tracked him down on Facebook. She wanted him to let me know that my step father was dying of cancer. Spare a thought for my old mate, who has a very loving and supportive family, but was rudely thrust into the mess through no fault of his own. He knew the story, and he sat on telling me about it for almost a month. We haven’t spoken since. There’s a lot of judgement.

On Thursday night Sandra and I were in the local pub enjoying a pint of dark ale, having dinner and keeping warm by the open fire. It was a cold winters night, and only the hardiest of locals were out. We got to talking about the recent death of Sandra’s father. The question hung in the air. Was my mother still alive? We hadn’t thought about her for many years. Turns out, she died in 2017. That was unexpected. The funeral notice described her as the matriarch, and the ungracious thought popped into my head that the Godfather would have been more appropriate. My older sisters and their children were also listed. All the same it was a bit of a shock.

There was a name missing from the death notice, it matters not. They would have liked me better had I been needy, dependent or seriously dysfunctional. The intellectual, Gore Vidal, is attributed as having said: “Every time a friend succeeds, I die a little”. It’s not a perspective I respect, for you can choose to see other people, but just as easily a person can choose to see a reflection of themselves. And those mirrors may reflect poorly upon those who choose to do so.

It all sounds a bit bleak doesn’t it? The truth is otherwise. There are obvious costs, like not having siblings or parents to pick you up when you fall, or to support you when you need help. And I’ve never known familial warmth. It’s like being on the wrong side of a plate glass window staring in at a mid-winters feast in a particularly unpleasant Dickensian tale. However, with costs, there are always benefits, and I’m an independent person, able to think my own thoughts, find my own paths and importantly, I know how to get by. And if I have not known familial warmth, I have known both love and the companionship of friends. And that’s enough for me.

All of the citrus trees needing more sun, now have access to more sun

Moving half a dozen citrus trees to a sunnier location is easy to say. In reality, the job took me most of a day to complete. New holes had to be dug and the soil was fertilised. Then the trees which were to be relocated, were lifted from their existing locations, moved and then replanted. And lastly the trees had to be fenced so as to protect them from the destructive capabilities of the wallabies (a slightly smaller forest dwelling kangaroo).

Eventually the area where the citrus trees now reside will be fenced off with access gates and wide paths, and it should then be easier to maintain and feed those trees.

A days work was also spent on splitting and hauling firewood. It seems counter intuitive to do this work during the winter months, however there is a snake risk with this task during the summer months, and so it is best not to push your luck in that regard. The new yellow power wheelbarrow was pressed into service and I’m very impressed with its capabilities.

Ruby is impressed with the capabilities of the new yellow machine

A few weeks ago, we moved a steel rock gabion cage near to the large shed. This week we half filled it with rocks which had been collected in various locations over the past few months. The steel cages contain a huge quantity of rocks when filled and sewn shut.

This steel rock gabion cage was half filled

Last Tuesday there was a rare heavy frost. We woke that morning to discover the outside air temperature was freezing at 0’C / 32’F.

0’C / 32’F that’s cold

The red Dirt Mouse Suzuki was resplendent in its coating of ice.

Lot’s of ice and doors that froze stuck to the rubber trims

Ice covered the paddocks and orchards and turned the ground white.

Frosty grass and the promise of a sunny winters day

Most of the plants growing at this time of year shrugged off the frost. At this time of year one of my favourite leafy greens are the red and green mustard plants.

Red and green mustard are tough enough to shrug off frost

We leave water out for the dogs, birds and insects, and that had frozen solid.

The birds water dish was frozen solid

At this cold time of year, only the citrus trees produce any fruit here. And right now there are Meyer Lemon’s, Mandarin’s and Pomello’s (a grapefruit). I’m hoping that in future years now that they are in a sunnier locale, the rest of the citrus trees will produce as well as these.

Ripening fruit on the Meyer Lemon
Ripe and very tasty Mandarins

When we first moved here, it was commonly held wisdom that citrus trees would not grow in this mountain range. It’s hard to know whether the climate has shifted, the farm is in a micro-climate which favours citrus, or the common wisdom was wrong. The citrus trees moved over the past few weeks have been very slow growing for many years, but time will tell whether the plants are outside their range, or the original conditions were inappropriate. My best guess is that the plants needed more sun than they were getting, but I can’t say for sure whether that is the case. The experiment however, is worth the cost.

Onto the flowers:

Daffodils are busy pushing their way out of the soil
The many Tree Lucerne (Tagasaste) shrubs are in flower

The temperature outside now at about 10.00am is 9’C (48’F). So far this year there has been 557.6mm (22.0 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 549.2mm (21.6 inches)

70 thoughts on “Free”

  1. Yo, Chris – Funny how we just trundle along, and then the past comes to pay a visit. Also a bit funny, that our stories have more than a few parallels. It was March, when my Dad and I had a scary blowout. I spent the night in juvenile hall. (“Here I am. I’m not 18. I can’t stay at home.”) A trip to court, and a very frosty detente. I began laying plans. Rented an apartment, painted it, lined up a roommate. And, the morning of my 18th birthday, I was gone!

    My Dad also had a lot of guns. Sometimes, after a go-around, I’d lay in bed and think, “What was that click? Gun being loaded?” I’d lay awake, far into the night, terrified.

    I was going to say that no one heaped blame at my feet. But I had forgotten my Dad, coming down to my apartment, every week. “Son. You’re killing your mother.” And offering bribes, to move back home. Cars. Tuition. And, finally, I moved to Seattle, where everyone is from somewhere else. Your past is what you choose to tell people.

    I hadn’t thought of it before, tonight. But Tuesday is the 55th anniversary of me seizing my freedom, and fleeing. And, your right. Real family is the people you choose. As far as obituaries go, every once in awhile, I do an internet search, just to see if my younger, estranged brother shows up. So far, not. I’ll decide how I’ll feel, if that happens.

    I hope your fences and gates beat the wallabies. 🙂 It’s a race! Your new yellow machine is quit handsome. Needs some Deco speed lines … or maybe flames painted on the side! Have you named it, yet?

    Your gabion cages are such a nifty idea. And there’s so pretty.

    LOL. Your freeze and frost is a novelty, to you. Us? Same old, same old. But we wouldn’t see citrus like that, this side of California.

    Daffodils! Can spring be far behind? We won’t see the likes of those, for months. Lew

  2. Hi Margaret,

    Happy birthday to Doug, and hope he enjoys his bee themed party. 🙂 It’s a very appropriate theme, nice one. It’s true, you can plan, and then there is the weather. It could be worse, there was an epic music festival way, way up north along in a coastal town, and they got torrential rain. Heat and humidity might not be so bad compared to that: Splendour in the Grass music festival hit by Byron Bay’s wild weather, causing performances to be cancelled. A whole lot of rain on I’m guessing already saturated ground.

    Margaret, three weeks, you need a medal or something like that. 🙂 I’d be left kind of hankering for a quiet night to relax in such circumstances. You are more resilient than I on that front.

    It was pleasing that the wheelbarrow could be replaced with a better unit. There really aren’t a lot of such machines being made, mostly because there is little in the way of demand. Of interest, the engine was constructed in your country, and that is the third such machine with various components manufactured in the US. They seem like reasonably hardy items.

    The really clever survivor plants produce wind pollinated flowers at this time of the year here. Mind you, yesterday was so warm I spotted a bee out foraging.

    Ooo, the rotters. Do you have any form of control for the Japanese beetles? Hopefully the blackberries survive the predation, although it may be a bit early for those berries at this stage of the year. Dunno.

    It rained here again today, with another half inch. The ground is saturated. I moved some mustard plants into the greenhouse (on a whim) and they seem to be doing OK.



  3. Hi DJ,

    I’m sure it was you who first alerted me to the possibility that the ratio of 42:1 was the magic number when uncertainty is confronted. 🙂

    Yeah, it ain’t so bad, unless of course you’re in a high risk category, and then things may be rather dark indeed. Glad to hear that your mate is recovering from you-know-what as well as the loss of part of his leg.

    What a horrid year or two you and your lady have endured. I don’t know what to say, but can only hope that you find the resources within yourselves to overcome the many tragedies and that you both recall to be gentle with each other, and take some time out to recover and recharge.

    Mate, truth to tell, I don’t understand the business model for a lot of those sorts of services. I really don’t get them. The primary goal should be that they have to earn their keep, otherwise known as making a profit. Alas, the primary goal doesn’t seem to be enjoying the sort of attention that you’d imagine these days with some of those service providers. I’ve been reading some very odd news on that front of late, and I’m guessing that as interest rates rise, there will be less free mad cash to prop up such err, things or whatever they want to be called. Dunno.

    What? Surely now that you are a retired gentleman about town, you have plenty of free time with which to learn ancient Hunnish?

    Hehe! Just going with my gut feeling here, but given the time of year which Big Bertha was designed to operate, I doubt the engine, or oil has sufficient cooling arrangements so as to be operated on what may possibly be the hottest day of the year. Just sayin… 🙂 But seriously, you do have to run the things for a few minutes every couple of months, and watch out for fuel that may have gone off. It happens.

    Handing the keyboard over to Ruby.

    Avalanche! Avalanche! Listen to me. The front seat is yours for the taking. Think of the superior view, the increased status. The other dogs on the side walk will look on with envy, and know that you the boss.

    Go on you, get away from the keyboard.

    Kelpies and their strange ideas. They’re free independent thinkers, you know. Don’t listen to her.

    Yeah, I don’t mind a bit of mystery either. When I was a kid I really enjoyed watching the old ‘In Search Of’ series, and a world with a Loch Ness monster seems a vastly more interesting space.

    Oh my! Yes, that makes sense about the weed trimmer. Hope you didn’t have that sort of a machine with a solid steel cutting blade, like what you can get down here. They call them weed whackers. That would hurt for sure. The plastic line would still hurt, but not as badly.

    Not being able to sing doesn’t seem to have been a problem for many an artist. 🙂 And some artists with astounding voices often put vocal technique in front of producing a really good song. But then, mate, sometimes you have to play the hand you’ve been dealt.



  4. Chris, I have a lot of respect for people who decide that their safest path includes walking away from their family. It is not the easy option, and takes a lot of strength of mind. I am so glad that you and Sandra have forged your own path, created your own family and made such a great life for yourselves on the mountain.
    Those citrus trees are going to be so happy! Do you have oranges? They tend to be the least cold-resistant of the citrus, so they are the litmus test of microclimate here in Tas. Mostly oranges need a warm, north-facing wall to grow against here, while lemons and mandarins survive much better in a cold paddock. A weekly dose of seasol on the leaves of your citrus trees will reduce transplant shock, strengthen the roots and toughen up the foliage against frost damage.

  5. Hi Claire,

    Many thanks for the informative comment in relation to natural gas / coal gas.

    Yes, the extraction of gas from reserves is a fraught subject here. For many years there was a moratorium on gas exploration on land in this state. Many years ago I recall that it was reported that around about now, demand would exceed supply for gas. Interestingly, during the middle of the health subject which dares not be named, the moratorium was lifted for on shore drilling – to very little fanfare in the media. Whether this means fracking, I’m uncertain. All I know is that fossil fuels are a finite resource and yeah, the days of sticking a pipe in the ground may be a thing of the past.

    Makes for expensive fuels. And EROEI is one of those things people seem to overlook. And certainly that story has to be playing into the crude oil price story.

    I had not known that about the molecules produced by burning methane. It is interesting that you mention wood as a fuel source, because the other by products of combustion is something I have direct experience with. After damaging the original wood heater, and then having to replace it at extraordinary expense, we changed the entire process surrounding firewood. The moisture content is reduced now to around 13% to 14% so it burns sort of cleanly (the lowest reading was 12% for a the dinner table which was made from kiln dried timber), and the condition of the flue and observation glass is a good indicator. The original firewood used was not as low in moisture as today’s fuel, and the combustion gases were acidic and the plate steel in the wood heater began to delaminate. It was distressing and highly wasteful, but all these processes are very complex, and we had thought that it was otherwise. It’s a hard way to learn, but better to learn than not.

    Australia is one of the biggest exporters of LNG, but then conversely, we import almost 90% of the crude oil derived products which we use.

    One of the issues that may be forgotten by people in relation to gas is that it is used to derive a few widely used forms of fertiliser. Will shortages go to food, industry or heating / cooking? Makes you wonder.

    Thought you might be interested in an old photo of the town gas works (coal to gas) which used to be not too far from where we lived when in the inner suburbs: Contaminated dirt to be dug up ahead of Fitzroy gasworks development. There’s even a nearby pub with the name ‘Gasometer’.

    Unfortunately, this state appears to have far more brown coal (higher moisture content) as distinct from black coal. It’d make you think that the EREOI would be lower again.

    Far out, that’s hot. Hope you and Mike are staying cool and that the garden is surviving. Hope the rain arrived, was plentiful and that the air temperature cooled.

    Today another half of rain fell on already saturated ground. Oh well.



  6. Hi Lewis,

    Keep cool during the heatwave, and I noted the good Professor’s take on the experience will be that west of the mountains will be run of the mill, but east will be somewhat warmer. Yikes!

    You sent me off on an interweb rabbit hole relating to all things Star Trek. There’s so much content, I’d don’t even know where to start, although Strange New Worlds sounds appealing, and apparently has returned to the episodic format – which I prefer. The larger arc of the story of the very complicated story-lines may become dull, and then does the series persist, or retreat from the dullness? So many questions. And what if you miss an episode?

    Ah, all is now explained, other than where are the chickens? Hope farm is a cool place, and I’m astounded that they have volunteers who can put in 40 hours per week during the growing season. The photos from 2019 look good. Hope they can keep at it, because plenty of folks don’t have access to fresh vegetables. And with the way inflation is going, I can imagine that there would be people dropping off that particular consuming vegetable bandwagon.

    Tell you a funny story about that. One of the cheapest fruits right now down here are the Packham Pear variety. I suspect that people don’t know that pears are one of the few fruits which ripen off the tree, and you have to let them ferment for a few days – but not for too long – before they’re edible. I guess that such basic knowledge has been lost or forgotten. I recall from childhood that my mother used to serve us unripe pears, and they’re not good.

    Yeah, thanks. Commercial tree growers have excavators which can be used to lift trees from the ground. One of the trees moved had a long tap root, and I had to cut the thing with an axe. I pruned the tree back really hard, but we’ll see how it goes. Citrus trees ordinarily are meant to have very shallow and small root systems – except for that one. It was a monster. All I know is that the trees were not doing well where they were, and so they had to move – or make way for a tree that will grow there.

    Mate, that’s what I was thinking too about the sequoia objectionist. There’d be one for sure, and then they turned up in the article on cue. It makes little to no sense to continue following a forest management routine, which routinely fails. You’d think that sooner or later someone might be allowed to try something different just to see what happens? There’s a special place reserved in the bowels of beyond to accommodate armchair theorists who are possibly wrong. I’d give it a go with the cooler burns just to see what happens, it’s not like we don’t know what happens when we pursue fire suppression.

    Glad you enjoyed my little pop culture dogmatic (!) film reference. 🙂 Fun stuff. Here’s to Jay and Silent Bob.

    The Editor lacks the free time to read the comments, so it’s soil-talk time! 🙂 I use that joke about not being allowed to discuss soil as a bit of a groaner joke with my mates. Sometimes groaner jokes are just what is required in a conversation. Yeah. On the other hand, I knew about the declining mineral, protein and vitamin content of food and how that story interacts with the soil. However, I was unaware that it had been given a specific name and was well known by that lot. Hmm. Turns out that name is used to describe a wide variety of impacts. Yikes. So is the book worth reading? I’m not entirely certain that people will want to pay for more nutritionally dense foods.

    Oh man, that’s so true. The past is always with you, just lurking around being a nuisance, and you’re right sometimes the past comes out to play. It was a bit of a shock all the same, and I discovered this titbit of information after replying to you on Thursday evening. I dunno man, they were all bad eggs, it really was that simple. Incidentally, the story popped into my head within about an hour of finding out, and the thing just demanded itself to be written. The story pestered my waking hours, and in quiet moments the Editor would ask with genuine concern: Are you OK? What can I say other than I mourned the loss of them over a quarter of a century ago. Sometimes you just know it’s time to run, and then run far. Could have been a worse outcome, that’s not out of the realms of feasibility.

    Mate, we have trod a similar path, haven’t we? What a story and experience you had. Not knowing when or if a person is going to lose their shit, and they have weapons they’re unafraid to use, makes for nervous times. It’s hard when the people who are meant to be adults, are just a bit off. Heading to juvenile hall was a desperate move, but what do you?

    The thing is I felt better once I left, it was a relief to be elsewhere and away from that. I’d heard that “You’re killing your mother” story too, and it rang false. In my case it was “Your sisters really miss you”. I’ll tell you a funny thing about that story. They didn’t miss me at all, I’d known them long enough to see the untruth in that claim, and I dunno about your lot and what they said, but my mother and step father never once said that they missed me, it was always said about a third person. Very strange people.

    I hear you about moving to Seattle and the why of that. One of the horrendous side effects of 10% unemployment during the early 1990’s recession we had to have, was that heading back home was not an option. Far out! Doing a dirty job like debt collection for four years, was easier than facing them again. Weren’t we talking the other day about: Blessed are the adaptable for they shall survive, or something like that? 🙂

    Congrats on achieving such an auspicious anniversary, and may there be many more to come. Glad to hear you appreciated the sentiment regarding family – it’s true too. As a society we use to be more flexible in such matters than we are today. You don’t even have to go back all that many decades to see that things were different, and in some respects, better on that front.

    Well, you never know how you’ll feel about it, until the time comes. Some people can change over the years, but then other people don’t change – and do you need that lot in your life? I dunno about that.

    A good point, and it is a truth universally acknowledged that if the yellow machine were painted red, it’d go faster. 🙂 It’s a good machine, and the engine was made in your country. Interestingly a few of the recent machine purchases have components made in your country. They seem sturdy.

    A bit of future earthworks will be retained by those steel rock gabion cages. There are plans… I like the look of them too, and the rocks at the front of the cage are placed for visual effect. It’s quite pleasing on the eye for such an engineering response.

    Ah, it’s a weird climate here, and citrus are right on the edge of their range, although they are hardy trees. I reckon the tree relocation experiment is worth the time and effort though.

    Spring is most certainly springing! 🙂

    It rained here today and was rather gloomy. I timed the tree location so as to coincide with the many days long forecast rain-fest. Over half an inch has already fallen today, with more over the next few days. I won’t be able to do much outside work this week as it is a sludge fest out there.



  7. Hi Jo,

    Thanks for writing that, and it is a hard path indeed to walk away from familial relationships, and there’s a lot of judgement. Sometimes, some things get broken and there is no fixing them. And yeah, at times it was candidly not safe. You know I’m sure he would say that he wasn’t going to do so, but I had no idea at the time that he wasn’t fully intending to slit my throat. That’s not mucking around in my book.

    They say adversity builds character, and that may be true, but some adversity – you don’t want. 🙂

    We’re doing good here, and they also say that the best revenge is to have a good life. There’s truth in there, and over the years I’ve been very fortunate to have had some very positive role models and also made some very good friends. Plus it is a joy to have all of these lovely conversations over the years. Thanks! And the uncertain future can be better.

    Fingers crossed that the citrus trees do enjoy their new and sunnier location. It’s the sunniest spot on the property. Yes, there is an orange in there. I believe that it is a Lanes Late navel orange variety. There’s quite a few interesting citrus varieties (and some who’s tags were lost – a mystery, or truthfully more than a few mysteries, ook!) There’s a Tangelo in there for sure (which has fruited in past years). A Ruby Red Grapefruit, and maybe a Wheeny Grapefruit. Some Cumquats, plus the more usual lemon suspects.

    The home grown mandarins are smaller than what you find in stores, but the flavour is beyond superb, and they’re not as dry and powdery. Yum!

    They’re finicky trees requiring far more care and attention than other fruit trees, but I will do as you say with the seasol on the leaves. I had a huge bag of blood and bone which has been used to give them all a solid feed. Over the year they’ll get plenty of coffee grounds / agricultural lime (Calcium Carbonate) mix, so they should be OK – hopefully.

    Keeping the dogs off any blood and bone has been difficult – it’s not good for them in quantity, but the heavy rains this week should help with that matter.



  8. Hello Chris
    That was a shock. I certainly hadn’t realised that you have arrived from a situation that bad. You can be proud of the man that you have become. I praise you from the bottom of my heart.

    The weather has cooled here, very cloudy. I hope that the vegs. remain happy with it. The sun is needed to ripen the tomatoes which are progressing more slowly than I wish. Could only find 2 ripe little ones for supper this evening. A neighbour has given me lots of large ripe beetroot which I will put into vinegar for the winter.


  9. Yo, Chris – Yes, our weather here is going to be “interesting”, this week. Forecast is for 90+, today. And close to 100, tomorrow. I had a brainstorm to fill a couple of gallon jugs with water, freeze them, and plop them in front of the A/C or fan. I’ll have to figure out a way to deal with the condensation. Ideas. I have ideas. 🙂

    I’ll have to ask the Master Gardeners, if they know anything about the Salvation Army “farm.” They seem to know all that moves and shakes in the plant world of Lewis County.

    Sequoia objectionists: They can’t see the forest, for the trees. 🙂 .

    If you search “dilution effect in plants”, it sorts out a lot of the wheat from the chaff. 🙂 Sorry, I left off the plants part. Hmmm. Is the book worth reading. Well, they certainly make their case. There’s a lot of science. Our understanding of how the soil and plants work, at least in our understanding, up to this point. Lots of detail on how plants interact with good or bad soil. The effects of chemical fertilizers and weed killers. Chock full of observation and studies.

    One of my tomatoes is getting quit tall … and looks to be loaded with tomatoes. Lives up to it’s name: Sweet Million. I started fretting about blossom end rot, but, I’m doing all the right things. Consistent watering. I put a bit of lime, on the soil, before planting. Tossed a few handfuls of eggshell in the planting hole. Fingers crossed.

    I think we’re … more adaptive people, for forging our own way. And, yes, through recessions and life’s ups and downs, we have had our share of odd jobs.

    H got her bath, yesterday. So, she’s all clean and shinny for her trip to the vet, this morning. Rabies booster. Having a free hand, I’ve been able to keep her coat in better shape. But, I noticed she did have a few mats. And, it’s sooo long until we can get into the groomer. A good month. Lew

  10. Hi Inge,

    Thank you. One of the complexities at the time was that what seemed normal, was anything but normal. However, as you age your experience builds and the comparison becomes rather hard to ignore. And by the age of eighteen, I’d had enough and walked. I didn’t run, I walked away. In some ways I was rather fortunate to have escaped attention when my mother was single, and that was where I learned independence. It was the men in her life I had the most troubles with, and in some ways they amplified the worst aspects of her personality, and then took that as license.

    It was candidly a complicated journey to navigate, and I learned a lot, most of which could be summed up by the phrase: “Don’t do this.” Mind you, the old dysfunctional patterns with that group of people had to be finished, and rest assured that this is the case.

    The single disadvantage is that in order to navigate the earlier environment I had to be hypersensitive to other peoples emotional states – and as the story suggests, there were consequences for getting that wrong. Having developed that faculty, I’m unable to shut it off, but no matter, worse things can happen in life, and it is occasionally useful.

    Did you utilise your greenhouse this year? Looking at your weather forecast, it sort of suggests that your vegetables will be fine, and they’re predicting a normal August for you. That’s tomatoes for you, and last summer less than a handful a ripe fruits were produced here. Climate variability worries me, but there is little that can be done – other than what we’re doing here.

    Yum! Beetroot in vinegar is a favourite. So tasty.

    I planted several green and red mustard plants in the greenhouse a few days ago just to see what would happen. And they’ve exploded with fresh growth. Hmm.



  11. Hi Lewis,

    It is a truth universally acknowledged that nobody wants to experience ‘interesting’ weather. 🙂 I thought I’d take a quick peek at the Good Professors blog in order to see whether there had been any update on your impending hot spell, and oh boy, he took on the readership single handedly. I doff my hat to such intellectual fortitude. People forget that the origins of science were that of a tool with which to formulate questions in order to gain insights, but then dogma (that film again!) and brow beating which the readers were delivering in spades, kind of suggests how that tool is working out nowadays. It is a useful mindset to consider doubts and alternatives, and science is a very useful tool.

    Did you just put together your own swamp cooler? Well done. 😉 How did you deal with the condensation? I’m curious about these ideas of yours. We have a swamp cooler which blows air across an ice block and there may be some sort of material which the water moves through. They use surprisingly little energy, but do increase the humidity. On hot days, by late afternoon I just kind of throw open the windows and let the fresh air in and try and cool the house down over night. Mostly it works, but it depends on the length and severity of the hot spell.

    Hey, as an experiment I moved a couple of green and red mustard plants into the greenhouse, and they’ve put on heaps of fresh new leaves. The contrast with the mustard plants in the more exposed to the weather raised beds, is hard to ignore. I’m thinking about how I can use the greenhouse better during the winter months. Also, one of the tea camellias was a bit sick looking when I planted it in the greenhouse, and it didn’t get better. I’m in something of a quandary, replace the tea camellia, or get something else to fill the spot. But then what plant? Do you have any suggestions? I’m candidly uncertain as to what to do.

    Yeah, it will be interesting to hear if the master gardeners know the folks at the Salvos urban farm. They probably do, the world being small and all. The lack of people who know anything at all about growing edible plants is an alarming lack.

    Hehe! That’s really funny about the forest for the trees. 🙂 And yet, so very true. The more I read, act and observe in relation to this subject, the more complicated I believe the subject is. A lot of the objections I’ve heard are very simplistic belief systems, and yet most people rely upon products derived from forests.

    Ah, thank you for the correction. Yes the search ‘dilution effect in plants’ did yield a number of scholarly works. I skimmed a few. Hmm, so it is known. Well there you go, I had not appreciated that it was a well understood and researched matter. What was of interest was that economics and cost of fertilisers was mentioned. I also noted several references to plant breeding and selecting for certain outcomes, although nobody seemed to be mentioning landrace varieties. Over time, we’ll go back to using and developing such plants so as to adapt better to local conditions. It’s a lean period to get to such an outcome, and I’ve read that there is a propensity to purchase rather than develop seed stocks.

    Sweet million looks good with those clusters of fruit. I’ve never seen tomato blossom end rot, but it is present down under. Hmm. They’re saying that “It is often a result of moisture stress, calcium deficiency(less than 0.08% Ca in dry matter), excess ammonium or a combination of all three. It’s possible I’ve never seen it as I regularly add Calcium Carbonate to the soils here, which do tend to lean towards the acidic side of things. Good to hear you were onto the issue with the addition of lime, such a useful material. The eggshell would be good too – nice one, haven’t tried that myself – the egg shells go to the worms. The chickens have a huge bin of finely crushed sea shells and I add that to their grain mix, so they get some every single day. Fingers crossed, and the heat will do them so serious good.

    Yes, I agree, adaptive is the right skill. It’s the rare year when the weather is perfect, and that’s as true for life.

    Hopefully H remained stoic during her visit to the vet to get the booster? Is it time to get H’s tail trimmed differently? Sir Poopy used to end up with a pompom, it was not very masculine, but it did kind of look right, and he used to be able to swish it around with verve!

    Got a haircut this evening, and went to try and eat out afterwards. The place looked quiet and the kitchen was wrapping up, so we headed home and had a mushroom pasta dinner. Very tasty. I believe that people are beginning to spend less.



  12. Hi Chris,

    Your family of origin situation was complex and difficult. Your ability to see your stepfather as a full person shows in your acknowledgment of his teaching you some things about machine repair and construction, knowledge which has helped to shape your farm and life. I see why the Sensei and what he taught you was so important to you: not so much how to fight, but to know how to avoid a fight and make good out of the situation. He would be proud of you and who you have become, and I salute you for your courage and determination as well.

    Even though you didn’t have a close relationship with your mother, it isn’t surprising to me that learning of her death would have an effect on you. Especially considering that you weren’t expecting it, and that your sisters made no effort to contact you and did not even mention you in the obituary. It’s their and their families’ loss – but still, you have nieces and/or nephews you haven’t met and possibilities that haven’t been allowed to happen. Grieving for that is very human.

    Meanwhile, in case anyone has heard of the historic rainfall and flash flooding this morning in the St. Louis area, be assured that Mike and I are fine and there is no possibility of flooding at our house. The official weather observation site has already set a new rainfall record of 7.02 inches of rain in five hours, and it was still raining when that was reported. It’s still raining at our house at 8:30am so I have not checked the rain gauge. Highways and roads are closed from flooding, and there are some businesses and houses that have water in them. Once it stops raining I will report on how much rain we have received. Yes, I said I was looking forward to rain – but not like this.

    @ Lew, I also salute you for your courage and determination in leaving home as soon as you turned 18 and working hard to overcome the various difficulties you’ve encountered along the way. I’m grateful that you and Chris allow the rest of us to eavesdrop on your conversations and contribute our bits to them.


  13. Hi Chris,
    I’ve certainly got the impression from your writing that your childhood was difficult but now see more clearly what you went through. Wonderful how you’ve been able to rise above that to become the person you are and that you have Sandra to share your life with. Not having family to fall back on has made you independent and able to solve your own problems. That’s one possible drawback to having a supportive family – sometimes they’re too supportive and end up enabling less than desirable behavior.

    Good to see the new wheelbarrow pressed into duty.

    I told Doug his birthday festival (which has been going on for over a week) has now ended haha. I have resolved never to have another big party. In 3 of the last 4 years we’ve had big parties, first a housewarming party with over 100 people, the the year off due to you know what, the wedding for 180 last year and Doug’s party for 45 though we’re moving in the right direction. The weather while hot and humid wasn’t too bad as there was a good breeze. The kids were a lot of help too. We also received about an inch of much needed rain over night after the party.

    I use traps for the Japanese beetles. There’s some discussion whether they attract more than they catch but over the years I think as long as they’re not placed too close to the plants you want to protect they’ve prevented severe damage.

    Cecily left this morning so we are finally guest free and have resolved to stay that way for awhile.

    Reading about the festival reminded me of the Woodstock Music Festival in 1969 though some performances were only delayed and half million attendees stayed for the 3 days unfazed by the weather.


  14. Yo, Chris – It was 84F, yesterday. The forecast for today is 97F. And then it will ratchet down, over the next week. Two degrees per day. 97, 95, 93, 91, etc.. That actual temperatures could be that neat. The official temperature yesterday was for 84F. We have a thermometer, out on our front “porch”, in the shade. It registered 88, late in the afternoon. I alway like reading Prof. Mass. I usually learn something. And, I admire his courage of his convictions. Even if I don’t agree on some minor points. I do worry about the toll it must take on him, “holding the line.” He’s a bit “Seattle-centric”, but, heck, that’s the bulk of his audience. In general, if it’s hot in Seattle, we’re 10 degrees warmer. If it’s cold in Seattle, we’re generally 10 degrees colder. They’re lucky, to have all that water around. It moderates their highs and lows. Puget Sound and Lake Washington.

    My “swamp cooler” worked pretty well, I guess. Maybe a degree or two. Hard to tell. I put a folded up towel on a box. I put a glass baking dish (only thing I had big enough) on top of that, and then the frozen gallon in that. There was a bit of condensation, but only about 1/4″ in the baking dish. I did worry about books, and such, and humidity. But, it didn’t seem to be a problem. Opening my window at night, doesn’t help much. I’ve got 2 1/2 stories of wall, that’s been heating up, all day. The heat rises … right into my apartment. But, if there’s a bit of a breeze, and I prop open my apartment door with a tin (usually, late at night, when no one is likely to wander in), I sometimes get a cross breeze.

    What to plant? Turmeric? I know you’ve already got ginger, going. I asked the Master Gardeners, about the Salvation Army, this morning. They were unaware. But curious. I bet they check it out. Heck, once the weather breaks, I might check it out.

    Some of the complaints I’ve heard about opposition to controlled burns, are pretty weak. “I can’t hang my laundry, outside.” “It will spoil my daughter’s outdoor wedding.” I am not pulling your leg.

    I think the problem with landrace seed development might be Big Ag. It’s a matter of scale. They develop seeds for the widest variety of climate zones. Landrace is pretty specific. At least, that’s my theory.

    I rinse and save my eggshells in a bowl. When it’s full, I zap it in the nuker for 1 1/2 minutes. Then I break them up between a couple of paper towels and store in a double paper bag. Now I have NO idea if it helps faster uptake of the calcium. But, it’s just what I do. Act of faith? 🙂 Also, when I’m putting together a bag of kitchen scraps, I toss in a layer of eggshells, every once in awhile. I ended up with the Sweet Million, as that was one Elinor didn’t want. I did a quick look down the rabbit hole, and it’s a hybrid, so, a crap shoot to save seed. I think my other cheery tomato is a heritage. So, I’ll save seed from that.

    H did very well at the vet’s. Place was full of dogs, and she didn’t make a peep. Just sat and took it all in. I felt a bit done over. From our “They Get You Coming and Going” department. When I called to make the appointment, I asked how much a rabies shot, would be. $85. The bill came to over $150. Turns out the vaccine was less than $20. But the “wellness check” was $65. Which I didn’t ask for. I was so stunned that I didn’t raise a stink. Lucky I didn’t. I was talking to the Master Gardeners about it, this morning. Turns out there’s a state law, that if a vet hasn’t seen a dog in over a year, they have to get a wellness check. So, what was the rest of the toll? Turns out H does have fleas. So, I got a pill, that’s good for three months, against fleas and ticks. That was $67 dollars. I bet if I look around, I can find it cheaper.

    H seemed OK, after her visit. A bit lethargic, but I don’t know if that was from the shot, or the heat.

    Well, it’s my big day. Big whoop. I had biscuits and gravy, at the Club, this morning. I’ll have shrimp nachos, tonight. And I might nip down to the store, for a pint of ice cream. The movie on tap is, “Everything, Everywhere, All at Once.” Report to follow. 🙂

    I had a yellow zucchini, out of the garden, last night. Can’t say I’ve ever gone out and bought one. So, I was interested to see what they’d be like. Very subtle flavor, but takes on other flavors in a dish. I tossed it in with rice, seeds, frozen broccoli and cut up a couple of fried eggs. Which was actually a recipe, on the internet. Tasty and pleasant, but not a knock your socks off, meal. Lew

  15. Hi Chris
    An extreme case of estrangement is the path you and Lew had to follow. Sad that it happens. I had my own with my she whose womb I came from. About my late teens, she just kept getting more and more critical of me without any reason. Here I thought it was just the natural thing that was a trigger to move out, which I did once I had the work situation well sorted out. But even then it kept getting worse, so the more I distanced myself as much as I could and still spend time with my dad. Getting married only made it worse, to the point there was a blowout and 10 year estrangement. Finally, as my folks are nearing the end, that overboard nagging appears to have ended, and we can at least be civil together as we wrap up their affairs.
    You have managed a good path through your estrangement, and following your adventures through the years has been a joy and educational. Keep up the path.
    As for the frost, we start that in October, and sometimes still get in April (with a ‘bit’ of snow in between) and we only call in the army to help when we get a metre of it in a week. Always fun to see peoples reaction when it is such a rare or new condition for them. Enjoy it and next snow think of making snow angels if you can.

    Andy in Toronto

  16. Hi Chris,

    Around 4pm, after the rain stopped, I checked the rain gauge in the garden. It held 5.4 inches of water, just under the upper limit of 5.5 inches that it can measure. This was one of the lower rainfall amounts in the area. The official rainfall total is about 9 inches, as the official weather station is located where some of the heaviest rain fell. The highest measured rainfall total, in the suburb of St. Peters on the other side of the Missouri River from us, was over 12 inches. If you or anyone else is curious, here’s the St. Louis weather station’s report on the flooding:

    No damage around here. The plants already look greener and happier. I picked two cucumbers, a pepper, and 5 tomatoes from the garden after I checked the rain gauge. More rain is expected over the next several days, but so far it looks like more typical summer showers.


  17. @ Lew,

    Congratulations. You have reinvented my “Viking Air Conditioner”. We used that idea for several years here. When I was in my teens, my dad had an old, but intact, car radiator. He ran a garden hose into it, and another out of it, the outlet being used to slowly water the fruit trees. A box fan was placed behind it. That worked amazingly well. And no condensation.


  18. Chris,

    This just in…my friend was released and is now at home. His lady is threatening to purchase skim milk and powdered fat-free eggs so that my friend won’t feel like he’s missing out on that hospital food.

    Avalanche has been staying indoors for several days. When she needs to answer nature’s call, she quickly returns indoors. And sleeps. We hit 38C at my house today, with it expected to be warmer than this until Sunday. Mad dogs and Englishmen may venture out and work in this, but Avalanche is NOT a mad dog. And I am NOT an Englishman.

    Thanks. Recover and recharge are things on the top of our list. And being gentle with one another is paramount.

    There are a lot of business models and general economics that makes no logical sense to me any longer. Modern Monetary Theory is at the top of that list.

    Mate, remember, I helped design Stonehenge. 😉 Trying to avoid the turmoil in Britain after the Romans legions left, I found myself in the wrong part of Europe and got surrounded by the Hunnish Hordes. It was join them or die, so well, I’m still here. Thus, I have too much firsthand experience with Ancient Hunnish. Nope, don’t need to revisit those days. Twas a difficult language to learn. 😉

    Fortunately, Avalanche is sleeping and has not read Ruby’s suggestion. At least as far as I know. She has this knowing look about her…

    The Princess brought a box of peaches home Sunday. I sliced half of them today and have the slices in the dehydrator. The rest will be dehydrated Wednesday. Fun stuff.

    “In Search Of” was one of my favorites, too. Loch Ness monster, Sasquatch, Yeti – the world is a much more interesting place if these exist.

    Thanks for this week’s entry. That’s quite the brutal way to grow up. It’s good to see that you recognize the silver lining: you became self-sufficient and independent on a level that most of us can’t even fathom. And despite your lack of “normal” emotional positives, you and the Editor seem to have a good thing going.


  19. @ Claire – Thanks for checking in. I saw the new about St. Louis, and came here to see if I could figure out which blog is yours 🙂 . I was concerned. How’s the local electric grid holding up?

    I’m glad you’re in an area that’s high and dry. I see on the archaeology sites that there’s some new studies around Monk’s Mound. Interesting stuff. I wonder if anyone will shelter, there? Lew

  20. Hello Chris
    You asked about my greenhouse use this year. Most of my strawberries were in the greenhouse and did fine. Tomatoes are both in and out and it doesn’t seem to be making any difference to their ripening speed; no doubt because of the hot weather outside.
    I have cucumbers in the greenhouse and am already eating them.

    Today is pleasant, part cloudy. However it is very dry and there is some leaf fall already!


  21. Hi, Chris!

    I’m back – sort of. It suddenly occurred to me that you might be thinking that I have ghosted you; not at all – times have been crazy. When I left you my mother had just broken her hip. She went into a rehab place and I spent a lot of my time there. There was still my father to care for at home.

    While at the rehab place she caught you-know-what. The whole family – 6 of us – caught it all on the same day since we had been there so much. It was really rough. And there was still my sick 83 year-old-father to take care of. His you-know-what turned into pneumonia, he was rushed to the hospital, and was dead within a week.

    Meanwhile, my mother has been moved – she is actually doing quite well – into an assisted living home. I spend all day there every day getting her acclimated, helping her make friends (she is rather deaf), and my laptop does not perform well there. Don’t like to use my smartphone for some things.

    Gruesome story, eh? I hated to put it down here, but we have been frank all along. I see that you have had your own troubles. We all come from different places, don’t we?

    I’m fine, the rest of us are doing better, so soon I hope to be able to visit here more.


  22. Hi Lewis,

    Did it reach 97’F today? Another gloomy winters day today here, with a pleasant burst of sunshine just after lunch. Went outside and just stood in the sun catching some rays man! Your forecast is uncanny reading for the numerically inclined amongst us. Yikes! You might end up hitting the ton?

    The Good Professor has his work cut out for him, that’s for sure. And I’d wondered that too, and yes I too respect his courage to air his convictions. The problem with trolls as I see it in that format, is that there is no ongoing dialogue, therefore they can just say some stupid stuff and run. You can spend the physical and emotional energy responding to them, but because there’s no dialogue, you don’t ever know whether the effort was worth it.

    It is a swamp cooler! 🙂 Nifty work sorting out that cooling arrangement. And did the air feel cooler coming from the fan? Hey, there’s windows and then there are windows. Awning windows do stop stockbrokers leaping to their demise, but they also don’t let much air in. I much prefer sliding windows for the larger volume of air they’ll allow. Wise to get the cross flow working, even slight breezes can make a difference. And it’s not likely that someone would see an open door and then walk in, is it?

    Ah, turmeric. Thanks for the suggestion. Yeah, that would work well in the greenhouse. 🙂 I look forward to hearing a report as to the urban farm when you get around to checking it out. At an acre it’s a pretty useful size. Beware getting volunteered for work though.

    The thing I don’t understand about the objections to burn offs is that what remains for years after a really big fire goes through is far more objectionable. I don’t get it.

    Yeah, that’s probably right about the seeds. The concentration of ownership is not good and a somewhat risky proposition. The other thing is that you need to plant a goodly sized minimum number of plants if that landrace varieties are the goal. I really do need to get a bigger vegetable patch going.

    Your mention of eggshells sent me on a deep dive on the minerals contained in the them. Turns out a mixture of them and coffee grounds is good all round fertiliser. And they’re the right lime too: Calcium Carbonate. Who knew? Nice work on your part with the eggshells. The orchard has responded strongly to that mixture over the past year or so, and the trees are just growing. It’s a pleasure to watch. Hehe! Instead of act of faith, let’s call it a proper preparation ritual. 🙂 Your heritage cherry tomato plant seeds will benefit from having the hybrid plant nearby. At a guess the hybrid plant will give them a bit more vigour next season.

    Vet bills are not cheap, however unlike human doctors they have to be surgeon, pharmacist and doctor so I can understand how this all came to be. The wellness check gives them a base income from a consultation – at a guess. Dunno. Sometimes the bill shock is real, and if it’s bad enough you don’t go back, or go elsewhere. Fleas are no good at all. Thought you might be interested in the downsides of that industry: National vet shortage leads to increased abuse, closures and stress at regional clinics. Some professions limit numbers which may be a good financial practice, but in reality can lead to strange outcomes.

    Hope H is feeling better today?

    Big whoop indeed, it’s not like you didn’t survive the recent STP onslaught. 🙂 Hope you had a lovely day today and that the film was good. Just checking out the trailer… … It looks intriguing, and the scenes in the trailer were quite amusing. So what was it like?

    You don’t see them for sale down here either, although people do grow yellow zucchini’s. Yeah, they do have a subtle flavour. I’d be happy with such a meal, sounds alright to me and along the lines of the usual fare. Shrimp nacho’s – now they sound like a proper splash up meal. 🙂

    Went out for food this evening and had a tasty chicken burger. It wasn’t a patty but an actual chunk of chicken breast with a bit of coleslaw and some sort of mustard sauce (not hot). It was good but I dunno about brioche’s, people seem to like them, but I prefer my bread not sweetened. But a minor complaint as overall the meal was pretty good. Mate I’m crashing now. I think I’m addicted to caffeine as I didn’t have a coffee tonight, and am perhaps less amusing for the lack. 🙂



  23. Hi Claire,

    Thanks, and yeah, there is good and bad in people isn’t there? Although some people I’ve encountered seem to have more of the bad in them. That’s a very astute observation, and was the reason I mentioned Sensei. He would have had some caustic remarks to say about having been caught so easily and perhaps subjected me to a hundred push ups, but the point would have been well made. Maybe a few months ago I wrote about how there are mentors out there, and I’ve been lucky to have known a few such folks in my life and they helped balance the worst aspects of the more negative people I’d been stuck with. I don’t make a big deal about it, but Mr Greer taught me good grace in a time of decline through his own example, and I’m grateful for that.

    Claire, it was really complicated with those two siblings. Afterwards, one of them hit the drugs hard, and the other was just difficult. By now, they may be really lovely people, but back then they threw me under the bus, because as a group they made the choice, it was me or them, and they chose me for quite a number of years. I don’t want anything to do with them. I know the quality of their souls.

    Glad to hear that you and Mike and the garden survived the epic rainfall. That’s a crazy amount of rain in such a short period of time. It’s a truth that sometimes it doesn’t rain, it pours. Infrastructure gets hit hard by such a deluge.

    Hope everything is going OK.



  24. Hi Margaret,

    Yeah, it wasn’t much good, but then the flip-side was that I learned to get by and move past and then away from them. It was over half my life ago. Sandra was initially dismayed by it all, but in some ways it was good for her to have experienced how it was first hand, because instead of me saying how it was, there was a deeper understanding. It’s a hard way to learn, but then it was her idea to reconnect with them way back then.

    Hehe! Well, yeah I can see how that might work out. As always there is middle ground in there – somewhere… 🙂

    The new wheelbarrow is a bit of beast. It’s no gator, but it is very useful around here, and as you can see in the photo the capacity is pretty good (up to a thousand pounds).

    Ah, the festival of Doug has ended! Very funny. Hope you both enjoyed yourselves, and that’s a respectable turnout for a party, especially in these times. You’d have to suggest that birthday presents are nice and all, but an inch of rain in high summer is a superb birthday present. How did you work that in to the festival? 😉

    What a nightmare of a pest, please keep them to yourselves. Did you see that varroa mite has reached our shores?

    You need a medal or something like that. 🙂 That’s a lot of entertaining. Does the place seem quiet now without all the sound and colour that other people bring? How did Leo and Salve cope with all the people?

    It’s pretty saturated up in that part of the world. I’d watched the Joe Cocker set from that Festival, an impressive performance.



  25. Hi Andy,


    Man, sometimes you have to play the hand you’ve been dealt. And I know it sounds like a cliche, but when it’s the adults in your life, they bring you into the picture and have a greater burden of responsibility. That doesn’t always mean that the adults can be adults, that ain’t guaranteed mate.

    I dunno what to say, but it’s been my observation that some folks use words to do actions that society might otherwise frown upon. And the criticism for no good reason, looks to me like a person is externalising their inner workings. It’s not about you, it’s about them. Some people use a tool called a ‘neg’ to ensure they keep other people about them in their place. I don’t really like such things, but that doesn’t mean you don’t see them being used.

    Over the years I’ve met people who don’t like themselves, and sometimes it can be hard to tell at first that that is what is going on. Anyway, a bit of a general theme with them is that I can almost see that because they don’t like themselves, their thinking is that if you like them then warped logic suggests that you’re lower in the pecking order, and eventually they’ll do something weird.

    I generally judge people based on their actions. Very few people can hide their core personality for more than a few months at most.


    Holy carp! Toronto, yes, you would see more than your fair share of cold weather. 🙂



  26. Hi DJ, Claire, Pam and Inge,

    I’m crashing out and need to sleep. The dreaded mid-week hiatus has struck early, and I shall reply tomorrow, but until then. It was probably the brioche bun in the chicken burger that’s making me sleepy, but equally it could have been what they call ‘bad boy fries’, which are actually chips. It’s hard to know why they called them fries. So many questions left for us all to ponder…



  27. @ Pam – Thanks for checking in. Your state has also had it’s share of wild weather. I wondered how you were doing.

    Family wise, you’re doing the hard yards. I’m sorry for the loss of your father, and hope your Mom is coping. My neighbor Elinor is still in limbo. She’s still in a rehab state, but if it will be coming home, or assisted living hasn’t been decided, yet.

    In the meantime, the Dog and I trundle on. 🙂 Lew

  28. @Pam
    I’ve been wondering how you’ve been doing so glad you checked in. Really sorry to hear about your father. Sounds like you and your family have been through the wringer. I know from some of my own experiences how draining that can be. Will your mother be staying at the assisted living facility?


  29. @Claire,

    Glad you made it through the storms OK. When I read about them I was wondering how you and the garden fared.


  30. @ Lew, I’m not up on what is happening in the archeological world, so I didn’t know there are some new studies at Monks Mound. Have you read Timothy Pauketat’s book Cahokia: Ancient America’s Great City on the Mississippi? It’s fascinating reading.

    @ Chris: I have a book recommendation for you concerning tea plants. The book Grow Your Own Tea: The Complete Guide to Cultivating, Harvesting, and Preparing by Christine Parks and Susan M. Walcott is all that it says in the title. I’ll do much better with my own plants now that I have the book!

    @ Pam: I was concerned about you so I am glad you have stopped by to share what has been going on. My condolences to you and your family on your father’s death. It’s good that he was able to spend the last years of his life with you and your family. While it was probably hard for your mom to have to transition to assisted living, it sounds like she is doing well there. I’m glad that it is close enough that you can do so much to help her become comfortable with her new living situation.


  31. Yo, Chris – The high yesterday was 95F (35C). The forecast has been adjusted, slightly. But talk about uncanny. The day time high for the next three days is predicted to be … 95F. We’re stuck in a rut. 🙂 Yup. Get out there and catch those rays. And, a good dose of vitamin D. According to studies, it doesn’t take much time in the sun, to top up your tank of vitamin D.

    As we all know, “Don’t feed the trolls.” They feed on reaction. When I don’t respond, I like to imagine them rolling on the floor, and frothing at the mouth. 🙂

    My jerry rigged swamp cooler seems to work ok. Within a few feet. I really need to pick up a thermometer, for my apartment. Or, maybe, I don’t want to know. The apartment didn’t feel much cooler, this morning, than when I went to bed. But, I didn’t have any trouble sleeping, If I do, I could always move down to the library. 🙂 It’s on the cool side of the building, the slope side. It’s practically subterranean. Just drinking lots of liquids, and not moving around much. It’s kind of tradition in these places where they park old folks, that if you leave your door open or ajar, you’re up for company. When She Who Shall Not Be Named took over the place, one of the first edicts she issued was that all apartment doors should be closed, all the time. That did not go down well. But, offered a bit of an opportunity for defiance.

    I was thinking the other day, how old varieties get lost. We have three grapes, here. Whoever planted them, is long gone. The only information that has clung to them is that they “came from New York State.” But, unfortunately, all three are seeded varieties. The Master Gardeners are talking about replacing some, or all of them, next year.

    The egg shells work pretty well, for my small patch. Besides putting them in planting holes, and buried kitchen scraps, sometimes I just scatter them around tender sprouts. There’s a story that they help keep the slugs off. They don’t like the sharp edges. But, I don’t know if anyone has put that to the test. Or if it’s one of those gardening “tales.” I heard another one, from a Master Gardener. Some old guy had caught moles, at their place. And, he tossed the bodies under her apple trees. Said the smell of decay kept the deer off. That’s a new one I hadn’t heard.

    That was an interesting article about vets. And, Atlantic Magazine had one, almost identical, from an American point of view, a few weeks back. Identical problems, here. There was a really good Australian TV series, back in 2007, about two Australian women vets, out in a small farming community. It was called “Rain Shadow.”

    We don’t have an emergency vet clinic, in this county. The nearest is up in Olympia. One thing I found out from the wellness check, is that H’s teeth are in good shape, and don’t need a cleaning. I guess that half a “Greenie” I give her, morning and evening, has really done the job. She seems to feel better, today. More perky. I’ll give her the flea tablet, tomorrow.

    The shrimp nachos, were good. Not quit like the restaurant variety, but, tasty. I did nip down to the store for some ice cream. I really splurged, and got “the good stuff.” A pint of chocolate peanut butter and a pint of bourbon chocolate vanilla bean truffle. Set me back, $14. Oh, well. Special occasion, and all that.

    The movie, “Everything, Everywhere, All at Once.” was fun. Crazy, fast paced, great fight scenes. Considered some of life’s “big” questions. Worth watching … once. Jamie Lee Curtis was in it, and had a great part.

    Your chicken burger sounds really good. I think tonight, I’ll take some rice, toss in the rest of the shrimp and the rest of the yellow zucchini. Etc.. Speaking of minor complaints, my buddy Scott sent me a quote from that great sage, Lilly Tomlin. “Man created language to satisfy his deep need to complain.” 🙂 Also applies to those people who don’t think burn offs are a good idea. Lew

  32. @ Pam,

    Condolences on the loss of your father. You’ve been going through a LOT. I’m glad your mother seems to be in a good place for now, and that it is close to your home.


  33. @ Claire – Here you go …

    I have not read that book.

    I noticed what you said to Chris, about tea. I have “Homegrown Tea: An Illustrated Guide to Planting, Harvesting, and Blending Teas and Tisanes (Liversidge, 2014). I just got one from my local library, “Tea Gardening for Beginners: Learn to Grow, Blend, and Brew Your Own Tea at Home.” (Dimakos, 2022). I do not have the one you mentioned to Chris. I’ll have to check it out. Because you can never have too many books about tea! 🙂 Lew

  34. @ Pam
    Nice to have you back. You have been having a hard time and I am sorry to hear of the death of your father. I wish all the best to you and yours.


  35. Hi DJ,

    If the super bugs don’t get ya, the food just might. 🙂 Glad to hear that his lady has a sense of humour about it all, and between you and I, life is way too short for skim milk.

    Poor Avalanche, and I hope it soon cools down for her benefit. Sir Poopy had an equally thick coat, and during hot days he’d hide in the shade on the coolest surface he could find, like near to the underside of the house. He wasn’t active at all, and each summer I had him clipped really short. The groomer always left a pompom on the end of his tail, but Sir Poopy enjoyed losing his winter coat.

    Very wise to avoid working on such days. What we do down here is get up before dawn on such summer days. Incidentally, who knew the sun wasn’t up in the sky before dawn? A crazy time to get up, but we’d work until about 1.30pm, then pack up, when the heat became too much to bear and then that was it for the day. With all the work on the big shed last summer, I pushed through later on a few of those days, and I tell ya mate, sitting up on that roof fixing the steel sheets and capping was not much fun. And the thick layers of sun screen made it slippery. Don’t think I’m an Englishman either, but the Scotts were probably crazy too.

    🙂 Always sound advice given the circumstances. Had a quieter day today myself and it was needed. Haven’t had a week off work for about two years now, and yeah, like you and your lady, there’s been a few tragic things to deal with.

    Funny you mention the MMT folks, strange people. If they said the sun was up before dawn, I wouldn’t believe them, but mostly because I know better these days. 🙂 But, yeah, that lot are crazy, and nobody seems to be blaming them.

    Sorry mate, there’s been so many years I forget the small details like that, but yeah, you were there. 🙂 Large and in charge! And also fluent in ancient Hunnish. How about moving them stones, huh. Nice work too.

    Avalanche read the comment and Ruby is a bad influence, although quite a well behaved canine. It is not for no reason that she is Captain Fun, the cheeky minx.

    Out of curiosity, how did the peaches smell when they were dehydrating, and do they retain their flavour (or more importantly, did they have flavour in the first place?)

    I’d like to think that there is plenty of stuff us clever humans have no comprehension of. And that alone makes the world an interesting place.

    Thanks, and yes, we’re doing OK, despite it all. They do say that the best revenge is to have a good life, and it’s true. 🙂

    3’C outside tonight, but at least there was some sunshine today and the batteries fully charged. It’s been a very cloudy winter. Oh, and it rained today too, about 5mm. So wet outside…



  36. Hi Inge,

    Ah, that’s really good to hear about your greenhouse and the strawberry harvest going well. I moved about twenty strawberry plants into the greenhouse with that outcome in mind. Always good to hear that other people have had success with plant arrangements. Who can forget the day the pheasant crashed into your greenhouse? The cheeky bird. It probably would have roasted up finely. 🙂 The poultry club had pheasants for sale at the poultry sale we went to earlier in the year, and they’re beautifully coloured birds with lovely plumage.

    Hmm, interesting about the tomato comparison, but I can see that. The plants really do need the heat in order to ripen rapidly. Our best tomato season was the same as the Black Summer of 2019-2020. A lot of fires, a lot of dry weather, but the tomatoes did really well here. We’re in the middle of reconsidering how we grow the tomatoes here, and we have to make allowances for us being a bit slack and not growing the plants up climbing arrangements. We have to have a system that will work with our management arrangements.

    Fresh cucumbers are tasty. Out of curiosity, do you remove the seeds? I know people who do this so as to reduce the bitter flavour, but I don’t mind that at all. It gives the fruit bite. 🙂

    Leaf fall is early. Is it possible that the leaf fall is a reaction to the hot weather? That can happen here with the forest, and during very hot spells, dry leaves will fall like snow. With the fire risk, lots of dry leaves on the ground is a bad idea, and we tend to mow them up if that happens.

    Another day of rain, but at least the sun shone for most of the day today.



  37. Hi Pam,

    No, I did not think that, you did mention that you’d be busy for an extended period of time, and turns out you were more than busy and suffered tragedy. Please accept my condolences for the loss of your father, and I hope that you and your family are doing OK during this difficult time.

    Thank you for taking the time to drop by and say hello and your words are always much appreciated.

    Pam, I tell ya truthfully, that thing has been getting around and it isn’t much fun. Hopefully your household all didn’t succumb at once and experienced it differently? Someone at least was hopefully on their feet and assisting the household to keep on going? What a nightmare, and you wouldn’t have been able to help your mother either in the circumstances.

    Glad to hear that your mother is doing OK and is in assisted living. If your mother is anything like you, I’m sure she’ll make plenty of friends. And maybe after her (and yours) loss, a change will be good a thing.

    What can I say, I played the hand that was dealt to me and made the best of a really ordinary situation. Things could have been worse too, I could have ended up like them.

    Remember to take some time out, wander around the garden at this beautiful summer time of the year, and also look after yourself.



  38. Hi Claire,

    Thanks for the book on tea camellia’s. I’ve succumbed to your book recommendation. Thanks for mentioning the book, there is clearly plenty to learn! 🙂

    Hope your area wasn’t too troubled by the heavy rain?

    Rained here again today, but at least the sun shone throughout most of the day. There are signs of spring. It’s exciting!



  39. Hi Lewis,

    Yes, injuries can happen in those circumstances, especially whilst trying to detain him, and it would be foolish for miscreants to believe that things were otherwise. The guy was lucky that his outcome was not worse, as it was after all allegedly a very remote location. I’d be checking his background whereabouts during other recent incidents. Many years ago there was a firebug living to the south of here, and there were so many incidents. What interested me was after he was locked up, the incidents just stopped. Clearly the guy was a hazard to the broader community. In some states I believe convicted, but released folks, have to front up to the watch house on high risk days. That tells you something about the people involved. As a community though, we don’t manage the forests well, and that gives those folks opportunity for serious mischief.

    What’s that song, oh yeah, Josh Thompson “Way Out Here”. Hmm, yes backwoods living indeed.

    Yukko! Can’t say I’d be excited about being stuck on 95’F for a couple of days. Could be worse though, it could be 100’F. Yes, you sure are stuck in a rut there with that heat. However, I do believe that it will zing your tomatoes along nicely, and that is a fine thing. Just remember to water them before it gets too hot, and then maybe after the sun goes down, but I don’t know about that blossom end rot risk, mostly because I don’t have enough water to cause that problem.

    Thanks, I caught a few more rays today. It was so nice to feel some warmth from that big fireball out there in space. Right now it’s 37’F outside and perhaps it will get colder still over night. And of course it rained again today – another fifth of an inch. The ground is saturated out there, and I do hope to avoid a big deluge until perhaps it dries out at least a little bit. There was so much humidity the other morning that wafts of cold moist air had settled in the valley below the farm, and it wasn’t frost. Took a couple of photos, it’ll be interesting to see how they turn out.

    Speaking of space, Saturday night (which should be clear) there looks like a decent meteor shower due. Forgot to mention too, but last night in the nearby town on the way to dinner, a rather large shooting star fell to the ground. It was slow moving too so it may even have been space junk? I reckon it hit the ground too, as it didn’t burn out and was quite bright.

    Hehe! Yup, don’t feed the trolls. And in a nod to Monty Python and the Holy Grail, they additionally may ask you: What’s your favourite colour? 🙂 They really are very boring people.

    It is a good sign that you didn’t have any trouble sleeping. The warmest overnight temperature I’ve experienced was 84’F in and out of the house. In order for the house to work, it needs to capture the cooler night air, but not that night. Fortunately it was an exceptional night. Getting a thermometer is a mixed bag, although the information could be useful, and the weather forecast on those machines are pretty accurate once calibrated.

    Moving down to the library is a great idea. And edicts are probably issued by very dull people. Unfortunately there does seem to be a lot of them around.

    It is an interesting story isn’t it? How do the old varieties get lost. There’s a part of me that believes that fads might explain the loss – people want to keep up with the Joneses. I’m upbeat about the loss, if plant breeders at all levels get their acts together, we can get back to where we once were. And out of necessity, I believe that job will happen sooner or later.

    Diatomaceous Earth works using that process, so you might be onto something with the eggshells.

    Went in search of a turmeric tuber today, but didn’t find any in the local places. Had to go to the dentist this morning, and the tip to drop off the collected metal for recycling. Had a good chat to the guys at the tip, “mate, muddy, if I got the car into there, you’d have to get me out with the machine over there” and we had a laugh. It really was muddy at one point which I was grateful not to have to go anywhere near that place. Have to go back to the dentist in a few months and put a bit of filling on a tooth. Must have been clenching at night due to stress. Hadn’t noticed. Oh well, better to get onto this stuff.

    I’d heard urine kept deer away too. Spotted a massive Sambar deer yesterday. The thing was as big as a horse. A stag made its way up here recently and had scratched the antlers on one of the apple trees. For some reason they pick the apple trees. Dunno.

    Ah, yes, I recall you mentioning the show about the two vets, and the name is ominous in this country. But unfortunately, the numbers entering into that profession are perhaps restricted and so there is a shortage. It’s a complicated problem that’s for sure.

    Go H! What’s a greenie? If you were Dex I’d assume that you meant body parts sourced from ferals unfortunately discovered in remote locales. 🙂 Dogs do need bones to chew upon. Glad to hear that she is feeling more her perky self today.

    The good stuff sounds very good indeed and a wickedly tasty combination of flavours. It’s nice to splurge every now and then.

    Crazy and fun was the vibe I was getting from the trailer. It’s done really well at the box office, and is still playing in some theatres down here.

    That’s funny and Lily Tomlin has some great quotes attributed to her: “No matter how cynical you become, it’s never enough to keep up.” So true. Stand up comedians would have very sharp minds. Oh yeah.



  40. @ Clare – Our library system has one copy of the book on Cahokia. I put a hold on it. Don’t know when I’ll see it. It’s status is “In Transit Between Libraries.” Which means it’s either was sent to another branch, and is now returning to it’s “home”, or, it’s on the way to fill another hold. The author also has a Young Adult book on Cahokia. I’m holding out for the high octane. 🙂 .

    Our system also had a couple of the tea book, one of which is sitting on the shelf, at another branch. With luck, I’ll see that one next week. Lew

  41. Yo, Chris – I forgot to answer your question about dog tails (tales?). H doesn’t have a pom-pom. More of a sweep. Or, flag. Which she mostly keeps up. I usually trim just a bit off the bottom of her tail. And, I trim her ears up, a bit. If I don’t, they drag in her water dish, and then she gets matts, behind her ears.

    The best revenge IS having a good life. My friends in Idaho are a good example. Debbie has two sisters. They, and her mom were always dumping on her. Ron’s family (all very loving) lived on the wrong side of the tracks. Though no one knew his Dad was one of those millionaires next door. Every one in their little town looked down, on the family. So who’s the most happy and successful? Ron and Debbie. “He who laughs last, laughs longest.” John Heywood, 1546.

    Law of the hills: Shoot, shovel, shut up. 🙂

    It was 91F (32.8C), yesterday. But our overnight lows are back to around 60F. When I went out to water, last night, the Jerusalem artichokes were looking pretty droopy. But, they always do. But also the zucchini and even the tomatoes, a bit. Everything is back to looking fine, this morning. Something was nagging at my brain about tomatoes, pollination, and temperatures. Blossom drop. Tomatoes may not pollinate, at temperatures over 85F. And night time temperatures over 70F (some sources say 75F). I guess the pollen gets “sticky.” Doesn’t want to float around, on the breeze. Or, if you give the plant a little shake. No blossoms on the ground. But I wonder if the bees might move that sticky pollen, around … Speaking of which …

    I almost had a bit of a disaster. I cut some of the Elephant Garlic pom-poms, every year. For “decor.” Dry them out and stick them in a vase. I need seven. Someone had stolen three of them, so I thought I’d better get out and get the one’s I need, though I usually wait a bit longer. Well, I’m merrily cutting away. And did not realize the heads were full of honey bees! They were not pleased. Nor willing to give up, when I moved off and waved them around. I gave up, and waited until just after sunset to complete the job. After the bees had called it a day. I’m also seeing a lot of bumble bees, about. The Master Gardeners also marked, and pointed out to me, a ground hornets nest. But, it’s in another part of the garden, where I don’t go.

    So cool to see interesting things, in the sky. I saw a headline, that a bit of Land of Stuff space junk is coming down. You may have seen that.

    How do old varieties get lost? Think of your grandfather’s garden. I bet he had a few heirloom treasures, tucked in there.

    You might find some Turmeric at a “health” food store. Or maybe even at a well stocked grocery. It might be expensive, but you don’t need much root to get a start.

    “Greenies” are a dog chew that cleans their teeth. My vet friend Amanda recommended them, as I mentioned H had really bad breath.

    Yup. Shaped like little tooth brushes 🙂 . They’re expensive, but do the job. I get the smallest one as H is only 10 lbs. I break them in half, and give her half in the morning, and half at night. Of course, I’ve got to order her the grain free ones.

    Ooooh! That is a good Tomlin quote. I’ll have to shot it to Scott.

    I stopped by the library, yesterday, and hit the jackpot. There will be popcorn and cheese, in my future. Last night I watched a bit of “Star Trek: Lower Decks.” Season 2. I saw an article that in the next season of “Star Trek: Strange New Worlds” (Which I haven’t seen yet), they’re going to have a mash-up / cross over episode, between “Strange New Worlds” and “Lower Decks.” A mix of animated and live action. That ought to be fun.

    How did I miss that? I also started watching a bit of an older Australian series. “Winter.” (2014). Police investigation series. Looks pretty good. Lew

  42. @ Lew – thanks for the Cahokia update! I knew from other reading that pre-Columbian groups in the prairie areas had domesticated some wetland plants for food. Marsh elder seeds at least 4 times the size of today’s marsh elder seeds have been found in archeological sites around the area. It’s a plant of wetlands and wet areas, so it could have been planted in a wet north plaza as a backup (at least) food source at Cahokia. It seems to me that having a large wetland area planted to domesticated plants, along with the fields of corn/squash/beans/etc. that they also cultivated, would help the people at Cahokia to eat whatever the weather during the growing season. Unfortunately the domesticated variety of marsh elder is now extinct. One wonders which of our current domesticated crops might go extinct during the long decline.

    You’ll like the tea book. It’s all about tea camellia and making your own white, green, oolong, and black tea. Maybe growing tea is in your future?


  43. Hello Chris,
    Condoleances anyways for your mum, despite everything. Losing parents is how we become adults, they say over here. On the other hand, clearing out can be a relief to all parties.

    We have landed in our small farm in Sweden, and we are quite overwhelmed by everything, and I think I need to sort out my thoughts a bit more… Some strange surprises, like any old place. Two water wells with only 1 meter deep water. Undocumented and unclear rain water drains. Lots of shed-storage space. A mouldy cellar.

    Regarding winter-season veggies: I think that the Eliot Coleman book about growing greens for winter harvest is solid. I have only experience myself from a few species of protected-garden winter greens, but I have also made the observation that things stop growing when it is cold. Just keeping the plants alive is enough to enable harvest throughout the winter.

    MMT seems to break down here in the euro-zone with predictable inflation as a result. People are busy pointing fingers, but the central bankers are usually not called out. Why not?


  44. Chris,

    Fortunately, the house is cool, as the AC via heat pump is working well. Avalanche is enjoying the indoor cool. 40.5C here today. Could be worse. It could be that warm with wind. Oh, that’s forecast for Friday. And down in Al’s area it has been at least 43C.

    Of course the Scots were/are crazy. Living next to the English will do that to people. 😉 The English drove the Welsh and Irish crazy also. It’s probably more a case of crazy is as crazy does.

    Ya know, some of us saw through MMT very early on. Sooner or later all of that fake money “created” by debt had to be inflationary and other bad things. It just takes time for the excess “cash” to achieve critical mass and be a huge problem. Similarly with the greenhouse gases and climate change, etc.

    Thank you, thank you. Stonehenge was one of my favorite projects. Ancient Hunnish is one thing I would like to forget. I think Tolkien was trying to base the Orc language on it. 😉

    Several years ago, I had a cyst on my neck go nasty. Had to have some minor surgery to fix it. There was a scar for some years. When asked about the scar, I said that my order had recently discovered that a chaotic order had sent someone back in time to keep Attila the Hun alive and basically conquer all of Europe. I was sent back to make sure things happened the way they had actually happened. So, I suddenly showed up in Attila’s tent during his wedding festivities. I quickly dispatched the Agent of the Chaotic Order. Attila was NOT amused at my presence, so we got into a little “scrape”, aka dueling scimitars. I won, keeping history intact, but not before Attila got in a good blow on my neck, just missing the jugular. Hence the scar. I’m still disappointed that nobody believed me. 🙂

    I think Avalanche misread Ruby’s message, or else it was in some kind of doggy code. Since reading the message, Avalanche has been enjoying stalking and chasing sparrows whenever she is outdoors. And grasshoppers. She might soon take a page out of Rakhi the Samoyed’s playbook and run around the yard yapping at airplanes flying over.

    The drying peaches smelled peachy. Duh! 😉 (Couldn’t resist that.) The house smelled like peach pie. Yum. The peaches were very flavorful. I sampled some of the dehydrated ones and yes, flavor was retained. The Princess bought me one of those gizmos to vacuum seal things, so that’s how I am storing the peaches now. Found out (the hard way, naturally) that I need to line the plastic storage bags with parchment paper or something similar to protect the plastic from getting holes poked into it by sharp pieces of dried peach.

    Okay, speaking as a physics guy, and I’m sure that our resident chemist, Claire, would concur…there’s a boatload of natural stuff that we have little to no comprehension of. There’s a lot of undiscovered Nature, and a lot of things that we can’t explain. It keeps me in a state of happy wonder to realize that we don’t know everything. Nor can we know everything.

    Congrats on getting the batteries charged. I know that’s a challenge at your location for several weeks, this time of year especially.


  45. @ Lew:

    Thank you, Lew.

    I have been wondering about Elinor, being among all these wonderful elderly people at the assisted living place. They have such great stories to tell.


  46. @ Margaret:

    Thanks, Margaret. I have been through no more of a wringer than you have with your family.

    Yes, my mother will be staying at the assisted living place. Even with my father gone I am not sure we can really care for her as she needs to be cared for.


  47. Hi Claire,

    The tea camellia in the greenhouse is growing very well and about to produce flowers – go figure. It’s friend unfortunately turned toes up, but I had unfortunately seriously upset the root system when transplanting the second tea camellia. Oh well, mistakes happen. At this stage, I’m probably going to replace it with turmeric, which should survive in the greenhouse.

    For your info, I relocated several green and red mustard plants in there too, and they’ve become like Triffids and are putting on heaps of new growth.

    Hope your garden is springing forth with life after the recent heavy rain.



  48. @ Inge:

    I am glad to be back, Inge. Thank you for your sympathy and your best wishes.


  49. Hi Goran,

    It’s a wise saying, and I’ve heard people recount the realisation that once parents have died, they’re next in line. Somehow I’ve been comfortable with impending mortality and realise that life is short and the inexplicable can occur at any moment. One of the things that has deeply bothered me over the past two years is that the fear of death has been pushed very hard, and that’s weird because it is part of everyone’s normal life experiences. What concerned me was that with all of the compounding worries, people were forgetting to live. Nobody guaranteed us ever lasting life – that I’m aware of. 🙂

    But yes, the clearing of the decks does come with some sense of relief.

    Well done to you and your family. 🙂 Respect. It was a bold move, and probably one I too would have considered if in your shoes.

    Two wells, one meter of water each. That might not be a problem if the wells are but two meters deep, but I’m guessing that this is not the case. Mate, ground water gets over extracted right across the planet. Electricity is too cheap and also powerful pumps are too cheap. But then, I have a preference for above ground water tanks where the water levels can be seen and monitored in the very worst seasons.

    The shed storage space is a bonus. Are the shed timbers and/or steel in good condition? Sorry, I have no experience with cellars and would imagine that without damp proof courses they’d all be mouldy. Maybe a high pressure sprayer is in your future? It will get rid of the mould, but may not cure the core problem.

    Winters are different here, and whilst the plants stop or go on a go-slow, they do keep going. I’ve got several varieties of winter greens (kale and two types of mustards plus herbs) and citrus delivers fruit, but I’m on the very edge of those plants cold tolerance and it is touch and go with them. I’d be at a loss with your colder winters. As a gentle suggestion, does your new place have wood heating? I use that energy source here and it’s the most sustainable fuel around.

    Exactly, and why is that? I’m pondering that very question over the past few days. The MMT folks are wrong, plain and simple.



  50. Hello Chris
    Only the male pheasants have a colourful plumage.
    I don’t remove seeds from cucumbers and mine aren’t bitter. I was told that one should remove all male flowers as it is fertilisation that causes bitterness. Am puzzled though and need to learn more as I once had a variety that didn’t produce male flowers. Am getting male flowers with this lot but no bitterness.

    The leaf fall is solely due to the dryness. I wish that it would rain as what had promised to be a huge blackberry harvest, is not doing well. They are hard, tiny and taste vile.

    We are getting a hose pipe ban from next Friday so the necessary watering will become hard work for me.


  51. Hi DJ,

    You and Al are roasting, but am glad to hear that you’re staying cool. Hope Al is OK? It gets that hot here and then some, so I know what it feels like. It’s a relief when it finally passes which it should for you in a week or two. And the wind, the wind, ’tis something to be fearful of in those temperatures.

    Honestly, I have no idea why the English used to poke the Scots. It’s not like there was much wealth to be gained (North Sea Oil excluded given that was a recent event), I’m guessing there was a certain nuisance factor which probably it was considered best to stomp? But yeah, crazy is as crazy does, is a fine way to put it. Upon consideration of history and the longer term trends, I tend believe that the English were unfortunately battle honed by the successive waves of marauders over so many centuries. Honing does tend to make for a sharper blade, but alas they are blunt now, but were perhaps clever enough to have withdrawn from the EU in a nick of time. I have some odd hunches about the future of that part of the world.

    I agree, there is a lag time and for the MMT folks, the game is perhaps now up, and we all get to face the consequences. I wouldn’t have pursued this policy in the first place, but then it wouldn’t have been popular and a whole bunch of people would have gotten rather upset with me. Easier to let them all learn the hard way. A turning point for me was at a house auction about 27 years ago and I watched the prices rise for no real reason and knew then that bad things would follow. I’d like to be wrong too, but my gut feeling suggest that the goose is now cooked (whatever that means – I’ve never tasted goose, probably quite yummy!)

    Hehe! Tolkien had a gift for languages, that’s for sure. Hey, did you ever get a chance to see the film on the professor from a few years ago? It was quite good, and one image stuck in my mind and it was of the young Tolkien at University with his favourite professor of ancient languages. Everyone around him was celebrating the outbreak of WWI, yet the young Tolkien and professor just looked worried. History can have that effect.

    Oh, that’s a great story which I’m chuckling at. Yes, probably so. 🙂 Attila had it coming and was a classic case of over reach.

    It’s funny that Avalanche has taken note of aircraft, but one of the side benefits of the past couple of years of craziness is that the number of aircraft flying does seem to have dwindled. Before things went off the deep end, there were a lot of planes, and we’re not too far from the airport and so they’d happily buzz the house. The really low ones I used to wonder if the engines were given enough thrust to climb up and over the main ridge which is a little bit over 300m higher. Hope you guys know what you’re doing was what was going through my mind. Anyway, there are so few planes now that Kelpies bark at them. And they’re meant to be the smart ones… Of course, Avalanche is probably equally as clever to also take note of such flying tin cans?

    Very funny, but yeah everything was probably peachy! 😉 Ah, thanks for the tip as I’ve not used such a machine, but can see how that would happen. I tend to turn the peach crop here into jam, but have to up the sugar next time I do that task.

    Yes, it makes me happy too. And you and I both know of the outcome of the Total Perspective Vortex. It’s not good. Anyway, my brain can only handle one thing at a time, so metaphysical mysteries are not possible to consider whilst typing a reply to your good self – at least that’s what I tell people when they ask for my overloaded brain to do more than a single thing at a time. 🙂

    The danger zone is about three weeks either side of the winter solstice. There is nothing I can do to get the sun to rise higher into the sky. But then, hey, at least I know that to be true. Spare a thought for all the folks who believe that it is possible that things are otherwise. It’s a very commonly held belief that.

    There’s meant to be a very good meteor shower tomorrow night, and for once the winter night skies may be clear. Yay!



  52. Hi Lewis,

    Ah, the sweep tail. Very good, and much better than the pompom. We also used to cut Sir Poopy’s tail into a similar arrangement during the summer months, but the groomer had other plans, which we had to allow, then modify. Incidentally, one time I picked up Sir Poopy after his summer hair buzz cut, and the next customers were arriving to drop off their dog for a grooming, and they recoiled in horror at the sight of Sir Poopy. It’s an outrageous slur upon his good character and overall fluffy skills. May H never be subjected to such harsh opinions, after all being a fluffy here breeding and reputation are beyond reproach. 🙂

    Matts behind the ears are not good, and I assume you have to cut them off?

    Good to hear about your mates in Idaho. It’s true too and well done to both of them. Wrong side of the tracks depends upon a persons perspective, and my lot had issues with the Editor in relation to that. They were probably more annoyed that she was more accomplished than them and we were doing OK. However, Claire raised the difficult question as to re-engaging with them, but I dunno what to feel about that. My gut feeling tells me that they probably haven’t changed, but then even if they had, there’s nothing they could provide that I need or want. The assistance that could have been provided from them was many years in the past, and they made their choices then. The relationship now would be more cost than anything else, so the why question bothered me, but it’s not like I’m in any great pain about the situation. The grief phase was a long time in the past, and it is true that time heals all wounds.

    Nothin’ wrong with hillbilly law. 🙂 Hehe!

    It’s complicated but 91’F is sounding really nice about now, but then it is 34’F outside in upside down land. Brr! Dame Plum in a former life must have been in your part of the world. She has this weird thing of looking at the world upside down, and she does look rather amused by doing that act.

    Exactly, Jerusalem artichokes do that trick, but I give them a bit of drink of water in late afternoon and they perk right up again. Getting those plants to flower is something of a mystery though. How’s you lot looking on that front?

    Dunno, but I’ve never experienced poor pollination with tomatoes. However, given Gondwana, the Solanum family of plants are present in this forest (Kangaroo Apples), and so there are an awful lot of pollinators. I really like the huge fat bees that buzz around tomato flowers doing their thing. Those things are like the B-17 bombers of the insect world. Huge things. European honey bees don’t pollinate tomato flowers – as far as I’m aware. The little stingless native bees seem to be able to do that trick though.

    Bit of a disaster is an understatement. Bee stings don’t hurt all that much, but the inflammation is a real pain which takes days for the swelling to go down. And it gets hot and itchy. Not nice at all. I can’t recall you being stung by a bee before? Some people can shrug off bee stings with no reaction. Between you and I, I may soon have to stop talking about beezs due to you know what which has landed in the state to the north of here. The knives seem to be out for the hobbyests (sic). The truth is, if the commercial folks didn’t move the hivez around so much and then take such a great portion of the winter food stores, then the colonies wouldn’t be stressed. Hmm. Still, I’m a hypocrite as I purchase from those people, when I know they have ‘real’ unadulterated product. But basically, the industry has to not stress them out so much, and maybe provide a more varied diet for the critters – it won’t happen, but that’s probably what needs to happen.

    It is possible that the shooting star was space junk. It certainly must have hit the Earth, and was falling slowly and appeared to be on fire. Fortunately the impact would have been out of town, but not too far out of town. I’m excited to see the meteor showers tomorrow night – and it will be clear, but very cold. Brr.

    It’s uncanny to think that about the heirloom treasures once within my grasp in my grandfathers garden. He would have been very pleased had I shown more interest, it is one of the few regrets in my life. Too late now, and your point stands.

    Hey, had a pottering around day today. Maintained some of the machines, took six power wheelbarrow loads of soiled bedding out of the chickens enclosure and used them in soil repair projects. Once the bedding straw was removed and the rich dirt was available, the chickens had a massive dust bath session. I’d felt bad that I hadn’t been able to get to that job earlier. Ollie spent some time sifting through the soiled bedding straw. Dogs can be filthy. 🙂

    Also spread out a couple of weeks worth of coffee grounds and lime (gypsum this time around) and used it to feed the recently planted citrus trees. Also had to get rid of some old computer junk, but ended up drilling holes through the faulty hard drives just to be sure the data wasn’t recoverable. Client stuff. I’m taking it to a place next week where they reckon it will be recycled. You’d hope the claims were true, but I have my doubts.

    The sun shone for most of the day, which was really nice, although it was cold. The plants in the greenhouse are going gang busters. I’ve never had access to such a growing space before, it’s a revelation of sorts.

    Good thinking with the turmeric. I’ll add it to the shopping list.

    Wow! They really do look like a green toothbrush for dogs. Cool, and I’ve never seen such a thing. We feed the dogs rawhide chews which they love and can chew on for hours. H is in a good paddock! 🙂

    Ooo, the crossover Star Trek sort of suggests that old dogs can learn new tricks. Interesting and a really good idea.

    I had not heard of the series. Simon and I were discussing recently why there is a recurring theme in Australian films where the characters are almost caricatures, and I’ve wondered about this aspect to the film industry. Being able to tell a good story well, is something of an art form.



  53. Hi Inge,

    I hadn’t known that about pheasants, however many of the birds around here follow a similar pattern. The male lyrebird is quite the showman compared to his female counterpart. And the blue fairy wrens are quite striking.

    Interesting indeed about the cucumbers. You mentioning your experience with the fruit brought to mind a vague memory that we have only limited varieties of that plant down under, and they’re all bitter. The memory could be false, but perhaps that might explain the difference. Your experience surprised me, but then there isn’t a really wide variety of edible plants down under. I don’t believe that is a good idea, but it does have the benefit of having very few plant diseases – mind you, the wildlife is voracious down here.

    Unfortunately that is the case with blackberries. They grow larger berries and produce better jams when rainfall is plentiful. The plants are water stressed. In such years, we still use the berries to produce jam, but it takes a lot more picking to achieve the volume required for a jam.

    Hmm, hope it doesn’t dry out too much as there may be grass fire risks. Your oak forests would be fairly resilient to fire I’m guessing, the trees are that way down here from what I’ve seen. Great trees.

    Does your property have a well? And has the pond dried up?

    It rained here again this morning, but at least the sun shone for most of the day. The ground is boggy, which is quite the achievement given up two thirds of the way up a tall mountain saddle. It’s far worse down below in the valley. And it’s 34’F outside right now. A bit cold for my tastes.



  54. Yo, Chris – Oh, I don’t think H would be too bothered by someone dissing her clip job. No matter what it looks like, everyone makes over her. Her public. 🙂 The little stinker. Last night, I put the flea pill on her kibble, and covered it with peanut butter. Now, usually, she’s on that, well like Ollie on chicken bedding. Nope. Wouldn’t even give it a nibble. Wouldn’t even lick a bit off my finger. So, I just waited her out. Sometimes during the night, she ate the whole thing. Wow. Those pills really work. I think. I haven’t seen her scratch once, this morning. Bravecto. Expensive ($67), but one pill lasts three months.

    Me, being me, I don’t think I’d re-engage with “those people.” If you want to satisfy your curiosity, check social media. Otherwise, who knows what dramas you might be drug into. My friends in Idaho’s relatives are always hitting them up, for money. If things get as bad as they might, the whole lot might end up camping in tents, at the bottom of your paddock.

    It was 93F, yesterday. Three more days of this stuff, and we should get into cooler temperatures. Due to the heat, I was pretty cranky, yesterday. A lot of little maintenance things didn’t get done. Just wasn’t up to it. I’m going to have to get better prepared, next year.

    Nope. No flowers on my Jerusalem Artichokes, this year. What, that’s the third year in a row? Fourth? Oh, well. Doesn’t seem to effect the roots. I watered this morning, and will hit the garden again, this evening.

    Our bumble bees are more like B-52s 🙂 . I was stung, when I was five or six. Stepped on a bee, in clover. Since then (knock on wood), no stings. I move slow. Maybe the amount of garlic I eat, helps? I have a big volunteer fennel plant, that popped up amongst my Elephant Garlic. It must be over 6 feet tall. It’s just beginning to flower, and is really attracting the pollinators. I want to save the seeds. They taste like licorice and are great in baked goods. I’ve never eaten the root, but wonder how good it is, after it flowers?

    The space junk I saw come down, was slower moving than meteors. There ought to be something in your news, about it. The one I saw ended up in eastern Washington. Pieces all over the place. Mostly in farmer’s fields. But one chunk did land close to a caravan.

    I don’t know if it makes any difference, but the Turmeric you might find at a “health” food store might be organic.

    We got a food box, this morning. After the volunteers not showing up for the last one, I didn’t know if it would make an appearance, or not. A pretty good box. Two one pound packs of frozen lean ground turkey. 2 little jars of peanut butter. Eggs. Tins of vegetables (peas, green beans, pinto beans, corn, diced tomatoes). A couple of bags of granola bars. Individual servings of oatmeal. Tinned beef stew and re-fried beans. Packets of dried lasagna, potato buds, pasta, mac & cheese. A tin of salmon. Some I’ll leave on our swap table, some I’ll take to the Club. I don’t keep much for me. A box of banana pudding mix, a can of diced tomatoes. The turkey. I might keep the tinned refried beans. A packet of York peppermint patties. Otherwise, everything must go! 🙂 Lew

  55. Chris,

    Yup, we are roasting. Another day of the same temps, 41C, with 25km per hour winds in the afternoon. On top of 14% humidity. Rather nasty outside. The once mild and wet year has quickly degenerated into a case of trying to keep the grass undead rather than green. Undead grass = zombie grass?

    Sometime in the early 1000s, say about 1025, rulers of different parts of Scotland swore loyalty to King Canute of England and Denmark. Perhaps they swore *fealty*, perhaps not. Something similar had happened about 100 years earlier with Athelstan of England reaping the benefits after the Battle of Brunanburg.

    At various times during the first 150 years or so of Norman rule of England and parts of Wales, the leading Welsh princes were forced to swear fealty to the English king in order to stay alive and remain in power. England hadn’t exactly conquered Wales, but the English Marcher lords held a lot of Welsh land. English kings regularly invaded Wales.

    Enter Edward I, aka Longshanks, in the last third of the 1200s. He was an egotistical power-hungry king. Very shrewd, also, he viewed the old “agreements” with the Welsh rulers as proof that he was the true ruler of Wales. He picked more fights with Llewelyn the Last, grandson of Llewelyn the Great. Llewelyn the Last was eventually killed, and he was the last native Welsh ruler of any major parts of Wales. Edward Longshanks used similar arguments to try to conquer Scotland. Intermarriage between sons of Scottish kings and daughters of English kings muddied the water as well.

    Alas, I must agree that the goose is cooked, indeed. MMT theorists will be fine, but us commoners will pay a huge price for their insane nonsense. Ummm, I’ve never had goose, either. Duck several times. Wild ducks, they were. They needed to be cooked for a very long time in a slow cooker in order to become tender. No, they do NOT taste like chicken.

    Never saw the movie about Tolkien. I wish I had. I might see if the library has it.

    I’m glad you enjoyed my story. That was one of my favorite ones. And it DID explain the scar.

    Avalanche looks up a LOT when outdoors. She notices birds, airplanes, etc. She also looks at the phone cables that run overhead, trying to spot the squirrels who use the phone cables as a superhighway. She is extremely observant.

    Hope you were able to enjoy the meteor shower. I got a flat tire once at 2:00 a.m. while driving home from somewhere. So, on a clear summer night in August with no light pollution, I was able to enjoy the Perseid meteor shower. It was rather spectacular. So much so, that it took me 2 hours to change the tire. 😉


  56. Hello Chris
    I don’t have a well and the pond has dried up. The ground is starting to crack open everywhere.
    No flowers on my Jerusalem artichokes, but flowering is rare. They are strange plants but indomitable. I have been trying to get rid of some of them, without success.


  57. Hi Inge,

    Interesting, I’m dubious of wells, if only because of over extraction by other households around a property. They’re a form of commons in some respects. The neighbour above me has a well (we call them water bores), but fortunately for the oldest trees here, water tends to flow downhill, and I spend a lot of effort getting rainfall into the ground.

    On the other hand, I do recall reading about wells in the book Cold Comfort Farm, so were not entirely sure how wide spread they were in your part of the world.

    For your interest, the Editor is soon to commence reading ‘How we live now’ which I rather enjoyed, and from memory, you recommended.

    Yikes, but then the pond may reflect where the level of the ground water table is at. Dunno about your part of the world, but the cracks here do allow rainfall (when it eventually returns) to more easily get into the soil where the trees root systems need it. It’s one of natures tricks.

    I don’t quite understand those plants as of yet, and was talking today with a mate who produces a tasty soup from the tubers. A lovely way to describe them too – indomitable. Lovely. They don’t tend to spread here, but out of curiosity, how long have the tubers been established where they are hard to get rid of? Their reputation suggests as much, but I lack experience with the plants to fully understand what it means.

    No meteor shower display tonight, the clouds have moved in. There’s always a bit of John Wyndham Day of the Triffids trepidation with such sky displays. 🙂



  58. Hi DJ,

    Far out! That is one nightmare high fire risk day. Stay alert, and hope your lady’s relatives are also on high alert. Mate, those days are horror weather days.

    Sometimes you have to let the patient go. Sorry, the grass will yellow and dry. Surely you watched enough episodes of MASH to know the truth of that? But fear not, as soon as the rains return, the grass will bounce back. Same, same, here.

    After much reading, a person would have to concede that Cnut was a very clever and effective bloke, and that there were a lot of religious relics floating around the landscape in those days.

    Interesting, I had not come across the term Marcher Lord before, but yes I can well understand how they were historically something of a menace. In a strange coincidence, the book I’m reading at the moment used the word ‘margrave’ in the context ‘announce that you are a guest of the margrave’. The sentence confused me if only because the concept was unknown. It is of note that the influence of the Marcher Lords reduced the further west a person travelled.

    Which lead me to the Riothamus. A very interesting fellow.

    Yes, I suspect that with the MMT folks, we’re going to find out just how hot they took things. The core they missed was that it was OK to chuck the excess mad cash into things with no set value to reality such equities and bonds, but the housing thing was a problem. And then continuing to expand the money supply when the economy is contracting, well let’s just say the horse bolted and the ship sailed. We just don’t know when the ship will take in enough water from the iceberg it so recklessly touched.

    The Tolkien film was good.

    One must have an explanation for scars, on the off chance that someone inquires about them.

    So there was an ongoing joke in the film: ‘Sean of the Dead’ where the two anti-heroes were asking the hard question: Do dogs look upwards? You and I both know the answer to this question. Dogs have also learned to make eye contact, and in Dame Plum’s case, nose contact. She will prod me repeatedly in the leg whenever it is time for a rawhide chew. Surely this is training the lummox’s that are humans?

    I envy your sky show, but alas the clouds have moved in and are obscuring the night sky (and candidly would have done the same as you).



  59. Hi Lewis,

    The meteor show is a fizzer tonight due to increasing cloud cover. I’ll try again later, but it’s no good. The wind is blowing tonight and overall the conditions are in the ‘brr-a-cold’ category outside. That’s the technical description of the conditions.

    Went into the big smoke today and had a delightful lunch with friends. Earlier today the winter sun was shining and we sat around a table outside and enjoyed our version of a potlach lunch. Very nice, and I reckon I made one of the nicest loaves of bread I’ve baked for a very long time. The conversation was also good and the house we were at was very interesting with lot’s of thoughtful systems.

    H is a lady who knows her public appeal. 🙂 I’ve got this mental image of her posing for her adoring audience, before then cheekily suggesting to them with an ever so slight tilt of her head: “You may admire me, NOW!”

    You never know with dogs what medicines they’ll consume. Dame Plum is always reluctant to take her worming medicine, which is a nuisance because of her skills with the rats and rabbits she does occasionally get worms. So regularly, she has to be de-wormed. But she’ll delicately push the edible de-worm chews to the side, or even lick the stuff off the things and leave them. H comes from a long line of fusspots. If you don’t take your flea pill, you can’t have any kibbles. How can you have any kibbles if you don’t eat your flea pill!” But then H did so. Good to hear the stuff is working. I’ve never tried that stuff.

    Thanks. That is the course I’d decided upon taking with them. It sounds mercenary when I type it out, but the relationship would seriously be all cost for me – so yeah, exactly, what could possibly go wrong – plenty. There’s no curiosity there either. My dad, who I hadn’t seen for many decades contacted me a long long time ago, and was stupid enough to write: “My girlfriend asked me to write to you”. It’s not a normal thing to write. You see what I’m dealing with here?

    Hitting me up for money, holy carp – that thought had not even crossed my mind, but yeah maybe they might try that. This is not something which I’d like to discover.

    Hope the three days passes quickly, and more importantly, uneventfully. Lewis, days and days of that sort of weather is not good. Fingers crossed your night time temperatures cool. How’s the tomato ripening going? Mate, do the jobs when the weather is right for doing them. We get up before dawn on such hot days in order to get things done, but it’s not natural to do so. And it does wear you down, I hear ya.

    No, the lack of flowers with Jerusalem artichokes doesn’t seem to effect the tubers. Hmm. Why is it like that? You’d think flowers would be kind of important. Deep dive ensued… … The jury appears to be out on the subject, but one difference I noted was that the plants prefer a slightly alkaline soil, and my soils are more acidic – as yours and also Inge’s would be. It is possible that the lower pH tends to slow the rate of growth of the plant and then it does not have enough time to produce flowers. That’s my theory anyway. Dunno.

    B-52’s, they were a pretty good band, and friends of Michael Stipe of REM fame I believe. 😉 Respect for your bumble-bees. Ouch, yes stepping on a bee presumably bare foot, hurts. No fun at all. Moving slow is wise when bees are involved, they get alarmed easily. Maybe about the garlic, but candidly I’m not willing to put the matter to the test and will take your experience to heart. I add the fern like leaves of the fennel plant to Chris’s crazy greens salads, and they give a nice subtle flavour (unless you over do it). Yeah, the seeds have a similar taste (and don’t they both look similar to dill when small?) I’ve never consumed the root, but the Editor has once consumed a salad with fennel root (or bulb in this case) in it and said that it was good. But yeah, it may be a taste sensation, but I keep the plants for the pollinator insects.

    There’s a faceplant group for sightings of meteors, but I had to join to see, and have no desire to do so on that platform. Like what you wrote, the thing was slower moving.

    Ah, of course! The turmeric tubers in the supermarket may have been sprayed with a germination inhibitor, and who knows what else. Good thinking!

    Nice score! And that’s funny, yes, everything must go! 🙂 The banana pudding mix sounds intriguing and is almost asking to be put to the ultimate kitchen show-down test.

    Almost forgot to mention. Dinner was made up of scraps we’d made that weren’t consumed and then brought home. Falafel’s, a chunk of homemade fetta cheese, chickpea and bean salad (yummo!), hommus, and we boiled up a couple of eggs. The chickens are now back on the lay and we’re getting around 3 to 4 eggs per day.



  60. Yo, Chris – Meteor show is a fizzer? Story of my life. 🙂 Here’s an article on the space junk, from the Land of Stuff …,297433

    Maybe they’re trying a new delivery system, to clear up all those supply line problems? 🙂

    Potluck. A potlach is where you give away all your worldly possessions. So, was this a Green Wizards gathering? Systems. Always interesting to see how other people do useful things.

    Well, when H goes to the Club, and people yell at her, “Hi, beautiful!” it tends to go straight to her head. We have an outside seating area, that is covered with some of those opaque rippled fiberglass panels. Birds hop around up there. H can hear them, and see their shadows. Drives her nuts. I noticed the other day, if I yawn, H yawns. Cross species yawn contamination.

    It was 93F (33.9C), yesterday. At 11PM, it was still 90F at our local weather station. Yesterday and today, I’m watering morning and evening. The zucchini, which is in one of the stock tanks, still looks stressed. Even though I saved “good” soil for it, I don’t think there’s enough organic material, in the soil, to hold the water. But, I’m working on it. All those zucchini leaves, stems and roots, will go right back into the soil. Along with more kitchen scraps and a couple of bags of composted chicken manure.

    You know, when I replanted the Jerusalem Artichoke, I can’t remember if I added anything to the soil. I see I can make the soil more alkaline by adding lime, stove ash, blood meal and egg shells. I’ll give it a try, next year. Fennel, parsley, dill. They all look similar when they go to seed. The tomatoes don’t even look like they’re THINKING of turning color, yet.

    Our idea of “pudding” is probably a lot different then yours. See: “Jello pudding and pie filling”, for pictures. There are different ways to make it. The “instant” is a stir and chill. Some of the other ones have to be cooked with milk. There are warnings on the box that other “milks” don’t work. Almond milk, etc.. But there are work arounds.

    I watched “The Lost City”, last night. Sandra Bullock, Channing Tatum, and a cameo by Brad Pitt. Daniel Radcliffe plays an over the top villain. You can tell he had fun with that roll. There are cool explosions (besides the volcano). Be sure and sit through the closing credits, as, there’s a bit more at the end. It’s well worth a look. It’s a rom-com 🙂 . Lew

  61. Hi Lewis,

    🙂 We all share this burden of fizzing. The cloud cover obscured the night sky, and continued today to obscure the daytime sky. At least it didn’t rain today – oh, hang on, it just did rain!

    Was it me, or did you notice that the article you linked to, included a number of different perspectives? I’m not used to seeing such balanced journalism these days. And if the land of stuff folks had half a brain, they’d point to Skylab dropping out of orbit. We’ve spoken about it before, but as a kid the thought of a couple of hundred pounds of stuff falling from the sky was kind of exciting. We eventually visited the regional museum over in the west of the continent where some of the larger chunks survived the impact. Being hit would have been fatal, but it’s a quiet part of the world over there, or was more so way back then. This all does tend to suggest the maxim that: Things don’t often work according to plan, may be a fair comment.

    Sorry, yes of course, potluck. The thing was, I looked up the definition of potluck, and it had some sort of main definition which suggested ‘to throw caution to the wind and just see what happens’, but also the definition you meant. It’s not a term I use, and so I ended up being confused by it. The potlach is not a bad idea in order to win esteem, but everything seems a little bit too much to me. A gift has to have meaning attached to it for that social arrangement to work.

    You guessed it! They’re a good crew, and the weather was really lovely yesterday.

    Alas, woe is me. I had to work today as I’ve fallen somewhat behind schedule. What do you? It does make for a shortened weekend, but I had fun yesterday so mustn’t grumble.

    Absolutely. Such adoration for H would most certainly go to her head. Dogs are more alert of their surroundings than us humans. I’ve heard about the yawn thing, that if you yawn, and then H yawns, that apparently the theory is that she recognises you as the alpha of the relationship. Makes sense.

    Holy carp, that is one hot summer night. There’s no getting around the watering morning and evening drill with intensive plantings, but then productivity is higher. I dunno about the soil in the stock tanks. It really takes about three years for soil to settle down and hit its stride (so to speak). You would have sped the process up rescuing the soil, but even so, time is what is needed. And yup, get anything you can into the soils. Waste no organic matter.

    I don’t believe I added any lime (or lime providing substances) to the soil in which I planted out the Jerusalem Artichokes. The idea never even occurred to me because of the plants feral reputation – which I’m seeing play out here. I reckon it is worth a try next year for sure.

    All those plants do look similar, although I have a bit of trouble finding the parsley seeds, so I’m guessing they’re tiny.

    The tomatoes are teasing you for sure. Such weather as you are experiencing should bring on some blush of colour.

    Lewis, I defer to you in this regard. Jello pudding and pie filling is nothing at all like what I thought they’d be. You’re spot on, to me a pudding is something like this: Sticky date pudding. Probably not right for the summer months, but when the winter cold wind blows, and you’re hunkered down inside, a proper pudding sticks to your ribs (as they used to say).

    The release date of that particular film down here was unfortunate. It wasn’t long after lock downs eased (from memory) and demand destruction is real. I could see Daniel Radcliffe enjoying the bad dude role. Rom-com’s are in short supply these days.

    Better get writing… I worked until almost 7pm tonight, it being a Sunday and all. Have most certainly done something very bad in a past life to have to work this hard. Oh well, better get my shoulders into it. Now, one, two, three, heave! Ugg!



  62. Hello Chris
    The only time that I have had a well was when I lived in a 17th century cottage. I would guess that wells are usually only found here in connection with very old buildings.

    The Jerusalem artichokes can’t be got rid of because they are so very good at hiding. Potatoes do the same but I am happy to have stray potato plants. The J. artichokes are masters of the art though.

    My impending hosepipe ban is caused by Australia! It appears that Southern water was bought out by Macquaries bank. Vital services really should only be owned by the country where they are in situ.


  63. Hi Inge,

    Sorry I do have to write this evening, and am already running late.

    I’ll reply tomorrow, but before then I thought it would be worth mentioning that I’ve heard that that particular bank has a nickname: The millionaires factory. But truth to tell, I have no idea whether they are referring to: the shareholders; directors; employees and/or customers. The cynic may hazard a guess.



  64. Yo, Chris – Another plant that is good at hiding is horseradish. The tiniest piece and you have another plant. I read a bit more of “12 Tomatoes That Changed the World.” Last night, the chapter was about the Heinz company. What a story. But even before the catsup, there was bottled horseradish.

    It was 97F (36.1C), yesterday. It’s supposed to be just a couple of degrees cooler, today. Then 10 degrees cooler, tomorrow.

    There’s also the maxim, “Accidents happen.” 🙂 I’m also not used to reporting, with balanced multiple views.

    A gift has meaning to it. Obligation.

    In our colonial and Victorian days, “pudding” was pretty much like the British, and yours. Somewhere along the way, we lost the knack. I’d say the Jello “pudding” is a nice cool weather food. Especially the instant stuff, that’s just stir and chill. Lew

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