The Middle Finger

Someone around these parts is spray painting local road signage with the dark and foreboding words: “I see you”. What does that even mean? And who are they seeing? What do they even want anyway? Seriously, there are so many questions left unanswered. Life is sometimes like that.

On Wednesday I was working at a clients, and made the unsolicited observation that if it had been Thursday, I would have cancelled the visit. If the cool kids can do dark and foreboding, I can give it a go too by making inexplicable observations! Of course, the difference in this instance was that I then had to explain myself. The weather forecast for the following day looked set to provide some epic rainfall. Folks in the city I spoke with seemed oblivious to the risk, but whatever! The weather sure did not disappoint.

The rainfall forecast for Thursday 13th October 2022

Regular readers will know by now that it has been a rather wet year here. And the two years beforehand were also quite damp. And earlier in the week when looking at the rainfall forecast for Thursday, the conclusion rapidly arose in my mind that it was suddenly going to get a whole bunch more wet. After all, the farm is located in the blue blob on the above forecast rainfall map. That’s a strong possibility of 50mm to 100mm (or 2 to 4 inches) of rain for the day on already saturated soil. Youch!

I can empathise with the people living in the city and their reactions to my weather related concerns, after all I used to share that perspective. It all changed for me on one very wet day way back in the early 2000’s. We were renovating the kitchen for the house we’d been fixing up in the big smoke. All of the cabinets for the kitchen were in the backyard so as to make the sanding and painting job easier.

Any normal day, storing the kitchen cabinets outside wouldn’t have been a problem. Except it wasn’t a normal day. The first crack of thunder woke me. Never wise to disturb my slumber, but the thunder sure didn’t worry about that. Crack. Rip. Boom. I thought to myself that was weirdly close to the house. Was that another one? And another one? What’s going on?

Then the rain hit. The super-cell storm dumped 100mm (4 inches) of rain in an hour. The rain fell faster than my efforts to keep the kitchen cabinets from soaking up the moisture. Who knew that melamine was such a great material for absorbing water? After that, the kitchen was a write-off and the backyard was underwater. For days. A work mate loaned me a water pump and we pumped the water out of the backyard and into the nearest drain.

The super-cell storm was a wake up call. Note to self: Look at the weather forecast in future. And also there was the other note to self: When working in muddy water in the backyard, instead of advising Sandra to avoid falling into the construction holes, try avoid falling into the construction holes myself. Who knew that gumboots could hold so much water?

Just for a bit of additional excitement, here’s the rainfall forecast map for the coming week. Make of it, what you will. This time, the blue blob looks biggerer and more extensiver (just made those words up) to me.

Forecast rainfall for the coming week. Watch out!

Once the rain had eased off a bit, Ollie and I ventured outside with the camera, purely for research purposes for the blog of course.

The road was quite wet, but held up surprisingly well

Water tends to collect and run on hard and compacted surfaces during heavy rainfall. The road here was quite well made. I met the bloke who made it and he did similarly good work on our property. But all that water has to go somewhere. And it ran under the road through a large concrete pipe into a neighbouring property.

Not quite white water rafting, but it was getting there

All the water from the drain in the photo above and elsewhere collected into the creek at the bottom of the property here.

You could probably kayak the creek at the bottom of my property

Then all that water joined up with other creeks running out of the mountain range. The water from this part of the mountain range drains into the Macedon River which is bizarrely also better known as Riddells Creek. And the water just got biggerer (that made up word again).

A lot of water ended up in the err, flood plain, at the foot of the mountain range

All of the creeks originating in this mountain range drain into the Maribyrnong River. This river runs all the way into the big smoke of Melbourne. And as you’d imagine, that river got much super-biggerer (biggerer probably wasn’t a big enough word) than usual and flooded a whole bunch of peoples houses in the city. There are floods all over the state of Victoria now, and at this stage with the water moving slowly here there and everywhere, some towns are yet to be flooded.

After the last flood, the State Government raised the height of the bridge deck which spans the local river. Unfortunately, they’d neglected to raise the height of the road on my side of the bridge. So, the bridge deck was dry, but the road itself flooded and became impassable.

When the local river flooded, the bridge stayed dry, but the road flooded

The local volunteer emergency folks closed the bridge to traffic as the water was actually quite deep. What I hadn’t noticed at the time was the guy hanging out of the window of the Landcruiser. He didn’t look like a local because his car was too clean. But what was he doing? Oh my!

The middle finger. Clearly the driver doesn’t respect Suzuki Dirt Rats

Many of the systems for coping with heavy rainfall were put to the test. The path up above the house serves a dual purpose. It’s obviously a path, however due to the angle of the path, it redirects water back up hill and then disperses it. And it works. It has to work, a few years ago we had a minor landslide due to heavy rain concentrating in that area. Water can be very destructive.

The path up above the house works to redirect water during heavy rainfall

There was so much water from the rain. It’s a really weird to experience to see standing water in the paddocks when you’re on sloping land on the side of a mountain saddle. Just sayin’.

The paddocks are very wet after the rain

The broken dead tree in the above photo almost killed Sandra and I. The day it broke and fell we had only a few moments notice following on from the crack sound. And we ran. There’s no shame in running away, if you live to fight another day! Too much water killed the tree.

Ollie was loyal during the investigative walks around the property. Dame Plum followed me for a while, but soon had had enough. She of course did not carry a large umbrella, and ended up getting very wet.

Let me in, it’s really wet out here!

Last week we installed a rock lined drain so as to break up the flow of water from a surface drain. Tick. That system worked perfectly for days.

The rock lined drain dispersed the energy of the water flowing from this surface drain

Also, last week we installed two longer overflow pipes for the water tanks attached to the large shed. A couple of cement pavers were placed under the outflows, and they also worked perfectly by dispersing the energy of the water flowing out of the already full water tanks.

A simple solution, but it works

The only system which failed during the storm was the water which ran down the low gradient ramp. This water cut a deep gouge into the low gradient ramp and pushed a huge volume of clay and the crushed rock with lime into the orchard.

A lot of water flowed down the low gradient ramp and cut a deep channel

Something had to be done. We decided to install a surface drain at the top of the low gradient ramp thus re-directing any water earlier. A rock dispersement drain will be installed below the surface drain outfall to break up the energy of the water.

The low gradient ramp needed a surface drain at the top

It took a few hours to install the drain and clean up part of the damage. The drain looks like it was always there.

A surface drain was installed on the low gradient ramp. And we have a spare large rock

It’s been so wet this year that we’ve had the opportunity to relocate many trees. This week we relocated two small seedling American pawpaws, as well as two much larger Irish Strawberry trees.

A seedling American pawpaw was moved
A much larger Irish Strawberry Tree was relocated

The relocated plants were cut back hard. The cuttings were run through the scary old wood chipper, and then used as mulch around the relocated trees.

Despite this year being wet and cold, there might be a growing season at some point, and hopefully soon! We set all of the seeds for the growing season in pots and placed them onto special racking in the greenhouse. They won’t take too long to germinate in this sort of weather.

The seedlings were begun from seed this week and set out on the racking in the greenhouse

Very large and old trees are present on the farm and the heavy rains can sometimes impact upon them. But then so can drought, logging, fires, etc. It’s tough being an old tree. However, for there to be large trees here, conditions must be sort of OK for them. One of the benefits that large and old trees have over younger trees is that they have hollows. Hollows are where many critters live, it being occasionally very wet here and stuff. In the past few weeks I’ve noticed a mating pair of Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos. They’re not a threatened species, but in this state due to the decline in the number of large old trees where they can eat, live and breed, the birds are under pressure.

A Yellow Tailed Black Cockatoo hangs out at the farm

And one variety of plant is enjoying the conditions more than any other: The ferns.

Mother Shield Ferns are lovin’ the conditions. Nuff said

Onto the flowers:

Japanese Maple in flower. The bees and honeyeaters adore this tree
Bluebells growing at the base of a very large Olive tree
A very interesting variety of Echium. The sort of thing you’d expect to see on another planet!
A large patch of Forget Me Nots

The temperature outside now at about 8.00am is 3’C (37’F). So far this year there has been 1,141.6mm (44.9 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 902.8mm (35.5 inches)

42 thoughts on “The Middle Finger”

  1. Yo, Chris – Mysteries of life. Which reminded me of an ear worm …

    Of course, the big mystery is, what did Marietta do, to be considered naughty? 🙂

    A bit of damp? A spot of rain? Our time will come. Another Fern Glade Farm money making idea. White water rafting expeditions! You know, if you get lost on your place, just follow the water, downhill, and soon you’ll be someplace that looks familiar.

    Rude boy! He might loose that finger. Maybe if you weren’t laying on the horn … Just another example of the loss of civility, in the modern world. And doesn’t he know, he’s being watched?

    That was a near thing, with the almost killer tree. Can’t call it a widow maker, as the Editor was with you.

    Your overflow pipes need gargoyles, on the ends. Really dress them up. Archaeologists, excavating your place, in the far distant future will marvel. “It must rain here sometime. Look at this drainage system!” That’s the way I felt when I moved to LA. It never rained, but everywhere I looked, there was this incredible storm drain system.

    You might need another surface drain, on the ramp. Time will tell. You might leave the big rock, right where it is. A convenient place to sit and catch your breath, on the hike up the ramp.

    The wildlife around your place is pretty incredible. Now, Yellow Tailed Black Cockatoos. Any more sign of the Koala, in your forest?

    The Bluebells look a bit beaten down, by the rain. But it looks like the blossoms will soldier through. Those aren’t Echium! Those are Triffids!!!

    The Forget Me Nots are so pretty. I planted a few here, and now they’re everywhere. Not a problem, though. They’re very easy to uproot, if they wander into an area they’re not wanted. Although I didn’t plant them, it’s the same with the Pansies (violas?) They pop up everywhere, and always surprise with the constantly changing color combinations. Lew

  2. Hi Pam,

    Always wise to avoid trouble. Sometimes however, trouble comes unbidden and stuff. A pesky intrusion upon life that thing.

    Oh my goodness, that was something of a major problem in the days before mobile phones. You couldn’t just ring for assistance. I’m guessing the incident involved either walking long distances, waiting long lengths of time, hitch-hiking, or asking assistance from strangers (and hope that it wasn’t in the form of the Bates Motel). I can’t recall where I got the petrol from, but all I remember was the sudden feeling of the accelerator falling away flat to the floor, and the car slowing.

    It’s not a bad name at all is it?

    No, can’t say that I’ve ever been deficient in Vitamin D, but then I do get outside a lot during the winter months, but I’m closer to the equator than perhaps where you are. Actually, no I’m not. Oh well. Have you ever been deficient in Vitamin D? My thinking about your rain is that the situation for you will get better if the oceans on either side of your continent become warmer. At the moment, they’re kind of on the cooler side. Not sure why, but that is part of the climate drivers in your part of the planet. Mind you, if those oceans do warm, the storms you do get will contain more moisture and unfortunately pack more energy.

    Good luck! It was quite a lovely cool sunny day here today.



  3. Hi Lewis,

    You got me laughing there with the summer re-runs quip. One day I should just slip in an old blog entry and see whether anyone notices? I don’t really look at the stats much, but people do go back and re-read old blog entries. I’m not sure whether I’d be comfortable reviewing my efforts from years ago, but who knows, they might be better? Always an exciting prospect!

    Mate, your dad would kill me with an approach to life, the universe and early AF mornings like that. Far out, he’s got a perspective there, but it doesn’t necessarily apply to everyone equally, and western civilisation would survive a few more hours kip. And getting up in the dark in winter, just would do my head in. I did enough of that as a kid working on the newspaper rounds. That’s enough for one lifetime. Did you ever clash with your dad about that matter? The study is probably right, but who cares, 5am was never my friend. 🙂

    Note to self: Eat more greens. Wise advice, and thanks for the reminder. I had a couple of massive green mustard leaves in my lunch today (and a large hand full of rocket in my dinner) but the mustard leaves sure were spicy. You feel that effect in the guts for a while afterwards, but they’re a potent anti-inflammatory so must be doing something good in there? I don’t know about your part of the world, but not that many people eat garden fresh leafy greens.

    It’s super weird that eastern Washington has cooler weather than where you are. We had a light frost this morning, with another predicted for tomorrow. The early setting fruit has had a rough run of the weather.

    Mate, with the jabs it’s all risk no matter which direction you come at the problem. Life is kind of like that.

    The book Natures End sounds like an apocalypse. A very uncomfortable experience to be sure. Wouldn’t want to be there.

    Hey, I’ve seen that film. It was very amusing, and it was face paced. Those naughty older ladies with their oh-so-helpful arsenic. I’d expect their efforts would have been rewarded in the Natures End book. 🙂

    The news of Robbie Coltrane’s passing was reported upon down here. Yeah, nothing wrong at all with being a gentle giant. If they fixed the cover art for the books, I might consider reading them, but they really had nothing on art for say a Robert E Howard story.

    Dude, it’s from a musical. Thus tainted. Sorry, sensible people have to draw a line in the sand here. 😉 Think of my predispositions as illogical as the fear of the cover art on the average Harry Potter novel. It doesn’t make any sense to me either. At least I know why aircraft fill me with a deep dread. It was because my grandmother took me to see the Airport 77 disaster film when I was a very young kid. Some things you can’t un-see. True! Does that really happen to aircraft? Stuff that.

    You know, so I looked up the lyrics for the song, and they did not enlighten me as to Marietta’s variety of naughtiness. Had she done something a bit socially awkward and had to go spend some time with a distant aunt? Possibly so. The lyrics left the meaning unclear, let’s put it that way. It is possible the title of the song was the inspired genius part, for sure. That’s good marketing.

    Imagine hitting the low clearance bridges in a kayak in the local creek. That’s bound to hurt. Still if they paid first and waived all their rights and recourse, it might be a money spinner.

    I reckon we all know he knew. And the depths of his feelings could be adequately expressed across but a short distance. You don’t even need to be inept (!) at reading body language. Many years ago I read a CV where the person was claiming how inept (meant to write adept) they were at a particular activity. Would you argue with them?

    The tree fell years ago, but we’ve only recently cleaned up the mess it left. I can’t say I’m a fan of that tree, but it probably will stay like that now for many decades.

    Yeah, the overflow pipes would look good with some Gargoyles. Might keep the elder folk on their toes so that they don’t play too many tricks up on us. You know what that lot are like. They might have pinched some of your cherry tomatoes and other items which disappeared from your garden. You can’t rule out the possibility.

    We’ll see if another surface drain is required. Dunno. This coming weekend might provide the answer to that question. You get fit walking up and down the hill here. There are times I dream about flat land, but then when you see pictures of the flooding around the state, life on the side of a mountain saddle ain’t so bad (at the moment).

    Interestingly, I heard the Koala the other night. Couldn’t see where he was this time around, but he’s got a memorable roar that grumpy bear. There is a huge diversity of bird life here, and it is one reason I don’t really have a cat. Although a cat would be very helpful.

    How cool are the wavy Triffid / Echiums? And the colour on that plant is an unusual one. The bees were all over the Echiums today, as were the butterflies. The air was filled with hum.

    I really like the Forget Me Nots too as they just do their own thing. And they love the damper and shadier spots in the garden. The pansies / Violas are as similarly low stress splash of colour too.

    Had a very pleasant cool sunny day today. Kept up the water to the trees which had been moved as well as keeping the seeds damp. The inside of the greenhouse was quite warm today. Nice.



  4. Yo, Chris – You may remember I left home, on my 18th birthday. The only reason I left, is so that I could sleep in. 🙂

    You must be psychic. I’m watching one of the Great Courses, “The Science of Natural Healing.” Again. The good doctor was banging on about greens, last night. Among other things. I find that series inspires me to do better, in what I eat.

    It’s scattered sun and overcast, today. I just heard a wildfire has blown up, just east of Vancouver, Wa. The Nakia Creek fire. The towns of Camas and Washougal are threatened. Over a thousand evacuation orders, have been issued. I’m quit familiar with that area. It’s right on the Columbia River Gorge, which is quit a wind tunnel. The Packwood fire, by the way, is contained, but still smoldering and blazing away. We’re supposed to get rain, this weekend. None too soon.

    Chris, Chris, Chris. So you judge a book by it’s cover? Ah, I see. If it had had some GGA (Good Girl Art) on the cover, you would have been more likely to pick it up. Though I must admit I read only the first one. Just to see what all the excitement was about.

    Back in my day, if a girl was sent to spend some time with a distant aunt, well, the tongues would wag. “In trouble” was the term, back then. When such a topic came up, my grandparents would usually lapse into speaking Finn. 🙂

    McDonald’s most famous song, was “San Francisco.” From the 1936 movie of the same name. Along with Clark Gable and Spencer Tracy. Here’s a clip from it. She literally brings the house down. Amazing what they could do, before CGI.

    Low clearance bridge? Not a problem. Portage.

    Must be fun to run a tour around your place, and very solemnly say, “That’s the tree that almost killed us.” The highlight, I’m sure.

    I’m glad the Koala is still around. One hopes for a picture. Good to hear the bees are out, between deluges.

    That’s it! That’s all! I’m done! LOL. Picked another big bowl of cherry tomatoes, this morning, and they’re in the dryer. This will be the last batch. I’ll just eat them fresh, until the frost gets them. Not that I haven’t been eating them fresh, all along. I decided to hack down the San Marzano tomato, this morning. No way the tomatoes are going to get ripe before the first frost. The big tease. Wouldn’t you know, deep within the bush were three ripe tomatoes. 🙁 .

    But I’ll stay strong. No attempts at large tomatoes, next year. Although, Elinor has a tomato that has been putting out some large tomatoes. Had some chopped up, with rice, last night. Tasty. But still, not a big producer. Not like the cherry tomatoes. Lew

  5. Hi Lewis,

    Hehe! Yes, early mornings are just kind of several degrees of wrongness, and I don’t care what anyone says in their defence. The awfulness of it all is that over the summer months, in order to dodge the mid to late afternoon heat, the early morning birds ayes have it, but for the rest of the year, I’d appreciate if they’d kept the noise down a bit. Tis not my natural inclination. And respect to you. 🙂

    No, not psychic, just 100% pure common sense. 🙂 I’d like to think so anyway! Nah man, leafy greens are just one of those things that we probably all should eat more of, but do we? Probably not. The Editor sometimes puts strict conditions upon the sort of plant material I chuck into food. Herbs can make for surprising additions to salads, but the Latin word officinalis, is suggestive that it might not be a bad idea. Years ago I knew a local who was a vegetarian and grower and had at least two decades on me but had better skin. Must be something in the water, huh? Probably not. Eat more greens.

    Took today off paid work. The sun was shining, and the spring weather was sweet (it won’t stay that way if the forecast gets it’s way). Got up on the roof and cleaned out the gunk, or more technically known as unidentified organic matter, out of the roof guttering. The high pressure washer worked a treat, but the job still took most of the day. However, in the last hour or so, a hole was cut into the sapling fenced garden where the pumpkins get grown. The idea is to install an easier access gate. It was feral in there with weeds, and I couldn’t get in any machines to deal with the mayhem. I cemented a timber post this afternoon, and maybe if there is time tomorrow, I’ll hang a gate off the post. We’ll see. There’s a lot of paid work to do tomorrow. Something, something about being bad in a past life and having to make up for it in this one. Oh well.

    What sort of greens or new varieties of edible plants are you getting onto your plate?

    Gawd! I hope you get some rain to quench those fires. We’ve had so much spare rain that I’m now at the stage I’d happily send the surplus to you. Think nothing of the gift. Actually, all that particulate matter from the fires will improve rain in the longer term, just not now.

    Yes, I did judge the Harry Potter books by their covers, and found them to be wanting. Any idiot can wield a wand, but what can they do without the wand? That is the question here. I’m reading a Jack Vance book at the moment, the third of the Tschai series, and the covers are a hoot with not a wand in sight. The protagonists have to navigate their way through an alien society without getting killed – and presumably getting home to Earth again. And they do so by wits (with a bit of luck) alone. That’s my kind of book.

    It happened often enough, without having any formal recognition, that a social pathway had been forged. I dunno what they expected, from what I’ve observed of life, abstinence seems to be a mode of thinking that sets people up for failure. It’s always possible that that was the intended outcome? I’ve long wondered about that possibility.

    Ooo, yeah the storyline kind of demanded that the roof be brought down. Were they like the band on the Titanic who kept playing to the very end?

    Portage, yes that’s an option. But the forest on the edge of the local creek is bonkers thick. Nice tracks have to be forged and then maintained. I read an article that the flood damage to the roads in this state has been pretty epic. The floods are continuing to work their way north into the Murray-Darling River system. It’s like a slow moving disaster and several towns are yet to be hit by it all today, but it’s closing in on them.

    Hehe! Tours of the place are enjoyable experiences. You’d think that from the photographs that I was walking around here with the camera all the time, but this stuff does just goes on all the time. A local old timer farmer once said to me that I’d made a supermarket for the wildlife. An alarming thought, but the theory is to try and out produce their needs. It’s possible because many of the critters who live here defend it from new comers. So maybe, but dunno really.

    The bees sure were out today in the sunshine. The place jumps with insect life. Recently, I’ve been hearing a scuttling sound whenever I get near to the low gradient ramp. Hoping it wasn’t a snake, I kept an eye and soon discovered it was just a really big skink. You guys have fat bear week, well we have fat skink week! I eventually spotted the reptile sunning itself on the rocks.

    Are you sure you’re done? The season would run maybe another week here, if conditions were good. Yum! And enjoy your tomatoes.

    This loose talk of large tomatoes, I can’t say how that will work out for you, but here, the results are in and they’re not good.



  6. Yo, Chris – H and I are entirely miss-matched. I’m a night owl, and she’s … not. She’s generally ready to turn in about 11pm. Heck, the parties just getting started, then. 🙂 Luckily, she’s learned to be quiet, in the AM.

    Re: Mr. (or Ms.) good skin. It’s not the greens. It’s the genes. I do get a lot of greens, but they’re not really leafy greens. Lots of Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Green Pepper and mixed veg, that has green beans in it. I need to to to the veg store, tomorrow evening. I’ll see what they have, on offer.

    “Unidentified organic matter: ie: bird poop. Whatever it is, it probably would make great fertilizer.

    Abstinence makes no sense at all, especially among teens. All those raging hormones and fully developed brains … well, it’s a recipe for disaster. And, in this country, there’s a real movement to keep them as stupid, as long as possible. Although teenage pregnancy rates are falling. Mostly, I think, due to the smart kids clueing in the dumb kids. And, of course, the internet.

    While I was looking for the “San Francisco” clip, I found this. About 4 minutes.

    Amazing what they could do with Leggos® in 1933. 🙂 I’ve never seen this movie. I wonder if there’s a copy, kicking around. I wonder if it was a bit of an inspiration for “The Day After Tommorow?”

    Given The Decline, I wonder how well those flooded roads will be repaired, and to what degree? A few years back, there was a bridge that washed out, here. It only served a few families. Took them forever to get it replaced. But I don’t think it was the only access. But the alternative was very indirect. Miles of driving “out of your way.”

    You may be onto something. Most living creatures have really well defined territories. Which, as you observed, they defend. Time will tell.

    Big skink. How big? I hear they taste like chicken 🙂 .

    I’m through with drying tomatoes. I need to get onto other things, before the weather turns. And, there’s that inspection coming up. Besides, I’ve been kind of holding back on eating the tomatoes, til the drying is done. Now I can really cut loose! Ran that batch through the dryer, yesterday. They’re sitting in their trays, on the counter, for a few days, to make sure they’re really dry.

    H and I had our weekly biscuits and gravy. Yummers. Master Gardeners were here, today. Mostly tossing about landscape bark. Lew

  7. Hi Chris,

    We had our first freeze of autumn this morning, with a low of 29F. I saw frost in the vegetable garden. Since I had already removed the tomato and pepper plants, no harm was done to them. Later this week I’ll see if any beans survived the cold (it’s supposed to get about that cold again tonight). We’re riding the usual autumn temperature roller-coaster; by Saturday we are expecting a high around 80F! And, if we get really lucky, some much-needed rain may greet us early next week.

    All you need for big tomatoes is a summer like mine. 😉 Why bother with fiddly little cherry tomatoes when I can grow perfect big ones?

    Summers are long and hot enough here that I get the best yields in a cooler than normal summer, and even better if it’s wetter than normal too. This past summer was hotter than normal and would have been drier than normal except for the big dump of rain at the end of July. It won’t be a great summer for yields, but we did have good spring crops. Autumn crops would be better if the rabbit weren’t busily eating the kale now that it has finished the lettuce. 🙁 But so far it hasn’t eaten the other cabbage-family crops, knock on wood. And I just did.


  8. Chris,

    Thanks for the flood photos. Or is it a flood of fotos? Or flooded pictures? Or?

    It looks like your road held up well, especially for the amount of recent deluges. I see you’re above 44 inches rainfall for the year. That’s getting into the Seattle amounts of annual rainfall.

    Gotta “love” the tourist birds right? Where’s an angry koala when you want one to chomp on that unsuspecting finger?

    We just set an October record today, the 18th. Prior to today, the record for number of days 70F or higher in October was 17. We just hit 18 on the 18th. Yup, so far, every day in October has been 70F or higher. The 19th should be also. The 20th is a toss-up, then Friday the cold and wet front moves in. We should get REAL rain followed by true autumn weather.

    For some reason, somebody I know cannot remember Avalanche’s best playmate’s name. Killian has become “Killigan”. Naturally, I had to redo all of the characters from the old tv show “Gilligan’s Island” to match the new, improved “Killigan’s Aisle”.

    Gilligan becomes Killigan
    Skipper … Slipper
    The Howells … Powells
    Professor … Progressor
    Ginger …. Finger
    Mary Ann … Harry Ann. Or maybe Hairy Ann.
    Additionally, the Howells move from being the “millionaire and his wife” to the “missionary and his strife”.

    Meanwhile, the air quality has deteriorated due to wildfire smoke. Similar to what Lew described. It’s smoky enough that I’m having to limit outdoor activities to “nothing strenuous”.

    As you might notice from the above attempt at rewriting a 1960s tv program, the smoke is getting to me. So I’ll sign off with this:
    Eyes are burning
    Throat is hurting
    Energy fading
    Feel like sleeping
    Smoke’s exhausting


  9. Hi Claire,

    Frost is a plant killer, no doubts about it. I reckon the flavour of Kale is improved by frost (the starches convert to sugars so as to reduce the freezing point), and some mustards survive frost quite well, but not much else. On two mornings this week, the air temperature was 3’C and there was ice on the roof of the Dirt Rat Suzuki. It’s genuinely hard to fathom just how bonkers the climate is here this year, and you’re having what looks to me like a drought, sorry to say. At least the deluge a few months ago put some water back into the system, but clearly it was not enough.

    When we first purchased this property way back in 2006, the rainfall used to roll off the sun hardened clay. The stuff was like concrete and I broke it up by hand, used soil critters to also do the work, and hired a huge excavator to deep rip an area which is now the paddock. That works as long as you don’t try to repeat the success too often. Water does tend to soak into the ground now, but deluges like what you experienced in July kind of push the abilities of the soil to absorb water when following on from a dry season. At least my experience suggests to me that dry seasons are more productive than super-wet seasons, as long as you can access water. I do wonder at the reliance of the ground water reserves in your part of the world. In dry years here, the water bores tend to run dry, which is why I don’t use such an arrangement (although some neighbours do so), but rarely if ever for drinking water.

    Yes, I absolutely 100% agree with you about the larger tomatoes. On average, your summers are warmer than here, and so you enjoy warmer soil. Bizarrely, we can have warmer days, and 45’C is not out of the question, but the nights are on average cooler than where you are. I very much appreciated your insights into this situation as it would have escaped my notice. And incidentally, that also did motivate me to construct a much larger greenhouse. Today the air temperature in there was 24’C and the soil temperature reached 15’C. Hmm.

    Rabbits are such a pest, and I can see that. Youch! Be happy you don’t have to contend with rats who can climb fruit trees and gorge themselves silly upon ripening fruit. Always you have to share some of the produce, but one must not necessarily be a passive actor. A person can pick and choose who gets what and when, and that is part of the predicament that our descendants have to navigate. Parrots are no different to plant diseases on that front.

    Cheers (and hope you get some rain soon)


  10. Hi DJ,

    Definitely it was a flood of photos! Another reader, whom you may have corresponded with (!) suggested long ago that I was at risk of filling up the interweb with images. It’s a reasonable concern because last week did contain (dare I say it?) a deluge of photos. Fear not, storage is at 38% which suggests at least another two decades of photos before the interweb server goes splat. Of course, we both may have inadvertently now put the dreaded ‘kiss of death’ on the server… We’ll see, it’s hosted locally so it’s not one of the really big ones that people so like. All this free stuff on the interweb has to cost, don’t you reckon? Anyway, I happily pay for the website, it isn’t really a big imposition, and the joy it brings is far greater than the costs.

    I watched this evening as the local magpie family stalked and cleared off a Gang Gang Cockatoo. They defend their territory those birds, and we have an understanding which extends to Ollie, but not the Kelpies. Those two dogs get teased mercilessly and worn out at the same time. I’m good with the magpies.

    Yeah, interestingly the roads up to this elevation held up sort of well. But as you climb a little bit higher in elevation, the conditions of the roads deteriorates for all the reasons you mentioned. The road from here leading up and over the crest of the mountain range has been cut into the side of the mountain saddle, and yeah, that’s a big ask for a dirt road. At times there are some steep inclines on one side of the road.

    Like your record breaking October (err, is it a fest of heat and Vikings?), if the rain continues at this rate, we might break the written historic record which is 56.5 inches. There’s still two and a half months to go. Friday through Tuesday looks set to deliver rain each day. Yippee for us!

    Hope you get some rain soon. I’ll bet you have Friday on your mind? I can do obscure music references too! 🙂

    Whomever came up with the name, clearly watched the show and knew how annoying the character of Gilligan was. 😉 Was he the killer, or did he need killing – that is the question. But here’s the weird thing, I watched the show too and enjoyed it. It’s very hard to explain from a position of hindsight! Far out, the shows theme song was a right little ear worm.

    Oh, you are like super-bad with those name changes.

    Sorry to hear about the smoke and it’s impact upon your health. Hope the air quality improves, and Friday is not all that far away.

    Your poem was suggestive of a melody, which at this moment escapes me. Hope you slept well and recovered your natural aplomb?



  11. Hi Lewis,

    Dogs do enjoy early mornings, don’t they? Although I’d have to suggest that whilst H enjoys an early morning sunrise, she is also respectful of your needs. This suggests to me that she defers to you as the alpha of the pack. Anyway, it’s easy for dogs, they can dog-nap during the day and recover their natural energy. Humans aren’t encouraged to do that, and certainly working arrangements are not established with that possibility in mind. Nope, we must work hard and long, and own nothing and… Ook! Where did my mind go there? Nah, forget about that crazy talk, dunno where it came from anyway, but yeah, biscuits and gravy plus a convivial chat are the preferable option. 🙂

    Maybe about the genes. The couple weren’t related, so I dunno about that suggestion. Their property was also on the side of a littler local extinct volcano, so they had minerally rich soil. There’s another little farm I’ve admired for many years which is located about half way between here and the big smoke. It’s also on the side of a littler extinct volcano, and they have rich black soil used to grow vegetables and olives. I’d like to drop by one day and say hello, but no doubts they’re busy and don’t have time for tourists such as myself. I mean what’s in it for them in such an arrangement?

    Did you discover anything interesting in the veg store?

    On that front, the greenhouse was warmish at 75’F today which was very pleasant. I’ve been keeping up the watering to the seeds and hopefully the combination of warm weather and moisture will get them to germinate? Dunno, but a decision was made today to reduce the height of the racking used to hold the seedling trays. It is a bit high above the ground. Oh, almost forgot. Speaking of unusual vegetables, the Japanese ginger is enjoying the conditions, but the more usual ginger and turmeric tubers haven’t yet sprouted. Dunno about those two. We talked about it today, and maybe it would have been better if the usual ginger tuber was in a large tub in the greenhouse. Being above ground level in a tub, the soil would be warmer. Dunno. We’re going to run the experiment and see what happens.

    Plants will grow in the unidentified organic matter, because they already were doing so in the guttering. The root mats I removed were quite large. It was like a bog garden up there on the roof! One of the runs of guttering is pointing in the wrong direction so that water collects rather than drains. We’ll have to fix that, and I’m surprised the plumbers left it that way. Oh well, one must occasionally be onto everything.

    Yes, the interweb certainly has some benefits. And some people do some really weird things due to ideological beliefs. When I was a kid, no adults really spoke about such things to us, although among the kids we did. At the time there was also the dreaded scourge, which I’m not entirely convinced that people take all that seriously today, and in some ways that made contraception easier to obtain. As a late teenager going to the local chemist for that was a nightmare experience of utter discomfiture. And they loved making it that way. I dunno, it doesn’t reflect well upon them, and some of them pushed their own beliefs from what I’ve heard. Mate, there’s always a noisy minority out there looking for an opportunity to cause mischief. I never knew how much was power and control, or beliefs. Or maybe a combination or some other such bit of strangeness.

    Cool. Thanks for the 1933 video on the destruction. I’ll bet the film makers and prop makers had some fun with that stuff. I noticed the Statue survived. They don’t make them like that any more, clearly, for the rest of the city was totally wiped out. The day the dinosaur killer hit the earth might have produced those sorts of waves. Last week you got me reading about rogue waves, and some of those are huge – and very real.

    I wonder that too about the road repair. One town I believe had 85% of the houses flooded. I noticed on the much smaller local one lane bridge that clay had been used to fill up the hole. Not sure how that will last in the coming days of rain, but so far, so good. Driving a long way out of your way in order to get the short distance home is something I know about. A neighbour was suggesting that people were pitting themselves against nature by driving through the flood waters near to the bridge. Hmm.

    That’s my hope anyway, and the results of the test are yet to come in. Spotted some apricots today. They’ve got a little bit of blush to the skin now so they don’t look like leaves to a casual observer. I assume that is a survival trait so as to confuse birds and other critters whilst the fruit is still too small?

    You go first with the skink. Probably tasty though, maybe.

    Yum! Enjoy your tomatoes, and they’ll be enjoyable additions to winter meals.

    Oh! Any reason they were chucking around landscape bark? I’m assuming it has something to do with keeping the paths dry during the winter months?

    Do you ever see people in your area collecting leaves to compost?



  12. Hi Chris,
    Well I typed out a comment and then it disappeared. Now run out of time. Hopefully I can try again later.


  13. Yo, Chris – H has napping down to a science. I see dogs sleep, on average, 12-14 hours a day. I’d say, H makes her quota 🙂 . I think the Latin countries tradition of siesta, is so … civilized. “Research says” if you live to 90, and sleep 7-8 hours a day, that adds up to 24-30 years of sleeping. I suppose there are outliers. Rip Van Winkle, comes to mind.

    I’ll stop by the veg store, late this afternoon. Report to follow.

    Mellow out, and don’t hold your breath. A glance into the rabbit hole reveals that ginger takes 6-8 weeks to sprout. And turmeric 6-10 MONTHS.

    Yeah, people don’t seem as concerned about what I refer to as “The Plague”, as in past. Probably because, “There’s a pill for that.” Might even be an ap. 🙂 There’s even a preventative pill, these days. But, since we live in the land of Big Pharma, oh, my, the cost. The same medications don’t cost near so much, in the rest of the world.

    In the movie “The Day After,” there’s a nice underwater shot of the head of The Statue of Liberty, bonking down a underwater street. And who can forget the climactic scene of “Planet of the Apes?”

    It’s speculated that a lot of missing ships, went missing due to rogue waves. See: “The Poseidon Adventure.”

    Oh, I think they were tossing the landscape bark around, in the interest of “decor.” And, it keeps the weeds down. They were working in a part of the garden I’m really not concerned with. When they put in the stock tanks, they replaced a lot of the landscape cloth, around them. And put down fresh landscape bark.

    Elinor called me last night, and says she’s coming home a week from Friday. I need to give her daughter a call, and see how “real” that is. She’s asked me to pick her up from the hospital. Why do I keep thinking of all those movies (and, there are many) where someone springs grandma or grandpa, from the old folks home. And then they go on the lamb, cross country? Lew

  14. @ Margaret – I discovered that I have to wait for Chris’s pages to fully load, before posting a comment. Otherwise, BLIP! they disappear. Lew

  15. Yo, Chris – You may find this article about whaling and whale oil, interesting.

    I had forgotten that whale oil was used to power light houses. Imagine carrying gallons of the stuff, up all those stairs! 🙂 . There’s also mention of other uses, for whale oil. And other products from whales. And, before anyone gets overwrought, yes, I think the whaling industry was bad. Lew

  16. Hi Margaret,

    Sorry to hear about that. The software here is much better than the old website, but yes, occasionally comments can disappear.

    As a problem though, it sure beats going to the dentist! 🙂 Went this morning to get two of the metal amalgam fillings replaced with composite materials. I’d had the fillings since I was a teenager. Nothing lasts forever. Hope you are doing well and get some rain soon.



  17. Hi Lewis,

    Go H, and clearly getting a goodly amount of sleep results in a relaxed demeanour. As long as you two aren’t playing hide and seek that is. Dogs can get pretty razzed up. 🙂 Ollie and the girls sleep well too, and what amazes me is how readily they’ll go from alert to asleep. That’s a gift. Ollie was out and about with me for hours today, and was just plopping around doing his own thing, but not drifting too far away. Years ago I had a dog just like that and I’m trying to train Ollie up to respond that way. He seems to naturally enjoy just hanging around anyway. He’s a bit big to go off wandering because I know him well, and know him to be a gentle giant, but other people can get the wrong idea if they don’t take the time to get to know him.

    What a poor education I’ve had. The name Rip Van Winkle was known to me, but not the story. I guess it’s something of a recurring theme, and years ago I read Joe Haldeman’s book: The Forever War. One day the wokesters will become an anachronism! Of course there still may be a few of the faithful around who’ll no doubts bore us all to tears.

    I look forward to hearing your report. For your interest, the recent floods down here will most certainly affect both the supply and price of fruit and vegetables. The rain is set to make a return tomorrow afternoon and will hang around for the next six days, maybe longer. Ook!

    Speaking of shopping, I went to the dentist this morning. Two old school metal amalgam fillings were replaced with composite material. Over time the fillings squash and can force the tooth to crack, and yeah, those two had to go. Easier to do that than get two cracked teeth repaired. I’d had the amalgam fillings since I was a teenager, but won’t miss them! I’ve heard that some folks get ill from those old metal fillings. Half of my face was numb until about 1pm when the anaesthetic finally wore off. The Editor was making fun of me by getting me to say words with the letters ‘th’ in them. Like, err say the word ‘Think’, which ended up sounding like the word ‘Fink’, with maybe some dribble. 🙂 Very amusing, yes. Hmm.

    Anyway, when we got home from the dentist (and I had to get up at 6.30am to get to the appointment on time) it was such a lovely day. Spring is finally here, and it made it’s presence felt today. We headed outside and continued work on the new gate leading into the sapling fenced enclosure which we grow the pumpkins in. Removed a lot of Agapanthus. Removing them required the jackhammer. Got the gate hung, and set rocks in to line the path leading into the enclosure. And the Editor bogged the ride on mower in the enclosure. Yeah, hard to explain that.

    Anyway, I count this as the first day of spring. Inside the greenhouse was 79’F and the soil in there reached 68’F. Much warmer than outside, but beggars, choosers etc. But at least the sun felt warm today. The peas and beans in there have germinated. Those were two varieties which grew really well last year, and I hope they do so again this year.

    Thanks for the information as to ginger and turmeric. It is possible that the turmeric will probably rot before that length of time passes.

    Sad to say, and you may laugh, but I have encountered people who believe that the problems of the world can all be solved if we just had the correct apps. An intriguing worldview, and not one I share. I remember the days of The Plague, and it certainly cast a long and dark shadow. It is of interest to me that I’ve heard serious reports that Sexually Transmitted Infections for all sorts of things are on the increase – like quite considerably. I’d have to suggest that as a society we’ve become a bit careless on that front. In some ways it reminds me of bushfires or floods, in that people have an odd expectation that they can get rescued. That is not always the case, and a person needs to exercise prudence. And yes, I’ve heard anecdotal reports that pharmaceuticals in your country are super expensive. Best not to get sick over there.

    Hey, that’s what I was thinking too. Planet of the Apes, and it had a bit of the Rip Van Winkle to that story as well. The Statue of Liberty at a slight tilt sticking up out of the sand was a great ending. 10 out of 10 for sheer impact.

    There was one large container ship which was surmised to have gone down with all hands due to a rogue wave/s. I was reading about it last week, and to confront a huge wall of water when out on the open ocean would be a frightening experience. MS München. The empty life raft’s found were suggestive of shocking seas.

    What’s landscape cloth? That’s a new one to me. The landscape bark would be a pleasant path to walk upon and in some areas I use the stuff too for that purpose, although I go more for a composted woody mulch rather than the sort of large chunks of bark people use. Some of that stuff gets dyed. True.

    I was in a bit of shock this morning after the dentist, although the procedure is invasive, it’s probably more of a worry in my mind than anything in reality – although who could forget Steve Martin in Little Shop of Horror’s? Yes, it’s a musical! Sheeeze… 🙂 The Editor took my mind off my shock by driving around the area near to the dentist. The oldest homestead in the state is not far from there: Emu Bottom Homestead. 1836, not a bad effort to still be standing today. Some of the rubbish which gets built these days, will it look as good in almost 200 years, me thinks not.

    Hehe! Mate, if you don’t laugh about it. Far out. Incidentally I heard a story of that happening, and it didn’t work out so well.



  18. Hi, Chris!

    Maybe the spray painters wanted to make themselves feel important? Maybe just kids.

    I’ve seen an article about your weather in the daily national paper that I pick up for my mother. Biggerer is badderer!

    It wasn’t until we moved to the country that I really began to pay attention to the weather. Living in the city and suburbs I didn’t think about it so much except for things like: “Is it going to ruin the soccer game? Will the picnic be ruined?” Then we really began trying to grow food and we also had problems like not being able to get into town because of the snow, or creeks and rivers being flooded over the bridges.

    Do those concrete pipes ever fill up with debris, gravel, dirt, leaves, and sticks? My husband has to regularly clean out the ones near our property on the private road.

    Ollie says: “Oh, blah. Why doesn’t this stuff go away?”

    Yikes! I have to go. Hope to get back here later.


  19. Hello Chris
    Warm and wet here; vegs are still growing, even some tomatoes. Meanwhile our government is falling apart.


  20. Hi Chris,

    Wonder if I was rushed yesterday and didn’t let the page load as Lew said.

    No fun, the dentist. I had to take Marty to the endodontist twice in the last week for a root canal – a two hour round trip each time. He also had an additional doctor appointment for another issue (not serious) he is stressing about.

    Also been spending time with my sister,Kathleen, who is quite seriously ill. She’s suffered from Crohn’s disease for decades and has now been diagnosed with ulcerative colitis . The treatment is very expensive and not covered by her insurance. Her doctor is applying to the company for financial help. Before she can get treatment she has to get a colonoscopy but the earliest she can get one is January though there’s a good possibility that someone will cancel and she can get moved up. In the meantime she can eat very little,is in a lot of pain and quite frankly is wasting away. Our medical system gets worse by the day.

    Like Claire we had a freeze and it’s been very cold but a few warm days are coming up.

    Spent last weekend in Chicago with my aunt and staying at Cecily’s this weekend to see her in a play.

    So sorry about your exceptionally soggy weather. The systems you’ve put in place seem to be working quite well.


  21. Yo, Chris – Speaking of dogs, I watched a good movie, last night. “Dog.” Channing Tatum. Not my usual cup of tea, but the tag line caught my eye. “A filthy animal unfit for human company … and a dog.” 🙂 It’s about an ex Army ranger, tasked with taking a vicious, ex Army dog, halfway across the country, to a funeral. Funny parts, sad parts. Worth a look.

    I stopped into the veg store, last night. Not much in the leafy greens department. It’s a small store, but they cram a lot in there. I ended up getting a bunch of spinach. I mixed up some rice, tomatoes from the garden and mushrooms. Etc.. Nuked that, and while it was still warm, mixed in the chopped spinach and some parsley. Pretty tasty.

    We had another smokey day, yesterday. I went down to the Club for a cuppa, in the early evening. Sitting outside, the smoke actually made my coffee taste “off.” I think we got an onshore flow, last night. This morning, I can see blue sky. The rain is supposed to start, Friday night. Saturday night, the temperature is forecast to get down to 36F (2.2C). Wonder if it will kill the tomatoes?

    My teeth need a lot of work. As long as I can eat, and they don’t pain me, I ignore them. But there will be a day of reckoning. 🙁

    Here’s a good article on growing Turmeric.

    Besides the Plague, there were a lot of other nasty things, kicking around. Things that were hard or impossible to get rid of. Monkey Pox, anyone?

    The MS Munchen? Aliens. Those sailors are probably living in a galactic zoo, somewhere. Then there was the Mary Celeste.

    Landscape cloth. You probably call it something else, down there. It’s usually black. Water passes through, but it suppresses weeds. Since it’s not very pretty, people usually put some kind of mulch, over it.
    Comes in rolls, and there’s usually wire staples, to hold it to the ground.

    Emu Bottom Homestead, sure is pretty. As it’s in a low area, I wonder how it’s riding out all the rain? I see they use it for an event venue. Weddings and such. Probably yields a bit of mad cash, to keep the place up.

    I talked to Elinor’s daughter, last night. Elinor may think she’s coming home, a week from tomorrow. The Medicos may have other ideas. Elinor hangs up on her daughter, anytime the topic of anything but coming home, comes up. So, really, we’re still all in limbo. Lew

    PS: Forget that blue sky. The smoke is back, just as bad as yesterday.

  22. Chris,

    Totally looking forward to Friday and the storm system. Air quality is bad. No outdoor activities.

    No computer. Old one is at the shop so they can transfer all my data onto the new one, which should be completely set up and brought home by the end of the weekend.

    Until then, it’s use my (allegedly) smart phone. Comments will be sparse and /or short for awhile. This is literally typing with one finger on a tiny keyboard. Ugg.

    Sorry to hear about your dental work. There are worse things, but there are many better things too.

    My poem…the rhythm was loosely based on some Old English style. Think parts of Beowulf. Swords were flashing, spears were gleaming, foes falling, valiant thanes battling. That type of thing.


  23. Hi Chris,

    Your ginger needs more time to sprout. Mine doesn’t show any new growth until mid June (mid December for you). Once it starts growing, it grows fast!


  24. Hi Claire,

    Thanks for the information and I will modify my expectations. Last time I grew the tubers they were in a pot in the old greenhouse, and the soil temperature was probably warmer than the current greenhouse. Now they’re in the new greenhouse, but planted in a permanent raised bed which has cooler soil. Because of the on-again and then off-again spring this year, the soil temperature in the greenhouse raised beds is varying between 12’C and 20’C, but usually around 15’C. It’s been another nightmare season, but the systems here are slowly adapting to the variable conditions. What else do you do? And more rain is expected from tonight, then every day for the next week. My mind boggles at the conditions.

    Hope you get some rain and cooler weather soon.



  25. Hi Inge,

    Didn’t the ancient Roman’s have six emperors in one year? And you appear to have also swapped monarchs. Must be something in the water. 🙂 Far out, we had a similar experience with an ever revolving leadership door a few years ago. The public began to express it’s unhappiness at the polling booth, and the two main parties have now agreed to cut out the behind the scenes monkey-business. So far, things have been more stable, but it sure took a lot of pain.

    I’ve long believed that one of the unfortunate side effects of having career politicians is that they end up confusing strategy for policy. The tax cut idea when inflation is spiralling upwards was a stupid idea. The lot down here don’t seem to have gotten that memo and are pursuing the exact same policy. It’s hard to believe they could be that dumb, but it sure looks like they are. Here’s hoping for quieter and more settled times.

    What a delightful growing season you’ve had. I hope you get a few more weeks of tomatoes too. More rain is due every day here for the next week. Two to Four inches of rain is forecast for this corner of the continent. Further north and east along the coastline, it might get interesting. What a year.



  26. Hi Pam,

    🙂 My gut feeling suggests that the graffiti is the work of a local kid, or kids. It was actually a bit Monty Python and the Life of Brian really, “Romanes Eunt Domus. What’s this then? It says Romans go home. No it doesn’t!” On the signage the kids had sprayed: “I SEE U”. What is this U thing they write of, and why is it all in capitals? Beats me, and is possibly indicative of the sort of poor education the kids get in these enlightened days! I didn’t mention that bit in the blog because, although amusing, it would have distracted from the main story.

    Hehe! Indeed it is biggerer and badderer. I’m looking out the window now, and there are some nasty looking storms on the horizon, but so far we seem to have dodged the rain. That’s technically known as a reprieve for a couple of hours at least. Hope you have received some much needed rain?

    That was my experience too with the weather, minus the snow (it hasn’t snowed here for two years now). The problem, as you allude to, is that cities are insulated to a degree from the rawer aspects of nature, and um, it’s an option I guess. The problem becomes when nature smashes through that barrier and the city folks are surprised that this could happen. Incidentally I was speaking with a local bloke yesterday who’s house was flooded last weekend. Must have been either a drain gone feral, or an overflowing dam (pond in US parlance). Not something you want to experience.

    The concrete pipe we installed has a pretty big diameter, so it doesn’t fill up with organic matter, ever. The road uses the same sized pipes. The excavator bloke who made the road, also put the concrete pipe in (I helped him with that work) at the top of the driveway. He didn’t ask my opinion as to the diameter of the pipe from memory – he ordered based upon experience. I don’t have much expertise with such systems, but from what I’ve observed, the pipes tend to block up when the flow of water slows. What I mean by that is that some people use the pipes to change the direction of the water. You can change the direction of water flows a bit, but too much change of direction and the systems fail because organic matter and clay collects. I dunno, it’s complicated.

    Ollie is a gentleman, and would never say such things, at least when I’m around. 🙂 I’m training him to hang around wherever I’m working, and he’s pretty good at it. We managed to continue work on the sapling fenced enclosure today. We put a gate in there so as to get easier access for the machines. A lot of work. And Ollie and the girls were on their finest behaviour today. Dame Plum got a baby rabbit. She’s good.

    Hope everything is OK?



  27. Hi Margaret,

    Sorry, but I have no idea what may have happened to your comment? The website should load pretty quickly, but it is hard to know how it looks on the other side of the planet. And with this technology stuff, a lot depends upon a lot of chunks of code which may not necessarily have been tested together.

    There is a social network button add-on bit of software for comments that I’m not entirely certain anyone uses. I had noticed that over the past few days that bit of software has been updated a few times. It’s possible the programmers stuffed it up and that’s what happened to your comment. I try to keep the website software simple and secure, and maybe that add-on should go? Dunno.

    The decision just got made – the software is now gone. People can comment with their email addresses only. It worked in the past.

    Ooo. Looks like we might get direct hit by a storm in a couple of hours time. Oh well. It would be nice if it missed.

    I’d never heard of an endodontist before. Down under, dentists tend to perform root canal work. How’s Marty and Gwen doing other than that?

    Margaret, that’s awful news about your sister. And getting sick in your country is a nightmare scenario. It can’t be talked up. I knew someone years ago who had Crohn’s disease, and she had a lot of trouble with fatigue, but your sister sounds far more advanced than that based upon your description. It’s not good. The gut is something which has to be looked after, and I see people doing all sorts of strange and inexplicable things on that front.

    Winter is approaching, and your description of your weather sounds like two steps forward, and one back. In contrast, I reckon yesterday was the first day of spring here. The weather just felt different. Today was warm and very humid, 99% all day. I moved a lot of soil and dug trenches for water tank overflow pipes – as you do in that sort of weather. 🙂 I was discussing with a neighbour a week or so back about how it’s not a bad idea to make the properties easier to live with. I’m getting there, but it’s a lot of work before that goal is reached – then there’s the inevitable maintenance, as you’d know all too well.

    Hope Doug gets the bees through winter. The dreaded mite is now down under, although news on that front has become rather eerily quiet of late.

    Hope Cecily’s play is good and that you all have fun.

    We’re getting there, but the conditions this year are somewhat challenging.



  28. Hi DJ,

    Mate, hopefully the storm didn’t bypass your area this time around? And did the smoke from the air clear? You might get a favourable wind?

    It’s bonkers humid here today and whilst the rain was held at bay (by sheer force of personality perhaps? 🙂 No, we were simply lucky this week – so far) we continued work on modifying the old sapling fenced enclosure. The overflow pipe for the house water tank system ran right through the middle of the garden bed, and as you can imagine, it was getting damaged. So I re-routed the water pipe, but had to dig a long trench to bury the new PVC pipe in. Oh well, it’s done now, and at least the rain held off. Sometimes nature suggests: Here is the job you must do. 😉

    What happened to the old computer? Did it begin playing up? They don’t tend to last long, and I’ve noticed of late that the interval between hardware failures seems to be increasing. Thus the new laptop I got a few weeks ago. The laptop it is replacing is twelve years old now and still sort-of working (and will continue to get used). Hope the new machine works better for you.

    I’ve heard people make the suggestion that the phones are smart. It’s possible they might be, but then again… Hehe! The keyboards on those screens are pretty hard to use for people with larger fingers, but some people seem to be able to type at an impossible to explain speed. About a year ago, we bought a new vacuum cleaner. The old one had gotten beyond economical repair, except that after an enquiry the manufacturer offered to recondition the machine. Who knew that was a possibility, so yeah, now two machines. Anyway, the lady at the store had the most huge and scary fingernails, and she was typing away merrily on her phone to put the order through for the machine. The Editor and I could only but sit back and admire such skills with the keyboard on that little screen. Mate, candidly I have troubles sending text messages using the tiny screens, so yeah, err, you’re doing pretty well indeed. Ugg!

    The dental work was over in under an hour, and look I probably brought the whole mess on myself when I was sitting in the waiting room for the annual check up and clean when I said to the Editor: “I haven’t had a filling for almost thirty years”. Hubris. They probably had listening devices in there. Hehe! It was replacement of two of the metal amalgam fillings I’d had since I was a teenager and filling up a little bit of wear and tear. Note to self: Only use soft toothbrushes (which I do, but haven’t always known about that). Hmm.

    It was a pretty good poem. But did the valiant thanes prevail? That’s the question I’m now left with. 🙂



  29. Hi Lewis,

    Thanks for the film recommendation. Watched the trailer and it looks pretty good. Dogs have feelings too. 🙂 I’ll tell ya a funny story about that. Before the three current dogs, we’d only ever taken on adult rescue dogs, and people have messed them up. We do what we can with them and they integrate into the household just fine, but seriously, they come with baggage. And there is astounding diversity in their personalities, like say Sir Scruffy was without doubt the smartest dog I’ve yet encountered, but oh boy, could he kick up a proper righteous sulking his socks off experience or what, especially if he wanted to or felt aggrieved. The current lot arrived here as puppies, and they’re just super chill and obedient dogs. The contrast is kind of hard to ignore. Anyway, in other breaking dog news, Dame Plum dug her way into a rabbit burrow today, and destroyed them. All of them. That dog knows her job, and she showed off her activities, which were fed to the chickens, who knew what to do. An unpleasant business, but a necessary one.

    It was really warm and humid here today. It felt like the second day of spring. I mentioned to you that earlier in the week I began modifying the old sapling fenced enclosure which is used to grow pumpkins and leeks. The idea was to put in a larger gate so that we could get machines inside the enclosure so as to make maintaining it easier. Anyway, work on that project continued today. The overflow pipe for the house water tanks went straight through the middle of the garden beds in the enclosure – as you do when you’re the plumber and not a gardener! That was a pain, and the water pipes were getting damaged. So I dug a new long trench and then ran new water pipes for the overflow which ran all the way around the outside of the enclosure and under the path leading up to the new gate. It all got finished today, but far out it was hot work. I’m watching the weather radar, and maybe in an hour a storm will hit here. Hopefully the storm doesn’t wash away any of the work we did today. Oh well, what will be, will be.

    It’s about a quarter to nine at night here and the outside air temperature is still 63’F which is far warmer than it has been recently. The plants need the warmth. Far out!

    Mate, I haven’t watched a film for months, and it is probably about time.

    That makes sense. Leafy greens don’t keep well. How they’re sold in markets or stores is something of a mystery to me. If I pick leafy greens from the garden, and don’t consume them within a short period of time, they begin to turn into err, moosh. That’s the technical term, you may have heard of it? So yeah, if they’re for sale, let’s just say that I’m dubious. That does sound like a tasty meal. Yum! I assume that the parsley came from the garden?

    Dinner this evening is pasta with a mixed vegetable and French Lentil base, with some parmesan cheese. Yum! Of course, this goes a long way to off setting the delightful pork and coleslaw roll plus a small chunk of cheesecake which was a late lunch. Everything in moderation. 🙂 With all the digging and hauling of soil today, by 2pm I was glad the work was nearing completion because I was running low on energy.

    Far out. Man, that’s not good about the smoke, and I’ve been there too. The air itself tastes acrid and breathing is laboured. Hopefully the silver lining is that all those particles you lot are putting into the atmosphere do the trick of attracting future clouds and rainfall for your area. That’s how it kind of works, I’m guessing.

    Did you get any rain? And err, sorry to say, but the tomatoes are toast in that sort of weather. You can’t complain, you’ve had a really good run with the tomatoes this growing season. I can only but look on from the other side of the planet with admiration for the produce.

    Sorry to say, but you’re probably right there. But until then, it probably isn’t a drama. What do they say about not letting perfection be the enemy of the good enough outcome?

    Claire provided some good thoughts on the ginger tubers, so I also appreciate your err, prod about the turmeric tubers. It looks like turmeric is as slow growing as ginger, with a ten month to harvest time frame. The growing season here will be lucky to be 16 weeks this season, and I really mean that about ‘lucky’. Oh well. I guess that’s what not living in the tropics looks like!

    Yeah, the Monkey Pox made a big splash in the media a while back, and then they quietly dropped it like a hot potato. It’s probably still kicking around, but then it looks as though the media is doing some sort of weird back flip on the health issue which dare not be named, or is sometimes known as ‘you know what’. Perhaps consistency and clarity is something which occurred in the past with that mob, and times have possibly moved on from there?

    You might be right there, and I thought that munchkens were another name for the elder folk? Yes, aliens were a likely possibility. Everyone who is anyone, knows that the Mary Celeste outcome was the outcome of an alien abduction. 🙂 Mate, I once entered a store and found nobody around. It was super weird. Anyway, me being me, said to the person who finally poked their head out (after me making a ballyhoo) to see if there were any customers: “Mate, it was like the Mary Celeste in here”. The person failed to understand the reference. Oh well, education and stuff ain’t what it used to be.

    Oh right, I’ll keep a look out for the landscape cloth stuff. There’s always something new. It is possible that the ultraviolet radiation from the sun down here might break the stuff up? Dunno. They use a black plastic with strawberries down under, and I’ve never thought about using such stuff here.

    The homestead was established in 1836 (two years after European settlement) and it’s higher than the local river, so you’d have to suggest that the bloke who set the place up knew what he was doing. It’s a bucolic place, really delightful. The fences are rough sawn post and rail, and they look great. I didn’t know about the wedding etc. venue thing until I got home and looked them up. The farm fitted it’s bones really well, and everything was just so. I noted they even had a rock lined well.

    The rain is pounding down upon the roof. I better go and check the water tank inlet filters. All that cleaning earlier in the week might cause who knows what outcome. Far out, the rain is bonkers heavy. Oh well.


  30. Hi Lewis (cont),

    It was like a tropical deluge out there, which is of course where all this moisture originated from. The garden has not been short of water this year… And another and much larger band of rain is fast approaching. Maybe it won’t be too bad.

    Hey, what’s the definition of obstinate?

    Hope at least the air has cleared for you?



  31. Yo, Chris – Go Dame Plume! Chickens need their protean.

    All that smoke blew out, yesterday afternoon. I could actually see stars, last night. And this morning, when I took H out … rain! Very light. But the forecast is rain, and more rain. A nice Sunday, and then back to the rains, again. There’s a bit of a breeze, this morning, and it’s nippy! Yup. The autumn rains have arrived. I guess last night was the last night I’ll have to water.

    Your place is beginning to sound like an elaborate chess game. It’s all in the seeing the moves ahead. There was an elaborate life sized chess game, in the first Harry Potter movie. Sacrificing a piece could get really bloody. Who knew your pipes needed to be somewhere else?

    Well, I’ve done my part. 🙂 You should have quit a long list of films to pick from. Decisions, decisions. Last night, I watched “Jurassic World: Dominion.” The latest in the series. The dinosaurs have made it off the island, and have spread worldwide. Quit the nuisance. The film got together just about everyone from the past movies. From Sam Neil to Jeff Goldblum. Quit an exciting movie. I should have made popcorn.

    The veg store did have some of those bags of pre-washed and cut leafy greens. But I steer clear of them. Seems like not a month goes by that there isn’t some kind of a recall. Imagine my surprise, when I pulled the spinach out of the fridge last night, to discover some of it had iced over! I put it in a jar of water, and sat it too close to the back of the fridge. Sigh. When I was doing my weekly shopping at the grocery, I noticed they have spinach in the frozen food case. Hmmm. And, yup, the parsley came from my garden.

    I’ve seen some recent studies that people who’s ancestors survived the Black Death, have resistance to You Know What. It’s a gene. Interesting, that. Back during the other plague, in the mid-1980s, some people were discovered to be immune. Again, ancestors who survived the Black Death.

    Funny, I was talking to another old duffer, last night. He was gobsmacked that a young lady he was talking to had no idea what Pearl Harbor was.

    Speaking of cultural references, it took me a few days, but the rude young man jogged lose another memory. “The Flying Fickle Finger of Fate.” It comes from a comedy show, way back when. If it were still on, it would be awarded to the most recent British Prime Minister. Kind of like the Darwin Award, but not quit so lethal. 🙂

    Landscape cloth usually comes in three foot wide rolls. And, nearby are usually the metal clips / staples, to hold it into the ground. At least here, cloth and staples are pretty inexpensive. The stuff is kind of like felt.

    I’m sure you’ll survive your deluge. The local weather radar, is, of course, down this morning.

    We get food boxes, today. It’s the one where we actually get two, one with produce. Report to follow. Lew

  32. Chris,

    Rain, wonderful rain. 10mm today, more expected throughout the next week with some breaks. Frost expected Saturday morning. And yes, the smoke cleared. I can breathe. Allergy headache disappeared.

    I think Lew had worse smoke the past few days than we did. I know that north of Seattle was worse than Spokane. We were bad enough.

    Hehehe. I know the feeling. Sometimes nature demands that you perform more jobs, lest the past decade of work get ruined. For me that typically demands cleaning gutters in the rain, digging in wet grass in the rain, you get the picture in the rain. After these past two summers however, anything in the rain is sounding good.

    The video drivers weren’t working properly. I think it was actually in the video hardware, as I had deleted and reinstalled the drivers multiple times. The touch screen feature had quit, and then the screen would lock up at times, a few seconds here, several seconds there. So here I am on Friday night writing on my new computer in Windows 11. Meaning that it looks like Windows 10 and all of the new fancy features ofWindows 11 are things that I neither want nor need. Got the email system identical to what it was, and all of our documents and pictures were moved over successfully. The hardest part? Finding where in the blazes the internet favorites were! Then I tried something…I’ve got an email account, the Princess has a different email account. The new machine defaults to my email account and accompanying microsuck info. So, I logged in to her account and figured out how to get to the data. Can’t move it to mine, but with one click of the mouse we can change accounts on the interweb brower. whew! I was saying “UGG” a lot until I figured this out. And some rather unsavory words too, of course. 😉

    Never, ever, under any circumstances say something about not having needed fillings for x number of years while in the dentist’s office. Never discuss one’s lack of recent tooth cavities while in the dentist’s office. These things get mushed around in the whole sort of general mishmash, get shredded by a temporal time warp, input into the infinite improbability drive and spat out the total perspective vortex. Nothing good can come of it. Even drinking several pan galactic gargle blasters cannot dull the pain of that type of episode.

    When I was young, say 8 or 9, we were told to always use hard bristled tooth brushes and to scrub hard. I have some relatively minor gum damage as a result of decades of improper equipment and technique. Not reversible, but, well, if I mention the problem’s current progress during a discussion of many things dental, something will get mushed around in the whole sort of general mishmash, etc.

    Thanks for liking the short poem. I dunno what happened to the valiant thanes. I came up with that off the top of my head. Maybe I’ll get around to adding to it. Maybe it can turn into a group project. Maybe it can be left unfinished, sorta like parts of the poem were missing, like the Finnsburg Fragment.


  33. Hi DJ,

    Yay for rain for you. I told you that I’d send some your way, we’ve had plenty of extra rain and can spare some. 🙂 10mm is a decent amount, and can you smell that there has been a change? The vegetation responds really nicely to that sort of rain after a prolonged dry spell. Sometimes the air here now reminds me of a tropical jungle with the scents of both growth and decay. It’s a heady mixture out there. Glad that the rain cleaned the atmosphere for you. What a nightmare, and I’ve experienced that kind of thick smoky air too. It’s not good.

    Looking at the weather radar, a storm is due to hit here within the half hour. It’s exciting!

    Yeah exactly, about nature demanding that certain works needs to be done. Your previous occupation would have drummed that lesson in for sure. You should see the roads around here, far out. Incidentally, the deep pothole in the smaller one lane local bridge over the creek flowing out of the bottom of this place was filled in – with clay. So far the patch seems to be working. I’m not actually certain how such potholes develop, but the cynic suggests that it may have been caused by deficiencies in the bridge and also people driving over the bridge during inclement weather in overly heavy vehicles. What’s your take on that?

    We put down a surface of the crushed rock with lime over the earthworks done in the past couple of days. The weather forecast looks feral, although today was better than anticipated.

    Yes, I get that picture, and inevitably digging is involved! Funny you mention that.

    Ah, respect, you’re a PC dude. 😉 Beware the fruits of the tree with that other computer mob. We all know the story of how that was meant to have worked out. It didn’t end well, but if people think they can purchase creativity and an artistic flair through the fruit brand, without the countless hours put into learning and then recreating the finer aspects of let’s just say, err, wood carving for example, they’d be kidding themselves. Mate, sounds like the video card packed it in. Nuff said! This stuff doesn’t last forever, although I have an odd hunch that if we really wanted to as a society, we could do far better than we are doing. It’s not to be though, and you’ve now got a new PC. I’ve looked at 11, and upgrades for the sake of upgrades was something my younger self would have done. Now that I’m older, like you, a different sensibility reigns and 11 enters your life when you have little choice otherwise. Ugg? Hehe!

    So true, I brought that entire business down on my own head. And there is nobody else to blame. I still remain unconvinced that they don’t have listening devices in the waiting room. Oh well. Actually, the whole procedure was more uncomfortable than painful. Nowadays they even apply a numbing agent to where the needles were inserted. Not like the good old days. Ook! That word is distinct from Ugg! Ugg is perhaps best used in situations where there is a modicum of control, like say, our band of barbarians will smash all before them, and all shall quail in fear on sighting our merry band of marauders. The dentist unfortunately is not one of those situations, and Ook expresses the other end of the barbarian experience when you’re strapped into the chair, and aliens are probing your teeth with pointy stainless steel items, drills and stuff. Hope the difference is now clear, and if I may be so bold, a Pan-Galactic Gargle Blaster may assist with this node of enquiry? 🙂

    Well, it turns out that advice was way wrong. Hard, or even Medium bristle brushes can apparently wear the enamel on your teeth. And how you use the things is also a factor. That’s probably a bad thing. When I was a teenager, the dentist whom I’d been regularly going to since I was a young kid, made an off hand suggestion to the nurse to show me how to brush my teeth. Clearly he’d noticed damage (AKA what you were talking about). Anyway, the nurse dodged the issue, except me being me, I asked the nurse what the dentist was going on about. And I then got a lesson in how to brush my teeth, but if I’d said nothing… The words you used was how I’d also been previously told to do the task, and they’re wrong. A shame that. Yeah, there doesn’t seem to be any excuse to use anything other than soft bristles. Hmm.

    Ah! My education is sadly lacking, but simply hanging out here and discussing such matters with people such as yourself, it improves. I’m now left wondering would you be a scop or a skald? 🙂



  34. Hi Lewis,

    Dame Plum is a little ripper. Although she looks a little bit full and uncomfortable today and so I reckon she may have provided one for the chickens, and took one for herself. I’ll probably have to give her some worming treatment in a few days. And the chickens provided 10 eggs today. Not a bad effort and response to the additional protein.

    The chickens are doing pretty well on their higher protein diet. That was a hard lesson to learn, but oh well, chickens aren’t vegetarians and we must not expect this to be the case.

    Looking at the weather radar, there’s a storm fast approaching from the north west. It’s exciting that radar, and I do use it as a tool. So far today was a bit drier than the forecast suggested (although the approaching storm might change things). But with the forecast in mind we added a layer of crushed rock with lime over all of the recent earthworks for the new gate. Compacting the stuff onto the surface was fun and involved a lot of stomping around. The Editor amusingly suggested that this comes naturally. Yes, very droll.

    Other than that, we had a quiet sort of day. A gourmet pie was harmed in the process, but sacrifices must be made. And there was a Lamington, which the dogs also demanded a small chunk of. Sharing is part of leadership, although it is a bit sad when a proper Lamington is involved. Interestingly, it was the last one in the local bakery. They usually have a tray of them. A mystery. The roads seemed quieter today, but perhaps the weather forecast, floods and stuff kept people at home. The floods are continuing in the towns up north in the state. Water takes a while to move across the country. Inexorable is a good word to use to describe the force of flood water moving over the land. People might not know what it means though!

    A decent drop of rain after a prolonged hot and dry spell is cause for celebration. And I’m glad to hear that the air cleared in your part of the world. Smoke filled air from bushfires is a menace. Will you miss the activity of watering the plants? I kind of enjoy that activity, as long as I didn’t have to drag heavy buckets of water like I’d been doing for months before installing the water pump in the past week or so. The sun here (when it shines) has some bite to it now. The other day I ended up getting a little bit of burn on my skin from the sun. I’ve heard people in cooler parts of the world deriding sunscreen, and for them that’s probably a fair and reasonable perspective, but down here wow, the sun is fierce.

    Oh, almost forgot to mention. The cucumber seeds germinated today. A couple of years back I reckon we were supplied with super-low quality cucumber seeds. I’m hoping to save some of our own, but first we need to recover from the year of dodgy seeds. Demand for seeds that year went feral due to you-know-what, and I reckon the suppliers were shipping the dross. But, other than hearing similar stories from other people, I don’t really know. The problem with sending out low quality seeds is that it can discourage folks from taking up growing their own edibles.

    Hehe! Yes, it is a bit like that isn’t it? Chess has been in the news of late possibly for the wrong reasons, but I haven’t been following the story closely. Whatever, for the past maybe year or so, we’ve decided to re-do large chunks of infrastructure which did work, but didn’t work well enough. The gate we installed this week was a good example of that story. Some people would get upset by having to re-do the infrastructure, but we both tend to view the work as implementing what we’ve learned, and you know, it does all gets easier.

    I don’t have a background with any of this farm stuff, and neither does the Editor, and so we are learning as we go. The trick I believe is learning how to learn, and then be able to implement what was learned, and then modify systems accordingly. There are probably easier ways to go, but I’m not really sure what they’d be.

    The plumber just put the overflow pipe where it was easy for him and his crew to do so. That was another very wet year. 55 inches if I recall correctly. We might beat that number yet.

    It’s good to see you’re enjoying the Harry Potter movies, and it sounds good, but yeah. Maybe the publishers could re-release the books with proper cover art? Dunno, it ain’t my circus. And yes, I respect your efforts as you are doing your part! 🙂

    I reckon a really annoyed and hungry Tyrannosaurus could ruin your whole day. However, they might make great pets? You don’t know for sure that they wouldn’t. In some parts of the world, people have bears for pets, and um, yeah, keep them well fed is what I’m thinking about that choice.

    A three tonne wombat wouldn’t make a good pet. Last night a wombat investigated the new gate (which I left open deliberately). The stompy critter left foot marks in the clay (which is now surfaced with crushed rock and lime) and a calling card. Wombats mark out their territory by taking a dump on rocks, and we’d just happen to us rocks to retain the soil on the gate ramp. Go the wombats!


  35. Hi Lewis (cont),

    A break for dinner, which was again pasta, but this time with a leafy green based sauce. It sounds unappealing, but it’s more like a pesto and so is very tasty. We cook vegetarian here, and most guests aren’t even aware that this is what they’re being fed. For some reason I can’t quite put a finger on, vegetarian food purchased elsewhere is pretty ordinary from my experience. Mind you, a lot of stuff is taken straight from the garden to the plate, so there is less mucking around, like those bags of leafy greens you mentioned. It ain’t the same as the fresh stuff.

    Hehe! That’s funny about the spinach. It can happen for sure.

    The Black Death was an horrendous plague. But have you ever noticed that it came on the back of two years of poor harvests? People were not in tip-top prime condition when it reached them. And some varieties of the Black Death, like the hemorrhagic fever variety had a bonkers high fatality rate. However, even a 90% fatality rate doesn’t get everyone, and who knows what traits the survivors have – certainly passing on the successful adaptation would be one of those. I’d heard that too about the more recent bout of unpleasantness.

    I fully expect that if food and energy supplies dwindled in the future, plagues will most certainly make an appearance. That’s not a difficult prediction given what history suggests regularly takes place.

    Really? That’s not good. The incident at Pearl Harbour was not all that long ago.

    Thanks for the interesting podcast. Hmm, makes sense, and who knew the rude young man was referencing a long held tradition? I hadn’t known of the WWII use of the words. It’s useful to recall that a soldier on a battlefield could get killed by enemy action, but also through chance and bizarre accidents. That would be tough for the family.

    The little light bulb goes on. Down here they might call your landscape fabric, but the fancier names of Geo Textile Fabric or Geofabric. The mention that it was a felt like texture twigged that memory, for some reason I thought it may have been one of those plastic woven sheets that people used to use in their gardens.

    I look forward to reading your report. We seem to be in a rain avoidment area this evening. Trust me, this is a good thing – at the moment.



  36. Chris:

    We’ve had about an inch of rain over the past 6 weeks; that’s not enough for the plants going into winter. I am so happy with all the sun that we’ve had, though. It’s not always that way in the autumn.

    If the painting had a “U”, then it wasn’t Granny who did it. I reckon “U” comes from being in a rush when texting. I use it myself sometimes. Oops – it could have been Granny.

    Gates – that’s the tricky part. My husband is our gate builder. He likes to make them interesting, kind of Art Deco, and usually painted red.

    The forget-me-nots are heavenly. I have been trying to grow them for years. Finally I realized that, duh, why am I planting them out side the garden fence? The deer eat everything. Except boxwood and figs trees. How fortuitous, as fig trees are my son’s specialty.

    You are still earning your “Dameship”, Plum.

    Things are fine. Strange, but fine.


  37. Hi Pam,

    Ook! I agree, that isn’t enough rain for a 6 week period leading into winter. Makes you wonder what it all means for the future? Hmm, just thinking about it, the soil will probably still freeze if winter gets cold enough even if the soil is dry. It’s never really 100% dry, that would be a bad thing, don’t you reckon?

    How’s your areas water supply holding up under the prolonged dry? I’d imagine it would be getting low-ish?

    But yes, the sun is nice. Yup, so lovely. Autumn can be something of a grey time.

    Hehe! Pam, you are so busted! Now, if I may dare add, the calligraphy skills could possibly use some improvement, if the graffiti was any indication of said skills. 🙂 Some people are very talented with a spray can and it gives us all something to aim for. Thanks for the observation too as I wouldn’t have considered that aspect, but yeah so true.

    The gates sound lovely and would look great. 🙂 That’s a really useful skill.

    They are lovely plants aren’t they? And after a few years they grow as little carpets of pale blue flowers. It’s a nice effect. I haven’t noticed anything eating them, but deer are a menace (and glad to hear the figs and boxwood trees are surviving the deer onslaught). Hope your son and his wife are enjoying themselves? The granny reference might not be way off the mark. 🙂 For your interest, the figs here are just breaking their dormancy about now, although some varieties are earlier than others. I didn’t get around to removing the breba figs (due to so many other things on my plate) and feel mildly guilty every time I see the figs! Ook!

    The tunnel Dame Plum dug up to get at the rabbits runs through and into the blackberry bed. Hmm. The dog has done well. Rabbits are a menace here.

    Ah, thank you for the explanation. It’s been like that everywhere for the past couple of years. A bit of stability would be a nice thing, don’t you reckon?



  38. Yo, Chris – Santa’s dead!

    The take-aways from this article are: 1.) Avoid demon possessed trees (which is probably the case in the tree that nearly took the Editor and you out) and 2.) Beware butchers selling cheap pork, during a famine.

    Chickens need their protein. Probably contributes to shell strength, too.

    Our weather radar still isn’t “up,” but I discovered if I click on where it’s supposed to be, I get the big picture. Not as much rain, today, as yesterday. Tomorrow is supposed to be kind of nice. Do I miss watering the plants? Hmmm. Not really. One less thing to do on my daily to-do list. I think I mentioned I go out after dark, to water. Less chatter to put up with. There’s plenty of light from street lights, to see what I’m doing. We do have one parking lot light, that’s blinks on and off. Been that way for over a year. Drives me nuts. Like living in a cheap Time’s Square hotel, with a blinking neon light right outside the window. If a river doesn’t have much “fall”, floods can be very slow moving. There’s been articles about some river in Florida, where the flooding has gone on and on. Flood in slow motion. A flood crest can move fast, or slow. I think I’d prefer slow. More prep time.

    And then there’s the seeds that come from the Land of Stuff. Which may not have any relationship to what you ordered. I got caught by that, once. But word has got around, and they’ll have to come up with some new grift. A good reason to carefully read the comments, on the sites of the two major on-line retailers. Elinor occasionally gets enchanted with some gizmo she sees on TV. I do the research and head her off at the pass. The last one was some kind of an egg cooker.

    People have all kinds of pets, they shouldn’t. What was I reading about, the other day. Some kind of weird salamander, that looks like it’s smiling. Ah! Axolotis. Ugly little creatures.

    Yes, but … There were plenty of years where there was famine, and no plague. But I agree. People in a weakened condition will pick up any number of nasty things. This weeks media froth is about the rise in cholera. Seems pretty simple. Don’t drink bad water. More concerning (and real) is that flu is on the way. And, it looks to be bad, this year. There’s a couple of schools on our east coast where half the students are out with it.

    So, our boxes came, yesterday, actually, a two boxes and a bag. There were a couple of things we got more of. Three boxes of cereal (corn flakes) instead of the usual two. Two jars of peanut butter, instead of the usual one. But onto the list – A pound of frozen chicken crumbles, a 2 lb. box of processed cheese product, 1 carton of shelf stable milk, 1 bag of instant dry milk, 2 quarts of some kind of apple drink, 1 lb. of brown rice, a small bag of red beans and a small bag of pasta. 6 small boxes of raisins. A one pound bag of dried fruit and nuts. The bag with tinned stuff had apple sauce (3), potatoes (4), pinto beans (1.), chicken (1) and beef with juices (1). The produce box had a bag of carrots and one bag of small apples. A head of cabbage. 4 nice baking potatoes. 2 onions. The big surprise was a two pound bag of pistachio nuts, in the shell. That’s a new one. Since I also got Elinor’s boxes, double all of the above. And I picked up a few things off the swap table. A good haul. Some I kept, some I put on the swap table, the rest I’m hauling down to the Club pantry.

    Aliens don’t probe your teeth. 🙂

    Last night I watched Stephen King’s “The Langoliers.” It was a two part miniseries, broadcast in 1995. I saw it years ago, and decided to give it another spin. Pretty good. But the acting was about what you’d expect from TV. The story came from a book of novellas, by King, called “Four Past Midnight.” And, yes, Stephen shows up in a small cameo. Lew

  39. Hello Chris
    Have just had one of those nights from hell. Woke at 2am and that was it. A creature (wood mouse?) was building its winter nest in the wall by my ear, nonstop all night. A gigantic storm was raging and then the electrics went out. I rose as soon as it was reasonably light and Son brought me a flask of boiling water. Hurrah, I could have tea with my breakfast. Electrics have now come back on thank goodness as the freezer is always a worry.
    Am still hearing about your floods on our news.


  40. Hi Lewis,

    The mind begins to wonder at how Saint Nicholas even knew the tree was demon possessed? This loose talk of long pig, kind of makes me a bit nervous about ordering pork. But then as anyone who’s ever read or watched a ‘who dunnit?’ story will know that bodies are hard to get rid of. I’d imagine many an author has used the feed it to the investigating parties and grieving relatives twist? It’s a bit gruesome.

    You’ve got me wondering about bakers substituting plaster for flour during famines. That wouldn’t probably end well for people who ingest the stuff, and I’ve heard of rat baits that use that ingredient to similar effect.

    Yes, I agree. The chickens have benefited greatly from the additional protein in their diets. To date, we’ve avoided the issue because heritage breeds are low stress on the protein front, but we may have recently and inadvertently picked up some more commercially oriented breeds.

    I hear you about the one less thing to do bit. The Editor went off to lunch with friends in the big smoke, and so I pottered around doing a whole bunch of activities which needed doing but I had not previously had the available time to do. It would be like a scene from a film of a cheap motel. You can almost hear the buzz of the electronics fading to quiet, then picking up again to another buzz with the lights flickering, with maybe a swamp cooler blowing the curtains, which may or may not be dusty and exuding a scent of decay. I’d agree, slow moving is easier to prepare for. I’m enjoying the wetter year here because it gives me more time to better prepare the forest interface for when a big fire comes through. The big old trees are worth protecting, but try explaining that to know it alls super-concerned folks.

    I was thinking about those weird unasked for seeds too from the land of stuff. Whatever the case may be, it won’t end well.

    Run Elinor, Run! However, the egg cooker sounds pretty nifty. 😉

    When I was a kid, a mate of mine used to have pet Axolotl’s. Did you know that they can regenerate limbs, gills and parts of their eyes and brains?

    Thank you for the correction, and I concede your point. The one does not necessarily lead to the other, but famine certainly ups the ante. For microbes, higher order predators, or whatever, we’re just occasionally another easy feed. Polio is picked up occasionally in sewage testing down here too. It never went away, but it is also possible that the readings originate from people who have recently taken the vaccine for travel purposes (or worse, arrived from overseas with the disease). There are many possibilities. But you’re right, cholera is a no-brainer to avoid, but there was this time I was at a hippy market and purchased some cherries, and the urchin lurking around the store was stuffing them into his mouth and nobody seemed to think that this was a problem. Germ theory won’t last long into the future – and it ain’t just the hippies from what I’ve seen over the years.

    Flu’s are bad down here most years, but some years are badder than others. And everyone seems surprised when someone who is considered young and healthy succumbs to it. We walk a precarious path, not that most people consider the matter any further than what’s for dinner?

    An excellent score from the magic food boxes.

    Hehe! I’ve heard that story too about the aliens. What’s with that? 😉 Surely they have better things to do with their time?

    The Editor finished reading ‘The Dome’ this morning and really enjoyed the story. Maximum carnage at the end, and I must say the alien’s seemed nicer than the sort of dirty ones that want to probe unmentionables! Hehe! Not many survivors. And why did the corrupt politician get the Evil genius ‘out’ in the end? As in here is why you deserve to die. It never ends well. It was a good scene though all the same, and if I may add some lesser narrative flair: Shoot first, as oxygen was in short supply. 🙂 Even talking would have used up precious moments.

    Far out! I better get writing myself and have no idea as to what I’m going to write about and it’s already 9.15pm. Might have to invoke aliens – and probing. What would the notables think of that? 🙂



  41. Yo, Chris – It got down to 34F (1.1C), last night. Haven’t been out yet. I wonder what the garden looks like. The readings are taken at the weather station, which is down in the valley. Colder air falls, so maybe we were a bit warmer up here in the “heights.” Wishful thinking.

    Santa probably knew the tree was demon possessed, as it killed a nice unsuspecting couple, just out for a stroll. 🙂

    Enjoying the wet year? So all the whinging is just for show?

    Better an Axolotl, than an alligator. I saw an article last night, where someone was out walking their dog in rural Idaho, and discovered a 3 1/2 foot long alligator. That’s the second, in as many years.

    Yes, the food boxes were a bit of all right. I was snacking on some of those pistachios last night, and contemplating the pile of shells. Thought of compost, but they’re salted. Ah! Colander, running water and the problem is solved.

    I ran across an article about a liquor your local brewmaster might want to try. Limolivo. It’s made from olive leaves, orange and lemon peel. All of which you have in abundance.

    I generally don’t watch nature programs, but got a new one from the library that sounded interesting. “Green Planet.” It’s all about plants. Presented by Sir David Attenborough. It has several episodes. Last night, I watched the ones about tropical forests, and fresh water plants. They developed a new camera, for stop motion. It’s called “The Triffid.” 🙂 The photography for the series is fantastic.

    I was thinking about the British change of Prime Minister. (Boris might come back? Really?) So, she got tossed out on her ear for attempting to cut taxes on the rich? Interesting. For the last 40 years, politicians have claimed that’s a good thing to do, because all that mad loot will “trickle down.” The theory being, if the rich have all this extra money to throw around, it will eventually benefit the rest of us, further down the food chain. Didn’t happen. Seems the rich just hold on to any extra, that comes there way. They sit on it.

    The other justification for cutting taxes on the rich is that, well, someday you may be rich, and you wouldn’t want to pay all those nasty taxes, would you? It’s only taken 40 years or so, but, apparently, the public just isn’t buying those two stories, anymore. Not what you’d call a fast study. Lew

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