Flip Me Upside Down

Ollie, wake up! Wake up dude! The early morning alarm makes a quiet sound in another room. Dame Plum, Kelpie boss dog hearing that, musters the other two fluffies for another day of activities.

Dame Plum and her best mate Ollie, well rested and ready for another day of action

Dame Plum looks over at Ollie before commanding: You know the drill. Snuffle Sandra’s hand. Wet it good and proper. Ollie has a rather large mouth. The dogs sleep on the couch in Chris’s study. And somehow every morning, just as the door handle is being used, Ollie’s wet and spiky mouth manages to connect with Sandra’s hand. The accuracy is uncanny, and on the days I’ve let the dogs out in the morning, he got me too. Do we really require this special treatment?

Rain, hail, snow or sunshine, the dogs head outside to do their ablutions before rapidly returning back inside the house for breakfast. The parrots lurk around waiting for a free feed, because after all, the dogs are well fed.

A local parrot enjoys an easy feed

Ollie is usually first back inside. He then ignores Dame Plum as she makes her way back into the house. Instead he waits for Ruby. Ruby is the naughty dog. Ollie as dog number one, chastises the mischievous Ruby, but is he actually playing up because he is smitten by her and her slinky legs, tail and stuff? We’ll never know, but we can speculate.

A cup of coffee assists with bringing the dogs early morning antics into focus. Before that, it’s all sound, movement, colour and life, with the occasional gnashing of teeth. The dogs breakfast is put together and consumed on the floor of the kitchen in neat separate bowls. Years ago I knew a dachshund corgi cross dog who enjoyed nothing better than starving her best mate. After that experience, we’ve fed the dogs in separate bowls, and monitored them.

Dame Plum is kitchen bitch. She does all the hard yards with cleaning up any left overs. The other two dogs are useless at sorting out the finer details. Trust me on this, I’ve sat those two down and admonished them. Even pulled out the big gun: “Sir Scruffy would never have put up with this shit!”. But do they listen? No! So Dame Plum ends up doing all the heavy lifting with kitchen clean up duties.

After my own breakfast is consumed, the regular chores need doing. Ollie assists me with watering the plants in the greenhouse. His nose is like a magnet for fertilisers of any description, and he’ll happily aerate the soil whilst snuffling for juicy chunks of yummy in the raised garden beds. Yes, very helpful. Around the property we’ll walk doing a boundary patrol check looking for naughty marsupials, rabbits, foxes and/or deer. It’s amazing what life is out there.

Next chore on the list is the daily cleaning out of the chicken enclosure. Dame Plum is the nominated chicken dog, and will happily monitor the chicken situation. As soiled bedstraw gets turfed out of the chicken enclosure, she rifles through it looking for… Boss, a Triffid might be hidden in there! Let me check it out first! She certainly diligently sifts through the detritus which gets chucked into the orchard.

The work day then begins. The dogs hang around one at a time, keeping alert for anything unusual, like say, Triffids. There’s a lot of life out there, so you never know. They enjoy a bit of freedom combined with a whole bunch of responsibility. They know what is required of them. And there is work for them to be done here, like digging out rabbit burrows and destroying rat nests if those are near to where we’re working.

Dame Plum assists with fertilising the citrus orchard

Sometimes during a work day the dogs will exercise their own initiative and decide to improve their usually neutral aroma by rolling in a choice chunk of stuff that is unmentionable in polite company. Fortunately nobody reading the blog fits that description, so the dogs roll in poo. Aroma de stinky! It’s not nice, and earns them a wash down with the hose. They don’t like that, but that’s consequences for you. It astounds me sometimes to contemplate the reasons as to why they think they’ll get away with such a resounding stench. A true mystery.

The end of the work day is marked by a rest with a coffee and an Anzac biscuit. The dogs also enjoy a specially baked Anzac biscuit (minus chocolate and sultanas). Ollie being a larger dog gets to enjoy two biscuits. In between the first and the second biscuit, there is candidly a lot of drool from the big dog.

After the drool gets cleaned up, the dogs may enjoy a walk. Dame Plum is super excited about walks, but tends to believe that her boss dog status exempts her from the lead. That ain’t so, and a lead gets chucked around her neck. Her will has to bend to the realities of other people.

Boss, I’m really super trustworthy. But if you must…

The evenings are the time where you’ll experience the nose nudge. The two Kelpies are experts at this. If they want something, they’ll wait until you are distracted, then bump their nose into your leg. What’s just happened? Before you know it, they’re out of reach sitting there making eye contact. If you ignore them, they’ll wait for the next opportunity. It’s distracting. You know what we wants! Usually a rawhide chew is what the dogs want.

Dame Plum enjoys a rawhide chew after a hard days work

Sometimes the nose nudge means that they want to sit on your lap and enjoy a pat.

Dame Plum believes the world looks more interesting, upside down

All good days come to an end. Almost before the dogs know it, they’re back on the couch asleep again.

A hard days work deserves a good solid sleep

A blast of cold and damp Antarctic air has hung over the farm for most of the week. It sure got cold, and wet.

Bonkers summer weather 6’C / 43’F

When the rain cleared, we used the tree stump grinder to clean up the leftovers from the century or so of logging.

We got rid of more old tree stumps this week

One of the ride on mowers requires regular basic maintenance with a grease gun. Because the machine is so low to the ground, maintaining the mower is not easy to do. Rather than installing a hoist, or ramps, to get under the machine, we decided to make an access pit using steel rock gabion cages. The idea is to get the machine onto the top of the solid cages, then I can safely work underneath. This week, we made the three cages necessary for that arrangement.

Steel rock gabion cages will be used for machine repairs

As part of the ongoing upgrades with the solar power system, I installed some high quality circuit breakers to replace the cheaper items. After having seen a cheaper item fail to trip only to then destroy itself, I’m very dubious as to whether the cheap ones would work when necessary. The facts suggest that they won’t. And that possibility is not good and could be catastrophic.

There are many cheaper breakers of this sort lurking around. Beware!

In addition to the above, a couple of very large DC voltage rated fuses were added. I call them, the ‘last resort’ fuses and they will hopefully cut the power when everything else fails. Not a situation to muck around with.

A pull down handle will give a quick disconnect, but the HRC fuses will act faster

We had a good raspberry harvest this year and most of those delectable berries were turned into raspberry jam. We’ve been on a mission to avoid adding pectin to jams as it gives them a jelly-like consistency, plus changes the colour and taste of the final product. Best avoided, and that’s where the science of jam making comes in. That science works!

Fresh home made raspberry jam – like the stuff in the film Soylent Green, but better

And the proof of the science, can be seen in the outcome. No added pectin.

No pectin added, no worries!

It’s been an excellent blackberry harvest too. One of the more intriguing fruits here is the Babaco (which is a cold tolerant pawpaw) grown in the greenhouse.

Babaco, will it, or won’t it, taste like lemon sorbet?

The chilli’s in the greenhouse are producing really well, and most of those will be dehydrated and used later in the year.

Chilli’s will be dehydrated after harvesting

There are a few green unripe cherry tomatoes growing about the farm. But nothing comes even close to the tomatoes grown in the greenhouse. They’re not ripe, but should get there soon.

How good do these tomatoes look?

Onto the flowers:

Agapanthus line this path leading down to the sapling fenced enclosure
Hydrangeas, and they’re blue!
Oregano flowers are very attractive and the insects love them

The temperature outside now at about 10am is 12’C (53’F). So far this year there has been 62.4mm (2.5 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 38.0mm (1.5 inches)

55 thoughts on “Flip Me Upside Down”

  1. Yo, Chris – Still no amusing weekly blog post? 🙂 LOL. Pulling your leg. Maybe, also a finger. Doggies do provide a lot of amusement and entertainment. Or, do we entertain and amuse them?

    Maybe the dogs slobbering on the hand, in the early morning, is just them checking to see if you’re still you, and haven’t been replaced by a pod person, during the night? Or, they’re checking to make sure you’re still in the land of the living. Otherwise, they’d have to fall back on a plan B.

    You don’t mean parrots eat … NOOOO! NOT THAT! 🙂

    Be careful with all this focus on Triffids. A zombie or two might sneak in.

    Ollie needs a droll bucket. There was an old Saturday Night Live Sketch (actually, a couple) that showcased drool buckets. One even had pirates! But, I could find none of them in a playable form 🙁 . I thought maybe you could adapt something.

    When H assumes the upside down position, she reverts to a three month old. Burbling and cooing. It’s a pretty amazing age regression.

    It will be interesting to see the machine repair / rock gabions in action. Just a few more rocks … The HRC fuses look very classy. Like they know what they’re doing.

    Besides tasting good, raspberry jam in a bottle, looks so pretty. Sunshine in a bottle. If the Babaco doesn’t taste like lemon sorbet, it will probably taste like chicken.

    Your unripe tomato reminds me of the Green Zebra tomato. Like these …


    Year before last, the Master Gardeners had one left over from their spring plant sale. They forced it on me, and I just plopped it in an unused bed. I did take care of it, but it was a rather small plant, without much yield. Might have been a problem with the gardener, not the plant.

    The flowers are lovely. The only thing we have in bloom, right now, is shot weed. It is edible. It’s in someone else’s bed, and I’m stifling the urge to root it out. One of the Master Gardeners goes all bonkers, when she sees it. Must have been an early childhood trauma. Lew

  2. Hi Margaret,

    Leo sounds like a lovely dog. And it’s worth mentioning that Ollie has won me over for larger dogs. Have you always had larger dogs?

    You dodged the winter, for a bit! 🙂 Nice one. I appreciate your description of that state, and in some ways it reminds me of the state of Queensland down under. The culture is the same, but at the same time, different. My mother headed up there in her retirement.

    Margaret, thanks so much for sharing that place. Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary is really something else, and I would have enjoyed it too. Did you take any of the boardwalk walks?

    As to the destruction, what could possibly go wrong with further development? I tell you truly, after bushfires there are always property sharks circling for bites of cheap land from people who are a bit traumatised. The sea level there plus king tides might be something of a problem.

    You sure had quite the adventure.

    Did you get to see any gators? There’s something unsettling about gated communities, and I reckon Cecily has the right of it. Yup.

    Enjoyed a cool and sunny summer day today, but was stuck inside doing paid work. Gotta pay them bills! 🙂 Was there much shock coming back home to winter temperatures?



  3. Hi Lewis,

    A person can only but do their very best to entertain. 🙂 The outcome may be unpredictable and occasionally fall flat, but whatever. Hehe! Glad to hear you were entertained. At a wild guess, we entertain the canines. H is definitely conducting subtle experiments upon you.

    The urban dic. defines pod people as those who are unable to make an informed decision for themselves. What a horror to encounter first thing in the morning – pre-coffee too. No wonder Ollie is concerned and runs a daily test upon us. Do you have any idea what he might do if he decides we’re pod people? He’s got some authority that dog due to sheer size and looks.

    Oh yeah, it’s happening. The parrots are dirty for it, and they’ll wait in the trees for Ollie to venture forth from the house and do his morning ablutions. Nature takes waste not, want not, to the whole next level. 🙂

    Holy carp, you’re right. It’s been a while since zombies were mentioned. It’s the growing season you know. Zombies stand out more in the colder winter months. Hey, speaking of the undead, we spoke of ‘The Last of Us’, but have you had the chance to road test the series for us? Curious minds want to know.

    Drool buckets, whatever will they think of next? The cheeky scamps at SNL would be hard pressed to stay ahead of the news of the day for sheer strangeness. Didn’t old saloons have something along those lines described as a spitoon? Sounds very unhygenic.

    Hey, chickens do the same thing if you turn them upside down. We sometimes have to apply grease to their feet if they get mites. H sounds like a delightful dog. I think it was you who originally mentioned the idea that she enjoyed looking at the world upside down. I think of that comment every time Dame Plum views the world from that perspective.

    The rock gabion arrangement will make more sense in a month or so. And fun fact: HRC stands for High Rupture Current. That’s not the rapture, it’s the rupture – that’s different because you want to take the system down, not up like some are hoping to achieve.

    It might be a green zebra tomato. I got that particular plant from a mate and it wasn’t of our seed stock. The results from the experiments with my friends tomato seedlings has prompted me to obtain a heat mat for seed raising, just to get a good head start on the season.

    Who knows what happened. Tomatoes are finicky plants and conditions have to be just right in order to get a good harvest.

    Ah, shot weed is known down here as bittercress. And it grows very well indeed, although unlike your master gardener, I’ve never felt that it is a nuisance plant. It’s good chicken feed at that time of year when the garden is quiet. Such plants should be celebrated because of their sheer hardiness.

    The early morning folks ain’t my people either. This preference of mine for later starts has impacted upon the earning potential, but too bad so sad, early mornings just don’t work. Mileage of course may vary, and you’d hope they’d be quiet.

    Hehe! That riot thing and social media, it’s a hard way to learn. And yes, it is not just photographs, but pings. The case for the pilot who allegedly bumped off the two also possibly allegedly naughty campers went to a pre-hearing. Turns out pings are important. The case has captured the publics imagination. I used to go camping by myself up in that part of the world just to enjoy some time-out, and also because my grandfather used to take me up there as a kid. I had no idea that there were as I heard someone put it ‘anti-social elements’ up there. If I met such sorts, I’d offer them a beer and work out how things rolled. Not everyone takes such an approach, apparently some folks act rather haughty and aggravating. It never ends well.

    With the vacation picture mad cash fine thing, I’m guessing someone had some unfinished business with them, and took their shot. It was brutal, and the presumption was that the couple were guilty. Bonkers.

    Mate, I’m the same. The film folks can have all the opinions they want, but their central job is to recount an engaging story, and if they can’t manage that… Politics, morals and other concerns have to come second.

    We all but do our best. With the occasional side serving of nag, of course. That stretching subject is important, and one must save their best nag for such times. 😉

    That’s funny, and yes, Mark Twain did have a lot to say about himself, but I reckon the bloke was alright due to his love of dogs. Much can be forgiven! I haven’t read Twain’s “Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court”. What’s your opinion, worth the read?

    Well done the Elder canine statesman: Bobi. I read the article on the BBC, and wow did they have some strange articles there, or what? Weekend marriages, and something about self marrying… What a thought! Maybe I’m just too old to understand such things! 🙂

    Hope you and H had fun down at the Club, or at least a pleasant yak or two. Churches need to provide service, and maybe skip on some of the social and moral stuff. Aren’t they there to connect parishioners with the spirits?



  4. Hello Chris,
    Heat mats are good for seedlings and for cuttings. I get much improved rooting of cuttings (figs, kiwis, berries) when using bottom heat.

    For tomatoes and peppers, I use a different system, with overhead lights. When I tried without extra light, I got very lanky seedlings.
    In my light-setup, I cannot fit bottom heat, due to the design of the box.

    I wish SLClaire could inform us of the results of a controlled experiment – with and without heat mat, with and without supplemental lights.
    Maybe one day I will run such an experiment, but in the meantime, I am fumbling along.

    Winter is undulating back and forth here. Now we have snow again and the ground is frozen stiff. Last week rains, this week sunshine on the snow.

    Do you have any hints regarding the jam-science? Maybe a guest-post by the Editor to share the best tips?


  5. Yo, Chris – Pod people: Well, it all kicked off with “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” (1956). And then there were two remakes. “The Body Snatchers” (1993) and “Invasion of the Pod People” (2007). I guess you can never have too much of a good thing. 🙂 You never know what might be growing down in that greenhouse.

    If you had horses, you might not have to buy chicken feed. They pick through the apples (horse, that is.)

    No release date, yet, on the DVD of “The Last of Us.” It’s from HBO and they’re usually pretty good about cranking out a DVD version, eventually. Maybe later this year. No release date, yet.

    Spittoons aka cuspidors (a variant on a Portuguese word). Used to be pretty common, where gentlemen gathered. You often see them in pictures of wild west saloons. Back when I was in the tat trade, occasionally, I’d run across a lady’s spittoon. Check Gargle images for examples. They pretty much disappeared when TB panic, seized the world.

    So, HRCs also provide protection, when you’ve got to move large rocks? 🙂 Do you just hook them inside your pants?

    Shot weed aka bittercress can take over an entire bed, in no short order. And the seeds linger in the soil for years.

    I suppose you’ve heard of the murder of the four college students, over in Idaho? Phone pings are going to play an important part of the prosecution’s case. We don’t have as much CCTV as Britain, but that’s also going to play into it.

    Interesting factoid, for the next pub quiz. When Mark Twain was born, Haley’s comet was blazing across the skies. Ditto, when he died. It’s been decades since I read the book. Judging from what the Burn’s documentary said, “Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court,” was a kind of turning point in Twain’s writing. Toward the end of the book, it took a rather dark turn. Also, I seem to remember that up to this point, Twain dashed off books, rather quickly. He struggled for a time, with “Connecticut Yankee…” He wrote it after reading Mallory.

    It was first done as a movie, in 1931, starring the great American humorist, Will Rogers. It was filmed again, in 1949. You might want to skip that one. It stars Ba-Ba-Bing Crosby, and is a musical. 🙂 Once more into the breach, it was done as a TV movie, in 1989. Which changed the sex of the protagonist. Because they just can’t leave well enough alone.

    Mark Twain did have a lot to say about himself. But one of the things that made him popular, is that when he poked fun of people, he also included himself. Burn’s documentary didn’t once mention, his love of dogs.

    Read some more of “Bowling Alone.” I’m skimming through some parts of it. It is also, almost 600 pages. Lew

  6. Hi Goran,

    Many thanks for the feedback on heat mats because I’d wondered about how they’d work for cuttings as well. I’ll have to run some power cables into the greenhouse over the next few months. The plan is to get the seedlings begun earlier this late winter.

    Ah, do you grow kiwi’s in your part of the world? They’re such a great plant, and the fruit is superb.

    A bigger grow box may be in your future? I hear you though, time and energy is limited for new projects. The light may provide a little bit of extra heat for you? Light isn’t too much of an issue here during winter, despite having some days with thick clouds and a mere 15 minutes of peak sunlight. It’s a variable thing due to being at 37.5′ latitude south.

    A good question to raise with Claire when next a comment arrives from that direction. Truthfully, I’m muddling along as well. It’s quite a good way to learn, and we have time to do so. Things might not always be that way with time at some point in the future. But for now, it’s all good.

    Ah! Everything you need to know can be read here: The science and magic of jam-making. The knack with jam making is to work the pectin inherent in the fruit / berries, and the article discusses how to do so. I don’t enjoy adding pectin to jams, it changes the final product.

    Incidentally, how good is your new ‘scary chipper’? Well done, and they’re very useful machines. Have you had any further incidents with the voles?



  7. Hi, Chris!

    Oh – goody, goody, goody! A dog story!

    Ollie is telling you: “You’re too slow, man! Hurry up – I’ve got things to do!” It is so nice that every dog has its own job, though I imagine there might be some overlap. Best refer to the Farm Canine Union rules.

    Goodness – do I remember Aroma de Stinky! All of our dogs strove to impress each other with the stuff, but one was notable for doing so every single day, And, as Baby Sue had a really thick double coat and was usually rather warm, she enjoyed the hosing off. Her other hobby was going “swampin’ ” in the creek by finding a shallow muddy spot and lying down in that. The she would run home as fast as her short, stumpy legs would carry her and see if she could run into the house and jump on the sofa.

    Plum-upside-down; what wonderful doggie shots. And also the one of the parrot. Is he eating pocorn? That would be Ollie’s popcorn?

    Yeah – but HOW are you going to get the mower up top? That is going to be an exciting next episode.

    I am going to see if we have a pull down handle on our two breaker boxes . . . . . . Just as I thought – we do not.

    I don’t like pectin either.

    Oh, my goodness – look at those agapanthae (?)! And we certainly can tell that you have acidic soil with the beautiful blue hydrangeas. Lovely oregano. Ours is still growing and I eat some every day.



  8. Hi Lewis,

    Of course, I get confused between the Body Snatchers film and the frightening 1981 film Scanners. Oh my goodness, there is a 1978 remake of the Invasion of the Body Snatchers film and the reviews are way above average. Your mission, should you choose to accept it… 🙂 The 1978 remake has a pretty good cast too if that isn’t incentive enough. Possibly the film is better than the original?

    I’m glad there weren’t too many comments this evening because I worked in the big smoke today and got home late. The Editor is at a comedy show ‘David Sedaris’ in the big smoke with a friend. Anyway, there’s been a heap to do here before I can sit down and enjoy myself here. The dogs enjoyed a decent walk and are now sound asleep, and I certainly had to feed myself.

    My sleep was a touch disturbed last night. I woke up in the middle of the night with a headache. Turns out the Editor had not mixed her peri peri mixture up very well and I ended up with a lot of salt in my dinner yesterday. An accident, although I did ask the Editor this morning if she were trying to kill me off, which candidly as an observation didn’t go down all that well. The year of living dangerously! 🙂 Too much salt though, holy carp! A little bit is good, but too much is truly awful.

    True about the horses. I’d be more inclined to get goats first. Horses seem like a lot of work to me, and I doubt they’d do good things for the soil here.

    That’s unfortunate about the release date for the zombie series. I’ve heard nothing but good things about it.

    Interesting. I hadn’t known that apparently chewing gum superseded the habit of chewing tobacco way back in the day and yes tuberculosis would have been something of a risk with those items. Spare a thought for the stoic cleaners though. I noticed that the spitoons contained a potent acid to kill off the nasties. Hope never to see one in use.

    Hehe! Possibly so with the HRC fuses. Hey, they’re ingenious devices and are a ceramic container filled with sand. The sand / silica stops the arc from continuing if the element that sits in the sand blows. A very elegant design, but I note you guys in the US have a different standard, but same, same as far as I’m concerned. It’s not bad to have a last resort plan!

    Bittercress do pop up everywhere here, but I’ve never seen them take over any garden beds. And with weeding, we pull the plants out and feed them to the chickens. The birds love bittercress, especially at that cold time of year.

    Yes, it is hard not to hear of that case. The person involved appears to have thought very highly of himself. Is that an example of hubris? Hmm. Anyway, the facts suggest that reality is otherwise. The whole sordid affair seemed sad and pointless.

    No way… That’s a bit eerie to be both be born and then after many years die when Haley’s comet is in the sky. Must mean something. Interesting, the writings of Mr Twain which I’ve read have not seemed dark to me, so that’s interesting. Yes, the book does take a dark turn. Hmm.

    Musical alert! 🙂 What was it that you wrote again – I cannot see the words clearly. Hehe! The story can stand on it’s own without the unnecessary changes.

    Always wise to poke fun at yourself if others are in your sights.

    How can the book Bowling Alone be 600 pages in length? How many ideas could possibly be contained in the pages? Could possibly benefit from some editing.

    Me tired. Bedtime.



  9. @ Lew:

    I love shot weed. I eat it every day in the winter, straight out of the garden. We call it hairy bittercress here, and I feel – I’ll admit I am a minority – that its food value in the months when there is little food growing is worth dealing with having it grow where I might not want it. It is a member of the brassica family and you will notice that right away if you taste it.

    I don’t know if this lady in New Zealand is right (it’s the same plant):



  10. Chris et al
    In a lifetime of making jam, I have never used pectin. Strawberry jam is an example. Use lemon juice and less sugar. Blackberry jam, add apples. Unfortunately I can’t give quantities.


  11. Hi Chris,

    We’ve mostly had big dogs with a few medium size thrown in around 40-45 lbs.

    You can only walk on the boardwalks at Corkscrew Swamp. They have almost 3 miles of them. Yes, we saw quite a few alligators. In fact the first one was at Corkscrew. A great blue heron suddenly flew up onto a fallen tree trunk quite upset. Well he/she had reason to be as a very large crocodile emerged to enjoy the sun on another log. After the initial hubbub both just stayed right where they were for quite some time. Alligators really only feed at night when it’s cooler. During the day the get out of the water to warm up and really aren’t interested in eating. We found out that they usually only eat every three or four days. Apparently the prey animals are aware of this so pretty much hang out nearby. We saw quite a few sunning themselves on the side of the road in the Everglades along with a couple crocodiles. We learned that a couple of crocs had to be operated on to remove the plastic they had injested from their stomachs.

    The 8 inches of snow they came down a little over a week ago is melting fast. The forecast is for warmer than normal temps for at least 10 days.


    PS: Salve enjoys lying on her back to presenting her stomach for a rub from anyone who’ll indulge her.

  12. Hi everyone,

    I have found that I can only raise good pepper seedlings when I use a heat mat to provide bottom heat for the seedlings *and* I put a plastic lid over the seedling tray to hold the heat in. This is because pepper seeds require higher soil temperatures for good germination, something like 80F, and the seedlings also need warm temperatures to grow well. Pepper seeds take a long time to germinate and peek above the soil, around 2 to as much as 3 weeks. The heat mat needs to be on the entire time. It’s a 50 watt mat – it sucks up a fair bit of electricity, being on 24/7 for up to 3 weeks. Sometimes I turn it on again if we get particularly cold weather in late March or April.

    I have to start pepper seeds at the beginning of March to get the plants large enough to transplant in early May, which in turn allows me to pick peppers by late July to early August. The front porch, where I raise the seedlings, is too cool in March to get the pepper seeds to germinate if I don’t use a heat mat. But the front porch does have enough light that I don’t need a light box. When I raised seedlings inside the house, I suspended fluorescent lights over them and put the lights as close to the seedling trays as possible, to reduce the tendency for the seedlings to be long and spindly (they still got that way, but not as bad as when the lights were farther away from them). But the porch is much better in that regard.

    Tomato and eggplant seeds germinate at a lower temperature than pepper seeds and more quickly. As long as the weather is sunny, I could get away with not using the heat mat for them. But I start them on the heat mat too as insurance against the cloudy and cold weather we can get in March.

    I also start seeds of herbs like basil and flowers like marigold that need heat to germinate and grow on the heat mat. But I don’t use it for lettuce, cabbage, and others that germinate and grow well in ambient conditions on the front porch in March.


  13. Yo, Chris – I choose to step over (maybe, even on) the gauntlet thrown down. I’m pod peopled, out. I’m sure each version has it’s charms. But the one that stands out in my mind (vaguely) is the 1978 “Invasion of the Body Snatchers,” with Donald Sutherland. Right now, I watched the first three episodes of the first season of “Northern Exposure.” Another bucket list item. Just as amusing, quirky and eccentric as I remember it. But I had forgotten a lot of the interesting secondary characters. Which often make or break a series.

    I’ve read all of Sedaris. Usually, pretty amusing, though he has occasional misses. Like Twain, I suppose he has to go on the lecture circuit, to keep the bucks rolling in. Twain visited Australia, I see.

    I had to look up what peri peri is. A kind of chicken chili. I don’t know. Has The Editor taken out any large life insurance policies, on you, lately? Always a red flag. 🙂

    “The Last of Us” is still being broadcast. Or streamed. Or, whatever. So it might be awhile, before the DVD makes an appearance. Although our Public Broadcasting and the BBC often crank out the DVD while whatever series is still coming over the air waves (or, through the modem.) I’ve never really cared to watch “All Creatures Great and Small,” but I’ve got a few bits at Elinor’s and may have to add that to the list.

    I watched “The Vanishing,” last night. About the Flanner lighthouse disappearance. Pretty good. Rather than rouge waves, it was more attributed to greed and murder. Filmed at four different NW Scottish lighthouses. But not Flanner. There’s a scene where the mercury used to flat the light, spills. Apparently, a not too uncommon occurrence. Corralling the stuff could be quit the ordeal. And, exposure can make you crazy … Hmmm.

    Spittoons. Men prided themselves on their good aim. 🙂

    Unfortunately, no chickens to feed the bittercress to.

    As mentioned, an also eerie coincidence. That the last two remaining signers of The Declaration of Independence, (Jefferson and Adams) would both die on the same day; July 4th, the 50th anniversary of the signing.

    Well, “Bowling Alone” has a lot of graphs. Lots and lots of graphs. I’m still skimming through a lot of it. To get to the “what has changed” and “possible solutions” part of it. When it was originally written, twenty years ago, the author had an inkling that the internet might have some impact. But knew not what. It will be interesting to see what he thinks, now.

    H and I hit the Club for biscuits and gravy. Tasty. And, it looks like we may have a relief person, for when are usual chef has the vapors. A plan B. What a concept! Lew

  14. Hi Chris,

    It’s a dog’s good life at your place! A comfortable sofa to sleep on, good food to eat, small animals to chase, unmentionables to roll around in, humans to give them belly rubs on demand … nothing like it. 😉

    I beg to differ on your characterization of babaco as being a pawpaw. It is nothing of the sort. I learned a while back that papayas are sometimes called pawpaws – which they are not (certainly not the North American pawpaws that I grow).

    Wikipoodle on babaco: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Babaco

    Wikipoodle on pawpaw, the kind I grow: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asimina_triloba

    I rest my case.

    Meanwhile, I finally raised a good crop of dry lima beans last year after several years of trying – over three pounds of beans! Naturally I set aside some of the beans to plant this year. I have all my seeds on hand and will get the seed starting schedule worked out soon. Eventually I’ll post on last year’s results.


  15. Chris,

    What wonderful dog photos! Plum’s upside-down lap dog photo is grand. Looking at the sleepy dogs is familiar hereabouts.

    Coffee. Yes, I cannot properly relate to dog antics, or much of anything else, until some coffee has been swallowed and some moving to get the kinks out have occurred. I can be a right grump in the morning sans coffee, the elixir of wakefulness.

    Avalanche has a Triffid Watch routine going. Or at least she is practicing for the coming triffid invasion. She has a scrap of an old shirt of mine. She has buried it. And dug it up. And moved it. And buried it. And dug it up, etc. Muist be triffid training.

    Rakhi the Samoyed was the expert at the nose nudge, especially in winter. I’d be shoveling snow from the back concrete area. She would want to play. So, she’d grab her favorite toy and run up behind me. The nudge in the back of the knee occurred exactly when I was lifting a scoop of snow. Insistent she was.

    Glad your berry harvests are good. You’re making me hungry for jam, though. It looks good.

    “…by rolling in a choice chunk of stuff that is unmentionable in polite company. Fortunately nobody reading the blog fits that description…” That had me spewing tea all over the computer screen. I should know better. And I completely fit your description of not being “polite company”. Life is too short to fit in with polite company. Thanks for the laugh.

    Once upon a year, when my cousin’s children were 11 and 7, cousin was getting them ready for school and hubby off to work. The younger said, “Mom I think I’m gonna” then barfed her breakfast all over the standard-sized poodle that was walking by just then. Said poodle promptly ran through the entire house shaking that mess onto everything. Hubby and older offspring were laughing, so cousin made them leave. Took poodle outside. Tended to younger child. Cleaned the house, which took a looong time. Then bathed the poodle outdoors. Dried the poodle outdoors. Let the poodle loose. Poodle promptly ran across the yard and rolled in a pile of poo. Fresh and extra pungent. Cousin was NOT happy.

    The season has changed. We are out of “deep winter” and into what I call “Las Cruces” winter. Wind, clouds, some drizzle. Temperatures above freezing to maybe +8C. Maybe occasional frost or a small amount of snow. That’s what I expect for the next several weeks. Drizzle. Clouds. Gray. Mist. Foggy patches. Windy spells. To quote a character from the David Eddings “Belgariad” series when describing his homeland: “Dreary misty Drasnia”.

    The Princess informed me today that we ARE celebrating Valentine’s Day this year. We usually don’t do much. She gave me a choice of 3 restaurants to which I can take her – my choice. I just nodded. Looks like a pint and a feed coming up.


  16. @ Inge:

    Thanks for the heads up about jam. I don’t want much sugar in it, but worry that the sugar might be working as a preservative.


  17. Hi Lewis,

    Are you suggesting that you’re letting your guard down when it comes to pod people? Have we yet reached peak pod? It is possible, but more research needs to be undertaken, grants need to be obtained, and then we can cruise on easy street for a few years whilst we write up the results. Hey, our fortunes may be made! How do we keep up the pod pressure so that the funding doesn’t get taken away. So many things to think about.

    You’re tempting me with the series, but candidly the battery situation here has consumed much of my free time, and well last I checked, none was left. Woe is me! My lot is to work, and work hard. Oh well, one day I shall rest, but until then there’s work to do. Just between you and I, that series is on my to-watch list. Thanks for the confirmation that it’s good because I’d always wondered.

    The guy can recount a good story, and his life has been interesting. The Editor has been to many of his shows, read a few books, and he usually travels down under for the err, lecture circuit, at this time of year. The show was sold out too. This year he was speaking of his father, who for a few weeks before the end apparently had an abrupt change of personality and became if not nice, at least tolerable. It’s funny what the impending final curtain call can do to some people don’t you reckon? After the Editors experience with similar events mid last year I was mildly concerned, but needn’t have been. And yes, I am aware that Mr Twain likewise had fun down under. Oh my, the notables would have fêted him. Like when the big white fleet arrived way back in the day to send the shivers up the English overlords. We’re very pragmatic down here, we got them all drunk and probably canoodled. Don’t knock it, the strategy worked a treat.

    Hehe! The Editor did not take kindly to my accusations of saltduggery. Pah! She started it. 🙂 Hehe! The mix was chucked into the worm farm, and I noticed that the worms had a similar reaction to it that I did. They didn’t like it. And the mix shall not rear it’s head again in the kitchen.

    As a child I enjoyed many of the ‘All creatures great and small’ series, if not all of them, and feel a fondness towards the series. I believe that the series has been re-done, so which are we discussing here?

    Did you know that ‘The Vanishing’ was also a very creepy French film about a psychopath? Worth watching too. I saw that one at the cinema a long time ago and the film really gave me the creeps. Fortunately there is a US version of the film, which in the trailer showed the dramatic ending, except that the protagonist somehow managed to survive. The French would never allow such things to happen at the end of a film. What do you say about ‘kill your darlings’?

    Hehe! When I was a child I watched a mates father roll some mercury around in his hand. You can see why it was called quicksilver. He kept it in a plastic jar on top of the refrigerator. It was only later we learned how toxic the stuff is, but you know in those days we used to consume fish and chips. More correctly the meal would be described as shark and chips, but in those days they used the harmless name ‘flake’. It’s very tasty. But concerned people would say that the flake had a small percentage of mercury in it, and for all I know, they were probably right. That’s what living on a poisoned planet looks like. You don’t see flake for sale nowadays. Incidentally shark fin made for a very tasty soup.

    Hehe! Who’d have thunk it about the spittoons and accuracy. Hey, given your most excellent pop culture skills, do you reckon people back in the day attempted to cross the streams when using the spittoon?

    Ah yes, a lack of chickens is a problem. Are you suggesting that you are the cause of high egg prices in your country? 🙂 Hehe!

    That is eerie, and hopefully they were not volunteered for their fate?

    My mind tends to wander onto other subjects when graphs show up. Is the map the territory I ask you? Did you get to the interweb bit of the book? Had a few dramas with connecting to the thing over the past week or so. Turns out the cable from the modem to the router had become a little loose. Re-attached the cable and gave the copper a squirt of WD-40. Good stuff.

    Mate, is it just me, or do you also get the impression that the vapours are a more than likely possibility with that particular person? Dare we ask the hard question: So talk about the journey which lead you to the Club? Do we really want that answer? Anxiety is experienced by all people, but when it becomes a lifestyle choice it can be difficult for the other people surrounding the afflicted person. Oh well, nobody said life would be easy or perfect. 🙂



  18. @ Claire:

    Thanks for the advice about seed mats. It’s been a long time since I used one, though I have just bought two.


  19. Hi Pam,

    Your comment arrived in my in-box just prior to me switching the computer thing off for the evening last night. Sandra had gone into the city for a comedy show, and it was late and I had a serious attack of the yawns! You probably know what I mean. I’ve got the yawns now…

    Glad you enjoyed the doggy story. Dame Plum is lovely, and the most competent of the dogs here. She lifts the average, which candidly isn’t all that great, but without Dame Plum… Alas the Kelpie pups weren’t trained by the great Sir Poopy and Sir Scruffy. One must occasionally just make do in trying circumstances.

    True, the dogs do get to exercise their thoughts, and they need too given the risks they encounter. It’s risky here for me on a deadly critter front, but the dogs also share those risks and so have to be able to exercise some caution. Sometimes when they’re doing their own thing I say to Sandra, “Yup, the dogs are on important Kelpie business”, and it may even be true. Who knows?

    Hehe! Goin’ swampin’ elicits a certain mental image of a large and shaggy dog getting even more dirty than usual. Well done Baby Sue, who I’m guessing was only briefly a ‘baby’! Only a 90 odd pound dog could carry such a name (a wild guess). Hey, you’ve brought to mind tapping maple trees and goin’ sugarin’ for the tree sap. Probably less stinky!

    Dame Plum loves being upside down, and I have no idea why. The parrot is consuming an apple of one of the trees. There’s a lot of bird life here. And by necessity, a lot of fruit trees.

    You wait and see, the mower access pit will make total sense once it’s all set up. Just the thing for working on the underside of the machines safely.

    Hehe! I doubt your breakers require a pull down quickly in an emergency handle such as what the High Rupture Current DC fuses need here. Things can go wrong very quickly with this technology. It’s exciting, like in a bad way. 🙂

    Pectin is bad. Best avoided. The article I linked to on the science of jam making discusses exactly how to get access to the pectin in the fruit, rather than adding it. I don’t like what the additive does to the flavour, colour or texture. It ain’t right.

    My mates of the big shed fame add stuff to their soil so that their hydrangeas are a different colour flower. And that is a superb herb from the mint family of plants. My lunch is usually a big handful of mysterious leafy greens, a bit of cheese and a couple of eggs. The mysterious leafy green mix can be challenging to consume I’ve been told, but it is good for you!



  20. Hi Inge,

    We’ve also made jam for many years, and only recently trialled pectin additives when we mucked up a batch of strawberry jam. I’m not a fan of pectin additives because the jam changed colour slightly, tasted differently and had a jelly like consistency.

    I agree with your summary of the situation, every fruit has differing requirements and if you want to live in the jungle, sorry, err, make jam, you have to learn how to swim with crocodiles, err, sorry, work out the correct proportions based on the natural quantity of pectin and acidity which the fruits may have. Yup.

    Has it warmed up yet?



  21. Hi Margaret, Claire and DJ,

    Thanks for the lovely comments however I ended up working late this evening. Too much accounting can have profound effects on a personality, so with that awful possibility in mind I took the dogs for an hours long walk. Then it was even really laterer, and by the time dinner was served it wasn’t far off bedtime. I guess what I’m trying to say, with a side serving of waffling, is that it’s the mid-week hiatus and we’ll chat tomorrow. 🙂



  22. Yo, Chris – Re: Pod people. Not so much let my guard down, as just lost interest. Zombies and Triffids are a lot more interesting 🙂 . So, how to keep up Pod interest and keep the money rolling in. Instill fear, and float a few conspiracy theories. The wilder, the better.

    So many series, so little time. I see there’s a new sci-fi series, “The Ark,” which takes a few cues from that book you liked. But I see from the trailer, that it’s more an angsty teen drama. Still, if it comes out on DVD, I might give it a look. Last night I watched “Bloodshot” with Vin Diesel. Pretty good. Full of twists and turns. I see there will be a sequel. Based on a comic book, but not from the usual suspects.

    I don’t have much patience when it comes to people having a change of heart, when the grim reaper comes a knockin’. Making beds … lying in them … reap what you sow … make choices, good or bad, live with them, etc. etc..

    Always fun when the “colonials” get the best of their overlords. 🙂

    If I decide to launch myself into “All Creatures Great and Small,” it will be the new series. Looks a lot more interesting, than the old series. Well, the production values are higher. And, I avoided the old series due to trauma 🙂 . I was in the book biz when the original books were released. And were generally harassed over the slow (to the customer) release of the book. Plus the whole “is it out in paperback, yet?” I got so tired of saying, “Not until one Christmas season, has passed.” I also got tired of the supposed sightings of paperback versions. “Well, my sister-in-laws, cousin’s, aunt, saw someone reading a paperback version on an elevator. So why don’t you have it? Got it stashed in the back room?” Actually, I got off lucky. These days, they’d hold the entire bookstore staff, and patrons, hostage at gunpoint, until a paperback copy was produced. Sigh. I long for the old days, when all the crims wanted was a helicopter and a duffle bag full of mad cash. The titles of the books, by the way, are from an old hymn. Just in case it comes up at the next pub quiz. 🙂

    I’m aware of the other “Vanishing.” Both versions. The one’s without a lighthouse to be seen. But, frankly, the plot did not appeal.

    Ah, yes. Mercury in fish. That’s why it’s advised not to eat the stuff more than once or twice a week. And, some fish (and shrimp) are lower in mercury, than others. I’m waiting for someone to pull the Mercury Defense for some outrage. Think it’s not within the realm of possibility? See “Twinkie Defense.”

    I’m not to the internet part of the “Bowling Alone” update. Frankly, the way the book is shaping up, the lack of civic involvement is probably due to many factors. Each contributing in it’s own way. What came to mind is the whole question of, “Why did the Roman empire fall?” Can’t ascribe it to any one thing. In the case of “Bowling Alone,” was it because women entered the workforce, in ever greater numbers, in the 1960s? Because the fairer sex kept the ball rolling, in a lot of aspects of civic and social involvement. (I knew it was a chick thing.) 🙂 Or was it the rise of TV, soaking up people’s leisure time? Or, the flight to the suburbs, leading to increased commuter time? Or the fact that one in five Americans will move in the next five years? Resulting in less personal investment, as, they’ll be moving on pretty soon, anyway? All those things (and, many more) contribute.

    Speaking of the internet, there was an article at The Atlantic, which used an interesting term. The “enshittification cycle.” Which lead to this, for a clearer view.


    It’s not just about tok tik. It’s about a pervasive business model. Right up there with the crapification, of everything. Well, Mr. Greer warned a long time ago, that “free” internet, wouldn’t remain that way.

    I think I mentioned that my CD’s made me a whole $4.50, last month, and I didn’t have to lift a finger. My friend Ron, in Idaho, has an interesting comment, about that. “Making money while you sleep.” 🙂 .

    What I refer to as “the vapors,” is often referred to in polite society as “change of life.” Lew

  23. @ Pam – Oh, I’ve tried the shot weed. Zippy. I occasionally use a bit of it, to jazz up a salad. My go to, however, is flat leaf parsley. I’ve got tons of it, as it overwinters here, really well.

    Sigh. Couldn’t read the article as it had slipped into a temporal anomaly. I do need to start thinking seriously about getting another computer. Lew

  24. @ Pam
    It is many years since I have made jam, but I reckon that for strawberry jam, I used juice of 1 lemon and 14 ozs sugar to 1lb of strawberries. Strawberries not over ripe. With a large household jam was used up quickly so it didn’t hang around for long.


  25. Hello Chris
    No it isn’t warm, we are back to a white frosty world but are told that it is about to warm up again. It seems to have been a weird winter so far,


  26. Hi Lewis,

    I see, so you’re saying that when it comes to potential threats, zombies and Triffids rate higher than the pod people? Mate, sometimes it’s the risks you ignore that might get you unstuck. Hey, if you went to sleep and woke up as a pod person, how would any of us know? Hmm, new conspiracy theory? Look in all honesty, the space lizards seem to have that gear all sorted out and locked down – and have fallen out of vogue. Is there room for pod people as well? Dunno, over to you. 🙂 An interesting aspect to zombies and triffids is that the threat is a bit more physical than what the pod people.

    Today was quite hot in the sun, although the air temperature was a sort of cool 84’F (quite nice really in the shade). I don’t really know, but it looks to me that we may have another long and wet winter this year. With that in mind, we brought up and stored another lot of firewood today just to be sure, we ran out of dry stored firewood last year. And it is very rare to have had to run the wood heater in January, for us anyway. By 2pm, working in the sun felt like torture and we finished up, cleaned up, packed everything away, and headed out to lunch at the local general store. Very nice it was too.

    I must say that in the trailer for ‘The Ark’ someone had considered issues in advance and had the good foresight to bring a katana sword. I like the style of a person who’d do that. Something I’d do. I’ve enjoyed many books, but were you referring to Kim Stanley Robinson’s book ‘Aurora’, in this instance? A most excellent read. You have to understand that I live in a country which the English originally sent their undesirables to disappear so I know ark ships are sent out, never to return. Bloodshot gets some good reviews, and the trailer looks good despite the spoilers.

    Hehe! Nah man, don’t get me wrong, I have no time for last minute redemptions either. Someone has been a pain for 90+ years, they don’t get a free ride just because they’re facing the consequences of their actions. I dunno, it’s probably something of a personal failing, but I can forget, forgiveness though, might take a whole lot more time. I’d be interested in your thoughts on the topic of forgiveness, because I’m conflicted by the widely held beliefs in this matter?

    Back in the colonial days, the big white fleet from the US caused a lot of angst due to us being aligned to the English. Following the inaugural visit, the colony purchased the HMVS Cerberus, which almost didn’t make the journey from the ship builders to the fledgling colony. I’d say a 45 degree roll on open seas would alarm me despite not ever suffering from sea sickness.

    You’ve been burned by the sheer demand for that book. Why didn’t the customers stump the extra mad cash for the hardback or trade paperback when there was no paperback version? If they were canny, their costs could have been reduced. But I hear you, and the book has left an unpleasant memory for you. Is an exorcist a viable possibility, although if you spit pea soup I would be deeply unhappy to experience that. 🙂 80 million copies though, that’s a popular book. I wonder how many publishers knocked the author back?

    Fair enough, I thought the premise of The Vanishing was stupid too. So you know some bloke has killed your girlfriend and you want to find out how he did it and got away with it. Probably not a good idea which will end badly, and might not be a bad idea to let someone else (reliable) know what is going on. Obsession is no excuse for stupidity.

    Oh my, you’re serious, there really is a term ‘twinkie defense’. Never had a twinkie, or seen one, but note that the food played a minor role in the Zombieland films. Woody might be onto something.

    Exactly, why did the Roman empire fall again? People love the lack of silver bullet and way too many werewolves theory, but I’m guessing the society just made a whole bunch of bad choices and ran out of adequate wealth to support itself. And here we are today, it’s exciting! Mate, I have mentioned the moving on issue to friends of mine who move around a lot, and it always evokes an emotional response, and I’m not there to judge them, so why put yourself in harms way?

    Ouch, yes success can lead to failure for the interweb behemoths. I fully expect that outcome. Anyway, I don’t use toktik. I heard some local users have had their content cut due to some sort of mucking around with the underlying programs, and they’re not happy. What did they expect, that site offered stuff for free – not much is free. This website ain’t free because I pay for it, although it is free to your good self. But I can’t say for sure how other websites pay their way. And I do things on the smell of an oily rag. I reckon Mr Greer is correct.

    Well done you. Interest rates are on the up here, and that means a transition of power between borrowers and savers. Previously the borrowers were rewarded and the savers punished. All things change. It reminds me of the pressures in 19th century England between the rural and mercantile class. Sometimes one is ahead, then behind. Do you reckon that’s an apt metaphor? But over all with inflation even more on the up, everyone loses. Some more than others.

    Hehe! Noted. Your usual biscuit and gravy cook would do my head in. Good luck!



  27. Hi Margaret,

    Ah, thanks for that. For your info, Sir Scruffy and Sir Poopy were in the mid 40 pound range, and before this current lot, they were the biggest dogs I’d gotten to know. Aren’t bigger dogs lovely (if properly socialised)?

    You were really lucky to have visited Corkscrew Swamp. The board walks are a good idea, and candidly wading in the swamp holds little appeal, and is probably quite dangerous. What an interesting difference between the alligators and crocodiles (up north in this country). Our lot are opportunistic feeders, and best if not approached. That’s an interesting thing about those large predators, they can extract almost everything including the squeak from whatever they consume, but have to sleep it off. Us humans by contrast are quite wasteful on that front.

    Isn’t plastic pollution awful? Down here there are always grand plans to deal with the waste, but nothing much ever eventuates. I can well understand why our Asian neighbours stopped taking the stuff for processing. I assume that it is much the same in your country? The Japanese tend to burn the waste and generate electricity from the heat. Some of the buildings they house those incinerators and generators in are very crazy looking. Apparently something of a tourist draw card. Do you still get involved with the local recycling drive folks?

    Might be something of a taste early spring in your weather? It was sunny and warm here today, but not too hot at only 84’F. We worked in the sun for hours, and by the end, it sure felt hot. Afterwards to cool off I stood under the garden hose and the water from the water tanks was very cold. But it cooled me down nicely and cleaned off all the grit from splitting and hauling firewood – a very dirty job if I may say so. The lack of summer heat has us wondering about firewood supplies for the year, so we spent another day on that job. That should be plenty for the year, maybe… 🙂 It is our only winter heat source.



  28. Hi Claire,

    The dogs do lead a charmed life, although we have certain expectations of them which they understand. They know. Ruby pushes at those boundaries the most, whilst the other two are by and large responsible.

    I agree and appreciate the correction, although don’t quite comprehend the difference between papaya and pawpaw mostly because I have very little exposure or experience with tropical fruits other than bananas. And for your interest, after you mentioned the North American pawpaw (Asimina triloba) many years ago, I obtained some seeds (which were very hard to obtain down under). Four of the seeds germinated, although one plant has since died. One of them looks a bit heat and water stressed right now, but the other two are growing really well. I’m seriously looking forward to sampling that fruit when the trees gets bigger.

    You’ve made a fine case! 🙂

    Lima beans look very much like the ones we grow here (which had to be started in the greenhouse, the self sown ones failed to germinate). But over three pounds is an excellent harvest, well done. I look forward to reading about your harvest.

    And many thanks for the information and your experience on the matter of heat mats. Harvested some jalapenos this evening, and those little chilli’s really get your mouth on fire!!! We’ll dry ours and add them to cooking in the winter months. The greenhouse has earned its keep. Oh, and I’m trialling Alpine strawberries as distinct from the more expected hybridised versions of the berries. Those alpine strawberry plants might work better with my management style. Dunno.



  29. Hi DJ,

    Hehe! The winter months are time for rest and recuperation – when the delights of snow aren’t there – and Avalanche knows this. Sensible dog. Incidentally, that was Dame Plum upside down after a hard days work. We did another day on firewood today, just in case the winter is colder and longer (like last year). The dogs ran around in the sunshine doing whatever it is that they do, and they’re now all sound asleep. Wipe Out! 😉

    I hear you about that early morning business. 🙂 Coffee brings the morning hours into focus. Truly I could have excelled in the corporate world, but early mornings just did my head in, and so here I am today as some dude living out in the forest. Look, I blame all those early pre-dawn starts doing newspaper rounds when I was a kid. I’ve done enough early mornings, as I’m sure you also have done. Sometimes people tell me they get up at appalling hours of the morning, and I joke around with them by saying: “What do you mean the sun isn’t up before 7am?” – and give them this look which suggests that they’re lying. Dunno man why they always get upset at that joke? No sense of humour. 🙂

    Wise for Avalanche to begin training early in relation to Triffids. You never know when she’ll encounter one, but at least she’ll be prepared, unlike the rest of us. Bruce Lee was quoted as having said: He didn’t fear the person who knew many martial arts moves. He feared the person who had practised one kick, ten thousand times or more. Or something along those lines.

    That particular implementation of nose nudge technique number five runs the risk of toppling you over. Ollie has been known on occasion to dive between my legs when I’m on a set of stairs. Not good, he’s a very large dog, and should know better than to do that. Hard to keep your balance when that is going on.

    The raspberry harvest was good, but the blackberry harvest has been better by a significant multiplier. The freezer is full of them, and we store them in there before making up a big batch of jam, and also blackberry wine. Both excellent products, and just the thing for the winter months.

    Hehe! Thanks, and glad you enjoyed the humour. And dare I say it, but the facts do speak for themselves in this regard. 🙂

    The unfortunate, and then rotten poodle. People swear that particular breed of dogs are intelligent, but I dunno. What a clean up that would have been.

    Hey, that’s my sort of winter. 🙂 And I so loved that series of books by David Eddings. Who cares if it wasn’t great literature, the laughs and in-jokes were awesome. And, and, the big and, back in the day I had to order them from a speciality store and wait for the hard back versions to be released. There’s something exciting about waiting for the book on order to arrive in the shop. I was in a share house at the time, the books were super expensive, and I got the first read, before the other four house mates got their hands on the book. I’ve still got them in the bookshelf too, although not sure I could re-read them. Dunno. Can you ever go back with such reads? Or was it a moment in time?

    Thanks for the reminder about Valentines day, I’d almost forgotten… A good way to remember I’ve been told, is to forget. Think about it! And hope your pint and feed is enjoyed by the two of you.



  30. Hi Inge,

    Oh, I thought that your winter had been warm? Frost is really quite attractive, and in the valley below the farm, the colours get washed out and it’s almost as if you’re viewing a black and white image on a postcard. Given the shenanigans with gas in your part of the world it has been good luck that it was on average warmer than usual.

    Out of curiosity, what exactly do you mean by weird? I live with a bizarrely variable climate and have little foreknowledge as to what sort of climate the next season will bring. The thing is, I’m left with the impression that other parts of the world enjoy a more stable climate than here? Dunno. A mystery.

    Split and hauled more firewood today. I’m not sure but if we have another cold and damp year, it is best to have more firewood than necessary. I tell you truly, nobody remembers if your supplies are adequate, but they sure remember if you run out! 🙂



  31. Chris:

    Well, sir – I’m afraid you’ve reckoned wrong this time. Baby Sue was a 30 pound beagle/chow mix, built like a little Mack truck, with thick orange fur and a purple tongue. She had small folded-over ears and looked like a baby bear. Baby Sue also wore an eternal crooked grin as at some point in her life she had either been hit by a car or kicked in the mouth, and it was never treated (we got her from a rescue). She had a great fear of children, but she was a happy little soul, loved to hunt rabbits and would run baying after them (from the beagle). The chow part made her a very good little watch dog.


  32. Hello Chris
    I think that I mean unusual and unexpected by ‘weird’. On the whole it has been warm down here, but the runs of frost have been something that I have never seen before. When it comes it has lasted about 5 days without clearing. There has been no snow here where I am.
    The British Isles has always had very variable weather i.e one never knows what to expect.


  33. Yo, Chris – Conspiracy theories are fun! The more outrageous, the better. They’re one of the few remaining dependable forms of amusement. 🙂

    Our current weather is nothing to write home about. Same old, same old. Temperatures within seasonal norms, rain on and off. Ho-hum.

    Forgiveness? Nope. There are some things that are unforgivable, so I just move on. There’s a lot of banging on in The Program, about resentments. Which I think, may be, forgivenesse’s ugly step sister. We’re supposed to let them go. LOL. I often shock some people by stating that I hold some of my resentments close. They’ve served me well. 🙂

    The Cerberus (cool name for a ship) has sailed off into a temporal anomaly. 🙂 . But I get the drift. Of course, the White Fleet made a lot of foreign powers, nervous. As we were busy trying to build an empire, like the big boys. Gobbling up Cuba, the Philippines, Hawaii, etc.. We’ve always been an expansionist country. Enough to make anyone nervous. Was there any movement, in Australia, to join the Americas? Victoria could have been the 60th state! 🙂

    Ah! I couldn’t quit remember the details, but I knew you’d read something about a generational star ship. “Aurora.” Well, I suppose the passengers were told they could bring along one item, that meant a lot to them. So, I suppose a Katana sword is within the realm of possibility.

    Why didn’t the customers spring mad cash for a hardback? Either cheap or poor. I’d sometimes suggest that they try their library. But then they’d whine about long hold lists. Speaking of split pea soup, I did have some fun, onetime. We’d get a selection of paperback books, in Spanish. A general mix, enough to fill one wall section. Imagine my surprise, when I pulled a paperback copy of “The Exorcist” out of a box. Long before it was available in paperback, in the US. Probably due to some complicated foreign rights deal. So, if I was feeling particularly evil … dare I say, possessed, I’d get these calls, usually the 20th or so, of any one day. “Do you have “The Exorcist” in paperback?” Me: “Oh, yes, we do … (long pause) … in Spanish.” I loved (and still do), the pronunciation of that title. “El Exorcista.”

    Oh, I never thought you had anything to do with Toc Tic. Or, any other kind of social media. It’s the business model I found interesting. There’s been a lot of kvetching on the web, about the poor quality of the Gargle search engine. Now I know why. I see the Micro company is going to try and resurrect an old search engine, of their’s, with a new and improved AI interface. Well, whatever. I was thinking about my interaction with Robot Guy. He sounds so … helpful and ernest.

    At times, borrowers are rewarded. And also, investors. Rural / mercantile. There’s a lot of banging on, over here, about the rural / urban divide.

    I went and got gas (petrol), this morning. $4.30 a gallon. Not an Imperial gallon. I also swung by the cheap food store (that looks like it ought to have rats). Didn’t buy much. Their prices are up. Saw a lot of stuff for $1.29, but when I can get the same stuff for $1.25 at the dollar + store, well, I didn’t find it too exciting. They also had some of H’s Very Special Food, but it was up in price, too. Gave it a pass.

    I read a bit more of “Bowling Alone,” last night. But got deeply into “Koala: A Natural History and an Uncertain Future,” (Clode, 2023). Quit good, though no pictures. I see she’s got quit a few other books, that sound interesting. I’ll have to see if our library system has any of them.

    One for the Worry of the Day, calendar. Are we approaching peak conspiracy theories? 🙂 Lew

  34. Hello Chris and Claire,
    Thanks for the great info on jams, heat mats and supplemental lights. You are a fount of knowledge!

    Last week-end we seeded our chilis and early tomatoes, under lights, and in a couple of weeks I think we will start the late tomatoes. Maybe with bottom heat?

    I am very happy with the scary new chipper. I have used seven or eight other chippers earlier in the previous ten years or so, and this one is by far the best. Partly because the blades are fresh and sharp.
    I think I remember that you use lanolin (sheep oil) to keep the blades from clogging with resin goo, but I have not been able to find any such product yet. Still looking. In the meantime I use light chainsaw oil.
    This afternoon I pruned some more trees and on Saturday I think I will do another chipping round.

    The only problem I have found so far with the chipper is that it is designed in the wrong mirror-way. The engine exhaust is next to the main input funnel. I would prefer to have the exhaust on the other side. No big deal.

    The winter is weird here too. Quite windy. One week snow, next week rain.
    I have not seen any vole heaps on our plot since early December, but a few hundred meters further down the road at a neighbour’s place I saw ten new heaps today. Let’s see.


  35. Chris,

    Dogs running around. Doggy business. That’s what they do. Sniff and listen and look and sniff some more. Dig. Run. Chew on things. Sniff. Walk the boundaries. Mark territory. Nap. Repeat.

    The Princess has a coffee mug that says, “I’m only awake for the coffee.” That sums up morning very well.

    “I don’t fear the person who has practiced 10,000 kicks once each. I fear the person who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.” I think that’s the quote. Makes sense to me.

    My friend’s large Doberman, Killian, will do the same thing as Ollie on the stairs when he’s excited. 52kg of solid dog diving atween one’s legs on the stairs is NOT a good thing.

    Sounds yummy: blackberry jam, blackberry wine. I was known to brew the occasional chokecherry or raspberry stout. Added some chocolate to one of the raspberry stouts once. That turned out good.

    Ahhh, so we are not polite company. True. So does that mean that I can recite some of my favorite limericks that are not fit for polite company? I’m guessing that such poems would not make it past the censor. And revising them just doesn’t work:
    There once was a lady named Alice,
    Who used a dynamite stick for a censored.
    The rest of the story
    is rudeness and gory,
    So for Alice this is the last word.

    That Eddings series was great. I’ve read it multiple times. “Can you ever go back with such reads? Or was it a moment in time?” For me it’s a little bit of both, but I see something new in them every read. But I need a few years in between. Some other series that I read when those first appeared do NOT stand up to the test of time. I’ve tried rereading some of them, ended up donating them to a used bookstore. Eddings, with a lot of help from his wife, had a clear view of human nature and used that advantageously in his humor.


  36. Hi Goran,

    Mate, there are many armchair theorists out there in the world, and then there are those who put the theories to the test. We had to learn about jams, and all the other stuff, the hard way by making it happen. There is theory, and then there is practice. It’s a pleasure to share the lessons learned with a person who is also testing this stuff out. Sharing lessons learned is one of the great benefits of this format of communication. 🙂

    Good luck with the seedlings and I’ll be interested to learn of the outcome. It’s funny, but both you and Claire are beginning seed raising almost a full month earlier than what we do. Might have to try that later this year.

    Hehe! Fresh, sharp blades do make a difference. 🙂 It might be useful to learn how to keep them sharp? Every time we get a new machine I have to learn how to maintain the thing. Ah yes, lanolin spray is the best for removing the vegetable gums off the blades, but if I may make a suggestion, spray some WD-40 at the end of the chipping session into both inlets whilst they are rotating, and that would be almost as good. Be very careful you hang onto the spray can – just sayin’… 😉 Chainsaw oil can be a bit gluggy, even the lighter grades, and what you want to do is clean the vegetable gums off the blades, or at least stop them from setting. Mineral oil might do the trick too, but I haven’t tried that and it doesn’t have the benefit of being a spray.

    Oh yeah, I love getting the scary old wood chipper out too. It feels good to feed the soil. The plants are always hungry, and you have better soils than here. You should see the organic matter that the stump grinder creates. So good, and we mix that stuff in with the soil.

    Fingers crossed that the voles believe that your neighbours property is better for their activities. I feel that way about the snakes, and if my neighbours want standing water in ponds and dams, well it is none of my business.



  37. Hi DJ,

    Maybe about two weeks ago I was speaking with a local lady who now has a Kelpie cross. Lovely dogs, but very high energy. Your description of activities almost matches my day to a tee! 🙂

    We cranked out the tree stump grinder today and continued cleaning up the loggers mess. Restoring some order to the chaos. The necessity for that work is that the rabbits use the mess cover to hide from the things here that want to eat them. And rabbits attract snakes due to the warrens they dig. Better if both critters were elsewhere. Anyway, digging – you called it. But far out it was hot in the sun. We’re having a brief burst of warmer summer weather. Plans for tomorrow, well let’s put it this way: The Kelpie’s may not approve of the reduced activity!

    Well done. Your lady is wise to avoid the early morning fog.

    Yes, that is the Bruce Lee quote. I agree with your observation.

    Killian, mate that’s death doggy manoeuvre number four and it won’t end well. Be careful there, you may end up with a new owner, and you might not like it. Well, that’s what I tell Ollie anyway. Does he listen? Dunno. You see what we have to deal with here? 🙂

    Raspberry stout sounds intriguing and quite tasty. Hey, the best stout I’ve ever tasted was a mushroom stout. There was a stout-off and a bunch of local lads selected whacky flavours, and the mushroom stout ended up being the best of the lot. You wouldn’t have picked it. Oh my, here was the list and you can see a photo of the local in the background (the original building was destroyed in a bushfire): Hargreaves Hill Heavy Tap Takeover At The Mount Macedon Hotel (VIC). Sometimes the interweb delivers.

    Oh my, your limerick almost made me blush. I said almost, and alas we never discovered what act of stupidity the hapless Alice was up to when things went awry. The mind boggles.

    Yeah, I’ve read the series a couple of times too, but it’s been many a year since those books were opened. I really enjoyed the quirky characters and ongoing in-jokes. We never once feared that the mad god was not going to get his comeuppance. From memory the two older bachelor wizards were very amusing. Yes, I see what you mean there.



  38. Hi Lewis,

    I didn’t know that the Roman’s had satellites either! 🙂 Who knew? Plus there were a couple of heater flues popping through the roof, I guess they’re OK? And both the fence and the copper raised ends would probably cast shadows onto the solar panels as well. I couldn’t quite understand what the purpose of the copper raised ends standing above the guttering was used for. A defined place for birds to perch? Not sure. What interested me also was that the villa in the lead photo was enormous. A truly massive building. I reckon those solar panels would be super expensive.

    Hehe! Mate conspiracy theories are coming thick and fast lately, but yes I agree with your observation. So, you believe what? I’ve said to some folks. But mostly it’s no business of mine to worry about such things, reality is weird enough without adding fuel onto the dangerous mixture.

    Oh yeah, I hear you about the weather. Same, same here. A run of warmer summer weather at the moment. Nothing new or interesting about it. It’s candidly been colder this summer, but again that happens. Hang on, the good professor is suggesting a possibility of lowland snowflakes for you. Brr – coming at ya!

    Tell you what is new. We got the tree stump grinder out today and continued the clean up work. I was swinging the mattock levelling out a mound, and the blade skipped off the ground and hit my ankle. That hurt. Ouch. Bit of bruising, but yeah, sometimes accidents can happen very quickly.

    Thanks for your insights on the topic of forgiveness. I’ve long wondered about this issue, because don’t we have to also somehow learn so as to avoid future dramas? And if we readily forgive, others may take advantage. There’s gotta be some sort of middle ground there. Like your sentiment. I get that.

    The ships name sends a strong message doesn’t it? You know I’d never read such a possibility mentioned in the local histories, but then there were riots in the capital cities during WWII between Australian and US forces and you don’t read about those either, and they weren’t that long ago. Incidentally, I did read that some US sailors from the great big white fleet decided to stay on down under. And we sent brides to the US after WWII, a literal bridal train. History is far more interesting than what generally gets recorded and recounted don’t you reckon?

    Guns are no good in a spaceship, but a katana sword, that’s up close and personal, and less likely to breach the hull. The thing is, why would anyone want to travel to another star system? Surely it would be an uncomfortable experience? Hobbits would never dare undergo such a journey.

    El Exorcista is a classic story. Thanks! I particularly enjoyed the long pause for effect. Timing is everything when delivering such witty repartee. Back before the interweb, an old friend of mine used to hassle the speciality book store for the next instalment of George RR Martin’s epic tomes. Do you have any idea when the next book is due to be released? he’d ask. I’m sure you’ve heard those words spoken! The books due to sheer page numbers had heft and weight, and could be handy in a knife fight, especially the hard back edition. Looks like the series might never get completed. Back when the series was popular on TV (and I never watched it) I would have hired a decent ghost writer to complete the series of books. It wouldn’t have hurt to at least have given it a try.

    No worries, there’s only so many hours in the day and social media can be addictive from what I see of other folks with their noses in their phones. I hold doubts that much dialogue goes on in other corners of the interweb. Never met an earnest robot myself, but it is early days and you have to admit that most AI centric films begin with fun, experience addiction, then end badly? AI always turns on us in the end. I’ve seen the Terminator films.

    That’s an interesting difference. We’re not hearing much at all about the urban / rural divide down here. You have vastly more inland cities than we do, most cities down under tend to hug the coastline. I do however wonder about the more recent tree changers who left the cities during you-know-what, and how they’ll enjoy their experience as time goes on.

    I tend to believe that property prices will go down if the population ever diminishes. That’s what supply exceeding demand looks like.

    Thanks for that, my brain hurts. Why would there be a difference between the US gallon and the imperial gallon? Incidentally, I’ve always provided conversions based on the US gallon which is roughly 3.8 Litres to the gallon. I guess the reason is the same as the differences in the side of the road driven upon. For your curiosity satisfaction, we’re running about $6.85 a gallon. Things I’ve heard are that the stuff is more expensive in the land of elsewhere.

    Have to laugh about the ongoing inflation. I mean seriously, raising interest rates isn’t the only way to combat inflation. We could like, err, stop expanding the money supply. Maybe even retract it a bit. Fancy that hey, balanced gobarmint budgets and maybe even surpluses… That would do the trick too. But I’m guessing the people with their hands on the levers aren’t too keen on that option. Self interest – a massive problem since the pre Roman era. 😉 Hehe!

    Ah, I have another of Danielle Clode’s books – A future in flames. The eye of an ecologist, shame that nobody wants to listen to the message. Far out, if the forests were thinned and maintained, all that Koala habitat wouldn’t regularly go up in flames and the trees might be healthier. It’s not a complicated story, and no wonder the little grumpy bears are getting stressed out and ill. If our food supply and housing options were as limited as the Koala’s, people would be dropping dead in the streets. People are bonkers about the bush down here. Makes no sense to me. And here is a perfect example of the differing opinions:

    Residents concerned amid Parks Victoria plan to remove native vegetation at Mount Macedon Memorial Cross. Mate, I’ve got a chainsaw… Nobody asked me. Hey, who knew that there was a residents association? Who are all these people and how hard would it be to put the question to a vote of residents? There was a good photo of the cross in the aftermath of the 1983 bushfires. All of those trees died in the fire, and yes, I have seen Koala’s up there. They might not survive such a hot fire. Anyway, in the little faceplant drone photo, my place would be just out of sight on the left hand side of the photo.

    Can we add for tomorrows worry of the day: Have I seriously injured my ankle? Probably not, maybe… 🙂 That’s not really a big worry. Oh, ok, well this might be better: Lynxes, should we domesticate them, and what could possibly go wrong?

    We can move onto mountain lions after that, but you go first with them. Here kitty, kitty, kitty. What? No! Arghhhhh! (as big cat dismembers owner for minor offence)



  39. Hi Pam,

    Completely stuffed that guess up. Thanks for the correction, and delightful story. I was channelling the old song ‘A boy called Sue’ and thought the dogs name may have had a touch of irony to it. Ah, I’m always careful when it comes to children and pets, sometimes the kids aren’t good with them, and sometimes the pets can be overly boisterous. Either way, things can end badly.

    Out of curiosity, did the beagle side of Baby Sue, ever send the dog off on an extended chase? I’ve heard things about that breed, but have no experience with them whatsoever. Chow’s are lovely aren’t they?



  40. Hi Inge,

    It is interesting to me that whilst summer down here has been cooler than normal, the weather in your part of the world has been warmer than usual. We do tend to get cooler summers as often as the warmer variety. It would be nice to experience a stable climate.

    That is weird. Five days of frost without clearing is challenging for the early plants. The most I’ve ever experienced is two days in a row of frosty frozen ground. Frosts always worry me, and the late frosts can wipe out some crops. We had no stone fruit this year due to a late frost. Fortunately there are apples and pears, and the other stuff like citrus and kiwi fruit, berries. There’s always something to eat. I’m thinking of planting out some more late varieties of stone fruit next month just to perhaps avoid the late frosts. It’s worth a try. It’s still probably a bit warm for new fruit trees that’s why I’ll wait until next month.

    How are your sons animals coping with the run of frosty days?



  41. Chris:

    Oh, yes – Baby Sue would go off for awhile after something, but she always came home. She knew what side her bread was buttered on. And she had bad eyesight. She also found baby groundhogs – groundhogs being my Nemesis – quite delicious. Baby Sue couldn’t handle the grown ones; they were a bit too big for her.

    I hope that your ankle injury is just a bruise. It could have been worse.


  42. Hello Chris
    Son’s animals seem to be quite happy with the weather that we have had.
    I do have to remember that I won’t be able to dig up a leek when the ground is frozen. They survive fine though.


  43. Yo, Chris – I thought maybe the copper bits on the roofline, were what the electricity travels through, from tile to tile? Or maybe they have a slight electric charge, to keep the birds off the roof? So many questions … 🙂 As near as they can tell, after Pompeii’s big earthquake in 62CE, a lot of those big villas were subdivided into smaller units. One grand house became a hotel. At the time of the 79CE eruption, they were STILL cleaning up earthquake damage. I’d say, in general, the town became a bit poorer. And not quit the holiday destination it had been in the past.

    I’m having a bit of fun, with a conspiracy theory of my own. First the set up. “13th stepping” is when bad actors troll the meetings looking for hook-ups. Behavior which is firmly squashed. Sure, some couples meet in the 12 step programs, but it’s more a courtship, and less a pick-up. And they’re usually people who have been around, for awhile. Any-who. We are not having a Valentine’s Day dance, as, attempts in the past have had poor turn-out (unlike the Super Bowl, which is this Sunday). But I’ve been sending up some of our older, more staid members. 🙂 I tell them I’ve seen a poster: “Come On Down to the 12 Step Club’s, 13th Steppin’ Valentine’s Day Dance! Leave Your Old Man, or Old Lady at Home, and Get to 13th Steppin’! Hook-ups Guaranteed!” I had to pull a couple off the ceiling, by letting them know I was sending them up. Hmm. Which seems like a contradiction in terms. Not an example of a conspiracy theory, but in the same general neighborhood.

    Yes, I saw that about the lowland snow. Prof. Mass is being cautious. Sometimes, I think he throws out the “lowland snow” thing, just to keep us all awake. But it is going to get cold. The snow? We’ll see. We’ve had a few false alarms, already.

    When I read about the mattock meeting ankle (meet cute?), I actually said “Ouch!” out loud. You gotta work on your swing! I do hope bruising is the most of your problems. Keep it elevated, as best you can, and wait and see.

    War Brides. Many an interesting tale told, from those folks. The one’s from former “enemy” countries often had a rough go of it. Especially the Japanese women. One of my uncles married a German girl, after WWII. I met her a few times, way back when. I think she might have had an easier time of it, because my Dad’s family wasn’t that long off the boat from German / Russia. I do believe they were happily married, or, at least seemed so. I suppose they’re both gone, by now.

    Oh, most of those “travel to the stars” books state that people head into space because the Earth has become so screwed up. Yes, why not set sail across the stars, and screw up another planet? Seems like a good idea. What could possibly go wrong? Last night I watched the new-ish film, “Vesper.” It was interesting and engrossing. Speaking of a screwed up earth. It has a lot to do with plants. The Overlords trade blood (use, unknown) from the down in the mud remains of humanity, for seed to keep the alive. Except the seed is genetically altered to only produce one crop. That’s the basics.

    The slow release of the Martin books reminds me of another bookstore tale. There was a series called “Clan of the Cave Bear.” The interaction between two groups of people, way back in prehistoric times. It was wildly popular. After about three books, they stopped coming. The author had taken her loot, moved to the Oregon coast, and built a really nice house. Why go to the agony of writing another book, when your set for life? I think, what finally shook her out of her lethargy, is that a rumor started circulating, that she had died. Not started by me, but it was genius. That seems to have lit a fire under her, and a few more books came out, to wind up the series. But in the meantime, the customers drove us crazy, asking when the next book would be out. “Well, let me gaze into my crystal ball … ”

    I’ve been seeing articles that the AI will change the internet as we know it, over the next few months. Sounds like more money to spend, to me.

    Well, near as I can figure, the tree changer tide is reversing. As more businesses demand their employees make an appearance in the office. We’ve got a couple of houses in the neighborhood, for sale. They’ve been on the market for three months, or so. Not that long ago, they wouldn’t have lasted a week.

    Here, we used to have “red states” (conservative) and “blue states (liberal). But what’s been happening, is that large cities, within some red states, have become blue. While the hinterlands remained red. So, it’s become more accurate (in some cases) to describe an urban / rural divide.

    I checked our library catalog, last night, and the book on Koalas, is the only book by Clode, we have. Pity. I read more, last night. So. I see there are 8 or 900 species of eucalyptus. If you want to attract Koala, you might plant (if you don’t already have) some Eucalyptus utilis (coastal moort) or E. platypus. Those two species are like candy to Koala. Think chickens and corn 🙂 . But their preferred tucker is manna gums or river red gums. Although they will eat other eucalyptus, from time to time. If the spirit moves them.

    The article about Mount Macedon was very interesting. Couldn’t see the pictures, though. The whole picture thing, and my computer, is a mystery. Sometimes, they disappear from a website … and then return after a few days. Sometimes, they are gone, forever. You may have noticed, I haven’t posted anything from Heritage Daily, recently. Well, after holding the line, for a long time, it’s slipped into the temporal anomaly. They must have upgraded their software, which downgraded my access. 🙁 .

    My Worry of the Day is … Will the possibility of snow, deny me access to biscuits and gravy, on Tuesday morning? Lew

  44. Hi Pam,

    Good to hear that Baby Sue found her way back. That’s also been my experience with dogs with an overly well developed adventurous spirit, although I do my best to train them out of that habit, which is why I was interested in your experience with the breed. There’s a lot to go wrong ‘out there’, but if the dog can’t set limits, I dunno. There’s heaps to keep them interested and alert here, no need to go elsewhere. Toothy used to pull that trick occasionally. I suspect one afternoon he ended up stuck down a wombat hole, and was lucky the wombat didn’t smoosh him. Anyway, he arrived home again in the wee-hours of the morning. He was grounded after that.

    Everyone needs a Baby Sue to deal with their nemesis. 🙂 Pam, ground hogs sound horrendous, although the rabbits are equally tricksey critters, maybe.

    Thank you, and it is better today and probably isn’t much of a drama, maybe. A moments carelessness and inattentiveness was all it took.

    Had some of our own chili in dinner this evening. Spicy! 🙂



  45. Hi Inge,

    Good to hear about your sons animals coping well with the prolonged frosts. If they have feed and shelter, or at least some respite, they’ll be fine. Frosts here aren’t too much of a problem, except for the blossoms on the fruit trees. Frosts wipe the blossoms out, and there is little which can be practically done about it (at the scale I’m at).

    I appreciate your touch of understatement with the leek and the frozen ground. 🙂 Definitely something to keep in mind. I really enjoy leeks as long as they’re not too strongly flavoured and over power the meal – some varieties will do that, such as elephant garlic (which is actually a leek). The Editor and I have differences of opinions with this vegetable, but as you note, the plant survives very cold conditions, and I believe they are easier to grow than proper onions. They thrive here and can be a bit weed-like. Out of curiosity, do you grow onions, and have they adapted to your conditions?



  46. Hi Lewis,

    I was wondering that too about the copper bits on the roof, but then noticed that the wires curve downwards towards the gutters from what looks to me like a black plastic box. The tech geek in me notices these things. 😉 Dunno, it’s a mystery, but then I’ve seen upturned spikes on buildings which serve to keep birds off the building. Those spiky arrangements have been around since the Victorian era. If you were a bird, I’d reckon landing on the spike would hurt. Ouch! But exactly, the article was very superficial – sure the panels look cool, but do they cost an arm and a leg, and do they actually work? More questions than answers…

    Speaking of solar power, it was a warm day with lots of sun, so we pounded the electricity system just to see what would happen. We’ve made a lot of changes recently so best to put them to the ultimate test. Almost 22kWh of electricity was used today, which is enormous for us, but average for many. I can confirm that the industrial supplied fuses and circuit breakers worked beautifully and beyond my expectations. I’m really pleased with the outcome, as I had no idea going into the day of testing.

    Anyway, I didn’t spend much of the day monitoring the system, just checking in regularly. Had a quieter day today, which was really nice. Fertilised the new citrus orchard and cleaned up the terrace row which has all the Globe Artichokes. They’d dried off and sort of died, but I know the plants will resprout once the weather cools, or will get replanted – which will happen first? Who knows? And that garden bed was also given a solid feed. But by lunchtime it was very warm to hot and I retreated indoors out of the sun. Had lunch, read a book, had a nap, read some more. A lovely day.

    Hey, is it just me, or did you notice that the process of the big villas of Pompeii getting made into smaller living spaces and/or hotels sound a bit like the storyline from Japanese Inn? Minus the devastating volcanic eruption of course, but the Japanese had more than enough other dramas. Adaption to diminished economic circumstances I’d reckon.

    Really? Wow. You’d hope that couples meeting in the 12 step program had goal congruence? Far out, I can see why it is squashed as the situation could get out of hand very quickly. Like your style with the poster. Do the old timers groan when they receive such amusing witticisms from you? It does seem like a contradiction in terms, for sure. Well done you. I was never one for dances either, and the Editor isn’t any better on that front. Man, getting dragged out to Clubs with thumping dance music into the wee hours of the morning jerking around like a crazy person, used to do my head in, but other people seemed to be enjoying themselves. By contrast, I felt like the Grinch or Captain Grumpy… Sometimes you know some things just aren’t for you. 🙂 There seemed little form to the dancing.

    Thanks for that, yes, all bruising and hopefully nothing more than that. A moments carelessness and inattentiveness. Oh well, these things happen, and it could have been worse.

    Yeah, I’d imagine that the war bride thing would have been a mixed bag, and outcomes were far from certain. But then as a mate who moved down under many years ago said to me: Sometimes people are fleeing.

    It’s a good question isn’t it about the star travellers: What could possibly go wrong? Probably heaps of things, most of them involving bad ends. I tend to believe the distance between star systems is a good limit on species, and we kinda have to sort out biz here, before setting sail to the magical land of elsewhere – wherever that is. The Vesper film looks very interesting indeed – first I’d heard of it too.

    Oh, I’d seen second hand editions of the ‘Clan of the Cave Bear’, and from memory they had some sort of natty logo on the cover. For some reason I never got around to reading any. After your experience (on the other side of the counter) did you feel inspired to delve into any of those books? It is a genius plan too, are you sure it wasn’t you who started it? Sounds right up your alley if I may say so. 😉 Hehe! Maybe ol’ George needs to have that rumour begun?

    You know when I read your comment about AI changing the interweb forever, for some reason the, err, what was that theory about computers getting faster and smaller on a regular time frame blah, blah, blah? That got disproved. Anyway, I reckon AI is like that, it may be a last gasp from a group beyond its peak and in decline. Everything suffers from diminishing returns, no way to get around that.

    That’s possible about the return to office initiative. I can see that. I tend to also feel that the economics of the increased cost of mad cash (i.e. AKA raising interest rates) is biting into households spending patterns. It is not cheap to have a long commute, and everything in the bush (AKA rural area) costs more, that’s life. The economics of the equation may be turning, but I really don’t know and am simply observing how things play out. We never headed bush on a whim.

    Ah, of course. The cities have changed, whilst the hinterland remained the same. I see, for what it is worth, the rural areas here are more politically conservative than the cities as well. And the inner city folks are politically bonkers, after all, they’re the ones with green values – whatever that means.

    You will be happy to know that along the creek at the bottom of the property, there are Manna Gums, and that is where the wild Koala’s roam. What interests me about the Koala’s is that they will work their way through the forests, like that one up the nearby tree in the last year or so. Manna Gums are an interesting plant because I believe they drop an apparently edible sugar, thus the name. I’d read somewhere that the colonial kids used to eat it like candy.

    Speaking of such things I gave one of the sugar maple trees a bit of attention today. It was in need of a feed and a drink, and I could arrange that. They grow fast those maple trees.

    Is there to be a new second hand computer in your future? Possibly so. Shame you can’t see photos because I read an article on insurance issues up in the north east coast of the continent. They’d had a lot of rain, and apparently the council buildings are no longer insurable due to flood risk. There was a photo of the library, and it wasn’t good. You may wonder why we continue to work hard keeping the land here clean? Hmm, a problem coming to an area near me sooner or later.

    The worry of the day is good. My worry added to that is: Will H master her pester power skills and obtain plentiful supplies without you noticing?



  47. Hello Chris
    Both Son and I have read all ‘The clan of the cave bear’ series. We found the secks excessive but otherwise enjoyed them.
    It is not unknown for frosts to wipe out fruit blossom here.

    I don’t grow onions because I don’t like them. Son on the other hand, loves onions but seems to have had trouble growing them.


  48. Chris,

    Life intervened Friday. UGG! But we are fine.

    The uncensored version of that limerick makes most people blush. It would not have made it past the family friendly censors. The Princess is hardly a prude. I found another limerick and read it to her. We both blushed. It’s so bad I can’t even figure out a censored version. All I could hear was the alternate schoolteacher personality for the Heart of Gold spaceship. From the BBC radio version of Hitchhiker’s Guide. It was saying rather nasty school teacherly things to me and threatening to crack my knuckles with a ruler if I posted that limerick.

    Thanks for the link to the various brews. Actually, that mushroom stout sounds interesting. If I ever have the chance to try one, I will.

    I’m out of words for now. Will catch up after the next weekly blog post is, umm, posted.


  49. Yo, Chris – I’d heard of solar tiles, and, they’ve been around for awhile. But I have no idea how they work, or how effective they are. Congratulations on the solar test run. After all that work, the least the solar system could do is cooperate. 🙂

    I didn’t realize artichokes are perennials. The only time I’ve seen them growing around here, is in a greenhouse.

    Well, as I read “Japanese Inn”, probably 50 years ago, the details are a bit hazy … Sometimes, business expands instead of contracts. I’ve seen business that start out in one shop in a row of shops, and then take them over one after another. There was a bookstore in Colorado Springs, that was like that. The Scottish bookstore has a bit of that feel. Back in the day, often, if you owned an old Victorian, you could just cut it up into apartments. The first place I lived in was one of those. An old Vic made into three (quit spacious) apartments. Hard to do, these days, what with zoning and building codes. Never mind the housing shortage. But things are loosening up, here and there. The second place I lived in, in Seattle (1969) was a converted garage. Outlaw digs, I’m sure. Even back then.

    Oh, the old timers ran around with their hair on fire, until I put them out of their misery. 🙂 I gave one of my Academy Award winning, dead pan performances. Back in the day, in my 20s, I went out, quit a bit and danced my arse off. Sigh. Gone are the days …

    I’m sure I mentioned “Vesper.” Or, thought I did. Maybe I wanted to give it a look-see, first. I think I read the first, and maybe the second “Clan of the Cave Bear” books. Just to see what all the excitement was about. Don’t remember much about it, but I didn’t read the whole series. I think there was a movie.

    Koalas are interesting and contrary little creatures. Just when they think they’ve got their behavior nailed down, they do something out of the ordinary. A biologist was watching a wombat enter his den, and less then five minutes later, a Koala pops out. What was that all about? Borrowing a cup of sugar? Koalas aren’t very social, except when they are. Even outside the breeding season.

    Well, don’t give up on linking to photos. Sometimes I can see them, sometimes not. But, mostly I can. Well, about 3/4 of the time.

    Speaking of libraries, my Idaho friend is now on their local libraries board. The building is pushing 50 years old. They wanted to slap a coat of paint on it, but she’s found a lot of structural things that need to be addressed before the cosmetics.

    Guess what I picked up, at the library, yesterday? “Indians, Fire, and the Land in the Pacific Northwest. Edited by Robert T. Boyd. Oregon State University Press. Updated edition, 2021. Never mind the funky cover illustration. Apparently, when the first edition came out in 1999, it created quit a stir. Over 300 pages. A collection of essays by people who know what they’re talking about. In the introduction, it said all you need is ” … a deep-time knowledge of geology, topography, soils, vegetation, fuels, weather, fire behavior, burning approaches, cross-scale fire effects, and governance (tribal-clan-family).” Easy-peasy. 🙂 . This book covers northern California to BC. The coast to Idaho. There are 14 different eco regions, each with it’s own particular methods of burning. I see by the map, that our county has three different eco regions. Who knew? They mentioned an organization, that you might want to check out. “Indigenous Peoples’ Burning Network.” Gargle it. Interesting stuff, there.

    Speaking of the rabbit hole, I was reading an article at the Atlantic. “Death of the Smart Shopper.” (Mull). It was about how shopping, on-line, has gotten so difficult. And why. But in the upper left hand corner, I noticed “Material World.” Oh, my. It linked to many articles that were in the Atlantic, about consumerism, etc.. Enter at your own risk. 🙂

    The government weather site is still predicting snow for Monday night, Tuesday morning. Prof. Mass is being a lot more cagey. Looking at the maps, we’re at the very edge of possible snow.

    Worry of the Day: Is our elevator broken? I arrived back from the Club, to find a lot of old bags, running around with their hair on fire. “The elevator’s broken! The elevator’s broken! Well, no. I stuck my head in the second floor, to discover one of the inmates, holding the elevator door open and having a long drawn out conversation, with someone in the hallway. I told them in no uncertain terms that there were people, waiting on the first floor. Well, that was fun.

    I ran into our postie, this morning. Really early, for him. Turns out he’s one of those early morning people 🙁 . He’s working a half day, then his wife and he are headed out into the mountains. They’re going to ski, and then snowshoe in and camp in the snow, overnight. Well, whatever winds your clock. Lew

  50. Hi Inge,

    Thanks for the thumbs up for the book series, and I’ll keep your words in mind when next I’m at a second hand bookshop – such lovely businesses a real pleasure to spend time in.

    Ah, not good, but the climate is what it is, and variable can occasionally produce truly glorious seasons, with a side serving of too hot, too cold, too wet, or too dry (with sometimes a mix of all four, just for good measure). I’d wondered if your maritime locale blunted the worst of the weather extremes.

    Leeks are a good substitute for the more usual onion suspects, but like your son, I too have troubles growing onions. I’d read somewhere in the past year or so that in order for onions to grow well, the plants have to be specifically adapted to your latitude and daylight hours. And also the seed apparently doesn’t last long. Such bad news makes me wonder if the plant species hasn’t been over bred? Given the ease with which leeks grow, I doubt that is the case with leeks – a clearly superior plant. Getting the Editor’s acceptance is a difficulty.



  51. Hi DJ,

    And an UGG to you too! 🙂 Life is like that.

    Oh, the penny just dropped about the name of that particular starship. Very naughty humour, and it has been noted elsewhere that the name was also a nod to the Neil Young song – which is remarkably easy to play.

    Well, I don’t seek to control others, but if you breach the code of conduct you can expect consequences. But being this is a delete key, the most powerful key on the interweb and would blow your naughty limericks clean off, you’ve gotta ask yourself one question: “Do I feel lucky?” Well, do ya, punk?

    It was a real surprise that mushroom stout. Who knew? And it was done as something of a mild joke.

    Be good, and if you can’t be good, don’t get caught! 🙂 Until your next comment. Mate, hope everything is good at your end.



  52. Hi Lewis,

    Mate, I’d never heard of the things (solar tiles), but had wondered at what point solar panels would also form part of the structure of a roof. It’s a bit sci-fi really isn’t it? My reservations with the things is that the voltage might not get high enough to be of any significant use due to the curvature of the panel – after all the sun’s rays will hit the panel at vastly differing angles and that has to have some effect. Interestingly, the panels were used for lighting which really doesn’t take much energy at all. Solar power is great for lighting, it’s the more intense loads that challenge the technology, like heating anything. If as a civilisation we’d agree to limit the use of the technology to lighting, as things stand today, it’d probably give us another 50 years, but shame about the other stuff we all do.

    Thank you, and it wasn’t enough to just make the changes to the solar power system, we had to then pressure test it and observe what happens. I learned an interesting thing about the technology that day too. We’ll continue to modify the system based on what was learned. Some modifications may happen this week.

    You know, that’s a good point about co-operation, but the power system is like a wild animal and wants to do its own thing. Speaking of such things, David Sedaris apparently amusingly quipped about unruly children subject to permissive parenting practices that: Such children are like wild animals, with no predators. I’d imagine that there’d been an incident.

    It is possible that Globe Artichokes would get wiped out by your colder seasons? Dunno. Hang on… … Yeah, they survive frost here, but haven’t enjoyed the wet winter, but it could be a bit too cold outdoors in your part of the world thus the greenhouses. Oh well. They do taste very good.

    Far out, recalling what happened last week is a blur, let alone 50 years ago. Holy Moley! That’s an interesting point, and you know, with things the way they are with rental properties now getting described as ‘The Hunger Games’, it does make the sensitive person wonder if building codes relax, or get ignored? Dunno.

    Hehe! It was nice of you to do so with the old timers. 🙂 Well, dancing back then may have had more form. Truth to tell, I used to enjoy mosh pits at music gigs because you could just jump around with everyone else and it required few if any skills – other than survival of course, it was kinda fun but required more stamina than you’d imagine. A very sweaty experience.

    Maybe, the trailer for the movie Vesper rang no bells. Entirely new to me, but it really looked good and was an independent film too. I’ll see about that series of books when I’m next at a second hand bookseller. There’d be heaps of copies, you’d imagine?

    Koalas are related to wombats, so I’m hardly surprised by such behaviour. Wombats can survive fires in their burrows, and if the fire is cool Koalas survive high up in the canopies. We’re doing both species a serious disservice, as a society. It’s kind of wrong, but people believe what they want to. The critters are real survivors so they’ll be fine. Borrowing a cup of sugar indeed!!! 🙂 Mate, I was so young in many ways.

    Good to hear, so I’m assuming you’ll continue limping the computer along? The article on insurance (which was quite interesting) was here: Insurance crisis deepens for homes, business and local councils in flood prone areas of northern NSW. If you wanna live in the jungle…

    Ha! Good luck to your well intentioned friend. Is the mad cash there for those works? And also the willingness to pay? You’d hope so, but the situation suggests otherwise.

    I’ll be very interested to hear what you have to say about the book: Indians, fire, and the land in the Pacific Northwest by Robert Boyd. Books on such subjects cause quite the stir down here too if only because we think we know better about land management. The facts suggest otherwise. It’s an expensive book, so please do let me know if it is worth the mad cash? Yup, the land is very different here from one locale to the next. The level of understanding required to work with such land is quite staggering.

    I’d heard that about online shopping in your part of the world. The thing is, I’ve observed folks having troubles using searches anyway. The whole interweb thing is one big relational database. It’s just not that interesting, however, a person does need to know how to ask questions, and programmers are designing the search programs not your usual on the street person. Have you ever got into the head space of a programmer? Yikes!

    Hope nobody falls off the edge of snow… Hehe! Imagine that? Hope you get the lowland snow, it’ll be fun.

    Like you I too know how to make friends and influence people. Mate, it’s a gift! 🙂 Some folks just don’t consider the needs of others. What do you do?

    Oooo, early morning person alert! But then logic suggests that you were up at that gawdforsaken hour as well. Hopefully nobody was using a blower to clean fallen leaves out of the car park? Hey, here’s my worry of the day: If blowers fall out of favour, will there be enough rakes around?

    Better get writing!



  53. Yo, Chris – You mentioned how many kWh you used, stress testing our solar electric system. I just happened to get my monthly electric bill, yesterday. According to the bill, I averaged 6 kWh, per day. Not bad. I was driving around the other night, and it did occur to me to wonder if all the lights in use at closed businesses, were really necessary. Not so much the light for a bit of security, but all the advertising.

    Sign seen in a library back room, somewhere, sometime … “Unruly Children will be Sent Home with a Large Expresso, a Tin Drum and a Puppy.” 🙂

    I just saw a couple of articles on people fighting zoning changes to get more flexible housing. There’s a lot of NIMBY (Not In My BackYard), out there.

    The used book trade is strange. You’ll see piles of titles out there, that have fallen out of fashion. Until you decide you want a copy 🙂

    Koalas were almost extinct, by the 1920s. Due to the pelt and hide trade. Finally, the US banned the importation of Koala “products” which had a lot more impact than Australia doing the same. The export, that is. There were some interesting stories of people stashing small groups of Koala, here and there, from which all Koala now descend. There’s something like only three genetic lines, left.

    That was an interesting article about the flood insurance. Same / same with fire insurance. As you well know.

    Well, that’s the mystery. How did the library over in Idaho, get funded in the first place? I have some suggestions, for my Idaho friend, to figure that out. It’s going to be a bit of a research project.

    Let’s see. The burn book is a collection of 12 essays, across many different disciplines. I’ll describe them, as I go along. Funny. In the introduction, when Van Couver (Dutch? 🙂 sailed into Puget Sound, he (and some of his crew) made comments about the park like setting. Sound familiar? We’ve also got our own local tale of an ancient indigenous woman, who burst into tears upon seeing her old home grounds, for the first time in 50 years. Because the land wasn’t being as well kept.

    It’s not so much the searches, as the same business model as the other online companies. Searches and such, as mentioned in the article earlier this week. Last week? Time flies … etc..

    Yes, snow would be nice, and all. Very picturesque. Just so it doesn’t fall Tuesday morning and screw up my access to biscuits and gravy.

    I encountered the postie at the more civilized hour of 9am. The landscape guys tear through here, with a blower, once a week. But, luckily, they hit the sweet spot, between my getting up and my taking an afternoon nap. They’ve been banned, in some places. Lew

Comments are closed.