We used to vacation

Laying on my back with my head upon the pillow. The wind rushed into the room and over the woollen blankets. Ah-roo-gar the wind said. Hard to sleep with such a racket. Closed the window, but you could still hear the wind calling outside as it moved through the forest. The trees noisly moved back and forth. In the darkness, thoughts drifted in and out of consciousness. One thought dominated: Today was going to be a dangerous day.

Last year the climate delivered a lot of rain. However, about four or five weeks ago, the rain suddenly went elsewhere. Many of the days since then have been hot. The summer sun has dried out the forest understory. Summer as usual. Large trees are hanging onto their luscious canopy, but plants closer to the soil surface look dried out. That day we’d intended to get the stump grinder into action and continue the recent forest clean up work. The century of logging activities has left an awful lot of mess, and long term readers will know that we don’t abide mess.

The wind changed everything that day. Hot, dry and windy conditions are a disaster zone for fires here. And the carbon steel cutting blades of the stump grinder might hit a hidden rock in the soil, spark a flame, and off and away she’ll go. Hard to stop a fire on such a day. Best not to start one in the first place. But we’re flexible. Dumped the ideas for the planned work, and just did something else that day instead. Not a hard decision to make.

Bizarrely, the wind died down just after lunch, and the day was not that hot despite what the forecast promised. Still, better to be safe than sorry. The previous day a farmer an hours drive over to the east made a public apology, a Mea Culpa of sorts. He’d apparently started a large fire in his area. Talk about uncomfortable, and in rural areas the memory remains. Best not to be that person.

Instead of continuing the forest clean up work, I hauled out the ladder, grabbed the electric mains powered blower (solar powered in this case), and cleaned any accumulated muck off the roof and gutters. Those surfaces are where our drinking water is collected, so it is probably best if they’re kept sort of clean. And dry weather is the time to do that job, because in the wet, the steel roof surface is slippery.

Cleaning the roof and gutters with an electric blower

I now forget how we came to own that mains electric powered blower. It may in fact have been Sandra’s idea to get it. The farm machine dude remarked that the thing was more powerful than the more usual two stroke fuelled or battery powered machines. He wasn’t wrong there. It was like using a tornado to sweep leaves off paths. But we’re flexible and mostly use a leaf rake instead. The machine however is awesome for cleaning the roof and gutters, not to mention cleaning down most machines after usage around the property. Take that dust and dirt! Get thee elsewhere!

Flexibility is a nice trait to master. We often work around the weather conditions. It makes no sense to cook-your-head in the hot summer sun just because you had made some plans to do some stuff and can’t back down. And neither is it pleasant to get drenched in pouring rain, just because. Work when the conditions are just right.

Of course, people seem to put in long hours every week doing paid work for mad cash. Makes sense, there are bills to be paid, and they eat up a lot of mad cash these days. But there are a few ways to get around that story.

Way back in the day, I worked at the top end of town in a super stressful job. I got paid heaps of mad cash. Being the crafty and resourceful folks we are, plenty of the mad cash was saved and used to offset mortgage debt. Some of it was put into the projects we were doing, like trying to turn the brick shell we’d purchased at the turn of the century, into a home. Some mad cash was used for entertainment. We worked hard, but it was not a life of monastic austerity. The inner urban area was full of cafes, and the quest for the best coffee and cake is a worthwhile use of a persons time. And coffee and books go together so well.

We travelled through this corner of the world too. We’ve seen a lot of South East Asia, and once even made it over to deepest darkest Peru, which was a really lovely country. The thing is though, after a while, you start doing the numbers and the couple of weeks of travel usually cost around half a years savings.

I hated the job I was doing too. Look, that’s not entirely true, there were aspects of the job which were really good. The team was good, the work was interesting. My offsider cried the day I resigned. It was the demands from higher up the food chain (and there wasn’t much higher) which did my head in. And that’s where the stress came into the picture. Most demands were reasonable, but some looked stupid, whilst others appeared to be greedy. A whole lot of stress about nothing. And there we were blowing almost half the annual savings on holidays. It made no sense to me when we could instead work less but travel less. So we were flexible. And here we are today. And the coffee is better than ever.

One morning the tendrils of fog settled in the lower laying areas in the valley below

A little bit of rain fell this week, then we got back into the work of cleaning up the loggers rubbish. I still have no idea what they were thinking, but just deal with what is there. We cracked out the stump grinder and cleaned up another old dead tree stump. That machine is hard work, and it takes a few hours of hanging onto it for large tree stumps to be completely blitzed up.

Ground out another old dead tree stump this week

In the background of the above photo, you can see some the timber the loggers left, just laying there on the ground. A bit of a waste really, so on another day we cut and split timber into firewood which was then relocated to be stored away later this year. With firewood as a fuel, you have to plan several years ahead.

The firewood pile for next year is seasoning out in the weather

The hot and dry weather is hard on all of the birds which live at the farm. The birds really benefit from access to fresh water, otherwise they have to venture further afield which is increasingly risky for them. Plus the insects need a drink too. Later in the year we’ll probably install a large bird bath. But for the moment, there is a section on the roof of the house overflow water tank which is safely off the ground. The birds can enjoy a drink of water and a splash around there. The other day I discovered that a Balm of Gilead had grown into the water, and so I cut it all back.

Clean fresh water, what more could the local birds ask for?

That overflow water tank had about two thirds of it’s contents transferred back up the hill and stored in the depleted house water tanks. It doesn’t take a lot of energy to do the water transfer, it just takes a lot of hours.

Nothing beats the hot summer sun for getting produce ripened. This week, we’ve had our first ripe tomatoes, cucumbers, chilli and pumpkins. Yum!

Pumpkin, cucumber, yellow and green chilli’s and a ripe tomato. Yum!

The much larger greenhouse has been a real game changer this season. We have never grown and ripened large tomatoes before, but this year – done!

Steve’s tomatoes. Yeah, yeah, I’ll hear about this for sure!

Even the chilli’s in the greenhouse are beginning to change colour this week. They’re hot too. Whoo Whee! Prepare for ignition! Next up, we have to work out how to preserve the bumper chilli crop for use later in the year.

A Bulgarian chilli changes colour and is superb

Snow peas have been giving all season with little care, watering or attention. Nearby are an old heritage variety of beans: ‘Lazy Housewife’, and they are also growing well with about the same level of attention.

Beans ‘Lazy Housewife’ are thriving despite any care or attention

The zucchini (courgette) plants do receive a daily watering of a few minutes, but that’s about it. And they grow like monsters – don’t turn your back on them. They’ll grow and fruit without watering, but the regular water stops them becoming misshapen due to inconsistent watering.

Zucchini fruits hide among the thick and spiky foliage

The grape vines are full of clusters of hanging grapes, and I do hope that they ripen. I fear that the growing season may have been too short for ripening, but we’ll see how it goes.

Yummy grapes! They’re a table and/or wine grape

Onto the flowers:

Hydrangeas are a bit dry but still putting on a good show
The Penstemon received a feed and then proceeded to produce plenty of flowers
A Silver Banksia AKA bottle-brush flower
The Pomegranate hasn’t minded the recent hot and dry weather
The Roses are likewise enjoying the heat and drier conditions
The red on this Rose positively fluoresces

The temperature outside now at about 8am is 12’C (54’F). So far this year there has been 71.4mm (2.8 inches) which is the same as last weeks total of 63.2mm (2.5 inches)

58 thoughts on “We used to vacation”

  1. Yo, Chris – Wind and rain around structures, can make interesting (and unsettling) sounds. I’ve mentioned our elevator shaft here. Sometimes it sounds like all the damned souls of hell are down there, howling away. I often hear the tap, tap of rain, up the stove hood. It warns me that H and I will have a wet jaunt out.

    I’ll be glad, as I’m sure you will be, when you’re safely past the fire season. So how did the farmer pull off starting a fire? Inquiring Minds Want to Know. I’m sure you know, another reason, to keep your gutters clean, besides drinking water, is that they can be a point of ignition for embers blown in from far away.

    I’m sure you saw that a few weeks ago, something was going on in Peru. Coup, or some other kind of civil unrest. Hundreds of tourists were stranded, with their meds running low. And who can forget “Shinning Path,” from years ago. Used to snatch a tourist or two and hold them for years in the jungle. My feeling about foreign travel has always been, “You pay your money and take your chances.”

    I occasionally think about a river cruise, up the Columbia. Or, a cruise up the Inside Passage, to Alaska. But, it would take all my savings. Not prudent. I’m sure there are equally interesting things to see, within driving distance on a couple of tanks of gas.

    I think your pulling our legs. I see no birds, frolicking on your overflow water tanks. Speaking of birds, I saw an article in the Atlantic. “Why is Everyone Stealing Parrots? (Engber). They overlooked the obvious reason. There’s a lot of wanna-be pirates, out there. 🙂 The whole thing reminds me, a bit, of the book, “The Orchid Thief.” Maybe the lesson here is, take from nature, but don’t get greedy.

    That’s quit a cluster of tasty tucker. Except I see no pumpkins there. Right shape, wrong color. Pumpkins must shine like an orange beacon, in the moonlight, to lure The Great Pumpkin.

    I wonder what causes the splits on the tops of tomatoes? We get them here, too. Easy to cut off, and there’s still a lot of tasty tomato, left. Chilies? Dry them. I’m sure there’s probably a U – Tub video on how to tie them up in clusters. Besides preservation, they make really colorful decor.

    Some varieties of grapes don’t fully ripen up, and get sweet, until they’ve had a touch of frost. We’ve got a few varieties here, at the Institution, that are like that. Rumor has it that they are old varieties, from New England.

    The Hydrangeas sure are pretty. Ever try and clean out a bottle, with the bottle brush? How did that work out for you? That prehistoric plant, horsetail, is also supposed to be good for scrubbing out pots. Due to the high silica content. We’ve got some in the beds, here. Not the garden beds, but the flower beds. It’s really invasive and hard to keep under control.

    Your roses are real stunners. They could proudly hold their heads up, in the City of Roses, Portland. Lew

  2. Hi Margaret,

    Your words painted quite the picture of a serious cold front. Not something I’ve experienced and after reading your words, would be a bit reluctant to do so. I’ve seen heavy frosts, but ice on the trees and grass is mind-bending. Hope you, Doug, Leo and Salve were all toasty warm, and didn’t have to venture out of the house?

    Ah, that is most unfortunate about the large branch encountering your friends roof. Hope someone was able to rig up an emergency tarp so as to stop any rain getting inside? Yikes! An old timer around here once told me to have no trees within dropping distance of the house – and that’s why. They never get smaller.

    The damage would be a serious problem down here because there is a severe shortage of skilled tradesmen to fix the damage. In my case, I’d take the insurance money and fix it myself, but that’s not an option for everyone.

    Burnt off a lot of the pruned blackberry canes in the brazier this evening. Wow, those canes have some oils in them. We’d had a fifth of an inch of rain this morning, so it was now or much later.



  3. Hi DJ,

    Extreme busy, err, happens! Hehe! We can print that onto t-shirts and our fortunes might be made?

    Far out dude. -15’C is bonkers cold. Mate, you hear me whining if it gets down to -2’C, and that’s rare, but -15’C, that’s the whole next level of Brr! Hope it’s warmed up now, and is merely the last gasp of winter?

    Yes, that’s my thoughts as well about wildfires. Sometimes they’re easier to put out than other times, and when they get huge enough to generate their own firestorms, you’re in for a world of hurt. You may wonder why we keep the place super neat and tidy, and that is one of the reasons.

    Burnt off all the pruned blackberry canes this evening in the brazier, and oh boy, they burnt hot and bright. Who knew? 5mm of rain fell this morning and the surrounding area is fairly damp so it was hopefully safe to set off. The Editor is in the big smoke with friends watching a film and so I had to monitor the fire for a couple of hours this evening. It’s not much bigger than a campfire now. Yay!

    As Scotty once quipped: “Ya canna change the laws of physics captain!” Astute words, although you have to admit that in some of the films, they gave it a go!

    Hehe! It was obvious wasn’t it? I just cheated and did a gargle search for body parts beginning with the letter ‘t’, and we could go on with the joke for a while, but it’s lost the funny edge. Oh well, in comedy timing is sometimes everything. Onto the next joke! 🙂

    It was a fave of mine too, but number six does it as well. I recall going to the cinema as a young bloke to see the films. A sometimes commenter of this blog recently suggested to me that number three was really the number one film. I dunno…



  4. Hi Lewis,

    Ah yes, you know it was probably you mentioning the souls of the dammed trapped and howling in your elevator shaft which got me thinking about the wind noise. Thanks for the idea! The noise makes the hairs on my arms stand on end due to the sheer super creepiness of the sound in the dark hours of the night when the moon is hidden behind the clouds. Hard to sleep with that racket going on outside. Haven’t the dead got better things to do with their time than disturb my sleep?

    It’s funny, and I can’t recall how H is with the rain, but some dogs don’t seem to mind it, whilst others look and act reluctant to get their paws and coats wet.

    The Editor worked in the big smoke today and then went out to the films with some friends. I’d set the day aside to do paid work, but a client got you-know-what. I don’t need to see them. So I had the day free and was able to switch the power system off and upgrade a lot of the wiring and four circuit breakers in the battery room. The Editor would have complained a lot had I switched the power off and it wasn’t necessary to do so. 🙂 It’s funny, but when I first installed the system way back in 2009, it was hard to get some heavier duty components because nobody supplied them.

    But now, if businesses have supply (not always guaranteed), there’s some really well manufactured basic heavy duty components which just weren’t available over a decade ago. And they’re good too. Out with the old, and in with the new. And the power system is the better for it. The heavy duty circuit breakers I sourced from the industrial electrical supplier mob which were trialled a few weeks ago worked really well, so the rest of the older style ones were replaced today. I mean one of the older style ones did fail in a bad way, so I can rest a bit easier now.

    The farmer from memory I believe, stated that he was using an angle grinder in long grass. Not good and very hard to stop when the grass is dry and the wind is up. And you are absolutely correct and it can take about four minutes for a house to burn to the ground. It’s quick. The roof here is sealed with steel sheet and commercial grade mineral wool, but do I want to discover that something has been stuffed up with the construction of the house? Or that something has been damaged over time? It would be hard to know in advance.

    Speaking of fires, this evening I burned off all of those blackberry canes pruned the previous week. I used the brazier in the courtyard. They’d dried nicely and oh wow, they burn hot and bright. About one-fifth of an inch of rain fell this morning, and it was a cold and cloudy day so everything was damp. It’s been the first time in weeks that it was sort of safe to set off the brazier. It took about two hours to monitor the fire, and now it’s down to a small campfire size. Tomorrow will be another cold, still and possibly damp day.

    What a lot of intrigue, and yes, best not to be involved. And that lot, yes, I’d read about them and their activities. It’s been an unstable political system over there for quite a while now, nothing new. That’s a good point though, and there have been some times during our travels that I was a bit worried for our continuing good health and general safety. I agree with you and travel to distant shores can be something of a mixed bag. We never really ventured to err, first world countries, and instead went to visit less touristed countries – well they were back in those days (not sure how things are on that front now).

    I hear you about that, and rarely travel far from home these days. There’s a lot to see around here.

    Hehe! That’s an amusing point of view, but the birds really do use the water on top of the tank. I’d only just cleaned and refilled it prior to taking the photo. Mate, the water is hard to see in the image, but it’s there.

    I read my last Atlantic article the day before. Hey, we’ve got plenty of parrots! Far out, the birds enjoy a good feed here. I’m assuming that people aren’t getting the parrots so that they can let them loose in their orchards? 🙂 That’s good, yes pieces of eight! Thanks for the laughs. Hehe! Should put the blog through a pirate word filter one week, that’ll confuse everybody!

    Oh, you know I originally used the word ‘squash’ knowing full well what you’d say about the fruit. The Editor changed the word to ‘pumpkin’ and said something or other about ‘when in Rome’. I just wasn’t listening. 🙂 You two can argue it out, I’m now dodging the whole sordid episode!

    The film she went to see was ‘Tar’. The feedback I’ve since heard from the Editor was that the film was well acted, just a bit bonkers. It was her friends choice of film. But you know, sometimes you can be surprised by films, as I’m sure has happened to you over the years. Has it?

    I was wondering about the split in the top of the tomato too. Generally splits in fruit tend to indicate too much watering. Big rainfall events can split cherries for example. Doesn’t tend to hurt or change the fruit unless insects get in, it’s more a visual thing. Drying is my preferred option with the chilli’s.

    Interesting, I’ll keep an eye on the grapes. Those types produce what are called ‘ice wines’ I believe. The grapes here are all different varieties but all are both a table and/or wine variety. I mainly a table grape kind of guy. Wine really never quite gelled with my palate. There’s been a lot of plant breeding with grape vines.

    Hehe! Nah, you go first with the bottle brush flowers. I reckon it would be a sticky mess. The honeyeater birds love those flowers.

    What a fascinating plant, and they are present on this continent, but I have never seen a horsetail plant. Talk about a successful plant to have survived so many years. Was described as being a bit weedy in the state to the north of here.

    Thank you for saying that about the Roses. I’ll give them a feed over the next week or two and that will bring on a new batch of flowers.

    Lovely! Did you get any more snow today? It sounds like the last gasp of winter to me.

    It’s possible that a layer of cement lining on a steel rock gabion cage would crack as the cage settles. Nah, easier to pour cement into form-work, or buy pre-formed concrete sleepers. I reckon the roof would have to be also poured and then have soil backfilled over it once the roof cured. That’s how I’d do the job.

    Ah, I’d never used almond milk, and rarely if ever use buttermilk. I see, it is thicker than milk, but not as thick as cream – somewhere between the two products. Plain yoghurt is pretty good usually. The palate just has to acclimate to the taste. As a society we’re kind of brought up to consume a salty / sweet diet, yet there are other tastes which are equally valid choices.

    Looking into my crystal ball – they’ll argue and wrangle and generally stomp around making a lot of noise – but in the end, they’ll want their pays and pet projects to continue. So I reckon they’ll raise the debt ceiling. It’s extraordinarily weird to raise interest rates under those conditions, but I ain’t running that circus. And no doubts the personal consequences if I did so would be unpleasant like in a dead way, if I did! Ook! All policies are subject to diminishing returns, and eventually they progress past the failure point.



  5. Hi, Chris!

    Chris, you and Sandra are wise beyond your years.

    I so much enjoyed the recounting of your most recent activities. I just love to read how tidy you are. I do not have the time right now to be tidy and my energy levels are not what they once were (whose are?). And other people make messes, too . . .

    Flexibility is everything. And patience.

    Isn’t it great living on a mountain and seeing the valley below?

    I am just starting to put the early crops – greens – in. I am really counting on rain right now as I can’t water at the moment with the hoses disconnected and the taps still shut off for the winter and the water barrels emptied as well because they had to be moved because of the extensive garden reconstruction and are not in their permanent place yet. My I do run on . . .

    There was a huge old oak stump rotting in the middle of the garden. It was left as a lizard hotel, but is now in the way of a new path. I suggested that my husband and son rent a stump grinder, but they felt that the steep slope there would make it too dangerous, besides the cost. My husband loves to split wood by hand, so he has chopped it down to almost nothing with his splitting maul. My son says he can finish it with his chainsaw.

    We keep water out for the birds, too, though our neighbor’s pond is quite close. Also for squirrels. By the by, Charlene the White Squirrel’s daughter, Darlene, has turned out to be a boy. He is now called Junior. He is such a deadbeat. No way is he going to be able to take over as regent when she is gone.

    How great that you can transfer water uphil with so little energy. I wouldn’t have guessed that.

    Nice produce. That is one big tomato! Yum! Snowpeas all season? Ours give out quite early. Our grapes ripen well into fall, even until frost.

    Thanks for the flowers!


  6. Hello Chris
    That elongated tomato is a weird shape, I have never seen anything like it before.


  7. Yo, Chris – Any horror film worth it’s salt has wind howling away on the soundtrack. Branches scrapping at the window. Any kid who went to a double feature, Saturday matinee is programmed to be a bit freaked out. 🙂

    H is pretty good, with rain. Unless it’s bucketing down. Then she goes about her business with dispatch. It’s the drizzle that she ignores. While it gets me thoroughly wet! She’s up for The Big Dip, this afternoon. AKA, a bath. She hasn’t had one, in awhile. What with the short hair, after going to the groomer, she hasn’t needed one. But, it’s time.

    Well, the solar industry has matured. And maybe people really did ask for the upgrades. You may be living in the Golden Age of Solar. 🙂

    I used to burn my blackberry canes (the one’s the goats couldn’t handle) in a burn barrel, with a heavy duty, movable, wire screen over the top. It sat up on some low bricks, and had a few vents poked in the bottom. Large enough to stuff with paper and cardboard to get the whole thing rolling. I always kept the garden hose, close to hand.

    And sordid it is….

    There was quit a bit of chatter about “Tar,” over here. Read enough about it to feel I really didn’t want to see it. Have I ever been surprised by a film? Sure. But not in a good way. 🙂

    You don’t want to see horsetail, on your patch. You’ll never get rid of it. Besides, it provides cover from small, toothy, cranky dinosaurs.

    We were supposed to get snow, last night. Didn’t happen. Not a flake. But I think there must have been a bit, in the outlying areas. I noticed this morning, that not many caregivers showed up. Not even the really dependable ones. The forecast for tonight and tomorrow is “Rain/Snow.” I wonder if we’ll be able to get our biscuits and gravy? Keeping the priorities in order. 🙂 Wednesday is supposed to be clear. A good thing. As it’s the first Wednesday of the month, falling on the first, we’re supposed to get a food box, that day. The one with the veg. I saw our night manager, and he said they’d arrive.

    Some recipes call for buttermilk. Can’t have buttermilk biscuits, without buttermilk. Yes, I think plain yogurt would make a good substitute. It’s a 1 to 1 ratio. Buttermilk is on the acid end of the scale. And so is plane yogurt.

    I’m watching season three of “My Life is Murder.” They’re still filming in Auckland. I do wish they’d get back to Melbourne. The series, and mysteries are good, but I find it more interesting when it’s places you go and see. Lew

  8. Hi Pam,

    Thanks! We do neat and tidy, that’s for sure. Truth to tell though, the loggers left a whole bunch of concentrated mess, and it’s a good thing a big fire hasn’t got into that mess recently. Not good. We’ll get there with the clean up. Hey, spotted a sugar glider this evening. The little glider was clambering high into a tree. Thought it was a mouse at first, but nope.

    Ah yes, patience, always handy – and have you heard that it’s a virtue? Tell ya what though: I have little patience for grifters. 🙂 Sure the meek will inherit stuff and things, but I ain’t meek. Dunno why. Maybe it’s the times?

    It is nice seeing the valley below. We’re lucky to have a mix of that, as I’m sure you do too. Have you noticed that trees keep on getting biggerer? 🙂

    Extensive garden reconstruction suggests that you’ve had some ideas. Well I’m candidly curious as to what’s going on. Are you expanding the growing space?

    No lizards here in old stumps, but plenty of termites and wood grubs – which I feed to the friendly magpie family. We have an arrangement you see. He’s a better man than I, the repeated shocks to the shoulder is something I try to avoid. Truly, a stump grinder is a wondrous machine, if they but give it a chance. Much easier on the chainsaw too. Once you hit dirt, the teeth on the chain blunt, almost straight away.

    Dare I suggest it, but Charlene set the gold standard for squirrels. The Chinese have a saying about wealth rarely surviving three generations. On the other hand, Darwin called it correctly, and Junior might come to an unpleasant end.

    What do you mean by that? I’m just curious here. We have four different power systems, and moving water is a really good use for electricity. Heating and vehicles, yeah, not so much, but water pumps are very efficient machines. Dunno, a mystery!

    The tomato is courtesy of a mate of mine, Steve. I tell ya, he supplied the seedlings for that large tomato and I’m guessing he’s feeling pretty happy about the outcome. He’s earned bragging rights. And the snow peas have been very productive this year due to the early cool and wet, but even once the season turned to hot and dry, they still did well. Dunno what’s going on there. We saved seed from previous years and maybe they’ve just adapted. Later this year (after winter) we plan to grow even more peas. The beans are bonkers too. So little care, so much productivity.

    Thanks for the info regarding the grapes, and I’ll keep you updated as the season progresses. Candidly, I’m unsure what might happen with the grapes.

    It was 57’F here drizzly and cloudy today. A bonkers end to a bonkers summer. ‘Nuff said. Got the wood heater going now.



  9. Hi Inge,

    It wasn’t just you. The Roma tomato is the closest I’ve seen to such a shape, but there are 10,000 varieties. Clearly the plant readily hybridises and adapts to the local conditions. An easy plant with which to breed and experiment with.

    I do wonder if the various plants we’re growing here from the Solanaceae family of plants, will cross with some of the indigenous varieties? You never know.

    Hope you visitors were on their very best behaviour? And that you enjoyed their company?



  10. Hi Chris,
    I am a long time follower of JMG and have lurked here for at least a year. I was serious about the chicken bones. The first few years of flowers had no fruit, and my wife was very opposed to the bones idea, but finally relented. Our pawpaws are out by the street, as edible ornamentals. I just finished trimming so they do not get close to the electrical wires. Or too tall falling pawpaws can hurt… Also it helps to shade the saplings until they are 18 inches tall, as they are an understory tree. Onthe other hand, if the leaves do not look bleached by now you are probably good.
    Gerard aka “Berserker” on JMGs forums

  11. Hi Lewis,

    Mate, it was a miserable wet and cold day up here today. A fitting end to the summer, of which today is the last official day. That doesn’t stop the frogs partying. Two pobblebonk frogs have moved into one of the dogs water bowls. As you do. I’ve been working on distraction techniques with the dogs and so far they haven’t noticed the frogs. It’ll probably all work out fine, maybe…

    Then on the dog walk this evening (in the cold drizzle) we spotted a mouse. Turns out, what we thought was a mouse, was a little sugar glider clambering up a tree. The wildlife is clearly enjoying the conditions.

    Your words about the branches scraping away at the window whilst the wind howled brought those very horror films to mind, along with a case of the creepy crawly shivers. 🙂 So true, and not something you want to hear. And the Saturday matinee was a heap of fun, I reckon my mother used it as child minding services. But whatever, I loved it, especially the double features. And they had a proper intermission in those days plus Warner Brothers cartoons beforehand. Taught me everything I needed to know about the world, like say, grifters take a bit of energy to combat. Yup, they sure do. Yessiree. 🙂 Caused me to get up early this morning one such did.

    Speaking of hearing things, and dare I mention it again, but we got up very early this morning, and whilst I was enjoying the toasty hot bath just looking out the window into the forest, a parrot smacked into the fire shutter over the window. Well that sure woke me up with a start! What was weird was that the bird bounced off and flew into a nearby apple tree. I fail to understand how a bird could survive such an impact?

    H is the very model of a proper lady. Ollie is similarly disposed to wet weather. The two kelpie’s though simply expect me to dry them off once they’ve run around like crazy dogs. Yeah, expectations… And I hear you about the drizzle, having taken them outside a few times today. How did the bath for H go? Did she stoically face her watery fate, or did she sulk her socks off?

    Holy carp! You’re probably right there about the solar golden age. I’m onto it. Seriously, I’m onto it! But alas have only so much time and resources. The future may not be so golden, and I’m guessing that is to be the way of things. Oh well, the old timers once quipped about making hay whilst the sun shines. In that vein, I’m busy dotting my i’s and crossing my t’s with the system, but freely acknowledge that I might completely stuff it up. A lesser person would use the most awful description: ‘gold plating’ the system. But I tell you truly, that is what it takes to be punching in the long haul. I wish it were not so, but it is. And that’s why we’re not seeing the technology rolled out en masse, because it makes little economic sense. Resiliency yes, but economic sense, no.

    Your burn barrel is a good idea, and would work for sure. It may even produce a little bit of charcoal depending upon how the vents are arranged. Good stuff for the garden. Have to laugh though. When I was a kid I worked for a pharmacy delivering medications by push bike to the older folks in the area. On Saturday mornings, they used to get me to burn off all of the packaging in an incinerator behind the building. Can you imagine what folks would think of such practices nowadays? I was entirely unsupervised too. But then I was worthy of trust.

    Are you trying to drag me back into that whole pumpkin / squash thing? 😉 Might have to continue ducking and weaving like a prize fighter. Hashtag, just sayin… Hehe! Anyway, you know they’re pumpkins! Oooo, the champ has swung a strong leftie and the contender’s fallen to the mat. Ref’s calling the count. One. Two… Feel like I’ve descended into a Robert E Howard story. A temporal anomaly of sorts. 🙂

    Far out, what just happened there?

    The Editor, despite her predilections for using the word ‘pumpkin’, this morning read a précis of the film, and it helped make sense of the story. You know what I’d reckon would help: Recounting a narrative which can be readily understood. Yeah, that film, err, not so much. The subtleties were perhaps too subtle.

    An alternative name for the prehistoric plant was ‘snake grass’ and those words don’t make me feel relaxed. Far from it, actually.

    Not good, and you’d hope that your weather conditions weren’t prolonged with that sort of response. Oh well, not much a person can do about the weather. Hehe! Fingers crossed that the biscuits and gravy work out for you in the morning. Such are the finer things in life, although you do have to work with the conditions there.

    Did paid work today, which was a good thing given the inclement weather. It is meant to be the last day of summer, but 57’F and drizzly is a tough sell in my books.

    Never had a buttermilk biscuit, but I will say that the images sort of look like scones to me. Probably aren’t given mention of savoury was used in the many descriptions. Dunno.

    I’ll have to check with the Editor whether she’s seen season three of that series. It’s possible. Auckland is hard to get around. Melbourne is a funny place these days, but there’s still some life left in the old girl.



  12. Hi Gerard,

    No worries at all, and thanks for the confirmation of the use of the chicken bones.

    And mate, I hear you, sometimes you have to slip an idea past the keeper (which is a cricket game reference – feel free to use in order to mystify strangers to the game).

    I’m no purist and whatever works and produces results. And if in the future when those North American pawpaw trees don’t produce fruit, I’ll be trialling the chicken bones. Can’t hurt.

    We’ve got a huge number and diversity of pollinating insects here, so I hope pollination isn’t a problem, but until the fruit is harvested, my concepts are pure theory.

    Speaking of bones, I’ve been increasing the use of blood and bone meal so as to increase the fruit set in the orchard. I reckon I’m onto something with that as the stuff has a goodly amount of phosphates.

    Yeah, the shading is a problem for one of the pawpaws, but the other two are doing fine, although they get a bit more afternoon shade than that one.

    Hey, you want to see an edible Bunya Bunya nut fall from a height for sheer fear factor. 🙂 Ouch, my head just got squooshed!!! Actually the nut might knock someone insensible.

    Greetings! 🙂



  13. Chris:

    Oh, duh – woe is me. I am not firing on all cylinders sometimes. I was forgetting that we pull water straight up from our well with electricity, and then sideways into the house. Somewhere along the way the pressure tank moves it through the house. Or maybe before. When you said “uphill”, was I thinking of buckets? Ack.

    Your sugar glider reminds me of our little noctural flying squirrels, one of the worst pests we’ve had as, not being satisfied with building nests in the attic vents under the eaves, they found a space in the exterior wall – not easy, as it’s log – next to the window 2 feet from my bed, and used to make whoopee all night. They were finally routed and I have not seen them since. Sort of a shame as they sure are cute. But, as my grandmother used to say: “Handsome is, as handsome does.”

    Ha – biggerer trees. My son and husband cut down 5 biggerer trees, and one smallerer one, yesterday – 5 poplars and a hickory – as they were only feet from the house. Interestingly, you had mentioned a day or two ago about not having big trees next to the house. These were 100-foot trees, except for the hickory. There is one more to go, the biggererest poplar, which unfortunately is where Charlene has her penthouse. We are trying to figure out if she has another nest, as squirrels usually do.

    The garden changes are not my ideas, but my son’s. The growing space has shrunk a little, I think, but a lot of it was shaded. That area will become a meadow, with a mixed hedge for birds. There is already a sort of hedgerow there. There is more growing space at the back of the property.

    How about this? I had read a better article, but it is now under a paywall.



  14. Yo, Chris – I wonder if the frogs will lay eggs, in the dog’s water dish? Seems like every grade school class I had, had a tank with frogs eggs in it. Fun to watch the tadpoles, hatch out. Grow their little legs and lose their tails. Vast Panorama of Nature, etc..

    Yes, the Saturday matinees were a lot of fun. Two feature films (second or third run), cartoons, and yes, an intermission. Gotta give the kids a chance to rot their teeth. And, as my reach back in time is deeper than yours (the 1950s) they even showed some old serials. Some were even silent. “Perils of Pauline”, indeed. Sometimes, silent “Keystone Cops.” One talkie serial I remember, from the 1940s, was “Buck Rogers.” Even some old newsreels from the 1940s. LOL. Anything that was cheap to fill the time.

    Birds do smack into windows, from time to time. Sometimes, it’s because they see their reflection, and think it’s a rival. Yes, it’s a wonder you don’t find more dead birds, under windows.

    H is always pretty good, about her bath. She doesn’t like the bath so much, but likes the ear cleaning, brushing, and general making over.

    Well, Solar Golden Age as to equipment. I get the general sense it’s getting better, if you can figure out which is best. I don’t think your so much Gold Plating, as Fine Tuning. 🙂

    Well, the forecast said “Snow after 4am.” So before I opened the curtains, this morning, I took a deep breath and …. no snow! So biscuits and gravy were had. I posed the question, this morning: Is my life so sad that having biscuits and gravy at the Club, on Tuesdays, is the high point of my week? Maybe I’ll make that the Worry of the Day. 🙂 By the way, our Club Treasurer mentioned we’ve been well in the black, the last couple of months. Biscuits and gravy have contributed to that reversal. We’re also looking at our electronics. Right now, our monthly costs are $300+. But that’s TV, phone and Wi-fi. We’re looking at a reduction in the TV part of the package. And, usually, when you start making noises, like that, they reduce the fees. About the only TV thing we need to hold on to, is the sports channels. Sad to say, it really brings the guys in.

    Buttermilk biscuits should have some flake to them. The best are from our south. Due to a particular kind of flour, that is pretty much only available down there.

    We should get a food box, tomorrow. The one with the produce.

    News from Idaho. The medical bankruptcy of my friend’s daughter and son-in-law is finally winding to a close. Here’s what she had to say: “Yes, chapter 11 subchapter 5 would have wiped out the kids debt but it has already been denied. They are doing just chapter 11 and they have to now pay the debt off. Better than chapter 7 where they come in and sell almost everything you own off and liquidate your assets to pay the debt. So here’s what I know from today…. this is the plan going to the court to be okayed…. the kids will have payments of $2600 a month for the first 5 years. This will go down as bills are fully paid off. Then the next 5 years the payments will be $1500. They asked to have the balloon payment stretched out to 15 years instead of 10 years. Gives them a buffer of an extra 5 yrs if they need it.” There’s also $27,000 in lawyers fees.

    Life under the tyranny of the Pharmo-Medical Industry. If I were going to invest in the stock market (not going to happen), I’d put my bucks in that industry. But I’d feel so dirty. 🙂 Lew

  15. Hi Chris and Gerard,

    I’ve read that pawpaws are only pollinated by carrion flies. Supposedly the flowers smell like carrion, although I have not detected that scent from them. To me they don’t smell at all. They are not showy to human eyes, with a brownish-purplish color that rather resembles carrion, so maybe there is something to the carrion-fly-as-pollinator theory.

    In the bush, there ought to be enough carrion around to ensure that there are sufficient carrion flies for them to pollinate the pawpaw flowers as well as perform their usual duties. In an urban area where dead animals are in short supply (because live animals are as well) and where the leaving of dead animals in place is frowned on, the carrion flies are likely to be few and far between. Hanging chicken bones with a little meat on them in the branches of the pawpaw trees most likely serves to draw the few carrion flies to the trees when necessary. In my case, because all the houses on this street have much larger lots than is usual in an urban area and are covered with plenty of vegetation of one sort or another, the supply of dead animals seems to be sufficient to keep up the carrion fly population near the trees without the need for chicken bone attractants. At least that’s my current hypothesis.

    Our high yesterday was 62F, notwithstanding it being winter here. I think this is the warmest winter I’ve experienced in my almost 40 years in St. Louis. Although we did experience real winter for about a week in late December, the soil never froze. I already have some daffodils, albeit the earliest ones in the warmest microclimate, in full bloom. I’m ready for spring!


  16. Chris,

    “Extremely busy, err, happens” on a t shirt? Brilliant. And at times we can have a parrot pictured on it with the caption “Extremely busy, arrr, happens, arrrr!” for the piratical amongst us.

    Yes, it WAS cold, especially with the wind. Last gasp of winter? LAST gasp? I wish. Not even close. On Monday I heard from an official source that we were at precisely 44.3 inches of snow for the season, 112.5cm, pretty much almost exactly the statistical average. However, we were supposed to get another 3 to 5 cm Monday night. I awakened Tuesday to 16cm of new snow. Wet and heavy stuff, too. With more forecast Wednesday and Thursday. This “last gasp” is acting more like “violent death throes”. Which means, of course, that Dame Avalanche the Howling Husky and I are enjoying our walks and play times more than usual.

    I rather knew that your neat and tidy homestead was at least partially due to the wildfire thing. Important to keep those majorly inflammatory plants away from the house.

    Those blackberry canes burning super hot doesn’t surprise me. Other things burn that way also. On one camping/fishing trip into the desert during a drought, it rained for the entire weekend. Only thing growing was sagebrush. It is very oily, so it burned even when wet. And it burned very hot due to the oils in it. We rigged a lean-to off the side of the car with a large tarp, burned sagebrush in one of my metal coffee can “stoves”. We stayed dry and very warm.

    Yes, 6 was right up there with 4. I also enjoyed 2, “Wrath of Khan”. The Princess really likes 3, but not me. Other friends agree that the odd numbered movies were not up to snuff, but that the even numbered ones were worth watching.

    Who knew that all you needed to have the tomatoes ripen was to grow them in a greenhouse? That’s exciting.

    Good work cleaning up the fallen trees and stumps. Using the deadfalls for future firewood is sure a lot easier than felling trees and cutting them up. And it cleans up the area as part of the “neat and tidy” program. Multitasking. And they say males can’t multitask. 😉

    Zucchini. Blink and more have been pollinated. Blink again and they are large. Blink a third time and they are too big to eat. Zucchini were successful last year, so I’ll try some again this year. I think they might be edible triffids or something.


  17. Claire,
    Yes about the carrion flies. The issue is that pawpaws propagate largely by their roots these days, so the flowers have only an extremely weak carrion smell. Two small leg bones zip tied to each tree does the trick. There are plenty of critters, living and dead, in our suburban neighborhood. Note however, that the fruits have a strong smell when fully ripe and attract all critters. I start gathering them before they are fully ripe.

  18. Hi Pam,

    It ain’t just you, sometimes the cylinders aren’t firing properly here, especially before coffee. 🙂 Oh, buckets, well that’s a possibility with the system here, although I’d probably use a lot less water under those strenuous conditions. Imagine having to rely on buckets at your place to haul water around! Yikes!

    How amazing is evolution that you’d end up with similar but very different critters in entirely different continents for similar forest ecosystems. I’ll bet your nocturnal flying squirrels aren’t marsupials, but other than that… Eerily similar. Thanks for mentioning them, I’d never heard of them before.

    Yes, randy little scamps. And do any of us need our sleep disturbed by such noises? The rats used to make merry in the walls and attic here too. After defeating them at the chicken enclosure, we’ve been working on excluding them from the house. Wow, they’re tricksey things, but I have their measure. Take that, ya pesky rodents (said in best pirate voice – which probably doesn’t work all that well, but you know, take no prisoners etc.) Your grandmother clearly understood reality! 😉

    Wise, but not a job to muck around with. Hope they both know what they’re doing, and need I mention the fateful day many years ago when we took out the local power grid? An expensive few minutes I can tell ya.

    Charlene is nice and all, but if her house falls on your house, I can assure you, you’ll feel very differently. Maybe?

    Ah, am I to understand that the plan is to implement a few different ecosystems? It will be very interesting to hear of the critter outcome with all that work. My suspicions suggest that the old adage (which I just made up) ‘feed ’em and they’ll turn up’, provides some possible guidance to the future of those plans.

    Yeah, who knows what is going on with that scheme. If I dare suggest: Ya canna trade ya way out of pollution. There I feel much better now having said that. Incidentally, the lead photo for the article could have been taken looking towards the mountain range somewhere between the townships of Gisborne and Riddells Creek. Hope nobody solves the riddle of the creek? My gut feeling is that they won’t get there by trading. And seriously, what’s with the 43% target? It sounds very arbitrary to me. Oh well, I probably do’ ‘no nuffin anywhoo. 😉



  19. Hi Claire,

    Ook! On a serious note, we may not have any of your carrion flies in this little corner of the planet. And yet, and yet, someone in some distant corner of this continent sent me some fertilised seeds in the mail, so I’m not overly worried about pollination.

    However, having read yours and Gerard’s words on the subject of the flowers of these small trees, I’m glad now that they have been planted at a suitable remove from the house. Stinky dead smelling flowers need not apply to the otherwise pleasant smelling environment. Although, having just written that, the recent rainy weather has begun many of the fallen Eucalyptus dried leaves to begin their long slow process of converting into soil. Candidly, whilst walking the dogs this evening, the forest did smell a little bit like a hospital ward with an intense eucalyptus oil stench – the oil from the leaves is quite simple to obtain. In some ways the smell is quite pleasant, and in other ways the smell can be quite over-powering. Oh well, it’s home and a person must deal with circumstances as they are.

    Your insights from a distance have been very appreciated over the years. And I spotted this article which explains some of the concepts which you already had worked out: Below average summer max temps for Melbourne

    Holy carp! An average of 21 days over 30’C is a very marginal environment, let alone higher up at elevation in the hills to the north of that city. Hmm. The funny thing is, some years I’ve enjoyed 10 days over 40’C. The sheer variability hurts my mind, but that’s life. And they do say that a challenge is good for the soul. Plus the sheer variability is a cautionary tale.



  20. Ahoy there matey DJ!

    All this talk of pirates lead me on an interweb reading fest. Thanks for that, you can have some parrots as a reward. 😉 One point I noted repeated often was that: There seems to be evidence that there was an egalitarian aspect to these communities, with capability to do the job being rewarded explicitly. A true meritocracy!

    Really? Oh well, winter for you is still disappearing into the rear view mirror, despite having a few tricks up her sleeve. As an uninitiated summer soft kinda dude, all snow looks the same to me. Sorry, but wet and sticky snow is beyond my ken.

    Dame Avalanche on the other hand has such understanding built into her DNA. Us mere Neanderthalls can only but admire her adaption to the local conditions – which sound rather toothy to me. How’s this for the first official day of autumn 18’C. Brr! Had to run the wood heater last night… Bonkers!

    Exactly, the risk here is sadly very real, and all the time we’re working at mitigating that. But a person can only do so much, and few people around here seem even remotely concerned.

    Nice work identifying the sagebrush. I’ve heard old time fire fighters from around these parts describe having to deal with a gorse fire. Hmm. Not good, and you can see in the valley down below where landowners have allowed such plants to get more than a foothold. They don’t know what they’re mucking around with. But then, it is a truth universally acknowledged that we can be a careless species.

    DJ, we are of one mind when it comes to the even numbered films. A friend of mine shares the view of your lady about number 3, and I feel under pressure to revisit the film, Kirstie Alley as a Vulcan to the side. Will my earlier fixed opinion be changed? Dunno, you go first and revisit number 3, err, busy and stuff… Hehe! Ook!

    Yeah, well this growing season has been something very unusual, but then so have the former two years. I miss the tomatoes.

    Shh! Seriously, don’t let them know, because then they’ll know – and possibly begin expecting stuff and things. Stick to the script here: Only good at one thing at a time. Now repeat after me!!!

    Zucchini are real givers, and we use them right through the winter months (they store well) and add them to the dog food mix. Plus add them to our food as well. An easier productive plant would be hard to find.

    Thought you might enjoy this: Last winters snow patches have lingered till autumn. The mountains here are hardly a challenging climb.



  21. Hi Gerard,

    Thank you for the robust discussion on the subject of pollinating North American pawpaws, and please accept my apologies for wondering whether you were taking the piss. You were right, I was incorrect, and I’m genuinely glad not to have planted the trees near to the house. The smell of carrion carrying in the air on a warm summer breeze is not something I’m looking forward too. However, I have it on very good authority that the fruit is superb tasting, and that I do look forward to. And if the flowers don’t pollinate with the many insects here, I’ll try your chicken bone lure (hopefully the tree is big enough to handle the dogs desires for all things stinky!)



  22. Chris:

    Well, they got Charlene’s house down, without her in it, as I was on White Squirrel Watch. Ten hours later, there was one more tree to come down and what did Charlene do? She ran up that tree and stood her ground so that it could not be cut. My son finally wheedled her down with a promise of nuts – she well understands “nuts” – and it was cut. Poor girl. I hope she has a vacation home nearby; they often do. The weather has been pretty warm, though, and clear.


  23. Hi Lewis,

    I was wondering that too about the activities of the pobblebonk frogs. Will they, or won’t they lay eggs in the dogs water dish? I’m uncertain what happened to the two frogs because today they were gone as rapidly as they arrived on the scene. And I couldn’t see any eggs in the water. It was possible the two frogs were simply enjoying a long swim after several weeks of otherwise hot and dry weather? Most of the frogs here are tree frogs and I don’t fully understand their life cycle.

    Hehe! Thanks for the memories of the Saturday matinee, and yeah they were fun. For some reason the Editor mentioned the puzzle book ‘Cain’s Jawbone’, and long before the description was completed, the metaphorical headache begun. Have you ever glanced at that book? I note that some cheeky scamp solved the puzzle during the recent lock downs due to you-know-what. Possibly a case of too much free time methinks? The bloke has a very amusing quote regarding solving the puzzle.

    Ah, I had not considered the seeing their reflection in the window, before then smacking head first into it – and surviving. Some of the birds here get obsessed with their reflected images in the windows of the cars. The act must be rather exciting, because the birds tend to poop all over the cars. The Suzuki dirt rat seems particularly alluring, but then there is the spare wheel attached to the back door. I could harvest the bird poop, like those old rookeries used to.

    H sounds lovely. The dogs here only get washed if they’ve rolled in something unmentionable, either dead, spewy or poopy. It really makes a person wonder about their sensibilities, but then they enjoy hanging around with humans, and do we really want a dogs candid unfiltered opinion as to what we smell like? I note that some folks are seriously working on attempts to get dogs to communicate. I’m not entirely certain that our canine friends would be all that pleasant to talk with. Probably a lot of ‘I want’ sort of sentences.

    Fine tuning is a lovely way to put it. Have to laugh. Originally I wanted to do something good for the planet with the solar power system, nowadays I’m more humble and just want it to work. 🙂 But you’re right, I’m fine tuning the system by ensuring that the thing works as an entirety. Dunno about you, but getting people to think in terms of systems is something which I believe we are culturally discouraged from doing. I can see the advantage to doing so, but eventually beliefs run head first – like a bird / window thing – into a metaphorical brick wall.

    Awesome about the lack of snow, and for the biscuits and gravy. Your cynicism belies the truth that the experience is grounding, good for the spirit, and no doubts you enjoy a comfortable yak. That’s what I’d get out of such an experience. Is it any different to me heading out to enjoy a coffee and see what is going on in the world outside of the forest? A person theoretically could get lost in a forest, or in the world of your digs for that matter. The world it should be noted, is a rather big place.

    Good to hear that the Club is paying its way. I get that about the sports, and err, watching sports and beverages often go hand in hand (not my preference, but others seem to enjoy such activities). The guys may just simply enjoy watching the sports with folks who’s understand the journey and put no pressure on them? Dunno. I tell ya, I got a whole bunch of pressure from my group of mates who lost themselves to online games for years. Just couldn’t go there. What do you do? Get new friends, that’s what. 😉 Easy said than done though. Last I heard, late last year, they were still playing. The Editor would kill me, like seriously dead, if I did that – and fair enough too.

    I’ll try and track down some buttermilk biscuits. I’m intrigued, but it may take a while to accomplish the mission.

    Oh my gawd! I read your paragraph regarding the medical bankruptcy and honestly, it raised my blood pressure. Your health system could kill me from a distance. Holy carp, what a nightmare arrangement. How does a person ever come back financially from that? Mate, that’s $273k in after tax bucks, without any details of the balloon payment. It makes me feel sick, like literally ill.

    Cheers, I think so, maybe…

    Did paid work until late this evening. I’m getting smashed with work. Although I read an article which suggested that a lot of the older practitioners are leaving the profession which may explain some of that story. But I’m also of the opinion that it ain’t just the older practitioners leaving. The demands are increasing, but the remuneration doesn’t appear to be also doing so. That’s an interesting dilemma too, and it is being driven by the gubarmunt who is shovelling off their workload. It makes me wonder what our professional body are doing to keep the wolves at bay? I see what other professions are paying for their professional body, and our lot seem to be the most expensive of all. Bonkers.


  24. Chris:

    Whew. Charlene just came to the backdoor for breakfast. She looked hale and hearty.


  25. @ Pam – Whew! indeed. I’d miss the Tales of Charlene. Might make a good kid’s book? Lew

  26. Yo, Chris – Favorite Star Trek movie? #8, “First Contact.” Which does fall in line with the “Even Numbered Films Best” theory. Directed by Jonathan Frakes (aka Wm. T. Riker.)

    I have never heard of, or seen “Cain’s Jawbone.” A peer into the rabbit hole, revealed all.

    Guano: The Gardener’s Friend. 🙂

    Well, you have short haired dogs. When H’s hair is short, she doesn’t need a bath, near as often. Elinor was pushing for washing her, every two weeks. As one does when her hair is long. Nope. Not necessary. Elinor often wants things cleaned when there is the suspected possibility of dirt. I probably error at the other end of the spectrum. 🙂

    Sometimes, when I pick up H to go out, she’s very grumpy. Grumbles a lot. I figure she’s saying something like, “I was sleeping. I really don’t have to go out. Is this trip really necessary?” Her command of English is pretty good. When she wants to. When it fits her plans as she sees them. Luckily, I’m bigger than she is, and can just pick her up and move her about to fit my plans.

    Well, it got down to 27F (-2.8C), last night. 5 degrees warmer than forecast. Starting tomorrow night, and for the next week, the forecast is “rain/snow.” Overnight lows hover right around freezing. LOL, Prof. Mass had a very long and involved post, that I think boiled down to, “This is why it’s hard to forecast lowland snow.” Lighten up, Professor! We understand.

    See, that’s the trick. The American Pharmo-Medical Industrial Complex makes you sick … and then rakes it in. That Great Course I watched, “The Science of Natural Healing” made the point that our medical system treats symptoms. Not underlying causes. Got a problem? Just throw medications and surgery, at it. Of course, Personal Choice has a lot to do with it. All hail and bow to American Personal Choice.

    Food boxes haven’t shown up, yet. I guess you’ll get a rundown, tomorrow.

    I think my Worry of the Day, for the calendar will be: “My confidence has been undermined as to Australia’s climate policy.” Seems a good a thing to worry about, as anything. 🙂

    I ran down to the credit union, last night, to get my monthly infusion of Walking Around Money. Then I swung by the Dollar + store and the cheaper food store. I did more shopping for me (toothpaste, bleach, plastic food bags, kitchen towels), but did pick a few things up for the Club pantry. So, I swung by there, and, as no one had shown up for the 8:15 meeting, they were closing it up. It happens, from time to time. But, I managed to get my stuff unloaded and had a quick cuppa.

    I almost forgot. The other night, I was doing laundry, so, was in and out of the apartment. Someone on my floor, was cooking something that was really rank. I mean, knock your socks off stench. Maybe, baking a chicken with the feathers on? I suspect it might have been chitlins. I’ve smelled it, before, on a few occasions. The joys of apartment life. Lew

  27. Chris,

    Yes, the pirate meritocracy. it worked well until it didn’t, as with most things. Hmmm, pirates:

    There once was a peg legged pirate,
    Whose music made everyone gyrate,
    He was woeful at rhymes
    and couldn’t tell time,
    But he always knew true gold from pyrites.

    Different temperatures have different levels of moisture in snow. Lower temperatures, lower moisture. Higher moisture snow is heavier per volume. And it can be sticky on bottoms of boots, but it makes good snowmen and snowballs. The 16cm we got on Tuesday fell at about -2C, so it had high moisture content. Heavy, iced up very quickly under pressure from car tyres and stuck to the soles of my shoes. Oh, and the 16cm was by far a record depth to fall on February 28 in Spokane.

    18C clearly means run the fireplace when leaving summer for autumn. 16C here and now in early March would have me wearing short pants and a tee shirt. Dame Avalanche, meanwhile, spends much of the day lying in and rolling around on the snow. She likes to break the ice when her water bowl freezes over, then takes pieces of the ice to chew on rather than drink the water.

    I’ve been watching the planets near sunset for the past many days. Jupiter and Venus. Tonight, they are very close to one another and extremely bright. Nice viewing. Meanwhile, we apparently had a fantastic display of Aurora Borealis here a few nights back. I’ve seen photos of this recent event. Couldn’t see them from my house. There was spotty cloud coverage in addition to the light show being low to the north. The uplands called Five Mile Prairie effectively blocked them when the clouds had blown away. Darn.

    Gorse? Really don’t have that here. However, I have heard horror stories about it. Don’t let it get a good foothold. (Or is it root hold?) It is tough and nasty and can burn hot and fast.

    Busy. Err. Stuff. And busy. No time to watch 3. I DID find my copy of “The Third Man”, so will watch it the next time the Princess is on an out-of-town venture.

    Yes, I can only do one thing at a time. Well, sometimes not even that much. Sometimes breath in, breathe out is all that I can handle. More than that might be multitasking, and I can only do one thing at a time. That sound better? 😉

    I dried most of our zucchini. Most of it ended up in vacuum sealed bags for long term storage. I kept a bunch of it in a large jar and use it in stews and add to bread when I bake bread. It works.

    Thanks for the link to the snow article. Those were enjoyable photos from the mountains. Interesting article.


  28. Hi Pam,

    Charlene is probably boss squirrel because she is adaptable to circumstances, and may indeed have a plan B, plan C, and from what I’ve heard even a plan D. Glad to hear that the Queen is hale, hearty and demanding to be fed. 🙂

    You see, I told you not to let Charlene watch documentaries on forest blockades. That was some fast thinking by your son to get her down out of the tree.

    Some folks may be offended, but it does nobody any good if a tree falls onto a house. And it has been my observation that houses tend to more readily survive bushfires if they don’t have trees right up against them. Few people clean organic matter off their roof and/or guttering, and if the stuff dries, it’s like kindling. Not good.

    Wise actions. 😉



  29. Hi DJ,

    The pirates originally had a royal note I believe, and that was good up until the point where approval was taken away (probably when the pirates were no longer needed), then things weren’t good for the pirates. Did they notice? Did they care? History suggests that the English put them down.

    Thanks for the words, and yes, the stuff ain’t called fools gold for nothing! 🙂 Also thanks for the smiles.

    Right, physics does in fact do the work in the case of snow. Here, we tend to only ever see the wet snow which you wrote about in your recount of the Tuesday experience. Sticks to your boots and is crunchy. The stuff sounds squeaky too. Yeah, you know I’m not entirely certain that it is an exciting thing to experience local extreme weather records. Usually those are a bad thing.

    Funny. The 18’C was the inside temperature of the house at the end of the day as the sun fell below the horizon. I reckon if we hadn’t run the wood heater, the temperature inside the house the following morning would have been around 15’C. A bit on the colder side, but maybe for you, super toasty t-shirt and shorts weather? We’re summer soft!

    Who needs dog chews or dog bones when there is ice? Dogs are alert to entertainment opportunities. The other evening I spotted Ollie chewing upon a very thick thornless blackberry cane. Hmm.

    It’s been rather cloudy of late, and the night skies have been somewhat dark. But when the clouds go elsewhere, it has been very difficult not to notice the very bright planet swooshing off towards the south west horizon. Yes, the heavens can put on a very fine show, and if a person but take the time, it’s not hard to observe in the night sky that the planet rotates, quite rapidly too.

    Hey, how long do you reckon Five Mile Prairie is?

    Yes, Gorse is a horror plant, and you see dense stands of it in some paddocks on the elevated plains below the mountain range. They’re not easy plants to mulch up once a copse is well established. And oh wow, the fires burn super hot.

    What? Well, your reluctance simply proves that 3 is not up to scratch. That’s what it looks like to me. 🙂 The Third Man, sounds like some sort of cricket reference, but is in fact a film of greatness, which sadly I have not enjoyed. May have to do something about that. Thanks for mentioning the film.

    If I may dare critique your words: The gentleman doth protest overly much. Keep it simple, is my advice. A goofy look with the declamation: I just can’t multi-task. Works much better than an explanation. Some folks I’ve noted when encountering explanations tend to attempt to pick them apart for their own gain, which is always awkward. Simple is hard to argue with.

    Hmm, interesting, and I’d not considered using zucchini’s that way. The old timers used to chuck in all manner of additions to bread, so yeah, you’re onto something there. Unfortunately, people believe that bread is this light and fluffy, err, thing. A lot of chemicals.

    I thought you’d enjoy the photos of the highest mountains on this continent. An easy walk huh? Unless fog or blizzard conditions prevail. I’ve been in the alpine country down under during thick fog, and it was problematic. Around these parts I know what to expect, but up there in thick fog is a whole different story. Still, lived to recount the story, and that’s a good thing. I’m sure you’ve experienced some hairy conditions whilst outback in your part of the world?



  30. @ Lew:

    If I had (if only I had . . .) written down all the interesting things that Charlene has done, people would think I was writing fiction.


  31. @ Lew:

    I may have mentioned here that Charlene has lost half her tail. That happened after something apparently bit it in the middle, it drooped and dragged for several days, and then half came off. My son suspects that Charlene chewed the offending part off. We also suspect that Little Psycho was at the root of it all, as she and Charlene may have been fighting over who got the hollow oak tree near the house for the winter. If so, it is the first battle that I have known Charlene to lose. Though Little Psycho’s need may have been more, as she now has two children. Oh, Lordy, just what we need – more Psychos.


  32. Hi Lewis,

    That was my favourite next gen film too. James Cromwell did a fine job, and who can forget the Magic Carpet ride moment? Just the thing for that point in the film.

    Between you and I, the idea of reading Cain’s Jawbone, let alone resolving the puzzle, kind of repulsed me. There are other things that need doing. 😉 Speaking of which, we levelled a mound today. Dropped the whole thing about three feet, maybe more. Didn’t find any bodies, which is a good thing. But anyway, that mound had been something of a pain, and we could use the soil elsewhere filling up holes. It’s nice to make the place a bit easier to maintain. And we trialled using some of the machines to make the job easier. The blade attachment for the power wheelbarrows didn’t work and is a giant bucket of dog poop of an idea. But then, it might of worked? Turns out we didn’t need it. We’ll try it on one more project and then possibly sell it off. No point keeping the thing.

    Hehe! All these native birds living at the farm, they do serve many different purposes, and guano is but one.

    Yes, of course about the short haired dogs. Spare a thought for the now departed Sir Poopy, who suffered during the summer months. But then, he might just have been a lazy dog, because even after we got him clipped, the experience didn’t seem to energise him. I reckon his desire to sit around all day long took about four years off his life. But then, he did seem to be enjoying himself. And when he put his mind to it, he was an impressive farm dog – it just wasn’t all that often. Hmm.

    Hehe! Yes, there is a middle ground in there somewhere. I’m of the opinion that peoples desires to disinfect every single surface they encounter in their day to day life, is negatively impacting upon their health. There are times when that’s necessary, but use only sparingly and not all of the time. But what do I know?

    Dogs aren’t afraid of sharing their opinions as to our activities which involve them. I reckon you are right there about H. Dame Plum has a wider range of emotions than Ruby, and grumpy is one of those emotions. Not hard to tell what is going on there, like you with H. 🙂 And exactly, you have to be careful what you say around dogs because they listen and react. Yup, you have the advantage there for sure.

    Spare a thought for the sort of comments and mail that the good Professor has to deal with? He might be saying: Ease off folks. But saying it in a complicated way, which might be a bit too subtle for the sort of people who send stupid comments. Anyway, I remain concerned for the reading comprehension skills in the population. It’s just not that good, well at least that’s what I’m observing.

    No, I’m serious, your description of the outcome, really did make me feel slightly queasy. It’s not good. But I agree, people generally fixate upon the systems, and not-so-secretly hope to continue along with whatever was the cause of the symptoms in the first place. Mate, I could have been a parrot in a past life: Have you stretched lately? Are you eating any fresh leafy greens in your diet? What about grains? How much water are you drinking? etc… Nobody listens to me. 😉 You said that someone had written a book years ago, something along the lines of: You’re not sick, you’re dehydrated.

    Mate, it’s got nothing to do with American personal choice, because the same thing goes on down under.

    Climate policy down under? Mate, if the powers that be keep enthusiastically shutting down the large coal fired power stations, we really might hit net zero emissions by 2050. I just don’t think my version of what that actually means is how other folks see that story. It’s a good story, but I dunno man.

    My worry of the day: Not enough fish are falling from the sky. It’s something of a problem. 🙂

    Oh well, I can see that would happen from time to time. But at least you enjoyed a quick cuppa and were able to get the stuff into the pantry.

    Not good. Yuk! Offal rarely smells nice when cooked. As a kid I’d smelled tripe being cooked and that stinks. But yeah, you got to also experience the joys of offal cooking, sorry to say. Man, I’m with you in that regard. Horrid.



  33. @ DJSpo
    Zucchini in Bread! Please provide more info. on doing this. Son now makes all our bread and is awash with zucchini.


  34. Hello Chris
    The visit from my honorary sons was great. The elder one from the US is now visiting here 4 times a year on business, so I’ll see him more often.
    Re: the things that dogs eat. I put crumbs out onto an outside table for the birds. Spotted Ren on his hind legs, licking them up.


  35. @ Pam – So Charlene is at half mast? 🙂 Little Psycho. Sounds like there’s a story, there. I wonder if Charlene will pass on her white coat? Lew

  36. Yo, Chris – Once upon a time, there was a pirate city, in Jamaica. Port Royal. In 1692, there was an earthquake, and 2/3 of the city sank into the sea. Subsequent fires and hurricanes finally did the place in. National Geographic has done a lot of reporting on the archaeology, as far back as when I was a kid. Haul out that scuba gear!

    Another “interesting” plant is Scotch Broom. Not native, but introduced here in the 1850s. One one hand, very handy to prevent erosion and stabilize banks. On the other, rather invasive and VERY flammable. In fact, some attempts have been made to squeeze bio fuels out of the stuff.

    As far as usefulness goes, “Cain’s Jawbone” is right up there with picture puzzles. 🙂 Never could see the use of those things. If you need a quiet time waster, why not knitting? Or weeding?

    You might want to hold onto that blade. For when you get that 6 feet of snow. In the meantime … yard art! 🙂

    Well, as I’ve often said about myself, I need a certain amount of grunge in my life. If soap, water, or white vinegar won’t cut it, I’ll just live with it.

    I’ve never berated any animal I’ve had. Sure. “No” is fine. But running an animals down … doesn’t fly. They get the drift.

    I can imagine some of the comments Prof. Mass receives. I still think Mr. Greer should publish a “Best of … the Bad Comments.” Would probably be pretty amusing. Back when I was in school, in the Dark Ages, they actually taught a thing called “reading comprehension.”

    Well, if that made you queasy, how about where the Pharmo-Medical Industrial Complex meets real estate.


    I think I mentioned a couple of years ago, Atlantic had an article on estate recovery. I’m glad to see the information is getting out there. I certainly babble enough about it, to anyone who will listen. And anytime I run up against a “freebie” program, I always ask if it’s a Medicaid program. Even when I signed up for food boxes.

    Speaking of which, we got a couple, yesterday. Now I’m sure you held onto your legend, from last time, but just in case you’ve mislaid it (thinking of plant tags), it’s + if I keep it for myself, # if I take it to the Club pantry, and * if it goes down to the Institutions swap table.

    In general, not a bad lot, but seemed missing things we’ve got in the past. No tinned soup or stews. Usually, there’s a box or two of cereal. None this time. So in the produce box was a head of cabbage+, one red and one green bell pepper+, a bag of small apples + (had to look long and hard for the label, but they’re Golden Delicious), three brown mystery tubers * and two red onions+. They also put a loaf of pretty good bread in there+, and a couple of tins to fill up the space.

    One blueberry pecan energy cookies *, 2 6oz packs of frozen sliced turkey +, a 2 pound box of cheese product #, a 1.89 liter jug of apple drink #, 2 small plastic bags of white mystery powder (powdered sugar? Baking powder or soda? Peruvian Marching Powder?) *, 2 boxes of Mac & Cheese *, 2 18oz. canisters of quick oats #, 2 1qt. cartons of shelf stable milk #, a 1 lb. bag of potato flakes #, 2 l pound bags of dried pinto beans *, As far as the tinned stuff went, there were 3 green beans *, 3 diced tomatoes +, 2 tins of salmon #, 2 apple sauce *, 1 fruit mix # , 1 large can of tinned tuna #, 1 tomato sauce *, and 1 black beans *.

    Some of the tinned stuff, I would have kept, or taken to the Club, but were well stocked in both places. I picked up an extra two each, of the bell peppers. Will freeze those up, for me. Also got a couple more cans of mixed fruit and salmon, for the Club. Plenty left of both, on the swap table.

    Fish falling from the sky? Be careful what you worry for. There was those many sharknado, incidents. 🙂 Lew

  37. Hi Inge,

    Very nice, and am glad to hear of the new arrangements.

    There’s an old adage about: If there’s food, something will come along to eat it.

    How’s Flynn going these days?



  38. Hi Lewis,

    Port Royal has quite the history. Shame about the 1692 earthquake, but it interests me how the Spaniards lost the area to the canny English. Reading between the lines I got the impression that the cost of defences combined with constant losses to the buccaneers exceeded the earnings from those colonies. But one tavern to every ten residents is an impressive achievement.

    Yeah, the broom family of plants are also a bit of a nightmare, for all of those reasons. I think around this area the variety is Cape broom, but same, same. I have noticed that the flowers sometimes produce a fragrance which is reminiscent of coconut. But other than that, get thee elsewhere naughty plant! In the inner city haunts I occasionally frequent, I notice someone has one growing in their front garden. Probably have no idea, but not my circus that.

    Mate, I reckon anything that can get burned, will get burned in order to keep things as they are. I’m interested in peoples desire to adapt to changing circumstances, but then that might be an admission that things aren’t all that great. Hope for the best, but realistically expect the worst – and just maybe a muddling through will be how it goes. Dunno.

    I agree with you, it does seem like rather the waste of time. Kind of like growing grass when you could be growing vegetables. It has that sort of cache I reckon, but I don’t really know.

    Ook! Are you suggesting that I put the kiss of death on myself in relation to a heavy snowfall? I’ll probably sell off the blade attachment as I don’t believe the machine could move heavy snow either.

    You’re probably onto something there with the grunge. I’m of the opinion that many peoples ailments are the result of living in a too-clean environment, and they come unstuck at the first nasty encountered. It’s as much of a problem as a too-dirty household. Middle ground.

    Animals do know, so best not to berate them. Plus I have a hunch that they can ascertain the emotional background of a household. Berating people is none too good a strategy either, but I’ve noticed that some folks have that option as a lifestyle choice.

    Hehe! But as to troll comments, best not to feed the beast me thinks. The troll comments I get here are frankly odd, like strange women wanting to do things. I don’t know these people. Looks like a scam to me, best to delete and never think of again.

    How is it welfare if the money gets recouped against the estate? Bonkers. For a gobarmunt (of any political persuasion) with a propensity to spin the presses, they seem not to want that mad cash ending up in peoples hands. After reading that article, I can well understand your reticence to get involved with such a frankly predatory approach to care. But the bottom line is, health care in your country appears unaffordable to me, and I’m guessing such systems keep the ball bouncing merrily along.

    Shoot! I forgot the legend. Hey, zombie joke: You Are Legend! 🙂 Funny, huh? Thanks for the reminder, which may be required in the future. Cheese product, yes I note you made what appears to me to be a wise choice there. I’m not overly worried about sharknado, however, shark fin soup is very tasty, and I’ve consumed plenty of shark in my lifetime. Worry of the day: Wonder if the sharks are upset at the consumption of their peers?

    Took another hump out today, and used the soil to further develop the new low gradient ramp. Had a very late lunch, and got there just before the kitchen closed. There was a large table with boisterous adults and many children making a whole bunch of noise, but I used my powers and blotted them out, after all, that’s what a good book can do. 😉



  39. @ Lew:

    Charlene has passed on her white coat, to her son Junior. Her very first litter, 9 years ago, was two blonde squirrels, not quite white. Don’t know what happened to Florabelle and Goldie.


  40. @ Pam – I hope Florabelle and Goldie are out there, somewhere, spreading Charlene’s genes around. Gregor Mendel, in his study of genetics, should have skipped the sweet peas, and gone right for squirrels. A lot more interesting, I think. 🙂 Lew

  41. Yo, Chris – We’re still in our rain / snow weather mode. But not a flake to be seen. Prof. Mass has gone on a long ramble, explaining the difference between estimated snow fall, and estimated accumulation. The news (and pictures) from California, are really something. But not much different than the photos my friends send me from Idaho. But over there, they are prepared.

    Well, you can’t let mad cash fall into the hands of poor people. They might do something silly with it. 🙂

    Given that sharks take chunks out of us, at any opportunity, yes, I’d say they were upset. I’d stay out of the ocean if I were you.

    Atlantic had a funny article. Another one by Brooks. “How to Find Joy in Your Sisyphean Existence.” A bit of a philosophical look at those never ending, day to day tasks. What? I can’t just sweep the floor once, and be done with it? 🙂

    Speaking of good books, I’m wallowing in one, right now. “All the Beauty in the World: The Metropolitan Museum of Art and Me.” (Bringley, 2023). Fresh out of college, Bringley landed a job planing events for “The New Yorker” magazine. A plum high status, high end of town job, for a fresh out of college fellow. He’s arrived! But then it began to ring a little hollow. His older brother, who he was quit close to, dies of cancer. He really wanted a job, that wasn’t too demanding, so that he could just … contemplate. He landed a job and was a guard at the museum, for ten years. It really is a kind of meditation on life, death, and art. He really does write about some of the things I’ve felt, but never quit been able to quit distill into cohesive thought.

    I finished the book on fire and indigenous people, and took it back to the library. I don’t think it’s quit what you’re looking for. It’s wasn’t a how-to of fire suppression by planned burns. It was more a survey of how they managed land, to get resource rich land, out of resource poor forests. By figuring out how to suspend forest succession, for optimum yield.

    I also finished “Bowling Alone.” Revised and updated. Not many earthshaking suggestions, for getting our social mojo back. Revive teaching civics, in schools. Join a group, any group, that’s not just a “write a check” organization. His reflections on the rise of the internet were pretty much, “too early to tell.” But that we need to get out from behind our screens and spend more time, face to face in the real world. I don’t know. I’d have to wash my face and pick out clothes. 🙂 Preferably clean. Back to those Sisyphean tasks.

    I’m also reading a new biography of the artist John Singer Sargent (1856-1925). “The Grand Affair: John Singer Sargent in His World.” (Fisher, 2022). One of those speculative, tell-alls. Engrossing, none the same. Lew

  42. Hi Chris,
    I hear what you’re saying about travel. You probably remember that the bulk of our big trips was on Doug’s airline miles and hotel points. Wouldn’t have been able to afford them otherwise. The only big trip we went out which was mostly out of pocket except for much of the airfare was Alaska in 2016. We did a tour put together by the Alaska railroad which was, for the most part, pretty good. There were some excursions that were too touristy for my taste. The best part was the three days we stayed with friends who have lived in Ketchikan for many years. This year as Doug is taking a year off from pigs we’re going on two 10 day trips, one in May to Badlands and Wind Cave National Parks in South Dakota and one in late Aug/Sept to Isle Royale National Park in Lake Superior and Niagara Falls with some stops in between. As seniors we have free passes into the parks and we’ll bring along much of our food and adult beverages to keep costs down. After that I can’t imagine too much travel for us other than a day or weekend close by.

    Yeah, flexibility is the name of the game isn’t it. One has to have plan A, B and C. Clean up from the storm has been mostly completed. We’ve had pretty warm weather but it’s turning colder for the next week. We’ve heard due to the warm winter the deer ticks are already out. These are the ones that carry Lyme disease.

  43. @ Inge,

    I dice the zucchini and simply add it to my bread dough. No need to peel it. I typically make Irish soda bread, a quick bread with no yeast, and it works fine. The bread is a bit more moist than normal, lasts for a few days. Maybe 2 cups of diced zucchini per loaf.

    I also use dehydrated zucchini in bread. I soak it for a few hours before adding it to the bread, discard extra water, add the zucchini to the dough. About 2 cups per loaf.

    Hope that helps.


  44. Chris,

    I always understood that if my king gave me a “certificate” to act as a pirate, I was called a privateer by my king and his officials. Those upon whom I preyed would call me a pirate, regardless of royal permissions. Naturally, if I were able to pirate a ship from my country and get away with it, well, obviously some other country’s pirates/privateers were the culprits. Hence, even my king would come after me after awhile. My ancestor “Great Shoe” Duyts was a pirate, er, privateer for the Dutch.

    Oh, I think experiencing local weather records IS exciting. Whether or not experiencing them is enjoyable is another matter. The older I get, the less I like setting new extreme weather records.

    We got another 1.5cm of snow Wednesday morning. It was extremely windy, the sun came out and the temperatures reached +5C. Physics made the snow disappear. I enjoyed that type of snow removal.

    15C indoors is a bit chilly for me now. Cold for the Princess. We try to keep it at about +17C overnight during the winter. Actually, before I met the Princess, I kept a window open all night in my apartment, ran the heat only if I was ill, and was comfortable at 13C to 15C indoors. I don’t think that I could do that now.

    Yeah, anything wood is a chew toy for Avalanche. She has helped with some of my pruning as a result. I also have an old and tattered sweatshirt that I placed in her dog igloo. She promptly leaned in and pulled it out. Said shirt has been out in the elements and gotten soaked and freezes every night. She likes to chew on the frozen shirt. And she will NOT go in the igloo doghouse. My cousin had dogs that were a mix of wolf and husky. They wouldn’t go in their igloo dog houses either.

    Interestingly, 5 Mile Prairie is not 5 miles long. It is 5 miles from the “legal” center of town. Or some part of it is. There is also a 7 Mile Bridge that is, yes, 7 miles by road (which followed old Native trails) from the same spot downtown but on the Spokane River. 9 Mile is a further 2 miles via the river downstream from 7 Mile, but a bit more than 2 miles via road from 7 Mile.

    Exactly, 3 is not worth watching for me. The Third Man is a film I enjoy rewatching periodically. Good story, good acting. Warning: the main song is played on a zither. The song is totally an ear worm. Even thinking about it has it stuck in my head.

    Friend called me a few minutes ago, Killian’s female owner. She asked if I was at the basketball tournament or watching it at home on the telly. I said I could watch it on telly and talk at the same time.
    I was then accused of multitasking: “You’re breathing and watching basketball and talking to me. That’s multitasking.” I replied that I quit breathing while listening to her and could no longer see the telly. I’m not sure that she believed me. 😉

    Once upon a time bread was thick and filled with all sorts of stuff and was nearly a meal unto itself. The flour I use has garbanzo bean flour and several types of grain flour. Supposed to make for a “complete protein”, which doesn’t happen with the beans or grains alone. Add in some fruits or vegetables and you’ve got a filling and nutritious food.

    Yeah, I’ve had some interesting experiences in the outback. Two friends and I decided to hike up to the top of a local mountain. Good trail on it and some radar towers on top. We got a few kilometers from the car and the fog settled in. Couldn’t see 5 meters. We knew we were at the top when we nearly walked into one of the radar towers. Eerie, but with a well-marked trail not dangerous.

    I had a Mountain Top Experience once. One day in December 1987 I went cross country skiing on the groomed trails on Mount Spokane, State Park area. It was snowing. Then it was ice pellets, then rain and a fierce wind. I missed a turn, so dug a hole in the snow in an area probably safe from falling trees/limbs, put on dry wool sweaters, pulled my rain poncho over me and sat it out. I had food and water, figured out where I was, but decided to stay put rather than risk having a tree fall on me. Twas an interesting 8 hours or so sitting and listening to the wind and rain.

    I was supposed to meet friends for dinner. They knew I where I was, so when I didn’t show, they called the Sheriff. Eventually some State Park rangers came by on snowmobiles and gave me a ride back to the car park. They told me that even if I had gotten back to my car on my own, I wouldn’t have been able to drive out. Between the ranger station and the car park, 3 trees had fallen across the road.

    Go into the outback much, and one will have a lot of stories to tell. Strange, enjoyable, eerie, scary. Part and parcel of being out there. Preparation, proper equipment, and practicing some basic survival techniques under ideal conditions are important.


  45. I also do not vacation. I get to work not very many hours a week because I mostly don’t eat out, don’t go on vacation, and don’t buy new stuff with the exception of spare parts and tools which make life easier.. and i enjoy my life at home so much.
    Sometimes I go on day trips around about, and that is always such a joy. When you live very simple, every small extravagance, like your coffee and cake, is a splash of luxury. It’s not for everyone, but for me it is the only way I want to live:)

  46. Hi Jo,

    Exactly! I agree entirely, and likewise enjoy life at home. Honestly, status just isn’t worth what people have to pay for it. You already know that though. Perhaps that was why we were drawn to the hippy press? 🙂 A delightful place to be and hang out. Oh well, we were there, and that’s a fine thing.

    Had a delightful lunch today with friends. A Panini with fresh leafy greens, swiss cheese with a nice chunk of chicken was harmed in the incident. Plus coffee! And a jam drop biscuit, which frankly was as good as anything I’d made, and I’ve been banking them for a very long time. My expectation is quiet enjoyment, and can recommend the experience, although candidly it is a tough sell – I have no idea why either.



  47. Hi Margaret,

    Always wise to use good freebies when they come your way. 🙂 Of course, in case we forget there is always the free song:

    If it’s free,
    It’s for me,
    And I’ll have three

    Not always possible, and we needn’t burden ourselves with too much rubbish that we don’t want, but freebie holidays – nice score indeed. It’s been a while, but I do have vague memories of the Alaskan trip, but also we may have discussed that at a later time. The memory, so much to be forgotten… 🙂

    However, I do recall your latest plans, and am rather envious. Both destinations sound delightful, and no doubts you’ll have a good time.

    Hey, sometimes a person needs a break from raising produce, I get that. Please correct me if I’m wrong, but historically I’d read that sentiment expressed in many older books. The funny thing about having lived a very inner urban life is that it is part of my lived experience, and you know I don’t hanker for it. However, I could understand how a person in the past might want to ‘see the world’. I get that desire. Yeah. But then I don’t really know.

    Hey, how’s the book club going?

    Holy carp! Neither you, Doug, Salve or Leo want to encounter that disease. Deer are such a boom and bust population. What do you do?



  48. Hi DJ,

    It’s been said before that one person’s pirate, is another’s privateer! The awful thing that the pirates have to know which was the metaphorical wind was blowing, and then hoist the sails me hearties for a journey to join the Royal Navy, for fun and profit! It’s possible they might have missed that change in the winds due to too much drinking and wenching (what rubbish dictionaries they supply with software these days!)

    Mate, I’m with you in this matter and prefer quiet enjoyment, without all the dreaded peaks and troughs. Extreme weather events, by their very definition, are extreme. A problem…

    Would you describe that as ‘science snow’? Almost 10pm here and still 21’C. Quite warm tonight, but good for the tomatoes.

    Running a household at such temperatures is also technically known as ‘getting in trouble’. Some winter nights the inside of the house might dip to 12’C, a touch bitey if you ask me. But do I get up in the wee hours of the night to add more firewood to the wood heater? Insulation can only do so much when it’s -2’C outside, and has been near to freezing for days.

    Maybe Avalanche is wanting to sleep under the snow, like the dog Buck in ‘Call of the Wild’? The Kelpie’s take their outdoor bedding into the rain too. Beats me why they’d do such a thing. After a couple of winters they are more careful, but when they’re young, they can be dumb.

    Thanks for the explanation as to the prairie name, and the story was good.

    I’d read mention about the ear worm. Yes, have heard that before, but not known of the origins. The zither produces a complex melody of many parts.

    🙂 Naughty! You might have gotten caught there on the multi-tasking, and then there could have been consequences, like getting asked to do stuff.

    Hey, I’d heard of adding potato starch to bread, but not chickpeas. Interesting. I guess flour supplies were stretched out with whatever was available. But yeah, the sort of fluffy bread people expect these days, doesn’t fill your guts.

    The trail markers here in areas subject to thick fog and occasional snow are usually coloured orange, and they stand out. Up on the highest road on the mountain ridge the road markers are also orange. Makes sense. Most trails here are fairly well marked, even the long multi-day hikes. I’ve never been lost on a hike, but could see how that might happen easily. Being able to read a map and translate that into the topography helps. Makes you wonder how people reliant on GPS guidance view the world?

    It was wise that people knew roughly where you may have been, then got assistance for you when you didn’t show up. I once encountered a young couple in shorts and t-shirts walking in a remote area several hours from the car park. The weather had begun sunny (rare for that part of the country) and turned (not so rare). We were rugged up in water resistant cold weather appropriate gear, and advised the couple to turn around and go back to the car park. But they were fixated on getting to the destination which was a hut. Not sure what they intended to do when they got there, but… It seemed like an irrational obsession – I’m sure you’ve encountered a person in that state of mind when they’re super cold. Looked in the papers over the next few days to see if anyone needed rescuing, but no. They might have been fine, but my gut feeling wasn’t good.

    Mate, the same is true here when there are natural disasters. It wasn’t all that long ago when the unusual windstorm took out the power up here for five days. We didn’t notice, but things sure got strange fast in the area. The things I saw then.



  49. Hi Lewis,

    Well, who knows what pressures the good Professor might be under? Hopefully not too much, but you never know in the environment he works in. The photos are good too, very snowy! The following entry about forecast accuracy is pretty interesting too. I hadn’t been aware that forecasts six days and out are increasingly less accurate. I guess meteorologists get pressured to provide forward forecasts?

    It’s a bit past 10pm here and still 70’F. Tomorrow looks warm too at 90’F. Might have to water the new citrus trees in the morning. Oh well, plenty of water stored.

    Had lunch in the big smoke with friends today. We went somewhere new, and it was very good. The place made Italian Panini style rolls, and inside my choice of roll was a chicken schnitzel, large chunk of swiss cheese and fresh leafy salad greens. Honestly, I was impressed. The catch up was good too. After lunch I did a presentation on lithium batteries – something I have a touch of experience with. Really good fun and enjoyable.

    Hehe! Makes you wonder if gazillionaires are tolerated because being greedy, they suck up all that excess mad cash which would otherwise be fuelling inflation? It’s a work-in-progress theory. The problem really becomes when the average person on the street whom has to like, err, do stuff for the gazillionaires, can’t make ends meet despite working full time with a side hustle. And prices still go up! A world of hurt brewing there.

    Thanks for the word of warning, and yes, it is my pleasure to stay out of the ocean. You may notice that I reside far inland up in the hills? 🙂 Like you, I love visiting the seaside over the winter months. I can swim, but that karmic debt is going to demand to be settled at some unspecified point in the future, and sharks are notoriously hungry.

    Speaking of which, a Powerful Owl caused the most horrendous scream from the orchard in the wee hours of the morning. Something got eaten, of that I’m sure of. Then after a while, the Powerful Owl began ‘whoo whooing’ and the dogs began cracking the sads in reply. A noisy episode, but soon all was quiet on the orchard front. Except for the frogs who went quiet during the previous incident, then once danger passed began singing their amphibian chorus.

    What? We bring rocks back up the hill. I always said to you that one day, credit would be recognised for the ingenious ways we bring rocks back up the hill! Maybe a book, or three: Zen and the Art of Rocks? Our fortunes will soon be made! Oh, mate that sounds a lot like that book: Bullshit Jobs. There is a lot of artificial urgency and pressure applied in the workforce, and I recall how things used to be.

    Thanks for the book recommendation. Wow, that book does sound good. How far through it are you? The author might pitch for a happy and uplifting ending where he re-engages with his former work life – then suffers a heart attack before then being saddled with bonkers medicaid debt.

    Mate, sometimes books have a single idea, and the idea requires an entire book with which to express it. But I agree, your succinct observation as to forest succession management is exactly what I believe and am observing here. If wallabies have nothing to eat, you won’t have any wallabies. It’s not a difficult concept to understand, but there’s a lot of ideology out there, most of which is out there.

    Yup! I am in total and complete agreement. My grandfather understood that insight about groups, and he was an awesome people networker. I am very happy to be involved with the few groups that I am involved in. And like you, I dodge the ultimate responsibility, but am more like a Kelpie sheepdog and assist here and there by making sure the group is whole.



  50. @ Lew:

    Squirrels – lots more interesting, but those claws and teeth! I’ve had one bounce off my bare legs, in a friendly sort of way, and that left pretty deep holes. My husband insists on feeding them by hand sometimes and has been bitten, accidentally, more than once. I ask him if he has a death wish . . .


  51. Hello Chris
    Flynn is ageing, Son doesn’t know how old he actually is. His life is not of the best because he cannot be let loose for even one second. He will instantly vanish in search of sheep.
    One of Son’s 2 goats has just given birth to 2 female kids. He is waiting for the other one to do the same.
    I have a lousy cold and cough, come on Summer.


    Many thanks and I find the idea of adding these other items to bread, quite fascinating. Shall pass on these ideas to Son. I still make Irish soda bread because it doesn’t require kneading. My elderly hands can’t cope with that any more which is why Son has taken over. He had never made bread before and finds himself entranced with it.


  52. Yo, Chris – Australia needs hippos! (And Mars needs Women 🙂


    Might be interesting, turning them loose, up where your salt water crocodiles lurk. Introduced species. Always unexpected consequences.

    Even a six day forecast is problematic, as far as making plans go. Our next six days are all “…slight chance of rain / snow.” Overnight lows will hover right around freezing (-0-C), but daytime highs will be in the upper 40sF.

    Sounds like a Green Wizards meet up. So, about how many are you turning out, these days?

    Income inequality. According to some theories, the wider the gap gets, the closer a civilization is to falling. Although the last time that happened, in the US (and, probably other countries), some good programs came out of the mess. Basically, the Powers That Be realized, that the natives were getting VERY restless, and needed to throw them something to settle down. I don’t know if that will happen, this time.

    Read another theory of everything. It’s all about the lack of customer service. The author had spent something like 25 hours, getting a billing error fixed, on his electric bill. This was in England. He felt this kind of thing (which we all seem subject to) is what is eroding trust in, well, everything.

    There’s also been some articles about the new chat bots. Apparently, if you carry on long conversations with them, they either turn aggressive and nasty, or, become inappropriately amorous.

    When I take H out, at night, I pay attention to the amphibian chorus. When they fall silent, I get a bit more alert. The ditch where they sing, is right next to where someone saw a cougar, year before last.

    I’m about 2/3s through the book by the museum guard. He’s moving past his grief. Reengaging with the world. Marriage, a kid. I know he’ll move on and do something else, at the ten year mark, but know not what.

    I see by the Institution’s monthly calendar that the Master Gardeners will be here on Wednesday, to divvy up the garden plots. Elinor is making noises about wanting her plot, again. “Getting her hands in the dirt.” But it’s me, who gets his hands dirty. Sigh. I’m old and tired and can barely keep up with my plots.

    I was going to stop by the variety store, and pick up some bags of compost and soil, this morning. I got there at opening, and there was even a good parking spot, to load the stuff. Didn’t happen. It’s the yearly Girl Scouts (maybe, like your Girl Guides?) cookie sale season. There must have been a good dozen of them (with parents) blocking the entrance to the store. I was not up to running the gauntlet, and just kept driving. I’m tempted to say something like, “You know, those aren’t very nutritious. Let’s take a look at the ingredients….” Don’t they offer badges in nutrition? They should. Lew

    PS: I finally got the ILL of the 30th anniversary edition of “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.” Last night, I just watched all the “extras.” The Making of, etc.. All that was done before CGI. But Mr. Spielberg mentioned there’s one little bit, that was done on a computer. He speculated that it might have been the first bit of CGI, used in a film. Everything else was hands on special effects. Miniatures, photographic tricks, etc..

  53. Hi Inge,

    Some dogs I’ve known over the years make poor decisions, and you’d have to suggest that his obsessions with sheep are a bit tiresome. Was he always that obsessed about sheep, or did it grow over time? A veterinarian can have a good guess at his age, but that would mean taking Flynn in, and I only take the dogs in if they’re sick. The basic day to day issues with the dogs, we deal with, although that might upset a lot of people to hear that. The dogs hardly enjoy visits to the vet, it’s a stressful place for them.

    Congrats on the kids, and fingers crossed the next batch arrive as easily. If memory serves me correctly, goats give birth during the daylight hours? Very civilised if you ask me. Baby goats are very sweet natured, or at least the ones I’ve known.

    Oh no! Get better soon, and you only just shrugged off the after effects of that which dare not be named.



  54. Hi Lewis,

    Yeah, nah man. Thanks for the kind offer though. A three tonne hippo would be as scary as a three tonne wombat. Not something I want to encounter at any time of the day, or night for that matter. You’d imagine that a bit of in-breeding has been going on in that population given the low numbers of hippos at the start. Hey, how cool are capybaras? Definitely worthy of protection.

    You’ve set down the challenge there between the salties (crocodiles) and a three tonne hippo. It might not be as cut and dried an outcome as you’d imagine. I’d read somewhere some statistic that hippos kill more humans in Africa than any other non human species. Not to be trifled with is what I take away from that story. They’ve got water buffalo up north, and I’d seen them too. Big critters.

    That forecast sounds cold to me. Today here was warm and sunny, but by about 6pm the weather turned and it is still warm, but raining.

    This morning after spreading around the new and improved coffee ground mix, I dug a very deep trench for a large drainage pipe which will sit under the new low gradient path project. This is the path which heads in a westerly direction towards the chicken enclosure. Years ago I had a mate up here who is an electrical engineer and he was helping me with some wiring for the solar power system. And he said to me that I can dig a trench faster than anyone he’d yet met. I thought at first he was joking around, but no.

    The yoghurt just finished cooking, so I bung it in the fridge. Yay for a fresh batch of yoghurt for tomorrow morning. Yum! Had to do several hours of paid work this afternoon. Someone I’m working with tomorrow occasionally says they’ve got a lot of work, but when you get through it all, it ain’t that much – and that makes it hard to manage my work-flow, not to mention driving down the profitability of my work day. It’s a problem. What would you do if faced with that credibility issue?

    About a dozen turned up, and another connected in remotely, which we can cater for. It was a fun day. We’re in the process of culling the mailing list of folks who don’t turn up. The group is a very good size and mix of personalities.

    Holy carp! The theory is probably correct. The folks who need stuff done for them, probably forget that they need stuff done for them. Another word for that failing is: Greed. And also maybe a touch or fifty of hubris. Probably a good reason the classics are rarely taught these days.

    On a not very amusing note of similar experience to Mr 25 hour man. I once spent six hours on the phone trying to resolve a basic billing query with a big corporate. Certainly undermined my confidence in the businesses ability to get basic stuff done. Anyway, me being me, after six hours and much hand balling from person to person, I swore. And the business hung up on me. I was livid. It’s rare for me to lose my natural composure, but six hours is too long.

    People are working out how to crash the bots. It figures really, I mean the things are only as good as the folks who program them, and what are their motivations? In some ways, it’s a mirror.

    Situational alertness is a rare thing in city folks, but then you’ve lived out in the sticks so would understand the need to widen the incoming messages from the natural world. I’ve observed that city folks visiting here rarely consider where they are placing their feet. An important consideration here.

    That museum guard is like that Neil Diamond song: Crunchy Granola Suite. I went to see him when he toured down here many long years ago. Took my mum, who thoroughly enjoyed it. A way long time ago. I grew up listening to Hot August Night. Wasn’t enough of an experience to leave me anything in the will. Oh well, best not wait on dead folks mad cash. But despite all that, I enjoyed the performance.

    Lewis, say yes and do no. Hashtag, just sayin. She may break ya bro. Be careful there.

    Hehe! Mate, you’re like Bad Uncle Lewis, who only comes to town once per year to grab some yeast and copper line. Not sure what bad ol’ uncle is up to, but the products sure be nice. But really? I’d have to suggest that good nutrition hasn’t been taught since the late 1970’s, unless you were unlucky enough to end up in the hippy dippy high school for under privileged kids I attended in years seven and eight. They taught cooking, and that’s where I got and was drilled in the use of the old school text: Cookery the Australian Way. But even at that young age, I was already cooking meals at home and cleaning up due to the dire economic and social circumstances in the household. Turns out, I enjoy cooking, and if accounting ever really annoys me enough: A commercial kitchen is where I’ll go.

    But tell me truly, did you enjoy the film?

    Better get writing! 🙂



  55. Chris:

    This thought really brightened up my day: “People are working out how to crash the bots.”


  56. Yo, Chris – Fast trench digging. Must be a knack, to it.

    Work flow credibility. I don’t know. Have a back-up plan? If you finish early, there must be something else productive you can do.

    You swore? I am shocked. Shocked I tell you. You running a family friendly blog, and all. 🙂 Well, that’s six hours of your life you’ll never get back. Other people frittering away your time becomes even more … irritating as one grows older. It’s not as if one has a lot of time, to waste.

    I opted to watch “The Menu,” last night. Oh, my, that was unexpected. It was horrible, but it was good. It was horribly good? From what I gathered, it was about a bunch of obscenely rich people, who pay an obscene amount of money, to go to an island to have a meal prepared by a famous chef, and then are roundly abused. Hey, I’m always up to seeing obscenely rich and entitled people get abused.

    And, in a related story, our museum guard told a tale. One night he’s closing the museum, and a fellow is looking at a painting with his young son. The museum guard tells him they are closing, and without even looking at the guard, raises a finger and says, “Five more minutes.” From the description of the guy, sounds like some kind of investment banker or equity fund manager. The guards sweep from one end of the museum, to the other, so pretty soon there are about sixteen guards standing around him, tapping their feet and looking at their watches. Finally, the head guard comes in and bellows, “Closed! Closed! Closed!” Mr. Entitled finally caves, but says to his young son, on the way out, “Small people. Small Power. It’s life.” I hope that guys name is on a list somewhere, for when the tumbrils start rolling.

    Speaking of our museum guard, I got to wondering what he’s up to, now. Though I haven’t finished the book. I suppose he’s out flogging his book (lots of interviews, on line), but the only employment I could find was leading tours for an outfit called “Bowery Boys Tours”, around New York City.

    H and I are headed to the Club for a cuppa. Will swing by the variety store and see if the Girl Scouts still have their blockade up. Lew

Comments are closed.