Science Blankets

The ongoing Fluffy intrigue with the new (second hand) sheepskin bedding, has been fascinating to observe. Based on who dominates the sheepskin, Dame Plum is clearly Boss Dog. Spare a moment for the hapless Ruby, who foolishly displayed her initial misgivings and believed that the replacement sheepskin was some sort of mischievous plot against her. The other two dogs had no such issues and took to the comfort and warmth like ducks to water. Ruby slowly come around to their way of thinking.

Dame Plum is winning the sheepskin wars

Sleep is one of those skills I’ve been mostly good at. If you want to look after your mental health, a good nights sleep does wonders. On the other hand, it was hard to avoid using the word ‘mostly’ to describe my history of sleep. When working at the top end of town, the constant emotional load, bickering and outright Machiavellian manoeuvres required to survive in such an environment, eventually wore me down. It’s funny to realise that you can do a job, but not handle the emotional load required to do the job. After a couple of years, my sleep became affected.

Take a break, sort out my sleep issues, then move on to a new job where people didn’t know how to push me, whilst implementing hard won lessons, was the short term solution. The longer term solution was to quit working for the top end of town. Small business was the better option. The difference between the two, was that in the top end there are enough spare resources for people to muck around and cause mischief. People trying that trick in small business tend to go out of business, or experience a lot of troubles. You don’t have to wonder why war bands have been the go-to mode of organisation during dark ages – those groups just have to work, or else.

Along that work journey I met Sandra. We were young and had a rough time of it during the recession-that-we-had-to-have (as it was described at the time). Sandra’s house was unheated, and I can’t recall that there was even a heater, anywhere. And her and her house mates left the doors and windows open, all the time. Winters were cold there, but the electricity bills sure were cheap.

From a position of hindsight, and having adapted to living up in the cold mountains for well over a decade, the share house probably wasn’t all that cold. But at the time, it was. As an early birthday present, I purchased her a thick doona filled with down feathers. It was toasty warm under the doona on those cold winter nights when the windows were open to the chilly night air.

The doona followed us around over the years from house to house. Some houses were colder than others. And there was that time when upon awakening, we discovered a light layer of frost on the cover. Probably it was a bad idea keeping the window open that night, and also proves that paying more attention to the weather forecast is time well spent.

Winters may be cold, but summers can be hot. A thick doona is not appropriate for such times, even with the window open. The thing is, it’s not hot all the time during summer. Sure, some nights can be a minimum of 29’C / 84’F, but other nights can be as cold as 5’C / 41’F. Variability in climate is the norm here all year round.

The problem is, if I get too hot at night, my sleep is impacted. Alternatively, if I get too cold, it’s the same consequence. It’s no good and there’s a balance in there, somewhere. So accepting the reality of climate variability, many years ago now, we ditched the doona for layers of pure woollen blankets instead. Nights get rated by the number of blankets required to sleep comfortably. You just know a five blanket night will strike fear into softer people.

Over the past two weeks, the shed extension project has required me to push over 500 self drilling screws through sheet metal, not to mention all of the other tasks required to get the job done. It’s hard work, and at night my arms and upper body have recently felt much warmer than the rest of me does, even with the window open. That feeling of heat is your body going into some sort of repair mode. With that feeling and using blankets, you can chuck five blankets on your feet, and leave only one on your torso – and sleep deeply. Easy.

Its been such a long time since we ditched the doona in favour of pure woollen blankets. They’re a really useful technology. And best of all, you get a good nights sleep. After watching the machinations and desirability of the new sheepskin, I’m sure the fluffies would agree.

Following on from last weeks bonkers wet weather, this week the sun shone for a few days. And it almost felt warm, sort of, well, for a few hours around midday at least. We installed the corrugated steel sheets on either side of the shed extension project.

The steel corrugated sheets were installed on either side of the shed

Another day was spent doing the carpentry for the front of the shed. It was a great sense of relief when the existing doors hung correctly on the new frame.

The existing doors fitted the new frame correctly

Once the doors were in place, we spent the remainder of the long work day removing the sheets from the old front of the shed, then re-installing them on the new front of the shed.

Driving screws through sheet metal is hard work

The guttering at either side of the shed roof was also extended. The sheer length of those gutters made it feel a bit like handling a live snake. But by the second gutter we had the knack of working with the material. As the sun was beginning to set, the job was completed.

Shed extension. Done.

The construction may be done, but crushed rock with lime needs to be added to the surface in order to level it out. Some ground water drains need to be installed, and a couple of extra water tanks and associated drains are yet to be added. Those are all jobs which can be done over the next few weeks.

The garden hasn’t been neglected, and during the week we pruned the asparagus plants back to ground level. The crowns happily over winter protected in the warmth of the soil, but the foliage dies back. And cutting them back gives us the chance to weed those beds, and salt and feed the soil.

The Asparagus foliage was all cut back to ground level

Kiwi fruit vines produce really well here. The leaves have now completely fallen from the vines and there are hundreds of fruit to pick. We’re still not entirely certain as to when it is optimal to pick the fruit, but it’s something we’re keeping a close eye upon and testing. The fruits get used to make jam and also a very mild tasting wine.

Some of the many Kiwi fruit

The chilli plants in the greenhouse continue to amaze. We’re now at the point where chilli’s have replaced capsicum (known as peppers in the US) in our diet. All but one plant we grew are very mild varieties and so they give a zing, but don’t set fire to your mouth, or rear end.

The plant which refuses to be killed by the winter weather – Chilli
A thinner and slightly milder variety of Chilli – equally alive

The tomato vines died weeks ago, but we hung the vines upside down in the greenhouse. The roots were cleaned, and all leaves were removed. And the fruit continues to slowly ripen. It’s not natural to be enjoying freshly grown tomatoes less than a week out from the winter solstice, but it sure is good.

Larger sized Cherry Tomatoes continue to ripen in the greenhouse

The fruits on the now large Babaco (a cool tolerant papaya) are yet to turn yellow which apparently they do slowly. We’re hopeful that they’ll eventually ripen.

The many fruits on the Babaco have yet to fully ripen

There are many birds which call the farm home, and the family of magpies are the best of the lot. And probably the smartest.

The family of magpies which live on the farm

Onto the flowers:

The Geraniums are coming to the end of their flowering season
Herb Robert and Cleavers grow wild here and are great winter feed for the chickens

The temperature outside now at about 9am is 3’C (37’F). So far this year there has been 450.8mm (17.7 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 435.4mm (17.1 inches)

61 thoughts on “Science Blankets”

  1. Yo, Chris – “Sleep that knits up the raveled sleeve of care.” Willie Wiggle Sword. From The Scottish Play. I am also “mostly” good at sleep. Though my sleep pattern is odd, I suppose. Five or six hours at night, and a three or four hour nap, in the afternoon. Which is not forgone for anyone or anything. 🙂 But, on those occasions when I cannot fall asleep, I resort to my story. A sprawling tale that reaches from Roman Britain, to Ostia and back to Britain, again. Up near Hadrian’s Wall. I invent cleaver dialogue. Just added two new characters, and a situation, the other night. Must not be a very good story. It puts me right to sleep. 🙂

    Re: Donna. No self interest, there. 🙂

    I managed to get the blueberries fertilized, today. Between rain showers and a round of hail. Didn’t hurt any plants, that I can see. Still forecasting 41F, tonight. 80F by Thursday.

    And as the sun slowly sets in the west, the shed extension is done. Pretty much. Just need to tart it up with drains and water tanks, and such. Looks really good.

    That’s a lot of Kiwi.

    At the risk of opening up a whole can of worms, there’s a difference between chilli’s and capsicums? The Babacos kind of look like cocoa pods.

    Birds are fascinating. Yesterday, I was sitting very still, in the garden. A mother Robin, was on one side of the road, and a young Robin (still had a speckled breast), was on the other side. Mom was pecking at, I think, maybe a strawberry. She’d peck, run across the road and feed her fledgeling. Must have done this, a dozen times. I thought maybe the fledgeling still couldn’t fly. But, eventually, a car came along and they both took wing. Apparently, they still feed them, even when they’re out of the nest.

    Herb Robert aka Stinky Bob. Wild Geranium. They’re a bit invasive, but not really. And, they uproot, very easily. I like them, and, if they’re in an out of the way place, leave them. But, one of the Master Gardeners seems to have a deep antipathy toward that plant (and, snails.) Luckily, she has more interesting things to do, than launch all out war on the Herb Robert. Lew

  2. Hi Lewis,

    Let’s not tempt fate here, and speak the name which dare not be named. There’s a curse you know, and look what happened to Chris Rock recently at the Academy Awards. Hmm. Although, the great Shakespearean actor Patrick Stewart opines that: “if you have played the role of the Scottish thane, then you are allowed to say the title, any time anywhere.” Noting he did not say the name. I can’t speak for you in this regard, but I’m not afforded such protection. Good luck!

    Yours is a very civilised sleep pattern. Work demands put the stymie on such enjoyment. It’s quite odd how our lives are forced into a rigid structure regardless of season.

    Very funny. 🙂 Man, I’d not heard of Ostia before, and the aerial photo of the city brought to mind a really neat but tightly packed circuit board for some sort of electronic device. The end of Roman Britain, demands sprawling tales. Yours is a far more creative enterprise than counting sheep.

    Was the self interest really that obvious? What can I say, the gift was gracefully received. 🙂 Dude, they didn’t use the heater, and nobody seemed to notice. Come to think of it though, in those days the flat I rented had no heater either. I remember studying for Uni hunched over one of those old portable card tables banging away at the computer keyboard (I had a personal loan on the computer, they were not cheap in those days), wrapped up in multiple layers of clothes. And when I got really cold, I’d run the gas burners on the stove and warm my fingers. How people because used to expecting fully heated houses is something of a genuine mystery.

    Far out, that is cold weather. Hope the forecast is incorrect? Outside right now here is 35’F, and a reliable source tells me that there was some snow on the highest parts of the mountain range this morning. Brr! And today’s maximum temperature of 41’F was your minimum.

    It was cold and wet today, and I’ve mostly taken the week off paid work. Not much good being outside today, so I headed to a nearby large town on a sourcing (hunter gatherer) day. Put in an order for the two new water tanks, and picked up the ground water drains. Between commencement of writing last night, to posting the blog this morning, an inch of rain fell. It’s very unpleasant out there today, and I may have to wear gum boots (wellingtons) tomorrow to install the surface drains. The water tanks cost about 30% more than only a few years ago.

    Thanks! I’m looking forward to sorting out the interior of the shed.

    No controversy there, capsicum and chilli are from the same family of plants. The summers just aren’t hot enough recently to grow the larger bell pepper variety. So small and a bit zingy is our compromise. Smaller fruits require less sunlight. Cocoa beans here is something which will require much more global warming. Probably even more where you are! Chocolate is good, and dark chocolate is meant to be even better for you.

    Yeah, birds do tend to nurture their young for a while after they’ve left the nest. We’ve got a local variety of Robin here. A lot of the birds here seem to move about in family groups.

    Stinky Robert doesn’t seem all that invasive to me either. Sometimes I hear some outrageous claims made on that front, when the facts on the ground suggest otherwise. Makes you wonder what the master gardener has against the plant. The Cleavers in the same photo is a far more invasive plant.

    Mate, Arthur sure might have his work cut out for him then. 😉 I’ve not come across such a book before. Are there any you’d care to recommend?

    What? 1,500 thread count would be like sleeping under a layer of plastic. Fair enough. Outside now is only 34’F. Brr! A bit brisk out there. 🙂

    Yes, the annual pass included trains, buses and trams. However, the annual pass was limited to a zone 1, 2 or 3 travel, so your worthwhile idea about heading into the wild blue yonder, sadly wouldn’t fly. I was limited to zone 1 travel and you could travel far, but not that far.

    Trains are a very civilised way to get around and I’ve enjoyed many a distant train journey. I’ve long since wondered whether we should do the overnight train journey to Sydney and back. I quite enjoy the gentle rocking motion of trains and have never had troubles sleeping on them. Aircraft on the other hand are a personal nightmare. I once sat next to a very large gentleman who spilled over from his seat, and was redolent with the fragrance of stale tobacco and booze, and even staler clothes. To add insult to injury, he slept soundly for the entire six hour flight. I loathe air travel. The Orient Express, that would be something. The images of the insides of the cars are stunning, and yes, black tie and evening dress would be called for, and nothing less. What do people expect? You couldn’t just slop up to the dining car in your best going out hoodie and trackie dacks, no matter how expensive. Standards sometimes demand to be maintained.

    Exactly, labour costs and transportation costs will bite long before there are supply shortages. Yup! I’ve seen a few of the street libraries in my travels. They always seem well stocked and looked after.

    Shrimp and rice sounds pretty tasty to me. Salad with eggs and cheese for dinner this evening. It’s utterly bonkers that we have fresh tomatoes at this time of year. And then there is always the chilli. Yum!

    Yes, I recall you mentioning the Fort McMurray fire, and that was my general impression of the risk factors there too. It’s not a good circumstance and one reason I take this risk very seriously. What amazes me about the 1983 oral fire histories is that on the night, plenty of households were left with the ironic impression that Dr Zhivago was being screened (and the fire front hit before the conclusion of the movie) what with all the snow scenes, and also that most of the cats survived on their own terms. Most people appeared largely unprepared and yet survived. Interestingly, brick veneer houses seemed more likely to burn to the ground that timber clad houses, and plenty of people remarked about that outcome. I know why too. Yeah, I too noticed that about people getting panicked and driving too fast or erratically causing an accident. It’s interesting what occurs when people are panicked.

    The odd thing about the lost plant explorers (and I get what you mean) is that if they had the land and time, they could simply run the plant breeding experiments themselves and create new varieties. In days gone by, there used to be plant research stations doing exactly that work. Some dude recently created a new variant of Kikuyu grass which has enormous feed potential.

    Cheers, and brr!


  3. Hello Chris
    Are there planning regulations as to the size of sheds that you can put up? Here we have to get planning over a certain size and one has to be a certain distance from ones boundaries.
    I am about to vanish for 2 weeks though I hope to keep reading. Younger daughter Carla is arriving from Oz with Partner Iain and my grandson Zack. Also honorary son John is arriving from the US with his twin daughters. They will all be staying in neighbours chalets.
    I shall be exhausted.


  4. Hi Inge,

    Yes, but things are more complex than just simple size limits. There are also set backs from property boundaries, roads etc as you mention. Also cladding materials can be an issue due to sunlight reflectivity, as well as neighbouring visual amenities. As I said, it’s complicated. I know the rules and stick to within certain limits. I don’t really have the need for a larger shed, but if I did, the process to do that is not all that difficult. My experience has been that most people who end up with problems in that regard, fail to follow the process.

    You’ll have fun, but yes, like you I’d also be exhausted! Utilising the neighbours chalets is a genius move. Respect.



  5. Yo, Chris – Was Patrick Stewart in a play, before Star Trek? 🙂

    Ostia is an interesting city. Just to complicate matters, there’s “old” Ostia, and “new” Ostia. The original port city was originally a military camp, so you can still see a bit of the outlines of the “playing card” layout, if you look at the maps. I believe new Ostia was started by the emperor Claudius, and continued through several emperors. The road from Rome to old Ostia, ran on the south bank of the Tiber. The road to new Ostia on the north bank. Sometimes, in articles, it’s hard to figure out which Ostia they’re referring to. Sloppy journalism. 🙁

    Fully heated homes came along because of the period of cheap oil, and energy glut. Advertising. By electric and oil companies. Just about any magazine you picked up, in the 1950s and 60s, had at least one ad banging on about “fully electric homes.”

    It got down to 39F, last night. Doesn’t look like it did any damage to the gardens, but sometimes, you don’t notice for a few days. But I think everything is ok. In a few days, we’ll be back to 80+F.

    I think we have a few short season, cool temperature hybrid bell peppers. In fact, I noticed one on a plant one of the other gardeners has. Usually, they are smaller, but still tasty.

    I don’t know how some ideas get into people’s heads. And no matter what evidence you offer from reliable sources, you can’t shake it loose. (See: Elinor and the Garden Goddess.) The same Master Gardener doesn’t believe that you need Two Tomatillos to Tango.

    Due to temporal anomalies, I couldn’t get a good fix on books about King Arthur, returning to modern times. But if you do a search for “Book theme: King Arthur returns to modern times.” There are results. Also, if you replace “book” with “movies” in the search, additional material shows up. But it’s been too long for me to remember specific titles or authors. I just know they’re out there. When I get the one on my hold list, and get it read, I’ll pass on a review.

    Oh, that’s sad about the train passes being limited. But, I suppose some cooler head figured out that kids would be larking about, otherwise. Probably someone with kids. 🙂

    Best wait for a really good exhibit, in Sydney. Oh, I’m sure some B list celebrity, will push and try and slop down to the Orient Express dining car, barefoot in their PJs. But will the train management stand firm, and insist on some kind of decorum? It’s fun (and kind of sad) to see magazine train ads, from the 1940s and 50s. People DRESSED to take the train. The same applied to air travel.

    If I take another train trip, I’m springing for a compartment. My recent trips (decade ago), was a constant cacophony of screaming children, constant talkers and phone chatterers.

    I had the shrimp with rice and veg, for dinner, last night. A little melted cheese, on top. I had to get the shrimp packaging out to the dumpster, as it was quit stinky. 🙂

    I read more of the fire book, last night. Skipped four chapters, right in the middle, as it was the whole history of oil and climate change. I know all that. Got the t-shirt. But back to the fire. There was a bit about some tests that were done, on a pair of model living rooms. A standard “modern living room,” (where everything is made of petroleum, pretty much) and “legacy living rooms,” more solid wood and cotton stuffing. The legacy living rooms fared a lot better. The fire was slower to catch. Easier to put out. The modern living room filled with gasses, in just a few moments, and just exploded.

    Fort Murray was a “rich” city, due to the oil industry. Just about ever house had a grill, with attendant gas tank. Most people had multiple vehicles, and lots of toys. ATVs, snow mobiles, motorcycles. Lots of gas tanks. Houses were being vaporized, in less than 5 minutes. Streams of water from fire hoses, were vanishing, before they ever got to their target. Evaporating in the heat. About the second day, fire crew stopped looking at houses as structures, and more as fuel sources. They started knocking down the houses, and bulldozing everything into the basements, vehicles included. That way, they were dealing with fire only leaping 15 feet in the air, and not 85 feet.
    The evacuation went as well as it did, due to the fact that the one road in and out of Fort Murray was 6 lanes. With additional break down lanes. Even though the fire burned right up to the road. But, it was still a slow and harrowing go of it. Anyway. I won’t say it’s an enjoyable read, but it is engrossing.

    I ran across a couple of interesting articles, last night. Several of our states are putting the brakes on foreign countries buying our agricultural land. The Land of Stuff is right at the top of the list. Russia, of course. Several Middle Eastern countries.

    Another article was about people importing a small Japanese truck, called a Kei. There’s an outfit that helps you negotiate all the paperwork, and even with the shipping costs, you can get one for $5,000. I’m sure there are potential snags. Some states classify them as ATVs, with speed limits of 25mph. Etc.. Still, and interesting idea. Lew

  6. Hi Chris,
    Life still remains a bit crazy and there’s still no rain.
    Daughter, Carla, (note the same name as Inge’s younger daughter) was here and Leo knew he could take advantage of the situation and sleep on the inflatable bed with her. It’s actually quite a nice bed and Carla and her husband prefer it to the pull out one in the guest room. At any rate Leo fell off the bed sometime in the night. They were here to attend Marty’s 70th birthday which we had at my BIL’s restaurant.

    Went away with one of my sisters I don’t spend much time with for a couple days of hiking and had a ladies overnight when my cousin came into town to visit her mom (the aunt who lives in Chicago that I’ve mentioned from time to time).

    Said aunt is declining fairly rapidly and is stubbornly trying to remain independent and doesn’t want to accept much needed help. Also oldest daughter, Cecily, has kicked her husband out. Without going into details this is something that was a long time coming and should have happened years ago. Nevertheless there’s much support needed and many hours on the phone (sigh).

    At any rate I’m not going anyplace for quite awhile other than visiting Cecily and my aunt more often so maybe just maybe I’ll get somewhat caught up.

    Salve likes to share a bed with Leo especially in the winter. Plum and Ruby look awfully cute together.

    I continue to be plagued by leg cramps during the night and I’ve tried everything to no avail so I guess it’s something I just have to live with. I have read that a person’s tendons shorten as they age so that may be part of it. Fortunately most nights it’s not too bad. If you do get cramps like this though you don’t want heavy weight on your lower legs as that will trigger them. This is very common in older people especially women.


  7. Hi Chris,
    Do you know if kiwis are bad for dogs? Google has never been my friend on this one…

  8. Also re John Lennon from a previous thread. Sean has been doing awesome stuff with Les Claypool (Primus, etc & etc…) John is certainly smiling on the Claypool Lennon Delerium…

  9. Hi Gerry,

    Good stuff, and yes who can forget 1997’s ‘Shake hands with beef’? Not to mention their contribution to ‘Chef Aid’. A very influential band, and they were certainly hard to define. The more recent group you mentioned haven’t had much in the way of airplay down here, but you’re right, John is probably smiling on them given the accolades. 🙂 In that genre, I don’t mind a bit of Tame Impala.

    Honestly, I’d never even thought about it. Have the dogs consumed kiwi fruit – sure. Hmm. The biggest issue I could find suggested that the skin contained too much insoluble fibre and could upset their digestive system, but most of the warnings – and there were plenty – seemed common sense precautions. Dunno, a mystery. Possibly it is all just fear?

    We have a lot of the fruit, and will add them to their breakfast mix over the next few months, but it gets blitzed up, so they’ll probably be fine.



  10. @ Margaret
    I assume that you have checked that your leg cramps are not due to lack of salt. That would be the only thing that gives me leg and hand cramps.


  11. Hi Margaret,

    Oh my! Hope you get some rain soon.

    As to the rest, well there’s an old saying that it doesn’t rain, it pours. And if I were in your circumstances, I’d be feeling a bit overwhelmed. Yup. Leg cramps are a pain, and you can’t sleep through them, no way. Usually I’ve found it to be caused by a salt deficiency, but who knows, and a rehydration solution may assist. I was reading oral histories of the last big fire here in 1983. It was bad. Anyway, a lady mentioned that stress caused her leg to seize up, and the fire sure was stressful.

    Happy birthday to Marty! And that’s funny about Leo, yes, dogs! 🙂 Sometimes a fox will tease the dogs at night, and that will set off a yammering, but mostly they’re very well behaved at night and careful not to fall off their sleeping couch. You clearly know how that would work out!

    How’s the bluebirds going?

    I do say to Sandra that gals need girl time, and the hike and catch-up sounded good.

    Thanks for sparing me the details, that can be a rough time, and Cecily is lucky she has you to give her support through this.

    Honestly, I’ve had times like yours too. You go on holidays and get super relaxed, then you arrive back to a total storm. What do you do, other than just support and remember to take care of yourself.

    Dame Plum and Ruby send Leo and Salve cordial tail wags!

    I just noted 32’F on the outside thermometer. I must say, that’s rather chilly. 🙂 Go on, tease me, how warm is it there?



  12. Hi, Chris!

    I cannot sleep unless I am quite cool. If I don’t get enough sleep, I actually become sick. In my climate this entails having a window air conditioning unit on in the bedroom for some months. In the winter, however, we have no heat in the bedroom (yay!). I go by how many blankets I use, too. The most I have ever used is seven; that was during a time when it was about 4F (about -15C). They were not all wool and I had on lots of clothes, also. You might consider wearing socks to bed since your feet are colder than the rest of you. The rest of the house is heated by the fireplace and basement woodstove except for the coldest days when we do turn on the baseboard electric heater in the living room for awhile. I think my daughter-in-law has a heater for their bathroom, none in my husband’s and mine. By the by, my daughter-in-law’s mother is staying with us for a week from Oyster Bay. She is very nice and an avid gardener, so that is fun.

    My – that is a fine and sturdy shed. You and Sandra are to be congratulated. Interesting that you hung the doors before finishing the front.

    My asparagus, moved from the old garden and put into pots, still has no home. They are not happy. My husband has spread the new paths with all of the gravel that we had ordered; it looks so nice. Now we must order more gravel, but they are predicting 2 weeks of rain – which is good, we were beginning to feel like a desert – so it probably can’t be delivered for awhile.

    How amazing that you still have chillis. Ours are coming along outside. Some have 4 inch chillis already.

    I love those magpies and thanks, as always, for the flowers!


  13. Hi Lewis,

    Yeah, maybe he was. 😉 The bloke seemed to know what he was doing in that role. I’d seen interviews with him and the actor Jonathan Frakes, and they really appeared to have a good rapport. Hey, I’ll bet he knew how to clearly enunciate his lines.

    The maps of Ostia showed quite a lot, and the River banks have clearly been used for moorings for a very long time. I couldn’t spot the playing card layout, but certainly much of that area looked very ordered as if it had been that way since way back. The density of the city quite astounded me, almost five times as dense as the big smoke. Candidly, I’m uncertain that we have the mojo to tear down the existing big smoke arrangement, and make it as dense as that city. Yikes. It was hard not to notice in the maps and satellite images that there appeared to be height restrictions in place for buildings. In a strange way, it kind of worked. If that was only the least of sloppy journalism! 🙂

    I see, have you noticed that there has been something of a push to wean people off natural gas and switch over to electric appliances?

    It’s not a competition, but you know I reckon 32’F is worse than 39’F, although my excuse is that it is winter here. Mate, what you experienced is only a few minor steps away from a frost. Far out! A couple of degrees colder, and it would have been a problem, but I agree with you, wait and see how it goes. They’ll probably be fine, but I’m guessing the soil temperature has dropped and that will slow the plants growth for sure.

    Lucky you with the short season smaller bell peppers, I’d enjoy those. Interestingly, we don’t have as wide a variety of annual plants as you do, but I see no reason why plant breeding couldn’t deliver results. The market for seeds here is fairly small (compared to your country) and so the seeds which do get sold are a kind of ‘best fit’ variety. Often I have to really hunt out the short season varieties.

    It’s a truth universally acknowledged that belief systems are notoriously hard to puncture, even in the face of evidence to the contrary. Good luck, and if you discover how to do that, our fortunes may be made. 🙂

    That’s alright, my to-read list now includes an additional 18 PG Wodehouse books (a present from the Editor). Jeeves is next up once I finish the 1983 bushfire local oral histories book. Frankly the book is a bit of a strain on the old empathy chunk of my brain, so yeah, Jeeves is looking like a pretty option right now.

    It was frozen this morning. There was frost everywhere and the ground crunched beneath my boots. By 11am, the frost had melted away. The good thing about cold and clear winter nights though, is that if you wake up in the middle of the night, the star field is amazing, especially on really dark nights like last night.

    After the inch of rain on Sunday night / Monday morning, we decided to install the ground water drains on the uphill side of the new shed extension project. Basically I dug the trench for that plastic ground water drain by hand, then connected it all up to the existing system. It all sat in clay, which was quite plasticky, it stuck to all the tools and my boots. Ended up being at least a foot higher what with all that clay! 🙂 The extension of the existing drain added on another 36ft of drain. By late afternoon the job was done and we’d cleaned up the area.

    You’re not wrong about the limits imposed on that public transport pass. They knew… 🙂

    Good advice. You’d hope so about dress standards. I’ve been to places where dress standards are enforced, or else you don’t get in. I was a bit iffy on the subject of uniforms, but in some ways they are a social leveller, and there are always going to be people who push things. Evening dress, or black tie is really a form of uniform. Sometimes the court system punishes people who rock up and are inappropriately attired – and that always gets reported upon. Mate, on this subject, you should have seen what I saw of peoples dress standards when I went to the bank yesterday. Hmm.

    Yes, a sleeper compartment. A good and wise choice. Life is short. Sitting upright in a chair, no matter how comfortable, is not the same as laying down to sleep, even on a train bunk. Screaming children!!! Argh… I told you about an old friends ‘flightmare’ on a long haul flight from Europe. He looked stressed out about it, so the pain was real. Aircraft travel is getting more expensive.

    Your dinner sounds pretty good. Ook, the packaging, far from fresh.

    That’s the funny thing about materials. There are plenty of synthetic materials which burn rather quickly. In fact, when we were doing the volunteer fire fighter thing, we were told do not wear synthetic materials, stick to natural materials – even for t-shirts. There’s a lot of energy in that stuff. And solid timber burns much slower than people think it would. Mate, houses with that vinyl siding I reckon would be a total disaster, unless the stuff has been somehow treated to stop it from burning – if that is even possible. People seem to install windows with plastic trim, it’s an option, I guess. Incidentally I believe that stuff off-gasses anyway, even under normal conditions. In the place we rented whilst building this house, they had synthetic carpets, and the sunlight coming through the window, had actually damaged the carpet where the blinds didn’t produce any shade. What kind of story is that?

    Gas tanks are a bit of a problem, and they do have a vent on them which can release the gas when it expands due to heat. Imagine being a firefighter and encountering one of those tanks? Hmm. 5 minutes is about right from what I understand. It can be quicker too. Mate, I’ve seen fire burn right down to the water line of a farm dam (pond). It’s feral. Large roads like that make good fire breaks, but I was reading about the one in 1983, and it was big enough to simply jump the highway. Burning embers and other materials fly ahead of the fire front and they can set off fire ahead of the front hitting. It’s not much of a fun read, I hear you. But yeah, a worthwhile read.

    It’s not a bad idea. Down under those sorts of purchases get investigated and have to pass a review board. They don’t always say ‘yeah, mate’, sometimes it’s ‘nah, mate’. Usually gets reported upon for really big purchases.

    Kei cars are pretty cool. Did you know the Dirt Rat Suzuki Jimny has a Kei car lineage – and version I believe? As a society we can do small and basic cars, we just choose not too. Anyway, I reckon that is all part of the bargaining phase of grief for the future. I have a preference for smaller cars.



  14. Hi Pam,

    I hear you about that, and like you, prefer a cooler bedroom. If I were going to run an air conditioner, that’s the room I’d cool too. Just don’t want to flog the house electrical system running one. Holy carp Pam! A seven blanket night is way cold. 🙂 This morning was very frosty outside and the frozen ground crunched underneath my boots – it was rated as a five blanket night.

    Isn’t it funny how the feet are cooler than the torso, but I guess they’re at an extreme end of the bodies energy system. Hey, a basement wood stove is a good idea. Does it heat water for the rest of the house?

    Oyster Bay looks like a really lovely part of the world. That’s really nice and hope you two can bond over plants. And also, gardeners like to get their hands dirty doing stuff with plants in the garden. I’ve put some visitors to work from time to time, and never had anyone complain, well at least they didn’t do so to my face. 🙂 Hope your daughter in law is enjoying having her mum visit.

    The doors for the shed extension were on the original front of the shed, so they had to fit with the new carpentry, well that was the plan anyway. When they did fit exactly, I tell you truly, it was a relief. The whole thing was a three dimensional problem and it is now hard to tell where the old shed stopped, and the new extension starts. I put the ground water drains in today. They were 36ft long… A lot of digging, but you may have noticed, sometimes it rains a lot here.

    Yes, the asparagus won’t like that at all. But yay for the rain for you! I reckon the rain will wash down the crushed rock you’ve placed on the paths. Out of curiosity, what does 2 weeks of rain mean? Do you sometimes get a monsoonal rain? That can happen here. Yikes!

    Yum! Chilli’s are so good. Pam, how did we ever get by without growing this many chilli’s? And of course, yes yours would be growing outdoors! How hot are your varieties?

    The magpies cordially shake their tail feathers to you and yours, and thanks!



  15. @ Margaret:

    You have a heavy load, as happens too often.

    I have been occasionally getting leg cramps at night, something new to me. I have checked the extra minerals that I take and they seem allright. I think that I get enough exercise. I see where Inge mentioned that one might not be getting enough salt. I think that’s okay, too, but will watch it more closely.


  16. @ Margaret – Way back in the early 1980s, I had problems with leg cramps at night. Then I read an article. “Reader’s Digest,” I think. They suggested eating a banana, a day. So, I gave it a whirl. Haven’t had a leg cramp, since. Or, gone a single day without a banana.

    That’s when I got interested in food. Not just the health aspects, but where it comes from, it’s history, how it’s made or processed. One can get nuts about it, but, I try to just be … interested. 🙂

    Inge might be on to something, about the salt. Ever thought about consulting a nutritionist?

    “Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food.” Hippocrates, 440 BCE.” Lew

  17. Yo, Chris – The older a city, the denser? Fort McMurray was a boom town. Oil. Lots were small, houses were big. And, expensive. The author mentions that often, the space separating houses was 6 feet. During the fire, this created wind tunnels. Here in Chehalis, in my neighborhood, when I house goes on the market, I often think, “Nice house, but I wouldn’t want to live in it. Neighbors are too close.” The houses feel really “packed in,” here.

    Yes, there’s a big push on here, to do away with natural gas. Some states have already banned it, in new constructions.

    It was 48F, last night. So, it’s warming up. By day after tomorrow, the day time high is supposed to be 80F+. There was more rain, yesterday. And, this morning. Gee. Three days running, where I haven’t had to water. I have this idea that rain water, is better for the plants, than what comes out of the taps. Not that it’s bad. Just that rain water is better.

    I suppose you have a hard time, importing seeds down there? At least, here, seed packets don’t cost too much to mail. But the prices are still up.

    I think I’ve mentioned the web site “People of (insert name of Store of Walls, here.) What a freak show! I had a friend, who, occasionally upon observing a person would mutter under his breath, “Did they look in a mirror, before they left the house?” 🙂

    Vinyl siding melts … and then bursts into flames. The book on the Fort McMurray fire, got really interesting, last night, as it got into wildfires and weather. I’m sure as a former fire fighter, you’re familiar with the concept of “flashover.” When you open a door, the oxygen rushes in, and the smoldering fire literally explodes. Well, in the Fort McMurray fire, this was happening out in the open, not in a confined space.

    Wild fire creating it’s own weather. It’s kind of a new study. It’s a phenomenon called pyrocumulonimbus cloud. Now that’s a mouthful, so, the abbreviation is “pyroCB”. And by the way, it was in the Australian brushfires of 2002-3, Canberra, where pyrotornadogenesis was first named and described. And caught on film. They’re pretty common, now.

    There was quit a bit about how wildfires are effecting weather, worldwide. Like volcanos, only bigger, and now, more frequent.

    Well, since you asked … 🙂 “You pays your money and you takes your chances.” Twain. “Huckleberry Finn,” 1884.

    Day before yesterday, Elinor went to the hospital at 9am. She was back by 1:30. Yesterday, she went at 9am, and didn’t make it back, last night. So, I had an overnight guest. Which was quit welcome. Both times she went to the hospital, she was pretty lively. So, basically, a case of what I call, “the vapours.” The woman can’t accept life as it is, not as she’d like it to be. And works herself into a state. Whatever. H got a bath last night, and we’re headed to the Club for biscuits and gravy. Lew

  18. Chris,

    The procedure went well. I’m doing fine a day later except very tired. And can only use one hand until at least July 5.

    More later,


  19. Hi DJ,

    Thanks for dropping by and saying hello given what you’ve just been through. And I for one, am happy to hear that the procedure went well, and that you’ll be back to carving again in no time at all, or maybehaps after a month or three of rehab. 😉 But perhaps you’ve now gained a far greater respect for whatever sharp edged tool which caused you to come unstuck? You’ve been noticeably silent in naming your nemesis in this regard, but I’m guessing it was a single handed blade of some sort based on the outcome (wearing my detective hat). However no doubts, you’ll keep us all guessing for years to come, and suggestions may get chucked at you for confirmation. 🙂 Hehe! Hey, at least it didn’t hit a major artery. That would have been a bad thing.

    Now, some simple ground rules are in place for you to follow:
    – No rehab, no whingeing. Of course, if you are doing your rehab that’s a whole ‘nother story, and rest assured I will ask about that, and well it’s uncomfortable to suggest, but if that’s the case, you may have free whingeing rights. 😉 There, I’ve said it. But try not to overdo it!
    – You have to count the individual stitches to ensure they don’t exceed 42. And you know why.
    – No commenting whilst you are off your head on heavy hitting pain killers. You might post a candid comment on the present state of society much to everyone’s embarrassment, and then where would we be? Perhaps the Amalgamated Union of Philosophers, Sages, Luminaries and Other Thinking Persons may then come and get us. Again, a bad thing.

    So many things for you to remember, but I reckon you’re up for the challenge!



  20. Hi Lewis,

    Yeah, you got me there, but I was more or less referring to population density as distinct from the different metric of housing density. Man, the same thing is true here in new housing estates, the plots are almost wall to wall houses, and I’ve noted such places have decreased in land size over the years. When I was in the big smoke, the house dated back to the Victorian era and it was a small workers cottage, no getting around that. But even so, it had a backyard which could have had about two fruit trees, a small veg patch and some chooks. All possible. In new housing estates, the houses appear to have eaten the land and such niceties would be difficult, and that sort of sounds like how you described that place you mentioned.

    You raise an interesting point, and when I was a kid, the outer suburban dream was a house on a quarter acre of land, and that was a selling feature. But like all good bait and switch tactics, the houses got biggerer and the land got smallerer, and nobody seemed to notice, well maybe a few of us did. 😉 The quarter acre outer urban dream is the sort of place the Editor grew up in.

    Don’t you think it is really weird that banning of natural gas appliances in new constructions? I guess the stuff gets used for electricity generation in order to prop up the renewable energy story. And we passed peak production for that stuff in this state maybe only recently. Supply shortages are forecast in the near future, and again it’s really weird but nobody seems at all concerned by that.

    48’F is a cool summer over night temperature in my books, but also not unknown here as well. It’s really good to see you’re getting the rain plus some heat. Nothing makes the garden grow like that combination. I’ll be very curious to learn what happens with the plants in your area after that combo of weather.

    The rain here does contain a bit of salt, but also contains less chemicals. Treated water, is actually treated with stuff. I heard a report on whether the treatment is good or bad for dental health, and I guess it all depends due to the many other factors such as Vitamin and mineral intake, quality of food etc. I drink rainwater and so far haven’t grown a second head or third arm. Truly I’m still slightly horrified at the Bronte sisters consumption of ground water which had leached through the adjacent cemetery. There’s a lot to unpack there. The question is, do the plants need the extra stuff in the water, and how do the soil critters deal with the additives?

    That’s what happens. Importing seeds is a problem here, and can be done, but is a difficult and expensive process. Probably why we have a more limited variety of annual plants available to us. I try to save seed from successful crops, and eventually if that works – not always the case – the varieties adapt to more local conditions. I reckon that is one of those jobs on the civilisations to-do list which few people think much about. I have few worries on that front though, because the job will get done sooner or later, but it’s a lot of pain to travel that path.

    Hehe! Sometimes the Editor checks out that website. Mate, the things we’ve all seen, and can’t un-see. That’s a funny line. We’ve got a spin on that line: “Did they’re mum check out what they were wearing?”

    Actually, I never put my hand up to volunteer for structure fires so don’t know much about that side of things, and probably wouldn’t get involved. It’s risky stuff. Instead the Editor and I went the forest and grass fire route given the sheer mass of forest and rural land in this area. The brigade equipment more or less reflected that specialisation, although there were one or two folks pushing for mission creep and wanting to get involved in other areas.

    The 2002-03 fires were pretty bad in that city. The videos I’ve seen of that particular fire looked like mayhem, and the fires struck deep into the urban area. It’s pretty sobering, and is also worth mentioning that concentrated bombing during WWII produced similar effects in many cities.

    And that’s what I’ve been saying for quite a while. All those particulates ending up in the atmosphere from big fires produce very strange consequences in relation to the weather, just like that big underwater Tongan volcano a year or two back. The recent fires in Canada weren’t anywhere near as big as say what the 2019-20 Black Summer fires here were – and look at how wet it has been the past three years here. But the wettest year in almost 140 years of rainfall records here occurred following on from the massive 2009 Black Saturday bushfires. It ain’t a coincidence. 😉 How’s the rain going in your part of the world now?

    I did ask indeed! I’m real sorry to say it, but those folks are toast. I’d like to be wrong, but the oxygen has less than an absolute maximum of 14 hours to go, and given that an aircraft disappeared in similar conditions and was never found despite a monster search effort, well just sayin.

    Man, I dunno what to say about that. Elinor is your friend. It’s not good, and acceptance is a hard thing for many people, and they have to come to it on their own terms – even if those terms make no sense.

    Hope the biscuits and gravy were as good as the general chit-chat? Any further pancake news updates?

    Far out it was cold here again today. I’d read that some parts of the south east coast of the continent had their coldest mornings on record, one location recorded 19’F. That’s brutal cold, although you may consider it to be a bit light-weight. 🙂

    I’m trying really hard to have this week off paid work, but something, something, blessed, competent, busy etc… Anyway, ended up doing half a day of paid work which ended late tonight. During the daylight hours though we re-hung the guttering on the shed. After the big storm earlier in the week, we noticed the water was flowing in the wrong direction in the guttering. Hardly what I’d describe as optimal conditions. Also we began installing the new heavy duty shelving units inside the shed. And a new work bench was installed next to the existing work bench. It’s nice to have some spare room in there. It’s been a big job that one, but making order out of the chaos, is something that Dexter would also appreciate!!! Hehe!

    Almost forgot to mention, the book I’m reading is prompting me to seriously consider whether I’d stay and defend the place against a fire, or leave early. Dunno. And insurance might play into that story. Yes, it most definitely will, but time will tell. Are the psychic scars worth the experience, that’s what I’m left wondering. Do you have any thoughts in that regard?



  21. Chris:

    Our woodstove is only used to heat water in a power outage and that is on top. It has no reservoir.

    Oh, yes – my daughter-in-law is having a great time with her mum. They go off about a hundred miles an hour visiting museums and such, except that part of the reason her mother is here is to have time to work on a book of her family’s history. She hasn’t much time at home, being a teacher, and summer school is about to start so she has been spending quite a bit of time writing up the several years of research she has done. Today, however, they have gone up to Washington, D. C. to the Asian markets and thrift stores. Even if I wasn’t so busy, I wouldn’t want to go up to that big smoke. Per capita, it has more murders than any other large city and carjackings have gone through the roof. Even the official in charge of studying the carjacking problem got carjacked.

    Their two-week rain prediction has petered out. We have had only had a little bit so far, though it will rain later today, and it looks to be sunny again by Sunday. When we get a hurricane – that’s not a monsoon, I guess – then we can have torrential rains and high winds. A forest is not a great place to be in then.



  22. @ Lew:

    I read about the banana-eating long ago, also. For a long time I have eaten one in the morning and one in the afternoon. It must be something else with me, but thank you.


  23. Yo, Chris – Where I grew up in Portland, our neighborhood was a bit older, and lots were pretty much 50×100′ When we moved out to the boonies, of Vancouver, Washington, we had an acre. Sometimes, Dad would rent another 6 acres, next door, to run a couple of beef. On the other side, was a huge orchard and truck garden, run by a family for a couple of generations. I think it’s still going. They had a fruit stand.

    Here, they’re banning natural gas appliances, due to health reasons. At least, that’s the story. A couple of years ago, they built a big natural gas generating plant, out on the freeway in our industrial park. Never hear much about it.

    Happy Solstice, by the way. Now the plants can start chasing the sun. 🙂 Master Gardeners were here, this morning. They’re working on a big project, something something, ground cloth, wood mulch, whatever. Deer took a stroll through our gardens last night, and there was some damage. None of mine. They also tap danced through the strawberries, but no plants were injured. Before I water, tonight, I’ll scatter some blood meal around. Maybe some self produced liquid nitrogen, tonight. I covered the strawberries with bird netting, this morning. Then I spent some time just weeding and pruning. I noticed my Tomatillos have two pods forming. If they’re fertile, they’ll fill the husk. More green nubbins on my red cherry tomato.

    But I bet the Brontes grew some really nice plants! 🙂

    Yes, reading the book about the Fort McMurray fire, there was a lot of bumping along between forest firefighters, and structural firefighters. But things happened, and moved so fast, it finally got to a place of, “Take a truck, go out and put something out.” Or try to. Then, not too long after the fire, the town had a flood. Did several billion dollars of damage to the downtown. The petrol industry is winding down. The term “stranded assets,” was used a lot. There was a chapter on the similarities between WWII fire bombings, and the wildfire.

    Two fellows actually road out and survived a fire tornado. One burrowed into the ground, behind the blade of a huge earthmover. The other burrowed into a ditch, and had one of those metallic fire shelters. Both were injured, but not too badly.

    I think we’re past any rain, for awhile. It’s supposed to be 80F+, tomorrow. But then a run of mid-70s.

    They’re taking another run at the pancakes, this Saturday morning. See how it goes. Still early days and working the kinks out.

    Stay or go? After what I’ve just read, I’d say, go. Unless you’ve got a really good fire shelter. And even then. Sure, you’ve got that really good and well thought out sprinkler system, in place. But given the ferocity of the recent fires, any plastic components will melt (maybe even metal), and any water spurted about will probably just evaporate.

    We’re getting homeless people, up in the woods behind The Institution. If I fire starts up there, I will be out of here, so fast. Lew

  24. Hi Pam,

    Thanks for that. An interesting and useful adaption with your hot water. We run a 100+ gallon reservoir for hot water, and that thing has to be open vented as otherwise if the heat built up too much, it could pop like a steam boiler due to pressure. Being open vented, any excess pressure gets released, but even still there is a tiny possibility for failure and I keep that at the back of my mind and we both know what to do. Always good to have a plan B, just in case. I’m wondering if the folks in that sub thing have come around to this point of view.

    Oh no! That’s the ultimate in irony, and hope that they both avoid such a nuisance. Like you, I’d probably avoid the area too, although for me I reckon that city would just have a weird vibe which would unsettle me, but that’s just a me thing. They could always keep their car doors locked. Ah interesting, so I assume you’re reading the statistics as the awful rate per 100,000 people and multiplying that by the population size to get a rough annual number? That city is certainly right up there, but there are some others too. Hardly something to have civic pride in, but then pride being one of the deadly sins, that could also bring its own set of problems.

    Some rain is good. A little bit more rain would be better. All this loose talk about hurricanes, well tempting the weather gods is probably a risky matter given you are now in hurricane season. You know your business though in this matter. Yikes! Having experienced a minor tornado one Christmas day many years ago, I wholeheartedly agree with you – watching high winds swooshing around tall trees is an unnerving experience.

    And don’t worry, it’s raining outside right now. Far out.



  25. Hi Lewis,

    The gas explosion sounds pretty awful and I reckon there would be unpleasant finds in that rubble. You’ve mentioned the incidents in your corner of the world, and we had the Longford gas explosion industrial accident in 1998. Gas is dangerous, but then so is electricity. Concentrating energy is always risky, in whatever form it takes. There were a lot of mentions in the 1983 bushfire book about gas tanks and fuel tanks going badly on that fateful night. Gives a person pause to consider extreme possibilities. I’ve gotta think about whether the various large batteries will off gas if they get too hot during an incident. Hmm. Something to consider.

    Those older blocks in Portland were still quite useful for producing highly perishable food stuffs, like leafy greens (which don’t travel). Or even eggs. That’s the sort of size a post WWII house block would be down here, maybe a little bit bigger, but in the ball park. An acre on the other hand is very useful quantity of land. A quarter acre used to be the ‘dream size’. Did your dad end up doing the processing of the beef, or did you have an abattoir he sent them to?

    I tend to believe that the ‘health reasons’ is a story. The appliances have been used for many years, and plenty of people still do use them. My understanding of electricity is that the present systems might not be able to supply for an ‘electrification of everything’, but that seems to be the dream for some. The problem with dreams, is that they’re dreams.

    That natural gas plant might be producing fertiliser. Urea in particular. Resource shortages and competing uses for the energy resource in the face of declining supply can only lift prices not just for energy, but also for food – which after all is a form of energy.

    Happy solstice to you too. 🙂 Ground cloth and wood mulch sounds a lot like the creation (or maintenance) of paths to me. Hope they do a good job.

    Deer are pesky critters, and someone in the area not too far to the north of here was out hunting them mid this afternoon. An awfully large calibre was setting off some deep resonances at recurring intervals. There is no deer season here, but all is private land and so I’m guessing that permission had been provided. Hey, the blood meal is a good idea for a deterrent, and I add that stuff to the coffee grounds which get chucked around every week or so. Your own stuff is an even better idea. I’ve heard people talking up adding ammonia, but I reckon the stuff we produce would work better.

    Go the green nubbins! Did it get as cold as the good professor suggested it may?

    Ha! Lewis, I concede defeat, and yes when it comes to phosphate levels of the Bronte’s vegetable patch, it was probably right up there. 🙂

    A similar story plays out down here during really big fire incidents. What needs to be done, and what resources are in play, are questions which get asked. Generally going into a structure during a forest fire is not really something you’d have to face given how quick dwellings convert to ash. Mostly, spot fires would be attacked. Once the dwelling is along the path of converting to ash, there really isn’t a lot to stop that process during a really huge fire.

    Maybe it is just me, but Fort McMurray seems like quite a dry environment, although they do have the rivers running through the place. If the overall climate warms significantly, that area might possibly even get drier.

    With the WWII bombings, the Dresden incident comes to mind. The incident sent a strong message, and sometimes that needs to be done.

    Mate, plenty of people survived the 1983 fires here too. Many of whom were entirely unprepared to do so. Surviving the initial fire front seemed to be trick, then dousing out the resulting fires whilst not getting burned by the radiant heat. I read of a lot of eye damage from the radiant heat, not to mention serious burns. There is an element of luck to it all as well, and that is a chancy gambit. I’m leaning towards going too and the house has to take it’s chances, the thing is built with that in mind. Lot’s of passive defences.

    My understanding of the plastic is that is how things roll, and even fire hoses can be burnt. It all depends really on whether the water continues to move through the pipes, pumps, outlets, hoses etc. If it stops moving the heat can’t be moved on fast enough. And don’t ever rely on town water for a supply during a really big fire – a bad idea, but it might work out OK. Electric pumps are good as long as you get them going soon before they suffer from thermal overload. Petrol pumps are hard to start when the air temperatures are extreme. Diesel engines are pretty reliable though.

    It’s not a bad idea to go, the folks up there might have other ideas about the wisdom of not lighting cooking fires during hot and dry spells.

    Hope the pancakes work out on Saturday.



  26. Chris, Inge, Lew and Pam

    Thanks for all the thoughts regarding let cramps. Believe me I’ve tried all you suggested and more. My doctor said a cause often can’t be determined. I’ve read recently that a large percentage of people with spinal stenosis suffer from leg cramps and I gave severe spinal stenosis so maybe that’s it. The only thing I haven’t tried is the bar of soap under the sheet.


  27. Yo, Chris – Vehicle gas tanks, grill propane tanks, Acetylene tanks, oxygen tanks. They figured every house had at least one (and sometimes several) of the above.

    We had two fruit trees, in the backyard, in Portland. A Cherry and an Italian Prune. No veg, as I can remember. Leafy greens? Who ate leafy greens, in the 1950s? 🙂

    I don’t remember the details, but my Dad knew a guy who slaughtered, cut and wrapped two beef. In return of half of one beef and the renderings.

    Speaking of fertilizer, wow. I was out of blood meal, and stopped by the store to pick some up. It’s up to almost $15 for a three pound bag. I think, last time I bought it, it was less than $5 a bag. Time to hit the net, to see if I can find it cheaper. So, I scattered some around, last night. And, snuck out around midnight to sprinkle around some self produced liquid nitrogen. 🙂 No deer damage, last night. But that might just be luck. Bears watching.

    No, the ground cover and mulch is on a bed that so weedy, it’s about the only thing to do. Next year, they’ll start replanting things in it.

    The land around Fort McMurray is pretty boggy. But, given the drought and high temperatures, even a bog will dry out. All that peat. When the fire started, the temperatures had been high, and the humidity really low. One fellow managed to save his house, while others burned around him. Thought he was home free. Then the fire shifted, came back, and the second time around, he couldn’t hold it off. Managed to make it out with a classic car and his motorcycle.

    They thought all the rivers around Fort McMurray, would provide fire breaks. Plus the 6 land (+ break down lanes) freeway. Didn’t happen. The wind, the embers being blown miles.

    Besides Dresden, there was also the Hamburg firestorm, during WWII. After London and Coventry, the gloves were off.

    I’m sure there will be something, on Saturday. Maybe. If not, I’ll just go home and have my usual breakfast / lunch.

    I saw this article in several places, last night.

    Oh, no! Not the chocolate!

    I picked up, and started reading “Perilous Times” (Lee, 2023). Having a hard time putting it down. Stayed up way to late, reading it. Not you’re uncle’s, Mallory. It takes place in the future, and half of England is flooded, by sea level rise. The air is shite, and plants and animals are dying. There are huge refugee camps. It’s told from the point of view of Sir Kay. And, a bit of Sir Lancelot. Turns out, due to a few spells by Merlin, they sleep under trees, and when England is in peril, resurrect to try and set things right. They’ve fought in every war from 1066 to WWII. If they’re killed (as they often are), they end up back under the tree, until the next time. Arthur also lies sleeping, but it takes a real song and dance, to get him awake. And they are hesitant. As King Arthur was rather a nob. Sir Kay hooks up with a small group of women, who are kind of ecoterrorists. They’re called “FETA” (like the cheese), but it stands for “Feminist Environmentalist Transgressive Alliance.” There’s a dragon. Lew

  28. @ Pam,

    Thanks. Freak accident with a wood carving tool. Don’t tell Chris, as I’ve not told him, but it was my smallest and narrowest gouge. 😉

    The physical therapy starts July 5. Until then I “get” to refrain from my landscape project. Catching up on my reading.


  29. Chris,

    I’m rethinking the types of carving I’ll do in the future. This is the 2nd accident I’ve had with a gouge. Most of the work I want to do can be done without using a gouge if I make some stylistic changes.

    Your rules look good to me. Rehab will start July 5 when they remove the wrap, splint and sutures. Currently, my left hand is immobilized except that I can use thumb and index finger as a pincer. Looking forward to the extremely important rehab regimen. So far fortune has smiled on me, and I’ve been able to avoid the heavy-duty drugs that alter mental states. Dunno how many stitches they gave me, and I won’t be able to see them until they remove them. I can probably do some mathematical gymnastics to keep the suture total at or below 42. 🙂

    An “all electric” approach to new construction was supposed to occur in Spokane also. Last I heard it was still being fought and might go to court. One change that appears to be agreeable to all is heating sources. Once the evidence was shown that electric heat pumps don’t provide heat when the outdoor temp is below about 2C, cooler heads prevailed and allowed for fossil fuel alternatives, mostly natural gas.

    The current health story about natural gas is perturbing. Natural gas was being touted as a fairly clean burning thing until one paper of dubious science has been overly cited about indoor health effects. Also, natural gas is suddenly evil simply because it’s a fossil fuel. Yet, if everything goes electric, MORE natural gas will be burned to generate electricity than is currently being used at the end sites for heating and cooking. Why? Entropy. Electricity generation is not 100% efficient and there is a LOT of electricity loss in power line transmission. Good thing I can’t type fast now or I’d type myself into an irritable mood over this topic. 😉

    Anyhow, my typing finger is getting tired.


  30. Chris,

    The rules you suggested look good. Rehab is very important. I’ll let you know how many sutures they used when they get removed in July. Fortunately, I’ve been able to avoid using the heavy-duty meds.

    This is my 2nd accident with a gouge. The things I want to carve can be done without a gouge if I make some stylistic changes.

    Avalanche turned 2 on Wednesday. She is happily chasing birds around the yard.

    You said no whingeing if I don’t do the rehab work. Rehab doesn’t start for 2 weeks. Does that mean I get to whinge for the next 2 weeks? It might be my only opportunity. 😉


  31. Pam,
    I’ve recently had hamstring, quadriceps, and adductor (groin?) cramps. Ouch! *#@%&!! I learned from a brother–zinc and from the web–hydration. Now I always drink a glass of liquid before bed and occasionally take a 50 mg zinc tablet (like most metals zinc can be toxically over done). I figure I rather get up in the middle of the night to visit the “garderobe” than have to try to stop cramping. between the two techniques, my cramps are much rarer. Best of luck.

  32. Hi Margaret,

    Ann chimed in with another chunk of good advice, which I’ve also trialled. There was a reason I gave up running many long years ago. It’s pretty awful, but you just have to kind of out what works for you and hope that something works out.



  33. Hi DJ,

    I got both comments, but one of them had extra information which the other didn’t, such as: Happy Birthday Avalanche! 🙂

    They do all come through, even if the comments look as if they have disappeared. The software which runs this interwebsite has an overly active imagination and sees problems where there are none. I’ve wasted enough time trying to comprehend the randomness of it all, and simply gave up wondering about it. Brains may explode, Scanners style if looked into further. Best for me if that is avoided.

    Ook! Yes, a gouge, I can see how that came to be, and those things are sharp as, not to mention you’re putting a lot of force behind it. Well, what did the boss, Mr Clint say: A man’s gotta know his limits. As a wild and random suggestion, rather than having your other hand out in front of the gouge, they do have these things called jigs. In fluffy land, twice is a pattern and yeah. Mate, as a young bloke I once put my hand accidentally on a rotating angle grinder disc. Cauterised the wound instantly, but sometimes that’s what long work days produced.

    I like how your brain works. I guess you poked a really big hole in the rules, and you might be right there. Rules, what are these things… Incidentally, on that note, I recently managed to inadvertently upset one of the console operators at the local petrol station by not exactly following the rules to the letter. Might be worth writing a blog about that incident. After that experience a bit of deeper reading suggested that there is quite a statistically significant portion of the population who enjoy rules – even if the rules make no sense. Hmm. I’m probably not one of those folks, the facts in the case suggest as much. 😉

    Getting back to the gouge, the local timber tool specialist sent me an email today promising discounts. DJ, I’m weak and need support here. Hehe! There was this 750W bench drill press. Could be handy.

    I have no doubts you’ll be able to craft up some exotic formula to prove that there are 42 stitches. 🙂 Respect!

    Yeah, they’re pushing the whole all-electric thing down here too. That’s what having other, and probably more important uses for a declining resource looks like. I tend to believe the fertiliser side of that story is probably the highest priority use of the energy source, but maybe that’s just me. The state here is facing a situation where demand exceeds supply within the next year or so. It’s a problem, especially if demand keeps increasing – and you know, a lot of policies being pursued have contradictory outcomes. It happens.

    Exactly. I absolutely 100% agree with you. Many years ago someone suggested I burn firewood to power a steam boiler which ran an alternator to generate electricity. Can it be done, sure. Is someone on this continent actually making such devices, yeah. But does it make any economic sense, probably not in the slightest. I was aware of those limits with the heat pumps. And mate, it gets that cold, and colder still here. Bonkers here, but even more bonkers in your part of the world where it gets colderer. Brr! Freezing at the hands of the authoritas is a story with a long history, best if you’re not involved.

    You’ve done well, and I’d have to suggest that your typing skills are extraordinary given the circumstances. 😉 Like my early adult days, I’m guessing your typing skills may have been the result of gobarment experiments. Yes, I know these things!



  34. Hi Lewis,

    Man, a lot of materials have an extraordinary amount of embedded energy, so all those tanks you mentioned tend to ‘go off’ when other surrounding materials release their energy to the environment and push the containment vessels beyond their engineered limits. Car tyres (tires in US parlance) are bonkers when burnt, but if the car is moving, the fires tend to not get a chance to get a foot hold. Some of those tanks have pressure release valves, and the fuel inside gets released into a very dangerous environment. Seriously, I have no idea what might eventuate if any of the various batteries we use here are subjected to seriously high temperatures, but it might not be good. The house is cut into the side of the hill, so that might reduce the energy from radiant heat, but who knows until the whole lot is put to the test. It’s a risk. The battery room is very heavily insulated against the outside temperature for that reason alone.

    Hehe! I wasn’t there, so have no opinion and will take your word for the situation. 🙂 Mind you, I can assure you that in the 1970’s, the boil the carp out of vegetables thing was still very much in play. Who knew that the resulting green water was a loss, and also something of a cultural statement. There was even a mention of that unconscionable food horror in the ‘Stick a Flag in it it’ book. It seems as if it has a long history. Bonkers. Mate, people don’t eat all that many leafy greens these days from what I observe. And fresh leafy greens, even fewer still.

    On that note, I’ve observed that if I stop watering the leafy greens in the greenhouse, they grow faster. The soil wasn’t really damp beforehand. Dunno. My brain now hurts, and it is possible that the water was so cold that it cooled the soil and slowed the growth, but I don’t really know. Do you have any theories about this? Despite the winter weather outside, and the permanent ventilation in the greenhouse, it is noticeably warmer in there.

    That’s a handy arrangement with the cows. I’ve heard of such things and years ago knew someone around here who offered to sell a half, but we have no way of storing such a quantity of produce. Mind you, it would be a nifty way to get through the cold winter months.

    Yeah, blood meal is crazy expensive down here too, but it isn’t that expensive. Hmm. Can you buy it in larger bags? For a 20kg / 44 pound bag, that will set me back about $50, which is $1.14 per pound. You kind of need the stuff if you want fruit and/or veg because it contains minerals you’re not likely to get from other sources. Bear in mind, I’m feeding several hundred fruit trees, so this stuff drains the coffers of the kingdom! But without it, I get a lot of plant growth in the orchard, and not as much fruit set. This is one issue I’ve been experimenting with for the past two years, so yeah. Good luck, but bigger bags will hopefully be cheaper. Maybe.

    Hehe! Mate, we make the stuff for free. Can it get any better than that? 😉 Just don’t upset the ladies. Hope the deer stay away, and it’s an old school method for scaring them.

    Seriously, your bears over there scare me. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, the critters will kill you as equally dead, but few of them can rip you limb from limb and feast on the remains.

    Speaking of getting dead. That sub thing has really haunted my imagination this week. It was like a horror show. And what interested me was that the little sub was off on its own with no support. It was an interesting metaphor for here because we don’t have access to many of the services which people take for granted. And that’s a difficult place to be compared to how most folks live. Road testing technology and finding it fails when least expected is a problem here, but at those ocean depths it’s multiplied so far that the word bonkers comes to mind. So, haunted and stuff. I chose not to read the updates on the thing prior to bedtime.

    Thanks for the explanation on the garden bed.

    Yeah, that was what I was wondering about with that area. It looks green, I guess as long as the ambient temperature stays low and the winds don’t howl. When that isn’t the case, it’s a tinderbox – like here, except we get far more rain, even in a drought year – and peat is so hard to put out once ignited. I’d read in the histories that one bloke discovered a tree root underground which was still smouldering four years after the fire went through.

    That’s the thing with strong winds and fires, lit embers will fly for miles ahead of the fire front and pre-ignite the area for when the fire front comes through. It’s a problem.

    Yikes! I had not previously read about Hamburg, and there was also the Tokyo business. The problem with poking others, like say in the Blitz, is that sometimes they’ll learn and return the favour several times over with less concern for niceties. Interestingly, I noted that the Hamburg incident appears to have forced the Germans to throw more resources into defending, and perhaps this area was one they neglected in their more outwardly aggressive approach. You can’t both attack and defend at the same time because both require resources.

    Not good, and I do so enjoy a little sprinkle of chocolate on my coffee. What’s really weird is that the chocolate mentioned in the article is available locally. If they’re doing good deeds like that, surely they could let people know – I had no idea looking at the packaging.

    King Arthur was rather a nob. 🙂 Well, I’m intrigued. Surely Lancelot has some err, conflicts of interest with the good King, no matter how good they were friends. The dragons never went away. Must do some further research on this book. Mate, I’ve only just got a huge batch of PG Wodehouse books and am looking forward to hanging out with Jeeves. Well, what must be, must be.

    Oh, had a gourmet pie today for lunch. Lamb with rosemary. It was good, and I reckon they used the lamb shank which is a very tasty and sweet part of the critter. When I was a kid, they’d serve lamb shanks with mash potatoes and roast veg. So tasty. Hope the lamb didn’t mind.



  35. @ Lew and Chris
    My maternal grandparents lived in the same Hamburg flat throughout the whole of WW2. My grandmother remembered the people who were on fire, throwing themselves into the Alster.


  36. Yo, Chris – Maybe you should have put the battery room, underground? 🙂 Underground houses were all quit the rage, here, for awhile. Don’t hear as much about them anymore. There were a lot of books about them.

    British food seems like it’s always had a bad rap. Although if you pick any period of history, and poke around a bit, there’s always something tasty, about. Maybe they just fed dodgy food to visitors. So they wouldn’t linger. 🙂

    I don’t know about your leafy greens, but I’m still trying to figure out what the heck is going on with my corn. The seed came from two sources, so, it must be some lack in the soil.

    Oh, I’ll be poking into other sources of blood meal. I didn’t realize that the three ratios seem to vary widely, among the different brands. Sigh.

    Speaking of bears, I suppose you saw all the articles about the Arizona man who was quietly sitting outside with his morning coffee, when a bear dragged him off and ate him. Or some of him.

    I’ve been pretty much ignoring the whole sub thing. I did get to thinking, though, if you’ve got 5 people in a sub, and the air is running out, what if you killed 4 of them? I suppose the air would last longer? Although it wouldn’t have seemed to help, in this situation. Sounds like the sub just cracked like an egg. Well, you pay your money ($200,000+, per) and take your chances. Now that space tourism is a big thing, I keep expecting some disaster on that front. Somehow or another, I can work up a lot more sympathy for the hundreds of people that drowned, on the immigrant boat, in the Med. Though that cycled out of the news pretty fast, due to all the distraction over the sub.

    Lancelot is rather a nob, also. 🙂 I’ve never been able to warm to any of the Jeeves books. Or, any of the film series. I always found it tedious and boring.

    I ran across a couple of references to books that sound interesting (to me.) I’ll check and see if our library system has them. Both having to do with the Great Depression. “They Never Threw Anything Away.” Sounds like first person accounts, similar to “Hard Times.” (Terkel.) The other books that sounds interesting is “Depression Era Frugality.”

    Well, it didn’t quit make 80F, yesterday. Only 79F. We’re supposed to break 80F, today. And then cooler temperatures. Prof. Mass put up a forecast, for the first part of our summer. Dryer and warmer, but not much more than average.

    It’s food box day, and it looks like they’re pulling up, out front. Lew

  37. Chris,

    Embarrassingly, I wasn’t carving when I gouged myself. I had examined the gouge and was replacing it into a storage cork. Turns out the cork was rotten, so into my hand it went. Hence the Freaky Friday accident that actually occurred on a Strange Saturday.

    Always best to avoid exploding brains. Zombies might happen among other potential disasters. Knights might say “Ni!” News might arrive that King Arthur was something of a Nob. Marvin the Paranoid Android might become happy.

    Hey, I worked for government. In order to get anything worthwhile done, I had to find loopholes in the rules. I literally made a career of that. It put my brain to good use. 😉

    My friend was just today telling me about a case of silly rules. It’s a long story, so we can cut to the end: the rules made no sense scientifically or logically. But they’re the rules and must be followed.

    My opinion is that having too many rules stifles curiosity, imagination and creativity.

    750W drill press that might come in handy. Hmmmm, 42 stitches, give or take. Maybehaps to avoid your needing 42 stitches to keep up with the Joneses after trying to explain the purchase of said drill press, just saying, maybehaps don’t purchase it. 😉

    Isn’t having contradictory policies the purpose of government? Maybe not officially, but the outcome looks that way. And it is justified not by logic but by government’s most trusted tool, the logical sounding argument.

    My dad had this idea of making a boiler in conjunction with his wood stove, its pipes would move the hot water to the basement and under the floor to the far end of the house from the stove. Warm floor equals warmer far end of the house. And recirculate, with a switch allowing some to be siphoned off for other uses. The far end of the house was normally comfortably warm when the fire was going, which was a welcome change from the overly hot main room that housed the wood stove. Mom talked him out of it. Dad settled for a really awesome solar water heater in the summers and a refurbished car radiator to use as an indoor air cooler.

    Typing skills? Self taught one summer so I could type my own reports in school. There was no known government experimentation involved in this. Maybe with my maths abilities, but not the typing.


  38. Hello Chris and Lew
    There is a book ‘The Night Hamburg died’ by Martin Caidin; 70.000 died. I have understood that Dresden was even worse because the streets were full of refugees, women, children and the elderly with nowhere to go.
    How people forget or never know. I wonder how many don’t really understand what this means in Ukraine.


  39. Hi Inge,

    Yes, Hamburg was very bad, no doubts about it. So was the Blitz, so was Tokyo. And my grandfather was a bomber pilot involved in the Dresden incident. War is a very ugly business. As a culture we have actively chosen not to set limits upon ourselves, and this is the result we get.

    Fire storms are of interest to me due to the inherent risk of the tall Eucalyptus forest here. One day, I will face such a monster. Unlike many, I am not shying away from what that means. The other day I read of an old bushies trick when faced with such a fire: smear mud on any exposed areas of skin. Some fires as the one you mention are deliberately extended, but such a response did not arise in a moral vacuum.

    A part of our culture is the mode of escalation. It’s there, you can see it.

    It rained again here today.



  40. Hi DJ,

    That’s a truly strange Saturday, and I can see how that happened. On the other hand I respect the fact that you keep your wood working tools sharp. Not everyone has gotten that memo.

    For your interest on this subject, at the agricultural show I went to a few months ago, I noticed a tool shop selling a Drill Doctor machine on the cheap as a clearance item, and nabbed it. Sharp drill bits are a good thing, but all wood working tools involve some level of risk. And accidents can happen so quickly. I’m always careful with wood working tools, as is the Editor, but you never know when things will end up badly. Have the crew at the carving club checked in on you? It is early days though on that front, and be prepared for them having a few laughs at your expense. People hiding their own discomfit often do that.

    Who knew that King Arthur might even have been a bit of a nob? He seemed alright in Monty Python’s: ‘The Holy Grail’. Have you got any rest and recuperation books and / or movies lined up?

    Man, trying to find those loopholes is like an exercise in problem solving. I’m not worthy, and might have shared a candid opinion with them about the rules. I quite enjoyed my time working for the public service. Hey, I’m serious about the typing and the government experimentation. True story.

    There’s a large portion of the population who love rules, probably about a third at a guess. I’m not really one of those folks, but am also such a person, that I can work in that sort of an environment and shrug off the frustration as a mere annoyance. But like you, if there is wiggle room and a loop hole, why not? Generally I prefer being guided by principles, but that doesn’t seem to work for a whole bunch of people in society, so here we are. Don’t be a nob, might be one such rule. 😉 And don’t get into experimental vehicles which are being live tested by users in extreme conditions – seems like not a bad idea as well.

    I agree, the computer chatboring thing everyone seems so excited about is kind of like the ultimate rule machine. Interesting yes, but creative? Not so sure about that.

    Last I checked, the Jonses don’t seem to have a 750W drill press. All I’m asking for is a bit of support here!!! 🙂 Doesn’t seem to be forthcoming, so you might be right there. 😉

    Often the talk from such official folks mystifies me. Then I start to wonder, is it them, or is it me? Or maybehaps it is someone else. You see the knots my brain ends up in? And meanwhile, that lot are up to something else altogether. What do they do all day? So many questions, so few answers.

    Ah, the car radiator A.K.A. heat exchanger as a cooling device. Hmm. Not a bad idea at all. Your dad was a clever bloke to have rigged such a system up. Something to think about, yeah. Interestingly, the 30kW boiler at the back of the wood stove is quite good at redistributing the heat from the combustion chamber thus not making one room where the firebox sits super hot, and others freezing.

    I assume you had an old school typewriter? I used them back in the day and enjoyed the clack clack sound as the arms pushed steel type onto the cloth ink ribbon. Those are very clever machines, and may make a comeback sooner or later.



  41. Chris:

    “The house is cut into the side of the hill” – hmm, ours is, too, so I hope that may make a difference.

    Wodehouse is one of my very favorite authors, but he is not everyone’s cup of tea. And a lot of his stories sort of have the same plot. A rival author once condemned him for that and Wodehouse pointed out whose books (Wodehouse’s) were selling better. I like his Blandings Castle books the best, though Jeeves is great, also.


  42. Hi Lewis,

    Underground houses are a problematic proposition. You don’t see them much down under, but I have noticed that over in the UK where land is more expensive, they are more common. Sealing the ground water out from the walls is a never ending problem. It’s a case of: Let’s assume nothing goes wrong. The two earthquakes we’ve had over the past two years (5.9 and 4.0) tested the square edge joins with the internal plaster, but imagine what those would have done to a previously water tight membrane? Bonkers. On the other hand, if it was a fire bunker or a root cellar, the moisture ingress might be less of a concern. But a house, I dunno man, and remain unconvinced of the benefits.

    However, in this vast country I’ve stayed at two underground houses, one in Coober Pedy and the other at White Cliffs. Those are both pretty hot environments and the underground houses just work beautifully. At Coober Pedy, an underground house builder may come across a seam of opals, and how cool would that be? The find would offset the cost of excavations.

    Hehe! That’s a genius strategy: feed unwelcome guests horrid food so as to move them on. Yeah, I can see that. But then there is bread and butter pudding, which I spotted today and was too slow on the uptake to sample. I may have to make some inquiries to see how good it was. Headed into the big smoke for lunch and a chat with mates. Good fun.

    Hmm, I still believe that your season has not been hot enough for the corn you planted to grow strongly based on what you’ve told me of the weather so far. Just did a quick look into the other minerals required for corn to grow successfully, and it turns out that they’re: Calcium (Ca), magnesium (Mg), and sulfur (S). You chucked in egg shells so I’m guessing the calcium is sort of OK. You’ll have plenty of magnesium given where you are. Maybe your soil is light on sulfur? You can get that from Gypsum, otherwise known as the clay breaker, and it will add in some additionally useful amounts of calcium. There’s not much you can do about the soil temperature, but the correct mineral balance, yeah, you can do that for sure. The additional calcium from gypsum will allow the seedlings to access other minerals in the soil more easily. That’s all just guess work though.

    It ain’t just you, I’m learning that the leafy greens don’t require as much water over the winter months. That’s new for me, but then I’ve only had the greenhouse for a little bit over a year.

    Speaking of just over a year, the diary suggests that last year at around this time we went to the cinema to watch the very enjoyable film Maverick. Haven’t mentioned it for a while, and as I suggested to someone else today, it was a very simple story told well. Your opinion may vary, and I note that we have discussed this matter previously and have politely agreed to disagree. I’m cool with that.

    Yes, the ratio of the three minerals does in fact change, and I’d suggest that Phosphate is the most expensive of the trio, so probably the least represented and possibly the largest variable. But as I mentioned above, corn needs so other stuff too. It’s a hungry plant that one.

    I missed that article. It didn’t end up well for the bloke, or the bear. But was the coffee really that good? I have some doubts. So many questions. The neighbour seemed pretty quick thinking to have acted. That’s one critter I’m glad is not present down under.

    So I began asking around about peoples reaction to the sub, and turns out that there is sympathy, but also mostly a sort of: ‘what did they expect’ reaction. It’s probably not a place humans are meant to be. And I like how your brain works. That thought had occurred to me as well, but then decomposition would set in very quickly, and this would not be a good thing in that confined space. That plot is like an Agatha Christie novel. And yes, I’m also wondering about all that risky low Earth orbit tourism. Something will go wrong sooner or later. It interested me that the rescue effort for the sub was so extensive. Who pays for that? It certainly wouldn’t be free. And, about the refugees, you aren’t the only one who drew that comparison.

    Hehe! Lancelot as a nob. I’m really having troubles with that, after all in the Jack Whyte Camulod books Lancelot seemed to be one of the more level headed characters.

    Thanks for the candid review. I have a few of those books to get through, so shall form my own opinion. Many of my favourite authors have listed PG Wodehouse as one of their favourite authors, so I’m hoping that the words are as silky smooth as people suggest. I might learn something! 🙂

    As a subject, living through The Great Depression should probably be on peoples radars. I’m of the opinion that the sub and all that space travel biz is like the super yachts of the 1920’s, and we know how that story ended up. I’ve got a similar book in my to-read pile titled: Weevils in the flour. Have to get around to it sooner or later, but a fluff book is next on the list, and Jeeves fits the bill nicely. As long as the book isn’t dog poop.

    Dude, they keep saying we’re going to have a warm and dry winter. I dunno man, I really dunno about that: El Niño takes a rain check as week-long drenching forecast across Australia. Maybe later, who knows.

    Hope the food box goodies are useful.



  43. Hi Pam,

    That cut into the side of the hill thing was mentioned a few times and it seemed to lessen the blast from the fire front directly upon the building. The suggestion was that the super heated air went over the building instead. From what I understand, the super heated air doesn’t ignite the building, what it does instead is warm all of the surfaces and then the embers and/or direct flames ignites those pre-heated materials far more easily. It can also break windows allowing embers and fire inside a house where there are more things to burn. Out of curiosity, does your house get buffeted by the wind? Also, someone told me long ago that where dead leaves accumulate, that’s also where the greatest concentration of embers will land.

    I can see that about the author! 🙂 I’ve got an open mind on this subject and will delve into a Jeeves tale after I finish the bushfire book – my brain needs the break. Mr Wodehouse makes a strong case based on the facts on the ground.

    Just in case you were worried, it rained here again today, and a big drenching is forecast for next week for most of the continent. How exciting. In the normally arid centre of the continent (not a desert, more of an arid land) a whole bunch of rain will fall. That may affect an occasional commenter here. Hmm, might send them a text message.



  44. @ Pam,

    The car radiator used as a cooler was pretty slick. The outflow from the radiator was a hose that watered the fruit trees and berries and vegetables at a slow trickle. An electric fan behind the radiator helped circulate he cool air. It worked pretty well.

    I amended the idea in our current home. I froze several plastic gallon jugs of water. Then I’d place 1 or 2 on a small stand, put a fan behind them. Had to put a towel under the set up due to condensation and dripping. Called it the Viking air conditioner. It was okay. Now we use a heat pump for central air. Wonderful thing.


  45. @ Inge – Funny. My family name is Hamburg. Although I doubt it has anything to do with the city. Looking at an extensive genealogy a distant relative did, there are three different spellings of the name. They were part of the German migration to Russia, in the 18th century. Where they came from in Germany, lost to the mists of time.

    When I see the articles about so many Russians killed, so many Ukrainians killed, I always think, those were people. Lew

  46. Yo, Chris – Oh, yeah. Underground houses are a problematic proposition. No argument there. Just mentioned them as a point of interest. Skylights, were quit a craze, for awhile. But they mostly leaked. Not so popular, now. Although from what I read, materials and installation methods have improved. Still, they’re a weak link. Bound to fail, sooner or later.

    Was it a Green Wizards meeting? No bread pudding, but was there at least Tiramisu? 🙂 .

    Well, there should be enough sulfur in the composted chicken poo. But I see it’s slow to break down. I have a few seeds left, so, maybe I’ll shove a few more in the ground, and see if I can get some more action.

    It’s going to be a popcorn night (with cheese!) I picked up “Renfield,” from the library, this morning. Nick Cage, as Dracula. Also, the new Avatar movie, but I’ll save that for next week. Can’t have popcorn (with cheese!), every night. Wouldn’t be prudent. 🙂

    Who pays for that? Our tax dollars, at work.

    I finished “Perilous Times,” last night. A good read. Besides Lancelot being a nob, he’s gay. Not that the one thing has anything to do with the other. Merlin’s rather … out there. Morgana and Nimue (The Lady of the Lake) are on board. Barry, the talking squirrel. Well, perhaps an interview with the author will make it all, well, make sense.

    That was an interesting article, about your El Nino. Or why your El Nino isn’t quit acting like a typical El Nino. Same here.

    Hmmm. Food box. Smaller box. Nothing of very much interest. I did get a nice dozen brown eggs. And, a pound of frozen ground beef. Which will probably go to the Club. A loaf of French bread, that I put on the swap table. A clam shell of cut up fruit. The kind that gives you salmonella. Two tins of tuna. Some junk food, like donuts. A jar of peanut butter. Way too many tins of black beans and green beans. A small bag of white rice. Three oranges. Some other tinned veg.

    Had pancakes and scrambled eggs, at the Club, this morning. Not bad. Our Club manager is pretty worried. They renewed our lease, but the monthly rent jumped $160. To be increased by 3%, each year, over the next three years. Last year, they gave us a discount, for paying for an entire year. They didn’t want to do that, this year. Then there’s the whole question of bathrooms, which is a complicated tin of worms. Lew

  47. Hi Chris,
    You asked about the bluebirds. There’s been 6 broods that have fledged at the conservation district and there’s now two more boxes with eggs. At home we’ve had one brood fledge and now have 2 more boxes with hatchling. Also boxes with house wrens and tree swallows.

    Our last rain was .3 inch 11 days ago. Hadn’t had any in a month. Rain was in the forecast for the next few days but chances are dwindling. We’re now in severe drought. Crops look pretty bad. At least it hasn’t been overly hot. Spending hours watering now like everyone else.


  48. Hi Margaret,

    That’s great news about the bluebirds, especially at the conservation district. I presume all of them raised their chicks in the boxes which were put up? Housing for birds is pretty crucial for their success. Hope they can get access to water in the conservation area.

    Margaret, I’m not mucking around, not having access to town water or ground water, I’d be mildly freaking out if our climate swapped for what you are experiencing. Fingers crossed you get more rain soon. Not being overly hot is a saving grace, I hear you about that.

    It’s pretty cold here, but not anywhere near your winter weather. Brr!



  49. Hi Lewis,

    Yeah, we could see that result coming from a mile away. What a surprise, the tax payer foots the bill. I dunno man, what just took place was no ordinary search and rescue. Sure the families suffered a loss and that’s not good, but on the other hand, they caused a lot of trouble purely for what appears to be an act of extreme tourism. One day, one of those space tourism things will go badly. That article was so weird. The suggestion was made that rather than take on board the lesson that this stuff is dangerous and really pushing the limits of materials, it seems to instead spike interest in the acts of extreme tourism. Bonkers.

    In an inner urban house many years ago we installed some glass skylights, they were quite expensive from memory, and had some European brand name, it may have been Velux. Getting the flashing just right around the window surround was tricky because obviously rain water is subject to gravity and so falls downwards on a roof which may have been pitched at around 40 degrees. How to get the water from the top edge of the window, then around the sides, to then flow out below or to the side of the window was a bit of an art form. They were specifically made with that in mind. My belief is that windows probably work best, and seal the easiest, if they’re vertical on walls. Hey, does this all remind you of the craze for geodesic domes? The ridge lines on each of the panels are just asking for trouble with rain water.

    And underground houses, unless the water table is deep, you might just end up getting more intimately involved with it. I’d heard that some houses pump the water out of underground rooms, but what happens if the power goes out, like in a big storm or something like that? I once had a long argument with a plumber who wanted to install a drain pit and pump to collect water from rainfall, which was then sent to the drainage point at the rear of the property. Of course the pit was intended to be located near to the middle of the house. It was the what happens when the power goes out question which was the hardest for the bloke to answer. We worked out a way to gravity feed the water to the rear of the property instead.

    I heard that the tiramisu was back, but didn’t have the opportunity to sample the excellence of the dessert. Sadly, I was too busy gas-bagging.

    It was hard to get reliable info on the sulphur content of chicken poop, but it’s not a major mineral and looks to be around 0.31% of the total manure content. It’s good, but might not be good enough for corn. Gypsum on the other hand is about 19% sulphur, plus the calcium will be a real bonus, that’s kind of why I mentioned that source. And it’s probably cheaper than composted chook poop.

    Ah, you mentioned that Nick Cage film recently. The trailer looked good. I’m planning to see an amusing film: No Hard Feelings. Looks pretty funny, and I note the nod to the days of the Judd Apatow films. Cool, I’ll be very interested to hear what you have to say about the new Avatar film. You know, I never watched the first instalment, but people reckon it is very good.

    I hear you about that, and we can’t party food every day. Alas, woe is us. Maybe every second day! 🙂

    I’d seen the Lancelot gay nod in dare I mention this book ‘The mists of Avalon’. You know that was the very first Arthurian book I read. The characters in that book made little sense to me, but I dunno, I didn’t write it. Hey, I don’t recall any talking squirrels in the Arthurian tales, although I don’t doubt that Merlin could speak with the critters. Hmm. The article is rapidly losing me because I never believed that Brexit was a mistake. I’m of the opinion that history will show it to be a lucky break for that country. And the group the author was allegedly involved with, I dunno mate, damaging great works of art, I don’t see the point of that – it looks like vandalism to me and has not achieved anything of note. Why not live the life you wish others to live? It’s not that hard. Anyway, once the virtue signalling dwindled, I very much enjoyed the interview. The author is a product of the environment where he was nurtured.

    It’s not typical weather at all, and the forecast rain over central Australia is bonkers for this time of year. They have a dry season there, or are meant to. No doubt you are observing long term forecast models getting weirded out? As far as I understand things, if you warm the oceans and atmosphere, you increase the quantity of moisture in the atmosphere. And yes, it did rain here again today, and will tomorrow, and the next day per the short term forecast. However, it could stop raining too. Hmm.

    The eggs are a score. Are they still in short supply in your part of the world? Youchie! Nobody wants that bug, it can be fatal you know. Who gets the donuts?

    With the rents, that’s occurring down here as well. It’s not pretty. Your Club might have to raise subscription fees to cover the cost. What else do you do? Ah, do I detect a shared bathroom arrangement with other tenants? Those are a recipe for disaster.

    Cheers and better get writing.


  50. DJSpo:

    Two great ideas now. Thanks, DJSpo.

    Yes, heat pumps are good, but I like our window AC units. That way one can cool only the room one wants to and, in fact, the cold air from one turned on upstairs will flow down the stairs and keep the first (ground) floor cool. I don’t know how energy effecient they are, but they can be opened up and cleaned of mold, though it’s a bit difficult. They aren’t made to have that done.


  51. Yo, Chris – King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard? Really? 🙂

    Extreme tourism is all about status signaling. Now, thanks to these articles, everyone knows exactly how much you spend (squander?), going on these expeditions. It’s a pretty nouveaux riche move. Interesting. I saw an article recently, about the difference between “old money,” and “new money.” Also, in that book on the stately houses of England, there was a chapter on “U” and “non-U.” 🙂 Apparently, it was quit a lively topic, starting in the 1930s. “U’ signified “Upper Class.” You can figure out what “non-U” means. About the same time (maybe it was just the American version?) there was a lot of talk about “high brow,” “middle brow,” and “low brow.”

    There is, or was a geodesic dome, in the south part of our county. You could just see it off the interstate. Well, no worse than flat roofs, in a climate like ours. 🙂 Underground houses seem to work best in the desert.

    You missed out on the Tiramisu, because you were gassing? Priorities, lad. Priorities.

    So, now I’ve got to figure out where to get some gypsum. Yeah, I know. Sheet rock. Not that it’s just lying around. That I’ve seen. Ah. I see. Can buy it bagged up, like the blood meal. I just don’t remember seeing any of it around. Might have to order it, on-line.

    Renfield was very good. Lot’s of fun. High body count, buckets of blood and entrails. Nicholas Hoult is a coming actor. He’s popping up in a lot of things. He does “demented,” really well. Yes, there’s a lot of chatter over here, about “No Hard Feelings.” I’ll probably watch it, when the library gets it. But adult comedy? All sounds pretty juvenile, to me.

    I’m pretty sure I read “Mists of Avalon,” but it was probably 50 years ago. So, the details are rather sketchy. Heck, there’s no details, at all.
    I remember it was some kind of feminist screed.

    Well, no talking animals, in the original source material, for King Arthur. Or, not many. Wasn’t there that bit in the T. H. White version, where Merlin turns Arthur into different animals, to teach him lessons?

    Authors, artists, and actors. Can you separate their art from their politics or sex lives? Lots of chatter about that, here and there. It’s why I didn’t whole heartedly recommend the book, to you. I figured there were aspects of the book, that would rub you the wrong way.

    I finally got “All Art is Propaganda.” The collection of Orwell essays. The library only had one copy, it was checked out, and whoever had it was slow to return it.

    The egg supply seems to have recovered. Though prices are still a bit up, for good eggs. Recovered enough to show up in our food boxes. I left the donuts, on our swap table. They were mini donuts, with different glazes. Lethal.

    Well, our current membership rates are $10 a month, or $100 a year. We had a membership drive, recently, and it didn’t do all that well. It’s not like we can make it a mandatory thing.

    Ah, yes. The bathrooms. There are two bathrooms, just outside one of our doors, that was shared with the shopping store / landlord. Not a real problem. Except shop lifters were shop lifting and running out that way. So the landlord, gated that door off. They also entirely closed one of their entrances, on that end of the building. We do have one small bathroom, in the back of our part of the facility. But it gets pretty crowded, back there. Never mind frequent on-going plumbing problems. The landlord has promised us two new bathrooms, but I wouldn’t hold my breath. Lew

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