Long term readers will recall that last summer we produced a huge chilli pepper crop in the greenhouse. There’s still hundreds of the little blighters left to consume. We’ve added fresh chilli to all manner of meals this year. The fruits are a good source of Vitamins A, B6 and C. They also taste great and add a certain sort of zing to meals.

But consuming the hot chilli’s messes with my sleep. Anyone who knows me comprehends that messing with my sleep is a bad thing, most likely for them. And it turns out that consumption of chilli’s increase a persons metabolism, which leaves me feeling super hot at night – even in winter. Who knew that there’d be consequences for us consuming all of the garden fresh chilli peppers? And right now some of the fruit still hangs off the plants in the greenhouse – and it’s towards the end of winter. They’re one tough-as crop, and by all accounts are not as demanding on the soil as other members of the nightshade family of plants.

But whatever, the things mess with my sleep. I wrote a few weeks ago about worms, and that may have been true, but far out, it was probably the chilli. There’s this ongoing joke with Sandra and I about fatal disease, and certainly here I blame the Kate Hudson film: ‘A Little Bit of Heaven’, where the protagonist dies of colon cancer. Look, there’s no good way to make an exit from this life, and plenty of ways are probably perceived as being worse than others, but there’s something quite inglorious about some. So spare a thought for the long suffering Editor, who has to put up with my rather puerile sense of humour as I make stupid jokes about dying of ass-cancer. What can I say? I’d been sleep deprived for a while!

Being the crafty and resourceful person that I am, about a week or so ago I checked up on a list of possible things which can disturb a persons sleep. Blah, blah, blah. None of those. Ass cancer wasn’t listed. But then, there was this one vague reference to spicy foods. Then I noticed another vague reference to spicy foods in another source of information. Hmm. Twice may be a pattern here. That’s when things got suddenly serious. What does chilli do to your body? And dear reader, that’s for you to look into.

A serious discussion was then had between Sandra and I, and we chose to experiment. Firstly, we cut out all chilli peppers from our diet for a few days. Bam! That was a direct hit. For several nights in a row afterwards, I slept through the entire night without feeling overly hot. We still both love the chilli peppers and so then had to work out how to eat them, without the undocumented sleep side effects. Fortunately, we’d grown two distinct varieties of the plants. One was mild, whilst the other was slightly less than mild. As a side note, I’m not competent to consume varieties with names such as ‘Reaper’, or ‘Death’, and can only have but the greatest respect for those who do so.

What we worked out from our experiments was that the spicier of the two varieties could only be consumed at lunchtime, whilst the milder of the two varieties can be consumed at dinner time. That regime of consumption works for both of us, and we now get to enjoy the benefits of the fruit, whilst avoiding the downsides. And with better sleep and a clearer head, I could cut back on the stupid jokes. Everyone wins! Sherlock Holmes himself would be proud of our use of deductive logic, whilst probably claiming the credit for solving the case himself. The fictional character did seem like a bit of a bad egg to me.

It’s a compromise which works for us. It makes you wonder how folks other than us or the famous fictional detective employ deductive reasoning?

The other day I was reading an article about a bloke and his wife who were discussing the misgivings they had about their personal contributions to global warming from the holiday to Europe. The hand wringing didn’t stop them from travelling, and the article mentioned some horrendous statistic that at one point earlier in the year a dubious record had been broken: 22,000 commercial aircraft were in the air at once. Who even knew there were that many commercial aircraft on the planet? Fortunately, the holidaying couple experienced some rather hot weather whilst holidaying. With their concerns in the forefront of their minds and possibly a tax deduction claim associated with the writing income, they’d decided to get around the continent by using old-school human powered bicycles. A very laudable goal, and there was a touch of envy on display in the article at the electric bicycles which overtook them, especially up the steeper inclines. As someone who lives on sloping land, the couple have my sympathy. But the larger question remains unanswered: did they really need to travel halfway across the planet in order to get some exercise on their bicycles?

The famous fictional detective might point out that there is a certain disconnect between expressing concerns about a problem, whilst contributing to the same. Despite being a bad egg, the dude was nobodies fool. And just like with the chilli pepper problem we faced (of our own making too), a good nights sleep can’t be bargained around.

As I type away at this essay, it’s 5’C / 41’F outside, which is quite mild for a late winters evening. Some of the fruit trees are producing blossoms, and you can certainly see the sap is rising in many deciduous trees. The combination of decent rainfall and milder winter weather is keeping the surrounding forest growing strongly. All quite unexpected. Some mornings you can see where the overnight cool air ended up, as it pools in the valley below the mountain range.

Cold frosty winter morning air pools in the valley below the mountain range

A few months ago, we began creating a new low gradient all weather path leading down into the orchards. When you live on sloping ground, access during inclement weather is kind of important. The path project is maybe about 40% completed, and still has months of work to go. At the beginning of the week, the path work sort of ended abruptly in a steep ramp which leads to a much older path. The chicken enclosure is at the end of the much older path.

The new low gradient path has much work to go

The plan is to add more soil to the path so that the decline becomes much more gradual. Soil doesn’t make itself, so unfortunately we have to remove it from somewhere else. The good thing is that we have a need to construct a bigger firewood shed. Long term readers will recall that last year we ran out of stored firewood – and that is a bad thing. We were short by about two weeks. Given that firewood is our only source of heating fuel, a slightly bigger shed will address the issue. A choice was made as to the location of the shed, all we then have to do is excavate a flat site.

A site for the new slightly larger firewood shed reveals itself

Observant readers will note that in the above image, the land slopes about a foot and a half. That site was originally dug about a decade ago, and frankly we were in a bit of a hurry. In those days we had to hire the tools to do the work, and it was the outcome from those sorts of jobs which convinced us to slow down, do the work properly and purchase some tools. This is probably the last bit of the farm infrastructure we need to correct. And it’s a big job.

A day digging removed a lot of soil

We spent a day digging and hauling soil from this area. There’s probably another six to ten days of digging to go on the project. Interestingly, the rock walls we made in those days are rubbish. Soil flows over the top of the rock wall. The rock wall behind me in the above image will be replaced by a double height steel gabion cage.

Soil and organic matter flowed over the rock wall

At the rear of the shed near to where we are digging soil, alert readers will note in the above image that soil and organic matter have flowed over the rock wall and now rest upon the shed. Without an air gap between the timber in the shed, and the ground, the timber in the shed frame will get damp and either rot, or become home for termites. This is a very bad outcome. The rock wall there has to be replaced soon. But firstly, we relocated the soil and organic matter to a garden bed, then removed a couple of inches of the underlying clay.

A bit of a gap between timber and the ground is a very good thing

We’ll probably take a few more inches of clay from that area before we repair the rock wall with much larger rocks. And the rock wall behind the shed will probably get a double height wall of much larger rocks. We’re not sure yet. The existing small rocks from there will be used to fill a steel rock gabion cage. Nothing goes to waste here.

All the excavated soil was moved to the low gradient path project where the gradient has improved markedly. Another day of excavation and hauling soil, and that section of the new path will be spot on.

The gradient on the new path improves over time

It’s been something of a week of digging, but aren’t they all? The two new water tanks were connected up to the existing water system. Then I had to work out a way to collect the rainwater which falls onto the uphill side of the shed, whilst the water tanks sit on the downhill side. To do this, a large 90mm / 3.5inch drain pipe collects water from the uphill side of the shed roof, then pipes it under the floor of the shed. The pipe outlet eventually reaches the water tank. Down under, those drains are known as a ‘wet system’, and are quite common. But first, I had to dig the trench under the floor of the shed.

A large trench was dug under the floor of the shed

With enough practice, you do get quite good at digging. The water pipe has to sit deep enough in the trench so that the machines travelling over it, don’t break the pipe. The UV stable PVC plastic is very strong, and seals well – it has to. Once the trench inside the shed was dug, I could see on the outsides of the shed where the pipe would pop out.

A large rat (that doesn’t have ass cancer) had been digging and disturbed some of the soil

The downhill side of the trench had to be even deeper because the large water pipe had to run under a rock wall.

The author cheerily keeps on digging

With about twenty minutes to spare before a rainstorm hit, the new large pipe was in place, and the soil surface was repaired. You can’t ask for a better test of a water system than a large rainstorm. And it worked fine, all using gravity and water displacement. It has been remarked upon elsewhere that during power outages, those two methods of moving water continue to work.

We now collect water from three points on the uphill side of the shed.

Water is collected from three points on the uphill side of the shed
The water pipe exit can be seen next to Ruby

Two weeks on from the err, deft knife work on the psychotic chicken, we’re swimming in eggs. We consume lots of eggs, and the psychotic chicken failed to comprehend that is the sole reason we keep all the birds well fed and housed.

It’s mind boggling to comprehend how many eggs those birds were eating

Onto the flowers:

Hellebores are at their absolute peak
The mild winter has confused the succulents
The first of the seasons ‘Forget me nots’, and they’re blue
A sure sign of spring – Daffodils

The temperature outside now at about 9am is 4’C (39’F). So far this year there has been 584.0mm (23.0 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 568.6mm (22.4 inches)

39 thoughts on “Breathe”

  1. grow it and eat it- Glad you got the pepper thing figured out. The problem we sometimes have is that we hate waste, so sometimes get more harvest of a specific veg than we can eat, and are reluctant to pitch anything. Sometimes we go heavy on it for a while, and sometimes we preserve it, but then toss after a couple years 🙁 . In all seriousness, we’ve gotten better at planting enough but not too much, mother nature is sometime overgenerous. For some things, there’s always the chickens!

    water harvest- I’ve never seen water transfer to the downhill side going under the building ( it freezes pretty deep here). Barns here have a sloped downspout that crosses outside to the other side and to the cistern, but that only works if it is not blocking a doorway.

    So does that mean that the invert in the trench is pretty much always full of water?

    bigger woodshed- I hear you. After I’m finished with the greenhouse ( and more water storage!) I am adding one more wood storage shed. Have already started setting aside materials for it. No bush fires here, and winters are pretty low humidity, so it can have open sides.

  2. Hi Steve,

    It’s funny isn’t it, when nature over-produces. You’re big into preserving, so you already know that it’s not just about growing produce, you have to harvest it and somehow store and/or consume it. My mind boggles to consider what our ancestors would have known how to do merely as a survival practice.

    Chickens are good for that purpose, oh yeah. We had a batch of peach jam which I hadn’t really put quite enough sugar into, and although it was OK, it wasn’t OK enough to consume after a few years. The sugar in jam acts as a preserving agent. But, with a touch of craftiness, the jam was mixed into oats over a few weeks, and fed to the chickens. They’re not fussy eaters. And we have better tasting jams anyway, like raspberry, blackberry and kiwifruit. I’m sure there are good peach jams out there, but I’m yet to encounter one.

    🙂 The seed catalogues are always tempting, but you’re asking the hard questions there: Will this plant be consumed? And is it taking up valuable garden space? Like you, we’re getting around to growing what we eat, and not what we have a whim to grow.

    There’s a plan over the next month or so to increase the size of the space allocated to growing vegetables. As the infrastructure projects wind down (maybe?) we’re putting more effort into the plants.

    Hope to get some hazelnuts this season as there are catkins hanging off the branches right now.

    Ah, of course. Local solutions for local problems. Yes, that might be a problem with the ground freezing. Haven’t experienced that problem myself, despite the frost potential tomorrow morning. You might not know of a burst underground pipe until the spring thaw. How do you stop water pipes from freezing in those conditions?

    You’re exactly correct too. If the pipes from part of a ‘dry system’, then they work just like what you wrote. The only issue there is that the walls of the shed have to be constructed a fair bit higher than the inlet filters on the water tanks. And I agree, the doorways are always the limiting factor. You’ll note that the walls of the shed are 1.8m which makes it easier and cheaper for me to construct the shed (the peak of the roof may be 2.7m at a guess, with 1/3rd up + 2/3rds down for aesthetics). But if the water tanks sat on a level with the shed, the doors are already 2.1m high and the inlet of the water tanks are much the same. The shed walls would then have to be a lot taller in that instance. But in this case, we dropped the height of the water tanks relative to the shed to get around that problem and ran the pipes under the floor of the shed. You could do a similar thing by dropping the water tanks lower, but utilise a skillion roof design. We’re planing to do that sort of arrangement with the new firewood shed, and it’ll make sense in a few months time when that project gets constructed – patience please! 🙂 You might appreciate the design, and I reckon the roof will stand up well to snow loads. But it is hard to explain that design using words alone, and much easier to show some pictures when it’s under construction. But firstly, more earthworks… In the digging this week, there is a very large green water tank which has to be moved, and lowered in height to accommodate the new firewood shed. Oh well, nobody said this stuff would be easy.

    The trench is dry because the 90mm PVC pipe is well sealed and has no joins underground. Also the ground water reln drains stop most water getting into the shed. The 90mm PVC pipes come standard in 6m lengths, which is always fun to transport. 😉 The pipe however is now full of water, and when rain falls on the roof of the shed and drains into the pipe, displacement forces the water out of the pipes at the lowest point, which is the water tank inlet filter. Down under that’s a common system. Mosquitoes can get into such systems, but then that gives the tree frogs and spiders an easy feed. We have a lot of frogs and spiders.

    A very laudable goal! And yeah, true pain is running out of dry firewood in an unexpectedly prolonged cold season. We were two weeks short last year. It’s a harsh lesson. Have you decided how to do the water storage? You’re lucky that the winters in your part of the world are low humidity and the firewood doesn’t become damp. The winter here is constantly over 90% humidity. Right now, it’s bonkers wet outside, but tomorrow is our very first day of Moderate UV sunshine. For some parts of the planet, that sort of rating is high summer conditions, but not here, we get to Extreme UV. Kind of burns the skin that sunlight. Ouch!



  3. Hello Chris
    I am puzzled. Do the chickens eat the egg shells then? That is one heck of a lot of shell.
    You can keep the chillis, I don’t like them. Son loves them but finds the climate here doesn’t help him to grow them.
    It is raining of course as I watered every thing yesterday evening.


  4. Hi Lewis,

    It’s pretty funny to consider that you guys had the puritans, and we instead had the jailers and convicts. 🙂 Little wonder that folks down here seek comfort in rules, it’s something of a national cultural trait from what I’ve observed over the past couple of years combined with the results of the last two elections.

    The history from your part of the world is fascinating. Like take the Boston Tea Party incident and American Revolution for example, we had our own small and very odd Rum Rebellion which was staged by the military, and was mostly all about pay issues and lack of access to rum, it being the medium of exchange in the early days. Your country’s efforts were for higher ideals than what went on down here. Yet, as a population we do seem like a relatively orderly lot. It’s hard for me to make sense of that given we were originally from similar cultural origins.

    So walking the dogs tonight after work, I spotted a couple of pairs of eyes in the edge of the forest. You know the eyes belong to predators because they’re both facing forward. Probably foxes if I had to guess, and they scampered off back into the forest. But would I casually walk around the forest at night if there were your bears? No fricken way! Anyway, generally my reading of history suggests that during times of hardship, people tend to pull together. You could always get unlucky, but then that can happen to anyone, under any circumstance. Still, it is a truth universally known that it is better to have the bear spray and not need it, than want the bear spray and not have it.

    Hehe! Oh that’s funny, and why not have the Star Trek dancers? It’s all kind of hard to explain really. 🙂 I must say that the tagline: ‘Subspace Rhapsody’, was very amusing. I say, why not give it a go, the haters will most assuredly boost viewer numbers, and if they’re watching, are they really hating on the episode? I think not, they’re fans for sure. It seemed pretty silly, but could be rated as mostly harmless and gets people talking. Look I haven’t died watching a musical, the facts sort of suggest that this is the case, but do I go out of my way to watch them? That’s the question here. And the Blues Brothers was genius, so you know, an old dude can sometimes learn new tricks. But let’s just keep this little secret between you and I. I’ve mentioned to you that a few years ago I went to the Comedy Festival to see a production: “The Aspie Hour”. Lewis, they were really sweet, and had a special interest in all things musicals. It was a good show and did me no harm to go and enjoy.

    I agree, those huge SUV’s cost a small fortune and there is a market for smaller vehicles. The wait time for the Dirt Rat was around six months from what they were telling us. A year ago we rang around every dealer in the state and nabbed a demo which only one dealer wanted to off-load to reduce their stock, but at a premium. It’s an option. However, I’ve seen new Rangers costing in the order of $60k, and that’s a lot of mad cash from my point of view. I may be old fashioned here though, and prefer to only purchase vehicles I can afford to pay for and operate. My gut feeling suggests that this huge vehicle trend will only continue as long as people can pay for it, and there is a tipping point to be reached there. Large vehicles cost a lot to purchase, maintain and run day to day. People can argue whatever they like about economics, but if an item can’t be paid for, it generally isn’t paid for. I’d imagine that increased interest rates has impacted upon peoples abilities to get loans for them large vehicles. I can’t believe that there would be no impact.

    Thanks for the sympathy, and Dame Plum is doing OK now. You’re right and all options are on the table right now. We’re monitoring her activities a bit more closely to see what we can learn. Still, like that art thief bloke, she has the ‘sleight of paw’ when it comes to nabbing things.

    Hehe! Oh man, the stories I could tell, if only I were but allowed to do so. Alas, woe is me for it is not my natural state of being to be deliberately mysterious. Those folks are probably hard work, and without letting on with details of any sort, a minor celebrity once sacked me. It’s an enviable achievement. 🙂 I don’t recall signing any of those agreement things out of the ordinary, but their pockets are just deeper and they can afford the lawfare fees.

    Good to hear that the tacos were tasty as. Has the club given up on the pancake idea? Thanks so much for asking your crusty old logger acquaintance. Hmm, the explanation makes a lot of sense, and if I may suggest, was possibly done after the 1983 Ash Wednesday fires which just brushed this property – other parts of the mountain range were hit much harder. Anything dead and salvageable following on from that, was probably salvaged, using the theory. And I reckon they used bulldozers, otherwise how would the cut, removed and burnt tree stumps be left upside down? That’s never made a lot of sense to me because I doubt even combined horses would have the strength for that work. Interestingly, the upside down tree stumps are located near to where there are stands of trees which are much younger and more consistently sized, so the explanation makes a lot of sense, and is one I’d not considered. I’d say, without further evidence to the contrary, that’s a mystery resolved. Thanks for asking! 🙂

    Hey, I tried finding a photograph of the art thief lady in question, with no success. But I agree, a bit of diversion tactics, and much could be achieved.

    Hope you and H enjoyed the visit to the Club.

    Just worked today, nothing much to report. I’m settling in for a quiet evening of reading! A joy. I’m about two thirds of the way through ‘The Air Raid Book Club’ novel. Such a delightful place to spend time, and so many references to Jane Eyre, can’t be a bad thing! 😉 Alas, the book will be finished all too soon.



  5. Hi Inge,

    That’s a great question. As you suggest, consuming the contents of so many eggs and the shells is a bit of a logistical problem. The psychotic chicken was getting lazy towards the end. She’d break open the egg, consume the choicest bits of the eggs innards, then encourage the other birds to consume the remainder. Then once replete from a good feed, the birds would just abandon the broken shell.

    Apart from harvesting no eggs whatsoever, the broken shells were a constant reminder as to what exactly was going on in the chicken enclosure. The other birds not involved in the consumption were laying their eggs all over the place inside the hen house, but it was never good enough to avoid the most awful fate in store for the eggs.

    It was a bit of a nightmare for me, because every morning and afternoon, I’d be seeing the situation in the chicken enclosure. Then Sandra and I would be discussing it. The we’d all be discussing it here on the blog, and by the time the weekend rolled around, I was not fussed at all to spend a couple of hours working out what was going on, then do something about the problem.

    And wow! So many eggs were eaten. It really is hard to fathom the awful truth.

    It took the Black Summer of 2019-2020 (which was very hot) for us to be able to grow chilli’s outside. Other than that, without the greenhouse, we could not be growing chilli’s here, so the climate is not good for the plants here either. I’m with your son in this matter, they’re good.

    You’re having such a different summer from other parts of the continent. In some ways, I reckon that is a good thing. And I’m not sure about your experience and am curious, but here we are fast learning how to cope with these sorts of cold and wet summer growing seasons. That kind of weather is a complicated problem. My experience suggests that it is easier to grow annual plants in hotter climates, if you have access to plentiful water.



  6. Hello Chris
    I have just asked Son about chickens eating the egg shells. He said that they certainly do because they need the calcium, so people grind up the egg shells to give to their chickens. He doesn’t because he doesn’t want to give them a taste for them. Instead, he feeds them oyster shells.


  7. Hi Chris,

    Good you found it was the peppers interfering with your sleep. It’s like coffee. I can’t drink it after late morning as it really messes with my sleep.

    How did that chicken eat all those eggs! Amazing.

    We’re off in a couple weeks for our 2nd 10 day trip this summer to Isle Royale National Park and to Niagara Falls with some stops on the way. We won’t be riding bikes :). I have to say I feel a bit guilty but sometime you have to compromise. Doug was quite invested in traveling some this summer as he’s taking a break from pigs so we can actually can go somewhere. I have a friend who’s pressuring me to go to Rocky Mountain State Park next spring. We’ve talked about the issues with travel but she still wants to continue though her trips are almost always driving and generally to National Parks and the like. My most recent read was “One Square Inch of Silence” by Gordon Hempton and he talks a lot about how commercial flights (as well as other man made noise) have contributed to the almost total loss of quiet everywhere.

    We are having a day of rain today and we sure need it. Good thing too as the hottest weather of the summer is forecast for the end of the week and beyond.

    Some of my tomatoes have recovered somewhat from the Roundup spraying by the farmer and the beans and cucumbers are doing well.

    My aunt has agreed to the surgery to put a shunt in to drain the fluid that is pressing on her brain though it’s not scheduled for almost a month. My cousin reports that she’s become more agreeable. I’ve talked to her several times but our conversations aren’t the same as they used to be.


  8. Yo, Chris – Interesting about the chili mystery. You’re such a delicate little flower 🙂 . Though I think I mentioned I also did a bit of research into why I was making so many trips to the potty, at night. Chilies were a possibility. And when I cut way back on my beloved hot sauce, the problem was pretty much solved. So many mysteries …

    I’ve seen a couple of articles about tourists, being disappointed in their vacations, due to the heat. When they’re not running for their lives, from wild fires. But they seem not to be able to make the connection, between the possible connection, between their jetting all over the place, and increased heat. They want what they want, and in comfort, too. Some of the problem may take care of itself. I’ve seen a few articles about planes, in extreme heat, that can’t fly. They can’t get “lift” in the hot air. Never mind the runways melting down.

    A busy week for you. That low gradient ramp will come in handy, when our confined to your motorized chair 🙂 Good work, getting all those water tanks up and running. And, a good start on the woodshed.

    Over here, we’re seeing a breakdown of rules. Not a good look. But maybe people would be more likely to follow sensible rules, if there weren’t so many stupid ones?

    Oh, if I start packing bear spray, it will be more likely to be used on people, rather than bears. Speaking of bears, one of the fellows at the Club, and his daughter were set to shoot a nuisance bear. They got a permit, and all. So, they’re sitting in a blind, the bear shows up, the daughter gets off a shot, the Dad has a new gun, and there were (according to reports) three safeties. So, they’ve got a wounded bear running around. Maybe. They tracked it a ways and said “There was a lot of blood.” But, until they find, or smell the body, there may be an enraged animal on the loose. Luckily, it’s way south of where I live. But it is in my friend Jane’s neighborhood.

    Seems like several regular series, throw in a musical episode. A comment was made that it’s usually a last gasp of a series, on it’s way out. And that early in season two, is kind of unusual. Sure, you haven’t died from being subjected to a musical, but I bet you twitch a lot. 🙂

    Poor celebrities. Their bad behavior often leaks out. All those service people they brush up against, who haven’t signed NDAs.

    Yes, Mr. Bill, our Club manager says he’s given up on the pancakes. But, I bet he’ll give it another try, when the weather turns bad. People have so much going on here, in the summer. Next week is the kick off of our yearly county fair. Like your ag shows. Things usually get quit, around the Club, during “fair week.”

    I saw a few photos of the art theft lady. She’s what we used to call, “buxom.” 🙂 I can see where she could distract a museum guard.

    If you’re not tired of the Blitz, I read a book last year that was about as good as “The Air Raid Book Club.” “The Little Wartime Library,” (Thompson, 2022). A novel, but based on a real library. When a library was bombed out, in the east end of London, the surviving staff opened a library in one of the disused subway tubes, that was being used as air raid shelters. It’s also a bit of a romance.

    10am, and already 82 degrees. Speaking of delicate flowers 🙂 the Master Gardeners did not show up, this morning. I had to run down to my bank, and negotiate the Round-About of Death. Had a couple of things I had to do, in person. I watered when I got back, and will water again, this evening. Might hit 100F, today.

    I decided I needed to stock up a bit, on cold stuff, I can eat without much prep. So, last night, I made a three (well, four) bean salad. Enough for three or four meals. Someone gave me a couple of cucumbers, so I decided I’ll also make some of grannie’s cucumber salad. Well, I need a pint of whipping cream. Ran down to the store, last night, and about went into shock. $5+ for a pint! And just a pretty run of the mill brand. Nothing special. No pictures of happy cows, on the label. Heck, gas (petrol) is cheaper. Lew

  9. Hi Inge,

    Thanks for asking your son about the chickens and their naughty behaviour. I know people who roast, and then crush up egg shells to feed back to the chickens. Like your son, this is not something that I would do for much the same reasons.

    As far as I could ascertain with the entire issue is that it is fairly natural behaviour with chickens, but probably not to the extent my lot were exhibiting. Basically, the miscreants took things too far by eating all of the eggs.

    And like your son, I add a good quantity of fine shell grit into their regular feed. They also get blood and bone added. Plus rock dust (for grits). And two types of chicken feed: Grains + Crumbles. The whole lot gets mixed up together. Four days per week they’ll get a quantity of mince meat. Every day they get a batch of weeds (year around) plus kitchen scraps. On the three days they don’t get mince meat they get rolled oats mixed up with milk.

    There might be chickens consuming a better diet, but I hold some doubts that a dietary concern was at the core of this problem.

    I’m unable / unwilling to free range the chickens, so it is possible that they were bored, or responding to population pressure. We’ve decided to permanently keep less chickens in the enclosure.

    It’s a mystery, but I have observed cannibal chickens before, and I avoid those even more commercial breeds for that reason. The commercial chickens are usually de-beaked for those sorts of reasons.



  10. Hi Margaret,

    Yeah, it was a really strange problem with the chilli’s. I’m sure other people can consume super hot varieties in the evening, with no problems whatsoever, but alas! 🙂 I hear you about the coffee, and that’s another batch of chemicals which affect people differently. I’ve had people tell me that I shouldn’t get any reaction to Monosodium Glutamate, but that’s not how things roll. Everyone has different sensitivities to things, and you just never know what will get you unstuck.

    It is amazing that three chickens could consume so many eggs, although they were enablers for the other chickens in the flock as they were the ones who broke the eggs. I’m hoping that this chicken-egg-eating issue is now behind us, but if it reoccurs, we will move more quickly in future. It was a hard lesson in some ways for Sandra to learn, but you know that’s livestock. And I’m sure you and Doug have had your trials over the years with the chickens, bees and pigs?

    Speaking of the bees, I’d thought that the winter weather finally wiped out the hive. The landing pad was like a big glop of damp bee poop. Not good, and the hive was quiet. But no, now the weather is slowly warming they’ve been out and about on their foraging business – and have even cleaned up the landing pad. Talk about a spring clean!

    That National Park looks amazing. Hope you have a good trip, and yes, wise to avoid the bikes! 😉 My main issue with the bloke in that regard, was perhaps next time avoid the virtuous public display of angst. I mean, it didn’t seem to be of any value don’t you reckon?

    And you raise an issue which is of considerable interest to me. They do say that too many tourists, spoils the broth! 😉 What a great book concept! The quiet encourages reflection and contemplation, and who knows where such journeys will go? There are mornings here, when the wind is still, the humidity high, and the only thing you can hear are the noises of the bush. Each morning, I walk Ollie as he does his ablutions, and get to observe all of the activities of the many birds.

    However, we are in a flight path, and one thing I’ve noticed over the years is that there are less aircraft in the sky. Just after the quiet years of the health subject which dare not be named, the dogs used to bark at aircraft. I watched Ollie today as he observed an aircraft flying overhead. Wouldn’t it be interesting to be able to ask him what he thought of the thing?

    That rain before the hot weather is nature doing you a solid. Good to hear that you’re heading off on your travels after the hot weather peak. It was 1’C / 34’F this morning, and may be colder again tomorrow.

    Out of curiosity, how did you get your tomatoes through the awful spray incident?

    Oh Margaret, that’s hard, and fingers crossed your aunt’s surgery goes well. That’s the problem with brain medical issues, they can actually change a persons core personality. I’ve known some folks who had dementia and became super-mean and really base. You know that wasn’t them, and have to ignore those memories.



  11. Hi Lewis,

    So true about this delicate flower business, probably something to do with the ginger side of things. 🙂 But then, it takes one delicate one to know one, as they used to say in the school yard. Bam! Right back atcha brother! 🙂 Exactly, so many mysteries we have to endure. Where is the user manual? That’s what I want to know, I would have read it too. But yeah, losing the beloved hot sauce is a loss for you, yup, just like the dinner chilli’s. What to do? The thing is, a lot of restaurants and pubs tend to add chilli, not to mention salt and the dreaded (for me anyway) monosodium glutamate to meals. Look, on reflection, it’s probably amazing that we have individually achieved the reaching for the blue zone awards that we have. The odds I’d have to suggest, are stacked against me at least. The problem becomes for me, why do I even head out for dinner when the food reacts poorly with my delicate system? Or do I enjoy the experience and ambience, and simply endure the consequences? Or does it even matter? So many questions remain unanswered, and like you wisely penned: so many mysteries!

    What is it you say about buying your ticket then taking your chances? That most certainly applies to tourism, and natural disasters are an equal opportunity event. They don’t tend to discriminate between locals and tourists. And I agree, people want what they want, consequences be damned. And that’s my thinking in the matter too. This entire carousel ride is subject to Peak Oil, not to mention Peak Everything (including Rocks… yikes!), pollution, industrial output etc. There are a lot of factors which will set an upper limit on things. What astounds me about that, is few people consider what this may mean in more practical terms. And that’s a problem.

    Speaking of Peak Rocks, this morning the weather was bonkers cold at 34’F. But then the sun shone and it warmed up as the day progressed. I’d read the weather forecast, and played hooky today. Took the day off. By mid morning, I was catching some rays from the late winter sun and smooshing up a large boulder into more easily moveable large rocks for the low gradient path project. Dame Plum was as always well behaved, Ollie sat in the sun and watched me break apart the boulder, and Ruby was well, being Ruby. Scored some very nice large rocks for the project.

    It’s now after 9pm, and I interrupted the reply to take the dogs out to do their ablutions. Dame Plum checked on the rat situation and gave an all-clear. It’s 36’F outside and likely to get colder tonight. What’s great about winter night skies is that the star field is so amazingly clear. The moon is nowhere to be seen tonight, so it is very dark out there. There are stars to near the horizon. Nature is pretty amazing.

    Hehe! You know about that motorised chair prediction, I kind of hope you are wrong. 😉 But all the same, the new low gradient path will come in handy over the years. Might do some more work digging out the woodshed site in a few days time. I can’t play hooky for too long, sadly the work piles up.

    It’s not just in your part of the world where the ordinary rules of engagement are being ignored, or forgotten. Need I mention the lady I barely knew who whacked me around the back of the head late last year? Mate, if I’d done that, all hell would have broken loose. But your larger point is correct, at some point there does become too many rules. I’d be good with a few guidelines for better living, but turns out most people need explicit instructions. And here we are today!

    I see that you are expecting trouble. Still, better to have the stuff and not use it, than need it, and not have it. Oh my gawd! There’s no season on deer down here, but a person is legally obligated to use a large enough calibre to take down a Sambar deer, or risk getting into serious trouble. Hmm. And it’s probably not a bad idea to know how to use the tool before a person needs to use it. 😉 The bear would be most annoyed, and the people might be in some trouble.

    Speaking of knowing how to use tools, the Editor has expressed an interest in the farm machine servicing work. Today, we went over how to maintain the stump grinder, and she just got it, and repeated the work on several occasions. This is a good thing because it saves me a bunch of hassle. I was calling her a chick-canic. 🙂 We’d probably make more mad cash doing that trade.

    Why don’t they just recount a good story? How hard could that be? Might not require the music and dance interludes though. Of course, for all you know, the writers and producers may have been indulging their secret love of all things Bollywood! I may be onto something here. Far out. And it’s not twitchy thank you very much, it’s more a sort of, oh alright, yes it is twitchy… Hehe! Thanks for the laughs.

    You know what I learned about those folks: Don’t talk to them. I didn’t know they wanted to be treated all special like and stuff. What I didn’t like was that they expected me to work for a day, and somehow not use the toilet. Look, that ain’t happening on my watch. I actually had to go up the road if I wanted to use the toilet. Last I checked, my mum taught me how to clean up after myself in the bathroom. Trust me, it was no hardship to be sacked from that work.

    Yeah. Time will sort out the pancake problem. And hey, did we ever get to the bottom of the most important question of all: What’s better, pancakes or crepes? My vote goes for pancakes. Crepes don’t quite hold the toppings. Would you go to the local fair?

    Buxom! Hehe! Yes, that may distract bored security guards on an otherwise quiet weekday afternoon shift. But then, distinctive personal features might stick in a persons mind. To bad if you don’t have a visual memory though and all you can say to the forensic artist was that the young lady in question was buxom. Having to work with one of those folks would be like a personal nightmare. Oh well.

    Thanks for the book recommendation, and I recall you mentioning it at the time. Hmm, after the blitz book, I’m planning on a Jack Vance, then the Editor has been hassling me (I’ve heard it said that book recommendations also begin at home!) to read Wuthering Heights. Apparently Heathcliff is something of a bad egg and the book will do me good or something like that. Then Mr King’s ‘Finders Keepers’, or also known as Book II.

    Hey, what can I say? It’s delicate flower week. Surely you’ve heard of this? What we need to do is somehow organise the donations to flow in, then our fortunes will be made. It’s a plan, but hope nobody expects any paperwork.

    Far out, did it get that hot? Triple digits is always uncomfortable. It may have been 52’F and sunny mid this afternoon. Quite nice really. Glad that the hot weather didn’t affect the navigability of the round about of death. People get strange in weather extremes.

    Ah, a fine food idea, and one we also do during very hot weather. Bean salads are a great idea for a hot day. Yes, such days make a person think of outdoor kitchens. We generally run the electric oven under the carport in the shade outdoors on hot days for bread and other baking. No point heating up the house.

    Holy carp! That is a lot for whipping cream. Is there a shortage or something like that? I would have thought that the cows would have been producing at this time of year.



  12. Yo, Chris – Yeah, you being a ginger might be a contributing factor. I didn’t want to point out the obvious. 🙂 The “lady” who whacked you in the head, might have taken umbrage at your plumage. You could probably nail her for a “hate” crime.

    It hit 97F, yesterday. Forecast for today is for 99F. I always feel slightly cheated, if we get that close and don’t hit 100F. Not that a couple of degrees makes any difference in comfort. Supposed to be cooler, Thursday / Friday. Could be worse. Portland is supposed to hit 106, today. According to Prof. Mass.

    Chick-canic is great! Ought to start your own repair business. Maybe call it, “Mad Cash Mechanics.” I bet the oversight and licensing is out of sight. And there’s always that 5% of your customers who are nuts. Best keep it “in house.”

    Writers and producers were probably high school musical wash-outs. But they just can’t help themselves and leave it alone.

    Pancakes vs crepes. Well, crepes are a bit more fiddly to make. And then there are Blintzes. Oh, yummers. Especially blueberry Blintzes. It’s a crepe, and you roll a filling of blueberries and cream cheese, inside. We have a chain, here, called IHOP (International House of Pancakes.) They served the best blueberry Blintzes. There was one near the University campus, and as they’re open 24/7, it was a late night student hangout for a good cheap nosh.

    As long as I’ve lived here, I’ve never gone to the fair. Too many people. And what with this heat …

    Sounds like you’ve got books stacked up in a holding pattern. Like airplanes waiting their turn, to land at an airport. At least, there’s not much of a carbon footprint.

    We need to create a Delicate Flower PAC (Political Action Committee). Seems to be the way to rake in mad cash, these days. Paperwork? What paperwork? Not much oversight. Where did all the money go? Dog ate the paperwork.

    Summer kitchens. My grandma used to talk a lot about summer kitchens, back in Minnesota. Winters were cold, but summers could be stifling. My friends in Idaho, when they lived here, had a split level. With a full kitchen on the ground floor. In case they ever wanted to turn it into an apartment. Out the sliding glass doors, was a patio. It was on the “cool” side of the house. So, they did a lot of heavy duty canning, out on the patio, on a gas stove.

    Re: Whipping cream. What the traffic will bear. Since You Know What, I think there’s still a lot of price gouging, going on. Demand destruction might eventually take care of that.

    There’s been a lot of chatter, on the net, about some huge mass of something or other, lurking under the ground in western Australia. Maybe an asteroid impact crater. I think it’s a huge alien mothership. But can they leave it well enough alone?

    Went down to biscuits and gravy, this morning. Tasty. Even early, it was still pretty warm. Elinor has a dental appointment, today. Nothing pressing, but she’s doing it anyway. Hottest day of the year, so far, at 2, the hottest part of the day. Whatever.

    I’m heading out to do a morning water. Lew

  13. Chris,

    Welcome to getting unyoung. Foods that were once blissfully enjoyed begin to have repercussions when eaten. Time of day, as you’ve found out, might make a difference. Be grateful about that with the hotter chilis.

    Congrats on the new water tanks and piping working out. That’s good work. The tortoise method works for such jobs, right?

    Okay, so I’m reading between the lines. You’ve been at peak rocks for quite some time. Now you’re having to scrounge for dirt for some of the paths. Does that mean that you’ve also achieved peak dirt?

    Alas! The cheeky old rascal at carving isn’t able to carve much now. I just hope that he can attend the meetings occasionally. He’s a lot of fun. One of the younger guys (my age) once took some pictures of the old rascal. He then was able to concoct a project to carve a 3-dimensional Cheeky Old Rascal. He taught it as a class at one of our outdoor events one year. Yes, the real cheeky old rascal took and enjoyed the class. You might say that he carved himself.

    Had to take Avalanche to the vet today. Her cough is back. They gave her an injection that should relieve the cough by reducing swelling and inflammation. If it works, the long term treatment will be to treat it as if it were asthma. Yup, I think I’ve got an asthmatic dog.

    The heat wave is here in full force. 42C at my house this afternoon. The urban area was “officially” 40C. Two more nearly identical days to follow, with the addition of 25 km/hour winds with higher gusts on Thursday. Then the heat wave should slowly dissipate.

    The Princess is visiting her brother this week. She left me a list of projects to do. Indoors projects. Some of them coincide with things I was planning to work on. I’ll keep pleasantly busy.


  14. Hi DJ,

    This getting older thing isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be, you know! 🙂 And I’m pretty certain that you just issued a warning that things could be worse in regards to the chilli’s? 🙂 Man, I’m not stressed out about things, and have had a good long trouble free run on that front so am hardly in a position to complain. I have it on good authority that the alternative is worse.

    In some ways, it’s kind of like the same problem we faced with the whole eat like a rabbit at home story, with the then don’t worry about food away from home solution. I enjoy the occasional dinner at the pub, or at a local restaurant, and you can’t really control what they chuck into the standard fare – although plenty of people go out of their ways to be food nightmares for such businesses. Not something I’d do – recall Fight Club and the awful onion soup scene. 😉 If you know such things, you become naturally cautious. Anyway, adaption to circumstances is the way to go, and be realistic about the consequences. There are some responses to circumstances with this chilli issue but I’d prefer not too, but oh well.

    How’s your hand going? I was thinking of you this morning because I went to the nursery and stocked up on specific fertiliser. They only had 5kg bags of blood and bone meal in the shelves, and when there are acres and lots of coffee grounds, it’s best to seek out the larger bags. The Editor spotted the last of the 20kg bags of the stuff in an out of the way spot. Reached in to the industrial racking to grab the bag, lifted it, then the back of my head connected with the lower steel rail of the upper shelf. Fortunately I had a thick wool hat on which cushioned some of the blow. Have had a touch of mild concussion for the rest of the day, and woe is me – had to work. Did some seriously good paid work too. Oh well, the blow may have improved things? 🙂

    Yes, exactly! Best if infrastructure is done slowly. Over doing things is an old story. Visitors have remarked about the set up here, but it has taken eighteen years. Where’s that way-back machine when a bloke and his dog (perhaps called Peabody!) needs such things?

    Far out, do we have to add Peak Dirt to the list of things to worry about? We just might!

    Ah, that’s a bit of a shame the cheeky old bloke isn’t able to carve much now. He sounds like a fun teacher, and I reckon you’re right there.

    Poor Avalanche, and I shall send her some positive energy. Hmm. As a suggestion given you’ve raised this matter, is it possible that some of her feed is producing an inflammatory response which leads to coughing? I’ve observed over the years that the quality of dog food has declined. We make about half of what the dogs here consume in their breakfast mix and all of their baked biscuits. You got something else important and pressing to do? 😉 The challenge has been thrown down and the champ retreats before the challenger cracks the absolute sads!!! I feel for Avalanche in that heat too. She’s doing it super tough, but aren’t you all.

    Fingers crossed that the heat and winds recede into the rear view mirror with no incidents. Stay alert and keep cool.

    Hope your lady and her brother are doing well, and staying out of the heat? Such days are for resting up (and maybe considering home made dog food options), and not working. Still indoors might be OK, maybe. Thanks for the laughs too: Some of them coincide with things I was planning to work on. Mate, you’re a brave man, and I salute your courage! And I’d do no less than your commendable example in similar circumstances.

    Ollie is looking at my dinner and just ripped one out, and is drooling. Who knew dogs enjoy curried roast cauliflower? It’s good.



  15. Hi Lewis,

    🙂 You learn to live with such things when that’s the case, and sometimes the obvious answer fits the story. I like how your brain works, but much to my dismay, the lady actually got me a second time not long afterwards. Just proving that you can’t really predict every circumstance. So, I was ready and prepared for her antics, and casually encountered her, and she told me about the fate of the farm machine repair dude who I’d only just spoken to two days beforehand. Bam! Bam! Two shots near to the wheelhouse, and Chris was left reeling on both occasions and the hull was candidly taking in water. And I haven’t seen her since. To be honest mate, I’m not sure now I want to encounter her a third time. I’m a bit nervous really. I dread mentioning Dickens, but didn’t those ghosts visit old Ebenezer Scrooge three times? I’d hate to be chucked into that basket with the likes of him, but the cold winds of fate man, blow brutal hard. Was that three ghost thing something Dickens made up, or did he rip the concept from elder lore?

    Speaking of getting whacked in the head, I accidentally banged the back of my head into some industrial racking earlier today. Hopefully I’ve got a hard skull and was fortunately wearing a thick woollen hat which provided some cushioning. That’s the plan anyway with the hard skull, and I had to work today. Did some good work though, so hopefully the brain is ticking along OK.

    Hehe! Surely you jest about the temperatures making the triple digits. 🙂 Things could always be worse you know. As a bit of only vaguely related cricket (the gentlemen’s sport) trivia, one very famous now deceased Aussie batsman earned a batting average of 99.94 runs. Quite impressive and guy was a very interesting person, but not quite triple digits is it?

    Hope it cools down for you soon, and those are the days to water the tomatoes. They wilt in such heat, but recover of an evening.

    I like that, it has a nice ring to it. Mad Cash Mechanics (or MCM for short. Roman enthusiasts may read more into that acronym than was ever intended). You’re probably right, and we’d have to somehow get the old oil recycled – how they do that trick is probably quite clever, and energy intensive. Hang on a second, that’s a good point about the 5% lot. I probably don’t have what it takes to tell them to go and f, err, sorry just about to type something which doesn’t quite fit the code of conduct, so let’s interpret here, and fluff themselves. That was close. See, I don’t have what it takes, I’d say something like that, and then and lose 5% of the business. But then a bit of quick maths suggests that 100% – 5% = 95%. That’s not bad that remainder, and maybe it’s good enough.

    Hehe! Sounds to me like you’ve met a few such folks in your day. It really is hard to explain that musical episode, but the whole thing is fictional anyway. Do you think those folks need a mission statement to keep them on track and remind them why they get paid?

    That’s my thought about the crepes, and they’ve always seemed a bit too heavy on the butter for my tastes. Blintzes sound excellent, and comparisons in my mind are being drawn to the Italian cannoli’s. When those things are good, they’re very good. That’s a good acronym too, reminds me of bouncing electronic marsupials, but would I go there too: you bet! Yum!

    Fair enough and I don’t understand why such events are run at the hottest time of the year? The farm expos I go to used to be run at that time of year, and then the health subject which dares not be named changed things, and the event gets run a bit later when the weather isn’t so bonkers hot. Probably a bit harder with harvest at that time of year, but then are the sort of folks going to such small farm expos bringing in massive harvests anyway?

    You’ve got me wondering: Do books have a large carbon footprint, and does that meme even mean anything?

    Politics would be far more boring, and probably be more involved with getting stuff done, if there were no political donations. I read something long ago which suggested that nobody donates to a political party with the expectation of no-return. Some cheeky scamps may call those things: investments. Dogs are good for such things, but if history is any guide shredders seem to get more of a workout.

    That’s a clever way to keep excess heat out of a house, and canning produces a lot of heat. Oh yeah. I guess canning as a preserving technique hasn’t been around all that long. Hmm. Another line of inquiry.

    I agree, inflationary times can often produce the undocumented effect of price gouging. Some may call it an opportunity, I’d probably describe it as a negative feedback loop.

    Hmm. I could find anything about the Western Australian meteor biz. There is a very large crater there, but the thing hit about 364 million years ago. Wouldn’t want to have been there that day!

    Glad to hear that Elinor is doing OK. Of course, I may be misinterpreting no news as being good news.



  16. Hi Chris,

    The only thing we did was water the tomato plants much more than usual. Only the heirloom (best tasting) didn’t survive.


  17. Yo, Chris – Where did the three ghosts come from? Don’t know. The topic never came up, in my chats with Dickens. But things in threes are very big in Elder Lore. And mythology in general.

    We’ll be referring to that knock on the head, in future. Probably quit a lot. 🙂

    Well, we hit the jackpot. 100F, yesterday. Forecast is for 96 today. Then 10 degrees cooler on Thursday, and another 10 degrees cooler on Friday.

    When I shop on line, if a vendor has thousands of feedbacks, and they’re 95% or more, I figure they’re pretty good. Because of that 5%. Funny. A lot of them hit right at 95%. Well, we know who those other 5% people are. Or, what they’re like.

    Do books have a large carbon footprint? Well, looking in the rabbit hole, one source claims books have a carbon footprint of 250g to 1kg. Which probably means more to you, than to me. 🙂 Then there’s this

    Here’s an article about the asteroid, maybe lurking under your feet.

    I went out and picked a bowl of cherry tomatoes, this morning. Three racks already in the dehydrator. I also did a rack of sweet basil. To continue the experiment of “which is better, air dried or dehydrator?” Would be easier to find an old wife, and have her tell a tale. 🙂

    Elinor had two teeth pulled. Didn’t seem to phase her. Tough old bird. Lew

  18. Chris,

    Oh, things can always get worse regarding food issues. I can’t eat salmon anymore – migraines. I used to eat it like it was candy. This getting older stuff has benefits and drawbacks. Just avoid massive amounts of MSG whenever you can. Many of us can have problems with it.

    I’m very glad that I don’t have to eat gluten free all of the time. Funny how after I left that job, and the tension and stress have disappeared, I can eat gluten again. At least not huge amounts for days on end. Makes it easier dining out.

    The hand is doing better. I’m slowly adding in more and more normal activities. Still doing the exercises and stretches the surgical group gave me to do, also. Important stuff. It feels good being able to do normal activities again.

    Ugh, your poor head. I’ve had several concussions, all from when I was younger. Much younger. They’re not pleasant. Hope you’re doing better. I’m pretty sure that a blow to my head might improve things. The Princess keeps telling me that, and who am I to disbelieve her? 😉

    The improvement in Avalanche since the injection is very dramatic. 90% or more of the cough has already disappeared. Her normal feed was suggested by the vets. It has lamb, brown rice, blueberries, carrots, peas. Apparently pretty good for the inclusion of non-inflammation foods. She also likes pieces of apple and watermelon. Her energy level is higher and she is showing some of her usual feistiness.

    We “cooled down” today to 40.5C. It’s 9:30 p.m. and still 29C. Avalanche is enjoying the air conditioning in the house. So am I. Some smoke rolled in and it was moderately smoky much of the day.

    Didn’t get any of the chores done from the list today. I got up in the wee hours to watch a women’s World Cup Soccer (Football) semifinal. Afterwards I slept in. Spent the day reading and relaxing.


  19. Hi Margaret,

    Thanks for that and I appreciate you recounting your experiences with that stuff. You never know when such information may come in handy, and I’m glad to hear that your err, hybrid tomatoes pulled through OK. Possibly you’ve noticed one of the downsides of heritage varieties?

    Began the process of getting the vegetable beds ready for the coming growing season. I noticed that one snow pea seedling has germinated and begun growing, but I accidentally broke the main stem. Oh well. The vegetable beds were fed heaps of stuff today. It’s raining again.



  20. Hi DJ,

    Thanks for the advice regarding food issues. Yikes! Something to look forward too I guess. Hmm, most salmon you see on the shelves have their origins in fish farms, and I do wonder about such practices. Not quite in line with the salmon’s natural tendencies to shift from fresh to salt water and then back again. Such fish are also farmed down under, and once I read about a great white shark in Port Lincoln which quite cleverly jumped into the netted area and enjoyed a very good feast of captive salmon. Have you ever experimented with more natural salmon caught heading upwards in less disturbed rivers (if there are any)? You have to admire those fish and their life-cycle, it’s quite astounding.

    But I also hear you about sensitivities. For some reason unbeknownst to me, the apparently safe for hands and sewage systems dish washing detergent produces eczema on my hands. We’d been using the stuff for years, and then one day – bam, a change. We simply ran the tests on the various products which came into contact with my hands, and it ended up being that one which produced an allergic reaction. I tell ya mate, a lot of mystery until the culprit was found. And because you can’t really control the compounds used in manufacturing the stuff, it is best to simply never use it again – despite the claims on the label. We make our own olive oil soap now, and haven’t looked back and eczema is a thing of the past. My understanding of that skin reaction is that it is your immune system going into overdrive. Not something a person wants I can tell you.

    Exactly. I so hear you about that, constant low level stress is not something that will produce a good reaction in people – and I left the big end of town for that sort of reason. 😉 Glad to hear you can enjoy some gluten now, it’s a very useful protein. I add a bit of spelt flour to the bread wheat loaves we bake, and again have not looked back. My understanding of bread wheat flour plants is that in the long distant past they used to grow five or more feet tall. But due to the necessities of combine harvesters and such mechanical stuff, the plants are now only about a fifth as tall. Look at the old paintings of peasants and wheat harvests and you’d think you were looking at a field of very closely spaced corn! If the plants aren’t tall, their root systems aren’t all that deep with all that that necessitates, and it becomes a strange sort of least-worst outcome and you just hope that it doesn’t affect you.

    Top stuff with the hand, and respect for keeping up the rehab.

    Yeah, Ugg indeed! Oh well, I brought that concussion biz literally down onto my own head. Note to self, pay more attention next time! A mild headache and a little bit off the top of my game is how it is playing out today. A person can only but hope that improvement is the subsequent case and perhaps your lady is onto something there? I’d much prefer my head intact the way it was without the dent, but opinions here may vary! 🙂

    Avalanche will be struggling with the heat, there’s no getting around that. 🙂 Sir Poopy used to hide in the shade on such hot days and seek the coolest spots – such as on concrete in the permanent shade. We may have to disagree here, and that’s cool with me, but I tell ya mate, we make about two thirds of the feed the dogs consume. See above with the eczema, there’s a lot of assumptions made about commercial feeds, even the ones which use the word ‘science’. But seriously, I don’t have a dog in that fight, and if the injection helps Avalanche, that’s a great thing. I used to have a Dorgi who suffered from arthritis who used to benefit from a monthly shot of steroids. That was in the days before we changed to home made feed, and I haven’t seen such painful crunchiness since then, even with the rather robust Sir Scruffy who somehow managed to source his own feed – including any rabbit foolish enough to step one paw within his domain. Thank gawd for Dame Plum, the other two dogs are hopeless at rabbiting. Everyone has their own journey to travel and there is no one perfect path.

    Hope things cool down for you soon. That’s a brutal hot temperature. For something different, it’s raining here.

    You’re a brave man! 🙂 Well done and respect. The news down here is full of stories of the game. Hope you enjoyed it? Look, I reckon the team did really well to even get where they did against more seasoned competitors. The sport has had an enormous following, and you know, in some ways the sport probably reminds everyone of the days when things were less professional and there was room for the wild-cards (as they used to say).



  21. Hi Lewis,

    Well, thanks very much for the link to Dr Michael Burry’s recent big bet. Wow. That is interesting indeed. As in 2005-2008, trends are easy to spot, exact timing is very difficult to predict, dare I say, especially when it’s about the future (thanks to Yogi Berra!) Again, he may be early, but he probably isn’t wrong. The whole land of stuff thing is a worry. By all accounts I read that they’re something down like 16% on GDP, not to mention a similar reduction in imports. If that happened in a western country, heads would be rolling, and yet they’re calmly going about their biz, despite the bad news from there. What this suggests to me is that the trades and production are continuing, but in a system that is not within the purview of the west. The joke here is that the land of stuff, may continue to honour bonds in that other system, yet tank the west’s bonds. Not much we could do about it either. This is really a problem of our own making. And ETF’s whatever, I’m not entirely certain that they materially differ from the sort of managed funds which factored in the story of the Great Depression. I’d like to be wrong, and would happily and freely admit that perspective.

    I believe that one of the goals of upping interest rates was to reduce households level of savings. It makes sense that you’d be reading about such things. Spending is one of those things which can continue, until it can no longer continue – and then what happens is an interesting story. The thing with increased cost of mad cash, is that eventually the easy credit stops rolling on out – and perhaps at that point the flow of mad cash seizes up. Inflation is the bad egg child of that story.

    As a worry of the day, it’s a goodie! Hope the good Doctor is not too stressed out by his big bet. There’s a personal cost for swimming against the prevailing sentiment. Maybe I need to re-read that book of the events of 2008 next? Hmm. I’m about twenty pages from the end of The Air Raid Book Club novel and am hangin’ to see how it all ends – probably charmingly if the rest of the book was any indication! You get a real sense of how it looked on the ground during that period of time.

    Is it just me that believes that had you and Dickens had a quiet chat, things would have ended badly? You pointing out some home truths, whilst the author claiming that he was anointed by none other than the big J in order to justify those same home truths. I doubt you would have moved him, except maybe to the land of elsewhere! 🙂

    A person can only but hope so with the knock to the head. I look forward to your cheeky scamp-ness in relation to this matter!

    That’s some horrendous weather. Stay cool and keep yourself and the plants well hydrated.

    I look at the feedback too. Based on my experiences with dealing with the general public when in biz, there are plenty of scammers out there. The things I’ve seen over the years, and probably shouldn’t pen on the interweb lest people get ideas – then possibly blame me.

    The article on carbon footprint in relation to books made a lot of assumptions, and truthfully I have disposed of a book: The mists of Avalon. It’s true, the carbon footprint I personally caused for that book purchase was quite large. The rest of the books, well that’s what the floor to ceiling shelves which line either side of the hallway are for. I love books. Anyway, the maths of the article was way over my head and can only hope that the authors have a better handle on maths than I. It’s likely.

    Ah, thanks for the article. That’s eastern Australia which is why I couldn’t find an article as I was looking for stuff over in the west. Asteroid crater 520km in diameter buried deep in southeast Australia, scientists say. Still wouldn’t have wanted to be there that day. Check out the map, the continent is pock marked with good shots – gives a person pause to consider. Is that worthy of a worry of the day? Anyway, I’ve been to Deniliquin. My mates used to head up that way for a summer hippy fest camp. I used to annoy everyone by wearing serviceable clothes like jeans, boots, hat and t-shirts when they went the full tie-dyed look. It was all very amusing until the weather turned, and then they were wearing similar serviceable gear. Not sure I enjoyed myself there.

    Ooo, yummo with the cherry tomatoes, and I’ll bet the dehydrator smells nice? Frankly, you might learn the truth of the tale, but there may be other obligations and changes to your routines. Is this a good thing? 😉 Hehe! Very funny and I’m still chuckling about your idea.

    We began getting the five terraced gardens ready for the growing season. Moved a huge quantity of compost and mulch onto them, and then fed the soil with the special coffee grounds + agricultural lime + blood and bone meal mixture. Plus the two rows of roses were given their special rose soil feed. Plus we’re trying a new technique with the squash plants (variety little gem) by just banging some of the mouldy fruits in the ground and seeing what happens. I’m curious to see whether that produces squash vines at the exact right time. Dunno. But it was a long day of hauling and spreading soil fertility. The beds are looking great though. And we began seriously thinning the strawberry beds to about one plant every one to two feet (that job is only about half done). Hopefully we get some fruit, but already the Alpine Strawberries are doing better than the more usual large berries and in the greenhouse have produced some berries already. People probably don’t like them because the alpine strawberries are a bit seedy, but the taste is excellent. Hmm. I’m still leaning towards alpine strawberries replacing the lot, but I’ll give thinning the more usual varieties a go first. We’ll see.

    Did it cool down? It’s raining here but fairly mild and windy.



  22. Hi, Chris!

    Here we are well into the week and I don’t think I am going to have time to comment on your post, so I will just say “Hi” and hope all is mostly well there. I have my daughter-in-law’s father and his sister visiting, and her brother soon to join us because his band has a gig in Richmond and somewhere else near to my little smoke of Charlottesville, and I am very busy. Her whole family is delightful and I am always glad to see them. The older members are originally from Taiwan and are such interesting people.


  23. Hi Pam,

    🙂 Thanks for dropping by and saying hello! All’s well, sounds like good news to me. Smooth sailing ahead! All good here too. Spent today getting the terraced garden rows ready for the coming growing season, and actually found one germinated snow pea. That’s early.

    And glad to hear that you’re looking forward to your delightful visitors, may they be pleasant, and bring you much joy. Hope the gig is good too. 🙂



  24. Yo, Chris – Here’s an article I saw, yesterday, about what is going on, economically, inside The Forbidden Kingdom aka The Land of Stuff.

    Oh, you know Dickens. I just let him bang on. Can’t get a word in edgewise. But, at least what he has to say is fairly interesting. 🙂

    Well, we can ascribe the knock in the head to any future aberrant, bizarre, or just downright silly behavior. 🙂 As with that poor defenseless snow pea … Actually, lucky you. You get a free pass, for any aberrant, bizarre or silly behavior. “Oh, it was the knock in the head.”

    Well, once again, close, but no cigar. Yesterday it hit 99F. Again. Today is supposed to be a lot more tolerable. 87F, with maybe an ocean breeze in the afternoon.

    Oh, I’ve tossed many a book, in my time. It does make me feel a bit odd, but some patients are beyond saving. Water damage, mold. Just general falling apart. Topics that no one has any interest in, any more. Diets-of-the-week and B list celebrity bios. Odd religious clap-trap.

    Well, that’s the news for you. The initial map I saw of the asteroid story had it placed in NW Australia. I wondered if it had anything to do with any of the “great extinctions.” And, apparently so. Maybe.

    The dried tomatoes look lovely. Didn’t take long for the basil to dry out. Now, how to run The Experiment. Taste and smell, I suppose. I tied up a couple of volunteer tomatoes, yesterday. See if they come to anything. One had quit a few green nubbins on it, and I think it’s a volunteer from last year’s cherry tomatoes. A hybrid, so who knows what it will taste like?

    I’m giving H a bath, this afternoon. And, I made an appointment for the groomers, a week from tomorrow. Lew

  25. Chris,

    For most of the ceremonies we attend in Indian country, salmon is a featured item with the meals. Typically these fish are caught upon their return from the ocean. Migraines occur for me anyway if I eat any. Sucks. There are always other tasty options, so all is not lost. 🙂

    The Columbia River has a problem with sea lions visiting the fish ladders near The Dalles, Oregon, and picking salmon out of the fish ladders. Sort of a private smorgasbord. The offending sea lions get captured, tagged and moved back to southern California. They are back at the fish ladders within days.

    Sensitivities? Yeah, some soaps bother my skin also. And the chemicals used to make a lot of perfumes and the fragrances in soaps can be nasty for my sinuses and even induce migraines. They can bother the Princess also. We use fragrance free and dye free soaps for all of our domestic purposes. We’ve been fortunate that the products we use don’t bother our skin.

    I dented my head once. What is scary is if you dent your head and another part of the head bulges out like when you press into a balloon. Never had that happen though. Whew!

    Hit 40C again today, then the wind kicked in and a few high clouds appeared, cooling things a bit. Humidity is about 15%. Several brush fires near the urban area. Avalanche and I are hanging out indoors. The fan with the great filters is on.

    A friend of mine is retired. So he volunteered for the Red Cross several years ago. Due to his professional background, he has moved up to the upper echelons of this region. He was in Guam after their storm earlier this year. He just informed me that he will miss carving this weekend. They’re sending him to Hawaii due to the fires there.

    Yes, the World Cup has been enjoyable. I try to watch as much as possible every year. England was a brutal opponent for Australia – they played rough, but they have a lot of weapons. I figure if you make the semifinals, you’ve done very well. Australia’s star player, Samantha Kerr, said the same thing. Disappointing loss, but a good overall tournament. Dunno if I’ll be able to watch the 3rd place match, but I will stay up for the championship. England vs Spain could be an intriguing match to watch.


  26. Hi DJ,

    Ah, bummer indeed, but good to hear that there are other tasty options to be enjoyed at the rites. You never really know what your kryptonite will be, and everyone has one (sometimes more than one). Mate, I feel much the same about the chilli at dinner time and have decided to entirely back away from that option before the minor trouble becomes a permanent no-go food sensitivity zone. With purchased meals, salmon is far less commonly encountered than chilli, and it might become a much bigger problem. Always easier to nip problems in the bud, than let them escalate.

    Yup, migraines are best avoided if possible. With the recent head damage, AKA ‘Disaster Area’ of the cranium dimensions, this afternoon I just crashed out and sort of shut down for a few hours. I’d have to cheekily suggest that perhaps your salmon compilations are best enjoyed at a respectable distance within large concrete bunkers maybe some thirty-seven miles away from the trestle tables laden with food. You can never be too safe my friend. 😉

    I’ll bet anything that those sea lions taste good. That’s how my brain works. Sometimes a problem suggests the very solution. I’ve consumed plenty of shark over the years, and it’s good and tasty. The sharks probably feel much the same about us humans.

    That’s the thing isn’t it? So many compounds go into those products that we don’t really know which one it is that causes the issues. You’ve probably already noticed that we make our own olive oil soap – it’s not hard, a person just has to be careful. I’m utterly uncertain as to why a lot of cleaning products have to stink so strongly, but spare a thought for the industrial chemists having to make this stuff up – a little bit is perceived as good, so a whole lot probably is even better received by the public based on what I’m smelling in my travels. I’d have to suggest that neutral is not a bad option. Yup, I hear you both about that.

    No way. Surely you jest? Sounds like a bit like a game of whack-a-mole. At this stage my symptoms are mild enough to be shrugged off, but we’re keeping alert for any escalation.

    That’s some rough weather. In some ways, the colder temperatures are easier to endure than the heat extremes, and in the not all that distant past, it has reached 45’C here. That was one hot day with humidity down to 10%. Not good. Stay safe, and keep alert, and I seriously hope the weather cools for you soon. The rain here tonight feels icy, but no signs of snow. There were a lot of people lurking around the mountain range today seeking the possibility of snow, and I reckon it is too warm for that. Even now at 8pm it is 4’C = too warm for snow. My maths is good, don’t you reckon?

    Yeah, I’ve been reading about the Hawaii fires too. The people on those islands have a sacred covenant not to annoy the local spirits. The same thing operates here. That’s what living in a volatile area looks like. Hope your mate does some good there, a lot of people will be hurting. The relief efforts will continue for a very long time to come.

    I agree, the team has had an amazing run and to get to a possible third place (depends on the outcome of Sweden v Australia) is no small achievement. Only one team can win, and even then the mantle can only be held for but a brief moment. Yeah, it’ll be a rough as bags match that one. Worth staying up for. 🙂



  27. Hi Lewis,

    I read the article, and thanks for linking to it. A fascinating view into the land of stuffs activities. I’m reminded of nothing other than the run up to the bonkers-ness-ness economic shenanigans (how cool would it be to see a Loch Ness monster?) of 2008, when the authoritas and talking heads were claiming that things were sound. Such claims should be self evident, and as such be beyond reproach – but when people begin saying in articles that things are cool, they might have a vested interest to ensure that things be perceived to be that way. Maybe, I’m wrong by employing and applying common sense here? Beats me. And if it means anything, I’d like to be wrong here.

    Now, I was in public today and reading, and got to within a few pages of the concluding chapter of ‘The Air Raid Book Club’ novel. The letter to Gertie was deemed too problematic and emotional for me to read in such a public environment so I put the book down and began re-reading Michael Lewis’s most awesome book: ‘The Big Short’. Otherwise you know, finishing the other book, I might have to explain to people who know me well, that something got in my eye or some such story like that. 😉 What a lovely book, and many thanks to you for referring it. Both the Editor and I have enjoyed the book thoroughly, and it was a true gift.

    Hehe! The Dickens bloke probably had the gift of the gab, as they say down here. Who knew that Jack Vance had used that as a title in a novella? Hadn’t yet come across that story in my collection, but it’ll be there, of that I’m certain. Actually reading more about Charles Dickens, he reputedly promoted other writers, so maybe he wasn’t such a bad chap after all – maybe he was just a little bit conflicted and stuff. And are you suggesting that you’d let him bang on and on and eventually let him run out of steam? Seems like a smart way to go when dealing with the likes of him. Although, in group settings I do tend to cut such people short if they are losing the wider audience.

    Yeah, it’ll be a good excuse that head injury, but mind you, I did crash out this afternoon and shut down for a couple of hours so there have been some consequences – although it was very cold outside today. Not quite freezing with a possible side serving of snow, but close to that. However, as you may note, close is not the same thing as confirmed snow, is it? There seemed to be a lot of people lurking around the mountain range today on the possibility that maybe it might just snow. It didn’t, and the tourists may have enjoyed the bracing mountain air and known true fear. 😉

    Ollie has just commandeered the only remaining rawhide chew currently in play. He has two Kelpie shark girls circling around him and has decided to simply rest his boof head on the chew. It’s a bold power move, and Ruby responded only just then by announcing that there is something at the front door for the canine troops to consider. Ollie got up, and for a moment felt true fear, then sat right back down again on the sheepskin. The machinations that go on…

    Yeah, same, same here with the temperature: close but no cigar. Snow was forecast above 900m / 2,950ft today and I’m not sure it happened – didn’t look like it to me anyway. With a bit of luck, you might get the ton tomorrow? 🙂 Hope not! Ocean breezes are lovely things on hot afternoons.

    Hey, you don’t hear the words ‘clap-trap’ any more, and I think that as a society, we’re missing out and lesser for that sad state of affairs. But yeah, I agree, some book patients are a lost cause, and limited shelf space is always at a premium.

    I agree with you, it does appear to have something to do with a mass extinction event, and that sort of sized rock hitting the surface of the planet would certainly cause enough mayhem to wipe out a huge quantity of life on the planet. Although that many millions of years ago, things were a bit simpler on the life front. The chances are remote, but I’d imagine that a direct hit from one of those super fast moving interstellar objects like that Oumuamua object in 2017, would also cause a lot of dramas. Do you consider it to be a worthy worry of the day?

    Dame Plum rudely interrupted me to demand a rat-check on the chickens. Her command which I give her once outside the house is ‘Chickens!’, and off she goes. Outside it’s 37’F and the stars are really shining, but it did feel a bit brisk out there. The old timers used to suggest that in order for there to be snow, one must first notice clouds. Didn’t see ’em. As the Talking Heads may have once sang: We’re on the road to snow-where! It’s been a few years now since it snowed here. Hmm. Mind you, it did rain today.

    Yum! Thanks for mentioning dehydrating basil leaves as I wouldn’t have considered doing that. Hmm. So how did the tomato experiment taste test work out? The volunteer tomatoes might surprise you, and your growing season isn’t done yet, not by a long way.

    Go H! And she’ll probably enjoy a bit of clipping of her coat given the summer weather.



  28. Yo, Chris – How you can segue from economic shenanigans to the Lock Ness monster … well, I’d say some of your brain circuits are scrambled.

    The Editor may want to brush up on her skull trepanation skills. There’s probably a U – Tub video. Puts me in mind of you cracking those battery cases. And one should probably use as much care. Trepanation has gone on for 7,000 years. And, judging from regrowth of bone, were quit successful. The procedure also lets out any stray demons, that have taken up residence.

    Book recommendations are a gift that costs nothing! How’s that for thrift. 🙂

    It got up to 90F, yesterday, but in the afternoon, we did get that really nice cooling western ocean breeze. Todays forecast is for 77F, with more of those breezes. Looks like the next week will be more temperate, than it has been. Quit the relief.

    That Ruby is a sly one. But it sounds like Ollie is onto her machinations. Did Dame Plum fall for it?

    I’ve seen several articles about the overall shrinkage of vocabulary, among the general population. Pretty soon, we’ll be back to grunting at each other. Which seems to have happened, in some quarters. Sometimes, people ask me the meaning of a word I’ve used. Good on them.

    The volunteer tomatoes won’t be ready to sample, for awhile. Still just little green nubbins.

    We’re getting a food box, today. And, I see they’ve just arrived in the parking lot. Wonder what wonders we’ll see, today?

    Ah, they did the 3d floor, first. A little container of diced white onions (?) no more tears!, a loaf of bread. A dozen really nice eggs, large for a change. A pound of frozen ground turkey. A bag of little plastic containers of some kind of chopped fruit. Peaches? A bag of nectarines. 2 bananas. A bag of purple grapes. A small container of strawberry yogurt, a pound of butter “product,” two pound bag of white rice, box of shredded wheat cereal, two boxes of mac & cheese, a box of Rice a Roni, a box of spaghetti, a one pound bag of dried pinto beans, a jar of peanut butter, a single serving packet of instant oatmeal, some kind of packet of mac & cheese, that you add ground hamburger to, and they call a cheeseburger (!) And, the tinned stuff. Two of tuna, two of sliced peaches. Single tins of condensed milk, port & beans, green beans, steak and potato stew, stewed “Italian” tomatoes, mixed veg, creamed corn and diced tomatoes. Not a bad haul. Plenty for the swap table, here at the Institution, and stuff for the Club pantry. Ought to be enough to at least get us through the weekend, and into next week. Lew

  29. Chris,

    Disaster Area? That’s an apt description for a concussed head! But wasn’t Disaster Area the name of a band in “Restaurant at the End of the Universe”? Its lead singer was “taking a year off dead for tax purposes” or something.

    Had a productive day. Nearly all of the indoor chores got done. Did a couple outdoor things too. Much cooler today at 33C.

    Unfortunately, it has been very windy. A fire started about noon just southwest of Medical Lake, a town about 25km southwest of me as the crow flies. As of 6 p.m. it is well over 3,000 acres, ripped through Medical Lake and other communities, and has jumped the Interstate 90 near the 4 Lakes community. We won’t know for days how many houses have been burned. A ginormous area has been evacuated. The east end of the evacuation is right near a big Amazon warehouse/shipping facility and the BIG airport. Winds should diminish after 9:00 p.m.

    The smoke is staying several miles south of us and has engulfed the ritziest part of town, aka the South Hill. The smoke cloud is huge and very visible from here. Meanwhile, Avalanche is oblivious and is happy to be hanging out with her papa.

    I bet the sea lions taste great too. Illegal to hunt them though. There
    is a lot of potential eating on one of them.

    Yes, my bulging whack-a-mole idea was a jest. My experience with concussions suggests that if you didn’t barf, and/or lose consciousness and/or walk around in a daze, it is mild and a bit of a slower pace should help. Those others are symptoms of something more serious. Been there too many times.

    Yup, 4C is generally too warm for snow. We can have very cold fronts move through aloft, with surface temperatures at 4C and even higher, so that snow will fall. It doesn’t stick at those temperatures, though.

    Irritating the local spirits is a bad idea. Always. Sacred covenants to NOT annoy them are a wise thing and seem to me to be an obvious thing to have.

    The head official for the World Cup championship match is the same one who refereed the England versus Australia and let the play get very rough. As she is from the USA, some USA media is saying that her presence in the championship means that USA soccer did not get shut out this tournament. I think they’re full of bat guano to say such rot. The least our media could do is agree with the rest of the world that the sport is football.


  30. Chris,

    I forgot to mention the humidity. There is none. 7% humidity. Ugg.
    More dry than dry.


  31. Chris,

    Today is a trilogy apparently. The wind shifted. Now it is from the north. There is another 2,000 acre fire about 30 km north of here that started this afternoon. Thanks to the wind change, its smoke is in now outside. Thick and smelly. Hot on its heels will be more smoke from Canada.

    Autumn of 1991 there was firestorm – nastily dry conditions and high winds sparked fires on power lines. This is 2nd to that for the Spokane region.

    Grateful for the air filtering systems I’ve got.


  32. Hi Lewis,

    It’s good that the ghosts from 70 million years ago left their calling cards for us to observe. What interested me greatly was that the 3D modelling of the footprint looks remarkably similar to the footprint of the average wallaby, which is also kind of a trident shaped imprint. I see those imprints all the time. It’s amazing that dinosaurs were even in Alaska given how cold it is nowadays. The alert brain suggests that things could get much warmer than they are today. We might not like that outcome though. There were dinosaurs on Antarctica too, and there are even today what with the Emperor Penguins down there. Honestly, that part of the world is a bit cold for my tastes. And winter-over syndrome is not something I’d want to deal with voluntarily. Folks in the big smoke already freak out about the winters in this mountain range. An over reaction me thinks, but let’s not correct that. 😉

    The segue was maybe well done, although as you suggest mildly scrambled, and possibly due to the ongoing effects of the recent blow to the head. As an experience, I don’t recommend it. Actually it was annoying because on the night that the event took place I inadvertently read an article in the news about an Aussie who hit her head over in Thailand, and then had bleeding on the brain which didn’t end well. Was this fate telling me to be more careful? Possibly. I didn’t even know that such things were a possibiliy. Makes you wonder how boxers ply their trade?

    I’ll bet those home trepanation videos come with a warning: Kids, don’t attempt this at home, or at least use a sharp drill bit! But I take your warning on board. Look, if it helped people, then why not? It’s odd you mention that other lot, but some rather foolish people have been doing their best to summons such things over the past few years, and that will surely end badly – for them. Best not to be involved me thinks, stay alert, deflect the mischief and don’t invite those most awful things in.

    It was a thrifty gesture which has brought much joy into our lives, so yeah, kudos to you! 🙂 I read the final few pages over lunch today – which was at home and out of the public sphere – and just like the rest of the book, the words were delightful and lovely. Made some further in-roads into my re-reading of Michael Lewis’s most excellent book: The Big Short. I’m so enjoying that book, and this is probably the third or fourth re-read. I always notice things which I’d previously missed in the earlier reads. The next book on the to-read list is perhaps one of Mr King’s noir crime novels (the box set arrived a week or so back). I seriously have to have a break in between the next instalment of the Bruce Hedge trilogy which may be: ‘Finders Keepers’. It’s pretty intense reading and I was braced for the auditorium carnage in the first book, which never happened mostly because Holly saved the day (and possibly exercised some demons in the process!) In some respects that made the read even more challenging because events got right down to the wire. A real nail biter of a conclusion. Enjoyed it thoroughly.

    As someone who is at the tail end of winter, 90’F sounds pretty nice to me, sorry`. On the other hand, the UV has increased of late, and the sun is setting after 6pm, so spring is not far away. It was 59’F today and Ollie helped me get the stuff in the mead hall (long shed) into order. That dog does some hard work and enjoyed a nice spot in the sun whilst I pottered around. Installed the bench vice which was a job I’d not had time to do until today, and then took a good long hard look at how I’d been sharpening the chainsaws. With the machines, there’s always room for improvement, and using the bench vice made the sharpening job much easier – and with a better outcome. I’m probably going to order a whole lot of spare parts tonight for the various engines. I’m not mucking around with the at-home servicing. And we have our first dead machine, which we’ll attempt to resuscitate once the parts turn up. The Editor wants to learn about this stuff, and I’m happy to teach.

    Hopefully things cool down for you over the next week.

    Dame Plum is the boss dog, so she is kind of slightly aloof from the other two dogs, although she also loves interacting with them, especially Ollie. Dame Plum has only just noticed that Ollie is not exercising his jaws on his rawhide chew. She may have a nasty plan in store! There are benefits, and costs, to being the boss dog.

    Didn’t George Orwell provide specific advice in his novel 1984 in regards to reducing the number of words used in the language? 😉 Mate, I dumb down my language when speaking with others on the basis that it is not in my nature to alienate the people I speak with. The thing I’m guessing with a person being unable to express their frustrations using the language, is that frustration is a form of anger, and the emotion can quickly amplify. It is good that people feel comfortable enough to ask you for a definition of a word you used.

    You’re having such a hot and dry season, that I’m guessing you may have another six to eight weeks of the growing season left to go. Those little green nubbins, may come to something, and there is always the hanging the vines upside down trick which we tried. The sugars were all there in the fruits.

    That is a very good haul from the food boxes. I tell you what though, those little plastic bags of diced fruit are really a bit eerie. The bags probably contain nitrogen instead of the more usual mix of atmospheric gases. The low oxygen content would I reckon make the cut fruit sort of stay fresh, although there may be some sprays involved! Good luck. I’d seen such things years ago and remain unconvinced. Not something I’d ever willingly purchase. The cheeseburger item is pretty funny, surely they jest? But the rest of the box sounds great.

    It’s going to be about 4’F warmer tomorrow. Yay!



  33. Hi DJ,

    Mate, truth to tell I woke this morning sans headache, and that felt very good indeed. The world suddenly looked a whole lot brighter, although over the past few days, any bright sun made me feel very odd indeed. And yes, there was a bit of nausea originally – except I had to do paid work, and did a very good job indeed that day if I may say so myself. In order to push on through, I applied the well tested – here at least – combination of mint and activated charcoal, and voilà, the guts settled. The head, not so much… 🙂 Probably not wise to take anything for that headache. Anyway, enough whinging on my part!

    Yes, that was the name of the band in Hitchhikers, and weren’t there so many fun ideas in that story, like taking a year off as a dead person for tax evasion purposes! 🙂

    As someone at the tail end of winter, 33’C sounds very pleasant to me (excluding the smoke of course, sorry to hear that it has drifted towards yourself). It was 15’C here today, blue skies, no wind and just really lovely. Ollie and I caught some of the suns rays, and it felt good I can tell you. Spent a few hours getting the mead hall shed into order and even installed the bench vice. Ollie is now tired and sleeping on the sheepskin rug cradling a rawhide chew. Neither Ruby, nor Dame Plum are tough enough to steal the chew from the slumbering big dog. He’s a softie though, and if they were quick…

    The fires north of you are pretty bad indeed. It makes me wonder if forest management practices will change in their wake? If we’re any guide, I doubt it. 170 years of bad outcomes down here is certainly not enough of an impetus for change, sorry to say because things are bad for humans caught in that, but even worse for the forest critters, plants and soils. Oh well. Here’s what our news are saying about the fires a bit further north of you: Thousands evacuate as fire nears Canadian cities of Yellowknife and Kelowna

    Yeah, the fires in your state aren’t reported on down here – yet, but the reports I’m reading from other sources are not encouraging. Good to hear that you’re not in any immediate risk, and that the filters are working and Avalanche is resting up. 🙂

    If you ever wonder why I put so much effort into cleaning up…

    Bummer about the sea lions. I was reading elsewhere that they were a traditional feed, and certain cuts were thoughtfully provided to the elders. A wise move. I’m sticking with my first thought in this matter – tasty! 😉 And yup, would feed a goodly sized tribe for sure.

    Over night was super weird temperature wise. It was 3’C when we went to bed, and 8’C when we awoke just after sunrise. I have this thing about not wanting to wake in the pre-dawn dark, and here I blame years of work as a kid delivering newspapers way back in the day. I’m sure you know what I mean there! Turned into a really lovely day weather wise though.

    Exactly, respect the local spirits, and accommodate their needs, and at least the spiritual dimension ether won’t be too problematic. This provides no protection whatsoever in the physical realms, but hey, nobody said life would be easy. Note to self, do more cleaning up. Mate, if I had more resources, but you know, maybe this slow and steady pace is better. The images I observed of the Canadian forests did not fill me with confidence – what they need now is rain – lots of it. I’d imagine that a couple of hundred years ago with better management, these sort of massive incidents didn’t happen.

    Hehe! Oh yeah, you’re not wrong there. 😉 We’re dissecting definitions here in relation to football, and there is a reason I drive on the other side of the road than you guys. 🙂 It’s all the same to me though, and the electric steering used these days in vehicles makes swapping left to right, not as big of an engineering problem as it used to be.

    7% humidity is lower than I’ve ever seen. Keep alert in those conditions. If memory serves me correctly the day of the Black Saturday 2009 bushfires, the winds were strong, humidity was about 10% and the temperature hit 45.6’C. A truly bonkers day, which no doubts will happen again sooner or later.

    Nothing wrong with a trilogy! 🙂 Please excuse my dodgy maths pun, but they’re three times as good! Yikes, northerly winds will be blowing that fire which is to the north of you, towards the south, sorry to say. Hope the wind changes direction, and soon. Fire can travel very fast in those conditions.

    I recently read a book about oral histories from the 1983 Ash Wednesday bushfires which ripped through this mountain range, and one of the weird things which people at the time observed was that despite the destruction, nature could put on an amazing show.



  34. Yo, Chris – When I was a kid, we visited Dinosaur National Monument, in Utah / Colorado. 65+ million year ago, they figure it was a river bend, and hundreds of dead dinosaurs ended up on a sandbar. Fascinating place, though I don’t remember many details.

    Some boxers and most football players wear protective headgear. Though, from what I read, concussion is still a problem. How many plays and movies revolved around “punch-drunk,” boxers?

    Well, as Mr. Greer makes clear, be careful what you fool around with.

    More articles on The Land of Stuff. One of their major real estate companies, declared bankruptcy, the other day. And another one is trembling on the edge. What I couldn’t figure out is why the bankruptcy was taking place here. I guess it was due to the large number of foreign investors. Foreign being us.

    It was 75F, yesterday. And is supposed to be 85F, today. Woke up this morning at 8am to smoke so thick I couldn’t even see the freeway. But, at 11:30 am, it’s all gone and the sun is shinning. The smoke could have come from the Canadian wildfires, or, the fires over DJs way, or, a fire that has been burning NE of Seattle. That one was interesting, as it threatened a hydro plant. Most of the staff was evacuated, and the power supply to Seattle was curtailed. Though I didn’t hear anything about any brown or blackouts.

    Prof. Mass has an interesting post about the hurricane bearing down on S. California. Possible storm tracks end right where my friends in Idaho live. They have rain forecast, for Sunday / Monday. Maybe a lot of it. Of course, storms being storms, it could hug the coast and end up here. I always wonder, if, given my age, I’ll experience another Columbus Day Storm. Though that one’s origins were different than the present hurricane.

    There are also three low pressure areas, in the Atlantic, that they’re keeping an eye on. They’re headed for our east coast.

    There are several tech schools, that offer mechanics for women, courses. I think our local community college offers one, from time to time.

    I thought of Orwell, when I mentioned the declining vocabulary, in the general population.

    Could-a, would-a, should-a. The temp was so low, yesterday, that I skipped the morning water. But, by evening, everything looked pretty wilted. I think my soil isn’t holding water, the way it should. What with all the upset in the gardens, this year, I didn’t get to work in as much organic material, as usual. Leaves and kitchen scraps. But, it’s all bounced back, and I’m back to watering twice a day. Some of my corn is about 10′ tall, but still no sign of a tassel. I’ll have to check The Font of All Wisdom, and see what’s up.

    I took those little sealed cups of plastic fruit, and left them on the swap table. Their look-out. We’re having a bit of trouble, with the swap table. We have an Inmate, who’s junkie daughter, is an occasional problem. Now this may be spun out of pure fancy, but the story going around is, she takes a lot of the food, and sells it for drugs. So, the swap table was loaded with stuff, at 5, and everything had vanished by 9. But I think the Inmates have spirited it away, somewhere. Although I did see the daughter cruising around the place, last night. After the food had vanished. I forgot to mention, there was also a one pound bag of shelled Filberts (aka, Hazel Nuts.) I’ll divide it into four or five small snack sized bags. All things considered, I still was able to take four or five bags of groceries, to the Club for the pantry. There was my stuff, Elinor had a bit, and some off the swap table. Plus I bought some ketchup and mustard at the dollar + store, the other night.

    Well, I bit the bullet and called the auction, yesterday. A week from Monday, I’m to haul in all my Halloween and Christmas tat. That ought to pretty much clear out my bedroom closet. So, I’ve got about a week to get it all organized. When I take the stuff to the auction, I’ll talk to them about the New Year’s Day auction. Lew

  35. Hi Lewis,

    Yeah extreme weather is pretty hard on crops, and also a very good reason to not rely solely on a single crop, like those olives. Interestingly, we regularly get such temperatures in summer and I’d never heard that olive production dropped as a result. Hmm. I wonder if we grow more suitable hot weather varieties and having more land the varieties yield lower but are more resilient to extreme weather? California would face similar issues.

    🙂 Yup, got an oil press already.

    Thanks for mentioning the park as I’d never heard of it before. It looks like hot country. The images of the fossilised bones are pretty amazing. And ain’t that the problem of visiting interesting places when you’re younger. 🙂 I’d have to suggest that the brains memory facility does not improve over the years.

    Too many blows to the head is a real problem. When I was a teenager and training at the Dojo, an annoying friend made noises about training there as well. Anyway, so he turns up to the Dojo and because he’s also entertaining, him and the Sensei get along really well. But because in some ways my friend was annoying, he kept pestering me to spar on the mat. The pester power was strong in that one master… Anyway, I eventually relented, but we had a rule – no blows above the shoulders. So we faced off, and the first thing he did quick as a flash was take a quick swipe at my head. It caught me off guard. I was annoyed and responded with a rapid series of blows which floored my annoying friend and put an end to the whole mischief. Except, I was given a dressing down by the Sensei in front of everyone about how I should never lose my temper on the mat. Hmm. Fool me once… The Sensei was right, but there was also no honour in that bout. And I was made to look the fool. It was a hard lesson to learn that one.

    Mr Greer is I reckon on the money with that observation. They know not what they do, but that doesn’t stop them either. A hard lesson to learn perhaps?

    Yeah exactly, foreign investors are taking the hit, whilst the underlying assets remain the same – kind of half finished from what I was reading. A lot of bond holders will be squealing.

    Glad to hear that the smoke cleared after only a few hours. That’s good to hear, although if the winds for you blow in from the south or west, they also bring in warmer air. Haven’t heard of a power station getting caught in a wildfire and that would be not good. What surprised me about the fires to the north in Canada was that there are huge bodies of water nearby to the fires. I’ve seen down here where fires burn right to the very edge of farm dams (ponds), and recently read of folks who chucked their belongings in a small boat on a farm dam during a bushfire and the boat burnt and sank taking the belongings into the murky depths.

    The good Professors blog suggests that the rain will be welcome, although you hopefully escape the smoke. Your friends in Idaho may not be used to such rainfall totals at this time of year?

    I’ve heard of such tech courses for the ladies too. There’d be no shortages of jobs in that line of work for the ladies, but whether folks look for status jobs, I dunno. I respect competency in the gender.

    I still can’t quite shake the belief that ol’ George looked at the two world wars, the Great Depression, and his deep involvement with the ineptitude of the hard left in that Spain business, and decided that his idea was the way out of the mess. I’m probably wrong, but a little ticklish part of my brain suggests otherwise.

    Yikes! Mate, it takes three years to get soil to the point where it holds water, and didn’t they dig up all of your beds less than twelve months ago? It’s amazing anything is growing well in those beds – and I have the same issue in the greenhouse beds. The soil in there now is about fourteen months old, and it needs a fair few more years to really hit its stride.

    Your corn is amazingly tall, certainly that is beyond my experience. I’ll bet the stalks have massive root systems too, so when the plants get around to producing seed (i.e. corn cobs), it’ll probably happen fast. Although the good Professor said something about now being past 90’F weather in your future – until next summer that is. For your interest, the heirloom variety of corn we grow are probably around 5 feet, maybe six at absolute maximum. You have a greater diversity of plants in your part of the world. Are these the red cob varieties? What did the font of wisdom suggest?

    Sorry to say, that’s the problem with junkies. They’ll lie and steal in order to feed their habit. I’ve seen this play out, sorry to say. Man, sometimes people have things riding them, and it’s hard for those other folks around them. Much depends upon whether the individual seeks help, and genuinely wants the help. You’d see those sorts of stories at the Club with the noobs – are they there because they have it within themselves, or is their presence at the behest of others. Dude, that’s a super hard situation you lot are facing, and I don’t envy you. Perhaps your inmates will sort it all out internally, and break the cycle?

    Few down here would know what a filbert is – for some reason unknown to me, we call them hazelnuts. And they’re good, but not often seen. I grow a couple of them, but have yet to see any nuts, although this year there are lots of catkins hanging off the plants.

    How’s the stuff moving out of the Clubs pantry? It’s such a good thing to do. Respect.

    Good luck with the auction, and what did the bard say about ‘parting is such sweet sorrow’? You’re probably made of sterner stuff, but it’s also good to get your stuff in order, just in case of any general civic bouts of utter weirdness. You never know, and better to be ready for drama, and experience none, than to be utterly caught flat-footed.

    We dug and hauled more soil today. The soil got dumped onto the low gradient path project, and I reckon the next section of the path is about spot on. The sun is feeling more spring-like, and it was hot work. Yikes, could bang on all day, but must get writing!



  36. Yo, Chris – Before I forget (’cause I did, yesterday), I watched a delightful movie, the other night. And it’s a sci-fi rom-com! 🙂 Interesting. It’s from a 1970s collection of short stories, titled “The Robot Who Looked Like Me,” by a guy named Sheckley. Haven’t heard of the book, or author. Here’s the trailer …

    Re: Your oil press. Spare parts? 🙂

    With a “friend” like that … Sometimes, best to keep pleasures, close to the chest. Though that kind of discretion is usually learned later in life. One learns earlier, if one has younger siblings … 🙂

    Well, the smoke was back, in the late afternoon. Not as bad as in the morning, but one could taste it. Looking out the window, it’s hazy, but I can easily see the freeway. The high yesterday was 81F. Today is forecast for 84F. Something new popped up in the forecast. For Tuesday, a “slight chance of rain.”

    Women also have smaller hands. And given the tight spaces in engines, these days …

    So, you’re saying George yearned for fascism? From reading the meticulous bios about him, I’d say no.

    So, I poked around, and first asked “Why isn’t my corn tasseling.” The only thing that popped up, was a lack of nitrogen. So, how to remedy that? Blood meal and self produced liquid nitrogen. Both of which have already been applied. Plus, the patch is growing next to the green beans, which ought to be pumping nitrogen into the soil. I also put the question “What if you’re corn isn’t getting enough nitrogen.” None of the symptoms are present in my crop.

    Stuff is moving a a good clip, through the pantry. More variety, than in past. Especially toward the end of the month, when people’s food benefits run low.

    Yeah, turning loose of some things is going to be a bit of a wrench. But, might as well get the money out, now. Before things unravel. The only “iffy” thing about the New Year’s Day auction, is if the weather will be good.

    Almost finished with a book, but I’ll talk about it tomorrow. Relax. I doubt it’s anything you’ll rush out and buy. Non-fiction. “Thunderclap: A Memoir of Art and Life & Sudden Death.” (Cumming, 2023). It’s about the golden age of Dutch painting, the 17th century. And, about the guy who painted “The Goldfinch.” There was a terrible explosion, in Delft, Holland. A gunpowder store blew up, and took about half the town with it. Killed the artist. Lew

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