The Road to Snow-where

A few days ago a big storm spread its wings over this part of the country. The origins were from that huge frozen continent to the south. With only the Southern Ocean between here and there, those storms sure do bring some cold and wet weather. The wood heater ran for two full days. We were warm. The dogs were warm. Outside, not so much. One morning we awoke to 1’C / 34’F temperatures, but there was no snow. Funnily enough, we haven’t seen snow here this year, or last year, or maybe even the year before that.

The highest reaches of this mountain range are about 300m (1,000ft) higher in elevation. It sure is cold up there, and only a few hardy souls live near to that ridge line. It does have the benefit of staying greener even in the hottest of summer weather. But the winters are probably a bit challenging. They did have a day of snow up there in about mid to late June this year, but that was about it. I only became aware of the snow because a vehicle owned by one of those hardy souls left a bunch of snow on the road near to the general store. I had to work that day, and said to myself that I’ll check out the snow next time around. Well that was a missed opportunity.

Old timers used to say that in an ordinary winter, the mountain range would get about ten snow days per year. Even at this lower elevation, we’d normally expect to get at least one snow day per year. But that hasn’t happened going on three winters now. But then, the old timers used to say that you couldn’t grow citrus trees in this mountain range. Au contraire, we grow plenty of citrus trees here! I’d have to suggest that the climate has shifted since those days.

A lot of things are like that nowadays. You assume that they’re one thing, and you’re not even remotely correct with the assumption. Always unpleasant to discern the true state of your knowledge! A week or two ago I mentioned the issues with the chainsaw sharpening process when using the electric grinder (an excellent machine, if used properly). There was a whole new twist to that story this week, the grinder discs sold to me by the nice machinery folks way back in the day, were for the wrong width chain. Turns out that there is a 3/8 chain, and also a 3/8 LP chain. LP being an acronym for ‘Low Profile’, which incidentally is far more commonly found. When I’d bought the machine years ago, I’d asked for a grinding disc for the bigger 3/8 chain, but instead got the 3/8 LP version instead. That wrong disc is 1.6mm thinner (about 1/15 of an inch). That tiny measurement might not sound like much, but I can assure you it makes a world of difference to the effectiveness of the chainsaw.

Anyway, recently I had to invest a lot of brain capacity to the subject of how exactly chainsaws work. You would think that the topic would be simple and straight forward, but no. I know better now, and a thicker grinding disc was purchased online and arrived in the mail. The thicker disc was then installed on the electric chain sharpening machine. For penance I sharpened about a dozen old chains this week. It took a few hours, but the results speak for themselves, and the saws all now cut beautifully. Turns out with such knowledge, sometimes people selling you this stuff maybe don’t know themselves, or make assumptions which are plain old incorrect.

On the desk next to my computer keyboard is a small booklet. It has an odd title: The Fuse Bible. It’s the 21st edition too. As you’d imagine, the book is full of useful information and specifications regarding fuses. You personally may not think much of fuses, but earlier in the year I installed five new fuses, whilst at the same time replacing the sixteen other older fuses in the battery room.

The fuse problem earlier in the year was another technology issue too. Late last year, one of the original fuses in the battery room failed catastrophically. The fuse destroyed itself, and fortunately the initial problems didn’t extend any further than that. It was a bit of a mess. Again I had to invest some spare brain capacity and ask the hard questions: Why and how did the fuse fail?

After absorbing a lot of boring details on the subject of extra low voltage fuses, I replaced all of the fuses with far more sturdier devices. Given the risk of failure, the effort and expense was worth it. And talking about expense, people tell me with a straight face that this renewable energy stuff is only ever getting cheaper. The facts are otherwise and just two fuses alone, cost what people pay on average for their monthly electricity bills, and there were 21 of the things! This stuff is not cheap, and makes no economic sense whatsoever.

The fuse book is no longer needed, but I keep it there as a reminder to never make assumptions, or take the nice people at their word. How does this thing work, and what do the specifications have to say about the item, are the sort of questions I ask nowadays. By and large, people don’t ask such questions. A good example of this incoherence has been in the media for the last two weeks. They’ve been whingeing about the dearth of cheap international flights. Apparently they want more and cheaper. The same folks also seem to want action on climate change, and apparently we’re also going to have a super hot summer. To my way of thinking, it’s a really confused world-view to demand action on something, whilst massively contributing to the same problem. My brain can’t handle such complexities, I’m just wondering where all the snow has gone.

In between the cold and wet weather this week, we’ve been getting more of the garden beds ready for the coming growing season. This week, the sapling fenced enclosure where we grow pumpkins and squashes was cleaned up and fed. The two long rows are ready to take seedlings once the weather warms up a bit. Already, we’ve planted out several squashes that had gone mouldy in the hope that this process produces new seedlings. The experiment is worth the effort. It may even work given such discarded fruits can produce seedlings in compost piles.

The sapling fenced enclosure was cleaned up and fed. The orange balls are the mouldy squashes

Observant readers will note that between the two rows we’ve created an all weather surface using a couple of bales of sugar cane mulch.

Over the past year we’ve been slowly constructing a much larger vegetable / citrus enclosure. The thing is huge at around 600 square metres (6,500 square feet). I did say it was big. Two gates and eight posts had been installed months ago, and this week I used the hand turned auger to dig another dozen holes for posts. Hopefully in the next week or two, we’ll have the posts cemented into the ground and then begin on the job of fencing.

One of the gates and a corner post. The two posts on funny angles are yet to be cemented in
Half of the area is set aside for rows of vegetables

Long term readers will recall our issues with kale where we’d stripped most of the nitrogen from the soil, by running kale in the same ground for a few years in a row. Since that incident, we’ve been giving some serious thought as to crop rotation. This new much bigger enclosure will provide for more growing space, and we’ll be able to rest up garden rows, or even move them around to new locations within the available space.

The soil removed from the dozen post holes was relocated near to the collection of water tanks. We’re doing a bit of landscaping around the water tanks, and will eventually install a rock wall along the entire length of the area where the tanks sit.

We’re doing a bit of landscaping near to where the water tanks sit

The wildlife which roam through the orchards at night have recently been assisting with pruning. It’s very thoughtful of them. A wallaby (a smaller (and possibly angry) lone forest kangaroo) decided that the mandarin required pruning:

The wallaby left the branch hanging at an unusual angle

And the wombat decided to chew through a very spiky cactus. Anything that can eat that particular plant is a creature to be feared!

My cactus, destroyed by a wombat

The protein levels in the plants are still a bit low at the moment, thus the level of destruction. This problem will go away in the next few weeks as the UV radiation from the sun increases, and the plants respond to the extra energy by producing more protein. Fortunately, the wildlife haven’t discovered the peas we planted out last week, because a couple of them have germinated.

A couple of peas planted last week have germinated

Trffid alert! One of the three hops vines has begun growing. Candidly, the rate of growth is a bit scary given just how many shoots popped up in only a few days!

Hops vines, technically described as vigorous

Some of the early fruit trees have broken their dormancy and produced blossoms. Despite the cold temperatures this week, I didn’t notice any frost, so fingers crossed that the blossoms don’t wither and die. It’s been a few years since we’ve managed to harvest any apricots and other stone fruits, and they’re very tasty.

The shady orchard is beginning to break its winter dormancy

Onto the flowers:

Who says fruit trees can’t be attractive? This is either a peach or a nectarine
The surrounding forest continues to bloom like this Blackwood
The ornamental cherries (and a Plum) are just lovely
Hellebores are at their absolute peak
They’re not exactly black flowers, but these Hellebores are close enough

The temperature outside now at about 9am is 7’C (48’F). So far this year there has been 647.6mm (25.5 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 622.0mm (24.5 inches)

44 thoughts on “The Road to Snow-where”

  1. Hi Chris,
    I’d be very interested to hear more about your fuses, what went wrong, why, and what fuse(s) you replaced it with.
    I’m currently using car fuses for my (very small) 1 kWh off-grid system, largest circuit fuse 15A @ 12V (I also have a 50A master fuse right next to the battery)
    Hope you’re ready for a hot summer – we’re starting to think about shading…
    Cheers, Gus

  2. Yo, Chris – “…spread it’s wings.” Nice turn of phrase. “…huge frozen continent to the south.” There is? 🙂

    Snow. Be careful what you wish for. Maybe since it’s an El Nino year, the snow will come back.

    Good work on puzzling out the chain saws. Good work on puzzling out the fuses. I’m sure the Fuse Bible (21st Ed.) will soon hit the New York Times best seller list. Of course, the 22d edition, will only be available on-line for a small fee. You’ll have to print it out, using your own paper and ink.

    “It’s so hot the planes won’t fly!” “It was so hot my vacation was ruined!” Some people can’t seem to (or don’t want to), grasp cause and effect. I saw something recently, that was kind of interesting. Transportation is really a rather small part of greenhouse gases. The really big contributor, is factory farming. All those animals belching and breaking wind.

    Thanks for the explanation of the wonky angle of the corner posts. That would have kept me awake all night.

    Maybe the Wallaby was old and bitter? Or, an adolescent, who “I was bored.” Wombats must have iron mouths. Could one forge swords?

    Hop vines. I know from experience, that once established, they’re just about impossible to get rid of. And they do just fine, with no care at all!

    “Peach or nectarine.” Lost the tags again, did we? 🙂

    The ornamental cherries and plum, sure are pretty. Cascades, indeed. Lew

  3. Yo, Chris – Outback Steakhouse? Never mind. I found this scathing (and amusing), review …

    “Outback Steakhouse: an American’s idea of what Australian cuisine is like. Stunningly inauthentic. Started in Florida, and spread over much of US-dominated part of the world (which I can understand, ‘cos Americans generally know little about the World Outside America), and also the wealthy parts of south-east Asia (huh?). TV ads used to feature American actors doing appallingly bad attempts at an Australian accent, but now have got slightly more of a clue.
    A favourite game of my friends in the US was to try to talk me into going to Outback Steakhouse when I was tired, and therefore apt to slip into Mr. Sarcastic Bastard mode. They regarded my responses to Outback’s various paraphernalia, menus, waiters, etc. as deeply amusing.

    The menu features almost exclusively items that real Australians would be completely unfamiliar with. The dishes include items such as Blooming Onion, Aussie Cheese Fries, Kookaburra Wings, Walkabout Soup, Ayers Rock Canada (really!), Jackeroo chops, and many other dishes, pretty much all of which are standard American restaurant fare with some random Australian-sounding word shoved into the name. Where the Australian word and the American word for something differ, the American word is usually used, although there’s a partial exception for “chook” and “chips”.

    Under a menu section titled “sandwiches” (pretty much anything Australians call a burger, Americans call a sandwich), there’s a burger you can have with a whole bunch of toppings; but pineapple and beetroot are not on the list. They use American cheddar, which is neon orange (real Australian cheddar is an extremely pale yellow).

    I frequently find myself forced to take a pen to some of the menu’s grosser errors.

    The decor contains alligators (instead of crocodiles), neon Budweiser signs, stuffed toy kangaroos, koalas, etc. The architecture looks more Texan than Australian.

    All in all, it seems almost deliberately designed to jar and shock real Australians with its bizarrely twisted reflection of the very shallowest surface of Australian culture.

    Oh, and Americans pronounce “Aussie” with a hard “s”, like “Oss-ee”, for which I find myself forced to kill them and bury their bodies in the lime pit.”

    In other words … no beetroot. Lew

  4. Hi Gus,

    Good to hear from you, and yeah, fuses are far more complicated devices than they may at first seem. Hmm, so are you using those blade style fuses which you see in cars? For your info, and you’re good with a 12V system, but they are only rated to 32V DC max. Now with your 12V system you’d see an open circuit voltage of around 21V DC and about 18V DC under charge from the panels. So that’s cool. But if you used them on a 24V DC off grid system, you’d easily exceed their specifications when the panels produced 36V DC under load, or 42V DC in an open circuit (which happens when the controller shuts off the flow of charge from the panels to the batteries – the ones here cycle at 125Hz I believe). Will they work in a 24V DC system, maybe, but do you want to find out the hard way when something goes wrong? Most components do have tolerances but it’s a gamble.

    Depends what you mean by a master fuse, and I dunno. A lot of people use those DC rated two pole circuit breakers because they’re cheap. If you use them you have to ensure that the largest potential (i.e. the battery, presumably) is on the correct side of the fuse with the wiring in the right polarity, otherwise…

    I added in HRC fuses (which stand for High Rupture Current) so as to protect the 3x batteries and inverters. Please spare me a moment of geekery combined with a whole bunch of worry. Say the LiFePO4 batteries can supply 500Ah at say around 53V, but at 2C (i.e. supply twice the rated amp-hours as working current for a short period of time). They can, you know. But I’m scared of 1,000A at that voltage, assuming something horrifically goes wrong, so an HRC fuse as a main fuse is designed to blow under such horrid conditions when not much else will. Seriously most other fuses will fry. They’re a ceramic casing filled with sand I think so as to quench the inevitable arc should the fuse rating be exceeded for a short period of time. Better to be safe with these things. I can put you in touch with the suppliers if you need?

    Depends on what kind of batteries your off grid system uses. And hey, some of the thermal push button circuit breakers are pretty good, and I use those, but the ones I use are rated for the 48V higher voltages I encounter in my off grid system, so they’re not cheap – and more importantly, run cool under all conditions.

    I dunno man, right now things are pretty green and wet, so it depends whether the rain drops off over the next few months. I’ve been watching your part of the world and you’ve done really well with rain too this year, despite the recent heat. It is spring after all!



  5. Hi Lewis,

    Well that was an interesting rabbit hole which you sent me on. Turns out that there are two types of ash produced: Fly Ash (the lighter stuff); and Bottom Ash (the heavier stuff). I’m sure it would have piqued your interest to have seen all that stuff being hauled away. I’m now left wondering how the ash was even removed from near to the boilers given how hot the ash must have originally been? I mean, it’s not like you can simply shut the boiler down on one of those plants. In order to remove wood ash from the wood heater, we have to wait until the thing has cooled down.

    Oh no! I wasn’t sure what you meant by the gas issues with the mower, and thought you were talking about two-stroke fuel which is a gas-oil mixture.

    That was my thoughts exactly in regards to Moby Dick. Do we really need to know such intricate details about everything to do with whales? Like everything there is to know! Truly, the detail got in the way of recounting a good story, and the author went way overboard – without drowning I may add. I had some definite thoughts about the author after listening to the Editors pained journey through the supposed classic.

    Hehe! Yes, the reviewer mentioned the icky bits of the Holly story. I reckon I’ll skip over those scenes on the basis that I don’t need such word images in my mind. My mind is still reeling from Mr Mercedes and his err, Oedipus complex. I guess honeybunch needed a bit of comforting from time to time… 😉 Some things you can’t un-read, but the authors job was to shock our minds, and we went there voluntarily. Are you enjoying the read?

    Helter Skelter, of course! I was thinking of Dire Straits: Money for Nothing. As always there is a bit of seeding of ideas.

    Sweet potato would be too heart breaking here as well. Sometimes you can’t push the climate realities with plants. We don’t really see it much for sale down here. It’s more a subtropical crop from what I understand. The more usual potato suspects are what you’ll see around these parts because they grow here.

    Hehe! Yeah, maybe it does taste like chicken! 🙂

    Thanks for the review of the restaurant. Have they ever been to Australia, that’s what I want to know! Honestly, I was just laughing about the review, it was pretty funny. And I must say, that I agree with the author in relation to Australian cheddar, often sold under the name ‘Tasty Cheese’. A friend from your fine country occasionally tries valiantly to shock my senses by introducing me to orange cheese, and yes he succeeds, but at the same time I’m able to fend off such err, tasty treats on the basis that the cheese is culturally the incorrect colour. ‘Tes not natural! Maybe… Shame about the lack of beetroot, they’re missing out. 🙂 Candidly, you might be disappointed if you chose to do the IRL testing.

    The eviction laws are around the other way down here, and you can guess the results. There is very little security for people renting a house, and with such low vacancy rates, I’ve heard people describe the situation as the ‘Hunger Games’. That’s rough too, because they keep bringing so many people into the country when there is already a shortage of housing. Given over a third of the people in the country rent, it surprises me that this hasn’t blown up as a massive issue. Trust me, things could be worse.

    When we were renting in a nearby town whilst building this place, the owners just contacted us out of the blue towards the end of the lease. They wanted to sell the place, and thought it would be OK if we could just work around their open for inspections. Yeah, like we wanted a whole bunch of strangers traipsing through the house each weekend pawing at our stuff. And could we keep the place really clean and neat too, whilst this went on? Can’t say that I felt like accommodating their request, yeah. Moved out into an unfinished house. That was preferable.

    Thanks for the laughs, the t-shirt slogans were a hoot!

    What? How can the authoritas not know who owns the house? We have look through ownership provisions down here because the state taxes people (or other entities) which own more than one house, or pretty much any property where it is not the persons primary residence. Even vacant blocks of land get levied that land tax, oh yeah – we had to pay that prior to getting a house constructed and finished here in addition to council rates. Rent a place out or a commercial business, then expect land tax. It happens. I suppose you’d get obscure ownership situations when folks are trying to work around those sorts of tax issues in your country? And the more property owned down here, the more expensive that tax gets.

    So, did H get her gravy? I had been wondering about this.

    Thanks for saying that about the turn of phrase. It was fun to write. And that big old frozen continent, sneezes and sends us a storm – usually cold and wet. Although the weather for the next week looks delightful! I’m looking forward to thawing out my winter chilled bones in the sunshine this week. Well, as much as I’m able to anyway.

    Haha! I very much doubt it, but a bit of mad cash splashed here and there, they might get up the best seller list with the fuse bible. 🙂 Actually, it’s quite good when some of the online suppliers send along such marketing material as catalogues. You never know what You’ll find in them to purchase.

    People have actually been reported recently as having said some of those sorts of stupid holiday comments. Seriously. Makes me wonder whether they used their brain before opening their mouths? Maybe, and then again maybe not. But I agree, it is a very complicated world view to contribute to a problem whilst whining loudly about it all at the same time. There’s a lot of that going on right now. The thing is, far distant holidays are definitely 100% purely voluntary. That’s my main gripe, people don’t have to do what they’re doing, they want to do it. That’s cool with me, just don’t whine about climate change all at the same time, because that world-view makes no sense whatsoever.

    Stop it! 🙂 You did not… Honestly, I’m always amazed at what people notice in all of the photos. Sometimes a bloke has to provide an accompanying explanation, and that soothes the savage critic. Except maybe that commenter dude early on in the life of blog who suggested that I spent most of the week on photo-shop. Like I have the competency for such digital artistry? 🙂

    With the wallaby, definitely a case of the adolescent vandal gone wild. Yup. The wombats never fail to surprise me. Right now, one is digging a new burrow under a very large and old tree. Every time I look at the newly developing burrow I think to myself: Hope you dudes know what you’re doing. It’s a big old tree.

    Such plants as hops vines make us dilettantes look like we know what we’re doing. Reality may differ…

    Well, yeah, all the plant tags are gone! Nature is unkind to plant tags, if I may say so in my defence. Anyway, it may be a memory trick I’m employing so as to remember the varieties of all the plants. Maybe not, but as a theory you have to admit it sounds plausible? Better than ‘I just lost all of the tags’…

    It’s a lovely time of year here!



  6. Yo, Chris – I never took a tour of the steam plant. Burned coal to generate steam to make electricity. I doubt they shut the boilers down. Maybe a system of grates and conveyor belts? When the steam plant was first set up and running, the coal field was right next door. Later on, they were bringing in a cleaner burning coal, by train, from Wyoming, or somewhere.

    Oh, I was thinking of how you have to avoid the gas with the corn syrup in it. 🙂

    I gave “Holly” a rest. I’ve joined the cult of “The Big Bang Theory.” And, the spin off, “Young Sheldon.” I thought I’d give it a whirl, as it’s become such a pop culture reference point. I must say, it’s got some real laugh out loud moments, which I’m not much given to, even in the privacy of my own home. 🙂

    The Master Gardeners are here, this morning. One has family down in Portland, and she brought a lot of plants for our gardens. She said she checked out the nurseries, for end of season sales. Dropped the comment that things were 30% off … and, she didn’t have to pay sales tax. You see how it goes?

    I thought you’d get a kick out of the restaurant review. I stumbled on it when I was wondering if they put beet root, on their burgers. Apparently not! You know, I got to thinking that a lot of restaurants, here, the buffet / self service kind have a “salad bar” where you build your own salads. Usually, there’s a container of pickled beets. One could get creative / adaptive / inventive with a burger stuffing.
    I think I mentioned our local veg store has a cheese section. And, there are a few Australian cheeses. As a treat, I sometimes pick up some Australian cheese. And, yes, the color of your cheese is nothing like the color of our cheese.

    Our eviction laws vary, from state to state. I vaguely remember when new laws were put in place to give more protection to renters. There was quit a bit of “funny business” on the part of landlords. I remember when I was a student, in Seattle, I shared the basement of a house. Three of us. We discovered that the landlady, who lived upstairs had a real racket going. You’d pay your first and last months rent, and a cleaning deposit. Then she’d make life so miserable for her tenants that they moved, forfeiting the last months rent and cleaning deposit. We gave notice, stuck out the last month and were going to get that deposit back. We’d clean, and clean. Call her down. Not good enough? Clean some more. She finally threw the money back at us. The weekend after we moved out, she had a stroke and lay on her bathroom floor for three days. Karma?

    I get catalogues from Acorn Media, and also BBC America. There’s a lot of crossover. Because I once ordered a t-shirt from them, for my friend Scott. “It’s Not Hoarding If It’s Guitars.” Besides having DVDs of all the Brit programs, it’s loaded with all kinds of tat, mostly, I think, from the Land of Stuff. Clothes, garden art, “educational” toys, etc. etc.. A few books. Mugs, tea cozies.

    Well, the government can tell a piece of property is owned by an LLC, but who is behind the LLC is not very transparent. I think that might change, sooner or later. There’s too many mysterious land and company buys, lately.

    Biscuits and gravy. You’ve been wondering, I’ve been wondering, H has been wondering. There was none, yesterday. Mr. Bill our Club manager checked three stores and couldn’t find any of the canned gravy. Then he had an anxiety attack. Whatever.

    Prof. Mass has another post on how climate change isn’t as bad as people claim it is. I see Mr. Greer had a post on climate change, but I didn’t get a chance to read it. I saw his one on karma, and thought it was pretty good.

    You know how big old trees fall over and the roots come up? I had this vision of the tree falling over and the wombat being catapulted through the air. 🙂

    Maybe a garden plan? Pencil to paper? LOL. I’m not very good at keeping mine up, either. Lew

  7. Hi Chris,

    We are back from our last ever road trip. While we didn’t run into any bad weather it was still way too much. We knew it would be but forged ahead as things had been booked. I did very much enjoy Isle Royale National Park in the middle of Lake Superior. We did a pretty significant hike that we found out afterwards was classified as “easy”. Well parts of it was easy but there were many rocks to climb and balance on, roots to watch out for and narrow planks to walk over marshy areas. We did not see a moose but saw many tracks and scat. Also ate some thimbleberries on the trail. Poor Doug was quite sore after that while I was not but then I try to get plenty of exercise of all kinds. The ferry ride was almost 4 hours (more sitting). Apparently it never went out the day before we were there due to seven foot waves. We did have a boat trip to another nearby island that was also canceled on another day for the same reason and the trip back (at least there was a trip back) was a bit rough. Dramamine was recommended. Found out that Lake Superior is really an inland sea and contains 10% of the world’s fresh water. You could fit all the other great lakes and three lake Erie’s into it. We did stay in the lodge as the days of hiking from campground to campground hauling all gear, food and water are well behind us. We did see some very exhausted hikers coming in. This is definitely a place for younger people than us. Met one woman who was coming back from a 3 day hike who was almost in tears and said she and her sister had been lost for five miles and had run out of water but luckily had a filter to use when they found some.

    Our other two mail stops were Cleveland to go to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and to visit a town nearby where Doug had lived as a young boy and Niagara Falls. I was glad we got there after Labor day so it wasn’t too crowded. We also visited a friend on the way out and our last stop was to visit my aunt in Indiana and some cousins that I haven’t seen since Carla’s wedding.

    Leo and Salve were very happy to see us and seem to have weathered their boarding experience well though they’ve been keeping a good eye on us since we’ve been home.

    Shockingly my plants did pretty well especially since there were several very hot days and no rain except the night before we returned but only .2inch.

    Glad to hear you and Sandra are on the mend. I can see spring is arriving at Fernglade.

    Always so impressed with your electrical knowledge.


  8. Chris,

    I had a thought. Perhaps my final one on your insurance and doubling etal. “Double, double, toil and trouble.” Not far from the truth…

    Tall trees and wind do not mix. I recall when 2 of dad’s pine trees were “playing” with the power lines on windy days. He sent me up the trees with a pruning saw to cut off the offending branches. On a windy day! (There’s GOT to be a reason for his choosing a windy day, limbs, power lines, and me.) Those trees were swaying something fierce. I decided to make the best of it and pretended I was a pirate sailing on the bounding main. Arrrrr! I was amused. Dad wasn’t. The limbs got lopped off. I survived.

    Oh, that gate thing on the ice? There was a sign on the gate that said it was locked about 5:00 p.m. I was late getting down the mountain due to the ice. There were and are multiple Federal microwave towers on top of that mountain, and the guys were workers at the microwave installation a couple km from the gate. So, after a day of work, they were on their way home. Couldn’t wait for the laggard, I guess. Oh, and that was eons before the Subaru. I was driving an old Chevrolet Blazer S-10.

    Snow-where? Is that where Snow White lives?

    So your mountain tops had snow in mid-June. We had no snow in June. However, the latest snowfall on record here WAS in June. It was snowing when I was waiting for the bus. I exited the bus at the job and it was snowing. The local highlands received over 7cm of snow. It was a Friday. Friday, June 13. Had top be a Friday the 13th. Could be worse…They say it can snow most anywhere in Montana and Wyoming on any day of the year.

    The Fuse Bible, 21st Edition? Cool! That could be an interesting book. My dad had like the 39th edition of the CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics. My edition was maybe the 70th or so. Dwarfed the 39th edition, which was huge enough. I like old reference books like those. I still have both of them in the basement, sitting next to the Feynman Lectures on Physics books.

    Your early spring flowers are looking good. Thanks for the photos. The almost black hellebores are unique.

    For some reason I was thinking about entropy today. And an event from physics graduate school. I was teaching a physics lab in summer term. I tried to have the labs relate to what the students were doing in their physics lecture course. When they got to entropy, I was almost stumped. Almost, but not quite. Twas nearing the US 4th of July celebration. Fireworks. Firecrackers. I decided I could do something as a demonstration at the start of lab.

    I discussed entropy and watched eyes glaze over with confusion. Then I held up a firecracker in one hand. And a match in the other. I discussed the amount of order with which both objects were manufactured. I lit the firecracker’s fuse and tossed it. Perfect throw: it blew up a little over a meter from a sleeping student’s ear, the same student who had been a thorn in my side all term. He about fell off of his chair. I calmly pointed out the randomly moving whisps of smoke from the match, the seemingly random bits of firecracker on the floor. Twas rather a successful demonstration I thought.

    An hour after the class was over my office phone rang. Twas the department secretary. “Come see me” she said. I did. She asked if I had, indeed and for real, lit a firecracker in class, reminding me that all fireworks were illegal on campus. I told her I had and why, as it was part of a demonstration of entropy. She breathed a sigh of relief. “I was hoping you had a legitimate reason to do that. Just don’t do it again cousin.” And she winked at me.

    Yes, cousin. Small world. Her husband was from a tiny town in central New Mexico. My dad’s brother’s wife had family in that same tiny town. Turns out my aunt and the secretary’s husband were 2nd or 3rd cousins, so we considered ourselves to be related. She ran a lot of coverage for me once we discovered that.


  9. Hi Margaret,

    Glad to hear that you enjoyed your travels, and seriously the photos I’d seen from that National Park look really lovely. Hope both yourself and Doug can laugh now from hindsight about that ‘easy’ trail. Perhaps the trail was once easy, and is now in a poor state of repair? But rock scrambling is perhaps stretching the definition of ‘easy’ a bit too far. Yummo! The thimbleberries look great, and they appear to be some sort of raspberry ‘Rubus’ family of plants? Were they any good?

    Oh no! I’d been aware that those lakes could get some wild storms from Mr Kunstler’s ‘World Made by Hand’ series of novels, and wouldn’t want to experience one of those. You both survived! I don’t get seasick for some reason, but on the trip back to the mainland on the Kangaroo Island car ferry (which was pretty small), the seas were seriously rough. People were passing out, and most certainly being quite ill.

    Margaret, I tell you truthfully, I’d choose to stay in the lodge too. 🙂 Thanks for the descriptions of the distressed people, and I’ve seen that too. It happens. We’ve got a relaxed going the distance kind of walking pace whether carrying packs or not. People knock themselves out because they don’t know how to pace themselves, and sometimes the shorter day walks, like two or three days, can produce some horrid outcomes. Have you ever read Cheryl Strayed’s book Wild? I’ve seen the film, and quite enjoyed it. If you walk far enough, and for long enough, a person learns to pace themselves, but before that time other people can be a total menace (the same thing applied to long distance running). We apply the same processes to the work here. The tortoise won the race you know! 😉 Or at least avoided the tears and drama which you witnessed!

    I’d avoid the crowds too. Was the hall of fame fun?

    Oh well, Leo and Salve will recover and in a few days time, hopefully with some choice treats and decent walks, they’ll be fine, maybe. 🙂

    Have the spray affected plants recovered? Maybe there is less energy in the sun now, so despite the heat, the lack of regular water is less of a problem than it would have been a month ago? Sometimes I deliberately skip watering the plants in the greenhouse so as to observe how they respond, and you inadvertently performed a similar experiment. Began many of the growing seasons seeds today and the sun shone with some delightful warmth.

    Thank you for the kind words, and we’re doing really well.

    My natural inclination would be to set up the power system and hope that it just works. Reality is otherwise, and then you’re kind of forced to learn a whole bunch of esoteric knowledge. Just hope the old brain doesn’t pop with too much knowledge! Always a bad thing… 🙂



  10. Hi DJ,

    Oh that’s good. Yes, double, double, toil and trouble. A potent spell which may explode the brains of actuaries everywhere. Best if it’s not used, but nobody asked either you or I!

    What? I’m not suggesting that is a form of child abuse, but things were clearly different back in the day. 🙂 Candidly, you were lucky to have survived and trees are very good at conducting electricity to earth. Tree felling and pruning is a job which should best be done with the prevailing weather conditions as a central determinant, all other considerations to the side. Years ago I did a course at a commercial orchard about an hour to the north on the subject of ‘summer bud grafting’. The daughter ran the orchard, but her grandfather originally owned the orchard. Her dad took the course, and he was now an old bloke and I asked him how they used to pick apples from the much larger trees when he was a kid. He told me the same story as yours, his dad sent him up and into the trees to pick the apples. Things have changed since then because he mentioned that nowadays they’re not even allowed to use the old orchard style ladders. Hmm. He did cheekily suggest that most orchard trees these days are cosseted. And hey, I like your style. Pirates are never out of fashion!

    The Blazer looks like a venerable steed with a notable pedigree. And hey, at least you didn’t get bogged, that time! 🙂 Ah, well, you were a self confessed laggard and this sometimes comes with it’s own problems! At least you didn’t race down the hill and crash due to the ice. Far out, sometimes all options are no good.

    Oh my, that would have been a very cold day. 70mm of snow is no joke. I’d imagine that your work would have been impacted by the sudden heavy snowfall? Can you guys send someone up to clear the roads? 🙂 I’m sure that just like my time in debt collection, you’ve now heard it all?

    Well, they may get snow, but we can get a frost here any day of the year. It’s a bit frightening. One of my neighbours showed me a photo from many years ago when a sudden and intense summer cold snap produced snow on Christmas Day. I guess that would have been better than the Christmas tornado many years ago which was not a lot of fun. I seriously wished I’d taken a photo of the cloud that day, but I genuinely said to Sandra: That’s a funny looking cloud. And then it hit. Far out! It was only a minor tornado, but still… Crazy stuff. I’m sure such extreme weather can hit your part of the world too?

    They’re amazing those black Hellebores. And they’ve somehow survived years of neglect.

    Your demonstration with the fireworks was very cheeky, and would have woken the students from their slumbering daydreams. And yeah I hear you, sometimes you need to send a strong message to such folks. And it’s good to have someone on your side who has your back. 🙂

    Hey, I used to chuck chocolates at the assistant accountants during training, and it was always a special pleasure to score a direct hit! Given it was chocolate, nobody minded, or at least I studiously avoided trouble. I probably would have been sacked for a fire cracker!

    Cemented in all of those dozen posts today. The forecast suggested that the weather was going to be superb, so I had to test the theories. They got it right too! A lovely sunny and warm day.



  11. Hi Lewis,

    Honestly, I’m a bit dodge about the hairpiece, and Sulu’s possibly slightly soiled skivvy are both just not quite doing it for me. 🙂 The models looked great, and I must say that the collector signed his name to a crashed spaceship in Starship Troopers. An intense and darkly comedic film if I may say so.

    You’re right there. My understanding about those large coal fired boilers is that they’re not made to be shut down often over their life-spans. Shame you never got a chance to poke around inside the plant, it would have been very interesting. I’ll bet that coal in your part of the world is maybe like what we have down here – high in moisture content? They call it brown coal here, and the combustion process loses some energy in the process of reducing the moisture from the coal.

    I see, well I do avoid fuel with ethanol, if I’m aware that it is even in the mix. But even so, most fuel sold nowadays goes off within about sixty days from what I’m hearing. I use a fuel stabiliser additive, but some sources say even that is not good enough. Things were not always this way, but they appear to be that way now. Word on the street is that there is more than just ethanol additives to worry about in the mix. If needed, I can tear down the carburettors for the small farm machines and give them a thoroughly good cleaning and reassemble them.

    Well, you are resting up whilst I have begun reading Mr King’s: ‘The Colorado Kid’. So far, so good. You mentioned the hard boiled crime novels a few months ago, and I picked up the box set. So looking forward to reading them all. You’ll love this, but it was hard to not notice that the err, pulp-fiction-esque covers (which are so true to the art form) gained a bit of attention earlier today at the local general store. Whatever will the locals think? 🙂

    I’ve only ever heard good things about that series, and its good to read that you endorse those views. I know what you mean about the series being a pop culture reference point.

    Yeah, I see what you mean about running the border for those sales tax free discounts. But then, the energy required to bring all those plants north, well that ain’t cheap. Near to $2/Litre here now (or $7.60 gallon). I paid that today. Took today off paid work. Given I can’t seem to get an extended holiday of any length, I’m just taking days here and there, and today was one of those. Cemented in all of the dozen posts for that new large vegetable and citrus enclosure today in the glorious spring sunshine. I’m beginning to thaw out after winter. 🙂 And got many of the seeds for the growing season ready in lots of forestry tubes. I think we did radish, zucchini, beans, tatsoi, perpetual spinach, and turnips. The coming week is warmer, so they should get off to a good start in the greenhouse.

    Thanks for the review, it was pretty funny. Well yes, apparently not does seem to be the case, or at least this is what the facts suggest in regards to the beetroot. That’s a good idea about transferring the pickled beet from the salad bar. Hey, for your info, those salad bars have mostly disappeared down here. I haven’t seen one for a couple of decades.

    It is a treat that cheese! Yum! I once inadvertently bought a very expensive aged cheddar (from the King Island Dairy) for some guests, and simply acknowledged when I got to the cash register and recoiled at the price, that I’d not paid enough attention to the finer details of the transaction, such as price. Oh well. Anyway, I didn’t think much more about it, but noticed one guest in particular scoffing down the cheese at a goodly rate, and decided to investigate. Hmm. It was good, perhaps too good for guests. Who knew – The orange colour in your cheese is from a plant based dye. What the heck? Seems to have quite the history to doing that. I wonder what would happen if supplies of the dye ever ran out. Would people recognise the yellow-ish colour block of solid milk product as cheese? Makes you wonder, doesn’t it?

    Oh yeah, it sounds like karma to me. She was lucky that the dogs didn’t get hungry and begin to eat her, always a worry. Loyalty can only take a dogs hunger just so far! 😉 Man, far out people can be horrid. A couple of decades ago we stayed over night at a bed breakfast down along the coast. Instead of letting us sleep in, the lady of the house made a huge amount of noise early in the morning, and then proceeded to whinge at us until we left. That was a stay and breakfast to remember. People can be pretty tricksey.

    For disputes over amounts deducted from rental bonds, there is an administrative tribunal process which both parties (tenants and landlords) have to attend. From what I’ve seen and heard of the process, it’s pretty fair and takes into account normal wear and tear. The thing is, a new house, is only new on the first day someone moves into it. It doesn’t take long before the thing needs maintenance. Hmm.

    Oh, there was a weird vehicle fire at Sydney airport: Electric vehicle battery causes fire at Sydney Airport, destroys five cars. That one was weird.

    And speaking of dogs, Dame Plum seems to have gotten some intestinal worms, again. She has some unsavoury habits, let’s just put it that way. Anyway, we had a good look at how to treat them, and may adjust her diet to regularly include blitzed up pepitas which apparently have some efficacy in that area. I can’t dose her up too much on vermicides because there is the possibility that the parasites build up a resistance to the chemicals. Oh well. Best to leave the A-bomb chemicals for when they are really needed, and make suitable changes to her diet to mostly put a stop to the issue.

    Hehe! Hope Scott enjoyed the t-shirt? Yes, some folks do have their interests. 🙂 Oh my gawd, fricken tea cozies… Hehe! I still can’t understand why the old folks used to give me them for a Christmas bonus when I delivered the newspapers to them. A mystery! Surely a bit of mad cash would have been more appropriate? 🙂

    I see, yes, such things can change, easily too. It depends upon the will of the goobermont. Mate, down here there are directors ID’s and all manner of public records as to shareholdings. That trick would be hard to do down here. I’d have to suggest that mad cash isn’t worth what it once was if that sort of thing is going on.

    Bummer! Do you reckon you might end up having to pick up the gravy? How did you make it up to H?

    Dude, people keep telling me that we’re in for a super hot summer. I don’t know how they can even know this, because forecasting that far out is only ever indicative. On a side note, I was curious to know why the couple in the cartoon somehow lost their clothes due to climate change? That hasn’t happened to me, and maybe I should worry about that possibility? 😉 People can’t seem to be able to talk about say: population pressure; increasing crapification of products; overall weirdness in our political class; inability to afford a home; instability in employment; rising costs for everything, you could go on. So what they fear is an abstract worry instead: climate change. Doesn’t mean its not a problem, it probably is, but I’m of a practical mindset and refuse to worry about something where other people refuse to take any actions to address the issue. Their actions tell me everything I need to know about the matter. Our values and concerns can be seen in the choices that we have made, this is an unpopular option. Look, one in every two people on this planet eat courtesy of fertilisers derived from fossil fuels. I doubt we have enough fossil fuels left to really push the envelope on climate change, they’re already getting in short supply – look at natural gas and what is going on there. And that is a feedstock fuel for fertilisers. I dunno man, I just prefer to do my best, and sleep soundly.

    Hehe! It might happen with the wombat. Cleaning up the tree though would be a nightmare job. I really do hope the wombat knows what it is doing with that new burrow.

    Garden plans – what are these things? 🙂 Good to hear, for a moment there I was getting a little bit worried that you might have had one.



  12. Yo, Chris – Sometimes, dumpster diving pays off 🙂 . Eventually. Yup, “Starship Trooper” and the sequel, were pretty good. Who wouldn’t trade slightly fascist and military government (shaded a bit like 1984) for co-ed showers?

    I think it was more something to do with sulfur, in the coal. Which whipped the Greenies into a frenzy. The plant jumped through all kinds of hoops, scrubbers, etc.. But it JUST WANSN’T GOOD ENOUGH!” I mean, when all was said and done, the new improved plant might have effected one in one point three million people! The humanity! The humanity! Looks like they’re going to shut the sucker down. When I worked out there, I spent a couple of evening out in the woods. The birds, plants and wildlife looked pretty healthy, to me.

    “Colorado Kid,” was good. It was also done as a TV series, called “Haven.” The sequel to the book is “Joyland.” Also, good. You can always make a book cover out of a brown paper bag.

    She was going to Portland, anyway. Family, etc.. It’s 90 miles, or, an hour and a half. Not paying the sales tax paid for some of the gas. And bringing back plants probably offset some of the carbon footprint. Inquiring Greenie Minds, want to know!

    I had to run to the grocery, last night. Yes!!! The pumpkin pie spice ice cream, is in! Funny, as I was on my way to the store, I thought about it, and decided, “Too early.” Nope. Life is complete. I also checked for pickled beets. Even the expensive stuff was loaded with corn syrup. Picked up two more bags of 2 pound brown rice.

    Stopped by the veg store, this morning, and checked for Australian cheese. It’s coming in, today.

    Salad bars. Down in Wasco, County, Oregon, quit a few years back, the place was almost taken over by a cult, the Rajneeshees. As there was an election, they spiked a local salad bar, with anthrax (?), to cut down on locals voting, and thus take over the county government. That’s the sparsely populated desert part of the state.

    Hmmm. The B & B you stayed at, sounds like the B & B in the New Zealand series, “Under the Vines.”

    Seems to be a lot of battery fires, lately. Phones, electric bikes … cars.

    I thought the mention of tea cozies, would set you off 🙂 .

    Most people can only get worked up about one “cause” at a time.

    They’re dropping like flies, here at the Institution. I saw a dead woman’s feet! Though I didn’t know she was dead, at the time. And a woman down the hall, who has been on hospice for a long time, has scheduled her check out time, for this Friday. Assisted suicide. She should have played that one close to the chest, as, the news has whipped all the religious crazies in the building, into a frenzy. Fun to watch. Me, I’m crawling up into the woods, on a cold winters night. Also a case of You Know What, down the hall. Lew

  13. Hi Lewis,

    Well yeah, those sorts of items are like dumpster diving and coming up with pure gold. I believe such folks often find a lot of precious metals in the bins… I’m genuinely surprised that the studios didn’t bother auctioning the models off, and just chucked them. Starship Troopers was such an odd film because I saw it as a satire, but I could equally understand how people might miss that element of the film. It was pretty over the top wasn’t it? It was hard to forget the crazy body count, which was often provided in a numerical format just in case you missed that element of the story. An utterly bonkers film, but quite enjoyable. 🙂 And that I believe was the point of it, maybe. What do you reckon about that? It’s a bit of a cult classic nowadays.

    Mate, there are times I feel as if I’m somehow spruiking for the fossil fuel industry, which I’m not, but I do wonder about the enthusiasm for shutting down large electricity generators. People pushing for that outcome should seriously spend a month here during the depths of winter relying on solar power alone. They might sing a different tune then. But I don’t worry about such things, they’ll discover what it means for themselves in time. The problem is if they change their minds, it can take five or six years to construct a replacement generator. A lot can happen in that time period.

    There was a reference to ‘The Colorado Kid’ being made into a TV series, or at least reimagined as such. The introduction in the book suggested that the characters were quite different, but loosely based upon the novel. Please correct me if I’m wrong? I’m already a third of the way through the book. It’s an engaging tale, and reels you in. Thanks for the suggestion, but I believe a brown paper bag cover would only make the situation worse. Best to hide out front of a rock and roll band, and half a century or more ago, that’s what the covers looked like. If the art attracts attention, it’s working! 🙂

    Honestly, I’m not even sure what a carbon footprint is or means. It looks like a relative abstraction to my mind, and I’d like to avoid such Exorcist style head spins, and the pea soup incident, if I have anything to say about the matter. Honestly, I’m more interested in how people live their lives, than what they say about how they live their lives. There’s a difference there, maybe.

    Nice one! And what I want to know is, what film accompanied your pumpkin spiced treat?

    I wonder if they add sugar to pickled beets here. Hmm. So I grabbed ‘Cookery the Australian Way’ and they describe pickles as ‘usually uncooked fruits and vegetables preserved in vinegar which may be flavoured with salt and spices or sugar and spices.’ We don’t have any tins of pickled beetroot, so as a guess either the salt or the sugar act as additional preserving agents.

    Yum! Cheese of the err, colour as the process intended it to be.

    Free love and salmonella bacteria could be a nasty combination. What an odd story. Speaking of under populated parts of the country, far to the west of here near to the Nullabor plain, there is the town of Eucla, with a fascinating history. I reckon the population would be pretty small. Anyway, they’ve got a great sign post: Temps soaring in Australia’s strangest time zone. Who is Dave, and who is Andy? That’s what I want to know, and it turns out I’m not the only person wondering about this matter.

    I’m told by reliable sources that season two of under the vines, is very hard to find here.

    As to the battery fires – well this is what increased efficiency looks like. And these things really do need more than just one fail-safe.

    Nice shot! Yes, I was triggered by the tea cozies. 🙂 It still doesn’t explain their presence in my earlier life.

    Man, I try not to get worked up anything, except maybe tea cozies. Oh and that book we’re not meant to mention. Even the thought of that book is triggering… 😉

    Ah, I’d have to suggest that if that particular option is chosen, then maybe the lady in question no longer cares. It’s hard to know peoples motivations in such cases. As to what you saw, well things could be worse on that front. Funnily enough dead people were more commonly encountered when I was much younger. The process has been sort of institutionalised nowadays, in a way. Dunno how I feel about that, because there are both good and bad elements to that outcome. Ah, good luck, and avoidance works.



  14. Hi, Chris!

    “A lot of things are like that nowadays. You assume that they’re one thing . . .”. Somebody once told me: “Never assume.”

    We used to gets lots of snow, measured in feet. Oh, the wonderful snow days that my sons had off from school! We used to ski on our steep property. For several years we have only gotten a bit of snow, sometimes not enough to measure, but the temperatures were still quite cold. The ski resort 45 minutes away is pretty much defunct. I don’t miss the large amounts of snow since I don’t ski anymore. It was a lot of trouble to deal with; I had to dig out canyons for the dogs to go to the bathroom in, besides someone having to dig out the long steep driveway.

    We had fuse boxes when I was a kid and when a fuse blew, one replaced it. I think cars have fuses? I know I have seen them replaced in our old vehicles. Now we have a breaker box. Every now and then a breaker trips, but one just flips it back on. If that doesn’t work, I don’t remember what happens.

    I just planted some cabbage plants that I bought yesterday at Tractor Supply (yay for Tractor Supply!). I have planted everything else for the fall with seeds, but I couldn’t resist these. I am about to go out and sprinkle them with white flour as I have heard that will kill cabbage worms when they eat it. I can’t find my mosquito netting.

    Some of our best butternuts this year were volunteers from rotten ones that we threw out on the shady north side of the house. I can’t imagine why they grew. The squirrels are loving them since they are not behind a fence. How tall are you going to make your fence? Ours is 8 ft (2.5 m) because of the deer.

    I like that sugar cane mulch.

    What a beautiful cactus – how sad.

    Thanks for the flowers! The hellebores are so elegant.


  15. Yo, Chris – Studios are “funny” about props. Power and control? It’s mine to do with as I please, and you can’t have it? One of those Star Trek documentaries I watched, one of the questions they asked a number of actors (across many series) was if they had lifted a prop or not. Or what prop they would have like to have had. Almost all of them had lifted a small souvenir. Might fund their retirement 🙂 .

    I reckon it’s a cult classic, due to the co-ed shower scene.

    Electricity. Fried squirrel was on the menu, last weekend. I wondered why the emergency lights were on in the hall, one morning. The night manager asked if I had lost my power. Nope. Turns out, there are three electrical feeds, into this building. The squirrel fried one of them, so, some people lost power, some didn’t

    It’s been so long since I read “Colorado Kid,” and watched the series. Almost two different things, I think. When you’re stretching a book into a multi season series, well, characters and situations get added.

    Funny, that film never put me off split pea soup. I quit like it, if it’s well made. Plenty of ham and the peas thoroughly cooked down. I watched a film last night, that had a lot of chatter. “No Hard Feelings.” Calls itself an “R rated rom-com.” If you’re in the mood for a little “blue” humor. I think it got the rating as the leading lady does some full frontal … but not in a sexual situation. To say more would be spoilers. It was amusing, but felt a bit “uneven,” too me. I think because it mixed emotional drama with comedy. Maybe a bit too much. Stick to one lane or the other.

    Pumpkin pie spice ice cream is an anytime treat. Usually, after dinner. Or lunch. Or both. It’s not tied to the movie watching experience. As is popcorn and melted cheese. Go figure. I don’t mind a bit of sugar, in the pickled beets, but it should be cane sugar, and the vinegar should outweigh the sweet. We have a dish here, called “Harvard Beets,” that I’m quit partial to. Tasty, and very pretty.

    That was an interesting article, about Eucla. Odd time zones, odd weather. But why, why 45 minutes? Most time zone changes are an hour. And the daylight savings time thing, sounds like a nightmare. Dave and Andy were probably two crusty old miners, back in the day. I see the Vikings made it all the way to Australia. 🙂

    I see there will be a season three, of “Under the Vines.” A good thing, as season two ended on a rather cliff-hanger.

    Re: The Mysteries of the Tea Cozies. I had a great aunt and uncle who gave me and my brother a picture puzzle each, every d____d Christmas. Shake the box and guess …

    Maybe there just aren’t enough dead people, to go around these days? Maybe we’ve hit peak dead people? As often happens, the fire department and EMTs showed up at 8:30, this morning. The caregivers come in and are sometimes faced with an unexpected surprise. Someone from the other end of the hall, from me. I found out who, later. Not one of the usual suspects. She may be back.

    I’ve been here less than 5 years, and I’m getting to be one of the “old hands.” I really don’t know how many have shuffled off (one way or another) since I moved in, but I’d say somewhere between 1/3 and 1/2. My goal is to outlive all of them. Just to be difficult.

    I think it’s time to do another round of drying tomatoes. I’ll do that, tomorrow morning. Looks like I can get almost a good dryer full.

    Our library, where the computer is, is locked up. There’s a “free” table in there, but someone dumped a LOT of carp in there. Always happens when someone is moving out. When they’re not filling the dumpster. Land fill, people. We have a land fill. I’ve had to arrange with the night manager, to sneak in there, Friday night, to check out the library “new” list. Lew

  16. Hi Chris,

    The thimbleberries were quite tasty and were a bit tangy. Not many though. Expect they we’re snapped up as soon as they ripened.

    I did enjoy the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame more than I expected. Helped that it also wasn’t too crowded. The visitors we’re definitely on the older side and considering that the musicians were as well I guess it’s not surprising.

    Most plants have recovered from the spraying so we’re finally getting a reasonable amount from the garden. I had a great crop of raspberries and blackberries and one of our apple trees has plenty of undamaged apples.


  17. Chris,

    Things were indeed different once. I grew up climbing the same pine trees I later trimmed. To harvest our apples, I would climb the apple tree, pick an apple and throw it to (at?) my parents and sister who caught them and put them in boxes. We did the same with the cherries: DJ climbed the tree and tossed the cherries to family on ground level. I don’t know if any of the youngsters in my current neighborhood have ever climbed a tree. And no, dad was not being abusive having me climb the trees to trim them in the wind. That’s just how we did things – the job needed doing and I was light enough and dexterous enough to climb the tree.

    Ice. Mountain road. Sheer drop on one side. What? Me hurry? 😉 If I hadn’t been able to find a way around the gate, I would’ve been fine overnight. I could’ve rigged a tarp off the side of the Blazer to form a reasonable shelter. There was enough dryish wood for a fire. I had several blankets. And food and plenty of water. Gotta plan for contingencies on hunting trips. Heck, could’ve slept inside the Blazer too.

    Yeah, I heard it all on that job. The uplands in the northeast part of the county would often see snow (that quickly melted) in October. The phones would be inundated with calls. I was the “overflow” person for calls, so took many of those over the years. The worst one was “I live near such and such intersection and I just saw some snowflakes. Where the blazes are the snowplows?!?”

    That gave me inspiration. For many years whenever we had a new receptionist, I’d mention that phone call. A few days later when out for a walk on my morning break, I’d call the main phone number from my cell phone and disguise my voice, repeating what I had been told that time. It instilled a wee bit of panic every time. Upon returning from my walk, I would ask if there had been any calls about the snowflakes at that particular area. Then they knew that I was the caller. After several years, however, the new receptionists were WARNED about my faking snowplow calls.

    Weird weather on Christmas Day. During a majorly major El Nino in 1981, there was no snow for Christmas. There was no snow in the mountains. It was +12C and sunny. Didn’t need a jacket when going for a walk.

    Outside the physics building there was a concrete pipe. It was elevated about a half meter above the ground, was 0.7 meter diameter and maybe 9 meters long. It was a wonderful toy for learning some basic acoustics, wave patterns, echoes, etc. A few days after the firecracker in my lab, I was on campus very late, nearly midnight. I had a roll of firecrackers, so on my way to the car park I detoured by the pipe and lit off the roll of firecrackers in the pipe. The result spectacularly exceeded my expectations! As I continued on, I saw that a campus police officer was coming toward me from around the corner. I used my key to get into the building (there was a door nearby) and ran to my office, quietly shutting (and locking) the door. I could hear running footsteps in the hallway. I sat in my locked and dark office for many minutes. That was the end of my setting off firecrackers on campus.

    The news says that we had a 2.7 earthquake Tuesday morning. It was about 20km west of me. Many people said that they felt it, some even heard it. Dogs were spooked. Well, I felt nothing, heard nothing and Avalanche was unaffected. Ho hum.


  18. Hi Pam,

    Wise words, and hey, have you heard of the old saying about assuming? It can make an ass-out-of-u-and-me, of course referring to the much maligned donkey. Poor things, they’re probably lovely creatures. And who can forget the donkey in Shrek? Stole every scene.

    Yeah, the alpine areas in this country are having a very similar season as to what you described. Honestly, I tried skiing and it was fun, but so hard on the knees. And candidly, the speed a person could get up on those things made me a bit nervous. You’re probably made of sterner stuff than I on such fronts? Yeah, it’s a bit of a shame that your winters still get super cold minus the snow, because err, citrus trees. You know what I mean.

    Hehe! Yes, I also recall looping the wire through the ceramic fuses back in the day. Circuit breakers are more convenient, but flicking the switch back to the ON position perhaps doesn’t drive home the same lesson: Why did this fuse suddenly pop? You’d have little spare loops of wire ready to hand too for the fix, which were rated to blow at certain currents. Being the only male in the house as a kid, that ended up being my job. Like, who trusts a kid to wire a mains fuse? Oh well, perhaps it’s simply another way to learn how things work. Cars have the same things but they’re disposable blade type fuses.

    Multiple breaks in a circuit breaker suggests that there is either a wiring problem, or the circuit is being overloaded. Overloaded is another way of describing turning on too many hair dryers at once on a single circuit. 🙂

    Pam, you are such a bad influence, and this is perhaps a good thing! 🙂 Tractor supply looks totally awesome. So much good stuff. We don’t have anything like that down here. The closest would be the much loved Bunnings stores. I have an long standing and ongoing joke with a very lovely lady about that particular store, it never fails to bring a groan or a smile, and maybe both.

    Please let me know if the experiment works?

    Deer are a problem here, but then Ollie is a problem for the deer. The fencing will be 5ft because of economics, and Ollie will have to earn his dinner. 5ft should keep the wallabies out, and be a deterrent for the deer more than an exclusion. The wombats are a whole different problem because they’re like little armoured tanks and can can bend wire and do all sorts of odd tricks. We’ll learn as we go. But right now, the cement on the posts is curing.

    The hellebores are really pretty at a time of year when there are few flowers. They might survive in your area, maybe.



  19. Hi Margaret,

    Isn’t it good to be able to get some decent forage such as those thimbleberries? Blackberries grow wild around these parts, and they can be a bit weedy, but are very reliable and tasty. We used to harvest the wild berries around here, but it became complicated to know whether they’d been sprayed with herbicide. A neighbour once did that with the blackberries without telling anyone or putting up a sign, and I was absolutely filthy because we’d been harvesting them. That was when we decided to grow our own thornless varieties of the berries. If thimbleberries are anything like raspberries, I’ll bet they were good. Those are my favourite berry. Yum!

    Hehe! Thanks for that. Yeah, you’re not wrong. My idea of rock and roll fame entries may differ, but I would have enjoyed the place too. Years ago when in the vast state of Western Australia, we visited a vintage car museum way off in the south of the state, and I was surprised how much I enjoyed the visit. It can be hard to know what you’ll enjoy with such places don’t you reckon?

    Yum! Did you end up making any jam or conserve with either of the berries? And apples always makes me think of cider.

    Doug might be interested to know that varroa mite is now spreading on this continent. I reckon it will be here within a year or two at most. Hmm. Oh well, adapt may be the way to go.



  20. Hi DJ,

    Sorry about that, I was trying to be funny, and err, not succeeding. The old bloke I spoke with at the course on summer bud grafting seemed pretty happy to have been clambering around the trees too as a young bloke picking apples. 🙂 And it probably worked much the same, he would have picked, then chucked the apples down. Trees were bigger in those days, and I mean that literally. The sort of trees I see grown in orchards nowadays are probably grown on dwarfing rootstock so as to make them easier to maintain and pick. That’s OK as long as you can get them enough water when conditions are sub-fluffy-optimal and on the drier side of things. Not always guaranteed.

    My grandmother had a seedling grown lemon tree which was enormous and you could climb around in it. It always smelled nice that tree.

    Hehe! Cherries! Far out, I’ve got some spare parrots should you ever decide to grow cherries? 🙂 They’re the gift which keeps on giving! That fruit is a very difficult tree to grow here, not because the tree won’t do well, there are just so many birds.

    The dogs are knocked out tonight, and are now all sound asleep. It was a beautiful warm spring day today, and they were running around today like crazy canines. We worked on spreading the clay soil from a couple of mounds near to that recently repaired stone circle (no I didn’t discover any bodies). It was a big job, the sun was warm, and after a tasty lunch my brain shut down for about an hour and a half. It’s been warm enough the past few days that we haven’t had to run the wood heater at night. Lovely weather and the plants are growing.

    Oh! That sort of road, yes well, we’ve all been there. In the old Dirt Rat Suzuki, I’d neglected to engage four wheel drive and spun around when we hit black ice. Yes, the alarming drop off the side of the road brings a touch of adrenalin to the situation, as you may be aware. It’s good you were suitably prepared for the conditions. You’d be surprised how many folks aren’t. I agree, slow down and enjoy the scenery, the gates can wait.

    Hey, it’s quite funny that you used the word snowflakes, that was a bit of a double entendre! It’s a bit expectational really. 🙂 Man, I dunno, but like your Blazer experience, I’m kind of braced for some worst case scenarios and am sort of independent for at least a while, and if they don’t happen, well it is better to be prepared and not required, rather than be required and not prepared.

    Hehe! That’s seriously funny pranking the new receptionists. You know, I like how your brain works, because in a way, you were training them to deal with the sort of issues which actually do arise. They may not thank you for the lesson, but when real calls come through, they won’t end up in a flap and instead know how to handle them. You were doing them a favour.

    Yikes, that’s pretty warm for Christmas in your part of the world and quite pleasant weather. It’s not unusual for Christmas day’s here to be 40’C. It’s a special treat in such weather to consume heavy meals.

    Did you just make a sonic cannon with those firecrackers and the concrete pipe? 🙂 Funny stuff, and good to hear that the close shave with the authoritas cured you of such mischief. I’ll bet that they wrote a report. Highly speculative of course.

    Yeah 2.7, not worth getting out of bed for. 🙂 There was one of those a couple of days ago far to the east of here. Now 5.9, that’ll wake you up pretty quick smart. Have you had any biggie earthquakes in your part of the world? I didn’t really think much about them, until experiencing the 5.9. Suddenly the world looked kind of different after that one. Less secure, less solid.



  21. Hi Lewis,

    It’s weird isn’t it? You’d imagine that the studios would want to cash in on the props by auctioning them all off. Maybe it is just my minimal-waste mindset which would do that. You’re right though, it probably is some sort of power and control thing over the stuff. It’s pretty canny to lift a prop that would otherwise end up in the rubbish. And given how that X-wing fighter model looks set to score some serious mad cash, it’s not a bad option for funding retirement. Acting I’d imagine could be a very boom and bust environment to work in, a bit like agriculture in some ways. You can plant a seed and invest time and resources into nurturing it, but will it produce? Who knows? I got the impression that Starship Troopers may have just made break-even. Do you reckon it is common to have films critiqued hard, like that film copped a slamming, and then re-assessed down the track in a more favourable light? Makes you wonder if the critics had an axe to grind back in the day, but then I recall you did some work on that front in the past and would be curious as to your opinion in that matter.

    Yeah, you mentioned the shower scene. 🙂 OK, I’ll check it out. But before I do, the actors did demand that the two crew who filmed that scene also had go nude. Pah! utoob didn’t supply. Oh well, no loss. I might add that film to the must re-watch pile. It was a fun film and also a send up of an extreme culture.

    The poor squirrel. Oh well, it won’t do that again. Did you know those cheeky Victorian era folks released the American Grey Squirrel down here in the 1880’s. What could possibly go wrong with that? Seems the squirrels died out. Yikes! That different circuit thing happens on the street too. The small details, and lucky your power stayed on. I learned about this back in the day when the electricity to our house (when we were in the big smoke) had a similar incident, except we lost the power, whilst the neighbours didn’t. Luck of the draw.

    Thanks, and that was what the books introduction lead me to also conclude. I’m really enjoying the read, and am now about half way through the book. Had a lovely read over lunch today out in the warm spring sunshine. It really was a delightful day here. After lunch though, I crashed out. We’d gotten up early and did a big clean up at the lower reaches of the property. There were a couple of large mounds (no I didn’t discover any bodies – I like how your brain works!), and we flattened them out and used the excess soil to smooth out some nearby dips, where I suspect the soil for the mounds had originated. Restoring the earlier conditions is how I like to think of the work. But it was hard and hot work. Now it’s done though, and it all looks spot on. I reckon the loggers bulldozers had piled up the soil in those mounds.

    That film is also on the to-see list, and thanks for the review. Hmm, I’ll let you know how it goes with the film. It was an interesting concept, and I doubt my parents would have done such things for me.

    Ah, I see. For some odd reason I’d always linked the pumpkin spice ice cream to movies, but then this is perhaps bias as when I go to the cinema I always reach for an ice cream with choc top in a waffle cone. Some traditions become hard to break. 😉 Yeah, the popcorn is a bit of a film thing too, but they usually serve it here with butter rather than melted cheese. Is it a tasty innovation the cheese?

    I’d never heard of Harvard Beets, and yeah they have a bit of sugar in them (presumably cane sugar? Maybe?) and sound quite tasty. Pickling can be a bit hit or miss depending I reckon on what people add into the mix. Dill seeds and gherkins work well.

    Why 45 minutes? Apparently the change in time zone across the border was an hour and a half, so the telegraph crews which came from either side of the border, split the difference. That’s the story anyway. Hehe! Yeah, the norse have been all over the shop raiding and pillaging. Who knew they made it down here? 🙂 The viking town was named after a horse, as you do.

    Oooo, just worked out how to watch that series for free. The Editor was most pleased. A bloke does what he can. She was very excited to hear that there was a season three, and is yet to watch season two.

    Picture puzzles sound about as dodgy a gift as a tea cozy. Wouldn’t have enjoyed them either. Makes you wonder whether they’d bought a bulk box of them on the cheap and just hauled them out once per year? Hey, don’t forget the neatly rolled box of handkerchiefs as a gift. I don’t recall being a snotty kid. Were the adults trying to tell me something? So many questions, so few answers… Another mystery.

    I don’t think so, but you’ve got me wondering about the matter now. Have we indeed hit peak dead people? Can’t say for sure and will take your word for it. Oh, that’s not good and incidentally, down here the fire department doesn’t get used for that service. I remember there was a lot of reluctance to provide first aid certification, which may have been a liability issue. We might have stuffed it up. People can react quite strongly to that happening.

    It is a laudable goal, but you know, remember, err don’t tempt fate with such loose talk, but I hear ya! Isn’t it funny when you wake up one day to discover that you’ve somehow become one of the old timers? I get that feeling.

    Nice work with the tomatoes. They’re so good over the winter months. Yum!

    What? That’s an outrageous abuse of the commons. Does that happen often, just dumping the rubbish on the free table?



  22. Chris:

    I have known donkeys (burros); they are lovely creatures. Much tougher than horses and, as far as I know, they never need shoes.

    Once again, your upbringing – or lack thereof – served to fit you for this future.


  23. Yo, Chris – Back in the day (the 1950s & 60s), the big Hollywood studios began to break up. Back lot real estate was sold off for housing. And the props departments and costume departments … reference libraries, were sold at auction. Since the studios went for authenticity, a lot of treasures were dumped on the market. An antique dealer I knew when I was a kid, picked up a lot of genuine Louis XV, furniture. That’s when Dorothy’s ruby red slippers (there were several pair) were set free, into the wild.

    Sometimes, movies make their money in foreign, rather than the domestic market. Then there’s video, and now DVD sales. Cable. Sometimes, it takes a movie awhile to “find it’s audience.” Or, become a cult classic. Often happens when a film isn’t promoted (for one reason or another), very well, in the domestic market.

    Oh, sure. Critics have their own prejudices. Which can vary. There were a few things I declined to critique, as I pretty much was realistic about where my prejudices lay.

    Re: American Grey Squirrel. Sometimes, invasive species just don’t make it. You dodged a bullet, on that one. 🙂

    Last night, I watched an interesting film. “The Master Gardener.” You might want to give it a look. Stars Joel Edgerton and Ms. Weaver. An ex-skinhead, who is in a witness protection program is the head gardener for a very wealthy woman’s private estate.

    I think it’s going to be a popcorn and cheese night, tonight. Next up: “Asteroid City.” Harvard beets are pretty easy to make. I don’t think I’ve ever seen them tinned. They’re sweet / sour and the corn starch makes them look like little piles of rubies. My old BC (Betty Crocker) cookbook, circa 1965 has a good recipe.

    I don’t think season three of “Under the Vines,” is “in the can,” yet. An old film industry saying, from back when films were in metal tins. Might be in the process of filming, or, post production.

    I don’t know why the fire department and EMTs both show up, at the same time. Mostly. I think it’s that the fire department is usually here first, and stabilizes the patient, until the heavy guns can get here. Or, it’s something minor (like getting someone back up on their feet). I think the EMTs are a private company. I saw an article a couple of weeks ago, that the EMT company is going to start charging. What, they didn’t in the past? Maybe, the city subsidized them? And it got to be too much? One of those local articles that raised more questions, than it answered. And what about us folks on Medicare? Are we covered? Is it unlimited?

    Yup. Dumping rubbish on the “free” table is pretty common. But it’s rare that it goes to the extreme that the library had to be closed. Overstuffed dumpster is more common.

    I was going to pick tomatoes, to dry, this morning. But, as of last night, didn’t look like I could get a full bowl. Today is going to be warm, 83F. A few more might ripen up. I’m also hoping to run into our night manager, so I can ask him if I can lift a couple of Roma tomatoes, from him. Might try rounding out the trays, with those. Just as an experiment. Tomorrow is forecast for 87F.

    I see you’ve got a bad brushfire, out in your Northern Territory. Seems early in your year, for that. Lew

  24. Chris,

    Thanks, but there was nothing to apologize for. Seriously.

    We have a cherry tree. It’s a Royal Ann, like what I grew up with. Okay for eating but great for pies. Fruit flies and birds get mine. However, the parrots would be a colorful addition to the local fauna.

    That day sounds fun. Dogs run like crazy. Laziness in the warmth after a good lunch. That’s my favorite kind of day. Sorta how my Wednesday went actually.

    Being prepared for the conditions becomes a necessity on occasion. Practicing in controlled conditions helps too. Having all the equipment without ever having used it doesn’t work. Yup, that’s experience talking.

    Ahh, you caught my double entendre. Good on you. 🙂

    I always thought I was doing the receptionists a favor with those pranks also. For some odd reason, their manager did NOT train them. A few of us then took it upon ourselves to get them trained. Things got ugly rather quickly when the receptionists didn’t know what to do, meaning that most of the phone calls got routed to the few of us who actually trained them. Big Boss got upset with us once. I suggested that he could direct his subordinate, the receptionists’ manager, to train them and that he could assist. He backed off and let us do what was needed.

    A Sonic Cannon? I guess so. Hadn’t thought about it that way, but yes. There’s a fast food chain called Sonic Burger. I’m sure they could find a use for the Sonic Cannon idea. Better trademark it before they get ahold of it. 😉

    At 7:09 a.m. Spokane time on 28 October 1983, there was a 6.9 earthquake near Challis Idaho. (190km northeast of Boise, Idaho.) It shook things up pretty well in Spokane with no real damage here. The direct distance, as opposed to driving distance, is about 400km. That’s the closest known major fault area to Spokane.

    I would guess that if the Seattle area had a 7.0 or larger, we might feel it here. There was a 6.9 centered in Nisqually at the south end of Puget Sound about 11:00 a.m. the last day of February 2001. Although it was felt in parts of Eastern Washington, it wasn’t felt in Spokane. Well, at least not by anybody I know.

    Back in 2001 Spokane experienced a sequence of earthquakes. June 25 had a 3.9. There was a 4.0 November 11. Those were the two largest quakes. Monitoring equipment was placed in the basement of my work building on June 25. There were dozens that year. I felt a lot of them both at work downtown and at home. Many were preceded by a whooshing noise. The noise drove poor Thor the Irish Wolfhound crazy. It was rather exciting.


  25. Hello Chris,

    Busy summer months here. The mornings start to chill and the dew hangs around to remind us that winter is coming.

    Regarding your observation on insurance from last week – ever since we bought our first house, we have been part of “mutual” insurance associations. The first one in the Netherlands had 700 members, all in the same municipality, and we had a person who worked Tuesday and Thursday morning in a small office. I love that size of business. Once per year a member meeting with coffee. No managers.
    Unfortunately, the insurance business is merging with finance and the shenanigans of the large oligopolistic players were met with increased requirements for “compliance procedures” which made everything more expensive.
    Are you also afflicted with the “compliance” virus?
    The large insurance companies all have luxury offices and huge expanses of company cars in front. Who pays for that? 😉

    Regarding climate defense activists, I have met quite a few of the young ones, and the ones I have met are quite sincere. They live a very modest life, without flying and most of them are vegetarian. Both the Dutch and the Swedish ones.
    Of course there are idi||s like Al Gorey and John Kurry who fly private jet to Davos and ask others to change, but I think they are just a distraction.

    Of course there are other things that will break first, like the overinflated money supply, but most of those are temporary. The climate system is so loaded with carbon that there is no going back. We are moving along into unknown (and to me pretty scary) territory for the coming centuries. Indeed a wild and unnecessary “tobogan ride”, as Greer calls it. For the reasons behind – I think we all are medieval peasants who have been given the superpowers of diesel without proper training and taboos. How could that not end in the ditch?

    Most “ordinary people” here in the rural Sweden want to continue their car-based life and are not prepared to do any personal sacrifices if they are not forced by circumstance or by law. Holiday flying is back to pre-pandemic levels. But there are also a few inspiring people around here who live without a car, modest and beautiful lives, and I think they have the skills and mindset to ride the coming storms better. We even have a farmer a few miles away where horses are used instead of tractors. A kind of Amish-style farm. Impressive skills.

    It is hard to predict the weather. We had a very dry spring, and very wet summer. In the spring, most weather predictions were that the whole summer would be dry. My neighbour harvested 2 tons per hectare of barley, but the typical yields from the last years have been 4-10 tons per ha.
    Farming is indeed a risky venture. First of all, you don’t know if you can reap what you sow. And then the price is determined by an invisible and ruthless hand, nowadays. We used to have fixed minimum prices, but that is now gone in the enlightened times of “free market liberalism”. (freedom yes, but for whom?)

    The trees grow well and we are now into the hazelnut harvest season, and next week I think that the walnuts will start to rain. I will collect walnuts mainly for seeding rootstock, to later graft. In October, the chestnuts harvest is coming. It is a wonderful time of the year!

    I hope you will have a generous and fruitful growing season!


  26. Hi Pam,

    Ah interesting indeed. Donkeys sound like they’re up for a hard days work, if fairly treated and looked after. I hadn’t known that about the shoes, but do wonder how all these pampered horses around nowadays will handle a hard days work? Mostly from what I see around these parts, people tend to over stock horses and pen them into too small a paddock for their needs.

    It’s odd that isn’t it, but I’m of a similar opinion in this matter. I’m absolutely uncertain as to how it may have ended up this way.

    Anywhoo, speaking of hard work, we broke up a half of a huge rock today, and then hauled all the still large, but far more easily moved rocks up to the new low gradient path project. The sun shone, and the weather was sweet, and all was good with the world. All this early spring sunshine is tricking me, for rain and cold weather is returning next Wednesday. I’m kind of enjoying the warmer weather. 🙂 Oh well, can’t have everything and so must adapt to conditions! Well, that philosophy works for me.

    How’s the visitors enjoying their stay with you? Do they want to go back? That’s the real question! 😉



  27. G’day Göran!

    That’s a traditional Aussie greeting! 🙂

    I just wanted to say that I’m so sorry for the loss of your friend, and if I may say so, mentor and all round inspiration. I tell you truly, over the years you lose a few mates, and just like you I likewise would have enjoyed Joop’s company from what you’ve written about him, may he rest in peace dreaming of gardens and orchards.

    Yeah, the opposite is taking place here, the sun shines with the promise of future warmth and the early fruit trees are leafing out. Of course the nectarines and peaches are again all displaying signs of curly leaf, and I’ve given up spraying them – it makes little to no difference, and all the leaves simply grow back and the trees look healthy for the summer months. A mystery that. You’ll be happy to know that the hazelnuts are just beginning to leaf out, and I so hope I get some nuts from those most excellent of trees.

    Sorry to hear about the incessant rain and cooler weather you experienced. Those words have more or less described my past three summers. Candidly, it has been somewhat trying, with no stone fruits from dozens of trees. How are the tree sales going?

    Fortunately, the compliance monsters are nowhere to be seen here, although I have a few tricks up my sleeve to deal with the likes of those if they dare. Best to be prepared, should the inevitable happen. They’ll get a surprise, of that I can guarantee. Yes, I read about your interactions on that compliance front, and it is a bit of a worry and is more about learning which hoops are required to be jumped. Here I have to fess up, my grandfather made much of his money by turning one of those sleepy mutuals into a behemoth. It would have been nice if he left me some mad cash, but nope, no luck there. He liked his newer family more! 😉 The thing is those mutuals are ripe for the picking, sorry to say. It is a truth universally acknowledged that head offices don’t come cheap. Hmm.

    I agree with you, there are plenty of folks living sincere and honourable lives, they’re just not the people you hear about in the media. That’s why blogs are good things. Hey, I have no doubts both you and I fit that description too. And I agree with you completely, they’re a distraction at best.

    The thing is, you’re right it is a temptation. That’s an interesting way of thinking about it, and one I’d not considered. Hmm. It is too tempting for most people – there, I’ve said it. The word ‘irrefutable’ is what needs to eventuate, before any real change can take place. That’s how cultures work. Once the consequences become too great to bear, then we place a taboo on the most harmful of activities, but until that point is reached, we find ourselves in a situation where there are a record breaking 22,000 commercial aircraft in the sky at a single moment earlier in the year. It’s a real problem. I use the energy I have available to me, to modify the land around me so as to be both resilient and productive. Other folks make different choices, but you and I both know that the future won’t be like it is today.

    Truly, I don’t know anyone around these parts who are considering the future possibilities. You’re lucky that you know of some folks doing such work. This place can be managed with hand tools alone. Hmm.

    Well, yes, I have a few years of experience with very wet summers, and absolutely such weather reduces yields. Just prior to the current run of wet summers, we had the Black Summer of 2019-2020 (summer is just before and after new years here), and that was our best harvest ever. You need the heat to grow plants, but you also need the water, and it is a balancing act between the two. Water is a scarce resource here.

    A work around with that issue is to avoid the necessity of having to make money from the land. As you suggest the odds at the table are stacked against a person, so a valid choice is simply to not play that game.

    Autumn is such a lovely time of plenty. Hey, do you get to harvest any wild chestnuts and walnuts from some of the trees you’ve noted about the area?

    Many thanks for your kind words and thoughts, and best wishes for your harvest too.



  28. Hi DJ,

    Ah thanks, sometimes I do slip into the land of silly. It’s a fun place, but can occasionally be a bit silly! 🙂 Like Monty Python’s version of Camelot.

    That sounds like a sour cherry variety to me, that Royal Ann? Not one I’ve ever encountered, but then there are a much wider variety of plants available in your country. You know, I’ve never had a cherry pie. Cherries are fairly expensive fruit down here due to the birds. Are you entirely certain that you’d want some parrots? They get all of the cherries here, just sayin… 🙂 And they can adapt.

    Good to hear that your weather is beginning to become more agreeable, and isn’t it nice to enjoy some time out in the sun? Those really hot days you were having recently would knock me around too. It was 23’C here today and sunny, a very nice day. We broke apart about half of a huge rock today, and then hauled away all the pieces. I may have put a photo of that huge rock on the blog a few weeks ago. The thing was massive, but had some natural fissure lines which helped the process. Mate, when that rock splits along the drill lines, or fissures, it’s a real ‘Eureka’ moment. Fun stuff, but hot work out in the sun, despite the cool air. The dogs are less tired tonight and Ollie is gnawing upon his rawhide chew.

    All very true. I’m assuming from what you’ve mentioned in the past about making snow caves (?), that you were prepared for the worst, and enjoyed the situation when the worst did not eventuate? Those snow caves mess with my mind that they could be warm, but I have little experience with such weather.

    Word games are fun. 🙂

    Yeah, well, you may not have noticed, but training is hard work. 🙂 That’s my theory anyway, and like you I too have had to train people. I don’t ever recall telling them that things would be easy. I trained a friend of mine (who sometimes makes a special guest appearance here) as to how to bake bread, and I deliberately let him stuff it up so that he knew what to do to recover the dough when things go wrong. And sure enough, he told me the knowledge was useful.

    Honestly, it’s a bit weird the bloke got upset that you were helping him out by doing what needed to be done with the training. Glad to hear that he backed off, because like, you were helping him out. Those sorts of stories are why I left working at the top end of town.

    Hehe! That’s funny, but is the burger any good? That’s what I want to know, or is the ‘sonic’ a reference to the fact you just can’t think in the place because the music is so loud? 🙂 I’ve been to some businesses like that. Can you turn the music down a bit, I’m trying to communicate to other people! That’s happened to me.

    Ouch! 6.9 is big and would have shaken up the nearby towns, and 400km is not far enough to escape the shock of such a monster. Hmm. My thinking in this matter (says he who lives on the side of an extinct super volcano) is best not to live on fault lines. And fingers crossed this mountain range is fast asleep. The Puget Sound one would have been a very long ways away from you, so I can see how you wouldn’t have felt that.

    Cool. Hey, we had the roar sound of the earthquake too. I’d never heard such a thing before, it was quite loud, almost like an aircraft travelling low overhead. A real boom to it. Poor Thor, he may have had a job as a earthquake detective? Did he detect the earthquake prior to the event? The dogs here didn’t care one way or the other about the quake, despite the house shaking up. They all had this look on their faces which sort of suggest that: “You humans are such funny creatures!” Not sure I agreed with them, and they didn’t want to leave the house that day. Oh well, it was their choice.



  29. Hi Lewis,

    I wasn’t aware of the break up of the big Hollywood studios and the implications. What? Are you serious? I would have thought that the props in those days were props and not the real thing. Wow. The antique dealer you knew in those days would have scored some amazing props. Still, the market for antiques has waxed and waned over the years from what I’ve noticed. Has that been your experience too? I recall in the early 1990’s during the recession an original Victorian era timber table. It was round and made of local high end timbers and very nicely polished. The centre support of the table was a carved eagle with it’s claws around a ball. The table was something else to see, and it was only a few hundred dollars. There just wasn’t the market for such things in those days. Bonkers.

    It’s interesting you say that. There was a bit of background to the Starship Troopers which suggested that it was promoted as being something other than it was, and also the release date was pushed back several times. Timing can be critical in the arts, and there were more than a few bands who were derailed due to you-know-what. Sometimes with bands now, the mad cash is to be found in live performances of their material. Although, with the revenge of analogue, vinyl sales are on the up from what I’m reading. How funny is that? I’ve long since wondered if fans just enjoy the feel of a vinyl record? It would be kind of like the difference between an e-book and an actual physical book. I’ve never read an e-book, the appeal is just not there.

    About halfway through The Colorado Kid, and it’s a fascinating and unwinding story. Yeah, that’s the word that comes to my mind when thinking about the book. Very enjoyable, and I read a bit of the book over lunch today. It was a lovely sunny and cool day, although working out in the sun was warm. We broke a very large boulder in half and then recovered about half of the thing. The remainder half has been left for another day – a person can only do so much! 🙂 The rocks were hauled and placed on the new low gradient path project.

    Actually that’s good to hear about having the ability to refuse to pen a critique on a film you just knew you weren’t going to like. It would be kind of like asking me to review musicals and expecting a positive review, or say for a book like the one with the character, what was his name again, err, Holden, something or other. It’s not going to end well! 🙂

    Might do a movie tonight. Report to come…

    Exactly, we so dodged a bullet with those American Grey Squirrels. The possums fit the same niche, and they can do a lot of damage, as they do over in New Zealand. Some well meaning person let them loose over there. Hasn’t ended well, and they have a lot of possums now.

    Thanks for mentioning the film. Intriguing, and they are both excellent character actors.

    Oh, that’s the Wes Anderson film, and I was wondering when you’d get around to watching the film. Was it good? There’s always something a bit surreal to that blokes films, but mostly what I’ve seen of them has been pretty good.

    Yes, I noticed that aspect about the Harvard Beets, and they did have a sort of weird jelly consistency to their look. I might go traditional with beets and simply pickle them, although they make a very tasty dip. Oh yeah! Some of the beetroot seeds germinated today in the greenhouse. That makes three varieties now that have germinated. I hope to get the fencing on that new enclosure done over the next few weeks so I have somewhere to plant all this stuff.

    Ah yes, of course, season three is still in production. But the Editor is super pumped that she can watch season two for free.

    Yikes! The ambulance service down here is an annual subscription service, and sometimes people get rather alarmed by the size of the bills, and I’d hate to think what an airlift would cost. Bonkers. Better to keep up the annual subscription. I’m sure that in some cases, they waive the fees, but do you want to be on the wrong side of that argument? I dunno, man.

    Hope the warmth ripened up some of the tomatoes so that you could get a full lot of trays in the dehyrdator.

    Yes, they get some huge fires up in that part of the country. It’s the dry season up there, and traditional burning is no longer done at any scale. What do people expect? But the fires are normally massive up there as a result. It’s not good, and needn’t be that way.



  30. Yo, Chris – All this talk about fruit and nut trees. Our postman Jake (funny how names are popular within age cohorts. Lots of Jakes around in his age group) and his wife are both thin as rails, and always traipsing off somewhere, doing something wildly athletic. Climbing mountains, spending a long weekend snowshoeing and snow camping, etc.. They also grow a lot of their own fruit and veg. Chickens? Maybe. What he told me that is interesting, is, they mapped out all the fruit and nut trees, in their neighborhood, got permissions, and are gleaning. Now there’s a word (and action), that you don’t hear anymore. As you said, some people are collapsing before the rush, but you never hear about them.

    The lady who owned the antique shop, lived in Chicago, during the Great Depression. Her husbands family were in hops, so they had money. She was very social, and started buying antiques from the upper crust, who had fallen on hard times. All very discreet. And, she warehoused it, with an eye toward retirement. Then there was the wind fall from the studios. By the time she opened her shop, it was mostly museum quality stuff. All that Louis whoever furniture, and even some Napoleonic pieces. Porcelains, jade.

    Furniture goes in and out of style. Most people go for what Grandma had. Right now, the young folks are all into Mid Century Modern. The stuff I like is going for a song (Oak china cupboards that used to command $1,200, now go for $200 .. on a good day.) If I were younger, and had more money, I’d buy up a lot of it and warehouse it. For when it comes back in style, again. Though the way the world is going, that may never happen. Though the old stuff was built to last.

    Well, from what I’ve read, actual books and records are coming back into style, as, with all the e-stuff, you walk into a person’s apartment, and there’s nothing to display. No flash. No clues as to interests.

    Go boulder! Go rocks! Go low gradient path! Are t-shirts, available? Gimme hats? 🙂 That project is a real accomplishment.

    I used to get a lot of self published stuff, via the newspaper. Most of that was so abysmal, I couldn’t be bothered. I did review a few of them that were actually, at least, ok.

    “Asteroid City,” was worth a bowl of popcorn. It’s pretty odd. Kind of a play, inside a movie. Or maybe, a movie inside a play? It is science fiction, but there’s a lot more going on, than that. It’s look is highly stylized. Saturated colors. Everything looks a bit like a movie set. I watched some of the DVD “extras,” and it was interesting how they did that … intentionally. All those rock formations you see, that look massive and far away, are actually small and close. An optical illusion. Not CGI.

    Yup. I picked tomatoes this morning, and they’re perking away in the dehydrator. There wasn’t quit enough to fill the fourth tray, but I did get a couple of Roma tomatoes, from our night manager. Still a lot of room. I found a small packet of frozen cherry tomatoes, in the freezer. Split them and filled out the tray. Wonder how that will work out? No more tomato blossoms, but plenty of green ones, for another round or two in the dehydrator.

    Heard and saw geese, twice, today. They’e on the move. Some overwinter. 86F, today. But, it might be our last hot day. Weather is clear, but temperatures declining, as far as the forecast goes.

    I gave my corn tassels a shot of BT. Just in case there’s bugs about. Funny, I haven’t seen many of the black beetles, with the red edge, this year. Maybe because I squished so many of them. Or, because we moved so much dirt around. Randy little b_____s. I’d always catch them in … congress, if you know what I mean. Died happy, I guess.

    I’ve seen Sam the Snail, a couple of times over a few weeks. We have a Master Gardener who is snail bait happy. Although I sure have been giving a lot of slugs the old double tap, in the same area.

    The building is very quiet, today. Odd to think that one of the Inmates, right down the hall, may be checking out on her own schedule. Lew

  31. Chris,

    You had to bring Monty Python into the discussion. Holy Grail. My current pyrography project includes one dragon giving another dragon the Heimlich Maneuver. Out comes a knight in armor. Although the knight is silent, his shield has the letters “NI” on it.

    Then there was the “Attila the Hun Show” on one episode of the Flying Circus. This included a news snippet that mentioned wombats, idiots and Attila the Bun. We might be better off if that type of humor was still prevalent.

    We have a lot of starlings. Pretty drab black and gray. The parrots would be a welcome change. Couldn’t be any noisier than starlings either.

    This weekend is the last of the hot weather probably. Saturday should be 32C, a bit cooler Sunday, then back to the 23C range and cooler during the day. Thursday night was wonderful, as the temperature dipped to +7C.

    I was able to get a lot of work done this past 10 days. Today I finished moving dirt onto the front slope to replace the rocks I’ve removed. It also levelled areas from which I removed plants. Next step is to start seeding with the dryland grass seeds. Perfect timing for the big break in temperatures.

    Yes, before and after photos of the big rock would be appreciated. I think I remember the picture from a few weeks back in which you mentioned the natural fissures.

    Snow is a wonderful thermal insulator. It’s pretty much body heat and the respiratory process which heat the inside of the snow cave. The insulative properties of the snow keep that heat in. The biggest advantage is that the cave allows you to be out of the elements and out of the wind. It’s still important to have the proper clothing and to have dry clothing – wet clothing and hypothermia is a big threat, even inside the snow cave, which will NOT achieve normal living temperatures.

    I’ve noticed with a nice blanket of snow on the roof, at least 20 cm and up to 60 cm deep, really helps keep the house warmer. At 60cm depth we need to begin thinking about moving the snow off the roof due to structural reasons and weight of the snow. In the 2 extremely snowy winters in this house, 2007-2008 and 2008-2009, I had to move snow off the roof. Due to snow depth and the added snow from the roof, there were snow walls about 180cm deep around much of the house and maybe a meter away from the house. One side of the house, under the patio roof, had firewood stacked to about the same height. These were great windbreaks. The house actually was easier to keep warm those 2 winters.

    Training IS hard work. And trying to train while remaining positive is very hard. When that particular Big Boss retired, I had a similar event with his replacement. It was easier. All I had to do was say, “I’ll just tell the receptionists to send ALL phone calls to you. And if you tell them not to, then they end up sending them to me, and I will forward them all to you.” That worked. Like you, that type of thing made me want to leave ASAP.

    Sonic Burger? Never tried one. The Princess did. Once. Hated it. I know a few other people who think they’re horrid also.

    Fault lines. Volcanoes. Who knows when any of these things will activate? All I know is that I don’t want to be too close when something happens.

    I know for certain that the roars really bothered Thor. I also came to the conclusion that he could sense earthquakes beforehand which also upset him. He never really got over those few months of distress. It was really quite sad for him.


  32. Hi DJ,

    Yes, those who know, well, they know, and would never dare to say the words of power ‘Ni!’ to strange old women whilst on their quest for a shrubbery, unless in a pinch they had to. 😉 Why the Heimlich manoeuvre of all things? And who knew that the procedure had generated some controversy? Dragons of course would do some fine pyrography, it’s in their nature so to speak.

    Always good when the English mention Wombats, which incidentally is a fave UK band. Great music, and the video for the song: ‘Lemon to a knife fight’, includes werewolves, as you do. Attila the bun was very hard to explain, but then I absolutely agree with you. And if you get a chance, please do check out the video, it’s fun in a hubris leading to nemesis kind of way. Probably a bunch of over educated lads, I kind of understand that perspective (as I’m sure you will as well), and all we can do is but blame society. I now rest my case.

    Interestingly, we do get a couple of starlings here too. They really need a barn to roost in, and my mates of the big shed fame have had some issues with those birds. But yeah, it is hard to take a bright green with orange pantaloons bird seriously, until the little parrot blighters chew all of the fronds of your new and expensive five foot tree fern. The other parrots are bright red with a deep blue contrast. They stand out, as they’re chowing down on your apples. 🙂 Despite the words, I’m quite fond of them all really.

    Yours and our weather will soon be about equal once you get to the 23’C stage. Between you and I, one of the things I like about living here are the cooler summer nights, which mostly holds true, until it doesn’t. There was that one night a few years ago that was 29’C, and that was candidly a bit hot. I’m sure you mostly get cooler summer nights too given where you are? Maybe?

    Hope the seeds germinate well, but I’d imagine your timing is pretty good as the soil will still be warm. Do the seeds need fire or water in order to germinate? You can trick them. Good to hear that your hand has been up for the work, and that you’re not over doing things. Balance! And if you work out what that is, please do let me know? 😉

    Checked the photos a few hours ago, and yup there are before and after photos, as well as what happened to all the rocks. Happy days! When you take the photos, there are no guarantees that they’ll work out. The new second hand replacement camera is a better machine.

    Out of curiosity, how does a person keep their clothes dry when inside a snow cave? Wouldn’t there be condensation building up because of the differential between the inside and outside temperatures? Anyway, you’ve put in mind of Buck from Jack London’s ‘Call of the Wild’ story, when the dog buried himself in the snow with his pack mates so as to keep warm at night.

    Ah, I see, that makes a lot of sense about the insulation properties of snow on a roof. That’s amazing about the 180cm of snow, and err, we’d run out of power after a few days! 🙂 For some reason earlier today, prior to having read your comment, I was in the long mead hall shed fixing a couple of machines (I brought that work on myself, but am enjoying it) and looked at the collar ties and thought back to what Steve in Colorado said about them. I’d be uncomfortable to consider the impact that 60cm of snow would have on the overall structure, let’s put it that way. But I might do something about it before things got that bad. A rake would do the trick, maybe.

    Yeah, it is a bit demoralising, if only because the entire situation lacks common sense. But, all we can do is but move on and deal with things as they are. I call that living with a bit of mystery, but then I now work for small to medium business, so that lot are a different mystery. I’m seeing a theme, are you? 🙂 I find training drains a bit of my energy, dunno why, it just does. But if the job needs doing, then that is the cost, I guess. Do you find that?

    I’ll try and do the same too, maybe. But long ago the super volcano did chuck out a lot of interesting soil minerals… Ook! Fingers crossed there is no repeat.

    Ah, sorry to hear that about Thor, and dogs have sensitivities to things that we don’t know about. You may recall that Dame Scritchy could accurately predict a storm hours before the storm hit. She’d hide under the bed, just shaking. It was hard on her. The current lot are oblivious to anything other than a near lightning strike, as no doubts Dame Avalanche would agree.



  33. Chris:

    Good job on conquering the latest rocks, and on such a nice day.

    The visitors are gone. A delightful time was had by all (as far as I could tell). A couple of the visitors were originally from Taiwan and I so much enjoyed hearing about how it was growing up there and also going to university. They go back yearly, too, (there are tons of relatives still living there) and so have a finger on the pulse of things there.


  34. Hi Lewis,

    It’s great that people are thinking about hardening their homes to the regular risks the environment will chuck at the house. Mate, truly, I do wonder how vinyl siding would go in a big bushfire. So not good, I’m guessing. I’ve seen plastic water tanks with their roofs melted to the water line, so I guess the capacity of the water tank just got less. I’ve heard of concrete water tanks which can self destruct in similar conditions because the water in any crack or fissure turns to steam. Not good.

    I’m not sure I’d want to do such work for other people. Half the time you’d be arguing with people about why they need garden beds right up against the side of the house? Or you’d ask the hard questions: Did you really think it was a good idea to have the firewood stacked up against the side of the house? So much to go wrong and what with the way liability insurance is travelling… Ook! But the main issue (and yes, I know I’m being serious here) is that I’m guessing people see the matter as a ‘set and forget’ type arrangement, where it really is a continuing ongoing maintenance issue.

    I like the accounting I do nowadays. 🙂 In many ways, I got back to my roots, about fifteen years ago now.

    Jake is a cool name. It kind of reminds me of a card shark, no seriously. Can you imagine this, you see the same bloke, thin as a rail, ever so slightly unkempt in a way that’s hard to discern, and he’s sitting at a poker table. The eyes knowingly take you in and size you up in seconds. His name would definitely be Jake. Would you trust him? Maybe if you were playing low-stakes. Fortunately having a very good grasp of statistics, I don’t gamble. But Jake might! 🙂

    Names are popular within age cohorts, and I reckon a lot of it has to do with suggestion. Popular actors (or personalities) can be quite influential. What do you think about that? Makes you wonder what the name trail blazers would think too about it all?

    I did mention to you long ago that home grown produce from very minerally diverse fertile soils produce plants with higher levels of proteins, thus the rail-esque physique?

    Gleaning used to be a thing many years ago, and probably still is. There may be benefits to keeping such activities on the down-low, even with permission. I remember talking to a young couple when I manned a stall at a sustainability festival many years ago. They were quite mercenary with their demands for me to supply information as to where to obtain free produce in the area. Look, I just didn’t know these folks, and they seemed more interested in their own desires than in establishing any relationship. And that’s a problem. I’m of the opinion that gleaning also requires some sort of inherent relationship, because there are obligations not to damage the plants, and there may even be further obligations such as a percentage of the produce. I’m genuinely surprised that nobody has ever asked me about this possibility.

    What a story, and what a canny lady. Total respect. Your story put in mind of the story I’d read in Norah Loft’s book: ‘A wayside tavern’. The book was historical fiction (and I forget who here recommended the most excellent book), and I recall the scene after the Black Death when the surviving much disliked matriarch advised her surviving kindred: Now is the time to buy property! Far out, talk about black humour. But the lady was also correct. It’s funny you mention this story, but I do believe that small engine farm and rural machines will soon be in short supply. There seem to be a lot of ideologues pushing a lot of ideology, and it is having real world implications. Of course, from some perspectives, there may be shortages of fuel, and it also might not be a bad idea for the environment. We just might not like the outcome, like say zombie series may not have expertly manicured lawns whilst in the midst of the zombie apocalypse… Come on, why do they film those lawns looking like that?

    I like your style with those oak cupboards. Nice stuff, really quality pieces, and oak is a lovely timber for furniture. And I agree, built to last, which I believe is important. I’ve got oak cupboards either side of my desk. I’m not much of a fan of mid-century if only because it was designed and constructed as furniture for the masses, and I’m just not into it. You’ve seen what we do with tables and other second hand furniture items. Absolutely quality used to be had for a song if you knew how to restore them, but what with the economy, those items are increasing in price.

    Speaking of timber, I’m looking at the floors in the house and thinking they might need a re-oil. Mate, it’s a job that I’ve been putting off due to the sheer chaos factor. But that doesn’t mean that it is a job that can be put off for much longer. Oh well, summer is not far away.

    Oh my! I’d not considered that aspect of books and vinyl, but you’re right it would send a strong message. Hmm, I’m going to ponder this. People visiting here do get freaked out when they don’t discover a flat screen hanging off the wall in the living room (or elsewhere for that matter).

    Thanks for the words, they’re much appreciated. 🙂 The low gradient path project is very pleasing on the eye from the moment you see the five foot tree fern (now devoid of fronds thanks to the parrots – look, they’re affecting the overall composition those birds) to the temple like chicken enclosure. That part of the property used to be a bit messy, mostly because we didn’t really know what to do with it all and just had to observe, listen and learn. The land kind of tells you what is possible.

    I hope the authors of the self published items you did review, were grateful for the free publicity?

    Wes Anderson films are always a bit like that, and I agree highly stylised is exactly it. Good to hear that the film rated well enough for the popcorn. We watched the rom-com you mentioned the other day. You made an interesting observation about the comedy and drama being all mixed together, and I see what you mean. You know, I felt that the movie deep down was a buddy film, just an unlikely paring under a strange circumstance. The beach scene was a hoot, the actor was like a hell-cat set upon vengeance! Mind you, the young bloke seemed utterly unable to even defend himself in the face of that outrage. Personally I felt the parents were to blame, and I’m coming around to the idea that over indulgence in such matters is as bad as what I experienced, and in some ways, worse. They would have got a reaction from me, let’s put it that way. But overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the film, the world is a better place with more rom-coms.

    Finished the Colorado Kid today. What an ending, I loved it. Yes, a mystery which produces mystery! It would have annoyed the stuffing out of lots of people, but in a good way. The world can stand a bit more mystery! Thanks for recommending the book, much appreciated it.

    Sorry man, I gotta crash now and will speak tomorrow. Worked out in the sun again today. It’s that time of year…



  35. Hi Chris,
    Doug sent his sympathy and concern on the arrival of the varroa mite. He believes it’s the reason he loses almost all hives each year – him and all the other beekeepers he knows.

    I’ve only froze the berries. We’re not that big on jelly or preserves. We’ve got the honey if we’re looking for something sweet.

    It’s been beginning to rain a bit more – small amounts but becoming more frequent. Most creeks are dry or close to it. There’s a wetland area that I visit as there’s a great variety of birds and wildlife. I hadn’t been there since late spring but went yesterday. There’s barely any water at all throughout the wetland right now.

    Doesn’t look anything like the picture above now.


  36. Yo, Chris – The Seattle Supersonics, basketball team, left Seattle in 2008 and moved to Oklahoma City. Not being a sports follower, I have no idea of the story behind that.

    The story I heard was, a long time ago, some nut job decided that Central Park in New York, should have every bird mentioned in Shakespeare. Hence, the Starlings arriving on our fair shores. Shakespeare gardens were also in vogue. I visited a mansion / museum once in California, that had a Shakespeare garden. Every plant mentioned in Shakespeare.

    I checked up on how to do a Heimlich Manoeuvre on small dogs. Just in case …

    I notice our library added a title, “Firescaping Your Home.” Well, having that job would provide you with plenty of opportunity to be firm. “Do you want your insurance to go up? Or even be able to get insurance? Your home to burn?” No sense sugar coating it.

    Our postie is a bit unkempt. 🙂 Has some kind of a modified mullet, going on. Just looks stringy, in need of a haircut. Whatever. Sometimes, he wears a pith helmet, on his rounds.

    Too many popular names seems to yield too many weird names, with weird spellings. I feel like telling these people, “Your children will not thank you.”

    Julia can’t seem to give her fruit, away. So, her son takes it to a food bank of some sort. She brings some to the Club. But, she’s a little old lady who can’t drag around much produce. Speaking of produce, I stopped by the veg store, this morning, and picked up some “Aussie Gold,” cheese. They just call it “white cheddar.” Probably, to avoid having to explain it not being a color, not found in nature. Actually, we also have white cheddars. But the stuff I picked up is “sharp.” $8.25 for 0.57 pounds.

    Who recommended “The Wayside Tavern?” Gee, I don’t know … 🙂

    Oak and Walnut. Quarter sawn oak (to bring out the grain), and Walnut with walnut burl veneer panels. Most of it was factory made, but the quality was still high. There’s mid-century furniture, and then there’s mid-century furniture. Some of it was high end designer stuff, that still brings a good price. Then there was the mass produced stuff, made for the masses. Can still be a bit pricey, right now.

    It’s funny. “The Murdock Mysteries,” take place in Toronto, Canada, around 1910. Our hero and his wife, several seasons ago, moved into a Prairie / Frank Lloyd Wright / Arts and Crafts House. They put up with a lot of negative peer pressure. Anyone who enters the house for the first time, is struck dumb, and fumbles for something nice to say. Detective Murdock, being a handy inventor kind of a guy, tinkers with all kinds of labor saving devices. There are usually amusing bugs, but he sometimes, manages to work them out.

    Oh, I suppose the self published authors were happy. Not that any money exchanged hands. Maybe I missed a bet …

    I think you’re right. It was kind of a buddy film. I watched two films, last night. As it was so darned hot, and I didn’t have anything on the schedule other than watering the north 40 and walking the dog. I watched “The Corner Office.” I found it interesting and engrossing. You worked at the high end of town. You know what office politics, are like. A new employee of a huge corporation “The Authority” insists he’s found a hidden room, what his workmates and boss deny exist. It’s a bit Orwell, with a dash of Kafka. Then I watched “Final Cut,” which was supposed to be a humorous French zombie movie. Don’t bother. I think the French have a different take on “humor.” I mean, they idolize Jerry Lewis and are responsible for unleashing mimes, upon the world. I fast forwarded through vast swaths.

    So, what’s up next, Now that you’ve polished off “The Colorado Kid?” I just can’t seem to pick up “Holly,” again. But will.

    There seem to be a lot of honey bees, about. Based on no real information, I suppose this time of the year, the hives are at their maximum population levels. And the final push is on, before winter. The hives are a distance away, so they must have exhausted everything in between. Our night manager told me he’s got 200+ Roma tomatoes, off of two plants. Must be a good year, for Romas. He has Beef Stake tomatoes, but they haven’t produced many, or of much size. Lew

  37. Hi Pam,

    Thanks, and the weather this week has been the whole next level of pleasant. Warm and sunny, but not too hot, and the sun doesn’t yet have bite to it. Really, very nice. And the poor rock, it was in the right place, at the right time! 🙂

    Glad to hear that the visits went well, and that everyone enjoyed themselves. Ah, everyone sees the world differently, but if it was me, I’d leave that island country and settle elsewhere. It’s an amazing country from what I’ve read about, almost split down the middle by a mountain range.



  38. Hi Margaret,

    Please thank Doug for his kind words. I’m coming around to the perspective that he is correct. From what I’m reading of the New Zealand experience, the wild hives were wiped out by varroa mite. Not good.

    However, it appears that small hives may be able to survive given that they will also swarm more often. I’m going to put some brain cells towards this matter.

    I see, we don’t have the freezer space, so do the opposite and make jam and store it in a cool dark place, but same, same. And honey is so very tasty.

    Nice to hear that the rains are slowly returning. Thanks for the photo of the wetlands, it looks like a very special place, and hope the birds are coping with the drier season. How are the bluebirds doing in their boxes?

    There is never really a perfect season, although some years are better than others.



  39. Hi Lewis,

    There is a tipping point with sports when they become businesses. I recall when the local footy team moved interstate, and the competition went national, and then promptly lost interest. Although you and I are in the minority in this regard. There are other things which interest me, and sports lost out in that regard. Hey, have you encountered folks who can’t bear to think that you’d not be interested in sports? 🙂

    Frankly the Shakespeare inspired gardens just lack any appeal. I’d have to be far better read than I have any available time with which to do so. And the starlings are something of a problem.

    No! Are you serious, I have to check this out. You’re serious, and there were other notes on how to perform CPR on a dog. This is a whole new world to me. Yeah, the knowledge might come in handy!

    That’s a bit contentious with me, because we were forced to build to the highest standards in relation to bushfires, and yet we don’t get a discount on our insurance. Like, how does that work out? Things are pretty controlled on the building standard front, and there is an entire code on building in bushfire prone areas, and the various design and construction responses you have to follow, with consultants required to determine the standards you have to apply based on risk. Almost sent me broke that building standard, but we survived the process, just. AS 3959:2018 – Construction of buildings in bushfire prone areas That’s the beast.

    I agree though, there is no point sugar coating it, and the folks at the brigade made it pretty clear that we were on our own resources during a bushfire and shouldn’t count on help. A lot of people need to get that message, because there are only so many trucks and aircraft around to fight fires. Best to reduce the risk, is my perspective, but policy is often dictated by people who live in cities who are full of fear and with absolutely no idea.

    Well that was just a wild guess! 🙂 Has the mullet ever gone out of style? Hehe! But, a dudes gotta have thick enough hair to pull off that look, otherwise dare I mention Riff Raff from the Rocky Horror Picture Show? Yes, it’s a musical!!! 😉

    Hey, allegedly there was that kid named ‘Bus Stop Number Sixteen’! Not sure what the parents were thinking, but we can kind of guess what they may have been doing.

    What Julia is experiencing is a bit of a problem with the fruit. Maybe people don’t consume as much fruit as they probably should? Dunno. Nice score with the cheese, and yes, sharp is good. I’m still shocked about the dye treatment, my mind is struggling with that one. They also call ‘sharp’ by the name of ‘vintage tasty’ down here. Both are good. Did the cheese live up to the hype?

    Hehe! Maybe it was you, yeah. 🙂 Thanks, it was a great read.

    Had to look up what the process was for milling quarter sawn oak, but that makes sense. The grain is really lovely. I prefer feature grain when it comes to timber, but some folks do opt for a more clean cut look, although I have no idea why. The burls are nice aren’t they, and I can’t even begin to imagine how expensive walnut timber would be. True, there was mid century designer stuff, but most was designed for mass production in mind. And I agree, there is little differentiation between the two extremes.

    Cash for comment? Or review in your case? I’d imagine it may not have made any difference with you, if the read was rubbish, you may have said as much, even with inducements. Just the impression I get. I’d do the same on the basis that a person loses credibility.

    Yeah, I went in with rom-com, but ended up feeling like it was a buddy film. The two didn’t really kind of connect romantically, and the bed scene was err, awkward. I’m not entirely certain I’d laugh about such a film, but I reckon the best of that genre I’d seen was ‘Officespace’. It had such a subversive vibe to it. Oh, I would have imagined that the French film was better than that, although watching the trailer I got the impression that it was a film about making a film with zombies, and may have been a touch self reverential. That was just the vibe I got though. Maybe I’m not wired right, but I never found Jerry Lewis to be funny.

    Ah, Joyland of course! And why not? It was either that, or Wuthering Heights, or back to the Bruce Hodges trilogy. There are other books waiting, but those three are close to the top of the list. And I like the cover art on Joyland best of all, so that settles the matter.

    Over lunch I read the upcoming official referendum vote ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ arguments. There is a proposal to change the constitution which we are all voting on next month. No joyland there.

    Bees are amazing and can fly at least 5km (about 3 miles), maybe more. I’ve begun doing some reading as to how hives survive the dreaded mite. Given I need the bees for pollination purposes, I have different needs to most people in relation to them. There may be some adaption there which I can implement based on how wild bees survive the mite. Dunno, but it’s worthwhile considering and implementing ahead of time.

    Cheers and better get writing!


  40. Yo, Chris – Just the other night, I walked into the Club and someone said, to me, “The Mariners are down by two.” (?) I said, “Do I look like someone who cares?” 🙂 There’s also a few people who play Cribbage. When they haul out the board, I’m libel to say, “Well, your entertainment value just dropped by 25 points.”

    I’m always serious. 🙂

    Building standards: It’s for you own good. And think of the children! Children have a lot to answer for. But seriously, I’m sorry you had so many hoops to jump through, depleting your time and money. I may be glad when things unravel enough that there’s less “oversight.”

    A great deal of butter is also dyed. Got to be sunshine yellow, or it’s not butter! Besides cheese “products” there are also butter products. Oh, I’ve had that Australian cheese, before. Quit tasty. A bit on the crumbly side, when you try to cut it. But then, most sharp cheddars are like that.

    Critics and politicians are often bought. The only totally scathing review I can think I gave was to the author of “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.” Which was a book of real genius. But his next book, “City of Falling Angels,” which I (and many others) had so anticipated, was just awful. I see he hasn’t done much, since then.

    Early Jerry Lewis, wasn’t bad. Or at least, to my childhood mind.

    So is your upcoming referendum to amend the constitution of Victoria, or all of Australia?

    Well, if you want to get a good “fix” on the pollinators you have around, plant a bit of Fennel. It can be a bit invasive, but is easy to spot and pulls up, easy. When it blooms, you’ll get all kinds of pollinators, you probably weren’t aware of. Here, it was a whole collection of tiny (and benign) wasps. Besides the usual suspects. 🙂 I’ve noticed our B-52 Bumblebees are gone. Just part of their life cycle.

    Another one bites the dust. We now have three, possibly four vacancies on our floor. One of them is going to be taken by someone who used to live here. She was pretty easy to get along with, so, no worries on her account.

    H and I are off for biscuits and gravy. Maybe. There’s an ending scene in one of the “Young Sheldon” episodes, which takes place in 1989. He has coerced his mother into taking him to a Radio Shack. He says something along the lines of, “In an ever changing world, it’s nice to know there’s a constant, that will always be there. Radio Shack.” The store appears in a few other episodes. It might be a real walk down memory lane, for you. They should have hired you on as consultant. 🙂 Lew

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