A bad idea

A remote town in the far north western corner of this continent achieved an enviable record today. The hottest recorded temperature on the planet so far this year. Yeah, winning! Admittedly, it’s only early days for the year, what with it being February. But all the same, 49.9’C / 122’F in the shade sure would make me wilt. With ten months to go, the temperature record will probably be bested sooner or later.

Some years, we’ll experience ten summer days of 40’C+ / 104’F temperatures in the shade. This summer has been somewhat special, and one day got close to that hot temperature, but as they say, no cigar. So we haven’t really adapted to hot weather at all, and the grass in the paddocks and orchards remains bizarrely green.

When last Tuesday reached 37’C / 99’F in the shade, there was some sooking. Yes, it’s true and can’t be denied. And I really do appreciate reader efforts to defend my stoicism. I’d planned to have a quieter week of paid work, but candidly I refuse to work about the farm in such sun and heat. Why knock yourself out?

What to do then, became the problem. There’s always something needing doing. So we headed into the big smoke of Melbourne to purchase a carbon steel fry pan. I’d recently been outraged by wasting yet another non-stick fry pan. There had to be a longer lasting option. Turns out that there is, in the form of either: carbon steel; or cast iron. They’re just more regular work. I know this work thing.

A few other stops were made whilst on the journey, like the most excellent coffee and muffin. Yum! But importantly, we enjoyed the bubble land of the air conditioned motor vehicle. That bad boy cold air was blasted hard, and it felt so good. On the drive home, the wind was likewise blowing pretty hard. Combine the strong wind with the heat, and you’ve got the makings of an unpleasant and dangerous day. Sadly for us, all good things come to an end, and the quick cool dash into the city was soon over. We were back home again.

The house was constructed by us to withstand fire, and it is very well insulated. But even so, the house slowly warms up after several consecutive hot days. I’ve heard stories about houses which require no additional heating or cooling. I guess there’s stories about unicorns as well. We don’t have any mechanical way to cool the house down other than opening it to the cooler night air and running the ceiling fans. After three warm days in a row though, the insides of the house were beginning to feel unpleasantly warm.

By late afternoon, the winds had really picked up and were tossing around the tall trees in the surrounding forest. That happens from time to time. Curious to see what was going on in the surrounding area, we’d decided to head to the local general store and grab a coffee. Upon arrival you could hear their generator quietly chugging merrily along. Our coffee was safe!

The power was out there, thus why the generator was running. Turns out, a big chunk of the state was without electricity that day. Half a million houses and businesses had lost their access to grid connected electricity. Due to the relatively small population, I’m guessing about one in every five people in the state were affected. I was grateful for the coffee.

Apparently, the wind trashed six of those hugely tall high voltage (0.5MV) transmission towers. Those things are massive, and kind of important. When the wind crumpled the towers, the largest coal fired generator in the state had to shut down. The average person really doesn’t understand electricity, but with the grid, the supply has to roughly match demand, or else there are problems for the generators. And if people get cut off, demand plummets and excess supply is very problematic. I can only imagine what was going on behind the scenes in the madness of that moment.

I’d read that during those hours, the crazy mismatch between supply and demand pushed the spot price for electricity in this state to reach something like $16,900 per MWh! I’ll bet a lot of people had troubles charging their electric vehicles on that day. Anyway, that spot price is bonkers expensive, and even makes off-grid electricity look economic. As a rough guide, the house system here has generated about 22MWh since err, 2009 and at a rough cost of about $4,500 per MWh.

I doubt the transmission towers will be fixed soon. It’s not like there are spare ones just sitting around waiting to be used. That would be resilient, and most likely considered wasteful. People used to complain in the media about the theoretical gold plating of the grid distribution network. Crumpled transmission towers looks doesn’t look like theoretical gold plating to me. In the days following the disaster, there have been a bit of soul searching articles in the media. Apparently the towers were constructed 40 years ago, and some of them are even up to 60 years old. What could possibly go wrong with steel out in the weather for so many decades? Adding additional heavy loads like electric vehicle charging upon an ageing system seems like a bad idea to me.

Those sorts of days highlight the one single benefit of off-grid electricity systems. If well maintained, at least the lights stay on and the coffee is hot. Off-grid electricity systems certainly don’t make economic sense. Nobody else regularly pays as much, and as a guide it is about ten to fifteen times what households on the grid expect to pay. Grid electricity looks dirt cheap to me. Given how cheap it is, I have some reservations that households are paying enough for the upkeep and eventual replacement of the entire system.

Long term readers will know that the off grid power system is prone to the occasional drama. In order to reduce the incidence of future dramas, the system is daily monitored and regularly maintained. Today I began yet another round of upgrades for the system. Having learned more than I ever cared to know about fuses and electrical circuits, I’m now beginning to replace all of the fuses nearest to the solar PV panels. There is no substitute for industrial grade fuses. Fuses are one of those things you never really think about, but when they’re required to work, you just hope that they do their job.

Fortunately, I was able to grab a whole bunch of these quality fuse holders from an industrial supplier who was closing down. The fuses themselves are brand new. Earlier today I wired up the first of five replacement fuse boxes for the various solar PV circuits. In a few days time, I’ll wire all of the panels into the new fuse box. So far it’s looking neat.

A replacement fuse box is being installed

There is another hot day coming up later this week. I might finish the wiring job then. At least the solar panels provide some solid shade from the hot summer sun. As for the rest of the state, with those six transmission towers out of action, it makes a thoughtful person wonder how the grid will hold up on that day.

The warm summer days combined with smoke from distant bushfires has produced some notable sunsets:

The sun sets through humidity and smoke
Once below the horizon, the setting sun puts on a colour show

The steel rock gabion cage which was filled the previous week was sewn shut.

Another steel rock gabion cage was sewn shut

Work has continued on the low gradient path project. A day was spent scrounging large rocks. They were then all hauled back up the hill and added to the path project. The rocks are being used to retain soil on the downhill side of the path. The paths eat large rocks, which are now in rather short supply.

Many large rocks were scrounged then added to the path project

Another days work relocated soil from one end of the project and used it nearer to the shed so as to produce level ground. We’re now running short of spare soil too!

The path was extended this week

This project is being constructed by building either end, then meeting in the middle. Observant readers will note in the above image, just how narrow the former path was.

Near to the shed is a ramp leading from the path upwards into the orchard. The scary old rototiller was used to level out and smooth that ramp.

A smooth ramp now leads from the path and up into the orchard. The grass will regrow

The fruit trees require regular pruning work. It’s easy enough to do and you get to choose how the tree will look and grow. A few hours was spent pruning this week. All of the branches were then fed into the scary old wood chipper. It makes great mulch for the garden beds.

The scary old wood chipper makes great mulch from tree prunings

After the heat, there was a brief but intense rainstorm which brought out the tree frogs. They hunt spiders and insects which are attracted to the lights of the house.

A Southern Brown Tree Frog hunts insects

The bees are enjoying the massive feed provided by the flowering forest trees. The recent warmer weather has also meant that they’re now drinking water from the dogs water bowl. You can see the pollen on the water surface. Not ideal for hayfever sufferers.

Bees are enjoying a drink of water in the dogs water bowl

Despite the burst of summer heat, Autumn is fast approaching. Some of the leaves on the hops vines are beginning to turn.

The hops vines are beginning to turn

The pumpkin patch is producing really well this year. There are a couple of different varieties growing and we’re already consuming the smaller yellow globe squash variety (the orange ones).

Pumpkins are growing well in the heat

The fastest growing fig tree has produced a lot of fruit, none of which are presently ripe. A few weeks ago we picked a purple fig from a different tree and the taste was amazing. Figs here are usually turned into a very tasty jam.

Lots of fruit, but will it ripen?

Pears have been plentiful this year. This week we picked a variety known as ‘Packham’s Triumph’. They were picked green and brought inside. I do hope that they soften and ripen off the tree, which they’re meant to do.

Plenty of Pears

Most of the citrus trees are either very young, or have been moved during the past year to a more sunny location. One tree which did not require moving was an Imperial Mandarin. The tree is producing very well, although the fruit is a bit on the drier side. It still tastes great.

An Imperial Mandarin has produced a lot of fruit

The grape vines are now about five years old, and the best performing plants are beginning to produce many clusters of grapes. The grapes are becoming tastier each week, although they will benefit from further warm weather and maybe a light frost.

Some of the grape vines are beginning to produce well

Some of the beans have dried on the vine. We’ll pick the pods, shell the beans and store them away for winter use and also replanting the following season.

Beans have dried on the vine

Onto the flowers:

Geraniums climb through the garden beds and love the heat
This very interesting succulent flowers repeatedly in summer
This climbing Rose is the best

The temperature outside now at about 10am is 15’C (59’F). So far for last year there has been 207.2mm (8.2 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 196.0mm (7.7 inches)

40 thoughts on “A bad idea”

  1. frying pans- We migrated to cast iron years ago, as the nonstick were not such forever. Vague reports about teflon being bad also supported the decision. Teflon is non stick- so what makes it stick to the pan?? Can’t be good.

    Seasoning and care take a bit of effort, but they can last for the generations. Here, you can only buy poorly made ones made by Lodge, or spend big bucks on line. Best route here is to watch for a used one at a flea market or resale shop- Wagner and Griswold are good brands, as long as they were cared for.

    We also moved to an inductive stove a couple years ago, so many nonsticks don’t work on it anyway. We still had one, so had to toss it.

    fuses- Why must fuses be replaced? I didn’t realize they had a shelf life. Are these special for DC current, or can “regular” fuses be used?

    levelized cost- Another example where our economy sees only short sighted goals. The true cost of infrastructure, or anything for that matter, needs to account for full life cycle costs, and full replacement in perpetuity if it’s a required bit of infrastructure. As the vast carbon subsidy fades, true costs will become clear. I no longer chuckle or shake my head when I read about solar being cheaper than coal or oil. I just realize that the die is cast, and make the best of today.

    pruning- I’m sadly way behind on pruning. Thanks for the guilt trip. It always seems like I can look at the large old apple trees and think- eh, one more year. It’s quite a chore on the trees, as they are standard, and quite large. It’s pruning time, so maybe I’ll break out the pole saw and loppers.

    Here the conventional wisdom is to prune in late winter before bud break, when dormant. What’s up with late summer pruning?

    onions- Planted out the onion seeds in trays this weekend. They are the first seeds we plant in the spring, indoors of course. We plant 100 yellow storage onions, 30 to 50 red onions, around a dozen bunching onions, and a dozen leeks and shallots.

  2. Hi Steve,

    Nice work, and the deep dive into non disposable cook ware suggested that the US had a preference for cast iron, whilst the Euro area preferred Carbon Steel. But overall, they’re pretty much the same cook ware, with exactly the same issues and care. But they’ll both last for a lifetime, and then some if well cared for. The supplier I picked the fry pan up from was of Italian heritage, and so a Carbon Steel fry pan with a thick base was what was on offer. I tell you what, it was a true family business that one. Like a scene out of the Godfather, except nobody was permanently dealt to. Good fun, and I can’t recommend the business highly enough.

    Well, yeah it wasn’t just you. I’d read interweb sites which more or less suggested that ‘such and such a chemical has unknown health outcomes’. It’s probably OK, but how would you and I ever know? And do we want to find out if they’re dodgy, the hard way?

    Things are a bit different here in that carbon steel is available, and I had more troubles trying to locate the cast iron units. Go figure. But that was my impression as well in that the much older pans have longevity around them, if they’ve been looked after. Hey, it astounds me that people would want to clear such items in flea markets. We’ve been discussing for a long while how the concept of quality is often not clearly understood, and it’s true.

    Just had to interrupt replying because it’s almost 10pm and the magpies were calling out alarm calls. That’s unusual, so Ollie and I headed outside in the dark but couldn’t really see anything. There was an owl in the area earlier, so maybe it was hunting their young? Dunno.

    The induction stoves are pretty good, and we also began using one a few years ago. It’s a good use of electricity, but my experience with them and non-stick pans has not been good due to the hot spot. And yup, some pans aren’t compatible. Not enough iron I believe.

    Oh yeah. Fuses have a shelf life. And connections can corrode. Fun fact: DC electricity can arc across blown fuses and continue the connection. A quality fuse is most definitely not just any old fuse. I’ve had circumstances where they have failed catastrophically for no particular reason other than (I’m guessing) poor construction, and perhaps the speed of the break and ability to suppress the electrical arc became an issue. That’s a problem, so it’s industrial grade all the way here. If people want to skimp on such matters, I’m totally cool with that, and have in fact originally followed that path due to economic concerns. However, my thinking these days is that there is no substitute for quality with this stuff.

    The subject is no longer funny to me either. All I really want is for this stuff to work and last. Did you know the issue about the capital replacement costs first arose with the original railroads in your country? The early investors made a killing due to the high returns which never took into account replacement costs of the assets, the latter investors took a very large hit when those replacement of asset bills began dribbling in. Thus was the concept of depreciation born.

    But the subsidy is huge. I hold strong doubts that this stuff could be used to produce replacement of the same stuff.

    🙂 All part of the service! A standard tree, well that growth pattern removes the trees produce away from the ground and may allow you to walk underneath. I do that as well, and of course have to have an electric pole saw, and two manual super long pruning shears. The scary old wood chipper needs feeding! That’s a good question as it is late summer here. Honestly, I prune when the mood takes me – there’s a couple of hundred fruit trees, and why make a rod to beat yourself with? All trees have different requirements, like pruning the apricots is probably something you might not want to do in the winter months for the overall health of the tree. But I believe the general rule is that winter pruning promotes fruit production whilst summer pruning promotes tree growth. And the wounds heal faster in hot weather. The truth is, a lot of fruit trees are biennial anyway and I’ve not discovered a way to force the trees to annual heavy production like they seem to be able to do in commercial orchards.

    Nice work. And clearly, you know your onions – as they used to say. Are these your seed collected from last year?



  3. Hello Chris,

    Some thoughts on fruit tree pruning here. Prunes should be pruned in June, as the old rhyme goes. Or at least after harvest, before the fall. Walnuts are also sensitive, and need summer care.
    Most trees and orchardists enjoy pruning on a sunny day, since most of the moulds and other fungi travel with rain drops.
    Apples and pears are tough and can be pruned whenever you have time. Most apple growers in the past had time in the winter, so therefore the winter was the time to prune.

    Regarding cables – there have been several incidents with sub-sea cables and pipelines in the Baltic during the last years. One was supposedly an accident, when a huge Chinese container vessel dragged an anchor over a few kilometers of sea floor that just so happened to contain the main connector between Finland and Estonia (“baltic connector”).

    In 1997, I visited Almaty, Kazakhstan, where they had just experienced a major power blackout in the winter. Some smart cable thief had tried to steal some of the high-tension power cables and blew up one of the power towers. He died when he went to collect the cable… And a million or so people had no power for weeks. In the winter. Local collapse. A prelude to the tune that more of us will dance to in the years to come.

    I use a black iron pan to fry most of what we eat, but I fail to get pancakes work, and eggs seem to stick whatever I do. On pancake days, or for fried eggs, the nonstick-pan comes out to lace the dishes with PFAS. One day I will look into how to fry eggs well with the iron pan, and ditch the “modern” version.
    Anyone has some advice or experience to share?


  4. @ Goran,

    I use black cast iron pans for some things. A metal spatula is always used. I cannot do pancakes in these pans, nor do scrambled eggs work very well. To fry eggs, I put some oil or grease in the pan and let it heat up. Then I add the eggs.

    For cleaning, I scrape as much gunk out of the pan as possible with the metal spatula. I will use soap and water. I never use anything for cleaning like steel wool or abrasives. A gentle brush, yes, but not metal.

    After cleaning and drying, I will rub a small amount of oil into the cooking surface and the vertical insides of the pan. The pans seem to work a lot better for me with this treatment.

    Hope that helps.


  5. Chris,

    Egads! 49.9C? That’s hot. Glad it wasn’t where you live. We hit about 47 today. 47F. That is a very nice relief from the -11C I awoke to Saturday morning. That probably marks the last nasty cold for this winter season, or so past experience with this type of winter suggests.

    Somebody was smart. Run the generator, save the coffee! Sounds like something the Great Sensei would say: “Grasshopper, to become enlightened, chop wood, carry water, run the generator, save the coffee.” Coffee, the elixir of wakefulness, is always a good idea.

    Today’s normal schedule was altered for several reasons. My outdoor time with the elixir of wakefulness was delayed as a result. It tasted extra good, though. And there was a bonus – a mixed flock of robins and cedar waxwings was eating what crabapples were still on the tree. Giant flocks of the waxwings used to be common this time of year, followed by a lot of robins. Once the starlings got very populous here, the waxwings and robins went elsewhere. There were less starlings the past 18 months, so the robins and waxwings made a small comeback, at least for today. The cedar waxwings and their larger cousins, Bohemian waxwings, are strikingly beautiful.

    Mandarins, grapes, pears, pumpkins. They all look like they are doing well. I got hungry looking at them.

    Do the tree frogs eat the nasty spiders, the large poisonous ones that look scary? That would be an extra bonus, wouldn’t it?


  6. Hi Göran,

    Can you grow prunes that far north? I should have been more specific and mentioned that generally stone fruits are pruned in the summer months. Although, spare a moments thought for the fruit trees here because the wallabies have occasionally pruned a stone fruit tree in the winter months because they are marsupial vandals, and it’s worked out fine for the tree. Although, winters are milder and more humid down here than what you may experience.

    Hey, I’ve had a lot of trouble getting a walnut tree established here. Of the four planted so far, three have died. The remaining walnut tree seems to be doing OK. It is possible that the variety I’m planting is not suited to this area, because not too far away there are huge and old walnut trees. Would you suggest starting some new trees from those local varieties of walnuts?

    I agree, increased humidity is always a problem with pruning. However, as you note, I leave the pruning of the apple trees to the winter months. Without exception, apples are the hardiest of all the fruit trees here.

    It amazes me that a ship dragging an anchor could even break such a strong pipeline. An interesting story indeed, and I had not realised that the incident was with a gas pipeline as I’d believed at first that it was a cable. Talk about difficult to fix. That’s essentially the problem – the infrastructure is very expensive to establish and maintain, and super-cheap to destroy. There is a lesson to be learned in there somewhere.

    I believe that in the local incident where the Basslink DC cable connector was damaged is in a strait which is shallow water and 300km wide. Cause of Basslink cable outage finally revealed. Hmm. I have to be very careful with the volume of electricity sent through any of the cables here. There are limits which must be respected. And that blokes demise indicates the troubles waiting in store for people who don’t know what they are doing.

    That’s a rotten act and would have been very hard on everyone living in that part of the world, especially during winter. I’m not sure if you missed but I mentioned a while back that some rascal stole the cables connecting up the local recreational reserve which apparently included the mobile phone tower. We only learned about this because Sandra was unsure whether the local dog obedience school (which train at the reserve) was going to go ahead or not. It seems fixed now, which is a good thing as a lot of people use those facilities. But the fix would have been expensive.

    I really have no experience with the seasoned carbon steel fry pans, but am soon to find out. It may be that your pan simply needs re-seasoning to produce a non-stick coating, but honestly I have no idea. But am about to find out – once the current bout of hot weather finishes. I’ll report back over the next week or so.



  7. Hi DJ,

    It was a pretty crazy extreme temperature up there which incidentally was recorded in the shade. Can you imagine what it may have felt like to experience that weather, but in the direct sun? The hottest day experienced here over the past fifteen years was about 45’C, and that was way too hot for my tastes.

    Now 47’F, that’s quite pleasant all things considered! 🙂 Although Dame Avalanche surely would have expressed her displeasure at the sudden winter warmth? “We are not amused! Fingers crossed you’re right there about it being the last batch of cold weather for the season. Apparently it will reach 36’C tomorrow, and I’m not looking forward to that at all. Today was only slightly cooler, and so we decided to play hooky and took the day off work and instead went to the cinema to watch a local film: Force of Nature: The Dry 2 Official Trailer. It was a story, within a story, and the forest scenery was stunning. We really enjoyed the film and it recounted an excellent story. The original film (The Dry) was filmed near to where my grandfather grew up. A most pleasant day was had.

    Fortunately with a backup generator there, no coffee was harmed during the blackout. Yea, the master is verily right with regards to enlightenment! 🙂 Dunno about you, but I should not be allowed out in public prior to a solid coffee hit. Could be hazardous, and I’m not saying for whom that applies.

    Ah, the resilient tree must bend with the strong winds and move where forced, lest the tree itself break. The cedar waxwings are very attractive birds with a face like a masked bandit. The birds sure would appreciate any crab apples still left hanging on your tree. And the recent super cold temperatures could only make the fruit all that more precious for the birds. Nature sure puts on a good show if we but stop to take some time out to notice the beauty. Which, I’m sure you do.

    It almost 10pm here and still 21’C. Quite warm really. I just took Ollie out to perform his ablutions, and at nights when the weather allows it (i.e. no rain), we both sit quietly in the orchard, switch off the torch and open our senses to the night. There’s a lot going on out there, and Ollie is eerily silent. Isn’t it amazing how our eyes can adjust to the night, and you always see a much bigger star filled night sky that way. A lot of aircraft are flying overhead tonight which spoils the experience a bit. Oh well.

    Yum! Yum! Soon it will be spring for you (whatever that means) and the plants will begin growing again.

    Oh yeah, the tree frogs will happily consume spiders. Even the big and fast spiders like the huntsman spiders. I like the frogs, and they’re found right throughout the orchards. I’m not quite certain as to their life cycle because they don’t seem to require standing water – that I’m aware of. I had a small redback spider on my shoulder the other day and brushed it off before it could bite me. A bit nerve wracking… The wolf spiders make it hard to sit and enjoy the grass mostly because they may bite your bottom. I learned this the hard way, and the morning fog attracts moisture droplets to their webs. They’re everywhere… 🙂 There’s always something don’t you reckon?



  8. Hello Chris
    I use an ancient metal frying pan to fry eggs in. It is used for nothing else and has never been washed. I just wipe out the oil with a cloth after use. No egg has ever stuck.

    Nothing seems to eat crab apples here in the woods. They drop to the ground and rot there.


  9. Hi, Chris:

    I think that you have adapted to the summer heat – and the summer cold – and whatever your winter does. You keep on going, eh? And always working (not counting the pub and pies). You certainly seem healthier than most people. So – you are adapting. And so is the grass.

    Ah! The car AC in the summer! Don’t I just appreciate that! I am glad that you have ceiling fans; we have those, too.Goodness – a half a million without power. Thanks for the link. I see this is not what happened there:


    Boy, did you get lucky being able to buy those fuses.

    What a beautiful sunset; you get them so often. Ours have been pretty lately, also, all pink and red. Mr. Freckles looks relaxed. Have the hops produced flowers yet? And you have so many grapes, with no blight?

    I made the potato leek soup. Yum! Just potatoes and leeks (sauteed in a bit of olive oil) and salt and pepper. Wonderful! Now, I have read not to use the tops of leeks, which I was already doing. I figured if I just used the most tender top parts that was okay and it has been. However, some people say that leek tops can make your recipe taste soapy. Ever heard of that?

    Our wood stove (from last week) does not heat water, except on top in a pot. However, we were just talking about buying one that has an attached reservoir.

    Thanks for the flowers! Someone has given me a little succulent that looks like yours. We shall see if it flowers!


  10. Hi Chris,
    Finally some hot temperatures for you though maybe more than you wished for. Our weather continues to be quite a bit warmer than normal. People joke “just wait till May”.

    The bees always cover the entire rim of my bird bath in the summer. It’s interesting to watch what birds will brave the multitudes and get in – most don’t.

    Still trying to figure out Marty’s insurance. From what I can tell so far his primary care doctor of many years is no longer covered by his policy. He had yet another false alarm trip to the hospital. He says he has “massive” chest pain and calls 911 and once again he is fine. I’ve talked to him about the power of suggestion especially due to the fact that we have some heart disease and sudden heart attacks in the family. I doubt he’ll change though. I told him each time he goes to the hospital no one really worries but one day it will be for real.

    JMG wrote such a lovely tribute to his wife. They’ve been through much together.

    My seeds have arrived and my kale from last fall has sprung back to life so I’ll have a least a bit of fresh greens. It always tastes so much sweeter after a frost and/or moderate freeze.


  11. Hi Chris,

    Just wanted to stop by and say hello, and commiserate with you on the summer heat. No one likes those days when it doesn’t cool off enough at night for comfortable sleep. I expect we’ll see more of them in the years to come, but at least they do end and autumn shows up sooner or later. Not that we can’t grumble about it while it’s ongoing! 😉

    St. Louis is enjoying, and enjoying is the right word, its third warmest winter on record. Today’s high was 73F! I’ve gotten a lot of winter clean-up work done in the yard and there is more to do with several more warm days in the forecast. We did get about 3 to 4 inches of snow on the 16th, but it melted within 2 or 3 days. I have sowed seeds for later transplanting in our front porch greenhouse, and the nursery from which I ordered strawberries says they will arrive the week of 3 March. The first daffodil is opening its first bud. It’ll be an early spring, and I am fine with that.

    @ Margaret: my belated condolences on Leo’s passing. I haven’t been reading the comments here as much, but I am catching up this week.

    I too read and appreciated JMG’s tribute to Sara. I hope we all have in our lives someone who cares enough about us to think/write about us as he has Sara.


  12. Chris,

    I know how that temperature feels in the sun. We held a large barbecue for my mother-in-law on the Rez one August. Someone had seen a thermometer in downtown Omak that read 119F. I figure where we were was maybe 115 or 116. I was the chef, and the barbecue grills were in the sun. It was HOT! I had a bandana on my head. Every 5 minutes, the Princess would douse my shirt with a pitcher of water and my head with another. I drank a lot of Gatorade. I was able to eat like normal; when finished eating I wandered down to the creek, laid down in the water with just my nose above water. The water felt warm and it was steaming. The next morning I went in for a wade and darn if that water wasn’t cold, +8C if I remember my water thermometer correctly. I guess I had gotten hotter than I’d thought. 😉

    Today was another 47F day. After the rain quit, I took Dame Avalanche for a walk. We had a fun time.

    Your movie trailer sent me down an interweb rabbit hole. I had to find where the first The Dry movie was filmed. Okay, I even got to see a slide show of that area. VERY picturesque. And in the edge of the Australian Grampians? The pictures made it look like a rather wild but very beautiful area, many microclimates. If that’s where your grandfather grew up, he was a very fortunate man.

    I had a sign up outside my work cubicle: “Enter at your own risk. I haven’t had my coffee yet. I am not responsible for any injuries that may result.” When I’d had my coffee, the sign was turned around and said “Coffee achieved. I might be mostly harmless. Maybe.”

    Maybe I should ship some cedar waxwings to Inge to eat the nearby crabapples. Or maybe the starlings. Oh, no, that would be mean. Some days the starlings nearly get on even my nerves. Hard for birds to do that.

    Good job frogs! Eat the spiders, eat the huntsman spiders, eat the creepy crawlies. Make it safe for Chris and Ollie to sit and enjoy the stars and the night sky.

    Hand update. The feeling is still coming back, albeit slowly. A setback just occurred. Bumps on the palm of my hand were diagnosed this week as Dupuytren’s Contracture, aka Viking Hand. Anyhow, it is early, and my treatment for now is to continue with the finger rehab regimen and to add a few other stretches to the hand and fingers, as well as massage the entire hand, not simply the rehabbing finger. No other treatment needed unless things worsen. Ah well, such is life.

    Ummmm, yes, nasty or at least nasty looking spiders can be everywhere. When touring New Mexico, Arizona and Colorado one vacation, the Princess kept asking me to back closer to bushes when she was taking my picture. There were huge spider webs all over the bushes. Tarantulas and others lurked therein. The American Southwest tarantula is not poisonous, but some of the others are. And most bushes in the wild in that area have sharp leaves.

    When we eventually arrived in the lower elevation desert in Arizona, the saguaro cacti were plentiful. The Princess wanted her picture taken with one. I urged her to get closer to the cactus. She got closer. No spider webs. 🙂


  13. Hi Inge,

    Ah, that’s exactly what I’m aiming for with the carbon steel fry pan. Although, I’ll probably use it for frying more foods than just eggs. Do you have a reason for only using the pan for eggs? What you described is best practice care too for the pan.

    In an amusing side story, the first time I encountered a person cleaning their seasoned fry pan that way, well, in my naivety I was a bit horrified. It was an old friend who is a very talented cook, but left the industry due to the long work hours. He mentioned the seasoning and cleaning, but never really explained the why of it all. Sometimes access to more expansive explanations on the interweb is one of the systems strengths. There are many different ways to learn, and not all of them will be suitable.

    It’s still quite hot this evening, so I’ll leave the initial seasoning of the fry pan for another day or so when the weather is cooler. There is a big fire burning about two hours drive west of here. The smoke is visible outside and the sunlight is a really weird shade of orange.

    Just heard a blast (or is it peal?) of thunder. A storm may be approaching.

    Took a short break to step outside and close up the greenhouse. Just as I was about to close the greenhouse, torrential rain began falling trapping Ollie. A quick retreat back into the greenhouse. Ollie was freaked out by the noise of the rain falling on the roof. At least we didn’t get wet by the sudden storm. It was soon over, and outside now is very steamy.

    The parrots love crab apples. Happy to loan you a few of those cheeky birds. To my utter dismay, I discovered a new variety of parrot in the orchard this morning. The very colourful Rainbow Lorikeet.



  14. Hi Pam,

    It’s true. Among the many possible choices and options, adaption is the easiest path. We all face that choice, sorry to say. But regardless as to what we do, life tends to keep rolling along without any cares for our preferences. The randomness of it all is can be both occasionally surprising and sometimes hard.

    It’s funny you say that, but I’ve never stopped physically and mentally working hard. I’d read long ago that it’s a strategy for some people who’d experienced unstable childhoods, but for me it simply offers contentment to know that come what may, I’d done the best I could. And when I’m not working, thoughts of what needs doing are far from my mind.

    People worry about all manner of things. What they may not even be aware of is that in all the worry about this and that, is we as an industrial civilisation have flogged agricultural soils so hard for a very long time. And we use fossil fuels to pretend that this has not occurred. One of the big challenges society will face sometime in the unknown future is rebuilding the fertility of the soils. Infertile soils tend to produce plants with little protein which has all manner of implications for our species. As a society, we could do much better on that front.

    It reached about 99’F here today, with strong winds. There’s a big fire about two hours drive west of here. We got lucky today on that front today. You can see the smoke in the air. A cool change and brief (but very heavy) thunderstorm rolled through in the past hour. The parrots are now singing up a storm at the now more pleasant cooler conditions. And the house is open to the suddenly cooler evening air. Yay!

    Oh yeah, a vehicle is like sitting in a greenhouse what with all that glass and no insulation to speak of. Back in the day I used to joke about having manual air-con in those machines – you’d just wind the windows down. Some of them used to have a nifty little triangular window which could direct a strong flow of air into car, if it was moving.

    What kind of person steals a radio tower? Far out. What a loss to the community, and can you believe the official response? It defies logic.

    The cost of all this renewable energy stuff can reduce the kingdoms treasury that’s for sure. There is a reason why you hear so much talk, and so little action on that front. It simply costs more than anyone would want to pay. For me nowadays it is a hobby, but originally I went into the project truly believing that it really would be the equal of grid power. I don’t think so nowadays.

    The pink and red sunsets for you may be a sign that warmer days are soon to arrive. Or maybe there is simply a lot of air pollution in the atmosphere? 🙂 It’s hard to know really. 😉 The smoke from the plentiful fires on this continent, not to mention the airborne soils from the vast summer arid interior of the summer heated continent, produce all the lovely sunsets. Probably provides a bit of fertiliser too with all that dry fine soil particles floating around.

    Mr Freckles is mostly relaxed, except when we were suddenly caught outside in the brief and very heavy thunderstorm. We had to seek shelter in the greenhouse from the heavy rain, and the loud noise from all that freaked him out a bit. He quickly recovered his aplomb.

    The hops vines began producing flowers last year, although that was only their first year in that garden bed. The neighbours I believe used to have a leaky septic tank which seeped into that area. You could sometimes smell the err, outputs and not to mention the wash day soaps. Anywhoo, the hops vines enjoyed lots of regular minerals and water. The neighbours a while back apparently have now replaced their septic tank, and the good times for the hops vines abruptly came to an end. The plants are in a bit of a re-adjustment to the new conditions phase at the moment and have done OK, but sadly no flowers this year.

    Yikes! You’re asking the hard questions. 😉 Blight is present here, but the soil for the grape vines is very well fed, and I apply a regular amount of agricultural lime (Calcium Carbonate) to the soil feed regime. The phytophora thingee, which causes blight here is not quite a fungi, but something sort of like that, I’m guessing it doesn’t appreciate the lime. The vines are doing well. Probably why tomatoes also appreciate a feed of lime as well.

    Tidy work, and glad to hear that the recipe turned out well. Yum! Honestly, the mere thought of a soapy soup kind of scares me a bit. I’ve never cooked with the harder top leaves of leeks. Best fed to the worms. Look, if I was starving, I’d probably give those sections of the leaves a go. But err, until then…

    It’s not a bad idea with the wood heater, as long as you keep the plumbing simple. The system here works really well and has done so for a very long time, but I reckon that there are a few potential failure points. But free hot water is a very good idea. The hot water will steal some of the heat which would otherwise have gone into the house, so I would opt for a larger combustion chamber.

    Ooo, hope the succulent grows well and produces lovely flowers. A fine gift don’t you reckon?



  15. Hi Margaret,

    Thanks. They do say that it doesn’t rain, but it pours. The hot weather is a pleasant change, although it brings the fire risk back into play. The grasses in the orchards are still green (sort of) but I have a belief that the grass dying back in summer is part of the whole normal process and it reduces competition for water and minerals between those plants and the fruit trees. I’ll be watching closely over the next few weeks to see if the growth in the fruit trees accelerates. Dunno.

    Today was hot. And windy. Not a relaxing combination of weather. A brief and very intense thunderstorm rolled through an hour or two ago. Ollie and I just happened to be outside closing up the greenhouse for the day. We waited out the storm in the greenhouse, and Ollie was a bit freaked out by the noise of the rain on the roof. You know, I’d checked the bureau’s rain radar before heading out because I could hear thunder and it returned an all clear. Yeah, well, the radar was having technical issues and I was looking at an older reading which showed no storms… Always a risk! 🙂

    That’s the thing. Hey, we had an initial warm early spring, then it got cold and wet. Now it is hot again. The future may not be what we think it will be.

    Hehe! Yes, I too worry about the birds on that front. Not good. But there are several above ground water supplies for the birds so they can choose. And I keep them all filled up and clean, especially during hot weather, as I’m sure you also do. To my dismay, I discovered a new type of parrot in the orchard earlier today. A rainbow lorikeet. The name is a dead give away to the birds colour super bright scheme. Simon who writes the blog I link to over in the side blog roll of this website has those birds in his fruit trees, and has written about the experience. Hmm.

    Oh my! For Marty, the pain is probably all too real, even if it isn’t. You know him best. Maybe he needs to learn the old fable about the ‘Boy who cried wolf’. There’s a solid lesson in there, but it’s a hard one. And that’s the thing, his actions are hard on everyone around him. How can you or your sister discern if it is a genuine emergency, as you quite rightly point out? I think it’s impossible to know.

    The words were moving and beautiful. I feel for Mr Greer. Loss is hard and the pain lessens and dulls over time, but it never really leaves. We build scar tissue as we go…

    Go the seeds for the growing season garden! A seed catalogue from the local gardening club turned up in the mail today. Yay! And I agree with you about kale. The leaves really do benefit from a frost or three. Your soil is rapidly warming if kale are sprouting. Great plants and a real fave. Which variety do you grow? We trialled rainbow chard and perennial spinach this season, and they’re really good and much hardier to summer heat than kale. Mostly tastes the same too. Can’t get better than that.



  16. Hi Claire,

    Oh my goodness. When I woke this morning it was 22’C in the house (and humid). It was a hot summers night last evening. Today was hotter again at about 38’C, and right now it is 26’C in the house and I have the ceiling fan above me spinning hard with the windows and doors open. Keeping cool, maybe. 🙂 Well, that’s the plan anyway.

    I agree, it is hard to grumble about the occasional hot day when this past summer has been so cold and wet. However, there are now several large fires burning in the more westerly parts of the state. It’s been a dangerous day today on that front. The news tomorrow morning will reveal more. The heavy but brief thunderstorm here this afternoon appears to have missed those fire affected areas.

    Claire, it’s hard to believe, but seriously, that maximum temperature of 73’F of yours will be warmer than tomorrow’s maximum temperature of 70’F here. Yikes! The variability is a bit confronting, and hard on the soil temperatures. As Steve Solomon suggests in his books, I’ve adjusted my watering accordingly this season so as to not to inadvertently further cool the soil. Hey, I’ve begun re-reading ‘Gardening when it counts: growing food in hard times’. It’s an excellent read. And thanks again for mentioning the author. I appreciate his methodical and practical approach to the subjects he tackles.

    Good stuff, and hope the seeds get off to a good start for the season. Are you intending to trial any new varieties this year? Can you believe I’d not grown Rainbow chard before, but am having very good results with the plants. They cook up much the same as kale leaves do.

    I have great respect for your success with strawberry plants. I’ve been considering this matter for a while now and believe that I may have over-fed the soil, thus the plants produced only runners, and no berries. A rookie mistake. On the other hand, the alpine strawberry varieties are producing really well, although the taste isn’t quite up to the same flavour burst of the ones you grow.

    The pear crop has been variable. A purple variety produced the tastiest pear I’ve ever consumed. Simply stunning. Ate it this morning. Then the very next pear from the same tree was almost inedible. Oh well, I won’t starve… It’s something… 🙂

    Also, by the next growing season, you will hopefully see the efforts I’m putting into practising crop rotation. Fingers crossed it all works.

    The first daffodil bud is the promise of the coming season for you. May your garden produce bountifully.

    The tribute was both beautiful and deeply moving.



  17. Hi DJ,

    I read somewhere a few weeks ago (can’t remember where sorry), but it suggested that as a general rule, when the sun’s UV rating is ‘Extreme’, then the temperature felt in the sun can be up to 15’C hotter than what the thermometer in the shade is recording. Personally I prefer to not go back to outdoor work after a late lunch during the summer months. It’s too hard. Conversely in winter, it’s hard to get off to an early start when the air temperature is near to freezing and the ground is very wet. A good excuse to sleep in during winter if you ask me! 🙂

    Man, your story recounted a brutally hot experience. There’s something to be said about rehydration solutions like Gatorade on super hot days for bringing you back from the dead. But then there were days like what you wrote about. Not good. Actually I’m impressed you kept the food down, which is something of a risk with heat exhaustion. Laying in the creek was a very good idea. I find I have to cool off the head / brain, because otherwise the experience can leave me with what feels like a truly awful hangover, without the prior consumption. Incidentally, a drink can make the situation worse. Best avoided. Mate, even if the BBQ was moved into the shade, you still couldn’t have avoided the outcome on a hot day like that.

    Happy days! Spring is getting closer for you.

    Today was a hot one at about 38’C. And the wind blew and blew. There are now a couple of big fires over in the west of the state, and one is near to the large inland city of Ballarat (the third largest city in the state). The population is around 120,000. I’m looking at where the fire is, and where the wind will be blowing from over the next few days and would be uncomfortable if I lived near to there. It’s a lovely city. It would be the outer edges most at risk I reckon, but it really depends which direction the wind blows over the next few days and also how strongly. Fortunately there doesn’t seem to be any too-crazy weather in the forecast for the next week.

    The cool change reached here at about 6pm-ish and Ollie and I just happened to be outside shutting up the greenhouse when a brief and very heavy thunderstorm hit. We took shelter in the greenhouse, although Ollie was a bit freaked by the noise of the rain hitting the roof. I had a bit of trouble getting him in there and out of the heavy rain. Had to coax him in, and then hang onto his collar. The rain soon passed. Unfortunately, the rain didn’t reach the fire affected areas.

    I’d checked out the weather radar before heading outside too. I could hear thunder in the distance, but the radar reported no rain, so yeah, trust. A rookie mistake!!! The weather radar was having technical troubles and showing an old reading. Computers and stuff, good when they work. Yup.

    He was born and raised a bit further north and east of the Grampians, but once you’re out of that mountain range, a lot of the drier parts of the state look pretty similar. Kyabram looks a lot like the scenes in the film which was filmed a bit further west but same, same. 18 inches annual rainfall and irrigation might make for some good grain growing country. To be honest, I haven’t been in that part of the state.

    Thanks for the laughs. The coffee signs were funny-as. Your co-workers were warned! 😉

    All this loose talk of birds in strange territories reminded me that Ollie and disturbed about six Rainbow Lorikeets snacking upon the Cox’s Orange Pippin Apples earlier today. I’ve never seen those birds around here before, and candidly it worries me to have a third parrot species hanging around. Ook! As you’d imagine, their colouring is utterly bonkers. With two parrot species already here, another is a bit scary to consider. The third parrot theory, perhaps? I tried to get a photo, but they were skittish to say the least.

    The starlings can be a bit of a nuisance for the local birds, but usually they get cleared off. I’ve seen them take up residence in barns etc… And they can grow quite large colonies if the area supports them.

    On a more positive note, I discovered the very first ever hazelnut on the ground underneath the tree. ‘Ullo, ‘Ullo, ‘Ullo, what have we got ‘ere? He said, and picked it up and the husk fell away. Tested another on the tree and the husk was holding on a bit tighter. Oh well. Might roast them up tomorrow and see what they’re like to eat.

    It’s cooling down now outside 17’C, although it’s still warm in the house. Might even rain again overnight the forecast suggests. It won’t reach the fire affected areas. Not good. But at least the cooler weather tomorrow might assist the crews getting on top of the fire.

    Yes, the frogs are valuable allies against the toothy spiders.

    Good to hear that the feeling is coming back in your hand. It’s been on my mind, but am uncertain whether the topic is problematic for you. What the heck? Hang on … … (thanks for providing only further hand mystery!) Viking Hand you say? Oh shit! Sorry broke my own rule there. Dude, that’s rough. And you’re already stretching too. Might have to increase that sorry to say. Definitely one to keep an eye on, and the reports suggest it is more problematic than painful, and that’s at least a good thing. Hadn’t realised the symptoms present in such large numbers in the population. Those Vikings sure got around. Up and down like the Assyrian Empire (to quote Monty Python – if that’s at all in good taste?) How are you doing with the knowledge?

    Ha! Your lady is wise to avoid the spider riddled plants. You’re made of tougher stuff than I, as I’d be err, prompting for the photo opportunity to be over as quickly as possible. Sends shivers up my spine such stories. 🙂

    It’s been a fairly nerve wracking day today, but as you say (and Ned Kelly did as well): Such is life.



  18. Chris:

    No pipes to the woodstove are contemplated at this point, just a reservoir on the side (with a lid I would hope) to hold hot water and that only if we buy a new one that comes with it.

    99F is a pretty nasty temperature. We need to learn how to predict weather by the “signs”. Take my head, for instance (please . . .) : I always get a big sinus headache about 24-36 hours before a weather change due to the changes in air pressure. That is either way, a good change or a bad change.

    Mr. Musty the Toyota pickup has those little triangular windows. They’re great!

    Someone has reminded me: “One day at a time.” Not that in that day one does not plan for the future. Kind of contradictory, I guess, but do-able.


  19. Hello Chris
    If the pan is only used for frying eggs, you have perfection. Frying anything else can mess it up.


  20. Hi Chris,

    I’m trying to grow celery and celeriac for the first time. Mike uses a lot of celery in cooking, so it would be good to grow it for him. Celeriac, a root crop, is supposed to store well and bring the celery taste and texture farther into winter.

    I’m growing two different celery varieties, one a standard green celery and one called Chinese Pink. I didn’t buy the latter but was given the seed packet by a friend who got it for free and doesn’t have a good way to start seeds indoors. The photo on the package suggests it is very, very, very pink. Mike gave it the bird eye, as we say; he’s suspicious. But how can I not grow such a pink vegetable? It’s so appealingly weird. 😉

    I’m also trying a different potato variety and hoping to have a much better yield from it than last year’s crop managed. Otherwise I’m growing varieties that have done well in the past.


  21. saving seeds- No, we did not save seeds from our onions. We plan to try that this year. We slowly add to the list of veggies we save seed from, but some are easier than others. The other thing to consider is whether to solely go with heritage/heirloom plants or with hybrid versions, which won’t reproduce true.

    Most of the seeds we buy are heirloom, but not all.

  22. Chris,

    Ah, you have found another version of enlightenment! Afternoon siestas during the heat, sleeping late during the cold. Very good.

    Drinking alcohol when overheated can be a BIG problem. I’ve been wise enough to avoid such issues. I’ve known some people that, well, did I mention that alcohol when overheated and dehydrated can cause big problems? Which, of course, you already knew.

    Spring is trying to arrive. +10C today. Very pleasant afternoon walk with Dame Avalanche. But the back yard. UGG! Many months of mostly soggy with an active dog. The lawn is in horrid condition, as the bare patches spread. Fortunately, this fits in with my reseeding plans. 😉

    I looked at a map to see where Ballarat is. It confused me. Nearby is Sebastopol. I’ve been in Sebastopol in California. There’s a Sebastopol in the Crimea. And Texas. And nearby is Bonshaw. Is that Bonshaw Tower from Gretna Green, Scotland, or perhaps the Barony of Bonshaw in Ayrshire? I mean, either I’m off my rocker (possible, quite possible) or else Ballarat is one of those places that affords rapid jumps to other distant locations. There’s possibly another, much more simple and correct explanation that is eluding me for some reason. 😉

    Anywho, the fire near Ballarat. I know how the people there must feel with a nearby large fire. Any weird windy thingy and there goes part of the city. Heck, a large chunk of nearby Medical Lake burnt down last summer. It was too windy to do anything.

    There was a nasty fire on an extremely windy day circa 1999. It was southwest of Spokane. The wind carried it down to the Spokane River and it jumped. The neighborhood I grew up in was told to evacuate, as the fire was downhill from them and a bit north – any shift in the wind and it could get there. Before anyone could leave, however, they got that part of the fire under control and the evacuation was cancelled. It did burn out the entire area where I used to run with Rakhi the Samoyed.

    Aren’t you glad you built a nice greenhouse? I bet you never planned on sitting out a thunderstorm in it? Too bad Ollie was bothered by the rain on its roof. Dame Avalanche and I both enjoy listening to the rain on the patio roof. Of course, that’s usually with something useful at hand, like tea or coffee.

    Weather radar? Hmmm, I usually know what’s about to hit. Like Pam, my sinuses often give an early warning. Sometimes I can feel it. I knew that last snowstorm and cold front were due before they were forecast. It just FELT like it was gonna happen.

    Had to look up Kyabram also. I see that Kyabram, Melbourne and Grampian National Park make an isosceles triangle, with the Kyabram to Melbourne leg being the short bit. 18 inches annual rainfall is similar to what Colfax and Pullman get circa 20 inches maybe. Both are in the Palouse region of Washington south of here, grand wheat country and also a large lentil growing area. Some of the farmers I worked with on the job told me that alternating between wheat and lentils helped both crops.

    Rainbow lorikeets are sure colorful. And they feed on fruit. Just what you need, right, more birds competing for fruit?

    Let me know how the hazelnuts turn out. The squirrels get all of mine. I think they take them before they’re ripe.

    Jokes about the hand are more than welcome. After getting diagnosed, I did mope about for a few minutes. Then it was Accept, Adapt, Move on. So began the research of what to do in these early stages. And start trying to think of how it can be humorous. Gotta have fun with it. Killian’s human had some very bawdy ideas that nearly made me blush!

    Some of the stretches I was doing for the finger are appropriate for Viking hand. Whew! And the other stretches I found online for Viking Hand also help with the finger recovery. Both “ailments” do well with light massage, also. Naturally, I then tried the finger vibrator in the usually suspected Viking Hand areas and that made everything feel better. I mentioned that to Killian’s human, and well, ummm, ermmm, I blushed at what she suggested. 😉

    I do feel rather good about one thing, though. DNA of various family branches, as well as paper genealogy trails all suggest that my ancestry is the British Isles and a bit Germany, with a lot of Norse and Danes having entered the picture early on. In other words, medical science and its diagnosis have verified my Northern European ancestry. I feel vindicated. Now to heat the hand and do the stretches.


  23. Hi Pam,

    Ah, that’s a very clever innovation with the wood stove, and I’ve not seen such a thing down here. And wise not to put your sons welding and metallurgy skills to the test by the simple expedience of buying which comes with a stove with a water reservoir facility. No disrespect intended, but the repairs on the earlier wood heater (which we totally destroyed) has left me with the feelings of uncertainty as to how easily any of this stuff is to fabricate in the first place. And combining water plus the heat from wood combustion is a complicated process for metal.

    For your information, the boiler in our wood heater which sits in the combustion chamber, is apparently constructed from stainless steel plate. I doubt my abilities to repair that boiler should it ever be required. Fingers crossed!

    Thanks for the chuckle, but that’s both awful, and sort of a useful indicator. 🙂 Pam, there is so much pollen everywhere from the tall flowering trees in surrounding forest. I’ve never seen the tall trees flower this much. At times it is raining pollen. You can see the stuff in the air. Challenging for the sinuses, despite the overall delightful smell of honey – everywhere. The stuff falls from the trees and gets in your eyes and can unfortunately become stuck in your hair. And that is where things go wrong. Spare a moment for Sandra when a bee began attempting to harvest pollen which had become stuck in her hair this morning. Fortunately nobody was stung, but it was a close call.

    Mr Musty is awesome! Many long years ago I used to own a basic Toyota Hilux ute, and it was a good vehicle despite the front window occasionally leaking during very heavy rainfall. But whatever, there was no carpet and only rubber mats and so was easily cleaned up. Those triangular windows work. A real blast of air, just the thing for a hot day!

    Well, it’s true. I hear you and wish it were otherwise. Change is unfortunately a constant in all of our lives. It’s what we do with the knowledge and experience which defines us.

    Moved a lot of rocks today and placed them on the low gradient path project. As you’d also appreciate, I dream of flat land! 🙂 But also love the mountains. It’s complicated…



  24. Hi Inge,

    Thanks for the warning and I will be careful with the pan. You know, when I was a younger bloke I should have probably done some work in a hospitality business. I believe I would have learned a lot about cooking from working in a commercial kitchen. Oh well, we can’t do everything. My mother had me cooking family meals from about the age of 12, so I’m familiar with a kitchen.

    I’m taking on board your advice in relation to the eggs, but having no experience with these sorts of pans, I also wish to experiment with them and see what they can do first hand. Sometimes I need to learn the hard way so that I can appreciate the limits of the materials.

    It rained a bit overnight whilst today was very cold and cloudy. 64’F was a big change from yesterdays heat. I didn’t bother watering the greenhouse this morning.



  25. Hi Claire,

    Respect. Celery is a difficult plant to grow. Many years ago I raised a celery plant from seed, and it just happened to be in the exact right location and grew really well. I have never been able to replicate that success, and rue not saving seeds from the particular plant. Nowadays I grow the plant Lovage instead, which tastes more or less the same as celery. The plant happily self seeds and turns up every year. You know I’ve never encountered Celeriac and would be really interested to hear how your trials go. Always good to grow a bit more diversity in the vegie patch. Fingers crossed, but no doubts you’ll blitz both plant challenges.

    Who knew? I’ll be very interested to know whether the more usual suspect grows as easily as the pink variety is rumoured too. You can get seeds for the pink variety down here, and it looks like it is related to more wild varieties of celery – which always piques my interest. Thanks for mentioning the plant. Yeah, it is appealingly weird! 🙂 Some of the stalls at the Queen Victoria Market (an old school fresh fruit and vegetable market on the edge of the CBD) used to stock unusual varieties of vegetables. I always liked the look of purple broccoli. And what’s not to like about purple carrots?

    Ah potatoes. They do need a bit of care and attention and I can see how that came to be. Truth to tell I’m relying on a local bloke to grow them and will need to re-do the potato patch sooner or later. The grower is an old bloke and I’ll have to take over this task sooner or later. Steve Solomon of course has much to say upon the humble spud and how to grow it. This area used to be a large producer of potatoes. Hmm.



  26. Hi Steve,

    Oh yeah, that’s why I asked the question! I’ve seen images of onion seed drying racks, and the seeds are so tiny and don’t last long (please correct me if I’m wrong with that understanding). I’ll be very interested to hear of your efforts in this regard.

    I like your style, and likewise am not a purist with the whole hybrid versus open pollinated debate. A case in point was the hybrid yellow globe squash we’re trialling this season. Far out, the plant produces really well, and maybe some of the genes will cross into the other open pollinated squash varieties – and who knows what will happen from that? A bit of extra vigour can’t hurt.

    The thing about the whole seed saving biz which is not lost on me was that it was probably far easier back in the day when you and all your neighbours grew similar edible plants because everyone had to do so in order to survive. The available gene pool would have been massive. Nowadays, genetically anyone who is growing at a small scale have all become little islands what with all the issues that brings. This is why I keep expanding the areas available to grow annual plants in. More in this case is better. It’s one of those issues which few people are even thinking about for the future. A bit of a problem really don’t you reckon?



  27. Hi DJ,

    Adapting to the conditions is the easier way of things. Plus sleep is always important. The only time I’ve ever had trouble with sleep was when I worked at the very top end of town. Hmm. The constant stimulation of continual conflict during the work days wore me down. Sun Tzu would suggest not to wear the troops out on stupid stuff – they hadn’t gotten the memo… After a couple of years, I’d had enough. It took some catching up on lost sleep, but you get there. Beats me how people do that work for decades.

    It is a BIG problem, yup. Far out, I was not so wise as you, and thus learned the hard way. Pouring the concrete pads for the house ate 15 cubic metres of concrete into about 115 holes. The truck would turn up with 2.5 cubic metres and I’d have to race to wheelbarrow the stuff into all the holes with 20 minutes (the allotted wait time). It was 36’C that day, and I still can’t laugh about it. Yup, the pain was real. Had a single beer that night, and it wiped me out and I felt very ill. It was the icing on the cake for that horrid day, yeah. Oh well, the job got done and the lesson learned was that after hard work on a hot day, no beer. The inverse of that lesson is not a risk. 🙂 Nowadays I understand how to manage heat exhaustion, but nobody trains you for such things.

    It’s true, the grass won’t grow in winter! But dogs will tear around during the winter months. What’s your reseeding plans? You do know that lawn growing is a competitive sport in some parts of the world.

    Oh what, did they recycle all those town names? It’s an outrageous duplication. Makes you wonder if town names have copyright attached to them? You’d hope not given the duplication facts on the ground. My friend Simon assures me that there really is a town in this state with the name: Tittybong, Victoria. The town name appeals to my stupid inner twelve year old sense of humour. Used to have a post office, apparently. But then they used to have a post office and primary school up in the hamlet of Cherokee. A few years ago I read about some folks travelling around the UK taking selfies with unusual town and place names. Good to see that they’re not taking things too seriously.

    Yikes! Big fires are a bit of a horror story, like the one you recounted. You were lucky that day. And it can be a random test of luck on those days. The really big fire of 1983 didn’t work it’s way up here because someone at the nearby waterworks had accidentally started one a few weeks beforehand, which did get here. Bizarrely enough, when the really big fire came through, it was halted up here by the already burned forest. Things were bad that day, but they could have been far worse if not for the big fire running out of forest fuel to burn. You may have noticed that I’m a big believer in cleaning up, and keeping the place clean.

    Yes, the greenhouse is good. The kelpies don’t seem to be bothered by the greenhouse, but Ollie is. When he was a pup, he was put through a series of cages with dog foster carers, and it’s left an impression upon him. I’ve always noticed that he’s a bit odd about being confined in unfamiliar spaces, probably because of that. Hmm. At the shelter, he relaxed as soon as we took him out of his cage and went on a test walk. Dame Scritchy bit him, despite being only a quarter of his size. He seemed good with that, but not the cage. Hope the tea / coffee was nice?

    DJ, you and Pam are storm detectives. It’s a useful skill. Mate, you’d hate the pollen we’re experiencing right now. It is genuinely raining pollen at times. There was a bee incident this morning with Sandra. Fortunately she was not stung.

    I hadn’t noticed that, but yes it is a rough isosceles triangle. You have the eye of an observant mathematician. Once you’re north of the Great Dividing Range, the rural scenery is fairly similar and then alters in accordance with the latitude. It’s sort of similar to the west – east mountain divide you have in your state. And the rivers in that area tend to flow out and north then west of the mountains.

    Exactly. Not another species of parrot. I hear them up in the tall trees merrily tweeting away and waiting until we’re not in the orchard. It is possible that they’ve arrived for the eucalyptus flowers. The birds are eating them, and also dropping them. Parrots can be rather wasteful.

    Who knows how the hazelnuts (all two of them) will end up? You don’t commonly see hazelnuts for sale down this part of the world. We picked a couple of dozen apricots we’d missed. And given how long they were on the tree, the flavour was amazing.

    Respect. Mate, what else can you do? I always tend to try and find out what other people are doing with physical therapy, diet, and/or basically anything that doesn’t involve medication or surgery first, until there are no other options. You’d be surprised what can be achieved. But acceptance is also good, for we inevitably lose the race sorry to say. In the meantime, remember to enjoy the ride. And coffee. And dog. Killian’s human would probably make me blush too. Is this enjoyable? Those with Viking blood may be prone to recounting bawdy tales to blush their enemies into submission!

    Heating the hand is a good idea. They sell some sort of wheat chaff filled bags made for such uses.

    Moved a lot of rocks today. Me tired. The low gradient path project eats large rocks… More than we have. Might have to break some boulders apart soon.



  28. Yo, Chris – Hello? Is anyone there? 🙂 Well, that was an ordeal. Stripped to my skivvies and went two falls out of three with this new beast.

    Frankly (Frank), I need a breather. H and I headed to the Club for a hot cuppa. Later, Lew

  29. Chris,

    I don’t know how people work for decades with the continual stimulation of workplace conflict either, yet I somehow did it. All I knew to do was stand up for myself when it was extremely necessary, take a lot of time for myself and recovery even while at the job, and spend a lot of time doing useful things like taiji, walks, chop wood – carry water, and just sitting around. Sleep, especially quality sleep, was lacking. I’m finding that it has taken me most of the past three years to get to a somewhat “normal human” state, whatever that is. In other words, I was wound tighter than a drum.

    My first lesson with the heat actually occurred circa 1982. Twas late July, the day peaked at about 30C, but it was very warm and sunny all day. I was in a softball tournament that day with absolutely no shade anywhere. I drank gobs of water, doused myself with water periodically to cool down. However, I was not replacing any salts…An hour after returning home, I felt weird. Sure enough, I was running a fever. Not dangerously high, but it was there. I ate a lot of salty foods, drank more water and stayed indoors for two days. I knew better than to have a beer feeling like that.

    I’ve still got a lot of that dryland grass seed in a dry place. What I seeded last year has survived the winter. So I’ll rake the areas I want to seed, as the ground needs to be roughed up a bit. In Avalanche’s domain, I will have to fence off areas and seed them. After the new grass is established, move the fencing and repeat elsewhere. Could take most of the growing season to complete.

    Ah, yes, the poetically named Tittybong! Washington has the town of Walla Walla, whereas Australia has Wagga Wagga. North America has many places that have Native American names. I’ve ventured on many quests into rabbit holes researching some of these, going back to my days eons before such things as home computers and interwebs, having to peruse the family encyclopedias in the basement.

    The big fire we had last year that burned down part of Medical Lake burned itself out because the wind changed, twice, and kept blowing the fire back into what it had already burned. I know the firefighters, when conditions allow it, will set backfires in an attempt to achieve something similar.

    Yep, twas coffee during the latest time spent listening to the rain. Sometimes I’ll start a fire, too. That can be enjoyable, too. Coffee, woodsmoke, the pitter-patter of raindrops, that can be quite fun and relaxing. To me, coffee always tastes better when there’s woodsmoke close by.

    Glad Sandra avoided getting stung. Bees can, umm, create quite the incident. Rakhi the Samoyed would chase bees. Occasionally she caught one. Often, she got stung in the mouth and yelped. Fortunately, she never caught a hornet. She did have a penchant for catching porcupines, however, when dad would walk her off leash in the woods. It was no fun whatsoever removing porcupine quills from her. The neighbor was a veterinary technician, so she usually volunteered to do most of the hard work.

    Exactly. Without acceptance, then I wouldn’t diligently do the things that I can do that might help. Like you, if I can find out what others have done that might help, it’s worth a try. And as with many things, movement is good.

    Killian’s human and I have mercilessly teased one another since we first met. She’s like having another sister or the niece I never had. When she and the Princess and I are together, they gang up on me. That gets to be fun, although at times I feel like I’m the unarmed man in a battle of wits! I had the recent “blush treatment” coming. I caught Killian’s human unaware a few weeks ago and said something that had her blushing for hours, complete with a horrified look on her face. Better yet, it wasn’t even bawdy!

    We’ve got two bags filled with different materials, one is rice and the other is some type of dried bean. Those work well on my hand and on sore muscles and arthritic joints. The physical therapist that the hand surgeon had on staff had a wonderful machine. My bare hand (after proper sterilization) was placed into this big “aquarium” that was partially filled with the wheat chaff you mentioned. Therapist flipped a switch and a heater came on as well as a fan that blew the wheat chaff around the interior. I was told to repeatedly flex then open my hand until he returned. That combination of heat and wheat chaff was the most wonderful thing I’ve had done to my hand post surgery. I wanted to buy one, but they told me how much they paid. Ugh.

    Today was a busy day. Errands in the morning. With the Princess out of town, I take Dame Avalanche with me wherever I go. She enjoys the outings. Then I had some paperwork to do at home, then another outing. Between the two sets of errands, Dame Avalanche and I went for a walk in the sun at +11C. It’s still moderately early in the evening and she is already sound asleep on the sofa. At my spot on the sofa, naturally. 😉


  30. Hi Lewis,

    He-eees-ba-ack! 🙂

    A pleasure to have your company again, and know that you were missed.

    Honestly, all the old rules have now been chucked out. Don’t get into trouble is about the best advice I can provide, although it’s really hard to know what I actually meant by that.

    I really liked the boxing reference, and for a while there I’d wondered if the ref was going to get to ten with that count for you whilst you were down on the mat. Awful. That would have been totally unfair of course, and I’m sure all of us here would have lodged a formal protest on your behalf. Then awaited a re-match! Hope the new beast is treating you well?

    I’m enjoying a celebratory nip of spiced rum this evening to celebrate the return of the prodigal son. Hey, wasn’t that a good series? Shame they didn’t get around to producing a series three. Funnily enough, I’d originally believed the word ‘prodigal’ to mean something entirely different. People I guess have liked to talk the original parable up, as they do sometimes. A bit of window dressing perhaps? Hmm. The young bloke blew his inheritance on partying as you do when you’re young and dumb. Turns out you have to read the small details with such stories. Oh well. I’d originally believed that he’d simply moved away from the family for his own reasons, then returned again. My comprehension of the arc was correct, the details, not so much.

    I do hope that yours and H’s cuppa went down a treat, and the pleasant small-talk at the Club was good? Caught up with mates today for lunch, and had a very enjoyable time. There’s always heaps to talk about. And I enjoyed a chicken burger. Yum! The chicken meat was thin but properly grilled with proper breast meat and not some weird chicken compound product. Always a risk… I overheard some uncomfortable talk of cooked chicken feet. Look, I’m just not hungry enough for that option. Ever tried those?

    Firstly, I must say that the idea of swimming in Venice’s canal system rather alarms me, and I will avoid such activities by the sheer expediency of not visiting that far flung city. You heard the prediction here! However, we can only waste our personal waste because fossil fuels allow us to do so whilst fertilising agricultural soils. Once that is no longer possible, people will be singing a very different tune – then adapting to the realities that the minerals in our manure needs to get back into the agricultural soils and not the oceans. That prediction is a no-brainer. You know, it’s good to see people at least thinking about the problem.

    In a strange, and perhaps totally out of left-centre question: Have you ever seriously spread golden syrup on toast? I now believe this to be the question of the day. I add the stuff into the Anzac biscuits, but have for the record, have never spread the sweet syrup on toast. I could be missing out here. The logo change was a bit I dunno, maybe strange.



  31. Hi DJ,

    Beats me, which is why I asked the question. I can only doff my hat to you good Sir for your endurance. The sleep thing is what I found too, except after leaving those great(?) heights, a few months of ten solid hours a night did the trick. Dunno, but I’ve sort of come around to the idea that a little bit of stress is good, but continual low level stress over a long period of time is all rather unhealthy. On the other hand, maybe that’s just my experience and abilities to cope?

    Yikes, and consider for a moment the effort required to play a game of test cricket which can go for five days in the hot summer sun. But that’s it isn’t it? You can keep drinking water in those conditions and after a while it does you no good. The salts just need replacing. We get bulk packs of rehydration solution tablets from the chemist. And when you need them, you need them. If I didn’t have access to those things I’d have to modify the way we work here, or the way we cool down after working in the summer months.

    Ah thanks for that and I’m getting a clearer picture of where you’re going with the garden. Do you reckon the dry land grass planted in that area will keep the soil cooler on hot days? I presume that the grass dies back in that sort of weather. What do they call it when you move animals from one paddock to another so as to fertilise the ground then move the animals on. You’re kind of doing that with Dame Avalanche. I think that it is a great idea and you’d be amazed what the well fed dog can contribute to the soil. Think about what all the wildlife here contributes to the soil fertility. There’s a cost for that of course, but there are benefits too.

    No way, I’d not heard of the definition of the word ‘Walla’ before, although recall the various trades in India so-described. You’d get the place you’re staying to send the clothes out to wash and it would be collected and done by a dhobi-wallah. It’s an astounding system and somehow the clothes are returned super clean which is often difficult to achieve when on holiday in another country. The rumour is that there is some sort of secret markings on the clothes to indicate the origins, but I didn’t find any. Ah well, you learn something new every day. I looked this up and the name ‘Wagga Wagga’ is derived from the local Wiradjuri Aboriginal language in that area, and being used twice apparently indicates plural whilst the word itself refers to ‘Crow’ – thus ‘the place of many crows’. Crows have mournful calls, but they’re super-smart birds and it’s rich country there. As you’d imagine, there is some sort of issue there with salinity in the groundwater, probably due to western land use. Hmm.

    Encyclopaedia’s – An old school interweb! There was something solid about the feeling of having knowledge contained in a vastly huge book (or more likely series of books).

    I remember you mentioning that fire near to Medical Lake. Not good, and the determined cause is possibly also not good. Wasn’t too far from you. Did I mention that it was going to be hot again next week? Note to self: top up house water tanks tomorrow from the reserves. They don’t do a lot of back burning during incidents. That’s meant to be done beforehand when conditions are appropriate – except the goobers in the mint try to do the job on the cheap. It can’t be done that way, but you know, they won’t let go either of that responsibility. Eventually things will change on that front, you can already see the stirrings of the new beginnings.

    It’s like camping isn’t it? Except in your case the coffee would be better prepared. Camping coffee is never good, but that’s what makes it good – plus the smoke from the fire.

    Thanks, and poor Rhaki the Samoyed! A lovely dog, not dissimilar in size and shape from Sir Poopy the Swedish Lapphund. What do you reckon, was it curiosity, hunting instinct, or just an overall inability to learn from past mistakes? Or some other reason? Ruby is rather nervous of the bullants nowadays. 🙂 But porcupine quills are the whole next level. Are they difficult to remove?

    You two sound like you’re having fun and are probably two smarty pants! Ah well, does that incident prove that some things can be taken too far, AND, the old Klingon proverb about ‘revenge being a dish best served cold’. Although I hear from sources who know such things, that’s a misattribute! 😉

    Hey, you avoided further medical complications by dodging a bill for that machine, no matter how useful. Got to look after your heart health too you know. Ugh indeed. Do you heat the bags up before use?

    A lovely day, and like Dame Avalanche’s good example, I’m now heading to bed. Had lunch today with mates. Many big issues were discussed, a chicken burger was harmed and overall a fun day. Sandra is having dinner with a friend of hers. When I got home I vacuumed the house (the pollen dude! Oh far out), walked the dogs and burned all of the collected fallen sticks and branches in the brazier in the courtyard. A big night tonight. Your weather is sounding better all the time.



  32. Yo, Chris – First, your blog post. As Claire mentioned, there’s been a lot of articles about the unseasonably warm winter, in the upper mid-west. Pretty much the same here, other than that one cold snap. Although we have snow in our next weeks forecast. Even though the temperatures will not get much below 32F (0C). You seem to be coping ok, with your occasional hot days. As my truck is as low tech as possible, no air conditioning. Hasn’t been a real problem.

    That was a very colourful sunset, for all the wrong reasons.

    The Gabion cages are so handsome. Peak rocks, peak soil. What next? 🙂 Ollie looks intently interested in the changes.

    The Master Gardeners had a pruning seminar, here at the Institution. I didn’t attend, as I doubt there will be much tree pruning in my future. 🙂 They left a lot of pruned wood, lying around. I’m sure someone will hear about that.

    We have a lot of frogs about, but they’re heard, but not seen. Unlike the ideal comportment for children. 🙂

    Ohhh! Your pumpkins are lovely. Now those are real pumpkins! Round. Orange. Real Charlie Brow pumpkins.

    I took some dried figs, that we got in a food box, into the Club. Had to explain to some people what they were. They need to get out more. Pears, oranges, grapes, beans … you’re going to have a late summer, early fall busy time.

    Steve mentioned the Wagner and Griswold cast iron companies. Those were the best, back in the day. They do turn up at auctions, but as some people collect them, just to collect them, the prices can get kind of high, especially on unusual items. I have my grandma’s cast iron frying pan, that she brought from Russia around 1912. The bottom is so worn the maker’s name is long gone.

    Here’s how I keep up my fry pan, for those interested. I only use plastic utensils on it. For eggs, I use a generous dollop of olive oil. As it has a low smoke point, I don’t go much past medium heat. Takes a bit longer to cook, but sticking isn’t a problem.

    If I cook other things in my fry pan, and it needs a good clean, first I put some water in it, and bring it to a boil. While it is boiling, I scrap off and stuff that’s sticking. Pour that off, and scrub it up real good with a plastic scrubber. I dry it thoroughly, and put in some olive oil and a dash of salt. Spread it around the bottom and inside, sides. It’s ready for eggs, again.

    Boy, the Rainbow Lorikeets sure are colorful. Here they sell for from $500 – $1,500. Send me some 🙂 And to your letter …

  33. Yo, Again. Well, I’ll try not a bore everyone with the ins and outs of setting up my new computer. But a few highlights. Getting it out of the box was … interesting. The whole thing was origamied. No way will I ever get that computer, back into that box. And, surprise! No instructions, at all. Not even as to how to do the cables, and all that. Luckily, I found a nice man in New Jersey, on U-Tub, who had a little video, “Unboxing and putting together your new iMac.

    Some interesting and odd highlights. I could have set it up, so that I’d have to use my thumb, to access it. Nope. What if I lost my thumb? I’d have to keep it in the freezer. I also didn’t enable the lady’s voice. Can you imagine the gossip around the Institution? “Lew’s got a woman, stashed in his apartment!” Besides, I figured she’d probably have a honey-do list.

    I figure I’ll be jumping back and fourth between the new beast, and my old beast. As I get this one configured the way I want it. The book will come in handy.

    “Prodigal Son,” was a good series. Quirky. Once upon a time, I had a Staffordshire figurine, of the biblical Prodigal Son story. Sold it, somewhere along the way.

    Back in 1955, Katherine Hepburn filmed a movie in Venice, called “Summertime.” In one scene, she had to fall in a canal. She got some kind of eye infection, and was never able to entirely shake it, for the rest of her life. A cautionary tale.

    I don’t think I’ve ever had golden syrup. It’s not something that is easily found, here. Recipes that call for it, usually have a footnote that you can substitute maple syrup. Or, in a pinch, light molasses. Lew

  34. @ Inge – Thank you! I missed all the folks, here. I’d say that was the last straw, that propelled me into getting a new computer. Not being able to access Fern Glade Farm. That and not being able to access the local libraries web site. Lew

  35. Hi Lewis,

    It’s out of the box now. Don’t you think that there’s something deeply ironic about providing instructions for assembling a machine on the interweb, when the machine itself is used to access the interweb? Like, what if you don’t have another connection like a smart phone or some other method to access the online instructions? The manufacturer is making a lot of assumptions there. Even a quick-start guide would help matters. The interweb modem purchased last year had that issue. The device is super complicated and the instructions are found on the interweb…. It’s a big call.

    But on the other hand, I am eternally grateful to the many folks out there on the interweb providing how-to or explanatory videos for free. Mind you, the quality can vary and a person should exercise discretion…

    Are there laws about keeping your thumb in the freezer? And would it degrade? Yes, I don’t use such things either, or the facial recognition stuff. It’s tech I don’t need or want. Interestingly, the goober of the mint is trying to force me to get a passport so they can nab my biometric data I’m guessing. Seriously. It’s an abstract demand, but sooner or later they’ll have their way. I hear stories from my professional peers about doing something else. It’s a bit quiet quitting really.

    No need to start the rumour mill. I don’t use those voice command things either for surely they must be listening all the time? I can see it would be useful for plenty of people, but yeah, nah.

    It was a quirky series. One of the most chilling lines from that series which left an impact upon me was of the father speaking to the son: “I’ve always been a good father. You’ve been a bad son.” That’s the sort of rubbish people like that actually say, and they believe it too. Run… Fast… Get away from them…

    Those Staffordshire figurines were all hand painted weren’t they? I had a bit of trouble working out whether it was the prodigal son, or the prodigal daughter returning to the fold. The inscription was also deliberately ambiguous. Some of the figurines are fairly old now, and I was surprised that the colours remained bright after all that time.

    There are times when an actor cannot reduce risk, and that’s why the stunt doubles get the big bucks. Also people can ask, but that does not necessarily require a person to comply. That water is nasty. All the same, what an unfortunate incident, but I did note that the actor lived to the age of 96. An enviable achievement which I doubt I’ll match.

    It’s funny the difference being on the other side of the planet makes. We rarely see genuine maple syrup, but golden syrup is available in the supermarkets. It’s a product of sugar cane I believe, which grows up in the tropical north east of the continent. One of the sugar maple trees here is quite large now, but I am of the opinion after reading a book on backyard sugarin’ that it would far easier to simply grow sugar beets. They have ten times more sugar by volume than the non-reduced maple sap. The economics simply don’t stack up. And corn is hard to grow down here due to the soil fertility demands. Molasses always looks foreboding! Is this too sensitive? Maybe.

    Cliff Mass suggested that perhaps snow is a dead cert in the PNW in a day or two. And it was hard not to notice that the longer term predictions are suggesting that El Nino is breaking down and La Nina, another wet year for us is gaining traction. That will make it five years in a row, if it works out that way. I’m adapting, but every step takes effort. It’s weird here though. In some soils the moisture is now low, yet today I removed some pipes and the soil was rather damp. Spare a thought for us. Wednesday is forecast to reach 97’F.

    Mate, I’m looking out the window and seeing a pall of smoke. The winds are travelling west to east, so at the moment the smoke is being blocked by the mountain range and the air here is clear and fresh, if you can ignore the pollen. I’ll add a photo of the pollen and smoke. Challenging conditions.

    What next for peak this and that? I’m going to have to think about that one for a bit. Sounds lame huh? 😉

    Why would the master gardeners leave a lot of mess around? Hey, they need a scary old wood chipper. Makes light work of such pesky materials. Or a corten steel brazier. Given the fire risk, I’m fastidious about picking up all of the fallen forest litter and burning it off. The wood ash gets added into the coffee ground mix. Winning!

    Ha! Well, things were different back in the day in regards to children. My mother used to take me with her to the pub and give me some coins with which to go and play the old Space Invaders machines. I got good at it, and the machines then ate my mercenary earnings. A book and a lemonade at the pub may have worked out better. 😉

    Thanks, and the plan is to pick all of those pumpkins over the next few days. The largest pumpkin variety (the Queensland Blue) need a few more weeks, but there are heaps of those as well. They’ve got some great colour, yeah.

    Really? A few years ago a lovely lady I know gifted me a box of figs, and those delights were promptly turned into jam. I agree though, people don’t know what to do with figs. Have you ever tasted or made fig jam?

    Thanks for the info on how you use your fry pan, and that’s were we’re heading. Just have to wait for the weather to cool so that the seasoning process can begin. An idea popped into the Editors head this morning to rearrange the kitchen so that the oven and induction cooker are located adjacent to the window. Getting the food stink out of the house would be good for me.

    Trust me in this, Simon has far more Rainbow Lorikeets at his place than I ever want to see. Take them. Take all of them!!!! 🙂 Even with an orchard of more than three hundred fruit trees, I do not want to experience the dreaded ‘Third Parrot Theory’!

    Cheers and better get writing!


  36. Yo, Chris – I find most computer tech, ironic 🙂 Assumptions, is right. More and more there are situations, where people or institutions just assume you have an I-Phone. But I saw some figures the other day, as to world wide saturation of those phones, and I seem to remember it was something like 60%. I feel doomed.

    I seem to remember the last computer I bought, had a quick-start guide, which got me up and running. I suppose it’s a combo of driving people to their devices and cost cutting measures. I might be wrong, but I think this computer was about half the cost of the old one. I just don’t know if I had to buy another computer, in the future, if I could still find the work-arounds I figured out, to get this beast up and running.

    I spent some time with the “For Dummies” book, last night. I’m just trying to figure out how to get rid of what they call “the wallpaper,” on my screen. So far, no answers. It uses up a lot of computing power. And I find it distracting. I had two messages on my opening screen this morning. Something about verifying my e-mail address, and another one about some iCloud data not syncing.

    Yup, Bless the folks that post useful videos. And, the folks that contribute to the rabbit holes.

    I don’t think it’s illegal to keep body parts in your freezer. As long as they’re yours 🙂 .

    I don’t like voice commands, either. I generally keep the sound off, on whatever computer I’m using. Unless there’s a good reason to turn it on. I generally don’t like a lot of noise, in general. Might be why I still have good hearing, at this advanced age.

    Well, families. Yeah, that kind of quote … When I hear that kind of stuff, around the Club, I usually advise running fast and far.

    I think some of the Staffordshire figure colors (sorry. spell correct won’t let me type it with a ‘u.”) were painted on, and then glazed. But some details were painted over the glaze, and there can be losses, after all this time.

    LOL. Miss Hepburn used to take a daily plunge, in whatever water she happened to be close to. Long Island Sound. Up north near her New England place. I guess there was a polar plunge, here, yesterday, in some near-by river. A couple of folks from the Club, had participated.

    In that book I read “Kitchen Ghosts,” the author talked about her grandfather making sourgum sweetener. And how he was the best sourgum maker, around.

    We might get some snow, late tonight. I wanted to take H to the groomer, this week, but was afraid if I made an appointment, I’d have to cancel due to snow. But it looks like there might be a break, Wednesday/Thursday. I’ll see if I can get her an appointment, then.

    It’s funny, when I saw all the tree clippings laying about, I thought about your scary old wood chipper.

    A book in a pub, when you were a youngster? Probably would have got a raft of shite. They’d be calling you the Little Professor.

    Can’t say I’m wild about the taste of figs. We sometimes had whole figs, at Christmas. The one’s I took to the Club came in a one pound pack, that I broke down into smaller quantities. I also do that with nuts. Spread the wealth around. Oops! It might have been dates, not figs. Made into small cubes, rolled in sugar. But, no. I’ve never had fig jam. Or, dates for that matter. Or, maybe I have. I suppose that’s what they stuff into Fig Newton cookies.

    I think you mentioned you have 6 Rainbow Lorikeets. It will be interesting how the different populations balance out.

    On our rare sunny days, a lot of our robins have been showing up. Where they go when the weather gets nasty, I don’t know. Geese haven’t been coming back. Some of the ornamental bushes have been blooming. No forsythia, yet.

    I spent a couple of hours, in the garden, the other day. Burying kitchen scraps. And, the Shotweed is in bloom. There was a garden plot, next to mine, that I think is between owners. I dug all the shot weed, out of that plot. I suppose some will think I have designs on it, but no. Lew

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