Cool About It

For a blog, ostensibly written about the development of a small holding in a mountainous area in the south eastern corner of Australia, I rarely write about the plants and growing conditions. The internet is full of people creating content about living their best life on the land, and wow, how easy it is for them etc. I’m not that person, and I recount the weekly stories as they appear to me. A reader gets to enjoy the good, the bad, and the ugly.

The weekly blog commenced almost ten years ago now. I’d written for the hippy press for well over a decade beforehand. Eventually that source of creative hippy writing just quietly faded. Printed publications died a slow death in the face of free internet content. That’s progress for you. All the same, it amuses me greatly to ponder the social contradictions of working at the top end of town during the weekdays, and writing for the hippy press on the weekends, but that’s what happened. Turns out I just enjoyed the act of writing.

There’s a lot to learn about the art of writing. Recently I re-read the essay penned about my old mate Mike. Long term readers will recall that he died of a heart condition during the health subject which dare not be named. The read was both sad and enjoyable all at the same time. During the re-read, it was a bit hard to stop myself from noticing that the essay would be improved if that bit here was altered, and then oooh, I could make this adjustment to the words over there. Writing is like gardening, you get better at those learned arts with practice.

Woe is me though, the earliest essays penned over two decades ago still reside in printed copies of the publications stored in the floor to ceiling bookshelves lining the hallway. Dare they ever be revisited? Back in the day, the magazine publisher would send me a cheque for the essay, and also a complimentary copy of the publication. Fun times. On an interesting side note, if the banks have their way, which appears to be the case, cheques as a payment method will soon be discontinued. The death of the magazines preceded the demise of cheques long ago. That’s progress for you.

Without daring to look at the ancient publications, I’m guessing the earliest essays were kind of like the first vegetable garden we planted out in our inner urban terrace house. The fashionable advice in those days was to mulch everything within sight. So with that first garden we applied lots of mulch to the soil, only to watch all of the plants die. In addition to killing a whole bunch of purchased seedlings, we manage to upset all of the neighbours by digging up the front garden and planting it out to vegetables. Gardening advice rarely tells you such useful information like: how not to upset the entire neighbourhood.

However, with repeated practice, you do learn and eventually get better at all this stuff. Nowadays I can upset a much bigger audience via the internet. You also learn to sort the proverbial wheat advice from the chaff advice. Earnest folks may tell you that adding mulch to soil is all you ever need do, but my experience is that the methodology doesn’t work here. As a novice grower you have to learn the hard way.

Summer officially ended a few days ago. Walking around the property earlier today, observing the orchards, vegetables, berries etc. , the plants look a bit on the drier side of things. For those who are mathematically inclined, or just appreciate a solid graph, here is a representation of the rainfall for during the three months of summer.

Chart of rainfall during the summer months

The majority of the rain fell during the first half of summer. From then onwards, it barely rained at all. There have been quite a few hot days. Such variable climactic conditions have occurred most of the years we’ve lived here. It really is hard to know what to expect from the climate from one year to the next. The practical application of this lesson is that: it’s complicated growing edible plants here. So I don’t really write about the subject mostly because what we’ve learned is locally applicable knowledge.

To counter the variability, we’re doing plenty of things in the background. Trialling different growing methods and plants just for one example. Some things work, some don’t, but always we learn. And what we’ve gleaned over the years is really local knowledge.

One matter which is probably widely applicable across the planet is to continue feeding the soils. If you want to grow edible produce, you have to feed the soils. Even the ancients knew this. Right across the planet, the soil fertility is going (if not already gone) the way of paid publications and cheques. Every second meal, anywhere, is reliant on fertilisers and minerals derived from fossil fuels. When I read articles written by earnest people suggesting civilisation wean itself off fossil fuels, I can only imagine that the people making such demands know nothing. They won’t like it, but all the same at some point in the future it will happen, and in fact already is.

To improve the soil fertility and available minerals for the plants, we use whatever we can get. What other people do in that regard, is something of a mystery. I suspect that they like adding mulch because it is cheap. You can’t grow vegetables in the stuff though.

Future wood ash + Ollie + power wheelbarrow full of coffee grounds. Guess which two will be added to the soil

The above photo shows one weeks worth of used coffee grounds from a café in Melbourne. I’ve been collecting the stuff from them for over a decade. For them it is a waste product which costs them serious mad cash to dispose in landfill. For me it is something which contains all manner of useful soil minerals. Everyone wins. But it can’t be used as-is on gardens, or not in any great quantity. I add agricultural lime and wood ash to the coffee ground mixture. Sometimes gypsum and/or blood and bone meal gets chucked in, but all the same, it’s potent soil feed stuff.

Very observant readers will note that in the above photo the dog Ollie is standing on some sort of white crushed rock. All the paths are lined with this stuff. A lot has been brought in over the past decade and a bit. It’s hard not to notice that the fruit trees near any of the paths grow faster, stronger, produce more and are healthier than those further away. The trees are literally eating the paths. Again, such things are local knowledge, and not widely applicable. So I don’t write about that.

A raised garden bed full of summer produce

We’re not purists either, and sometimes we can be a bit slack about the finer details of growing plants. Proper and regimented plant spacing is not something we’re very good at. So generally not wanting to field comments full of helpful corrective advice, I don’t write about that either.

What I do write about is: what we are doing. And I’m cool about that.

Here’s a sample of some of the produce we’ve been harvesting over the past week:

Just another day in the kitchen
I thoroughly recommend grilled Asparagus
The yellow egg is actually a tasty heritage cucumber

When citrus trees become well established here, they produce a lot of fruit during the cooler months of the year. Recently we’ve planted out a dozen or more additional varieties of citrus tree, but they’re still many years away from producing a decent harvest. You have to start somewhere though.

An Imperial Mandarin tree full of fruit

We grow a number of different varieties of nut trees. Their production is as variable as the climate. But you always seem to get something. This year is good for chestnuts.

A young Chestnut tree

Some edible plants just need to grow for a lot of years before they produce anything. Fruit trees are a real investment in the future. This year the grape vines are about five years old, and they are now producing clusters of yummy table/wine grapes.

Grapes clusters hang off the vines

We plant a diversity of edibles so that there is a very long harvest. The multitude of kiwi fruit won’t be ready to pick and eat until almost the winter solstice.

Kiwi fruit have a very long ripening time

You never know either, many plants can do nothing for years, then suddenly one day they’ll begin producing. The hops vines have decided that this year they’ll produce hops flowers.

Potent Hops flowers hanging off the vine

Autumn is officially here. Most mornings, cool and humid air collects in the valley below the mountain range. Bizarrely the average temperature is a bit less extreme at elevation.

Morning fog settles in the valley below the mountain range

Some of the trees are beginning to turn deciduous and you can see the colours of the leaves changing.

This Plum tree is beginning to slowly turn deciduous

During a day off work, we headed north to visit the goldfield ruins. It’s only an hours drive north, and the area is fascinating. During one self guided walk we were alerted to an Indigenous well.

An Indigenous well

The well in the rock (granite and non porous) had been carved over a long period of time. It used to be covered so that the water was protected from animals and contamination.

In the area was a vertical mineshaft which dropped down 150m / 500ft, and some cheeky scamp had cut the steel mesh which presumably stops people from falling down the shaft. Makes a nervous person wonder what’s down there at the bottom that they needed to do that…

A very deep mine shaft

Throughout the dry forest, which had been totally cleared back in the mining days for fuel and building lumber, there are the remains of many stone buildings. Presumably the dressed stone has been stolen over the intervening years. A fascinating area which always makes me wonder what artefacts will civilisation leave to the future. Some of the trees in the next photo are over a century old.

A blacksmith once operated here

Speaking of stones and rocks and stuff, we continued to fill the latest steel rock gabion cage (locally sourced rocks of course!)

This steel rock gabion cage is filling up

Near to where the steel rock gabion cage is located, we are excavating a flat site for a new and larger firewood shed. Two 12V electrical cables and some pipes travel underground through that area and all had to be removed.

Like those sand-worms in the Dune series, two cables in conduit rise out of the soil

That 12V solar power system is old and has been in use since before the house was even constructed. It needed refreshing, so we re-wired all of the connections and added in three layers of circuit protection i.e. fuses. It pays to be careful with this stuff, even when it is such low voltage.

An old solar power system was re-wired

Work also continued on the rock wall for the low gradient path leading to the formerly rat infested shed. The first rock layer is now complete.

The first layer of rocks is now complete
Looking back towards the house you can see that we now have to add soil to the path

Been busy this week…

Onto the flowers:

Salvia’s are really enjoying the hot and dry weather lately
Salvia’s are tough but very pretty
The Roses likewise are enjoying the hot and dry weather
How colourful is this Rose?
The Rose garden is a real pleasure

The temperature outside now at about 10am is 10’C (50’F). So far for last year there has been 211.2mm (8.3 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 210.8mm (8.3 inches)

45 thoughts on “Cool About It”

  1. Yo, Chris – I always laugh at the books that claim to be a complete guide to living self sufficiently on the land. All in one volume! Between two covers! I think I prefer the one’s that are warts and all, narratives. Most of those tend to be memoirs. So, they don’t attract the “how-to” crowd.

    I wonder if I still have the two articles, that I wrote for national publications, when I was 16 or so? Of course, they didn’t know I was 16. One was on a particular type of antique glass, called “Carnival,” and the other on two historic Oregon houses. Speaking of simpler days, I think I just sent along a clutch of Polaroid snaps. More recently, there’s the years worth of book reviews I did, for our State capitol’s major newspaper. I have the hard copies of those. Sometimes, I take a glance at them, and wonder, “Who wrote those?” I could probably let the hard copies go. They’re archived, on-line. Dare I say, they live in the Cloud?

    Climate and weather. What is the new normal? Doesn’t seem to be one. I guess we just experience the extremes, and plan for the possibilities, as best we can.

    “Which two will be added to the soil. Well, all three, in fact. Ollie, at some much, much later, and distant time.

    The second picture of veg reminds me of some of my 19th century Currier and Ives lithographs. Piles and piles of fruit and veg.

    Wear canvas gloves, when handling those chestnuts. You might want to put a few aside, in case you decide to put a burr under someone’s saddle. 🙂

    The grapes and kiwi look very promising. The idea that some years there are bumper crops, of this and that, reminded me of a book (what doesn’t?) I read, a long time ago. “Quit a Year for Plums,” by Bailey White (1998.) She wrote several collections of mostly, essays. And, still does a gig on our national public radio, from time to time. Her genre is listed as: humor, domestic fiction and Southern fiction. She was a first grade teacher, in Georgia. A single lady who lived with her mother. A good pick for anyone looking for a humorous, light read.

    The indigenous wells were really interesting. Might I suggest, the mine shaft might be a handy place to dispose of bodies.

    The gabion cages are so handsome. And you can raid them for catapult amo. You do have a catapult, don’t you? In case the peasants, revolt.

    Cables and pipes. If only foresight were as 20/20 as hindsight …

    The Salvia’s seem as diverse as geraniums. The red and white ones, are quit pretty. Do the white ones show red, as they mature? The Love-in-the-Mist start out, as white. And then over a few days, turn to blue.

    The roses, as always, are really, really lovely. I’m happy for you that they like living at Fern Glade. Lew

  2. @ DJ – Seven degrees of Kevin Bacon. I was talking to someone at the Club, this morning. She’s not native, but works for the Chehalis Tribal Council. She took some classes, from Hazel Pete, several years ago, at Evergreen State College.

    As Mrs. Pete, has passed on, I guess it’s her daughters, teaching the basket making classes, these days. Lew

  3. Hi Lewis,

    Yeah, it’s something of a joke isn’t it? In the almost ten years of weekly blogging, the essays have consumed near to a million words (excluding comments), and it’s barely scratched the surface of whatever ‘self sufficiency’ means. I know a few things – hey, wouldn’t that make a great quote and/or title? 🙂 I agree, a memoir with the warts and all, is probably the better of the reads. All other claims to the ‘one true way’ must be regarded as highly dubious.

    Incidentally, I do look at the how-to crowd, but only when I’m curious about a particular issue in which the person claims they have a speciality. Some of the utoob videos are quite good when they begin with the heading: Things I wish I knew before (insert bad idea here)! Saves me making the exact same mistake, of course new and interesting mistakes can never be ruled out.

    I note that the off the cuff mention of shoes on Mr Greer’s blog has created a stir. I still know nothing about making shoes.

    Respect. Would being 16 and submitting an article stop the precocious young Sheldon? I don’t think so, and clearly your knowledge was up to par because the article was published. I doff my hat to you, because at that age I was up at the crack of dawn delivering newspapers in the wintry cold. Writing was a heaps smarter idea, which sadly never occurred to me. 😉 Far out, yes, you did have it easier with the dodgy Polaroid snaps. By comparison, towards the end of paid writing, I’d receive these harried demands from the publishes via email saying if I can’t get a high resolution digital photo to them by 2pm, they’d not run the article. Sure, like I’m sitting around waiting for random emails to arrive with nothing better to do! Sorry to say, the cloud is an ephemeral wink of time, and your works are probably safer retained in hard copy. The prose was surely most excellent and the deserving-of-it authors were no doubts properly skewered. Reading I believe should be entertaining, or at least not painful.

    It’s a good strategy with the climate, prepare for worst, and hope for the best. Looks like Saturday will reach 37’C / 99’F. Summer has been delayed, but is now here in this little corner of the continent. Elsewhere on the continent it is flooding, of course.

    Fortunately the delightful Ollie is sound asleep behind me and missed that comment of yours, but yeah, from a long term perspective that may be what happens. There could be worse outcomes. Need I mention zombies?

    I like how your brain works. Yes, those spiky little nuts might come in handy. Earlier today (after reading your comment) a bit of testing revealed that the developing chestnuts burrs were indeed quite sharp. When they fall, I’ve observed elsewhere that the spiky outer coating splits open. The Editor mentioned that at the recent dog training session there was a large oak tree and many of the dogs were munching upon the acorns.

    The grapes are excellent and tasty, and are very low maintenance other than the initial pre-season soil feed and continual clearing away of the strawberry runners. I reckon they’d also do well in your part of the world, although they do require a permanent climbing frame. There are ten vines and they’re all different varieties. However, all of them are suitable for either the table or wine making. We’re fresh eating them this year, and probably will only ever use them for that purpose in the future.

    Dude I’m a sucker for chook lit, and well, that book ticks all the boxes. The Editor is going to love it as well. Thanks. And did your mother ever tell you that you were a bad influence!!! 😉

    I’d never before encountered an indigenous well, but they are dotted all over the continent. Some of the wells in the more arid areas are rather large and deep. The stories of how some of those were discovered do not reflect well upon the early explorers who could have just as easily have negotiated and paid for the use. Incidentally, prior to the miners, the trees in that forest used to be well over three to four feet in diameter. Way back in the day, the forest in that area would have looked very different. In another millennia, it will look different again.

    Ah, no, sorry. Should I have a catapult? By the time such a thing is necessary, the steel for the cages will be rusted away with the stones all neatly stacked up to defend against the invaders. I’d call that a problem for the future. Ha, easier to be a peasant in such circumstances. I’m practising the Monty Python gaoler line: “There’s lumps of it ’round the back”

    I know what you mean. We do such infrastructure works as the time, energy and resources become available. And I have no worries at all about re-doing such things. Did a bit more digging earlier today in that area, and created more flat space for another steel rock gabion cage – which we have to make over the next week or so. All the soil was removed and placed on the low gradient ramp project, which still needs much more soil and rocks. All looking good.

    That’s how the white Salvia’s sort of work. They begin white then there is a blush of deep red on them which you can sort of see in the photograph. I’ll tell you a funny story. At a local garden open day many long years ago the Salvia Society club was hosting an exhibit and sale. The Editor made some off the cuff comment about who’d want Salvia’s. Well, the worm has now turned in this regard and we’ve got quite the collection growing nowadays. I like the Love-in-a-mist plants. They have such an interestingly alien look to them which is really quite unique. Very cool.

    Thanks! And my pleasure to share the Rose images with you.

    Oh my! Those rotten grammar checkers want their way, but I suspect that they’re simply dumbing words into an awful average, or even below that. I respect your determination to ignore the repeated promptings of a know-nuffin’ silicone brain. 🙂

    That’s a good point, and nobody wants to encounter a massed zombie attack. Hard to win those. Got any tips on survival during such moments? I’ve heard the amusing, you only have to be faster than the slowest survivor.

    Hehe! Go Lewis! The over acting with your night manager sends a strong message.

    Beware the zealot, but double beware the over zealous. Could end badly. Unpopular elites do so demand such displays of loyalty. Possibly they are insecure and the act props up the weak ego? Power should be self evident, and loyalty given should be returned. Did you mention a musical? My mind just floated away… It had some toe tappers.

    Thanks for the explanation.

    A little bit of snow in your language, is probably a whole lot of snow in mine! 🙂 I read Cliff Mass’s entry about wildfires, and as is easterly air in your part of the world, as is the north westerly in my part. The same reason too, the air flowing from that direction is dry and hot.

    I believe that you are correct, and I had not mentioned that my grandfathers old house has been split down the middle. I was curious to see whether the rows of vegetable had been retained, but no. It’s all garden now.



  4. Yo, Chris – I’d say the best of the all-in-one self sufficiency books are the one’s that have, say, three pages on beekeeping, and four on blacksmithing … but then have a bibliography of more in depth books, at the end of the chapter. The classics on whatever topic is at hand.

    U-Tub videos can be great. They’re more like what the internet was supposed to be. 🙂

    Well, I saw your comment on shoes. And Mr. Greer’s response about tires and a bit of rope. But I didn’t realize you’d set off a firestorm. 🙂 Moccasins are pretty easy. Once you’ve got the tanned leather. Which occasionally requires the brains of the animal who donated it’s pelt. I’m sure I’ve mentioned that in the late 70s, for about a year and a half, I worked in a place that made wooden clogs. Wooden soles and leather uppers. Didn’t you work in a shoe factory, at one point? There’s always Japanese Geta.

    By 16, my newspaper delivery days, were in the rear view mirror. Did that when I was 10, 11, 12 or so. By 16 I was going to school, full time. Working part time in a library. Doing a swap meet on early Sunday mornings. Oh, and refinishing furniture, on the side.

    Oh, I think I’ll toss the hard copies of the book reviews. A decade and a half on, they’re of no importance to anyone but me.

    When I took H to the Club, yesterday morning, it was snowing but not sticking. Then it turned to rain. More snow, that didn’t stick, when I took her for a walk at 10pm. The temperature at our weather station, was a steady 34 all night. Although it looks like we had frost, here. The next two days are supposed to be clear, but with colder nights.

    Zombie dogs show up, here and there, in zombie lore. Usually, they’re fast zombies.

    Yup. Those spiky coats split open, and any animal wandering by can develop a taste for them. 🙂

    What, no Fern Glade Farm vintage ’28? We have some grape vines here at the Institution. Three or four varieties. All have seeds, so they’re not popular among the Inmates. You may remember the infamous grape jelly, that turned out to be grape syrup.

    Sure, you should have a catapult. You like tinkering with machines. There was a very popular TV series called “Northern Exposure.” There was one episode where Chris, the local radio DJ / Hippie / resident philosopher / artist, decided to build a catapult, and as an art “happening,” fling a cow. Right down to the wire, you thought the poor old cow was going to meet her end. But at the last moment, he thought better of it, and flung an old piano, instead. I was watching that episode with friends, and we were just gob smacked.

    Love-in-the-Mist can be invasive. You’ve been warned. Dried, it’s quit popular in flower arrangements.

    Well, if you run across a mushroom zombie, just hold very still and don’t make a sound. You can always toss something, in the opposite direction of your retreat, to distract them.

    Occasionally, when acting, chewing the scenery can be effective.

    H has been dethroned. 🙁 She’s no longer Queen of the 12-step club. Mr. Bill, our club manager has got a new puppy. Probably, a distant relative to H. An energetic little thing, that was zipping all over the place, winning hearts and minds. I didn’t let H get too close. Her tail was wagging, but, it usually takes her awhile to warm up to another dog. Lew

  5. @ Lew,

    Hmmm, now that you mention it, I think it is Hazel Pete’s daughters that run the event. Teachers come from all over. They’ve recruited a sister-in-law of the Princess to teach a few times.

    The Kevin Bacon thing is uncanny. I have two examples. First, my dad got his BS in physics from Redlands University. One of his professors, Albert Baez, would often have dad and a few other students over for chatting, tea and cookies on the weekends. When they needed more cookies, Dr. Baez would say, “Joanie, we need more cookies please!” whereupon a 12-year-old Joan Baez would bring in another plate of cookies. And she hobnobbed with all of these other singers, who hobnobbed with… And all dad did was attend university.

    Dad and his brother grew up with Art and Adolf Martinez in southern California. Uncle lived next door to Adolph. My cousin and Adolph’s son were the same age, ran back and forth between the two houses. They were learning to talk about that time, and pretty much spoke their own language, as the Martinez family spoke Spanish in their home, the Joneses spoke English. We saw young Adolph on TV one evening, on a broadcast of Ironside. Yup, A. Martinez. So he’s acted with Raymond Burr, John Wayne, etc.

    What does it all mean? Knowing these connections and $3.00 will get me a cup of coffee at the local diner. But it’s fun to talk about.

    Oh, a third example. My wife attends this Hazel Pete Memorial Basketry event. She has met Hazel Pete’s family. Some of the family know this guy named Lew who knows Chris of Fernglade and also some author named John Michael Greer. See? The Kevin Bacon thing gets me in the Chris and JMG loop from a different direction than I already had. uncanny stuff.


  6. Chris,

    Wild weekend. Awoke to 5cm of snow Saturday morning with it still coming down heavily. Got 7.5cm total eventually. And it had all melted before dark. Sun came out, temperature hit +5C and the snow disappeared, at least from hard surfaces. No need to break out the shovels or Big Bertha. Late winter is bringing snow, which sticks in the overnight and becomes a nice layer of ice for the cars.

    Monday was Graupel Day. It snowed off and on, but for two hours in early afternoon it was graupel. It was coming down so hard for a half hour that I could barely see across the street. Naturally, my mind turned to books and movies featuring graupel. And sayings/maxims. There’s the children’s cartoon classic, and song, “Graupel the Snowman”. Or how about the saying “graupel is as graupel does”. There’s always Steinbeck’s novel “The Graupels of Wrath”. Of course, graupel has health benefits, as in “A graupel a day keeps the doctor away.”

    Thanks for your introduction in your last reply to “Foo was here”. Sent me down a rabbit hole. Also, the General McAuliffe quote from Battle of the Bulge is one of my favorites. “Nuts!” Interestingly, my dad’s battalion was stationed right at the worst of the fighting. They had seen a LOT of action, so they were pulled out for R & R about a week before the German offensive started. He was glad to have missed out on that action!

    Oh, and the asbestos related airline, tangled variety. I was removing two bags of waste through the tunnel, one in front of me, one behind me. So the light from both ends of the tunnel was blocked off. I had a flashlight, I think you call it a torch? I don’t necessarily like dark cramped spaces, but I HAD done some spelunking twice in South Dakota in tighter spaces, so I was able to keep my cool. Also, THAT wonderful book has the words “Don’t Panic” on the cover in bold friendly letters, so…so I simply took a couple deep breaths, shined the flashlight around, figured out what to do, twisted myself into various pretzel shapes and got untangled. I did NOT enjoy the episode, however.

    Your rock gabions are looking good. Very good, especially considering Peak Rocks, which is real. I am glad you restrained yourself and took no rocks from the old smithy. 😉

    The indigenous well was interesting. Thanks for including that. Sometimes I think the “stone age” people were smarter than we are. They figured out what they needed, then made it. Us? If the power grid goes out, we don’t know how to do anything! At least I might be able to make some shoes. There’s surely some leather around here somewhere, and enough string and whatnot to make something. Both the Princess and I have made baby moccasins, at least.

    Okay. So I’m trying to assess something. You have ants galore whose bites are exceedingly painful. Then there’s the hideously nasty spider, which at least the frogs try to eat. But then there’s also, what is it, the 2nd most poisonous snake in the world. You occasionally get, when working in cramped quarters, the odd Kelpie taking advantage of the situation and licking your face. (“Dog germs! Get some disinfectant! Get some iodine!”) There’s also the occasional bull kangaroo who would be more than willing to fight both you and Ollie together. Oh, and thieving rats. I hope I haven’t left anything out.

    It sounds to me like you need a Weapon. Maybe more than one. I’m in agreement with Lew that you need a catapult as a bare minimum. Think about what it could do. Toss rocks at the suspected snake dens, thus chasing them away from a distance. Ditto the anthills. You could even blast away at rat nests with the rocks, or even with the occasional catapulted dynamite. The catapulted dynamite might work on the ants, too, and maybe even the snake dens. And think about what it would do to a bull kangaroo to be hit by the odd catapulted cow!

    It could also double as a tool. Yes, a catapult tool. But it requires the Weapon. I am talking about nothing less than the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch. What better way to smash some of those huge Moby Rocks than to catapult the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch on top of it? Seriously! You could end up with plenty of smaller rocks for the gabions with less work. And probably some crushed, er, blasted gravel for your pathways. All due to one well-placed shot with the catapult. You would also get the enjoyment of blowing something up, while Sandra would be safe in the knowledge that all explosions occurred far, far away from you. Everybody would be happy, so it’s a perfect plan. What could possibly go wrong?

    Hmmm, I forgot about the sand snakes. You most definitely need a catapult and the Holy Hand Grenade for those.

    Thanks for the fruit pictures. And the flower pictures. Regardless of the snow and graupel, we are moving towards spring. We’re getting sunbreaks between graupel storms. Things aren’t so much the gloomy grey. But the colorful photos are always a welcome break.


  7. Hi DJ,

    I enjoyed your stories recounted to Lewis, and yes there are always six degrees of separation, although the Kevin Bacon reference was totally lost on me (I do know who the actor is). Yup, the wheel turns full circle. And you never know what ripples will form and who they’ll touch whence you dip your hand into still waters. I’ll tell you a funny story about that, a few years ago I mentioned casually to someone with influence that it would be cool if a certain band I’d rather enjoyed back in the 90’s got back together – and it took a while, but they did and have. If I was a sensitive person, it’d be hard to get out of bed, fortunately err, thick skin and stuff. 🙂 Ripples bounce back dude, yup.

    DJ, it was 30’C here today and all this talk of snow leaves me with, dare I say it, a feeling of impending winter chill. Hey, did the doors on your car freeze up and stick? During serious winter cold snaps here the car doors stick to the metal frames of the vehicle, what with that material being awesome conductors of heat energy. I do hope that you are at least starting Big Bertha semi-regularly so as to ensure that the carburettor doesn’t clag up with gunk. Fuel is not what it once was.

    Graupel sounds horrendous! Please keep such weather anomalies to your part of the world. It’s kind of like those squirrels I keep hearing about. No, just say, no! Resist! I liked your re-interpretation of the Forrest Gump quote.

    Apparently Foo was there first, not that it is a competition. Maybe… 🙂 I really enjoyed the General’s returning verbal salvo as well. The Germans were trying to out psych him, and it didn’t work. Imagine being Colonel Joseph Harper and the medic, Ernie Premetz, having to deliver the reply to the Germans – then explain what was meant by the slang term. “You can tell them to take a flying shit,” is probably quite difficult to translate what with all of the subtle nuances intended in the reply. Your father was very lucky to have avoided the aftermath and survived the earlier intense fighting.

    Don’t panic indeed. It’s worthy advice when in a sticky situation requiring untangling. Sandra was once caught in a rip at a city beach and was washed away. Not fighting the rip and relaxing until she could swim across and out of the rip was how she survived that incident. Keeping cool in a crisis is a difficult feat and you don’t know how you’ll go, until you’ve been placed into the jaws of fate. A crisis is rarely an enjoyable experience and in fact is the antithesis of super chill. You were lucky to keep a cool tool at that moment.

    Ah well, taking the rocks from those ruins, or especially from the indigenous well site, would have been a very bad thing to do. The rocks here are locally sourced, and um are used under a creative license known as the ‘allowable artful rearrangement of solid-ish soil minerals’. I’ve incurred serious obligations for their use, but continue to pay my dues and respects. Sorry, I’d tell you more, but am unable to do so.

    Oh yeah, way smarter than us. All the mining activities there in one century made the area uninhabitable, when it’d been continuously lived amongst and managed for tens of millennia. Quite the impressive effort really. It amused me to learn that the local indigenous folks described the country there as: “upside down land”. A very astute observation.

    Just took Ollie outside to perform his evening ablutions. The torch gets switched off and we sit in the orchard and listen to the night activity. Always interesting. Someone is shooting way down in the valley below. And, two fruit bats were lurking around the orchard. They had no idea the dog and I were there, Ollie is silent and I make only a bit more noise than the dog. One of the bats was silhouetted against the night sky and the other made a moist un-owl like flapping (a whop, whop, whop crash landing sound), then it flew away. Never seen a fruit bat here before. The more usual bats are the smaller insect hunting variety, and they’ve always been here. Both are marsupials.

    Yeah, nice one, and I’ll concentrate on growing food and let someone else with less on their plates work out the whole shoe biz. It takes a village to raise a village, at least that’s what I heard. No doubts people will be upset by the reply. The hide on the leather couches might be of use! 😉

    That sounds about right, except maybe the wombats will get angry with you. When young, wombats are reputed to be delightful. Then they age a bit and turn surly. I’m not suggesting the wombats may come for you because you missed mentioning them and they feel dissed, but I think you need to brace yourself, your lady and Dame Avalanche for the very real possibility that this may happen. Oh yeah! Believe it or not, wombats can bite. Best left alone if you ask me.

    Do you know how hard it is to bring all those freakin’ huge rocks back up the hill? And now you and Lewis are suggesting that I fling them in anger way back down the hill again. Look, I’ll think about it, but I’m not keen on the idea! 🙂 I’m also thinking about your other suggestion, and I suspect the bull kangaroo would have some serious opinions about the flung cow – will they be friends? I strongly doubt it. Annoyed, yes.

    DJ, I so love that Monty Python scene! The other day, Sandra made some casual warning, to which I replied: I near soiled my armour worrying about that! Hehe! All I got in reply was a groan sound. Brother DJ, bring out the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch. Chapter I, Verse III, Book of Armanents. And thus spake…

    There is actually a rock here which we should have blown up at the time of the site preparations for the house. The earthworks guy was saying, yes let’s do this. Sandra said no. Sandra now says, yes we should have blown up that rock. My friends of the big shed fame blew up a lot of rocks when constructing their house site. It’s on video.

    Good to hear that there are tentative signs of spring in your part of the world. And a pleasure to share the photos with you.



  8. Hi Lewis,

    It’s such a massive subject that you’re right, an introduction will do and then the curious person needs to go the classics, learn at the feet of the masters, then practice. Then more practice. And afterwards, just for good measure, keep practising. 🙂 I mentioned in the reply to DJ that it takes a village, to have a village.

    The shoe comment was seriously a throw away line, which however has gotten the old brain working. It’s only a minor fire, which is good, but how to reply? This is a job for someone else! That response has been on my mind and I’m uncertain how to say it politely. Also there was Michael’s comment on computing, replying to the other throw away comment I made, and I’m not nearly as sanguine as he about such matters. I’ve met the guy too, he’s a really interesting dude.

    That’s a great point. I’d never thought about utoob videos that way before, but I agree. When researching obscure how to do ‘techniques’, the videos are immensely helpful.

    Went into the big smoke today for paid work. Earlier in the day some folks blocked a major bridge protesting about the climate. When I was a young adult my friends and I marched against the original war for oil. We got a lot of exercise, enjoyed the company of hundreds of thousands of people, felt good, then went on using oil products. Nowadays my efforts and energy are more locally applied to err, here. I comprehended my hypocrisy, gained a better understanding of the situation, then acted. I don’t protest now.

    Well, that’s the thing. As an accountant in a shoe factory, you really don’t have any idea as to how the products are actually made. But then the people making the shoes, don’t have any idea about how the production is accounted for. That’s specialisation for ya! Your observation was pretty sharp!

    Truthfully, one of the side benefits of working for the local Tandy electronics store was getting to sleep-in to a reasonable hour. I’m not wired for early mornings. 😉 Working part time in the library was a clever move too. But I don’t recall you mentioning the swap meets before, but wow, would you have picked up the rough end of the trade there or what? Respect. Hey, it takes one mercenary young scamp to know another mercenary young scamp.

    Fair enough about the reviews. Dunno about you, but I rarely look back on such things. I’m uncertain why that may be as well, but if there was a fire, the last thing I’d try and recover would be say, photos from my misbegotten youth. I’ve heard people lamenting their loss during such disasters, and there appears to be genuine pain there, but it wouldn’t bother me. I have to think about such matters due to the occasional risk from that natural disaster. Someone long ago remarked to me about the weighting of the things which you own and their effect upon you. I’m sure you’ve heard such claims?

    All this talk of snow, is making me feel cold. It was 86’F here today and because the UV is lessening, it really was quite a nice summers day. It’s quiet tonight, and there is virtually no wind. Whilst quietly sitting out in the orchard this evening with the super silent Ollie, we spotted two marsupial fruit bats. I never knew such bats were in the area. Hmm. We have always had the smaller insect hunting bats. Hope both yourself and H are staying warm?

    I think that there was even a zombie Alien dog, of that film franchise. It too was fast, and lethal. Yes, best avoided.

    Ha! The wandering forest critters have to get to the chestnuts first! 🙂 Not always guaranteed for them.

    Nah, I prefer the fruit wines we make. I’ve never really been a fan for the taste of the more traditional wines. Yes, the seeds can get rather large can’t they. Is that where grape seed oil comes from?

    I recall the series Northern Exposure and enjoyed what little of it I’d seen. Very amusing and quirky, in a good way. Why would anyone want to fling a piano? I guess given the creator, it may have been an artistic statement.

    The conditions here are hard enough that few invasive plants actually ever become invasive. Blackberries are a notable exception, as are some grasses. But a plant has be a super competitor to do a garden jail break. They are lovely plants and have self seeded in the garden beds where there is a lot of soil fertility.

    Thanks for the advice, and did you know the same advice will work with snakes?

    Hehe! Your acting is surely an excellent dramatic effect.

    Oh wow, sorry to hear that. And please extend my sympathy to the dethroned H. Puppies are lovely, and usually a total crowd pleaser. Sorry man, she’s got her work cut out for her there.



  9. Hello Chris
    I started to comment yesterday evening but was interrupted by a very lengthy phone call, so am starting again.
    Your writing this week was particularly enjoyed by me from start to finish. Especially that indigenous well. I note that I am not the only one to think ‘bodies’.

    Have been drinking some glorious wine made by Son. It is as good as the best that I have ever drunk. Son had forgotten about it and has just discovered it again. He said that it tasted fine so bottled it. He reckons that it is about 6 years old. It is hawthorn wine. He says that he had made it once before and that it was so dry that it was undrinkable. He had tried again because there were so many berries that further year and they were larger than usual.

    Out shopping this morning and when I made it back to Son’s truck he discovered that his battery was dead. He had to ring a friend to come out.


  10. @ DJ – Our library just picked up a new documentary bio on Ms. Baez. My hold list is a bit tight, so, I didn’t put a hold on it. Might pick it up, later.

    Yup. Small world. Lew

  11. Hello Chris,

    Great to hear that you enjoyed the famous roasted hazelnut of last week. Some people who are allergic to raw hazelnuts can eat roasted ones. Back in time, people were eating lots of hazelnuts in North-West Europe. The oldest archeological evidence of food here are mounds of roasted hazelnut shells. They roasted the nuts in the shell and then cracked the nuts. The oldest heaps are 9000 years old, in the same time as the first humans appeared here after the last Ice age.
    (see e.g. the fourth photo here
    We don’t know if humans brought the nut trees here, or squirrels or nut jays. Nowadays, the wild hazel is spread by jays and squirrels and mice.

    I love that you talk about the realities as you face them. Local solutions are necessary. There is no silver herb-spiral that solves all problems. Mulch is an excellent example.

    I have only in the last years started to appreciate the permaculture aspects of our own indigenous tribes’ culture. The key to the permanence of their culture was to leave no trace behind. By only using biodegradable materials and building no cathedrals, they could rebuild everything they needed on yearly or decade or century rotations. Houses as well as coppiced trees. For millennia.

    No such thing in our culture, which is built on mining. I re-read the most excellent Overshoot book, and I appreciate even more how much “detrivorous” our culture is.
    Anyway, I enjoy the luxuries of global networks and the web as long as it is around, but I extricate my subsistence from the Cloud in every way I can. More than half of the food we eat has been grown at organic farms within 20 km from here.

    Every time I reach for a webshop to solve a problem, I make a mental note to build up local resources for future resilience, but it is hard.
    We used to have lots of small industry making stuff around here, but almost every market has been monopolized by global giants in the frenzy for low cost and “efficiency”. We cannot even make a bicycle any longer. (yes, we can assemble fine steel steeds using Shimano parts, but without Japanese components we are lost.)

    Like you said about shoes, it takes a village to build a village. Or a province to build a province.

    We visited a museum a few years back some 50 km from here, where they used to take iron ore from the bottom of a lake. The iron ore re-formed out of ground water in a slow pace, and production of iron followed this rhythm. Up until the 1930s, they produced iron stoves, hand-pushed lawn mowers and agricultural implements.
    We could do that again.
    On a small scale.

    Growing food is often fun and always meaningful. The enjoyment of a sunripe gooseberry is worth the effort even though most of the veggies would be “cheaper” to buy.

    Chestnuts trees for food production are often selected so that the burr stays on the tree when it opens, so that the nuts fall down on the soil a week or two before the burrs come down with the leaves.
    If you have a good variety, the nuts should come first, so that you can avoid the glove-picking finger-piercing exercise.
    When we went to the forests in France and Netherlands to pick wild growing chestnuts, some trees released the nuts still enclosed in the burrs, and I usually used my shoe-sole to press the nuts out of the burr, to avoid the irritating needles.

    Our water vole count is now 15. Maybe halfway? Let’s see.

    And I forgot to mention a curious coincidence from a few weeks back. I was in the Grampian Highlands of Scotland for a summer when I was 13 years old, visiting distant relatives. It was great. My first solo travel trip in a 24 hour ferry journey over the North Sea and a few hours of train up to Inverness, where I was picked up.
    A sister of my Grandma married into the Selkirk family of Scottish fame. (See e.g. Alexander Selkirk, the sailor who inspired the story of Crusoe.)
    Seven degrees?

    Regarding your rain graph, your situation is according to the farmers here ideal. They say “All rain before midsummer is too little rain, and all rain after midsummer is too much rain.” You seem to have scored plenty in the beginning of the summer and now warm dry weather to ripen off the crops in the best possible way.
    What do you think about that saying?
    Too local or applicable also at your locale?


  12. Yo, Chris – Catapult weapon: A sling shot. They’ve gotten pretty high tech. They’ve moved quit a bit on, from the old forked stick.

    “How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, practice, practice. Ka-Ching! 🙂

    How to say it politely? “I’ll trade (……) for shoes.” Cobblers gotta eat, too.

    I often had jobs where I worked swing and graveyard shifts. My favorite kind. Also, weekends were no big deal, to me. Often made me well liked, by my fellow employees. I think my late night habits developed from reading under the covers, with a flashlight. Then, way too many jobs working security, maintenance, and bars.

    A high school buddy and I worked a Sunday swap meet, for a year or two. It was on a concourse, under a grandstand of a dog racing track. He, being a good Roman Catholic boy, had to hit the early mass, before we could go. I tagged along. My first introduction to that flavor of religion. I sold tat, and, as I remember, he went for more mechanical things and electronics. But it’s been a long time.

    Well, if we have a fire, I grab the dog, and my go bag. I try and keep my wallet, keys and check book in it. Difficult to replace papers. Anything else can be replaced, or mourned.

    We’ll keep you feeling cool, on your hot days. You can return the favor, when we hit 100+F. 🙂 We’re supposed to have three clear days, and just under freezing, nights.

    Well, if you’re going to grow all that fruit, you’ll probably get fruit bats. 🙂 Yeah, I’d say grape seed oil comes from grape seeds. As they call it grape seed oil. 🙂

    Oh, H will work it out. We stopped by the Club, last night, and, as the pup was not around, everybody fawned over her in there usual manner. I hit the credit union for walking around money, the big box hardware store for food grade 5 gallon buckets, the pet store (out of ear medicine, bought a water dish, to try. The nice manager gave me her discount, and, they were getting rid of a rack of calendars, for free. Doggies, hamsters and raspy cats. I took those to the Club, and the peasants fell upon them. I’ve got my gardening calendar. I don’t need strange animals, on my walls. I live with a strange animal) Then I hit one cheap grocery, and then the Dollar + store. Back to the Club to drop of the food. Post office to drop off my re-subscription to the AARP (Association of American Retired People.) You wait long enough, and they keep dropping the subscription price.

    Home to do a few more hours of cleaning this and that. In re-reading our building managers garbled message, this inspection is the pre-inspection, before the HUD inspection. They’ve hired some outside outfit, to have a look see. HUD inspection date, to be announced.

    I had a brain storm (ouch!) and figured out another way to deal with the computers, and I won’t have to move the Deco cabinets. I think I can pull that off, this evening. That will give me two days to just fiddle at general clean up, and organization. I must be on schedule. I’m sleeping ok.

    H is a quirky little dog. She wants to go to bed, earlier than me. So, I put her on the bed, and read a bit. There’s a blanket, and I cover it with a sheet. Easier to wash. Almost every night, when I go to bed, she’s pulled the sheet down, and is sleeping on the blanket. Who knows why? Blanket feels better on her tush? Just another doggie mystery. Lew

  13. Hi Inge,

    Oh, thanks very much for your words of support. There’s a lot going on in the background here, and it’s good writing about that subject, warts and all. Hope the phone conversation was equally pleasant.

    The land surrounding the Indigenous well had been utterly changed since the days when the well held protected water in all seasons. It would have been quite the prolonged construction too, because the granite in that area was quite hard looking. I really enjoyed the ‘upside down land’ description. There are mullock heaps all around the area from the work the gold miners did and so the description is literally true.

    And bodies was my first thought as well. Hmm. It’s a long way down to the bottom of that shaft. There was a sign encouraging people to drop large rocks down and simply listen to the sound of the rocks hitting the floor of the mine shaft. A long way down. Some of the other mine shafts we spotted in the area had sturdy metal doors sealing them off. There’s a lot to go wrong in such a deep underground space.

    🙂 Inge, it is a truth not universally acknowledged that a well aged country wine (such as what your son made all those years ago) is far superior tasting to any wine made from grapes. We have a mead which is of a similar age, and it is a very smooth drop. I know some people in the distilling trade who’ve won awards for their produce, and before that-which-shall-remain-unnamed, we were discussing the sake and mead we make here. Alas, events overtook us.

    I’ve learned a very interesting chunk of knowledge in relation to the yeasts used to make all of this stuff: The shelf life of the yeasts has I believe become markedly reduced in recent years. People look at me with horror when I mention this sad fact. How could yeast go off? their eyes say, but it has been my experience which has guided such thoughts. Hmm. Even Sandra disbelieved me, and has recently come around to my way of thinking in this matter.

    Ah yes, battery technology scares the daylights out of me. Now imagine for one brief moment that the battery technology was not simply powering your sons truck, but instead powering my household. Your son is lucky to have a friend to come to his rescue.



  14. Hello Chris
    I forgot to mention that when my son tried to phone his friend for help, he discovered that there was no money on his phone and had to deal with that first. I began to get a mite fed up.


  15. Hi Göran,

    Without doubt, hazelnuts are the tastiest of the tree nut species. Although fresh almonds are pretty good too and lack the bitterness of purchased nuts. Last year I managed to scrounge a native Bunya Bunya nut from a very old tree in a nearby botanical garden. We roasted the nut up and it was OK. However, a friend of mine in the big smoke, Simon of the blog linked to on the side blog roll, grows a Macadamia tree. It’s warmer in the big smoke and he lives in an area known for it’s all year around market gardens. During a visit we encouraged him to crack some of the Macadamia nuts he’d grown in a vice, and oh my, they were amazing tasting as well. I’ve got two of the cold adapted Macadamia trees growing here and they’ve not died, but neither have they grown. 🙂 It’s just too cold here. I’m sure you’d understand the trials and tribulations of micro-climates?

    The photo of the ancient nut was amazing. Thanks!

    I’d say a bit of both was taking place. The Indigenous folks down here were amazing gardeners and plant traders. There is a palm with an edible heart which has moved up and down the east coast of the continent. Useful plants were traded and relocated. There’s even a native local raspberry of the same genus that you’d know. Cabbage-tree palm. In a nearby town, there is a Cabbage Tree Lane.

    Thanks! I tell the stories as they occur, warts and all. I see no reason in dressing them up, and feel I’d lose credibility for even attempting to do so. Yes, I see that you have encountered the herb-spiral? It’s what I’d describe as a ‘thing’. Mulch can tie up a lot of the nitrogen sources in the soil which your plants might need, plus provide an almost unlimited food source for garden pests. I’ve had my battles in the orchards with slaters AKA wood lice.

    And that’s an absolutely spot on observation. Göran, eventually if a person is settled into one spot for too long, and runs the same plants in the same soils year in year out, that person will face diminished output. It is difficult to know whether the reduced output gets noticed, but slowly it will happen. Crop rotation is something I’ve been grappling with for many years. The Indigenous folks would have known this through observation and been able to counter it by moving around the land. You and I are settled and have to work out how to adapt to this reality in place.

    Man, I read that Overshoot book. Then immediately re-read it simply to ensure that I understood the implications of what the author was saying. Hmm. Your situation is better than what I face here on that front with local food production. Much of the land around these parts is not being utilised at all for food production. I think that this is only but a moment in time.

    Mr Greer has commented that he may write about this very subject tomorrow. Dude, you can’t know and do everything it takes to live, unless you take yourself, and your lady, down to a very low tech level. Sandra would not be happy about this, as I’m sure your lady would equally have some issues! 🙂 It takes a village…

    For your info, I put a chainsaw mill device on order today. With at least ten thousand trees, it is kind of wrong to purchase timber…

    We could do such things again, but I’d have to suggest that it is probably only possible at a lower population. Will it happen, yes, but probably slowly over time. Look at what is going on in Japan for a guide. Slowly. I’ve got a saying that we’ll run short, long before we run out.

    Gooseberries are a most excellent fruit! 🙂 I doubt the stuff in the supermarket contains as much protein and minerals as the produce you grow. How could it have that being picked days before hitting the shelves?

    I’ve never seen a burr hang on a chestnut tree, so I’m guessing we have the pesky morning star-esque variety down here. Talk about spiky! 🙂

    Good shot with the water vole count! Dame Plum and I err, harvested (!) over 20 rats. I’d lend you Dame Plum who’d dig up all vole tunnels regardless of snow, but it’s a bit far to your place. 🙂 I tend to believe that it is our role to nurture some aspects of the ecology, and cut back others. It’s up to us to make a sensible decision as to what that actually looks like. Too many people have a very passive view of our species role in the ecosystem, despite them all wreaking havoc.

    No way! It’s a small world indeed. We were discussing the Robinson Caruso book this morning. The survival skills displayed in the book were excellent, and I don’t know at all how I’d fare in similar conditions. Probably not as well. Seven degrees indeed!

    The crazy summer has been good for the well established plants. This morning we picked all of the pumpkins, and then pulled all of the tomato plants from the greenhouse. The plan is to get the winter kale, green mustards and radishes growing before the energy in the sun recedes to not much more than wintry mouse flatulence. However, Saturday is forecast to reach 39’C which will be the hottest day of the year so far. The saying works, and would work very well for grain crops which require the drying. If facing such weather, I’d probably have to increase my usual spacing of plants so as to reduce competition for the limited water.

    We grow many of the same plants. Frankly speaking, I’m envious of the varieties which you would have available. Many of the limited varieties I grow have been developed for warmer areas than where I’m located, so a cold wet spring would be difficult for them. Oh well, we select saved seed for varieties which do well and so are plant breeding.



  16. Hi Lewis,

    I see, yes the technology for slingshots have moved on. Such things are sometimes described as shanghai’s down here, and believe it or not, they are a prohibited item. Not much else suggests inherent efficacy like being banned. I am far from defenceless, and in fact the sheer distance to the nearest town also provides something of a natural barrier. It’s all up hill. Did you ever have such a beast of a tool when you were a kid?

    Hehe! All very true. Dunno about your part of the world, but they used to say that: Practice makes perfect. You never hear that said nowadays. Surely you also heard the old saying: If at first you don’t succeed. Try, try again. Says it all really. Funnily enough, I reckon the things I get spot on right the very first time, I fail to comprehend my achievement. It’s hard to know the harsh reality, until whatever it was fails, then you have get back into the ring, and hope the ump hasn’t reached the count of ten. Always a possibility!

    Thank you so much for the good advice, and I’m in agreement. Yes, cobblers do have to eat as well. Your words were a succinct way of stating the obvious. It’s not so funny really, because one of the big accounting software packages announced that the word had come down from high above (i.e. the goobers of the mint) that if wanting to interact with those goobers, a common data sharing software-to-software platform had been decreed necessary. What? They think us bean counters don’t need to earn a living as well? Hmm. It’s been my long held suspicion that those folks want a standardised business reporting environment so that they can enjoy the data and tell us the answers, then send the bill. It’s a power and control thing I’m thinking.

    I’ll bet you enjoyed the week days off when things were quieter? That’s one reason I tend to work on weekends as well. Plus I avoid the tourists and day trippers. The thing is, nobody ever suggests not following the well trod path. Dunno why that may be. Ah, the sleep hours in younger years lost to Mr King’s latest novels are perhaps uncounted, and yeah, a book is a good way to while away the midnight hours. 🙂

    An old mate of mine in primary school was likewise Catholic, and the ceremonies and marking of time, was always intriguing, although rarely explained. My mother abhorred all forms of religion. It was my grandfather who sent me to the Anglican grammar school from year nine onwards. In my later years there I’d occasionally enjoy a long chat with the school chaplain. He was a good bloke. The school demanded church services twice a week, and we’d all file off into pews arranged by year level. I’ve mentioned it to you before, and I know it sounds irreverent, but far out the hymn singing was stirring, in a good way. But did we get into trouble, or what? So many after school detentions. Whatever, they also did after school and Saturday sports. Plus towards the final year or two, the homework load was around three hours per night. The school literally took over your life. Star Trek at 11pm on a Tuesday night wasn’t so extraordinary and ofttimes I’d only just finished the homework.

    Exactly, difficult to replace the dogs and papers, so they get bundled into the car and off we go. Always wise to have a plan. Saturday looks set to reach 102’F, and I’m not looking forward to that. Admittedly, the sun is having less bite to it now.

    In breaking super-ruthless-vegetable-growing news, we pulled all of the tomato vines out today. The leaves and excess vegetation was stripped from the vines. They’re all now hanging upside down in the greenhouse so the fruit ripens. And! You’ll be impressed, I dug the raised beds in the greenhouse too with a spade and fluffed up the soil. Give it a few days to settle back down then I’ll feed the soil, add compost and reseed with Green and Red Mustards, Kale and Radishes. Should be plenty of time for them to all get started before winter hits hardest. Also picked all of the smaller pumpkins (your squash). Didn’t quite fill the bucket of the power wheelbarrow, but it was close. There’s another bunch of what we call Queensland Blue Pumpkins still ripening and they’re big.

    I know pride is the devil and all that, but I am learning how to be less soft with vegetable growing. 🙂

    Thanks! I’ll recount tales of drizzle and thick low winter clouds when the temperature is pushing 100’F at your place. 🙂

    I get your point about the fruit bats. But seriously, I didn’t know that they were even remotely anywhere near to here. I don’t doubt that the clever critters have marked the location for future plundering! 🙂 I guess they’ll provide a lot of guano.

    I’m studiously ignoring that literal observation. It’s not always the case that things are what they are named! Anywhoo, seems like grape seed oil isn’t too hard to make if you have enough grape seeds. A lot of grapes are rather seedy, I know what you mean.

    H may work it out, but also may out-alpha the new puppy. Such things happen, I’d keep a watch on her and not get involved unless things get way out of hand. Are you storing some of your bulk materials in the food grade buckets? Nice score for the Club. It’s only early days in the year, so I can see the demand for the calendars. Now you’ve made that observation about H, you might be careful lest she gets onto the comment section here and leaves a rather pointed comment as to her opinion upon humans! 🙂 Dude, it’s been known for pets to leave comments here from time to time.

    The subscription effect is known to us as well. Turns out loyalty isn’t rewarded with such wrong way around offers. Back in the days of the dinosaurs, a mammal used to get a discount for early settlement of obligations. Now it is the other way around.

    Didn’t they miss inspecting your place last time the HUD folks were looking around? Or were at best cursory. Well, the best that can be said is that the inconvenience is being constrained to a small window of time. That’s the hope.

    Hey, I’ve committed to a trialling a chainsaw mill for the timber we need for the firewood shed upgrade and second greenhouse. Never used one before, so I’m sure there will be a lot of learning. There are at least ten thousand trees here, so it seems wasteful not to at least give the process a try. I’m unsure how the trees in the forest feel about this, but I’ll be grateful and give thanks for the produce. Then give the soil a decent feed and keep the underbrush down. A lot of obligations there, but oh well.

    Nice work with the brain storm. Oh man, anxiety is a bummer. So glad to hear that you’re onto it with the rest of the clean up. Remember to leave something basic for them to whinge about. Better whinging about a basic easily corrected non compliance, than some horrific ball of dog barf which would be very difficult to sort out. That’s the suggested plan anyway.

    It’s weird isn’t it? Dogs like their patterns, and that one sounds like a hard one to break. Good luck! The dogs here sleep on sheets sourced from the op-shop. The sheet in between Ollie and the leather couch right now is a 1000 thread count Egyptian cotton. It was at the op-shop for $4 brand new. Terrible colour, but does Ollie care?



  17. @Lewis,
    Yes, dogs like fur, or fur-ish. An H sized piece of faux fur (real fur with leather backing doesn’t wash well) or even perhaps flannel sheets might be a good enough, blanket distraction to distract her ladyship. Even a small rug, but those get heavy and can be hard to wash.


  18. Yo, Chris – Nope. Never had a slingshot, that I can remember. Probably due to the possibility of putting someone’s eye out. 🙂

    Maybe we need to be saying, those old saying, to the younger crowd. It’s all good stuff. Benjamin Franklin had a million of them. There’s a lot of “old saws” around the recovery community. They drive people crazy, because they’re so inane and obvious. Also, mostly true 🙂 Some have fallen out of use, and every once in awhile, I toss a pebble, in the pool, and hope for ripples.

    Common data sharing. Will free up a lot of time for the powers that be, so they can shop on-line or read Harlequin Romances, behind closed office doors. Both instances based on real observations.

    LOL. You have to remember, my child hood time, reading under the blankets, was pre Stephen King. if you can imagine. He’s only a year or two older than me. 🙂 As is Mick Jaeger.

    Religious music can be quit inspiring and moving. Especially gospel. Some real toe-tappers. Did you see the original “Blues Brothers,” movie?

    Aretha Franklin’s album, “Amazing Grace,” is, well, amazing. I have the CD and throw it on the player, every once in awhile.

    It got down to 27F, last night. One more night of that, and then we’re back to warmer and wetter. I worked in the garden, a couple of hours, last night. Dug in some straw someone had given me, and, also one of the bags of leaves I collected, last fall. Didn’t break down as much as I thought they would. Even though they were in a sunny spot, wet, and I’d turn them from time to time. So, I dug all that in, and then buried kitchen scraps. Transplanted a couple of parsley.

    Fruit bats have been discovered to be the reservoir for the hemorrhagic fevers. Also, in Australia you have your very own, very special fever. Lyssavirus.

    I discovered an outbreak of very small beetles, were coming from the bag of steel cut oats I had. So now all the bulk stuff is going into gallon freezer bags, run through the freezer for three days, or so, and then into 5 gallon buckets. Desiccant packet, taped under the lid. I’m also freezing any smaller bags of dried stuff. Rice and oatmeal.

    I moved my two computers, last night. So that’s done. Wasn’t too hard, though the old computer has way more cables than the new one. I’ve got it moved and powered up, but sorting out all the cables can wait until after the inspection.

    Well, you finally got your timber mill, of one sort or another, that you’ve had your heart set on for so long. Watch lots of U-Tub videos. And, remember: You can keep body parts in the freezer, as long as they are your own. 🙂 Of course, you’ll have to build another out building, to season the lumber. Kiln dried?

    We’re supposed to get a commodity food box, today. The box that is usually two, one with produce of some kind. Lew

  19. Chris,

    Kevin Bacon fits in the 6 degrees of separation because of a television interview, if memory serves. I think that either he and the host, or he and another guest, had never before met. Upon further discussion, they found that “I know him and he knows her and she knows John Doe” and the other guy interrupted and said “but I know Jane Doe and she knows Billy Bob and he knows John Doe.” Or something like that. And then they found out this worked with other people, etc.

    My car doors have frozen shut less than a handful of times. It takes major ice storms usually. Currently the car sits in a garage, so it isn’t a problem. And yes, Big Bertha gets started on occasion just because.

    Graupel not bad! It is just a form of snow, a bit harder than snowflakes but not destructively hard like hail. Graupel is actually rather enjoyable.

    Dad was the company radioman in Holland and Germany. In other words, a major target for the enemy. Somehow, he made it through with no physical wounds. Serious case of what we now call PTSD, but no physical wounds. Very fortunate.

    Ya know, dad got caught in a rip once and did the same thing Sandra did. Nothing else to do, but so many people panic under those circumstances, fight the rip. Fight the rip and you lose.

    I get it. Whatever deals you’ve made with the rocks, the land wights, or whoever you call them is your business. It shouldn’t be mentioned all over the interweb.  That’s a rule of thumb I have for certain things and practices. I’m glad you do too.

    That sounds a relaxing evening with Ollie. No torch, move quietly, observe and enjoy. Seeing something new, like fruit bats, is always a bonus. Now that I’m long done with my days of woodland and mountain adventure, I find that what I miss the most are the forest evening sounds. And no automobile noise.

    Oh, shucks! I DID forget the wombats. Ouch! Mea culpa, even. At least I have figured out how to get them into my next pyrography project. Nuff said.

    Gotta run. Princess is returning early from her basketry jaunt. Something tells me that the house better look decent. 😉


  20. Hi Inge,

    Ah yes, one of the downsides of a pre-paid phone, is that a person must first pre-pay for its usage. All very unfortunate, but at least the facts suggest that you eventually made it home again.

    Car batteries tend to only last for about five years from my experience, regardless of quality. And I’ve noticed that in the past the batteries used to provide some warning that their demise was imminent. In recent years I’ve noticed that they will fail without warning, usually in either extreme heat or extreme cold. They’re chemical reactors and temperature has quite the impact upon their inner workings. Nowadays you simply can have no warning. I’m a member of the state’s auto club and they have an at-call battery replacement service. Not a bad form of insurance.

    When the original set of house batteries failed, we had plenty of warning, although discovering the reason for the failure was a bit of a shock. They were meant to last much longer than they did.

    I’m of the opinion that a lot of these sorts of technologies are a bit of a wild west nowadays, and that’s why with some of the systems here, I’ve had to take a much closer and deeper look than my usual preferences.

    It is hard to ignore the claims in the media about a bright shiny new future based on the sort of technologies which stranded you and your son, but candidly the claims leave me feeling very uncomfortable about the intersection of the expectations and then the realities of the technology. Oh well…

    Ooo! Picked up another Babaco papaya plant today and will get it established in the greenhouse over the next few days. The fruit is very good and takes at least a year to ripen.



  21. Hi DJ,

    Hope the house was cleaned and arranged prior to your lady’s arrival home again? At the very least I suggest that you blame Dame Avalanche for any issues and come up with an amusing tale to corroborate the facts on the ground. 😉 The entertaining talk may offset any untoward repercussions. Obviously your lady won’t be fooled either way, but isn’t entertaining part of the role? Whenever I see Sandra’s eyes rolled upwards combined with a sort of exasperated long suffering look, well I call that a direct hit. You’ve been struck by entertainment factor number four! Yup.

    Thanks for the explanation as I’d not heard of the origins of the story. Clearly, Kevin Bacon knows people, who know people. All makes perfect sense.

    Parking said car in a garage is probably a genius way to avoid frozen shut doors. During some heavy frosts, we pour water all over the glass and doors to remove the ice crystals. Cars are perhaps an excellent conductor of thermal energy, don’t you reckon? What does a person even do to unfreeze a stuck car door? We kind of wrench the doors open, but I’m not entirely certain this is such a clever idea due to possible damage of either the door or rubber seals.

    Very good to hear, and I was simply being your machine tending conscience. Everyone needs one… 🙂 You’d be amazed at the amount of effort required every couple of months to maintain all of the machines here, still it is easier than repairs and cheaper than replacement. And I splashed out on an Alaskan chainsaw sawmill. I know, temptation got the better of me.

    Cool! Any snow that is not the usual snow, kind of worries me due to sheer lack of experience. About halfway between here and the big smoke, they seem to regularly get hailstorms which destroy cars. Honestly, the aftermath looks like a 1920’s mob hit. The cars are a write off. Hail here is different again as it tends to be somewhat smaller. Weather huh?

    Ah, of course, your dad’s physics background would have lead him to that role. The radio’s in those days would have been super heavy and had huge antennas (not good for keeping a low profile). As a bit of geekery, I looked up the possible model used by your dad and guessed the SCR-300. Apologies for the geekery. Keeping the machine powered with batteries, despite the 0.3W output would have been challenging to say the least. But being able to communicate 3 miles / 5km away would have been a very big advantage. PTSD is a very serious problem, and back in those days I doubt there was much assistance forthcoming. It would have bee very hard indeed to have been suddenly dropped back into civilian life after the earlier experiences.

    Some fights cannot be won, like that rip. Relax, and then swim across it.

    🙂 Thanks for understanding.

    Just took Ollie out to go and do his evening ablutions and there was a mid-sized grey forest kangaroo in the orchard. The surrounding forest has dried up a bit lately, and so the roo is here getting some grass with protein. Ollie wanted to chase the roo, but I firmly said no. Dame Plum wanted nothing at all to do with the roo.

    Yes, don’t forget the wombats! I might go and see them the next time they tour.



  22. Hi Lewis,

    I see, well that sounds like a wise decision. No doubts you would have ended up in a lot of trouble for putting someone’s eye out. As a younger bloke I had a girlfriend with a glass eye. She’d had an accident as a child and fallen onto a fence when younger and lost one eye. If memory serves me correctly, she had a lot of troubles discerning distances – for which the brain uses both eyes I believe. Despite it all, she was into hiking and activities like that.

    Those old sayings will come back into use when they’re needed I reckon. Too many people these days think they know better, but time will cure such hubris, as we all know that such things lead to nemesis – or at least that’s what you told me. Hehe! Very funny. It’s something of a personal failing for me in that I occasionally slip into talking in metaphors. Sometimes, just for fun, I’ll mix them up and watch and see if anyone notices. Always fun. Dude, it’s really hard to directly say what needs being said sometimes. So yeah, pebbles, ripples etc.

    Ooooo. That was me being triggered! 🙂 I dunno, but when I’m working, I’m actually working. On line shopping and what was the other one, err, Harlequin Romances – well, that ain’t me. Truth to tell, if I wanted to make a career as an author, I’d try my luck at that ready market. Why not? I’ve heard they get read in corner offices…

    Thanks for the laughs. You’re on fire today! 🙂 I was speaking from my own experience there, and the good-scare author provided plenty of feed for my brain, not to mention a whole bunch of fright as a side serving. I’m sure you would have had some decent authors with which to read from under the covers way back in the day?

    OK, now there are always exceptions to every rule, and it’s a musical, true. You’ve got me there. But the music is just so good, and the story line is just so silly. True genius. James Brown rocked that scene. Amen. Now the Anglican school church wasn’t quite like that. Doing that would have got the entire form suspended. Yup. But did we want to rejoice that much? Maybe. Weren’t allowed.

    I have listened to Aretha sing Amazing Grace on utoob, and there is power and passion there. What an astounding voice.

    That’s a bit chilly. I’d call that a five blanket night. Good stuff with the garden. Wonder why the leaves in the bag hadn’t yet broken down. Out of curiosity, did you store the bag in the full sun or was it in a partly shady spot? It might just not be warm enough yet. Parsley, yum! A very hardy plant. We bought another Babaco plant today. Talk about plant-flation, it was $25.

    Hmm, some of the fruit bats have taken up residence in botanical gardens. Hard to relocate… I’ve seen colonies of them hanging upside down in tall trees during the daytime. Lot’s of squeaking and squawking noises. The mansion we visited two months ago had a colony living in one of it’s old trees. You’re not wrong, although the risk seems remote with only 1 in 100 bats apparently infected. Not out of the realms of possibility, but remote. On the other hand, an 100% fatality rate is not good. I will treat such critters with respect should I encounter them at close quarters.

    Yes, I remember you saying something about contaminated grain. Dude, weevils (or whatever) were a big problem long ago, and I have experienced these critters. A very unappealing thing to see in stored grains. I stopped buying from the supplier as the problem originated at their end. Freezing is a good idea, and should put an end to the mischief.

    Good stuff, and yeah fingers crossed that the inspection works out well.

    I appreciate your vote of confidence, and will keep the freezer in mind for storing such parts should they be inadvertently disconnected. I’ll do my best to be careful and respectful, the rest is in the hands of fate. Not to worry, I’ve got just the place in mind. 😉 Kiln drying may be a step too far, but it’s early days…

    Did you get your produce box today?

    The alarm went off this morning, and I thought, just another couple of minutes. An hour and a half later… Decided that it was a sign, and we took today off work. Went and visited a nearby garden, which we had mostly to ourselves. It was quite nice.



  23. Yo, Chris – When I was in 4th or 5th grade, there was a construction site, next to our school. After school, a friend and I were playing there, he threw a stick and it almost put my eye out 🙂 And, boy did it bleed. I still have a small scar, close to an eyebrow. I had a room mate, in the late 70s. He was always a bit … wall-eyed. He finally told me he had a glass eye. No drama. He had a spare, and I just asked that he not leave it laying around, where I might come upon it, unexpected. Yes, if you lose an eye, you lose depth perception. Although people eventually compensate. Cover one eye and try and get through a doorway.

    Nemesis … hubris. At least that’s what the Greeks and Romans tell me. And, Agatha Christie 🙂 .

    Yup. The romance book market, can be pretty lucrative. Best pick a female pseudonym. There are books and books on writing them. Also, there’s the Romance Writers of America. Hmmm. There’s even a Romance Writers of Australia. They have a yearly convention. Of course, these days, you’ve got to have a robust social media presence. And, you’re likely to be publishing e-books, and such. Or, self publishing, and hoping you build a following. As they used to say in Burlesque, “You gotta have a gimmick.” Something to separate you from the pack.

    What didn’t I read under the covers? Books from the library, books from the local paperback stand. Sci-fi. Kid’s and young adult mysteries. “Forever Amber.” 🙂 I suppose some of the classics. During my grade school years, I knocked off about a book a day.

    Aretha’s “Amazing Grace” album, was performed in 1972. It was recorded over two days, at the biggest, black Baptist church in LA. She was backed up by their incredible choir. There were a couple of mash-ups, between two gospel songs. Boy, did they rock out! It was filmed, but the footage and soundtrack were totally screwed up. A couple of years ago, they managed to fix it. Our library had a copy on DVD.

    Inspection, tomorrow. I’ve got all the heavy lifting done, and now it’s just a polish and stash job.

    There was just one box, yesterday. No produce. Although, given that the last boxes produce was about half way past its prime, well, maybe it’s best we didn’t get any. Not any meat to speak of, other than a large tin of “beef in juices.” And, a pack of frozen chicken wings. One can of salmon. A couple of boxes of cereal, and a couple of quarts of shelf stable milk. The rest was all tinned fruit (only some peaches) and veg. Yams, green beans, creamed corn, carrots. A bag of rice and a bag of dried beans. Tinned kidney beans. Tinned potatoes. A two pound brick of cheese product. That was about it. Elinor still got a box, which I snagged. All together, I took down about 5 bags to the Club pantry. All of the hearty stuff I took in late Monday night, is gone.

    It got down to 28F, last night. Clear and cold. Tonight, the rain is coming back, with warmer temperatures. I wonder if that was our last frost? I put a small “F”, in pencil, on my calendar. Just in case it is. Though looking at my calendar notes, it would be the earliest last frost we’ve had, at least over the last 6 years. There were no last frosts in March. Several in April. And the lates last frost was May 10th, in 2022.

    I noticed yesterday, that our venerable old Rosemary, is blooming. Looks like there are some daffodil and tulip buds, about. With the nice weather, the Robins are about in great numbers. Speaking of old saws … “Spring has sprung, the grass has riz, I wonder where the flowers is?” Although attributed to this poet or that, it’s actually a product of the most famous poet of all: anonymous. 🙂 Lew

  24. Chris,

    Yes, the house was more than satisfactory per the Princess. Avalanche gets enough blame as it is, however. She leaves us ample gifts of white dog hair even outside of shedding seasons. She more than made up for this with her enthusiastic greeting of the Princess.

    Careful with water on the frozen car glass. Warm and hot water might crack the glass. Hardware stores, grocery stores, Malwart and other locations here have a selection of plastic ice scrapers to remove the frost from windows and windshields. It is work under certain conditions, but they do get the job done. Credit cards and metal spatulas can also do the job. When I’ve had doors frozen shut, I hit them lightly with the heel of my hand. That usually works. There have been a very few cases in which I’ve had to carefully chip at the ice in order to unstick the door. Fortunately, that’s rarely an issue here even for the cars that are left outside. Some of your other commenters probably get worse ice issues than I get, at least with respect to frozen doors.

    Oh boy, a new toy! I looked at some photos of the Alaskan chainsaw mill. Looks interesting. Hope it works for you. It looks like there may be a lot of youtube tutorials; maybe one or two are even worthwhile.

    Good catch, the SCR-300. I think that’s what dad carried. He had some rather interesting experiences, for sure. He didn’t talk about most of them, although he would tell me some things. He talked more about after the hostilities had ended and before he was sent home. He was stationed in General Patton’s HQ in Bad Tolz in Bavaria. He traded chocolate bars to a local boy in exchange for skiing lessons.

    He was never able to watch war movies at all. Pastor of his church took dad, me and pastor’s son to see “A Bridge Too Far”. Dad was very uncomfortable, somehow made it through the entire movie. He was very much on edge for maybe a week. After I had seen “Saving Private Ryan”, he asked me if it was a good movie and if he should see it. I described a scene in which a tank was making the ground shake. He asked me to stop…he’d heard enough. Icky stuff, PTSD.

    Princess and I went out to a late breakfast today. There’s a good locally owned diner near us, with very good food. We went there and enjoyed it. There was enough food that we didn’t need lunch. Or dinner.

    That meant my normal walk schedule with Dame Avalanche was changed. We got out for our walk in the late afternoon. That worked out really well, as there are just enough clouds that the sunsets have been very enjoyable. Today’s was no exception. I am happy to report that there were no kangaroos roaming in our neighborhood. 😉


  25. Hi DJ,

    Thanks for the link to the basket weaving course, and you always learn something. I’d not known that the Raven was also a trickster. It’s good to see people practising and sharing culture, it’s in the actions and stories that culture gains strength.

    Surely Dame Avalanche would be blameless? I have this memory that long ago in the comments we were all discussing that people have been known to collect dog hair and spin it into yarn. Can’t say that I’ve ever encountered clothing item made from dog fur. However, possum fur produces a remarkably warm material.

    Who could ever be unhappy when faced with a canine-human reunion? 🙂

    Speaking of warm, we’re in for a run of three hot days. Yay for us! And it’s been over 70 years since March weather has produced such a run. Three-day scorcher in store for Melbourne

    It’s warm tonight, but was hotter during the day. Earlier today I moved a number of very large rocks and placed them on the low gradient path project. Added some more soil there, and by about 2:30pm, I was done… 🙂 Brought that wiped-out poop feeling onto my own head! Watered all of the new-ish citrus trees about an hour ago as the sun was going down. Things are looking dry. Hmm. There is plenty of moisture in the shady areas though.

    Scraping frost and ice off vehicle glass down here is almost unknown, and I doubt those plastic scrapers you mentioned are even available. I generally use cold water, and start the car and get the heater blasting onto the windows. Does the hitting of the door with your hand break the freeze? How bad were car heaters back in the day?

    New toy! Yay! So this decision came about because we went to the hardware shop and purchased two 10m rolls of 25mm conduit (for the solar re-wiring we did last week) and a plastic enclosure box. The $105 total was quite the surprise. Materials are super-expensive down here, but I hadn’t really taken note as to recent inflationary pressures. Anywhoo, the timber posts for the wood shed and second greenhouse might be up around $100 each. Something has to give. Why not use what we have? Sweat equity is an old story for me.

    It would have been that radio set at a guess, and the antenna would have been a problem for him. Incidentally, he was lucky to have been under General Patton who appears to have been better at his job than most. I was reading about the Battle of the Bulge recently, and that was a brutal campaign.

    My grandfather did not discuss such things with me either. Most of what I learned was by sitting quietly and listening to the talk with him and his WWII mates. And they’d only discuss such things around the campfire after a few whiskeys. They brought me along to fetch things for them, kind of similar to the ski-lesson-kid. 🙂 But it was always interesting to hear, and the things they must have seen and done.

    Sandra’s dad was in his forties when she was born, and during WWII he’d been a young bloke in Czechoslovakia and dodged being swept up as canon fodder by the Germans. The Red Army eventually got him via conscription, and after a few years he managed to literally run into West Germany. I reckon the experience messed him up, although he was probably a bit dodgy to begin with and something of a loner. It is icky stuff, yeah.

    By comparison to him, my grandfather was old school in his outlook, and so had a huge support network, and was an active member in many different clubs, some related to ex-military. I think that made a big difference. Dunno.

    I could never bring myself to watch that Tom Hanks movie. It’s meant to be very realistic. I reckon the last war movie watched was ‘Kelly’s Heroes’, which bizarrely is meant to be a comedy. It had a young Clint Eastwood and an out of place hippy Donald Sutherland as a tank commander. An intriguing film.

    Hehe! Big feed! Yum! 🙂 Sounds like fun. Hope that there was coffee. Hmm, coffee.

    Dogs aren’t really cool about having their patterns up-ended, although I’m sure Dame Avalanche is even-handed about such things, maybe. I always joke around saying that if such things happen, the dogs perquisites aren’t being maintained. And they know such things. They’re all knocked out tonight after running around in the heat all day long.

    Very good. Nice sunsets. Dodged randomly teleported marsupials. Excellent. Diner with lady. Yum! That’s what I’d call a good day!



  26. Hi Lewis,

    You got lucky that day. It could have been far worse and turned out very badly with that stick incident. Having eyes does make life somewhat easier. Sometimes I watch people doing all manner of physical jobs with machines and stuff, and they aren’t wearing eye protection. Even with safety glasses, you can still get stuff in your eyes, but without them…

    When angle grinding (or using the chainsaw) anything nowadays, I use both safety glasses and a face shield mesh. It sounds a bit over the top, but many years ago I had to go to an eye doctor to get a tiny chunk of metal removed. The chunk had lodged in the surface of the eye. So he locks my head in a vice, inverts the eyelid and then without telling me, uses a syringe to suck the chunk of metal out of the surface of the eye. Brave Sir Chris! After it was removed, I passed out. 🙂 Only the second time in my life that had happened. Complete and utter brain overload resulted in total brief shut down. And the doctor was really nasty about it, he just wanted me out of there. Nice bedside manner. So yeah, after that the mesh face mask is no big deal to me.

    I hear you about the squeamish side of that story. It’s not something you really come across frequently, but yeah I get that about the no drama perspective too. It’s just a thing and something which has to be lived with.

    The Editor loves Agatha Christie books. I’m of the opinion that the books are rather successful because often the stories portray the fictional ladies doing rather bad things. I hadn’t known that the author hated the character Poirot. You may have alerted me to this unusual state of affairs? Sometimes I guess the author must bend to the demands of the reading public, although I can’t imagine this is a common occurrence. Is it?

    I’ll bet the yearly convention gets a bit err, hot… 🙂 I’m struggling to understand what would even go on at an annual convention for such fiction. Imagine if an author, not enjoying a social media presence in the first place, accidentally shared a candid opinion. People seem rather trigger happy these days, and it doesn’t take much for people to be metaphorically shot for saying stupid things. That makes sense about having a gimmick.

    Forever Amber is a saucy tale. 🙂 Just read the plot summary. You’d have to have nerves of steel, good luck, or just sheer rat cunning to thrive in such an environment. I’ll bet things ended badly for the two who at the conclusion of the story lead Amber down a bad path. Charles II seems like he knew how to enjoy himself, and probably had no great issues with gingerbread men and pies.

    I’ve not ever learned the art of speed reading, and have only respect for those who can do so.

    The church really was rockin’ out. You’re right, I was wondering about the film footage and sound quality as well, but I have this vague memory, that in the past I’d seen a much better produced version. The version watched the other night, looked like the sort of film footage I would have produced, which is a total, complete and utter travesty. So it’s been fixed up has it? The weird thing about my memory of the fixed up version was that I swear that I spotted Mick Jagger sitting in one of the pews just soaking up the awesomeness.

    Recording live music is a real art form. The national youth music broadcaster has a live music team, and after so many decades, they’re good.

    Good luck with the inspection! Hope it all goes smoothly, and more importantly, quickly. Stash job indeed!

    Oh yeah, it’s no good if half the box gets fed to the worms and soil microbes, although they’d probably appreciate the feed. That’s not a bad haul. Fresh fruit and veg is probably in very short supply in your corner of the world at this lean time of the year. I forgot to ask too, was the cheap store the one which should have rats? You’ve created quite the impression there.

    Far out, that’s cold. I reckon you’ll get another frost given that there is a likelihood that La Nina is gathering pace. We’re in for a run of three hot days beginning to tomorrow. Sucks to be us. And two of the nights will be warm too. Three-day scorcher in store for Melbourne.

    It was also hot today. Summer was delayed this year, although this morning began with thick fog, so the forest scored a bit of a drink of water. In the shady orchard I noticed that even after today’s heat, there were still some drops of water in the grass from the fog this morning. The season is turning.

    I moved a whole bunch of large rocks and placed them on the low gradient path. Then excavated and placed soil on the path. And by mid-afternoon, I was done. A hot, hard day.

    Thanks for the poetry! That was a fun rhyme.



  27. Hi, Chris!

    What a timely post, as Spring is officially here, like your fall. The Phoebe birds are back, the Spring Peepers are peeping at night in the pond behind us, and flowers are blooming everywhere, including the trees. I have only had time to plant radishes outside, but hope to do beets today, carrots and onions.

    I see lots and lots of magazines for sale in the grocery stores and chemist shops, even gas (petrol) stations, besides the increasingly rare book stores. I can’t afford them myself, but someone must buy them as they are up-to-date. I wonder about the newspaper that I buy for my mother every day. They are in the same stores, 5 or 6 different newspapers every day. Is someone subsidizing the printing of these papers? I keep hearing that newspaper publishers are losing a lot of money.

    You mentioned mulch: I did not have time – as I think I told you before – to mulch the fall-planted greens. We have all kinds. They all did really well, grew some all winter – on the many below-freezing days they just waited, but did not die – and they are really flourishing now. Perhaps the lack of mulch was good?

    My winter rainfall chart would look something like your summer chart: Lots of rain, almost every day, one reason I am behind with the outdoor planting.

    “You have to start somewhere” – that is one of my mantras.

    Asparagus in the fall? I don’t believe we ever had more than a stalk or two in the fall. And it seems like only yesterday that you planted the grapes. All of my favorite foods in your kitchen!

    You have been busy this week! Especially – how many people rewire their solar systems . . .

    I sure do like the mining photos. And thanks for the flowers as always. I would call that a York and Lancaster Rose, though the internet does not agree. Or at least a Peppermint (Stick) Rose.


  28. Chris:

    I just came in from planting the beets and some more radishes (and from searching for Mr. Baby, who has a strict schedule because of his heart problems and he felt that it was a good idea to hide under some tarps). It is always refreshing, I guess we could say, to know that we are not at peak rocks as I dug up more rocks of all sizes, even a couple of baby boulders, in the beet bed.


  29. Hi Chris,
    I’ve been using our wood ash and coffee grounds along with some other minerals particularly on our fruit trees. Due to three dry summers our Asian pears which we planted haven’t grown much though.

    Many years ago I read the Ruth Stout book in which she espoused the use of mulch. I do use a layer of much in the fall but include sticks, food scraps and whatever along with the mulched leaves. Our soils consist of a lot of clay so really need the organic matter. The mulch is particularly good, as you know, for conserving moisture. We still haven’t gotten much rain here though places not far from us have gotten plenty. Temperatures continue to be above normal but not quite so much as recently.

    How fun checking out the ruins close to you. There’s so much nearby to explore if you know where to look.


  30. Yo, Chris – Riffing on a couple of things DJ and you mentioned. Yup. Raven was a trickster. One of my favorite stories is “Raven Steals the Sun.” The TV series “Northern Exposure” had a really nice retelling of the story. With the masks and dancing. I couldn’t find it. Years ago, I was up on the Olympic Peninsula, crawling around underneath tables in a junk shop. Found a cedar carving of Raven. Just over a foot tall. I’ve shown it to a number of people, and some say it’s a native carving, and some say not. I really love it, and it sits on my dresser. For some tribes, Coyote is the trickster.

    My Dad never talked much about WWII. Just the odd comment, now and again. He had a plaque, with all his awards on it. A Silver Star and two Bronze Stars. Wouldn’t ever tell us what they were for. He used to have nightmares. It’s funny, but when we moved to Vancouver, Washington, out in the country, they stopped.

    Yeah, I might have ended up with an eye patch. My whole life could have been different. A parrot, a ship … 🙂 When I worked at the shop that made wooden clogs, once a week we would do repairs. That involved grinding down what was left of the rubber soles, evening out the wood so they could be re-soled. Often, I’d hit a small stone or a piece of glass. Boy, would the sparks fly! Safety glasses? You betcha!

    Some doctors are total a.. h…s. I guess they don’t get that there are a lot of doctors, in the sea.

    I also don’t like Poirot. Christie has so many other crime solvers, that I find more appealing. Oh, sometimes authors bow to fan pressure. Or, they have money problems. Arthur Conan Doyle killed off Sherlock Holmes, and then, due to fan pressure, brought him back. Kind of related, I just discovered there won’t be a season thirteen of “the Big Bang Theory.” Jim Parsons, who plays Sheldon, wouldn’t renew his contract. From the articles I read, I didn’t get the idea that it was because he wanted more money. In fact, no reason was given. I speculate that maybe, after twelve seasons, he was just tired of it, and wanted to do something else. Or maybe, he’s superstitious, and didn’t want to do a season thirteen. 🙂

    Romance writers go to those conventions, as a lot of them are angling for an agent. Or, a publisher. Hallmark is really pumping out the romances. The library has gotten quit a few of them. Dozens. I see the author of a script is paid between $50,000 – $60,000 dollars, per script. There are also residuals.

    Being a disaster fan, I like “Forever Amber,” as it had the plague and the great London fire. Yup, they brought Charles II back from exile, because they wanted their pies and gingerbread men. And, to reopen the theaters. And, Christmas.

    You are correct! Mick Jaeger was at the second night of the “Amazing Grace” concert. He was in LA to finish up an album. I’d say, the screw up was a combination of things. Technology wasn’t all that advanced at the time. Especially, when dealing with remote broadcasts. I was talking to our security guard, last night, and he mentioned he’s just got a record player. We talked a bit about The Revenge of Analog. 🙂

    The cheap store that looks like it has rats, is a bit out of my way. The Dollar + store and the other cheap grocery, are in the same complex.

    I saw an article that the past nine months are the hottest on record. I’m going to get that air conditioner. Just in case.

    I read Mr. Greer’s post, last night. I knew that birthrates were dropping in some countries, but didn’t know it was so widespread.

    I heard this morning that the inspection crew are doing the Centralia facility, first. So we won’t see them until after lunch. As I’m on the third floor, and apartment #311, they won’t get to me until late. Unless they decide to do the third floor, first.

    I did the final polish, and finished about midnight. Except I left the kitchen sink, til this morning. There was no room in the dumpster for a bag of trash, so I had to wait until it was emptied, this morning. I have my DVD player on a chair, next to my recliner. That had to go as it blocks access to one of the emergency rip cords. And, the extension cord to my DVD player is verboten. (Trip hazard.) I stashed the small space heater, and fan I have. Trip hazard, fire hazard, whatever. It goes on and on. No pans on the stove. So my cast iron skillet needed to be stashed. I remembered to turn on the circuit breaker, for the base board heaters. Not that I ever use them. I’m sure it would be the end of the world, if I forgot.

    It’s all kind of pointless. This crew will have their own concerns and hobby-horses, that will differ from the next crew. The inspections are numerically scored (for the whole building.) I bet you dollars to donuts, the score effects if our building manager gets a raise, and how much. Or maybe they’ll just give her a fancy new title. :-). Oh, well. It’s the price we pay for cheap rent. Lew

  31. Hello Chris,

    Good luck on your chainsaw mill adventure! A friend of my younger brother makes and sells these ones I never tried one.
    I have only used a bandsaw to cut logs, but only a few times in my life. I guess the main advantage of bandsaws is to lose less wood, through a thinner cut.
    Probably you will generate quite a lot of rest-wood that is useful as firewood.
    Let us know how it goes!

    Here the frosts are back, and weather is great. Tomorrow we will have our farm-shop open for people to come by get trees.
    We have open shop every Saturday in March and November, and half the people who show up I know (of), and half the people are new acquaintances. So many nice people. Not yet any obnoxious customer, but that will undoubtedly happen too.

    Vole count 17, but still a few to go, I think.

    Our country has today joined the Nay-to group of militaristic countries, and despite being an officer in the reserve, I mourn this day of submission to Empire. Looking at the last 20 years of N*** interventions, I see only tragic mishaps like Libbia, Afarnistan and Eye-rak.

    To tackle the headwinds, I planted some seeds and with a friend dug in ground anchors for our second polytunnel. If weather keeps clear, we can start building the tunnel next week.

    By the way, my kind-of inlaw-relative from Scottish Grampian Highlands managed to get a pacific island named after him:
    Imagine four whole years there?


  32. Chris,

    Glad you enjoyed the article. Raven figures more prominently in the coastal mythologies than in the mythologies hereabouts. I’ll occasionally read a few stories in a book I have on Native American myths and legends. Stories are from various places in North America. Interesting stories and a different way of looking at the world.

    Sharing the culture is something the Princess enjoys at these events. It’s always good to see how other groups do things. On our travels, we have visited with other Native groups and seen versions of basketry from several geographic areas. The techniques and designs/patterns can be vastly different than those found in the northwest.

    Yes, one of the teenage girls in the neighborhood helped me and her friends harvest a bunch of fur from Dame Avalanche. Then she went home and spent the weekend making finger puppets out of Avalanche fur. Apparently her teachers at school weren’t impressed the following Monday. Maybe because she tended to play with the puppets during class?

    Gawrsh, 38C in March? That’s like 38C here in September. It happens but is rare. And perhaps 3 consecutive days? Ouch!

    Okay, Lew’s little poem about spring is an old one. I learned it back when I was a wee lad before Stonehenge was built. 😉 I amended the poem about 30 years ago after an especially long-lasting winter: Spring has sprung, the grass has rose, I wonder where the snowy goes.

    I know that wiped out feeling well! Ugg. Our snow is almost all gone even from the back yard. But in the well shaded areas…Naturally, those areas coincide with the areas that get a lot of natural mosses growing amidst the grass.

    Yeah, I’ve had good luck with banging on the door to break the icy layer. It can break the outer layer if it is thin, and maybe help overall. Once the ice has been broken, then the door opens and the car can be started and thawed out. I’ll run the heater on the inner windshield. Start on one window with the ice scraper, go around the back of the car doing windows, then do the windshield last after the heater has possibly done some thawing. Depends on how cold it is. With some kinds of frost/ice and in very humid conditions, getting the windshield clear can be a big chore. I see many people who take shortcuts and only scrape a small area on the windshield, ignore the side windows and the rear window. Bad idea…no visibility and 100% at fault if a wreck occurs.

    Here’s another one for you that you likely get to avoid. The 7cm of snow last weekend. Well, most people will not brush the snow off the roof of the vehicle. Many leave the snow covering the rear window and all of the headlights and taillights! When the car starts to warm up, the snow on the roof begins to melt. Car hits the brakes and the 7cm of snow slides down totally covering the windshield. Rather a bad thing when in traffic.

    Sweat equity wins out again for you. Material prices are rather insane, aren’t they? Might as well mill your own posts from timber on hand.

    Unfortunately, dad’s unit was assigned to Montgomery’s army throughout the fighting. Dad had nothing but respect for Montgomery, but he REALLY respected and liked Patton. He felt privileged to be attached to Patton’s HQ for awhile.

    He even (sort of) met Patton one evening. Dad had been skiing all day. His job was mail clerk for HQ, which could be done at night. So, he’d have his uniform shirt unbuttoned and untucked, was not wearing his leggins, boots weren’t entirely laced and were untied. He DID wear his cap. One night he wheeled his mail cart into Patton’s office only to discover that a party was underway featuring Patton himself and all of his senior officers. Dad lowered his head, pulled down the brim of his cap, hurriedly dumped the outgoing mail into his cart, and left the office. He ran like mad down the hall into another office. Just as he got out of sight of Patton’s office, he heard that door slam open and Patton’s voice yell, “What the &$!@^% was THAT!” Dad was always in perfect uniform thereafter when going about his duties.

    Yeah, Battle of the Bulge was extremely brutal. Extremely. The fighting was nasty, the weather was hideous, and Murphy’s Law was abundantly active.

    A large support network that includes others who have gone through similar circumstances helps. That’s true about any traumatic events. I’ve known other people who had no support groups and it was hard for them to learn how not to have a chip on their shoulders. Or other problems.

    That Tom Hanks movie WAS brutal. From the very start. But once you start talking about “Kelly’s Heroes”, we’re getting into nicer territory, although it was even too much for dad. It’s one of my favorites…I liked Donald Sutherland’s take on that character. “Dirty Dozen” and “The Great Escape” are 2 more of my favorites.

    Yes, coffee. Endless supply of coffee. It was very good coffee. The Princess had Earl Grey tea. Hard to go wrong with Earl Grey, but it’s breakfast. Coffee.

    We hit +11C today. And it was sunny. Dame Avalanche and I went for an extra long walk. She slept a lot after we got home. After about 5 consecutive nights near -7C, it felt almost hot out.

    The crows and ravens have begun their annual antics. Today I observed several crows frolicking nearby. A lone raven flew up from the river, some 3km away, just to sit in a large pine tree and irritate the crows. It worked. The crows were irked, the raven was in an invulnerable position. Fun to watch their interactions.


  33. Hi Margaret,

    It’s a good use of used coffee grounds in an orchard, and I could see that the trees would particularly benefit from the addition of wood ash. I like to chuck in a bit of agricultural lime and bone meal (which we call ‘blood and bone’) into the mix as well. Using it on vegetables requires a bit of re-jigging in the quantities, but that’s life – this stuff is complicated. But it works. 🙂

    Ah, yes, Asian pears enjoy soil moisture, sorry to say. Yup. Are yours in full sun? The pears here (excluding the Manchurian Pear) are planted in the shady orchard so avoid the hot afternoon sun in the summer months, and in particular the Asian nashi pears are planted right next to the chicken enclosure.

    But you know what, some years there just isn’t enough rainfall. You’ve got town water haven’t you?

    I so hear you about the slow growing fruit trees. The pears here took about a decade before they began growing and producing in earnest, so it might be just early days at your place? And you never really know what happened to the soil there before you and Doug bought the place. If you can spare the trees some excess chook poop, they’d probably appreciate the boost.

    In a really strange twist of fate, earlier today I’d read a critique of Ruth Stout’s book on mulch gardening. I can’t speak for that particular method, but early on used heaps of mulch. That was the general advice on what to do. We’ve lived here since 2010, and have incidentally brought in coffee grounds in quantity regularly since those days. But in the early years we brought in about 800 cubic yards of mulch. It sounds like a lot, but over a long enough period of time and regularly, it’s easy to handle. There was little to no top soil here either. It was all hard clay and stuff. The fruit trees grew very slowly, in fact far slower than what I’d observed in the gardens of other people I knew in the area. It was a bit of a mystery.

    Then, one day out of the blue, Claire (who comments here) gave me a very polite reality check. The mulch was good, and good for upping the soil organic matter, but alone it was not good enough for what I was trying to do (i.e. grow fruit and vegetables). Even with the addition of kitchen scraps, coffee grounds you name it, not enough. It’s a bit gross, but I even once trialled composting local road kill. Still, not enough.

    So, as you do when you have too much free time (just joking, I don’t), I read further into the subject, and committed to run the experiment with what I’d only just read for two years and so changed the soil fertilisation routine. And since then, everything has just grown and fruit production has increased. Claire was 100% correct with her advice. The soil minerals were originally totally and utterly out of whack. All my fault too. 🙂

    Incidentally, the basis of the critique was that Ruth’s guidelines may work in her area, Connecticut I believe where summers are green, elsewhere, maybe not so much. And I’m also of the belief that as soils get depleted all over the place, the quality of the straw, hay, mulch whatever, has also dropped. When that book was written, I’m sorry to say it, but soil fertility was a whole lot higher than it is today.

    To be honest, I don’t really enjoy having to take a deep dive into subjects, and would prefer to simply take advice. But when you follow the advice, and I did with the mulch, and the results were so poor, that it forces me to have to learn the hard way (bit by slow bit). Far out, I dunno. I wish there was an easier way. In many ways it’s been a similar journey to what I had to do with renewable energy technology. A lot of pain, but you get there. I just get a deeper insight into how things might be in the wider world…

    Hope you get some rain soon. We’re having three hot days at 100’F each, which hasn’t occurred since the 1940’s. Oh well, variability and stuff.

    Thanks! Yeah it is amazing how much is all around us. 🙂 Truly, Sandra and I are often the only visitors to those ruins, and it’s not like they’re fenced off or anything.



  34. Hi Pam,

    Yum! Yum! You’ll be enjoying radishes fresh from the garden soon. How good are radishes? 🙂 Hey, I’d heard that there is something of a beetroot shortage down under. Apparently, the story is that the canning side of the operation was shipped over the Tasman Sea to New Zealand, and I believe has now been closed down. Awful, and so no beetroot slices in hamburgers any more, or vegie burgers (which we do). It’s a national travesty, which I’m sure wouldn’t happen in your country. 🙂 Oh well, they’re easy to grow plants.

    Ah, cats have their own mind about these sorts of things, although in this particular instance, Mr Baby would do well to take his medicine. Hope he did do just that? For your interest when Ruby was stung by the bullant swarm a month or so ago her antihistamines and fish oil were difficult to get her to consume. Have to laugh, if I was that wiped out, I’d be sooking a lot and wanting some relief. She could barely walk, but still had strong opinions. Dogs…

    Nice to hear. Pam, Peak Rocks is real, and it’s no good. Glad to hear that the latest digging technologies employed at your place has delayed the inevitable for a little while longer. Rocks are useful items. We’ve now run out of large rocks again and will have to smoosh up a boulder. It’s a bit hot for such work at the moment. 100’F today and for the next two days.

    Had to look up what a Phoebe bird is. Thought it may have been something on a repeat of that show ‘Friends’. A lovely looking bird, and do they do good work in the garden? They look like insect eaters to me, and are strinkingly similar to the wrens here. I’d not known what you meant by ‘Spring peepers’, but they look a lot like the tree frogs here, except yours are clearly louder. Hope they called the beginning of spring correctly?

    Interesting. The market for such periodicals is far smaller down here, so they can run into trouble quicker I’m guessing based on casual observations of the industry. I don’t buy them either, and like you are working out ways to save mad cash. Yup. Well, I dunno for sure, but you hear stories about content being paid for and placed in such things. Probably not an ideal situation.

    Hmm. A worthy experiment, and I’m real sorry for you about how that all came about.

    Without repeating myself on the topic of mulch, I wrote a lengthy description of my own journey with that stuff in the reply to Margaret. Dunno really. I suspect that it can work in some places, but here down under the soils have just been flogged for so long, that I reckon even the mulch you can get isn’t all that good for what I wanted to do with it. It’s not all bad and will do some good, just it’s maybe not so good for vegetables.

    Hehe! Enjoy the rain whilst you’ve got it is my thinking in the matter. It’s pretty hot outside now, so I’m dreaming of rain – which may turn up later in the week. Some parts of the continent are getting a lot of rain at the moment.

    🙂 Thanks for the mantra.

    Yeah, we get fresh asparagus spears from spring right through to autumn. Somehow the climate here is ideal for the plant. And I also add rock salt to the soil (and also a good soil feed) in the raised beds at the start of each growing season. They do need raised beds. Oh yeah.

    Hehe! There’s usually something to eat from the garden for a big chunk of the year. It might not be what you want to eat though.

    Thanks for noticing and saying that. The re-wiring was an epic job, but needed to be done – I’d almost put the jackhammer through two of the extra low voltage cables… Oops… Had a quite day today though. Not much you can do in such heat.

    Pam, I defer to your best guesses with the Roses. There is a list of the actual varieties, somewhere. It’s a bit like the fruit trees, I know not which variety is which!



  35. Hi Göran,

    Mate, what a bandsaw! I’d wondered whether anyone produced an electric version. Most of the machines down here use petrol engines. The specifications for the bandsaw suggested that the motors (which I noted was quite large) ran at 7.5kW or 10.0kW. I’m assuming that is three phase 415V? It’s a beast of a machine, which the solar power system here could sadly not run. I was amazed at the speed of the cutting. What a machine. It would be far quieter than the noisy thing I’ll use.

    You’re spot on, the bandsaw blade has slightly less wastage. The real advantage is a much bigger motor. For your interest, my chainsaw is a bit on the smaller side of things, but will do the job. It’s 3.8kW (or 5hp). The 10kW motor in the electric bandsaw you mentioned would be 13hp output. The chainsaw won’t cut fast, but it’s a far cheaper option and I know how to maintain and/or rebuild the machine. 😉 It’s also worth pointing out that the petrol motors in bandsaws down here have an output which is usually greater than 13hp. My option is going to be a lot of hard work…

    You also have to have somewhere to store those big machines, and that was a consideration.

    Hope the farm shop opening went well and you sold many trees! 🙂

    I’m also yet to meet a gardener / grower who is obnoxious. But as you wisely note, it’s perhaps only a matter of time. I’d have to suggest that testing yourself against the environment and trying to produce something is a humbling experience.

    Go Göran! Nice work. Testing ourselves against the rat-cunning displayed by so many different species of rodent is likewise a humbling experience. Have you thought about getting a dog or cat? Might help with the work.

    Why the f… would they want to do that? I thought you guys made a point about being independent from such things? Oh well. All we can but do is get back to growing and hope that the folks in charge know what they are doing – but deep down my best guess is that their brains may be out to lunch. Good luck. And also respect for giving your time.

    Humour me for a second. Right now, every second meal anywhere on this planet is produced from food fertilised thanks to the nitrates extracted from natural gas. That resource appears to be in decline. It’s a problem, and it doesn’t matter what type of diet a person consumes because as far as I comprehend things, any reduction in nitrates anywhere in the food chain, will reduce protein levels, even in animals and the manures used for compost, you name it. Hmm.

    Yes, before worry and headwinds, plant seeds, dig ground anchors for poly tunnel. After worry and headwinds, plant seeds, dig ground anchors for poly tunnel. You heard it here first! But you already knew that… 😉 The second polytunnel theory. I like it. Over the next year or so, we’ll build the second greenhouse. I hear you.

    The intrepid Scottish bloke sure was a long way from home! Looking at the statistics, that island has a really nice climate. But the topography!!!! Not much in the way of flat land.



  36. Hi DJ,

    The western mindset favours a reductionist approach to the world, and it does work. Look at how we are communicating. It’s pretty amazing. Where it fails to work is when things go wrong with the big picture. The western mind struggles to see that view, and there are good reasons for doing so. I’ve noticed that the stories I’ve read tend to look at the world from a very different perspective, and often it is from a much bigger framework. Yeah, they are interesting and have something to say, if we but care to listen.

    Good stuff. It’s always interesting to see how things are done differently elsewhere, and of course that is culture and how it is expressed.

    You’d think that the teachers would have been pleased at the display of ingenuity. It doesn’t get more local a resource than Dame Avalanche fur. I’ll bet that she has a soft coat. The neighbour has a Husky which I was surprised to discover visiting today. Probably wasn’t meant to be. I know the dogs name and he came when called, and I thought I better call the neighbour, the dog won’t go anywhere. Well I figured that wrong, the husky shot off to see the chickens (they were fine) and then the neighbour came running down the driveway looking for the dog. Naughty husky went even further afield, but now seems to be back under control. I suggested some training may be in order to the owner. Probably not a bad idea. Huskies as you would know, are not for everyone. Glad Ollie was in the house at the time.

    It was a bit cooler here today, but peaked at 38’C in the big smoke. Mind you, the official thermometer was moved into a park near a river, so I presume it felt much hotter in built up areas. At near on 8pm, it’s still 27’C. A warm overnight tonight… Then hot again for the next couple of days.

    Haha! Thanks for the poetry modification. 🙂

    No point working hard today, so took it easy. Haven’t done much really, mainly cooking under the car port outside, and chores. Ugg! We get a lot of moss here too in the shady areas. Quite nice really. They tell me that it is a good material with which to start seeds in.

    What the heck? How could anyone drive without visibility from the side or rear windows… Holy carp dude! My brain is now exploding from the thought of the sheer idiocy of those life choices.

    Actually with frost on the roof of the Dirt Rat Suzuki Jimny, we do let the ice slide off the roof onto the front of the car, but the odd chunk of ice is nothing like 7cm worth of snow!!! Yikes. The roof design of that car is quite interesting because it has old school gutters. The same thing happens with water from heavy rainfall. You stop and the water gushes forward, but I’ve never known it to obscure vision, like 7cm of snow would do… Far out some people have difficulty considering risk. It’s not good.

    The cost of materials is exorbitant, relative to my memories of what they used to be. So why not give it a go and use the resources we have access too. From a long term perspective, the soil critters will eventually eat all that we do, even the rock work. Still, I’d like to think that at some future date, the archaeologists from an unusual species, possibly of the Corvidae family, will be looking at the remains of this place and pronouncing: Definitely a temple!

    Ah, I see. Having just read about Montgomery, I rather liked what he’d written about his experiences with the senior command during WWI. He would have been a good general to serve under. Dude, there were some clues about the blokes wiring, namely err, serious focus. Yeah. A bloke to be trusted in a tight spot who’d have your back, but don’t put him in front of the cameras and media. Just leave him to do what he does. And your dad got lucky there to avoided trouble. I’d read a minor side story in the Jack Vance autobiography where on a WWII ship in the Pacific theatre, and he’d constructed a home made still – which the captain discovered. Nobody owned up, and the author was apparently on tenterhooks for the rest of the voyage.

    The Battle of the Bulge was the final straw for the Germans, and it was a tough battle of attrition in, as you note, truly horrid conditions.

    Yes, support networks are a very wise thing for dealing with any trauma. 😉 I tell ya man, I have very occasionally worked in some very toxic environments where people play head games with you. It’s like a slow boil such places, and all you can do is run. And try not to repeat the mistakes which landed you there in the first place. Always something new to learn.

    Good to hear, you’ve got good taste in movies. I sometimes say to people when they’re asking me what I’m doing: “I’m catching some rays, man!” and they have no idea what I’m talking about, but it’s fun.

    Yum! Yum! Coffee is good. Ugg! Early Grey tea, hot! Also good! Ugg! Known to be especially good when enjoyed in space. 😉

    Far out that’s cold… -7’C is the whole next level of brr. 11’C is nice though, quite pleasant really. I’d like it to get that cold tonight, but it won’t. 26’C outside now. Might open up the house and let some fresh air in, and hopefully no rando Huskies, not that there is anything wrong with the dogs. Just might not play so well with the dogs here.

    Go the Raven! When you’re the boss, it should be self evident.



  37. Hi Lewis,

    Man, you’re kind of left with the awful feeling that there will be something really wrong with that ancient bread. No amount of vegemite or marmite would sort that business. 🙂 I’d like to be wrong, but I kind of doubt it. Dumb question, how was the ancient kitchen left in that state? The article never really mentioned any theories as to why the settlement was eventually abandoned. Some of the photos of the surrounding area look pretty inhospitable to me but unfinished food has a sudden disaster feel to it, don’t you reckon? Hey, how about them aurochs? Wouldn’t want to meet one of those alone in the forest.

    There’s a lot of variance in the Raven Steals the Sun stories. If I dare make the observation, Raven may indeed be a trickster, but he also provided a guide to better living. Nice find with the carving, and if you find the Raven pleasing, then that’s enough don’t you reckon? It’s a good reminder too.

    Speaking of wolf-esque tricksters, my neighbours Husky came over for a visit today. My first thought was: what are you doing here? The dog looked happy enough, and came when I called his name. A thick coat for a hot day. I presumed that after the introduction, the dog would hang around, but no he left, just as I was reaching for the phone and the neighbour comes running down the driveway. A wild heart that dog. Huskies are smart dogs, although I don’t really want to find out how the dog would interact with Ollie. Could be a problem. Seems like the owner got the dog back, and I suggested training might help. Yup, coyote is a trickster.

    Dunno, but it makes you wonder if your dad saw action in some of the towns and cities during WWII? Going through an urban area would be a nightmare of sensory overload. It’s not good. Moving to a quieter locale works wonders.

    A parrot. A ship. A career as a privateer! 🙂 Indeed. Oh my gawd, I can see that grinding down process on the shoes would create a lot of flying debris mess. And like you mentioned, you’d never know what was lurking in the heel material. No substitute for safety glasses. I dunno how people do such work, and don’t wear the safety gear. Funnily enough, when chainsawing, no matter how hot, I wear the chaps (the thick leg and groin protectors). The crusty old forestry dude I trained under for a couple of days put the risk bluntly – it’s the softest part of your anatomy. He’s not wrong. Ouch. Sometimes a small chunk of timber can catch and be flung back at you – at speed. It’s happened to me, except the chunk hit the chaps. Still hurt though.

    Man, it’s warm here tonight. The interweb tells me it is 90’F in the big smoke at 10pm, and fortunately it is a bit cooler here at 77’F. Still way too hot for my liking. Didn’t really do much today, just a bit of cooking (outside under the car port in the shade) and chores. A bit of quiet reading which was nice. The Editor is having a girls night with friends, whatever it is they do, probably talking rubbish and stuff. It’s quiet and nice here, but far too warm. Tomorrow and the day after will also be hot. At least tomorrow night is meant to be cooler. Oh well, mustn’t grumble, well maybe just a little bit. 😉

    Yeah. That word really sums up my experience. And is a reminder that to avoid such a person, wear the safety gear.

    The Editor really enjoys the Poirot character. Dunno what to say about that. Anywhoo, truly I thought Dr Watson was the better character and did most of the heavy lifting. Sherlock Holmes seemed to be a most unpleasant person, well that was my take on what little of that series I’d read. Let’s put it this way: I wasn’t left reaching for more and I applaud the Sir author who wisely killed him off.

    It’d be pretty hard giving for 12 seasons in an especially well loved show. There’d be a lot of pressure. Even the Fonz eventually jumped the shark, literally in that case. Maybe it was simply time? But like you say, it’s equally possible that the dude is superstitious and just didn’t want to do a series 13. Who knows what bad juju may accrue from that act?

    What? No way… That is one lucrative feed trough, if you can get your snout into the juicy bits. I had no idea a script was worth that much. I’d imagine that there’d be a lot of competition to break into that market? In that light, the convention makes a whole bunch of sense. With returns like that, who cares what serious (and possibly less well remunerated) authors think?

    Oh yes, the theatres and Christmas were solid recoveries as well. Mate, I’m not sold on the idea of Puritanism. They’re probably very dull and boringly earnest people. I’ll bet they hated coffee as well, if it was even around in those days. No doubts they find some excuse to burn me at the stake because I had trouble getting out of bed one morning… 😉

    I thought Sir Mick was sitting in the crowd. The original version I watched had really been fixed up, and that was a good thing. I’d heard accounts that some of the Beatles final live shows just couldn’t manage the audio well at all, due to the state of amplifier and speaker technology at the time. Puts a new spin on the term ‘barely audible’ I guess. Nowadays just having a turntable is no big deal. A lot of stuff is getting released on vinyl. It gets sold as merch from what I hear. Bands do it tough, but then crazily a few artists just dominate.

    Ah, I see. Rats are further away. Incidentally, from my perspective, this is a good thing. The Club pantry is a great idea.

    Well, it’s hot here tonight. It’s even hotter in Adelaide, the capital city of the state of South Australia. Someone who comments here occasionally is up that way. The records suggest that for this run of heat, it was last felt in the 1940’s, so it’s not unprecedented, just rare. But on average, things are heating up. Makes sense to be prepared.

    I hadn’t known that the the drop was that widespread as well. From a crass economic perspective, any decline in the population will destroy house prices. That’s what supply exceeding demand looks like. Things are so expensive here, that sooner or later I wonder at what point new people stop arriving?

    Ha! My guess is that by the time the crew get to your place, they’ll be tired and wanting to go home. Might work out to your advantage?

    You’re not wrong about the hobby horse bit, and how could you ever know what it would be. I remember one building inspector checking over the work we’d done for a renovation, and all he was interested in was the location of the smoke alarm. It was just so weird. Anyway, it’ll be over soon.

    It is the price you pay for cheap rent. Down here, that’s a rare thing to have.



  38. Chris:

    It is inconceivable that they are not growing beets, unless there was a serious pest/fungus/drought problem. And the tops are so good, too, though I bet they go for animal feed, which is okay.

    100F! That’s more than a bit too hot. Phoebes are Flycatchers. I’ve never seen them eat anything but insects, though surely they must be eating a bit of something else this time of the year. They never touch the bird feeder. As an added bonus, whenever they perch they bob their tails up and down the whole time. I am quite sure that it is the same pair that builds their nest under our house eaves every year. Or their offspring. A worthy bird to have around.

    The peepers called it. Spring is proceeding in full force. Yay!

    If it’s growing, I want to eat it.


  39. Yo, Chris – It will be your third greenhouse. There was the starter greenhouse (starter houses … started marriages), so the next one will be the third.

    There are a lot of theories and speculation about that settlement. I read a bit about it, in a book whose title I can’t remember. No exterior windows, they entered through holes in the roof, down ladders. Our Pueblo natives often had a similar set up. A pretty defensive set up. Haul up the ladders to get to the roofs, and you’re pretty secure. Near as they can figure, they were some transitional phase, between hunter / gatherer and farmers. Best of both worlds?

    Our Club manager, Mr. Bill has decided to name his dog Peanut. I keep H on a short leash, but Peanut rushes her and barks. H’s tail wags, so I guess she’s ok with the little mite. I wonder if the pup awakens any latent maternal instincts, in H.?

    Those chaps will come in handy, if you ever decide to become a cowboy. 🙂

    Pointless to grumble about the weather. But do it anyway. You’ll feel better 🙂 We’re having occasional sun breaks, a bit of rain spitting down, and a bit of wind.

    Puritans are still around. They just go by many other names. Generally, they’re a pain in the … ear.

    Well, the inspection was … weird. They came early afternoon, as, I don’t think they spent more than 5 minutes in my apartment. It was the building manager, the once a week handy-guy, and a sour looking old dude with a measuring stick. The independent assessor. They didn’t check a lot of stuff they usually check. So, the purpose of this whole exercise? To let us know of a change in the HUD apartment inspection rules. Nothing can be within 3 feet of a heat source. Or within 18 inches of a sprinkler head. I doubt there’s a single apartment, in the building, that is in compliance with those rules.

    Even I, who has just a small, maybe even smaller than a single bed, would be unable to comply. I’d guess most of the Inmates have Queen or King sized beds. I know Elinor does. Maybe they want us all on cots? Folding canvas tent beds? A monk’s or nun’s cell?

    But, ever resourceful, I have a plan. 🙂 I asked when we WILL have the HUD inspection. October. I’m sending a bit of furniture to the auction, about then. I’ll turn my living room, into my bedroom. There will be space for my bed … just. Heck, I never have anyone over, so what difference does it make? I don’t see anything in the rules, against it. But, when I have my sit-down with the building manager (for recertification), I’ll toss it out and see how it flies.

    My pantry closet has a sprinkler head in it. So, I can kiss goodby, using the top shelf for anything.

    Even before this, I’ve been thinking that aging is about losing things, or having things taken away. Not that I dwell on it, or, that it bothers me, much. Just part of the Vast Panorama of Nature. 🙂

    I watched a movie, last night. “Equalizer 3.” Denzel Washington. Filmed on the Italian coast, in a little out-of-the-way town, population 900. High body count. Cool explosion. Worth a bowl of popcorn. Lew PS: Time change, tonight.

  40. Hi Pam,

    I absolutely agree with you. My understanding of the situation was that there were two canneries, and the larger one closed down. How good are beets? I’m assuming you also grow Silverbeet, or Swiss Chard as it is sometimes known? Roast beets are really yummy. If I get some free time (a fine joke…) I’ll experiment with growing Sugar beets. In the past they’ve done quite well and tasted fine roasted. They’ve got 20% sugar, which is an amazing act of plant breeding.

    Hey, you’re not wrong, we eat the Silverbeet leaves, but the chickens love those leaves. I fed them a huge handful this morning.

    Pam, sorry to say, it was that hot again today, and will also be that way tomorrow. Hard to work outdoors in those conditions. It’s still 80’F indoors tonight, but has cooled a bit outside, thankfully.

    They are a worthy bird to have in the garden. The wrens here pick through all of the garden beds consuming any unfortunate insect which they find. Take that wood lice! 😉 Good to have such hard working avian species on our sides.

    Yay for spring! Frogs know their business well.




  41. Hi Lewis,

    Birds with teeth, and different claws. I was wondering that too about how birds survived when the rest of the dinosaurs bit the dust that day (or shortly thereafter). I’ve noticed that the parrots aren’t fussy eaters. The parrot population’s upper limit is set by the availability of food during the winter months. Now I feed the dogs well, and cook up a good portion of their diet from raw materials. Seems the parrots know this, and they don’t let the dogs business go to waste. I reckon it keeps them going during the winter, but they don’t waste the stuff at other times of the year either. Funnily enough, they don’t touch the other scats here, just the dogs. It’s got yuk factor that story, but the parrots are turning the dogs business into guano. It’s not a bad outcome. So, I reckon the birds which survived that time, were not fussy eaters.

    Oh yeah, it will be the third greenhouse. I’d forgotten about the first one, which has long since been disassembled and all the materials used in the much bigger replacement. There’s an inside photo of the new greenhouse on the blog tomorrow. Far out, it was hot working in there that day.

    It is still hot here tonight. Not unprecedented weather, just quite extreme for this time of year. It’ll be another hot day tomorrow. And a huge chunk of tree fell down last night, and woke me up. Funnily enough the chunk hit the ground whilst I was having breakfast this morning. I don’t sleep as well in the heat. It’s 80’F in the house right now, but a bit cooler outside.

    Well yes, starter houses and marriages are a thing. It happens. My starter house was a disaster. Someone at the time candidly mentioned that we’d bought at the poop end of the road. Yeah, thanks for that…

    I’d read that about the people exiting the buildings via the roofs. Pretty clever. I reckon the climate changed around them to a drier more arid environment, and there was fighting. I mean, why would the bread dough be suddenly left there? At the very least (if it was an orderly retreat), the bread would have been cooked and eaten. Although, they may have run out of cooking fuel? I didn’t notice a lot of trees in that area in the photos. Some parts of the world use dried animal dung as a fuel, so I dunno. Many questions, few answers…

    Peanut is a good name for a dog. There was a cartoon dog with the name Mr Peanutbutter (one word). A rather strange show, that one.

    H sounds like she’s working out the pecking order, and tail wagging is generally a friendly dog sign. She may bite Peanut to sort out err, differences. Dogs have their own language, and it’s pretty rough and tumble.

    Holy carp! You’re right, cowboys wear chaps. Probably for the same reason. Ouch.

    Thanks for the sooking rights. Man, it’s hot down here. I do feel suddenly better. 🙂 Very nice, the sunny breaks will only get longer from here on end for you. Incidentally, how are you doing after the dreaded time change?

    Just out of curiosity, was the temperance league and out reach program of the puritans? I casually noticed that in my reading about mulch gardening methods that Ruth Stout was with that mob. Quite the stalwart apparently. Hmm. Speaking of mulch, in the state to the west of here (which has been hotter again), they had a: Fire rips through mulch facility as South Australia swelters through heatwave. I doubt the fire can be put out easily. Those sorts of industrial facilities usually have sprinklers running on the mulch piles. Mate, they get hot. I’ve seen piles of grass clippings ignite. I wouldn’t waste grass clippings, and would instead drop them where they are cut. The soil critters do all the hard yards and save the risk of them igniting.

    That was a quick inspection. Ah, rules don’t have to make sense. Sorry to hear such craziness is being imposed upon you. I presume that there was an incident or judgement somewhere to cause such a knee jerk reaction? Even wood heaters don’t need three feet of clearance from the walls. I will point out that you were casually mentioning monk cells the other week. It would be impractical to store some of the offending items off site for inspections? When things get that crazy, I’ve observed that the usual outcome of adherence to the rules stops. Makes you wonder if the people coming up with such nonsense have ever stepped one foot in the your accommodation? Probably not, you’d be surprised at how strange things can get further up the hierarchy.

    On the other hand, good to hear that you have a plan! I like how your brain works. Well, sounds like a good idea to me. I guess if you ask the question, you’ll get some sort of answer.

    Why would there be a sprinkler head inside a pantry? That’s so weird. The highest shelf would constrict the flow of water anyway. Anywhoo, what the people might not be aware of is that the pumps in the building can only run so many of those sprinklers. The pumps have limits.

    Yeah, I get that about ageing. Man, what do you? If you railed against everything, you’d be fighting all of the time, just to metaphorically stay where we all happen to find ourselves. It is the vast panorama and stuff. I try to pick and choose my battles and timing, although sometimes that’s not always possible.

    High body count and explosions. A lot of drama in one small town. Eliminating problems seems to be the way of that story. The scenery would have been really nice.

    I wrote earlier due to the heat and the Editor visiting friends. A pretty slack day and bizarrely I feel tired. Oh well, brace myself for more heat tomorrow. Had a home made pizza for dinner. Yum!



  42. Yo, Chris – Besides your beet factory closing, I saw a headline “Australia Rips Out Millions of Vines.” Apparently, there’s a wine glut, and prices have fallen. The article mentioned farmers switching to citrus and nuts.

    Well, I didn’t see it in the forecast, but we had a lot of wind, last night. Gusts to 30mph. The lights flickered several times, and even the internet dropped out a few times. Our breezy conditions are to continue through tomorrow night. Prof. Mass didn’t say anything about it. His latest post was on the collapse of El Niño.

    I suppose, sooner or later, they’ll find bird fossils in burrows. Even tree dwellers might have taken temporarily to burrows. Even thought they always make out that the destruction from the comet was total, I’d guess there were isolated pockets of relative safety. Little temporary eco-systems.

    That’s interesting about the parrots favoring the dog scat. Might be their version of “highly processed food.” 🙂 Maybe easier to digest than the wild scat. Parrots talk. Ask one.

    I’m looking forward to seeing the pictures of the new greenhouse.

    Maybe someone died, in the house. There are all kinds of customs and taboos around death. As I remember, those folks buried some relatives under the floors. And frequently tore down (collapsed the roof?) and rebuilt on top. I believe the climate was wetter, then. More trees. And, they were on a river.

    Makes sense Ruth Stout was Temperance. She had a show on Public Television, way back in the day. She was pretty “starchy.” And had that fervor that infects “True Believers.” In general, from what I’ve read, Puritans only had prohibitions against over indulging in liquor. The water was so poor, generally, at that time, that beers and ciders were about the only safe drink, in some places. But they were suspicious of the fancy stuff. It was the Puritans by any other name who got on the booze ban bandwagon.

    The mulch fire article was interesting. Of course, I look at the side bar articles. The one on Australia’s “Silver Tsunami,” was interesting. You treat your elders a lot better, and I bet a trip to hospital doesn’t wipe them out, financially.

    I’d rather not have the hassle and expense of off-site storage. And, it just seems so pointless. I’ll be sending furniture and stuff to auction, around the first of October. So that will clear out a lot. Yeah, it crossed my mind that whoever makes these rules has never taken a close look at the facilities. I wonder if there will be such an uproar (as these are called Chapter 8 housing, and they’re nationwide), that they’ll back off of the nonsense.

    Well, the pantry isn’t a pantry, per se. It’s a closet with shelves. Could be used for anything. Yeah, I’d say someone, somewhere had a major screw up. Hence, the rule change. Lew

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