Walking Under Stars

The world is an amazing place. Sometimes it’s nice to take the time out from a busy life to spend a few moments looking at the world. Never know what you might miss. Right now in the middle of winter it’s cold outside, but far out the stars can put on one heck of a show here. Last night was a moonless sky, whilst the air was crispy clear, if somewhat bracing. That’s what a woollen hat, alpaca fleece scarf and other miscellaneous items of animal derived clothing shield you from. Stars filled the sky to the horizon and you could even see the band of the Milky Way winding it’s way across through galactic space.

The night sky around midnight Saturday night

Living out in the forest, a person is immersed in nature. There’s always something going on. The other day the local family of magpies were mercilessly teasing the hapless Kelpie dog, Ruby.

One of the local magpies keeps well away from the hapless Ruby

I warn the magpies whenever either Dame Plum and/or Ruby are running around the orchards. Those birds hear the call: “Chook, chook, chook”, and they’ll be ready and alert for dog mischief. The two dogs are total athletes who just want to run, so they’ll run, and fast. The magpies usually already know the two Kelpies are running around, but it doesn’t hurt to build upon friendly relations with the birds. In the city, those birds swoop people and cause all manner of distress, but not here. When there’s trouble in the area, the magpies will make their alert call. When the trouble is more than they can handle, they’ll come and get my attention and assistance.

Much of the clean up work we do in the adjacent forest makes it better for many, but perhaps not all, of the forest critters. Humans can be active players in the environment. The thing is, if you make a particular choice, well, it effects something else over there. That’s life. None of us live out lives in a vacuum free from consequence. It’s often forgotten that doing nothing is a choice, and has consequences. The birds in particular love the work we do. When we clean up the century of left over loggers mess, sometimes we’ll discover termite mud tunnels buried deep into an old dead tree. The birds observe Sandra and I whilst we are at our work, and then they happily dine upon juicy termites and wood borer grubs. They fly in pretty close nowadays.

The soil fertility has been slowly improving over the past eighteen years. And after a century of logging, it needed to. Every time a log was ever taken away from this area for processing, minerals were lost. After a century of that activity, the soil fertility became pretty dire. In the early days we used bury our kitchen scraps in the hard baked concrete like volcanic clay. The forest critters dug it all up and ate it. Every single chunk. But then, they’re actions continued the job of aerating the soil and spreading the fertility further afield via their poop.

Over the years we’ve easily brought back six hundred cubic metres of composted woody mulch. It doesn’t go as far as you’d think. After a few years the stuff produces a thin black sandy loam which may be the beginnings of top soil creation. We’ve also brought up various types of compost as well. Then there are the hundreds of tonnes of crushed rock with lime. We’ve probably brought in enough of that stuff to ever so slightly increase the soil pH, in a few areas.

For the past fifteen years the soil has been improved by the addition of coffee grounds from a busy café in Melbourne. We tried using that stuff as-is during the early days. It’s nice to try activities on the cheap to see whether it works. That didn’t work though. With a better understanding nowadays of soil and plant needs, agricultural lime, wood ash and blood and bone meal are all added in. The plants grow and produce.

A King Parrot enjoying some of the Kiwi Fruit crop

A good quantity of the produce goes to the many denizens of the forest who live here. It’s only fair because we share the land with them. Forest critters do a lot of poop too, so they’re enriching the land as well. We’re all working towards that common goal here, which is basically enjoying a decent meal.

The climate is variable enough in this part of the mountain range that I have a great deal of difficulty trying to guess what conditions we’ll experience in a weeks time. What will happen next month is a total mystery! This week is in the middle of winter so of course it has been cold. Sometimes the days were foggy, but for a couple of days the winter sun shone and it was truly glorious. You could feel the suns energy warming your skin. Of course sunny days with clear blue skies in winter, generally result in very cold and near-to-freezing nights.

Dame Plum explores the frosty ground

Most mornings have been frosty, some were colder than others, and in the shadier parts of the farm, the ice has hung around for days. Plenty of the plants we grow can tolerate the sort of frosts we experience.

An early Asparagus spear pokes forth from the frosty soil

If the day is foggy and we’re stuck indoors, we light the wood heater in the morning and then let it burn out over night. Otherwise the wood heater is lit in the evening. I’ve no desire to get up in the middle of the night to add firewood to the wood heater, so the fuel eventually runs out and the heater goes cold. Some mornings the inside temperature of the house falls to as low as 14’C / 57’F. That is a five blanket night. Just like my clothing choices, we utilise only natural fibres such as wool, mohair and cashmere for the blankets. Synthetic materials just don’t keep you as warm, whilst doona’s (European quilts / duvet / comforter) have the underlying assumption that every single night will be the same temperature.

The dogs are smart enough to adjust to their experienced conditions in accordance with the temperatures, and so on cold evenings they decamp to the tiles in front of the wood heater.

The dogs enjoy the winter comfort of the wood heater

I can’t imagine that there are too many locations on the planet where people process the following seasons firewood during the winter months. Maybe I need to get out more? Anyway, during this cold and wet time of the year, we do exactly that work. In summer there is always the minor risk of encountering the third deadliest snake on the planet. Since that species was downgraded from the number two deadliest position, I feel that due to feelings disappointment and inadequacy their temperament may not be all that even.

A couple of days were spent splitting and hauling firewood

The firewood is being sourced from the clean up forestry work. The loggers left a lot of mess to clean up, and that means we have plenty of firewood. In earlier weeks some of the logs were cut into discs. This week we processed the discs on the log splitter into heater sized chunks. To save double handling, the chunks were thrown into the power wheelbarrows which were then driven back up the hill.

The processed firewood is left to dry on contour next to the firewood shed

In five months or so, the heat from the sun will have dried out much of that firewood, then we’ll stack it away out of the weather in the firewood shed. By next winter, the stuff will be super dry at around 14% moisture content, which is almost perfect.

Since the health subject which dares not be named, we spend more time at home. The present firewood shed once held more than enough, but nowadays it is only just big enough to store a years worth of fuel. That’s cutting things too fine for my liking. The plan over the next five or six months is to construct a second, much larger firewood shed. More to come about this project in future weeks!

But for now, the firewood pile grows each week. And it’s better to do this job now, than when the weather is warmer.

Ollie admires the stack of drying firewood

Which gets us to this week’s exciting video. The video includes some interesting footage of the sort of massive loggers mess we’ve been left to deal with!

Splitting and hauling locally sourced firewood

Every now and then I’ll become enthused about removing one of the old loggers tree stumps. Many of the tree stumps have been pulled out of the soil, presumably by bulldozers and chains, but some of the older trees were simply cut with the saw logs being hauled away. That left the dead tree stumps sticking up out of the ground. The thing is, they take many long decades to rot away. Sometimes I just get sick of looking at them.

The external surface of the tree stump is cleaned using a sharp edged shovel

I try to clean the external surface of the tree stump as best as anyone possibly could. The reason for that is because if the chainsaw chain hits dirty timber, the cutting edge quickly blunts. And this was one dirty tree stump. The chain required sharpening five times all up.

The tree stump was full of mud tunnels created by termites

Termites convert the plant cellulose into some sort of orangey-brown mud. You can cut the mud like stuff with a chainsaw, but it will very quickly blunt the chain. This is why loggers leave these stumps.

The mud was mostly removed from the tree stump

Such work doesn’t make much economic sense to do, but I enjoy the aesthetic improvement from getting rid of the eye sores. Plus the huge quantity of saw dust produced gets mixed into the surrounding soil. Even the termite mud is good for the soil, so I dug it out using a shovel.

Eventually the tree stump was reduced to just above the soil level

The timber can be split into very hard and dense firewood, whilst in another day or so, the stump grinder will be used to grind up what remains of the tree stump. It’s all hard work, which is why the stump was left in place. After the job is done and in about two years time, the area will be full of grasses and herbage which the forest critters will happily feast upon. There’s yet another tree stump behind me in the above image!

Observant readers will have noted the earlier photo of the King Parrot dining upon the Kiwi Fruit crop. Well fear not fellow readers, the birds did not get all of them! We picked many buckets of now ripened Kiwi Fruits. Some will be used in breakfast over the next two months, whilst others were used to produce a tasty Kiwi Fruit wine. The fruit is not sweet, but has good flavour and produces a delightful dry wine which should be ready to drink in another year, or so.

In these days of product crapification, we now have to test each batch of wine yeast to ensure that it is still active. You’d be surprised at how short the shelf life of this stuff has become. An inactive (dead) batch of yeast will waste an awful lot of product. Many years ago, the stuff used to last a whole lot longer. Oh well, sometimes a person has to absorb ever more arcane knowledge, and it turns out that it is easy enough to test yeast prior to use.

Testing to see whether this wine yeast is active, and it certainly looks alive to me!

Onto the flowers:

Canary Island Foxgloves are a splash of colour during a cold time of the year
This has been the best year for Vietnamese mint and it’s spicy stuff
I’m surprised this Salvia is in flower, but it was fed a month or so ago
I’m not sure why they call Hellebores ‘the winter rose’?

The temperature outside now at about 9am is 7’C (44’F). So far for last year there has been 472.8mm (18.6 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 465.0mm (18.3 inches)

45 thoughts on “Walking Under Stars”

  1. Yo, Chris – Great video! It’s interesting to see how you process wood, and the interesting machines you use, to do that. One minor quibble, though. Up until you start splitting the wood, the picture looks very washed out. Might be my computer, but we’ll see what other people have to say. I’d say, being winter and all, maybe just your usual winter pasty self, this time of the year. 🙂 But, it’s also the forest, too.

    The star pictures are wonderful! Do you have a book, where you could pick out the constellations? Or, there’s an Ap for that. 🙂
    Or, just make up your own stories. “The Mythos of Fern Glade Farm.”

    Boy, you’re hitting on all cylinders. The picture of Ruby and the magpie. Who knows how my mind works (let alone, me) but it reminded me of a very popular print / lithograph from way back when. “Spring Song,” by Glucklich.

    That’s funny, about the kitchen scraps. I buried some, tonight in the garden. I’ve never had animals dig them up. Maybe, you buried a higher quality of scraps? 🙂

    The King Parrot is really flashy. No wonder they call him “king.” A pity about the plunging quality of the wine yeast. Any way to make your own?

    The Canary Island Foxglove really ads a splash of color, in winter.

    We have some Hellebores, around here, but I can’t remember any looking quit so pretty. Lew

  2. Hello Chris,

    Thanks for sharing your experiences of natural fibres. I used to be a great fan of hi-tech plastic outdoor clothing, including the Gorey-tex-pfas-stuffs and nylon underwear. I nowadays prefer merino and waxed cotton. But for real rain work, plastics and rubbers rule.

    In Scandinavia, the tradition is to process firewood in the winter, before Easter. Lore has it that you should get all wood splitted before the Easter Tuesday (“dymmeldagen”), the Tuesday before Easter. Otherwise, evil spirits would come into the wood and make it hard to split.
    I think there are many good reasons for winter processing. In the winter, the wood already has lower water content and is easier to move, and quicker to dry.

    Thanks for sharing the quantitative weight of crushed lime and mulch additions. To make a difference, quite some volumes are needed. When I first started gardening, many years back, I used just a few scoops of manure for the whole garden, but that didn’t work, of course. I had no clue. My farmer neighbour spread something like 5 kg per m2 per year on the hay field, which is maybe a bit too much for my taste. However, to grow trees and food, the soil needs nutrients in generous quantities.

    Here, summer squash/courgette season started. And gooseberries. They are just so good when they are ripe. As a kid, I never had patience to wait until full ripening and never appreciated these summer-bombs of flavour and sugar. Easy to propagate by cuttings. What is not to love with gooseberries? (maybe the thorns? 😉


  3. Hi Göran,

    That’s a good point, and from our long distance hiking days, we also have the err, fancy named plastic rain jackets you referred to. But mostly, it’s wool and alpaca fleece nowadays. One of the finest materials is spun possum fur, which comes from New Zealand where they’re introduced pests (from Australia). The marsupials consume a lot of forest over there without natural predators. Here, the owls eat them, all of them. And you’re absolutely right, when it’s mud, nothing beats gumboots. Nowadays over my leather work boots I add oilskin gaiters which join together via velcro, and they’re amazing and just work. That’s a recommendation! 🙂

    Thanks for the traditional law from Northern Europe and I’d not considered that aspect. Easter would be mid to late spring for you. Hmm. Your frozen weather would lower the moisture content of the firewood. Makes sense. Winters here are very wet and have the opposite effect. Plus, whatever cold time of the year a person harvests firewood, it’s hot work and warms you to your core.

    It adds up over the years, doesn’t it? And with the way you treat your own wastes, you’ve become a net importer of minerals. 🙂 Hope your new system is working well, and it’s an enviable achievement, and something which is lost on most folks. What an opportunity we all have to enrich the soils with minerals in this most wasteful of ages. Still, if everyone worked that out, we’d quickly run short of minerals to add to our soils.

    My poor brain is attempting to work out what 5kg per square metre looks like, and perhaps it is also far more than I’d ever add. Hopefully this is not contentious, but my understanding of that subject suggests that sometimes less is more. Run off can be a problem, and sometimes over dosing the soil with minerals (or manure) can seriously unbalance the soil life. And now I think about it a bit, manures vary in their quality depending upon what the animals were fed in the first place. That sort of quantity, could only ever come from a feedlot, and man, who knows what else is in that poop mixture? The soil critters can take excess nitrogen as a feed and then steal the soil carbon to produce the flatulence gas known as carbon dioxide as well as other interesting gases. But exactly, finding the sweet spot is what we’re all searching for and experimenting is the way to find that point.

    After a lot of years, I’m sort of inclined to believe that with a lot of mineral additions, the top soil can only get as good as the higher end of expectations, then no more. The annual rainfall is the limiting factor as it assists plant growth, but also leaches minerals. Our job is really to find the balance there. If you do find it, please let me know! 😉

    Yummo! And you saw the mountain of squashes and courgettes we grew last year. Good luck for your growing season. Gooseberries are very tasty, and they grow well here too, although I’m a bit slack about pruning the bushes. Oh yeah, those are one easy plant to propagate. You’re at such a great time of the year. The fruit is nearing it’s peak. Yum!



  4. Hi Chris, I saw the title of this post, and I came over to have a look. Lots of good work going on there, always an inspiration.

    What your sky pictures reminded me of was a time in Oct/Nov of 2004. We (my husband, two sons, and myself) had just finished spending two months in China, one of them travelling and one of them doing my clinical placement work in fulfillment of my acupuncture licence requirements. Our next stop on our slow journey back to Ireland, was in Australia – mostly within a day or two’s driving from Sydney.

    And, wow! The skies! The first night we were there we must have spent hours outside star-gazing. It was a real eye-opener as to how little “sky” we had actually seen during our two months in China. The skies in China (at least in 2004) were seriously polluted and obscured, but we had not really taken note until the sudden contrast in Australia made it so plain.

    The second thing I remember is the way I immediately recognised Orion, my old friend, but, but, but… what’s this? He was upside down! Lol! Then I knew for sure that I had crossed over to the other hemisphere!

    Anyway, enjoy your skies!

  5. Hi Lewis,

    Many thanks for your most excellent feedback on the video. Most of the machines are smaller and able to be easily moved around the place through the addition of human energy. The four wheel drive powered wheelbarrows are a technology which I greatly appreciate. Such a simple and effective machine.

    And the Editor and I absolutely agree with you. The camera was clearly designed for parts of the world where the sunlight is less intense. The auto setting for the exposure was way off. We’re learning how to use the technology, and prefer to learn as we go. After that video was put together, we ran a whole series of tests to see what the various exposure settings did, and have now settled on what looks natural. The next video will show the difference for sure. But it most certainly was not your computer!

    The summer sun does have that sort of effect on my skin. I’ve said it before, but it’s worth mentioning again that due to orbital wobbles, we’re actually physically closer to the sun during our summer months than what the northern hemisphere experiences. Man, it’s hard on the tourists from that part of the world. But then they also have to dodge the snakes, crocodiles and sharks – as well as all the other bitey critters. It’s a dangerous place… 🙂

    Man, I was super chuffed at how the star field photo worked out. Trying to get the camera to focus correctly was the hardest part of that image. Winter night skies here are full of stars, right down to the horizon. It’s weird to think that the light pollution in some cities is bad enough that folks living there may not even realise how thick the night sky is with stars.

    Ruby really wanted to play with the magpie in that photo, but it was the magpie whom was playing with Ruby! 😉 I loved that photo too, and the likeness with that 19th century artwork is uncanny. I see what you mean.

    To be honest, I would have preferred if the forest critters had left the kitchen scraps in the ground where I’d buried them. Dude, I blitzed them all up too before digging them into the concrete like clay soils. Hey, be careful what you wish for there. 🙂 You do have squirrels don’t you? Aren’t they good at digging? But there is always the rats, and with the rodents being on this continent since at least 5 million years ago, there are a lot of rats. And parrots too.

    Hmm. That’s a good point about the various yeasts and bacteria we use in food preparation, and one the Editor will have to explore at some point in the future.

    If you can get your hands on some of the dark purple hellebores, those are real stunners when they flower. They’d grow really well in your part of the world. They seem to set seed here and are well established. There’s even a nursery which specialises in that plant about half an hours drive to the west of here. Oh, here you go: Post Office Farm Nursery Shop It’s a bit of a teaser all those winter colours.

    Fortunately the Editor agrees with me when it comes to the concept of musicals. So there’ll be no singing and dancing episodes. Although, like my sorry self, friends have dragged her along to a few over the years. It happens, and a person can only but be stoic and get through the experience.

    Yeah, the old 35mm film format was amazing quality, but the cost of developing the film made the economically cautious person hesitant to take too many photographs. 🙂 Digital is different, but also much cheaper don’t you reckon?

    I failed to keep the fertiliser from the beans last year, and they didn’t like it one bit and grew much better in the dodgier soils. Nice one, and it’s a fine line isn’t it? Easily crossed. Ook! Sweet basil has such an aroma of summer doesn’t it? Hope the plants grow well. Peppers are less fussy about their soil than tomatoes seem to be. But yeah, always something new to learn in the garden. Yummo! Some years are cherry tomato years, but it’s still early days for that plant in your part of the world. Tomatoes grow fast.

    Earwigs are a pain here too, and yes they do move fast when required – and can climb. They can occasionally burrow into fruit, which is not cool. What do I pay the birds for? Far out.

    What kind of story do you have to tell yourself to set a firework off from your head? Actually, I don’t think I want to know…

    Thanks for the review of the Ghostbusters latest instalment, and I reckon it may be hard for them to move back to their old stomping ground at the fire station and not repeat the earlier story. I’d not seen the Afterlife film either. Hmm. Need to remedy this lack.

    Hehe! Dude, they’re holding out on us, and I’ve been making suggestions for years there, and for some reason they’re all unpopular. But food is always good in my books. Honestly, there may well be less of it in the future, but equally it may be of a higher quality. There’s a conundrum in there somewhere?

    Thanks for the link, but reading about Cura annonae was an unsettling experience. It was hard not to note that Vandals eventually cut off the supply routes and took the territories for their own. That would not have been good time to experience.

    That’s certainly true, and the forecast suggests that it will rain here every day for the rest of the month. Yay for us. And I’d send you some rain if I could. Already a fifth of an inch has fallen today since 1pm. What’s the professor suggest about your weather?

    With that forecast in mind we headed out early to grind up the remainder of the tree stump, then clean up that whole area. By 1pm, we were soaked, but the area was cleaned and the job was done. Did paid work for the rest of the day.



  6. Hi Scotlyn,

    And a very big welcome to the discussion! 🙂

    Thanks and there is a lot going on here. Some cheeky scamp long ago once suggested the images were photo shopped. Yes, very funny. We’re really trying hard to work out how to live here, it’s always interesting, sometimes challenging and always rewarding. How good was the winter night sky from a few days ago?

    Ah, traditional Chinese medicine. Respect. That stuff works. And wow, what an experience all of you would have had in that mysterious land. We’ve travelled in a fair bit of Asia, but missed out on that particularly country, not through any conscious choice, but more chance and opportunity really.

    Spring is a particularly fine time to be only a day or two’s driving range out of Sydney, and now I’m left wondering in what direction? Hopefully north along the coast? But the south is very good as well. So many choices. You know, once you get outside of one of the capital cities, it’s pretty quiet down under. And like you aver, the skies are bigger.

    Distance down here is also a funny thing. We travelled up in the north western part of the continent late last century (only a few years before your travels), and I recall one day driving almost a thousand kilometres to get from one town to the next big town. And the town just wasn’t that big, back then at least.

    Ah, Orion holds the pot. That’s a very notable constellation down under, and I’d not realised the imagery was upside down! 🙂

    Hope your growing season in Ireland is gentle, green and replete with produce.



  7. Well, green and gentle and very “growthy” we are getting, even though it has been unseasonably cold and windy. The grass, vegetables, are growing well, but I’m thinking all the berries are waiting for a real blast of sun in order to ripen.

    My husband certainly recognises the “replenishing of the woodpile” operation, as that ongoing job contributes so much to domestic comfort and happiness. 🙂 He boasts that he has never bought a bag of coal in his life!

    Well, when we landed in Sydney that year, it was probably early November. We had been unable to get to that continent the week earlier, when the Melbourne Gold Cup was running – a long term ambition of my husband’s to get there some year, and that is the closest he’s come.

    We landed in Sydney, stayed a day or two. My dad was into the old “time share” thing at the time and he had obtained a week’s time share for us up in the Byron Bay area. We took two or three days to drive up and two or three days back, and we chose an inland route (but dont ask me to remember any names). As I recall most of that inland route was pleasantly green and there was one bit that was more like a rainforest. We enjoyed that trip, and the other thing that two months in China did, was that as soon as we hit Australia we went looking for potatoes. Mashed, chipped, boiled, it did not matter. The two boys especially (8 and 11 on that trip) were keen to dive into a spud after two months without. That said, the food in China was very enjoyable, and the boys were definitely more adventurous in their palates after that trip.

    But for us, you could say that our “Australia experience” definitely contained “sky” and “spuds” as much as “surf” and “sand”… 😉

    The other thing that struck my husband was all the ads for “hobby farms” – each of which was way bigger than our proper farm… Lol!

    It was a fun trip, four months away from home in all, and well worth the top up to the mortgage that paid for it. (Thankfully all paid off now!)

  8. Yo, Chris – Oh, you’ll get the exposures sorted. Photographers are always banging on about exposure settings. 🙂 I suppose that’s why having a dark room, and developing one’s own pictures, was really quit a thing, for awhile. It probably really cut costs, in the long run. You didn’t have to print every negative. You or the Editor might find this article interesting. An amateur who is being recognized, as really doing some fine work.


    Even in our small town, light pollution is a problem. Even on clear nights, we can’t see that many stars. I often think that businesses really overdo their advertising signs. Who do they expect to attract at 3am?

    It’s funny which prints or lithographs caught the public imagination. Usually, they were a bit on the sentimental side, but not always. Often seen in many a house parlor. And, of course, eventually filtered into the tat trade. And still remain popular.

    The rat control program, here at the Institution, seems to keep them under control. I don’t blitz up the kitchen scraps I bury, but do cut them up. Last night, I dug a hole and put in a head of iceberg lettuce, and a bunch of collars greens. From our food boxes. Both were rapidly heading south. I ripped them up, as I tossed them in the hole. They’ll be gone in a couple of weeks. Food for the worms 🙂

    I think I don’t pay much attention to the hellebores we have, as, no blue. 🙂 That’s an interesting nursery, that specializes. I’d probably go for the black ones. Seems like nurseries, that specialize in a few plants, can be quit successful. The Master Gardeners were just talking the other day, about one that specializes in hostas.

    Well, the Roman grain dole seems to have worked, pretty well, for 400 years, or so. Kept the natives from getting too restless.

    Yesterday, it was 95F. Today and tomorrow are 101 and 102. Then Wednesday, it’s supposed to drop into the mid to low 80s. I’ve been watering morning and evening. And so far, everything is looking pretty good. Lew

  9. Hi Scotlyn,

    Ah yes, that sounds lovely, other than the ‘cold and windy’ bit. 🙂 Not sure how long you’ve been reading along, but the first two months of summer here were sort like how you described the growing season in your part of the world. Then it turned hot and dry for the next two months, before settling into more normal conditions – whatever they are meant to be. And yes, the berry season here was the worst that I can recall as a result. The rain and also the wind, kind of made it hard for the pollinating insects to be flying around. Even the horde of thornless blackberry plants did poorly. That never happens, except this past summer! What kind of berries are you growing?

    Replenishing of the woodpile is a worthy task, although one must have access to a woodlot and/or forest. It’s an enviable resource, and respect to your husband. Sandra (who masquerades around here as the Editor, but is otherwise camera shy for some reason known only to herself), assists with the task in line with her abilities.

    There’s a public holiday on the first Tuesday in November for that horse race. It’s a big thing, and not to tease you, but one of the notables in the area runs a monster sized racehorse facility (which is quite aesthetically pleasing) nestled into the valley, and they claim three winners of that race.

    Incidentally, yours is the second reference to Byron Bay that I’ve encountered today. In 2004 the area would have been super chill, and presumably you headed into the nearby hills surrounding that area? Did you by chance visit the hippy museum in Nimbin? The rainforest there is pretty spectacular. A few years before your visit, we were also travelling through the area, and it had a good vibe. Even made it to ‘Tropical Fruit World’ near to the border with Queensland, as you do. 🙂 In those days I was unfortunately clueless about plants. Oh well. However, the visit inspired a planting of the Babaco plant in the greenhouse in recent years, and the fruit is amazing tasting. Unfortunately, frosts and occasional snow prevent the plant from growing outdoors in the orchard!

    Haha! The farm here is in almost perfect potato (and berry) growing country with volcanic clays. It is a truth universally acknowledged that where one cannot grow grains, they can grow tubers. You read it here first. Glad to hear that you enjoyed the local varieties of the humble spud. One of the towns to the west of here holds an annual ‘spud fest’ festival…

    You both make a solid point there. the land mass of Ireland is relatively small compared to down under, and the population density would be greater. So, how many acres are you both talking about for your proper farm? Not to tease you, but err, 22.5 acres here. But yes, LOL!

    Respect. Debt is the tie which binds.



  10. Hi Lewis,

    Those professional photographers probably know what they’re talking about, maybe. 😉 Actually, I’ve watched some utoob videos of those folks discussing their day jobs and techniques, and they do seem rather alert to visual opportunities. Us more humble folks are not getting paid, and have day jobs and farms to take care of, and can only but do our best and learn on the job, which I’m totally cool with.

    Hey, that reminds me. I had a friend years ago who sadly ended up moving overseas to those two long islands to the east of here (who once popped in here to drop an hello comment), and he was always banging on about: ‘fake it, till you make it.’ His work seemed super hard to me, and I took a different strategy of rising up through the ranks until the limits of meritocracy were reached, then decided to go off and do something else with my life. Anywhoo, the professional photographers reminded me of the ‘fake it, until you make it’ mantra. Who can argue with what works?

    Man, I remember the dark rooms from earlier days with their dimly lit red light, although never turned my hand to that sort of work. And yeah, developing your own prints would have saved a heap of mad cash, plus you were responsible for the quality of the photos produced by the process. Have you ever tried that technique?

    Thanks for the article on the artist Vivian Maier. What a fascinating collection. The images in the article were entrancing in a way. The curators commenting upon the collection had all sorts of interesting things to say about the artist, some of which may be true. One comment which jumped out at me was the observation: “so much thought and care and lack of self-consciousness — there’s no audience in mind”. An eerie insight suggests that the artist enjoyed the process for itself, and that previous observation kind of says something along those lines. Of course, her line of work was poorly remunerated, so perhaps the idea was to develop the negatives once fame and fortune allowed? Probably not though. Would you visit the exhibition? There’s a Banksy exhibition on at the moment, and the Editor is going to it with friends. I’m a bit envious really, but it’s not the done thing to crash a girlies outing…

    The big smoke of Melbourne is like that too when it comes to light pollution. A pivotal moment for me whilst living in the inner urban area, was intercepting a neighbour who’d become annoyed by the calls a Powerful Owl was making late one evening. Instead of telling the grumpy dude off, we had a good chat about the birds. A bit of enthusiasm and energy headed off a possible shoe thrown at the owl. But it did make be begin to wonder: Are these my people? Dunno, but we moved up to the bush, and haven’t looked back.

    The bright signs may also double as a security device? Maybe? The old timers used to say: Dark deeds, for dark hours. And who can argue with such wisdom? One of the interesting stories out of the mad cash strapped City of Birmingham in the UK is that they had to dim the street lights. Hmm. Everything old is new again.

    Yeah, I absolutely agree with you. If you’d left me with that original lithograph of the ginger (?) child with the bird, there’s no way I would have said that this image will be a total popularity fest. Nope. Of course, we don’t have a parlour room, and perhaps this explains the relative personal blindness to such community acceptable imagery? You’d have a better feel for such things given the years in the tat trade?

    Cutting the kitchen scraps up does assist the soil critters by simply increasing the surface area. It’s a good idea. Hehe! Thus proving your food boxes not only provide food, but also soil minerals. Good stuff and yeah the worms will appreciate your good works.

    I’d say that there’s a touch of blue in the deep colours produced in Hellebore flowers! 🙂 Maybe… We’ve got some of those black flowers growing from that nursery, but close up to me they look more of a very deep purple colour. Hmm. Hostas appear to be very adaptable plants. Thanks for mentioning them. Have you got any growing in the gardens?

    Oh! Yes, the Roman grain dole system seems to have worked for a number of centuries, I agree. No, that wasn’t what troubled me, it was the talk of heavily indebted smaller farmers from that era. Please correct me if I’m wrong, but the grains were produced on massive slave run farms, was it the Latifundia? Anyway, the heavily indebted bit freaked me out due to similar sort of ‘get big, or get out’ policies. How’s that working out?

    Far out man, that is getting hot. Keep cool over the next couple of days. We had the exact opposite here today. Fog and rain all day, although the combined storms originated over Indian Ocean in the west + Coral Sea in the east so it doesn’t feel cold outside at 46’F right now. Some of the outback parts of the country have had their best rains in a very long time, although plenty of roads are now cut off. Anywhoo, we recorded 10 minutes of peak sun for the entire day. If not a record low, it’d be pretty close to that. Hmm. An impressive achievement. It’s wet outside. 🙂



  11. Well our farm is around 40 acres, of which 10 or so are “plantation” forest, about 20 years old. About a third of that is native trees, and the other two thirds are more in the line of evergreens planted for quick, soft timber growth. (We worked all this into the ground just before heading to China, under the aegis of a farm forestry planter, and, well, we’d do it differently now, but we never ceded any land rights, so now that the “forest subsidy” has expired, the trees and the land are ours to do with as we will).

    My husband (who I usually call Himself Outdoors online since he, too, is rather a private individual, and also a luddite with zero presence online, so I endeavour to help maintain his “cover” – lol!), went up to greet those baby trees as soon as we got back from that trip… and came right back to the house, took me by the hand, so that I, too, could go “visit” the wee trees and see how well they had come along while we’d been away. 🙂

    Now, those trees are mostly grown, and he has kept the undergrowth clear so the sheep can graze around them. And there are usually both windfalls and culls to take firewood from.

    We also have a nice long riverbank at the bottom end of our farm, none of which is flat. And parts of that riverbank are old, very steep and hard to access, paddocks that have not been used by anyone for any farm business for 50 or 60 years or more, and so those places have reverted to what this part of the world is always trying to remember to be – temperate rain forest – gnarly, ferny, dark and mysterious. It is lovely in there – we only maintain a walkway or two so as to be able to get in and out from time to time. When the boys were young we called it “the jungle walk” and there were some adventures had.

    As to berries, well, the land itself keeps giving us LOTS of the thorny blackberry kind, and although we cut them back in places, we entertain them in others, and benefit accordingly. I also have managed to persuade a couple of wild strawberry plants to take root in one of our stone wall banks and start going wild. But I also keep a fruit garden with blackcurrants, raspberries (man, those are rather feral, too!), gooseberries, cherries, and apples. I also have some of the more domesticated strawberries, which have been covered with berries for over a month, but all insisting on remaining white.

    As to my “helping” I don’t do so much of the chopping wood, I do more of the drawing water – which makes a good partnership. Lol! But I can be called from time to time to hold a sheep, or to hold and pass over a dosing bottle or something of that nature. I plant and maintain the veg and fruit gardens, and make compost, and himself manages the fields and the forests and the sheep, and makes firewood. It works well for us, I think.

    Anyway, I really, really, cannot tell you any more of the detail of our trip because my memory is poor for that kind of detail, and I have not retained any maps or other reminders. But, I do know that Australia is vast compared to this teeny island, no part of which is more than a day’s drive.

    I really hope that the part of it yourself and The Editor are in serves you well in the quality of life department. 🙂

  12. Yo, Chris – “Street Photographers,” is what they call them. Mostly, New York City. There’s a couple that I really like, just because a photo or two caught my eye. Saul Leiter did some nice shots of posties in snow. And Matt Weber had some interesting shots of sailor on leave, in Times Square. Back when it was really seedy. 🙂

    I wonder how many photos a photographer has to take, to develop an “eye?” Probably similar to writers having to write a couple million words. Writers, artists. It’s often said, that the best write and create with no audience in mind. I don’t think that’s true, in all cases. Mr. King often thinks of his “constant reader.”

    Oh, back when I traveled, I caught many an exhibit in Seattle and Portland. All kinds of things. From King Tut, to Andrew Wyeth, to Duane Hanson’s eerie figures. Now I just settle for books, and the internet.

    LOL. Photography was one hobby I missed, among the many hobbies I took up as a kid. Although I did have an early Polaroid land camera. But the film was soooo expensive. For only 8 shots on a box / roll.

    I hadn’t thought about the security aspect of night advertising light. But, I still think it’s way overdone.

    Besides Birmingham, there’s been a lot of news lately, on how poorly Britain is doing, economically. Here’s a typical example, related to their tourist industry.


    What I noticed about the lead photo, was all the trash on the walk. I wasn’t raised that way. And, actually, there’s been a bit of a national push, all along, not to litter. But, in our “you can’t tell me what to do” society now, that seems to have fallen by the wayside.

    Those really popular prints and lithographs, of course, there are lots of repros, floating around. But, generally, by the way they are framed, and the frame itself, I can sort the wheat from the chaff. 🙂 Some artists had a “one off” popular print. A one hit wonder 🙂 Other artists whole output was pretty collectible. Maxfield Parrish, of course. Bessie Pease Gutmann (what I call “dead baby pictures,”). R. Atkinson Fox did a lot of popular landscapes.

    When I’m hacking up kitchen scraps to bury in the garden, I just remind myself that worms have small mouths. 🙂 I did a little research, this morning, and it seems Irish Spring soap (besides peeling the hide off the light complected) is also a good deer and squirrel repellant. Since it’s the soap I use, and I have a few slivers around, I’ll give it a whirl. Cheaper than blood meal. Or, at least dual purpose.

    I’m sure we have Hellebores and Hostas, here at the Institution. But I just don’t find them very …. interesting. The Hydrangea are really putting on a show, right now. We also have some nice roses.

    From the first century CE, on, there were huge grain farms in Egypt and North Africa. Britain shipped a lot of grain, to Germany, to support the military.

    It was 95F, yesterday. Forecast is for 101F, today. Tomorrow, mid 80s. The onshore flow is coming back, and none to soon. Lew

  13. Hello Chris
    It is pouring with rain here and I have heating on. This is quite ridiculous for July and is seriously holding the veg. growing back.
    I remember being very surprised when I first saw Orion in Australia. I believe that what we see here is Orion with his sword. I am afraid to say that the sword looks like something very different in Australia.
    On to your second video. I would like to suggest that you and Sandra watch it with the sound off. This might help you to see where problems lie.


  14. Chris,

    Stars! We used to see them en masse here. Especially on the edge of town where I grew up. Not so much now – light pollution. And being moderate to largish in size, Spokane has a lot of businesses open all night. When we moved into this house 28 years ago, I could still see the Andromeda galaxy with unaided eyes. Now? Hard to see with good binoculars. Still get to see the old favorites, though – Orion, etc.

    Okay, the metal towers question from last week. Both are “identically” grounded. Lightning will take the path of least resistance to get to earth. The pointed metal tower will have less resistance than will the metal tower with large metal ball atop it. The pointed tower will get hit more often with “lesser” strikes. Lightning rods are pointed for this reason. An array of pointed lightning rods surrounding the property would provide some lightning protection. Unfortunately, as your Yagi array has a lot of pointy ends…

    Haven’t had to fire up the meatier air filter yet. The AC runs through the furnace. Its filter is a single step less vigorous than the meatier filter and does get rid of a small amount of smoke-sized particles. It has been enough so far.

    Ha! You mentioned that in the cities the magpies “swoop” people. About 18 years ago, the younger crows began swooping a neighbor. As the neighbor had rather extreme and loud reactions, soon the entire murder of crows joined in. Chased the neighbor indoors. Process repeated with 2 other neighbors. When the murder was congregating around and within my trees, I announced that I had been enjoying their antics, thought they had been hilarious, but knew what they were up to. “Won’t work on me!” I said. An older crow gave what I interpreted to be a disappointed “grawk” and the murder left for more fertile pastures for mayhem. Perhaps swooping at humans is an urban corvid amusement?

    Fog and frost at Fernglade. Not here. Set a record high temperature Monday at 38C. Should set another record today 39C or higher, then another record Wednesday at 40C. The “official average” high for this time of year is 28C, which we achieved by about 9:00 a.m. today.

    Isn’t it fun sharing your produce with the local wildlife? I so enjoy watching and listening to the birds and squirrels in the yard and shrubs and trees. They add so much enjoyment and biodiversity, sharing the produce with them is worth it.

    Nice photo of the Fluffy Collective near the fireplace! Dame Avalanche is enjoying lying about indoors, often in front of the vents that blow cooler basement air when they’re night blowing cold AC air. Dogs know exactly where the most comfortable places are!


  15. You know, Lew and Chris, I once had the privilege of being in a town which managed its lighting in such a way that you could still see the stars in the night sky. And that was the preserved “medieval” town of Rothenburg ob der Tauber in Germany. I was there for a few days at a Chinese Medicine “Kongress”, and one evening I was strolling about the town, which is really rather beautiful, and while I was standing under a streetlamp I happened to look up, and I could not believe my eyes. Behind that street lamp the black sky, studded with stars, could be clearly seen. I am not certain what the exact tech entailed, but since every aspect of the town’s buildings and fittings are very strictly controlled, I believe they have been able to arrange it so that the street lighting must only emit light in a downwards direction, while being carefully shaded in the upwards direction, and my experience confirms that when it comes to preventing the kind of light pollution that obscures the night sky, well it worked!

  16. Hi Inge,

    Well, that makes two of us. 🙂 The wood heater is running here as well keeping the inside of the house toasty warm. An inch of rain fell to this morning, and then the sun shone from about midday, which was nice.

    Sorry to hear you’re still getting plenty of cold weather and rain. If you recall, that was how my January was also. The weird thing was that come February the rain disappeared and the heat kicked in. Who knows what the next two months of the growing season will hold in store for you? A stable and predictable climate is a commons which has been much abused over the past century or so.

    🙂 The constellation of Orion holds what is commonly referred to as the pot. Inge, I’m not mucking around, that constellation looks like a saucepan down here. Hardly the warrior sort, although commercial kitchens are notoriously complicated workplaces, just ask your Gordon Ramsay.

    Thank you for the feedback. Yes, the visuals were something of an issue, and I agree and we’ve done some testing with the settings and made adjustments so that the visuals work better. You’ll see some improvement on the next video. And of course, I always appreciate your feedback.



  17. Hi DJ,

    Cities tend to get larger, what with all that entails. And light pollution is sadly one of the downsides. Incidentally, Spokane is a pretty large city by down under standards and is only just under the population of Hobart, which is the capital city of the island state of Tasmania. Hmm. I get that about that nearby galaxy, and I’m not sure how it appeared to you, but down here it shows up in the night sky as a little blob of blurry light off to one side of the Milky Way. Apparently that galaxy is on a collision course with this one, but not for a very long time. Phew. One less thing to worry about!

    Thanks for dissolving the physics question, and I was not entirely sure which would have the lower resistance. Dunno about you, but I tend to talk about electrons and voltage in terms of them moving from the highest voltage, to the lowest voltage. One could then bring in terms such as to the describe the higher voltage electrons as being excited, but that does sound a bit strange now I’ve typed it out. So, yeah I don’t mention that. Nowadays I describe batteries as balloons: The speed at which the air exits the balloon is the voltage, whilst the volume of air released is the current. And bigger balloons have biggerer storage and can supply larger amounts of air, but a large hole in the side of one can still bring the thing crashing down to earth – please excuse the pun. Couldn’t help myself there… 🙂

    The Yagi array is a weak point, and I’d be unhappy to see the carefully restored Yamaha T-80 FM Tuner fried. DJ, man, the backup Kenwood FM tuner is good, but it’s just not as good. See, these are things which keep me awake at night. 😉

    Very good to hear that the smoky particulate matter is being captured. A bloke only needs to recall to clean the filter semi-regularly.

    Dude, you just exercised some serious bad-boss-energy to cut off such crow murder mischief mid-stream. Respect. Birds of course generally can comprehend the human language, and so we would be wise to be careful about the sort of things said within hearing distance of those avian critters. I’m nowhere near as smart as the birds here, and they’ve laboriously been teaching me their language over many years. Now dogs comprehend the spoken human language, and you can test this out for yourself. You’d know if you’d casually said the words in Dame Avalanches hearing: ‘walkies’, she’d start doing a decent impression of a whirling dervish. Dogs know these things, other animals are smarter again.

    40’C is rotten as. Hope the hot spell is over and done with soon, and you can get on with more temperate weather. Record breaking weather is rarely an enjoyable and relaxing experience.

    Fun is an interesting way to describe the sharing of produce, but you’d hope that the critters are at least respectful of the benefit? Maybe. Candidly, they don’t seem to act that way. But I agree, the benefits of having them all around outweigh the costs.

    Hehe! The fluffies were keeping warm on that cold day. They’d been outside all day, and genuinely appreciated the warmth of the heater. Go Dame Avalanche! And may she enjoy her ducted cooler air.



  18. Hi Scotlyn,

    It was a very wise decision by the German commander during WWII to not defend the city of Rothenburg. Good to see that common sense can sometimes guide the order of the day. I’ve not travelled to Europe, but the images, even of the rebuilt sections look excellent.

    Ten acres of plantation is a commendable wood lot, and what a great idea grazing sheep under the trees. Ah, all the trees here are hardwoods, other than a couple of Douglas Firs (a medium-ish dense tree) and a Norway spruce which was planted because I liked the look of it. 🙂 What sort of species did you plant?

    Apologies, but here we may a have difference of opinion. Please bear with me. I believe that your island was covered in an ice sheet 27,000 years ago. Down here before that time, a third of the continent was rainforest, then it dried up and the Eucalyptus forest began to dominate, although they can be rainforest trees too. It’s confusing and complicated, and the ecology is such a shifting target, that when people use the word ‘native’ to describe plants, it confuses my poor brain and so I have no idea what they actually mean. That word can mean something, but it’s a loaded word. Bummer! For your information, many of the once dominant rainforest species still happily grow here, but the Eucalyptus forest species is fighting a very dirty war. Some of the trees here are 300+ years old, and they are tall and well over 50m (165ft). They can double that size. Yikes!

    Here’s to those individuals who are private and have minimal interweb footprints. Incidentally, I do not travel widely on this here information super highway. Good to hear you are maintaining the cover. I sometimes have to remind Sandra to not use my logins…

    Keeping the forest understory open is a wise move. A few years ago I read a story from an indigenous bloke who was decrying the state of the forests and pointed out bluntly that a wallaby (a slightly smaller lone forest dwelling kangaroo) could not get through such thick forest. It’s a good point. Years ago we trialled the food forest concept and grew a lot of edible plants in the orchards. A lot of rats and rabbits, so we now keep the understory clear. I’m sure you know the feeling?

    Hehe! Yes, the local plant community has it’s own ideas as to how untended and unmaintained land will look. Us humans might not like the outcome though. But the thing is, if you want a lot of life in your area, you have to have a mixture of forest and meadow types. That’s how it is here. Alas, I too dream of flat land. The fern lined creek at the bottom of the property is like a scene out of the film Jurassic Park! Who knows what is lurking down there? 🙂 The images I’ve seen of Ireland’s wild lands are always impressive.

    Ah! The thorny varieties of blackberries are a noted weed down under, and wow the thickets… But yes, they do produce some very decent berries. A good harvest for breakfast, jam making and country wine. Lovely stuff, and blackberry jam is a fave. Yummo! Ooo, now you’re teasing me with this loose talk of wild strawberries and ancient stone walls. 🙂 Good stuff. Black and red currants do well here too, but raspberries aren’t as feral (although there are local varieties). Respect. Domesticated strawberries have defeated me. I’ve had some good years with those berries, but now all they want to do is produce runners. Lot’s of runners. Too hard, and I’m kind of too busy to figure out what is going on there.

    Yeah, that’s a good example of a working partnership. We’re the same, Sandra will take charge of some activities, and I’ll do others. There’ll be overlap of course, and that’s life. It’s hard to be across every activity don’t you reckon? Spare a thought for Sandra when we first began building the house ourselves. I’d been used to running an accounts department with up to a dozen staff. Well, let’s just say that my initial approach lasted a couple of days, err, maybe one or two days, max. Ook! Now before every work day we agree as to what we are doing, who is in charge of the particular aspects, and how we’ll go about doing things. Life is much easier!

    Driving a day would get us to Sydney, and that’s way too far for me nowadays. I barely travel an hour from home now. There’s heaps to see and do in the area, why go further? Dunno.

    Thank you for the well wishes, and likewise I hope that you and your husband enjoy all the benefits which come from life on the land.



  19. Hi Lewis,

    In breaking naughty art news of piracy on the high seas: Artist Kirsha Kaechele admits to faking Picassos and other works hanging in Tasmania’s Mona gallery. My favourite line from the article was the artists observation on the human powers to detect art fraud: or maybe just someone who Googles things. What fun!

    I see what you mean, the Saul Leiter folks in snow photographs are good. The snow almost, but doesn’t quite hide the expressions of the people going about their business in rather cold conditions. The balance is pretty good indeed. Doesn’t Matt Weber capture the gritty? I’d not realised that Times Square was a bit seedy, but the photos sure told no lies. His trade would have given him a wonderful insight into that world and its moods.

    That question has troubled me this past week or so. It’s kind of been a background bubbling concern much like asking about a tennis players technique prior to them heading out onto the court. Hmm. Dunno really, but Mr King’s advice does sound correct to me. Will the audience be interested in this essay? Writing is a joy, but also it is an art to be shared. The sort of self consciousness kicked in after writing that tiramisu essay, which I really believed was up there with the best I’d penned, but for some reason and I can’t put a finger on why, it received some of the worst statistics of anything written last year. The Editor has also been in my ear that I’ve been writing too many big picture essays of late and such words turn people off. It’s a valid point, although I’d be uncomfortable writing on a consensus basis, after all, such thinking didn’t get me living up in the bush. Hmm. Do you have any advice or suggestions for me?

    Oh my, now I’ve re-seen those Duane Hanson figures. Thanks! 🙂 There’s something slightly off about all of them, although that’s life out in the wilds of suburbia.

    That was my issue with cameras too. Mad cash was hard earned, and those film development places knew how to charge. There were cheaper hobbies.

    With the lighting in commercial areas, and especially near to the big box stores, they’re usually well lit. Incidentally, I saw a bus someone was living in parked in one of those huge car parks. As you do.

    It’s good to hear that the new UK goobermint has a ten year plan. I’m impressed. Ah, they look like debt to GDP is about 89%, so I guess there’s a bit of wiggle room left. Hope the increase in tourism doesn’t upset the locals like what’s going on in Spain right now. Being squirted with water in cold weather in London would be a different experience to the same thing happening in the warmer Barcelona. Increases in the cost of living, as in putting a roof over your head, can really annoy some folks. It’s a problem trying to balance the needs of the tourists against that of the locals.

    Man, the tourists drop a lot of rubbish up here. And somehow we’ve become the epi-centre of animals squooshed by car incidents. A wonderful achievement. It could be that for sure, and similar currents circulate down under too. There’s also a bit of carelessness about it, and that smacks of a lack of respect for what they’ve turned up to see.

    Bessie is upselling for sure. I looked through lots of images of those prints and there may have been one, but I did not see one single proper foot stompin’ temper tantrum with tears, and of course the obligatory drool from over crying. I’ve listened to enough music over the years to comprehend that the one hit wonder is actually a thing. That would be a hard road to travel for an artist. If I recall correctly, the author behind the ‘Cold Comfort Farm’ book had a few issues with the success of that one book. Other less scrupulous authors may have penned a sequel, or twenty. I’d do it for sure. 🙂

    Wow! I’d not thought of the kitchen scraps from that perspective, but yeah, you really are making it easier for the worms. It’s hard to know what smells will keep unwanted wildlife at a discreet and convenient distance. People say that ammonia deters snakes, but I’ve read that myth has been busted. It’s possible that urine might though. I’ll be interested to hear whether the experiment was a success.

    I like Hydrangeas too, and they’re tough plants. There’s a couple of well established Hydrangeas here, and every year they just do their own thing. They do get a bucket of water if the weather is going to be crazy hot (like what you’re enduring right now).

    It’s funny to think of grain being grown in Britain in any quantity. Hey, there was an article on indigenous millet in the news earlier today. Some bloke up north is trying to encourage growers.

    Hope it cools down for you. That’s hot. It rained up until lunchtime, then the sun came out from behind the thick clouds. We’re nearing the end of the dreaded three week low solar dramas, but next week the forecast suggests that there will be much rain.



  20. Well, actually I agree with you about the word “native”. What *I* mean by it (which may not be what others do), is whatever happily “volunteers” without being planted. As I say, we worked under the aegis of a forest PLANNER (not planter), who more or less called the shots. The “native” trees that the planner suggested included oaks, birch, ash, alder (they love getting their feet wet), beech and trees like that. We did not plant any, but there are a lot of sycamores on this property, and they are merrily self-seeding, even though plant “nativists” around here look down their noses at them.

    But, still, although you are quite right about ice ages in relatively recent history, there is no ice here just now. And when you leave any bit of ground to do its own thing just NOW it goes through a few stages (gorse, bracken fern, brambles, etc) but eventually gets plenty of self-seeded trees growing, too, and they attract moisture and eventually create the traditional “rainforest” look which consists of things growing ON the trees – mosses, ferns, and etc.

    Interesting thing about brambles (thorny blackberries) is that they were once called “mother of oak”. And so, my figuring is that the way they grow, when untended, looping over and creating lots of thorny caves that you do not want to traipse through, must create some havens from all the grazers that eat up the young seedlings.

    Just now, though, the “mother of oak” (and the nursury “station” for all other young volunteer trees) is the old stone wall. It never stops amazing me how MANY of the self-seeded trees around here started off in an old stone wall, or the ruin of an old cottage. But I see the ground covered in one inch high tree seedlings every year and the sheep just eat them, so I guess the stone walls give a seed some cover till it gets its roots under it.

    But some of the stone walls around here are not SO old – maybe you might want to take a peek at one of those times when I ventured to break Himself’s cover… (sorry for the vexingly long URL) https://www.facebook.com/scotlyn.rs/posts/pfbid023iefqYxrCXBz2PQ4LV994BWUoQFbdEuysNeNJWikEc8SMpQx31KrvaZd4jis6Sm2l

    Also, the question of mixing forest and meadow is covered in this post on some old Norwegian farming folkways, which I found interesting. Somebody posted it to the ecosophia blog (if that was you, then apologies for boring you). But I was quite interested in the detail that the small hayfields managed in between the trees were MORE productive than your regularly managed hayfield. And I’m very, very interested in their use of trees branches for winter fodder, too. 🙂 https://poorprolesalmanac.substack.com/p/norways-ancient-agriculture

    Gosh, Chris, this has been a very chatty exchange! As good as a visit to the pub for a couple of leisurely ones! 🙂

  21. @ Scotlyn – That is really cool, about the street lights that don’t wash out the stars in the sky. Oh, that more places used them.

    Chris and I had a lively conversation, about a book that came out last year. About a small part of Ireland. “Returning Light: Thirty Years on the Island of Skellig Michael.” (Harris, 2023). By the caretaker, who lives on the island. There was also a memoir, about a young light house keeper, off the west coast of Scotland. Back in the 1970s, before most of them became automated. And, currently, in my pile of “to read” books, is “The Way of the Hermit: My Incredible 40 Years Living in the Wilderness.” (Smith, 2024). About a fellow who retreated to the wilds of northern Scotland. I think I missed my calling, as a hermit. Oh, well. Next time around. 🙂 Lew

  22. Yo, Chris – Speaking of dogs, and communication, if I ask H if she wants to go for a walk, she has this whole stretching routine she goes through. Getting the kinks, out, I guess. -)

    That was an interesting article, about the “museum” in Tasmania. They’re quit mad, aren’t they? What I wondered is, where did they get their money? I also read the article about “Dark Mofo.” I’d say there’s quit a bit of “shock your mama” going on there. And, it was interesting that one pastor, caught on to it.

    Even more interesting was the sidebar article, “There is a cheaper alternative to super markets.” About food co-ops.

    New York City was pretty … gritty, back in the 1980s. The book by Tom Wolfe is a pretty good snapshot. Times Square, now, has been all sanitized and Dizzy-fied. 🙂

    I found your article on Tiramisu, quit interesting. But then, I would. Guess I’m just a niche market. 🙂 My advise? Write what you want. Just be aware that some might be better received, than others. When Mr. Greer starts banging on about magic, I don’t bother to read those. What’s that old saw? “The following quote is attributed to the poet John Lydgate and later adapted by President Lincoln: “You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time”.

    I found the Duane Hanson exhibit pretty interesting. Except for one small thing. The smell. I’m sure, due to the resins, and such, involved. But the odor smacked a bit of the funeral parlor.

    Some of the big box stores encourage caravans and travel trailers, to park in their lots. But not for too long. Travelers need supplies, for their overland treks. There are even websites, that reveal which do, and which don’t. So you can plan your itinerary.

    Another aspect of tourism. What if you live in a famous district or house?


    Oh, a lot of old prints and lithographs are sentimentalized and romanticized. You don’t see any poopy diapers, in Gutmann’s prints, either.

    I had a thought, and did some checking. Irish Spring soap is not detrimental, to plants. Good to know. I put some chips, in the pumpkin barrels, last night. The other day, when H and I went out the back door, we flushed a squirrel out of them. No damage done.

    During the time the Romans were in Britain, it was quit a warm period. Besides grain, there was quit a wine industry. Which is making a comeback, due to climate change.

    Well, it was 97F, yesterday. We never did crack 100F. Starting today, and for the foreseeable forecast, temps will be in the mid to low 80s. Much more manageable. Our on-shore flow, is coming back.

    I watched a really good movie, last night. “The Boys in the Boat.” It’s about the University of Washington rowing team, going to the 1936 Olympics. Of course, this was during the Great Depression. It’s really quit a snapshot of the era. One of the major characters, is living in a box in a Hooverville, and eating in soup kitchens. It’s well worth a look, and I should have made a bowl of popcorn. Lew

  23. Chris,

    The entire Spokane region has grown a lot since I arrived here in 1967. The metropolitan area is now about 775,000. I guess that is pretty big.

    Yes, the Andromeda Galaxy looked like a little blurry blob of light somewhere off to one side of the Milky Way. I miss seeing it. When I lived in Las Cruces, I was actually a bit north of there in a little town called Dona Ana. Just outside Dona Ana the stars were spectacular. No light pollution, clear skies, high desert. It was a good way to unwind, looking at the stars.

    Nice pun. Very timely, too. I had inadvertently left a door open on the Subaru since Saturday. The balloon was entirely deflated. A neighbor jumper cables helped rectify the situation. I have some wonderful neighbors.

    My recollection is that the Yamaha tuners were/are very good. Extremely good. I’d hate to see one of those get fried.

    Avalanche has a very large human vocabulary. She knows “walk” quite well in both English and Welsh. She knows the difference between “Go lie down”, “Go see your mother” and “Go kiss your mother”, behaving accordingly. Usually. 😉

    Coo, the 40C today was brutal and rotten. Humidity dropped to a measly 10% in the afternoon. The temperature hit 38C by noon and decided that 41C was a wonderful temperature to bake us mortals with for 2 hours. Thursday through Saturday should “only” be in the 37C range. Grass that was watered on Monday is crunchy today. The arugula and lettuce are taking this badly, so I’ll have to pick those and enjoy some fresh salads for a few days.

    The Princess had to make a special trip to Toppenish today. Brother’s health took another step down. She needed to see him, then will take him to some activities on her Rez for the weekend. Gotta do things with him while he is still with us.

    Doing things. It was too hot to walk Dame Avalanche this morning. She is smart…since it is too hot to do anything, she sleeps. Today was one of the one or two days per month that I am needed to help with big Killian the Red. He ran outside to take care of business, then he ran right back inside and fell asleep. The dogs have the right idea in this heat.

    Then some of our cell towers went out this afternoon. Probably a heat related thing. So I did something I rarely do: turned on the house wifi and connected the phone to it just in case the Princess had an emergency. The towers were functional after 2 hours.


  24. Hi DJ,

    Oh my! That is a big city, and would be the sixth biggest if on this continent. Wow. The statistics I looked up yesterday were a few years old and ignored the greater Spokane area. You sure must have seen some changes over the 50+ years. Ever felt like moving to a quieter locale?

    That’s how the Andromeda Galaxy appears in the skies around these parts (although admittedly in the big smoke it would be near on impossible to see). A little furry blob of light. Perhaps a real furry blob of light? 🙂 What an amazing part of the world you once resided in (I went on an image tour). Dude, Doña Ana doesn’t seem like a small town in the high desert any more. The mountains in the background of the town are awesome looking, and have a rather foreboding presence. Did you ever go climbing or walking in them?

    🙂 Thank you, and one does their best to entertain! That’s a good neighbour to have. They’ve got these little lithium battery devices which can jump start a 12V battery engine starter. But I dunno, there are cheap ones of those devices, and then there are ones which will last. But really no battery appreciates being seriously drained of electron juice, so quality is probably the wiser path to choose there with such things. Still, my experience suggests that vehicle batteries geared towards starting, lighting and ignition have about a five year lifespan. Could be better, but also, it could be worse.

    I’d hate to see the Yamaha FM tuner get fried too. 🙂 Man, I went to so much trouble to refurbish the machine and the sound is as rich and full as the reviews suggest. There’s been a lot of lightning storms over the past few years. One interweb modem was fried due to dual Yagi antennas picking up on the inductance. However, the FM tuner 5 element Yagi antenna was nearby and withstood the ultimate test, so my best guess is that there are easier paths to earth than my music system. Maybe…

    Oh that’s good with Dame Avalanche, and I too can say to the dogs: Go see Sandra and somehow they realise I’ve just told them to get lost and stop pestering me. Other than Dame Plum, Dame Avalanche, Ruby and Ollie clearly enjoy dog kisses. Oh well, it’s all good for our immune systems! 🙂

    Dude, that is one rotten day of summer weather. You didn’t mention the wind? I’ve seen such temperatures and low humidity, and then some, but with wind. Few days make me as nervous as those. Crunchy indeed, and then some. How’s the local grasses coping with the heat and dry? Yes, both of those crops will wilt in such conditions. May I suggest you plant Diplotaxis tenuifolia? A dude has to adapt, and that is one plant I absolutely recommend for super hot weather – which you may get more of in the future. One year was so hot and dry, we ran out of fresh greens. Thus the search for what works.

    Yes, time gets away from all of us. Your lady is wise to do so, and hopefully can come to terms with the tragedy which haunts and accompanies all of us. Hmm, friends, purpose and hobbies. But also in your lady’s case, culture and connection rides with that trio. Or is that a quadruplet? My brain now hurts. Hope the visit to the rez with her brother is fulfilling.

    Dogs know these things. And dogs from far northern climes know far more about such things than say err, mad dogs and Englishmen! Of course my lot hail from more northerly climes, and so work on such days involves getting up super early (yuk!) and then finishing early. Dame Avalanche reminds me of Sir Poopy who’d hide and sleep in the coolest spot he’d know about – and he knew them all.

    Ah, I’ve heard of this voice over wifi thing with phone calls. Not bad to have a backup option. Respect!

    You’ve just reminded me that we need to swap over our old 3G phones for the 4G ones. They’re sitting on the desk still in their boxes, which may give you an indication as to my enthusiasm for the task. Oh well, life moves on and the 3G network is due to shut down at the end of next month.



  25. Hi Scotlyn,

    Total respect. Yes, the ecosystem is a constantly moving and shifting target. There’s a lot of heated debate down under about native versus exotic plants, and yet people get all in a lather about describing a plant which originates in the far state of Western Australia as a native here because somehow it is in the same genus as the easterly varieties. I shake my head in dismay at such misunderstandings and think to myself, gee those Sycamores grow well in some parts of this mountain range! Then people start to froth and drool with rage, and I just go about my business… 🙂

    Sorry, I had to laugh about the difference between a planner and a planter. The observant person would notice the similarities in spelling, and the vast differences in definition. I once spoke with a lady who owns one of the big old hill stations in the more fashionable western end of the mountain range and she told me that: she was the ideas person, and people working on the property needed to accept that and get on with the work. We’ve got both types of fun here: planning; and planting.

    Epiphytes are common in the older forests here, and thus why I give preference to the older and taller trees. Mistletoe is an interesting fruiting epiphyte, but given enough time, the ferns, mosses and lichens likewise attach themselves to trees.

    There are less browsing herbivores here which will eat young tree saplings. And not to tease you, but many fruit trees self seed here. It becomes an art form trying to work out if the fruit tree will survive i that location. But yes, blackberry thickets have the same effect here in that they produce really rich top soil under them. That’s their job don’t you reckon?

    Sorry, but Faceplant denied access to that URL link. This is probably why Faceplant is declining in relevance?

    Nope, that link was not from me. And I’m always interested to read how different cultures managed their lands. If I may be so bold, the practices sounded perfect to me for that environment, and it was hard not to notice the parallels to historical accounts of practices down here. However, due to the lesser impact of the Ice Age in these parts, those practices have apparently gone on for at least 60 millennia. Are they right to do so? I’d suggest that it works, and provides a solid guide.



  26. Hi Lewis,

    As H is a lady of the finest pedigree, we shall not discuss her age. That would be totally inappropriate. 😉 However, it’s been my observation that as the body ages, a bit of regular stretching and preventative muscular care goes a long way towards avoiding the doctors rather sharp and unfriendly knife. It’s a goal we can all aspire too, including H. Dogs know things, and so stretch before walkies saves a trip to the vet. Of course my totally unsolicited advice in these matters is never to mention to your physiotherapist that you’re an absolute nazi when it comes to stretching. The advice was confounded by the reality that a difference in age can produce a profound misunderstanding of casual words, and then lead to all sorts of uncomfortable, and not to mention utterly unfounded questioning of belief systems. Lewis, it’s hard out there for the clueless and naive. 🙂 H of course would never have such issues, or at least her good breeding would not allow her to acknowledge her gaffs, and so she’d simply get on with the ironing out of the kinks, as you note.

    Hehe! Dunno about mad, but they’re funsters, that’s for sure. It ain’t no ordinary museum that one and has been wildly successful as a destination. In a fascinating twist to the story, the mad cash may have had it’s origins in high stakes gambling. Late last century, the Editor and I camped on the land where I believe the museum has since been built. We were considering moving to the island state and wanted to get a feel for the vibe of the place. It’s got a good vibe.

    Interesting. I’d not heard of food co-ops down under. Thanks for mentioning them.

    Yeah, we’ve discussed the gentrification of areas over the years, and there’s always something lost in that process. A bit of colour and sound. That touch of edginess. Illicit activities going on just out of sight, and sometimes within plain sight. Character. The race to economic stratification of the population is, if I may bluntly put it, a dead end. The gentrification of the formerly bohemian inner city suburb was one reason we left the big smoke. We’d become an anachronism in a world of unfounded expectations.

    It wasn’t just you, there was immense enjoyment in writing that tiramisu essay. Thank you for the good advice. I concur, the poet was correct.

    Oh no! Presumably that may have been the potent smell of formaldehyde? Whatever the case may be, a stinky art exhibition is probably a bit on the nose. (please excuse the unintended pun). I would also have disliked breathing that odour in.

    Ah, that makes sense, and I’ve heard of such websites, but never required the use of such a resource. I’ve often wondered if the local picnic ground is on such a website due to the occasional travellers stopping there over night? I wrote an essay years ago when I spotted a bloke and his young daughter living rough in their car for a day or so at that picnic ground. The overnight low had been 28’F, and they looked miserable.

    Ook! Nottinghill. Right. So that area has been crossed off the list of desirable places to live. Over in the more fashionable end of the mountain range, plenty of gates have no trespass and no parking across signs penned in English and Mandarin Chinese characters. The sheer number of signs suggests to me that there have been problems, and I was told by a local of a story where one of the tourists was caught taking a dump in her front yard. Nice. But then, hey, I’ve had a dude standing on the veranda admiring the view, like there was nothing remotely odd about that. People are strange.

    Poopy diapers! 🙂 Yeah, I sure didn’t see any of those in the prints. It looked all sentimental smiles and happiness.

    That’s good to know, however the soap doesn’t appear to work with squirrels. To be honest, those critters seem pretty clever to me given everything I’ve been told about them here.

    Good to hear that the British are getting back into cool climate varieties of grapes. Only four of the ten vines produced good quantities of grapes this year, but far out there was a lot of tasty fruit. Incidentally, after the repeated frosts last week, the Kiwifruit finally taste good. Yum! And that’s also the thing with climate change – there will be winners and losers from the shifting agricultural bands.

    97’F is rather uncomfortably warm. Has it cooled yet? It’s raining and cold here, but that is typical winter weather. I must say that it scares away the tourists. 😉 Don’t tell anyone, but there may be a minor chance of snowfall at higher elevations in the mountain range early Sunday and/or Monday morning. Brr!

    An inspiring film trailer, and I appreciate the review. Joel Edgerton is an excellent character actor.



  27. Dear Chris, I am sorry the Bookface link did not work… try this one. If this link opens for you, the last photo pans out showing lots of different walls of different ages (you can guage the age by the amount of green growth working its way into the cracks). All of them were built by himself over the 20 odd years since this house site was cleared and flattened.
    *Fingers Crossed*

  28. Hi, Chris!

    Seeing your stars puts things somewhat in perspective. So far away – and little me down here.

    I like the phrase “crispy clear” air. It’s so hot here and the humidity is so high you could swim in it, and only one measly rain in the last 6 weeks.

    Perhaps Ruby was teasing the magpies. In the city, our mockingbirds can act like your magpies, being very combative and attacking people, and cats and dogs. I have not had trouble with them in the country, though. I love to listen to them as, true to their name, they can copy most other bird songs and things like cats and squeaky hinges.

    I don’t know, sometimes not doing anything – or much of anything – is not a choice if you are handicapped. I am around a lot of handicapped people.

    The King Parrots seem to like all the fruit. I am glad that the kiwis are finally tasty for people, too.

    What pretty frost. 4C is certainly a five-blanket night – and maybe you need a nightcap. I mean for your head! Those big fat doonas drive me nuts. They have a mind of their own and never stay where I want them to. What cozy dogs.

    One stays cooler when procsessing firewood in the winter, as opposed to the hot days of summer (don’t ask me about those right now). That’s a whole LOT of firewood you have there!

    It seems unbelievable – 5 chainsaw sharpenings in one session.

    I enjoyed your video. That is one mess for sure, but you are whittling it down. I liked your explanation about why you don’t leave it all to break down on its own. And I really enjoyed watching the power wheelbarrow in action.

    The hellebore photo does remind me of a rose and the Canary Island Foxgloves of something tropical. Thanks for all the flowers!


  29. Yo, Chris – Inge has a new neighbor …


    Why does the artist’s rendition, remind me of a cow?

    Yes, language is a mine field, these days. People get tired of tip toeing around. One of the old guys, at the Club, was complaining that he couldn’t even tell a joke, anymore. I really think, such over sensitivity is a contributing factor, to the rise of the right. When someone is being outraged for some group that they don’t belong to, my response is usually, “Don’t care.”

    Food co-ops seem to rise and fall in popularity. Over time. They were big in the hippy-dippy late 1960s and early 1970s. But do go back a ways. They were big in Britain, and some of the Scandinavian countries, in the 19th century. I can’t remember the title, but a few years ago, I mentioned a TV series about some women in the early 20th century, forming a food co-op in Scandinavia.

    I can’t say I’m a fan of too much gentrification. I need a certain amount of grit and grunge, in my life. Gentrification also makes life in those areas, expensive.

    Yes, the smell at the Hanson exhibit was a bit off-putting. But it was so fascinating. I suppose it’s the same appeal of wax museums.

    I don’t know if you saw the article, but some guy was trying to smuggle 100 snakes, in his pants, from one part of the Land of Stuff, to another.

    I don’t remember you mentioning the Veranda Viewer, but I do remember the incident with horses. I am gobsmacked by the nerve of some people.

    H actually slept through the night, last night, and didn’t do her usual 5am walk-about. Which is a recent development. Someone from the Club is giving me a set of doggie steps. Might solve the problem.

    The weather has shifted in to a near perfect mode. Yesterday, it was 82. About the same forecast, for today. Overnight it’s in the low 50sF. I actually had to throw a light blanket, on the bed. And, we’re getting a nice, gentle ocean breeze.

    I started reading the book about the Scottish hermit, last night. I think you’d like it. He kicks off with a rumination on firewood, and then segues into how he has to share his tucker with the local animals … to a point. Then a bit of business about how he brews his own home brewed beer and birch sap wine. A few ghost stories from his childhood. And that’s just the introduction. 🙂 Lew

  30. Chris,

    The metropolitan area includes much of Spokane County, while also stretching into Idaho. It encompasses the cities Post Falls, Rathdrum and Couer d’Alene and their surroundings. That area, as is true of Spokane, has gotten exceedingly built up.

    A quieter area would be nice, but those also have drawbacks. One of the biggest is that the smaller farming towns outside the Spokane metro area are mostly dying, requiring regular trips to Spokane to obtain many basic needs. My first boss at the County used to live well out of town. After a few years of retirement, he and his wife realized that they were having to drive into Spokane several days a week for various appointments, etc. They moved into Spokane to cut down on the travel.

    The Organ Mountains are east of Las Cruces and east and a bit south of Dona Ana. They are quite impressive to look at. I went to a small park at the base of the mountains a time or two, did some walking. I’ve never done the technical climbing those mountains required. There were actually real evergreen trees there, a few, as opposed to scrub pine and pinon. Two of my professors there were mountain climbers and had regularly done a lot of climbing in the Organs. One day, however, something went wrong and one of them took a fall. Yes, he was roped up, but one of the pitons came loose from the rocks and he had quite the fall. He had to hang by his harness and the rope overnight until help could arrive. It gets cold at night at 10,000 feet, even in the desert summer! He had many nasty injuries and was never able to climb again. Walking was sometimes difficult. However, he played a wonderful clarinet in a local Dixieland Jazz band, which I got to see for free on several occasions.

    Interestingly, although he was a tough instructor, he was the favorite professor I had there. He had very open office hours, which was a big help. He called me in for a chat after midterms. A C is basically a failing grade in graduate school physics. “DJ”, he said, “you’re not doing well. In ANY class.” “Yessir, that’s right.” He then continued, “Let me tell you how I give grades. If you’re smart and convince me you’re smart, you get an A. If you’re smart and lazy, you get a B. If you’re stupid and lazy, you get a C. If you’re stupid and work hard, you get a B-. The best way to convince me that you work hard is to visit me and ask me a lot of questions. Clear?” I replied that it was clear. I did not convince him that I was smart. I DID convince him that I was far from lazy and worked very hard. I was in his often very frequently. I earned that B-. I worked hard to get it. Yup, stupid, but a hard worker. 😉

    The Princess’s car’s battery died at the cemetery during sister’s memorial in June. The Jesuit priest who works on the Colville and Spokane Indian Reservations happened to have one of those tiny battery devices you mentioned. It worked. I need to buy one for her car and one for mine. Jumper cables are great, but there’s not always anyone else nearby. I won’t buy the cheap ones. Quality rules!

    I think I remember when the router got fried. At least you still had your tuner and music. And you had your music when you were wiring in the new router. Music: almost as important as breathing.

    I hadn’t mentioned that four letter word, wind. It is a bad word in this excessive heat that is drier than a bone. However, the humidity dropped to 10% from 20% Wednesday within minutes of the wind picking up, maybe 15 km/hr. Then you went and said the word “wind”. 😉 We had 20 km/hr winds much of Thursday. At least the temperature was a cooler 36C, down from Wednesday’s 40C, but it was still 15% humidity and lower. Forecast for the next two weeks is for high temperatures to bounce between 33C and 37C. Better than 40C.

    The local grasses are mostly okay. Depends on the soil where they are. I think Friday I will move some fresh compost into the areas where the newer grasses are struggling. Should help some. To put it in perspective, even the succulents are struggling. One neighbor always has an immaculate lawn, not this year. The spring was tough on his grass, and his yard has a lot of brown patches for the first time I can remember.

    Thanks for the rocket suggestion. I’ll look for that.

    Ahhh, culture and connection are her equivalent of friends and purpose. Hobbies galore she has, many of the projects being donated to cultural events. It works. I find it to be a healthier way of looking at things than how I was brought up.

    Getting up early, hmmm. For some reason I awoke at 5:30 a.m. Thursday. Decided to get moving early. Got a nice walk in with Dame Avalanche, as well as getting a fair amount of outdoor work done. Friday might be more of the same. Waking at that time is my hot weather schedule, else nothing gets done.

    I figured out why we have more wind than we used to, even on the nastily hot days. It’s a natural side effect of climate change. There’s so much energy added to the atmosphere during the industrial age, it has to do something. So, more hurricanes and tropical storms. Longer seasons for them, too. Also, due to the excess energy, regions like mine will be subject to more low pressure/high pressure extremes throughout the year, thus many more transitions from one to the other, meaning more wind. So, I get to look forward to more extreme heat, more wind, changing rain patterns, and changes in what can and cannot grow in the garden.


  31. Hi Scotlyn,

    Thanks for the new link. Cool photos. AND! I completely missed that they were retaining rock walls. Great work, and please send my respects.

    Yes, plants would love growing in those rock walls.

    Honestly, such things are like catnip to me (and probably the other lovely folks here who also live on land with a slope). You’ve seen the rock retaining walls we make and use? Rocks are so very useful!




  32. Hi Pam,

    🙂 Does put oneself in perspective, yeah! The distant stars are there for our enjoyment and wonder. With more sun getting to your land, I’d imagine the star sky has also gotten biggerer? Maybe?

    Oh my, Pam that sort of weather sounds horrid. Hope you get some rain and a cool change soon? I reckon your growing season has about ten weeks left to go, so cooler weather is on the way, sooner or later, maybe. This morning the air was thick with fog and drizzle. But just after lunch the sun began to peek forth from behind the clouds. At one point I stood in the orchard and just enjoyed the brief warmth from that big ol’ local star in the sky.

    Hehe! I’m pretty sure the magpies were teasing Ruby. She is obsessed with those birds, and sometimes they’ll crack the sads and attempt to lead her off into the forest knowing full well that the dog will get into trouble. Dogs know the English language, and no doubts so do the magpies (and parrots for that matter).

    Mockingbirds are probably super clever birds being able to mimic all manner of noises. Interestingly over in New Zealand I may have read the other day that they’ve discovered a bird which can both mimic and sing to communicate. The missing link perhaps?

    Agreed and I concede your point, and had not considered that aspect of the statement. Please accept my apologies, for your point was both well made and accurate.

    The birds do it tough at this time of year simply because the pickings are slim and won’t improve until September. There are a few summer migratory birds in this part of the world, but mostly they hang around and do the best they can given the conditions. There is far more for the resident bird population to eat here, than in the surrounding area, so they are very territorial and protective.

    The frost sure is icy, and possible minor snow is in the forecast for Sunday night and Monday night, but we’ll see. Gravity tends to pull doona’s off the bed and onto the floor. Perhaps you can consider the matter as a form of free energy, maybe? 😉 I gave up on doona’s way over a decade ago. There are times I inadvertently over heat the house of an evening, and that is a total bummer of a situation.

    I promise not to ask you about the hot days of summer. Oops, was that phrased as a question? My thinking in this matter is, no, the original sentence was a statement. So we’re good here, maybe, or at least that is my take on the world. Far out Pam, my brain is becoming befuddled and confused. We take firewood very seriously. Fixed the chainsaw clutch today – there may be another video on the subject…

    Oh yes, the tree stump was very dirty timber and so 5 sharpenings was what was required. To be honest here… Hi, my name is Chris. And I have seven chainsaws of various types. I don’t think that I have a problem, but when I mention the number and variety of saws, people look at me funny like. Maybe, there is a problem there. But they’re so useful those machines, and each of them has a different use. Oh except you know there was that one time a supplier was doing a clearance and there were two ‘get rid of these things’ machines and well everyone knows that two is better than one, and yes they were such quality items for cheap, oh, I may have a problem. 🙂 They all work too.

    How good is that power wheelbarrow machine.

    It’s nice to have some colour in the garden at this time of year.



  33. Hi DJ,

    Oh, I’d not realised that the figures crossed the state lines as well, but that kind of makes sense. There are a few towns and areas like that down under. Often a tax like say motor vehicle registration is cheaper in one state than the other, and all sorts of adaptions go on in such areas so that people can get the cheaper costs.

    Hmm. That is interesting because a similar thing is going on in some smaller farming towns here. When the bigger players take over land in certain areas, I’m guessing the local town support often gets quietly ditched. Then there’s not enough locals to field a football, cricket and/or netball team, let alone man the volunteer fire fighting station. On the other hand, I like living in an out of the way location. But candidly it’s not that far to the nearest small town and train station. The next biggest town is a half hour drive away. Honestly, I drive less nowadays.

    Yeah, the Organ Mountains were the ones I noted in the background of the many images. Organ Needle is amazing looking. A hiker there would experience some feral weather at that altitude. I noticed the trees as well, and generally they kept to the higher areas protected from the afternoon sun.

    I have no experience with such technical climbs, but can scrabble around and over rocks. Surviving such a fall would perhaps use up all of a persons nine lives, and yeah, there’s an old saying about escaping from the lions den and then foolishly going back for the lost hat. I know with roof harnesses that if a person is suspended for so many hours that bad things happen. Not good.

    Ha! The dude makes an art form of blunt, but dependable instructions. Nothing wrong with that, because hey, you knew where you stood with him. Have you ever noticed how some folks just ‘get’ those sorts of subjects almost at a deep level that you can work hard to see that the level is there, but it’s kind of out of reach? I found science subjects to be almost like learning another language, and I sucked at learning new languages, like say music. Those are much more complicated and abstract than say comprehending the workings of machines.

    Speaking of which… Fixed the chainsaw clutch today. We took a video of the process, mostly because I’d not come across a video of the particular issue. Can’t hurt… Good to have the machine fixed. It’s ten years old that machine, and still going strong.

    Unlike your lady’s car battery, at that time. 🙂 They certainly don’t make those chemical reactors like they used to. And yes, quality rules with those machines. I’d check reviews to see what people have to say about them, and whether the batteries have had any issues. There’s a state vehicle roadside assistance club operating, and it’s pretty good to sort out such issues. Far out, I doubt many people carry jumper cables around with them these days.

    Music is a wonderful gift! 🙂

    Drier than a bone is lovely way to put things, and is also a name for old school oilskin jackets, although spelled a bit differently: Driza-Bone. They’re heavy. Oh my! Those are some very unpleasant summer weather conditions, especially with that side serving of wind. Not good. Stay alert, and yeah at least those coming temperatures are a bit lower.

    One must not have too much pride in their lawn lest nemesis arrives. Ook! Good to hear that the local dryland grasses are doing mostly OK. Not bad for their first summer test. They’ll need a bit of water with their compost feeding. I find the more fertile soil has a bigger buffer against climate shocks. You can see where the frosts killed off the grasses here, and like you, giving them a feed wouldn’t hurt.

    That plant is awesome, and a true productive summer survivor. Tested up to 45’C and passed.

    It is a healthier way to look at things, yeah. I’ve been thinking lately about folks that produce things and connections, and what that all means. I hear you about that, and it’s hard to put a finger on exactly what was the culture we were brought up in? Dunno. But I’m thinking about it.

    Summer is good like that! And I’ll bet the sun was above the horizon at 5:30am? 🙂 Hey we do the same, except crash out and have a nap during the hottest part of the afternoon. You can’t work out in that heat. Mind you, this mornings fog and drizzle were likewise equally unappealing.

    Exactly, more energy in the atmosphere means more weather related mischief. It’s possible that things could overall get less windy, but the storms might have a bigger impact. Dunno. Things have changed here though. It wasn’t that long ago that you weren’t meant to be able to grow citrus up here. But that’s not true nowadays. Have you heard talk at the rez about the shifting climate?



  34. Hi Lewis,

    Hope that doctoral researcher wasn’t trespassing on Inge’s land? The find sounded pretty good. I’d not realised that the fossil record on those islands were so poor. I guess the covering ice sheet not all that long ago probably ground many fossils into mineral dust. It is a plant eating dinosaur, but the artist has kind of endowed the one tonne creature with a bit of the vacuous eye syndrome. I’d take such a large creature seriously if encountered in an unexpected moment in the forest.

    I hear you about that, and usually go quiet instead. If people want support for their endeavours, generally they’d do well to explain what may impolitely be described as the ‘costs’ relating to the sought changes. I’m hearing that dudes grousing about his inability to tell jokes nowadays, but was he actually ever amusing beforehand? Plenty of jokes fall flat, and the comedian has to kind of read the audience before supplying material. Connecting with an audience I reckon requires a touch of observation skills, the ability to push at boundaries, and maybe even a dash of empathy. The Editor went to a comedy show on Wednesday evening. Turns out it was the wrong show due to a friends booking misunderstanding, but still good all the same.

    Never encountered a food co-op, but have purchased in bulk from what might be described as a hippy store. They were actually pretty cheap, but you-know-what forced a change to my arrangements with them. No point ordering from them, if you can’t go and pick the stuff up. Grr! Thought you might enjoy this novel housing idea: Albury owner of former ANA DC-2 airliner the Bungana restores fuselage for caravan conversion. Pretty novel huh?

    I’m with you, those gentrified places remind me of cemeteries where none shall disturb the newly arrived. 🙂 A bit of life wouldn’t hurt, and you’d have seen it too. The thing which attracted people to the area, departs. I much prefer living up the bush, and can’t see myself heading back into town (as long as possible anyway).

    I’ve never been to a wax works museum or exhibition. I need to get out more. The Duane Hanson exhibition was eerily realistic, but ever so slightly off in some manner I can’t put a finger upon. The Editor is going to see the Banksy exhibition next week. Grumble, grumble, grumble… 🙂

    That’s a lot of snakes to smuggle in ones pants. Candidly it sounds like some sort of kinky fetish activity. You’d not want to get caught up with the legal system in the land of stuff mostly because I believe that there is no presumption of innocence.

    Oh yeah, those horse folks really annoyed the daylights out of me. The cops were involved. I’d seriously love to tell you the full tale one day, but let’s just say that I ended up with a bit of local reputation and people have mostly since left me well alone. There was truly bizarre twist to that story. Spare a thought for a friend of mine who I was driving back to the train station and there just happened to be a horse rider on the road. He knew not to venture in places where he didn’t belong. My friend was going: “what just happened”. Most of those horses bred and ridden by those folks would be no good for a days hard work, let alone a days hard riding.

    The doggie steps are a great idea. I’d never heard of such a thing, but have constructed ramps for older dogs to navigate in the past. And sleeping through the night for H is a good achievement. How’s her favourite food going? You mentioned that supplies were a bit light on.

    Man, it drizzled with thick fog this morning. Absolutely revolting weather, and no day to be working outside. Instead I headed down to the shed to fix the clutch on the chainsaw. Made a video about it, but there’s only so many hours in the day to put the video together and I had to do paid work for a few hours this afternoon / early evening. Anywhoo, the machine is now working again. And the peasants rejoiced! 🙂

    I’d swap you some foggy drizzle with maybe a slight chance of snow for your kind of delightful sounding weather? Man, it sounds perfect.

    What a fine start to the book. I like the bloke already. Apologies for making you repeat yourself, but what is the authors name again? Might have to see about getting a copy. 🙂 Happy days are a good book. After completing a very serious non fiction book, I’m now reading one of my Jack Vance collection, and it’s not his finest work. A lot of introspection and not enough action.



  35. Yo, Chris – Well, you’ve taken your first step! Admitting you’re powerless over acquiring chainsaws. Now go to 90 meetings, in 90 days, and get a sponsor. And DON’T buy any chainsaws in between! There’s probably a Chainsaws Anonymous, in your neighborhood. 🙂

    Yes, no matter how gentle, a one tonne creature might accidentally run over the top of you, if startled. Best to give it a wide birth. And who knows how raspy they might get during mating season.

    I got a look at the comedian subculture, from that book I read, “Subculture Vulture.” The author did quit a long stint as a comedian, and I think he still performs, from time to time. It’s a tough business to break into. And a tough one to stay on top.

    That was an interesting article, on the Bungana airplane. I just finished up the series, “Foyle’s War.” There were extras on the last DVD disc. How difficult it was to find period aircraft and autos. There was one fuel refueler, that there’s only one working one left, in all of
    Britain. And, there aren’t all that many Spitfires and Hurricane airplanes, left.

    We had an interesting roadside attraction, just south of Portland, when I was a kid. A B-17 on top of a petrol station.


    It was kind of off our beaten path, but I saw it a few times, when I was a kid.

    Gentrified places and cemeteries is a good analogy. They don’t have near the “interesting” nightlife, as in the past. And whatever amenities are on offer, are expensive.

    I saw a Madame Tussaud’s traveling wax museum show, at the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair. I don’t remember being as impressed, as with the Hanson exhibit. The story of Madame Tussaud, the founder, is pretty interesting. I read a novelized account, of her life, a couple of years ago. She ended up being the wax maven, at the Court of Louis XVI. During the French Revolution, she was forced to take wax impressions, from the severed heads of her former patrons.

    Well, as far as trespassers go, you set firm boundaries. Which is necessary. We occasionally have people, wandering through the Institution grounds, helping themselves to both produce, and flowers. Usually, there’s someone around to bring them up short. Sometimes, me. 🙂

    I’ll be mixing some of H’s old food, in with the new stuff. It’s got all the same ingredients. If she doesn’t like it, tough. She can just starve, until she cleans her dish. I’ll sweeten the deal with some of her favorite additions: mixed veg, reconstituted dried cranberries or peanut butter. Funny. The last two nights, she’s slept right through. Didn’t go wandering around. And whine to get back on the bed. Maybe the couple of times I shut the door, made an impression? Even though I had to cave, eventually, due to the noise.

    The weather continues to be quit nice. My friends in Idaho are experiencing the same weather, as DJ. I have three green Cayenne peppers. Soon to be three big green red Cayenne peppers. Yes, I know, I’m counting my Cayenne’s before they hatch. 🙂

    “The Way of the Hermit: My Incredible 40 Years Living in the Wilderness.” Ken Smith, 2024. I haven’t read any more of it. Other things are pressing. There’s also a couple of nice photo sections. Lew

  36. Chris:

    The star sky is only a little bit biggerer; we are still hemmed in by trees. A long time ago we had a telescope. Alas, some of us used it to look in the neighbors’ windows, way far away. That is not kosher.

    We would have 10 more weeks of growing season, but due to the north slope and the trees – even with the newly cleared areas – by September 1, the sun is hardly hitting the garden and everything really starts to slow down. We have to try to grow things fast!

    My point about handicapped people not always having a choice about not doing anything was not fair. I am sure that you were thinking of just an average person. So, my apologies.

    Seven is a fine number of chainsaws. Good for you!


  37. Chris,

    Idaho has much lower property and petrol taxes than Washington. I’ve known many people who lived in Idaho and worked in Spokane. The drive is NOT something that I would do. Traffic can be abominable, and it can be hideous in winter. In other words, you get what you pay for. 🙂

    For high school sports, many of the shrinking farm communities band together in order to have a team. In the 1980s, the girls basketball team from Creston, Washington (an hour west of here) played in 3 consecutive championship games, winning 2. Wilbur, the next town to the west, fielded some good boys and girls basketball teams. Now they are Wilbur-Creston for sports. Further west, Almira, Coulee City and Hartline have done the same. Almira-Coulee-Hartline is a mouthful, so they are known as ACH. Many other small farming communities have done this for sports.

    I’ve been around 2 people who just somehow intrinsically “got” physics. I also had a math professor as an undergrad who was like that. The 2 physics people were mentally in another world. A girl graduated 2 years ahead of me as an undergrad with a BA. She continued on to graduate school, needed to come back for one term to upgrade to a BS. She was very personable and learned everything very quickly, including the stuff the rest of us struggled with.

    Then there was, erm, I’ll call him Bill, at New Mexico State. He was a senior but took graduate level courses. He was in the class I had from the pleasantly blunt professor. I asked him for help on a problem once. ONCE. He showed me his homework paper. We were identical until where I got stuck. I asked him WHY he did what he did on the next step. Bill stared at his equations, thought for 5 minutes, then said, “I’m sorry, I can’t explain it. It just seemed like the obvious thing to do.” I realized that I was in the presence of a higher power.

    He was also in the graduate level quantum mechanics class. One graduate student got a B+. Another, who already had a MS in physics and had passed the class but needed the review, he got a B. The remaining 11of us all got a failing C. Oh, Bill, however. He got the only A. His homework papers and his test papers were used as the answer key by the professor. Yes, a higher power mentally.

    The textbook was written by a guy named Merzbacher. Nobody could read it and get any semblance of understanding from it. Naturally, we referred to it as “The bleeping Merzbacher.” After I washed out and came back to Spokane, I was visiting my undergraduate quantum physics professor. He bought me lunch. Over lunch he asked me what quantum text we had used. I told him. He bellowed, “Not the bleeping Merzbacher!?! That’s the worst text there is!” The book had a reputation.

    Chainsaw clutch. Fixed. Well done…that is something concrete, something real, a useful skill to have.

    I found the Driza-bone website. There is some nice apparel there. Well out of my price range, but it looks good and sounds top notch. My dad gave me an army surplus rubber rain poncho when I was 14. I still have it. It has seen a lot of use. I’ll stick with it in heavy rain. Might not look good, but it works.

    Got some compost placed around some of the struggling dryland grass, as well as some of the veggies. Everybody was given a good drink afterward. I’ll let you know if I notice a difference.

    Yup, gets light about 4:30 a.m., the sun peaking over the horizon about an hour later. If I wake up then, I figure I might as well get up, get out for a walk, get outdoor work done before it is too hot. Then a nap in the afternoon. I’ve read that many nonindustrial cultures sleep in shifts like that rather than 8 hours at once.

    I’ve heard some talk on the Rez about climate change. Except one Rez, a few years ago, did a study for a few years, put together a large booklet about their recommendations to tribal members moving forward. Due to my physics and technical backgrounds, I was able to get a preview copy in return for giving a review of it to the tribal group. It was well researched and very well written. However, and this is also the little bits that I’ve heard on the Princess’s and her brother’s reservations…the recommendations for food were to rely on traditional foods – game, salmon, berries, roots. The change recommended due to climate change was to hunt and gather further afield in the higher elevations. Not entirely feasible, and there will be a lot more pressure for fewer resources as we move on. A lot of the home Rez has had its huckleberry areas devastated by wildfires.

    Many tribal groups are working together and with regional governments to reintroduce salmon in various streams. Salmon need water 69F and lower in order to survive. State and tribal studies 3 and 4 years ago showed that by late July, the average temperature in the Yakima River was 83F. Removing 4 or 6 dams, as has been proposed for the Snake River (a large tributary of the Columbia) will do nothing to revive salmon in the Snake tributaries in my opinion. The water temperatures in most of those tributaries will be similar to the temperatures of the Yakima. It’s all the same desert. The Princess understands this. Her brother understands this. Nobody else wants to understand this.

    Other proposals, for heating and cooling and that particular Rez helping members with solar were given in the book also. But as you know better than I do, nobody wants to hear the limitations of solar…So I gave my review and heard nothing in response.

    I have seen some television programs, however, from some midwestern Native groups. They are doing community gardening, community farming, teaching members how to grow their own food. They are introducing crops that will do well in the warmer climate to come. So a few Native nations are trying to be proactive and adaptive. Those around here? Not so much.


  38. Hi Pam,

    Trees will have that effect, and you may notice the trees in the main photo obscuring part of the night sky. It happens, and the trees have the side benefit of providing shade on otherwise hot days.

    Respect. A person has to sometimes set limits when boundaries are pushed against. I’d have been a bit troubled that such things were going on, but like your example I’d have put a stop to it.

    Oh my! Yes, early season varieties are the way to go in such conditions. One must bend with the winds, or sunlight in this case. Speaking of which, yesterday was the completion of the low sunlight danger zone period for three weeks either side of the winter solstice. We’re not out of the woods yet, although that sounds strange because there are woods here. Oh well. A storm with it’s origins in that cold frozen continent to the south of here has just began to arrive. As you’d imagine I got rained on whilst back up the work gear today. Monday sounds positively feral on a weather front. Ook!

    Pam, you’re like super cheeky! Nice one.

    Well each of the chainsaws has a different purpose, except that the largest electric saw was so bizarrely cheap I had to buy the second one on offer, so that’s technically a duplication. I couldn’t quite comprehend why no one else wanted the machine. A mystery which I will not lose sleep over!



  39. Hi DJ,

    Is there any public transport between the just over the border towns in Idaho and Spokane? That would be handy. I generally only drive off-peak, mostly because the major freeway can be a similar serious problem here at peak hour. And I agree, such things are cheap for a reason. By the way, you’d be amazed how much fuel is chewed up by a vehicle engine just idling away which can happen in stationary traffic. It ain’t nothing, that’s for sure.

    It’s a good idea to consolidate the players in a twin (or tri) city basis. You can’t really do that with say other local organisations like the volunteer fire brigade. There was a change in the way the fire services levy was collected a few years ago which lead to more people paying the thing, and it’s hard not to notice the new and upgraded facilities. But I also hear that they may be suffering from a lack of recruits.

    Some people have the most amazing talents, and you just know when you meet them. Thanks for those two stories, and it has been my observation that highly intelligent women are often drilled by their parents in the social skills, whereas dudes sometimes avoid such training to their detriment. I’ll tell you a funny story. Sandra’s favourite uncle worked as an architect, but was an accomplished piano and organ player. The dude could hear music, then replay it in or out of key. Was also proficient in other languages. You see where I’m going here? Anyway, my best guess was that he played really well so as to be social, but at the same time dodge the social activity required from life.

    🙂 Bill was a natural for that subject matter. It happens. He probably saw physics from a perspective that was out of reach of yourself, but at least you could comprehend the distance, I’d be left in total and absolute bamboozlement. When I used to compete in sports, I was no slouch, but I’d always encounter someone better. Quite the humbling experience don’t you reckon?

    Poor Sandra had a similar experience with a very poorly matched text book, and it may have been in industrial microbiology. The book only became available half way through the semester and the assignments and exam bore little relevance to the text. University is a wonderful institution, until you realise that you’re stuck in an institution, what with all that entails. I’ve heard the story a few times over the years, as you’d imagine, and the marks were so low they had to be standardised upwards. Such things are not right from go to woe.

    Machines have a very simple language, even computers. It’s simple enough I can get my head around the finer points, and make repairs and modifications. Used the chainsaw for a couple of hours today, and it was a joy to use now that it has been repaired. Had a burn off of the truly rotten and seriously damp forest litter, and made plenty discs to be split once the soil dries up a bit. It’s very damp out there. I spread around a lot of sawdust so that the soil processes and plants get off to a good start in life. In a few weeks time I’ll chuck some compost in that area and I reckon in about two years time the area will be more resilient. Right now the soil surface is a bit slippery.

    Then it rained, and I got wet. 🙂 Not much more to say about that really!

    That stuff is out of my price range too, but it’s good stuff and made for the long haul. Oh wow, that poncho is a great idea as your arms are a bit more free than what a rain jacket provides. I’ll bet that poncho of yours has some stories to tell?

    Fingers crossed that the compost and watering helps. In super hot summers the vegies here wilt in the middle of the day, and recover at night – which is when they do most of their growing I believe.

    What? No way? Are you suggesting that there is light in the sky at 4:30am around the summer solstice. Well, I never! Dude, some hypotheses are not worth testing. 🙂 However, an hour or two later is an excellent time to get into the work day at that time of the year. Man, I’m struggling getting up in the dark at this time of year.

    Hmm. Huckleberry’s are worthy of protection, and sorry to hear that the wildfires have devastated them. That sort of land management is a subject very dear to my heart – you may have noticed? Worked on such things today, and am candidly a bit tired this evening. Heading to higher elevations is an option, but as you note the pressure on scarce resources is harder in such locales.

    The reintroduction of the salmon is a good idea. For your info, down under they’re having similar water temperature issues but with trout. I’ve heard a lot of different opinions as to why this is happening, but the one that rings the most true to me is the removal of stream side vegetation. The sun will heat the water, that’s what it does, but if the water is protected by shade… The other thing which interests me is that somehow the European colonisers decided it was a good thing to reduce flooding and speed the movement of water in waterways by clearing obstructions. I can understand how all of this management came to be, but does it work? And that’s where the problems begin.

    83’F is very warm for cold water fish like Salmon. Over the years the removal of those dams has reared its head as a topic here. Make one change over here, and something will happen over there. Hmm. It’s complicated, that’s for sure.

    Thank you so much for the fascinating insights. My mindset is to learn, observe, trial and prepare. One year a big fire will sweep through here. Like the snake risk, my feeling is that it is best if that hungry monster find an easier target for it’s mischief.

    Thought you might be interested in this article: K’gari fire management program melds modern science with traditional Butchulla cultural burning. That tree in the first image, is the same species as the ones that grow here. Worth looking after I reckon!

    Solar is good for lights and other low energy requiring appliances. And I note that it is far easier to cool using electricity (compressing a gas) than heat (using a resistor).

    That’s some good practices, and it’s been my observation that producing one’s own food needn’t look like the western methods. There are other options, yup. But honestly, few if any people are growing vegetables in these parts. Mostly what I see are horses, cattle and sheep, and most of those have feed brought in. It’s beyond stupid, and has somehow become the whole next level. Ook!



  40. Hi Lewis,

    So glad you read that! 🙂 Yes, I am powerless over acquiring chainsaws. Dude, they’re so good and each has it’s own individual niche, except for where I bought two of the same ones. There was this clearance sale and they were really cheap and super high quality. Look, that never happens, except it did then, and nobody else wanted the machines. What was I to do? And like, why would that even happen? Ook! I am powerless… Thanks for the instructions and I will do my best to find a group in the area.

    Apparently in Africa, hippos kill more people than even lions, by a significant margin. Man, how do encounters with moose and elk go in your part of the world? Even the Sambar deer stags here have enormous antlers, and Ollie is clever enough to herd them off and away from the rear, but still it’s a risky endeavour. But what about Bison? They’re even bigger again. And there was that time that a big bull kangaroo got right up on it’s legs and tail, like a tripod, and so was about eight feet tall. Rather menacing, and best left alone. So many ways to become unstuck, and people mostly worry about snakes – there’s plenty of risks, including falling trees.

    It’s really wet outside now. But the rain only arrived near to sunset when I was packing up. Did more cleaning up today, and had a burn off to keep warm – and also get rid of the really rotten and very damp timber. It was quite nice doing all that work, but wow I got wet packing everything up when the rain arrived. The rain was not enough to put out the fire. What always alarms me about those fires is that the timber is very damp and rotten, and yet it still burns. A sobering thought.

    Staying on top is like most endeavours, even if you get to the top, it’ll only be for a while. What a fascinating book that Subculture Vulture is. The health subject which dare not be named had an awful impact on artists in particular, whether they be musicians, comedians, or whatever variety. There’s a certain sort of momentum, or at least I reckon there would be, to those sorts of performances.

    Oh my, dude you sent me on an interweb rabbit hole. How did they refuel those WWII fighters? Reliable sources suggest jerry cans were sometimes used as vehicle refuelers were a bit thin on the ground even back then. But wow, they could turn those machines around in pretty quick time and get them back up in the air.

    That’s an amazing story about the B-17 used as a roof over a service station, as you do. That guy had some gumption to get away with it all. I’d have gone to look at it too. It’s funny where some of this stuff ends up. There’s a ex-navy submarine in a park at the town of Hollbrook in the north and east of the state. So you’re driving past the park and notice the thing: Is that a submarine in a park? Sure is.

    There used to be an old steam locomotive and timber rail bridge in a nearby park in the inner urban area we used to live. Dunno what happened to the locomotive, but I heard the bridge was relocated to a steam rail enthusiast site. A rail line used to run through the park, it was part of a failed inner ring train line. It was an economic flop apparently.

    Yup, the amenities in such gentrified places are expensive. It’s like moving next to a venue / pub that does live music, and then complaining about the noise. I can’t say for sure why the venues seem to come off worse than the new residents do in those complaints.

    The bloodthirsty folks almost took Madame Tussaud’s head as well. That sort of Revolutionary work is the sort you do when you have no choice in the matter. The experience would be a sobering one, that’s for sure.

    You kind of have to set firm boundaries. There are some folks who take loose boundaries as a form of license, which I’m personally uncomfortable with. And as you’ve mentioned previously, there are always the grifters. Hey do you alter your greetings to the trespassers depending upon the circumstances? Best to size up your opponent, although looks can sometimes be deceiving. It’s a bit confrontational isn’t it? The last person I caught doing such things was asked the pointed questions: Who are you, and what are you doing here? He took it well. Some folks though have hair triggers.

    Hehe! Total respect! Man, I’d do no less when faced with the H food issue. She’ll get with the program, but I’d keep a look out for sensitivities, although you already know that. Hey, maybe the food is better? Although you have set a boundary with the dog. Dogs respect such things. I remind the Editor with Ruby that: If you want to be the boss, you have to be the boss. Funnily enough, she’s learned that at dog training – which is super cheap. Ruby just went up a grade, but that’s equally on the Editor who is training that dog every single day. Dogs are complicated personalities, as you’d know! 🙂

    I’m getting rather envious of your nice weather. An Antarctic storm has drifted north and now impacts our weather. Nice, although it is still above freezing outside, just. That’s no good the weather out east of your state. Very challenging conditions. That’s great news with the cayenne peppers! I really like that variety too. Yum! They’re the goldilocks variety, not too hot, and not too cold, but just right.

    Thanks for re-supplying the book title and author. I must do something about this… I am powerless… There are few things as fine as a good book.



  41. Yo, Chris – As far as buying the two chainsaws, I suppose you could say you were buying in bulk. Always a wise thing, to do. And, perhaps you’re working up an act, juggling chainsaws. You’d want two, the same weight and configuration. It is a done thing. Now THAT would make an interesting video. 🙂 Although I’m sure you’d have competition.


    Moose and elk. Both can be dangerous, but Moose seem to be particularly raspy. Seems like this summer, every week, there’s been a report of a tourist, mixing it up with a Bison, in Yellowstone Park. If the tourist survives, the fines are heavy. They have been told over and over, not to approach the Bison. But, you know. Selfies. There will be many contenders, for this year’s Darwin Award.

    Good work on the clean up. Push that forest boundary, back.

    I quit enjoyed “Subculture Vulture.” Of course, I had a bit of a special interest, as one section is about the author’s stint as “the Boy King of Oakland A.A.” 🙂 But so many other subcultures he was involved with were also engrossing. The deaf community. The Hassidic Jewish community. Even the Rave community.

    Well, late 40’s / early 50’s it was probably easier to get away with putting a B-17 on top of your petrol station. Your mention of a submarine in the park, jogged a memory. Back when I was in high school, the southern boundary of our school district was the Columbia River. Slang, at the time, to go out to the local lover’s lane, which overlooked the river, was, “Going to watch the submarine races.” 🙂 Not that we ever saw a submarine, in the Columbia River. Not for lack of trying.

    New residents to our rather rural county, often complain of smells. They get no sympathy.

    One time, a yelled at a trespasser, in such a way, that two of the caregivers who happened to be outside, well, their heads snapped around. “Where did that voice come from?” Apparently, though not trained in it, I have a “command” voice. On occasion. One day, a stranger was walking his dog through our place. I told him he was trespassing. He got a little snarky, and asked if it made any difference that he was an officer of the law. I gave him a flat, “No.” He was rather gobsmacked. I really don’t think he was. Wasn’t in uniform. That would have been a different matter. Never saw him, again.

    Well, H has a new Stairway to Heaven. 🙂 I think I mentioned, she’s been going walk about, at 5am. And then whines to be let back on the bed. Not going to fly. One of the guys at the Club, gave me a set of three carpeted doggie steps, that he had built, a few years back. So, I brought it home, last night, and started to train, a bit. I mean, she charges up and down four flights of stairs, three times a day. She was a bit hesitant. Her favorite squeaky toy, which I keep on the bed, didn’t much do the trick. Her dental chews / treats, did. She scrambled right up them, this morning, for her usual treat. Time will tell if her 5am nonsense, yields the same results.

    I read a few more pages of Ken Smith’s “The Way of the Hermit.” Now he’s about the same age as me, so, when he was 15 (60 years ago, or so) he left home to work in the Scottish forests. “I came to learn how lucky I was to have the opportunity I did. These days, if you did a fraction of the things I was doing at that job at fifteen, you’d be instantly dismissed for not having the correct certificate or having passed the appropriate course. In those days it was very much a case of “see one, do one,” with little time for anything else.”

    Last night, I read a bit more of King’s short stories. I detected a theme, that had not occurred to me, before. King has a lot of his characters, accused of some horrible crime, that they did not commit. Either put in that situation, by some psychic phenomenon, or otherwise.

    I was looking at the library “new, on order” list, last night. Saw a book I didn’t put on hold (things are tight on my hold list, these days), that did catch my eye. “The Sad B*****d Cookbook: Food You Can Make So You Don’t Die.” (Novikov, 2022). Though they spell out the un-family friendly word, in the title.

    I’m still waiting on “The Skint Cookbook,” though I put it on hold, way back in January. I’m number one, in line. Lucky, that, as I notice there are 38 holds, on that title. I did a little research, to try and figure out what’s gone wrong. Well, the initial release date, was in January. But it’s been revised to late June. So, it ought to show up, anytime. Maybe.

    Last night, I watched “Bushwick.” Came out about five years ago, but the library just got around to getting it. It’s about a (modern) American Civil War. Low production values, but, if you’re interested in urban warfare, worth a look. I think they bought it, because of the new movie, (modern American) “Civil War.” Which I picked up from the library, yesterday. There was a lot of chatter, when it came out, about four months ago. So, it’s going to be a popcorn night. 🙂 But I’ll go easy on the popcorn, and cheese. Because …

    I’ve been having some digestive problems. I’d slacked off, a bit, on the yoghurt. And was probably eating too much cheese, So, the last four nights, dinner has been a can of pears or peaches, blueberries, and big dollops of yoghurt. With three or four dried prunes. Lots of water. Yup. All us old people do, is talk about our health. :-). Lew

  42. Hello Chris
    Remains of dinosaurs are found on the south of the Island where there are cliffs, not on my side.

    Rats took the whole of my growing beetroots the other night and I have just discovered that they took all the nearby potatoes as well. This is the first time that this has happened to me. Son has had to give up growing beetroot and carrots for this reason. It appears that there are an unusual number of rats around.

    Still having to put heating on.


  43. Hi Inge,

    Thanks for the explanation, and it would be nice to have the fossil cliffs (although such things are known to fall into the ocean). But then you’d have to deal with all manner of people scouring the cliffs looking for fossils. I’ve observed that some enjoy people dropping in randomly to say hello and/or look for fossils. Unfortunately I’m an introvert and I enjoy the company of guests, but not uninvited guests. It sounds a bit odd that, but there’s a lot to do around here and managing my time is my business.

    Oh no! Inge, that’s awful and the rats are likewise onto the tubers here, although all mischief stopped after the miscreants ate a meal of hot chilli’s. Rats are increasingly becoming a problem down under too, although I’m on top of that problem. They’ve been on the continent for apparently about 5 million years, although the recent import rodents from Europe are a bit sassier than the local varieties.

    You’ll note that I’ve given much thought to the rats over many long years. They’re very clever creatures. The easiest way to defeat their twitchy nosed selves is ensuring that there are few opportunities for housing. Or get a couple of cats.

    I’ve often wondered whether the rat population has boomed in these recent enlightened times because people are encouraged to leave their cats inside and restricted at night. You can’t do that and expect no consequences.



  44. Hi Lewis,

    Yeah, maybe I was doing that! 🙂 By the way, I’ve written that excuse down for later usage. Thanks! They were about a third the usual retail price, and they are Sthil machines. For the life of me I can’t understand why nobody else seemed to be interested in the machines, and there was a third. Sometimes I lay awake at night wondering whether I should have bought that third machine. Regrets, I’ve had a few, but then haven’t we all felt that way?

    Oh that guy is seriously good. Not an act to do when you’re having an ‘off’ day. 🙂

    Well that was an interesting search. The first article returned was: “Drunken tourist kicks bison in Yellowstone officials say”. Then there was the middle aged lady who was gored and had to be airlifted. Nobody wants to be airlifted. Imagine getting the bill for that treatment? Helicopters aren’t cheap. Yes, very Darwin award notable mention worthy.

    Got stuck into the clean up again today. It’s hard work, but I reckon all of the forest litter is now cleaned up. There’ll be about four or five more days to convert the logs and rounds into firewood, but that job needs doing. And I discovered some useful sized rocks. Always good to hit pay dirt. My poor brain is a bit fried this evening so hope the essay makes sense. Ook!

    I noted that bit about the boy King of Oakland AA and was wondering what the heck that was about? Surely he couldn’t have been bigger and badderer than anyone else in Oakland? I noted the years working at Burning Man. Hmm. An unusual place that.

    Yeah, absolutely it would have been easier. Can you imagine trying to get a permit to use a B-17 as a structural roof element in a building these days? My brain hurts even thinking about the problem. But did the plane keep consumers out of the sun and occasional chunk of rain? Heck yeah.

    Hehe! Yes, I’ve heard of such complaints down this way as well. Cows fart and make noises into the night. Machines make noise on weekends and at odd hours. And yeah, sometimes the grass can exceed a foot in height, because it needs to grow higher than that in order to set seed. Life in a small town. 😉

    Respect, and the voice of command is a skill. Not everyone has that, so good shot. Nah, I’m with you, the guy was trying it on because the cops can’t just turn up and start poking around without a warrant anyway. And even down here with our minimum to no rights, if you ask them to leave and they’re on a fishing expedition sans paperwork, they have to leave.

    That’s funny and hope H learns her stairway etiquette. Nice training too. Incidentally, the Editor and Ruby were promoted to Class II this morning at dog obedience school. Ruby is now more trustworthy than Dame Plum and we’re feeling the canine pressure to lift our game.

    Oh yeah, the Scottish hermit is right there. Yup. Couldn’t agree more. The volunteer fire brigade had a large chainsaw on the back of the truck, but if you weren’t certified, you couldn’t use the thing. That’s how I got to spend two days out in the forest with the crusty old forestry worker dude. It was a truly awesome course, but I could have just hung out with him for a week and learned the basics without the paperwork nonsense. I’m feeling the need for this book… Back in more sensible days, there was this thing called apprenticeship to a master. Sure quality could vary, but far out that can happen with more formal captured processes as well. There’s no guarantees there.

    Oooo. A second book recommendation which I’m finding hard to ignore. I am powerless…

    What a fascinating topic. Yes, cook properly or die. Makes a strong case to get thee to a kitchen and learn some freakin’ skills. Ramen for every meal is no excuse for a life. On the other hand, I recall you mentioning the ‘skint’ cookbook. I’ll be very curious to hear your review of that cookbook. Makes sense. I’m waiting on a product which keeps having the release day extended. Oh well.

    Hehe! Dude, you brought that poop down onto your own head. Cheese is a wonderful way to preserve an excess of milk. However too much of the stuff can bind your guts, as you’ve experienced. Ook. Hope your methodology works. Forget the prunes, and go for a pumpkin soup. That stuff is like the proverbial pipe cleaner.

    Good luck, and may things ease up for you. Did I mention home made toasted muesli for breakfast? Should do a video on how to make that stuff. It’s so easy, and all those oats have to be good for you. We uploaded two videos today.



  45. Yo, Chris – Regrets … you’ve had a few … but did it your way. Tip of the hat to Frank Sinatra 🙂 .

    Congrats on more forest clean-up. And, the discovery of more rocks. Hopefully, no Moby Rocks.

    “Boy King of Oakland (California) A.A.” He came to recovery, very early. At the age of 15, as I remember. So, whatever meeting room he was in, he was usually the youngest member. Fawned over, a bit.

    According to the author, eventually, “Burning Man” became, well, rather gentrified. As did the rave scene, he was in. Commercialism, reared its ugly head.

    H still hasn’t quit got the stairway. She uses it when I’m directly involved, with treats or her squeaky toy. But, she got up this morning (at a decent hour), and seemed to have forgotten that they were there. We’ll keep working on it.

    So does the Editor get two stripes on her tunic? 🙂 Does Ruby get a special bandana, to wear?

    Books Anonymous. Has a nice ring to it. There’s actually names for the condition. Bibliomania or bibliophilia.

    I forgot to mention, this weekend was the dreaded STP (Seattle to Portland) bicycle ride. I didn’t see any, when I was out and about, Friday night. I laid low, this weekend, and won’t have to go anywhere until Monday night.

    Well, here’s a factoid for the next pub quiz. In the summer of 1982, in a period of 6 weeks, eight science fiction movies, were released. “E.T.,” “Tron,” “Star Trek: Wrath of Kahn,” “Conan the Barbarian,” “Blade Runner,” “Poltergeist,” “The Thing,” and, “Mad Max.” There’s been a book written on that run of movies, and the impact they had on society. “The Future Was Now.” (Nashawaty). Saw it on the on order, new list. I didn’t put it on hold. So many books, so little time.

    I noticed the library has also ordered remastered copies of “Conan the Barbarian,” and “Red Sonja.” I didn’t put them on hold. I’m sure I saw them, years ago. So many DVDs, so little time. 🙂

    Last night, I made up a bowl of popcorn (easy on the cheese) and watched the new movie, “Civil War.” Oh, my. It was brutal. About our nation falling apart, and four journalists trying to get from New York City, to Washington D.C.. I found the whole thing a bit frightening, especially after reading Eric Larson’s newest book, “The Demon of Unrest.” Which was about the lead-up to our first Civil War. The tenor of the times, was very similar to now. Lew

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