Monday, 14 May 2018

Antarctic mice

To this day, I still have no idea how it all came about. As a kid of a single mother, and being the youngest of three, I was put into school at the earliest age possible. My mother had to work full time in order to keep a roof over our heads and food on the table, so I was placed into school at that early time due to the purely pragmatic reason being that school was a free alternative to childcare. This meant that I was often the youngest child in any grade at school.

Being one of the youngest kids in any class was cool with me and I was OK with that situation. Being a child of a single mother meant that we were poor, and that was an entirely different experience. My jumpers were hand knitted, and I wore my jeans and shoes until they were so full of holes that they were probably not fit for public decency. Sometimes, I just wanted to wear what the cool kids were wearing - just to fit in.

As an interesting side story, as an adult I worked for a steel products wholesaler. One day I was asked to go to the bank with a young lady who also worked at the business. That day the clouds had really dumped a lot of rain, and I remarked to the young lady that the day was: "not good for discovering a hole in your shoe". To which she replied: "why would you have a hole in your shoe?" Of course it had not occurred to me that the young lady in question had never experienced what it meant to wear out a hole in the bottom of a pair of shoes!

In my final year at high school, my mother asked me what I would like as a gift for a birthday present. It was thoughtful of my mother to ask me, but it must be remembered that I gave her hell for the year that she forgot my birthday. Some wise person once remarked that the best way to recall a birthday is to forget one! Anyway, I asked for a particular denim jacket that I'd noticed some of the cool kids wearing. Back in those days, clothes were generally locally made and shops selling denim wear for teenagers were few.

My mother obviously felt some sort of guilt for forgetting an earlier birthday, because instead of purchasing the basic denim jacket that I wanted in order to identify myself as a cool kid (which I wasn't), she went out and purchased a designer made denim jacket. And the other kids in my year at school gave me heaps of crap for wearing that jacket.
The author at age 17, wearing the denim jacket and looking pensive
I sure didn't look like the cool kids in that designer denim jacket. For some strange reason the denim jacket had a cow logo on the front, and just in case anyone missed it, there was another cow logo on the back on a leather patch. Fortunately, I was able to unpick the leather logo patch on the back of the jacket. Unfortunately, the jacket didn't get cooler.

The Australian band, 'Eskimo Joe' wrote a song about this very circumstance. The song was titled, 'Sweater', and whilst the band had a long and illustrious career and produced some superb music, the fans still demanded the 'Sweater' song at gigs. Without further ado, I give you some lyrics from Eskimo Joe:

"My grandpa gave me hand-me-down
When I put it on I look like a clown
All the kids would beat me up at school
Made me itch cause it was made of wool
Leather bound buttons in a monkey shit brown
Everywhere i go people putting me down
When i go and do the little bottom buttons up
Makes me look like I got a big beer gut"

I was quite the fan of woollen jumpers because they kept me warm. On the other hand denim jackets rarely keep one warm, and so during the colder parts of the year, I wore the hand knitted woollen jumper with the designer denim jacket. The fashion combination was not cool. And just to make it even less cool, in the next photo below, I was wearing my Billy Joel tour merchandise t-shirt.
The author still looking pensive and uncertain due to the effect of the Billy Joel tour t-shirt on the overall look
Observant readers will even be able to spot the cow logo on the front of the denim jacket. The real joke about the story was that, many years later when I began dating the editor, she mentioned that my brand of denim jacket was a really cool item. In her corner of the city, the jacket would have had serious street cred - with the girls! Therein lies the problem of going to an all boys school! Little wonder I looked pensive.

"Coming home late on an afternoon
My lip was all bloody and my forehead all bruised
Singing all the blues like hoody led better
All because of that shitty brown sweater
Shitty little sweater causing too much pain
Hung it in the closet never wear it again
No disrespect to my grandpa
But this sweater incident has gone too far"

Alert readers may wonder what the heck I was doing in the top photo in the middle of Victorian alpine country in a flashy looking Toyota four wheel drive vehicle if I was poor. The simple answer to that question is that my mate was full of money, and I guess as such he must have been 'King of the dorks' in my social circle at that time. To be continued...

Clouds gathered over the Victorian central highlands as a pool of cold Antarctic air drifted ever closer
As the afternoon came to its natural conclusion on Thursday, clouds gathered over the farm. A rogue pool of cold air had detached itself from the usual Antarctic trade winds and began drifting north - only to land in this corner of the planet. The pool of cold air could have landed anywhere at this latitude, but it chose this corner of Australia. The island state of Tasmania to the south of the state that I live in (Victoria) was smashed by the storm. Cars were floating down the streets of the capital city of Hobart. Buildings were flooded. It was a real mess: Hobart weather: Record rain, flash flooding inundate CBD and parts of southern Tasmania

Fortunately, between only two thirds to three quarters of the rain that fell there, landed here - and at a much slower rate. The farm was covered in thick cloud, rain, and mist for four days as three inches or 75mm of rain fell.
The farm was covered in thick cloud, rain, and mist for four days as three inches of rain fell
The high level water tanks soon filled up!
The high level water tanks soon filled up due to the huge dump of rain
Then the large reserve water tank which was mostly empty began refilling:
The reserve water tank has begun refilling
Long term readers will recall the minor landslide incident which occurred over a year ago. Well, the rain again pooled at that location and began the process of repeating the landslide. It was fortunate that the editor and I had been undertaking work in that location to prevent a repeat of the disaster. Clearly still more work is required!
The heavy rain over the weekend produced a minor slippage of land above the house
The real drama during that period of time was the 12 of the 30 installed solar photovoltaic panels failed. On Saturday night, we discovered the failure because the power to the house was rather rudely cut off without warning, mid pizza cooking. The system decided to shut off the power to the house in order to protect the batteries from over discharging (which can permanently damage them). It was a bit of a shock for us (and the pizza) because over the past decade the off grid solar power system had never previously failed us without warning.

In the dark and drizzly evening that was Saturday night, we managed to connect up the small petrol (gas in US speak) powered generator and pump some extraordinarily expensive electrons into the batteries and get the system going again. The pizza enjoyed the toasty warmth of the gas oven.

Investigations the following day uncovered that during the past month, one of the three strings of solar panels had failed. We have set up the solar power system into three separate strings of solar panels for this very reason so that if one string fails the system could still limp along with the remaining two strings.

In this case, we lost 40% of the panels and still have no idea why. At first we suspected that mice had chewed through the cables, and after a physical examination of the entire length of cables for that string, I could see no rodent damage. Another possibility is that the local sulfur crested Cockatoos have chewed through the cables on the roof. Those birds can live as long as the oldest humans and they have extraordinarily strong beaks. The problem remains a mystery, and one that I am hoping to resolve over the next few days. The repair bill to correct this problem will, I estimate, reach almost a thousand dollars, just for the materials, and that is with me undertaking all of the work.

We have huge expanses of grass here at the farm. Ordinarily, the marsupials keep up with eating the grass, but at some stages of the year, the growth exceeds what they can eat. At those times of the year, I mow the grass, which is a very slow job involving days of walking around pushing the little red Honda mower.
Ollie cattle dog extraordinaire, frolics through the grass, wishing he could push the mower with his long legs
The little red Honda push mower is showing signs of wear and tear and over the past year has had to be re-welded in spots. Since that time I have been keeping an eye out for a Deutscher self propelled mower / slasher. Despite the German brand name, the machines are locally manufactured and the old timers that I have spoken too over the years, swear by them. Earlier in the week, I finally spotted a used example in honest condition - and so I purchased it.
The author shows off his new second hand Deutscher
It cost me about 20% of the price of a new model, and it is worthwhile noting that these machines and this model are apparently so good that they are still made today. It is a real beast of a machine and I can't wait to get into slashing the entire farm prior to the daffodils sprouting their heads come August. If I have the time for that task...

Despite the cold and rainy weather, there is still plenty going on at the farm. The bees look to have settled in for the winter, and I closed up the gap in their opening in order to reduce heat loss for the colony.
The bees look as though they are buckling down for the winter
Winter is the time for citrus and it looks as though the Lemonade variety will have a bumper crop. I tasted one of the fruits a few days ago and it was still a few weeks away from being fully ripe:
Lemonade citrus looks like it will have a bumper crop this winter
The mandarins are also looking as though they will produce a bumper crop towards the end of winter:
The mandarins look as though they will produce a bumper crop towards the end of winter
I noticed a few fruits on one of the fig trees. I have about six fig trees and all of them are too small to produce edible fruit, but this one is valiantly doing its best:
This small fig tree has produced a couple of figs which may over winter on the tree
I use figs in jam making and the fruit produces one of the tastiest jams that we make. At this stage, because the trees are so small, we have had to buy in all of our figs, but large trays of them are available in the Queen Victoria market in Melbourne for only $10, if you know who to ask!

Winter is fast approaching and the winter solstice is only six weeks away, and whilst plant growth slows at this time of year, there are still quite a few edible plants in the vegetable beds:
Broadbeans grow throughout the winter and produce beans during the spring
At this early stage of winter, nasturtium are plentiful. Soon they will die back leaving straw for the next generation
Green mustard's come into their own during the winter
Leeks happily grow here every season with no further assistance on my part
These gooseberries were begun last season as hardwood sticks poked into the soil
 And there are also plenty of flowers and colours in the garden:
How good are the Japanese maples?
The bush rose produces superb colour as it rambles through garden beds
Geraniums and lavender are a happy combination!
A lemon scented tea tree in flower - it makes a very tasty herbal tea
A smoke bush - our own private leaf change
The blueberries also put on a good leaf change display
The final words for the week should go to the band 'Eskimo Joe' and their excellent and amusing song 'Sweater':

"Late last June I was buying some slacks
From favourite Op shop named Aunty Jacks
Took them back to my abode
Had a good look through my big wardrobe
Then I spyed that certain sweater
But somehow it looks so much better
When I put it on no turning back
Even look good with my new brown slacks"

The temperature outside now at about 9.15pm is 6’C (42’F). So far this year there has been 304.0mm (12.0 inches) which is higher than last week's total of 229.0mm (9.0 inches).


Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Pam,

I a bit overwhelmed by it all too! And I genuinely have no idea as to the cause of the problem, but will get into the heart of the matter on Thursday. Hopefully the weather complies as this time of year is no time to be climbing about slippery damp steel roof.

Hope you like the jacket story! :-)!



Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Margaret,

The solar power system problem is both a mystery and a disaster. What a time of year for it to occur.

It was a good career swap and sometimes the hours can be very long indeed I get that. I have no idea how people manage that trick of continuous long working hours and then spend time with their families. It is not really compatible at all.

Radon? Wow, well that is a new one to me. Did you know that a lot of rocks off gas measurable quantities of radon - so poke a tester into most places and if it sensitive enough and there are rocks, you'll probably find some measurable radon.

Unusual methods always make me slightly nervous, but these things happen and it is hard to know how they ever turn out until they are completed.

You did well with the doctor and it is nice that Michael's interests are front and centre.

Hehe! Rain, yes, I've seen a bit of that over the past few days... :-)!

Shredding the paper is a good idea, although down here, I'd probably burn it all off - although you may be in fire restriction time? Could you burn off the paper where you are?



Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Lewis,

Mate, gremlins is the best description of the problem that I have yet heard. I was quite partial to the Gremlins film back in the day. Do you reckon that was based on any historical monster or critter? One aspect of the problem that I identified was that I cannot immediately identify the cause of the problem. It knocked out 40% (12 of 30) of the solar PV panels and from the statistics, it looked as though it occurred just over a month ago. Anyway, I'm going to change the way the system is wired later this week so that it should be immediately obvious where any problems are. Of course, such knowledge is hard won - and it would have been nice to have implemented this in the past, but hindsight as they say is a wonderful tool!

Good for you for noticing the fraying wire. Not everyone would be as alert to such problems. You know, I have never purchased anything at all from Amazon. Apparently it operates here, but I'm not sure what impact it has had. From all accounts I read plenty of fear stories in the newspapers about bricks and mortar shops quaking in fear, but that seems to have gone quiet. Not all shops translate from one culture to another. But I agree with you larger point about long supply lines because that didn't work so well for either the French or German armies when they attempted an invasion of Russia. And if the great Napoleon couldn't manage a long supply line without harsh consequences, I don't see how either you or I can! Hehe!

I reckon the author Philp is correct about the darker side of gentrification. That process annoyed the heck out of me when I used to live in the inner city. The area used to be very vibrant and full of quirky characters, but once gentrified - it became a sort of commuter area because in order for folks to afford to live there, they had to work really hard to pay for it. And the streets were often empty during the day. Mind you, they have more cafes there nowadays, but I know how I manage to stop off for a coffee before visiting a business, but how the heck do other folks do that trick. You know, the story makes no sense to me. And then the cafes look as though they are cannibalizing each others trade, I mean there must be some sort of natural upper limit, and from that point there is only diminishing incomes and naturally (or unnaturally) increased costs. Nope, it just makes no sense. The local council just did an awesome grading and repair job of the road, so I can't really bag them off. Mind you, it took them four years (from memory) since they last did that job.

So, have you got any celebrities in your past? Don't reckon I do. Mid 80's already? It sounds quite lovely from the low 40's'F here... Where oh where has my autumn gone, where oh where can it be? Over in the south western corner of the continent in the capital city of Perth (the remotest capital city on the planet I believe), they hit a weather record the other day. Now where was that? Ah, here goes: Autumn temperatures set new record as Perth soars above 32C. 32'C = 90'F

Braspberry! OMG and Far out! Whatever will they think of next? I thought that it was some sort of new variety, but it doesn't sound like one... In all honesty it reminds me of the chicken, stuffed in a duck, stuffed in a goose - roast. My stomach is not hardy enough for such culinary adventures. I may have the birds the wrong way around, but you get the picture.


Fernglade Farm said...

Ha! Yes, it is a fine line between criminal and wacko. One must nicely understand and recall the various legal proscriptions in force. Of course a bit of impulse control wouldn't go astray... Some folks don't have that. Even the cattle dog seems to be able to manage that trick.

Scythes are handy, and they're not just there to be looked upon with fear. Yeah, the whole stacking hay out in the field was a serious art back in the day. I'm trying to build top soil and so return most of the organic matter back to the soil critters as food. Hay and straw can come later.

Barter and swaps works well, but I've noticed that whenever anyone can put the monetary economy between themselves and mutual and shared obligations, mate, they go for the money every time. I scratch my head in dumbfoundedness (I may have made that word up) thinking about that.

Fair enough, and these days I rarely get involved in flame wars on the internet if only because there is no upside and I much prefer ongoing dialogue. The editor believes that I was too harsh about the recent cheriola conundrum.

Digging in the material is a great idea and it really speeds up the process, although eventually you have to let the fungal hyphae set up home and digging breaks up the fine webs. Dunno, I haven't figured that one out yet.

Oh well, I don't have much of an idea of what parents should be so I probably should keep my mouth shut on such topics. And I don't get the 'REAL' parent business. Back in the day and not that long ago when mortality was higher such talk would have been revealed as foolishness - and a good way to end up starving in the gutter.

Go the Leprechauns! Only you can decide that about whether to re-engage the ladies in their bingo.

You scored some good tat at the swap meet and garage sale. I was a bit unsure about the spring mounted: A teddy bear as Mother Goose, flying a really detailed goose across the pages of a small open book. Although to be honest it does sound rather intriguing. Incidentally, Twelvetrees is an awesome name? Was the artist of the First Nations people, or did the person take up that name as an adult? Or is it a nom de plume?

Watch out for the sugar lows, but you know your business. Did you used to work for Timberland? Mate, you have had some interesting jobs over the years.

Go the basil - our is almost done now due to the weekend weather... Alas for the loss of pesto... Where indeed? They'll turn up. Down here those plants like the warmer weather, and your soil will still be cold, I reckon. Maybe?



Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Inge,

Enjoy the visit with your daughter and a happy and belated Mothers Day to you!

Hope you have nice weather for the visit.



LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Pensive or surly? :-). I think I like "master of his domain", much better. My mum was occasionally taken in by slick salesmen who assured her something was "hip and with it" among the teens. The suade (sp?) rust colored elf shoes are not to be forgotten :-). Fitting in with the cool kids is similar to computers ... like trying to hit a moving target.

Re: the pick of "farm covered in thick clouds and mist." Looks like about six months out of the year, here. Good luck tracking down the problems with the solar panels. It reminds me of a truck I once had that either wouldn't start or died at inopportune moments. Finally turned out (after much agony) to be a wire on it's way to a lighting assembly that vibration had frayed. And, it was grounding. Gremlins were said to inhabit WWII airplanes. But, the idea might go back further. Inquiring minds want to know ...

The Deutscher mower looks like a fine piece of kit. I can't remember ever seeing anything like it, here. Not that I've looked. It's mostly gas push mowers or riding mowers.

Looks like a bumper crop of citrus, this year. The figs will come along in their own good time. Cont.

LewisLucanBooks said...

Cont. No celebrities in my family tree, as far as I know. But there is one story on my mother's side about some Scandahovian nobility. But, I've never really barked up that branch of the family tree. LOL. Someone once made the observation (in relationship to reincarnation) that did you ever notice that it's never some poor shmuck building the pyramids or mucking out a Roman latrine. It's Cleopatra or Alexander the Great. I was watching that "Finding Your Roots", and, the actress Scarlet Johanson IS actually descended from some Scandahovian nobility. Family coat of arms and all. Maybe I'm related to Ms. Johanson? :-). That and a buck will get me a cup of coffee at The Club.

Animals stuffed in animals stuffed in animals (or birds) seems to be a trope of culinary excess. There was something along that line in the Satyricon.

Not much is known about Twelvetrees. There's even a theory that it was a father-son team. I've got a few prints or sculptors that I can find a name, dates and, maybe a nationality. And, that's it. Maddening. Keeps me awake at night :-).

Here's a link to the mother goose. At $2, I don't think I did so bad.

But, still cheap Made in China tat.

It hit 86F (30C) here. Along toward sunset, I got the rest of my coffee grounds into the ground. Dig holes or trenches, sort out the garbage, throw in a bit of dirt, move a selection of worms and cover over with more soil. Going to be another hot one, today. Then moderating for the rest of the week. Speaking of fitting in, one of my neighbors thinks it's just the DARNDEST thing that I use plastic forks in my garden. I explained that A.) it keeps the cats out and B.) I can keep track of where I've planted something so I just don't dig it up, again. Well ... he's never SEEN or HEARD of such a thing. It's just WEIRD! If Western Civilization goes south, I'll probably be burned at the stake for shoving plastic forks in my garden.

Oh, yeah. I worked for Timberland for 12 years. That was the on-call clerical job I had. Lew

LewisLucanBooks said...

@ Pam and Margaret - My buddy Scott just got called for FEDERAL jury duty. Which would have involved trips to Tacoma (about and hour and a half north). But they decided they didn't need him. Probably got a peek at his FBI file. :-). Lew

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Lewis,

Hehe! Yeah, I do recall those suede rust coloured shoes, but I can't quite recall the 'elf style'. We called them desert boots down here. Elves are cool, but I'd have to suggest their long lives breeds in a certain detachment which lends them an element of coolness, and of course living for such a long time would also mean that they would have a lot of troubles coming to any decisions. :-)! Back in the late 80's it was very cool to wear pointy shoes, but they weren't really cool, and are probably quite damaging to peoples feet.

You know I reckon that even trying to fit in with the cool kids means that by definition you can't be cool. And I cite the desire to fit in with them in the first place as a display of a lack of detachment from circumstances that would otherwise lend people a certain amount of coolness. On the other hand, I watched some footage on the internet of lava consuming houses over in Hawaii a few weeks back and I would struggle maintaining a sense of detachment whilst my house was being obliterated by a natural event. So, I guess the whole thing is very complex and depends very much upon circumstances. Do you feel that the whole 'meek shall inherit the Earth' business was an attempt for followers to display their cool style of detachment?

Almost forgot. Thanks, but I reckon I'm leaning towards the surly end of that continuum. I'd like to suggest otherwise, but it would probably be dishonest of me.

Really? Far out, two days of that mist and I'm over it. Last week supplied four days in a row before the sun shone gloriously in the sky. Incidentally the sunny day produced 18 times more electricity than the worst misty day. Anyone who has become accustomed to continual and regular supply of energy is in for a rather rude shock if ever they were to rely on this renewable energy gear.

Thanks too for your kind words about tracking down the problem. I've been squirreling away supplies for that job and am almost ready to begin the job. It rained here again today. Winter has arrived with a thump.

Ouch, that problem with the old truck that you used to have is not good. I'm often amazed at the sheer complexity of vehicle design and construction nowadays and I don't believe that we as a society are pursuing a path with a long term future in that regard.

Oh my, I had no idea about Gremlins. It is a shame that I cannot now ask by grandfather who flew WWII bombers about them as he would have told some interesting tales. There was an enormous article on the internet about them which was fascinating. Well avoiding arrogance maybe a hard ask, but we can only but do our best! I suspect a well thought out offering to the Gremlins may sort the entire messy solar power business out (plus a whole lot of hard work). Can you make any suggestions in this regard?

The Deutscher is a beast that sits between a push mower and a ride on and they work similar to a slasher. They're locally made not too far from here and I believe that the push mower was invented down here, although I could be wrong. The new beast has come back with a clean bill of health from the local farm machine repair shop and I'm happy to say that they reckon I scored pretty well with that buy. Oh, I must temper the arrogance, or the Gremlins... I'd like to believe that there is a farm spirit here watching over house and forest and equally causing mischief in equal parts. It would explain a thing or two. I first read about such things in the Mabinogion - which no doubt you have read.


Fernglade Farm said...

The citrus is doing pretty well. The poor mandarins had been destroyed a few years ago in a concerted wallaby attack and they are only now bouncing back. From time to time I see an enormously old fig tree growing on vacant plots of land in really difficult spots in the inner suburbs of Melbourne. They must be enormously hardy trees to survive those conditions.

Your mother’s story has not kept you from searching the far distant past to discover your relatives? Sometimes a wealthy relative will put together a family history and that is always an entertaining prospect. My grandfather must have been bored at one point in his life because he did just that. The book was leather bound and it looked quite impressive. Shame I was too young to make heads or tails of it all. From what I recall, it was more along the lines of the latrine folk as they seemed like a pragmatic bunch of relatives! Someone has to do that job! Hehe! Scarlet Johanson is a stunner.

Far out those Roman's knew how to party... My life seems quite unremarkably quiet and dull after reading parts of the Satyricon! I can almost see the monks in the dark ages debating among themselves as to whether they should be sullied by transcribing the work - yes, that lot would have had very mixed feelings about the task! Equal parts enjoyment, and equal parts denunciations of ‘Godless heathens!’ Hehe!

Twelvetrees is an elusive sort. It is a great name - and strangely it is of English origin. I wouldn't have guessed that. Mind you given the much reduced scale of their forests in these sad days - it may be an apt name.

There is like little inscriptions on the book of the teddy bear and the goose. Out of curiosity is the inscription an old text or is it something that some clever person made up recently?

Your weather sounds quite nice to me! The garden beds will really appreciate the organic matter being dug into them. It such a good idea - although I ease off the digging as the soil life gets established. On an interesting experiment, I cut the corn down to ground level this year and left the root systems intact in the ground just to see what happens. No doubts they'll be gunning for me too if such a thing ever eventuates. Sometimes people use such times to settle old scores and all I know is that you can't get along with everyone. I know what Sun Tzu would recommend in that circumstance.

Clerks of the world unite! ;-)!



LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Things to offer up to the "little people" to keep them on your side. I'd had a nagging memory of shallow bowls of milk. I was right. They like milk, butter and cream. Cake and biscuits. Wine and Ale. I couldn't find anything on gremlins, in particular, but these seem to be the things little people in general seem to like. I see you found the listing that I was going to link to.

"Meek will inherit the earth" = detachment? Naaaw. Well, maybe in some cases. I think it's more "Meek will inherit the earth" (and then we'll get them!) :-)

Nope. Haven't read the Maginogion. I can't seem to get into those huge, rambling myth cycles. There's even a Finn one that I gave a whirl and just couldn't warm to. Probably related to my aversion to fantasy writing. Too many long names with too many consonants. :-).

About family trees, and all that. I got lucky with my Dad's family. I ran across a shirt tail relation that dropped a 2" print out on me that traces his family back to the 1700s. Farmers, carpenters and a soldier or two. I toy with the idea of getting one of those DNA tests. The really good, in depth ones, run around $200. They'll even hook you up (if you want) with people around the world who have similar DNA to yours. Cont.

LewisLucanBooks said...

Cont. I hadn't thought to look at what the page Mother Goose is flying across says. It's that old poem (?) that starts out "Monday's child is fair of face, Tuesday's child is full of grace..." etc.. I'll have to look into the origin of that.

I heard an interesting report on the radio, this morning. Many cities in the US are vying for Amazon's next headquarters. Seattle is saying, "Be careful what you wish for." Seattle has the third largest homeless population in the US (which, I didn't know.) Mainly because tech and Amazon have driven housing cost up, so high. A one bedroom apartment in Seattle averages $2,000 a month. Infrastructure suffers.

The Seattle City Council has just passed a "head tax" on the top 3% of largest corporations. It will amount to about $245 per employee (yearly, or one time shot? Not clear.) The money will be used to build affordable housing and infrastructure. I can see that one heading for the Supreme Court. Also discussed was how corporate clout can effect city politics.

I just watched a bit of a TV series called "Incorporated" which is set in some future time. Governments are broke and ineffectual and corporations rule the world. Mildly interesting, but I found myself skimming through large chunks.

Went out and bought some garden lime, a couple of bags of mushroom compost and one potato, this morning. Decided to hedge my bets and picked up three tomato plants and a tomatilla. My miniature Dutch Iris are beginning to bloom! Also, the sweet peas. I wouldn't have planted sweet peas, but the woman who gave me the big garden space likes them, so I left a small patch. Lew

Coco said...

Yikes, too bad about the panel disaster. Hope you find the source of the problem quickly. Does that mean the panels themselves are out of commission? Or do you just have to re-connect them again?

Our car suddenly developed a power steering liquid leak. Turned out to be just a missing washer or something. It needed new tires as well. I hope we can keep this one running until gas becomes unaffordable, which doomers have been predicting for the last 20 years, but I think might actually happen in the next few. DH really, really wants a scooter, which would actually be pretty practical for short trips into town. But he wants one of the new, sporty ones, while I would go for an old Vespa or equivalent, lacking the cool/vintage factor, something you could repair with a wrench and a screwdriver.

We´ll have a couple more nights of 4C/40F next week, but after that it´s summer temperatures. The irises are spectacular this year. They liked the rain. Once they´re done I have to dig and divide, then move them.

margfh said...

Hi Chris,

We live in an area of high radon so it's typical to have homes tested and the issue mitigated if it's found. Apparently one house can have it and the house next door will not. The lady who set up the monitors said about 50% of homes have high levels. Luckily the only high reading, and it was only slightly high, was in the basement where we don't spend that much time.

As far as burning papers - if you just put a stack on a fire you often get a big flaming wad floating up. We did have a burn barrel for awhile but it rusted out. What I should have thought of was to use some of the paper as a fire starter during the winter - duh.

It appears the way our potential buyer wants to structure the purchase is not possible according to our lawyer so we've countered that we want to proceed either with a traditional loan or cash sale and he has until Friday to accept or the deal is off.

I very much enjoyed the story of your childhood. It clearly shaped you into the practical industrious person you are today as well as someone who can deal with whatever life hands you without falling apart.

Today and tomorrow I'm taking a break from the usual chaos of my life and going to Horicon Marsh, a National Wildlife Refuge, about two hours north of me in Wisconsin with my oldest daughter and my granddaughters. We'll be staying overnight close by with free breakfast and pool so the girls will have a variety of things to do. They spent the night last night so we could get an early start and we watched "West Side Story" which they never had seen.


Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Lewis, Margaret, and Coco,

Thanks for the lovely comments, but this evening I whisked the editor off to consume a delightful Vietnamese dinner. It was very good, and I reckon that place does the best chicken spring rolls in Melbourne. Oh, they're good! I promise to reply tomorrow (hopefully that is - all being well).

Lewis - I spotted this article this morning and thought that you might enjoy it: Melbourne's iconic W Class trams are up for sale after retiring from the tracks. Talk about adding to one's tat collection. How cool would one of those trams look up here? As a kid I recall travelling on the old timber trams and trains. The tram network down here is extensive and much loved. Alas for the lack of flat land though... It would make for awesome guest accommodation. You occasionally see old train caboose's or train carriages on peoples property up in the country. Sometimes the carriages are covered in genuine 80's graffiti. I know of a property (without knowing the person) who lives in a train carriage which must have been converted into a home. Interestingly enough, they also run a very neat and orderly looking farm with outstanding looking soil, so they're probably a very interesting person - who is probably sick of people sticking their noses into their business because of the housing choice, so chances are I'll never get a chance to say hello.

I wasn't aware that there were miniature Dutch irises. Interesting. Do they produce the same sized flowers or is the entire plant a miniaturised version of the larger plant?

Picked up the last of the gear this afternoon to fix up the solar panels. I'm planning to get into the job tomorrow, so hopefully it all goes well and without any hiccups (or rain). Fingers crossed and hopefully it does not drag on into the evening. Anyway, I plan to drop tools at 4pm as it is just too cold working up there on the roof - and if any mist falls, then the steel may be ultra slippery. I will do my very best to be careful and the job simply takes as much time as it takes. Slowly as she goes! It is meant to rain Friday so no work can take place then...



Pam in Virginia said...

Hi, Chris!

I loved the jacket story! Was it cool then to wear jackets 3 sizes too large, or was your mother perhaps giving you room to "grow into it"? Anyway, who cares if you were cool then - you are the coolest on the planet now!

Your sunset photos are always the best! Is that weather vane on top of the chook house? I wonder why you are having the landslides? It looked like you had solved the problem.

I am awaiting your further reporting on your solar power problem. The only thing I know about solar power I learned from you.

Hi, Ollie! I must say - you have the most beautiful brown patches and freckles, and are looking in fine form.

That is a fine machine, that mower. Now I see what you were talking about; thanks for the photo and description. Our mower is like your old push mower, but we have the tiniest space to mow, which is the pocket lawn in front of the house and a bit of left-over horse paddock in front of the barn. Our bitsy "orchard" all has herbs growing under the trees, which is not to say that that is necessarily a good idea as we have a lot of trouble with our stone-fruit trees, not so much with the others. Our fig appears to be 90% dead, which is so sad as it produced a lot last year. I can't figure it out. As a "Chicago Hardy" our very cold last winter shouldn't have bothered it so much. My son says he's tired of babying it (we shall see about that!) and we should plant another mulberry there as they grow as volunteers here and are maintenance free. Tough, when space is at a premium.

I thought we didn't have any roses for Mother's Day, but then I looked way up at a climber that I wasn't paying attention to and it was indeed blooming. None of the other roses have bloomed yet. One of my sons works for an event company - they set up all the lights and audio for weddings and swanky parties (regionally, not just right here). He was taking the lights and stuff down on Mother's Day, after a Saturday wedding, and they asked him if he wanted any of the flowers (apparently they throw them away) and brought me home an enormous bouquet of the most exquisite, gorgeous blooms. Free! The evening before - he stays on duty during an event to be sure nothing goes wrong - after this same wedding, they gave him scads of leftover BBQ catered by the best BBQ place in the region. Nice perks, eh? Some of these weddings cost $150,000. He says that Charlottesville has become a "wedding destination". Make hay while the sun shines!

You had a lot of rain last week!


Pam in Virginia said...

@ Lew:

The thought of federal jury duty had not occurred to me. Luckily, we have a federal court house right here.

There are two volunteer zinnias that have come up where I planted the bachelor's buttons. The rest of the stuff looks like weeds. I had a note with my seeds to plant bachelor's buttons when I plant cilantro (which would be fall or early spring). I wonder if I have missed the boat? It has been in the 90's, which is late July weather.


LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Here we go. Monday's Child, etc.

I tend to forget that it's Mother Goose RHYMES, rather than stories. Looks like it goes way back. Hmmm. Mother Goose. Another internet rabbit hold, beckons.

The trams are really cool. It's that transportation and relocation costs that would be a stickler. Here, we see old train cars used for all all kinds of things. Cabooses are particularly popular. Diners. Somewhere (up on the Olympic Peninsula?) I saw a collections of four or five train cars turned into a fairly good sized restaurant. The people with the train car would probably find your place just as interesting. The trick is to find a mutual connection to make an intro. Seven degrees of Kevin Bacon? Well, you could always do a Tram Terrace. I shouldn't throw temptation in your path. :-).

I expected the Dutch iris to be smaller. I'd say they're about 1/3 to 1/2 size. I wonder how closely related they are? Much to my surprise, when I opened the package, they were bulbs and not rhizomes.

Felt all productive and stuff, yesterday. I scattered bone meal and lime on the community space and dropped a bag of mushroom compost on my patch and worked it in. Planted the pumpkins and slipped in a potato. Went onto planting two potatoes in my patch, 3 tomatoes, 3 Brussel's sprouts, and one tomatella.

Good luck with tracking down the solar problems. May all fall into place. But not you, off the roof. Lew

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Lewis, Coco, Margaret, and Pam,

That's it the party is over! Well I have little credibility left because I'm done in this evening. I promise to reply tomorrow evening - and are planning a quieter day for tomorrow...

Lewis - So, I was up on the roof for most of the day today. Fortunately there was only a little bit of drizzle early this morning and I had to wait for the roof to dry, which it did. After that, I climbed up and got to work with re-wiring the larger of the two sets of panels. 1 set contains 8 panels, and the other contains 4 panels (and I didn't manage to get that 4 set of panels done today). It is slow work. To be honest, every panel is now individually fused - as they should be. A lot of solar set-ups don't fuse all of the individual panels, so a fault on one panel can take out the entire array. That is a risk I just don't want or need.

What I've learned - well, I would have made a good tree dwelling simian! Hehe! Mate, I am a bit sore this evening. And sitting on the apex of a roof for a few hours is akin to getting a 'super atomic wedgy'! :-)! Nobody wants one of those, and I was using a chunk of thick foam padding to sit on too.

I managed the neat trick of not falling off the roof too, and for that I am quietly grateful.

I'm really impressed with the addition of the bone meal - as not much beats blood and bone in the garden to feed the plants. You'll really notice the difference. Was that an addition to the new patch, or was it on the old patch? Have you spotted any worms in the new patch of soil?

Me sore and tired. Signing out, until tomorrow!



Pam in Virginia said...


I am treasuring 'super atomic wedgy'!


LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Super atomic wedgy? Good thing you decided against having children. :-).

So, solar is like old style strings of christmas tree lights? One bulb burns out and the whole string goes.

No worms in the "community" patch where I planted the pumpkins. (and, one stealth potato). But I dug a trench at that end and filled it with coffee grounds and filters, added a bit of soil, transferred worms and covered it over. So, I expect the worms will "take off." It's been three days and the pumpkins still haven't sprouted! Lazy pumpkins!

Yeah, I tossed bone meal on my older patches, last fall. Also added "garden" lime in the spring. Other than lots of organic "stuff" that's about it for soil amendments. The soil in the older patches looks good. Rich and crumbly. But, it doesn't go down very far. I'll just keep adding and turning over, as I go.

I looked into Mother Goose. Many quaint tales about actual women who "may" have been Mother Goose. But, they're myth and just quaint tales. Probably. I watched "Tremors: Cold Day in Hell", last night. Number 5 or 6 in the series? Been going for 26 years now. Great fun and stuffed full of silliness. Lew

LewisLucanBooks said...

@ Pam - My bachelors buttons (seed from a package) are coming up thick. Ditto the forget-me-not. No action from the love-in-the-mist. Which was from saved seed. I picked up a pack just in case they don't make an appearance.

Roses are coming on like gang busters, around here. Of course, we have the perfect soil and climate for it. Portland is known as the City of Roses. There are even rose "test" gardens, a huge festival every year that runs back to the early 1900s. We are lucky. Lew

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Lewis,

Little bowls of milk for the little people. I'd be a bit worried that the cats, rats, and mice in the area would descend on the bowls of milk, but I guess the elder folk know their business well enough to put an end to such mischief. The dogs would give it a go too - the cheeky scamps. The article on gremlins was really interesting and it kept me enthralled the whole way through. I used to really enjoy the old Leonard Nimoy presents "In Search of" show and magazine from back in the late 1970’s, and couldn't get enough of that gear when I was young. The world could seem to be more interesting with a few more unknowns.

Haha! The meek will get stomped, prior to inheriting the Earth! I never quite understood that side of the story, because the Europeans have been such a war like folk that being meek doesn't seem to accord with the talk.

Speaking of being meek, one of the little garden water pumps packed it in today. Fortunately, it wasn't the high end water pump. Those gremlins really know their way around technology - and I'm barely keeping up with their pranks. :-)!

Consonants can be a problem in fantasy fiction, but I did rather enjoy Tolkien once using the word 'stuff' to describe 'some stuff' that the Hobbits were gifted from the Elves. He'd clearly run out of steam, or had a bad day, and couldn't be bothered describing the stuff. Of course the description itself would not add to the narrative, so it is no loss at all to the story. Still the mythic narrative often overlay many of the stories told in our time. I was rather bored during Lord of the Rings at the introspection going on in the trip down the river, but I guess that was necessary for the story.

Well, that is a new one to me! I'd never heard of "shirttail relative" before. Thanks! Yeah, there are a few of those around at any one point in time. Mind you, I enjoy my friends far more than my relatives, if only because relatives can be a mixed bag and rarely do they bring joy.

Got the flu shot today. The local chemist was nearing the end of the supply of vaccines too. Just to explain the situation, down here you can get the shot at the local pharmacy and it cost me $20, although if you were to shop around I have heard that some chemists are cheaper. Interestingly, the pharmacist told me that the primary influenza season was in early spring and that the vaccine would only cover me for a few months. I forgot to ask whether that was due to the virus mutating, or whether my body destroyed the anti-bodies. Not sure.

Be careful what you wish for with the DNA tests, because I have heard accounts that the tests also reveal the percentage of Neanderthal in your background! :-)! Funny stuff, and it is nice to know that our progenitors were far from fussy when it came to choosing a mate.

OK, now I'm curious: Which day of the week were you born on? I was born on a Friday, which I now know was previously associated with bad luck, but was re-branded in the 19th century. Talk about marketing... Mother Goose does appear to be a rabbit hole, but the earliest depictions look as though the lady in question was portrayed as a traditional wise woman.


Fernglade Farm said...

The W class trams are really cool, but there are many more requests for the trams than there are trams themselves. To snag one of the trams you sort of have to sell the reasons as to why you should be entrusted with one of them in the first place. Apparently being able to place them in a spot where they are on display to the public and also providing for their ongoing restoration would assist with the chances of surviving the tender process. Lewis, lead me not into tram temptation - the transport costs would kill me, let alone cutting another tram sized terrace into the side of the hill! :-)!

Exactly too, how to approach the person living in the train carriage whilst providing a substantive reason for them to simply not turn me away. That is a delicate problem. A local bloke who runs a mixed permaculture farm once turned me away, but perhaps he lacked time and I lacked diplomacy skills - and that is probably true? Dunno. I was also told apparent stories about that person during the 1970's which did not reflect well upon the person. The social niceties of rural living are complicated.

I've only ever purchased irises as bulbs - which can be quite small from time to time. The small bulbs are often described as corms. Same, same, but different!

I'm back on to the solar business tomorrow, so hopefully tomorrow night the whole mess is fixed up. Probably not though and it will go on into Sunday. It is a massive job, and one that cannot be rushed. The weather has not been quite as cloudy as it was last weekend and I have not had to run the generator now for about three days. I feel pangs of guilt whenever I start that beast. If you thought that off grid solar was expensive for electricity (I reckon about $0.85/kWh), then the petrol generator sets me back about ($1.29/kWh) - and yeah, it is that inefficient.

Well, perhaps the super atomic wedgie was an exaggeration, but I tell ya after a few hours of sitting on the apex of the roof doing delicate wiring work - far out, I was done in!

Yeah, exactly! The Christmas tree lights is a good analogy with grid tied systems. In those, each panel is connected up such (in series) that the voltages get added together. So two otherwise 24V panels produce a charge that is suitable for a 48V battery - at the same current. But in reality, many more panels are added together such that the voltage gets quite high. But if one panel fails, then the entire string may fail it is a risky business that.

Voltage is like the pressure in a system. Higher voltage has greater pressure when compared to lower voltage, so higher voltage always moves electrons towards the lower voltage. Most panels (but not all) are suitable for 24V battery systems. The panels produce at about 42V when connected to nothing. When connected to a battery, the voltage drops to about 36V as the pressure gets reduced. But at the 24V battery side of that equation, it could be anything up to about 27V to 29V. At each stage in the process, the pressure gets reduced and so the voltage falls. It is akin to friction in a water pipe.

double secret cont...

Fernglade Farm said...

Current (amps) is like the amount of flow within a pipe. Like water pipes, a larger diameter pipe can carry a higher volume of flow. Panels wired in parallel (as distinct from series with grid tied) have the same voltage (pressure), but produce ever larger flows of electrons with ever more panels at the same pressure. Therefore they need bigger and thicker cables to cope with the huge flow of electrons at low voltage. Off grid generally works that way.

The cables and connectors on the grid tied stuff are done on the cheap and are kept as thin as possible (which is why the voltage is very high), and if you want to charge batteries using grid volatges, you have to have another machine in the system to step down the voltage (pressure) whilst trying to increase the amps (flow). At every change in either pressure or flow, energy simply disappears. This electricity business is complex as, and does not work like a fuel tank! It is a compromise and every choice affects the system.

I discovered a while back that the positive and negative cables in the system also have to be as close together as physically possible - this is not always practical - otherwise some weird inductance comes into play and that can wreak havoc on the electronics that controls the battery charging process.

How good are stealth potatoes? Are you intending to leave the potato in the bed? Top work with the worms too. Really good stuff. I'm not sure, but don't pumpkins need the soil above a certain temperature in order to germinate? A bit of watering in the bed with the pumpkin seeds might speed up germination too? Dunno.

Yeah, it is amazing just how much organic matter it takes to produce deep top soil. Ten years, and the best I have here is about a foot deep of top soil. It certainly is an interesting problem to put ones mind too!



Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Coco,

After a days work re-doing the wiring yesterday, I still have no idea what went wrong. Mind you, I will eventually get to the bottom of that particular problem one way or another. There is probably another day to a day and a half's work to sort it all out. Until then... The panels themselves appear to be working quite well, which is good news. The problem is a real mystery to me.

I've heard that doomer story before, but I dunno, my take is that fuel will be available for quite a while to come - but whether we can afford the stuff is a whole different story. The way things look like they are headed to me is a form of rationing by price. Our cars are old, and I just keep them maintained, although they're nothing to look at from the outside. There is serious talk among futures analysts that fuel next year may hit $100 barrel again. Last time that happened, we ended up with the Global Financial Crisis of 2008. Not good. Still, in the meantime it is best to maintain your vehicle! :-)!

I used to ride a motorbike for about a decade, but I used up all of my nine lives during that time and am now running on ‘lives’ rations. Your part of the world may be better suited to such forms of transport and I have no idea about that? I do like the old Vespa’s though and I reckon that they would be cheap to own and maintain, plus they look cool – they’re only seen in the inner city suburbs down here.

Your night time temperatures sound about the same as here! Brrr! Lovely to hear about the irises as they are beautiful flowering plants and they can form clumps. It is a nice idea to spread the bulbs around.



Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Margaret,

Fair enough about the radon testing. I've read a reliable account from someone in the know down here (Jackie French) that owner built her own rock house that they produce testable levels of radon and that is really the extent of my knowledge. But now I think about it a bit, there are a lot of rocks around here... I wonder if the discrepancies between houses has something to do with the soil and underlying geology that the house sits on? The area to the north west of me is known for its mineral springs and the springs can turn up in all sorts of unexpected places. We almost purchased a block of land (before buying this one) that had a natural spring issuing from the ground at the rear of the property. To be honest, such a reliable source of water would be a good idea. Oh well, if in doubt get more water tanks...

Radon is a gas, so I assume you just increase the ventilation to that area and the problem goes away?

Ah, of course, things may be different down here in relation to burning off. The forest drops huge quantities of fine woody materials and because of the high surface area of those materials, they fuel major forest fires. The trick here is to collect them and regularly burn them off, and then spread the ashes as a fertiliser. Well, at least that is what we do here. Any paper we have gets chucked into that fire - and the odd couch! That old couch was a manufacturing abomination and should never have seen the light of day. Oooo! I'm getting ahead of myself and will write about that thing next week. The ashes from the paper is good fertiliser too.

Sorry to hear about the structure of the sale being a bit too odd for your legal adviser. That can happen, and I hope the problem gets corrected and a form of purchase can be negotiated that is acceptable to both of you.

Thanks for writing that. Lovely! I plan to continue the story next week and talk about education. That trip up into the alpine country was taken during my swot-vac. Swot is a Scottish term too, which you may not have heard of before? Dunno. I distinctly recall being in school detention (I can see it in my mind even today due to the relative frequency) and having to write out the school rules which mentioned something about swots-men of all things, and although I knew what the rules were referring too, it seemed like a quaint and archaic term. Detention was hard to keep out of in that school and was handed out for even minor infractions - they were even handed out for failing to do homework, and the load was pretty intense back in those days at about three hours per night, plus one day on a weekend. Another half day on the weekend was taken up with sports. The culture was all consuming, but I guess that was the point of the experience.

The Horicon Marsh, National Wildlife Refuge, looks really awesome! Hope you enjoy the trip. Watch out for the pelican - as his beak can hold more than his belly-can! Hehe!



Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Pam,

Glad to read that you enjoyed the super atomic wedgie business! Hehe! It is funny now from a position of hindsight! Working on a steel roof this close to winter is almost unheard of due to the sheer humidity in the air making the roof too damp to maintain any traction on. I have been very lucky with the weather to fix this problem. :-)! Fingers crossed the weather holds - it doesn't always.

Hehe! Thanks very much for the kind words! Now you mention it, the jacket was a bit large wasn't it? I kept growing, I reckon up until my late teens, maybe early twenties. It is funny how that varies across the population isn't it? Now, I tell you a little story about fashion back in those days:

Way back then, down here there were: Sharpies or Sharps (subculture); Mods (subculture); and Bogans (subculture). I was at the tail end of the sharps and mods culture, although for some reason the bogan culture continued to flourish. Now a sharp would prefer the jacket tighter don't you reckon, but they were an almost spent force by the late 1980's, but the mods were still around listening to their Brit pop music, and they too would have appreciated the tighter jacket. But alas, my mother had other plans for my style and a larger jacket it was to be. Hehe! One memorable song from that time by the outrageous local band TISM (an acronym for: This Is Serious Mum) who wrote a song about Bogans and it had the memorable lines:

"I'm a bogan, baby, always was
I'm only happy when I punch a mod
And in walked a pine-haired turd
I looked at my mates, said, "Thank you, God"
Dyed black hair, done all spiky
I saw him laugh when they played Bon Jovi
Had a jacket on just like a bikie
If there's a bigger mod, could you please show me?
Jumped up little bludger"

Very, very wrong, but somehow quite amusing all at the same time. Hope you enjoyed my little trip down into fashion subcultures during the late 1980's?

The sunsets have been pretty spectacular of late, and that weather vane is on the secondary firewood shed next to the chicken shed. We picked that weather vane up at a local market.

The landslides are occurring because water during heavy rain is being channelled into a small area above the house on the top of the cutting. Heavy rainfall like last week, really produces a big flow of water. We're planning to send the water back up hill and thus slow it down and spread the flow. That is a job for a few months time. ;-)!

I still have no idea what went wrong with the solar power system, but should find out in the next day or so. Yeah, renewable energy is good as, it is just not good enough to replace fossil fuels. I always worry when I hear people claiming otherwise.


Fernglade Farm said...

Gangle chunks here! I've taken control of the keyboard, and thank you for noticing my most excellent brown spots and freckles. I ran around outside all day today and can barely keep my eyes open. Plus there were boneses! Handing the keyboard back as I yawn myself off to sleep...

I reckon push mowers are really quite efficient for small areas of grass - although we use ours over all sorts of rough terrain chopping and dropping as we go. The organic matter dropped on the soil surface gets converted into top soil. Stone fruit trees can be a problem here too with the fungal disease of curly leaf. I just don't bother spraying anymore as the trees slowly adapt - although a few trees fall by the wayside. Have you thought about cutting all of the dead growth off the fig tree? It may respond quite well to that as the figs root system also dies back in the soil and the soil critters get a good feed, and then the plant can recover as it too gets a good feed? Dunno, but they like a drink those trees despite being from the Mediterranean. I run a lot of herbs under the fruit trees in the orchard too, and sometimes I cut them back away from the tree trunks as the humidity can be too high, but it really depends on the tree. Mulberry is a very tasty fruit and the trees are really hardy.

Your son earned some serious brownie points bringing the flowers home. Well done to him. The BBQ food sounds good too. Yum! To be honest I do not understand the big expensive wedding, but if people want to do that, I'm cool with that as it keeps the economy going!



LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Well, there's that old saying about trouble coming in threes. Solar, water pump ... only one more to go!

Yeah, you can waltz into a chemist here and pay bucks to get a flu shot. Or, show your insurance card and maybe get one with little or no outlay. Me, I go to the poor people's clinic and get mine for free. My age also contributes to not having to pay. Medicare. LOL. I'm always confused (sometimes) when you say "spring." By the calendar, or by what's going on outside your window? And, yes, the little suckers mutate so fast it's hard to get good coverage. Here, they advise getting your shot between Halloween and Thanksgiving, so it's effective into our calendar spring (and weather) spring.

What day of the week was I born? I don't remember. :-). Where's one of those savants that can tell you the day of the week for any date, when you need one? :-). There's probably an ap, for that. Poor savants. Another whole occupation thrown out of work due to technology. I might try Googling in, later.

Oh, just show up at the tram dispensary and say,"I'm a good person and I deserve a tram." That ought to do the trick. :-).

Hmmm. Come EOTWAWKI (End of the world as we know it), I don't see solar lasting much longer than the grid. Unless you happen to have a solar kit warehouse that you can loot, at hand. Cont.

LewisLucanBooks said...

Cont. Oh, yeah. Soil temperature plays a big part, but I haven't figured out what kind of a thermometer to use. Ah ... which end to put it in :-). After those few warm days, lately, it's been overcast with daytime highs in the 70s. Night time lows have felt a bit bitter. More due to a breeze, than the temperature. To me, to work in the garden now is ideal. Coolish but no rain. Many of the plants will germinate, but won't do a big growth spurt til we get a bit more sunshine.

If it doesn't rain, I water a bit, every evening. But it occurred to me so splash a bit around in the morning. To give the Mason Bees some building material, when they're not "heading for the old corral" in the evening. Watering is a bit trickier, now, as the tomatoes are in, In our part of the world, best not "top" water them.

What you said to Pam about social groups jogged my memory. A bit before my time but I thought of Mods, Rockers and Teddy Boys. Mods drove Vespas and Rockers drove heavier motorcycles. I think it was the movie "Quadraphinia" that was about a young man trying to negotiate the elaborate social codes of the groups. And, also covered the historic pitched battles and riots between the groups, in England. Seems like every age has it's groups. Greasers, Stoners, Beatniks, Hippies ... the list goes on and on. Lew

Pam in Virginia said...


When it rains there, it pours. Poor little garden pump.

This is one thing I sometimes think of when I hear "stuff" used; it comes from having read so many "Victorian" novels as a young filly. From Wiki:

"In Victorian dressmaking terminology, stuff was used as a generic term for woven fabrics, with cloth generally reserved for woolens (as opposed to worsteds)."

This is really interesting, from you:

"I discovered a while back that the positive and negative cables in the system also have to be as close together as physically possible - this is not always practical - otherwise some weird inductance comes into play and that can wreak havoc on the electronics that controls the battery charging process."

I was reading about Mods a while back. I cut one of my son's hair and I got a bee in my bonnet that he should have a Mod haircut. I did my best, and it wasn't so bad, but he hasn't requested that style again . . . I had never heard of Sharpies or Bogans; thanks for the enlightenment. Bogans sound like they come out of a bog. I am rather glad that I came of age in the 70's.

I am indeed going to cut the dead part of the fig tree back. I am behind in some garden chores (though not with watering!) because it has been raining for 3 days, with more to come. Yay! Hmmm, maybe I need to cut the herbs around the fruit trees back as high humidity is already a significant problem here in the summer.


Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Lewis,

The third trouble theory may in this case be neatly explained by the replacement of the clutch in the little dirt mouse Suzuki! I'm still not breathing a sigh of relief, because you never know what the future holds in store for you. Eee Gaks!

Hey, I am almost finished the work on the roof today. I say almost, because I forgot to do one final thing and will have to climb up onto the roof tomorrow and correct that. Oh well, these things happen, and it is an enormously complex system. All of the cables have been pulled into the roof cavity space and tomorrow I'll have to connect up the new cable arrangements and see if the battery solar charge controller (technically known as a regulator) has packed it in. Given these things occur in threes, there is every likelihood that the machine has died - although it is giving no indication of having done so. Mind you, the device is locally made, so I can take it in for repairs - and they're pretty good. It is like visiting a mad scientists workshop... I quite enjoyed the last time I visited them.

Back in the day down here we used to lead the way with such technology, but new kids on the block turned up with fancy algorithms, and the local products - whilst being highly robust devices and suitable for the local conditions - are looked down upon, which is a bit sad because they work pretty well. To be honest the whole thing looks like hair splitting to me as I can’t see any huge gains in the new devices, but people do love pointing to graphs and models. The new kids on the block devices also have fancy fans to keep the devices cool in hot weather, which is a regular occurrence here during summer. I'm just not convinced that fans will go the distance, and they could fail without you being aware of the failure. Best to keep complex systems as simple as possible and the local devices will keep working without fans until the ambient temperature reaches 122’F and at which point they will begin to de-rate. Is it efficient? Probably not, but can you tell me what the word 'efficient' actually means? I rest my case, and my rant has been fulfilled with interest! :-)! Hehe!

Yeah, the same problem occurs here with the influenza virus being most prevalent during spring. Incidentally, the company that used to be government owned and is now listed on the exchange and produces these vaccines was reported in the business news today as having a profitable year due to a worse than usual outbreak of influenza in the Northern hemisphere. I'm not sure why spring would be worse than any other time of the year for the influenza virsu. What do you reckon about that? I did read accounts this year of the medical authorities advising people not to get the shot too early.

Well I'm a bit loose with the traditional descriptions of the seasons because whilst they apply in the larger sense of the generally understood meaning of the seasons, the detail can be a bit strange and the seasons here are very variable. Some years, it would be an impossibility for me to walk around on the roof at this time of year due to the sheer humidity which would cause the roof to be too slippery to walk on. It is variable and I can detect no pattern other than extreme variability. For example, tomorrow it will be 63'F and that is quite warm for this time of year. Fortunately due to the altitude above sea level at the farm, there are plenty of chilling hours (hours below 45'F) for the fruit trees, but I have read that some orchards in this general corner of the continent are struggling with that problem in some years. Chilling hours being important for the fruit trees to set buds and produce fruit.


Fernglade Farm said...

As to the day of the week, I cheated and did a Gogle (!) search. Of course it would be very unwise to publish the actual date onto the interweb as so many folks are looking for an edge in order to steal an identity. No point feeding the nefarious folks... Yeah, many folks previously had a place in society, but our homogenous culture means that those who do not fit the prescribed categories may be chucked over board.

Haha! The tram dispensing folks are not so easily conned!

Exactly! I could not have stated the solar / renewable energy situation better than that. I've noticed that the nights here are quite dark, but if I chuck a little bit of electricity towards up lighting a huge tree, then all sorts of strange things happen. The Bogong moths turn up because they believe the lights are a full moon, and the owls and night-jars eat the moths and produce a lot of guano. I reckon after EOTWAWKI, even if I had electricity, I wouldn't run night time lights because that would be akin to moths seeking out the full moon. ;-)! The electricity would be much better used for water pumps, refrigeration, and cooking. No need to bring unnecessary trouble to your door step and I would be quickly bored walking around all day long toting a .223.

Ah yes, I read a piece of advice once about soil temperature from a long term gardener down here. The person remarked that if the soil is too cold for you to sit on for long with your exposed buttocks, then most likely any seeds won't germinate. I don't recommend that you try that particular test in your situation because the outraged ladies would still be discussing your behaviour in many decades time... That does not mean that it is not a valid test!

I have heard about those fungal diseases with tomatoes due to overhead watering, but am yet to experience them. Of course I may just have put the kiss of death on our tomato crop for next year... Most likely, the weather is usually quite hot here during summer and any excess moisture rapidly evaporates so the fungal diseases never quite get a solid foothold. Interestingly though, with the last heavy rain, I have noticed quite a number of mushrooms bobbing to the surface and spreading their spores. There were news reports suggesting that it would be very unwise for people to consume them, and I don't argue with that sort of logic. We have no idea what fungi is edible and what isn't down here, but there sure are a lot of mushrooms...

Yeah, I totally agree and every age has its groups. Ollie the cattle dog just had a big yawn and stretch and he identifies himself as part of the Fluffy Collective. I ask you this: Will this exclusive group take off and capture the public's imagination? Probably not! Ollie has now gone back to sleep and I guess his answer is this: Stuff 'em!

Did you ever identify as a 'mod' or any other group? I once used to identify as a ‘hippie’ but people then assumed that I grew and smoked wacky tobaccy, but nope, I’m not a fan of messing around and risking mental health issues. I always found it strange that people equated one with the other.



Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Pam,

Thanks, the water pump is a bit sad... I just don't have the time to pull the device apart and see what is wrong with it. That is a job for the future, and fortunately nothing needs watering now.

Dress making is an awesome skill, don't you reckon? The editor, who has a keen interest in fashion, tells me that fit is so poor these days with clothes because so few people know anything at all about clothes and how they are constructed - let alone how to repair them. I applaud your choice of 'filly' literature. :-)! Did you have a favourite?

Maybe a year or two back there was a dark gothic local film about a dressmaker and her flurry into a small down under country town back in the day. It was quite good and had Kate Winslet playing the lead. But I warn you, it is a gothic tale and not uplifting, although the end was very good.

Hmm, well I'm still not sure what went wrong - even after another days work on the system, but I reckon the battery regulator / controller blew up due to the inductance issue. It is possible from what I saw today. I recovered all of the wires today from the roof space and used an entire roll of duct tape tying up the separate cables every foot. Duct tape being much cheaper than repairs to a regulator. Mind you, I had to pull the almost 100ft of heavy cables out of the roof cavity as I couldn’t do that job up in the roof cavity due to lack of space. I have been acting the contortionist and high wire artist the past few days…

Go the Mods. You know, compared to the Bogan's and Sharp's, the Mod's seemed pretty inoffensive. Youth these days... Do they know true style? Possibly... Hehe! Your guess about bogan's is the best I've heard so far! Hehe!

What a good start to the season all that rain provides to your part of the world! Yeah, I reckon the fig tree will bounce back, but I don't really know as they are so slow growing here. The thing I have noticed is that they really like a huge drink of water every now and then during summer and they are one of the first trees to display signs of water stress during prolonged hot and dry weather.

Herbs respond well to being cut back. My guess is that in their original growing environments they were heavily browsed by animals, and pruning replicates that process without the manure. ;-)!



Pam in Virginia said...


I might blush, should I mention some of the favorite readings of my youth - only because of their inherent fluffiness, mind you. Thank you for the movie recommendation. It does sound good. These days most of my dressmaking consists of rather endless mending. The clothes of four people who do a lot of manual labor need a lot of repairs.

What a grueling job you've had with the heavy cables, especially considering where they are. This whole thing sounds like one of your biggest mysteries, Sherlock.

A "pattern of extreme variability" - can such a thing be a pattern? And my take is that efficiency is a mystery. In fact, efficiency is elusive.


LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - I suppose there's more flu abut in the spring for a number of reasons. It has mutated and less of the vaccine is effective. People got their shots too early and they're wearing off. I also wonder if the holidays have anything to do with it. Lots of people traveling and congregating in large herds. Weather might also have something to do with perking up the virus.

The bum / soil test. I could have a lot of fun with that. I'll just throw a blanket over me with my head poking out. And, squat in the garden. Soon enough, someone will ask me what I'm doing. I'll tell them I'm applying my bare bum to soil to test the temperature.

Can't think of any group I particularly identified with. Outsider? I'll have to think abut that. Cont.

LewisLucanBooks said...

Cont. Your roof acrobatics brought to mind the term "gandy dancer." Or, "Fiddler on the Roof?" :-)

Shirt tail relations. Sometimes referred to as "In-laws and outlaws." :-).

I read a bit more of "Craeft: An Inquiry into the Origins and True Meaning of Traditional Crafts." (Langlands, 2018). I would be hard pressed to write a review of the book. But, several times while reading along, I thought to myself "Self, Chris would really like this bit." or "Chris should read this." It really has to do with a way of living or looking at things. Contemplating things. Need, adaptation, contemplation, knowledge, inclination, experience, materials at hand, avoiding waste, being thrifty, etc.. You may never thatch a roof, manage a hedgerow or have to weave a bee skep, (well, maybe the last). And, the book isn't exactly a how-to. More the author's experience with those crafts, the history and a bit of archaeology.

Anyway. You might take a look into the book. Besides. Seasonally, you're heading into your winter. Nothing to do but laze around the wood stove. :-).

I had thought before that come TEOTWAWKI, you might not want to advertise the fact that you have power. The whole valley would know. Best go dark when everyone else does. Lew

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Pam,

There is nothing inherently wrong with fluffiness! I have three tired looking fluffies in the room with me right now. They've been running around all day long... Yeah, you know I reckon repairs to clothes are beyond the majority of the population, and whilst that sounds like a sweeping generalisation, I still sort of feel that it is true, so good for you.

The mystery was resolved late this afternoon (after three days of work). The regulator which is the device that acts as the brains of that part of the off grid solar system had failed - although it looks as though it is working. The core reason as to why it failed was due to the inductance issue which I mentioned earlier. Inductance is just a fancy way to describe the fact that the positive and negative cables were physically too far apart. Most of the work over the past few days was aimed at correcting the underlying reason for the failure.

Who knows about the pattern of extreme variability in the weather? I'll have to ponder that matter...

Yeah, it is an elusive word which can sort of mean whatever anyone wants it to mean. What a poor misused chunk of word. :-)!



Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Lewis,

I read an interesting aspect of influenza and colds is that they were more common during times of the year with low humidity. I'm not sure why that would be? I do recall when we visited the Nazca lines in Peru (how cool are those, and what an epic achievement for the departed civilisation?) that the low humidity there caused a cold. Apparently they had not had much in the way of rainfall since the end of the Ice Age. But every now and then it rains and the houses barely cope with the deluge because they were never constructed with rainfall in mind. It was an interesting and very dry part of the world.

No! Hehe! Good luck with the one large blanket theory, and may the ladies at your abode eventually forgive and forget! Hehe! I wouldn't recommend doing that particular example, but the truth of the test still stands.

The 'Outsiders' are often the most interesting folks that a person can encounter, as long as they are not Outsiders because they are harmful or violent - I have no time for such folks.

The Gandy Dancers led me down a rabbit hole. Wow, fascinating stuff. I tend to enjoy music whilst I perform physical work because it takes my mind off the actual activity and gives free space for thought about other things. Setting a cadence is a good time marker for activities too and gives one a certain rhythm. I note that the 'Sound off, one, two" had its origins in the Gandy dancers.

Haha! Yeah. Most likely out-laws.

A how to manual would be a big call for the author. Thanks for the review of the book. It is interesting that you mention weaving a bee skep but I have been pondering different designs for bee hives. Incidentally, flax is prolific here. The little Perspex double glazed window I chucked in the new-ish design really helps me not to annoy the bees too much whilst also keeping an eye on them. I have been wondering whether it is possible to have a less invasive method of removing honey (not brood) frames from a hive box where I can ensure the queen is not on the frame. Opening the hive causes a huge amount of heat to be lost and that can impact upon the growth of the brood in their cells.

Laze around? I'd like to think so, but I suspect not... :-)!

Exactly, one cannot advertise working infrastructure when there are zombies around!

Speaking of which I got to the bottom of the power problem today and have corrected the wiring from start to finish. The regulator appears to be faulty, which is fine because they are made in Melbourne and I can take the device in to the factory to get repaired where it will be a spare (I had to purchase a spare unit as part of the repairs). The work over the past few days was trying to ensure that the fault did not occur again. I believe that I stuffed up that particular run of cables when first I laid them out almost nine years ago now. To be honest I knew less about solar power then than I do now, and for one long length of that cable, the positive and negative wires were separated by a considerable distance - and the inductance issue resulted which eventually damaged the regulator. If you are interested the issue has something to do with some unit of measure described as Micro-henry's (whatever they are). It happens, and none of the other long cable runs suffer from that problem.

Better get to writing!



margfh said...

Hi Chris,

Great that you have identified the power problem and are well on the way to resolution. Your description of the process is way over my head.

The house sale terms are still not resolved and if they aren't within the next few days it'll be back on the market. We've been dickering with this for three weeks during the best time for house sales. The entire issue revolves around making the sale price lower than it actually is so property taxes can be lower for the buyer and getting a VA loan (Veteran) at 0%.
Doug and I have decided if the sale doesn't go through we're going to move everything downstairs as there's plenty of room and that'll mean much less house to clean. We have a lot of furniture to get rid of and this will be a good place to start.

Looking forward to tomorrow's entry about education. Should be a lot of food for thought. I did my share of detention duty as a teacher. It was a rotating responsibility though many individual teachers had their own detentions as well, usually for non completion of homework.

The trip to Horicon Marsh was very interesting. It's not that far from me but I had never been there. I found out that the water levels are regulated up or down to optimize wildlife. The history of the area was fascinating as well. I am so pleased that my granddaughters are interested in nature and history. I think much has to do with the fact that they are home schooled. We missed to peak of migratory birds but still saw quite a variety including pelicans. There are way too many Canada geese around and pairs of them with their goslings were everywhere.


LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - LOL. Seeping Generalization Alert! Women may forgive, but they never forget. :-). Around here, they just die, or move on to more care. I guess. It's weird. Since I've moved in, almost a year ago, we've had not turnover. I guess my presence makes life worth living. (He said with a very straight face before falling about.). :-).

The author of the book on "Craeft" goes into the pros and cons of skeps vs boxes. And he mentioned something called "queen excluders" which keeps the queen out areas of the hive. He talks a bit about craefty farming. Diversification that requires a greater skill set and knowlede base. He throws around some of our favorite words, sustainability and resilience.

I gave a bit more thought to if I ever aspired to any particular group. Many aspire, but few are chosen. :-). I think I was never "authentic" enough to pull off belonging to one group or another. And, whatever trendy "look" guys were trying to pull off at different times in history (and, I think I'm old enough now to talk about history), I never had the genetics for. It was all very lonely and depressing. But then I grew up (at a late date) and just don't care about all that nonsense, now.

I'm glad you got your solar issues settled. What next? Sometimes when problems are coming at me from all directions, I wave my arms about as if fending something off and howl "Bats! Bats!" No one ever seems to get the joke. I notice the power adapter for my DVD player is actually two cords wrapped tightly together. And, back to strings of Christmas lights, again, so are they.

I noticed something interesting, the other day. To me. As you know, I read a lot of old recipes. Something suddenly dawned on me. Our ancestors must have been very concerned with what we'll delicately call "digestion." Many of the recipes from Colonial times back always seem to end with a digestive weather report. A dish is, or is not, "windy." :-). It stopped popping up in early Victorian times. Either they lost interest in this aspect of cooking or, their sensibilities forbad the mention of such things. Lew