Monday, 23 March 2015

Rats that eat cars

The mp3 file for this week's blog can be found on Soundcloud: Rats that eat cars on Soundcloud

Last week, a desire to see the sea came over me and with that desire there were thoughts of heading off to my favourite coastal escape of Apollo Bay. That part of the world is not far from here as the crow flies, but it is a couple of hours drive because the roads are so twisty. The car which is normally very reliable started playing up the day before. To my absolute horror, I'd found that a rat (or a couple of rats) had decided that the engine bay of the car would make a toasty warm place to nest on cool nights.

Who would have thought that rats could actually eat vehicles? I was completely surprised by this discovery. The rats mostly chewed through hoses – some of which were hydraulic hoses (I’ll bet that gave them a surprise when they leaked!), and a whole lot of wires – including the control wires for the fuel injectors. Sorting the mess out has cost me about half a week’s income. Well done them!

Rats and repairs aside, I made the journey to Apollo Bay and had a lovely time. Peak holiday season has passed so the town is a bit quieter than it would be in high summer. It is a beautiful part of the world and the Otway mountain range extends right to the shore line. I took this photo of the beach at low tide:
Apollo bay at low tide
Because I don’t really travel much these days, it was particularly interesting to note changes from my last visit to the area. The high tide mark can be clearly seen in the photo due to the wet sand and it is almost reaching the vegetation at some points. Storm surges have also cut into the dune and there is a very obvious cliff on the dune in the photo above. It should be noted that there is only a single narrow dune between the ocean and the road and beyond.

The Otway mountain range which rises up behind the town and also right along that coast line peaks at an elevation of about 500m (1,640ft) above sea level. That elevation doesn’t sound like much, but given that there is really not a whole lot of land between the Otway mountain range and South America, the winds off the Southern Ocean dump a massive amount of rain into the area. In fact, the area contains the wettest location in the state which receives an average of about 2m (6.56 feet) of rain per year.

Like most parts of Australia, the Otway mountain range is quite old and worn down over time. Land slippages in the mountain range do occur and those slippages combined with heavy rain means that there are some very impressive deep valleys. The whole area is very scenic.

Tree ferns re-establish themselves in a paddock of cleared land just off Wild Dog Road
This isn’t a travel blog though and I was up in the mountains on a mission. Anyway, tucked away in a remote location high up in the mountain range is the Otway Herb Farm. They have an impressive selection of plants for sale at very reasonable prices. Autumn is planting time here at the farm because the sun is gentle, the soil is warm and the rain occasionally falls from the sky at regular intervals.

As an interesting side note, on my way up to the Otway herb farm, I passed some very organised looking guys in a Mercedes van picking wild fruit on the side of the road. Those guys had boxes of fruit in the back of the van and were accessing all of the hard to pick apples high up in the trees with ladders. Top work guys!

Today, I planted some of the many flowering and herbaceous plants that I purchased at the Otway Herb farm. Sir Scruffy assisted with the planting efforts and he particularly approved of the many interesting varieties of salvias which attract the local honey eater birds:

Sir Scruffy keeps a close watch on some of the new plants to go into the ground
It should also be mentioned that I had long and pleasant conversation with Ken at the Otway Herb Farm. His wife runs the farm, but they have lived in that area for over three decades and he was and absolute mine of information. I mentioned the problems with the rats here and he advised me that it was probably in my interests to poison or trap the rats. I agree with his advice, but would really love to hear from readers of this blog about their experiences with rats, so please feel free to leave a comment with suggestions and tales (not tails!). Thanks!

Rhubarb is a triffid here! No other edible plant here is more reliable – all year around – than rhubarb. I read once that a Tree of heaven survived ground zero of the nuclear blast at Hiroshima only to later regrow: Tree of heaven. I suspect rhubarb may be able to perform a similar feat. Today, I dug up two very old plants which were a gift from a local lady who said that the cuttings originated from her grandfather. The plant grows faster than the rate at which I can eat it. The root system was roughly divided up and then planted about the place:

Digging up the rhubarb today

The rhubarb has been planted in the new garden beds
The weather has turned cooler here, so this week I’ve draped cloche’s over the cherry tomatoes just to keep them warm and ripening. The plants will happily continue to produce fruit well into June and any green fruit moved inside the kitchen after that time will continue to ripen.

Cloche’s placed over the tomato plants to assist ripening
The excavations for the new wood shed continued this week. Unfortunately I discovered that the shed had to be moved about 0.5m (or about 1.6ft) further into the side of the hill. That discovery has meant that further excavations now have to occur and there will possibly be between 2 and 3 days more work before shed construction can commence!

Excavations continued this week
How did the house get here?

The bones of a house are like your skeleton: they keep you from flopping onto the ground in a gooey mess of stuff.

Over the month of February 2010, the roof trusses were mostly installed. A huge amount of steel straps were used to hold the entire structure together so that it became a single unit. For some strange reason, the building surveyors demanded that I build a structure that would withstand the sort of very strong winds that you may see in a cyclone and I decided not to argue the point with them.

The roof trusses are mostly installed and a whole lot of steel straps tie the entire structure together
During the month I also installed the windows into the frame of the house. The windows are double glazed which meant two layers of 5mm (0.2 inch) toughened glass each and they ended up costing more than all of the timber in the entire house frame!

The windows were installed in the house frame
As well as steel strapping, the engineer required me to install plywood bracing sheets at various positions in the house frame. That was in addition to all of the steel strapping holding everything together. In the photo below you can also see the timber floorboards – NSW Blue Gum – happily keeping out of the rain under some very heavy duty tarpaulins.

Plywood bracing was also added to the timber wall structure
To be continued…

The temperature outside here at about 8.30pm is 13.6 degrees Celsius (56.5’F). So far this year there has been 144.8mm (5.7 inches) of rainfall which is up from last week's total of 138.4mm (5.4 inches).

44 comments:

orchidwallis said...

Hello Chris

The framework of your property is incredible; my ramshackle shack isn't a patch on it.

Peanut butter is good for catching mice. We use pumpkin seeds; less messy. Rats however are intelligent; you might catch one, then they cotton on. When poisoning, one needs to feed them for a while before putting in poison. I guess that the time lag, between eating the poison and getting ill, fools them.

More primroses are blooming and wood spurge is blooming, it has a caustic sap.

A red kite was seen overhead 2 days ago, the gulls on the beach went crazy. I have never seen one so am sorry to have missed it. I knew that they had arrived on the extreme west of the island so no doubt they will spread along.

Inge

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - More like the Tree from Hell. :-) . And the leaves smell really bad. I've got a couple in the yard that I hack back every other year. Since they are right where I want to put my "woodland" garden plots, this year I'm going to hack them back and throw a couple of layers of cardboard on top of where they sprout. I think they also provide highways for rodents of different kinds to make entry into the second story of the house.

Thanks for the reminder about the rhubarb. I need to check if the patch at the abandoned farmstead is up so I can move a couple of starts over.

If it ever stops raining. Haven't even let the chooks out yet, as I keep hoping for a break in the weather. Judging from the satellite picture, no dice. Might as well just bite the bullet and get it done. Lew

SLClaire said...

Hi Chris,

I've had a few issues with rats over the years. They are clever, wary, and hard to get rid of once you have them.

The folks bordering our previous house to the east put in a tie wall (wooden beams) to hold back the soil as their land sloped toward ours. Rats made their homes in the tie wall. They came out to eat the dog food in the yard to our north and the food trash in the trash cans in the yard to our south. Don't know if they were eating anything in our yard. But one Easter we and my in-laws saw them running across our patio in broad daylight. After that Mike and I set up a live trap and over a few months we caught and drowned about eleven rats. But we weren't able to catch all of them. Not sure if they caught on to the trap and refused to enter or if the door no longer fell fast enough, allowing them to escape before it shut on them.

It's warmed up some here in the US Midwest. Daffodils are beginning to bloom so spring has come. We are expecting a freeze by the weekend but that's to be expected. Our last frost usually occurs in April.

Damo said...

We had a family of rats visit not so long ago. You could hear them chew various things inside the walls. I was going to poison them, but as my partner works in medical research, we decided to let them live as some sort of pagan atonement to the rat gods.

1 trap, dozens of baiting attempts and 2 months later I had caught 5, releasing them into bushland a few km away. They are wiley and would often ignore baits that worked previously. My cat got two of them - they should have taken the bait! The one bait that almost always worked was freshly baked muffins - at least rats like my cooking!

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Guilty as charged. From the customers point of view, it is a really difficult system to understand and you never quite knew whether the order had actually been placed by the retailer which is why I spent the time getting to know them. Honestly, I'm starting to sound like a 3 year old going: But why????

Oh no, did customers actually want matching sets of covers? Mate, the cover art changed quite often on the pulp (err) classics. In more recent times cover art is much more professional looking, but it is sometimes lacking in a certain whimsy (?) of the earlier covers.

Of course, minimum order quantity would have been one of the major issues with the process. I hadn't considered that.

Thanks for enlightening me. I always just assumed that it was risky for the book shop putting in an order for a title for a customer who may or may not even complete the order.

Haha! Yeah, I've used microfiche to undertake research when that was the way that old copies of newspapers were available at the state library (not for the minor library branch players). I wonder what happened to them all? I even remember the old card index catalogues.

Record stores were a similar nightmare. I once tried to order the earlier REM (band) albums from overseas via a record store - because that was the only option - and it took months for them to all arrive. Honestly, by the time they'd arrived I'd sort of forgotten about the order...

Well, a lot of advertising is magic in disguise. It presents excitement to basic emotions because that is all it can ever hope to manage. Personally, I'm rarely exposed to advertising these days so when it happens in front of me I'm a bit gobsmacked. Actually guerrilla advertising is the most insidious. After all of our discussions about the movie Chef, I watched it the other night and noticed that the film was seriously pumping the value of Twitter (which I don't use at all). Oh well, it helps fund the bigger project which was telling a great tale. It left me hankering for the Austin midnight Cuban sandwiches. Yummo!

Good to hear about the daffodils at your place, because yesterday I went to the Riddells Creek bulb farm yesterday to pick up a couple of hundred bulbs to plant out over the next few weeks. I was talking to the guy there about rats (I'm not fixated on them you know just sourcing advice. hehe!) and he was telling me that one year the rats ate his entire tulip supply and I reckon that might be what happened to the tulips here. They disappeared over a few nights a year or two back. Tulips are stunning flowers though and worth a bit of hassle. Mind you, I'm not planting any more of them after having the car fixed finally today.

Exactly, earl grey is a beautiful tea. I sometimes think of Captain Picard at such times in front of his personal replicator on the starship Enterprise going: Tea, earl grey, hot. You're in excellent company!

When the Star Trek Next Generation episodes were actually played for the first time on television here I had a mate living across the road from me who didn't own a television, and him and all of his house mates used to pile into my tiny flat on a Tuesday night at 11pm every week to watch the latest episode which we pumped through the stereo much to the annoyance of the neighbours, I'm sure. I have very fond memories of that time of social chaos.

Thanks, I will try that.

Cheers

Chris

Les said...

Hi Chris,

Once again, I'm flabbergasted at your efficiency in using time. Half a weeks pay to repair hydraulics and electricals on two cars? That would be months for us on our new farm based "income". You clearly are still holding down a job in the old economy, as well as doing all the stuff you show on the blog. I'm guessing you don't sleep?

I've just finished installing the replacement range after our kitchen fire & feel like I've just climbed everest - how the heck I ever managed to fit in a day job is beyond me...

On rats, google the "5 gallon mouse trap" - the version with the peanut butter smeared soft drink can is probably the go for ease of construction.

And finally, we had some rain on Saturday - 193mm from midnight to midday. For the first time since we moved to the farm, the dams are full. Hooray! Now to go an buy some cattle...

Cheers,

Les

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi rabidlittlehippy (how good is that handle?),

Ahh, good to hear as I reckon it may be a normal winter this year which means that it will be much colder and wetter than we have all become accustomed too.

Oh yeah, how cold is it today (the coldest since October, I believe)? The gourmet is running hot here tonight too. Ignisa is a great name for yours and there is even some fan art to be found on the Internet. Top work.

Now since you have proven to be such an excellent giver of names, the gourmet here could use a good name. Your challenge is to come up with a name? Unfortunately, this one is definitely male as it has undeniably required a bit of maintenance! hehe!

The oven is pretty good too and I'm baking fresh bread right now and it smells good in the house.

Of course, it would be good for you and yours to see some of the fruit here on the trees and maybe pick some too. Late November early December is usually the best time. We'll sort something out as it gets closer.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Thank you, that is high praise. Unfortunately very few houses are built to this standard down here, but I'm a bit old school. You're in for a real treat when you see all of the crazy stuff I had to then do with the walls and roof - it is like nothing else!

I found all of the symmetry produced great beauty in the structure, it is a real shame that no one can see it.

Thanks for that, Lewis mentioned peanut butter too. I reckon they ate the peanuts I planted here many years ago - unfortunately Poopy got blamed for that one at the time! Yes rats are very intelligent and they learn far quicker than I can come up with new ideas to thwart their activities. The mechanic today mentioned placing fibreglass conduit around some of the more expensive looms and pipes as a good idea.

Glad to hear that the primroses are blooming. Wood spurge = euphorbia's. Right. They are very hardy and I grow them here as a garden flowering plant. I'm a bit embarrassed because I used to call them alien eye ball plants for their prolific mass of flowers. They are really good plants.

The red kite is a stunning looking bird and a good sign as to the health of your area. It is really interesting as it looks a lot like our falcons, which stick to the grasslands and avoid the forest where the wedge tail eagle reigns. You can hear the eagles here because they make a cheep, cheep, cheep call as if they were a tiny chicklet. It is a really weird noise for such a large bird.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Oh well, I'll take you word for that, although I've noticed any smell from the trees at all and there are a few stands of them about the area. They actually form part of the traditional Chinese herbal medicine lore...

The forest here is already dominated by the eucalyptus species so a little bit of diversity couldn't hurt. Sorry, but it is an impoverished - but once great - forest that I have somehow become involved with and I'm always looking for opportunities for diversity.

With the rhubarb, go hard. I've got about 30 plants here now and they can be used for all sorts of things like breakfast fruits to jam fillers. They're (the stems that is, not the leaves which are toxic) really full of pectin so will help set jam and all sorts of other useful stuff. Actually strawberry and rhubarb pie is an old friend of mine. Yum!

A tough call. It was really cold here this evening and mildly damp, but I took the girls out for a run around the orchard. Meanwhile I had 3 layers on and a wooly hat! Brrr. The chickens don't feel the cold...

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Claire,

Now I'm starting to feel nervous. Hard to get rid of once established sounds very ominous...

They are very bright creatures and come up with work arounds almost as quickly as I can come up with baneful disincentives.

Wow, what a story. They sound very wily.

I'm trialling poison baits over the past few days as I can't afford for them to eat anymore of the vehicle. I've also trialled a trap, but they have avoided it and just to prove how clever they are, they ate all of the food around it... I may have met my match!

Glad to hear that the daffodils have flowered up your part of the world. They put on a brave face in early spring. PS: I'll chuck in a few hundred bulbs here over the next few weeks. There is a local daffodil and bulb farm which sells them in bulk.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Damo,

Yes, I can well understand your point of view about the rats. Many years ago, a mate of mine worked for the Ludwig Cancer Research Institute in Melbourne - before it shut down - and had plenty of rat stories, so I hear you man. Respect.

Haha! I'd never have thought of using muffins as bait. Top work and a credit to your culinary skills.

Man, how close are rats to people in terms of learning and adaption. There is a place in Melbourne that makes what I reckon are the best muffins to be had and that bait lures me. ;-)! Too funny.

Thanks I will try that, they probably like home made bread too? They've already been avoiding the traps...

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Les,

Ahh, well I didn't mention that for one of the jobs (the hydraulics) I called in a favour, which I'm really grateful to have received as it was a big repair job.

Sometimes, I end up doing freebie jobs - or mates rates jobs - from time to time and I never know or even look for a return on them. If it happens, that's cool, but if it doesn't, oh well.

Haha! Too funny. Actually, I really require a whole lot of sleep to function properly. Yeah, of course, I still have feet firmly planted in both worlds - although doing that means neither world is very lucrative, thus I try to make a little bit of part time income go a long way.

Actually scrounging, repairing and networking are vital skills if you want to save serious cash - as well as reducing all of your bills in the first place. I reckon I have to work in the real economy about a quarter of the year just to cover the expenses that are attached - and non negotiable - in earning that part time income. It is outrageous, but I'm not in a position to complain any time soon.

You know, it is amazing how long all these projects take. If you have money to throw at things then they can speed ahead like there's no tomorrow, but do it yourself and you find that things take a huge amount of time. Glad to hear that you've sorted out the damage. The funny thing is you've probably learned heaps about the kitchen in the process.

Many thanks for the link and I'll definitely give it a go.

Good for you! I'm really wrapped to hear about the dams. That is a whole lot of drought breaking rain. Did you hear that north of you in Chinchilla they had a huge hail stones in that storm too?

Cheers

Chris

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Yeah, the whole "special order" system was almost more art, than science. And, it's been so long I forget the fiddly bits. Yeah, the 25 book minimum order was a bear, but in a high volume bookstore, it wasn't too hard to hit, weekly. Sometimes, if we had a lot of special orders, it was more than once a week.

If we exhausted the wholesalers, there was a way (I forget how) to add a title to a stock replenishment order placed by the home office. Can't remember how we culled out possible special orders from a 15 box shipment, direct from the publisher, with an 11 page packing list :-). I think most of them ended up at the bottom ... TOS - Temporarily out of stock. Then we'd have to call the customer and break the bad news. Can't get it, try again in 6 months to a year.

Most people were pretty good about picking up their special orders. Sometimes, when placing a special order, a customer would ask: "If I don't like the book, do I have to purchase it." My response was always "Yes you do." Contrary to company policy. :-). Then I'd suggest that they get a copy from the library and see if they REALLY wanted it.

Then there was the whole "Is it in paperback, yet?" boondoggle. I wish I had a nickel for every time I said "Only available in hardback for 9 months to a year, always one Christmas season." And, no, you didn't see someone reading a paperback copy on an elevator in Dallas, Texas. You were hallucinating. :-)

Also a fan of early REM. Think I wore out a couple of cassette tapes. "Losing My Religion?" Genius. The video was surreal. "Radio Days?" An anthem. Stipe has such a .... yearning voice.

Film makers are between a rock and a hard space. In some instances, they have to pay to have things in movies. In others, the companies pay them to prominently display their stuff. Product placement.

I don't think you're fixated on rats, at all. I mean, gee, they ate your car .... Lew

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

No worries, you're in good company because I never understood the fiddly bits at all! ;-)!

I suspect that you are spot on because up until Borders hit these shores, there used to be all sorts of book shops all over the place. They did a brisk trade too, but just couldn't survive the loss of volume to the big chain. Now that has gone, down under we really sort of rely on the electronic retailers.

Yeah, most people are pretty good about that sort of thing. It is the rare person that will reneg on an order. I never stuffed around the retailer, simply because I wanted to get my hands on the book - also sometimes you wonder whether a black list was kept under the counter? Who knows - secret book store stuff!

Back in Tandy retail land, I used to send people to other shops if I knew Tandy couldn't supply them. People always seemed grateful and there was no chance of a sale anyway.

hehe! Hardback books are a necessary evil. I liked the Trade paperbacks too as the quality just seemed higher than the paper back editions.

Of course it was genius and you're spot on too, Stipe has a hauntingly lonely voice. One of my favourites was: Country Feedback. Mate, there's some serious pain behind those lyrics and it was one of their earlier releases. The sentiment is complex. Losing my religion was a ripper too.

It is a tough bind, the film makers take the product placement money to assist with taking the financial risk out of the film, but too much and... it becomes an advertisement. Still, the arts are a risky business. I heard yesterday that the hugely successful metal band Metallica is having some serious financial troubles...

Thanks mate, who'd of thunk it possible? I seriously can't afford to feed them at that cost. Honestly, I could have taken them out on the town and wined and dined them. The cheeky little scamps...

Discussions are underway here about redesigning the chicken enclosure to halt the rats progress over that part of the property. Seriously, it is starting to feel a bit like Ralph E. Wolf and Sam Sheepdog here.

Two Aussies from Melbourne were part of the crash in France this morning. Not good.

Cheers

Chris

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - A couple more things about the book biz, and then I'll shut up. :-). Once I worked in a mall for B. Dalton and there was a Walden Books (who I had worked for back in the 70s) down at the other end of the mall. Occasionally, we'd get a customer, insisting that they had been called to pick up their special order. Not on our hold shelf. A quick call to Walden's usually revealed it was on their hold shelf. it was hard not to gloat a bit, especially if they were particularly nasty about it. :-).

As unobtainable special orders were so laborious, we often recommended the customer try Walden's. Knowing the results would be the same. :-).

Speaking of those big wholesalers, when I worked for Walden's during the incredible expansion of chain bookstores in the early 70s, every fall the wholesaler would have about three bashes in the fall, before the Christmas buying season. We'd go up to their big warehouse, have nibblies and fill in stock of stuff we thought we could sell during Christmas. There were always authors on tap. I got to meet Ansel Adams, the "poet" Rod McKuen, some forgotten Miss America and Vincent Price and his wife who had put out a cookbook, that year. He was a lovely man. McKuen was a prat.

Every Christmas, there was always one or two titles that took off, that no one could get for love or money. "Italian Fairy Tales." Who knew? :-).

Off to the Little Smoke this morning. I see the library is holding a copy of "Dreaming Down Under", for me. A collection of Australian Sci-Fi. I'm not long on short story collections. If the story doesn't grab me in the first couple of pages, it's on to the next. But, I thought I'd give it a whirl as I seem to be interested in all things Australian, these days. Dunno why. :-). Lew

orchidwallis said...

Hello Chris

My last comment didn't make it through, so I am re-posting with deletions. The wood spurge is euphorbia amygdaloides. The garden daffodils planted by the previous owner are in flower.

I have shown my son the 5 gallon mouse trap and he is going to have a go at catching rats with it, he has occasionally found a drowned one in a bucket. He no longer poisons them as other things get poisoned.

Inge

Stacey Armstrong said...

Good Morning Chris,

A truly miserable weather day and a sick small person have given me some extra writing time today. Nice to see rhubarb being divided in photos, I have been looking at mine for a couple of years and wondering if dividing it would be possible. Did you harvest less in preparation for the division?

Those are fancy cloches. Did you make them to fit your beds? Are they made out of remay cloth?

As for the rats. My parents had a fairly sizeable swarm descend onto their compost. My mom made it clear that the head rat 'Willard' was by far the more intelligent adversary! This may be a bit cheeky.....but what would Sun Tzu say? After the bird feeder also became an amazing rat jungle gym/feeding station, and other methods such as a live trap were tried a pellet gun was used to winnow down the expanding population.

I also thought I would mention that the knowledgeable woman who farms and blogs over at https://matronofhusbandry.wordpress.com mentioned this week that she is still using her grandmother's cookstove. Might be worth some poking around or a few question in her blog comments.

Planting is starting in ernest here this week. Kale is really starting to come back and the first asparagus shoots are visible!

Best. Stacey

Unknown said...

(Deborah Bender)

Mice are a staple food of owls and I imagine larger owls catch rats. You might put up owl boxes to entice them to nest nearby.

You are using the same stove for a cookstove, oven, space heater and water heater. Perhaps doing all four functions requires design compromises.

Some nineteenth century American farmhouses had a Franklin stove in the parlor and a wood fired cookstove in the kitchen, or in a separate cookhouse for more comfort in hot weather.

Since it takes a lot of wood to fire up an oven but not as much to keep it hot, the optimal place for the oven might depend on whether your household is baking and roasting often or in batches once a week. If the latter, a hand built brick or clay oven outdoors and handy to the woodshed might possibly be less trouble.

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Too funny. I hope that the customers became all apologetic, but some people just can't seem to make that leap into the very real world of humility?

I must confess that a decade and a half ago one changeover of daylight savings was completely lost on me and I ended up going to work an hour early. It seemed to be very amusing to other people... However, it is like the old saying: the best way to remember a birthday or anniversary is to forget it one year. Just sayin...

That is too funny, sending the problem people off to the competitors. Nice work and now I know for sure that you have a Machiavellian streak. Well done, I approve of that tactic.

Well poets can be difficult personalities. Apparently they feel pain more than us mere humans. That might be what made him a pain? Nice to hear that Vincent Price was a pleasant bloke too. It can always be surprising to find that some high profile people are actually pleasant too.

Yeah, that is an obscure title to take off. It obviously left an impression on you. Was it any good?

Short stories are a tough sell. I see that there is another competition going on over at the ADR. I'm not really much good at fiction writing, it is probably like a muscle that needs to be flexed before it is any good. Have you ever done much fiction writing or was it all serious stuff?

Yeah, well that works both ways. ;-)! I'm starting to get my head around your part of the world and can still recall the image of Portland from memory. A most worryingly impressive looking volcano in the background too. Good stuff.

I read a collection of short stories called Songs of the Dying Earth recently which was a number of high profile sci-fi authors writing short stories based on Jack Vances Dying Earth world. Some were very good and others were so - so. I enjoyed Tad Williams story in it, he wrote an excellent series which I haven't read for a long time, but still have sitting up in the book shelf. Hey as the house construction photos go on, you'll eventually get to see my library.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Blogger gets hungry, so watch out for your fingers when you press the "publish your comment" button. Sorry, that one will never get boring for me. I lose comments too sometimes. Who knows?

Ahh, I thought the daffodils might have been a native up your way? The euphorbia's can be a bit weedy here, but they're so hardy and they produce flowers for such a long period of time. Great plants.

He's absolutely right about the poisoning and it really is only a short term stop gap until I assess the situation and learn more. I'm in a state of mild panic that the dogs may get a dead rat. They probably wouldn't eat it, based on past experience, but they can always surprise you.

I'd be interested to hear how your son goes with the trap. He is sort of road testing the trap for us.

It has turned quite cool here and the fire is going strongly. Burn off restrictions are lifted on Monday too.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Stacey,

I hope your small person is feeling better now? It is no good feeling sick.

It has been very damp up your part of the world recently. That is a good start to the warmer time of year though.

Rhubarb is as easy as. I divide the plant with a spade and the plant takes as long as it has some root system. You can cut back some of the leaves in the process too as the plant won't go into as much shock. There are 30 or 40 of the triffids around here... Way too much to eat and nothing else does. The lizards like living under their shade.

The cloches are old mosquito nets that I've come across in my travels. The editor tells me that the material can also be purchased from haberdasheries as the material tulle. Hope that makes sense, but it depends on how wide the material is - an argument for an overlocker? ;-)!

Of course that is cheeky and I approve. Well done. Sun Tzu and his boss Wu Tzu have a lot of interesting things to say. Willard sounds a bit scary though. Sun Tzu would say: "Know thy enemy" and he'd be right of course. Yes, they get into the chicken feeder and water dispenser here too. I'm considering a serious response starting with the chicken enclosure which may have to be rebuilt from the ground up with rats in mind....

Thanks for the link, I will check it out over the next few days. Lots to think about on that front. Seriously, I wanted to learn something new every week when I moved up here, but in reality it's everyday.

Well done and great to hear. All the best for a gentle and productive growing season.

Cheers

Chris

Steve Carrow said...

Cherokee- Saw your comment on rats over at ADR, and so ripped off this quick entry on my meager blog. It tells my take on the bucket traps mentioned upthread. Let us know how it works for you.


http://viridviews.blogspot.com/2015/03/pest-control-rodent-category.html

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

We do have wild daffodils/lent lilies but they are getting scarcer. Gardens are awash with every kind of cultivated daffodil.

For the info. of you and Lewis, I have to pay in advance if I order a book.

Inge

artinnature said...

Why do folks hate rats so much but love to talk about them? I'm guilty as well...we're funny humans.

I'm a garden gardener/designer/consultant so I'm often meeting new people in their gardens and everyone has a rat story to tell. Funny thing is people often seem to think that once they've "solved" the rat problem rats never set foot in their gardens again, because "I don't see them any more". Nope, they are in everybody's garden every night, you've just (temporarily) excluded them from your walls/attic/garage/shed/car or whatever.

One problem with poison: the rat doesn't drop dead right where you leave the poison, it will find a cozy spot under your bedroom, curl up there, and commence putrefying, just to spite you.

Rats and cars: At our last place I parked my truck outside next to a cherry laurel hedge (Prunus laurocerasus). Each fall rats would place their cache of cherry laurel fruits on top of the engine. This happened for five years. I always wondered, did they like their food toasted, like toasted muesli? Never once did they chew on the mechanicals though, that would have really sucked, I feel your pain Chris, I may have actually used poison if that had happened.

Best of luck & Cheers from Cascadia

Klark

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris; Daylight Savings Time just makes me cranky. :-). Somewhere in the distant mists of my past I seem to remember a pastor who showed up an hour late to start church.

Oh, the poet showed up with an entourage (unlike every other "famous person" there) and wouldn't have any direct contact with us unwashed masses. If someone wanted a book signed, you gave it to a member of the entourage, who conveyed it to the lofty poet, who then gave it back to the entourage to convey back to said unwashed masses. :-)

Never read "Italian Fairy Tales." I just remember it because we were driven to near madness with the phone calls and people dropping in to enquire. And, to break the sad news that the publisher could not rush another printing back into print between Thanksgiving and Christmas. And, I'm sorry I ruined your entire holiday. :-).

No, never wrote any fiction. Though I entered one in the first ADR collection. Didn't make the cut. Oh, well. I have plenty of ideas for fiction, but they never make it to the page. I started "Dreaming Down Under." Not as sci-fi as I thought it might be. The editors mention in the forward, sci-fi, horror, magic realism, etc.. Started the first story and will probably move onto the second. Somehow, vampires (kind of) in "the area formerly known as Switzerland" just didn't grab me. :-).

Funny how the mind works. I don't know if you have the board game, down under, but the first thing that popped into my head when you said "library" was: Colonel Mustard in the library with a candlestick.. The game Clue.

I was just talking with my friend in Idaho, last night, and we both check out the bookshelves of homes we visit. She has a library background, too. I also check out the medicine cabinet. :-). Amazing what you can discover about people. :-). I have quit a library, too, but it's mostly still in boxes.

Well, Portland is quirky. I'll never forget when the sculpture of the city genis (sp?) arrived. She was barged up the Willamette River, loaded on a flat bed truck and conveyed to her resting spot. Maidens preceded the truck, strewing flowers in her path. It was quite the pagan holiday.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portlandia_(statue)

I have a little terracotta Roman woman's head next to my computer. Don't know if she's "real" or not. Probably some goddess, or another. But, I think of her as a personification of a city. Or, maybe she's my muse? :-).

The bucket trick might work for your rats. I've found mice, two or three times in Beau's water dish. Oh, argh. I don't know if they were thirsty, or just despondent. :-). Lew

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Deborah,

Great suggestion. There are 3 types of owls that roam through the forests here. They tend not to roost in a particular spot, but instead have a larger territory to cover. They'll clean up the rats in much the same way that the foxes do when they visit. They'll eat here for a bit and then move on to a nearby area. It probably means that there isn't enough food to keep them here permanently.

Perhaps and I'd never considered the issue from that perspective. It is a tough economy because the more wood fires you have going, the more wood you burn through. One of my neighbours has that sort of setup with a boiler for hydronics, an aga stove for cooking and a very efficient wood heater in their living space - it is a more efficient unit than mine. They tend to use the heater in the living space more than the other two units.

Yeah, the Victorian houses here had the same setup with a big wood stove in the kitchen and smaller fire inserts in the bedrooms and parlour (where guests were received). I've restored a few of those over the years. One of them had a huge wasp nest in the brick chimney - that was as much of a surprise to me as it was to them.

All good ideas. The unit here is in the living room which is right next to the kitchen, so it serves quite a few purposes.

It may be that long term, I just have to build my own wood heater. They don't seem to be particularly complex. It looks like the repairs are working OK so far and I'm cooking poached quince and quince jam in the oven today. The house smells very nice! Hope your spring garden is growing well.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Steve,

Welcome to the blog and thanks for the link to your blog. An excellent photo too: Mouse and rat control bucket.

Top work and glad to hear that there is a new sheriff in town. I'm definitely going to try that system as poisons are a short term solution only. They'll just re-populate.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Sorry to hear about the decline in the wild daffodil population. Daffodils probably hybridise readily as the images show quite the diversity of colours. Interestingly too, some of the ones here are very similar to your wild varieties as shown in the internet search images.

Yes, it is pay in advance here too for book ordering.

The weather turned cold here so I've started bringing tomatoes inside to ripen up in the kitchen. They already have all their sugars and taste nice, they're just a little bit firm still.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Klark,

Mate, I dunno, maybe it is because the rats are clearly very switched on creatures? They learn surprisingly quickly here.

Exactly spot on, there is no solving the rat problem. It is one of those never ending problems. I'm trying to work out how best to live with their presence. The wallabies cause me the same sort of problems except to the trees and plants - as they are one of the ultimate browsing creatures - they can exist on a diet of 85% bracken fern. Man, that is one hardy creature. Anyway, I've sort of set up the systems here with wallabies in mind and I suppose the rats will be the same. I'm starting to wonder whether it was the rats that ate my nashi pears last summer? Dunno.

That does mean a complete rethink and rebuild of the chicken enclosure is on the cards for the future.

Yeah, that is a problem - although the house is rat proof so there is no chance of them getting under the floor. On the other hand years ago, a rat died under the floor in a terrace house and as they would say on a TV crime show: You can smell the decomp from here... I sent the boss dog at the time under the house to go get it and she sniffed it once and looked at me as if to say I'm not touching that and went off about her business under the floor. I finally had to get a broom attached to a long pole to drag the carcass out. It didn't smell good and certainly can't be ignored.

Cherry laurels would probably be excellent feed and shelter for the rats. Wow, I wonder why they placed the food there? Maybe it was because the engine bay was dry, but yeah, your theory is pretty sound in that they probably like dried fruits similar to toasting muesli (they're in good company on that score. ;-)!)

You know, there are any number of hoses in the engine bay - and they just happened to nibble on the most expensive one that was under pressure. The mechanic told me that they can nibble through aluminium pipes too... Glad they can't get into the battery room here - what an expensive disaster that would be...

I hope your spring weather is warm and gentle up your part of the world.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Yeah! Go Lewis. Mate, losing an hours sleep is a real bummer. How funny, but was the congregation polite about the matter?

The whole entourage thing is very 1980's. What did Douglas Adam's write about Zaphod Beeblebrox: "He's just some guy, you know". JMG reminded me recently about: Hagbard's Law in that communication of information becomes difficult unless the people involved are equals and once you add a hierarchy things get difficult. Please correct me if I'm incorrect in this thought.

Yes, people can have some very strange beliefs and systems to protect those beliefs.

Delivering bad news gets easier with practice. How did you go with that? I had to do about 4 years of debt collection during the recession of the early 1990's here, and to some extent it sharpened my perspective on the human condition. It was a truly fascinating insight into people.

Ah well, you're in good company. It is really hard. I've got an idea for the 4th book, but based on past experience hopes are not high. This might sound a bit whiney, but I'd never been knocked back for publication before - not that I've ever written fiction previously. There are far greater talents out there, but like you there are ideas for stories - how to get them onto paper seems to be a bit of a mystery.

Yeah, vampires in Switzerland could be pretty boring. The hills are alive with the sound of ... brains! Oh sorry, that's zombies isn't it? I was getting confused. Maybe they need to sharpen their teeth or something weird like that. Anyway, glad to hear that you just sort of got on with your life instead. Hope the second short story is better, although the opener story is meant to be the lure?

Whose medicine cabinet are you referring to? How is the trip plan going anyway? Would you visit over high summer? Really glad to hear that you have a library as well - I always suspected as much.

Very cool statue and a lovely story. Of course, she is probably both to you - everyone needs a muse!

I'm thinking of watching some of the Portlandia show to get an insiders and somewhat humorous view of your part of the world. Do you reckon it is worthwhile and/or entertaining?

My money would be on thirsty, rodents don't seem to get despondent, they just get tricksy!

Cheers

Chris

Cathy McGuire said...

Aw, Chris - I'm sorry to hear about the rats! The worst I ever got was a squirrel storing all its nuts in my truck's air filter (quite a surprise for the Oil Can Henry's guy)... Wish I had any advice.

Love to see all those growing plants! Have you ever said what your "job"/income is from? Or is that personal? You kind of hint, and I simply can't imagine you having any time for anything other than your huge homestead... but today you mentioned it again... so - did I miss the post about your "day job" (or is it night job?)

Anyway, I'll probably be scarce here for a week or two - flying back east to help care for my Mom...my sisters are trying to get her back into her own apt. (she refuses to go anywhere else) and I'm the last ditch caregiver now that my sisters are burnt out and need a break.:-} I might get a chance to read, but probably not comment. You-all be good! ;-)

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris; Oh, he was the pastor. Everyone cuts their pastors lots of slack. After all, he's the guy that's going to marry and bury you. :-) I once drove out to Aberdeen to work in a library, on a Sunday. Well, you know where this is going. I show up, no one shows up to open the library. I'm sitting there and about to head back home when it dawns on me. Daylight Savings Time. Oh, well. Better an hour early than an hour late.

Oh, I think Hagbard's Law applies. Although I'd say, more ignored than blocked.

Breaking the news on not being able to get a book. Oh, just very sympathetic and offered the hope that in 6 months or a year the publisher would bring it back into print. Suggested trying some used bookstores.

One problem was that some small, obscure publishers would give no discount unless 25 copies were ordered. Not going to happen. But, there was one wholesaler who specialized in carrying a lot of small, obscure publishers and we could usually put together an order, but maybe not every week.

Oh, writing isn't such a mystery. You sit down in front of a blank sheet of paper or a computer screen and you write. Anything. For a set period of time. Doesn't matter if you want to, or not. You just do it. At least, that's the drift I get from reading about how authors work. At least, that's what I read successful author claim. Easier said than done.

Second story wasn't much better than the first. Something about alien contact. I think it was on a hollowed out astroid. Or, maybe it was the moon of a planet. And, there were some very cheery androids involved. At least, I think they were androids. The narrative was pretty obtuse and I couldn't exactly figure out what was going on. On to number 3...

Trivia. Carrie Brownstein is one of the leads in the Portlandia sketches. If the name sounds familiar, she was a member of the music group Sleater-Kinney. Sleater-Kinney is the name of a road in Olympia, Washington where the group originated.

I know you have problems with internet speed, but most of the sketches are 3-5 minutes. Try this one.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WAlWrT5P2VI

Medicine cabinets. Say I'm invited to someone's home for a party or dinner. I check out the book case, and when it comes time to use the bog, I check out the medicine cabinet. Yeah, I'm a snoop, I know. It's my guilty secret. But I'm intensely interested and curious about people. It's not like I take anything. Or, even touch anything. :-).

Actually, I just thought of an idea for a book. "Medicine Cabinets I Have Known." Start each chapter with a (brief) inventory of the cabinet and then spin out a short, speculative story about the owner. Hmmm. Lew



Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Cathy,

Yeah, that would have been a surprise for the mechanic. Thanks anyway, there have plenty of excellent suggestions this week.

Thanks there are some more plants this week from the nearby Bacchus Marsh seedling farm and the ebay seedling seller "Plantspirations" on the same site. Good stuff and I can't recommend them highly enough, they're huge operations.

I thought I covered that in the earlier series about my background, but I'll have a look and then have a think about it. People keep asking, so it probably won't go away. ;-)! I was excavating again today, so I try and fit everything in, somehow there's time for everything. I'm very organised, you know! :-)!

Sorry to hear about your mum. I hope that she settles back into her own apt and that things go smoothly over in the east.

Best wishes.

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

I guess so, although I have seen a pastor recently stuff up someones name at a funeral (it seemed like an important detail to get right to me!), so perhaps it is true and they do get cut some slack.

Too funny, I did exactly the same thing! Well done. It is hard sometimes when you live up in a remote location to remember that there are a whole lot of other people around. hehe! Speaking of which next weekend is Easter here, so it probably means lots of work around here as there isn't much point heading out when every man and their dog is out and about the place. It reminds me of that bike ride thing you have up your way when the hordes descend upon the town.

I think I can see that. Some artists cultivate a sort of attitude of bored contempt. Maybe they think they're being cool? Dunno, they probably need to put food on the table too, so they can't be too cool for school - as they say.

The gentle let down, that is. A nice touch. It is much easier to purchase obscure out of print books online now. I may head out next weekend to that old bookshop I was talking about with you and then that is it for Easter.

Did you get books through obscure publishers? That would have been interesting. JMG often publishes through New Society, but they don't do mail order down under which is a bit of a hassle, so I sort of wait until they turn up on ebay. Amazon doesn't have a great market presence here.

Exactly, easier said than done. I was just about to ask you how you actually go about doing that. I suspect there is more to structure in a fictional story than people let on, but I've never come across a how to tell a story sort of step by step instructional manual / book.

I often wondered how they marked creative writing when I was at school - because if it was truly creative, then it would be truly hard to mark, because who is to say what is correct or not. Pah.

Not good. I prefer my androids to be somewhat more dour like Marvin the paranoid android for example. I doubt many things are glad to be of service. hehe!

Thanks for the link, I'll check it out. The internet speed issue has been fixed: I now get 3 Megabytes per second - it is feral fast - but I've only got a monthly limit of 15Gb in total so I have to be careful... Video footage is a real pain because the files are soooo big.

Busted! Well, it isn't a secret anymore. Years ago they'd say: Telephone, Telegraph, Tell a Lewis (or insert name here) and then you don't have to worry because everyone then knows your secret. Well, you can tell a lot about a person by the stuff that they keep in their cupboards. A friend once remarked to me that my kitchen pantry scared her because she didn't know what most of the stuff in there was for - most meals are prepared from scratch here.

Medicine cabinets that I've known: Love it. You'd be great at people watching. Sometimes when I'm waiting for people or meetings in Melbourne I'd sit at a cafe and do exactly that. Try and spin a story about a person just based on their appearance. Good fun and can keep you entertained for hours.

Don't they have an annual book award for the strangest book titles of that year?

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

Violets and wild strawberries have started to flower. It is still very cold here, due to the wind and most flowers are blooming in sheltered hollows.

I have also wondered whether you ever sleep and what you do to earn a living.

I don't have a medicine cupboard but I do have a huge library, mainly in boxes.

Inge

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris; Oh, I think it's a lot easier for small publishers, these days. Most of them are on the web. If nothing else, they can just slap a title up on Amazon. Sometimes, back in the day, we'd just say "Look, the only way you're going to get this books is if you order it direct, yourself. Here's the publisher's address and phone number."

Sometimes, a small publisher would hit it rich with some title that made the best seller lists. "Confederacy of Dunces" comes to mind. It was published by a small university press. Back in the 70's there was some Kennedy family tell-all published by some small right wing press. Enough interest to justify a 25 book order to get a descent discount. Also, return policy had to be negotiated. The new book business is a bit odd as unsold stock in good condition can be returned for credit, minus shipping charges (usually.) When it comes to mass market paperbacks, and some trade paperbacks, we'd just rip the covers off and send those back.

Oh, there's plenty of books out there on how writers go about the task of writing. Stephen King's "On Writing" comes to mind. And, there are collections covering several writers. Some are in question and answer format.

Speaking of King, I see that his latest is in transit to me through our library system. Will probably have it in hand, next wednesday. Might as well block out a "lost" day and a half. :-).

Oh, I suppose creative writing courses are like art school. When I was at University (I so much more like that English term, then the more American "when I was in college." I don't know. Just sounds classier :-). ). I took Art History. But, we had to take a certain number of studio courses. I discovered early on that the way to get good grades in those classes was to figure out what the instructor was fishing for. Or the parameters (sometimes pretty rigid) that they considered acceptable work. It wasn't just art school. Well, you probably know. The worst teachers just wanted you to parrot back ... whatever.

I've read that at one point, if you were interested in figurative art, you were really adrift as the world had gone crazy for the abstract and expressionistic. Anything that could be identified as something from the real world was relegated to sunday painters and blue haired old ladies who taught a little water color class at the local senior center. :-)

I just picked up a graphic novel called "Art Schooled". I just took a quick look at it. Looks interesting and funny. Takes place in England, much to my surprise. A young man from a small town goes to art school in the BIG CITY.

Oh, people watching is fun. Being a transplant, here, if I run across anyone who has also relocated here, I often ask "So. What brought you to Lewis County?" I seldom get a well thought out response.

I don't know about an award for weirdest titles, but there was always hilarity around the library and bookstore world over this title or that.

In the Big Book Biz, there are better discounts for "placement." Every week, we'd get a placement plan. What should be at the check-out (the Golden 20 Feet) and what should be on the pyramid fixture at the front of the store, facing out into the mall. Sometimes on that fixture, we'd lay out the titles so they'd read out (one book to the next) as a linked sentence or concepts. Some were clever, funny, or "shock you're mum." But you didn't notice them, unless you were in the know. :-). Lew

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Do you usually get much wind, being near the coast and all, or is your property reasonably sheltered? Over at the ADR someone mentioned some reports that the ocean circulation currents had slowed and I was wondering whether you'd noticed any changes from earlier seasons or is it much the same? Things are so variable here, I have really no idea what to expect from one season to the next.

Do you harvest the wild strawberry fruit?

It would be very handy to be able to get some of this work done during sleep, but alas, no such luck.

I'll consider yours and Cathy's request and perhaps will include something on the next blog.

Good to hear, books are a great resource. Yeah, I don't stock many medicines here, but the garden is chock full of medicinal herbs.

Here's hoping for some warmer weather up your way. PS: I hope the brick situation has slowly resolved itself too.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

That is really interesting. Long ago the publishers used to sell direct - and I assume they will again - but I didn't know that during the 80's you could contact them as an individual. A lot of that separation (wholesale / retail) has disappeared here nowadays - you don't see it much anymore.

Thanks for the reference to the book a Confederacy of Dunces. Mate, Ignatius sounds like hard work! What a fascinating tale though and it was released posthumously too. It is on penguin classics nowadays.

I'm assuming that you ripped the covers off the books because you could then return the stock as damaged in transit stock (or some such thing)?

Thanks for the suggestion about the Stephen King writing skills book.

Haha! Your day and a half is gone for sure. Lucky you're not down here because the farm is entering into an Indian Summer this week so I'd hide the book and put you to work. hehe! ;-)! No book, til work finished - one week! hehe!

Yes, I've suspected as much for quite a while. So they're motivated by fads? The architectural worlds have produced some shoddy work too based on fads. Pebble-crete as a building surface. Nuff said.

Yeah, the business world gets motivated by fads too and honestly mostly those fads bore me and they're mostly designed to make people at the top end of the food chain feel as though they're actually doing something.

It would be almost impossible to grade the art work anyway and who is to say what is good and what isn't good. For example, I find Edvard Munch's painting The Scream to be a disturbing piece of work, but other people think very highly of it. Anyway, I'm probably way out of my league on that front, so what do I know?

Art Schooled as a title says it all, who is doing what to whom in the graphic novel is the unasked question there?

It probably indicates just how random life can be. One thing that you don't see a lot of down under is people relocating interstate or across the country. It does happen, but we're not a very society mobile on that front. Dunno, but I've always assumed things are a bit different on that front in the US?

You are in for a treat: Bookseller/Diagram Prize for Oddest Title of the Year. Some of the titles are truly bizarre! Well done them.

Too funny and a really great joke - I would have struggled not smirking every time I went passed the window. People would be going: What are you smirking at? You know I would have probably missed it too, but now that you've let the cat out of the bag, I'll start noticing in book shops and report back on any unusual finds! Top work.

It is chook time now and the ladies will probably be back in bed by about 7.45pm tonight.

Cheers

Chris

Cathy McGuire said...

One more note before I fly back: to both Lew and Chris - writing gets better when you write. Period. Practice makes better (not perfect). I resisted that for years, saying I wasn't a good writer (or artist) - and I still say that on many occasions. But I'm better than I was, because I do it a lot. You get better at expressing what you want to express, in the style you want, no matter what others think is good/bad. But you do have to look at the bad stuff, accept that you've spent time on it and it still isn't good enough... It's that way with any skill. Genius can't be taught, but decent storytelling has some skills that can be. And at my age, I've given up on being a child prodigy and/or a genius, and I'm just writing because I enjoy telling stories. :-)

And the "torn covers", Chris, are so the booksellers can return just the covers and prove they've "destroyed" the book - far less postage. :-) And my father used to love buying paper sacks full of coverless paperbacks to read... and he was ex-FBI and a private investigator - and definitely knew better! But we all know law enforcement cuts themselves slack all the time.

BTW, if I didn't say it - awesome photos of the housebuilding and landscaping!!

orchidwallis said...

Hello Chris

It is blowing a gale outside at the moment. The prevailing winds are southerly and they blow over the top, so tend not to affect me. The ones that get me are the northerly and north easterly; they are the really cold ones. I am not protected from them in winter because the leaves are off the trees. In summer I am protected all the way around.

I really haven't noticed any unusual changes in the weather in the whole of my lifetime! Just the one thing i.e. the winds tend to gust; they used to be more steady. Temperature however has remained within its usual parameters always.

I don't do anything with the wild strawberries, just pick and eat them as I walk past. My cultivated strawberries become available at the same time and I have plenty of those. Sometimes I'll add a few wild ones to a plate of the cultivars.

Inge

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris; Re: You're remark to Inge. Right now I'm reading "Nature's Medicine: Plants That Heal" by Swerdlow. A National Geographic Book. c2000. Afraid I'm going to have to get a copy for my collection of books on medicinal herbs. It's a very large book, with the usual great National Geo photos. Of course, two things that drive me crazy about herbs, in general, is that a plant may have 30 species (subject to constant change) and maybe only one of those has medicinal properties. The other thing is that so many really useful herbs won't grow in this climate. Oh, well. I'll be happy with what WILL grow here.

I really wasn't recommending "Confederacy of Dunces." Can't in good conscience. As I gave it a whirl and couldn't get very far into it. But, it's on my list of books to go back and give another try.

Stripped books were a study in waste. Say you had 100 copies of a best seller that died. We'd get huge computer printouts of what to pull ... trash 95 copies, keep 5 for stock. Sort by publisher, rubber band them together and ship back to our home office. The coverless books were to be ... made unusable for future use. Usually ripped in half and, as we had problems with dumpster divers, pour water over them. Later on they went to a paper recycler. In stores I managed, some made their way to old folks homes and jails. A batch to a friend who was having a terrible time getting his son to read. :-). These days, I think there are more in-store markdowns. That was just beginning when I left the big chain book biz.

I think King's "On Writing" is about the best thing I have read on the art and craft. Lots of autobiographical info, too.

What do you know about art? You know what you like and don't like. I'm afraid I'm pretty pedestrian when it comes to art. I like to know what I'm looking at. I don't like Thomas Kinkade (those acrid pastels set my teeth on edge) but I like Norman Rockwell. :-). I have an artist friend who moved from here to Florida (more on American mobility, later). She sent me a picture of a mixed media thing she had done. A very jaunty skeleton fishing for skeleton fish off a bridge. I bought it. But my tastes run a bit to the macabre. You should see my Halloween decor collection :-). But, I quit like "The Scream." :-).

Mobility. Well, we are a restless lot. Look at me. Born in Portland, moved to Vancouver, Washington. Seattle. Southern California (lived in about 8 different towns in 3 years), back to Vancouver. Portland and here. Since American's ultimately, are from somewhere else, I think it's in our blood. The constant westward migration. Always trying to better ourselves or, just for the adventure. I think it's sad that people have to leave places they love because of the job market.

Oh, those book titles are a hoot! "The Book of Marmalade". Probably big in England :-). "Oral Sadism and the Vegetarian Personality." There's a character in "Art Schooled" who anytime anyone disagrees with her, dismisses them with "You're probably not even a vegetarian!" I've actually perused a copy of "The Stray Shopping Carts of E. N. A." Somehow that reminded me of a field guide to Garden Gnomes that I saw years ago. I was surprised that some of the Gnomes were VERY naughty in a "shock your mom" kind of a way. The "Hermit in the Garden" book speculated that garden gnomes are an outgrowth of hermits in gardens. Seemed a bit of an iffy connection.

Yeah, I've got to go check my chooks, too. When I was out this morning, two of the "girls" were ruminating on the nest and I hate to disturb them when they're "at work." Lew

Renovation in Galicia said...

http://goo.gl/K4zTcS
Basically, its a can/bottle, smeared with peanut butter on a spindle across the top of the bucket with a few inches of water, with a ramp up to the bucket. They jump for the peanut butter, the can/bottle spins and they fall in and drown in the bucket.
You might find this helpful for rat control.

shastatodd said...

there is no download link here:

https://soundcloud.com/fernglade-farm/watching-the-detectives

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi shastatodd,

Thanks for letting me know about that. I wasn't aware of that limitation with Soundcloud.

I've been wondering whether it was best to just purchase a website for the mp3 downloads or continuing using Soundcloud.

What do you reckon?

Are you enjoying the podcasts?

Cheers

Chris