Monday, 25 April 2016

Three little birds



The Australian accent and language (which is apparently sometimes described as either broad or a drawl) is a useful tool for communicating complex ideas and sentences in as few words as possible. Often you can string various words together in a spoken sentence so that the meaning becomes far greater and deeper than the sum of the words themselves. I experienced the advantages of this communication method the other day.

On the northern end of Melbourne there is a retail shop which specialises in selling solar photovoltaic electrical gear. The guys that work in that shop look as though they’ve only just that morning taken a break from their forest encampment where they have been protesting against the harvesting of old growth forests for the past six months. They’re cool, and what is worse, they know they’re cool. And the shop is full of solar panels in various states of undress (i.e. being removed from their cardboard boxes!) all casually stacked against the walls. Shelves line the walls and are full of all sorts of casually stacked and inexplicable boxes of electronics gear. Did I mention that the green paint job on outside of the the brick shop looks very dodgy? And the large front window and security bars are covered by permanently closed aluminium venetian blinds dating from the 1960’s and are now so old and battered that they’ve achieved true vintage status. Yeah, they’re cool.

And then I walk into the shop. I’m not cool, but I’ve been dealing with these guys for years and so knew exactly what to expect. After the brief discussion with the two guys at the counter detailing my exact requirements, I shared a brief moment of acknowledgement and respect with one of the guys when he said the word: “Nice”. That is actually code word for a much larger idea which can actually be translated into proper English to mean: “Thank you for taking the time to understand and state your exact requirements and I respect your level of organisation.”

The rest of the conversation then followed the same path so it is worth recounting here with proper translations, of course:

Me: “How’s it goin’, mate” – English translation: “I’m concerned for your well-being as you appear to look rather unwell, my friend”.

Reply: “Mate, had a mates going away party last night” – English translation: “Thank you for your concern and I appreciate that. We have now bonded over this matter and I now consider you marginally better than an acquaintance. Last evening a friend of mine was leaving to pursue an adventure elsewhere and to that end our group of friends decided to have a party to celebrate the imminent departure. This party unfortunately continued into the early hours of the morning and so now I feel rather tired. To add to my personal distress, I imbibed rather more alcohol than my normal consumption patterns merely because that seemed to be appropriate given the circumstances. I am however a stoic individual, because this morning I am at work, although feeling rather unwell and so please forgive any and all mistakes”.

Me: “Cool (pause). Respect” – English translation: “I accept your explanation and totally respect and acknowledge your display of heroic stoicism. Further to that, I will endeavour to cross check your work to ensure that any embarrassing errors are corrected without the need to escalate the matter any further”.

It was fortunate for me that I was closely checking the order because he had forgotten to provide one of the components. And true to my word, I quietly let the guy know of the omission and everything was soon corrected and I was on my way home again.

So how did I come to be in the solar shop?

It all began a couple of days earlier when I had an epiphany. An epiphany is a moment of sudden and great revelation or realization. That epiphany gave me an insight into the world of solar photovoltaic power systems. That insight was that these solar power systems are so horrendously complex and are comprised of so many different components that no one actually knows how these things perform in the real world.

This week, for no real reason, I started feeling a bit anxious about the solar power system. It may be due to the fact that winter is just around the corner. I told you that I wasn’t cool!

After a deep breath (well, maybe a few deep breaths, and then some more deep breaths) and a bit of quiet reflection on the matter I applied my tried and tested approach of 'more is better' when dealing with natural systems. My approach can be summed up as: If you want to eat home grown apples, don’t just plant one apple tree, plant twenty apple trees.

Every year, I learn more about solar power systems. The frightening thing that I have learned recently is that every year single year that they are in operation, they degrade slightly. That means that every year the photovoltaic panels produce a little less power than the year before. Likewise the batteries store a little less electrical energy. Not to mention that some components corrode, whilst others fail. Even minor failures can be a nuisance, especially during the dark days either side of the winter solstice. So over the next few weeks I’ve decided to undertake a refurbishment of the solar power system using everything that I have learned over the past few years (and haven't had a chance to implement).

This week, I began construction of a steel pole mount for two additional freestanding solar panels. The construction work involved drilling and painting a scrap steel post. Over the next week or so depending on the weather it will be cemented into the paddock below the house.
A steel post was painted and drilled so that it can be utilised as a mount for two additional solar photovoltaic panels
I also realised that I had somehow completely forgotten to paint one of the existing steel freestanding solar panel mounts installed two years ago! This week, the steel, which was showing some signs of rust, received two coats of quality metal paint.
A steel mount for two solar panels installed two years ago was painted this week
This week up in the mountain range, it was feral with tourists! I’ve never before seen so many people in the mountain range. It was mildly surreal. The tourists had driven up to see the autumn leaf colour change in the exotic deciduous trees. There were traffic jams on the main road and honestly, I’d never been so grateful to live on a scary dirt road before where tourists dare not come! It was also lovely to see the many couples enjoying the mountain and having their wedding photos in red or white dresses on the cold, but sunny autumn day underneath the falling foliage. The weather was almost perfect for them.
Traffic on the main road over the mountain range
Observant readers will note that there don’t seem to be many vehicles parked on the road. That is because most of the vehicles were parked on side roads for hundreds of metres (feet). In the above photo both sides of the road are marked “no standing” zones and they don't need to be enforced. The reason that the parking zones don't need to be enforced is because many of the vehicles in the photo are parked on angles which are far less than horizontal. This is because on each side of the road, there are hugely deep “car swallowing” drains. Within only a few minutes I’d seen a Toyota Prius and a Jeep Cherokee both resting on their side doors at unfeasible angles after having slipped off the road. I was thinking to myself that recovery of those (and all of the other unlucky people) would be expensive for the drivers, but a lucrative business for the recovery trucks! Anyway, I left the area in case I was dragged into assisting with the recovery of some of those vehicles.

A few weeks back I mentioned that there was a mystery fruit which had grown here. Over the weekend the mystery fruit was harvested and cut in half. I can now report that the mystery fruit was a watermelon (although with yellow flesh). It was very tasty and the editor harvested seeds from the fruit for planting next year in more favourable conditions. Hopefully the melons will grow to an even larger size next summer.
The mystery fruit was revealed to be a tasty water melon
Speaking of feral, the spontaneous pumpkin which originated in the orchard from a pumpkin seed deposited by the actions of one of the dogs has now grown quite a bit. Once that pumpkin is ripe, we will harvest seeds from it and use the flesh to produce roasted dog biscuits. The wheel turns full circle! Hopefully next year that fruit will be even bigger too.
The feral pumpkin in the orchard has grown in size over the past few weeks
Tomato cam™ tells no lies and this week we have begun the process of converting the huge harvest of tomatoes which are still ripening on the vine into tomato chutney. This process of producing chutney will continue over the next month or so.
Tomato chutney has begun to be made this week
A local farm with a shop specialises in growing and selling bulb plants, and unfortunately the editor and I went feral there and purchased probably far more bulb plants than we actually want to plant. All of the bulbs were planted over the past few days in the orchard and they will hopefully put on a good show of flowers from about August onwards.
Bulbs were purchased from the nearby farm and shop that specialises in selling bulb plants
We also went feral this week with manure. That sounds a bit odd, doesn’t it? What I actually mean by that statement is that the editor and I applied another cubic metre (1.3 cubic yards) of mushroom compost to a steep area of the garden that really needed it. Once the compost was applied to the steep hill side, I then climbed up the slope on a ladder and planted the entire area out with cuttings of ultra hardy flowering plants. Hopefully in about another year, it will look really good.
A steep garden bed was manured and planted out this week with flowering plants
Despite the autumn conditions, there are still plenty of flowers around and I spotted this bush rose the other day which not only looks good, but has a lovely "old world" rose scent too.
A bush rose produces a good show of flowers and strong rose scent
Good rain fell earlier this week. With that rain, the mushrooms have arrived and it is hard to walk around in the orchard without tripping over some new and unidentified mushroom. No one knows whether any of the mushrooms here are edible and more than likely, they are probably very toxic.
Mushrooms have turned up everywhere after the recent good dump of rain earlier in the week
If anyone has ever wondered what the rural sport of choice was down here, it surely must be the burning off of organic matter! Forget football, because in the early evenings on weekends, I can look out into the valley below and it appears as if there is some sort of serious volcanic activity going off (all feral-like with the occassional tourist sacrifice!) and the small volcanic flumes are venting their underground pressures into the atmosphere.
Burn offs are our national rural sport down here
I owe the title of this week’s blog to Bob Marley who sung the lyrics:

Rise up this mornin',
Smiled with the risin' sun,
Three little birds
Pitch by my doorstep
Singin' sweet songs
Of melodies pure and true,
Saying', ("This is my message to you")

Singing' "Don't worry 'bout a thing,
'Cause every little thing gonna be alright."

As I was worrying about the future of the solar power system earlier in the week, the above lyrics popped into my head, and I knew then that it was time to again be thankful for the solar shop and its delightful staff!

The temperature outside now at about 8.45pm is 13.1’C (55.6’F). So far this year there has been 156.8mm (6.2 inches) which is up from last week’s total of 136.8mm (5.4 inches).

55 comments:

orchidwallis said...

Hello Chris

Very funny, but come on mate! After that you stagger me again with the amount of work that you do.

That mushroom looks exactly like a parasol which can be eaten here. Don't though as it might be different in a different country.

Very cold here today brr1

Our rubbish collection has been put into different hands; a nightmare. I have spent the morning on the phone. Getting nowhere and just being cut off after hanging on for ages, I snuck in a different way and got a human being. Then did the poor old woman bit. Hope that it worked.

Inge

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - That was a really well written and genius paragraph describing the solar shop and the denizens, therein. Props. :-).
Tree sitting in old growth forests is probably what they do in their spare time. For fun. The bars on the windows reminded me that our local feed and garden shop has been burglarized three times in two months (with a smashed front door, each time). The target? Very pricey hydroponic grow systems that can be used for other things, besides veg.

"....how things perform in the real world." How many times have I thought "Did the person who designed this, ever have any hands on experience with it?" Usually accompanied by lots of cursing. The latest entry was a simple gas can. The problem is that the spout is some kind of slid mechanism (very tight and hard to work) to get the stopper to pop up. And, you have to kind of stand on your head to get it inserted into the gas tank of a mower. As the extended stopper is in the way, then the gas shots out the sides. Of course the spout from the old gas can, which works quit well, is just millimeters too small to fit the new can.

So, the mystery globe is a watermelon. Not pink? Well, as long as it tastes yummy, who cares? Food and color is an interesting topic. When commercial tomato catsup is usually fire engine red, and you make a batch of home made that turns out rather pinkish, it does give one pause. The pumpkin seeds seem worth saving. That little fellow must be robust.

The roses are really pretty. Is it a climber? It almost looks like the bush I've been training along my back deck. But, our roses don't seem to flower into the fall. They're mostly early summer blooms. If I dead head my roses, I can keep them going for quit a few months. It provides quit a bit of grist for the compost heap. There are hundreds of blooms, but, it's a good job for visiting with Beau.

You always wonder about mushrooms in the wild. They could be a wonderful culinary experience ... or, death on a plate. Seems like every year there's at least one article about some poor immigrant family, wiped out by mushrooms. They looked just like the ones from home, but weren't. So far, no mushrooms in the patch sitting on my kitchen table. It's like having a pet. Three times a day I spray the patch, and, the inside of the humidity tent.

The slugs are back. Not too many, but, they're around. Sunshine, this morning, and if it holds, I need to move my burn barrel, before the loggers show up to do some prep work. Also plan on cutting some brush that's getting a hold along my front ditch. Stuff that's just a little to robust to be felled by my string trimmer. More things come to mind, over the logging. Besides fretting about my water and propane lines, there's also the power line to my chickens. But, the loggers said they'd give me a heads up, before they begin in ernest. Probably around a month. Ah, and bald eagles nest in those trees that are to come down. There are plenty of other big trees around for them to move to, and I hope they do. Lew



Jo said...

Hi Chris, the whole solar power question is one occupying my mind at the moment. At my current house I have all the panels and produce heaps of power, but being a huge house which is hard to heat, we also use a lot of power. In my new place I think I will spend the winter seeing how little power we can get by using before I venture into the solar power world again. What are your thoughts on solar hot water. I am thinking that would be more efficient than getting solar panels and making hot water that way?

Good to know that your mystery fruit turned out well. It is always so exciting to accidentally create a new fruit in the compost. Makes you feel a bit God-like:)

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Damo,

Thanks for the heads up on the new New Star Trek TV Series To Shoot In Toronto. Yes, it is no longer made in a Hollywood basement (Red Hot Chilli Pepper reference)! I noticed that the series is set in the Universe at the end of the 6th film (which I really enjoyed).

I enjoyed the film, but yeah it was a reboot of Wrath of Khan.

The books for those Hannibal movies are quite gripping and not light reading at all. Red Dragon gave me nightmares...

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Yes chickens are a total mystery. One of the Plymouth Rock chickens was a late moulter and she looks quite patchy at the moment, whereas all of the other chickens are looking good. Nell is a true lady to be able to walk with you into the world of chicken. I wouldn't trust the dogs here for a moment alone with the chickens.

The squirt bottle is a good idea. I once trained a neighbours dog which used to bark next to the fence close to my bedroom very early in the morning. I used one of those high pressure water guns and I simply ambushed the dog. It only took a few days of that... Nell, sounds as if she learns much more quickly than that (and Tuna is always a useful word to learn if you are a cat).

The Thursday matinee is a very good idea. That Olympic Club cinema is a lovely old building and worthy of support. Their website seems to have "gone off the air" so I hope they're OK? Far out, I had no idea that Independence Day had spawned a sequel. I watched the trailer and it looked like a lot of massive destruction (no doubt, that you will enjoy that? Hehe!).

That is interesting about the veneer chipping easily. The moulded plywood items that I've seen had been coated with either oil or polymer coatings so they seemed quite impervious to stains. I once purchased a hand made moulded solid box and the timber split after a period of time which was unfortunate.

Yeah, I've read those "for your convenience" disclaimers which are actually code for "we've made this a bit more difficult or expensive because it seems like a good idea". With websites, it may be because there are more monitoring programs in place. I often wonder what organisations do with the extra data that they are accumulating. Most likely, the majority of the data collected is meaningless.

Oh man, that's not good about Chef John. Sorry, mate.

I'll check out the link to the Mad magazine article after I've replied to all of the comments.

Well, yeah, it is sad. For what it is worth, I see incomes stagnating, whilst expenses rise and the result of that mess is a squeeze. And unfortunately, if you are young and your income is small, then things are legitimately tough and getting tougher with each year. And the debt is rising across the board in order to maintain appearances. It is not a winning combination. My take is that a bit of income has to be squirreled away, a bit has to be ploughed into infrastructure and the rest has to be spent on putting a roof over ones head. Avoid one of those three and there is a problem.

cont...

Cherokee Organics said...

Yeah, the sitcoms try to provide "shock yo momma" value, but once that is done, then creeping normalcy sets in.

That is the other thing that I struggle with and you put the finger exactly on that one. What you contemplate you imitate. Of course in times of yore, the court jester could say things to the King that no one else could and get away with it. There are a lot of Kings these days...

Mate, I hear you. My job is in the trenches and I revel in that. Of course, many people don't and they say stupid things like our recently deposed Federal treasurer who apparently said: "If you are young and want to buy a house, get a good job, that pays well". What a winning formula he uncovered. ;-)!

A sliver left is an excellent sign of success! Well done. Hand made spaghetti and sauce cooked from scratch is an absolute credit to your chef! Yum! After reading Jason Sheehan's book I can well understand that chefs maybe over represented in AA. Home made fudge, mate, I'm starting to drool over the descriptions...

Well, of course, people do what they can and I really try hard not to lump categories of people together as that just doesn't work in the real world. The fact is though that they made the effort to contribute and I respect that. Ha! You made me laugh with that story. I often jokingly remark to the editor that it is: "A small mountain range" which your story also highlights. I may have spotted the local hermit the other day so I smiled and waved at him, which seemed like the right thing to do.

You know, the other week I received an unusual offer to join an exclusive club which I roundly ignored. The thing is, I like the trenches because that is where life occurs and I'm genuinely unsure what status is.

That story makes me feel tired. I stomped the daylights out of the IQ conversation over at the ADR this week because I've often felt that clubs like Mensa are all about exclusivity - i.e. the feeling of being better than someone else because of some arbitrary notion and I've noticed that a lot of hate groups share that same sort of mentality. I was trying to be amusing with that stomp, but my goal was based on the fact that I don't find them to be at all amusing. Your concerns about the Club mirror my own concerns along those lines. And yeah, in the future, there will be a lot of pain - but it will be a growth thing and at this stage I don’t believe that it is unavoidable – and that is not a bad thing.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Hehe! That is very funny and I appreciate the humour. Tidy work! Of course, we have an ongoing relationship so a bit of ribbing is well deserved - well, that is the Aussie way. In New Zealand they may say in an opposite circumstance: "Don't bro me, if you don't know me". Bro in that case refers to the term of endearment "Brother" but that can confusingly also refer to both males and females depending on the circumstances.

Oh my, nobody knows down here what mushrooms - outside of pine forests - are edible. It is a real shame that nobody thought to ask the Aboriginals as I reckon they would have known by the awful method of trial and error. Of course, we have discussed this matter before. Have you been enjoying the Bill Gammage book? If it is of any interest to you, I've produced about a bit less than a foot of top soil within about 10 years of hard work from no top soil at all. It has been one of the most fascinating tasks that I have ever done. And the mushrooms play no small part.

You must have sent the warmth down here because today it was 78.8'F... Not good.

Oh you are good and I salute your effort. Yes, sometimes I also play dumb with people and then after they have dropped their guard I go the full hack and start asking pointed questions. It never fails to work and I learned that technique through debt collection. I do hope that they collect your rubbish, although you can operate well without a collection process - with a bit of adaption.

Cheers

Chris

margfh said...

Hi Chris,

Always impressed with you knowledge of solar energy. My husband is quite handy but knows nothing about solar. Our house is so big I doubt that we would be able to supply more than a small fraction of what it requires.

You are right about living on the scary dirt road - lots of benefits to that. Would be challenging though if you had winters like here though.

I generally don't plant pumpkins as we don't use many and they, as well as all the squashes, are plagued by squash and striped cucumber beetles. Our neighbor plants them though (and sprays) and they keep coming back in their compost pile year after year. She gave me a couple once and they tasted awful!! Of course they were hybrids that didn't come back true to the original.

It sure would be nice to know more about mushrooms to harvest some around here but won't take the chance.

Bees, pigs and first batch of chicks arrived last week. One chick (they were shipped to the post office) was DOA but the rest are doing very well. Quite a bit planted already in the garden as the weather has been cooperative and quite warm for this time of year. Turning colder today through the rest of the week though. This might be a good thing though as we are having my MIL's 90th birthday "festival" this weekend. Seven family members staying overnight and six more in a hotel nearby on Saturday and an open house for other friends on Sunday. I've not done much cleaning around here as I figure I'll have to do it before this weekend so why over do.

Been pretty dry here though after all the rain about a month ago. Unfortunately the only day significant rain is forecasted is Sunday. I really would prefer children and dogs to be outdoors during the open house.

Besides planting I've been collecting dandelion petals for the next batch of dandelion wine. We bottled the first batch and sampled some even though it's two months early. Quite drinkable even now so should be much better in a couple of months. The other job is pulling the very invasive garlic mustard which seems to be taking over the world - at least here. You can't even compost the flowers at least as they'll go to seed just lying on the ground.

Margaret

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Thanks mate! They're a lovely bunch of people and as I was writing that description I had the fun of reliving the experience. I have a treat in store for you on the next blog too (as a hint it involves wombats).

What can those hydroponic rigs be used for plants other than tomatoes? No way, who would have thought of that. Actually I heard a story once of a guy working in one of those shops who was approached by an under cover and asked about growing those plants. He stupidly said he didn't want to get involved but directed him to someone else, and was taken down and convicted for that simple act of stupidity...

Oh yeah, that is a classic example of deliberate obsolesence which is a total disaster. I'm a fan of the Honda mowers because the overall design has not changed for a very long time. Tried and tested beats newfangled everyday, that is why a lot of the aircraft in the air are quite old designs. Mind you, that didn't work so well for the Space Shuttle and the Concord...

Yeah, it was a yellow watermelon and tasted exactly the same. Yeah, that is like the green tomato sauce which can be visually a bit dodgy. Yeah, I reckon that pumpkin is a keeper and it is still growing in the orchard. I'm going to enjoy feeding it to Poopy! ;-)!

It doesn't look like a climber, but more like a large bushy rose, but time will tell. Wallabies have a certain fondness for roses so it is a complex matter growing them here. Jackie French nicknamed her house wallaby "Rosie". Nuff said. Roses like the dry and heat, so maybe they've had too much humidity by autumn in your part of the world? If you are seeing black spots on the leaves that is a sign of fungi attack.

My Horse Whisperer husband accidentally poisoned my brother with deadly mushrooms and we ALL had to have new kidneys. Yes, even authors can apparently choose badly when it comes to fungi!

Enjoy your slugs. Incidentally what is a burn barrel? Ouch. Sorry to hear about the bald eagles nest. Perhaps if the tree was pointed out to the loggers and had a colour ribbon or some such identifying marker wrapped around it, they won't fell it. Loggers are people too.

Cheers

Chris

Damo said...

The new TV series will be set after the 6th movie? Well that is very interesting, and I might say it makes me a little bit more interested as well. Number 6 is probably my favourite ST movie, one I can reliably come back to every few years if I am trapped at home on a rainy day. I guess they just don't care about the various timelines now :p

Not a lot happening in my part of the world, trying to adjust to the Brisbane weather (a good primer for Laos) whilst we wait for the departure in four weeks. Mrs Damo is having a "fun" time helping her sister, bride-to-be, with the upcoming wedding. It all seems micro-managed and complicated. I never cease to wonder at the hurdles people place in front of themselves, often resulting in nothing but additional stress and a poorer outcome for all that.

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Jo,

What a fantastic question! Elephant stamp for you. And kudos for correctly identifying the mystery fruit as a watermelon!

Well, I reckon you could obtain decent solar hot water for about 8 to 9 months of the year, given where you live. It works here for that many months anyway. The next question is what sort of solar hot water are you thinking of getting (evacuated tubes or flat panels)? Feel free to ask questions. You probably already know this but plumbers are expensive. The other thing to ask yourself is: Do you ever get large hailstones in your part of the world? It doesn't hail much here and when it does hail it is usually very small and inconsequential.

Do you have any spare funds for adapting your wood heater to also heat the hot water (and perhaps a baking oven)? I do that here and it is awesome from about May through to August. A collector hot water tank has to sit above (or near to above) the wood heater as the pipes work on circulation. As the water heats up in the back of the wood heater (or around the flue), the hot water rises up into the water tank via natural convection currents and the cold water falls into the wet jacket at the back of the water heater so that it can be heated in its turn. Just sayin as you are burning timber for heat, why not heat the hot water at the same time - and yes, solar hot water can plug into such a system easily enough.

Absolutely, solar hot water will make more of a difference than solar electric. Both would be great though.

From your verbal descriptions and the occasional photo, I'd have to suggest that the cheapest thing to do would be to add insulation into the ceiling cavity. I use glass wool batts R3.5 and they are very cheap and very effective. They can be cut with scissors, but you have to have a bath or shower after handling them as the fibres go everywhere. If you have some spare cash, you can chuck in two layers of batts - which will make a considerable difference in both summer and winter. I did that in Melbourne and it worked a treat.

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

Yes I am still enjoying the Gammage book. I was fascinated by the way in which someone would be responsible for every inch of land on the continent. The incomers hadn't got the slightest concept of the evolved culture onto which they trampled.

We could indeed deal with our own rubbish and Son would happily do so rather than engage with the council. However it is one of the things we pay our council tax for and I think that they should step up to the plate.

I had read about the fungal disaster suffered by the horse whisperer's family. One does indeed need to be very careful. I stick to the few fungi that I am sure of.

Inge

Pam in Virginia said...

Hi, Chris!

What a wonderful rendition of your time spent at the solar shop, you and your mate's single-syllabic banter. We can always count on you to make life cheerier with a good story! Ouch! That's a hard bar to keep jumping over . . .

So - it was a watermelon. Did it grow bigger than a bread box? What are the dried beans in the box in front of the bulbs?

What beautiful roses; a fall bloomer, eh? Our roses are about to take off. May and June are their best months, though they will bloom sporadically all summer and even a tiny bit in the fall. On rare occasions we've gotten a Christmas rose.

I daresay it was easy to collect a stunned tourist for sacrifice from one of the overturned vehicles.

Thanks for the bit of Bob Marley. He's always so relaxing to listen to.

Nice!

Pam

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Thanks for the link to info on the new Star Trek series. Let's see ... it will be about two years before the library gets the DVDs of season one ... :-). I'll have to re-watch "Undiscovered Country", just to figure where it all fits in. I noticed one interesting comment in the link. From someone called Bright-Raven. Paragraph two ... "I'm really fed up with society presuming everybody has the latest technology..." Here! Here!

Besides "...for your convenience." I hear a lot of "People asked for it." Who? Which people? I want names. More likely, some bright bulb in some IT department. Who are these early adaptors? Besides being well off. I figure if we hunt them down and stomp out their DNA, all this nonsense will stop :-).

The Olympic Club link may have been a bit dead, or, just neglected. As we know (if we stop to think about it) all that content on the Web needs to be placed there (and maintained) by a living, breathing human being :-). And, the McMenamins have a pretty extensive web presence. The McMenamins are two brothers who, for years, have been buying old neglected historic buildings and "bringing them back" in a sensitive way. Mostly in Oregon and Washington. An old insane asylum ... a borstal, etc. Usually, they do a restaurant, bar, bed and breakfast, movie theatre ... and, they brew their own beer. They also have a couple of buildings which are mainly music venues, with booze.

I used that link, because it's got some pretty good slide show shots of the interior. The building was pretty much derelict, but the "bones" were still there. The murals, the stain glass .. the bar. Tile floors. An enormous cast iron wood stove. Wonderful old pool and snooker tables (in bad shape). They pretty much kept the surface and poured hundreds and thousands into the roof, plumbing and electric. And, a good clean. I have to laugh at the stained glass. They always say they are Tiffany. Noooo. They are nice, but a far shout from "real" Tiffany. Those would be Tiffany on a bad day :-). Just one of those little inconsequential details that drive me bonkers. The booths you see in the background have domed, stained glass ceilings.

When they pulled the ugly 1950s front off the hotel that they bought, next door, they discovered the stained glass window over lights were still intact. I still remember that day, well. I stood across the street, gob smacked. Cont.

LewisLucanBooks said...

Cont. My roses get a bit of black spot, but I give them a spray with water and baking soda. Knocks back any aphids, too.

A burn barrel is a fixture of rural life, here. It's usually an old empty metal drum (steel is preferred) with one end cut off. A couple of flaps are cut in the bottom sides, to provide a good draft. In our county, you're supposed to get a permit, which is usually good for two or three months. You can get it online, and print it off. It's mainly so the fire department doesn't go racing off to investigate every plume of smoke. Of course, if a burn ban goes on, you don't burn. The permit process runs you through basic burning safety ... like, having a hose handy. Not leaving it unattended. Etc.. I burn mostly "sensitive" mail and some cardboard to get at good start. Mostly plant cuttings. Blackberry, even green, will burn quit nicely, once you get it started. It's not required, but I also have a bit of 1/4" steel screen, over mine. Just for a bit of added safety.

Exclusive club, eh? Well, I think it was Groucho Marx, who said something like "I don't want to join a club that would have me as a member :-).

Just one last story and then I'll shut up about my "Adventures in Recovery." :-) Quit a few years ago, the whole alcohol drugs issue was even more sensitive. Some young man was in a meeting, raving on about his drug use, and when he finally wound down, some old bird gave him "what for" about it. I kept getting angrier and angrier. When she finally shut up, all I said (with a lot of force) was "Have you no compassion?" I thought she was going to swallow her tongue. People like that, who use the rules (but, there are no rules ... only suggestions) as a club, are sometimes referred to as "bleeding deacons." Don't know where the term comes from. We don't see much of that, anymore. Now, if something like that happens, usually and old timer will just have a quiet word, after the meeting. I'd say half the people, these days, introduce themselves as "alcoholic / addict", or, the reverse. Newcomers tend to drift between the different types of meetings, and settle wherever they feel the most comfortable.

Well, I got the burn barrel moved, but I need to tinker with the placement. Further from the house ... on more gravel. Hacked back the woody stuff along the ditch, on my side of the road, from the abandoned farm to past my place. Mostly blackberries, some strayed barberry, maple and unidentified plants. Got to keep the sight lines clear, so it's safe to pull out of my driveway. The log truck drivers will also probably appreciate it. I probably killed the last examples of some plant that will cure all forms of cancer :-). I've got to stop looking at my mushroom patch, every time I walk past the table. A watched mushroom patch never fruits :-). I'm sure the new "Independence Day" movie will have many cool explosions :-) Lew

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

It is fascinating isn't it? I was also quite interested in the tribal bonds between the human members and pretty much everything else. Someone was responsible for virtually every aspect of the environment. That cultural system makes our own relationship to the land appear to be quite dysfunctional. I sensed that the outcome of that relationship was to make the country abundant. It is a sensible strategy, don't you think?

Of course, that makes sense. The rubbish pick up service here is a relatively new service, that you can option out of here. It costs an additional $3 per week and I see no need to increase the coffers of the local council. In most other areas, it is a non optional service. I worry about the impact of the trucks on the local wildlife. The truck sounds like a jet aircraft driving down the road...

Yeah, I'm totally unsure of any of them and so steer clear of all of them. You are lucky to have some local knowledge of such matters. Does anyone in your island profess expertise in identifying which fungi is which? There is a lady down here who specialises in such matters, but I believe they stick to pine plantations. The death cap mushroom is present here beneath oak trees.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

Thank you and hopefully I can keep you entertained for a few years yet. ;-)! It was fun and I failed to mention the people waiting in the queue of customers who appeared to be becoming more impatient and agitated as time went on and my transaction and funny banter seemed to go for much longer than it otherwise would. Good times!

Yeah, it was a watermelon and that is fascinating - because apparently you can't grow melons here (or so I have been told). It was a bit small, but next year, I have big plans for that melon. It was very tasty. Can you grow melons in your part of the world?

The dried beans are what remains of last years broad bean crop. They are the only winter bean here as all of the rest of them grow in spring to autumn. I've been saving those seeds for a few years now and have more of the plants every year. I'll tell you an interesting thing about those broad beans - they grow far better in woody composted mulch than a more rich manure compost and that tells me that the plants are originally forest (or forest edge) plants. They are very hardy too. Have you tasted broad beans?

Roses bloom for many months of the year here and I'll have to note when they die back as I just don't recall not seeing them in flower, but clearly winter will tell all. The wallabies have been eating them for a few years and the plants now seem to be out-competing the wallabies...

Fortunately, there was nobody in them. How it works is that the tourist parks a bit too close to the edge and whilst they are away enjoying the gardens and leaf colour change, the car slides into the deep drain only to rest upon its passenger doors. Yup, it's gonna be expensive. Did you notice that we drive on the other side of the road from you?

Bob Marley's music is very relaxing to listen too. I still recall one of his biggest hits "Buffalo Soldier" when it was released way back in the day. And I do recall that he used to support Sly and the Family Stone when they were on tour. :-)! Good stuff.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

So true. The undiscovered country film was very good and I reckon it was the best with the old crew. A mate tells me that you have to skip the odd numbered films and I see no reason to argue with such logic! :-)! You are lucky that your library even concerns themselves with such matters.

Yes, lets set the dinosaurs on them and spot on: Who are they anyway? The trail blazer is an unenviable position to hold and one must be careful. I feel that way about the solar power system. Perhaps it is some bored soul in the marketing department who came up with that rubbish?

That is true and I tell as many people in business that I can that websites have to pay their way or they can be simply a "we are actually here type website" otherwise the things just eat money.

Those two brothers are clearly doing some good work. Did you know that in a couple of weeks it is "Good Beer Week" down here? I reckon those brothers would have festivals like that too selling quality locally crafted (that is the new fangled word to describe carefully brewed with taste foremost in mind) beers. Still, I must not lead you into temptation, so we will close that beer conversation.

Nice. Despite their "talking up" of the stained glass it is good to hear that some people can bring life back to old buildings. Old buildings always have an interesting story to tell, and I often wonder at the shoddy stuff constructed nowadays and wonder what it will look like in a centuries time. Possibly not so good... Yes, it can be amazing what builders cover over as it can often be cheaper to hide rather than repair.

You reminded me that back in the day, people used to take the old houses with 10 foot ceilings and reduce the height to 8 foot which makes the internals of the house look very strange. There is some rule about perspective and the relationship between length, width and height that has to be achieved in order to make a building pleasing on the eye. Many people seemed to have missed that. Also removing the fireplaces seemed like a bit of a thing too. I've restored a few of them over the years.

I was wondering about your roses especially when you get a humid summer. The national rose garden here is in a very dry - but fertile - spot and they seem to grow quite well.

Yeah, I've heard of permits. Once I notified the authorities out of respect for procedure, that I was going to have a big burn off and honestly, it was more trouble than it was worth. I'm on a large enough block of land that restrictions outside of the fire restriction period generally don't apply. Smaller blocks of land can have difficulties as the neighbours are closer and under 1 acre, things can get very difficult. Once things are hot enough - any green material will burn - thus the ferocity of our wildfires. Burning blackberry is an option, and it is a good option.

cont...

Cherokee Organics said...

Exactly, I had Groucho in mind. He was probably just bored with them. I know I would be! ;-)!

No, I'm enjoying your adventures in recovery as I have no insight into that world and it is an interesting place. That makes a lot of sense about people drifting from one meeting to the next until they settle on a group they feel comfortable with. People do tend to lack compassion a lot of the time, but with careful guidance the very worst expressions of people can be tempered a bit - or even diverted. That was an excellent thing to say to the group too. Different groups would have a different vibe because of that reason, I reckon anyway? Dunno. Leadership makes a difference on the intangible factors in life (i.e. he stuff they don't have to pay for, but they have to enforce or guide).

That's a great saying about the mushrooms. They like changes in temperature and moisture from what I understand. Apparently that plant is Herb Robert, although I'll keep a foot in both worlds thanks very much. It grows like the proverbial weed in the garden beds and self seeds prolifically.

Oh yeah, it looked like a destruction-fest! I'm going to continue tomorrow building the solar ground mount for the new panels - maybe even cement the post into place (maybe). It looks as though the skies will open again on Friday and dump some much needed rain. It is strangely warm here tonight still about 65'F at almost 9.30pm) and that always happens before a big storm.

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

Re. the aboriginal relation to the land, I would assume that the great difference between them and us is do we belong to the land or does the land belong to us. Our belief in our ownership is horrendous; I wonder how much the story in Genesis contributes to it, i.e. 'dominion over'. Quite hard to imagine great swathes of Australia as productive, but clearly it was far better earlier.

I believe that the aesthetics of length and breadth is 'the golden mean'.

We have death cap mushrooms here. The reason why parasols are the only white gilled fungi that I eat.

I love broad beans but have given up growing them because black fly loves them so much. I found your info. about the soil that they like, interesting.


It snowed here yesterday! It didn't settle though.

Inge

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Oh, the Olympic Club has quit a history. It was a "gentlemen's club", for quit awhile. No ladies, allowed. When they were renovating, they found a hidden room that was used for gambling. The Oxford Hotel was next door. The brothers bought that, also, and that's the bed and breakfast part, theater and second bar.

Now, the next bit gets a little dicey for a family friendly blog. If it crosses the line, just delete this post. In the 1930s and 1940s, it was a house of ill repute. And, the Madam, was the town police chiefs wife! When I worked across the street in the cafe, three elderly ladies used to show up for a reunion, once a year. They had all worked in the hotel, during WWII. They had all done quit well for themselves and married well.

Oh, argh. I've seen plenty of "drop ceilings" in historic buildings, and you're right. They throw off all the proportions. It was a craze to "modernize" and the drop ceilings cut the heat bills. But, they did preserve whatever was underneath (or, I should say, up above) without too much damage. There's quit a few buildings around Centralia and Chehalis, where they've ripped out the drop ceilings, and the pressed zinc or tin is still in place. Sometimes in old houses, the ornate plasterwork is still in place.

I know what you mean about fireplaces. And, one of my first incklings that the mind is a funny thing is when I was at Uni. 5 of us decided to rent a house. I was the one sent out to do the scouting. I found a wonderful renovated Victorian that had enough bedrooms and was the right price (this is in Seattle). So, as I waxed lyrical about it, I kept saying "And, it has the neatest fireplace in the corner of the living room." On closer inspection? No fireplace. There probably had been one there, at one time. Looked like there ought to be one. So, I had just constructed the thing, entirely in my head. Or, maybe it was one of those pesky temporal anomalies? :-).

From our "all good things come to those who wait" (or, just procrastinate :-). I got the complete run of "Two Fat Ladies", the cooking show, on DVD, yesterday. They are so old, that the price was quit reasonable, and, Acorn Media was running a sale. So, now I have most of the cook books, and, the DVDs. I want to try "Bubble and Squeak" and "Toad in the Hole." Now, I have no idea what's in those recipes, or, can't remember. But, I just like the names :-).

Off to the Little Smoke, today. Hardly any stops, at all. But, I do need chicken feed. Lew

Angus Wallace said...

Hi Chris,

I like your dual-panel stands ;-)

How do you get the power back to the house? I presume you don't run DV wiring? Do you have a small inverter on the back of the panels and wire it back AC?

Cheers, Angus

Angus Wallace said...

Hi Jo,

It depends what you mean by "efficient" ;-)

You would probably find it costs less money to install a bigger solarPV system and use electricity to heat the water (a heat pump HWS is an option for added efficiency). If you install one of the standard solar HWSs it will probably cost you close to $5k. That amount of money will buy a 5 kW solar PV system which would also cover all your hot water (unless you use a lot!)

However, in terms of the resources/energy it is more efficient to use a solar HWS to heat the water, and save the solar PV for applications where electricity is justified. This assumes that a lot of extra plumbing is not required -- copper pipe has high embodied energy too!

Cheers, Angus

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Exactly, you've touched on the very real problem at the core of that relationship. Of course, if we are to attempt to extract wealth (which possibly could be considered as a form of benefits without the costs) then perhaps we have to consider ownership the way that we do. I'd be very interested to read your opinions in relation to that perspective. Of course, I could be totally wrong too!

I couldn't find the quote, but somewhere in the book I stumbled across the quote from an early explorer (and I honestly forget who it was) stating that soil carbon was in the order of about 22% - which is an amazing statistic. You see the more soil carbon the soil holds, the more water it can hold and this provides additional buffer during the inevitable dry spells. I'm working on that here and it really does make a huge difference (thus all the manure being brought back here). ;-)!

Thanks for putting words to that thought. I had no idea that the golden mean had such a long history. No wonder, our minds are conditioned to be receptive to that rule. Interestingly enough, I noticed that back in the days when I had time for music, that the scale that us westerners are used to was not mathematically correct (I'm perhaps expressing this incorrectly - basically I reckon that the frequencies of the notes were not spaced apart evenly). However, to my ear, the notes sound correct when played that way, and they sound way off when played otherwise. I always put this down to conditioning rather than anything else. Dunno really.

Yeah, the death caps are friends with the oak trees (and that is how they arrived down here too on the roots of oak trees). Not to be messed with those lot. It is nice that you have some edibles. have you ever grown your own mushrooms?

That black fly sounds a bit frightening! The difference is noticeable - in fact it is rather hard to ignore. The other thing I noticed about the broad beans is that when they are grown in manure rich soils, they tend to lodge (which is the fancy term for falling over) as they grow too quickly and without sufficient cellulose to hold them upright. They never do that trick in woody mulch. Try it and see what you reckon. They may be more resilient to the black fly in woody mulch too (as there is a lot less sappy, sugary growth in the leaves).

Yay for snow! Lucky you! I love it when it snows! I do hope that you threw a snowball at your son? (at an appropriate time of course - not when he is stuck in mud for example - that would be a bad thing!!!)

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Yeah, they had a few of them down here too. The editors uncle (now deceased) used to love those exclusive clubs and he always resisted the inclusion of women as members and unapologetically stated something or other about turning them into: "meat markets". Of course, what he never really understood was that such a comment reflected his own internal logic and personal outlook for all of the world to see. It wasn't good. Unfortunately, the term "gentleman's club" now has an entirely different meaning nowadays to what it used to mean back in those days. it is funny how language and meanings changes over the years.

That is funny about the hidden gambling room. Jason Sheehan wrote about that issue in his book. Down here that sort of thing happened back in the day - unfortunately what I see is that as a society we have gone from one extreme to the other extreme with that activity and the whole thing seems a bit weird to me.

Good for them. Such things went on then, now and way back in ancient history. Well accounting ranks third behind spies and ladies of the night in terms of who is the oldest profession (apparently so and the internet never lies). That is an old saying I believe.

Yeah, the ceiling and all of the ornate plaster work is usually kep underneath. And that is a good thing because the heavy plaster cornice work can be quite massive down here. They hide a lot of dodgy plaster joins, I'll tell ya. But mate, that deep Victorian era cornice is heavy as and has to be glued in place and cutting the corners is no joke when the rooms aren't exactly built square. Such things stretch my poor brain as the cuts have to be made in three dimensions... It is a real credit that the guys who do that work don't stuff it up more often!

Well 5 people in a share house is a whole lot of fun and who cares about things like heating and those sorts of minor day to day problems. For some reason you left me with a mental image of the sort of Victorian mansion used in the film: Fight Club! Hehe!

Tidy work that one. That is quite the score. Bubble and squeak is more or less last nights leftover vegetables mixed up with a bit of egg and then fried. It is quite good. Did you know that I spotted that stuff frozen in a bag in the supermarket. I did a double take and was wondering whether they were serious or not - and apparently the manufacturers were serious. It all seems a bit odd to me to buy food pre made that is meant to be scraps in the first place.

Enjoy your trip into the little smoke. I'm going to try and get outside and paint the metal work before the rain hits tomorrow. Plus there is a bit of drilling to do too!

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Angus,

Thanks very much. They are made from mostly scrap steel from other projects and they are very sturdy as the wind loads on them are occasionally horrendous as it is like a giant sail. How people use aluminium for that purpose is way beyond my understanding.

I'm not sure what DV wiring is? I assume that was a typo and you meant DC (direct current)? If so, yeah, absolutely I use DC wiring and the whole lot is wired in parallel. The current is pretty massive by the time it gets to the batteries (130A)! Under the standard anyone can wire ELV (extra low voltage) circuits up to 120V DC or 50V AC without an electrical licence. Three panels wired in series could well exceed that 120V DC. As a general note, the panels are quite cheap, but in off grid the cables are very expensive.

Having an inverter at the panels in the weather and exposed to the summer sun is a recipe for disaster and failure. The electronics would get so hot that sooner or later they'd fail (possibly sooner). Anyway, that's what I reckon. I don't notice much voltage drop between the panels and the controllers.

Hey, those are some good points. Do you have any usage data on those heat pump hot water services. I've always heard very good things about them.

Also out of interest, what are your thoughts about those evacuated tube solar hot water systems? I understand that they collect more energy than the flat panel hot water systems, but they look a bit fragile to me, but honestly, I just don't know as I have no experience with the evacuated tube systems (I use two flat panels here).

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

Attempting to extract wealth without costs. Of course, we do it all the time. The result is winners and losers and the progress of civilisation. Is that a good thing or a bad thing? There is no absolute answer, it depends entirely on ones point of view. I suppose that we could have lived in equilibrium with the planet for ever but we don't seem to be programmed for that. We seem to be programmed to evolve at whatever cost.

I have long given up trying to grow mushrooms. The only success that I have had was seven years afterwards when I had already sold the property in question. I was walking past and saw mushroom success finally. It was the result of my handiwork as the new owners didn't even go into that overgrown part of their garden.

Inge

Angus Wallace said...

Hi Chris,

Yeah, I meant DC (typo, shucks ;-)

That's interesting. I'm not across the standards, but I'm surprised non-sparkies can wire 120 V DC! I imagine the cabling would cost a fortune! I suppose that's why I assumed you'd avoid DC. I understand that you're trying to avoid systems that will one-day fail (which makes sense). You really follow the "live as though you'll die tomorrow, but farm as though you'll live forever" motto, don't you? ;-)
So the DC all runs its separate way, and then meets at the charge controller which charges the batteries, and the inverter runs from the batteries?

I'm interested in this, because I'm considering whether it's worthwhile adding a panel or two to my 2 kW array (have, say, 2.5 kW of panels on a 2 kW inverter) to help with winter production. My current panels are angled at about 23 deg, and I considered putting some other panels at a high angle (80 deg with the aim that the geometry/angles between winter sun (60 deg) and these panels would be similar to my existing panels) that I (DC) switch on only in winter to boost production. I just don't know enough about it, and it's a bit unconventional...

Regarding heat pumps, the problem I see with them is they have moving parts (compressors, etc) which will (I think) fail sooner than a simple solar HWS. Also, they're higher tech, and so can't easily be repaired without a lot of expertise. I really love the design of my solar HWS, because it is not pressurised, which takes away one of the big fail points for the tank. Having said that, because I've jacked its angle up so much, the header tank tends to overflow (because it's not plumb, but tipped to the side) which is causing some rust on it. I might have to work out something better... mine used evacuated tubes but they're hollow and the water just sits in them and thermo-syphons into the tank (I think this has advantages and disadvantages over "normal" evac tubes which have a copper core and plug into a heat exchanger at the end. I think mine are more efficient (than the copper core + heat exchanger), but if one gets broken all the water drains out of my tank ;-)

I think flat plate collectors and evac tubes both work well, tho tubes possibly work better on cloudy days. My understanding is that flat plats usually have a larger collection area, but evac tubes are better insulated.
There are companies now developing huge (150mm diameter) evacuated tube based solar ovens -- I'm very excited by this idea, and would like to make one. A couple of links:
The company:
www.gosunstove.com
the DIY hack:
http://www.greenpowerscience.com/SOLARTUBE.html

Cheers, Angus

Steve Carrow said...

Loved the translation of the terse but nuanced language of men who know each other. Did you see the movie "Guardians of the Galaxy" ? It was a fun sci-fi romp, I recommend it. Anyway, one of the characters could only say one word, but his partner was able to extract all kinds of complex meanings from it.

On the other side of the coin, your encounter points out how much unspoken communication goes on between humans when face to face, and gets completely lost on line. Thus flame wars and misunderstandings. Also, points out the challenge to be able to communicate and on good terms with the whole human race instead of just your local tribe.

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Snow in England. One of the archaeology sites I check, had pictures from up on Hadrian's Wall at the Vincolanda fort. The archaeological season, has kicked off in the northern hemisphere. Wonder what they'll find, this year? Pictures of the excavators, bundled up and digging in the falling snow. Pictures of little Lego Roman soldiers, in the snow, with appropriate captions. No wonder the troops used to write home for warm socks and under woolies :-).

Centralia was always the more wild and wooly town. Chehalis was a lot more ... sedate. Centralia was where all the loggers and miners went for a wild Saturday night. To this day, if you mention Centralia to someone from Chehalis, there's sometimes a little pause ... or, even a face made.

Are you going to catch the meeting in Melbourne at the Druid Inn? I figure it will either be really hooky or really cool. Maybe a bit of both. I imagine the bartenders and waiters in pointy wizard hats with lots of stars and moons on them. :-)

I've seen a lot of old hand wood planes with many different convex and concave cutting blades, to produce different cornice work. "Mill work", they call it, here. Cornices for really grand houses and buildings were cut in factories. Pop in a log at one end, and have a horking big cornice shoot out the other end.

The house in Seattle wasn't really a mansion. No wrap around porch or tower. But, large enough to house a good sized Victorian family. It had been renovated. Well, not in a sensitive way. More with an eye to being clean and functional and able to withstand the wear and tear of renters. I still remember the landlord. Bella Zaboo. He'd escaped from Hungry in the 1950s and by the late 60s had a couple of rentals. Enterprising fellow! But, in my life I have lived in a couple of semi-grand Victorian manses.

That is just mad to have pre-packaged "Bubble and Squeak." if you think of it, check the origin. Bet it's packed up in China. The frozen food sections here are equally mad. The simplest things, bagged up and frozen. All in the interest of convenience and speed.

Bull Whip Boy went at it from the time he got home from school, until dark. Chickens only laid 2 eggs, yesterday. I shudder to think what this summer is going to be like, when he's out of school. Or, when he gets older. I've decided to begin to prepare for a move. Oh, nothing that's going to happen this week, or, even next month. But, I just want to be ready if an opportunity presents itself. As the Quaker's say "Way will open." Which is pretty much what my life has been like. Kind of like the old saw "When the student is ready, the teacher will appear."

I need to mix up some hummingbird nectar, today. One of the feeders is getting a bit empty. Not so many around, this year, but I figure when the little ones start hatching out, that there will be more. Lew

Yahoo2 said...

re. organic matter levels. The explorer you are thinking of is Sir Pawel Strzelecki. from memory he took soil samples from 41 farms in Victoria and compared the organic matter (OM) and water holding capacity. the top 10 averaged 20% OM the bottom 10 averaged 3.72% OM highest 37.75% lowest 2.2%. What I think is more interesting is the visual observations of the landscape by George Robinson and others, it looked nothing like it does now. Open canopy with green perennial grass 24/7 and chain of ponds water.

Looks like the first winter rain is going to slip just north of you.

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Those are some interesting points and I agree with you that absolutes are a complex issue. I'm not sure what you mean by the word evolve as that term has been hijacked? I sort of understand it to mean "adaption to circumstances" and that does seem to work with your ideas, although I don't wish to put words into your mouth.

The thing I wonder about is that as a species, we are faced with a complex and ever changing environment. As far as I understand things, the environment is not fixed and is subject to change. I tend to try to produce far more than I feasibly require because that provides a level of buffer / cushion or whatever you want to call it and that helps when I'm faced with an unusual or unexpected situation. I just don't see others subscribing to that philosophy - but I reckon that has to be at the core of a long term vision. Dunno, what do you reckon?

That is a really fascinating account of your ex-fungi. I've noticed that the woody mulch takes about two years of fungi action before it converts to a rich black loam. So maybe time and lack of disturbance is what you've seen there (as you point out). I have wondered about innoculating some stumps with known and edible fungi.

Absolutely poured down here today 1/10th of inch in under a minute this morning. Wow, that woke me up for sure! ;-)!

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Angus,

No worries, I wasn't sure. My mind tends to gloss over the terminology used anyway and it is the despair sometimes of the off grid people I speak with. I keep it simple nowadays.

It is the current (Amps) that dictates how large the cable has to be. The more amps, the thicker it is. That is why house wiring is so thin - as the voltage is high, but the current is low (10A usually - although the oven circuit may be 10A but with thicker wire).

Exactly. The cables from the various DC circuits run into 3 charge controllers (via fuses of course) 40A + 40A + 60A and from there into the batteries. The inverter is wired directly to the batteries. A couple of shunts monitors everything so that everything can be monitored remotely.

You may not be able to do that with a grid feed system. Your inverter will have a maximum capacity, with no allowance. Off grid inverters work very differently. You may also find that adding extra panels reduces your feed in tarrifs...

Ah, thanks for that info on the hot water systems. I have no experience with the evacuated tube systems, but yeah I have heard that they operate better in marginal areas. The hot water system here is open vented into the attic. A closed system would explode (like a steam engine with too much internal pressure in the boiler!).

Your system is pretty neat and I like it. It is good stuff and solar hot water just works.

Thanks for the info on the evacuated tubes. I read that they work with a liquid that has a very low boiling point and they use that in a heat exchanger? But i'm not sure really.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Steve,

Yeah it was fun and it does make a person wonder how they pick up and decipher all this unspoken language? And yeah, it certainly doesn't contribute to online discussions at all.

When I'm writing the blog, I have to avoid a lot of words that mean something to me, but other people may not have a clue what I'm writing about. The editor corrects the words that I miss in that process.

Thanks for the recommendation!

I see a lot of misunderstandings and people talking past each other - or even outright evasions - on the ADR. Nature is nice to deal with - as you well know - because you can't negotiate with nature at all! Last night a wallaby took the top right off one of my favourite persimmon fruit trees... I reckon that tree may not survive that damage at this cold and damp time of year, but you never know.

Cheers

Chris

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Brrr! Those descriptions leave me feeling cold. No wonder the wall and fort were eventually abandoned by the Romans. I mean it isn't as if the Romans could have extracted a living from the people north of that wall during winter? I guess the eventual costs would have bankrupted the local government. You know that is the thing that has always annoyed me about the whole Game of Thrones story. All of these standing armies in the story - especially in the depths of a prolonged winter - lead to one result - bankruptcy for the rulers and the kingdoms are beggared in the process. It just doesn't sound right to me at all. Mate, I totally respect those archaeologists dedication to the task at hand - but digging in the snow... Mind you, it was snowing here (not seriously snowing, but it was pretty cold all the same) last year whilst I was construction the chicken enclosure. The poor power tools. I can't even begin to imagine what tools people would use in those excavations all that way up north along the wall site. Brrr!

It was quite cool here today and the skies dumped a bit over half an inch of rain with more to come. The chickens were quite content in their enclosure and were wondering what all of the fuss was about. When it first hit this morning, well let’s say I couldn't sleep through that downpour. It was almost tropical in the sheer volume that fell in only a minute or two. Today's work was a wash out, so I went into the big smoke and finally committed to a benchtop (I picked up an el-cheapo seconds benchtop). The thing looks great to me, but it did have a small scratch or two - which honestly, I really don't care about at all. I have to get a dude to cut the stone and then clean up the cut before I can bring it back here in a couple of weeks.

Anyway, yeah, the Romans were very wise to ask for woollen socks (and jumpers?)!

Ha! That is funny, but then hangers on tend to be attracted to such towns and when the cash doesn't flow back into the surrounding areas, there is always a bit of moral indignation! ;-)! The mining towns are a lot like that here. One can see some interesting sights in the back streets of outback mining towns. Not much else to do on a Saturday night and especially when they have been given a pocket full of cash. It is a bit Deadwood, really!

It is a cafe across the road from Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology University, so I know the cafe tolerably well. Part time Uni students were a dull lot and usually far older than I back in those days and never seemed up for a quiet ale and mostly seemed to want to go home after a very long day.

cont...

Cherokee Organics said...

Oh, that is interesting. I've only ever seen flat timber hand planes and they all seemed to have the same blade attachment. But of course, you used timber in your cornice. I would never have guessed that. We use plaster for the cornice, but timber for the architraves around doors and skirting boards.

Interesting to hear and of course, many families lived like paupers down here and scrimped and saved to purchase multiple rental properties. Their kids seem to be wasting the money right now...

Yeah, it is crazy as the meal itself is a meal made of scraps. A lot of food is like that. Take the bruschetta which is a way to consume slightly stale bread (or the tiramisu for that matter - stale biscuits). Alas, I'm shamed for our wasteful ways! I will look, but it will be weeks before I have to visit that supermarket again (about 6 weeks between trips). As this place gets more productive, I visit that place less - which is nice for the bank account! ;-)! You're probably correct. A lot of food things appear to come in from China via New Zealand to get around labelling laws and that is not a good thing, I don't believe.

Fair enough, it would drive me bananas too, so I feel for you. Well, once opportunities present themselves and you are aware that that is what you are looking for then... Most people rarely know what they want or can articulate goals and objectives. Ah, we're getting back to basic organisational skills.

Nice to hear about the hummingbirds. I respect helping the animals as they certainly need it. I hope plenty of the birds turn up.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Steve,

Thanks for that. Before replying further, I'll have a look into that guy and respond tomorrow. Well done for spotting the reference. It does not compare favourably at all with today does it?

15mm here today which is awesome and more to come over the next day or so.

Will speak further tomorrow after a bit of research.

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

You were quite right to pull me up on my use of the word 'evolve' in fact I had doubts about it immediately after posting. I reckon that we are eternally curious and that that pushes us on. We like to learn unless it has been kicked out of us as we grow up. Hard to verbalise what I think sometimes. Why did some cultures remain living in tune with nature while others didn't? Dare I say that war is the impetus?

Those previously mentioned egg shells. Son has finally got around to looking at them plus he is definitely losing eggs. It turns out that the culprits are crows.

Packaged bubble and squeak, unbelievable. It is just left over cooked cabbage and potato fried up with an egg on top if one has one.

Here they are selling excavated avocados packaged at an extortionate price for those who can't cope with them.

Gammage is now going to have to wait for a while. I am having (with pleasure) to read a book that has arrived from Latvia. I am just the intermediary and have to post it on to the US when I have finished it. It appears that it couldn't be sent direct to the US, goodness knows why not. It might interest Lew. It is 'The Ancient Amber Routes: travels from Riga to Byzantium'. It is the history from Neolithic times and is by Mara Kalnins. Utterly fascinating apart from her florid writing style, never one adjective when three can be inserted.

Inge

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - I think the wall was more of a symbol. Oh, duties were collected for material that flowed back and forth. But, I think a lot of it's purpose was to rough up the locals, a bit, and remind them who's boss. This year they're going to continue excavating a Decurion's apartment. He was the leader of a calvary unit. Size depended on what part of the Roman Empire time line you peer into. Roman calvary units were usually "auxillary" units. Drawn from other parts of the Empire. As time went on, that got more and more murky. Fewer and fewer rank and file came from Italy, and, more and more from other parts of the Empire, or locals.

They're also getting down to the oldest part of the vicus, the little town that always seemed to spring up outside a Roman fort. Interesting. The earliest parts are native round houses. Typical architecture for the locals. So, not Roman in aspect. But, instead of being more ... scattered, as is traditional, they're laid out in orderly fashion. Two ranks of five, back to back. Overall, they're getting down to the earliest layers of the fort, and surrounding area. Wonder if they'll find another wooden toilet seat, this year? :-).

Another thought I had about the burn barrels. I've noticed, out here in the country, that I always get this "look" when I mention that I'm going to take a load to the dump. As if I'm being wildly spendthrift. Besides the burn barrel, I guess you're supposed to have a burn pile. But, there's really no appropriate (or safe) place to have one, on my patch. I do run a lot of brush, through the barrel. But, sometimes I just load up a bunch, it's out of my way, and it only cost me $5. Of course that attitude also contributes to why there's so much ... just plain junk, piled up around here. Of course some of it, other than cost, is the idea that you might throw something useful away, that might come in handy down the road. And, some of the attitude is just plane old hoarding, I think.

So, what kind of "stone" is your counter going to be? Yeah, all the wood work in the houses here, tended to be "all wood, all the time." In the low end houses, they used fir. A little further up the economic scale, oak, walnut, or even redwood. Really grand houses had more plater work. Of course, these days, molding is more likely to be plastic. Back in the day, even the fir trim was likely to be stained or "grained" (painted to look like more expensive woods). I've got a couple of books kicking around that have the formulas and tell you how to apply paint, to look like other kinds of woods. Cont.

LewisLucanBooks said...

Cont. As far as your bench top goes, what's a few scratches? Sometimes, when I'm looking at tat, to buy, there might be a bit of damage or a flaw or two. I often ask myself "Can I live with this? Will it keep me awake at night?" :-). And, sometimes it depends on cost. I saw a nice art pottery vase, I liked. But, it had a bit of a blister, on one of the handles. Small. And, not damage, per se, but a factory flaw. But, since it had the flaw, I thought the price asked was out of line. Pass.

So, going to the Druid Cafe, will be heading back to your old stomping grounds. Maybe you'll find your lost youth, hiding under a table? :-). We'll expect a full report, on proceedings. It must be exhaustive. :-). Oh, not really. Just general ambience and "how was the food."

Well, next weeks ADR ought to be interesting. A ten year wrap up. I made a comment, and part of it was wondering if Mr. Greer had any major changes in his thinking, over that time. Reassessments or an about face on an issue. He really didn't respond to that part of my post. Not that I mind so much. How he keeps up with all the comments, I really can't imagine. Or, perhaps he wants to ruminate on it for awhile. All will be revealed, next week :-). I notice Joel will be sending out his "Into the Ruins" magazine, fairly soon. I'm looking forward to giving it a look. It ought to be good.

The hummingbird feeders got restocked. Found a bit of mold in a couple of them, so, I'll have to change them out, more frequently. Didn't seem to do the birds any harm, but still ... I generally scrub them out, all the bits I can get to with hot water and vinegar. I switched the feeders out, pretty quickly, so the hummingbirds kept at them, without missing a beat. Not too many. Maybe more when this years hatch, arrives. Saw three deer frolicking among the mules in the back pasture, this morning. The salt block draws them. Looked like a doe, and her twin fawns from last year.

My Shitake patch, threw (sprouted?) it's first mushroom, yesterday. The patch is .... interesting looking. Like a large cake gone very wrong. Think, Miss Havisham's wedding cake from Dicken's "Great Expectations." :-). It's kind of an oval that slumps a bit to one side. With a white surface like popcorn. With brown, gray and black splotches. Doesn't smell bad, at all. But, can I bring myself to eat something that sprouts from such a mess? Oh, probably. Lew

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

No worries, I understood what you meant, but that particular word has been very misused and bent out of shape and there is a section of the population that heaps the strangest of beliefs onto it. It is a bit of a shame really as the lessons arising out of the original meaning of that word have much to tell us about how humans fit into their ecosystem and about the ecosystem itself.

Absolutely, we are a curious tool using species and I enjoy that side of our nature. You reminded me of the strange watermelon like fruit that was finally dissected and eaten last week. The English language is tough to communicate complex ideas, but I reckon you summed up the concepts perfectly well. I often wonder whether all of the rote learning going on with the young is a form of that kicking?

Ha! I reckon there you are touching on the philosophical question of what is wisdom? All of the societies that have arrived more or less at an equilibrium with their environments have had to pass through a period of time (an initiation perhaps?) where they have suffered the consequences of ignoring the local biosphere, survived that experience, and then decided to treat the biosphere with a whole lot more care and respect than previously. That's wisdom, I reckon anyway... Dunno, what do you think about that?

I don't have any experience with crows, although the local magpie family are of that bird family and they seem extraordinarily clever and certainly can learn and adapt. Would the magpies steal chicken eggs if given the chance? Absolutely. How did your son deduce that the culprit was the crows?

Packaged bubble and squeak is just so very wrong...

I'm unsure what you mean by “excavated avocado” but presume that someone has cut the fruit in half and removed the stone and then somehow packaged it? Maybe? One advantage of cutting the fruit in half is that you can see the quality of the flesh inside the fruit. Just for your interest, I have two avocado fruit trees growing here. They are slow to grow and may never fruit, but I have seen trees loaded with fruit in Melbourne so thought that it might be worth a try. They can handle temperatures down to -9'C, but have to be protected from the very cold winds. Other than that they seem pretty hardy.

Wow, that would be an interesting book wouldn't it? It makes you wonder how many civilisations were tried and failed without anyone ever knowing. I mean, where did the Gilgamesh tale come from for example?

Yes, florid writing styles can be rather tiring for others to read. My gut feel tells me that the author is displaying their insecurities and rather than telling an interesting tale or connecting with the audience, they decided instead to keep the thesaurus close by and use it as much as possible, just so everyone can marvel at how clever they are. Some authors are unintelligible to me... I'm unfortunately going to be castigated (Yes! I can use big words too!) for that one!!! Hehe! Hope you found that observation to be entertaining?

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

I hadn't realised that about the wall. It is interesting to view the wall from that perspective and it makes a person consider old stories of paying the bridge troll. Certainly the local population that may have had business in the north "wilderness" were probably not happy about the tolls. For some reason, your description started me thinking about the French Foreign Legion and I'm not sure why. Perhaps a society faces a tipping point at which the local population no longer supports the foreign objectives of the government - or wishes to expose themselves to the risks of those foreign objectives? Anyway, I dunno really, but certainly there is something in that lesson of the Romans.

I'm not sure whether you are being funny with the wooden toilet seat reference, but I suspect that you are! ;-)! Well let's hope for that outcome anyway. I wonder what the current archaeologists feel about digging into those ruins and whether they ponder their own futures? Certainly, if they are getting nearer to the oldest parts of the dig, they may run out of a job. It is interesting that the vicus is neatly laid out. I'll bet some interesting activities went on there. If only those walls could talk!

Of course, that makes sense, about those "looks". It is a bit like the "looks" that the locals reserve for the many bicycle riders who descend upon the mountain range each weekend in order to pit themselves against the challenge of the mountain climb. The locals wonder at all of that waste of energy when it could be put to something useful. I'm very relaxed about the whole situation, but, well, I'm in the minority on such matters. And it probably doesn't help that the bicycle riding culture has shifted to a very aggressive culture in recent years. An uneasy truce prevails.

Back to your burn barrel though. Well, you can tell the locals that the prunings will be chipped and mulched at the tip. Hoarding is not good...

Nothing fancy. The stone is a manufactured stone and as such it isn't porous. Natural stone is a total pain. Timber is good but very expensive. Laminates are excellent too.

It is interesting that you say that about the timber, because the use of timber to line walls down under is quite rare. Way back in the day (19th century) a whole lot of craftsmen were brought in from Italy and so plaster has been the order of the day. Before that, the poor convicts were sent blind burning sea shells for the lime content... A harsh job that one, but then ship building in the middle of winter was no joke either. Cutting roads with sub standard tools was a tough school too. Now that I think about it, we live like Emperors nowadays! ;-)!

cont...

Cherokee Organics said...

Exactly, the question becomes exactly that: Can I live with that? Most of the time I try not to let the perfect become the enemy of the good. Don't the Japanese add the occasional minor imperfection as part of the manufacturing process (or a signature of true craftsmanship?) for many items as a cultural thing?

The food and coffee was very good! The conversation was lively and the crew of seven people proved to be a good and also diverse mix. One of the people even lived on a boat! Impressive stuff. After a few departures I became the oldest person there and that was an uncomfortable position and I spoke about how things used to be. Yes, I always knew that such a day would arrive. The meet ups are good and it is interesting to me that so many people are interested or concerned about things. I hope to convert some of that concern into action, but we shall see.

Yes, I noticed both of those milestones. Well done to both. I haven't made it to your comment yet and truth be told, I was reading the comments, but fell asleep on the train instead. It was warm and the seat was comfy and the carriage was gently rocking, and honestly it is really hard to keep ones eyes open during such a train trip. I'll check out your comment tonight and it is a good question which I have not seen asked before (respect!), so I'll be very interested to read the reply too.

Well the seeds will eventually mould and so who knows? The birds know their business and wouldn't eat the seeds if it were bad for them. The deer are very cheeky and of course the salt lick would be like a lure. I once saw a natural salt lick on the side of the Amazon River and it was crawling with birds and other wildlife. I wonder about salt in the future and have never had a reasonable suggestion?

Hey! The other morning on the way to the cafe, I spotted a koala, several wallabies, kangaroos, a fox, and massive stag (with only small antlers) bounced onto the road in front of me. It was feral.

Speaking of feral, that Miss Havisham's wedding cake is totally feral! Yes, those that live by the sword, die by the sword. Well, that seems mildly appropriate to that character.

And more breaking feral news! A wild weather alert has been issued and apparently by 3am, the rains are meant to thump down here. I miss the days of the slow drizzle and fog as these tropical like storms are a bit of a nuisance.

Cheers

Chris

LewisLucanBooks said...

@ Inge - Sounds like a fascinating book. I'll check and see if my library has a copy. If not, I can always get it on interlibrary loan .... probably. I read a book about the Russian amber room, a couple of years ago. Wonder if it will ever resurface? It might be in the hold of a ship, at the bottom of a Prussian harbor. Or, it might have gone up in flames along with a castle.

Hidden stuff and treasure hunts. Always a good read. I just finished a book titled "Rare Books Uncovered: True Stories of Fantastic Finds in Unlikely Places" by Rebecca Rego Barry (2015). There's an old saying: "You never know what you'll find, where." And, that's from Larry McMuurtry's book, "Cadillac Jack", which is about a book scout.

One wonders what they spray those avocados with, to keep them from turning black. Lew

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Nope. Wasn't joking about the Roman toilet seat :-). The archaeological world was in a froth, when that came to light, last year. The only known toilet seat to survive from the Roman world. Right now, they're running an exhibit at Vindolanda called something like "Wooden Objects from Vincolanda." And, of course, the seat is the jewel of the exhibit. Something about the soil at Vindolanda that preserved wood. That's why we have letters (written on wood) from soldiers asking for warm socks and wool underwear. Oh, I don't think archaeologists will ever run out of sites to explore. There's always a new villa or unknown fort popping up. And, not just in Britain. The money to excavate the sites, will run out, first.

The Amish quilt ladies also work an intentional imperfection into their quilts. With them it's a religious tenet that runs something like, only God can create perfection, so, we don't want to steal the old guys thunder. :-)

Sounds like the get together was good. Every once in awhile, I take a look at Demetri Orlov's blog (Club Orlov). He also lives on a boat. Welcome to the Old Guys Club. You're an official member, now. When you can regale the "youngsters" with tales of "the old days", you've officially arrived. :-).

Ran into Carl the pruning guy, the other night. He's getting into pruning trees that are in blossom, now, and commented on how he's not seeing many bees. I think a lot of things got knocked back, in last years drought.

I was looking at my "Two Fat Ladies" cook books last night. There was a recipe for "Bubble and Squeak." LOL. They said if you can't use lard, or beef drippings, don't bother :-). No recipe for "Toad in the Hole." But, I'm missing a book or two, of theirs. My Time Life "Cooking of the British Isles", did have a recipe for it.

Wonder what I should first make with my shitake mushrooms? Something simple, I think. Maybe rice and ... or eggs and ... Lew



orchidwallis said...

Hello again

By the time that I get here I tend to have forgotten the points that I should reply to; sometimes I make notes.

Buffer/ cushion: of course one should do that if at all possible, financially as well.

Societies that come to an accord with their environment: I don't know ( the best laid plans of man and beast gang oft awry) from memory so probably not right. There are always black swan events so I am not sure how long a small society can live in accord with its biosphere. Wisdom seems to come with age and survival against odds.

I haven't yet seen one of these prepared avocados but the picture seemed to show it sliced as well as de-stoned. Don't know whether Son saw a crow take an egg or not; they are even being taken from beneath a sitting hen.

I think that it is difficult to clarify thoughts on difficult subjects in this fashion. Much easier in face to face conversations when points can be instantly challenged. Makes me think of long intense conversational evenings when I was young.

I just checked back. I don't think that rote learning matters. What is really bad is the failure to answer children's questions or even to stop them asking any. If one doesn't know the answer one should find out for the child or admit that nobody knows. The quenching of curiosity is terrible.

Inge

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Fair enough, and I never thought for one moment that you were joking about the wooden toilet seat. I hadn't appreciated the rarity of that wooden item (or the wooden letters either). Out of curiosity, has anyone discovered the reason why the wooden letters were never sent in the first place. There certainly sounds as if there is a story there.

The Vindolanda fort map is very interesting. I noticed that the Commanders dwellings and bath were closest to the south gate, which makes a strange sort of sense. The hospital was very nicely sited in the centre of the fort and the stables were closest to the north gate. All of those soldiers and horses would have taken a lot of feeding and I guess like the archaeological digs, the money eventually ran out. Makes sense.

Images of Hadrian's wall are quite interesting too. I've never before looked at them, but as an aspiring war lord (just kidding), the first thought that popped into my head was that sooner or later a nighttime raid would be oh so easy to accomplish. I find it interesting that that wall theme is repeated in the Game of Thrones book too. The complete lack of trees anywhere within sight of the wall is most likely an intentional act, but that lack would have increased the costs for maintaining a force at the forts as well.

The other interesting thing that strikes me about the name of the Vindolanda fort is that I believed that the Latin word Vin refers to Grapes? Dunno, but perhaps there is something interesting in there? Oh, I can see. The Latin use of Vin in this instance is perhaps a threat to the wild Northern tribes: I come - meaning perhaps they are taking the initiative.

The Amish goal to potentially not to annoy the Old Guy seems like a wise move! Good for them and one can never be too careful. I ended up putting an electric drill into my finger today, so may have to reconsider the notion of careful. Ouch.

The guy seemed quite switched on and was keen to reduce his expenditure wherever possible. I respect people being financially tight. He was saying that his mooring fees which include electricity and water were in the order of about $3,800 a year, which relatively speaking is a bargain. I'm impressed.

cont...

Cherokee Organics said...

Yeah, I hear you man (where is my membership card?). So, do you ever regale your audience with "war stories" at the meetings or are their stories bad enough that there is no need to do so? The thing that troubled me was that I'd share the story - and I reckon tell an OK story and don't go overly long - and then BAM! it looked as though I'd punched them. You see down here the thing is that people down here only a few years younger than me have never known a day of decline and I struggle to communicate the difference. Do you have any suggestions? Or should I just leave fate to wend her mysterious ways? Speaking of old dudes (and I do hope that I grow old disgracefully, in a nice and socially acceptable way of course) I managed to score a copy of Walk in the Woods and am seriously looking forward to freeing up some time to check it out.

Yeah, the bees need water, no doubts about it. Fortunately, both you and I will have native bee populations which are probably quite well adapted to the wacky climates that we live in. Will they be as productive as European honey bees? Maybe, maybe not. The fruit trees here produced fruit before I introduced European bees into the system.

Haha! Those cheeky ladies. Yes, the fun old days of a cup of lard in the refrigerator. Oh, the chips that stuff used to cook. Yum. I pretty much only use a small quantity of butter and mostly olive oil nowadays (there are a lot of olive trees here).

Exactly, the shitake mushrooms go very well with Asian food. Ah, grasshopper, one must understand the way of the pho!!! Hehe! Apologies... How good was Kung Fu? I grew up on that show.

There was no way I could sleep through last nights storm. It was almost as if someone had installed an electronic strobe in the bedroom which flashed every couple of seconds. When the rain eventually hit it dumped 1/5th of an inch in about a minute and I had to go outside in the middle of the night and clear the gunk out of the water tank filters. No system that I've heard of can cope with such a huge volume of water in a short period of time. After only a few minutes of that, I was freezing cold...

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Well, we do travel far and wide in the comments here! Honestly, I make notes too and if either the editor or I conjure up a silly idea, we really do write it down. Tomorrow's blog is a current pop culture reference which should annoy a whole bunch of people! ;-)! Who has a perfect memory anyway? I believe that we are a better species for that lack.

Exactly, I often advise people to maintain a solid buffer, but most people want to spend everything and then some. That troubles me as I see here in this environment particularly that infrastructure has to be invested in and maintained and a buffer needs to be kept. It is a difficult concept for people to understand and I raised the question at the meetup yesterday - and got no reply - as to how comfortable people would be with the construction of a new brown coal power station in the state? Many of the larger coal fired power stations are not being replaced and it is not as if they don't have a finite lifespan.

Yes, yes and yes. An old friend tells me that the only people that know there limits are those that have fallen off the cliff and had to climb back. Wise words. Oh yeah, I worry about the Black Swan here too, no doubts about that one, as it is only a matter of time. Exactly, wisdom is hard won and also very hard to share. I wonder about that and I'd be interested in your opinion. My gut feel is that wisdom has to be hard wired into the rituals that guide a societies behaviour before they can be passed on. And some flexibility has to be built into that structure to adapt to unforeseen events. Dunno, but I do wonder about that issue?

I have never seen an avocado for sale cut in half. At the Queen Victoria Market the sellers often cut a fruit in half for display purposes but I actively look for the smaller green (i.e. any black on the skin of the fruit indicates that it is over ripe) and oddly shaped fruit. It seems to work so far.

Wow, those crows are a whole lot smarter than I would have guessed. Broody chickens don't generally put up a fight for their eggs, although one of mine called "fluffy head" who is near to the top of the pecking order, tries to take chunks of skin off my hand when I'm collecting eggs from underneath her.

Yes, I agree, people tend not to discuss matters of importance these days. There does seem to be a certain learned fear about not wanting to rock the boat.

Discouraging curiosity is a terrible act of destruction. Curiosity, I reckon can be re-learned though. What do you believe about that statement?

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Steve,

I finally tracked down a reference: "Noted explorer and geologist Sir Paul Edmund Strzelecki recorded levels of organic matter in farmed soils in the 1840s as high as 37.75%". That is an extraordinary number and even if he was incorrect by a solid order of magnitude it is still far higher than today which I believe barely reaches 1%.

Incidentally, the first very large wild fire recorded in Victoria's history was in 1851 (a mere 17 years after white settlement) and we had mismanaged the landscape so badly that near on a quarter of the entire state burned that day. And we continue to do so despite numerous Royal Commissions etc.

The book that Sir Paul Edmund Strzelecki wrote is Physical Description of NSW and VDL (Van Diemens Land or now known as the island state of Tasmania) [1845]. Honestly, that one is a State Library resource and not for the likes of I. Should you so choose to accept this mission your task shall be to...

I can accept the claims at face value as the source appears to be credible.

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

@ Lew

I have been trying to find a Toad in the hole recipe, it was surprisingly difficult. Here follows the bare bones, if you need more I can put it up in detail. The batter is a pancake recipe (I seem to think that you make pancakes). Sausages should be skinless ones. My mother always used belly pork instead and it is better. Sausages should be heated in the fat for 5 mins before adding the batter. Oven should be very hot 500F for 10 mins then 425F for 30 mins or until batter is well cooked.

Inge

LewisLucanBooks said...

@ Inge - Yup. I keep notes, too. The little library hold slips are ideal. They also make great book marks and shopping lists! Thanks for the tips for Toad in a Hole. The recipe I found was really a bit vague on what kind of sausage. Skinless! Got it. They sound a bit like "Pigs in a Blanket," in which sausages are wrapped in a puff pastry, and then baked. Sometimes with a bit of cheese, inside. Or, "Corn Dogs." Sausages that are dipped in batter and then deep fried. I dislike deep frying, anything. The mess. Well, it all sounds pretty heart stopping (both literal and figurative), but, for the occasional treat, why not? :-)

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - The Romans kept copies ... of everything :-). And, they used scribes ... to make all those copies. Even literate people. The birthday greeting, from one fort commanders wife to another, that was found, has a short note jotted at the bottom, in her own hand. Sometimes considered the earliest bit of hand writing, by a woman, in Europe. Down in Egypt, they found a tax exempt form, with "Make it so," across the bottom. May be a bit of writing, by Cleopatra.

Most Roman forts had a standard template, that was followed. Usually, the commander's digs were plopped down, right in the middle. Of course, at Vindolanda, there were "levels" 4? 9? and things probably got moved around, a bit. As far as the commander and baths being at the south end, Solar Man :-), maybe because it was warmer, in those Northern climes? Or, the light was better? Some sections of the wall had ditches and stakes, for added protection.

Ouch! Drill to the finger. Not good. Hope you doused it down good with some hydro peroxide. Or, honey? Yeah, I gave a finger a slash, the other day, with a box cutter or "safety" razor. Not too bad. But, it's so irritating. You have to stop whatever mad task you're involved in, clean it up, wait around for it to clot. And, when you finally get back to the job, the darn thing's likely to break open, again. Wash, rinse, repeat :-).

Well, if the kiddies looked gob smacked, you must have made some impression. But, it's all out of you're control Most will go on to make a mistake, reflect that "Yeah, this is exactly what the old guy was talking about." In my mob, people's stories are sometimes referred to as "Drunk-a, Drug-alogues." :-). Each meeting has a topic, either something advanced by a member. Or, if everyone clams up, there's usually a daily meditation that can be a take off point. Except if it's a First Step meeting. First Step: "We admitted we were powerless over alcohol, and our lives had become unmanageable." A First Step meeting is called, if someone shows up for their first meeting ever, or, their first meeting since their last drink. In the old days, they called these newbies "Pigeons." :-).

So, the format is, we tell our stories. What it was like, what happened, and what we are like now. In 3-5 minutes :-). Sometimes people get a little tired of First Step meetings, as they can get bit thick upon the ground. Luck of the draw. So, I usually kick off my riff by stating that I like First Step meetings, because I tend to forget the grim little details of what it was like. Also, there's a lot of verbal lore that floats around these meetings, and one tends to forget. One I heard the other day that I hadn't thought about in awhile was "Having a resentment (being angry with) another person is like taking poison and expecting the other person to die." :-).

Cont.

LewisLucanBooks said...

Growing old disgracefully is an art, not a science :-). I think it was in the ADR comments, this week, someone mentioned "social suicide" which I've been reflecting on. I've been ruminating on that, a bit, and trying to figure out where it fits in the conversation. I guess here is as good a place as any :-). And, might be something worth bringing up with "the kids." That the path of the Green Wizard can be a tough one, as far as societal acceptance, goes. But, usually, the people who give you "a raft of ....." Aren't really people who's opinions you much take into account, anyway. Hopefully. Societal pressure to be a good little consumer and acquire a lot of debt.

Yes, we had a similar rain storm, last week. Only lasted about 20 minutes, but, boy, did it come down. At least it was at night and I didn't have to go out and deal with the chickens or dog. Cliff Mass in his weather blog sounded a bit sad, that for the next three months, are weather is supposed to be pretty run of the mill, normal. he admits he thrives on the unusual. But, he didn't really elaborate on what "normal" is. Lew

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Final afterthought (I promise! Dang! I'm going to use up the Internet.) We tell our stories, for a reason. The addictive brain suffers from "terminal uniqueness". More of that oral lore. A newcomer feels like no one understands them, or, have a clue of what their lives are like. Hopefully, in a First Step meeting, a connection is made. Over and over, I hear people who have made it into recovery say "They were telling my (or, parts of) story." And, they're sober, for varying amounts of time. These people cannot conceive of not "picking up" (whatever) for a day, let alone a week or month.

Lots of other things happen in early Recovery. I remember the first time some one cracked a funny in a meeting and everyone laughed. At that point, I never thought I'd laugh again. I think (hope) it's pretty clear that I've got a pretty good (if not dry) sense of humor. And, I spend a lot of time, these days, laughing, usually at myself. We are a rather self depreciating mob. Lew