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Monday, 24 February 2020 Dereel → Geelong → Dereel Images for 24 February 2020
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More grid power outages
Topic: general, opinion Link here

Multiple short grid power failures this morning between 1:53:55 and 1:56:28. For once there were longer outages, one of nearly 2 minutes. That's also my horror scenario: if the power goes out at that time of the morning and stays out for any length of time, I won't find out until we have completely lost all power. Hopefully it won't happen too often.


Garden flowers in late summer
Topic: gardening, opinion Link here

Summer's nearly over, though you wouldn't know it. Time for the monthly garden photos. The strangest thing is how unusual this summer has been. While further north and east there have been record droughts and bushfires, here it has been comparatively cool and wet. For the first time I can remember the grass is green at the end of summer. Here a comparison from a couple of days ago and the same time last year:


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I've been spending a lot of time attending to irrigation and fertilization, and it may have paid off. Some of the plants that seemed to be dying have now stabilized, such as this rosemary bush and the Coleonema pulchellum:

 
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Clearly most of the rosemary is dead, but the part that's alive is now flowering. Hopefully it will recover.

Other things that seem to be doing well are the Box Elder and the birch:

 
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The Box Elder is still tiny, but the autumn look is gone from its leaves, as it was from the birch. And we even have another volunteer birch on the other side of the house:

 
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The pepper tree that we transplanted a couple of months ago continues to improve:

 
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And the Paulownia kawakamii, though not enormous, is at least looking healthy:

 
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And the curry tree now looks almost normal:

 
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The Hibiscus rosa-sinensis “Uncle Max” that I planted outside is now looking much better than in the spring:

 
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Hopefully it won't suffer as much in the coming winter.

One herb I certainly don't need to worry about is the Epazote. It has completely taken over the herb garden, and I probably now have enough of it for the rest of my life:

 
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Looking at the way it's seeding, though, I don't think I've seen the last of it. It has completely taken over the thyme next to it:

 
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On the other hand, there are still causes for concern. My last Buddleja suddenly looks sick again:

 
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I've been trying for nearly 5 years to build a hedge of the things, based on their behaviour in Kleins Road: plant a twig and watch it grow. But here it seems a real problem. Out and spread about 1 kg of fertilizer in the area, in the process noting:


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Why are there those brown patches under the bush? They're nowhere else. Is that an indication of some soil problem, or the Buddleja drying out the soil? The second photo might suggest that: the irrigation repairs that I made three weeks ago don't seem to have been very reliable. OK, fix that, water in, hope that the thing survives.

And then there are strangenesses like this Persicaria odorata (daun laksa, Vietnamese mint, ...):

 
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It's not dead, but why has it died out in the middle? Again, it's a thing that normally grows like a weed.

There's a rather different issue in play with this Pelargonium:

 
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Clearly it needs trimming back, but how? Would it be easier to replant some cuttings?

Then there are some volunteers, such as these:

 
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What are they? They look like they could be Mirabilis jalapa or Valerian, both of which self-seed furiously. I hope they're the former.

And I've noted this one before:

 
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It looks like some kind of Solanum, and I can't make up my mind whether I like it. The flowers point down, so there's not much to be seen. But for this year, there's nothing to replace it.

The Strelitzia nicolai hasn't quite finished flowering:

 
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But the tomatoes are still waiting. They're growing well, but nearly all the fruit are still green:

 
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This time last year we had been harvesting them for weeks.


To Geelong again
Topic: health, food and drink, opinion Link here

To Geelong today for my six-monthly periodontal checkup, which was uneventful.

Then to Belmont to the Gourmet Asian Grocery (which, as occurred to me, can be abbreviated “GAG”). In the past I have spent a lot of money there, but today there was little to be had. I no longer need the Chung Hing dofu puffs, since they're now available in Ballarat. The same may apply to pork and fish balls, but I had planned to buy some here anyway—only they were out of stock. So I ended up only with some curry laksa paste, not as much as I had planned, but as much as they had, and some prawn paste.

Then looking for cheese. It's not easy in Australia: you can buy dozens of varieties of Cheddar and “Tasty”, but try finding a Swiss cheese. Gruyère is available, but you have to be careful that it's really Gruyère and not some copy made in Tasmania. I suppose that the same applies to Emmental, but I wasn't looking for that.

A search on Google led me to Geelong Fresh Foods, a “Gormet food store based in Geelong”, so found my way there and took a look.


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This is their complete cheese section:

 
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Yes, they had a superbe Gruyère, which didn't look too bad, so I took some. But that was the lot. The blank stare that I got when I asked for Appenzeller was enough. It's a pity, because the place looked good—strange that I didn't take any photos—but it's not a place to look for unusual ingredients. I suppose the next thing is to investigate online sales. It seems that some send cheese in ice packs with overnight delivery, which might be worth the effort.


Tuesday, 25 February 2020 Dereel Images for 25 February 2020
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Catching up
Topic: general Link here

Somehow the last few days have been busy. I tend to measure “busyness” by the time at which I commit yesterday's diary entry. Yesterday and on Saturday I didn't manage at all: instead on Sunday and today I wrote up for two days.


What lens for E-PM2?
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

I've been carrying a small camera with me in my handbag since I got my first digital camera in June 1998. Initially I didn't get much choice of lens: the cameras all had non-interchangeable lenses. That changed three years ago when I received the Olympus E-PM1. It's small, but bigger than the previous cameras, so it was a logical idea to use the smallest possible lens. And that's prime.

But what focal length? Back in the SLR days, SLRs had 50 mm standard lenses, and cheaper cameras had 45 mm lenses. Some even (scorn upon them!) had 40 mm lenses. Mine is longer than yours!

It took me a while to realize that SLRs used 50 mm lenses rather than 45 mm lenses for two reasons: first, Leica used 50 mm standard lenses, and secondly it was much easier to design them than 45 mm lenses, due to the now-obsolete mirror box.

With some consideration, I decided to use the Panasonic Lumix 20 mm f/1.7 lens that I got a couple of weeks later. It's small, has a wide aperture and wider field of view than the “standard” lens of the olden days.

But is it wide enough? The standard kit zooms that come with all Micro Four Thirds cameras have a focal length range of 14 to 42 mm. 20 mm is nowhere near as wide, and yesterday I noticed it while taking my photos in Geelong. It's also worth noting that most mobile phones have lenses that correspond to about 28 to 30 mm “full frame” equivalent; that makes the Lumix decidedly on the long side.

I have other choices, of course: the obvious one is the M.Zuiko Digital ED 14-42 mm f/3.5-5.6 EZ, which is even smaller—but the aperture is between 4 and 8 times smaller. Or I could use the Leica DG Summilux 15 mm f/1.7 ASPH., which is wider, has the same aperture—but is nearly twice the size! I suppose I should try both alternatives for a while.


This page contains (roughly) yesterday's and today's entries. I have a horror of reverse chronological documents, so all my diary entries are chronological. This page normally contains the last two days, but if I fall behind it may contain more. You can find older entries in the archive. Note that I often update a diary entry a day or two after I write it.     Do you have a comment about something I have written? This is a diary, not a “blog”, and there is deliberately no provision for directly adding comments. It's also not a vehicle for third-party content. But I welcome feedback and try to reply to all messages I receive. See the diary overview for more details. If you do send me a message relating to something I have written, please indicate whether you'd prefer me not to mention your name. Otherwise I'll assume that it's OK to do so.


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