Life in a Dol house
2018 - Week 05

Just a small rats nest

Blogs by their nature tend to be historical records. 

For one thing, the events written about happened before being published and the blog consumers will read about the events some time afterwards. 

I know of one Dol House reader who having discovered the blog, is reading one or two back issues each week. 

At two a week, this will take 80 weeks!

But for once, as I write this on a Saturday afternoon, the event has only just happened - a magnitude 4.4 earthquake centred just 30 kilometres away to the north east, in the Brać channel. So recent that it has not yet appeared on any online news outlets, but the various earthquake monitoring websites, like the USGS and the University of Zagreb seismological department are reporting it.

It began as a slight tremor, rapidly escalating to a strong vibration which made doors and windows rattle and dust fell from the cracks between the ceiling boards.

 After no more than three seconds, the main tremor passed and the vibration subsided to nothing. I felt at least one aftershock.

Checking round the house, I can't see any damage. There are no cracks in the walls and all the doors still fit. 

There is an active fault which runs east-west under the sea bed in the channel between the mainland and Brać . 

I wrote about the last earthquake I felt here in my blog, on 10th December 2016. I also covered the issue of earthquakes and our local tectonics on the 5th November 2016.

The biggest lunar event of the year went unseen here in Dol. 

We had 7/8 cloud cover and it was not until long after the end of the lunar eclipse on Wednesday, that the clouds cleared enough to see the moon. 

There were a lot of good pictures on the internet though.

This is the first edition of the blog that has been written from my new study.

Although I have had the furniture in for a while and have been using the room, I had not until this week moved the computers and peripherals across from the dining room - where they had been since early last year.​

What I thought would be quite a quick job at the start of the week, rapidly expanded to take much more time.

I had not realised just how dusty the dining room had become. What with the smoke and smuts from the leaky wood stove chimney, and the sand being brought in on the soles of shoes, every time I cross the courtyard, even though I have a coconut matt outside the door, then there are the cats paws - they resist my exhalations to "wipe your paws" - everything had got quite dusty.

Dust and computers do not mix, so I took the opportunity to do a good spring clean of every cable and connector, before moving it all. 

The pile of wiring resembled a veritable rats nest. 

​There was a small upgrade to do to the computer to do as well. 

But with everything clean and shiny again, and all the wiring stowed as neatly as I could manage with wire tidies, I turned the system on, on Wednesday and it all worked.

​So this is where I create the weekly notes for the blog, save and upload the photographs and do other work.

The wood stove was becoming smoky again by mid week, 

so I dismantled the chimney inside the dining room, and opened the access hatch I had fabricated in the outside chimney flue to clear out the accumulated carbon.

​There was quite a lot, especially in the narrow flues of the air radiator and at the collar when the top of the stove joins the flue pipe.

​Once cleaned, the chimney flue again had a good draught. 

A major part of the problem is that because of the sheltered nature of the location and the almost constant evening katabatic wind, there is little draught or "pull" in the chimney flue. 

This in turn means that carbon is not evacuated out of the top and so clings on the sides, reducing the draught even further.

​I am still trying to get a local company to weld up a frame for me, to take the chimney extractor fan I bought just after Christmas. 

As we are quickly approaching the end of the need for central heating, I am now wondering if it is worth getting it done at all? 

With good luck and a fair wind, by next winter I might have a proper chimney, so will not need a temporary frame to mount the extractor fan onto.

​On Thursday morning I had a site meeting with the builder and architect to finalise the planning for the next phase of building work. 

This should start around the end of February or early March, so I have quite a bit to do to get ready for the next phase of work.

I've continued to reorganise the workshop, to take more packing boxes from my big store and one job I want to do fairly soon is to use my store of cardboard, to suppress the weeds in the top orchard.

The workshop has a fairly small footprint anyway, which means that there is not enough room to work with lengths of timber, so I end up working outside.​

In doing some hand weeding this week, I discovered that my blue Iris Reticulata were in flower.

This is one of my indicator species in my Springwatch calendar, and looking back at last year, it is in flower a full 26 days earlier than 2017. 

But then we have had a very mild winter, with just two slight night frosts in mid December.

My Hyacinths are at their best this week, in flower everywhere.

Each year I intend to dig up the odd plantings, to centralise them in a drift under the big Mandarin tree, and each summer, I forget where they all are, so only a few actually get moved - but may be this year...

Lots of things are early. I have a rather nice deep red insect that likes my Daylilly plants, Hemerocalis.

Another indicator species, they are out and about, and mating 24 days earlier than last year.

​My neighbour Steve spotted this marching column of Pine Processionary moth caterpillars, moving to where they will burrow and pupate, emerging as moths in the later summer.

​According to online resources, these are also a month early, usually leaving their nest in mid March.

A look at my weather station data for the past four winters shows that January weekly minimum temperature has been warmer across the month than previous years.

​And although we have had the fewest rainy days, the total amount of rainfall is slightly up on last year, but way below the running average.

But it is impossible to say with just 4 year's worth of data what the trend is.

However with non prototypical weather around the globe, climate change is probably as good a reason as any.

Next week looks like being another wet week, but there are only a few more weeks of the annual rainfall cycle left to fill the cisterns, before the hot and dry half of the year starts here.