Little Talks

The sun dipped below the horizon. The sky near to the horizon has a really weird and ominous pink hue. And air near to the horizon looks seriously dirty. Above the pink hued dirtiness, where the previous summer clear bright blue sky only recently dominated, there is now a washed out duck egg blue colour. Who can forget the days when the colour: ‘duck egg blue’, was fashionable? In those days, you’d see cars driving around the roads with that lame colour. And no disrespect to the folks who bought the cars, but the choice raises the question: What kind of story do you have to tell yourself to purchase a car that is such a lame colour?

You rarely if ever see such coloured cars nowadays. I’m sure that there are a few quirky folks lovingly maintaining their duck egg blue cars of yore. And I have no doubts that if the machines have survived this many long years, they’ll probably continue to offend all of us with their drab colour palette for many more years to come.

And that was when realisation hit me – hard. The desk on which I’m happily typing away, has a small mountain of electrolytic capacitors in separate zip lock plastic bags. Here I have to fess up to all of the thousands of lovely readers of this blog, that I have absolutely no idea what an electrolytic capacitor is, or even does. All I know is that the super trusty and very high quality early 1990’s Kenwood FM tuner needs plenty of those devices replaced before I can actually use the machine again. Whilst I don’t know what the parts do, I do however know how to perform the repairs.

It’s been a bit quiet in the household of late. I dare not switch the Kenwood machine on, and listen to the tunes from the national youth broadcaster – Triple J. Some of the components on the circuit board of the tuner, way deep inside the guts of the Kenwood machine, have strange white crystals oozing out of their innards. And when the machine is put to work, they kind of smell a bit odd too. A strange sort of ozone stink. It’s probably not a good sign.

Anyway, the realisation hit me that I’ve become one of those geeks, like the great keepers of the boring duck egg blue cars of yore! Somehow, I’m also keeping older technology alive and kicking hard. The music and the artists which produce it, demand such respect! But maybe I’m old school enough that listening to flat sounding compressed music over computer speakers doesn’t quite cut the mustard.

Yeah, boring old duck egg blue cars being kept alive by enthusiasts. Fancy that. Anyway, my point of differentiation with them is that the Kenwood FM tuner has black writing on a black background – and how cool is that?

Most people don’t bother keeping older technology going. When it breaks, chuck it out, is the learned lesson these days. And such reactions make the ecologically sensitive person quail in fright. It needn’t be that way. When I was a wee little kid I’d heard adults seriously suggesting to re-use, repair, and only ever lastly recycle. Somehow that story disappeared, and it makes you wonder where it went? The preference these days is to recycle first, worry about the details later. But my gut feeling suggests that plenty of stuff intended for recycling, ends up in landfill or accidental industrial fires at storage facilities.

It’s kind of funny, but much of our current problems stem from the stories we are told.

Speaking of stories, recently I’d re-read, for maybe the third or fourth time, a collection of four books penned by my favourite author, the now deceased, Jack Vance. The four books were the collected: Tales of the Dying Earth. The stories are set way off into an imaginary future where: ‘it was a dim place, ancient beyond knowledge’. There were no duck egg blue summer skies in those imagined futures. The sun was going dark. The fictional dwindling red sun of that far distant future meekly fills a dark blue sky, and magic and science mean the same thing. Apparently a few thousand strange human souls yet still live at that time, and according to the books blurb: ‘There is evil on Earth, evil distilled by time’.

It was a great read, but what struck me was that the throughout the four books, the author continually imagined and then went on to describe new and highly localised micro societies in which the anti-hero/s of the story existed. Some of those micro societies were very occasionally even, off planet. In fact, the sheer variety of micro societies imagined was quite astounding. And often they were introduced in a very casual or off handed way as if it were nothing special or out of the ordinary. For example there was the brief excursion to the planet Jangk, where a disgruntled human wanted to wreak revenge upon the Archveult’s who had done the character a great wrong in the far past.

Just for this one minor example, the description of the fictional planet Jangk read: “Guarding themselves against the poisonous air, the magicians descended the marble steps and walked out on the bluff, where an inspiring vista spread before them. Monstrous Kerkaju (the local star) bulged across the green sky, every pore and flocculation distinct, its simulacrum mirrored in the Quicksilver Ocean. Directly below, at the base of the bluff, quicksilver puddled and trickled across flats of black hornblende; here the Jangk ‘Dragoons’ – purple pansy-shaped creatures six feet in diameter – grazed on tufts of moss. Somewhat to the east, the town of Kaleshe descended in terraces to the shore.”

Such a description represents a descriptive narrative that is utterly alien to my senses, and yet the four books are full of such places and descriptions. This story was commenced in 1950.

A few years ago now, I stopped reading newer science fiction books. There was a sort of horrid, but repetitive narrative to many of the books which I read. The narrative was that technology will save the human race, or artificial intelligence would, or even in one case a ‘singularity’ came to the rescue, whatever that is. There was always this need for rescue, after numerous boring repetitions of that narrative, I’d begun to wonder if the current authors couldn’t simply instead just tell a good story. By way of comparison, in the much older Jack Vance books, the characters lived or died by their wits alone – they weren’t saved by anyone, other than themselves.

The contrast between the two not-all-that-far-apart eras of science fiction writing is just so great, that I can’t but help think to myself that something in our society has shifted and the shift is being reflected in the literature.

Such a shift doesn’t necessarily surprise me, because I mean after all I hear serious people suggesting as a plausible narrative that renewable energy systems such as solar photovoltaic systems, can and will replace fossil fuel energy systems. Maybe this outcome is what was meant by the ‘singularity’ which saved humanity?

Such claims defy my imagination because after all, I have lived day to day with renewable energy systems for over a dozen years now, and they’re good. However, they’re just not as good as fossil fuel energy systems. And in a time of decline, so many things are like that nowadays, that it makes me feel very uncomfortable whenever serious people talking such wild nonsense. But then I think to myself about what happened to the re-use and repair narrative which is rarely heard these days. And maybe we should reattempt those two options, even if the thing being preserved is duck egg blue coloured.

The growing season so far has been cold and wet. I’ve heard growing days described as days where the air temperature exceeds 30’C / 86’F. The farm passed the official start to summer, and we’ve experienced one growing day this season. It’s an impressive effort. Anyway, not to worry, the other day a tropical storm dumped half an inch of rain over the farm in only a matter of minutes. There was even some hail during the storm, as captured in the next two images:

Hail from a tropical downpour falls over the farm
Half an inch of rain and hail fell in only a few minutes

After the tropical downpour, the weather forecast promised three cooler days in a row. The decision was made to excavate a flat spot immediately below the new machinery shed for the many water tanks that will be relocated there.

After the first day of work, the flat land emerges from the hilly slope

After a days work, we’d cut a 52ft by 7ft wide site below the new machinery shed. All of the work was done by hand, and by the end of that day we were both exhausted.

However, we’d inadvertently made the site slightly wider than we’d originally intended – and then promptly run out of soil. That was when we looked over, and into the orchard to consider the two mounds which had been smooshed up (the technical expression) a few weeks ago when I’d had access to the loader / digger machine.

All of the soil from the two mounds were laboriously carted over to the new flat site

All of the soil from the two mounds were laboriously carted over to the new flat site. That was another long days work. But at the end of the day, the flat site was looking, err, flat.

The water tank site is now looking very flat

In order to protect the flat site from washing away should say another tropical downpour become heavier than the most recent incidence, we added a surface layer of crushed rock with lime.

The excavated site is now ready to take the many water tanks

And the area where the now smooshed mounds used to be, ended up looking like a total dead zone. In order to bring the dead zone back to life – like Frankenstein was brought back to life – we added a couple of wheelbarrow loads of coffee grounds mixed with agricultural lime. Unfortunately the Frankenstein like dead zone could not be brought to life using the traditional electricity method – the off grid solar system could not generate enough power. And on top of that heady soil mix, was added several bags of coffee husks. To top it all off, four large wheelbarrow loads of litter from the chickens run were added. I expect that in no time at all, the grass will be growing strongly in that locale.

Ollie is obsessive about chicken manure. Yum!

The wet and tropical weather (despite being on the cooler side) has brought out the tree frogs:

A very wet looking Southern Brown Tree Frog hunts insects attracted to the house lights

During the day there are a huge amount of flying insects. Sometimes you accidentally breathe them in. Always a mildly yukky experience!

A very attractive moth clings to the lamp post

Onto the flowers:

It’s Rhodie time!
Geraniums are also enjoying the climate and soil
Succulents are growing really well this season
It doesn’t get more colourful than this succulent!

The temperature outside now at about 10.00am is 18’C (65’F). So far this year there has been 1,176.8mm (46.3 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 1,165.2mm (45.9 inches)