Not Sustainable

As a bit of a confession, I regularly read the real estate section of the weekend newspaper. I am a bit guilty reading it because it feels like having a dirty little secret. Anyway, it is no longer a secret, because I’ve just shared it with all of the nice people that read the blog. Ah, an unburdening of secrets, that feels better. 🙂

Real estate is a bit of a spectator sport down here, and I read the real estate section because I like to keep a watch upon economic trends, and also because I’m occasionally expected to make intelligent remarks upon such things. Not that I really know anything at all about the subject. Anyway, I feel that money is a strange beast and a case can be made that it isn’t worth what it once was.

The editor and I have lost money on a house in the dark past, and that is despite putting blood, sweat and equity into the building and property. And I mean blood in the most literal sense, as I recall one exhausted Saturday afternoon when I put the blade of the angle grinder through part of my finger whilst on the underside of the house. I was quite surprised to see that a lot of blood spurted onto the structural timbers of the house, and a smarty pants might suggest that I had made my mark! Certainly it will leave a mystery for any future forensic teams investigating the decades old blood stains. Fortunately I was young, the cut was not deep (and had in part been cauterized by the angle grinder blade) and I healed remarkably quickly.

Despite the shedding of the blood, we lost money on that house.

I wonder where the money that we lost on that house actually went? I guess suppliers of the materials we put into the house enjoyed some of the money. A couple of tradesman also benefited from our expenditures. Also we spent some money on tools, such as the angle grinder which cut into my finger, so the suppliers of those tools did well too. The bank even got repaid for their loan after we realised the loss. So I guess the only real losers were the editor and I.

It is a curious thing about money in that it can be created out of thin air, but it can also disappear, as we discovered all those years ago and much to our unhappiness.

Governments can create money apparently out of thin air. It is a neat trick being able to create money, and I’d certainly enjoy that perquisite. Although, I’m not sure what I’d do with the sudden access to huge volumes of money, but I reckon I’d think of something. I might even ditch this place on the side of a mountain so as to purchase a nice chunk of flat fertile land. Flat land is good. Flat, fertile land is even better. With a dam (pond). And a tractor.

Sometimes governments create too much money which they use to pay for their day to day expenditures. That action causes prices to go up because suddenly there is more money sloshing around the population being used to pay for the same amount of things. Everyone tries to use their money to buy some stuff, and because everyone has lots more money, they offer to pay more – and the prices go up, sometimes quite a lot. That appears to have happened recently in Venezuela. Fancy taking a holiday in Venezuela anyone? I didn’t think so. If you are interested, here is an article about what has recently happened there: Can Venezuela halt hyperinflation?

One of the photos in the linked article about Venezuela shows the stack of bank notes required to purchase a chicken. And the stack of notes is bigger than the chicken by a considerable margin.  It is an impressive effort, and it also tells me that at times chickens are worth more than paper.

I’ve often wondered whether systems that can create money every year, sometimes don’t also have to then sometimes ‘disappear money’. I had money disappear when I sold the house at a loss. The money was just gone and nobody appears to have benefited from me losing the money. It was simply gone and losing the money made me feel sad. Fortunately the editor and I were young, were willing to learn from our mistakes, and so we were able to move on and try something else.

Houses as a spectator sport. Yes, the median house price (median referring to the middle price) for Melbourne was recently quoted as $720,433. That amount of money sure is a big stack of notes, and from my recollection of the not too distant past, it wasn’t always that way, by a long shot. In fact if house prices had risen as rapidly way back in the day when we sold that house at a loss, well, we possibly wouldn’t have made a loss on the sale of the house.

With all of those rising house prices, it is hardly surprising that my house insurance bill has been increasing too. It only makes sense really, houses cost more, so insurance coverage has to cost more too. Math is not really my area, but a smarter person than I am once told me that if a price increases by 7% per year for ten years, by the end of that decade, the price would have doubled. Far out, but my house insurance has increased on average by 12.8% per year for the past six years and whilst it hasn’t quite doubled in cost during that time, it is very close to doing that.

Venturing into the deep and heady waters of mathematics (plus I got the editor who is very good at math, to review my calculations!) I reckon if the rate of increase keeps continuing at the present rate, well, let’s just say that by 2028 my house insurance bill will be epic. I note that incomes aren’t increasing at the same exponential rate as these costs. And without insurance, if you are faced with a natural disaster such as extreme weather or a major fire, what response should you consider taking? And even more importantly, can you afford to rebuild following that disaster?

Earlier in the week the weather was superb. The early spring days were glorious and the sun shone benignly in deep blue skies. Such weather is perfect for concreting.

The new concrete staircase leading up from the corn / strawberry terrace is now complete. The penultimate step was poured earlier in the week:

The penultimate step was poured for the new staircase leading up from the corn / strawberry terrace

Then, in a fit of delight at such nice weather, we poured the final step on that staircase:

The author stands proudly at the top of the new staircase – and the site of a new terrace to be dug sometime next year

We’ve also been continuing construction of the new shed on the blackberry terrace which sits immediately below the terrace upon which the new stair case is constructed. It can be hard to get an idea as to where all of this stuff is going on but here is a photo looking up from the terrace below those two (the potato terrace):

Looking up from the potato terrace towards the blackberry terrace and new shed

Observant readers will note that the new shed which is under construction, now has more timber posts than it did last week. We cemented into the ground an addition five timber posts for the new shed. There is real beauty in the symmetry of construction and to me it is akin to enjoying a taste of the cake batter before the cake gets chucked into the oven!

Toothy supervises the addition of five new timber posts for the shed which is under construction

I love scrounging for materials for these projects. Over the weekend I travelled into a nearby housing estate to pick up a second hand (but never used) window for the shed. I don’t usually visit housing estates, but I did note that the some of the houses were larger than I’d expect given the land size. The land size appears to have shrunk and it was rare to spot a house that had enough land to sport a backyard, let alone a vegetable patch or some fruit trees. I reckon that is another form of inflation. Landflation!

We also picked up the timber for the shed frame and roof at a nearby timber yard. The timber was interesting as we picked termite treated laminated beams (the fancy way of describing a length of timber made up of glued together chunks of timber sort of like plywood). They’re a blue colour which is quite disturbing, but perhaps even more disturbing for the termites.

Looking down from inside the corn enclosure you can see that the timber rails and window were installed on the new shed

I have also been trialling a more reliable pressure switch for the garden water pumps. The garden water pumps are really good when they work, but over the years I have been unimpressed with their ability to continue to work without a lot of unnecessary messing around on my part. I’m still messing around with that stuff, and this week I installed a really basic water pressure switch which is used to switch the pump on and off again when needed. I really like this new switch because I can see when it works – and also when it doesn’t work.

When water pressure is high and the pump is not required the contacts open and the power to the water pump disconnects
When water pressure is low and the pump is required the contacts close and the power to the water pump flows and the pump switches on

This switch has solved one problem with the garden water system, but it has also revealed a further problem which I’ll investigate over the next few weeks.

On Saturday, the spring weather disappeared and a huge storm rolled in. It was like watching a wall of falling water rapidly approaching the farm.

On Saturday a huge storm approached the farm

The temperatures plummeted, and hail and sleet fell. Spring had temporarily left the building…

Spring had left the building as hail and sleet fell

Still I can’t complain as earlier in the week the weather was really nice:

A Manchurian pear revels in the warm spring day
Apricots are flowering
Plums are also flowering
And Ollie romps around the now green grass
Daffodils are still going strong and there are more flowers every time the sun graces us with its presence
Other bulbs such as this hyacinth are now starting to show too
As is this grape hyacinth with a Californian Poppy
Alkanet has also doubled and tripled the amount of flowers produced
And the African daisies have responded well to warmer weather

The temperature outside now at about 8.00am is 6’C (43’F). So far this year there has been 658.6mm (25.9 inches) which is higher than last week’s total of 655.8mm (25.8 inches).

68 thoughts on “Not Sustainable”

  1. Hi Chris,

    Sorry to blow in on a whim after being MIA for a week, but I am on my phone and no one likes typing in a phone 🙂 That switch looks alright doesn’t it? They can be tricky, switches. Apparently, when designing a switch you have to compromise between failing early (and thus minimal risk of sparking, short circuits and over heating etc) or failing late (switch will try and work even in sub optimal conditions). Of course what I really like is the massive old school frankenstein, science project triple blade switch with a wooden handle! Probably not great for a water switch, but great if you want to route lightening into a corpse. A few weeks ago I visited an aluminium smelter (Invercargill). Far out, the switches they must have. The head electrical guy was telling me that 15% of NZ’s electricity goes through their plant, wowsers!

    Movie watch: The Predator. Lots of blood (in fun way), schlock action and was set on Halloween. Last act was a bit bland though. 3 stars.


  2. Hi DJ,

    Everyone worries about the timing of change because basically it is an acknowledgement that they have to give something up in order to move forward, thus seeking comfort by indulging in the delay. We unfortunately praise stubbornness in our culture where a more flexible and adaptive mindset might work better. Dunno.

    Ouch, 10 inches of annual precipitation is no small matter. You know though, it is easier to grow plants in hot and dry areas if you can get access to reliable water. Of course the two situations rarely go hand in hand. Sometimes we get lucky though – not here. I’d hate to think what they’re doing to the fragile soils in that part of the world. We get salt rising if we over irrigate down here. It doesn’t stop people trying though because the initial returns are very good indeed.

    The fires sounded awful with the usual horrific consequences. The last big fire down this way killed 173 people. It was pretty big. I remember the day vividly. Black Saturday bushfires.

    As a suggestion, if you can get your hands on a bit more organic matter, it wouldn’t be a bad idea. Although I am biased in this regarded as it is one of my pet hobby horses. I bring in more than 100 pounds of organic matter per week as a bare minimum, but then the orchard is quite large. I reckon even then it might not be enough, as I have a gut feeling that organic matter gets converted into soil humus at a rate of about 10 to 1, although it depends on rainfall and heat. It sure does disappear though. Exactly too, I was going to recommend getting some leaf matter during the fall (and add a bit of urine and wood ash and other stuff to the mix). Nobody notices people picking up fallen leaves and in fact they appreciate the service.

    Yup, there are currents of interest that flow through the community. Best to be ahead of the curve in that matter. Of course, I might be way off the mark with that…

    Nice, I like the suggestion with the carving.

    Hey, it’s true for me as well. I reckon people recall stories far more readily than they can recall the more intricate technical details. However, I don’t really enjoy mystification for the sake of mystification and some gardening methods like Biodynamics – which has a lot to offer – indulges in that. I’d rather know why something is so, rather than being told that it just is. The perils of a curious mind – which I’m pretty sure you share! 😉

    Just a bit of admin, I rarely respond on a Sunday evening as I write that evening for the following morning’s (Monday for me anyway) blog. It is very hard for me to do both! Hehe!



  3. Hi Pam,

    Far out, I’d be disconcerted too (enjoyed the word!) Do they have snake catchers in your part of the world? It might be worth a call to one of them. Much better than trying to get to a source of anti-venom with only a few hours of grace. I read a story about a snake catcher down here a few weeks back. It may offer you some useful advice, given that our lot here are the second deadliest on the planet: Found a snake in your yard? This is why you should put down the shovel and call a professional.

    I worry about Ollie’s foolhardiness on that matter but time will tell. The veterinary fees for administering anti-venom are horrendous.

    Glad to read that your son was not in fact bitten by the copperhead. And yes, it is a guy thing to call upon the females in a household to check out deadly snakes in the garden… Best left well alone me thinks… I spoke with a snake catcher a year or so back and he said that they have very poor eyesight and if you just stay very still (not easy to do) then they’ll most likely confuse you for a tree. Snakes aren’t generally known to go around biting trees, and the venom would be very difficult for the snakes to produce in the first place so they wouldn’t waste it. Mind you the bites are fast and not as initially painful as you’d think. As I wrote, though standing still is more easily said than done.

    Use water to clear them off, they won’t like that… But don’t blame me if it all goes horribly wrong. How did it end up?

    It is a bit awful, everyones worried about Florence when the real problem is just outside your basement door.



  4. Hi Lewis,

    Yeah, you’ve mentioned that in the past about the interesting workforce that demolishes houses in your part of the world. It is a solution I guess, but it also requires a ready market for the materials. I’m struggling to find access to those sources of materials here so I have a deep suspicion that the materials are ending up in landfill. I could be wrong about that, but it wasn’t always that way.

    And that is a point that is often lost upon the population at large about the finite stock of Victorian and Edwardian era housing. I have actually constructed brand new Victorian era housing which is indistinguishable from the original product. And I must say that I was rather chuffed when so called ‘experts’ commended me upon the excellent renovation. However, to my disgrace I did not insulate that house nearly as well as I could have done. Ignorance and the costs stayed my hand on that occasion. Oh well, we learn by our mistakes. But your point is valid because I’m watching such buildings getting torn down and replaced with buildings that won’t have nearly as long a life span. I guess that is how things go, but I don’t necessarily agree that it makes for good public policy. A lot of those newer buildings were designed and constructed to be both mechanically heated and cooled and I’m very uncomfortable with that concept.

    I’ve heard of both Craigslist and Freecycle but I have no idea what sort of presence either platforms have down here. Way back in the day local newspapers used to run pages of classified advertisements, and then there was the weekly ‘Melbourne Trading Post’ which was a newspaper just devoted to classified advertisements of things for sale. If you wanted to sell you car privately for example, you’d list in in there. Such simple times. I’ve often felt that the currently used word: ‘disruptor’ can often be interpreted to mean ‘cannibalise’ because markets and stuff are both finite. I read an interesting article in the business news in the weekends newspaper about food delivery services. Some intermediaries end up consuming the margins and I wonder how the businesses survive such shenanigans.

    Well, my but you were in good company as the author David Foster Wallace also indulged in that habit from time to time. You’ve done well to acknowledge that side of your personality and adapt. I recall my mum sitting in front of the television night after night and I was uncomfortable with that situation, but generally had other things on the go, which largely got in the way of ever getting started with that gear. Like you, it could be a possibility though, so you never know.

    I’m often bored with the two dimensional characters and linear stories presented on television. Life is often much richer and deeper, but the medium itself is possibly limited. There are some gems in there though, and my mind sometimes returns to some of those like: Six Feet Under for just one example. Some shows are just too violent or too ‘off’ for me to enjoy them. I heard a reference to Breaking Bad on the radio the other day and I was uncomfortable watching that show because every decision the lead characters made was almost the polar opposite as to what I would have done and the more I watched the show, the more I disliked the themes and eventually I went off and did something else more productive with my time. But people tell me what a great show it was. I dunno.

    Exactly, I enjoy cooking and eating meat, but I restrict its access in the house, and just indulge people who do their best to tempt me by bring the food here to eat whilst not making any hassles about it, it just doesn’t even make it on my radar. Yours too is a wise strategy for better living! I reckon the last series I enjoyed may have been ‘True Detective’ series one, but then I reckon Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey are both fine actors and the story was just complex and very unexpectedly weird.

    Go Simon Pegg! Yeah, me too about virtual reality. It is hardly a tempting proposition is it? I suspect that it is getting pushed because at the moment, the components of that technology are cheap, but for how long that situation lasts remains to be seen. I reckon it is a pipe dream.

    I took myself off to the irrigation supplies shop in a nearby town today as I feel that I am on the edge of resolving the puzzle of the problems in the garden watering system. Hope I don’t fall off the edge! It amazes me that people have so much trouble with identifying problems in complex systems. I sort of feel that we’re not getting taught the awful question: But why? Perhaps there are disincentives for doing so… I have heard people say to children, “I’ll give you what for” whatever that means…



  5. Hi Damo,

    Mate, I’m amazed you could type as much as you did type! It is an impressive achievement. But then, I don’t know how people send texts and drive all at the same time, I can do one or the other but never both… 🙂 I thought an essay on the housing market might bring you out of the woodwork! How are you going over there? Has spring kicked into full gear yet?

    Hehe! Yeah a person would not want to get accidentally caught up in that Frankenstein business – look what happened to old Frankie… Not good, and he looked pretty annoyed by the after effects of the lightning. Talk about a bad hangover!

    Actually I like this new switch because it is very old school, and very simple and robust, but I can also now see what is going on in the system. The other switch which came with the pump was probably rubbish. I picked up a heavy duty non return flow valve today and am going to chuck that into the line. The seals in the pump were good enough to get the pressure up, but they may not have been good enough to seal in the pressure and flow was returning to the tanks via the pump. In all honesty it looks to me as though the pump was being asked to do too many different tasks and I’m just taking the pump back to its primary task and asking nothing else of it. I’m busting to get the valve into the system, but unfortunately I’m swamped with work…

    Hehe! Yah, they have the same issue over in south west Victoria at Portland too… The power has been cut off on occasion to a couple of aluminium smelters over the past few years. Not good as the liquid solidifies in the pots within a few hours.

    What, is this a new Predator film?



  6. My two oldest children have moved to Melbourne, where they are likely to never, ever be able to own a house. I have been sending them videos about tiny houses, yurts, van living and other alternative housing strategies. Currently my nearly 25yo son is still happily living with two friends from school. I think many young people will have a very different housing trajectory than our generation did. By his age my ex-husband and I had bought our first home in Broken Hill – a tiny old mining cottage for $25,000 which we did up before selling and moving on. Ahh, those were the days!

  7. Yo, Chris – So, you’re secret vice is reading the real estate ads? Kind of light weight, as far as vices go :-). I’m surprised you still have a real estate section. Looking at the classified ads, here, real estate and auto ads have pretty much disappeared. Garage and estate sales are still going strong. Also, lost pets. Our paper also has a “For Free” section. Which, within certain rules, they don’t charge for. I don’t know if they’re still publishing the “Nickel Ads.” A give away stuffed full of ads. I haven’t looked for a copy, for awhile.

    Congratulations! You’ve just completed your Fourth Step! Remember, “You’re only as sick as your secrets.” 🙂

    Hmm. I had an odd thought. And if you’re looking for a mathematical exercise for you idle (HA!) moments. If you took the money your putting into insurance into a certificate of deposit, kept adding to it and rolling it over, would it in ten years time equal the amount of insurance coverage? Instead of the money disappearing into thin air, you’d have something to show for it. The term “self insured” comes to mind. And, you’d have to keep your hands off the insurance egg. Probably a bonkers idea.

    And, today’s ear worm (as it often is around here) is “Stairway to Heaven.” It’s getting to the point where “Master of All He Surveys” might be better replaced with striking the “Playing the Air Guitar” pose?

    It’s all looking a little Bauhaus. Ever thought of throwing in a few balustrades, balusters, newel posts or ornamental parapets? Or any other obscure architectural form I can think of that might apply to stairways. :-). Consider carefully and put them on the list along with garden folly.

    All those posts remind me of the wood hedges (as opposed to stone hedges) they keep stumbling across in Britain. Puts one in mind of Dark Pagan Rituals, performed in the dark of the moon. Slaughter a black goat or two. Maybe a maiden, if you can find one in this day and age.

    Given your weather whiplash, I fret for your blossoms. Any bees about, between bouts of nasty weather? Cont.

  8. Hello Chris
    A fabulous photo of that storm rolling in. Consider that if you ever had that flat land instead of your considerable gradient, you wouldn’t have your glorious views.
    Summer came back today, absolutely glorious outside. My tomatoes are still doing well, best harvest ever.
    I also look at the local property pages each week. This is both interest in price and interest in what the locals are doing. I also read the planning applications.
    A friend asked me whether she should have her money in the bank or under a mattress. I said that if 3 noughts came off and a £1000 became £1 it wouldn’t matter where she kept it. I gather that Turkey is showing signs of following Venezuela and Argentina.
    I have only lost money on one property. That was when my husband became ill and a house with a large garden, swimming pool and 2 chalets let out to tourists in the Summer plus a separate beach front area became just to much work for me when I was having to nurse him as well. I needed to down size rapidly. Curiously enough I couldn’t find a buyer who wanted the beach frontage and I had to sell it off separately. The couple who finally bought the house would actually have liked it but they were too late.
    Can’t say that I like those blue railings. Why do they have to be that colour?

    @ Pam
    I am afraid that the local council is not involved with the coastal footpath, as far as I know, there are more powerful interests. I’ll see what happens on Wednesday.


  9. Cont. Looking at the descriptions of the episodes of the series I threw back (catch and release?) to me, there’s also the problem of something not being linear enough. Too many characters. Too many plot lines. The point at which I decided NOT to plunge into “Game of Thrones” was when I heard the tag line “Seven Royal Houses…” I’d need spread sheets and flow charts. Keeping track of seven extended families (I presume) and all their retainers? I wonder how often the writers trotted out a distance (and previously unmentioned) third cousin as a plot device?

    I don’t really think virtual reality is going to go much of anywhere. I base that judgement on keeping an eye (so to speak) on the (ahem) adult entertainment industry. If I’d read the signs in that arena, I wouldn’t have plunged into the Great Beta Disaster. The same with Blue Ray. Doesn’t seem to be going much of anywhere. The Industry just hasn’t clutched it to it’s bosom. Which is almost a very bad pun.

    Blue Ray has been around for quit awhile, and seems to be wandering in the wilderness. I almost pity the feeble attempts to “make it popular” (ie: sucker us in). The latest seems to be issuing both the DVD and Blue Ray in a single set. And, putting all the “extras” on the Blue Ray disc. Got news for them. I (and apparently a lot of other people) can live without the “extras.” The bonus content. If someone had been really brave and bit the bullet, only issued a hot new movie on Blue Ray, it might have gained a bit of traction. But hot new movies are such a flash in the pan, I’d guess a lot of money would have been lost.

    Well, I’m off to the doctor to let her have another stab at my cyst or whatever it is. Which IS a very bad pun. Can’t wait to trot it out for my doctor. :-). Lew

  10. Chris,

    I ‘ll keep in mind that I’m a day behind you. The old adage was always “Welcome to Spokane. Set your clock back 30 years..” If it’s now only a day, maybe Spokane has advanced. Not necessarily a good thing! 😉

    I’ll likely add some steer manure to the compost heap when I add the leaves this year. You’re right: adding gobs and gobs of organic matter is required.

    I remember the “Black Saturday” fires. We even got news coverage on those here.

    I agree that a combination of stories with the science is good. This seems to fall in the category of “both” rather than “either/or”.

  11. @ Lew,

    Adding beans? Ever tried chili (either canned or home made is fine) served on top of a baked potato? That’s one of my quick go to meals. Or add a few to any serving of mixed vegetables or green salads.

    Time is a luxury during the work week. I keep bags of frozen veggies on hand for my lunches. One of them is a mix of a few kinds of beans with broccoli and red bell peppers. I get this at Safeway. Shouldn’t be too hard to concoct large amounts of something similar from scratch and freeze some of it.


  12. Hi Jo,

    I guess the issue depends upon how far out of the city do your children want to be? And yes, at that age the editor and I were also married and we had purchased a house in a very gritty industrial area. Friends and family refused to visit which was a bit of a nail in the coffin. But it isn’t lost on me that back then houses were worth three years of an average individual’s salary. Nowadays it would take two people about seven years – and they tell me that there is no such thing as inflation. I’ve even heard facetious claims being made about how high interest rates were back then, and like all good stories it has a grain of truth. I’m frankly uncomfortable to speak with people younger than myself about the issue and it was one of the reasons I headed out to the bush and built a small house on land and then sought to reduce ongoing bills.

    As a suggestion and I guess much depends upon the individual, I reckon the sweet spot for people wanting a house and some land these days is to go for a derelict house in a rural area within a commutable distance of Melbourne. We lived in a house that had a floor in only one room and a single power point and tap and just slowly fixed it up from that point. I suspect that fixer upperers are no longer affordable. Public transport is better up in this state and the country trains are superb and very unlike the bad old days of country train travel… The inner and middle suburbs are closed to your kids at the moment, unless they’re happy to rent. Renting is an unpleasant experience.

    I’d also consider an older house in Sunbury which is the next big town closer to Melbourne from here. It is on the electric train line and houses are cheaper than closer to Melbourne and it has a functional town centre.

    As I said, much depends upon the individual. But most of all get out of debt as quickly as humanly possible because I reckon a storm is brewing. 🙂



  13. Hi Lewis,

    It is a bit light weight isn’t it? 🙂 I enjoy looking at the habit from that perspective as it amuses me – and apparently you too! What did they say in Monty Python’s Magnum Opus film: The Life of Brian, ah that’s it: “Worse things happen at sea, you know”. Too true, the naughty seagulls go first for the eyes and then the lips. Of course this is not personal experience because I doubt a person would recover quickly from such an ordeal. Speaking of which, years ago I watch the film: The Titanic, and I couldn’t believe it because the people survived in the water for so long. I mean the ship was not far from the Arctic circle when it sank so the water would have sapped the life out of anyone caught in it pretty quickly. Anyway, I rest my case because worse things do indeed happen at sea.

    Yeah, the newspapers still run a weekly glossy colour real estate brochure, which is of course paid for by the people coerced to advertise within its covers by the agents. A lot of that business has transitioned to the interweb these days, and I heard a dark rumour that the websites have been demanding more of a cut of the action over the years, but I don’t have numbers on that story as it was just a rumour.

    Interesting. As far as I’m aware there are no free advertisements down here in the local newspapers. Unless of course a local community group provides free content for a local newspaper – and I did that once and wrote one of my more entertaining stories (an allegory of all things, who would have thought it?) and the newspaper loved it but the head of the group tried to edit the story into a completely different beast where it appeared I had not written a single word. Alas for the vagaries and concerns of editors… The business model works that the newspapers are distributed widely for free, but the advertisers pay for their content.

    Is that really step 4? 😉 Now that my dirty little secret is on a public forum, I can move on from there. Progressing feels cathartic and I hope that I’m now on a better path.

    What is this talk of idle moments? It is an alien concept to me, although I did sneak off to the local general store / cafe / post office this morning for a coffee and fruit toast (smothered in butter) and read about small scale grain growing. It looks like oats are easy to grow but very hard to de-hull. I eat a lot of oats and have a reasonable seed bank here, but if you can’t eat them then difficulties lay dead ahead!

    Sorry to inform you, I like your thinking, but it is a bonkers idea. You see at the moment I get to outsource the bushfire risk to an insurance company for an annual premium. By 2028, my mathematical projections are such that this will be an economic impossibility. But fear not as I have always known that this is how things will pan out and have plans and am acting upon them. I wonder how many people impacted by either the Puerto Rico hurricane or the more recent Florence were even covered? During Black Saturday only about 50% of properties were insured and a lot of those were under insured. It is a complex story of change.

    I quite like Stairway to Heaven. Didn’t Tolkien make the cheeky observation that not all that glitters is gold?

    Cool! But Bauhaus is an extraordinary claim that I am not worthy of. That’s no false modesty either as those guys had high ideals. The process is not one of considering the whole, but more of considering how the part fits into the whole. That is how it works for me, and I get a brief glimpse of what should be where and how, and that is how it goes. For all I know I could be doing all this work and someone else altogether benefits from it. Dunno. It is interesting that you mention balustrades, but I use bushy plants (such as the lavender) to provide such structures. Ollie who is unused to structure of any form is doing his best to ensure that the plants don’t perform the way they are intended to perform, but he’ll age and slow down. The plants, well they’re a whole different story because they’ll keep on going…

    Hehe! I read a funny book by an author who is about my age (maybe a bit older) but he wrote the book: He died with a falafel in his hands. I’ve lived in some of those areas at about the same time as the author imagined them. The book was converted into a film which is quite good. Anyway, at one point the characters were having a pagan ritual in their backyard centred around a typically Australian clothes line. I doubt many of the female characters were maidens but can’t vouch for that. Personally, I’ve never understood the desire for maidens, it all seems like a bit of a sordid ambition to me, if only because things are only ever new once and it seems like an extraordinarily wasteful ambition. I much prefer a bit of patina and a touch of experience. Maidens are probably boring and even worse they may possibly be whiny and that would soon grate upon my composure.

    Hey, the bees are enjoying themselves immensely – when the sun shines – and both colonies have over wintered well. Mind you, I haven’t taken much honey from them and I plan to construct a newer style hive for one of the colonies. Getting the time to do that is not so easy. I had a close look today at the blossoms and they appear to be doing OK, but only time will tell. What do they say about not counting chickens… By the way, this is why I grow a huge diversity of fruit trees because they all flower at different times. Going forward it is a solid approach. I read that farmers in southern West Australia got hit hard by a -5’C / 23’F frost the other day and that put the brakes on what they reckon was going to be a bumper harvest.

    Oh yeah, the book, The Game of Thrones did my head in with all of the plot lines. After a while I just stopped trying to take note of it all and instead just enjoyed the words. I honestly have no idea how the author himself kept up with the plot lines and characters? No doubt that happens with the third cousin as a plot line. Spare a thought for the poor editors who would have to make sense of the story. They’d probably have some sort of 3D mapping software just to keep on top of what’s going on. Imagine how scary it would to be faced with fans who just know that there is a plot error…

    Yup, hate to brag. No seriously, one of the benefits of being down under is that the technology battles get handled elsewhere. I recall the VHS versus Beta format and can say with all honesty that I stuck with winning VHS format right up to the bitter end. Win. But then there are the losses such as the purchase of the DBX noise reduction cassette deck. Alas, technical superiority is often not enough. 😉 Mind you, I did get on board with mp3 audio compression technology way, way back in the mid 90’s.

    Best wishes for the draining or investigation of the cyst, and I do hope that it is benign.

    Installed the non-return valve in the garden watering system this afternoon and so far, so good. It ain’t easy being green! And also consider the hand powered pump as a back up…



  14. Hi Inge,

    Thanks. The view is actually a bit of a community asset as it gives a bit of warning as to any bushfires arriving by way of the south west, where the prevailing wind often blows from (off the Southern Ocean). I quite enjoy watching the storms rolling along or up the valley. It is a real pleasure and the view is forever changing.

    It is nice to enjoy a solid tomato harvest. Do you preserve any of them?

    Yeah, I like to keep up with what is going on in the real estate front too. It can be occasionally quite enlightening, but sometimes it can be a bit sad too as human stories play out to their conclusions.

    Just for your interest, the local planning applications are normally posted on a sign that is visible from the street. The detail then has to be found on the interweb which is controlled by the state government. It has all of them on, whether they’ve been approved, rejected, or just failed to complete. Way back in the day advertising used to be a local council thing. The applications themselves are still considered, processed and put forward by the local council. It is a convoluted process, but at the end of the day it is just a legal process. Time and time again people complain to me about it, and I can see they approach it with a sense that it should be about common sense and justice, but it ain’t, it is a legal process and I tell them they just have to follow the process. Not everyone is up for that I can tell you. The process is very impersonal too, but people bring so much emotion to the process that it clouds and slows the movement… Oh well, I imagine the same thing happens in your part of the world given our system is largely based upon yours.

    Exactly, it makes little difference one way or the other, although having a stack of cash or precious metal does make a person a target, and bank deposits are guaranteed down here, so why take the risk? I figure if the government can’t pay up on the guarantee then there’ll be bigger problems than that to consider… 🙂

    Thanks for sharing the story and that would have been a very difficult time for you. You know sometimes unburdening property can be cathartic, even at a loss. I felt that way about the property we lost money on because at the time I just wanted to move on with my life and not make the same error.

    I reckon they’re that colour because like nasty and toxic mushrooms, they’re trying to give us all a warning as to their toxicity. It is a very unnatural blue colour isn’t it? There are termites in that area and ants are like the worms of the dry lands.



  15. Hi, Chris!

    What a neat storm photo, a shame about the hail and sleet, though. We watched a weekend footy game at the MCG on TV and my goodness the spectators were bundled up. Though not the players in their itty bitty shorts . . .

    Our home insurer has, of course, raised rates, too. They also had the nerve recently to call and ask if I wanted to add more coverage (and thus raise the premium more). For what? We have the same house and it’s getting a bit worn out as well. But I guess
    it would undoubtedly cost more to rebuild it, except maybe not as we’d probably not rebuild at all. Oops – then one has to purchase a new house somewhere else. I think I’m stuck.

    Imagine thinking that lopping zeros off of a country’s currency would increase its value. I don’t know what Venezuela is going to do; we’ve been watching them slide for a long time. The best bet might be to get rid of the bus driver dictator and get a businessman (dictator or not) in there.

    Lovely staircase. How funny is it that it appears to lead to nowhere? Ah – a sunny day! Haven’t seen one of those in quite awhile. Hi, Toothy!

    Landflation – nice term. Certainly termites must hate blue. I love to see the shed going up in stages. I like that switch; I hope that it functions well.

    Thank you for the snake catcher article. However, I have a different take on it than that fellow (who earns his living catching snakes). We’ve had to dispatch a couple of copperheads before, with shovel and ax. We used to have dogs and cats and small children all over the place and it was best (and cheapest) to just chop and drop when we encountered one. We have placed a barrier around the woodpile by the basement door so that at least it can’t lunge out at us. One still has to watch out, especially on the front porch. We shall see.

    More Parrish blue skies! More fruit blossoms! Hi, Ollie Freckles!
    And other lovely flowers . . .


  16. Hi DJ,

    It is a nice thing being in the future, because if, say for example, the world ends, well I can tell you about it first! 😉 Hehe!

    I like the sentiment about Spokane too and that is pretty true for all sorts of parts of the world. We tend to think of everywhere as being the same, but I’ve travelled enough now in plenty of out of the way places, to have realised that some folks would think that you and I are living like royalty! Mind you, I don’t travel much anymore. If it is over an hour away I start getting a bit edgy.

    Yeah, the steer manure is a good idea as you never know what minerals you’ll introduce to the garden soil. And yeah, it is actually one of the few cases where the more (and varied) the merrier. Go hard or go home, as they say down here. 🙂

    Black Saturday was pretty close and personal. Fortunately I was in an area that was not affected by the fires, but they were pretty close. I’ve met people who lived through it, and five years after the event you could still see that the day traumatised them. It was not true of everyone that I’ve met who lived through that, but I guess what I take from that is that you never know what your response to such a thing will be until you faced it. And some things are perhaps best avoided in the first place. What do they say about prevention being better than a cure?

    Exactly, pick and choose what suits you and the circumstances. It is like medicine and alternative medicine, pick from both and drop the ideology. Both modalities have their benefits and one is good for some things and the other is good for other things. Is cant the right word to describe what either side of that argument sometimes sounds like?



  17. @ Lew:
    Is this really a Step -“You’re only as sick as your secrets.”? It sounds plausible. I am going to ponder it.

    I am weak with laughter: ” Slaughter a black goat or two. Maybe a maiden, if you can find one in this day and age.”


  18. Hi Pam,

    You got me again just as I was about to switch the computer off! Hehe! We’re almost operating in real time here! 🙂

    Yeah, the players would have been feeling the heat as it is finals time. Hope you enjoyed the game, and I used to be a member of that prestigious clubs ground. The venue is huge. I just didn’t use the membership enough and it was holding up someone else from using it and the wait period is very long indeed. My grandfather signed me up when I was a kid. He’d probably be rolling in his grave if he knew… The photo was taken on Saturday too. Brr! Still I’m sure that the spectators were enjoying meat pies etc…

    Don’t laugh those guys are full on athletes. I once competed against them in a city triathlon and they kicked my ass by such a huge period of time. Back in the day the players probably had more fun though. I don’t reckon I’d much enjoy the pressure or scrutiny they’re under today.

    It is a bit cheeky that call. Mind you, down here the building regulations changed and it suddenly became far more expensive to build and so replacement value meant providing money to replace what you now have, not what it may cost to build the same house under the new building regulations in the future. A lot of people got caught out by that down here. A whole lot.

    Hey, me too! Yup, we are not as mobile a society as we once were. And stuck is the word that you heard, it’s got groove… 🙂 Sorry for my dodgy music pun. Sometimes you just have to laugh about things.

    I don’t know what it will take to fix that either. Certainly they’ve lost a lot of population who have fled to neighbouring countries and conversely that may have eased some pressures in the country, but increased the pressures in the adjacent countries. I have a suspicion that a change in leadership may help, but it may not resolve the core problems. I read somewhere that they have good reserves of oil, but the cost of production is quite high. What a fine joke that is, having oil which is impossible to extract at an affordable rate. Dunno, I’m no expert.

    We’re on the stairs to nowhere… Sorry for that bad music pun. Next year for that project. Toothy says hi! He’s been very camera shy of late as the rambunctious Ollie is hogging the camera.

    I mentioned to Inge that the blue is a bit like those bright red poisonous mushrooms you sometimes come across. You just know they won’t be good for you… The switch works very well and I installed the non-return valve today, and the system works even better (or just correctly functions as you’d expect). I’ll roll out the improvements onto each of the water systems.

    No worries at all and I too have done similar shovel work. Snakes scare the daylights out of me.

    Gangle Freckles says G’day Pam! He’s very exuberant that dog, a truly delightful character.



  19. Hello again
    Just to recommend ‘Notayesman’s’ 18th Sep blog and comments ‘What next from the war on cash’. Very readable.

  20. @ Pam & Chris – To clarify (I think), the Fourth Step is actually “Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.” That’s an actual written document. Step 5 and 6 involve sharing all that with someone. Sponsor, priest, rabbi, doctor, trusted friend. I think it’s purpose is to kind of draw a line under the past, and head off in a new direction.

    Burning the darn thing is popular. Ersatz parodies of Viking funerals have a following. Launching them onto a body of water in flames. :-).

    Some people do daily inventories, not necessarily written. An ongoing taking stock.

    “Your only as sick as your secrets,” after doing a quick internet search, seems to be part of that vast sea of oral wisdom that floats around the recovery community. Might have started as just a more secular riff on “Confession is good for the soul.” Which I’d guess, the origin of which is also lost in the mists of time. Dig deep enough, and some Greek or Roman, somewhere, sometime, probably said something similar. :-). Lew

  21. Yo, Chris – Yeah, on reflection (and more tea) I could see the fallacy of my scheme for sticking it to the insurance companies. If you’ve got any kind of mortgage, insurance is a requirement for the loan. If you use property as collateral for any other kind of loan, the powers that be want it insured. So, if possible, they get you coming and going.

    I could riff on about the insurance business. All kinds. Apparently, the property insurance people have taken a lesson from the medical insurance people and getting payments out of them can be an ordeal. Vast areas have been abandoned by the insurance companies. No policies, or, policies that are so expensive that only the super rich can afford the premiums. But, it’s all about managing risk and providing return to their shareholders. And, insurance companies do get overextended, just like banks (or people) and can collapse. I wonder if there’s insurance, for that? 🙂

    Occasionally, I put on my best Victorian manner and voice and paraphrase Queen Victoria: “We are easily amused.” I’ve read somewhere, that she probably didn’t say, “We are not amused.”

    I see your Titanic / at sea disaster and raise you The Johnstown flood, which was a land disaster (but it did involve a lot of water.)

    Later on I was going to review a book I finished last night, (Ruthless Tide: The Heroes and Villains of the Johnstown Flood, America’s Astonishing Gilded Age Disaster” (Roker, 2018). But, since you brought up disasters early …

    Roker’s book is an engrossing good read. Way back in 1987, David McCullough (another fine author) wrote “The Johnstown Flood.” I’m sure I read it, but it’s been too long to draw any useful comparisons. Roker (to his credit) gives a tip of the hat (and a deep bow) to McCullough. He has found some new sources, and acknowledges that he covers the same ground, but has different takes on, and emphasizes different aspects. Mainly, I think, Roker has a lot of exploration of the Robber Barons of the Gilded Age and how they operated. Any-who, worth a look to any other disaster freaks (like me) out there. Cont.

  22. Cont. Yes, on your recommendation, I did see the film “He Died with a Falafel in His Hand.” Quit a good romp and it brought back memories, to me, too. Not so much as you, but the time period and “sharing digs.”

    The whole cyst thing went well, I think. The doctor and the nurse found my “take another stab at it” quit amusing, and really laughed when I told them that I’d been waiting days to spring it on them. So, light atmosphere established, we got onto the business at hand.

    I was on the table for a good hour, with the Doc and her nurse having a go at my back. Have not had any pain during, or since. That may come later. Not that I can see it, but I’ve got this huge (from my point of view) crater in my back and I’ve got to go in every two days to have it repacked. That could be dicey. She suggested I take an ibuprofen before heading in.

    The main problem, right now, is that I keep leaking all over the place. Lots of black garbage bags have been deployed, to keep my bed, truck, favorite chair and coat from getting stained. A real pain in the bum (but not the back.)

    It was decided not to send anything out for biopsy, as it was pretty standard. Except there was a bit to get out that was a bit puzzling, but I suggested it might be scar tissue from previous go arounds. The doctor concurred with my opinion, but as I pointed out to her, I am neither a doctor nor do I play one on TV. Onto more pleasant topics … 🙂

    There was a bit of a nip in the air, last night. It got down into the low 40s. We’ll have a couple of nights of that, and then back to the 50sF. No frost in sight, yet. Princess (and all the other dogs in the neighborhood) were quit wound up about something, last night. One hopes deer, raccoons or possums, and nothing more lethal.

    I finally saw a squirrel, the other day. It will always be a mystery as to what did in almost the entire population, this year. It was quit amusing. A jay showed up and started giving the squirrel, what for. Chased him down the sidewalk. The squirrel jumped in a hedge and the jay went right in after him. I don’t know how that all turned out. My money is on the jay. Lew

  23. Chris,

    We sure do live like royalty or better, don’t we? It’s really sobering to see the differences between parts of the state of Washington, much less going to other countries. Get rid of all our electronic gadgets and we still live ridiculously better than most. Lotsa folks aren’t going to have a clue what to do when the dark sides of peak oil and climate change really heat big.

    Interesting what you said about adding variety to the soil and the compost pile. Variety and diversification add so much health and stability to so many things, don’t they?

    I looked out the kitchen window the other morning and a squirrel was digging in one of my containers in which I’m growing carrots. He had a hazel nut in his mouth from one of my nut trees. Now, the squirrels and I get along pretty well and they’re really not scared of me. So I said through the open window, “Not there, please,” and the squirrel provided me with a new hole in the lawn. Much better than prematurely dug up carrots!

    Oh, the agreement with the squirrels? I enjoy watching them, so they keep me entertained somewhat. I provide habitat for them and they get to eat ALL the hazel nuts and walnuts from my trees. But, they have to leave my vegetables alone, which they mostly do.

    I’ve also got the place set up to encourage birds. My mother was an avid bird watcher and I guess I picked it up, too. A family of mountain chickadees moved into the area about 5 years back. So long as they’re in a tree, they let me walk right up to them.

    If I get the wasps and hornets to share the area rather than try to take it over…


  24. @ Lew,

    Glad that cyst thing looks to be going well. I had a nasty one removed from my neck earlier this year. Cool scar for a few weeks let me concoct stories about how I got the scar.

    The first version was that, yes, garlic works on vampires, but not immediately. My favorite, though, was that someone went back in time to make sure Attila the Hun survived that fateful wedding night in which he died. This would have horrid repercussions, apparently, so I was sent back to make sure history wasn’t changed. Dispatching the other time traveler was easy, but Attila was another story. After our sword fight was over, I survived with a nasty scar on my neck and, well, he died when history said he did.

    Hope your recovery is smooth.


  25. Hi Inge,

    Many thanks for the heads up and I too enjoyed his very readable and insightful essay. There is also the fact that the banks would love nothing more than earning a fee on every single transaction in the economy. At present they have to handle cash for free, and handling cash is an expensive business. But I too worry about restricting the growth of the money supply when things go too digital. Also it is worth mentioning that digital things are easier to disappear…



  26. Hi DJ,

    Thanks for the lovely comment. I promise to reply tomorrow as I generally disappear from the interweb at times such as these.

    Lewis – Steps 5 and 6 are not a bad idea and it may surprise you but I looked up the steps yesterday when you mentioned them. I interpreted step 6 a bit too literally, but I have only a vague context with which to place the instruction. I assume that there is a bit more to the text than just the twelve steps?

    It is funny but I have noticed that the: “Your only as sick as your secrets” story has wider applicability and often part of my job is just getting folks to change behaviours which can sometimes be easy and sometimes not so much. Especially if people are in denial (which seems to be a lovely place of unicorns and no consequences) about really dysfunctional things that they’re doing. It happens. And sometimes I just can’t get through and other stories are just more appealing to the listeners. I’ve seen that a few times.

    More tea is good for the soul! 😉 I haven’t checked upon the tea camellia after the 28’F freezy morning. Hopefully it is OK. The blossoms on the fruit trees are showing signs that they’re OK, but only time will tell.

    Mate, I’m not kidding I bought an insurance policy from an insurer down here (HIH from memory) the afternoon of the day before they went under. They were surprisingly quick to send me a copy of the certificate of currency for the policy. What a rip off. It was a pretty big collapse down here as far as things go.

    Thanks for the word about the flood. Not good. More to say, but I’m going to head off to bed. More work tomorrow… No rest…

    Glad to read that the back cyst investigation went smoothly. Fingers crossed.



  27. Chris:

    I think footy players are the greatest all around athletes in the world and I would admire them just as much even if they had baggy shorts. I have tried to find out what they eat . . . alas, just having their diet is not enough. Good for you for at least trying to make your mark (or prove something to yourself) in the city triathlon. Couldn’t just pick a plain old marathon, eh?

    I have heard from someone in the oil business (I’m from Texas remember) that Venezuela’s oil is a heavy crude and expensive to refine. So maybe they are not sitting on the goldmine that they think they are.

    Two bad music puns! I like that, though!

    Good news about the switch.


  28. @ Lew:

    Thanks. That does clarify things about the “Steps”.

    I’m glad that you have gotten the first (worst?) part of the cyst treatment over. But an hour! I didn’t know doctors had that much time anymore. Will it interfere with your retreat?


  29. @ DjSpo – Dueling has always been a popular story for mysterious scars :-).

    Squirrels are fun to watch. I don’t know if you caught my full story, amongst all my verbal underbrush, but we have a squirrel mystery, here. To set the scene a bit, up behind The Home, there’s a large wooded park. With lots of oak trees. So the squirrels pretty much stay out of our gardens.

    Last year (my first here) there would be dozens of squirrels at a time, playing on the lawn between us and the park. This year, not a single squirrel. Until that one the other day. It’s The Great Squirrel Mystery of 2018.

    I’ve got theories, but will probably never know what did them in. Could be, as often happens in wildlife populations, a disease swept through and wiped them out. Or, a cougar, bobcat or coyotes might have come through. I have heard owls, up in the woods. I’ll probably never know what did them in. But their absence, when I realized it, was a bit disquieting.

    There’s a street between us and the park. The squirrels would race up our trees, launch themselves into space over the street, and just catch the tip of a branch on the park trees. More fun to watch than a circus :-). We often have city wide power outages due to friend squirrel :-(. Lew

  30. Yo, Chris – I meant to comment on our newspaper giving away freebies. A few years back, our local newspaper, The Daily Chronicle (often referred to, locally, as the Daily Comical) decided to reposition itself in the market, to try and breath a few more years life into the thing. They did a lot of market studies and surveys.

    First came the cost cutting measures. They reduced the issues from 6 a week to 3. There was a Black Friday reduction in staff. They refocused to more county news. We now get one page of national and international news. The rest is all local. The sports section is still big. But they cover more school sports, right down to the elementary school level.

    There always sniffing around for content that they don’t have to pay for. Some people still get a charge out of just seeing their names in print. I was offered a gig writing book reviews, gratis of course. I politely passed. So, the free ads for anything your not charging for and charity bazaars is just part of the local mix. They blow their horn, quit a bit, about “giving back to the community.”

    There’s a short version and a long version of the 12 Steps and 12 Traditions. The short versions are read at the beginning of each meeting. That’s the magic part :-). There’s actually a book called “The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions” (referred to as the Twelve by Twelve) It’s part of the canon. Ie: Conference Approved Literature.

    The Traditions are more a nuts and bolts, how to keep the ship on course. It’s the rudder for the Good Ship Recovery. A ship that doesn’t have a captain. Or, even much of a ship, come to think of it :-). Lew

  31. @ Lew,

    The squirrels here run on the power lines. Keeps them away from cats and dogs, among other things. When we had dogs, they would go berserk barking at the squirrels on the lines while running around looking up in the sky. Somehow I never saw the dogs run into a tree or something.

    A few years ago, my wife and I were on a walk. We watched a red tailed hawk fly into a large pine tree and come out with a squirrel. It’s gotta be rough being low on the food chain! Of course, we all get eaten by something eventually, so there is no highest, is there?

    I’d guess that your squirrel depopulation is a combination of causes, most likely several of what you mentioned.


  32. Hi Lewis,

    Outsourcing the risk for bushfires means that I don’t have to stay and defend the house. Now if insurance was not available that would present me with the dilemma of having to stay and defend the property, but there are things that can be done to reduce the risk on that front. It is a complex problem that one, but I have a gut feeling that at all that insurance may become a problem within the next decade. The more people that drop off the radar, the higher the premiums go, and then even more people drop off. It is a circular problem, kind of like musical chairs. When the music stops playing and there are only so many chairs left, who falls out of the game…

    Hey! Speaking of matters relating to water. I might be calling it early, but I reckon I’ve now worked through all of the problems with the garden watering systems. I intend to replicate the changes I made across the several pump systems and then get some spares. 🙂 And, hopefully the nice tank people will turn up tomorrow to fix the leaking water tank… Well that is the plan.

    Years ago I had a mate who worked in a claims department for an insurer and I don’t know whether he was kidding around or not but he told me that they were paid bonuses for finding reasons to knock back claims. He was an interesting guy because I reckon the job had had a personal impact on him, and for a few years he couched surfed at various peoples houses. A year or so back I heard someone once remark that couch surfing is a form of homelessness and they went on to explain that it was a gateway activity to that situation. Ouch.

    The Johnstown flood sounded horrendous. I can’t believe they telegraphed through to the town that there was a serious problem with the dam and the telegraph was ignored due to the ‘boy that cried wolf’ effect. The efforts to repair the dam during the event reminded me of the story of helicopters dropping rocks onto that large dam south of your part of the world recently.

    Dams are inordinately difficult infrastructure to repair because people rely on the water supply held within the dam. It is not like you can suddenly tell folks that they’ll have to find their water supplies from elsewhere as the dam gets repaired and then they have to wait whilst it refills again. It is a real problem that.

    It was a fun film and it had Noah Taylor in it too – and he’s had quite a good career as an actor.

    The medical procedure ice breaker! Hehe! You have quite the sense of humour and timing. How is the pain going now? And hopefully the wound has slowed its weeping? And you never want doctors to look at you and say: “That’s interesting isn’t it? And then discussing your interesting problem among themselves in your hearing.” Glad everything seemed more or less normal. Hopefully you heal in time for the retreat.

    The garbage bags are a good idea. No point leaving essential pan juices (sorry for the bad cooking pun) oozing onto furniture.

    Talk of essential pan juices puts me in mind of the naughty Ollie, who is a bit invigorated by the warmer spring days. He rolled in some wombat poo earlier today. I washed him gently with warm water and soap. He rolled again. The wombat poo must indeed be pungent. I washed him gently using a hose. Then he rolled again. There is a stubborn side to that dog. This time I held him and sprayed him with high pressure cold water from the hose. He looked pretty unhappy at the experience, but we’ve made peace with each other since then. Stinky dogs covered in wombat poo are not allowed in the house.

    The seasons progress and your part of the world gets cooler as we get slowly warmer. It is the Spring equinox on Sunday. Time moves on and leaves us all in awe of its wake and wondering where it went.

    I wonder what happened to the squirrels? Powerful Owls roam the city gardens eating the possums. It is brutal, but the Owls need a huge hunting area and so have to keep moving on. Out of curiosity, you may be able to resolve a riddle about squirrels. Gene Logsdon wrote that old school lore was that you plant your corn seeds when the Beech tree leaves are the size of a squirrels ear. Now the question becomes what is the diameter of a squirrels ear? I grow some European Beech (and native Beech trees) here. The native trees are Nothofagus Cunninghamii. Fortune favours the botanist who manages to slap their surname onto the official Latin name for a plant! I haven’t yet read the plant explorer book which is sitting there in the to-read pile.



  33. Hi DJ, Pam, and Lewis,

    Haha! I lied and promise to reply tomorrow. No seriously, despite the lack of credibility, I’m off to the pub for dinner. The two points have very little in common and thanks for pointing that out to me! 🙂



  34. Hello again
    I am in too foul a mood (after yesterday) to read or comment on anything. If you want to get the idea, imagine that someone wanted to put a public footpath through your land from end to end and your only recourse was to sue the government. An even higher official is coming to have a look in about 2 weeks.

  35. Hi Chris,

    Been at my daughter’s in Chicago for the last few days. Have a little cheap tablet which is fine for reading but not so great for writing. Along with other daughter we spent a lot of time working on a memorial video for Michael’s 2nd “Celebration of Life” on Wednesday night at my BIL’s restaurant .

    I hear you about insurance of all kinds. As our present property has been damaged by tornadoes twice it wouldn’t be a good idea to go without.

    We lost money on our last home mostly because people just don’t want such large homes anymore.

    Naughty Ollie. We’ve gone the hose route with Leo and Salve. I hesitate to jinx things but there’s been very little rolling in poop this year.


  36. @Lee

    Glad to hear the procedure went well. Are you sure you don’t want to take the ladies’ offer of help? ☺

    Interesting about the lack of squirrels. A few years ago West Nile hit crows and chickadees. They’ve pretty much rebounded now. We have tons of squirrels but we can’t really watch their antics as the dogs keep them up in the trees.


  37. @ Pam – In some ways, the second bit was worse than the first bit. Having the wound repacked. The actual operation, everything is pretty dead. Not so the repacking. It was like having someone sticking needles around in a wound. Made my eyes water. :-). On the plus side, it doesn’t last long. And, now I know exactly what to expect. As it heals, I’m sure it will be less uncomfortable.

    I should be able to go to the retreat, unless I get an infection, or something. Depending on how fast it heals, I may have to make one run back to town to have it repacked. But, the retreat is just a hop up the freeway and we have a lot of “free” periods on the schedule.

    I had forgot you were from Texas. I loved Molly Ivins and Anne Richards. And, I think Linda Ellerbee was from there? Lew

  38. Yo, Chris – Hurricanes in the SE and all our rates go up. Good drivers subsidize bad drivers. They call it “spreading around risk.” Insurance companies will make money until the bitter end.

    These days, I doubt insurance companies pay bonuses for denying claims. But that part was true. Now, I’d bet they set quotas and it’s a condition of employment. I once saw a bit of a woman sobbing her way through a Senate hearing, and she admitted she knew she’d killed some people by denying, or delaying paying claims. I couldn’t rouse even a smidgen of sympathy, for her.

    These days, the way the game is played is claims are denied out of hand. It’s like pulling teeth to get a payment out of them. Many rounds of long telephone call hell, the “problem” is claimed to be fixed. It isn’t. Another round of calls. In the meantime, you pay the bill, to avoid unpleasant consequences. It’s a waiting game, and the insurance company just hopes you’ll die or go away in the meantime.

    But, finally, people are catching on. And people are not happy. It’s becoming a general discussion among just folks and in articles in the media. Either there will be legislation (tough to pull off with the insurance “industry” contributing so much to politicians.) or, if things really unravel, insurance executives will be on the run with the folks with pitchforks and torches, hot on their trail.

    “I’ve now worked through all of the problems with the garden watering system.” Shhh! The goddesses Nemesis and Hubris are ever on the lookout for that kind of loose talk. Better offer up a good sacrifice, to them. Maybe a not to often used finger or toe? 🙂

    As far as the cyst goes, there really hasn’t been much pain unless they’re fiddling with the darn thing. The leakage seems to have stopped. But I’m still deploying yards of plastic, just to make sure. LOL, I keep thinking about that line from “Dr. Strangelove” from the crazed, trigger happy, mad general, raving on about “precious bodily fluids.” But I think he was talking about something else. :-).

    I’d heard that bit about corn and squirrels ears. I’d guess the diameter of a squirrels ear is … small. A highly technical and scientific term. Probably varies from squirrel to squirrel. Species to species. Will this keep you awake at night? :-).

    I thought the new Dwayne Johnson film, “Rampage” would be waiting for me at the library, yesterday. Now that I’ve made my weight goal (with a few pounds to spare) I had decided to watch it and splurge on a pint of ice cream (unseen in my freezer, these long months.) It did not arrive. Lots of (internal) wailing and gnashing of teeth. Rending of garments, etc.. In a death defying act of denial and deferred gratification, I bought said pint, last night, and enthroned it in my freezer. Surely, the film will show up today? I hope Nemesis and Hubris do not have sharp ears. Lew

  39. Hi DJ,

    Yeah, Alexi’s story really painted a picture of wealth inequality but also inequality of opportunity. Seattle wouldn’t be to everyone’s taste, and on consideration I’m more comfortable in a rural area than I ever was in the big smoke. Giving up the little devices isn’t as hard as you’d think, but giving up water pumps and lights, well that’s a whole different kettle of fish.

    Exactly, the more diversity you can get into a garden, the healthier and more resilient it will be. Mono cultures in any form are rarely resilient. I read recently that down under something like 80% of organic farms buy their seed stock in. I can’t find the reference now, but it seems a bit self defeating to me that strategy. I can imagine that the same thing is true in your part of the world?

    Did your squirrel just do an act of gardening by planting the hazelnut? It sounds like a very cordial relationship and they’d be providing a fair bit of aeration of the soil and good quantities of manure. Best not to annoy birds and animals that can dig up the garden. 🙂

    The mountain chickadees look like the wrens and robins here. I’ll bet they do a good job of eating the insects in the garden? Yup, feed them and they’ll turn up.

    Ouch. Do your wasps and hornets sting? They look a lot like European wasps which enjoy warmer and drier years down here. I’m not a fan of them.



  40. Hi Pam,

    Yeah, the footy players are outstanding all round athletes. They do it tough too these days and have to maintain that level of fitness. The trick I reckon would be avoiding the injuries or wear and tear. They’ve recently set up a women’s footy league and I read that the players have had to learn how to hold back enough so that they don’t get injured. It is enormously popular the new league.

    Competing against that lot for me was like the old Devil went down to Georgia gig and I took the role of the devil and he knew he’d been beat. Actually, I’ve never run a marathon, the furthest I’ve ever run is a half marathon. I honestly don’t know how people keep up their energy for such a long event. And I knew too many older runners with dodgy knees and once I got to the first hint of knee problems and I simply went off and did something else. Have you ever run any distance or competed in a sport? I’m not by my nature a competitive person and just enjoyed setting my own goals and running suited that. To be honest the effort involved was a bit like meditation as you’d drop into a zone and stay there for the event.

    That sounds right to me about the oil. We have the opposite problem down here in that it is all light stuff (the 9% that is extracted locally) and we import all heavy oils nowadays. I have a vivid memory of seeing the flares from oil rigs off the coast along the ninety mile beach as a young kid – and for the life of me I now don’t know whether I confused a container ship lights for the flares from the rigs in my memory. Dunno. But yeah, people forget that as they used to say: Oils, ain’t oils! 😉

    Thanks on both counts. I was a bit anxious testing the switch on the pump after the system was shut down for a couple of days. But it worked perfectly. I’ll include some photos about the changes over the next few weeks. All of the water pumps will get the changes because they appear to work – and that is good enough for me.

    The water tank repair dude was here for several hours today and we now seem to have fixed the leak. It was a complex problem.

    How did you end up going with the rain from Florence?



  41. Hi Lewis,

    The story of the Daily Chronicle had a familiar ring to it. You know I used to write for publications and they went through a similar thing. It is a story of decline in the print media. Down here I read recently that the two main daily competitors had agreed to join forces and use a single printing plant, thus removing a layer of duplication. It all sounds good and wise until, I dunno, until something or other I guess and people are out of work. It makes me sad because anecdotal accounts that there are some folks pulling enormous earnings from the enterprise, whilst others get to divide the crumbs. I’m uncomfortable with such a setup, but other people seem to want to cheer it on to its inevitably messy conclusion.

    You know, I reckon you were wise not to offer your review services to such an arrangement. There is a cultural loss from that decision, because the locals would miss your sharp and biting witticism’s, but how do you sustain the effort over the longer term when there is little reward?

    Now onto my own dodgy witticism’s and observations… If giving back to the community was self evident and could not be denied by all and sundry, then the trumpet wouldn’t have to be blown in the first place. What is that called? Credibility? Dunno. It reminds me of cars with the sticker plastered over the back windscreen proclaiming to all and sundry: “Bitch with Attitude”. It is a big call, but by and large I feel that such claims should be self evident in order to carry weight. I mean if people tremble at your merest approach, then you’re probably packing more mojo than Genghis Khan. I’ll bet he never had to make too much of a fuss to set the local nobility to shaking in their boots. It was self evident, they knew it, he’s bad news. I now rest my case and can retire from the field feeling well satisfied with myself! 🙂

    Out of the sheerest curiosity, with the good ship Recovery (a fine and noble vessel) does it actually need a captain in order to function given the goals are more personal than community oriented? Dunno. We do seem to put a lot of faith into our captains, and sometimes I feel that it may not be that well placed. Mind you, down here we change Prime Ministers so often that we must surely resemble the workings of a pirate ship rather than a battle cruiser…

    I tell people down here to look at the fine print with their policies, but have been dismissed airily on more than a few occasions. On such occasions, I’m genuinely impressed to see people hearing what they want to hear, even when I explain the consequences. There was an article in the newspaper the other day about those consequences that arose out of the Royal Commission: Not-so lucky you’re with AAMI: Suncorp’s bushfire shame. The problem as I understand it is that they insure a log cabin (apologies but this is what happened for some people there) and the building regulations disallow such a structure, so the insurer is apparently providing the funds to replace the original structure and the owners may have to make up the significant shortfall.

    That story about the KPI’s sounds a lot like the old game of bait and switch. I saw that play out with Uni education which wasn’t that widely done way back in the day: Increased attendance becomes a desirable outcome; Courses are offered free of charge; Community expectations rise; The community chooses to no longer pay for the education of others so fees are reintroduced; The community expectations remain; Course fees get jacked up. I’m uncomfortable with that story but it appears to be what is going on. I had to pay a small fortune for education and nowadays there is barely a perceptible increase in earnings for the investment.

    Exactly, none of it is a story that will end well. It may also die of natural causes too in a sputter of whimpering out. I don’t know what that means but it seems somehow appropriate.

    Thanks for the reminder about the garden water system hubris. The water tank repair dude was here for several hours today. Actually until mid afternoon to be technically precise. It was a right thorn of a problem to fix that leak and at one point we all considered it fixed, he packed up and was beginning to drive off, and the leak began again. We managed to get to him before he made it too far, but the editor had to sprint as she spotted the leak, and she is not a natural runner and was pretty grumpy about it.

    Surely, the goddesses Nemesis and Hubris would be satisfied with a less dramatic offering than a finger or toe? I’m rather fond of my digits and they are inordinately useful. But I shall correct such loose talk in future, before it becomes too much of a problem.

    Mate, reading about the messing around in the cyst gives me a sympathetic pain response. Ouch. That was indeed a strange film, and I watched it at high school of all places. I was left wondering what they were trying to tell us students? It was probably punishment for shouting the hymns at the top of our voices at church like a football cheer squad. For some reason I always felt that Jesus would have been rather pleased with our rousing, if somewhat rowdy efforts. It reminded me of nothing other than John Lennon’s beautiful and stirring song: “Give Peace a Chance”. I guess our intent may not have been pure and so from that perspective it is probably a bit disrespectful, but who are we to guess at the thoughts of the gods? Mind you, it is also probably wise not to go around poking them either…

    The mystery might keep me awake at night. Although, not much has that effect on me really. My main problem with sleep is not getting enough of it. Everyone wants me up early, and I’m unfortunately a night owl, whilst very little of the population seems to function that way. As a general observation which could be interpreted as a sweeping generalisation, they might be a little less grumpy and reactionary if they slept in from time to time…

    Congratulations on achieving your weight goal. It is an impressive effort, and not an easy thing to do. Out of curiosity, did you find that there were any parallels to the 12 steps program in achieving your goal? Or could you use the knowledge that you had learned there?

    Last night at the pub we shared a dessert of pavlova and ice cream. Far out, it was good, but I could feel the sugar coursing through my veins upon conclusion of the final scoop. The chef had even put some fairy floss onto top of the dessert as a decoration. So much sugar… Oh well, growing old disgracefully takes work and one must be at the top of their game! 😉



  42. Hi Inge,

    I am so sorry to read that your quiet enjoyment (which is a legal concept) is being intruded upon. I too would be very grumpy. What are they offering to you to protect people from intruding off the path and upon your property? Fencing is expensive.

    Now being a sneaky sort and inclined to taking a shot out of left field, I’d implement a bit of Sun Tzu and demand environmental protections that are prohibitively expensive. A lot of soil fungal diseases are transferred by foot, and certainly given your ancient woodland that wouldn’t be good, well I’d demand boot washing facilities at either end of the path leading into your land and all manner of other protections. There is also the demand for slightly elevated paths so as to prevent contamination of the soil. Dunno, attrition seems to be the way to go here… If demands are being made upon you, then well the Golden Rule of do unto others seems vastly appropriate.

    Hopefully it also rains a lot between now and then and the area turns to mud. I’d get them back to inspect the site in the worst weather too. One inspection after a dry summer does not make for a consistent understanding of the environmental conditions.



  43. Hi Margaret,

    I’d been wondering how you were going, and you have my continuing sympathies for the loss of Michael.

    Ha! I wouldn’t even know how to use a tablet, so you are miles ahead on that score. I hope that all of the family ends up attending the Celebration of Life at your BIL’s restaurant. Out of curiosity, is that the second family event or were you referring to the service at Michael’s home as the first? As a complete outsiders perspective, from what you’ve told me about Michael and Patrick over the years, I suspect they’d enjoy the fuss. 🙂 The video is a really lovely touch too.

    Exactly. I’ll bet you do tornadoes bigger in your part of the world. I may have mentioned before to you that we got a direct hit from a tornado on Christmas Day many years ago and the rain and wind were epic, but there wasn’t much damage. The engineer specified that we had to construct to high wind loads and so a lot of steel is used in the frame. The problem down here with insurance is that the building standards changed in only the last decade and rebuilding has become enormously expensive in rural areas – due to the fire risk. It is a bit weird really because people in flood prone areas aren’t subject to the same sort of stringent regulations relating to flooding. It seems that some fates are considered more horrific than others – and fire appears to be one of those.

    Oh my goodness, you too have now called it early. Best wishes for Leo and Salve and may they continue to stay clear of wombat (and other more likely sources of) scat… 🙂



  44. Chris:

    The rain from Florence was very light. Then Wednesday something came in with a blast from the north with hurricane winds and absolutely torrential rain – for 20 minutes. It was not predicted and I have no idea where it came from, but a good bit of our sloping driveway is now further down the property.

    I never got into competitive sports, though I loved participating with friends with when younger. Tennis was my game and running cross country through the desert outside of El Paso. And skiing whenever I could get to a slope.

    September is the Month of Spiders here. They build webs of every size off of every tree and shrub in the forest. One has to walk waving a long stick ahead of one or one becomes festooned with webs – and live spiders. That’s a lot of “ones”! The other morning we had a very heavy fog and when the sun came out it shone on hundreds of these webs sparkling with drops of water. It was astonishing. And at least one could see where the webs were for awhile . . .


  45. @ Lew:

    I can see why that spot that you had worked on would hurt more the second time they dealt with it. My dad had the same sort of cyst, in the same area, “operated” on earlier in the summer. It healed beautifully and quickly. He did go back for dressing changes 2 or 3 times. They also had him on antibiotics which he said was what really fixed it.

    I certainly remember Molly Ivins and Ann Richards, but Linda Ellerbee didn’t ring a bell and I had to look her up. And let us not forget Janis Joplin and Willie Nelson. 🙂


  46. @ Margaret – LOL, a couple of the Ladies, here at the Home, are just a wee bit too enthusiastic about getting me out of my shirt. :-). I’m quit satisfied with the very competent and impersonal nurse I’m seeing at the clinic. Lew

  47. @ Pam – I got to see Janice Joplin, once. Back before she REALLY hit it big, and was playing a Carpenter’s Union Hall in Portland. Sigh. Gone too soon. I still throw the CD of her greatest hits on the player, every once in awhile. Lew

  48. Yo, Chris – When the founders were putting together the 12 Step Program, back in the 1930s, they really took a long look at other “temperance” programs that had come before. And, there were a lot of them. All the way back to the 1830s. Oxford Movement, etc.. Most eventually failed. Either they got too political, too much money got involved or they became some megalomaniacal cult of personality. So, they tried to anticipate all those problems, and, apparently did a pretty good job. Just as an interesting sidelight, Currier and Ives produced a number of “temperance” lithographs in the 1800s. They’re a bit over the top, in that Victorian manner. Hence, kind of fun. I’ve got one.

    Sometimes, it seems like one needs a law degree to wind through the fine print of insurance policies. Even our Medicare government insurance is pretty complicated. The “For Dummies” book series puts out a yearly update. A whole book to explain in plain English, the ins and outs of insurance. Changes. During the last administration, Sen. Elizabeth Warren gave the Consumer Protection agency real “teeth.” The banks and insurance companies hate her. Under the new administration, they are once again toothless. :-(.

    There are weight loss programs out there that use the 12 Step template. But, yes, I drew a bit on my own program to stay on track. The thing I keep in mind is “singleness of purpose.” Not letting anything or anyone get between you and your goal. Not even one’s own emotional ups and downs :-). Keeping an eye on the ball? My friend Scott is also loosing weight, but not as steadily as me. Why? His wife keeps undermining him, a bit. But, he’s aware of it and keeps his guard up.

    In transit, to me, is the book on Scotland, “Disputed Lands.” I’ll let you know how it is. Though, mostly I’m just interested in the Roman part. I also saw a book in a catalog that might interest you. “The Scots: A Genetic Journey.” (Moffat & Wilson, 2012). That one is old enough to be available in paperback. As I am not a Scot, I’ll probably pass on that one. :-).

    I watched “Rampage” last night. Great fun. A giant albino Gorilla, mutated giant wolf and mutated alligator battle it out in the middle of Chicago. Brought to mind those old Godzilla movies that regularly brought Tokyo to ruin. Also in transit, “Jurassic Park: Fallen Kingdom.” Dinosaurs AND a volcano. What more can one ask for?

    I hit the clinic, early this morning to have my surgery re-packed. Wasn’t quit as bad, this time. Still made my eyes water. Nurse said it’s looking pretty good. But, I knew what to expect and took two ibuprofen this time, instead of one.

    Picked blueberries, yesterday. I’m stripping the bushes. The crop has about had it. If I feel up to it, I’ll hit my garden this afternoon. Pumpkins to pick, potatoes to dig. Garlic, ditto. Green beans. Tomatoes. Plant some miniature iris. I’m sure I won’t get to it all, but I can get a start. Lew

  49. Hi Chris,

    Thank you for your kind words. Doug got me a Amazon Fire tablet last year for my birthday. With the cover it was only $79 new. As I only use it if I’m out of town I didn’t need or want anything fancy and so far it’s been just fine. I can’t type on the touchpad like I can on a keyboard. Plus the darn thing is always auto correcting or, even worse, changing my words completely. I took typing in high school and at one time could type 90 wpm though I’m only around 60 now. So anyway I really prefer a keyboard if I’m writing anything more than a few sentences.

    Yes this a second event. The first one was put organized by the facility where he lived – primarily for the residents. As it’s a very religious organization it wasn’t quite our family’s style. We did a video for Patrick and my MIL and they are very well received. My older daughter is quite good at putting them together getting songs to sync with pictures, fading out etc. Maybe it’s not a big deal to other people but I would have struggled for days trying to get it right. I will be happy when we are past this. Due to scheduling issues it’s been drawn out too long imho.

    While I enjoy visiting my daughter I was happy to get back home and away from all the city noise. She and her boyfriend have four cats between them and they are like their children. There is cat paraphernalia everywhere. I like cats well enough but prefer them outside in a barn.

    We live in tornado alley so people take tornadoes very seriously. However, unlike your fires, the area affected is usually not to large. I read that quite a few people who lost homes to Florence didn’t have (probably couldn’t afford) insurance.

    Mosquitoes still horrendous but starting tonight the weather is turning much colder with some nights in the 30’s (F) and hopefully that’ll help.


  50. @Inge

    Sorry to hear about the foot path through your property. It sounds like it’s a done deal. There’s a town in Wisconsin not far from us, Lake Geneva, that has a foot path around the entire shore of the lake most of which is private property. I’ve never heard of any significant problems but I too would be nervous having strangers walking that close to my home. Here’s a link about it. Sorry I haven’t figured out how to put a hyperlink it so you would have to copy and paste it.


  51. Chris,

    Yeah, some things can be given up and it’s an inconvenience until new habits are fostered. But refrigerators and running water, well, that gets to be different.

    I dunno where the local organic farms get their seeds. I’m guessing that they don’t harvest their own and have to buy them, though. I can foresee a time in which we’ll all be forced to use our own seeds or else not have gardens. Thanks for the earlier prods to move in the right direction.

    Yup, the chickadees seem to eat a lot of little things I can’t see, but are doing a big service. Ditto the free aerating from the squirrels. We’ve also had a large family of flickers this year. They’re somewhat larger than a robin, are a type of woodpecker, so eat a lot of bugs. I watched one for over an hour poking around in the grass and eating an infestation of some crawling thing. It’s definitely good to have them around.

    Yes, the hornets sting. I don’t use insecticides on the lawn. I quit using Round-up and like products years ago, too. The lack of insecticides has led to grasshoppers and locusts enjoying my yard. This brings in more hornets to eat them. The hornets and I have an uneasy relationship: there are certain things that will irritate them, and one or two will fly into my hat as a “warning shot” if I’ve infringed on them. Otherwise, they tend to leave me alone. I do have to put up the “pheromone” style traps, however, or else there’s be so many the “truce” would be over. I don’t relish the idea of getting stung by them, so I do honor their warnings.

    Not using that hideous Monsanto product as had benefits! I have giant patch of Russian sage. No Round-up and a couple years later the sage is covered with bumblebees and honey bees. The honey bees had been absent for a decade, so I’m glad to see them back in force. I’ve transplanted some of the sage, so am getting the good bees at various places and they feast on the sage for the 4 months it’s in bloom.

    The neighbors think I’m crazy, which is fine with me. Being on the “enough” and “L.E.S.S.” voluntarily has rewards that most people don’t even know exist.


  52. cont. I like the title of this week’s post, by the way. It’s true for a lot of things.

    One of which got mentioned this week at Mr. Greer’s site: Amazon. Spokane is giddy because Amazon is building one of their giant warehouse here. Our housing prices have been going absolutely bat-@#&% crazy. With Amazon coming in, it will add another boost to the craziness and totally overuse that part of the region’s failing infrastructure. Things got ugly when the housing market and economy collapsed in 2008. This is crazier and I think the plunge will be more severe and have more consequences.

    Because I love that company sooooo much, I will refuse to mention it’s name here again.

    Oh, and your evening outing sounds fun!


  53. Hi Pam, Lewis, Margaret, and DJ,

    Thanks for the lovely comments however I will be unable to reply this evening. Until tomorrow! 🙂

    Lewis – I put the timber roof structure up for the new shed today. It is looking good, but it was a lot of work and we’ve tried hard to use as much scrap materials as we humanly could which always makes the process slower. However, it’s always nice to see the pile of scrap materials being used up. 🙂

    I’m impressed at the temperance groups longevity. For some reason the temperance meme, as distinct from your group, has never quite gone away from society and it pops its head up every now and then decrying the sadly decaying morals. Mostly nowadays learned folks inform us that we’re all going to die, and that is probably more true than not. Dunno. It is a bit strange. Back in the day I remember my grandfather (who enjoyed whiskey) telling me that they used to sign up kids to promise to abstain. I’m not sure that strategy works so well, but it does make for a feeling that we’re all progressing somewhere good – wherever that is. And they also used to build Coffee Palaces, which are probably not nearly as much fun as the local pub. Although I do enjoy coffee…

    You’re not wrong. The most recent product disclosure statement for the house insurance was something crazy like 96 pages long. I can’t be exactly sure what I’ve signed. It seems a bit over the top. I’ve read that franchise agreements – and I for one am uncomfortable with such things – can run to 500 pages. Such detail is beyond the average persons ken.

    Exactly, focus is the key to achieving things. We just have to recall to unfocus from time to time and take a look around. I reckon you’re on the money with that approach. Ah, did you just mention the ‘enabler’. A fearsome beast and probably behind many a lock in person too. I reckon part of that story is control and dependence but only part and everyone is different.

    I look forward to your review of the book. I know very little of their history, but I suspect they were a fearsome lot back in the day.

    Haha! The film sounds like a ripper. What more indeed? Hmm, they could chuck in a tornado. Di-nado, nuff said! You heard it first here. Hey did anyone from the crew endanger the entire party of humans? I suspect that the dinosaurs were not in any great danger. Speaking of which they’ve found a very ancient blob like animal in the fossil records: Fossilised fat confirms this Ediacaran fossil is Earth’s oldest known animal

    And you can fool some people, but you can’t fool everyone: School dux Sally Downie’s new challenge: Taking on the family farm. Inspiring stuff.

    Glad to hear that the cleaning of the cyst was less traumatic. It would make my eyes water too.

    Well done with the blueberries. My lot are just beginning to put on some leaves. It is a beautiful day here today. 71’F here today and the sun is shining.

    Better run.


  54. Hello again and @ Margaret
    Not sure that I should say too much about my problem. The complexities are enormous. Not just the coastal path but access to and from it. Considerable gradients and the sea eroding. At least I will not be responsible if anyone injures themselves. Son and I reckon that any path will last just one winter. It appears that the Island Council will be responsible for its maintenance. That is a complete laugh due to their financial problems. We have seen their work elsewhere.

    Anyhow they haven’t come to a conclusion as to route and yes, it appears that they do have to fence it. Oh how I am looking forward to a deluge of a winter.

    Meanwhile it continues to be a gorgeous Summer and the tomatoes keep piling up. Son makes tomato sauce and I make Bolognaise sauce and I also freeze the tomatoes whole.


  55. cont.
    Look up Isle of Wight Ramblers. Then go to section 1 and you can see the blue line of their hoped for path.
    and to Margaret:- I loved that lake footpath but it was very calm compared to the wild woodland and potential waves here.


  56. Chris et al
    Sorry, I am becoming a nuisance; put it down to ‘mind shot to pieces’. One goes to Isle of Wight Ramblers then to Coastal Path project, then Section 1. Then find King’s Quay on the resultant map and my intended path runs east from there. However this remains projected not a definite route.


  57. @DJSpo & Chris – As with so many other things that are not figured into the cost of living index, garden seed has also shown a steady increase in price. When garlic cloves hit $5 a pound, that’s when I got serious about carrying over from one year to the next.

    Sometimes, when I buy a packet of seeds, either in a store or catalog, I can’t really tell if they’re hybrids or not. Sometimes it takes a trip to Google. My situation is a bit fraught, as we’re so tightly packed in here (garden space wise) and, there’s so many different gardeners. Getting good seed that will breed “true” is going to be a problem. I think.

    Another problem I’ve noticed, as with small organic or family run food companies, organic and family run seed companies (some, several generations running) are being bought up by massive conglomerates. Fine if they leave well enough alone, but they usually don’t.

    But, there are things like the seed exchange. And, most gardeners are pretty free with giving seed or starts. Our Master Gardeners have a yearly plant sale. On Sundays, whatever is left is deeply discounted. Also, some of our high school agricultural clubs also have yearly sales. Lew

  58. Yo, Chris – Not much got done, yesterday. I think this back thing is taking it out of me, more than I know. I laid down to take a “little nap”, yesterday, and slept 5 hours! Took a good look at things, picked some tomatoes for dinner. Watered. And, of course, it rained last night :-). No harm done.

    Re: the article on fossils. So. Like the poor, fat has always been with us? :-).

    I learn something new, everyday. I had too look up “school dux.” Seems similar to our “valedictorian” (top of school class) and “salutatorian” (second in class.) More power to the young lady. You have to be tough these days (sometimes, I think) not to bow to the social pressure that everyone has to go to Uni.

    I still occasionally hear the term “take the pledge” or “sign the pledge” which relates to the old temperance movements. they were more social or fraternal, I think. Not much tinkering around under the hood of the human brain. A lot of them blew up when they got political. Some when money became an issue.

    I’ll watch Jurassic World, tonight. Review to follow. Lew

  59. @Lew

    Glad you enjoyed Rampage – I was sort of looking forward to that but Mrs Damo watched it without me (along with Ready Player One) and I have not had a chance to see either of them since!

    Jurassic World 2 did indeed have the volcanoes and dinosaurs, but probably could have done with more of The Rock!


  60. Hi Chris,

    It didn’t take a housing article to get me out of the woodwork – I am always here….(creepy voice)…watching 🙂

    I hope your pump situation is now improved. Thankfully my water situation is never more complex then deciding which tap to plug the hose into – although today I did spend some time trying to figure out the optimum sprinkler pattern to efficiently cover a single garden bed. I ended up just going back to the hose – I couldn’t stand wasting water on the surrounding grass 🙂

    Yes, there is indeed a new predator film. It is incredibly stupid and gory with pretty much no horror elements. I enjoyed myself although I could never call it a good film 🙂

    Planted out some seedlings today – pumpkin, triffids, snow peas and spring onions which I got for a $1 on the special rack. I think Spring has morphed into Summer here – it was a hot 20 degrees yesterday and several of the smaller ski fields have closed.

    Flying to Wellington tomorrow for work – the flight leaves at a very uncivilized hour and I am not happy at the time I need to get out of bed that is for sure!


  61. Hi Pam,

    Far out, heavy rain does a lot of damage in a short period of time, and I hear you about the lost driveway. It is really hard to setup fool proof systems for such weather events. Really hard, and you have my understanding. That’s a shared ouch!

    All good sports. What sort of time of the day would a person do cross country running in a desert environment? Most of the fun runs (a dubious name if ever I heard one) are run (excuse the pun) down here during the winter months. It would be a difficult activity during summer.

    The webs are beautiful aren’t they? I saw that effect on a golf course (which I was walking through) last year and light was such from the setting sun that the entire area looked covered in spiders webs (as indeed it was). I’ve never seen that before or since. But at night here in the orchard if you shine a torch at the ground, well, there are a lot of spiders eyes glinting malefically back up… Best not to annoy them! 🙂 From what I understand, the golden orb spiders here fly on the winds and can sometimes be found far out at sea when they land on boats.



  62. Hi Margaret,

    That sounds like a useful tool, although I have no idea how such a keyboard would even work. And auto correction leaves a lot to be desired – a bit like self driving cars in that they works sometimes. Touch typing is a really handy skill and it is best to be learned early before bad habits set in. It is good that they taught you that at High School. It may amuse you to learn that the State Government taught me that skill in a weird labour experiment about something to do with multi skilling the workforce. It was one of those things that all seemed like a good idea at the time and I put my hand up and everyone breathed a sigh of relief that they themselves weren’t involved. Back in those days you had typing pools which used to convert hand written documents into typed documents. 60wpm is a commendable speed.

    Fair enough and it was a nice idea to have two memorials for Michael given the circumstances. Possibly some of the other residents may have been troubled by a huge group of family members who they may or may not have been familiar with, so it is a very kind thing to do to have a service for them as they would have been close to Michael.

    Plus it is a nice thing for your BIL’s restaurant, and hopefully he manages to get the food out in reasonable time. It would be a nightmare in a commercial kitchen if a huge group arrived all at once and wanted all the food served at the same time. Very difficult. Lewis may have some war stories about such events.

    Four cats would never make for a dull moment. My mates of the Big Shed used to razz me up about having four dogs (5.5 acres per dog does not seem overly ambitious, but opinions were opined!) We went to visit them yesterday evening and I noted that other guests had arrived with dogs in tow and also two other dogs were on a short stay. So somehow they seem to have seven dogs on the property. Yes, I did give them heaps back about how the situation suddenly looked to me. It is school holidays down here and there were three mum’s (friends of my mates) and five kids visiting as well, and the kids were having the time of their lives and running amok. It reminded me of how hard kids do it in the city and how restricted their lives are. As expected they all crashed early and we sat around the wood fired stove and just talked rubbish late into the evening. It was a very enjoyable evening.

    You don’t have to tell me about taking weather related risks seriously. And the sort of tornadoes you get would leave me feeling mildly anxious. We finished the timber framing on the new shed today and just to be safe we ran some steel strapping tying the roof to the timber posts which are cemented into the ground. If that blows away, I have bigger problems to deal with…

    That’ll kill the mosquitoes. Hopefully you don’t get to experience the incredibly long and drawn out autumn we did. The weather was nice, but there have been plant repercussions to that time.



  63. Hi DJ,

    Yeah, refrigerators are good, but they’re a Johnny-come-lately technology and back in the day nobody had refrigerators. Salting, smoking, and other technologies are far older and make for less energy intensive experiences. There is also the Coolgardie safe which I have actually seen in use on my grandfathers camp way, way out in the sticks, and it works well.

    The seed problem is as far as I can tell an expression of the economics of the circumstances. If you have to save seed, then you have to set aside a proportion of plants that can run their full life course. And that means much lower yields. The math involved is probably beyond my understanding, but it doesn’t look good.

    The flickers sound like sensible birds. There are all sorts of yummy insects floating around a healthy garden. I get wood borers (witchety grubs) in the local trees and whenever I cut and split firewood the local magpies and kookaburra’s often follow me around and I feed them the grubs. Once I fed one of the kookaburra’s so many grubs it struggled flying, but eventually it safely retreated to a nearby tree to digest its meal.

    An excellent choice. A lot of control methods are basically ways of poisoning aspects of the environment that are undesirable from our point of view, and if we poison one aspect, then we eventually poison ourselves. There ain’t many ways of getting around that one. Hey, the bees do that to me too. The warning shot across the bow. I take note of such warnings…

    Russian sage is a very hardy plant and I grow it here, although other forms of sage are hardier for some reason. The official sage is quite effective at treating mouth ulcers on the odd occasion that I have experienced that.

    Exactly, the benefits have little economic value, but come with an inordinate enjoyment factor.



  64. Hi Inge,

    I really feel for you with your difficulties. I’m unsure that down here such a thing could happen, but I do note that property titles rarely extend down to the high water mark – and traditionally those that did get taken back by the government upon sale of the property and transfer of the title.

    Yes, and I too would not put my strategies on a public forum if only because to be forewarned is to be forearmed. I am cursed with a devious mind, so I mentioned the other strategies as helpful primer in how to address such matters.

    And absolutely not. You are not a nuisance and have commented long enough that you have earned the privilege of expounding upon the odd difficulty or two. I find that sometimes I brain storm ideas with the editor (and everyone I know really) if a problem is beyond my experience. I mean how else do you come up with a suitable response? I mean you can’t have all the answers… Nobody does. Even the Oracle at Delphi would have been stumped for a response from time to time. 🙂



  65. Hi Lewis,

    Mate, I hate to be the one to tell you, but it’s an invasive procedure and that is sure to knock you around regardless. I would have slept for five hours too and felt very lethargic. Plus there is the uncertainty of internally dealing with what the procedure may reveal. I had a benign thingee cut off my ear earlier this year and I had to wait upon the biopsy which revealed that it was benign. You know, time waits for no man and the inevitable is a dark certainty. I hope you are feeling better today?

    No, no hassle at all and it is nice to survey one’s garden achievements at leisure. It is enjoyable to produce something where before nothing was doing, I dunno, doing something or other anyway. Certainly it doesn’t have to have been productive time? I muck around a lot.

    Hey, the editor today mentioned an epic project for next year… My mind spins at the possibilities and maybe it is possible. Dunno.

    I went to visit my mates of the Big Shed fame yesterday evening and I’m really impressed with their place. It is a complex place full of systems and they favour animal systems, but then it is complex here too. Their indoor garden grows at a rate that I can’t quite get my head around. Despite having planted their avocado tree after mine, theirs is already producing fruit. I couldn’t deny it as the fully formed fruit was hanging there waiting to be picked. It is awesome to behold. We took away two huge goose eggs, and I can see why the old timers selected upon the Goose for the story of the Goose that laid the Golden Egg. They’re huge. You wouldn’t write that story about the Silky Chicken that laid the Golden Egg as everyone would know that it is a bantam chicken with smaller eggs. The return on investment would not be so good.

    Very funny, but possibly also very true about the fossil. It is an energy store like any other. Nobody wins any points for being the oldest and fittest dude upon their demise, although it may prolong the inevitable for a bit.

    I suspect that she is a tough person and knows full well what she is getting into and will do well. Agriculture is a very tough school, but also very rewarding. And how can so few know so much, whilst everyone else seems oblivious, but also relies upon it? Such deep questions…

    It is interesting but I sort of feel that there is an agenda behind many of the temperance articles that I see regularly turning up in the media. I dunno what possible benefit could accrue to the people paying for them. But I tell ya, once upon a time I had a bizarre notion that if I was involved in anything illicit (and for the record I’m not) then I would funnel funds into campaigning to keep the status quo. I mean such an investment would be akin to protecting future margins. But that is pure speculation on my part.

    Hope you enjoy the epic-dino-disaster film! 🙂 I better get on and do some writing myself!



  66. Yo, Chris – Well, it’s Sunday, here, and the clinic is closed. So, I have to go get my back re-dressed at some walk-in-clinic over at the hospital. Hope it doesn’t take too long. I’ve already decided that they’ve got two hours to see me. Any longer than that, and it can wait til early tomorrow morning at the regular clinic. I’m old. Time’s short :-).

    “Epic project for next year.” Finally! The garden folly! :-).

    I’d settle for a small golden egg. Any size will do. Shipping address to follow …

    “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” was a pretty good romp. Except … Hmm. What to say without giving too much away. You could divide the movie into two parts, and it would have been better (I think) to reverse the order. Also, too much creeping around in the dark, waiting for something to jump out at you. I fast forwarded through a few of those parts. Mercifully, only one small child this time, instead of the usual two. Pretty much followed instructions, and didn’t endanger too many people around her. Still, very naughty in the end, but got us all set up for another sequel.

    Dipped into “The Debatable Land” a bit. Not something I’m going to read from cover to cover. Spends a lot of time banging on about the border reavers in the 1400 and 1500s. But the author has seemingly broken the code to reading Ptolemy’s map (circa 150CE) of Britain. Which is supposed to reveal where a lot of Roman sites are. And, there’s a chapter on revealing where Arthur’s 12 battles were located. But, I didn’t see any indication that he actually went out and dug a spade in the ground. Guess he’ll leave that to the grubby archaeologists. Lew

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