The old dog and the boss

You don’t have to spend more than a few minutes with the dogs (colloquially known as the “Fluffy Collective”) here at the farm to know that Scritchy the fox terrier, is the boss dog. She is the boss, yet whilst being relentlessly cheerful, she is as mean as a canine could be. She rules the fluffy collective pack with an iron paw, tolerating no nonsense from the other dogs.

However, Scritchy is also an old girl and getting older. I believe that she is about seventeen or eighteen years old. And despite her age and diminutive size, she is a ball of muscle and energy and perhaps more importantly, she packs a mean punch – and is not afraid to use it.

Needless to say, as boss dog, the other dogs defer to her. But, last week in a completely unexpected incident, I noticed that Sir Scruffy – the charming scruffy terrier – had unceremoniously kicked her off of her food bowl. This was an unexpected turn of events, and I suspect that there has been a bloodless coup which means that Sir Scruffy the charming is now the boss dog.

I’ve never had a male boss dog before and he should be a fine boss dog if only because he can deal with the young upstart: Ollie the large and getting larger Australian cuddle dog (as every reader by now knows that he is actually an Australian cattle dog).

Sir Scruffy the charming, deploys an ancient martial arts inspired trick to deal with Ollie – and it is very effective. Sir Scruffy will emit an awful scream whilst simultaneously lunging at the occasionally obstreperous and somewhat surprised Ollie. And as any brave soul that has ever had to deal with a dragon knows for sure, the under bits of the dragon are the softest and most vulnerable.  And Sir Scruffy is not afraid to use that lore to his advantage.

Needless to say that Ollie now treats Sir Scruffy with a deference and respect that he never quite managed to display with Scritchy. And Scritchy now has the title ‘boss dog emeritus’. Don’t worry for Scritchy, she still enjoys plenty of perquisites as befitting her age and experience, it is just that things are not quite as good for her as they used to be. And Scritchy has taken this loss with good grace whilst retaining her usual unflappable cheerfulness.

Sir Scruffy the charming now controls the fluffy collective

Last week I read an article in the newspaper: ‘It’s not their money’: retirees vent anger at Labor dividend tax plan. That sounds awful, imagine an attack on old folks! Old folks do it tough. In fact I recall the days of the late 1980’s and early 1990’s when working class old folks with very little income, were forced to sell their inner urban homes and move because their pensions no longer covered the basic costs of living there. I was renting in those areas at the time and recall reading the tragic stories in the newspaper. I also distinctly recall the neighbour who could no longer afford to remain living in the house that she’d lived in for over forty years.

It was sad, but a lot of other people (who are now older themselves) swept in to make some mad cash buying up those inner urban homes. There were also stories about old pensioner eating cat food simply to stay in their houses.

Yup, like Scritchy boss dog emeritus, plenty of old folks do it tough. So I read the article with concern for their plight, and I managed to get four paragraphs into it before I read the surprising claim from a bloke of pensioner age:

“It’s going to cost me over $30,000 a year and in excess of 30 per cent of my income,” he told the inquiry in Sydney on Tuesday.

I thought to myself, hang on a second, is that old bloke earning a six figure salary purely from investments? Now math is not my strong suit, but I reckon he may be on an investment income of at least $100,000 per year based on those numbers. And additionally I’m guessing that due to his age he is likely to be exempt from paying any tax. Bummer to be young these days – I note that gourmet cat food is quite expensive now!

What the old fellow in the article appears to be suggesting is that his annual income may possibly reduce from $100,000 to $70,000 with the proposed changes. Mind you, that income is likely to be tax free.

Maybe it is just me, but I find it a bit hard to feel sympathetic for the old blokes’ complaints, if only because I know plenty of people who work full time, and they don’t score that much mad cash and neither are they enjoying tax free status due to their age.

According to a Wikipedia article on Australian government debt, the Federal government has had 11 consecutive budget deficits, and the 2018 budget is forecast to be another deficit of $18.2 billion. A deficit is a fancy way of saying that you spend more than you earn – and every man, and their boss dog, knows that you have to make up the difference by borrowing the difference from somewhere (I believe that two thirds of the borrowings are owed to people living overseas).

If there was plenty of money sloshing around the Federal governments coffers, then I would salute the old blokes craftiness at scoring a mad advantage over everyone else. But if the Federal government has to borrow money just to pay the day to day bills, then I’d have to suggest that the old blokes advantage is a burden for his kids and future generations to bare, and I’m frankly uncomfortable with that.

I reckon Scritchy showed the way forward by backing away from her boss dog status with good grace, because it left her with plenty of perquisites to enjoy in her old age, without sacrificing the remaining fluffy collective and fuelling animosity.

Last week I described the weather as bonkers. The weather this week was something else altogether (bonkers squared?) A chunk of cold air associated with the stormy oceans swirling around and around Antarctica, broke loose and drifted north just to land here. The fancy name for that weather event is a ‘cut off low’. How that plays out, is that at times the rain could only be described as feral because it was so torrential.

The rain this week was feral due to the ‘cut off low’ band of cold moist Antarctic air

At other times, storms rolled in from the south west producing spectacular lightning and thunder.

Lightning strike south of Gisborne
More lightning strikes

Very occasionally, the sun would shine, and this was a good thing for the house batteries because solar photovoltaic (PV) panels don’t produce a great deal of energy when there are thick clouds and heavy storms. During one sudden break in the clouds, the system recorded more charge from the solar power system than I had ever previously noted:

The solar power system generates 190 amps at about 36 volts to equal 6.84kW during a brief break in the storms

Needless to say that I was unable to get much work done around the farm this week. At one point on Friday I noticed that there was a break in the rain, so I headed off to perform an upgrade on the connectors and fuses for the six solar PV panels which sit in the paddock below the house.

I replaced the junction and fuse box for the six solar PV panels in the paddock below the house

I thought to myself that the re-wiring and box replacement job wouldn’t take too long. Then I accidentally dropped a crucial nut into a cable conduit that runs under ground. I couldn’t believe it. And it was impossible to retrieve the nut without making a huge mess of things. So I looked through my collection of parts and discovered to my horror, that I had every other metric sized nut other than that particular size (M5 for those who are technically minded).

I employed a bit of farm engineering to solve the problem, by simply replacing the bolt that the nut should have been screwed onto, with a larger bolt and nut. Problem solved, but it took a while to solve. And the rest of the re-wiring job still had to be completed as I couldn’t just leave the live, but low voltage wires exposed and hanging there.

Meanwhile another wave of the storm ever so slowly approached from the south, and before I had completed the job, I got drenched with rain. And it kept raining for hours. Fortunately, the job is now complete.

The fuse and distribution box for the six solar PV panels below the house was upgraded this week

The wiring is pretty neat and the benefit of this arrangement is that a problem with any two solar PV panels won’t stop the others from producing power. This section of wiring was the very last to be upgraded so that the panels are fused this way (as well as being again fused in the battery room). Given the huge amount of energy the solar power system can produce (and it produces far more than a MIG or TIG welder could ever dream about – all day and everyday) it pays to be cautious and have lots of fail safes built in.

And that was it for work this week!

In farm produce news:

We’re harvesting potatoes – Purple and Dutch Cream make a striking contrast
Kiwi fruit appear to be getting bigger (or are they the flowers?) Megalakiwi.
The first of a bumper season of red currants (they make a tasty wine but are not the tastiest for fresh eating)
Corncam – The corn is getting bigger and the germination rate has improved this week 53%. Where’s Toothy?
Unbelievably, the grape vines planted a few weeks ago have produced a tiny bunch of grapes
Ollie has trashed one or two of the lavender plants against the strawberry enclosure in the pursuit of the Rosellas in the enclosure last week. We are not amused!
Apricots are continuing to put on size, but it will be a poor harvest this year
I’m far more hopeful for a good crop of almonds and the nuts look filled out this year

Onto the flowers:

The first of the seasons agapanthus
Nasturtiums now free roam through the garden beds
A lonely little rose will soon be joined by plenty more roses!
Sage is a stunner
What looks like a dragonfly is approaching a mint scented geranium
The first of the seasons penstemon
Canary Island foxgloves look great – and are as tough as
This garden bed is full of pyrethrum
Poppies are just show offs
Looking past a Japanese maple and into a diverse garden bed
A delightful red smoke bush
Native clematis climbs up this thorny native
I’ve never before seen the local hazel pomaderris produce such a bright flower show

The temperature outside now at about 8.00am is 9’C (48’F). So far this year there has been 835.8mm (32.9 inches) which is higher than last week’s total of 791.1mm (31.1 inches).

72 thoughts on “The old dog and the boss”

  1. Chris,

    Nice photos of the lightning. I’m always impressed when someone can take good photos of lightning, the moon, things like that. Always best to take photos like that from a distance, too.

    Thanks for the suggestion of adding some garden dirt to the bags of leaves. That sounds like a good idea. Eventually, I’ll have to remove some of the material from the containers, so I might as well add that to the bags now.

    The change of regime in your midst was interesting to read about. Perhaps Scritchy and Sir Scruffy had a late night discussion and the food bowl event was merely a sign to the other dogs and you that the change had occurred? Glad it appears to be rather a peaceable change.

    The last two days got busy for me. I’m trying to carve a walking stick out of chokecherry, which is harder wood than I’ve worked with before. I spent a lot of time carving on Saturday and made a lot of progress. I sat and held the stick today, wondering what direction to go next. Sure enough, the stick told me what to do. This is my first walking stick, which is teaching me a lot. Oh, and it is fun, too.

    Then there was this morning. Our laundry washing machine is in the basement. I noted a week or so ago that when the machine was draining it’s water, water had been backing up from the pipes into the 2 attached utility sinks. Not a good thing. I ran a load of laundry Friday and found that the water approached 7 cm per sink, so had to do something.

    So, today was Snake Day. I opened the handy pipe access, then inserted the snake, which is this cable that can be fed into the pipe and then twisted around by means of a crank. Contrary to common belief, I am not a crank, I just turn the crank on the snake apparatus. And feed more cable down the pipe, crank some more, remove the cable, rinse the gunk from it, run too much water down the pipe which starts to back up, curse a bit, then feed the snake in again. Success was found after about 10 meters of cable had been inserted and was writhing about in the pipes thanks to my continuous turning of the crank: a welcome sound of rushing water down the pipe signaled that the plug of gunk had been eradicated.

    So, after two hours, there was little mess to clean up, the attempt was successful, and I was cranky.

    Your flower pictures are always nice. I’m getting ideas for the future…


  2. @ Pam,

    Next time I see my great-nephew, I’ll suggest that he raise geese, or at least have a career in fish and wildlife so he can see a lot of geese that way. He’s old enough now that he needs to start thinking about what he’ll be doing.


  3. Hi Margaret,

    That makes more sense about the charcuterie tray. Delightful food! Have you ever processed any of your own charcuterie from the sows? My mates of the big shed fame do that, and the result is very tasty.

    Speaking of farm animals, I’ll put in a link to Lewis’s reply about a monster bee hive that was discovered and removed inside a house in Queensland (some parts of it are a bit like Florida in more ways than one). They do things bigger up there! I checked our honey super box early last week and there were bees in there, but no honey yet, so I’ll leave them go for a few months. I’m unsure whether I should remove it and reduce the hive to only three boxes. The horizontal hive was rocking and they urgently needed more space…

    Yeah, honestly we leave everything inside sheds too – thus all of the sheds dotted about the farm. And if the rain doesn’t destroy machines, the extreme UV certainly does – you’d be amazed at the damage it would cause to the hydraulic fluid lines on Doug’s tractor if it was down in this part of the world. The lines rapidly begin to crack and split if left in the sun and rain. Not good. Nice to read that he managed to get his truck in the new shed and out of the impending snow. Was it as bad as forecast? Not to tease you, because I’m not, but it looks like every day this next week will be around 70’F. Very pleasant.



  4. Hi Lewis,

    European honey bees are amazing creatures and if left to their own devices, they can construct humongous sized hives. Unfortunately the design of most brick veneer houses down here are perfect for most wasps and bees. Not that people tend to understand that aspect of the construction. Because of the serious fire risk, this house is sealed very tightly, and where I allowed air flow, the openings are covered with very heavy duty stainless steel mesh. Stainless steel is an amazing product. Unfortunately, it wouldn’t make for a good sword because it is a softer metal than the more usual steel, but it can tolerate very high temperatures. Alas, I digress… Oh yeah, bees in houses. Well up in the state of Queensland – where things are frankly bigger – an experienced apiarist was called upon recently to remove a very large, and very old bee hive from a house. It is epic. And the bloke was calm enough that unlike me he didn’t use gloves, and sometimes he took his hat off. I’m not experienced enough to be that cool. Anyway, without further ado: Apiarist strikes gold finding more than 50,000 bees in a bathroom brood and ‘monster’ hive packed with honey. Pretty cool, huh? 🙂

    The riot was certainly colourful with all the yellow vests and that. At least the vest made it immediately easy to distinguish the police from the protestors. The reporting of the issue was very light weight though, because although it mentioned an increase in the cost of diesel fuel by 23% (or around that number) this year, it completely failed to mention what the fuel was priced at per litre. Oh, they’re paying Euro 1.48 per litre. That’s actually quite reasonably priced given they have very little national extraction and the national reserves probably wouldn’t last long. I’d advise them to stop rioting and immediately begin producing more stuff locally, but that is just my take on events. The cost of fuel feeds into everything and so I see the cost of living rising whilst incomes are relatively flat, and I’d have to suggest that as a species, we eat fuel given our dependence on the energy stuff to produce food. Incidentally, the riot was probably a cathartic act for the people involved in it – WWI was a bit like that.

    Naughty Lewis! Hehe! I happen to know a bloke that runs a well trod hat store, and I suspect that his patrons might be up for a bit of rioting should the hat store close its doors! I spied a linen slightly off white hat in the window this morning and I was thinking to myself that I should get that. Linen is a very good material for the warmer temperatures of summer, and as one ages, they have more hair everywhere else other than the top of their head. You may have achieved greater results on that front than I, but you know I reckon I’m doing OK on that hair front and have always had a philosophers forehead so it should be smooth sailing from here unto the next, whatever… 🙂 Hehe!

    I wonder about the logistical processes of supplying egg markets over the depths of winter too. Far out, I just got interrupted by more of the pharmaceutical marketing folks who seem to not have noticed that I don’t post their never ending spam. They’ve provided quite the learning experience for me, because I blacklist so many of their comments promoting products that I now know them by name. I wonder if they’ve bothered to check? Probably not.

    Exactly, your story with the chickens is exactly what I do with the bees. I just try to understand how much surplus they produce, and under what sort of conditions across a number of seasons – and then just accommodate that. The chickens have to put away a bit of reserves for the next season. My experiences with commercial breeds of chickens has not been as good as the heritage varieties – which suit my temperament a bit better. Oh, the commercial folks probably know a thing or two about storing the eggs in good conditions and spreading out the production across the year. It is rather unfortunate that many people probably have no idea what they’re doing to keep them supplied 365 days per year.

    Thanks! And I ripped that idea off the permaculture folks many long years ago. It is worthwhile transplanting soil, because whilst that carries risk of disease, you never quite know what benefits may entail in the diverse soil life. Most of the green waste (mulch) and composts that I’ve brought in here have added a lot of diversity to the soil life.

    The Royal Dulton figurines of the Wizard are very cool looking, and some of them even have familiars which is a neat touch. Honestly though, do you reckon Merlin would have required such a pointy hat covered in stars? He would have been far too cool for that – well at first. One of the things I enjoyed reading about in Nicholas Tolstoy’s book on the historical individual, was that despite Merlin backing the wrong team and having to flee into the wilderness, he was still revered right to the end and given a place.

    Words can have so many meanings pre-loaded into them, especially when they are hot button topics such as perceived food rights. I have remarked in the past that human rights are not much good unless they can be supported by the ecosphere, and I haven’t seen anything to change my mind about that.

    I’m curious about your opinion, but enjoying meals without meat looks to me like a concept that other people feel maybe a form of loss for them. Dunno? I eat plenty of meals without meat, and it takes a bit more skill in the kitchen, but once you master that, they’re really tasty. A lot of stuff that gets served up as vegetarian food has a feeling and taste of hair shirt asceticism to it. It doesn’t have to be that way.

    I was going to type out something profound about Faraday cages, and then I accidentally dropped a chunk of pasta with beetroot sauce onto my jeans and stuff leaves a stain that is really hard to explain. So I had to race into the kitchen and wipe up the mess with copious amounts of water. Electric fields are weird things – and that was the cause of the recent dramas with the solar power system here which ended up with me getting the inverter moved. One device was emitting an electric field that interrupted with another device which was operating at a lower frequency. I doubt very much that we know what we are messing around with, and those that complain about it, rarely want to give up on their fancy devices.

    Oh yeah, Faraday cages. The concept of those came to me with all of the horror stories about the aftermath of nuclear war. I couldn’t work out whether people were more concerned about the death and flies and stuff, or the loss of all of the fancy devices that would get burned out by the pulse of electromagnetic radiation? I recall the depictions of nuclear winter in the aftermath as televised shows. Often I noticed a theme that the Universities had somehow managed to rig up a ham radio system to get news of the outside world. It seemed a bit farcical to me as an idea even back then when I was an impressionable kid. Surely they would have had more immediate concerns such as burying the bodies? And the characters always used to look too clean to my eyes.

    Best wishes for scouting out a solid chunk of leaves for next season!



  5. Hi DJ,

    Many thanks, and it always amazes me just how many things go on here all of the time – which sort of makes my life easier! And it is quite nice that many things take a little bit of time, which means that I can grab the camera and snap a shot (or maybe a few shots and delete the rubbish ones). 🙂

    And oh yes, I totally agree with you in that it is not good to get too close to the moon – if only because of the hard background radiation of deep space and all that. Very unpleasant.

    I reckon the addition of the soil – even a small amount, will make a big difference – especially if you stack the bags of leaves in an area that is not subject to the same sort of seriously cold weather that your winters sound like. Anyway, I guess by spring we’ll know how the experiment turned out. I do the same thing, but move chunks of soil from one garden bed to another, and you may recall that under all of the manure in the corn bed was the very first layer of old garden soil.

    Maybe, it is as good an explanation as any other. Sir Scruffy may have simply decided that the time was right for a coup. It happens. But the larger point is that these things can be done peacefully – although in the real world people can often hang on for too long – and I’m sure you’ve met some of those types? I have.

    Top work with the drain snake (which is a handy tool for such situations). All manner of things can occur to underground drain pipes, and if it is not a delicate matter, do you know what caused the blockage? Sometimes people occasionally chuck caustic soda down into the drain pipes and that breaks up organic matter – largely into salts and water. I use that stuff for soap making – but it is not a chemical for the careless as it can produce serious chemical burns.

    Hehe! I’ll bet you were cranky after all that cranking! Hehe! Nice to see that you used a manual machine.

    Thanks, and I’m frankly curious as to what you’ve noticed with the flowers? I can chuck some additional photos in during future weeks. I always try to be cool with guests, not in terms of being remote and cold, but in being a bit more casual and devil may care and all that. But I am interested in hearing what they see when they visit because I realised a long time back that it is really hard to see much of anything here when people visit, but it can be surprising to hear what stands out to them.



  6. Hello Chris
    Great photos.
    The same thing has happened with Son’s 4 dogs. You may remember that he had this unusual and intelligent puppy Ren. Well Ren has become boss dog after deposing his father. It was all quite amicable. Son says that it usually is as dogs don’t care about their place in the hierarchy, they simply need to know.
    There was something in the news about the island of Sark in the Channel Islands. They are in danger of losing their electricity. There is only one supplier and the government there has put a cap on charges. The supplier says that this means that he is running at a loss and that he will be unable to continue doing this.


  7. Hi Chris,
    We do get bacon, pork, Italian and smoked sausages but that’s about it.

    I think Doug just starts with one box in spring and then adds supers as needed. However, most of the time the hive has died out over the winter and the bees are new. Do you have honey left over after your winter as you don’t harvest any for your use? Also you have a much longer season for them to collect nectar and pollen. Doug leaves quite a bit of honey for them but always ends up feeding sugar water in the spring.

    We did end up with about 12 inches of blowing, very heavy wet snow. There was a blizzard warning for hours as there was for a fairly large area of the midwest. I imagine Claire was hit by it also. We were fortunate the keep power throughout. All schools and some government offices are closed today. It took Doug quite some time to plow us out due to the heaviness of the snow. I shoveled out the walks and a path to the bird feeders. It was “heart attack” snow and turned out to be quite the workout. I heard my niece and her husband ended up staying overnight some hours away as they were driving in the storm. I guess their driver side windshield wiper just fell off so they had to pull off the road. They ended up calling 911 and got some help pretty quickly. Frankly, I don’t understand why they even tried the drive (which was supposed to be 3 hours). The storm was forecast ed well in advance. There were white out conditions and so much snow you couldn’t see the lane lines or even the road at times.

    I would like to hear Sir Scruffy’s scream. Scritchy is 18 – wow quite old. No wonder she’s ready to delegate some of her responsibilities. How big is Ollie now?

    There are some tax laws that try to balance out retirees tax obligations but it still turns up to be very inequitable. Some states tax pensions while others do not. Here in Illinois we don’t pay state income tax on our pensions but just over the border they do. There’s much talk about how our public pension obligations are bankrupting the state but no changes can be made without changing the state constitution – at least for those already in the system. There have been changes for new hires. Continually rising property taxes are what forces seniors from their homes sometimes though there is a senior freeze (which doesn’t mean they don’t go up just not as much) if you’re under a certain income level. My teacher’s pension is the bulk of my income now and it’s not large. Doug has a small pension from a different public pension system. We saved as much as possible so have some other money to draw from if needed though I can see a part time job may be necessary in the future. We do pay federal tax on our pensions, though. We are pretty comfortable and feel fortunate for that but you never know what’s down the road.

    Thanks for the interesting article. I’ve heard of bees in walls from time to time but nothing of that magnitude. Yellow jackets, however, are a different matter. We had one (fortunately small) a couple of years ago. I sure wouldn’t want them breaking through the wall as they are really nasty.

    Flowers are beautiful as always. It’s pretty much brown, grey and white around here.


  8. @Lew
    I used to leave lights on in the coop during the winter too – but no longer than if they had 12 hours of daylight. It did usually keep us in enough eggs for us at least. Of course the age of the hens and the breeds made a difference as well.


  9. Yo, Chris – Fluffy Collective. Sounds like a nest of Commies, to me. Sleeper cell? Where’s Sen. Joe McCarthy, when you need him? 🙂

    The whole retirement funds thing is rather complicated, and, your system differs from our system (I think). So this is a collection of random thoughts, more than anything. Now there are people who get much more Social Security payments, than I do. They made more during their lives and, perhaps waited longer to collect. They may also have a private retirement payment on top of that. Beyond a certain point, some of that is taxed. I think. But I really don’t envy them much. They planned better and had a bit more luck, than me. But, if “they” (the government) come for their’s, sooner or later, they’ll come for mine.

    And then there’s always … healthcare. My friend Scott and his wife fall into the “pretty much rolling in it in retirement” class. They planned, saved and earned a tidy little nest egg. But Scott made the comment the other day that all it would take would be one “big” illness and it would all be gone. Even though they’ve layered on some additional health insurance.

    As far as government deficits go, there’s always a feeling that there’s a lot of waste and sloth going on. Here, when a social service program is attacked, it always sounds like a lot of money. But when compared to the overall budget, is usually a drop in the bucket. Military is a major expense. Do we really need lot of well maintained military golf courses, scattered around the world?

    Here, elderly retirement has always been “the third rail” of politics. But that’s weakening and Wall Street is itching to get it’s hands on those funds. Well, I guess that’s enough to kick off a conversation.

    “Cut off low.” Is that an “Antarctic Outbreak?” :-). There was a rather bleak climate outlook, issued last week. Supported by everyone from the military, to NASA, to the National Weather Service. It was issued on Black Friday, when a large chunk of the population is distracted and nuts. Who decided to release the report on that day is unknown … at this time.

    So, in working on your solar system (why does that sound funny? Add a planet here, a moon, there….) you discovered a Nuts and Bolts Solution. Henceforth, an official Scientific and Highly Technical Term. Yup. There’s often a knotty problem, and then, in hindsight, the solution seems so obvious. Lots of head slapping, etc.. But you can embroider the tale a bit, poke fun at your own oblivion, and dine out on the tale, for years.

    I’ve got a couple of those purple potatoes in my veg crisper. Here, they’re called blue. They turned up in our community room, from gosh knows where, and I snagged a couple with the intent of planting at leas one, next year. The aeapanthus looks so pretty. And, it’s blue! :-). So clematis are native to Australia? They’re pretty popular here, and all kinds of different colors have been hybridized. There are blue ones!

    Somewhere, in my life, I vaguely remember sleeping in someone’s spare room, and falling asleep to the sound of a bee hive softly humming alone in the wall. Ah, so like junk, bees expand to fill the space allowed? :-). But, I suppose, like any living organism, sooner or later, things collapse. Cont.

  10. Cont. Marketing folks also don’t seem to realize that irritate me enough, and sooner or later I end up swearing that I’ll never use their products, under any circumstances.

    (Sweeping Generalization Ahead Alert!!! Is there an official road sign?) I’ve noticed that women who raise chickens are more likely to give their flocks a complete winter rest. More so than men. Of course I’ve also notice that men tend to be slower to castrate their male dogs.

    Well, now I’ve got the wizard Royal Doulton mug. My life seems so much … fuller. And, will just about be perfect when I can find the figure. Also on my E-Bay to-buy-someday list. 🙂 Then life will be complete.

    I think the whole meat thing, is, a bit, a hangover from when meat was a signal of status. It’s interesting that the same people I know who are so “into” meat have several vehicles. Mostly useful. But they always seem to have one for “flash.” To wow the large extended family. Who never expected much from them, but aren’t doing near as well as my friends. Who are thrifty and prudent. I don’t think a little nose rubbing is out of line :-).

    Most post nuclear books, on the other hand, have much more detail. Most I’ve read, besides having a few people working on the ham radio and getting the local power plant up and running, also have a burial contingent and defense. Designated people taking care of food. The book “One Minute After” (and it’s sequal) revolve around a small college town. King’s “The Stand” covers a lot of the same territory.

    I bagged, two big bags of leaves, yesterday. Thicker on the ground and didn’t take me near as long to stuff a bag. Lew

  11. Hi Chris,

    What a smooth transition for the fluffy collective! Profound lessons are contained within, but I don’t think many people are as forward thinking as dogs.

    Your story reminded me of my earlier days running a business in PC Support. Retirees (in a very wealthy part of town) would always ask for a discount, because they ‘are on a fixed income’. I refrained from commenting that as a small business owner with zero guarantees of revenue and regular expenses I would love to be on a fixed income! I find people don’t normally respond well to having their advantages highlighted :-0

    I note that Kim Stanley Robinson has a new book,
    I nearly ordered it today, but thought better of it. I literally have 3 shelves of unread books and just ordered a used copy of this:

    My mum has a copy and I cooked a few batches from it when I was last in Brisbane. Apparently it is written by a monk that used to bake daily for the entire monastery. Every recipe I followed turned out great, and I normally find bread a bit tricky.


  12. Chris,

    The “clog” in the pipe? Old house, old pipes and just normal build up of gunk augmented by the stray bits of material that always comes off clothes when washed in a machine. I used to have to snake the pipe every 9 months. Since some of the plumbing was redone, it’s only once every 2 or 3 years. This event had a three year interval. Just a fact of life that I have to work with.

    Your flower pictures…I’m noticing different mixes of colors than I would use, but they look good. An example would be something orange with purple catmint mixed and nearby. Most of the flowers I have, other than the sage, are fairly low to the ground, by request of the Princess of the Domicile. However, if I add in a few taller flowers that look good, then a few more the next year, then perhaps at least some of my flower beds will have a larger variety of blooms and colors. Added biodiversity is always welcome, too.


  13. Hi Inge,

    Thanks and I for one recall the stories of Ren – who I suspect may well become your son’s favourite dog (if he isn’t already?) The young Ren sounds like quite the character to me. I assume that Ren is no longer skiving off into the forest on expeditions?

    Ollie probably will eventually be top dog – and I have no doubt that he is currently in the learning phase of his apprenticeship. Old Fluffy would have liked him.

    Thanks for mentioning the tale of the Island of Sark. Diesel generation is an extraordinarily expensive way to generate electricity – and incidentally what they were paying for electricity per kWh is about what I reckon it costs me to be entirely off grid. Basic costs are something that can’t be legislated around. It will be interesting to see how this story unfolds and I did wonder whether the supplier and the population are playing a dangerous game of poker, because I suspect plenty of infrastructure will be walked away from in the years to come. Do you reckon they’ll switch off the generator? Pumping water is a good use for electricity and I wonder how they’ll manage that feat.



  14. Hi Margaret,

    An enviable haul of tasty produce from your sows!

    Ah, of course that makes sense about Doug’s bees. Hives are too expensive down here and getting more so with passing each year for that strategy to be cost effective for me. I may have mentioned plant-flation and chook-flation a few years back, but we also have bee-flation! The last hive I bought made my eyes water at the cost. ?-)

    On the other hand they entirely do their own foraging – and I now admit that the bees begin harvesting pollen and nectar so early in the season compared to the native pollinators, that without them, I wouldn’t enjoy apricots or almonds. And yes, honey has to be left over for the hive to consume during the winter. The winter is too cold for the bees to venture out on any but the very warmest days, and so I’d have to plan provide sugar syrup very early, so better to let them manage their business as they see fit.

    Far out that is a huge amount of snow to remove, and yeah I can well understand why you’d describe the snow as heart attack snow. You know, I can sort of understand how that happens because when we lived in the big smoke I simply didn’t take the weather into consideration, so that can happen – and they were both very lucky that help arrived rapidly. I would not have ventured forth on such a drive given that sort of forecast. Nowadays I look at both the short term and long term weather forecast and do my very best not to be surprised by events.

    Speaking of which, the city of Sydney (you know the Opera House, nice harbour and all that), well parts of that are forecast to get up to 200mm of rain tomorrow. That is 8 inches. Melbourne would be a total disaster zone if that much rain fell on a single day. I’d cancel going to work on such a day.

    Ollie is huge and the featherweight champ now weighs in at 66 pounds. 🙂 The dog is a force of nature, but he has such a lovely personality.

    I dunno, this week’s story was an Australian story but with a wider catchment. I mean what can’t be sustained, generally isn’t sustained. On a more positive note, if your particular income dries up, I’m guessing that the flip side of that, is that ongoing costs will be rapidly reduced. And yes, the hike in property taxes was what removed vast chunks of the working class from their inner city abodes in the late 80’s / early 90’s, so I’ve seen that process in action and the story was not lost on me which is why I mentioned it.

    Strangely enough, aged pensions are tax free, but other forms of welfare, like unemployment benefits – are taxable. It doesn’t look good.

    Hives don’t get much bigger than that one! Did you see the honey dripping out of the comb when it was cut – and the beautiful arrangements that the bees had made – all very organic? I’ve read that those sorts of hives also vary the size of the cells which produces slightly larger bees – and I’ve noticed a few of those flying around the farm. I can’t believe the guy didn’t wear any gloves and am frankly in awe of that!

    Hopefully I can continue to provide a lovely portal into summer!



  15. Hi Lewis,

    The Fluffy collective are out of the days of legend, when Fluffies were real Fluffies and wallabies and wombats were nervous! As to their political leanings, all I can suggest is that they’re easily bought and would vote for any political party, ideology, or economic galmumfury (the gentle art of talking rubbish, I just made that up!) if only beef jerky was supplied in the appropriate quantities. Ollie would definitely not like the overall talk of Sen. Joe McCarthy. Ooo, well didn’t that bloke have some curious habits – which may possibly have been officially fed? You learn something new every day.

    Thanks for the explanation and I guess I wrote the story to highlight inequities more than anything else, but you know, like what I replied to Margaret, what can’t be sustained, generally won’t be. However, there are upsides to that story – and lower costs are one of those stories.

    Yeah, exactly. There was an American residence up here in the more fashionable end of the mountain range that was allegedly paid for by your government, but that is pure local rumour and I can’t confirm or deny it. The place did however have a delightful sculpture of an eagle on the remarkably solid front gate. Now I don’t know how these things worked out, but at some latter stage I stumbled across the sculpture of the eagle – but in an entirely different location. But I can’t say that I’m aware of any military golf courses up this way – although there is a golf course in the lower slopes over that way.

    I’ve always had this vague suspicion that the excess money supply from all that expansionary monetary policy has to be redirected away from basic goods and services – and so down here that works out as property, bonds and equities. Over your way, you could swap the property bit for medical costs and it wouldn’t look too different to me. Historically, any expansion of the monetary supply has usually ended up in hyperinflation – and this is probably one way out of that trap. Although it dumps people into another trap, but with perhaps less rioting in the streets over the cost of bread.

    You were very clever to work zombies into a discussion about extreme Antarctic weather events (I’m much impressed!): Antarctic outbreak. Sucks to be them!

    I read the article this morning, and for some reason that I can’t quite put a finger upon, the article descended into a discussion – not about the awful topic which will effect everyone – but about why the report was released on the day it was. Don’t you think that is a bit strange? But then a lot of reports on the subject read that way, and that report was part of the radio news I heard this morning. And in a way your leader has the right of it, because if it was so serious, why aren’t all of the people who poured their energy, hearts and souls into the report, immediately dropping what they are doing, and doing something about the conclusions of the report? I take that stuff seriously, but I’m also doing something about it in my own personal life. Some may suggest that that is a step too far, and they’d be wrong, but there you go.

    It does sound funny to me too when I use the phrase ‘solar system’! Hehe! To quote the 1979 hit song: “Giant steps are what you take. Walking on the moon”. And I dunno, something something about: in space nobody can hear you scream – whatever that means! Actually I came up with the solution pretty quickly because there was no alternative other than fixing the problem! Now doing the work required to fix the problem (which I caused through a moments carelessness) was not as quick as the thought itself – and there is a paradox in there. A proper Doh! moment.

    I’ve heard the potatoes called ‘blue potatoes’ too. Hehe! Glad you enjoyed the blue flowers of the agapanthus – and not to tease you, but they grow here in the hundreds (and the bees love the flowers).

    I didn’t know this, but clematis are part of the buttercup family, Ranunculaceae. Creeper vines are I suspect a very important part of the forest, and I recall reading an historical account of early explorers and/or settlers that remarked upon the extensive vines in the forests in this corner of the continent (the vines are rarely seen nowadays). Here you go: Clematis aristata. The Latin word Aristata sounds all very noble and that!

    Cacti do that trick too and we have to contain them from time to time as they rapidly outgrow their surrounds.

    And mate, I am rapidly blocking comments from all of the cheeky big pharma spammers. Have they not realised that their rather dull and inane comments don’t get published? Probably not.

    There is truth in what you say about the sweeping generalisation, although on both fronts I tend to ask less from the chickens and don’t think twice about desexing the dogs. My mates of the big shed fame castrate their boars and you should hear them tell the tale (which I was absent from the actual event probably because I’m not man enough for some jobs!)

    Collections have that way of satisfying the collectors desires, don’t you reckon? I quite enjoyed the images of the mug, and my curiosity won’t be satisfied until I know whether you use the mug, or you have the mug for show? We have a ceramic tea pot which looks as though it jumped out of a Dr Seuss book, and that is for show more than anything else. I rarely do frivolous things, but occasionally I let loose.

    Honestly, I’ve wondered about the status aspect of meat consumption too. But then there are cultural issues too such as the historic meat and potatoes meal which I’ve read about enough in historical accounts that it must have had some traction with reality. A long time ago I read an account about a timber getter who worked in this part of the world and his wife used to send him off with a goodly chunk of lamb to consume for lunch. The article may have been written by the granddaughter who amusingly remarked that the old bloke eventually died of an early heart attack and the grandmother possibly should have been on murder charges due to the extreme diet! A big call.

    Power plants down here are so removed from being a local utility and they’re so epic in scale that I doubt a bunch of committed locals could wrap their brains and skills around such a feat. Small scale hydro is probably the best long term option, but even then the dams bank up with silt.

    Inge mentioned the unfolding dramas on the island of Sark. Fascinating and I took a good hard look at the island and noted that they have very few tree resources with which to keep themselves warm over the winter – although they may be able to feed themselves, but only if they return the minerals back to the fields in the long term. You might get to see the One Minute After saga playing out in real time. It should be instructive to the authors – and they maybe able to adapt their texts? Moving water across the landscape is a really good use of electricity – and it doesn’t require much to do the job well.

    I have to work here tomorrow night on paid stuff so might not be able to be as verbose as usual. December is a rough time as I have to squeeze in the usual amount of work, but into only three weeks. I can already hear the requests to complete things before Christmas (an arbitrary deadline if ever there was one). I’ll do my best to reply.



  16. Hi Damo,

    The dogs handled the situation remarkably well. One day, Scritchy was the boss, then the next day she was ‘boss dog emeritus’ and the other dogs all seemed pretty good with that. What is this talk of the future? What is this thing? Hehe!

    What a story, and I see a bit of that cheekiness. I have often noticed that people who enjoy ‘an edge’ seem to feel that there are further ‘edges’ to take advantage of and it is very hard to shake that belief out of them. I suspect that the old bloke in the story would maybe likely claim that he too was a pensioner, if only because he possibly draws a pension from his super fund. I actually wonder what they do with the money because as people get older I’ve noticed that by and large peoples requirements for mad cash (especially where medical costs are not as high as elsewhere) become less. Historically, the state of retirement was only a state for the very well off – everyone else had to contribute.

    Well that is a rather unusual coincidence about the Tassajara bread book, because I read a book (Fire Monks) about their experience of a group of the monks defending the place when they caught in the path of large bushfire. I enjoyed the book, but the local creek ran for the entire time of the fire, so that lucky circumstance is far beyond my imagination that, well, it is just beyond my understanding. Hey, there is a big fire up in central Queensland right now: Deepwater residents urged to leave home immediately to avoid bushfire threat. Big flames.

    Yeah, I reckon the food there would be very good. Nice to hear that the bread recipes worked for you. And I’ll check out Kim Stanley Robinson’s latest work. Thanks for the heads up. Hey have you heard anything about the new Star Trek with Patrick Stewart?



  17. Hi DJ,

    That makes sense about the process, and it is a notable achievement to reduce the incidence of having to maintain the pipe with the snake. Mate, people don’t want to think about it, but new houses are only new on the first day – and from then on they require maintenance – sometimes more, sometimes less. Do you have a feel for what is required around your place? I’m a bit boring on that front because I keep a list of things that have to be done month by month just to keep the place in tip top shape.

    Hehe! Well, let’s put it this way, the garden beds are in a constant tug of war between plants – and so they change from year to year as often the conditions will determine which plant/s come out on top. Well we are all subject to limits – even when some of those limits are purely arbitrary, but who are we to argue – and is it wise to do so? That is the question! 🙂

    The combinations of flowers here are far more random than you might think.



  18. Hello again
    I don’t encounter Ren in the woods anymore, but I think that Son doesn’t give him the chance to set out. It is the father Flynn who really travels.
    Have no idea as to what will happen on Sark. I see that they only acquired electricity in the 1940s but this doesn’t mean that the young know how to cope if the worst occurs. The biggest problem seems to be the fact that water is pumped by electricity.
    Pouring with rain here.


  19. Yo, Chris – The US military has something close to 300 gold courses scattered around the world. The costs are really a drop in the bucket, as far as overall military budget goes. But, if the Government is going to attack my drop in the bucket, I’ll take a swing at theirs. :-).

    Well, as much as I enjoy unearned laurels, I’ll have to come clean and say I’d never heard of the film “Antarctic Breakout.” From our “How The Mighty Have Fallen”, department. The other night, I watched “Patient Zero.” More a rabies outbreak, than a zombie outbreak. But still … Any-who, it stared Will Smith. One of the ex Doctor Who’s. A pretty standard B (or C) film, that probably went straight to DVD.

    Oh, I’ll not use the mug. Other than for “decor.” :-). I’ll enjoy looking at if for a few days, and then pack it away with the Halloween tat. I’ll forget about it for awhile, and then be thrilled all over again, when I unpack it, next year. Hmmm. That’s an aspect I’d never considered, in rotating my “stuff.” It doesn’t get stale. Just keeps providing new thrills. 🙂

    Now that I think of it, in most of these post apocalyptic books, it’s a hydro plant they’re trying to get up and running. I think I mentioned that Centralia has an ancient canal and old hydro plant. It provides about 1/3 of Centralia’s power. Rates there have always been lower than other places in the county.

    Odds and ends. You mentioned that vegetarian food doesn’t have to taste bad. That was a point that the book I read a few months ago made. (“Hippie Food.”) That early on, it could be pretty grim, but people tinkered with it to make it more palatable. The author was wondering how that came to be. Well, at that time (circa 1970) there were a lot of “underground” newspapers. They usually had some sort of a cooking column. Though local, they got a pretty wide circulation. Any self respecting “head” shop usually had a pretty good selection of those newspapers from far flung places. Another thing the author discovered was that hippies, traveled a lot. And, there were a few good cookbooks. “Laurel’s Kitchen” and “The Tassajara Cook Book” come to mind.

    Movies. I saw a trailer for “Mortal Engines” that looked good enough to maybe see on the large screen. But, it looks like it’s going to be part of a series. Been caught in that trap, before. They are also going to remake “The Bad Seed.” (Why?) Spoiler Alert! But I understand the ending isn’t near so satisfying as the original. But, the woman who played the little girl, in the original, has a cameo in this new version.

    The bee keeper who uses no gloves, must be a bee whisperer :-). Which makes me groan. Take a pop craze and beat it to death. Take any little knack or talent and drop “whisperer” behind it. All are gobsmacked and amazed. Big whoop. Same thing happened with the “Chicken Soup for…” book. Quit a few years ago, there was a book called “Chicken Soup for the Soul.” Uplifting little sayings and stories with a religious bent. Fine and dandy. Tossed a pile next to the bookstore cash wrap for an impulse buy. It struck a cord in the collective mind and they sold hand over fist. Now there are 30 or 40 in a series. “Chicken Soup for the (drop in any hobby or demographic group here) Soul.” Golfers, gardeners, grandparents … that’s just a partial list of the “g’s”. :-). Lew

  20. @ Damo- I keep my eye out for a good used copy of the “Tassajara Bread Book.” Thought I’d found a copy, but either I did, and it was in too poor shape to buy, or, I was thinking of the “Laurel’s Kitchen Bread Book”, which I did stumble across, recently.

    I was going to mention “Fire Monks”, but Chris beat me to it. :-). I thought it was a ripping good yard (with a side of zen), but that’s just me.

    So, how did you survive our Thanksgiving / Black Friday holiday? I didn’t see anyone being killed in the sale stampedes, this year. A few people shot in shopping malls, but that seems to have been domestic disputes.

    Be warned though. From now through Christmas, even the most basic tasks will take twice as long, as everyone else is nuts and disorganized. I hibernate as much as possible. Lew

  21. Chris,

    When we bought this house in 1996, I knew that there would be routine and not so routine things to do. So, yes, I’ve got a good idea what needs to be done. I’ve got to start making lists of everything so my wife knows just in case something happens to me. There are some annual seasonal things. Other things I’ve had to put off, such as weeding my biggest flower bed this year, due to life’s interventions. Slowly catching up after several years of life’s interventions, but at age 58 and a full time job, I don’t always have the energy to get things done.

    The 5 day weekend I just enjoyed is also a precursor to how I plan to do things when I leave the work force: two hours work today, three hours tomorrow, maybe a day off, get some hobby work done each day should get me caught up and able to keep up. I hope.

    I understand about the plant tug of war idea. If I could just keep the grass down in the flower beds, that would be a big help! Introducing more plants and biodiversity may help also. Then let the plants fight it out while still trying to keep the weeds and grass in check *might* be a big easier. I dunno.

    We are being pulled in multiple directions right now, which has pretty much been the case for 13 years. My wife has a lot of family responsibilities, and all family members are 2 or more hours away. Keeping up with the maintenance as well as the daily stuff when she gets called away creates another tug of war for my finite energy resource. This is just one of those facts that we work through and around.


  22. Congratulations fluffy collective on a bloodless coup! Long live the new boss dog.

    Wow, you get agapanthus pretty early. Seems like mine doesn´t flower until high summer. Beautiful rose, too.

    The pensioners put their collective feet down and mounted a series of enormous demonstrations this summer, after several years of miniscule cost of living adjustments (less than 2€ a month). They´ve now been promised yearly increases equal to inflation, since of course old people reliably vote. To be fair, many of them are supporting unemployed children and grandchildren on less than 1000€ a month, but I don´t see how they can keep the system going.

    There´s a rain phenomenon here called the gota fria when warm air from the Mediterranean meets colder autumn air. Can be quite devastating quantities in short periods of time.


  23. Hi Inge, Lewis, DJ, and Coco,

    Thanks for the lovely comments, however I really have had to burn the midnight oil tonight and am still working at almost 11pm…

    Lewis – The mid week hiatus has arrived this week with extra force. I’ve certainly done something bad in a past life to have to work so much in this one. It happens… Promise to reply tomorrow, but until then I better get back to work.



  24. @ Coco – A few observations from this side of the pond, as a pensioner. We’ve gotten a COLA, the past couple of years. Most of us pay a bit more for our government medical insurance (Medicare) as it gives us (slightly) better coverage. While we got our COLA, with one hand, the extra coverage increased, and was taken with the other. The increase was, almost to the penny, the amount of the COLA.

    I’m kind of backing into this. Stick with me. :-). COLAs are based on COLIs (Cost of living index.) They do not take into account rising costs of housing, transportation or medical care. I don’t think utilities are included, either. So, they tell us that there is little inflation. But, here on the ground (groundlings?), we see it everywhere.

    This explains it a bit clearer.


  25. Yo, Chris – No probs. Mid week hiatus. It’s on my calendar and my social secretary has been informed :-).

    You might find my post to Coco, interesting. Being financial stuff, and all.

    One of the fellows I see at The Club, is in quite a fix. His apartment building was just sold. All tenants are being evicted. His $500 per month apartment is jumping to $850 per month. He doesn’t quit know what he’s going to do, as housing is very tight and very expensive, here. Homelessness is bad and getting worse.

    A couple of the articles I read about the Paradise fire made some interesting points. There were a lot of elderly retired people there, and many disabled. Cost of living was the lowest, in the State of California. In fact, one of the articles referred to it as one of the last places in California where the cost of living was manageable for low income people. Lew

  26. Hi Chris,

    The computer I should be using for this is in the shop. It refused to install an update it supposedly downloaded. So I am using my Kindle to reply, typing with one finger. It won’t be a long reply.

    The blizzard Margaret mentioned stayed to our north, but we did get strong wind and rain from that storm plus about a half inch of snow to end it. And it got very cold again. I think the soil is starting to freeze. It should warm up for a few days however so I can do some harvesting.


  27. Hi Inge,

    Ah! Some dogs are like that, and Toothy in his prime used to be a bit like Flynn (appropriately named!) who was a bit of a tear away and up for adventures (he’s too old for that now). The other dogs not so much, and Ollie is very unusual in that he knows the exact boundary of his territory and won’t go one step past that. When he chased off the deer last time he disappeared beyond where I could see him, but he came back not long after looking rather pleased with his efforts.

    Well, it will be interesting to watch the story unfold, from a respectable distance. I don’t believe electricity was in this part of the mountain range at that time either, but whilst it doesn’t sound that long ago, I reckon the skills required to live that way have disappeared along with the technology with which to do so. Still, if push came to shove most people could adapt – but they may not like it.

    I did notice that they had very little firewood resources on the island because so much land had been turned over to agriculture and I couldn’t tell whether this was sheep, cattle, horses or grains. It makes a difference.

    And absolutely, water is a big issue as we use electricity to move the stuff and without the energy, the distribution of the population will change markedly. Do you have a creek near to your property?



  28. Hi Lewis,

    Great to hear that your social secretary is onto the dreaded mid-week hiatus! 🙂 Last night I just had to work late into the evening, and then get up early this morning and work for more hours just to finish the job, so it wasn’t like I was mucking around enjoying myself. Pah! These things happen and it is nice to have been able to complete that job, as I have a thing about enjoying finishing things. Some people struggle with completing tasks and I do wonder why that would be, and there is a huge diversity of responses to that ability.

    Hope the bloke sorts something out with his accommodation. I suspect that this is an unintended consequence of the expansion of the money supply. I’ve tried to side step that problem, but my choice is not for everyone. There was a low income accommodation facility in a swanky area (which wasn’t always the case) in the big smoke. It was purchased recently by a show and the residents were evicted to who knows where, and the building was done up and sold as a competition. I’m uncomfortable with the ethics of that story.

    I wonder where the people who used to live in Paradise are going to live whilst their homes (including many portable homes) may possibly get rebuilt. Dunno. And that assumes that the buildings will get rebuilt. I have had to consider that matter for us.

    Hehe! Well a good shot across the bow about the golf courses. Such amenities are only provided when the institution itself proves its worth. Didn’t the Roman’s push to the west and the north west only bankrupt the empire because there just wasn’t the gains to be made with which to pay for the forces required to do the job? Is that a catch 22 situation?

    You may have your Smith’s mixed up, as it was Matt and not Will. Will has been quiet of late, although I quite enjoyed his remake of the old 60’s film The Omega Man. I quite enjoyed the original film too if only because the hippies and zombies appeared to have won. Hey, have you ever seen World War Z? Never seen it myself, although I’ve read that the books were quite well respected, although I’m unsure how zombies would translate into text. Dunno about that.

    Nice. The garden and orchard provide a similar enjoyment for me in that the plants are constantly changing. It is a very dynamic environment and you never know what might happen or you’ll stumble across. We began cutting the jungle away from the concrete steps and paths today – some of them we could no longer walk through… And it looks as though a wallaby has pulled over a Trevatt Apricot fruit tree. Not happy, and I may have to relocate the tree now.

    The journey begins with food! 🙂 What is a “head” shop? I’ve never heard that expression used before? The hippies weren’t a big cultural thing down here during the 60’s and 70’s. I recently glanced at some Mother Earth News magazines, and it all looked very high tech and tractor-ey to me, but I didn’t really spend much time perusing the pages. I understand that they have to pay the bills and keep up circulation. I don’t quite understand why the alternative route of keeping costs down whilst offering quality content isn’t pursued more often. Don’t get that. Do you reckon it might have something to do with the ‘get big or get out’ mindset?

    Ah! Yah, I saw a preview for that ‘Mortal Engine’ film when we went to see the film ‘A Star is Born’ at the local cinema recently. It looks epic and was filmed in New Zealand.

    Hey, don’t laugh, but I reckon I’ve encountered a few Bad Seeds in my time… Run…. These situations often have an unsatisfactory ending in life. Oooo. Just read the synopsis of the current story – and why ever would the unpleasant child admit to the murders? It seems vaguely out of character.

    It is strange that you mention ‘chicken soup for the…’ but the editor and I were talking about that the other day and how it relates to being bright-sided. Wasn’t that author a rags to riches redemption story?



  29. Hello again
    The latest that I have heard, is that Sark’s electricity will go off at midnight tomorrow. I am aware though that these things tend to go to the ‘wire’ so who knows.
    Yes we have creeks here but, of course, they are salt water as I am on the coast. This area has a number of springs and one runs out down my land. The large badger set drinks there.
    & Lew
    The weird little measuring item that turned up in the tin box. has been photographed and the photos are currently being passed around in a US museum.


  30. Hi, Chris!

    I wish I could see Sir Scruffy in action! He is already a knight, so what is next, now that he has taken charge and is proving his worth? Will he soon be the Earl of Fernglade, or even the Duke of Cherokee? And one wonders how long Sir S has been contemplating this move . . .

    Gee, Ollie towers over everybody else. What will happen when he realizes that?

    Ah – but it was promised to the old blokes, so they made no other provision for their future old age.

    At least no-one and no-thing is thirsty at Fernglade Farm.

    That is a really, really neat setup for the solar, especially with it preventing a widespread outage, which is the recording that we get when we call our power company to report that “our lights are completely out”. Clever of you to think past just a nut problem to changing the bolt, too.

    Those purple potatoes are so dark. Hi, Corn! Hi, Toothy! Toothy looks like a jigsaw puzzle. Poor Ollie and the lavender – he was only doing his job. I guess you could bring the squashed ones inside. If it was me, I’d put them in my truck, Mr. Musty.

    Your one photo of apricots shows more than we have ever even harvested . . .

    Goodness – nasturtiums already. They one of my favorite flowers. All of the other flowers are incredible, too. I can only say – thanks!


  31. Yo, Chris – Oh, I never think of you as “mucking around, enjoying yourself.” I know life at Fernglade Farm is an dreary slog from day to day. And endless string of grim weeks. With flowers! :-).

    As far as housing goes (and a lot of other things) the ethics seem to be “It’s just business.” Nothing personal. That seems to excuse a multitude of sins. Depending on your definition of “sins.”

    I don’t know what those poor folks in Paradise, will do. I hear two to three years to replace the infrastructure. Some news sources are considering them being part of the first wave of climate refugees.

    The (long, drawn out) collapse of the Roman Empire was so complicated. So many things, in so many places at so many times. What (where and when) was the tipping point? Many academics have their own little tin drum to beat on. Including the rise of Christianity. Which brings me to a book I picked up at the library, yesterday. I’m in one of those places where I’ve got several books, on the go, at the same time. But I think all else will be put on hold while I plow through this one.

    “The Darkening Age: The Christian Destruction of the Classical World” (Nixey, 2018).

    “Head shops” were kind of Hippie emporiums. Beloved by week end hippies, everywhere. :-). Reeked of all kinds of exotic incense and unwashed bodies. Carried everything from black light posters to mara-hoochie smoking gear. Lots of handmade jewelry and clothing. They were also clearing houses for information. Where the next rock concert was going to be. Community bulletin boards. Remember how I mentioned the Hippies moved around a lot? There was always a ride board.

    For awhile I had a bit of a business going, running Hippie tat into my rural high school, out in the boonies. Mostly underground newspapers from exotic far flung places, like San Francisco. And I did a land office business in slightly naughty or political buttons.

    I remember all the hoop-la when Mother Earth News, “sold out.” When it got all slick and commercial and lost its hand made an amateur feel. The subscription cancelations fell like autumn leaves. A couple of other magazines sprung up, at that time, and last I checked, they’re still around.

    I may be wrong, but I think the first “Chicken Soup for…” book was self published. What every self published author hopes for. :-). Something that strikes a cord and gets big. Happens, but rarely. Lew

  32. Hi Chris,

    I haven’t heard much else about the Patrick Stewart Star Trek show, except it will be roughly 20 years after the end of TNG, making it the first Star Trek for quite a while that is not actually a reboot or prequel.

    I have very high hopes, but am prepared to be disappointed. The new Star Trek discovery (which should be on blu-ray/dvd now Lew) was OK as an action sci-fi show, but was not a great Star Trek in my opinion. A couple of overweight star trek fans have a humorous, occasionally depressing, discussion on what they would like to see and what we are likely to get in the new show here:


  33. Hi Lew,

    We did survive Black Friday – and in LA no less. Was actually a reasonably relaxed day. Packed our bags and had a late check out in a place near Santa Monica (walked the pier, dodged people on electric scooters etc etc). Went and donated the camping gear we bought from WallyWorld to a Goodwill store, then drove across town to return the hire car with a lunch stop on the way. Drove another hire car back to the airport (half the price of a taxi) and stopped at a WallyWorld on the way to check out the sales. By this stage it was 3pm and it was pretty easy to get around. Got some great pants and a few other odds and ends, including a giant bag to hold everything and then went to the airport.

    Still a bit blown away at just how many freeways there are in LA – no wonder people on TV shows complain about having to “drive across town” 🙂

    Have being back in NZ now for a few days, it is good to be home. I think 2.5 weeks is probably long enough for me, plus there are zucchini plants to supervise!


  34. Hi DJ,

    1996 is a reasonable tenure in these transient times when people may have forgotten what it is like to ‘put down roots’. Very thoughtful too, I have heard many stories on that front of things going very badly after the demise of one part of a couple. I’m unsure that I’m impressed at such turns of events, but I can also understand that the folks involved believed that if they never considered the worst case scenario then it possibly would never happen – until it does. It is a sadly common point of view which leaves a lot of wreckage in its wake.

    The bills keep rolling on in so you have to make a choice about keeping up with them or drowning in them, and niceties such as weeding the garden beds can occasionally be pushed to one side. There are plenty of things here that I’d like to do that I am unable to do due to time and resource constraints.

    Nice one, and I reckon you’ll enjoy it, just make sure to be able to cover the property taxes and utilities. 🙂

    Just for your info about the garden beds, I don’t really get grasses growing in them because of the density of the plantings. That doesn’t mean that the garden beds are weed free, it is just more that I feel that the plants can manage their own business well enough and look for the plants that provide a solid backbone of soil coverage and shade.

    Mate, I hear you and if I knew of an easier way to manage these things I do it! Good luck with that! 🙂



  35. Hi Coco,

    Sir Scruffy the charming sends cordial greetings to Breo the magnificent defender of your fine property!

    Thanks, and agapanthus are a complex plant because they display a lot of diversity in their growing habits and we grow a number of different varieties. Most of them produce flowers in high summer, but not all of them do that – and the bees love the reliable flowers. It is early days here for rose flowers, and believe it or not you have inspired me to do better with the roses next winter.

    Oh yeah, in your part of the world youth unemployment is a serious problem and I can see how that story is playing out. Things are a bit different down here, but for how long? Who knows?

    You had quite an alternating very dry and then very damp summer from memory? We’re about much of a muchness, in terms of latitude with you. I have no idea what to expect out of the summer climate. Yesterday the city of Sydney (in the state to the north of me – New South Wales) received well over 100mm of rain whilst in the state to the north of that (Queensland) they had devastating bushfires. Climate down here is getting very unpredictable.



  36. Hi Claire,

    Ouch! Computers are nice and all, until they fail to work and they are evil beasties… I hope that the repairs to the recalcitrant beast were not too onerous or extensive?

    Honestly, I had no idea that a Kindle could even be used to surf the interweb, let alone interact with websites. I salute your stoicism!

    Frozen soil already… Glad to read that you may be able to harvest a few more items from the garden. Not to tease you, but this afternoon we harvested a plastic tub of strawberries – and already there are discussions about freezing them and once there are enough strawberries, we’ll be producing a demijohn of strawberry wine. A nice drop.

    Hope the winter is not too severe.



  37. Hi Inge,

    I was reading Tolkien’s translation of Beowulf this morning over breakfast (as you do over scrambled eggs with mushrooms on toasted sourdough!) and your comment that you once made to me about editing down to a more concise text was at the very forefront of my mind. The ancient story is after all, a very straightforward story – which I have quite enjoyed reading. The thing is, I’ve noticed three recurring themes within the story:

    1) The story represents the customs and traditions of warrior folks at that time in history, whilst at the same time reinforces those, even if they fail to work – such as the awful Grendel (and his mother) consuming many a knight of valour in their mead hall as they slept;

    2) Beowulf was a nonpareil who arrived out of nowhere and successfully rose to both challenges (a theme repeated to this day); and

    3) I never quite understood the motivations of Grendel, although I could understand the motivations of the mother of Grendel.

    Oh, and whilst I’m considering the story, I did notice that the cheeky scribes extracted a price for ensuring that the story survived – and fair enough too.

    I’d be curious as to your thoughts in the matter?

    Oooo! My mind suggests that we are watching a game of poker play out with the Sark story. I mean, the physical assets are useless to the owner, but the owner apparently can’t make a profit at the current rates for diesel (you wouldn’t catch me burning diesel for electricity for very long as it is a losing game). If I were the local population, depending on how wealthy the owner was, I’d starve them out and once they’ve had enough of that, then offer to purchase the utility.

    Really? I hadn’t considered that aspect of the coast because I just don’t have enough experience with the land along there. I can see that salt would be a problem. Thanks for mentioning the spring. Out of curiosity, is there land higher than where the spring exits from the ground? I’m considering how they work, if only because they do turn up here from time to time and I do everything I can to rehydrate the landscape but am unsure about the longer term.

    Have you had any luck with identifying the weird little measuring item?



  38. Hi Pam,

    I too share your concerns about this sudden power play by the charming Sir Scruffy. So many unanswered questions, so just to cut to the chase, I thought I’d put your questions to him and I shall recount the answers here:

    – Will he soon be the Earl of Fernglade, or even the Duke of Cherokee? Sir Scuffy suggests that he has earned no such esteemed titles, but he did mention that he would be reasonably chuffed by the sound of Sir Scruffy the charming Esq. It has a nice ring to it, don’t you reckon?

    – And one wonders how long Sir S has been contemplating this move? I too pondered this excellent question. He says that he but took charge once the previous circumstances became untenable. However, I did notice that his answer rather deftly evaded your probing question, so I’ll fill in the blanks and suggest that he’d been waiting for a long while – much like Prince Charles – whatever that means.

    Actually, Ollie is very gentle with the smaller dogs – and to turn your sentence on its head – he looks up to them! They’re much more bush smart than the youthful Ollie, although he is learning fast. I had to remove a tick from his head this afternoon…

    I guess so, however in days of yore a person was measured by what they produced rather than what they expected. Maybe it’s me that has become an old fart in my dotage! 🙂

    It is nice to go into summer with full water tanks. And I hope to put in more water tanks next year. Mind you, I did forget to open a valve the other week on one water tank, so it missed out on receiving the rain of last week for that particular water tank… Oops! So many things to go wrong, and at such short notice, it is amazing that my hair has not gone grey due to worries! 😉

    Isn’t your power company naughty? Although, they are possibly not as naughty as the nice power company (and good folks) on the Isle of Sark who look set to have their power disconnected. Electricity is a very useful thing, not good for all uses, but plenty good for some – like pumping drinking water and lights.

    Hehe! Toothy says Hi to you too, and I was hoping that you spotted him lurking around the lavender on the other side of the fence. You reminded me that I need to look into how to strike lavender cuttings. Mr Musty is an esteemed name for a truck. 🙂

    Apricots are a fickle fruit. Last year we harvested half a years worth and this year I’ll be lucky to harvest more than a few dozen. They need a lot of early spring warmth and sunshine – which is not always the case here, so I can’t imagine how your spring would be like.

    No worries at all and I hope to continue to delight you with flowers through your cold winter. The nasturtiums are finally growing in among and through all of the geraniums in the flower beds – it has taken a number of years for that to happen. They’re one of my favourites too and they are slowly beginning to hybridise.



  39. Hi Lewis,

    That is funny as, and I do appreciate your dry sense of humour! 🙂 It is funny, but sometimes I do work too hard, like on Wednesday and I think to myself, why am I working so hard when everyone else seems to be rather enjoying themselves?

    But then the work gets done, and I take some time out to enjoy myself, and at that time, work is the last thing on my mind. Today for example I enjoyed a serving of scones (you may call them biscuits? Not sure) with jam and cream at a cafe that was once the stables (Victorian era) for a couple of lighthouse keepers cottages along the coast to the south west of here. The lighthouse is the original building which was constructed in 1891 and it has a commanding view along the coast: Split Point Lighthouse. There were two Victorian era lighthouse keeper’s cottages as well as the converted stables. I’d never been there before, and we had a desire to see the ocean. Do you get to the ocean much?

    Incidentally, I had noticed that a considerable amount of erosion had occurred along the coast since last I visited it- and not put too fine a point upon it, the high tide mark, looked higher to my unscientific eyes. One council was installing rocks along the ocean side of the dune standing between the water and town – and I salute that sort of effort. Interestingly they were using a bobcat with some sort of wide rotating roller brush to stomp sand in between the large rocks. At another point along the coast and a bit further around, I noticed that a toilet block for swimmers had simply disappeared, and the dune now presented itself as a large cliff face with a strip of sand for the beach. Ah, the block was removed and is mentioned in the following article: Erosion rate rise along Victoria’s Great Ocean Road prompts effort to bolster beach sand dunes.

    And in a brief news update, I’d have to suggest that the kids are not alright. The latest Prime Minister, Scott Morrison – who incidentally calls himself, ScoMo, but I heard some cheeky wag call him BoBo, whatever that means – has been outraged because students have gone on strike to protest against Global Warming: Students strike for climate change protests, defying calls to stay in school. I support the kids, but that may be an unpopular call.

    I have heard a lot of that excuse about it ‘just being business’. I note that recently GM appears to have pulled that line and they have been unceremoniously and publicly reminded of their social obligations (who would have thought that they’d have incurred those?)

    The folks in Paradise will have to face a very complex set of circumstances. I’m pretty sure I know what my response would be to those circumstances, but I don’t really understand their story well enough to know how they’ll pull through. As a bit of a comparison, after WWI, the awful drought during the Great Depression, and then WWII, a lot of country towns emptied out down here and it has probably only been the last two or three decades that they’ve begun to re-populate. Although I’d have to suggest that the people re-populating the towns aren’t actually that interested in farming and agricultural pursuits, but they do encourage a renewal of some of the rural infrastructure whilst at the same time placing other costs on the communities. How they’ll cope as they age is a question that I wonder about.

    What a fascinating question, and I always thought that the rise of Christianity during the latter Roman Empire was more of a social response to the declining per capita wealth of the citizens? Dunno, as I’m no expert. I can see how academics would want to point to a ‘silver bullet’ cause that doesn’t highlight the uncomfortable correlations to our current times. That would make for very uncomfortable thoughts for them… Are you enjoying the text? And I for one would like to know whether you intersperse your ‘heavy’ reading with more ‘fluffy’ works? I do that to give my brain a break. I’m getting very close to the end of Tolkien’s translation of Beowulf, and I’m quite enjoying the story, although I would write a more concise version of the story and not skip over the gory details of the some fight scenes for example. I had noted that the middle ages scribes had inserted all sorts of fascinating additions to the text, but you know, over breakfast I sort of realised that that was the cost of them duplicating the work. It is a small cost really, and if it made them feel good, well who am I to argue? It makes you wonder what else those cheeky scamps altered either deliberately or otherwise in other works? And wouldn’t it look bad for them if an earlier version of the text suddenly miraculously appeared on the scene! I’ll bet that has happened…

    Week end hippies are cool! 🙂 I like the exotic incense, but well, the unwashed bodies can be a bit hard to take if they’ve been unwashed for too long! The ride board would have been an interesting way to meet new and interesting people. Did you ever get the opportunity to ‘take a ride’ via one of those methods?

    Good for you. It takes one enterprising (or mercenary little blighter) kid to know another! Hehe! Like your style, and I never would have thought of doing that. 🙂

    Interesting. Yeah, slick was the word I had at the back of my mind too. But, you know, the publishing business is one tough gig and I guess they’re doing what they’re doing in order to survive. But are the kids reading that slick? Probably not. I looked at some of the advertisements for tractors and I thought to myself that I’d like one of those, but then reality kicked in…

    Far out, I didn’t know that at all about the book. It happens from time to time. And down here there have been a few notable ‘independent’ rock bands that have made it massive as their music was at the right note, at the right place, at the right time. Not an easy trifecta to win and very few do. I noticed an article the other day suggesting that people are purchasing fewer romance novels (a steady earner) and instead purchasing political tell all memoirs. That sounded like a bit of spin to my ears…



  40. Hi Damo,

    Cool! Look forward to watching the new series. I hope that Captain Jean-Luc Picard has learned a thing or two in the years in between the series?

    Thanks for the link, but I haven’t yet watched Discovery or the Orville… Time is short, unfortunately! ?-)



  41. Hello again
    We had one heck of a storm last night; winds were 82mph. My Winter view of the sea is now almost fully back.

    No-one has come up with info. about the small device yet; I’ll certainly let you know if we ever find out.

    The spring that feeds my small stream, does have land rising above it. There are other springs in the area which are at or close to the highest points. I really don’t understand why springs appear at certain points, clearly some pressure must be beneath them.

    It is a long long time since a read a translation of Beowulf and I don’t know who the translator was. I am not quite sure what your query is. Nowadays I suppose that how one writes depends on the intended readership. At that time a readership would have been tiny and even written words would have been orally transmitted more often than not. This would no doubt have resulted in constant changes. Also the orator would have needed to maintain a level of excitement.

    That giant steer made it to our news.


  42. Yo, Chris – Just keep in mind the tale of the Grasshopper and the Ant. Winter is coming :-).

    Yup. Got my “Smiths” confused. “Omega Man” has been filmed three times. The first was a low budget 1964 film called “Last Man on Earth.” Black and white and starred Vincent Price. The author of the book was so unhappy with the result, that he asked his name be taken off the film.

    I haven’t been to the ocean, in years. Don’t know why. It’s pretty much a straight shot from here to there. Not all that far. Light houses do catch the popular imagination. There’s a lot of light house tat (decor) floating around. So far, I haven’t heard much about erosion on our coast. Except for one special case.

    Yes, I’ve seen the articles about GM. 14,000 people, thrown out of work. A lot of public money was thrown at them, after the 2008 debacle. So, some people are feeling miffed. I heard a new VW plant is maybe going to open. Maybe some can be absorbed, there.

    Heavy vs fluffy (aka popcorn) reading. Probably why I have so many books on the go, right now. But it really just kind of depends on what I’m in the mood for. Subject to change for no apparent reason. And, some nights, I don’t want to read. I just want to watch a DVD.

    I’m watching an interesting series, right now, called “Art of the Heist.” Just ran across it by accident at my library. BBC, maybe. Each episode is a different art heist. Interesting stuff.

  43. Cont. Well, I suppose most scribes were “beyond it” by the time their mistakes or additions were discovered.

    This can get a bit dicey when dealing with religious texts. Some Christian sects see the Bible as inerrant. The apple cart gets upset when older versions turn up and there are differences. But actually, over 2,000 years, or so, variations are pretty minor. I’ve read quit a bit, over the years, on the history of the Bible. From a number of authors. Interesting stuff.

    There’s a paragraph or two in Josephus, that mentions Jesus and the Christians. If “real,” it would be one of the earliest mentions. But it’s pretty well accepted, now, that it was a much later interpolation. There’s brief mention, here and there, but nothing extensive until an exchange of letters between Pliny the Younger and the Emperor Trajan, about 111AD. Scholars believe it hasn’t been tampered with.

    Last weekend, when I was out on the tat hunt, I ran across a piece of pottery marked “Diana, Australia.” So, I did a bit of research, and, if it’s still there, will probably pick it up, today. Diana Pottery Pty Ltd. was in business from 1941 until the late 1960s. It was the most important pottery in Australia, during that time period. They were in Marrickville, New South Wales, which I gather is a suburb of Sydney. Only $10, so why not. Lew

  44. @ Damo – I’m glad you made it home, safely, from your American trip.

    I have both Orville and the new Star Trek on my library hold list. As the number of holds will be (probably) long, they’ll hustle it through processing, as soon as they receive it.

    So, another Star Trek series staring Patrick Stewart. Will he be commanding the U.S.S. Geriatric? 🙂 Lew

  45. Hi Chris,
    Ollie is about the same size as Salve and Leo. I would say Salve is the dominant dog overall but they are pretty equal. Leo is definitely the dominant dog when it comes to food but Salve seems to rule over dog beds. We have two in the living room and one is of much higher quality and comfort and there’s a competition over who gets that bed. In fact Salve will often lure Leo off by starting to play but as soon as he gets out of the bed the play time is over and she’s in the bed.

    I wanted to tell you about our friends who used to own the retirement home where Michael lived. They also have a low income senior apartment building which is subsidized by HUD (Dept of Housing and Urban Development). HUD will tell them that they can increase the rent each year of which most would be the responsibility of the renter. Our friends have said they are making enough money so usually don’t raise the rent. The retirement home was very inexpensive compared to similar facilities. They just charged enough that they could make ends meet.

    Not much else new here. The weather doesn’t look good for honey sales at the tree farm the next two weekends. Rain this weekend and very cold the following one. Doug has sold about half of what he wants to though. Some of the snow has melted but there’s still plenty out there.


  46. Chris:

    Sir Scruffy the Charming, Esq. is a worthy title for a worthy fellow.

    Nasty old ticks, Ollie. I have had them on places not on my head . . . You are lucky to have Chris help you with yours.

    I have been following yours and Inge’s conversation about Sark. ‘Tis a sign of the times . . .

    My there are a lot of smiley faces around. 🙂 I can’t get mine to be a yellow one . . .


  47. @ DJSpo:

    No, you are not a crank! 10 meters of “snake” sounds like a lot of snake. I don’t believe we have one of those. I did find a baby snake out on our driveway a couple of days ago, in this cold weather. Alas, I could not save him. I wonder how he got there?


  48. Chris,

    Putting down roots? I think it is important. My current house is about 2.5 miles from the house I grew up in starting in 1967. Two brief forays out of town and otherwise living nearby, well, I kept coming back to Spokane. I’m a “lifer” now, I guess. 🙂

    Thanks for the comments on plant density versus grass. Adding density as well as diversity is also on the list.

    Oh, the things that keep getting in the way are all family oriented. We went through quite the intense spell of being caregivers, and are not totally out of the woods yet. Caregiving just plains saps the strength out of you, and other things are lower priority.

    On retirement, I’ve run the numbers too many times. The taxes and utilities are the first things to be paid, for sure. Then there are other necessities, then the almost required set, then after that things can be cut from the budget if so required.

    I’m on a weekend hiatus from the computer shortly, so will try to catch up early next week.


  49. @ Pam,

    I get surprised every year by something appearing at an “out of season” time. I’ve seen some birds that belong MUCH further north decide to visit for the winter starting in early October, always before a very wicked winter. I’ve yet to see a snake this late in the season, though.


  50. Hi Inge,

    Ferocious winds! I assume that the winds have performed a bit of a pruning of branches in the forest – or just stripped all of the remaining autumnal leaves from the trees? Nature is rarely constant, and I am glad that you removed the large tree (or was it a huge branch) from next to your house.

    Believe it or not, it is 82’F outside right now and I had to retreat back into the house out of the hot afternoon sun. And I just checked the weather radar and there appears to be a storm (lots of lightning) heading in this direction. It is forecast to arrive later tonight, so I better remember to disconnect the antenna connections (there are two antennas) to the modem.

    I was having a look into maybe purchasing a stainless steel electric preserving unit – which should hold about 8 of the large glass bottles that I use to preserve summer fruits. Another good use of electricity? It is about the same size as my stove top unit, but one uses gas and the other uses the sun! Oh no, it seems a bit pricey, so I’ll keep my eye out for a second hand unit which may turn up after Christmas.

    Well I’m certainly curious about the item. Who knows what it may be?

    Interesting! I may have to read up on that subject of springs because the area to the west of here is renowned for its mineral springs, but that area excludes this mountain range for some reason – probably to do with the geology and the soils? Dunno, but thanks for considering the matter.

    The translator was none other than J. R. R. Tolkien – who was a professor of English language, so presumably it’s a good translation, although I assume that there are others as the notes accompanying the book refer to them. I realise that the work is meant to be read as poetry, but my command of that mode of the English language is not good enough to be able to read the work in that manner. A bit of a shame that, as I was aware that I was missing out on some aspects of the work. It happens.

    The steer was massive – evolution in plain sight, and I wonder if there are regrets that they cannot breed from the animal?



  51. Hi Lewis,

    Far out, I don’t know about the story about grasshopper and the ant. I do know that it was warm enough today for the cicadas to be singing their song this evening! Although as you quite rightly point out, a storm is coming and in this case it I mean that in the literal sense of the sentence. Ah yes, well perhaps there is a bit of both the ant and the grasshopper in my (and perhaps yours?) souls. I mean these things aren’t black and white – but it does seem like a pointless endeavour to bring the wrath of the Gods upon your head and pinch from your neighbours (in one iteration of the story)! On reflection there might be a bit too much of the grasshopper gear going on in society, it is not as if we haven’t had to import grain this year…

    Vincent Price was a fine actor, so no doubt the directors and producers are perhaps to blame? I was sort of partial to the Charlton Heston version of the film which I saw many long years ago. I thought that it was nice that the hippies and the zombies won, although for me it is complex because I’m not really sure that I’ve enjoyed the company of the hippies that I’ve met in the flesh – and I really enjoyed the music of hair, but the story was lost on me. Yeah, it is complex. It is funny that we are discussing this topic…

    And isn’t it awful when an author slam dunks the film version of their story? Or even actors getting stuck into how awful the film is that they played a part in. It is not a good look and is a message that is generally poorly received by the population at large. Sometimes actors need to put food on the table and keep a roof over their heads.

    I love the ocean in winter when the storms are wild, the wind howls and the rain is bitingly cold, and there is just nobody around. Unfortunately, tourism seems to have put an end to that enjoyment, so now I just hope to venture forth when it looks remotely quiet. Mate, I’ve got this offer on some super cheap land with ocean views at this place which is strangely called “Washaway Beach”. What do you reckon? It sure sounds like a safer bet than Florida? 😉

    Well, that is one option. Sometimes the people that invest in infrastructure aren’t the same as the ones that swoop in and purchase some cheap stuff and make a go of it from that point onwards. The thing is, the new owners begin with a lower cost base.

    Thanks, and I feel a bit the same sometimes too. I do tend to alternate fluffy with heavy literature, but you know it all depends, and sometimes my mind has energy and space for plenty of heavy going stuff.

    Art heists are interesting aren’t they? And after all is said and done, the thieves need to fence the goodies without themselves getting caught – and how complex would that problem be? Then there would be the awful problem of the original owners – or their heirs – coming back to haunt you so as to nab your nice purchase. Memories can be very long indeed. Have you been impressed with any unsolved art heists?

    Interpolation! Thanks! That makes sense. Oh yeah, Professor Tolkien didn’t just add margin notes to the translation, there are chapters and chapters of his thoughts which I applaud because there is a certain honesty to that process. I read a bit of history on the guy earlier today and he sounded like a lovely bloke – and he sure went through some tough times.

    Wasn’t Pliny the Younger an interesting bloke? I’d only previously read about his uncle. To be honest, I’m genuinely impressed that he survived the reign of so many Emperors. Your public servants could learn a thing or two about survival from that bloke! 😉

    I haven’t come across their pottery items before but I’m not in that state. Strangely enough, pottery is no longer made locally (from what I can understand). I am aware of people who used to work in one of the pottery businesses in Melbourne, but I can recall visiting Bendigo pottery (which is a regional town north of me) as a kid and being amazed by the place. It is funny that you mention pottery (and I do hope that your picked up the item?) but I was looking at food preserving boilers today and noted that clay fired demijohns used to be the way to go before all these swanky glass units. The glass seems a bit thin for my comfort, but I have yet to see one break… It would be an epic and sticky mess.



  52. Hi Margaret,

    Ooo! There is something in that about the dog beds. And I’m genuinely impressed that Salve can play Leo like a Stradivarius and nab the bed! It is impressive and Ollie and Sir Scruffy likewise play that game, although Sir Scruffy is usually the winner. It is a sign of Salve’s intelligence.

    Your friends are honourable people to pursue that particular strategy and it speaks highly of them.

    Winter has kicked into gear in your part of the world. Hope Doug sells the remainder of his honey before Christmas. It was 82’F here today and the sun was shining strongly. We moved a fair amount of stuff (rocks and crushed rock) today and my head is feeling a bit sore… Oh well.



  53. Hi Pam,

    Sir Scruffy Esq. sends cordial tail wags to you!

    Oh yeah, ticks in your part of the world are an unpleasant experience. Down here they are apparently harmless, although I’ve seen a tick seed on Toothy and that sure didn’t look harmless to me as they were consuming his skin all zombie insect like. Yuk!

    Mr Greer once wrote that infrastructure retreats from the periphery, and Sark certainly falls into that category.

    Hehe! Hey, you seem to have sorted the smileys out. I just ripped some text about them (which you may find useful):
    ; – ) is equivalent to wink emoticon 😉
    : – ) is equivalent to smile emoticon 🙂
    : – ( is equivalent to sad emoticon 🙁 (hopefully we don’t get too many of these)
    : – ? is equivalent to confused emoticon 😕
    Of course there are no spaces in between the three characters, but you have to leave a space on either side of the three characters in order for it to work. You probably already knew that!



  54. Chris:

    Thanks for the Knickers video (blush . . .). I had read about him, but the video is more fun. Did you know that he got his name because when he was young he palled around with a Brahman steer nicknamed – Bra?


  55. Hi Chris,

    Still using the Kindle. We have a 17 year old computer also but it is getting cranky. It’s too old for the repair store to fix.
    The younger computer is still in the shop.

    I forgot to mention the tornado warning that was issued for us last Sunday, when Margaret was getting a blizzard. That can happen on the warm side of a winter storm. We did not get a tornado but we did get some small hail. We may get severe weather later today again as we are again on the warm side of a winter storm.


  56. Yo, Chris – For your holiday viewing enjoyment! “Anna and the Apocalypse.” A high school musical with zombies! :-). Actually, the review I saw wasn’t bad, and it’s being compared to “Shawn of the Dead.” Oh, and it’s a Scottish film.

    Oh, good. Now I’ve got ear worms, galore, for days. Hmm. “Hair.” Hmmm. Well, you had to be there. I was. It was all about having the military draft hanging over your head, the sexual “revolution,” sticking it to the man, etc. etc.. I think there was also a large dollop of “shock your mum.” :-). At one point, I could sing the entire sound track.

    Authors and actors and what they produce. You make choices and, good or bad, live with the consequences. I think Stephen King said it best, that his books were like children. You raise them up and then have to let go and send them out into the world. Not that he hasn’t kvetched about some of the film treatments. Authors battle with editors, actors with directors. The initial script an actor gets may not have much resemblance to what ends up on the screen. I’ve noticed established actors who pretty much pick and choose what they want to be in, had a few clinkers along the way to getting established. Also, the one’s who pick and choose … well, they seem to lead a more low profile (and less expensive) life. They have more of the luxury of turning really bad stuff, down. Every once in awhile, I see an established actor in something and think, “Ouch! Must have fallen on hard times and needed to put food on the table.” There’s also the problem with actors getting “type-cast” and needing to take just about anything to “break the mold.” Same happens with authors.

    Hmmm. Art heists I have known and loved? :-). The Gardener Museum (Boston) heist of 1990 was pretty spectacular. Rembrandt’s only known seascape (Storm on the Sea of Galilee”) was part of the haul. None of that stuff has ever been recovered. Given that the a lot of art heists are pulled off by low level crims, and that their life expectancy can be very low, I suppose a lot of missing art is mouldering away (literally, in some cases. That stuff is old and fragile) in storage lockers and barns. And, since the rise of the Internet, that stuff is a lot harder to fence. Sometimes, it’s just used as collateral for deals involving drugs or guns. But it’s maybe a good thing that the value (to criminals) is going down, due to the Internet. The series uses “heist” a bit loosely. There are also segments on art forgery and, the illegal antiquities trade. I suppose it depends on one’s definition of heist. Cont.

  57. Cont. I got the piece of Diana Co. pottery. It looks like this…

    That knobby looking exterior is actually small flower blossoms. Not my usual “thing” but it was inexpensive. And blue. And Australian. Somehow or another, I’ve developed a fondness for all things Australian. Don’t know where that comes from :-). And now I know about something I didn’t know about, before. The company didn’t do a lot of things that appeal, to me. But they did do some nice Deco looking vases. Some in awful (to me) color combinations. Others in a nice restrained white or blue.

    I didn’t get the Doulton Lambeth piece, at auction. No great tragedy. I had spotted another piece, in town, and after picking up the Diana, took another look at it. Only $20 more than the price I was willing to pay, at auction. And, it’s three times the quality (in size and decoration) as the auction piece. Has some nice Arts and Crafts style trees on it.

    I’ve seen a few of the clay canning demijohns, kicking around. I can see why they fell out of favor. They’re heavier, a bit harder to move around. Also, any little crack or bit of crazing and bacteria is likely to set up housekeeping. They’re not very pretty, but have their own charm. If a person is shooting for a country/primitive “look”, plop some posies in them and Bob’s your uncle.

    I haven’t said to much about our weather, as, there’s not much to say. It’s been cold (but not too cold), warm (but not too warm). It drizzles. It stops drizzling. All pretty ho-hum and typical for our time of the year. Lew

  58. Hello again
    No large branches down but almost all leaves above 20ft high, are down. Lots of leaves still on lower stuff. It was a tree that I had down close by (a huge oak). I no longer have to listen to things clattering onto the roof.

    I would be very interested to hear what you find out if you research springs. I realise that I know nothing at all about them.

    Beowulf was written in Anglo Saxon. When I was at school, I teacher read some of it to us in the original. We couldn’t understand a word. However, there were some German exchange students there and they could understand it. Clever of the teacher as I never forgot it. Not many things stand out from my schooldays.

    Do cattle have pituitary glands? A tumour on a pituitary gland can cause gigantasism (can’t spell it) in humans. Perhaps that explains the steer.

    A temporary agreement has been reached in Sark for 3 months. The government there is supposed to buy out the owner of the electricity plant. Meanwhile he will get the money he requires but the populace won’t have to pay the extra.


  59. Hi Lew,

    Thank you for the well wishing! We had a lot of fun in your country, although to be honest we didn’t really like LA or SF. The national parks and small towns in-between though were genuinely awesome and quite different from Australia.

    Visiting the US is almost like a homecoming in a way. We have grown up on a diet of US pop culture, so much is familiar, yet different at the same time. It was a real buzz to order stuff at a diner, so banal, yet somehow special. The effects of cultural imperialism :-p

    Mrs Damo and I are watching a netflix show called the Haunting of Hill House. Not sure when it will be on the DVD library list, but quite a bit of fun for creepy house + family drama. And, I missed a new movie, Overlord, at the cinema. Nazis + Zombies, need I say more?


  60. Hi Pam,

    I was blushing at the name too! 🙂

    That’s funny, about the Brahman steer. It is nice not to take animal names too seriously and Scritchy is not at all offended by her name.



  61. Hi Claire,

    Thanks for taking the time to drop by and say hello, despite your computer woes. But yeah, they’re good when they work, and when they don’t, they sort of look like boat anchors to me. Hope the younger computer does not become a boat anchor.

    Far out! For some reason down here we get tornadoes in spring and summer – and glad to read that the forecast warning didn’t eventuate. Tornadoes are better elsewhere…



  62. Hi Lewis,

    I have to be a bit less than my usual verbose self tonight as I plan to begin writing soon – and it is funny that you mention zombies. Well it sure looks like an intriguing film, but how does one sing their way out of a zombie fight. A a new twist on the zombie genre! I particularly enjoyed the review claiming that the film was ‘Totally Bonkers’ – can’t do better than that big claim!

    Sorry about the pesky ear worms. Hopefully the worms don’t go all zombie like and stuff – I reckon that would hurt, well, at first. 🙂 It might be that the hippies were right, but they just couldn’t follow through when shiny baubles were dangled in front of them. It was a very good soundtrack and the songs were real toe tappers with good melodies and catchy choruses. Of course as one ages, a full head of hair is a distant memory. I used to have a pony tail when I was a young bloke – I felt very high finance and stuff, until the IT crowd muscled in on my look – and then I had to drop the hair and goatee in favour of a more respectable haircut and beard combo. Hey, did you ever have long hair back in the day?

    Yeah, Viggo Mortensen appears to have had a reliable and steady career. I really enjoyed the recent film of his: Captain Fantastic. Not always easily achieved that, and I reckon actors can fall into the trap of the self-reverential bubble, or they just burn out, or even lose the plot a bit. There is probably a bit of substance abuse in that industry. But I sometimes hear stories of actors burning through piles of mad cash – and I think to myself, what the heck were they thinking?

    I knew you’d have a favourite art heist! 🙂 My, my, that crew pulled off a ripper heist. Nice work and it is good to see some people thinking big and achieving big – although it would have been rubbish for the museum. I can’t imagine the museum could insure for such events? What, some of the evidence is missing? That sounds a bit keystone cops to me and it does not reflect well upon the authorities – and raises serious questions.

    Very cool, but what was the original purpose of the pottery item? I couldn’t quite figure it out from the photo. Thanks for the explanation about the flower blossoms – a nice touch and it would have been devilishly hard to set into the clay! 🙂 I look forward to our daily updates!

    Oh! I hadn’t considered that aspect about the clay demijohns. Not good and they’d probably eventually leak (like grandma’s Amphora). But I don’t reckon the old timer brewers were as fussy about colonies of fungi (another name for yeast critters) getting set up in the nooks and crannies of their brewing gear. Certainly back then nobody had bleach. Speaking of which, I’ve begun testing a new batch of unbleached flour and made my first loaves from it today. On consideration I decided that the chlorine something or other molecules in bleached flour were probably not a good part of my diet. The results seemed much the same to me, but I want to see if the bleach in anyway contributes to a mildly sleepy feeling after consumption.

    I didn’t note any feelings like that today, but far out did we work hard or what? We mowed almost half the farm today – in one day (a record in prior years it has normally taken about a week). The new self propelled mower is a hoot! And then I spent about two hours weeding the tomato enclosure. That was complex job because there were tomato seedlings all over the place and I couldn’t accidentally squash them just in case I needed to relocate them – which I may do in a week or so if heavy rain is forecast.

    Normal weather is good. It beats the stuffing out of snowstorms, heatwaves, bushfires and tornadoes! 🙂



  63. Hi Inge,

    You could say that the winds have caused it to rain leaves in your part of the world. Thanks, I’d forgotten the details, but trees fall here (as well as large chunks of them) on a regular basis and I was a bit nervous about your situation. Often the scars on trees where large branches have fallen from enable rainfall to get inside a tree – as well as a lot of critters looking for a tasty feed on the cellulose – and that is hard on the tree.

    I know nothing about them either, but I’m considering water from a longer term perspective. The first step is getting water back into the soil – but the next bit is a bit cloudy in my mind.

    Awesome, that would have been a very interesting thing to hear, and I wouldn’t have understood a single word of it either. Do you recall hearing the poetry of the verse and story in the sound of the spoken words? My school days are far from my memory too! A good thing that – it wasn’t particularly eventful, which maybe a good thing – although the hippy school was an interesting experience.

    Really? I reckon it would be tough for anyone on either extreme of height, but then you have to play the hand that you’re dealt.

    Thanks for the update. I read a news article about the situation and by government, I guess that refers to the islands government? Maybe it is just me, but I have noticed that when governments rack up bills and debt, the population ends up paying the bills. Dunno. If I were them, I’d try something different as they may find themselves pouring money down the drain. I had to choose between going off grid and connecting up to the grid, and the initial costs were about the same, but one option provided a glimmer of hope that the ongoing bills would be lower or non existent. I’m not sure that is the case, but it makes for a good story.



  64. Hello again
    I mentioned springs to Son. He said that he had never thought about them before and that he also knows nothing about them at all. Son has just been here finally doing something about my sewage pipe. He found a small drop in it and has partially remedied the problem but it will need some further attention.

    I don’t remember anything about the sound of the teacher’s voice when she read Beowulf.

    As of tomorrow, I’ll be without a computer for a few days.

    @ Pam
    The winds don’t affect my property as it is completely surrounded by tall trees and the winds go over the top. My paths out are tunnels which I love walking along, though keeping them open is a job.


  65. @ Inge:

    I am glad that the huge oak did not fall on your house. We have one big one like that that looms over our bedroom, a mere 10 feet away. In a big mast event acorns hit the roof like machine gun fire day and night and my bed is under a section of roof that is on a shed dormer, thus no attic between me and the nuts, and it is LOUD.

    Thanks for more news of Sark. This is really interesting.


  66. Chris:

    I used to wonder about whatever bleaching agent was used in flour and switched to unbleached, too. I have read a lot of places that it is the wheat itself that has that soporific effect; it seemed to me to be so when I was still eating gluten. I have heard often that wheat can actually be addictive for some people. I don’t know if that counts as a real addiction.


  67. Yo, Chris – Was my hair long? Define long :-). I don’t remember getting much beyond “Beatle” length. But at the time, that was considered “long.” My Dad and I had terrible rows. :-).

    I don’t think the Gardner Museum was insured. These days, I think a lot of museums are under insured. Given the cost of insurance. What I mean to say is, their paintings have appreciated so much in value that the insurance is very high. Actually, they’re probably better off taking the money and investing in high tech security systems. Many of the museum people in the series seem a bit innocent. They can’t quit conceive that anyone would want to steal their stuff.

    Several people in the series who either inherited or had a painting that increased greatly in value, had to sell it on, due to the fact that they either couldn’t afford insurance, or, security for the item.

    The original purpose of the ceramic basket? Well, generally to sit on a table and look pretty :-). I suppose you could stuff it full of posies. It might look nice with a pile of plums in it. Keep them corralled and prevent them from falling on the floor. Eggs would look nice. Hmmm. Easter eggs? Heck, you could throw rusty nuts and bolts in it.

    I wonder if the unbleached bread will keep as well? Not that I imagine it lasts a long time, around your place :-). I don’t know how you store your bread (or other baked goods.) I always keep mine in the fridge, and have never had a problem with anything spoiling.

    What will you do with all that time saved by the self propelled mower? Build another terrace? More stairways? A pineapple pit? An in ground Olympic sized pool? Lew

Comments are closed.