Tell them all I said Hi!

As a kid we moved around a lot. I often changed schools and houses, and that was a natural consequence of having a single mother. At the time I thought that every other kid experienced that too, and it all seemed normal to me. Anyway, practice makes perfect, and I learned at a young age how to throw myself into new social situations.

In the first two years of High School (years seven and eight) I was a mildly disruptive student and possibly also easily distracted. Well, that is what the report cards suggested at the time. Those character foibles didn’t matter to me because I went to a ‘hippy dippy’ very experimental High School.

As I heard someone once quip, it is not hard to soar like an eagle when you hang with turkeys. And the ‘hippy dippy’ school appeared to be gifted at producing turkeys. I recall that for media studies, we used to watch horror films. I knew a lot about the horror films of the day, and we sure were kept entertained. Sports used to involve a group of us booking a golf course, where we would then spend enjoyable afternoon in the great outdoors displaying a complete lack of any skill or talent with the game. As an interesting side note, even back then I practiced parsimony, as I recall purchasing a complete set of second hand golf clubs from the local opportunity shop for only a few dollars. Then other days at school we learned about public transport and would jump on a tram (electric street car) and head off to some distant locale. We may have done some math and science, but I can’t say for sure, but I do remember the sex education classes because they made me blush. Yup, I learned heaps of good things at that hippy dippy school.

Eventually all good things come to an end, and in this case I was the instrument of my own undoing. I mentioned before that I was a mildly disruptive student. No, it’s true, don’t defend me, but thanks for considering doing so! Anyway, one of the teachers that I had been mildly disruptive with, took revenge upon me, and suggested to my mother during a parent teacher interview that I needed to attend a school with more structure and discipline.

Woe was me, the fun times were over and I suspect that my grandfather stumped up the cash to send me packing off to an Anglican all boys grammar school. It was quite the culture shock to arrive at such a place. And I was one of the only new kids in year nine of that High School. To be fair to them, they did teach me a thing or two about math and science, despite me never making up for the lost ground of the hippy dippy years. However, I was good at the humanities subjects and so decided early on to quietly ditch expectations of excellence in the fields of science and math, which probably left room for other students! School camps however, were heaps better at this new school, because us kids got to dress up in army gear, go walking around the forests of Victoria, and shooting a .303 at a rifle range. All the important activities were covered there. So yes, the serious school was very good at teaching things, and I recall that rather than blushing during sex education classes, I was instead left concerned because they told me that if I had sex – at any unspecified time in the future – I’d mostly likely get some sort of infection. It all seemed rather unfair to me, because the hippy dippy folk mentioned that was a possibility, but not a certainty, and young as I was, the difference between the two was not lost on me.

Despite the mind bending culture shock of moving from the land of hippy into the land of jacket and tie, I didn’t have too much trouble making new friends at the very serious grammar school. I was a dork, the new school had other dorks, so we were all good.

However, the last day that I attended the hippy dippy school, was also the last day that I saw the friends that I’d made there. The school had thoroughly taught me how to use public transport, so I had no troubles physically catching up with them. I just couldn’t catch up with them, because they ‘ghosted’ me. For those people who aren’t down with the language of the kids, the act of ghosting refers to: “the practice of ending a personal relationship with someone by suddenly and without explanation withdrawing from all communication.”

The summer break between between one school and the next, gave me plenty of time to contemplate this unexpected turn of events. And I spent that summer alone. Don’t fret for me though, I was busy earning piles of mad cash, and when I wasn’t doing that, I was playing arcade games. But that sure was a long summer break.

In later years as a young adult, I made plenty of friends, but eventually settled in with a large group of people my own age. They were a good bunch of people, and there was always something entertaining going on. But a bit over a dozen years ago, they got heavily into the massively multi player online computer game: World of Warcraft. I was one of the few in that group that never played, because I already knew from my arcade gaming days that computer games were addictive. I really had no desire to discover if this fascinating bit of software would be equally addictive.

Despite being mildly disruptive in my earlier years, I do have some virtues and being patient is one such. So I waited for my friends to step away from that virtual gaming world. Then I waited a bit more – after all I did just write that I was patient. But after three years of waiting, even my patience was over, and I could see no end in sight. I resigned myself to having lost a group of friends and that left me with a large empty hole in my life. Not being one to mope around and whinge, I decided to fill the empty hole with other people and other activities. For a fact though, I felt like the summer where I’d suddenly lost all of my mates in between one school and the next. Fortunately this time was not nearly as dismal because I had the editor, and I am eternally grateful for her support during those days.

I hadn’t really thought about those days, until about a month ago when an old mate from that large group contacted me. He’d moved to the other side of this continent and was visiting for a few weeks, and wanted to catch up. I ghosted him. In doing so, some people may believe that I am being overly harsh, and there is truth to that belief. However the person in question doesn’t write or call (unless they want to very occasionally catch up), and I frankly do not know how to have a relationship on that basis. The entire episode has left me feeling mildly unsettled. I took the ‘do nothing’ option, which in this case was ghosting the person. But I still uncomfortable about it.

It was another hot week, in a continuing string of hot weeks. To put it mildly, the weather of late has been a bit intense. As I’m writing this text, I have the entire house open to the cooler night time air. Today the outside temperature reached 40’C / 104’F outside and 27’C / 81’F inside.

Another hot day in paradise. 40’C / 104’F outside and 27’C / 81’F inside the house

I worked outside today in the sun until about 1pm.  I had to head indoors then because I felt as if I could not sweat anymore. And the fluffy collective were done in by the heat at that time of the day too:

It’s too hot boss! The Fluffy collective are done for the day

Every now and then I hear people making the extraordinary and absurd claim that somehow native and indigenous plants are more resilient to local conditions. That belief isn’t working out too well for these hot and rather deceased looking Musk Daisy bushes:

These musk daisy bushes are not looking terribly healthy in the prolonged hot and dry weather

The smoke from nearby bushfires produce nice sunsets at this time of year.

The sunset is enhanced by smoke from nearby bushfires

Observant readers will note the thin line of smoke going right to left in the above photo. That smoke originated from a bushfire that is on the very edge of the property of my mates of the Big Shed fame. As I write this text, the bushfire is not yet under control, and I hope that both they and the nearby town are OK.

You can read about the fire here: Bushfires in Hepburn, Timbarra and Grantville threaten Victorian homes and lives

We’ve struck a blow for the Evil Empire in our own going Rat Wars. The rodent resistance fights dirty, and about a month or two back, the rodents managed to again break into the – apparently rodent proof – chicken enclosure. Since then the rodents have been consuming about 2 cups of grains per day! And even more unbelievably, they’d managed to do that by tunnelling under two concrete slabs to get regular access to the grains and water inside the chicken enclosure.

We have a theory about the rats and mice and their tunnels. We are testing the theory that rats and mice may be unable to tunnel in a downwards or upwards direction for very far. So far from what we have observed, rats and mice can easily tunnel horizontally, but can they tunnel vertically?

The authors gloved finger points to the tunnel entrance beneath the concrete slab inside the chicken enclosure

Given the rats and mice managed to tunnel under the concrete slab to access the inside of the chicken enclosure, we dug a trench at the edge of the concrete slab.

A 250mm / 10 inch deep trench was dug at the edge of the concrete slab inside the chicken enclosure

Rocks were placed in the trench as fill.

Rocks were placed in the trench as fill

The trench was then back filled with cement.

The trench was then back filled with cement

We’ll have to now wait and see what the rodent resistance gets up to next!

The strawberry and vine fruit cage and corn enclosure is currently on the highest terrace. So whilst we were digging and making cement this week, we thought that we might as well begin a new set of concrete stairs leading up from the strawberry terrace to the next (and yet to be dug) terrace. This is what the area looked like beforehand:

The path leading up to the door of the strawberry enclosure

In front of the door to the strawberry enclosure, we had to excavate enough soil so that we had plenty of space to begin pouring some cement stairs.

The area excavated this week has the brown clay surface
The two new concrete stairs were poured

Four more stairs to go and the staircase will be completed.

In breaking produce news:

Fresh blackberries and early season yellow tomatoes fresh from the garden
Our most reliable and heat hardy green is the perennial rocket and we cut them back severely this week to encourage more leafy greens rather than stalks and flowers
Sweet basil loves the heat, but not the sun, and so we grow it deep in the shade of the asparagus
The corn is doing very well and should be ready to harvest soon
This maybe the very first watermelon of the season (or squash). Who really knows?
The lone kiwifruit from three vines is at least putting on some size

In wildlife news:

A small group of honey eaters live on the farm, and they enjoy the benefits of the diverse flowers
A native bee emerges from this melon flower

Onto the flowers:

This bush rose is a stunner and it happily climbs through a large garden bed
Californian poppies are hardy to the sun and dry
This aromatic geranium is a very cheery plant
A close up of Feverfew flowers
Some of the geraniums produce spectacular flowers
We have hundreds of agapanthus flowers and the bees love them

The temperature outside now at about 8.00am is 15’C (59’F). So far this year there has been 11.4mm (0.4 inches) which is slightly higher than last weeks total of 5.4mm (0.2 inches).

79 thoughts on “Tell them all I said Hi!”

  1. Hi Chris,

    Our Cook Strait crossing was reasonably mild, although that didn’t stop the halls and passages looking like a war zone. A lot of people spent the whole trip staring at their phones in the bow of the ship where the rocking motion is the worse. No wonder they felt sick! Mrs Damo and I spent most of the time outside in the fresh air watching the horizon. Very pretty!

    The boats moved up well (they fitted in the 20ft container with everything else). I even managed to snaffle a classic older outboard motor (British Seagull, 2 stroke) from a local in my new community. You can see it in action here:
    By the way, that is the first fish I caught from this boat, I feel there are extra points somewhere for catching a fish from a boat you built. I wonder where I go to cash in these points?

    I hope the heat and bushfires are not getting you down. It was very hazy here a few days ago and I wondered if smoke had come across the Tasman.

    Those chooks look pretty happy with the enclosure upgrades. A lot happier than I was reading Wallace 🙂 Mind you, they should show some personal responsibility for the situation. Surely a chook can take down a rat!

    Perhaps it is a little harsh to ghost this new guy, but it is understandable and from the sounds of it, you diverged from those WoW friends a long time ago.


  2. Hi Stephen E,

    We just moved up to Auckland from Christchurch (and Tasmania before that) and although the traffic is disgusting, we are appreciating the variety in what we can plant in the garden. Capsicums are going great guns, tomatoes way faster than down south, and it looks like I can probably sneak another planting in with no frost to worry about 🙂 Which part of Auckland do you hail from?


  3. Hi Lew,

    Glad to hear the fall was not too serious (it would be a shame if the box of goods was damaged!). I am not sure if Auckland is the land of the living, the local population spends a significant amount of time in their car!!

    I must admit I bailed on Westworld back in season 1, found it a bit, I am reaching for a word here, “mean”. It reveled in putting the main characters through pain and misery, which didn’t interest me much. I have the same problem (among others) with Game of Thrones. Did you find it similar, or am I just getting soft in my old age ? 🙂


    PS Really liking Orville Season 2, have not bothered with Season 2 of Discovery yet. May not at all.

  4. Hi Stephen E,

    When the editor and I lived in the inner city of Melbourne, we got our electricity usage down to 3.5kWh per day, but we also had natural gas to cook and heat with (but as expected we had a very small bill which from memory was about $40 per month for the gas).

    Living here with the off grid system has really forced me to look at every single appliance and also be able to estimate how much electricity the PV panels will generate in a day. And despite it being summer, heavy cloud meant that there is not bucket loads of electricity to chuck around tonight (although I plan to run the electric oven for two hours for a batch of biscuits and a loaf of bread).

    There is freedom in that way of living, but it is not lost on me that there are also costs (consciously and financially) that few if anyone wants to pay. I wish it were otherwise.

    The official update is that the fire is now contained. Fingers crossed. I’ve visited his property and it is a special place.

    I’ve noted that phytophthora (which is common in Australia) often gains ground where the local plant or animal community has been upset for some reason. Minerals stop being recycled within the environment and so the cheeky fungi can gain ground and begin recycling plant matter back into soil food. It is a form of negative feedback.



  5. Hi Inge,

    It is pretty awful to contemplate, but I heard a report today suggesting that the town received their annual rainfall in a single week. I’m unsure how we would cope with such a volume of water, and it sure would be devastating. Here is an update: Townsville flooding forces hundreds to evacuate, leaves police clinging to trees after dam gates fully opened.

    And despite that part of the continent being many thousands of kilometres north of here, the tail end of that storm is apparently going to make a special guest appearance here on Wednesday through Friday. So far about an inch of rain looks forecast for the coming days, and that should help douse the fire on the edge of my mates property. It is a dynamic storm and the forecast has been varying every day, so who knows what might eventually eventuate!

    Just in case things couldn’t get weirder down here: Melbourne apartment tower fire fuelled by combustible cladding on Spencer St high-rise. I know somebody who lives in a low rise apartment block that used the Grenfell cladding. Out of courtesy, I don’t usually inquire about how they are going with the replacement of the cladding. As you might understand, it is a sensitive matter.

    That’s my understanding about the sea too and floating.

    And I’m not entirely certain that either word captures the flavour of the story. Dunno.

    Brr! That is one cold night in anyone’s language! There’d be a lot of complaining and sooking going on around here! 🙂



  6. Hi Lewis,

    I had to write last evening so I couldn’t really pen my appreciation very well for the house. You know, the bloke took a simple building material (cement), and he made an event of the material, and the outcome looked really good. You’d probably like my mates big shed as they have a lot of little fine details in the construction. Most people probably might overlook them all, much like visitors here only ever see a smattering of what is to be seen. Some of the tiles at my mates place are quite three dimensional – like the Frank Lloyd Wright house cement blocks – and sometimes I imagine that I see pixelated Space Invaders (from the arcade game machine) in some of the tiles. But then, my imagination can often spot images in clouds or terrazzo finishes for just two examples!

    But the details extend right through their entire dwelling and I have great respect for my mates, the builders, and the architect to bring such a unique building into existence.

    Of course, Southern California is much warmer than where I am, so the thermal mass would work well. And I saw the price for the house and it sort of floored me. Money sure ain’t gonna buy what it used to. 😉 The income stream from the house would come in handy. On the other side of the mountain range, there is a house that used to be photographed for a well known brand of paint, and I believe that the deal included regular repaints. I had a look to see whether there were any images on the interweb, but no… There were lot’s of oldey time advertising where manufacturers spruiked the benefits of using their products as distinct from some sort of abstract emotional content. Fancy that?

    Mate, I’ll be glad to relax after the fire season is done, but it could keep going right through until April. Wednesday through Friday may bring about an inch of rain here, so I’m really looking forward to that arriving. It is the tail end of the epic storm up in the north of the continent. Hopefully the rain douses the fire next to my mates place. The fire is apparently contained, but not out. The gorge below their property is quite steep and inaccessible.

    Far out! Not good at all. I did notice that there was reference to the same utility filing for bankruptcy protection in the past. Still, it isn’t good and there is the underlying – and not discussed matter – that consumers are not paying the full price for their electricity, or that their demands for continuous supply may have unintended consequences. Incidentally, the mains grid supplied power gets cut on risky days down here if the electricity supply has the merest of faults. It is a sensible precaution given the outcomes and the litigation in years gone by. People can’t have the situation both ways. Black Saturday bushfire survivors secure $500 million in Australia’s largest class action payout. In some ways it is a bit like the legal action after the molasses flood that we spoke of a few weeks ago.

    Hey, your snow band appears to be arriving from the west. Good luck and most importantly – stay warm. Have you got any club meetings or lunches with Scott scheduled for this time?

    Incidentally, you may now understand why I do not play video games. 😉 It can happen to the best of us, my friend!

    The art world could stand a bit of a send up. A long time ago I mentioned the story of the pretentious fellow who was happy to sell me a colourful and enjoyable painting, but at the same time he just couldn’t help but disparage the work by suggesting that it would only be good for a bathroom. Nice. As an interesting side story, the painting did end up in the bathroom, but the bathroom here is unlike most, as it looks across the valley and off into the far distant horizon. I’ve whiled away many a pleasant hour there just doing nothing other than looking out the window. It is a nice place to spot the wedge tailed eagles soaring above the valley.

    An owl may have left a very fluidy blood smear on one of the concrete steps last night. There was a lot of blood. I suspect the owl may have dropped its catch onto the hard concrete step and then took its time about chowing down on its prey. A nasty but rapid end.

    No way. People say that to me about the protein too. I never knew how to reply to such a judgement, so the tip was much appreciated. He’s alright that bloke.

    Ah, I purchased the woollen rugs on the second hand market. One of them is a Persian rug that even has the signature of the weaver in the pattern. And it is huge. The people selling it were very snooty and they made some very unfriendly suggestions about our possible use for the rug. On the other hand it was not lost on the editor or I that they were happy to take our cash… The peoples mother was the one selling the rug and she did not turn up to take the cash and left us to deal with the snooty people. I had a suspicion that there was some sort of divorce situation going on in the background with the mother and things were being liquidated.

    You are probably onto something with the Samuel Johnson / Edward Gore link. I’d imagine Edward Gore had a great and very fascinating library given the volume of books. Ah the places you can travel and the times you can traverse all from the comfort of an armchair (or couch in my case) by the simple act of reading a book. I must say that it appears that Samuel Johnson had some rather fixed views of the world! 😉

    Has the ‘stuff’ ever been brought out of storage for an exhibition? I read a reference that there were a number of unpublished manuscripts discovered after his death.

    The heat (but not too hot this time) and humidity look set to arrive with force tomorrow…



  7. Hi Damo,

    Hope you are settling in well to your new digs? I’m envying you your weather. 🙂

    I’m not much of a fan of chucking characters consistently into danger and trouble. Life is a bit more balanced than that – and in all the losses, there can be wins. Well, at least that is what I reckon.



  8. Hello Chris
    Oh dear! What shall I say? How about ‘Still sensitive but not so sweet’? I have never ghosted anyone. I would have been interested in how your ex friend’s life had progressed. I did notice that you are feeling uncomfortable about your non response, so all is not lost.
    I showed that photo of the frog to Son, he wants to know what is the surface that it is on.
    Our weather has warmed up over 20 degrees F but it is pouring with rain.


  9. @ Pam – (From last week.) But I care about my colored glass, deeply :-). Besides, if I have to move the shelves, it would throw off the symmetry. Then I couldn’t sleep. I’ve decided to just add moving the shelf to my “things to do before an inspection, and then put to rights, after”, list. Lew

  10. @ Margaret – (From last week.) Well, if I fall down the stairs, with any luck at all, I’ll break my neck, and that will be the end of it! :-). Lew

  11. @ Damo – That was a delightful fishing video! But I noticed, neither you, nor Mrs. Damo are wearing life vests. In our State, I think it’s been a law (for decades) that life vests must be worn when on the water.

    Hmmm. I’ll have to think about the violence, in Westworld. Which didn’t bother me, at all. Now, I don’t care for “slasher” movies. Horror that is too horrible. And, I don’t care for people screaming at each other in non-sci-fi films. But Westworld? Hmmm. Maybe because I grew up in the Golden Age of TV Westerns? There were dozens in the late 1950s and 60s. I can still sing the theme songs, from most of them. The weekly body counts were very high.

    Maybe I’ve just got a line (a very wonky line) in my head that separates “real” from “fantasy.” “Knights of Badassdom” had buckets of blood, but I thought it was quit a romp. :-).

    I’m kind of looking forward to season two of Star Trek Discovery. I peeked a bit at the unfolding plot, and it looks like our heroine’s main squeeze is going to be the young Spock. Now, that could be interesting. Lew

  12. Yo, Chris – Gorey moved a lot when he was a kid. Yearly. Around the Chicago area. Didn’t seem to be any reason for it. No “one step ahead of the landlord”, or, “trading up.” Just free floating restlessness, within the family? We’ll never know.

    I’ve been deeply hurt by being ghosted, several times in my life. I think it’s … something I’ve never quit gotten over. And why as I get older, I more and more “turn away from the world.”

    The trench should have been at least 2 meters deep :-). Did you have a twinge of “wasting” rocks on the rats? We haven’t seen your chickens, in awhile. My, they are fine looking birds.

    Your new stairs will enable you to say things like, “Make a left at the strawberry enclosure.” 🙂

    The picture of the tomatoes and blackberries is really quit nice. A great juxtaposition of colors. I envy you your basil. I’ve quit used up all the basil I dried last year, and now have to depend on the “stuff” from the store. Your corn looks good. You’ll have to keep an eye on the Mystery Orb. The Honey eater isn’t very colorful, but has a very pleasing shape.

    Home details. “It’s the little things that count.” :-). Attention to detail. Cont.

  13. Cont. Well, our snow turns out to have been a rather non-event. It began snowing, and sticking, around noon, yesterday. Lasted for an hour and then all disappeared. A flurry around 7pm. Another flurry around 9pm. This morning? A bit on the cars, and that’s it. Portland and Seattle, near as I can tell, don’t seen to be coping with any large amounts.

    So, that seems to be it. It’s 30F (-1.11C) and heading down. Looking at the forecast, we’re moving into “too cold to snow”. We’re going to have some pretty low temps, for awhile. Clear and sunny. Nothing like the midwest. I can even see patches of blue sky, here and there.

    There’s a Gorey House Museum, on Cape Cod. There’s a foundation, of some sort. They frequently lend things out of the trove, for exhibits. Someone is slowly working their way through the unpublished stuff. I stumbled on a

    I ran across an article you might find interesting. It’s pretty long. About invasive poison mushrooms! Who knew?


  14. Hi Lew,

    Glad you enjoyed the video. I must confess my computer did most of the work, I simply pointed it at the folder containing a whole bunch of pictures and footage and the algorithm came up with an edit. I spent maybe 10 minutes fine tuning it. By comparison, the Tesla road trip video probably took me 12 hours in total to edit 😮

    The laws are different in Australia and NZ for lifevests. Here in NZ, it is the captains discretion, and responsibility, to wear them or not. But they must be on-board, which they were. In Australia, most states require them to be worn at all times, captain has no discretion. In both countries, many people only wear them during dangerous bar crossings etc.

    Personally, I am relaxed on lifejackets. I routinely swim, snorkel, surf, scuba dive in more dangerous and remote places then I would ever take a boat and none of those activities require a lifejacket. Add a boat though, and suddenly you will be struck down by neptune himself if you don’t wear one at all times! /shrug

    RE: violence. It wasn’t so much the blood or body count that bothered me, but the sadistic nature of it. It had a real, “look how horrible people are” type vibe to it. I have no problem with a robot mowing down random victims in a movie, but repeatedly torturing sentient beings just because they can is not a subject or place I really wanted to hang out (and I don’t believe most people would act that way either). Knights of Badassdom was much more enjoyable 🙂

    I just saw a trailer come out for a new TV series, “What we do in the shadows”. If you haven’t seen it, the movie it is based on from a few years ago (made in New Zealand) is hilarious and worth tracking down.


  15. Chris,

    Nice harvest of berries! No comment on the tomatoes: neither of us are fans. But the berries!

    Oh yes, I’d forgotten your friends’ animals. hopefully they make it through fine, too, and that includes quick recoveries from the terror of the event. These things can be hard for critters to get over.

    I noted Lew’s comment on the snow. It fizzled out here, too. However, the desert area near Yakima, Wa, received about 7.5 cm according to our relatives there.

    On being ghosted. That happened to me in a huge way upon graduating from high school. Even my 2 closest friends ghosted me. 28 years later, I saw a familiar face looking lost in the building where I work. It was a woman from my high school class. (Actually, she was my first girl friend.) I told her who I was, and found out what she needed. Turns out 1) I could help her cut through a bunch of nonsense red tape to obtain some important (to her) public records, and 2) she also had been ghosted, most notoriously by her closest friends from high school. Neither of us ever attended any of the high school reunions.

    Strangely, the only other person I ever bumped into from those days was the bully who used to pound the bejeebers out of me. (Nice religious high school I attended, right?) First thing he did was to apologize! We bumped into one another several times over a period of a few months at a local bowling alley. No, we did not keep in touch after that.

    I hope your deeper concrete helps with the rat problem. Something tells me that they’ll find a different way to get in, unfortunately. They’re sneaky smart that way.


  16. Hi Damo,
    I’m in Mt Eden on the lower slopes of Maungawhau, so I have very nice volcanic soil. Not very deep though – about one metre down is a lava flow. I sometimes wonder if that lava is just a very thin crust over a vast lava cave; I don’t jump up and down too vigorously, ha ha.
    I minimise my traffic hassles by walking or bussing as much as possible, but I’m guessing you live further out. We have a good bus service in Mt Eden.
    Nice little video with the boat, good stuff!

  17. Hi Damo,

    Glad to read that you and Mrs Damo earned your sea legs on that notorious stretch of water. On our trip across from north to south, I sat in the bow of the ship and watched the rather large waves crash over the bow only to smash against the windows. I quite enjoyed the spectacle of nature at her finest. Spare a thought for the poor editor who passed out quickly and quietly in the rough seas, and had earlier thought to venture into the toilets only to be confronted by a sea of spew. Both yourself and Mrs Damo were wise to enjoy the bracing air and keep your eyes on the horizon. I’ve never felt sea sick, but was once ill after a day long high speed alpine car rally where I was performing navigator duties. That was unpleasant, but may also have been due to dehydration. Yuk!

    And let’s not forget the: Wahine disaster.

    Thanks for the video, and you looked pretty chuffed with the result as well you should be! How good was the fish? Cool. I’ll share a little secret: the editor has bouts of potty mouth every bit as good as Mrs Damo!!! Hehe! The motor was a top find and it looks really cool. I’d wondered if you’d have to leave your creations on the south island, so it is nice to read that they travelled well in a container.

    No, the bushfires and the threat of them are actually wearing us down, and I haven’t heard from my mates since Saturday. I hope they are OK. Rain is forecast for tomorrow.

    Ah yes, I read in between the lines and came up with the same conclusion about the feted author. I can only suspect that he was taking the piss out of all of us, and people fell for it. The title was a dead giveaway in retrospect. It speaks well of you that you walked away from the text.

    Exactly, to me it was old news. I did actually catch up with him about a year back and had a great time, but I honestly don’t know how to have a friendship on the basis that he was offering. I dunno, it is probably mean as all, but you know, I just don’t understand how to go about it. It is probably a failure of my own as I expect too much, and that one was below my minimum expectation level.



  18. Hi Chris,
    I have to say that I have found your commentary over the years about your own solar system to be one of the most useful guides I have ever read, in order to understand what it is and isn’t capable of, so thanks for that.
    Funnily enough, in my public library catalogue I have just come across this book : “Do it yourself 12 volt solar power” by Michel Daniek. Looks like a useful guide for a novice – do you have an opinion?
    I had gathered that Hepburn and Hepburn Springs have been saved from the fire, but it was not that easy to find out. It’s funny how news stories simply vanish once there is no more drama or tragedy to report.
    Stephen E

  19. Hi Inge,

    Thanks. On a serious note, I believe that most people have a dark edge to their personality, and it manifests itself in all sorts of different ways. The editor feels that I have been overly harsh in this regard, and I believe that she is correct in her opinion. With the essay I wanted to see what other people thought about the situation, but more importantly I just wanted some advice about what to do about it. Like you, I too am interested in where things are headed for that person, but I am at a complete loss as to how to have a relationship with someone that I’ve known for decades and who now lives in another city that is at least five extraordinarily long days drive away and does not call or write until they arrive back out of the blue and want to catch up. I really don’t know, and what is on offer is currently below my minimum expectations for a relationship. I’m not an idiot and I can skype, phone, email, mail, text message or whatever. It distresses me that we have so many ways of communicating these days and we (your good self and the other people who regularly comment here are excluded from my rant) are abysmal at the task.

    Your son clearly has a mind that is curious to ask that particular question about the surface that the frog sits upon. The frog was sitting on the veranda. You have replaced your decking with timber (I’m guessing). If you recall I live in a risky area for bushfires, so the surface is ceramic outdoor and non-slip tiles sitting on 16mm (16/25 of an inch) thick fibre-cement sheet. Of course timber joists sit underneath that fibre-cement sheet. But the combination of the two materials is very unlikely to burn – and we tested the products in a very serious bonfire one year. The next day, you could still read the printed information on the thick fibre cement (it was uncanny). The fire rated plaster is an even stranger material…



  20. Hi Lewis,

    I like the sound of Edward Gorey and you have piqued my interest enough to read his biography. You may also have noticed that my paid job involves me seeing lots of different businesses and people, so yeah, some people are born to keeping on rolling. I note you too have enjoyed a checkered career in all manner of professions. I get that. The other week I had an unasked for candid conversation with a young lady who confided that she enjoyed her desk job, but every now and then had to get away from it and hit the road with the gritty people who resided there. It was quite lovely because she described them as ‘her people’. It is nice to be self aware.

    Sorry to read that you have been ghosted in the past. It is an awful thing to do, and if it means anything to you I feel uncomfortable about it. Also for the record, I would not do that to your good self. Please let me explain. I wrote the story because I wanted advice on what to do about the situation, and that was my primary motivation. My mate moved to Perth, which is 4,000km away and he neither phones or writes until he arrives back in the state and wants to catch up. And there is an expectation that I collect him from his parents farm which is not too far from here, and then drop him off again. There is just not enough balance in that friendship. He had a birthday last year – in Perth – and I don’t fly anywhere, and instead I sent a very nice hardback book and a handwritten letter as a present, and there were phone calls and then nothing. It just petered out and we have known each other for many decades. I dunno what the friendship even is, so yeah I was having some existential angst about the situation and decided to turn it into an Agony Aunt hour for you poor souls. For that, I apologise! 😉 Anyway, sometimes the best ideas are other peoples, so someone may come up with a touch of genius advice? Maybe?

    Ouch! Digging in that clay in the chicken enclosure was like breaking concrete. How the rats tunnelled a hole through it in the first place just leaves me feeling like I am at their mercy. But the new trench should mess with them a bit over the next few months…

    As a funny side story about the chickens, one of them was producing slightly smelly eggs. The egg from that particular chicken had a funny odour to them. Anyway, we narrowed down which chicken it was, and discovered this evening that the poor chicken had a poo dag on her cloaca. Poor little thing. We tipped her upside down this evening and I held her whilst the editor did the surgery with sharp scissors. A smelly business to be sure… We’ll see how it goes with the eggs. I’m not gifting eggs to anyone until we sort out the problem, and the dogs are enjoying the oversupply of eggs as a consequence.

    Hehe! You know, I’ve used the same timber form work (that we made from scrap) for every single stair that we’ve made here. Some things just get a lot of use, and you never know which ones it will be. The rain over the next few days may put an end to stair building this week. Maybe? We’re not expecting anything like the Townsville Rain. Oh my, how’s almost 50 inches of rain in ten days working out for them… Not good. The 50 inches is not a typo.

    Fresh basil is good stuff isn’t it. I’m assuming in your part of the world that you can grow sweet basil in the full sun? Incidentally, the season is turning as today was the first Very High UV day since about six weeks before the summer solstice.

    The honey eater is a nice bird isn’t it? And it has subtle touches of yellow on its belly. No blue though – the fairy wrens and crimson rosellas provide splashes of blue in the garden.

    With the exception of the cold snaps and our occasional extreme hot days, the climates are remarkably similar between here and your part of the world. It is rather surprising too given the differences in latitude, but the Pacific Ocean does influence the weather here too. It is a shame you can’t enjoy a huge dump of snow for a short while. Snow is nice, but too much can be a nuisance.

    Thanks for the link. Mushrooms are fascinating – and I did remark earlier this week that they are there to convert plant cellulose back into soil, so the fungi are a form of negative feedback loop in stressed soils. I’ll have a read of the article! Incidentally, there are death cap mushrooms down here from what I understand. Mr Kroeger has a delightfully amusing sense of humour!

    Just to prove how bonkers we are as a society, earlier this evening in the nearby town, I spotted a bloke using a two stroke blower to sweep leaves off the sidewalk, over the grassed area, and onto the road. Nice work. The leaves may have had a chance of breaking down on the grassed verge. If we understood the message, the fungi are trying to assist us and restore a form of balance in the soils. They’ll eventually get the upper hand too. I noted the reference to the peat from a Sydney nursery. We have an extraordinary collection of fungi down here, and I even get white truffles growing in the soil here, but who knows whether they are toxic or not. I tend to err on the side of toxic.



  21. Hello again
    You have high lighted why you have a problem with your use of the word ‘expectations’ Forget ‘expectations’ and try ‘acceptance’. As you note, people are different. The friends that I have/had are all over the world, some have gone quiet for years; it really doesn’t matter, we just pick up if and when. My regrets are the losses when people moved around too fast, including myself, resulting in lost addresses.

    I have to admit that I am not so good at acceptance when it comes to family but I manage to keep the fact to myself. Thus they can remain blithely happy, I hope.


  22. @ Chris and Lew.
    We have death caps here and people die. I avoid anything with white gills except for parasols which are easily recognisable.


  23. @Inge
    My father was a pathologist and chief of staff at a quite large hospital so for awhile our family was extremely well off. Both my parents came from modest means though and worked hard and made good decisions to get to that point. They employed a full time horse trainer and showed Arabian horses throughout the midwest. Like many young girls I loved horses too and wanted one of my own so my parents made me a deal. I had to earn $100 to purchase one of their geldings. Now this was back in the late 60’s so $100 was quite a bit of money. I earned it by mowing our large lawn with a push mower and pulling weeds mostly. My mother paid me one cent for every six weeds and she did count them and check that I got the roots. I admire my parents because even though they could just give us what we wanted (like many parents did) we had to earn them. Horses were an expensive hobby (well actually it turned into a business that helped with taxes) but it was what they loved and otherwise there weren’t too many extravagances. My father died suddenly at age 46 when I as the oldest of eight was 21. My mother sold most of her horses (over 30 of them) and turned her place into a boarding stable and that was how she supported herself from then on. Believe me the family’s standard of living decreased dramatically. I recall one of her vehicles that had a hole in the floor and keeping the heat in the 50’s. Anyway I did become a pretty good rider and it’s like riding a bike – you really don’t forget how. I haven’t ridden in probably 8 or 9 years but on the occasion I do I quite enjoy it. Doug learned to ride while working at a stable so we do share that interest. I can certainly understand why people would be afraid though especially if you had a bad experience. They can be pretty intimidating.


  24. Hi Chris,
    That must have been quite the culture shock moving from the hippy school to the new one.

    Kids can be so mean but I’ll tell you girls particularly in the 11 to 12 range are just brutal.

    I can’t recall ever being “ghosted” but I’ve certainly had many instances where friends just drifted away. Almost every time was after one changed a job, a school, church or some volunteer activity. Once that commonality was gone most people just moved on. Attempts are made for awhile to keep the friendship going but after awhile it just peters away especially if you are no long geographically close. Doug is quite the extrovert the opposite of me and he really makes an effort to keep up with old friends though even some of those move on as well. He has one friend from college who was originally was from Pakistan and moved back quite a few years ago. Shams still calls about 3 or 4 times a year and they chat for a couple of hours. For some reason it’s quite cheap for him to call Doug but when Doug tried to reciprocate it cost a fortune. We figure we’re probably on some list with Homeland Security after receiving many calls from Pakistan.

    If your friend would communicate a bit more I’m sure you would be more willing to meet him when he arrives. It sounds like he doesn’t even let you know ahead of time when he’s arriving though and expects you to drop everything to see him. Is that correct?

    I can imagine how draining it is constantly worrying about the threat of fire. I sure felt on edge during the polar vortex and that was only a couple of days. Speaking of weather we had three days near 40F so around 80% of the snow has melted. However it under freezing again and next up is an ice storm tonight so there is the danger of losing power. As we’re out in the boonies we’d probably be close to the end of the list to get fixed. We have plans to get the generator wired into the house like before so you can just hook it up and at least you have heat and water along with a few other essentials (coffee comes to mind). However our electrician has it on the schedule for spring. We’re looking into a whole or half house generator that connects to the propane. It would be quite expensive but just might make sense for our situation.

    From your pictures one would hardly know how hot and dry you are. Hope you hear from your friends soon.

    My ladies night was quite fun. We played a couple of silly games and then got into our usual singing. One of the smoke alarms was beeping (battery wearing out) so Leo was going crazy. It took awhile to figure out how to open and find the battery as these smoke alarms aren’t like my old ones and my daughter who was helping me said they weren’t like hers either. We thought we had things under control but Leo started barking and whining again – turned out one of the batteries was in backwards. He got himself so worked up that we had to pull his bed out to the kitchen (where we were playing games) to finally get him to settle down.


  25. @ Damo – Well, I figured you were a bit of a water baby. A real Aquaman. :-). But I’ll sleep better knowing you’ve got lifejackets, kicking around the bottom of the boat. (Here’s where you give a long sigh, roll your eyes and say, in an exasperated way, “Ok, Mum.”) 🙂

    Believe it or not, our library system has copies of “What We Do In The Shadows.” I watched it about a year ago. As I remember, I thought it was all a bit silly. The series, “Being Human” (the British version) was more to my taste. But if my library gets it, I’ll give the series a whirl. Lew

  26. Yo, Chris – Before I forget (because I’ve forgotten the last four days) there’s a new King Arthur movie out! But really, just a bit of Arthurian fluff. “The Kid Who Would Be King.” The trailer looks kind of fun, and if my library gets it, I’ll give it a whirl.

    I was also in the library the other day, and noticed a copy of that fine old chestnut, “Mrs. Miniver.” 1942, I think. I’d seen it, years ago. It was really done as a propaganda piece. To urge America to get into WWII. By the time it hit the screen, we were already in. But, it won a lot of academy awards, for what that’s worth. Of interest, is that I was poking around a bit as to the backgrounds of some of the actors. You may find it of interest that the fellow who played the RAF pilot son, later didn’t do much movie work, but some TV work. In the 60’s, he became some kind of Wall Street player. Wrote a couple of books that weren’t very popular among the traders. Pretty much said the whole thing was rigged against the “little guy.”

    Well, I hope the Gorey book doesn’t drive you too bonkers. All the endless speculation. But don’t throw it against the wall, too fast. I think your mates in the shed might like it. Might make a nice little host gift, sometime. When I pass along books to people, I always make it clear if I expect a book back, or, that I don’t want it back. Saves confusion.

    I figured it was the fellow from Perth, you mentioned before. It’s probably my age, but I do get tired of people always going away … one way or another. And, it’s probably my age that I am more and more convinced that most people are more trouble then they are worth. I’ve been contemplating, more and more, becoming an urban recluse / hermit (non religious branch :-). I figure it would take me about a year to pull off.

    Once you get basil going, here, it really seems to love the sun. There are a few mentions of Australia, in the article about the death cap mushrooms.

    It got down to 21F (-6.11C) last night. We may have another stab at a decent snowfall, this coming weekend. According to our National Weather Service. I’ll wait and see what Prof. Mass has to say about that.

    I’m just feeling too clever, by half. I really needed another blanket, last night. Then I remembered I had some old (but in new shape) curtains. I remembered that they were “thermal” and noise dampening. They’re really quit light in weight. Blue, of course. So, I gave one a try. Just the right size. I’m still a bit struck by how they made perfectly presentable curtains, but now, on the bed, make a perfectly presentable coverlet. It would take pretty close inspection to figure out they weren’t made for a bed. And, boy, did they keep me warm! Lew

  27. Hi, Chris!

    What a beautiful dark purple contrasted with bright yellow.

    Maybe you wouldn’t like to write a book, but I think you could write a pamphlet for the schoolchildren to illustrate how to land on one’s feet under the many diverse circumstances encountered during their school years.

    I had a friend in highschool, for about 3 years; we were pretty close friends. She decided to graduate a year early and went off to college and we kind of casually kept in touch and then lost track for a couple of decades. She resurfaced a few years back, luckily only by phone and letters (thankfully we lived far apart) and wanted to be pals again, but my life was too full and I doubted we had much in common, so I was always polite to her, but never encouraged her. Just an “I’m fine, hope you are well.” She still contacts me a couple of times a year, and I guess she wants to revive the past? I don’t know, but I hate to be unkind if I can at least be civil.

    I thought that you were out of your heat wave, but 104F is nothing to sneeze at. I am so sorry that your Big Shed mates have had to worry so much with the bushfire near them, but it sounds like they are going to be lucky. I looked at part of the Grand Designs episode that Lew had mentioned awhile back that showed their house and I was absolutely amazed at it. What do you reckon, though, should it go up in smoke, that they wouldn’t rebuild with even better ideas than before since they must have been taking notes – as you do – on where things could be improved should the opportunity ever arise. I did not see you and the editor, though; I didn’t watch all of it.

    Those are some tenacious – even relentless – rats that you have. I guess you haven’t talked to Mr. Toothy about this?

    My son is planning some steps for our garden. Right now it is all paths, and some of them are pretty steep – and often wet. He says that when I get old (I am 62; he is very tactful) I might slip (I slip quite often, but so far I am very good at catching myself – meow).

    That looks like a melon to me and the corn looks better than ever.

    The honeyeater makes me think of hummingbirds. Do you have any?

    You and Margaret were talking about salting the roads in icy, snowy weather, end of last week, I think. Perhaps they are using calcium chloride (that is done here) which is not “salty” the way sodium is, since it is not a form of sodium. I don’t think it hurts plants or water supplies. I have wondered if the calcium might not even be beneficial. The wildlife loves to lick it off the road.


  28. @ DJSpo:

    Thank you for the thoughts on inflammation. I am a vegetarian and don’t eat meat or dairy. I don’t know if they contribute to inflammation. I did notice that when I gave up dairy – it took a little while – I no longer had the stuffy nose that I always seemed to have. I’ll have to ponder the cardiovascular part, as I don’t think I get enough cardiovascular exercise. Maybe that just applies if the exercise is excessive. I am never excessive!


  29. Hi Chris,

    You will have to tell us more about your rally car navigator duties, I can’t imagine staring at a map as the car violently careens along a twisting stage. Strong stomach required!

    I did wonder about the title of Wallaces book. It does suggest an ulterior motive! Now, I am reading “The Boat”, or Das Boot. Fascinating to read about the war from the Germans perspective. If this book is to be believed, career officers knew the game was up as early as 1941.

    After reading that you saw your friend only a year ago, well, I dunno. It does seem a bit harsh. A few years back, one of my best friends from early high school got in touch and caught up with us. We were living in Hobart at the time, and him and his partner came over to study for a year or so. Things just picked up where they left off, saw each other every few weeks etc. Now he is back in Perth and we haven’t been in contact for 2-3 years. Perhaps in 20 years the wheels of fate will align and we hang out again. It can work for some maybe?

    It does take effort to remain in constant contact and keep someone appraised of where you are at. I couldn’t do it for more than a close circle of family and friends, but it is nice to bounce off old friends with no expectations when the chance arises. Arguably, we even need friends like that. A common background, but not the details of day-to-day struggles and successes?

    On that note, I chipped a tooth today. No blood or pain, so I am booked in for the dentist on Saturday. But I have clients to see Thursday, and am running a training session on Friday. No doubt jokes about Australians yokels, banjos and other such comments will be made by the Kiwis!


  30. @Lew

    What we do in the Shadows is a good example of quintessential Kiwi humour. Flight of the Conchords also has a similar tone, so perhaps to be avoided 🙂

  31. @ Margaret
    I found the story, of some of your early life, absolutely fascinating. The fact that you were 21 and the eldest of 8 when your father died is information that carries one heck of a punch. I am still musing on it.


  32. Hi DJ, Stephen E, Inge, Margaret, Lewis, Pam, and Damo,

    Thanks for the lovely comments, however we have now approached intermission time and I promise to reply tomorrow evening.

    Lewis – Mate, it was another hot day today and I’m done. We stopped off after doing some work in the big smoke to enjoy a coffee and cake, and then the storm clouds rolled on in. Not to be deterred by such a display of natures might, we decided to get hamburgers and chips and then get out of the city before the clouds unleashed their fury.

    Lightning flashed in the sky (and it was stonking hot) and we scoffed down our hamburgers. Just as we finished the cool change swept through. You could hear the thunder by that stage booming in the sky.

    Raced back to the care, and the heavens opened! Far out. About half an inch of rain fell in a short period of time and water was everywhere and some of the roads were very flooded.

    Then the train signals were hit by lightning and all of the road – rail crossings closed. That was when we realised that there were no under or over passes for about 10 miles north of the city, so we just drove through and out of the city. Talk about escape from Melbourne. It took quite a while to get home I can tell ya:

    Wild weather lashes Victoria, bringing threat of hailstones, damaging winds and heavy rainfall

    What a night. The rain here was surprisingly gentle!



  33. Chris:

    What an adventure you and the editor had! I am glad that – is it Sir Scruffy? – no scaredy dogs were with you. I suspect that there would not be any room under the car’s seats. Thanks for the storm article; that dust storm is something else.


  34. @ Damo – Your probably right about Kiwi humor. I didn’t care for “Flight of the Conchords”, either. :-). Lew

  35. Yo, Chris – Well, it just keeps getting better and better. It’s 19F (-7.22C). The National Weather Service is beating the drum for snow on Saturday. Prof. Mass is still more tentative. I’ll go with the Prof.

    Our library system will be getting a book called “The Great Cactus War.” About Australia.

    Summary: Perhaps humanity’s most enduring legacy is our ability to move plants and animals around the planet. These organisms soon merge with the local ecology, often changing it forever. Sometimes they are so successful that they become a plague. Imagine a sea of prickly-pear cactus up to thirty feet high that covered a region larger than Italy and was still spreading at the alarming rate of more than one million acres a year. Thousand of people were being driven out of their homes and off the land. Digging, burning, smashing, and poisoning the “green monster” had little real effect. This was the desperate scene that many rural Australians were faced with the during the first part of the 20th century. Then, in the mid-1920’s, a self-taught group of scientists discovered a little moth in Argentina whose larvae ate the pear into submission. Rural Australia was thus saved, but today that little hero may be poised to create a plague of its own. — from publisher’s description.

    Don’t know when I’ll get it. There’s not many holds on it, which means it might languish in a box, in processing, for months.

    Sounds like an epic and dramatic escape from the city. Where’s Kurt Russell, when you need him? 🙂 Lew

  36. Hi DJ,

    The berries and tomatoes are some of our larger (by volume) crops. We just went outside in the past hour and collected a tub of blackberries (yum!) and some early yellow tomatoes (not so yum for you, but yum for us!). Have you ever tried making tomato wine? It is excellent and not at all like what you’d expect. Mostly we use it for cooking.

    Yeah, I do not have a full account of the fire at my mates place, but I’m sure in time we’ll hear about it when they’re up for talking about it. I sort of feel that there is no point in belabouring the story with them, but instead I might help them in the cooler months turn some of their now dead trees into firewood.

    Hang on, desert at Yakima? Don’t they grow a lot of fruit trees there?

    Ghosting is a strange thing for people to do – and I freely admit that. Thanks for the stories, and yeah I too would avoid such a person as you already know what they are capable of. I sat next to the school bully in year nine math class, and math is not my forte. Interestingly, down here, I believe they weed such kids out of the school, not because they’re a nuisance, but because they often impact upon the school’s academic statistics. Yes, some of those religious schools can be very sharing and caring.

    Hehe! The war shall be long. Sacrifices will have to be made… And I suspect the rats shall eventually triumph.



  37. Hi Stephen E,

    Thanks, and I can assure you that I went into the solar power story with very high expectations. Reality has kicked the stuffing out of me, and what I now know is that: ‘this solar power stuff is good, it just isn’t good enough’. From what I’ve observed, most systems that can’t replicate themselves are in danger, and eventually entropy causes them to cease to exist. Solar power is a lot like that.

    Nope, I have no opinion on the book as I haven’t read it. However, a small 12V system can be extraordinarily resilient and certainly outlast the both of us. But when it is done, it is done. Also the devices that are powered by a 12V system will have a shorter shelf life than a very well specified out system. I have a vacuum cleaner here that I use to clean out the leaves out of the drains. It is over 35 years old. How many devices can you point to these days that would still work as well over such a time period?

    The Victoria Emergency website has details of all of the emergencies in this state.



  38. Hi Inge,

    There are people who forage for wild mushrooms around here. And some of those people sell the mushrooms at farmers markets. Having once tasted slippery jacks, I can’t say that I’m a fan because of the slimy texture. Anyway, those people generally forage for the wild mushrooms in pine forests because the mycology there is somewhat known – unlike the wild mushrooms in the eucalyptus forests which we know virtually nothing about… Many long years ago I knew people who happily foraged for magic mushrooms and I never partook, if only because I had no desires along those experience lines, and also I did not trust their judgement.

    Thanks for the word ‘acceptance’, and I’d reached that point many long years ago. I can’t honestly say that I was happy about the situation in earlier years, but you know, what do they say about ‘time heals all wounds’ and that business?

    One of the things I suspect that I’ll enjoy as peak oil kicks in harder over the year’s, is that people will be unable to go anywhere very far. It is not lost on me that foolish youngsters were historically roped into joining the forces so that they could ‘see the world’. There is always an element of discontent in some at bonding with the immediate land. That is at one of the cornerstones of the success of our species. And, it is not lost on me that I too have moved too often for one life – most of which was outside my control. I can count nineteen different residences, and that is too much.



  39. Hi Margaret,

    It was quite a culture shock to have moved between the two schools. And given your professional background, I’m glad that you appreciate just how bizarre such a shift would have been. It isn’t lost on me that our society tends to swing from one extreme point to another extreme point, and all the while we bypass the middle ground.

    Yes, I too have heard stories about such folks that have left me feeling cold. Please correct me if I’m wrong, but it is the role of parents to prepare their kids for life as an adult. When the parents fail at that role, the school system steps in. When both the parents and the school system fails, often the judicial system steps up to the plate. But I tell ya, there are some dark souls out there that avoid all of that. I recall a story that someone once recounted to me about a very well educated and well-heeled work place. It was a really high stress and well educated workplace and not for the general riff raff! One of the young ladies there used to pick her nose and wipe it on the back of the toilet doors. All of the doors. Eventually – as the story has been recounted to me – a sign was put on the back the doors requesting the person to stop doing that. And then the person continued their pattern of behaviour on the signs. It is an anti-social thing to do, but some people can be very strange indeed.

    Some friends are of a geographical nature, and I’ve had those too, and work friends can often be like that. Hey, good luck to Doug with that! No doubt the authorities listened and were very bored by the content!!! In my very early years I worked for the public service, and they had a very social culture which disappeared the moment redundancies were made. I’m probably closer to your feelings on the subject as I’m more of an introvert, whilst still being a very social person, I just need my down time. Some people love being surrounded by people all of the time, I am not one of those.

    Yeah, absolutely. If some sort of regular contact was kept up – any form – I’d feel more forgiving and accommodating. But there isn’t, and I ask the very hard question (which reveals my deeply pragmatic side): What is in it for me?

    The constant threat of bushfire is a bit of a drain on my energy. But I suspect that the story gets reinforced all over the place because nobody wants people living independently – in even so minor a way as us. The building standards that were enforced upon us as a response to the fire risk was bonkers. The house could probably withstand the Great Fire of London, and yet look at the flooding up in Townsville. Nobody is making the suggestion that the houses there – which are in a town – have to be constructed so as to resist the flood threat in the future. The contrast between the two is not lost on me.

    Your suggestion about the generator is a good one. And using the energy source that you already have is a goodie too. You might laugh, but many years back I looked into a steam driven electrical generator, which I could power with the firewood, and believe it or not, a business in another state actually constructed them. It made no economic sense whatsoever.

    Thanks! A fine compliment. We’ve spent a huge amount of effort on building the top soils here and the greenery that remains after this bout of hot and dry weather is a testament to years of work towards that end. I picked the last of the ripe apricots this evening, and also a huge quantity of blackberries and ripe tomatoes. Plus, we picked the first of this seasons corn and are going to have it with dinner tonight! Yum!

    Glad to read that you had a nice evening! And poor little Leo. I did a blog a long time back about smoke alarm batteries as I found a brand that sells 9.6V rechargeable batteries. Most of the rechargeable batteries are 7.2V and so the stupid smoke alarms keep beeping to let you know that the battery is flat (which it isn’t). The 9.6V batteries have worked well for many years. Hey, imagine how a smoke alarm would go during a serious bushfire… Removing the batteries does tend to shut them up, but then they don’t work do they? A well known chef down here had a fatal kitchen fire many years back and there was apparently some suggestion that they’d removed the smoke alarm batteries.



  40. Hello again
    Son says thanks for the frog’s base info. I note that you have successfully made tomato wine. Son says that he has had to chuck his attempts. Is there some particular info. that one needs?

    @ Lew also
    The Harry Ransom Center has an article on Edward Gorey in their Feb 6 publication. Written by someone who is giving a lecture on him on 21 Feb. I don’t know if you can access this.


  41. Hi Pam,

    The sunsets are glorious at this time of year, and I’m glad that you are also enjoying them. My mates are OK, although I have very scant details of their ordeal and have no desire to rush them as they have to take their own time in processing and absorbing the drama.

    Thank you, and that is indeed a lovely suggestion which I’ll cogitate upon, although I’d have no idea how to go about doing such a thing.

    That is indeed the crux of the problem and I too feel very similar. The larger question which is perhaps not clearly spelled out in these situations is: if you have been so treated in the past by a person, how do you know if the possibility will reoccur in the future? And who’s responsibility is it to mend the relationship, and how should they even go about doing that? It is a very complex situation. I have a rule of thumb that can occasionally be useful: It is not that things go wrong, it is what happens next that is important. If it means anything to you, I have no clear answer on this topic, but if it’s not in my mates nature to act in a way that I feel that friends should act, who am I to correct him or myself? Dunno and I have no desire to correct or control other people as there seems little point to the effort required to do so. People are either along for the ride, or they’re off doing their own thing.

    Hehe! Glad that you watched a bit of the episode and enjoyed what you saw. They have a three year old avocado tree that is producing fruit. Bonkers, but also really cool. For some reason the editor wants to remain an interweb mystery and I’m cool with that. I can’t really speak for them as to whether they’d do things differently. We would for sure, absolutely and 100% it would be different! To be honest their shed is very defendable from bushfires as the outside surface is non combustible steel sheets, although they might have a problem if embers get inside the building and it is not as tightly sealed as this place. But we have the higher risk as the fuel loads in the surrounding forest are bonkers, whilst they have flat-ish paddocks and some bush.

    They make rats big down here and Sir Poopy used to be the rat bane. He was lethal and really good with the wildlife. Toothy once cornered a rat, and it turned around an bit him. I’m hoping Ollie fills in the role. He is getting better with the wildlife and I saw him interacting with a 7 foot kangaroo the other day and instead of making bodily contact with the roo, he chased it to the property boundary and stopped there. He also slowed his run to give the roo time to bounce away. Everyone was happy including the roo.

    Your son is very thoughtful and also tactful (my mother rarely gave me good advice, but one thing she said was to always deduct at least a decade from a ladies age, and so that makes you 42! 🙂 ). It is a wise move to build the steps and I was also slipping over in the wet on the steeper paths, let alone watching visitors – who are often less careful – do the same. Once he begins making stairs, there is no looking back. Remember to keep a rough surface on the tread otherwise they may get slippery in wet weather (yes, even concrete can get slippery if moulds and slimes grow on them). With steel steps I put a bit of sand in the paint and that gives them a very good all weather surface.

    Ate corn for dinner tonight. It was awesome!

    Nope. There are no hummingbirds of any kind around here.

    Thanks! And yes, calcium is very beneficial to the plants, and I was wondering about the salt on your roads as it would poison everything down here.



  42. Hello again
    Son came in while I was typing my previous comment, so I told him that you have made tomato wine. He said that he has had 2 attempts at it and that both lots separated. Any ideas?


  43. Hi Lewis,

    The film does look like a lot of fun, and it is nice that some aspects of the tale is introduced to the kids. They could stand learning a bit of their own culture. I was quite surprised at how much I learned from reading ‘Beowulf’ recently and also Tolkien’s analysis of the story. At face value I thought that it was a simple story, but it had enormous depth to it, so if any of the kids watch the film and read an Arthurian tale, that’s cool. Such tales would beat the stuffing out of Harry Potter. I could never get past the cover art, but people tell me that the story and films were good. Merlin would have kicked sand in the face of the young Harry whilst offering a witty retort.

    The plot of Mrs. Miniver was enthralling. What a story, thanks for mentioning it.

    Mate, I still believe that the market is rigged against the ‘little guy’. I read a year or two back about the high frequency traders (computer algorithm) moving ever closer to the computers at the stock exchange just so that they can get an edge – by being physically closer and thus being able to react faster. What could possibly go wrong? And that sounds an awful lot like gambling to me.

    Oh yeah, I get that about the confusion about returning books. Some people are very bad at that simple act. Who wants to debt collect upon a friend? Best not ensure that the debt does not arise in the first place. I treat other peoples books better than my own, and ensure that they are returned in a timely manner. Of course I may only be doing that in the vague hope of setting a good example that others may follow. But then at the back of my mind I’m guessing I have to be good in this life, because I was probably very bad in another life and there is some sort of lost ground to be made up! These things happen… 🙂 Mate, no book could be worse for me than Stephen Donaldson’s final book of the white gold wielder series. It was a mental torture for me to read and after a while I just put it down. One part of my brain suggested that I should burn the book, but then another part of me said that this would be extremely wasteful and instead I should drop it off into a charity bin. But now, I have to live with the guilt that someone else might have been subjected to the text, and you just have to carry that weight with you until your final days. A sad tale, and one of the few fantasy books that I had to walk away from – so much depressing introspection was contained in the text that I often wondered about the mental state of the author when he penned that work. In those days there was no interweb, otherwise I would have sent him a letter saying: Buck up little camper! 🙂 I’ll bet you’ve encountered your fair share of book throwing at wall situations? There must have been one that was truly notable for its horrid after effects?

    Mate, I get tired of people going away too. Life has a tragic element to it don’t you reckon? As far as I can understand the situation, there is no ‘away’ somewhere to be a hermit, as self sufficiency is difficult to say the least, and at a minimum property taxes have to be paid (and that is just the beginning of that intermediation story). I’ve tried to get as far as I can, but there are physical, legal and mental fences to overcome all along the path. Am I right in assuming that you are conducting a mental experiment or are you serious?

    The UV is extreme here, which is probably why most Australians (and New Zealander’s) for that matter have not good skin. The plants react to the extreme UV too and their growth slows. Today was the first ‘Very High’ UV day of the year, and it is a relief to have a day off from Extreme UV. If you’ve ever experienced our summer sun, you’d know what I mean. I feel sorry for tourists who turn up here all unawares and completely unprepared for the sting of the sun.

    The old ditty about the ocean and thirsty sailors came to mind: Mushrooms, mushrooms everywhere, but not a mushroom to eat.

    My money would be on the good Professor too. He has local knowledge from which to draw upon – and that would give him an edge. But far out, your weather is brutal cold. It was 82’F and very humid here today.

    Speaking of weather, I forgot to link to the third part of the story about ten years on from the Black Saturday bushfires (that’s today by the way): We live here.

    Top work with the blue curtains – and material is material as far as I can tell. You know I would have been feeling the cold in that weather too. Don’t laugh, but I’ve become so accustomed to the heat that some nights I’ve been sleeping under two woollen blankets… It is crazy, and yeah you are onto something wise with material. I’ve read stories of the sort of clothing that people wore during the Great Depression and it makes for sobering reading. Hope Princess is keeping warm?

    Really? I hadn’t known the history of the prickly pear cactus. But hey, I have always understood that the green paddles which are very common in urban edge small holdings were a sign of the previous occupants. I have even seen them for sale at the Queen Vic Market – with a warning sign to be careful with them! They taste like watermelon but aren’t worth the effort, although they’d probably grow an impenetrable fence. They do spread, but I’ve never seen or heard of them being out of control – although I wouldn’t want to tackle removing a patch of them (I’d probably burn them off to be honest). An unpleasant job. I sort of feel that I don’t eat any plants (although I know of a few edible plants from the area) that are indigenous, so I’m as guilty as the next person of relying on introduced plant matter to survive day to day. Most of my dinner tonight was sourced from the property. AND!!!! We picked and ate the first corn cob tonight and it was delicious. Yum! Must double that crop for next season – got a bit of work to do there first.

    I reckon the rabbits were far worse introduction – and I don’t have to deal with cane toads. Hey, the local fauna can be pretty feral and there were images of salt water crocodiles in the flood waters in Townsville in the township. Not good. World flips out over side effects of Queensland floods. The frogs were very happy with the rain here yesterday.

    Hehe! You know the film. It was good fun wasn’t it? Last night was a tough escape from the city with the train line crossings closed and the streets and roads flooded. It amazes me that so little rain caused such flooding. I suspect the dry weather has meant that the drains filled up with organic matter.



  44. @ Margaret:

    What a fantastic article on road salt; it’s just what I was looking for. Thanks so much! I know a couple of other people who will find that fascinating.


  45. Chris:

    Time-lapse video is so dramatic. Those railroad tracks end up under a total lake.

    I love avocados. It seems incredible that you have actually grown them where you are. Was that tree from a seed of an avocado you once ate?

    Ollie really is showing himself to be one smart dog. It has been wonderful “watching” him grow up.

    You know what? I don’t wish to be 42 – but thanks anyway!

    Thanks for the advice to make the concrete stair surface rough. I will pass it on. Once long ago we put sand in paint for something, but I can’t remember what.

    I was digging in the garden a couple of days ago, mostly pulling weeds. It was 74F (23C) and I kept hitting what I thought were rocks. I soon found that I was hitting ice – the ground was frozen 2 inches under the surface. I though that was really funny.

    Charlene the White Squirrel had 2 kids during the winter. They are teenagers now. One is a gorgeous blonde/golden/ pale grey color with white ears and a black tip on her tail, the other is a bit darker. She’s had several litters and they are all light colors, but never white. Frederick has been dogging her footsteps lately, and though she spurns him, I’m afraid that we may have a spring litter, too. We are full up with squirrels right now and someday tomatoes and peaches will be out there . . . They have been eating the inside of banana peels and avocado skins from the compost, so I know they love fruit.


  46. Chris,

    Knowing how the fermentation process changes flavors, I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if tomato wine has a good flavor, especially for cooking. I’ll put that on my list of things to toy with.

    I’ve had too many friends and relatives devastated, or nearly so, by wildfires. I think you’re idea is good: sort of let them recover, and then give assistance per your abilities when the time comes. As long as they know you’re concerned, which is important, continually asking for information and updates really can get in the way of their recovering and moving forward, at least in my experience.

    Yes, Yakima is in the desert. Go west of Spokane about 40km and you’re in the desert. (Sprague Lake just west of Spokane is just west of the transition area.) Yakima area grows hops, fruit trees, mint, and has several wineries with grapes grown in the Yakima Valley. The water comes from the Yakima River for irrigation.

    Wenatchee, the fruit tree king for the region, is also desert, the Columbia River being the source of water. Pretty much everything south of Grand Coulee Dam on the Columbia River is very fertile, but exceedingly arid. So, the Columbia, Yakima and Snake rivers are used for irrigation. Richland, Pasco and Kennewick, aka the Tri-cities, are even more arid and hotter than Yakima. However, Tri-cities gets to use water from both The Snake and Columbia and boasts some superb wineries and grapes.

    Spokane is close enough to the Selkirk Mountains that we aren’t quite desert: 40cm rainfall equivalent per year. 40km west and cut that amount to 20cm to 30cm per annum. In the Yakima and Wenatchee areas, the breaking point between desert and not desert is driven by elevation: 750 or 800 meters (above sea level) and precipitation and plant growth are noticeably different than what’s there at the 300 to 500 meter( above sea level) desert.

    Ghosting. I saw one of your comments above about some of why you brought it up. The two high school people that I bumped into 15 to 20 years ago, well, there was never an attempt to keep in touch by any of us. What works for me, as someone who is not outgoing by nature), is that once the other party drifts away or ghosts me, well, I’ve got better and more rewarding things to do than to try to pursue something that they’re not interested in. If someone who had previously ghosted me tracked me down, I might be polite, but it would take a LOT of time and effort by the other person to convince me that their new attempts to be my friend were honest.

    Yes, the rats will win in the end. They are, after all, highly intelligent agents of entropy. But the battle of wits between you and them is always entertaining and educational.


  47. Yo, Chris – The depth of Beowulf. Yuppers. Some things can be read or watched for the sheer entertainment value, or, reflected on for deeper meanings and messages. I’ve been telling people that Westword, is like that.

    One of the best parts of Mrs. Miniver were the hundreds of little boats, rallying at Ramsgate (love the name) before setting off across The Channel to rescue the soldiers at Dunkirk.

    Oh, usually I give up on a book, before I get to the wall throwing stage. But Stephen King’s “The Cell” comes to mind.

    Oh, I’m trying the hermit thing on, for size. I figure it will mainly be an attrition thing. See where I’m at, in a year. Groceries and library will be a problem. Internet does not apply. Though attrition happens on the internet, too. :-). By the way, Mr. Greer is back posting, again.

    About your RV rays. Somewhere, I saw, just a headline, that sun screen is being banned, somewhere, as it’s been connected to coral bleaching. It’s not the climate change, it’s the sunscreen! :-).

    Thanks for the link to the final article on the brushfires. Several people in the article expressed the same feelings as the people in Paradise, California. They liked the woods up close and personal. But discovered that’s not such a smart idea.

    It got down to 18F (-7.77C) last night. Bright and sunny, today. By this time tomorrow, we may be up to our who-whos in snow. 3-5″ forecast for our area. We’ll see.

    I remembered to take the rod, out of the curtain, before putting it on the bed. :-). Princess has a very smart furry jumper, that she must be attached to. Wears it all the time.

    There were several reports of alligators in the streets of New Orleans, after Katrina. Social media wasn’t so ubiquitous, way back then, in the Dark Ages. So, it’s maybe urban legend, maybe not. The picture of the moron on the push bike? I think the Darwin Awards are being awarded this week. He must have been bucking for a place on the list. I did find this article, which is interesting, for a couple of reasons.

    I noticed the store bought garlic I bought and planted, is coming up. I wonder if it will grow true, or be some odd hybrid. Time will tell. Kudos on the corn. Good eating.

    I’ve been trying to figure out how the guy managed to kill the cougar, that attacked him, while jogging. One article mentioned “suffocation.” I’d guess (based entirely on that one small mention) that he rammed his fist, down it’s throat. I have heard of people surviving big cat attacks, by doing that. The fellow is recovering in hospital, and wishes to remain anonymous. Probably wise. I’m sure there are some Animal Rights people, out there, that would give him serious grief. “They were there first!” Etc. etc., blah, blah, blah. But, if a large cat is chowing down on your bum, you do what you can to stay alive. On the other hand, going out in the wilderness is like traveling to a foreign country. You pay your money, and take your chances. Lew

  48. Chris,

    I forgot to mention. You had asked a few weeks back if there was a chance that we could have colder temperatures and snow in February. IIRC, my reply was that it has happened, but not likely this year. Well, you guessed right and I was waaaaay off. It dropped to a “balmy” -15C Wednesday night. About 10cm to 15cm of snow expected over the weekend, with low temperatures returning to the 15C mark or colder. Colder than usual is expected until March, then back to warm and wet. Yup, even us old-timers get it wrong sometimes.


  49. Hi Damo,

    It was late in the night (once I’d eaten and sat down) that I felt very unwell during those days of car rallying, so it was probably a combination of motion sickness and dehydration (a tidy combination). The driver would have an easier time of it, that’s for sure. A long time ago I was interested in vehicles and had ambitions of becoming a rally driver. The economics of the story forced me to reconsider my ambitions. And one day an older veteran rally driver sat me down to have a reality check about what exactly was involved in becoming a good rally driver, and I found I couldn’t meet the costs involved. Anyway, the driver cracked the sump at one point during the rally, and talk about bush engineering, we fixed the hairline crack with a combination of soap which we stuffed into the hairline crack and then coated with a thick coat of Araldite, which as you probably already know is an epoxy resin. Even I was surprised that the fix held, and we finished the rally. It was a bonkers couple of days and cured me of rally ambitions. I did get to see many back roads in the alpine areas…

    Yeah, the now deceased author was I suspect taking the piss out of his readers. I heard an anecdote long ago about John Lennon’s song ‘I am the walrus’ and I suspect he had similar motives. The exact quote from him was I believe was something like: ‘That’ll f#$% ’em!” Cheeky, huh?

    I am perhaps less tolerant than your good self. 🙂 Sometimes history is enough I guess, but at the same time I feel the movement of time and struggle with knowing where to spend the time I have available to me – and perhaps that is at the core of my existential crisis? Dunno.

    How did you chip the tooth? And are you leaning towards a composite fill or a porcelain crown? I do hope that the nerve was not exposed to the elements – a nasty business. A person’s mouth is a complex web of life forms. Best wishes for a speedy resolution of the tooth problem. This makes you a Toothy!



  50. Hi Inge,

    The editor is the master brewer here (a good use of an industrial food microbiology degree if ever I’ve heard of one) and we’ve never had a bad batch of tomato wine. Given that has been our experience, I can’t actually tell you what went wrong with your son’s batch of wine. But the word ‘separation’ tends to lead me to believe that:

    a) he may have failed to have strained out the seeds, pulp and skins from the tomatoes; and
    b) he may not have added sufficient sugar to the mix so that the yeast had enough feed to produce the alcohol.

    Tomatoes on their own probably have enough sugar to produce a wine that is of about the same alcohol content as an apple cider or beer. But at such low alcohol volumes a brewer has to be very careful of temperature in case other yeast and/or bacteria set up home in the mix and foul it all.

    Tomato wine has a really nice light yellow colour to it and honestly it is indistinguishable from a very good white wine (derived from grapes).

    There is a huge amount of learning in the production of wines, but at the core of the process, it is quite simple. I do find that people have difficulties when they fail to follow basic instructions and/or disregard matters such as temperature control in the brewing process.

    As far as I understand the process, the lower the alcohol by volume content, the more careful that the brewer has to be. I’ve read a few books on the subject from your country and the brewers are very fixated on sterility, and this I suspect is because they are less careful with the temperature control. However, the efforts at sterility introduce all sorts of toxic chemicals which I’m frankly uncomfortable about and are historically unprecedented and I have a great difficulty believing that they have no impact upon a persons internal flora and fauna.



  51. Hi Pam,

    Oh yeah, the floods up there have been horrific. I heard from my mates today that had the bushfire very close to them, and they’re doing OK, but I chose instead to speak about other things as I understand they may be fatigued talking about the fires to all of the curious and concerned friends and family.

    Haha! Avocados are a mystery tropical plant. I have it on good authority that they are cold hardy to -9’C. My lot have survived -2’C, no worries at all. I have one grafted variety that boasts of its cold tolerance, and several other varieties that began from seeds chucked into the chicken enclosure. However, given the winter conditions, and dry and hot summer conditions here, it hardly surprises me that they are slow growing, but they are still growing.

    Ollie is lovely isn’t he? And he is a fast learner and wants to fit in – and those are both good characteristics.

    Me neither. It is nice to be happy in one’s skin and age! 🙂

    Far out, I’ve never seen frozen soil before. I too would have thought that it was a series of rocks. That is where an electric jackhammer comes in handy. We constructed another stair step today. And spotted what looks like a proper (unripe) squash. I’ll put a photo up on the next blog and call it a pumpkin, just because!!! 😉

    Go Charlene and best of luck in avoiding the amorous attentions of the dauntless Frederick! Charlene, I’ve heard rumours about Frederick, suggesting that he is something of a player, and so don’t believe all the stories and talk about him hanging around come spring and a new litter. Don’t come back to me later telling me tales of woe young lady! 🙂



  52. Hi Lewis,

    Mate, I recall seeing the original Westworld film, but as a re-run. And how good was Yul Brynner? I grew up watching Robo-cop and the Terminator, which are essentially similar stories, and you don’t have to tell me that technology can go horribly wrong – at short notice and without warning. It is funny you mention that, but I went into the bank today to conduct some business… I am sick of the offloading of administrative tasks onto unwary customers, but it seems a cornerstone of information technology systems these days. A less gentle person than myself, may describe such a situation as a form of extreme arrogance and cost shifting.

    I tend to look at things here and ask myself: how long will this stuff last? I don’t really know the answer to that question, but I suspect that the results won’t be so good. I reckon the biological systems are the key to longevity, and last year I spoke with an old timer orchardist who told me that his dad used to get him to climb the trees so as to pick the fruit. If you’ve seen plenty of commercial orchards these days, you’ll know that the trees can’t be climbed – and the inference is that they have shallower root systems and are less resilient to heat and drought. I’m not sure how you feel about that, and I’m curious to learn, but I reckon our technology today is not very resilient.

    Winston Churchill made an excellent quote to Parliament at the end of the Dunkirk evacuation that: “we must be very careful not to assign to this deliverance the attributes of a victory. Wars are not won by evacuations.” He had a good grasp of reality that bloke.

    Thanks, and the book is now on the: ‘do not read’ list. I must admit though that I am usually rather fond of Mr King’s works. But we can all miss some from time to time. If I find a big upswing in readership, I deliberately write a rubbish or controversial essay just to offload the extra readers.

    Hey, life is an attrition thing to, so you might be onto something with the hermit idea. And I hear you, I get that. The interweb has a finite lifespan and even that behemoth is on the inverted bell shape curve that is the product life cycle. Mr Hubbard was a fan of that graph too – because it represents reality. I managed to read Mr Greer’s essay last evening, but ran out of time with which to reply.

    Haha! Yeah, the use of sunscreen probably has diminishing returns. If I were those folks, I’d be less worried about the Great Barrier Reef, and perhaps a little bit more concerned with: Scientists discover cavity two-thirds the size of Manhattan underneath Antarctic glacier. What? Me Worry? I sometimes suspect that the progressives may not quite understand the irony of their self proclaimed label, because things sure look like they’re progressing to me but to anywhere they might have imagined.

    The woods are nice, it is just that by living among them you take on board an obligation to them that few people want to acknowledge. In some ways it is like entering into a relationship with the land – and most people in Western civilisation seem to want to run a mile from that. There have been a lot of articles about the day ten years ago because of the remembrance of the day this week. If you are interested to know what it is like to be confronted by such a fire then: Black Saturday survivor explains why she ‘never, ever’ thought of leaving wildlife shelter behind. I suspect most people want to dodge the obligation to the forest because it is quite onerous.

    Fingers crossed that you get some snow. Snow is always nice (in moderation). I feel cold simply reading about your minimum temperatures. I almost feel guilty mentioning what a nice day it was today here. We skylarked around the place, but also made another concrete stair. All play and no work makes for a rather dull Chris! 😉

    Hehe! Nice one with the curtain rod. 🙂 Princess has natural advantages to us mere mortals. You should have seen Sir Poopy the Swedish Lapphund run around as happy as whenever it snowed. He was a lovely dog, but the summers were hard on him. His breed should not have been introduced down under.

    The images of the abandoned amusement park in New Orleans was amazing. Wow. The editor and I have a fascination with images of abandoned infrastructure in your country, and the malls are particularly eerie. Down here, there are mining relics in bizarre places but also when we decided to walk away from manufacturing, there are a few abandoned factories in Melbourne. They’re sad looking buildings all full of lost potential. I hope something becomes of them in the future? It amazes me that some parts of your country were not rebuilt following the disaster of Katrina – but neither were they demolished and I have noticed that people are reluctant to write things off.

    Nope, the garlic will grow true as the cloves are all clones – but obviously you could get some genetic drift. It has only recently been discovered how to grow new varieties of garlic and it was quite the ordeal to re-establish the potential from what I understand.

    The jogger is clearly a smart bloke to avoid the limelight and notoriety from such an act. We get a bit of that too with the shark attacks and surfers. People have drifted to the extremes in that discussion. Mick Fanning escapes shark attack in J-Bay Open surf event in South Africa. It is part of the risk of looking like a seal and hanging out with sharks. And I sort of suspect that sharks just see us like any other food source and may have moved in closer to shore due to over fishing. It would add an element of excitement to the sport…



  53. Hi DJ,

    The tomato wine tastes like a reasonably mild white wine to me – and it is very difficult to distinguish between the two. You may not like tomato based cooking, but the wine works well with that – complimentary flavours and all that gear.

    Thanks for confirming my suspicions about asking for an update. It seemed wrong to me too, and I appreciate hearing of your experience. They’re doing OK and have not lost any buildings or paddocks, although the fire got very close indeed.

    Oooo! You are lucky to be able to irrigate the deserts as they don’t tend to suffer from plant diseases and predation as much as fertile areas – but they need the water. We do that trick down here too with a huge river system (the Murray – Darling River system), but may have taken that story too far recently (although you might not have read about it): Lower Darling River to run dry with more fish deaths possible as authorities plan to stop flows from Menindee. It’s not good.

    That was a pretty good explanation as to how I feel about the matter of the ghosting too. That group of friends left a big hole for me to fill – which I did. And it takes a bit more than a casual request to catch up, for me to feel any sympathy towards them. And I gave the person the benefit of the doubt a year ago already so what was there new for me to learn in this latest instance? Dunno. It is no small matter for a person to abandon the comfortable (even if it has become non existent) and head out into the world in search of new friendships. It is a really complicated and difficult thing to achieve.

    Well as every right thinking person knows, rats and mice are in fact: are hyper-intelligent pan-dimensional beings who are searching for the ultimate question to life the Universe, and everything! And yes, the little blighters will beat me in the end, but the war shall be long, sacrifices will be made, and I’ll hand over the two cups of grains that they were enjoying with abandon.



  54. @Inge
    My childhood was quite a bit different from most of my siblings as after my father died the income coming in was a small fraction of what it had been. I was the only one to have college fully paid for. Now I wasn’t just given spending money but rather earned $300 during the summer taking care of younger siblings and working in the barn with the horses (which I much preferred). That was all I received so if I wanted more spending money I had to earn it which I did by babysitting. I always respected that my parents didn’t hand out money etc even though they well could have. My younger siblings either earned scholarships and worked or went to community college only.


  55. Hi Chris,
    Does that area repeatedly flood? Some areas that are prone to flooding are required to get flood insurance.

    After the polar vortex we decided to get an energy audit done and the man came yesterday. He spent almost 2 hours here. He had a nifty device that showed where we were losing heat and also what the temperature was in certain areas like around windows. It was alarming to see it was only 45F/7.2C around the window in the basement that is near the water pipes to our bathroom sink and it was 34F yesterday. I can’t imagine what it was when it was almost 60 degrees colder. We’re lucky the pipes didn’t freeze. We could use some better insulation in both the basement and attic. For the most part everything else was pretty good. We have what is supposed to be an energy efficient furnace (though from the amount of propane we’re using I’m not too sure)
    I’ve copied a description of how it works below:

    Second heat exchanger. Any high efficiency gas furnace with an AFUE rating above 90 percent is a “condensing furnace.” This means that it uses a second heat exchanger to extract heat from the exhaust gasses that would be otherwise be vented out of your home with less efficient systems. This allows condensing furnaces to do more with less fuel.
    Sealed combustion. In order for the combustion process to work properly, your furnace needs to draw in a certain amount of air. Unlike furnaces with unsealed combustion, which utilize (heated) air from around your home, sealed combustion furnaces draw in air from outside in order to conserve energy and improve safety levels.

    So we draw in air from outside but there are two pipes when I think we only need one. One is a large flexible one. So what is happening may be that we are drawing in much more cold air than we need and the furnace may be working harder to warm all that up. Anyway the guy is going to research it and let us know. We expect to get an estimate over the weekend broken down into three parts in descending order of effectiveness in relation to cost.

    This continues to be the winter that just keeps on giving. Tuesday we had an ice storm warning (lst in 10 years) and woke up to over an inch of frozen slush covered with ice. Fortunately there were low winds so no power issues. Wednesday night it was only a freezing rain advisory but we did wake up to another glazing of ice. Yesterday it got one degree F over freezing for a few hours so with some salt we got the driveway and walks fairly well cleared of ice. Doug had used the front loader to scrap up the heavy frozen slush the day before from the driveway at least. The mess had softened enough to, with great effort, remove most from the walkway. However there was still some ice on branches and power lines. Then last night and today we have high winds but fortunately have not lost power though lights have flickered a few times and there are quite a few outages in the area. Oh yes, the temp is again below zero F once again but just a couple degrees. Next week there are numerous chances of snow as well. It’s really quite treacherous to walk in many places as well. Yesterday I had to go to the dentist to check out yet another issue with my tooth from hell (a story for another day). As I arrived the receptionist was trying to clear some of the parking lot of maybe two inches of frozen slush and ice. There apparently is no salt to be found in town or the next town south as well. I did manage to get into the office without having to walk on too much ice and even though she had given up doing too much more of the parking lot she had shoveled a path to my car. The dentist’s husband was supposed to be bringing in salt and hopefully got there in time to apply it before the real cold set in.

    In breaking family gossip news, my sister of the many husbands (who is engaged again) sent us all a link of the new home she and her intended are going to purchase. It’s almost as big as my old house and it’s just for the two of them and two cats and two dogs. There are five bedrooms, 4 and 1/2 bathrooms and three fireplaces. She has always had a modest house and has been working for some years to grow food and plant native plants and overall pretty ecologically aware walking the walk as much as she could so I was just flabbergasted to see this. I’d like to ask her what is she thinking but (and this relates to JMG’s blog yesterday) maybe it would just be pointless. The rest of the family is congratulating her and telling her how beautiful the house is but behind her back they all agree with me. I just said congrats and mentioned that it was almost as big as our old house which we were very happy to sell. She is in her early 60’s and has a very time consuming job as well as being very involved with the Libertarian party. I have to schedule months in advance if I want to get together with her for a hike or something.


  56. @Pam
    You’re very welcome.
    I mentioned to Chris above that there is a bit of shortage of bagged salt for individual use right now. Ours is gone as well though we only keep a bag on hand and use it sparingly mostly on the walks near the house and under the garage door so it won’t freeze to the cement.


  57. Yo, Chris – Our local Safeway has just put in two self checkout stations. I was in late, the other night, and had a chance to sympathize with the clerk about it. I got the conversation rolling. I didn’t want her to think ALL the customers thought it was such a great idea. She mentioned she works three part time jobs to keep it all together.

    Technology. What’s resilient and what isn’t. Something you said the other day gave me a thought … which promptly departed (taking a break behind the couch?). Every fall the city fights to keep the drains clear of leaves. I see it as a really weak link, should things begin to unravel.

    I read about the cavity under the antarctic. Sooner or later, a huge chunk will break off, and like the Titanic, will strike Australia and down she’ll go! :-). It wasn’t all that long ago that they discovered the “chimneys” in Greenland that are dumping melt water off their ice sheets, funneling it down under and out to the ocean. Greasing the skids, along the way.

    That was quit an article about the lady and her animal shelter, and the fires. There’s always “survivor guilt” in disasters. And, “If I’d only….”. Those feelings are part of the human condition, but they can drag you down. Best move forward as much as you can.

    Well, it was a balmy 26F (-3.33C), last night. I’m just a sittin’ and a waitin’ on the snow. I’m keeping an eye on Prof. Mass’s blog. The comments. It’s beginning to snow out on the coast, at Aberdeen, and up on the Strait in Port Angeles. Patches of blue sky, here, but ominous clouds piling up on the horizon.

    Thanks for the info on the garlic. Although I planted a lot of different varieties, last year, nothing quit has the oomph (a highly technical and scientific term) of the store bought stuff. And, the store bought garlic is a heck of a lot cheaper, then the stuff you get from nurseries and garden shops, especially if you can get it on sale.

    Yeah, there’s speculation that sharks take a nibble, because they think people in wet suits are seals. We have Great Whites, along both our coasts. They didn’t seem to be much of a problem, up this way. But, as the ocean warms, there are more and more attacks, up our way. Cont.

  58. Cont. I dug my Jerusalem artichokes, yesterday. Or, I should say, started digging them. The barrel I planted them in is stuffed full of them. After filling a two gallon bucket, I stopped. Will get the rest after the snow flies. Blanching and freezing two gallons will keep me busy.

    I had some in the veg melange (veg medley? A mess of veg?), I make, last night. They were quit crisp, which is really nice. There are pluses and minuses, compared to potatoes. If they stick above the dirt, a bit, they’re not going to turn green and kill you. You don’t have to peel them. A good thing, given their weird and wondrous shapes. They don’t store, very well, long term. Hence, the freezing. I’ll be saving some to replant, next year.

    I hit the DVD section at the library, hard, yesterday. Worst case scenario, the library might be closed for a week. I picked up, mostly documentaries. Watched one last night on China’s forbidden city. From an architectural point of view. How do those huge, heavy buildings stand up in earthquakes? They’re put together like Jenga (?) sticks. Nothing is rigid, everything “gives.” They built a 1/5 scale model of one of the buildings and tested it in a lab, and it rode out a 10.9 trembler, no problem.

    Then I watched a film on the WPA artists, during the depression. Interesting, to me.

    But, the most fascinating, was a biography of Alexander Hamilton. Now I could care less about the hot, new musical, but really didn’t know much about Hamilton. Even though he stares out from every $10 bill. He was our first treasury secretary, under Washington.

    They really had a close relationship, Washington being childless, and Hamilton being an orphan. Fought through the Revolution, together. So, Hamilton was able to ram through a lot of his ideas, with the backing of Washington.

    After the Revolution, we really weren’t much of a nation. Individual states, pulling this way and that. Hamilton was an outsider, being born in the Caribbean. The biography speculates that this gave him a more unprejudiced view. He, like Washington, wanted a strong nation, not a lot of squabbling mini-countries. And, he thought he could do it through monetary means.

    At the time, each state had it’s own currency. Even some cities had their own currency. There was a lot of foreign coin, floating around. So, he created a mint and a national currency. Then he opened a national bank. A stock exchange. But the best part is, he consolidated national debt. Yup. America was pulled together, due to debt.

    After the Revolution, the Federal government had war debts. As did each individual state. So, he proposed the Federal government assume the State’s debts. Loan consolidation. 🙂
    There was a lot of squabbling, due to some states had already paid off their debts. Some hadn’t. But, with the backing of Washington, he pulled it off. By the time he passed from the scene, more people were thinking in nation terms, than state terms. Oh, and there was also a sex scandal and he died in a duel. :-).

    Abandoned places are fascinating. As evidenced by all the web sites. I look at some of those places and think, “No people. I want to live there!” :-). Well, I’d better get back to my snow watch. Lew

  59. @ Inge – The Harry Ransom Center sure is fascinating. The lecture was given by the author who wrote the biography of Gorey, that I read. I couldn’t find a transcript, or podcast, but he seems to be making a tour of it. One will pop up, sooner or later. Lew

  60. Chris,

    Yes, the irrigation is a huge thing. Grant County, Washington (Moses Lake area in general), gets a lot of Columbia River water and is the largest potato growing area in the USA. Idaho does not like to hear this. The problem going forward is going to be temperature. The entire irrigated regions already gets into the 42C and higher range routinely. Moving forward with climate change, that area will become hotter and drier. I’m thinking that will be problematic eventually.

    I liked your comment to Mr. Greer: “Mate, I just get on with things as I find them.” I really think that that is a good, pragmatic attitude to have. Anything else tends to get one into a rutted way of thinking and unable to adapt when adaptation is required. Life does not follow a formula. And, as has been said here and on Mr. Greer’s boards, the Universe really doesn’t care if we’re here or not, so we just sorta get on with things as we find them. It has taken me a long time to grok that, not that I’m spectacularly good at it yet.

    Hmmmm, I was discussing your rat situation with the local branch of the Amalgamated Union of Philosophers, Seers, Luminaries, and Other Thinking Persons, and the entire group (which consists of me, myself and I) unanimously agree: perhaps if you wrote the answer to the question of Life, the Universe and Everything all over the chicken area, the rats and mice might be appeased and leave?


  61. @ Lew,

    The local Safeway put in 2 of those self checkout lanes about 9 months ago. I won’t use them. I spoken to several of the staff members there much as you did.

    Meanwhile, a dog was electrocuted in downtown Spokane yesterday while on its leash being walked by its human. Turns out that the dog was on the sidewalk outside the Washington Trust Bank Building, which had put electric heaters underneath the sidewalk to melt snow and ice. The dog was electrocuted by “stray current”, which can also apparently electrocute small children. New York city has this same problem to a very large degree.

    So, these downtown businesses will waste electricity in order to avoid hiring people to move snow, then complain about the homeless people “cluttering” their sidewalks.


  62. Hi Margaret,

    Yes, that area does flood regularly. However, they received the average years worth of rain in only a couple of days: Northern Queensland rain stats update.

    1,421.4mm / 25.4mm (mm to the inch) = 55.96 inches of rain! Ook!

    The energy audit was a good idea, and yeah, insulation works very well. We have very thick insulated walls, ceilings and also underneath the hardwood flooring. I have no idea how you’d go about insulating a basement as I assume there would be some moisture issues? I don’t really know much about basement construction as I’ve never seen one.

    Having the heat exchanger around the flue is a good idea, but from what I understand of those, they also cool the exhaust gases and that may well (but with no certainty on my part) lead to a build up of creosote inside the flue. Down here they have ovens that can be heated with the heat sourced from a heat exchanger in a flue. I had a long and hard think about that option when we lost the wood oven. Mind you, your system is burning propane so your flue is probably far cleaner than what I have to deal with?

    Yeah, I reckon you are onto something with the furnace working too hard by utilising the very cold outside air – and it maybe a cheap and easy fix to re-route that air intake. The wood heater here draws in air from inside the house and exhausts it outside the house, but I can see that the heat exchanger at the back of the combustion chamber (i.e. the boiler) takes a lot of energy to heat up cold water – than already warm water.

    Your winter sounds brutal cold. I hope that spring arrives for you soon. It is interesting that you mention salt because my mates of the big shed suggested a method to obtain huge quantities of salt from an inland source. They use a lot of salt in their meat preserving processes – we don’t use that much salt here, although the olives may change that. It is an interesting story and I don’t have many details yet.

    Well that is interesting news and I have no idea what to make of it. You know I hear of people of a similar age doing a similar thing and it makes little to no sense to me. At that age of life, it really should be the other way around. It is funny that you mention that story, but I’ll put a link in on Lewis’s comment that discusses that phenomena from a millennials perspective.

    Between you and I, I’m not overly concerned about my increasing irrelevance as I age. It is sort of life’s way.



  63. Hi Lewis,

    I read an article earlier today that discusses one of my favourite (and probably only) TV programs: Grand Designs UK. The article, which was written by a millennial comedian, also tells the story about that generations relationship to housing. It is a fascinating and very well written essay: I’m a millennial who loves Grand Designs. Here’s why. I reckon he’s right too. And the final mention of beauty in man made constructs is a good point that is often forgotten. We take aesthetics into consideration when we do projects here. It doesn’t take that much extra effort.

    Three part time jobs? Ouch. The gig economy may sound good in theory, but in practice it is not much good and leaves people open to exploitation. What did they call it back in the day: Wage Abitrage. Mate, in business, I’m a cheap option, but even then, someone tried to game me last week and get extra work for no extra coin, and I called them out on it. The gig economy is a precarious place.

    Oh yeah, the drains in Melbourne were full of leaves. And only half an inch of rain fell in a short time period (about maybe ten or fifteen minutes) and roads and streets were flooded – and the train – road crossing signals failed. Not good. Hey, imagine the tragedy the fatburgs will be one day? Mind you, if a person was game enough to remove them, they’d make a great fuel source.

    Hehe! Didn’t they historically use to tow icebergs in from distant lands as a source of ice – or am I imagining that feat of sailing? But yeah, something is going to fall into the big drink (i.e. the ocean) in the not too distant future. The glaciers down there are receding faster than expected – which is hardly surprising. Greasing the skids is a nice way to put the situation too.

    Yeah, the poor lady lost a lot of animals that she loved and cared for on that horrific day. It was chaos, although I do recall that there were warnings well in advance of the weather that day – but people seemed to have ignored them. I was always a bit concerned that people suggested that they never had enough warning as it was pretty clear to me what was going on then, but I dunno, maybe the warnings were background static to other people? I wonder if you get that during eruptions and quakes?

    The heat from garlic may depend upon the soil conditions as well as the summer heat – and even when you harvested them, but they are clones. The old timers used to say: Plant on the shortest day and harvest on the longest day – although that rule of thumb is a bit more flexible from what I’ve seen of the plant.

    Yes, the sharks are coming in closer to the shore for many different reasons – and they are there for sure.

    Gotta bounce, will continue tomorrow!



  64. Chris:

    The Millenials/Grand Designs essay was great. It has been so interesting to watch my sons and their friends adjust their thinking to the reality of things. I think they have done a very good job of it.


  65. Yo, Chris – Winter wonderland! It started snowing, about noon, yesterday. Continued on and off all day and night. It’s snowing a bit, now. I went out to measure, and, so far, we’ve got 3″. A steady temperature of 32F (-0-C), all night. The National Weather Service forecasts “Snow Likely”, through Monday. What’s disturbing is they’re forecasting “Chance of Snow” through the end of next week.

    That was an interesting article on “Grand Designs.” I’m always interested in the young folks take on things. Truly another planet, from my point of view. The host McCloud’s quote on things (even egg cups) having the possibility of “use, value and beauty” was spot on.

    People, employers, often push for “whatever they can get away with.” But, occasionally, employees say “no.” Getting back to the theme of “ghosting,” I read an article, recently, about potential, or, hired employees who ghost. People who don’t show up for interviews, interview and are offered a job, but never follow through. And, employees who just don’t show up for work, one day. And are never heard from again. I think it’s a pretty equal balance between shite employees and shite employers. They reap what they sow.

    Juggling three jobs, especially in the service sector, isn’t so unusual. The trick is, to find three jobs that have “set” schedules, as so many of those want you “on call” to fill fluctuating demand. Minimal coverage. Throw in trying to find childcare (a bit of a choice, no?) and transportation, housing … A lot of the three gig folks work more than 40 hours a week. Because, even two minimum wage earners in a household of 4, and you still fall below the Federal poverty levels. It’s a mess, and not getting any better.

    I’m not sure if towing icebergs was ever attempted, or if that was just someone’s flight of fancy. Shall we flip a coin to see who goes down the rabbit hole? :-). I know block ice was shipped about, even in sailing ship days. A rather iffy cargo. Be becalmed for a few days, and your cargo melted away.

    We’ve talked before about how people react, in many different ways, during disasters. It hasn’t happened before, therefore, it won’t happen. It’s happened once, therefore, it won’t happen again. They don’t believe what they’re seeing or hearing. They don’t trust whatever government or media has to say. Looters might take their stuff. We had one woman, here at the Institution, running around as recently as yesterday morning, declaring, “It’s not going to snow.” A mob of peasants is forming up to take her out in the parking lot and rub her nose in the white stuff.

    I finished “Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore”, last night. I officially declare it “entertaining and a good read.” THUNK! That’s the sound of my official stamp of approval. That, and a buck, will get you a cup of coffee, some places. Mileage may vary. I’m looking forward to reading the author’s “Sourdough”, which is in my pile of stuff to read. But, there will be a few palate cleansers, in between. A final parting teaser … “They were developing a for of renewable energy that runs on hubris.” :-). I must admit I had to “push through” a bit of the middle section. But, the author got the plot back on track.

    How time flies! It’s the season of Fornacalia, again. February 7-17th. In honor of the goddess Fornax. Patroness of ovens and baking. Lew

  66. @ DJSpo – I’d never heard of the stray current problem. Hmm. I’ll have to see if I can find any stray small children, laying about, and head for Spokane. I bet the payouts are tremendous. Probably not so much for dogs. Except maybe, a registered service dog. Perhaps invest in stock in a company that makes rubber soled shoes? There must be an angle to make a bit of jingle, off this. Lew

  67. @ Lew – I’ll meet you and the stray children there with some stray cats from my neighborhood. We got 5″ or so of snow yesterday, so those electrified areas should be wet and steaming. Maybe we could stand at either end of those zones and rent rubber thingies that will fit over your shoes, ya know, rent old fashioned rubber overshoes to protect from the stray current problem.


  68. Hi DJ,

    It is hard to describe how little water the garden here actually uses, but it isn’t very much at all. I know someone on an irrigation scheme further north than here (inland as things are upside down compared to your part of the world) and they told me they could water scion cuttings of fruit trees for six hours per week so that they took. That sort of watering regime is the stuff of fantasy for me, and if I burn through the water reserves there is no plan B other than hoping for rain (good luck with that), or purchasing in a truck load of water – and from what I hear 4,000 gallons costs about $280 delivered. And it is hard to book a load of water during a drought crisis – the operators tend to supply to their regular customers first and foremost which is a reasonable basis for them.

    But the larger point is that 42’C can be addressed in a garden by selecting for drought and heat hardy varieties of plants each year. Plus the top soils have to get deeper than you may imagine, so that they hold more water. Will yields and the size of the produce decrease from what people expect? Yup! I’m not hearing any better options though other than the vague promise of: ‘they’ll think of something’, whatever that means.

    Thanks, it is a reflection of my pragmatism. 🙂 Don’t you reckon gardens in difficult climates teach a person that philosophy?

    Hehe! I’ll give it a go with the rats and mice, but they may not notice my puny human efforts, because in their eyes we clearly are the inferior species – that pan dimensional business would be quite the burden. It is hard to write that without coming across like a sore loser in that contest!!!



  69. Hi Pam,

    Did you get the chance to read the article which was linked, about millennial burnout? That was quite good too.

    A few years back a younger friend had ambitions about doing what I’ve done here. He is of the millennial generation and wanted to purchase a block of land. I suggested living in a ‘yurt’ whilst he got his finances together enough to build a small house. That suggestion went down like a lead balloon.

    My life had a huge shakeup in the recession in the early 90’s, and I began responding to that about 1995. It is hard for people to comprehend the amount of time that it has taken just to get to this point, and I tell them to hurry up and get a move on, but I’m largely ignored. I dunno.

    This maybe of interest to your son, but if I had to look for a sweet spot these days, I’d go for a rural property with an abandoned or very run down older style home on a rural sized block – and then go from there.



  70. Hi Lewis,

    Today was much cooler, and it feels as if I’m now in a completely different season than last week. This is a relief as summer was quite hot and dry. The windows are thrown wide open to the cooler evening air, and off in the distance I can hear a couple of fox cubs yipping to their mum – in between the sounds of the birds, frogs and cicadas. I can’t let Ollie out to chase off the foxes either, because we made another concrete step earlier today and the cement is still a bit wet, and that stuff is like a magnet to the dog. He’ll run around and jump on the wet cement and is basically untrustworthy. It is his kryptonite. If he just tried a bit harder, he would be perfect!

    How did the blanching and freezing of the Jerusalem artichokes work out? They provide a good harvest, and for some reason down here, they are very orderly and not all like the feral triffids that people tell me that they are. Obviously conditions are different here than up your way, so I do understand the use of a barrel. Horseradish is a bit like that down here as it pops up in new locations and has clearly spread outwards from its root systems. I quite like the stuff and it is very good to clear ones sinuses! Incidentally some of the chilli’s have ended up hotter than we’d expected, but we just get on with the business of eating them. They’re a bit zingy! 🙂

    Thanks for sharing your experience with the artichokes, as I have wondered about the longevity of storage of the tubers. That is so true about the potatoes, and they really do stick out of the soil which is a nuisance. I add additional compost onto them every season, and long term I’ll have to do something different with them.

    Dare I suggest that you are entering the land of: Snowmageddon? Snowpocalypse? Or the even worse: Tourist snow! That last one was the worst of all, as it is where tourists from distant areas turn up in your town to witness the heavy dump of snow. The documentary sounds pretty cool. And yeah, just because we as a society predominantly build using a certain method, it doesn’t mean that other methods aren’t more suitable in the climate. With all the bushfire (down here) and flooding (up north) risks, you’d think that we’d go for something closer to the traditional Japanese building response to living in a risky land. I reckon therein lies the future. What do you reckon about that?

    Thanks for the reference to the WPA arts projects during the Depression. You know I see and hear a lot of whingeing about politics in your country, but the Federal Writers Project, which was an offshoot of the WPA, wrote of the Depression time: “boil it down to convenient size … and put it into the hands of people who don’t realize wonders exist at their own door.” People forget just how amazing this tragic and ultimately doomed experiment that is called Industrial society really is.

    Thanks for the history lesson. It is interesting to see some of the origins of these things. The debt story is very interesting indeed. I sort of believe that governments these days have little to no intention (or desire) to pay down their debt. Inflating debt out of existence is an option, but it is an ugly option which has been tried plenty of times before.

    Interestingly, Iceland also had that same problem when they provided for a debt jubilee to its citizens in the wake of the 2008 crash. Some people were upset because they had been prudent. That country appears to have survived the ructions from that time and I do wonder if anyone is looking closely to see how it all turned out. Of course I do understand that it would be very hard to militarily punish such an isolated and difficult country.

    Hehe! I get that ambition about the empty properties.

    You made a good call to hit the library hard, and good luck with the “Big Kahuna of snow, coming in early Tuesday” Oh yeah, that sounds feral! The photos on Cliff Mass blog of the shoppers in the supermarket before the earlier snow forecast looked like something out of an apocalyptic film. Did you avoid the shops that day?

    It is another planet from my point of view too – if you get a chance I recounted a story of a suggestion I made to a younger friend in my reply to Pam. I’ve lived in a house that had floors in only one room, a single power point and a single cold water tap. I don’t ask people to do things that the editor and I would not do ourselves. Obviously the editor and I were fixing the old house up and we’ve always done most of the work ourselves – so it takes a lot of time. It just isn’t lost on me that a person can survive all sorts of deprivation and work – and I include the female members of our species in that observation – and I can freely say that because the editor puts in 100% effort here on all of the projects.

    Mate, I said ‘no’ because it was the right thing to do. There is a funny line in the Blues Brothers film (yes, yes, it was a musical, which I enjoyed!) where Jim Belushi (or it may have been Dan Akroyd) quips about marketing: ‘I know about exploitation. I’ve been exploited my whole life.” Some people try it on. I feel that Mr Greer might refer to that act as a misuse of magic, because the person is trying to change your consciousness so as to gain an advantage for themselves. Those sorts of games go on all of the time, and I take it to reveal a sign of decline that people have to resort to such techniques so as to gain an advantage.

    The three job story is not good. It is funny that you mentioning juggling though…

    It was probably a flight of fancy, or somebody put up a proposal that was preposterous. I believe ice makers were developed down here, and it may have been the work of a photographer way back in the day. I still recall visiting a small ice factory in a small country town up in the alpine area with my grandfather. It must have been about three and a half decades ago now. We picked up ice for camping, so that him and his old WWII mates had cool beer.

    I do hope that you are nice to the naysayer. I wonder what had gotten into her head so that she ignored the forecast for snow?

    I’ll let you know how the middle section of the book goes when I begin reading it (in a few weeks). There is a lot of text to read before then! I just never got around to enjoying skim reading and I savour every single word so as to get a flavour of the authors intention. It is a bad habit, I guess…

    Ovens and baking are a worthy thing to celebrate. Give us this day our daily bread, and all that gear. Mind you, I have to bake my own from scratch. I’m onto the untreated bread flour now and it is very good. I’m probably going to run out of time to plant some bread wheat this autumn, but maybe by spring – although it is reputedly not as good as the stuff that over winters…



  71. Chris:

    “a rural property with an abandoned or very run down older style home on a rural sized block ” – that is exactly what my younger son is looking for. It is the only option for one who is not of substantial means around here. Luckily, there are such a things in the counties surrounding mine. Others of his age know this, too, but most of them don’t want to deal with what it would take to fix such a place up, nor do they want to save towards a down payment (he has a very nice chunk saved already), or be too far away from “what’s happenin’ ” in town. A great incentive of his is also that he is a musician (not professionally) and when he and his mates get together there is a lot of noise!

    The yurt idea is great, should he buy raw land instead. He always wanted a yurt.


  72. @ Lew:

    Aaaaa – Lew! “How time flies! It’s the season of Fornacalia, again. February 7-17th. In honor of the goddess Fornax. Patroness of ovens and baking.” I can’t take that this early!


  73. Yo, Chris – Our overnight low was 16F (-8.88C). A bit of the snow melted off, yesterday, to re-freeze overnight. Our next dump of snow is predicted for after 4, this afternoon. I may attempt to nip out to the Safeway, around 1. Other than a short half block section, it’s a straight level 10 block shot down Washington Ave.. Trying to sort out my needs from my wants :-). But, I may not be able to move about on my regular shopping day, Wednesday. There’s this storm coming in, and, another right behind it.

    I’ve assumed all day dog walking chores, as the walks are pretty slick. Little Black Dust Mop (aka Her Royal Highness, aka Princess) loves the snow. But wants to run in it. Given the choice of clear pavement, or patches of snow, she much prefers the snow patches.

    Haven’t attempted to freeze the Jerusalem artichokes, yet. I discovered, as they need to be laid on trays in the freezer, that I’ve got to do some serious rearranging. They’re holding up, fine, in their bucket, and I’ve been slipping them in this and that. Hmmm. Things really are topsy turvy. My little patch of horse radish seems quit content with a small corner of my garden bed.

    Sweeping Generalization Alert! People tend to move other places and carry their building methods, with them. Or, did. Buildings are such a huge investment. LOL, I wonder if the Romans in Britain ever thought, “Hmmm. Maybe we should re-think those open atriums, in the middle of the villa?”

    The WPA really built some very nice and lasting monuments. Timberline Lodge, on Mt. Hood, down in Oregon is a good example. Not only did it employ people to build the building, but all the decor was done by mettle smiths, fabric weavers and furniture builders. The Chehalis post office is all marble interior (and maybe older) so, no WPA murals. The Centralia post office has a nice one. Not done by anyone particularly famous, but I quit like it. The theme is life in Lewis County, so, it’s mostly agricultural and logging. My favorite bit is the detail of a farm wife collecting eggs.

    Guess I loss the toss :-). Moving icebergs for water has, so far, been purely in the realm of speculation. Other than moving a few small one’s, short distances, to keep them off oil rigs. One of the more interesting ideas was not to tow a berg, but to turn the berg into a ship. Slap sails on it and a rudder …

    Some of the housing situations I’ve been in, renovations, and such. Best just view it as “camping out.” Making do? Again, I think a lot of people don’t attempt it, due to silly social pressures. I remember the book I read about the fellow in Detroit, who took on an abandoned house. Several years of VERY rough living, but he has a very nice house to show for it.

    I happened to notice that an author I like had a book out, that I had somehow missed. Laurie Notaro. “Housebroken” (2016.) Humorous essays about her life, and life in general. She occasionally, makes me laugh out loud. She can be very cranky, laughs at herself, easily. She also has a very low tolerance for other people, who waste her time, due to their disorganization. Yup, a lady after my own heart. Unknown to me, this latest offering also had several recipes from her Italian grannie. Lew

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